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Posted on 27 Feb, 2017 | 6 comments

Do You Feel Your Feelings With Your Kids?

Hi all. My posts are once a month at the moment instead of once a week because I am working hard on a new book and need to put my writing time towards that. I am enjoying it hugely but I’m actually missing you all! I will let you know more soon. Now heeeeeere’s this month’s article:

We are so good at avoiding our feelings. Feelings are not the same as emotions, you know? Emotions are the ways that our feelings express through us. Feelings are the deep experience inside us – in our heart and body. Emotions are more externally focused – they are expressing outwards. Feelings are an internal inwards experience. They invite a stillness and focus within. We avoid that.

A lot.

It’s a pity because this is how we humans heal and connect with our heart and soul. The most amazing transformations and healing occur when you let yourself feel your feelings.

I have observed recently just how much I avoid this and how cleverly too. I try to trick myself. “I already know about that, I don’t need to experience it” I’ll tell myself. Or emotion such as anger or fear will sweep me conveniently away from my feelings and I will focus on whatever I think caused me my discomfort.

The thing is, while I have emotional intelligence and I am in touch with my emotions, I am less practiced at just sitting with my real inner feelings. It is quite a new thing for me to hold a loving non-judgemental space for whatever is there within me to just flower and fade as it needs to. I mean doing this without judging it and trying to change or ‘fix’ it.

I do this quite comfortably in my work spaces and I’m getting better at it when I’m on my own too. But at home with my family, I notice I still rely heavily on using emotional expression to distract me from what is happening inside me. So I get angry with my kids for not listening and for fighting, I get annoyed that I have to keep chasing after them tidying up, I feel victimised by not being appreciated… All of these emotions – anger, annoyance, fear – are things I focus on to avoid just connecting with my heart and seeing what feelings have been stirred. I make it not-about-me.

Sometimes I do this by making it all-about-me. “Oh poor me. Nobody listens to me. No one appreciates me.” These are the lamentations of someone who is trying not to see that they have big feelings inside.

I’ve decided I want to become more practiced in feeling my feelings. Nowhere else do my feelings get more triggered than with my family. This is easily confirmed by how much emotional expression happens for me when I’m with them. So this is where my most beneficial practice lies.

What does it look like to feel my feelings when I’m with my family?

Basically this means that whenever I am triggered and become angry or neurotic or controlling, my task is to:

  • stop,
  • notice I am externalising through emotions,
  • hold off on the emotional expressing
  • and turn inwards lovingly to allow myself to really feel what has been stirred inside me
  • accept myself and tell my feelings “You belong”

In other words, stop blaming other people and trying to control the outside world and just feel my feelings instead.

I look forward to the healing and transformation that will come from this practice.

How are you at feeling your feelings? I’d love to hear from you 🙂 As I said, I’m kind of missing you guys!

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Posted on 18 Jul, 2016 | 6 comments

Dialogue Between My Masculines

fire

The young man who was the ringleader of the gang which had been causing all the trouble in the community was summoned to sit at the fire with the elder and the warrior.

It was already dark and the elder took some time to fill his long pipe. The other two waited for him to begin speaking. They sat in the golden glow of the fire in a lengthening silence, the younger man growing increasingly restless and irritated as it stretched on. The warrior sat strong and powerful. He deferred to the elder and threw occasional glances of angry disdain at the younger man’s callous impatience.

The elder, fully engaged with his task, seemed oblivious to the growing tension – yet he was not. He was choosing his time. When he finally spoke his tone was soft and gentle.  Turning to the young man he asked, “What is it you need?”

The young man, who had perfected his mask of arrogant nonchalance, sneered at this question, “Need? My boys and I don’t need anything! We do what we want. We are powerful. If we need something, we take it.”

The warrior moved restlessly, clearly wanting to meet this challenge. The elder made no show of recognising this. The warrior sat still.

“But what of feelings?”

Now the young man really laughed, “Feelings? They only cause trouble! I tried those in

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Posted on 4 Apr, 2016 | 12 comments

Are You Ok With Who And Where You Are?

I am all astir. Riled up. In the midst of an inner uprising.

I feel furious and outraged. I was fantasising about sending out various letters to various people whose actions have raised my ire and then thankfully I said, “Hang on a minute. If I’m this affected it means something about this is mine. Let me pause before I make it about the outside and first look at what is happening inside.”

look inside

Isn’t it amazing how the outside constantly reflects our inside to us?

There were two (enraging) outside situations that made me aware of my inner situation. Did I mention they were really upsetting?

So firstly a group

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Posted on 29 Feb, 2016 | 2 comments

Open Your Heart And Let Go

A friend told me he uses the analogy of a trapeze artist swinging from bar to bar to help someone who wants change. There comes a point, he tells them, where you have to let go of the bar you are holding onto and have a moment in mid-air, so that you can catch the next bar – the one you want.

letting go

I love the metaphor. It puts that great moment of courage into perspective and is such a visual way of demonstrating that if you don’t let go, you’ll just land up swinging back and forth in the same spot indefinitely. Thanks Si Ekin, Courage Activist.

We often have to let go – let go control, let go of how we see ourselves, let go of the old ways, let go of loved ones, let go of jobs, let go of life as we know it… we tend to find it very difficult to do.

“Open your heart and let go,” I say to one person after another, “Open your heart and open your hands and let go. With love. It’s ok. It will BE ok. Open your heart to the love and stay with that.”

Letting go of a loved one, for example, isn’t easy – to have to say goodbye and let them go from your life. We

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Posted on 1 Feb, 2016 | 1 comment

The Sweetness Of Letting Yourself Love Your Child (Or Anyone Else)

 

loveing your child

One of the gifts of parenting is that you get to love and be loved with someone in this intimate, real, daily-life way that at the same time transcends all daily life stuff. It’s a bit of a mind-boggle to ponder on the relationship with one’s child. There are so many angles and tones to it.

Who knows us as intimately as our child? They see us at our best and at our worst, in public and in private, dressed and undressed, on stage and in the toilet. We see them when they are happy and when they are sick, we are their worst nightmare and their best fantasy, their most horrible and depriving and the source of all good things… That’s pretty intimate stuff.

Most of the time however we focus on the daily grind stuff. Feeding them, dressing them, getting their homework done, making sure everything they need for the day is in their bag, co-ordinating lifts to school and extra-murals, worrying about discipline, how to get them to listen better, respect you more, not hit their brother, be a polite upstanding member of society… the exhaustion of the non-stop picking up off the floor, chasing after them to get them to do what needs to be done, washing dishes – again, making food – again (that they complain about), having to field the ongoing, “I’m boooored” and “You’re not the boss of me!” and “Why can’t I? All the other children in my class are”… Can you BELIEVE we do all this stuff everyday?! Mind-boggling.

Lately, in the midst of all the usual logistical operations, I have been remembering to regularly sneak peaks into the center of the organisation – the love that is there between me and these beings that are my children.

That love is just as mind-boggling as the daily grind stuff. Whether or not things are good between you, it’s a pure, direct, unquestioned connection between your heart and theirs.

Now, that sounds lovely in theory but in reality it is something many of us fear. To let ourselves be open that way feels really vulnerable and exposed. I have found, as I let myself feel that love, that I need courage to stay open to it. I think maybe that is why so many of us do spend most of our time focusing on the daily grind stuff. It’s exhausting but it distracts from having to feel all wide open and vulnerable to the way your heart is connected to this being who is your child. I’ve heard people say about their child, “It’s like having your heart walking around in the world and you have no control over what will happen to it.”

There are not many of us who do not protect ourselves in some way from that. And we do it by shutting down our love a little – just making it all a little less vulnerable. We provide, we work, we ‘do’ but we avoid ‘being’ much. It’s too real and too raw for many of us. School holidays freak us out – what are we going to ‘do’ with them? All that potential intimacy…

And then we secretly feel life is bland and meaningless.

Which is what happens when you are scared to add the spice into a dish because you worry it will be overwhelming.

So if you want a bland life, keep protecting yourself from love. But if you want to enjoy the flavours of your life, here is what I recommend:

Open yourself to the sweetness that is loving your child. Focus on it deliberately and let yourself feel it to whatever degree you can in that moment. The sweetness of it is never the same. At times it is tinged with bitterness, at times with spice, sometimes it’s a little sour, sometimes subtle, sometimes rich, sometimes overpoweringly sweet – but after letting yourself have it, you always feel enriched, grounded and satisfied with life. How many tasty things can you say that about?

When you look at your child eating, getting ready for school, sitting reading, resisting what you are telling him, being rude – whatever – think about the fact that you really love this person. Let that be the main thought in your mind as you deal with him or her. Try to open your heart to this person. Sometimes you may look at how disgusting she’s being and feel amazement that you love this child and other times it will be obvious that you do but it will always be sweet and satisfying to tap into that love.

Try it this week.

How do you feel when you think about doing this?

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Posted on 9 Nov, 2015 | 2 comments

The Strange Storm

(This story is for all the 9-year olds out there – and anyone else who is going through transition.)

Adam awoke one morning and noticed that something felt a little different. It was nothing obvious at first, just an unfamiliar feel to the air. “A storm is coming” he found himself thinking and went to the window to check but outside everything was still and calm. A pleasant sunny morning with no sign of anything unusual. “That’s odd. I wonder what this feeling is” he thought as he prepared for his day.

Over the morning the feeling became stronger. It was as though a hurricane was beginning. The air felt strange and things began to move a little. He couldn’t quite see what was moving or how, but things were definitely not as solid as they usually were.

He hurried out of the room hoping to get away but the feeling continued. “It must be a storm” thought Adam, “What else could it be?” He was very unsettled. In the kitchen his mom was making breakfast and packing his school lunch. It looked so normal but something felt threatening. “What’s happening mom?” he asked, knowing she could ease his fear. “What do you mean?” she replied. “I’m making porridge for breakfast and your lunches. Your brother just woke up. Please brush your teeth and get something warmer on.”

Adam couldn’t believe that was her answer. “I don’t want porridge!” he shouted trying to make her understand he needed her to explain what was happening. “WHY are you making porridge?!” She looked at him surprised. “Wow, you woke up grumpy this morning. Please don’t shout at me like that. You like porridge, that’s why I’m making it.”

He couldn’t believe it. She was supposed to make him feel better but she was still talking about the porridge! Didn’t she understand he needed to know what was happening? Didn’t she understand anything? “I HATE porridge”, he shouted, “I WON’T eat it!”

Adam was just as surprised as his mother that he was shouting like that. He hadn’t meant to shout… but it did make the weird feeling a little better. He stomped his feet and that also helped. His little brother came into the room and bumped into him. It made the whole room wobble inside Adam which gave him a fright and made him angry. He turned to his brother and hit him. His brother started to wail. Mom came in. “Adam what is going on with you?! Why did you hit your brother?”

Adam couldn’t explain. He was feeling so many things all at once. He was scared but she wasn’t helping him. He hadn’t meant to shout. He hadn’t meant to hit but everyone was behaving like everything was fine. Couldn’t they see the storm? Couldn’t they feel it? Was it just him? What was happening to him?

Adam ran to his room and slammed

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Posted on 3 Aug, 2015 | 2 comments

Forcing An Issue – What’s That About?

We are going to a party and I ask my son to change into a nicer pair of trousers before we go. He looks nice enough but he is in tracksuit trousers and it’s a very casual look. I want us to present well, right?

There’s a catch though – he doesn’t want to change trousers.

change

“Ok, I get it, you don’t want to change, but you need to, so just do it quickly and we can go.”

“But I don’t want to.”

I pause a moment to consider. How strongly do I feel about this Changing Of The Trousers? Is this a battle I want to step into? If I let him go like this he will be comfortable but what will I be teaching him about respect for others? If he rocks up in a tracksuit to the party what will people think about me and my family?

Such a lot of crap we have floating around in our heads, don’t we?

But this trouser thing had bumped into one of my own big ongoing dilemmas: In a conflict of interests, where is the line between respecting others and disrespecting yourself.

That day I decided I wanted to teach him respect for others and couldn’t leave the stupid trouser issue until I had quite ruined the whole party-going atmosphere for us all. I was aware of what I was doing and chose my actions moment by moment but I was driven by my anguish and indecision about ‘forcing’ him to do something he didn’t want to do – which is NOT my usual style at all – and, I suppose, fearing losing respect from others for my lack of social appropriateness. Pain facing me on either choice. Big-time triggered.

In the end I

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Posted on 13 Jul, 2015 | 0 comments

When It GETS To You ‘Cos You’ve Been Here Before

Originally posted on Jul 29, 2013

I got SO angry with my son the other day” she tells me, “It wasn’t pretty. And we were out in the street too. I’m just hoping no-one saw me.”

“What happened?”

“We went for a walk and JJ just wouldn’t stay in his pram. He kept wanting me to carry him. We’d already walked a while, it was hot, I was tired, it was time to head home and I just wanted him to sit in the pram but he wouldn’t. He wanted me to walk and push the pram uphill and carry him – and he’s not light anymore. I tried to reason with him and then I totally lost my cool. I feel so bad about it.”

“What made you lose your cool like that?”

“Well he just wasn’t listening to me. It was like I was pitting my will against his. I felt powerless.”

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Posted on 29 Jun, 2015 | 4 comments

Why Does It Just GET To You?

Can you believe it’s school holiday time again? They’re trying to test our sanity! So as usual during the hols I’ll be re-running some faves and then start again end July. This was posted originally on Jul 15, 2013.

Ok, last Monday I said I’d explain more about how your dark stuff can lead you to your light.

A few nights ago my son woke me up about a hundred times. Untitled1When I hear the mid-night call to duty I already have a reaction. My heart sinks and part of me wants to hide under the blanket and pretend I’m not there.

“Mamaaaaaa”

Oh no. Maybe it’s a dream? Maybe if I just lie here it’ll go away.

“MamAAAAAA!”

Sigh. Ok I’m awake.I’d better get there fast before he

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Posted on 1 Jun, 2015 | 2 comments

Have You Gazed Lovingly At Anyone Lately?

I recently had an experience in a group where we had to partner up with a stranger and gaze into each other’s eyes for… I don’t know how long it was. It felt both short and forever. Maybe it was 10 minutes?

My partner had these beautiful, curious, accepting eyes and we almost immediately fell into an experience of Love. My heart willingly opened wide. It was deep and warm and open and so easy to just love and connect with him. Despite the hugeness of the experience, it was very simple and clear compared to the complexities of daily eye contact in our lives. Usually when we gaze into someone’s eyes with love it implies intentions of some kind. It exposes our desire, our softness, our vulnerability, our need to love and be loved… we get scared it’s showing too much about us or giving the other power over us…

Nothing simple about it.

But this experience felt so clean of all the worry. We were expected and allowed to do it. So we did. Gazed deep into each other’s eyes and let ourselves surrender to love and connectedness. What a joy.

Eyes of Love

The first thing I sensed when we began was pain about love and and connection. Maybe it was mine, maybe it was his, maybe it was the pain of the human condition. I can’t tell you which. It passed as I continued to open up and then it deepened into a connection with another soul.  I felt things but couldn’t say if they were mine or his – and it didn’t matter. There was a oneness. Most important was that we were present in the moment, to ourselves and to each other.

After a while I became aware of how good it feels to sit and be looked at like that. I felt happy and loved. Another human was taking the time and care to sit and look deep into my eyes. Wow. Scary, but wow.

There is much I can say about it – as you can imagine it raised a lot of stuff – but I’m sharing this for a particular reason.

After the exercise people discussed their experiences. Men and women alike said they had never done this before – not just with a stranger, never. Fears, defences, discomforts were expressed. It was challenging to get that close, that open with someone.

People spoke about how fleetingly we hold eye contact in an average day and how complex it is, how it is sometimes misinterpreted. One man became sad he doesn’t do this with his partner. “I’m so busy moving onto the next thing I don’t take the time to sit and gaze into her eyes. It never occurred to me to do that.” Another laughed wryly, “I sit and gaze lovingly for long minutes into my cell phone or computer but not people’s eyes.”

It seems the only time we commonly gaze that way is during

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Posted on 2 Feb, 2015 | 9 comments

How To Stay Calm And Open-Hearted In The Tough Moments

In his wonderful course Soul Of Discipline Kim John Payne gives an excellent (and quick) tool to help find compassion in the really tough moments. It’s an unwitting variation of tonglen which is a meditation practice found in Tibetan Buddhism. Tonglen is Tibetan for ‘giving and taking’ (or sending and receiving).

Pema Chödrön describes the tonglen practice as “a method for connecting with suffering —ours and that which is all around us— everywhere we go. It is a method for overcoming fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness of our heart. Primarily it is a method for awakening the compassion that is inherent in all of us, no matter how cruel or cold we might seem to be.”

In applying it to parenting Kim has given a very powerful way of healing and it can REALLY calm things down when you get into that space where you are quite convinced your child (or your boss, or your partner) is the antichrist.

antichrist

So this is how his version goes. He calls it the Compassionate Response. It takes 10 minutes or so to begin with but after you’ve practiced a bit it only takes a few seconds to do – and then you can even do it right in the tough moments.

Sit down in a quiet place and close your eyes. First bring to mind your child in their best self. Really imagine in detail and allow yourself to feel how it is when he or she is balanced and grounded, happy and deeply content. Then ‘park’ that shining image. Now imagine the same child in th

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