Are You Nice To Others But Mean At Home?
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.