Stories are a big part of our parenting journey.
So many stories, ideas, beliefs, fantasies, nightmares, so much of our parenting journey is made up of stories.
And most of the time, those stories are about the past.
Or they’re about the future. I don’t know about you, but, oh, my gosh, when my child was young and had behaviors that were scary, I projected way out into the future of how she wasn’t functioning or she was living at home forever or worst of all wasn’t working and was dependent on ME!
What was happening in the moment was she wouldn’t take out the trash and this had nothing to do with the future.
It had to do with the present moment and my refusal to be intimate with that moment.
Do you ever do this?
It’s not your fault that you avoid intimacy in the moment. You, along with most of us in the West, were trained from the time we were very, very young to always be planning for the future.
One of the question adults most frequently ask of young children is “What do you want to be when you grow up”? That instead of “Who are you right now?”.
An example: I am recording my podcast and my dog starts barking. Immediately I make up all kinds of stories about your reactions when you hear my dog on the recording. I think: the recording is not professional, I should start over.
I start judging myself. That kind of judgement is all about the story and what it means.
As I step into the intimacy of what IS in the present moment – nothing more than my dog barking – I notice some discomfort which I try to avoid by making up a story.
As I choose to pause in that discomfort, take a breath and go towards the awareness of my body I notice a tightness in my chest a tension in my muscles. I am hyper vigilant. My body is acting as if something dangerous is happening.
As I check out reality I ask: is it dangerous to be intimate with this moment? No. It’s my stories that create the danger about what this means. As I relax into the truth that there is no danger I smile and offer my humanness some room to breathe.
We were trained early not to experience the present moment and our embodiment. We learned to listen to others beliefs about what our actions meant limiting our possibilities in the future.
And the future is often based on the past, on experiences we had as children. We’re very familiar with our stories of how we’re supposed to be, what we’re supposed to do, how parenting is supposed to go, When triggered with our kids, those templates charge forward shaping our thoughts and behavior. Ultimately, it comes down to the fear if we really come down into the present moment we’ll fail in the future. We won’t teach them the right lessons and they won’t be responsible adults.
Refusal to meet ourselves in an intimate way is a strategy to use control or withdrawing love to get a future outcome. It is painful on both sides.
Instead take a moment and imagine meeting discomfort without judgment, without a story or conclusion, without doing what minds are trained to do. Bring your awareness into the discomfort in your body, offer kindness, and find out, is it dangerous to embody and stay present with this moment? It’s challenging because we’re trained to go the other way. And yet, is it actually dangerous?
This week try practicing.
See what it’s like to practice dropping out of the mind, through the intense feelings into your beautiful body. Staying there for a moment with a kiss of kindness.