by Leanne MacDonald, Spiritual Transformation Coach, Author and Founder of The Everyday Goddess Revolution.
The biggest transformation has occurred in the relationships I have with my children was when I stopped taking their behaviour personally.
It sounds so obvious doesn’t it? Yet we fall for it so easily.
Our children are feeling their way through life and learning and exploring new things every day, new emotions, new sensory experiences – and we are here as their guide.
So why would we take their behaviour as they go along this journey personally?
Because we are human beings having our own experience also.
Last week, I really felt that my four-year old was throwing orange peel onto the lounge floor JUST to annoy me.
In a fleeting moment it felt as if yes, she was in fact doing it with full intention to disrespect me.
In an instant, feelings of anger started to wash over me. I was annoyed and irritated, why would she do that?
The story played out like a well-rehearsed play in my mind, she’s doing that because she has no respect, she is naughty, she is intentionally trying to spoil my day.
And then I caught myself.
She threw orange peel on the floor because she didn’t want it and it seemed to her the most logical thing to do in that moment.
I calmly explained that the bin was probably a better place for the orange peel to go and she agreed.
Had I not caught myself, well I imagine a battle of wills would have ensued and she would have probably been sat on a time out step crying.
Ps: I don’t actually have a time out step, but in the orange peel mood I was in, well one would have been whipped up toot sweet.
Removing ourselves as parents from the behaviour of our children allows for space in our mind.
Space for the wisdom and connection to occupy.
There is a saying – ‘see with your heart’ and I find this very helpful when parenting.
For a long time when I felt agitated by my children and their behaviour, I used to say to myself – what would my heart do?
This took my thinking in a new direction giving me a break, allowing a chink of light for my wisdom to shine through.
Every moment of conflict I have had with my children has, without exception, has come from me taking their words and behaviour personally.
Whenever I take a step back and allow the energy of that initial reaction to pass through me, I find my communication is a lot more effective.
Remembering that we are all experiencing life in exactly the same way.
There are times in our adult life when we are tired, preoccupied, engrossed and in those moments, we say things, do things and behave in ways that are just how we feel in that moment.
We are also very good at having to attach an emotion to a thing.
We need to have a reason for the way we feel a certain way and often attach it to the wrong thing.
I have in the past been trying to pop my youngest children to bed, knowing that I had a pile of work waiting for me downstairs.
Feeling the stress of that pile of work and misplacing that stress in thinking that my children not staying their beds was the reason.
When we are in a lower mood state, we think EVERYTHING is annoying us and the reason for our feeling state.
The traffic jam, the car that pulled out on us, the kids not getting their shoes on fast enough – it all looks plausible as the reason we are stressed.
But it’s not – This is just our human experience.
Our human experience is established based upon how we have made meaning of things as we go about our journey of life.
When we make meaning of things we are creating core beliefs from which we begin to filter our experience of life through.
The majority of our core beliefs being formed as children, these core beliefs become the lens of how we see life.
Our beliefs are formed based upon who we are as an individual, it’s a sense of self.
What does it mean about me? How does that impact me?
What do I, a separate self, believe about life?
Our brain plays a vital role in facilitating this human experience and very kindly stores for us every single emotional memory that ever was.
It stores how we make meaning of everything in life in relation to us.
Then as we go about life these memories pop into our awareness from time to time helping us to shape our experience in that moment – They become a point of reference of how we see life.
When our children don’t listen, don’t act in a way we think they should, they can trigger some of these core beliefs stored in our memory and if we are not aware that this is happening we can very easily take personal offense.
It’s an automatic process that happens in a blink of an eye, not to catch us out, but to help us navigate life.
For me the ‘not good enough’ core belief was the filter in which I viewed a lot of my children’s behaviour.
And of course, no one wants to feel not good enough, so I embarked on an imaginary quest to do better, with my children’s behaviour being the marker of success in that quest….
Knowing that my initial response to EVERYTHING is automated based on the past was life changing.
You see your child’s behaviour and communication in a different light.
Of course, there are times when I still see things through a personal lens, because I am a human being, and my humanness is very effective!
Choice became an option then.
I could choose to carry on down that initial path of emotion or I could pause and reflect and see what other ways I could view the situation.
Our initial response to anything is never fixed and is almost always filtered through – what does that mean about me?
The answer is actually – it means nothing about you.
When you take yourself out of the equation the situation always looks different.
But being curious and exploring the nature of my human experience and seeing how when I insert myself into situations the emotions are more challenging is a journey, we should all be unfolding.
The power of the pause in life is an underrated one, giving yourself a few moments for the emotional energy to pass makes all of the difference in the direction you then take in life.
Journal prompts to help you explore your parenting relationship:
- The last time you struggled with your child’s behaviour / words, what did you perceive this to mean about you as a person / parent?
- If you think of the last time you really struggled to give advice or guidance to your child, what emotions were you experiencing?
- The emotions you were experiencing were coming from a thought in that moment, what was on your mind as you were processing the situation?
Leanne MacDonald, Spiritual Transformation Coach, Author and Founder of The Everyday Goddess Revolution. http://www.leannemacdonaldwellbeing.com