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Posted on 29 May, 2017 | 0 comments

Parenting =Vulnerability. Embrace It!

As I follow my big reactions to help me see and heal parts of myself that need love and acceptance, I see again and again how many of my unwanted reactions to things occur because I am trying to fend off feeling vulnerable.

Vulnerability is kind of a dirty word in our culture where looking cool, succeeding and having your s#%t together is seen as ‘right’.

Recently a friend and I witnessed someone really losing her s%*t in various ways. She had reasons for it. She was pretty much howling in pain at the injustices in her life. People’s reactions to this were instructive. Some tried to step in to help, some stepped back in disgust and judgement and most stepped back so that they wouldn’t be touched by it. My friend commented to me, “Surely we should have some way to hold space for someone when they are in a place like this?”

We don’t really have much training in being vulnerable or holding space for someone else’s vulnerability. We really run scared from it. And no wonder. There are some horrific things that happen to vulnerable humans.  But to be a ‘vulnerable’ person is not the same as to allow yourself to experience vulnerability. I want to talk to the FEELING of vulnerability that so many of us run from in destructive ways.

When my child (or the world) doesn’t do what I wish, I feel powerless. I get scared, then angry, I shout, push, withdraw or manipulate in various ways to get him to comply with what I want. Why? Why is it so important that the world goes to according to my plans?

Because when it doesn’t, it reminds me I am vulnerable; that I am not in control of the external world. My immediate human response is that this means danger. If I can’t control things, bad stuff can happen to me. Therefore I must defend against it as best I can. My safety depends on it. It might be a matter of life or death.

See? It’s pretty simple to our psyche. Vulnerability = potential harm or death. Therefore vulnerability = defendedness. This interpretation is exhausting though. It means we have to defend against all the many things we cannot control – very much including our children and their behaviour. Good luck with that!

I remember the huge anxiety I experienced after my first child was born. I had an immense realization that I am profoundly exposed and vulnerable because I now had this tiny being to protect. Something outside of me, that I couldn’t control, was now connected to my safety and well-being. It was terrifying! People have told me they feel their child is like their heart walking around outside their body. In so many ways, being a parent equates to experiencing vulnerability. So it would probably be helpful for us to learn to handle it gracefully and constructively, don’t you think?

The irony is that life becomes hard when we try to defend against things we worry will be hard for us. The further irony is that the more we relax into being vulnerable and accepting it, rather than judging it, the more free – and safe – we feel. If I don’t have to defend myself against feeing vulnerable, if I can welcome the parts of myself that are afraid, then I am liberated to live my life and fully experience everything that happens to me.

I am exploring becoming comfortable with my vulnerability and accepting the accompanying feelings of exposure and terror. The terror is a trained response but it’s not necessary and it’s not helpful. As I become more practiced in relaxing into experiencing vulnerability, I notice the terror has less grip on me and now I even get excited when that exposed feeling comes because I can feel my fitness and tolerance increasing each time I survive it and that makes me feel so strong and free. Fear guides me less and less.

Allowing yourself to feel vulnerable equals freedom. Who knew?!

Practice with your child (or anything else you deal with daily). Next time you have a big reaction, notice if you were feeling vulnerable and what it was that caused the feeling. Then observe how exactly you defended against feeling vulnerable. You’ll find some interesting patterns there. Then speak kindly to yourself about what you see and try leaning into it a little more next time.

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Posted on 21 Nov, 2016 | 0 comments

Not All Your Feelings Are Yours

checking-in

At a certain point in my therapeutic journey I was confronted with numerous self-beliefs that were stopping me from allowing myself to live fully, experience fully and achieve to my full potential (real or imagined). Often, I was surprised to uncover these ‘road block’ beliefs – such as not being good enough or feeling guilty for having life when others have death (I include these because they are such common hidden beliefs). Some were not that surprising, like things you know you have but haven’t ever looked at them closely. But others were shocking. There were a few things I uncovered that not only was I not aware I believed, but also were things that felt contrary to who I knew myself to be. “What’s that doing there?” I wondered, “I don’t believe that! I believe the other thing.”

It’s very disconcerting to find beliefs lurking around in your psyche that you feel aren’t really yours, yet there they are activated and causing havoc in there. Like random meteors. I had to accept that they were there and that they were mine, because there they were, yet these discoveries really rocked my self-understanding. I remember thinking, “They feel like mine and yet foreign at the same time – as though they were superimposed onto me”.  It was a bit weird and I didn’t know what to do with it.

In hypnotherapy the therapist might ask the client whether the feelings or thoughts in a situation are coming from the inside or the outside. In other words, are they actually yours or are you as a child perceiving the emotions of those around you and understanding those perceived feelings to be your own. Disturbingly often, on exploration the client can distinguish that the feelings that led to detrimental self-beliefs are in fact emanating from those around them.

Likewise with my own process, many of the negative understandings I had of myself were not mine to begin with. That’s why they felt both mine and foreign. I had taken them on, assuming that what I could feel at the time were my own feelings. Confusing? Let me put it another way. As a child, if you can feel something, you assume it’s yours. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Except that it’s not always true. Children are perceptive beings, especially when it comes to strong feelings their parents are having, so sometimes, even though they can feel something, it is not theirs.

What finally brought it home for me was a conversation with my mother. I had been trying to process some very painful feelings about being alive and it was hard to get my head around them because one of the things I think I know about myself is that I love being alive and this stuff felt so different. Unnatural to who I am in essence. I tentatively disclosed to her some elements of what I was struggling with because it had to do with the time of my birth – I was nervous raising it with her but hoping to gain some clarity. The conversation took an amazing turn when my mother took up the topic and shared that around my birth and early infancy times she had been feeling all of the things I was describing.

That in itself is interesting but the jawdropper for me was that, as she described how she had been feeling at the time, I got a very weird feeling of déjà vu because she was saying all the things I had been saying in therapy. She was using the exact same words! As I sat quietly, listening in wonder and she told me her story it all made so much more sense to me. All those feelings and thoughts were hers, not mine. I had just absorbed it all like a sponge. That was why it had seemed like mine yet contrary to how I know my inner nature to be.

A deep sense of relief came over me when I understood these feelings were hers all along. After that things shifted for me on those issues. She hadn’t known I had taken the feelings on and built my self around them – and she wouldn’t have wanted me to carry that stuff. I too didn’t know it had happened or why. All I knew was that I felt that stuff so it must be me.

This experience also validated again for me the relief that happens when a parent owns and takes responsibility for their own stuff. It left me free to live my own life – with excitement – the way I know I innately do. Owning your own feelings is the most powerful thing you can do for your child and for yourself – from pregnancy onwards.

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Posted on 24 Oct, 2016 | 0 comments

It Hurts To Not Be Seen

When he was four my child had a phase where he would feel deep hurt and frustration if anyone questioned his opinion or knowledge or authority. If someone asked him, “Are you allowed to do that?” or “Go ask your mother if that’s ok” he would get very hurt. Not upset, hurt.

If anyone even misrepresented him in someway he would be quick to correct them. I was chatting to someone once and laughingly told her how he had dropped a whole lot of glitter on the floor. He was standing nearby listening to my story and he angrily interrupted me and tearfully stated, ‘NO Mama! I didn’t drop it or let it fall when I opened it. I shook it while it was open and that’s how it fell out!” It was very important to him that his exact experience of his world was validated.

It happened quite a bit for a while so, wondering what this was about and wanting to best help him through this I

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Posted on 10 Oct, 2016 | 0 comments

What IS Your Job As Parent?

Have you ever heard of a sport called Curling? In it one player throws a heavy, polished granite stone along ice towards a goal and two others skate alongside the moving stone to help it get as close to the goal as possible.

curling

The Wikepedia, or as my colleague likes to call it, Ask-Your-Auntie, has this to say, “…The path of the rock may be further influenced by two sweepers with brooms who accompany it as it slides down the sheet, using the brooms to alter the state of the ice in front of the stone. A great deal of strategy and teamwork goes into choosing the ideal path and placement for each situation, and the skills of the curlers determine how close to the desired result the stone will achieve”.

I feel my job as a parent is that of a sweeper. The universe consented to release these beings through me. I need to travel alongside them as best I can and smooth or guide their paths as much as possible so that they can go as far as they are able in their lives, as close as possible to the goal of their becoming the best possible version of themselves.

Their path is their own though.

Yes, even if we don’t like that idea, it’s the truth. We all know that no matter how much pressure and guidance and effort parents put in, a child will eventually make her own choices whether their parent likes it or not. As parents we can’t protect children from their choices or from their life traumas. So in reality I know I have little or no say on where my child’s life path goes or how it looks. Just like my parents – despite their attempts to influence it – had no real say over mine.

The real impact I can have is by clearing their path as they travel their journey. In my opinion, the best way to clear children’s paths and help them along is by being self-aware as a parent. If I take r

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Posted on 5 Sep, 2016 | 2 comments

Teach Your Child It’s Healthy To Feel Good

Here’s some science to explain how the link between our emotions and our physical state works. I hope by the end of this article you will throw yourself with abandon into laughing and enjoying life more often. And next time you see your child having fun, encourage them to do it even more instead of curbing their joy because you’re worried they’ll break or dirty something (yes I have been in your lounge…).

Our whole world will benefit if we all laugh more.

laughingCheck this out:

Our emotions (you know those things we try to avoid or ignore?), are actually vital for our survival because they play an important role in making sure our needs are met. If we ignore our feelings, our subconscious mind is designed to find another way to get its message across. By using symptoms, your body alerts you to the fact that your deeper needs are being ignored.

Did you know that all mammals show physical symptoms when they have an out-of-balance emotional state?

Every thought or feeling we have triggers the release of tiny chemical proteins called

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Posted on 29 Aug, 2016 | 4 comments

Whose Task Is It To Love You?

Dreamy

A while back I found myself thinking very fondly of someone dear to me and missing him a lot. For a while I just enjoyed the feeling of loving someone but as thoughts of him returned to my mind over and over at all sorts of times and places, I started to ask myself what was going on. Why was I thinking of him so very much and wishing he could be there to see me do whatever I was doing? It didn’t take long for me to see what was going on.

People in our lives tend to take on a certain role or representation for us. One way of interpreting dreams, for example, is to understand each person and thing in our dream as actually representing an aspect of our self. Then you look at each person or object in the dream and ask yourself, “What does this person / object represent to me? If I was describing it’s characteristics to someone, what would I say?” That way you can see which aspect of yourself the person or object is reflecting in the dream and you might understand your dream better.

The same is true for waking life. We see

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Posted on 11 Jul, 2016 | 4 comments

If I Can’t Also Look At My Dark Stuff, Then I’m Just Faking It

Being a parent can either be a distraction from the goal of becoming the shining, glorious beings we inherently are or it can fast forward you towards it. I learned this when I became a parent and lost my mind and my self-control a good few times. It all depends on what you do with it. The clay is there, what are you going to make from it?Going Mad

Knowledge is power, said Foucault famously. The way I see it is this; everything in my life offers me insight into myself. It offers me

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Posted on 6 Jun, 2016 | 2 comments

Where Are You Looking For Love?

lost heart

Do yourself a good deed right now and take a moment to do an exercise. Don’t just skip over it and keep reading – this is for you. Ask yourself the question below and give yourself time to think and feel it out honestly. “What would it feel like if I was loved right now in this moment? Really loved, in the way I most want it.”

What happened for you? Did you feel warmth and notice your body relax and open up, did you feel relief, have a wave of tears suddenly rise up, feel sadness, pain, joy, anger, regret, hope, hopelessness…?

If you were honest with yourself when you did this exercise, then whatever you experienced is what you feel about being loved at this point in your life. You met the child in you who is always wanting to be loved. The feelings that came up for you when you met this child part of you will depend on what state of satisfaction or starvation he or she is in right now. Now you know. (You can go back and do it again anytime as a way of checking in).

Of COURSE we want to be loved all the time. Why wouldn’t we? Love is incredibly good for us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The funny thing is that

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Posted on 18 Apr, 2016 | 0 comments

Can You Love What Is Causing You Pain?

In a meditation the other day I received this thought, “You should be SO grateful for the parts of your body that have been causing you pain and discomfort.” This thought came with a deep sense of joyful appreciation – for the parts of my body I sometimes worry about, consider dragging off to the doctor to see if they can be ‘fixed’, fear that they indicate I have some serious degenerative disease…

LOVE for THOSE parts!

Really?

ow

But once you have a feeling you can’t un-have it. I now know that my body is doing something important for me – even if I don’t know what – and something really good. Those parts of my body are taking me on a journey. They are my guides.

To what? To my Self of course. They are guiding me home to me.

But how do you start to love something you really wish wasn’t there? How do you love what scares you?

Big questions.

There is more and more research showing that

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Posted on 21 Mar, 2016 | 4 comments

I Think Parents Are Awesome

(School hols again – this week and next are old favourites.)

I think parents are awesome. I truly do. I stand in awe at what parents around me do – and how little they seem to get out of what they are doing – and what they put up with from their kids and bosses and society and schools. They’re totally and admirably mad.

Oprah keeps telling us that being a parent is the toughest job in the world. If you actually think about it as a job for a moment you’d see that no-one in their right mind would sign on for parenting with the kind of salary and benefits it seems to offer – at first glance anyway. And I’m sorry if I’m being depressing by focusing on this but did you know that if you Google “I hate being a parent”

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Posted on 15 Feb, 2016 | 6 comments

Why Is It So Hard?!

Last week I was strongly challenged by a group about something I expressed. The onslaught of emotional responses and opinions made me want to crawl under a table and never come out… for a short while. It seemed like a safe place initially but I quickly realised how small and boring life under a table would be, so I came back out. What made it possible to coax myself back out was the idea that I was learning exciting new things and once I peeked an eye out from under there I saw that it was true.

scared

I had withstood that barrage and had held my sense of self in a way I never could before. I was kind to myself when I panicked, I didn’t judge my fear, I listened to myself and kept myself as safe as I needed at each point AND I still gave myself permission to say what I needed to say. That was AWESOME!!! I feel so proud of myself. Through it, and the processing afterwards, I feel new strength within me, a new sense of my Self that wasn’t apparent before. Weirdly I actually feel safer in the world.

This week I watched a reality TV episode where someone was thrown into the worst possible situation for her. She had no control over whether it would happen or not and once she was in it she either had to tackle it or give up and go home. She really thought she couldn’t do it – and she was competing against the best of the group – but not only did she manage, she

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