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Last week we talked about how what we don’t like in our children, we don’t like in ourselves- how we project onto them certain negative traits we have disowned inside. The ones you judge in them are first under your own internal judgment.
The other side of that is also a curious exploration- that what you love in yourself you also love in your child. If you haven’t owned an amazing part of yourself – a brilliant part of you, you might be projecting it onto your child, willing to see it in them, but not yourself. So let’s get into it!
Do you take your kids to practice after practice for a sport? Or music lessons? Maybe you travel to exciting places? Or put them in special schools, or no school at all? You make an investment in your child around something they show interest in, or that they love and desire- yeah? You play with them, do art projects, read to them?
When my kids were little I had this chief complaint that nothing I did was about me- it was all for someone else. I worked really hard to make sure that everyone got to experience their brilliance, the things they loved the most. Besides the daily grind of laundry, dishes, meals and messes, there were beautiful art supplies, beeswax candles, the sweetest books, handmade wooden toys, cloth dolls, pokemon cards, seeds, chickens, vhs tapes of old disney movies.
My husband worked away from the family for weeks at a time- he had my full support.
I would drive 15 miles to the nearest town so my oldest son could go to baseball practices and games with twin babes in tow for late nights away from home- he had my full support.
My other son had a lego club at the library weekly- he had my full support.
The little kids would sprawl toys, games and art projects across the living spaces, and I was deeply invested in their delight and enjoyment- they too had my full support.
The list goes on with pets and farm animals, gardens, buying land and all the organization that it took to make it happen- I did that.
It sounds lovely as I recall it- but I had abandoned my own delight and curiosity- my own sense of following my heart and the things that seemed meaningful to me. Secretly I resented all of them for it and here’s why.
My family was just expressing their delight and zest for things they found curious and wanted to try in life- they weren’t asking me to make everything happen all the time, and ignore my own desires to do it. I had cooked that all up inside of me. I had an old, outdated belief (probably from childhood) that I was only good enough to the ones I loved, if I could support them and make their dreams and desires come true.
It took time becoming more aware of this- but when I took my projection in, in a heap of exhaustion, I realized I had a precious part of me inside that had dreams, desires, and delights wishing to be supported that I was projecting onto my family- and then feeling resentful when I wasn’t getting what I wanted!
It was sticky! (It still is at times) Because the world is neutral. It’s not looking out to make sure that all my effort got me exactly what I wanted- the delight of my family, that they would then turn and love me for it. Sometimes they were still frustrated, tired, or sad. I would flip my projection more to what we were talking about last week and unload my pent up resentment and frustration with them.
In both situations- whether the unowned traits are considered negative or positive, the one thing that was the same was that I was projecting them. A projection is when you look out in your environment and see something that you don’t want to see inside yourself. We say in Purejoy, the other person becomes the location of your rejected trait.
When I had this new awareness in my SafeSeat I practiced taking them back in. Whenever I noticed myself labeling my child with a trait, positive or negative, I could then ask- where does that same one also live in me, maybe in a different form?
A little trick I learned that you can use- point your finger out from yourself as if you were saying to your child, YOU ARE… (insert trait). Notice that you have 3 fingers curled back pointing at yourself! I would then name three ways that trait also lived in me.
I loved imagining the deep connection that – we all have it all- and what would it be like if we had a home safe enough for everyone to express each of them.
When I did that- we all got more free. I started to focus on my own wants and desires, my own art supplies, books, seeds, and learning and then offered them support from a place of fullness and delight!