When our kids do stuff that make us feel uncomfortable we generally label that as naughty, bad or unacceptable. But what I’ve come to understand is that all these labels are made up! They’re made up just like every other idea or concept we have. What I think is unacceptable behavior by my kids, might be totally acceptable by another child’s parents. So who’s right? Well the answer is neither! There is no right or wrong when it comes to behaviours, because what we believe about a person’s actions is all in our thinking. The energy of Thought – that which creates our personal thinking, just is! Our thoughts are arbitrary. They’re neutral, and they’re fleeting and they have no meaning, unless we attach meaning to them. Confused? Take a closer look.
Ever walked into a room and stepped on Lego that your child’s left on the floor. We all know how much that hurts! One day you might go totally off your head with anger, shout at your kids and demand they put their stuff away immediately. Given that you’ve told them enough times to put their Lego away when they’ve finished playing with it, you may consider this unacceptable behaviour. Fast forward to another day in the future, you walk into the same Lego scenario and you really don’t care. You might mutter something to yourself, pick up the Lego, put it away and get on with your day. On this day, you don’t consider this behaviour unacceptable at all. In fact, it actually makes you smile as you look over to see your child’s brick creation.
These scenarios are happening all the time in parenting (and in life) – your kids don’t listen to you, they won’t eat their dinner, they’re being ‘mean’ to their siblings. All day, everyday scenes like this are playing out in our lives and each time they happen, I guarantee you’ll feel and act differently, even if by only a small degree. So what’s going on and what’s changed? Well it can’t be your kids, the Lego, or the fact that they’ve not tidied up because if that were true, you’d feel exactly the same way each time that event happened, but you don’t, so it HAS to be you, right? So your kids behaviour is just as much about you as it is them, because your state of mind in any given moment dictates how you are in any given moment.
You see, most of the population are living in a misunderstanding that life works from the outside in. We think that our circumstances affect us – that our kids do stuff that cause us to feel angry or frustrated. That they’re deliberately out to get us with their ‘bad’ behaviour. But that’s just not true. What we’re not seeing, so fundamentally, is that life actually works from the inside out and that there is a space between the circumstance and our actions….a space which is filled by our personal thinking, but it happens so fast that most of the time we don’t see it as Thought at all.
Let me explain. Our thinking comes and goes all day, everyday. In and out like the tide. One moment we look around and we see joy, opportunity and beauty but in the blink of an eye that can all change to frustration, limitations and ugliness. In other words, our consciousness is continually expanding and contracting and whatever we see in the world is dependent on our level of awareness in any given moment. Some thoughts we hold onto because they seem real, other thoughts we let go as they appear insignificant, and most we barely notice at all, but none are more significant than others… they’re all made of the same stuff and they are all responsible for how we feel in each moment.
Surely the answer to less frustration and more happiness is better, more positive thinking then? Nope! I don’t know about you, but I’ve not succeeded yet in deliberately changing my thoughts. We’re not in control of what shows up for us and neither is it possible to change the thinking that we get by will. We get what we get and act accordingly. We can’t not. We’re so in our thinking that we don’t even see it as Thought. It’s our reality.
If I’m in a funk, no matter how hard people around me might try to purposely bring me out of it, they won’t. It’s impossible. But the good news is they don’t have to, because the nature of Thought is that it’s always moving and because I know this, I can just get on with my life regardless, knowing that my thinking will shift at some point. Nothing to fix, nothing to change, no effort required.
So back to our kids and their behaviour. When you begin to see that they are ONLY ever acting from their own thinking and never in response to their external circumstances (although it really feels and looks like that), something shifts. When you consider that we’re all made of the same stuff….universal energy…the same energy that operates the systems within our bodies so perfectly, that synchronizes nature and the whole world around us, that opens up a space for us to see something different about our kids. When you see that we are all one being, separated ONLY by our thinking, that we are one and we are all, that there’s no you and me – there’s only us – in it together because we are the same, then to find peace in yourself is to find peace in them, and certain actions don’t make sense anymore.
No, I haven’t gone off with the fairies, I am firmly footed in the real world and I do not let my kids get away with anything – they need guidance to get on in the world and I set boundaries. But knowing we are the same constant energy that is made of peace, love and wisdom, and that none of us are the unstable, shifting thoughts which pass through our heads, means there is always the potential to reach out to my kids in any situation. No matter how much I am, or they are struggling, there is never no hope. I don’t have to take the ‘I’m the mum and you’re the child’ stance because how life works for me, is how it works for my kids too and knowing this has been the game changer in my parenting. It means I can work with them, rather than dictate to them and it becomes less about what I say and more about how I say it. When I communicate knowing it’s a level playing field, all I can be is understanding and compassionate and I parent from a different place of responsiveness rather than reactivity and I am able to see the innocence in all they do.
But just to be clear here. I’m no Mary Poppins. I don’t always see that life is coming from my thinking 100% of the time, which means I still feel angry, frustrated, upset, anxious and useless…but that’s the very nature of being human and that’s how it will be until the day I die. Same for you, same for ever human. A constant ebb and flow of feelings which really feel like they’re being caused by the outside world, but when we remember where they’re actually coming from, we get over ourselves much quicker and settle back into our natural state of peace and clarity, which is available to us at any time. Boom!
Start noticing your thinking today and see how you go in and out of clear and cluttered thinking all the time. Look at your children and see that their behaviour is not a choice, but the innocent reaction to their thinking. Does this change things for you?
Until next time