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Posted on 1 Dec, 2014 | 4 comments

Has Anyone Pissed You Off Lately?

Before we start – if you haven’t yet – please click on the red button over on the right and vote for this blog. Let’s spread the word that parenting can actually be FOR THE PARENT. Voting closes end of Dec and you only need to vote once. Let’s be loud and proud!

Ok here we go…

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Someone and I bumped up against each other recently in an uncomfortable way for both of us. It was uncomfortable because we bumped into our shadow selves in each other. Knowing that helps me welcome the experience with an open heart and great appreciation for this someone’s presence in my life.

Let me explain;

While we are growing up we learn what behaviour works best in what situation. Now, our childish interpretation of ‘works best’ is not always so kosher because, quite frankly, we only have half a brain at the time. (Ok I don’t actually know how much of a brain we have working at any given moment we are growing up but our brain is mostly fully developed only when we are around 21 years old so there are things we just don’t have the brain capacity to grasp when we are little).

half a brain

So we might see, “Hmmm, throwing a tantrum works best because it gets me what I’m asking for.” Or we might see, “Yikes! I won’t try scream and shout like that again. They rejected me and closed me in a room on my own.” One child learns expressed anger is good and the other learns expressed anger is bad.

Based on these kinds of experiences in our family and school we learn how to be in the world. Then we are grown and we head out into the wider world certain that we know how to be. And then we trip up because, again frankly, most of our families have their own unique weirdness and what worked with them doesn’t always work with others. This is one of the reasons we go a little crazy in our early twenties. We are facing our patterns for the first time.

So why am I writing this and how is it related to being pissed off? Well we are mostly all born with a

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Posted on 13 Oct, 2014 | 5 comments

Avoiding Pain Causes Pain

“Sit with the feelings for ten minutes each day” I tell her. “Just sit and don’t take any action and don’t judge it. Open yourself to the feelings that come up and just acknowledge that sadness and pain you’ve carried in your chest all these years. Let it finally begin to empty.”

feeling the feelings

“But there is so much anger” she tells me. “I don’t really know how to deal with the anger.”

“Anger is a feeling and despite what you fear, feelings can’t actually kill or damage you. If you repress them for years, or do things to avoid or distract yourself from the feeling, that does sometimes cause damage. But it’s never the feeling that causes damage, only the stuff you do to avoid it.

The destructive stuff we associate with anger or hurt usually happens from things we do because we are afraid of the feeling. Feelings are like gas, they need to come up and out – otherwise they cause pain.  Just let the feeling come and be what it is – even if it’s unpleasant. Even if it smells bad for a while. Only then can it go. Let it flower and fade.”

“I don’t know,” she says. “I can face the pain but I’m not sure about the anger.”

“But isn’t the anger only there because you’re trying to avoid the pain?” I ask her. “You’re angry because it hurts – so you’d rather focus on the anger. It’s a distraction.”

“Oh yes,” she says laughing. “That’s true.”

We are so well trained to avoid our feelings. Society sells us every possible

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Posted on 10 Mar, 2014 | 2 comments

These 3 Beliefs Cause ALL Your Problems

If a behaviour is an avoidance tactic, stopping to do it shows you what you are avoiding. Boy did I get shown!

hiding

This shouting diet has been a real eye-opener for me. For one thing, it’s made it very, VERY clear to me that if I feel the urge to shout at my child (or partner, or dog, or self) it has very little to do with my child (or partner, or dog, or self). I knew that before, I really did, but abstaining from the release of shouting has plonked that ball so firmly in my court it bonked me in the eye.

So, again, my shouting – or anger, frustration, fear… – is not about the trigger (ie my child, or partner, or dog, or self). The triggers just remind us of some old hurt we’re carrying around. It’s the hurt that’s raising the feelings. The hurt is from previous times in our lives. We were smaller when those hurts happened, so when we’re reminded of them now, we feel small and the feelings seem too big, just like we felt back then – that’s why we try to make them go away by shouting  – or punishing, or withdrawing, or eating…

Sometimes my child doesn’t listen to me and I want to scream at him to MOVE! “Just listen to me!” At those moments he seems so huge to my small self. Like he’s this great big immovable obstacle in front of which I’m powerless.

play

If I notice my big reaction and say, “Oh this is mine. What do I need?” all of a sudden things move back into their true proportions. He is just a small boy who is finding it hard to leave his game to go bath. I’m not small and he’s not big. We’re just two people trying to figure things out.

During this shouting diet, it’s become so much easier for me to say, “Oh this is mine. What do I need?”. That’s because the results have been AMAZING! I generally feel much better annnnd… it’s pretty much stopped me shouting. Seriously. After that last bean I haven’t even been tempted to shout – I’ve been irritated, yes, frustrated, yes, overwhelmed, yes – but shouted? No.

Ok well, there was that one little time… but still, it’s 0.3% of what it was like before. In four weeks? Not bad.

So why is this? What have I learned by saying, “Oh this is mine. What do I need?”

Wow. So

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Posted on 24 Feb, 2014 | 4 comments

What Is My Child Offering To Teach Me Here?

The other day I was organising things for my son to do and I noticed I was getting uptight about it – but I couldn’t see why that would be.

d

Oh hey! I’m having a big reaction.

Hooray! In I go:

“What exactly am I stressing about?”

“Making sure he has play-dates and activities so he doesn’t get bored”

“Why is it so important that he doesn’t get bored?”

“Because when he gets bored he starts to pick at me. ‘I’m boooored. There’s nothing to doooo. Come play with me. Come play nooooow! Whyyyyyyy aren’t you playing with me? I’m BOOOORREEEED!’ It’s horrible.”

“What is the reason I find it horrible?”

“Because it stresses me when he does that. If I say no he gets angry, pushes, hurts, breaks, won’t let me do anything else and just generally sprays pained anger into the home atmosphere. It makes everyone’s life difficult. I’d rather avoid that if I can.”

“What do I really feel when he does that? What am I really trying to avoid?”

“His anger. I actually feel scared of his anger, his pain, his shooting it all at me… Ugh! I think I’m scared of letting him get bored.”

“Is this a familiar feeling? Have I ever felt this way before in my life? Scared of someone’s anger and pain – of them shooting it all at me?”

“Oh yes this is very familiar. I know just who, when and how it was. I’ve processed it many times. I have opened into the feelings and let myself deeply feel what it was like back then. I have held and loved and reassured my younger self. I know it doesn’t have to be this way.”

“Ok then. Are you happy to continue this way?”

“No! HELL no! I’m done with that. I am not willing to try to please my child constantly so that he doesn’t shoot his anger at me. I must do what 

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Posted on 27 Jan, 2014 | 2 comments

The Anger Is Never About The Child. Ever.

A few days back my boys were tumbling around, “Please go play somewhere else” I asked, “There’s a sharp corner there.”

frolic

Five minutes later I saw my older child grab his little brother’s ankles and yank his feet right out from under him. Down went the little guy backwards, like a felled tree. WHACK went his head on the very same darn corner I’d just pointed out. Big brother’s face was a picture of shock and horror.

Filled with my own shock and fear I rushed into the room and SHOUTED at my big boy. I don’t remember what I barked out, but it was short and something to do with his choice of action. Then I grabbed the howling little one and comforted him.

Ummm, hello priorities?

I was SO angry with my older child for his bad decision (read: STUPID thing to do – yes the very word I’ve dissed before). I wasn’t thinking about how he is a wonderful, thoughtful, sensitive child who LOVES his brother deeply and demonstratively. No sirree. I was busy being ANGRY.

He came tentatively into the room but I shooed him away and held my shrieking little one.

Little one calmed down and I took myself off to a closed room. I needed to.

My adrenalin was pumping from the fright and I was in full fight mode.

Guess who felt like the enemy?

Somewhere from the distance I could hear my Enlightened Self saying, “You shouted at your boy”. Grumpily I asked myself, “What else could I have done in that moment?” No answer. The anger kept flooding into my focus. SO ANGRY! I gave up and just let it just come.

I let it flood me with its heat and drive to hurt back. I sat still and opened right into being THAT angry. I felt my fear about someone hurting my child. I let myself open up to feel the bigness of that. The primal me wanted to get rid of the thing that had caused me this pain and threat. It wanted to do something bad to the enemy.

feeling the anger

Poor little enemy.

That’s why I’d removed myself.

The intensity eased (because I’d given the emotion space to just be) and my mind kept cycling, “What could I have done differently? Should I have done differently? Doesn’t that sort of behaviour

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Posted on 20 Jan, 2014 | 13 comments

Will I Let My Child Help Me Heal?

In a soft moment a while back my child told me, “You’re scary because you shout at me.”

Ouch!

I tearfully told a loved one what my son had said and she generously replied:

“Oh well done! My kids are too scared of me to tell me I’m scary.”

And we laughed until the tears came.

Because it hurts. It hurts like crazy when I see I’m causing my precious, vulnerable child harm in any way. And I remember being small and very, VERY scared of my own shouty parent. In those awful moments of being shouted at I was either wide-eyed, frozen with fear, body tight and tense waiting for what might come or I was burning with shame from the angry humiliating words that were lashing me.

shouty

And now I do the same to my own child?

Owowowowoww!

It really hurts to see it and I need courage to look at it in the face.

I already know about my shoutiness. I promise you I don’t do it all the time but those times when I ‘lose it’… that’s what comes out. I’ve been working on it because there’s never an excuse to ‘lose it’ – no matter how much I feel justified in the moment. So my child’s comment came as a surprise precisely because I’ve been working so hard not to shout. And I thought I was doing ok… although maybe that’s why he felt safe enough to tell me.

That would be a soothing interpretation…

It’s so incredibly difficult to unlearn what you learned as a child, isn’t it? But it IS possible.

This is what I learned as a child from my adult’s behaviour:

When a child does something that makes an adult aware of their own personal pain, the adult

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Posted on 13 Jan, 2014 | 2 comments

More? You Want MORE?

(Sorry about the blocked link to last week’s post. It’s been resolved now. You can access the post and the audio meditation here)

In our Western world we are taught that when someone says no it means you stop and when someone needs space you give it to them. In other words you respect another person’s individuality and personal space and needs.

hmph

And then you become a parent.

She said, “I remember being with my two-year-old and feeling totally drained. I remember saying, ‘Ok that’s enough. I need some time. I can’t anymore’ and he just pulled on my leg and said ‘Mama, come see this’ as if I hadn’t said anything. And I thought, what do you mean ‘Mama come?’ I just told you I can’t anymore!”

It’s a shocker – those moments when you have NOTHING left in you. You’ve spent the day catering to, nurturing, loving, giving, organising, schlepping and carrying – all because you want to have done all that. Some of it you enjoyed, some of it not, but you were ok about doing all of it. And now you are done. DONE. You need to lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling like a catatonic patient for a while. That sounds nice.

Maybe you are even one of those rare creatures who has learned to express your needs and ask for help, so you say what you need. Hooray!

But wait, what is this? Your beautifully expressed needs are falling on deaf ears. Not so much deaf as they really don’t understand or care what you’ve just said. THEY have needs and that’s what they’reDescription: http://eilataviram.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif

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Posted on 30 Dec, 2013 | 6 comments

What You Focus On Grows

You know that expression ‘what you focus on grows’?

Well it’s actually true.

focus

Sometimes I pretend to myself that I don’t have time to focus on the stuff I say is important to me; like meditating, reading the blogs or websites or whatever else… or I pretend I’m just being lazy.

The truth is probably that I sometimes avoid what I know is important for me to focus on because of what I might have to face in myself when I do it.

Lately my work has nudged me to explore what other people out there are writing and doing. What I find interesting is that the more I immerse myself in the writings and ideas of people who are striving to live consciously, parent more authentically, brave honesty and vulnerability and come back to knowing their full worth, the easier I find it to be more constantly aware of choosing consciousness in the tough moments.

This great article for example reminded me about handling anger as a parent. I already know that stuff – it’s my training after all. I have a lot of theory and intuitive knowledge – but applying it in the moment that my child calls, “Mammmmaaaaaaa!” from bed for the 5th time takes something close to heroic effort for me. And if that article is fresh in my mind it helps me remember how I want to be.

What you focus on grows.

Fears, for example, can grow enormous when you give them attention. The secret with panic attacks is

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Posted on 18 Nov, 2013 | 2 comments

“I Hit My Child Yesterday” She Tells Me…

“We shall not cease from exploration

and the end of all our exploring

will be to arrive where we started

and know the place for the first time”

– T.S. Eliot

“I hit my child yesterday” she tells me, grief etched all over her face. “It just happened. She was testing me all day.

We went out and did things she loves in the morning. I said yes to things that she asked for. It was a lovely morning. Then we came home and I was tired but I managed to just be with her and we played and loved.

It wasn’t flowing though. It wasn’t easy. She was restless – you know that feeling like you must keep her happy otherwise things are going to go badly very quickly. It’s not like I feel I need to keep her ok or anything. I mean I do say no to her – maybe too often actually. But… I didn’t really pick it up until I’m saying it now, I think I was afraid of her exploding. Maybe I felt I was too tired and raw to handle her losing it… I don’t know.

Anyway of course as soon as things didn’t go her way all the nice stuff I’d done went right out the window. She screamed and hit her sister and went to the cupboard and stole

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Posted on 4 Nov, 2013 | 4 comments

Children Bring Us Closer To Hearing Our Soul

I want to tell you about *Alan and how his daughter is offering him profound healing.

alan

The important thing to know about Hannah, is that she is just like Alan – and that freaks him out to no end.

You see, Alan lives with a terrible lack of permission to be himself – and when our main purpose in life is to become the fullest possible expression of ourselves, that is like living death.

He’s lived most of his life inside a grey, scared, exhausting, boring sort of feeling. Psychiatrists have called it chronic treatment-resistant depression with anxiety features. I call it reactive depression. I would even go so far as to call it a lifestyle disease.

His parents were both deeply unhappy people and his mother was also very controlling. Like all children do, young Alan set himself the Mission Impossible of making his parents ok. Thus he learned to shape himself to other people’s desires. He never learned that it was ok to just be himself; Quite the opposite actually.

Alan, of course, married an unhappy, controlling, scary woman just like his mother. He gave into her pressure to have children and he often feels totally overwhelmed by them, in particular by his eldest daughter, Hannah who is

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Posted on 28 Oct, 2013 | 11 comments

Does Anyone Out There Actually Attain The Gold Standard Of Parenting?

I woke up at 5.30am today to meditate, be with myself, write in my journal and prepare for the day. Yummmmmm!

Creep out of bed, quietly, quietly. Go into a room and q u i e t l y close the door. Don’t want to wake anyone up ‘cos then I’ll lose this precious opportunity. My mind is already settling into stillness, I can feel this is going to be a good meditation. I’m excited for this snippet of peace before a child-filled day.

tiptoe

My 3-year old needs a filling in his tooth and the dentist wants to put him under full sedation in a theatre. For a filling! Really? Google the dangers of anaesthesia for a toddler. Go on, scare yourself!

So today I’m taking him to someone who is good and who’s attitude is, “If he can co-operate we can do it without sedation.” Co-operate? My little guy is in a defiance stage – he’ll do it because you told him not to. Oh the joys. Now I have to take him to lie in a scary chair, open his mouth for loud drills and injections…

I’m going to need my wits about me this morning. There’s a lot riding on it. If we can’t do it he goes into theatre. FOR A FILLING! Not gonna happen.

After that I need to shop with the little guy, fetch my wonderful visiting relative, feed, cart and contain four children under 7 from school to playdates, socialise, be nice, remain functional…

So I need this quiet time. Reeeaally need it.

But what’s this? Little feet padding up to my carefully closed door.

OH NO!

Oprah says a child looks to see if your eyes light up when they enter the room. Mine sure light up but not for the right reasons.

What damage did I cause when my first response to

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Posted on 14 Oct, 2013 | 4 comments

If Someone Says You are Amazing – Listen To Them

It’s an average school morning. We’ve managed to herd, feed, brush, pack, clothe and transport the children – and ourselves – with all the necessary bits and bobs and appendages attached and remembered…

(Seriously folks, this just deserves a hero’s mention don’t you think? We all execute an Iron Man course each morning and I say, “It’s an average morning”… )

iron man

Anyway, no time for prolonged pats on the back, it’s rush, rush, rush but we get to school on time – sort of. My 3-year-old proudly presses the intercom button for his school, out sings his teacher’s melodious “Good morning” and all of a sudden I feel cheered up. I have a little moment of feeling joyful and that all is well in the world.

This is her magic and she does it so well.

Her voice is high-pitched and penetrating but with a throatiness that adds a surprising richness to it. It’s perfect for children – and apparently for the moms… But it’s the warmth and love and humour that she injects into her interactions with the children and moms that just creates a blanket of joyful, mirthful, warmth in her playschool.

She has magic and she uses it with power and skill. We are all blissfully under her spell

janey

But do you think she can see it about herself? This morning I told her that hearing her cheery good morning on the intercom had suddenly made my world feel all right. She laughed and I could see she didn’t believe me.

Another mom standing near me heard my compliment and enthusiastically joined in the praise. Our beloved golden teacher humoured the two of us for a while, just like she does the little children who babble their half-comprehensible stories to her, but when we told her again that she is amazing she put her hand on my arm and said in an earnest voice, “But I’m NOT really” and our praise-singing ground to an unceremonious halt.

I don’t know why she said it. I can only make assumptions. Maybe it was just social etiquette or maybe

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