This week let’s look at the difference between exploring and explaining.
Do you find yourself exploring with your child, exploring what’s going on, exploring their experience, showing up for them to explore their world, how they see things, the conclusions they’re coming to, the meanings they’re concluding? Or do you explain how the world works, how they’re supposed to think, what they’re supposed to do, how they’re supposed to be right depending on how you experience the world?
There is a strong tendency, especially when feeling powerless and uncomfortable with their actions, to fall back on explaining how things are. When doing this, can you see how little openness there is to explore their experience? Why is that? Usually when you step out of the known and into the unknown it will trigger a feeling you may have organized your life to not feel. If you resist this feeling one way is to fall back on the known.
To truly explore you must open yourself to hear your child’s experience without judgment. As you listen, of course, it will trigger feelings about their experience and yet if you convince yourself your experience is the “right” one you will try to explain to your child why they are “wrong”. When emotionally triggered and something lights up inside that creates discomfort, do you try and shift their experience to be one that is comfortable for you?
In opening the door to exploring it is important to stay in your own lane recognizing that you aren’t in control of your child’s experience. Maybe, you can control their actions and yet you can’t control what they think and how they feel. Trying to do this through explaining why you need to control them is an attempt to take care of yourself instead of exploring your child’s experience.
Think about it. Why do you need your child, your partner or anyone to have the same experience you are having? Why do you need them to know your truth? It’s usually a way of seeking love, understanding and validation. You want to be known, right? The fear is that they might misunderstand you if you don’t explain your actions.
What would it be like to explore that impulse inside you offering love, understanding and validation to your experience without needing the other to join you? Understanding that you don’t have the power to control what your child thinks or feels releases you to come alongside them as they explore their own.
PRACTICE: Open your heart and your ears and listen to your child’s experience without taking it personally. Notice your internal judgments and stories as you listen. Refrain from trying to change their experience or even to question it. Reflect back what you hear asking them to tell you more. REMEMBER: this is their experience not truth.
Knowing that their experience is about them and not you is empowering. Recognize their need for love. Open your heart to offering yourself and your child the opportunity to explore the terrain of the heart.