I haven’t updated this blog for a long time for several reasons. First of all, over at HubPages, where I write as Melovy, I have been busy learning how to better optimize my writing for search engines. Meanwhile my kids have been growing into teenagers and they are not so keen to share the foibles of our family life. I believe it is important to respect their wishes, so if I was to continue writing here, I needed to find a new way to do it. I couldn’t see what that way was until today.
Then this morning I woke up and realised I could question some of the prevalent beliefs in parenting. There are some beliefs that I don’t really think are true, and haven’t done for years, and yet they are so pervasive that I find myself doubting, wondering … and so sometimes feeling some stress around them. I’m going to start with one of them. I am doing this inquiry right here, right now, and so I have no idea right now what will emerge. And what I think or feel right now might not be true tomorrow.
Belief: Parents should always be consistent.
I am also going to add into it this: teachers should always be consistent, because I can see that although I don’t really believe it about parents I do sometimes have this belief about teachers. What I am noticing right now is that it’s possible to know something isn’t true and yet to still react as if it is – presumably because the knowing comes from a more intellectual level than the fear it might be true does.
Is it true?
No, but I worry it might be…
Can you absolutely know it’s true?
No. (How did I get that no? Because I see that the belief argues with reality. Parents aren’t always consistent.)
How do you react when you think that thought?
- I feel anxious if I am inconsistent. I have self-punishing thoughts, and tell myself this is why my kids aren’t doing what in that moment I think they should. My mind starts to compare myself to other people who I imagine are more consistent and get their kids to be better organised.
- I think I should be different to how I am, and feel tense.
- I start to feel annoyed at myself and also annoyed at my kids
- Then comes the backlash: I feel angry at people who say this, and try to defend myself.
- When I think that other parents or teachers should be consistent I feel superior and irritated with them. I lose touch with their humanity.
Who would you be without this thought?
At peace. My mind becomes still and I am more focused on right here, right now. I am more aware of the sunlight shimmering through the trees outside and shadows on the desk as I type. I feel much kinder, much more compassionate towards others.
There are niggly little thoughts: But what are you going to do about this? How are you going to be different?
Well, it seems that all I’m going to do about this is welcome those niggly little thoughts. This is an old pattern of mine: wanting to see proof, and welcoming is enough to bring peace in this instance because right now it doesn’t seem like a problem in any way.
Parents shouldn’t always be consistent.
Find 3 reasons why that is as true or truer than the original thought:
1) It’s reality. Parents (and teachers) aren’t always consistent.
2) Life isn’t consistent and so parents need flexibility when dealing with it.
3) If parents are focused on being consistent they are not responding to what is right now, but living by rules. That makes us less engaged with life.
4) This is similar to (3), but subtly different: when I respond clearly, from what is right now, instead of with a set of rules about how it should be, I generally find that there is not even any need for discipline, the tension between my children and I just disappears. I am more connected to them and to what they are feeling or needing right now, rather than trying to be a good parent. (I’ve written about this before in Not Crying Over Spilt Milk .)
1) If I think other parents should be, can I manage it? It’s strange doing this turnaround, because up to now I have felt resistant to it, yet now it doesn’t feel stressful at all. It just seems a little funny, because I notice that in some ways I am consistent: I get up every morning and I go to bed every night – that’s consistent. I eat every day. That’s consistent. I’ve liked cats since I was a kid – that’s consistent.
(I have a feeling that reading this will not convey the sense of change I feel. There is a lightness and sense of playfulness to this thought that I have never had before.)
2) I am consistent in that I am always in the same body. (Though this body is getting a bit older, and saggier.) I guess therefore I am also consistently getting older and saggier! No time travelling for me, nor suddenly getting younger.
3) I consistently do the Work and the Sedona Method, and have done for many years.
4) Taking this to a deeper level: “I,” that sense of existence, of something deeper, wider, more magnificent than the surface of this life, remains consistent. So in that sense “I” am consistent. Just like the sky in that photo, we all have layers. Not even the sky is consistently blue, and yet it is. Beneath the clouds of anger, sadness and so on, we are consistently something much bigger.
That’s me done with this inquiry for now. I am surprised and pleased by the direction this took me. I feel much more peaceful and playful than I did a few minutes ago!