LESSON: Nurturing as a Lifestyle
Nurturing is the ability to care. It is a critical skill for all life forms on the planet – especially for humans because we are such complex forms of life. To nurture is to promote the growth and development of all positive traits, qualities and characteristics. To nurture is to treat oneself with caring, kindness, and respect. It is to keep ourselves physically and emotionally healthy, to make good choices, and to be our own best friend. Nurturing oneself is a necessary prerequisite to being nurturing parents. How can you care for someone else when you ignore your own needs?
TOPIC: Why We Don’t Nurture Ourselves
Within everyone is the potential to care or to hurt. This potential is fueled, in large part, by the experiences we’ve had during our lifetime. Inside everyone are four distinct traits of our personality that define the way we’re capable of treating ourselves and others:
The Nurturer. The part of our personality that is capable of giving care, concern and compassion. The caregiver we are with our children is our nurturer.
The Nurtured. The part of our personality that is capable of receiving care, seeking closeness and attachments, and accepting praise and positive touch.
The Perpetrator. The part of our personality that can be cruel, abusive to self and others, is capable of hurting others, and generally disregards the overall goodness and respect of other living things and objects.
The Victim. The part of our personality that believes the hurt and pain given by others is Justified and valid. The victim believes the hurt received is for their own good.
A simple way to understand our abilities to nurture or to hurt is to view both abilities on the scale of 0 to 10. A zero (0) represents the complete absence of the behavior. A ten represents the complete presence of the behavior. Imagine both abilities exist on a range of 0 to 10 in frequency (how often) and in severity (to what degree).
|All the Time|
|Most of the Time|
9 8 7
|Some of the Time|
6 5 4
|Hardly Any of the Time3 2 1||Never|
|Hardly Any of the Time1 2 3||Some of the Time|
4 5 6
|Most of the Time|
7 8 9
|All the Time|
The presence of “Nurturing Parenting” to a high degree (8 or 9) means “Hurting Parenting” is at a low degree (1 or 2). The more “nurturing” you are, the less “hurting” you are – and vice versa. The goal is to stay nurturing all the time (10) or at the very least, often (7 8 9) and to keep “hurting” out of parenting altogether (0). If parents practice nurturing all the time (10) or high percentage of the time (7 8 9), children would develop a much nurtured part of their personality and in turn would develop very nurturing ways of treating others. If however, hurting parenting is practiced often, children develop the “victim” part of their personality and come to believe that being victimized is a natural and frequent part of life. Life as a victim gives birth to Life as a perpetrator. Perpetrators are those who victimize others. The training to be a perpetrator comes from experiences as a victim.
The nurturing philosophy of life and of parenting accept no degree or frequency of abuse and victimization. The inability of adults to take the time and to make the commitment to nurture themselves is housed in the belief that maybe, just maybe, we don’t deserve to be treated with respect all of the time, or maybe we can’t expect to live a good life all of the time, that a little victimization now and again helps us appreciate the good times even more.
Draw your personality traits for (Nurturer, Nurtured, Perpetrator, Victim) on a piece of paper. The drawings can be literal or symbolic. Take time to review your Perpetrator. What do you notice? How do you feel looking at this rate? List the times your Perpetrator comes out. Do you see any patterns?
Now do the same with your Nurturer. Compare your Perpetrator and your Nurturer. What do you notice? Make a list of when you’re asked to be a Nurturer and compare it with the list you made of the times you may act as a Perpetrator. Do the same with your Victim and Nurtured traits. Notice patterns.
Keep the list handy and add or subtract from them. As time goes by, notice how they’re changing.