One of the fitness instructors/ personal trainers at our health club had this to say to our workout group the other day: “It is when you are most uncomfortable that you are making progress.”
This is so true when we exercise…when we get to that point in our workout where our muscles are fatigued and shaking. This means they are being worked hard and will recover stronger than before. We do this again and again, and each time we do, incremental change is occurring. Eventually, we take a step back, look in the mirror and see a new shape; a stronger self.
This is so true in our parenting also. Change doesn’t happen until we push ourselves beyond the boundaries of our comfort zone. We make a conscious effort to exercise our parenting “muscles” in a different way so that they will develop and grow stronger. We get fatigued and don’t know how far we can go, but we but we push ourselves to keep trying.
Then, one day, we take a step back and realize that we’ve accomplished something meaningful with our children, something beyond our once-comfortable “exercise” routine. Being outside our parenting comfort zone–what we know as the familiar, conditional, responses to misbehavior–requires us to interact thoughtfully and with purpose. We put effort into parenting with an awareness of our children, ourselves, their needs, our needs, and our long-term goals. And we are stronger for it.
So it is with parents that we make progress when we persevere through any cognitive discomfort (“So I know what not to do (punish, spank, remove privileges), but what am I supposed to do now?”) or emotional fatigue (“Am I doing the right thing? This is so hard!”) of positive parenting. We read, research, learn, practice, and seek support to develop new “muscles”, which only get stronger each time we exercise them. Just like getting physically fit, we work hard to maintain this newfound strength; it becomes our new comfort zone.