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Posted on 18 Jan, 2016 | 8 comments

Are You Nice To Others But Mean At Home?

nice mean

Today I sat and asked myself this:

“If I run good workshops, help and inspire others, write well, read lots of clever stuff, be good at the work I do in the world but I am not so present to my children’s needs will I be ok with myself?”

My answer was no.

I then asked myself, “If I run ok workshops, or they aren’t so great and I just do a small job helping others, I stop writing and live a less ‘out there’ life but I am able to help my children adjust to life and feel safe and appreciated in the world will I be ok with myself?”

My answer was yes.

“So why”, I asked myself, “am I focusing more on my work than on being the parent I most want to be for my two boys?”

It’s not that I haven’t been there for them. I have. But I think I’ve become present enough to see that I’m not as present as I’d like to be with them. It’s progress.

Lately I have had amazing inner openings and shifts and beautiful meditative experiences, insights and inspirations but then five minutes later I behave impatiently with my children. From Dalai Mama to Mommy Dearest in record time! What is going on?

In truth, parenting (and partnering) is my most challenging and important spiritual and self-development practice. I know that, I always have, but the other stuff, work, self-actualisation etc seems more alluring. There is ego affirmation there. The home stuff… well… no-one there is so impressed with my intelligence and insights. They just want to know why I didn’t wash the dishes when I said I would and WHHYYYYYY can’t they eat sweets before their meal? They are the ones who see me grumpy in the morning, who know how I react when I’m stretched my thinnest and who expect my love and support no matter what.  Not so good for the ego, all that. VERY good for seeing my issues, yes, truth, yes, ego-pandering? No. So out come the defensiveness, victim, blaming and avoidance behaviours – which they, of course, promptly call me out on.

I’d much rather be running a workshop where everyone thinks I’m great!

Someone recently said to me, “When someone can act out their pain onto you and you stick around then it shows you love them.” Uh, no, actually, that is called co-dependence. That is NOT a healthy constructive definition of love – certainly not of self-love. And yet, when we are at home we do ‘hurt the ones we love’. We have a tendency to ‘let our hair down’ in the worst of ways – we relax our nice social manners, we allow ourselves to be rude, mean, insensitive, impatient, judgemental, withdrawn, closed-hearted… because they love us.

What a clever way to avoid real vulnerable intimacy.

It’s so silly of us because you can be as successful as possible in all the other areas of your life but if you come home and things are not good there, all the other stuff loses it’s magic. Many successful people will vouch for this. On the other hand, you can fail dismally at everything else out there but if you come home to a loving, accepting, supportive space, it makes everything feel ok.

Shouldn’t this be a really big, fat, in-our-face clue to the secret of feeling good?

Home is where the heart is, people.  It’s the vulnerable space. It’s the truth. – and THAT’s why home can also be where it’s hardest. We avoid feeling vulnerable so we unwittingly keep our loved ones at a distance – they can really ‘see’ us and that can be scary.

BUT when we allow softness and openness and love – when we let ourselves be seen and loved – then home is the happiest, safest, most enriching of places.

Focus on the area where your heart lives. Put your main effort into that. Be your nicest, kindest, most generous, most open-hearted, least judgemental self AT HOME. With your partner, with your kids – and if you can manage it, with your parents. Be an inspiration AT HOME. Then go run a workshop.

That’s what I’d like to be able to do.

How about you?

Share this post, pass it on. There may be some happier homes out there if we all keep reminding each other of this simple truth.

8 Comments

  1. I loved this post. It is that continual seeking the balance within and without. We are so lucky to have homes and families and dear ones to love and hold. I need to be weary of projecting my inner insecurities onto them, so that I can mirror what I feel on the inside, towards the outside. If I were to live in solitude, I would need to apply very different type of disciplines to balance out my inner insecurities. Maybe it takes removing myself physically from my loved ones in those moments? I am going to try that next time I feel vulnerable. Just for a short gathering of myself. I am going to take time out. Not so easy, but is this not what I get my child to do when he/she is out of control? Ultimately it is not their responsibility to carry my pain…

  2. Absolutely resonates with me. But I also find myself wondering when exactly we can not be perfect if it’s not at home? Being in the world and holding it together all the time is really really hard and our kids most of all know instinctively the buttons to press to test whether we are still a safe harbour. Sometimes I just can’t be. And whilst I hate that, I think it’s unfair to expect myself to be. Striving to
    Be better is absolutely my goal and I want to try and model to my kids that we can manage our emotions without turning into a psycho…but also I think sometimes it’s ok to let your guard down and be all parts of yourself, even the dark and ugly ones. Because we all have them.

    • Laura I totally agree with you. Thank you so much for your comment. We are often much too hard on ourselves and try to be so unrealistically perfect… See my response to Rachel below. There seems to be a fine line between feeling safe and … I’m hesitant to say ‘abusing’, but taking advantage of that safety with our behaviour. Maybe because I know my children love me so much I feel safe enough to show the more unconscious behaviour – but if I can hold myself together elsewhere then why do I allow myself to project my anger or distress on them at home? Its a conversation to keep having while we figure it out.

      • Laura, check out next Monday’s post. It’s a fuller response to your comment.

  3. This tendency was something I recognized as a teenager. At the time, I had no idea what to do with this revelation that people “let their hair down” in the worst ways at home. Years later, though, it defines me as a mother. It’s the first thing I think when I’ve lost my temper and frightened my kids: “I wouldn’t have acted this way with anyone else.” Then I can dig under the anger and figure out what is truly upsetting me. I LOVE this post. Thank you.

    • Oh Rachel thank you for your honest comment. (People, check out her blog.) I had the same thought a while back about my children – that as parents we don’t get the best of them in terms of ‘nice’ behaviour. We get their acting out and tantrums. It’s really important for any of us to have a safe place where the ‘not nice’ stuff can be expressed and especially for children to know they can be loved and accepted by us even when they behave their least attractively. I think that there is a fine line there somewhere between safety and destructive… I’m working on figuring it out. I love your comment of it defining you as a mother. Rings so true. Glad you are out there.

  4. Oh my goodness, YEEEEEEESSSSSS!!! I’ve been saying this to my partner and daughter for the last year or so!! I want to expect better of myself most of all AT HOME with my lovely little family, not elsewhere with strangers! First it was study, then it was trying to establish myself in that new-to-me field (which like yours Eilat requires me to be emotionally aware and responsive to so many others).
    But I’m biologically wired to want to reserve my best self for my nearest and dearest! THAT is so tricky at times but THAT is my main life purpose. THANK YOU again and again, Eilat, for sharing these insights! !

    • Maria it’s such a delight for me to have you journeying alongside. This morning I had to remind myself again, that I’m supposed to give my best HERE not THERE. Readjusting old patterns of socialisation… Worth the effort though. Home feels so much nicer when I do it. Thank you for reading and sharing.

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