You know that thing where you know what to do but you don’t do it? Where you keep promising yourself you’re going to do better and then, before you know it, you’re back where you started?
Yeah. Me too.
The paradox of it got to me so much that I ended up spending years researching behaviour change and, with everything I learned, created a formula that I use with my corporate and private clients, but that’s for another time.
This post is about something I know but still fail to do – and it’s a doozy!
A mother’s love
Part of my job when I work with clients one-to-one is to find the root causes of feelings of unworthiness or not being “good enough”. So far, the vast majority of my clients’ roots have lead to their mothers, so I know, better than most, that what I say and do matters in terms of how loved, loveable and worthy my children feel and how this will shape them into adulthood. Plus, we have the complication of early-life trauma to contend with so it’s even more important that I show up for me kids in the most loving and nurturing way possible.
Yet, when the school holidays roll around (every 6-7 weeks), I moan.
“You guys only just went back! You’re on holiday every 5-minutes!”
The weird thing is, if you were to ask me who/ what is most important to me in the world, my kids would be at the top of the list. I think I have that in common with many parents.
So why do I moan about the time we get to spend together?
I believe it comes down to the fact that only when I’m with my kids do I have the mirror held up for me in such a way that I can’t turn away from the worst parts of myself. They are the people for whom I wish I was better and I regularly fall short.
At work, even when things are super tough, I’m usually able to nestle into the comfort of some version of myself that feels empowered, positive, capable and resourceful. That’s the version of me I show to the world – the version of me I find easy like.
When I’m with my children, I’m acutely aware of everything I wish I could change about myself – how judgemental and serious I am, how much I struggle to play and how difficult I find it to be interested in the things they’re interested in.
I realise that in order to love the time I spend with my kids, I’m going to have to make peace with the parts of me I try to hide from myself and the world, and I suspect that many of the lessons I need to learn in order to live a more joyful life are attached to the big gunky bundle of “stuff” that’s sitting within this issue.
I know this post probably felt heavy – maybe even overly dramatic if these feelings don’t resonate with you – but as an adoptive parent, my ability to show love to my kids in such a way that they feel it is literally my life’s work and without achieving it, I doubt there’s much point talking about joy.
“Sometimes when people try too hard to be more than they are, they end up being less than they were.”Alice Feeney
I have a suspicion that the key to love – and joyful living – lies in the ability to accept ourselves and the people we love, rather than trying so hard to be better.
Now to gain more practice in the art of acceptance…