Mindfulness: Is Your Inner Baby Monitor On?By Dr. Margaret Paul
April 04, 2022
Step One of Inner Bonding is being mindful of your feelings all the time, like having an inner baby monitor.
Before I had my first child, I was a very sound sleeper. The phone could ring without waking me up. However, from the moment I came home from the hospital with my first son, that changed. I now heard every little whimper from the bassinet that was next to our bed. My mothering instincts had seemingly automatically clicked on, and I became totally tuned into my baby's feelings and needs.
On the inner level, it was a completely different story. Since my feelings and needs were unimportant to my parents, I had learned to make my own feelings and needs unimportant to me as well. I had learned to tune them out and instead be very tuned into others’ feelings and needs.
When I started to practice Inner Bonding in 1985, I discovered that Step One was enormously challenging for me.
It was not that I couldn't tell what I was feeling - it was that I couldn't remember to notice my feelings. I was so used to noticing what everyone else felt, and caretaking them, that I kept forgetting to notice and care about my own feelings. In fact, I realized that my feelings of fear or anxiety were a trigger for me to care-take someone else rather than care about myself. I had a caretaking addiction.
It took me several years of practice before my inner baby monitor was turned on – the one that was tuned in to my own needs. Somewhere along the way I realized that, if I wanted to be a loving adult and take responsibility for my own feelings and needs, I needed to have my inner baby monitor on all the time.
When a woman has a baby and she wants to be a good mother, she knows that she needs to stay tuned into her baby all the time. If the baby is asleep in another room, she has a baby monitor on so she can hear when the baby wakes up. She would never think that she has to tune into her baby only a few times a day.
Yet very often my clients ask me, "How often should I be practicing Inner Bonding?" The answer is, "You need to be practicing Step One all the time."
This means being mindful of your inner experience. It is only when you are aware of your inner experience that you can move into the other Steps when necessary. When you are mindful of feeling anxious – or any other wounded feeling - you can immediately move into an intent to learn about what you are doing or telling yourself that is causing your painful feelings.
When you are mindful of feeling tense when interacting with another person, you can immediately tune into what might be occurring between you and the other person and take loving action on your own behalf. Are you tense because you have abandoned yourself to the other person and are trying to get his or her approval? Are you tense because the other person is pulling on you for your approval? Are you tense because you want control over the other person or because the other person is being controlling with you? Are you feeling lonely because one or both of you have disconnected? All this information comes by consistently staying in Step One of Inner Bonding.
When a mother or father has a baby and stays tuned into the baby, it's because she or he wants to be a loving parent. The intent is to be loving with the baby. The same intent needs to be operating for us to stay tuned into ourselves. When our intent is to learn about being loving to ourselves and others, we will stay tuned in to ourselves and take loving action on our own behalf. We will be a loving inner mother with ourselves only when we are tuned in to our own feelings and needs all the time, and we will be a loving inner father when we are willing to take loving action in the world on our own behalf.
Your inner baby monitor will stay turned on when your deepest intent is to be a loving mother and father with yourself.
Retraining yourself to remember to be mindful and in the intent to learn is the challenge. What do you need to do to remember? When I first started to practice Inner Bonding, I wore a little gadget called a Motivator that I could set to silently buzz against my body as often as I wanted, to remind me to tune into myself and to my guidance. Some people carry around their doll or bear to remind them. Others wear a rubber band, program their cell phones to remind them, or put sticky notes around. Think about what would work for you and start practicing having your inner baby monitor on all the time.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
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Today, notice your anger, irritation or frustration. Notice that you may feel these feelings when you are not accepting your powerlessness over others and outcomes and attempt to control what you can't control. Today, accept what is and then control what you can control - your own reactions.
By Dr. Margaret Paul