Expecting a bundle of joy soon? This blog is for mums-to-be, girls hoping to be mums-to-be and new mums. You will find NLP exercises, nterventions and guidance for dealing with these important life changes in this blog. Obviously, being a new mom involves being empowered with a lot of internal resources:
- To be able to stay calm, confident and resourceful before, during and after pregnancy
- Understanding the new ‘you’ and adjusting to life changes
- Building Rapport and Self-esteem
- Coping with Emotional highs and lows
- Dealing with child tantrums at different ages and sibling rivalry
Let me first define NLP for you first, in case you have never heard about it before. Of course, you can read about it in detail over here.
But I will give you a short, concise explanation of the concept. NLP is all about with how you look at the world and how you process your subjective experience or subjective reality in a way that will help you achieve your goals. NLP is Neuro (Brain and nervous system) Linguistic (Language you use to code your thoughts and Language Patterns) Programming (how you program your brain to achieve your goals, dealing with limiting beliefs if any and motivating yourself to break-out and break-free. It is the science of the brain which helps in ‘manipulating’ the brain to achieve excellence in any field. By ‘manipulating’, I mean we have a lot of cognitive interventions which change the way you think, change the way you feel and talk about yourself. NLP is like upgrading the software of your phone, to be able to make the experience (of life) smoother. In this blog, we will see how NLP can help present or prospective new Moms deal with the entire process in a resourceful way. You already might be a great ‘Mom’ person and there is always some scope to be even better. And then we have some Moms, who are kind of trying come to terms and get into the groove of motherhood. I don’t see that as a problem because I had a tough time getting into the groove of fatherhood, but I guess I’m doing great. Credit? Yes, you got it, NLP!
Now, we will learn how NLP helps new Moms, through some ‘ground-rules’. These are called ‘presuppositions’ in NLP terms. There are around 40 of them but I’ll be listing a few which are relevant to the current topic of discussion.
- “You have all the resources within you to achieve anything you want”. What an inspiring thought. We always do have the resources. The question is, are we accessing them internally and are we able to utilize and deliver externally. The biggest thing that may hold us back is the negative language we use for ourselves. “I don’t have it in me”. “I am not ‘Mom’ material”. “I don’t think I can go through this”. Henry Ford once said, “Believe you can, believe you can’t. Either ways you are right”. What you say about yourself, becomes a reality about yourself and then you can’t access the resources that are already there within you. When you say, “It’s impossible”, your brain shuts down. When you say, “It’s difficult but possible”, your brain starts searching for possibilities. So, Rule 1 is, have positive internal dialog as a new Mom. Here is an example of how I have used this presupposition with some kids I have been teaching. One of them once came to me and said, “I can’t concentrate, I lack focus and I don’t feel the urgency to do anything which gets me into trouble”. Did you read that statement properly? What he is saying is he lacks all those skills in all areas of life. Well, how does he know about those skills in the first place. Because he has it in him already. I just had to point out to him how focused he is when he paints. How he feels the urgency to call up his friend at 12.00 AM to wish him on his birthday. And he definitely concentrates when he is on the road trying to cross it. You should have seen the change of colour on the kid’s face. That’s how you can start the repairing process.
- “If someone can do it, you can do it too”. You can also acquire new skills and hone existing ones by modelling (or copying) them from someone who demonstrates that skill really well. This is such a reassuring belief to take on when you are a new Mom, isn’t it? This will again help those who say, “I can’t do this”, or “I’m not cut out to be a Mom”. Well, you just need a role-model in the right context. In this case, do you know someone who is a very good parent. What do they do that makes them the good parent. All of us have the skill to model or copy someone else and we have done that since childhood with the kind of accents, hand gestures, style of walking that we have copied from influential people. Why not model this? If they can do it, you can do it. What’s the skill? Be observant and find the skill they are using and then find it in you and use it too. You might already be using that skill in another context of life, like the caring attitude with certain friends or family. You might just model the ‘you’ from one place and use it in the current scope or context. The skills you have at work such as being proactive, alert, assertive and making decisions can easily escape during pregnancy and during those exhausting early months with a new baby. You do have them.
- “There is no failure, only feedback”. Failure is a common emotion for some of the new Moms. When you were a child, you used to topple down while trying to learn to walk. If you would have thought you were a ‘failure’ and would have refused to stand up, you would still be crawling today. From this stand-point, never get bogged down if things don’t work out as you had planned. Take that in the stride and accept it as feedback to change things for better results in future. Now when it comes to your baby, you love it more than anything in the world! But it is very demanding. Night and day, 24/7 you are on call. Your baby cries and you run through all the possibilities like hunger, nappy needs changing, tired, not tired, itching, cold and so on. Wouldn’t it be easier if they had a digital print out on their forehead telling an exhausted mom what baby needs? Lot of Moms feel failed when the baby is crying because they feel that instinctively they should know what the baby needs. I think it is being too harsh on oneself. The power of instinct is great but it takes time to build an accurate instinct related to the child. Till then, observe everything about the child, what it does, when and why and take everything as feedback. You’ll know the cause-effect relationship which is needed for the instinct to have good success rate.
- “If you ‘try’, you won’t succeed”. How often do you say, “I’ll try and get the baby to sleep”? Imagine a situation where you tell your partner to ‘try’ and pick some nappies on the way home. What are the chances your partner is going to get them? How hard will they ‘try’? Do you ‘try to breastfeed’? When we use the word ‘try’ we cover our backs in case we don’t succeed. We give ourselves freedom to fail when we use the world ‘try’. Here is one statement I’ve heard so many times and found it quite funny. “We are trying for a baby”? Actually, there are a lot of medical reasons for women to have a history of miscarriage. One reason is attributed to the mind thinking ‘Try’. In Jeanette Wallis’s practice and research, she sees a proportion of women whose belief is that their body has let them down. There is a correlation between how the mind thinks, how we code those thoughts through language (this is where ‘trying’ comes in) and how the body is connected to the mind. So, if you are ‘trying’ to have a baby, your thoughts are having an effect on the body as well according to a report. ‘Trying’ is a limiting belief which needs to be changed to deliver a healthy baby normally. Are you ‘trying’ to be a good Mom? Well, I have news for you. You are the best mom for your child because you are the only mom the child has. Trust your intuitions, they are usually right. If you really want to do something, then DO IT!
- “You have a unique map, so does the baby/child”. What is a map? Map is your unique reality. It is how you have detailed your experience inside your brain and anyone having experienced the same event will have a different detailing because experience is subjective. What Mark Twain says is true from this perspective. “What gets into trouble is not what we don’t know. What gets us into trouble is what we think we know for sure but just isn’t so! That’s why I say, “You have your reality, I have mine and then we have the CCTV camera”. Babies/kids have their own maps. And if we want to understand them, we need to enter their territory by stepping into their ‘shoes’ and seeing it from their viewpoint. Another map you may want to explore is your partner’s because whilst you are experiencing a life changing event, so are they and they too might be challenged by limiting beliefs and lack of confidence. Unlike you, they may not have the words to express, in some cases. Many pregnant Moms fear how having a baby will affect their relationship and understanding each other’s very different maps will keep your relationship strong.
- “Mind the gap”. As a new Mom or a to-be-Mom, the hormones tend to be in a little bit of turmoil. As a part of this change, which is a big one, Moms tend to react emotionally in various situations. This affects the baby whether it is in the womb or is already born. The best way is to take a step back in the given situation and think like a third person who is also a wise person on how to respond. This process is called dissociating from the event and thinking with your rational brain. Its easier said than done but it is a good practice, especially when the child reaches the toddler stage and so on. Kids are observing you and they are ‘taking’ things from you.
With these ‘ground-rules’ I will take you through a model called ‘Logical levels of change’ because things change big time after you deliver the bundle of joy. There are some things which you can do proactively using this model to have a smooth journey of motherhood. The ‘’Logical levels of change’ model is given below:
I am sure, becoming a Mom (or Dad) is probably the biggest life changing event you can experience. At such a time, you need to spend some time considering your new Identity. Let’s look at the Logical Levels of Change diagram above and we will start from the bottom of the pyramid with the Environment and then work up towards your Purpose of life. It is a great way to harmonize our identity by looking at what underpins it and what it means in terms of our direction and goals in life.
- Environment: Think about where you live, work and the cultures of those places. How does your environment affect you? What could change about it that would make it work better for you when you are a new mum with a baby? We tend to get very focused on buying baby equipment and decorating the room to turn it into a nursery, well almost. But the biggest problem new Moms experience can be isolation from other adults. Now maybe a good time to take up an activity that you can continue after the baby is born that will enable you to mix with adults and do something for yourself. You may find your NCT group or ante natal group a real life-saver but you may want to join a book group or a gym. Does your partner know what to expect and have you discussed how to manage the logistics of caring for the baby, work, household chores and time for yourself? On these lines, you may want to revisit your environment once you’ve been up the Logical levels to your identity.
- Behaviour: If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got. If you are not happy with the outcomes, change the behaviour because you can’t control other people’s behaviour, not even your baby’s. Whatever you do every day, maintain a diary and think if that activity has resulted any Value to you. If it hasn’t, then you might as well give it up or delegate it. Alternatively, you may want to add some activity because it adds some Value. Like going for a walk for instance during pregnancy period which will keep the baby’s weight (and yours too) in control.
- Skills/Capabilities: What do you need to learn new to be a great Mom? I have a friend who once told me before she was going to deliver, “I need to learn to smile. I can’t smile because I haven’t been smiling it”. How right she was. Baby needs a smiling face in front of it, not a grumpy one. Skills like how to hold the baby, how to bathe it, clean it etc. I know of some Moms who learnt singing apparently because wanted to sing a lullaby when the baby comes, to get it to sleep. Sounds a little funny but its their model of the world after all.
- Values and Beliefs: During my trainings, I ask this question often, “How many of you can’t swim”? You have a few of them pointing towards the sky. I then ask, “How many of you can swim”? Well, the fact is, the ones who said they can swim choose to swim and the others don’t swim yet. Its not that they can’t. Because humans can swim, fact! The same is true with everything else provided you are in the right frame of mind and body. There is a great way of dealing with Limiting Beliefs. Just do exactly that, which you think you can’t. You will prove yourself wrong, at least in 2nd or 3rd attempt if not in the 1 st attempt. Notice how your Limiting Beliefs will come crashing down to make you a much more resourceful person.
- Identity and Self-Esteem: Here is a nice exercise for you. Let’s say you are 80 years old and on your birthday your kids are raising a toast. What are they saying about you? What are your friends saying about you as a parent? List out all the good things they are saying. Do you know you’ve just laid out a road map for yourself to become a great mother? You think they are saying it, but it is actually you who has said it for yourself. List out all the good qualities. In your room, draw a circle on the floor with a chalk. Step into that circle feeling you have all the good qualities listed. Feel good about yourself. You have just given yourself that ‘Identity’. This ‘circle’ will always be with you whenever you need it. If in case you feel not too good about yourself, get the circle in front of you. Step into it and feel the resourcefulness. Be in that moment to get the fluids in the brain running.
- Purpose: This is at top of the pyramid. Change your purpose of life and it changes everything below it in the pyramid. Being a parent, changes a lot of aspects of your life. You find a new Purpose. A new Purpose of Parenthood. Parenthood is a time of change and it affects us in so many ways. It is important to take time to work through the levels and put them in the harmony one with the other.
That’s just about it ladies. I’ve tried my best to give a bird’s eye view of how NLP can help in becoming a more Resourceful Mom. I feel there is still plenty which I could have written. Maybe I’ll have a part-II of this. Or maybe you may get in touch with me in case you have any specific questions. I’ll be more than happy to explore some more model of the worlds. Happy Parenting!