Treat people as if they are what they ought to be and you help them
become what they are capable of being.
Isn't it true that how we perceive things influences how things actually are and, hence, how we react to them?
I am a lover of Self Help and parenting books. And while it's fun to learn new material, I find it most valuable to revisit the fundamentals and spin them a little so that they feel new. An example of one of these fundamentals that I have recently relearned is the simple concept that my responses to my children are based on my perception of what they need. Just this morning, my daughter, Grace, was jumping rope through the living room shouting, "Look at me!" Simply put, she NEEDS to be seen. As her mother, I know how important it is to let her know, "I see you" and I am working on developing the kind of vision that brings out the best in her.
But there's another child who is also close to my heart who craves to be seen too. I'm not talking about my son, Ben (although he DOES want to be seen.) No, this little girl is the one who lives inside of me. She is the one who waits for people to respond to these posts, wondering if anyone is getting any benefit from my words. She is the one who peeks around the corner of my husbands office desiring connection and she feels vulnerable asking for it. She is the one who hosts moms groups out of her home because she wants to offer other mamas the gift of knowing what it feels like to be really seen. "Momming" can feel so isolated and most of the moms I talk to don't feel like anyone sees them, not really.
So, how do we learn to see our children, our inner children and our fellow human beings in a way that builds connection, community, and confidence? First of all, we must believe that that the person we are seeing (whether that is your child or yourself) is doing the best that they can. Even if they are behaving "badly" they are doing so in order to get their needs met.
And second of all, it is sometimes easier to to value the relationship and connection we have with our children than the one we have with ourselves yet she too needs your loving acceptance when she is having a bad day or when she is learning something new. As your inner child makes slow, small steps of progress towards a goal can you really "see" her with eyes of love and compassion? Can you be proud of her, even before she accomplishes the goal?
A great way to get started in developing this kind of vision is to write down five things you love about your inner child (you could also do this with your actual child) each day. Here are 5 things I see in my own inner child:
- I love that, underneath all pretenses, you know who you really are. You know that who you are is not defined by your family history or the pains you experienced growing up. Your parents loved you the best way they could. I love how much compassion you have for them and how liberated you are now that you have let go of resentments. You wise girl!
- You are so self-aware, dear one. You want to become acquainted with your self-limiting beliefs, your shadow, and your brilliance. Shine on.
- I see your ordinary self and it is enough - you don't need to do of be anything more than who you already are. I see you.
- I applaud your ability to reach out and ask for help. There is never any reason to do it alone. You were designed to be interdependent. As you cultivate this ability to ask for help your emotional health increases. You amaze me.
- Lastly, you, sweet girl, are unafraid to be still. You have all the answers inside of you and you just have to get quiet enough to hear them.
Sometimes you forget these things and that's ok. As your wise self, I am here to remind you of them. Remember that I love you. ALWAYS and in ALL WAYS.
Through this work of consciously seeing our inner child, our eyes begin to glow with warmth, like the rays from the sun. It's amazing what sunshine can do for our inner children. Can you imagine what the glow of sunshine coming from your adult eyes (no matter what the weather) could do for your child?!
How do you accept and truly SEE your inner child and your actual child while still setting boundaries about acceptable behavior? I'd love to hear your five things in the comments below.