In last week's post, I discussed the importance of Acceptance in building self esteem. When we are valued and cherished as we are, warts and all, the process of building our self esteem begins. If I constantly have to "measure up" or "deserve" your love, approval and affection, the bank of my self esteem will always be overdrawn. Self acceptance can be the hardest of all. After a life time of hearing "you are too..... or you need to be more .....", we can begin believing we will never be good enough.
Acceptance is not a one time treatment, or a vaccination that lasts for life. We have to keep working on it day by day and start installing "new" self talk patterns to learn to love ourselves. If we can start accepting the person in the mirror, we can begin the process of truly accepting others who are important to us like our children, our parents, our partners and other folks breathing oxygen next to us on this green planet.
Belonging develops over time as we connect with others who accept us. Family is the first opportunity we have to belong. The bonds of love form when we feel valued and cherished and a part of a circle. Sometimes the family circle is inclusive, and all members are valued. Other times, we need to seek outside the folks who share our DNA to find that sense of belonging. All human beings crave a sense of connection. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a sense of connection. Belonging gives us a foundation and a home base.
When we brainstorm in parenting classes about our concerns about our children's future, "falling in with the wrong crowd" is often on the list. The need to belong drives us. If we do not belong to a positive and loving group, we will seek ANY group to connect to. Rejection in the family circle sends the message, "You are not worth my time or attention." Believe me, those rejected in their family will seek connection somewhere else.
So, what can you do, to protect your child from entering into damaging relationships, illegal activities, the "wrong crowd", a future of domestic violence? Connect NOW. Accept them and show them you are blessed to have them in your life. Build that sense of belonging by sharing your feelings with them and establishing a close connection that allows them to share anything and everything with you. Turn down the judgement and turn up the listening.