Many of our recurring problems stem from lack of awareness about our own patterns. When we are unmindful of our patterns of excuses, fears, biases, and attachments, we tend to focus on externals. From that place of blindness, we blame others, bemoan life, and work furiously to change people and circumstances. Sadly, we neglect the urgent and abiding need to look within and work fervently to change our own patterns and perceptions.
~ Sheikh Jamal Rahman
Breaking limiting patterns is about realizing the bigger picture of our experiences. Here is the easiest and most simple way to help your child become oriented towards learning, growing and healing so they have a happier human journey:
Children have their own spiritual paths
Many of the lessons they will learn in their lives will not come from the teachings of their parents, but from their own direct learning processes. This is the same for each of us. The School of Hard Knocks will knock them hard eventually, so what do you do to help them learn from the challenges that arise?
How long did it take you to learn how to not procrastinate?
Or to not take things personally?
Or to have good self-care?
Or to choose good friends?
Or to take responsibility?
Or to have discipline with the addicting forces of digital media?
You are still learning or refining many of these things. Do your children know that it’s been a process for you as well? Do they understand that it’s a life-long learning process for everyone?
Learn to say “yes” to what may be undesirable.
The undesirable is real for all of us, and it is utterly futile or foolish to resist what is actually happening though denial, complaining, repression or avoidance.
It is easy to label the undesirable, painful or even terrifying experiences we have as ‘problems’. This is a way that our conditioned mind can categorize it, and give us some sense of stability. For most of us, it is what was modeled by our elders.
But when we, or any children, see something as a ‘problem’, we immediately start to judge and fixate more, and understand and try to relate to the cause of the problem less. This is why all of us get stuck from time to time in painful patterns. We are not listening deeply enough because we lack a certain kind of receptivity to life.
Think of the times when your kids are struggling greatly, when they are stuck, and even suffering? The tendency is to rush in and fix it, because seeing a child toil often triggers (amongst compassion and other feelings) our own discomfort. The trap is to constantly “handle” such situations by “making the problem go away”, leaving your child without the experience of not learning from the experience at all. That’s helicopter-parenting, and it makes your child less prepared for life. You “rescue them” from their own natural learning process.
Of course you should step in where you must, or feel it’s wise too, but be aware of your own projection that “discomfort is always bad”, of your personal urge to eradicate discomfort. Pain and struggle are big teachers, especially when we can learn from them.
If you consider yourself a role model, or just simply a parent who wants your kids to thrive, then it’s your responsibility to let the light in on this fundamental reality. Don’t keep your kids stuck in the dark.
What if you shared with them how you became as skilled as you currently are with such things, and why it is that you continue to work with it?
Normalize what it actually and truly looks like to be a human growing and evolving. The process is humbling, beautiful, messy, ugly, natural, perfectly normal, and it’s OK. It’s an invitation to be gentle with ourselves as we burn through layers of ignorance, old belief patterns, and learn to face and process all the emotions that will arise.
How can you teach your children to face problems? When life gets challenging, what are you modeling in terms of relating to challenges? What do you orient towards, in order to work with issues that arise in a wiser way?
Say “yes” to the problem.
Make it normal to say “yes”.
Part of the issue is that we were taught in school or by our families that the “outcome is more important than the process”. It’s truly misguided and destined to pull your children away from the deepest impulses of their own creativity and development. We were not taught the habit of orienting towards learning, towards opening up to a more profound understanding of what there is to learn and grow from. We’re stuck labeling things as “bad”, or as “problems”, and we fall into a righteousness that disconnects us from actually understanding how the situation came to be, or how to work with it. We ride the crazy train towards “‘getting it right” or “not looking bad”.
This means, amongst many things, that we must learn how to live with the inevitable reality of discomfort. We must learn to not neurotically try to remain comfortable all of the time. It means not falling into the trap of believing that happiness or empowerment will come by rearranging or eliminating unavoidable external circumstances. We must sincerely accept what is happening in our lives in the moment, even if it’s painful.
“Yes” brings us towards alignment with what is happening so we can learn from it and move on. This normalizes orienting openly, courageously and humbly towards life as a learner.
So be with what is happening. Feel your feelings. Notice your beliefs or interpretations, and breathe into the intensity of the moment in order to find the ground under your feet. You have to walk the walk, and take the bitter medicine of your own fear, pain, and insecurity so that you can integrate, heal, and learn. This is how you’ll be able to help your children learn to do the same. They’ll receive the gift from you, the opportunity, to see themselves more clearly when a problem is facing them.
Our nervous system knows how to process the feelings of these intensities – but at times we may need help in learning how to really do this efficiently.
So for those of us who want to better help our kids become more skilled at relating to life, the invitation is to look at how we receive or resist what is happening inside of us.
How have you learned from your experiences? What did it take? How have you resisted, only to be humbled into being receptive?
Where are you still resistant, and likely stuck, and can you own that with compassion? Can you accept that your resistance is simply part of your learning process?
What takes the place of blame or shame when you accept that we’re all learning and growing at the best pace we can, given our histories?
We are always a model for our children in how we choose to live, and when the School of Hard Knocks comes knocking, it is the learners who will process the lesson more easily, and walk the road of their lives with less struggle, less suffering, and far more empowerment, humility and capacity for love.