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Posted on 4 Jan, 2016 | 0 comments

There Is No Such Thing As Failure – Part 2

To believe in ‘failure’ you need to believe that you can be made smaller than you are. You need to believe that something outside of you can actually decide your worth, that something can take away your power.

small

(Power in this context means: the right and ability to decide for yourself; who you are, how you behave and what your worth is.)

‘Failure’ is merely bumping face first into the wall of beliefs that you are not the owner of yourself. It is a moment when you let go of your ownership of yourself and put yourself on the free market to be owned and consumed by others.

Oh, yes – and all costs incurred are charged to your account.

Does that sound right to you?

Sounds a little fishy to me.

I hope this is stirring you up. It’s high time we dumped this ‘failure’ thing.

Think about a moment in your life where you feel like you failed. Now ask yourself, “Did I keep my power in that moment or does it feel like I lost it in some way?” (Re-read the definition of power again if you need)

Now think about what happened to your trust in yourself and in your ability to hold your own power in your life after that incident?

I’m betting it was affected negatively.

If you choose to believe there is such a thing as failure you are perpetuating the illusion that you can lose your power. You can’t. And this is exactly what ‘failure’ is trying to teach us.

‘Failure’ is not a powerless moment of shame and worthlessness, it is a healing messenger – or a cheerleader, if you will.

For example,

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Posted on 21 Dec, 2015 | 0 comments

Everyone Gets Triggered

Ah, friends. What would we do without friends and honest conversations?

I never want to find out.

Walking back to my car after dropping my child at school a parent from my 9-year old’s class said to me, “Thank you for what you are writing. I’m finding it very helpful.” I looked at her in some surprise – because surely her daughter is the epitome of sweetness at all times? I asked, “Is it happening in your house too?” In response she rolled her eyes in a way that told me everything I needed to know about what was going on in her house with her 9-year old. “You always go around thinking everyone else is just fine, don’t you?” I commented and we laughed. It’s such a relief to find your insanities are actually quite normal, isn’t it?

Going Mad

Three minutes later, still not back at my car, my dear friend and I had an impromptu roadside mutual speed-therapy session. She told me the wonderful craziness happening in her world – how her daughter and her scream at each other and each feels unheard – and I told her about mine – how my son just does what he wants and I feel powerless and unimportant – and she said, “You should start a support group for parents of 9-year olds.”

Our summary and ending of the speed-session was my saying, “We know that whatever is going on for us right now with them is just reflecting to us how we felt when we were 9-years old, right? I can really see now how I felt powerless and unimportant when I was 9.” She responded, “And I felt unheard.”

We laughed and stood quietly for a moment in acknowledgement of little us.

My day continued with someone saying to me about this same topic, “Small children are easy. You just have to be patient with them. I don’t see why people get so upset with

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Posted on 23 Nov, 2015 | 6 comments

How To Lean Into Discomfort

The 9-year old storm in our home continues as our child crosses his river of change. Some households don’t get swayed in this way, they pass through this transition softly. It’s not that one way is ‘better’ or ‘worse’, it’s simply a different syllabus.

Yesterday was a day to forget as quickly as possible – except for the massive lesson it drove home for me (oh please let it have been driven home! No more please.)

pleeeeease

Afterwards I sat to meditate and ask for insight and guidance for my current experience with my child – to understand the task at hand for me and mine. To know what part of the syllabus I’m learning I ask, “What is the message here?” This question is most effective when not said in a desperate wailing tone while rending your garments and tearing at your hair – but if that’s how it comes out I totally understand. Yesterday was a rending day for me.

But, fear not parent. All is not lost, help is always at hand. Unexpected messengers bring reassuring ideas and tips, meditation brings revelations, healing is nigh.

In my meditation I took my higher self and dropped in for a little chat and cuppa with my son’s higher self. “What are we busy working on?” I asked him – like a teen asking her friend, “What did the teacher say our homework is for today?” He was just the right person to ask, because being the keen student helper he is he answered very quickly, “I am helping you learn about powerlessness. We are exploring powerlessness.”

Charming.

What was I thinking?! Why did I sign up for that course? Ok wait, stop. Enough garment rending. Let’s focus and check the exercises at the end of the textbook chapter. Let me see, this one says, ‘Discover the things that make you feel powerless and what feelings that engenders in you.’  Oh yes, I did that one yesterday when my child physically ta

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Posted on 5 Oct, 2015 | 2 comments

Mom Is Driving Me Nuts!

Hey there. It’s school holidays again! Feels like we just had them. Anyway, I’m re-posting favourites for the next two weeks. I love to get to visit with them again. I’m so delighted that the holidays let me do that. Enjoy.

Love

Eilat 🙂

“I got triggered by my mom again”, he tells me.

mom

“What happened?” I ask

“We’d been having a lovely chat by ourselves before everyone arrived and it was so nice to feel connected. She asked me how I am and genuinely listened and I actually told her about some of the things I’ve been struggling with. It was real. And she was there for it. We’ve never spoken that deeply before. It was very special.

Then everyone else arrived and at some point she was telling my brother what to do again and when I tried to say something she shut me down like she always used to and I just exploded. I made such a fool of myself. I screamed at her that she never listens. I was SO angry. I don’t know if I was reacting to our closeness of before – like pushing her away maybe… It caught me off guard. I was SO angry.”

“Shall we look at what happened within you that made you react like that?”

“Yes please!”

“What made you that angry?”

“That she wasn’t listening to me. Just LISTEN to me! I have something to say.”

“How old do you feel as you say that? How old did you feel in that moment you got so angry?”

“I don’t know exactly – young. I felt like I wanted to say something but I couldn’t express myself in a way she could understand me.”

“If you can’t express what you need so that she can understand, what are you afraid that might mean about you?”

“That I’m not good enough. That I’m pathetic.”

“If you are pathetic and not good enough what are you afraid that might that mean for you?”

“I’d be not wanted, I’d be left out in the cold.”

“And if you were left out in the cold what is the worst that might happen?”

Pause.

“Well if I’m small then I guess I could die.”

“So in that moment you felt so suddenly angry at your mom what was happening for you?”

“I was afraid I would die? But isn’t that an overreaction? I mean she was just not listening to me.”

“Well yes, it’s an overreaction to someone not listening to you, but it’s not an overreaction for a child who thinks he is in danger of dying is it? As a child when she didn’t listen to you, is this how it felt?”

“Yes. It was awful and lonely. I suppose I felt in danger of not existing when she didn’t listen or understand me…”

“And not existing is the same as?”

“Being dead. Wow. Ok so I see what triggered my reaction. I don’t want to do that again though. I felt so bad afterwards. How can I change it?”

“When you feel the anger coming up, pause. Remove yourself from the scene if you need to and you can. You know now that the little child part of you is very, very frightened. He’s fighting off the danger – and very bravely too. So ask him, what does he need?”

Pause.

“To be reassured. To know he is safe. That he is loved and won’t be forgotten.”

“So can you do that for him? Can you see him, hold him and tell him what he needs to hear?”

“I suppose I can try…”

“Try it now.”

“Ok.”

Long pause.

“Ok I gave him a hug and I told him I will listen to him and that he’s always important to me.”

“Did he believe you?”

“Yes actually, he did.”

“How did he feel about you doing that?”

“He sort of relaxed, settled into my chest. He knows I’m there for him.”

man

“Maybe you can tell him you’ll pay extra attention to him when you are around your mother?”

“Yes that’s a good idea.”

Pause.

“He’s pleased about that. A lot.”

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Posted on 20 Jul, 2015 | 4 comments

Hey Busy Person, Take a Moment For You

From Aug 5, 2013

I know you’re busy. I do. I know you’ve got a hundred things on the boil, so to speak, and I think you’re amazing for doing all of it like you do.

c

But tell me something, with all of what you’ve got going on, when did you last take a few moments to simply breathe and relax?

face - Copy

Yes, I know I should breathe and relax.  I wish I could. But who has the time?”

Time? What’s time?

Let’s do it now. Come on, I’ll help you. It only takes between five and eight minutes. I know, I’ve timed it.

Ok?

Let’s do this thing. Seriously, I mean it. Let’s do it right now. Yes? Are you on board?

Right so if you have something literally boiling go turn it down or off. If the phone rings in the next few minutes let it ring. You can call them back. Anything you were about to do can wait another five or ten minutes. That’s not long. Anything else? You can just leave it for a few minutes, you really can – or if it’s super quick and it’ll bug you, then quickly go do it now and come straight back. But no excuses. Are you willing to dedicate around 6 minutes of your life to yourself? I hope so.

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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 6 Jul, 2015 | 2 comments

When It’s Irritating Because It Reflects You

Originally posted on  Jul 22, 2013

This week we’ll use Mary to show us how a child’s behaviour can get a big reaction from you because it’s dredging up an old well-hidden past hurt that you are unconsciously trying to avoid. Next Monday we’ll look at when it GETS to you because it’s positioning you into a dynamic that reminds you of an old well-hidden past hurt that you are unconsciously trying to avoid. Are you sensing a pattern here?

Ok, here goes.

If Mary immediately feels irritated when a child is needy, it’s very likely she has some old hurt connected to a child being needy. Because all children are needy – that’s their design – but not everyone has a problem with it.

What Mary finds irritating is probably reflecting something about HER. That means her reaction to the child is showing how SHE feels about what’s being reflected about HERSELF.

Huh?Untitled...

Keep going, It’ll get clearer.

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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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Posted on 8 Dec, 2014 | 6 comments

On ‘Substandard’ Children

Before we begin, please take a moment to click on the red badge on the right to vote for this blog. You only need to vote once to help spread the message of this blog, “Parents, remember and affirm your own light.”

Ok, here we go…

……………………..

What kind of title is that?! No-one says things like ‘substandard children’– well, not out loud anyway – even though the truth is we think it quietly and live in fear of it.

“Of course some children have ‘problems’, it happens. I just hope it isn’t ever my child!”

not me

I recently heard from yet another parent whose child is being declared ‘not up to par’ by the system. She is emotionally less mature than her classmates – just slightly mind you – and the teacher (very good and kind according to everyone else’s stories) is mildly impatient to have to deal with a child like this in her class. Theirs is a mild experience and their daughter will be just fine in her own sweet time, but still these parents have felt judged, not good enough, they have a ‘faulty’ child, fear rejection by the school and their community…

The way our society treats ‘different’ children pisses me off quite frankly, REALLY pisses me off (which is funny considering last week’s post). There is NO such thing as a ‘faulty’ or ‘substandard’ child. Inconvenient and challenging for the caretakers, oh hell yes, but ‘faulty’ or ‘substandard’? No.

But why does it stir me up like this? Why do I want to shout it out at everyone and then hide myself away? Where is it hooking into my own shadow? (See? I’m listening to last week’s post) I have to share with you that writing this post really got to me! There were rants and tears involved. I thought about not doing it. It became a deep, DEEP journey across my inner geography – my highs and my lows – to figure out what I actually want to say about this and why I wanted to say it. And still it’s not ‘perfect’. During the writing process I had to face my own mess, my own fears, my own inadequacies and my own excellence. Each of these brought fear and judgement with them. All this just from pondering the idea of ‘substandard children’ for heaven’s sake! You see, I think that’s part of what ‘different’ children do to us. This is part of why we get scared about having or working with children ‘with problems’.

When we see or engage with a child who is struggling to express himself, or can’t understand us or concentrate, or doesn’t sit still, or cannot control himself, it’s a real challenge for the parts of us that like to be in control and feel competent and good enough. I, for example, like helping people, it makes me feel good. But when I try all my clever tricks to help the child and none of them work, I’m left feeling powerless and useless. Then I imagine how his parents must feel every day and I’m filled with respect for them.

We humans tend to be afraid of ‘different’. When we meet it we want to kill it, control it or avoid it – we feel less vulnerable that way. We don’t mean to be mean but… This is the dynamic at play when your child has learning difficulties and the nice teacher implies it’s your fault somehow. Or when your child struggles to sit still and pay attention so people judge your parenting. Or when your child has intellectual disability and people move away from you. Or when your child has physical disabilities and kind people look away or talk to her as though she is deaf or ‘retarded’. None of us is totally immune from this. I catch myself at it sometimes too.

When we judge those who are different to our perception of the ‘norm’ it’s usually because they make us re-examine our values and ways of being. Being faced with an example of something different throws into question our own arrangement of our world. Who wants to see they don’t know everything, that they might be wrong or lacking in some way? (Those very same outliers, by the way, sometimes later turn out to be geniuses who improve the world – see Albert Jack’s funny book They Laughed At Galileo).

So here it is. This is the crux, the key to what’s going on with us when we judge and avoid. (And this is why I was getting all riled up about this ‘substandard’ crap.) In the VERY same way as we judge and want to avoid these outliers, we also severely judge and reject the parts of ourselves that do not conform to what we deem to be ‘normal’ or ‘ok’. This is what was going on in me, you see, hence the histrionics. I’m angry that society judges and fears ‘outlying’ children this way – all the while I’m rejecting the ‘outlying’ parts of my own self just as harshly. My anger is actually about my own pain of being judged and rejected – by myself. Writing this post was making me see those parts of myself as well as my treatment of them. Very uncomfortable! (The irony is that these outlying parts of ourselves may also well be the geniuses that hold the secrets for our happiness. They are often our inner revolutionaries. Embracing the full spectrum of who we are – both shadow and light – is what brings us our ultimate healing and joy. I suppose in essence that’s what this post is all about – that’s the process it has taken me through.)

So this is it – the key. The fear and pain about ourselves is where all that judgement about those children comes from.

dont want to see

When we avoid children with ADHD, or dyslexia or intellectual disability or Aspergers or tics or anxiety or ODD or anything else that is ‘not comfortable’ to be around, it’s because these blessings of children are forcing us to engage with our own inadequacies. They sure are!

It’s for our own good.

Why do I say that?

Most of us ‘normal folk’ walk around with secret fears of not being good enough, not fitting in, fears of being rejected for who we are, or that something about us is not ok…? Brene Brown has written whole books on the shame and fear we feel about this. We ‘normal’ ones can hide those secret fears and keep them deep inside ourselves but children with ‘challenges’ are just hanging out there on display as ‘different’ and ‘not good enough’. It’s like my obese friend once told me, “Everyone has issues but they can hide them. I can’t hide my issue and so everyone can see it and they judge me for it.”

When we see these children, we see our own hidden fears come to life. They face us with our shadow, so we judge, fear or reject them – but we are actually judging, fearing and rejecting ourselves.

Oh these children are beings of great light. I mean you have to be to take on society’s crap like that, right? They have so much to show us in terms of new ways to do and see things – but if we are caught up in being afraid of our own inadequacy then we miss it. We miss the show. We miss the lesson. And we hurt, oh how we hurt everyone involved.

But let’s get real. It’s very uncomfortable to see your own inadequacies and powerlessness. I mean it’s really in your face that you are not getting it ‘right’ when that child is bouncing around, breaking things, hitting at you and not listening to your limit setting. Or when you don’t understand your child because they can’t express in words. Or when your ADD highly sensitive child is falling apart because she hadn’t realised her big project is due tomorrow and there’s nothing you can really do to help her. Or when your child doesn’t get it, or others don’t get him. We’d rather avoid all that discomfort if we can, right?

Well maybe not.

As I always write, everything our children bring us is a reminder of our own light. Therefore ‘abnormal’ children actually offer something abnormally powerful to

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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 11 Aug, 2014 | 4 comments

About Pleasing Others

Yesterday I had a wonderful conversation about possible names for this blog. The ideas became progressively outrageous until we were rolling around crying with laughter.

laughing

We had some good ones; Nasty Little Messiahs, Light Side Of Trouble and then we just couldn’t  – or wouldn’t – move off titles with variations of the word ‘crap’ – Holy Crap, Good Shit, Good Clean Dirt, All That Crap, Life’s A Load Of Compost…

Soul Compost was lovely, but it’s taken.

I had lots of fun.

Then I went to sleep and couldn’t switch my brain off. Whirr, whirrrrrr, chewing over titles, grinding out ideas, sorting, rejecting, pondering, coming back to the question “What is my message?”

“Go to sleep!” I commanded myself. Whirr, whirr, whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Things are fun until at some point they’re not. It’s useful to take note of when something is no longer pleasant. I reached that point. There was pressure behind the need to solve this riddle.

So I asked myself, “Myself, what is this about?” and Myself answered, “Pleasing people. Getting it ‘right’.”

Oh. That.

Yesterday the theme of pleasing others was very present in other’s tales. I’m afraid to say no to them. Why? What if they don’t like me anymore. I’m living a double life. Why? They won’t understand and they’ll cast me out. I tell lies when the truth is inconvenient. Why? I’m scared they can’t handle the real me and they’ll leave. I should have known I was going to get a dose of it myself.

So why? Why do I need to get it right? To please others?

When I was younger I was once in a situation where two very dear people were actively pulling on me in opposite directions. I tried and tried and tried to please them both. In the end I was so stressed that I

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Posted on 28 Jul, 2014 | 4 comments

Parenting Isn’t An Us-or-Them Situation

After a talk I gave, adults and children were milling around a delicious looking buffet but it was tense because some dishes were finishing before everyone had a chance to take.

The adults were trying to look casual about getting in there before the food was all gone – the elbowing was being done in a genteel manner – but the tension was there as we all craned our necks to assess the state of the dwindling amounts.

The children, of course, were just honest. They demanded their food and if something was finished before they got there they wailed loudly – which didn’t help the tension. The adults were all very busy making sure their kids received food before they dished for themselves. I mean, having a hungry disappointed child on your hands is even worse than not getting the food you wanted, right? There are levels of pain.

A man behind me in line said to me with a smile, “I suppose you would say we shouldn’t put the children first.”

Wow. Is that what you heard from my talk?

It wasn’t the time to answer then – what with children dragging on my hands whining about food – but it stayed with me.

No, that’s not what I would say. Remembering that you are also a person isn’t about putting yourself first and overlooking your kid’s needs. It’s not about being selfish in the closed-hearted sense where you cut others off. On the contrary; remembering that you, as a parent, are also a person in your own right, is an invitation to open your heart WIDE – and to include yourself in it.

heart

What is life without yourself in it?

Parenting ISN’T an us-or-them situation where you have to overlook yourself in order to cater to their needs, or you ignore them in order to cater to yours. The real situation is that parenting is a training ground for you to find your truest self through caring for your children. And you do this by letting your kids needs show YOU to yourself. Let’s be honest, when your kids are pushing you, don’t you sometimes get to see parts of yourself you’d MUCH rather not know about? And at other times, when you respond to them, don’t you see parts of yourself that amaze and please you?

So, what I AM saying is, be honest with yourself and deal with what comes up for you when you DO have to put the children first in a scenario like that buffet. I mean come on, I wanted to shove everyone out of the way and just take myself a nice big plate full of the food that looked best to me. Like the kids around me, I also wanted to

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