What if everything about you was perfect just the way it is…right now?
What if you couldn’t possibly think that there was anything wrong with you…or that anything needed improving?
What would life be like? How would you go about your day?
When I believe that there’s something wrong with me I feel deep dissatisfaction and despair. Hopelessness. Resignation even. Constant comparison to others. “Reading other people’s minds” – believing that they’re judging me. Getting into their business. This is an old feeling dating back as far as I can remember. I have glimpses of memories – back when I didn’t believe there was anything wrong with me but they’re so fleeting that they’re more like dreams. The kinds of dreams that when you try to bring them into sharper focus, they fade more rapidly. I notice that when I believe these thoughts I judge others more readily. I make myself feel better by finding fault in them. Sad…but true.
So…what if I didn’t believe I needed improving. What if I was perfect just as I am? Looking behind those thoughts are like pulling aside an iron curtain. What is on the other side of constant self criticism?
The world looks brighter. Lighter. I have a little more energy. I feel like nourishing myself with good foods. I feel like going outside and spreading my arms to the sky and twirling like a little girl. If there was no goal – no magic number on a scale to reach – I could just be ME. I could just BE. I could notice what my body craves and answer with love and compassion.
I could be free.
Over the last few years, there’s been a paradigm shift about how I view my role as a parent. I know the adage, “train them up” and all of that. And perhaps like all sayings of this sort this one has been skewed by some from the original intent. I just feel in my bones that it’s not my job to TRAIN my children. OR anyone for that matter. It implies to me like I have to change them somehow. And when I come from that standpoint war then enters my home. OF course, I still teach my children stuff. They have chores and responsibilities. I also see how much they have to teach me. About them. About me. And about life. They have unique perspectives that all their own. They are whole and complete individuals. I LOVE being their parent. And I struggle with decisions and hope we’re doing right by them.
I have noticed that when I meet my children with force that they bend to my will…or they don’t. And when I meet them with peace…they bend to my will or they don’t.
I struggle with the choice of peace over dominance every day. This illusion that I have any control over my children is one that interferes with my best intentions. Even when I THINK that I have somehow bent them to my will or asserted my parental authority, I have only done so by their willingness to submit. They CHOOSE to do what I ask/demand or they don’t. It’s up to them. I can’t make them think, say, feel, believe, do anything.
I have influence…sure (as much as they allow). But again…it’s up to them how much they invite my influence in.
Repeatedly I return to the choice. I choose peace…except when I don’t. And when I don’t, I choose to learn.
I love this. So often I notice that when I parent I operate out of previous guilt or future worries. Rarely am I in the HERE and NOW. In this moment.
Sadly I have been (can still be) a yeller in my parenting. It pains me to recall the times that I have put my desire for compliance and what I think is best ahead of peace using the very ineffective tool of yelling and – frankly – bullying to get my way. I MIGHT get my way in the moment but it costs me something very dear…my connection with my child, myself and, ultimately, my self respect. And it haunts me. That may sound over dramatic, but how ever we may want to spin it and find justification…when we wound our child emotionally we wound ourselves.
However, I believe we can heal that wound. I’ve started by forgiving ME. Cheesy? Cliche? Well, I’ve come to love and embrace both the cheese and the clichest (that’s right – I made up a new word) of all cliches.
I can’t speak for anyone else. We all parent the way we choose and I’m not trying to preach. I say with love: You do you…and I’ll do me. I’m just sharing what I’ve discovered is that when I yell and lose my temper it is NEVER about my child.
It’s about me projecting all of my agenda, crap, hurt, fears, anguish, whatever…onto them. And, blessedly, I’ve done it very innocently. I was simply believing something at the time. (And there-in lies the softness. And the love.)
I choose to let go of those moments. There have been some amends. After looking in and doing my work, I have found some forgiveness for me through the understanding of what I was thinking and believing at the time. I practice sincerely apologizing to my children. This is an ongoing endeavor. How many times have I forced my children to say ‘sorry’ to someone else? Well…now it’s my turn. And I’m loving every moment. Each time brings clarity, connection, learning, and healing. An amends isn’t about sucking up or grovelling. Or letting them walk all over me. It’s simply owning my part. The gift I often get in return is immeasurable.
In fact…I have another such moment to embrace tonight. A very snappy remark I lashed out at my daughter earlier today. Minor…and it deserves to be undone.