Life Challenges and Loss I often see adult patients who share with me the pain, anger and sadness they feel because of unresolved issues from their childhood experiences. They express how difficult it is to sustain healthy relationships, and want to process issues from their dysfunctional upbringing in order to move on with their lives. The act of re-parenting ourselves is a tool that can give us the power to nourish and eventually love who we are, and in turn, create healthier relationships. It is important to understand that the way we perceive and relate to others comes from what we think about ourselves. This begins with our early environment and upbringing. From the time we are born, we need to need to have a connection with our parents or caregivers and know that we are safe, loved and cared for. Unfortunately, we may be the innocent victims of physical, verbal or sexual abuse. If we have been neglected, or received confusing messages from our parents, our identity can become blurred. This makes it difficult to embrace the truth about the loving beings that God created us to be. This can create a lifetime of neural patterns, which reinforce in our minds that we are undeserving of love. These mental imprints and perpetual negative beliefs may be all we have ever known, which has kept us from having healthy relationships. We can spend much of our lives searching for people "out there" to fill us up with the love and healthy intimacy that we may have never received as children. Learning why we relate to others in certain ways and honestly admitting what role we have played in creating the problems in our relationships is a good beginning to self-discovery. Many times, we attract unhealthy people in our lives that may turn into caregivers for us, or we for them. Others we form relationships with may have unresolved issues themselves and perpetuate the drama from their unhealthy childhood environments onto us. When we encounter problems in our current relationships, we commonly withdraw or aggressively defend who we are in order to protect our inner child who used these behaviors as early tools for survival. The self-discipline tools of re-parenting can help us gain control over our negative thoughts and feelings, while empowering us to accept personal responsibility. Creating a bond between the adult you, and your inner child, will give you a sense of security, self-confidence and self worth. It is important to begin by accepting ourselves unconditionally with the way we are with no regrets or self-hatred over what we "should have" been or done in our lives. We must also learn to let go of our self-pity from being neglected or abused as children. We can begin the journey to change our negative beliefs by identifying and writing down all of the unhealthy fears and thoughts we have about ourselves. Then, we should write down reality based, healthier counter thoughts that are more rational and conducive to personal growth. An example of an unhealthy thought may be, “I am worthless.” A re-parenting counter statement is, “I am a worthy person.” Another example that may fit your negative self-statements might be, “I must be an awful person for my parents to have neglected or abused me that way.” Your re-parenting statement could be, “They neglected and abused me because they had problems." "I did not deserve the treatment I received.” A common negative message many of us have bought into is, “I'll never amount to anything.” Re-parent yourself by writing down, “I have always, and will continue to amount to something in life." "My parents’constant criticism of me was about their own fears and doubts about themselves.” As new negative self-thoughts come up in our lives, it is important to write these down and find the counter statements, which are actually the truth about who we are. When we arise each day and prepare to sleep each night, it is important to read our re-parenting statements. These realistic positive affirmations can heal our innocent inner child. Another re-parenting tool that I have found beneficial is to literally embrace ourselves. What many of us have always wanted out of life, but have rarely received, is to have someone take us in their arms and tell us how much they love or appreciate us. Although it may feel odd or silly, I suggest that, each day or evening we find a private moment to wrap our arms around ourselves. While doing this, it is important to think how special we are and to try to forgive ourselves. It is also helpful to look at ourselves in a mirror each day and tell ourselves that we are worthy and loveable. Like other aspects of our healing journey, learning to love ourselves is a process that often takes a long time to master. This is also part of the process, which involves being gentle, kind and forgiving of ourselves. When we sit in a space without shame, judgment, or guilt, we free up a tremendous amount of energy to extend love toward ourselves and others. Finding self- love can also begin with writing down a positive re-parenting statement such as, “I love and forgive myself, and embrace all of who I am.” When repeating this statement daily, it is sometimes helpful to think of ourselves with the same level of respect, kindness and love that we would about a dear friend. It is never too late to give ourselves the nurturing, affection and recognition we have always needed and searched for in our lives. These healing tools are the first steps of re-parenting. They can hasten the end of constant negative false beliefs that were instilled within us as children. Positive self-statements can also help us forgive ourselves for believing in these false thoughts. In order to enjoy healthy relationships, we must first try to be "in joy" with who we are. Becoming the healthy parents to ourselves, can create the journey of self-love and remove the pain of past and present problem relationships.