I recently met up with Life Coach Cara Crisler and we had an interesting talk about perspectives. I began telling her about my daughter's penchant for planning and I gave her a specific example of how this is manifested. You see my daughter started planning for her birthday gifts since she was 4 years old and came up with a list of what she would like to get till she is 18!
When she started doing that I immediately went into "worried-mommy-mode". The thoughts that crept up were "oh she is so much like me", "what if she gets disappointed, reality is we don't get what we always want" and on it went even far back to my childhood when I so desperately wanted a dollhouse when I was around 8 years old and how I looked forward to the piano- both of which never came.
It was in talking with Cara that I was given a different perspective of my daughter's gift. What I saw as a possible "heart-breaker and possible disappointment bringer" she saw as an amazing talent for a four year old. The realization of what she said and how fascinating to hear of a determined 4 year old who knew so much of what she wants in life that she can even plan it further than the fingers on her hands was a precious moment. I was given the POWER OF PERSPECTIVES in that meeting and a compassion that I never processed to my "8/9 year-old-first-time-to-be-disappointed-by-parents-self". I didn't realize the impact of those promises that never came to my child-self that it has permeated my thoughts till now as a 37 year old mother. How I get crippled at the idea of disappointing my children, making them feel that certain wishes cannot come true, or making them "tone down" their aspirations because we as parents might not be able to keep up with it.
A very good and simple example is how I opted out of a playdate for my kids because of how limited our time was. Before I knew of this "I don't want them to feel disappointed" jackal thought (yes I am practising my non-violent communication training), I tend to say no to playdates that are short like 30 minutes to 1 hour period. My reasoning was "because the kids will be saying oh why did we have to go so soon, can't we not stay, but we would love to be here longer" and I didn't want to make them feel that. Upon realizing how this situation is a direct manifestation of the "I don't want them to feel disappointed" line of thought, I realized that what I didn't want to face them with was me dealing with their disappointments and being the cause of their disappointment. This feeling of not wanting to disappoint them came with a powerful need of being able to make my children feel secure that they are heard. Just like how I would have wanted to be heard as a young child who was longing for and held on to promises.
But the power of perspective goes deeper than seeing a different angle to the same view. It made me realize that what I experienced was “mine” and what my daughter who shows so much of me in the things she does is “her own person” and the things she will take in life will be her own chances and challenges. However, looking at how things are I realize that I cannot keep on holding back my children or toning them down because I don’t want them disappointed. Now I know that this time is different because our daughter and our son will have us (my husband and I) to experience things along with them. In the situation of the playdates, I realized that because of my feelings, I got crippled in letting my children be the one to “own the experience” by asking them “would you like to play with your friends for just 30 minutes?” I took the opportunity from them without asking them if they are willing to or not play together given the circumstances. Such a small situation but such a big impact that the realization of what I am doing and why I am doing it gave to me.
Another precious moment where I was faced with how powerful perspectives can be was during a Connecting with Children session. We were processing the question “what are you feeling today?” and I was paired with a lovely lady who shared with me powerful emotions based on her life situation. I was faced to a mother sharing her fears about life and death now that she was given news of her health. Beside me was a mom telling me how she was thinking of her children, how she wants to manage things given that she is facing a most dreaded illness. In front of me was a strong, caring woman who felt that she was feeling more for her children in the face of cancer and how she is trying to shove away her own needs. At that moment when her words sunk in, I felt like I was faced with my mother and having the conversation that I never had with her. It felt like a time warp bringing me back to a place that as an adult I so wish to have existed. I never had those moments with my mom, moments where I would have just wanted to know what she felt, what she thought of, what she feared. I took in every word that my partner was saying, thinking and feeling how my mom would have felt and how much I would have love to be the person that I am now so I could have comforted her better, connected with her more, expressed how much I love her and admire her for what she has done for me and my brother. That moment was a gift of serendipity and I was able to give my partner a hug and a listening ear amidst the tears that both of us shared. A mother with her fears, and a daughter who silently wished to have shared those fears.
Nonviolent communication is teaching me the power of perspectives and how it allow us to break through deeply rooted thoughts and bring out a beautiful need. Like a diamond that needed polishing and if you are stuck with how it looks from the outside, you will never get to the beauty of what is inside it. I never fully understood what this line meant but I do now
“the wound is the place where LIGHT enters you” –Rumi