Me MySelf & I
As a mother, I am often confronted with the fears of my children, when they are afraid, disappointed, embarrassed or just plain unhappy for no immediately discernible reason. Some days will see me as ‘super-duper-perfectonizzmo-mum’ and some days will see me as ‘get-over-it-and-leave-me-alone-for-once-mum’.
‘Super-duper-perfectonizzmo-mum’ mum is: 1.understanding (of course), 2. patient (endlessly), 3. peaceful and calm (at all times) and 4. wise (naturally).
She makes time for talks and cuddles where needed. She addresses issues with compassion, insight, openness and lightheartedness.
I am proud to say that I have had experiences as ‘super-duper-perfectonizzmo-mum’. I’ll listen to my children when they need me to; acknowledge their feelings; figure out a way together on how to move forward etc etc. Afterwards I’ll feel like I’ve achieved something really worthwhile, for them, for myself and for my family.
However, more often than this, I feel quite inadequate to help my children with their fears. No matter what I say, or offer as a solution, their feelings just don’t seem to go away!
Did I really say that? Make their feelings go away?
Yes, often I find my children’s feelings hard to deal with, and I wish they would all just go away. That’s when I’m ‘get-over-it-and-leave-me-alone-for-once-mum’. I’ll feel overwhelmed at the responsibility of being a mother, overwhelmed by their feelings, overwhelmed by my own feelings of inadequacy. I can’t make my children happy!
The difference between ‘super-duper-perfectonizzmo-mum’ and ‘get-over-it-and-leave-me-alone-for-once-mum’ is about what I am thinking; what I am feeling and how I react as a result of that. From my own experience I know that the thoughts and beliefs I have about myself at the time, play a deciding role in what ‘mum’ I will be able to be.
Also, this is never just about my role as mum; it is about how I am towards anything or anyone in my life. Am I ‘super-duper-perfectonizzmo-person’ or am I get-over-it-and-leave-me-alone-for-once-person’? Can I engage fearlessly with life or do I feel the need to hide? Do I forgive or hold that grudge? Do I say ‘No’ when I could easily say ‘Yes’? Do I say ‘Yes’, when really I need to say ‘No’?
Mostly it is about how I relate to myself. My relationship with me. Even when life has its harder moments, if I can be understanding, patient and gentle with myself I find myself in a much better place to deal with whatever comes my way. And when life has its harder moments and I hide, I cut myself off from being able to deal with this in a manner that brings me peace and insight. By cutting myself off, I leave myself open for feelings of being alone and lonely. And then life can feel overwhelming and hopeless.
When we talk about the importance of relationships, we automatically think of relationships with others. We don’t often consider the importance of the relationship we have with ourselves. And it is…. Important. Essential in fact!
To observe our relationship with ourselves, we observe our inner experience without seeing our environment as the cause. In our thoughts, in our mind how do we treat ourselves? Do we speak kindly to ourselves, or do we criticise? Do we acknowledge or ignore our feelings and needs? Do we get impatient with ourselves or do we treat ourselves with gentleness and understanding?
Personally, I often struggle with being nice to myself. I can really get myself down by telling myself I am not good enough, a lousy partner, an undeserving friend or a ‘get-over-it-and-leave-me-alone-for-once-mum’. Then I start pretending that others are thinking that about me, like my nearest and dearest. Next step is to become hopeless, because I am powerless to change their minds. So I get angry at them for making me feel the way they do! So I become defensive and angry at them… Then they react to my aggro and I have proof of all the horrible things I believe about myself. And…to top it all off: Having made them responsible for my feelings, I feel responsible for theirs as well!! It’s a recipe for unhappiness!
To step out of this vicious circle I need to want to take responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings. I don’t know about others, but I have been doing this kind of thing for quite some time, so it has become a bit of a habit. But… that’s all it is! A habit.
Even though I still sometimes struggle with being nice to myself, as I said before, I have improved a lot. I have improved because of those instances where I have been able to be gentle, compassionate, acknowledging and loving towards myself. When I can be nice to myself and look to fulfill my own needs, I don’t have to have those expectations of others. And funnily enough, when you do have that improved relationship with yourself, your relationships with others change as well. Some disappear altogether (often the ones that don’t reflect your new relationship with yourself) and others get better.
As your relationship with yourself deepens and you come to understand yourself better, you’ll find insight into yourself and others deepens as well. Understanding the peace and empowerment that comes from taking responsibility for my own life, I want to allow that for others as well. This means I’ll remind myself not decide for others or give unwelcome opinions or advice. This means I decide to not take responsibility for others’ feelings where I have none. And coming back to being a mum (and partner for that matter)… this is where it is the hardest. The people closest to you are bound to push the most buttons.
The answer always comes back to your relationship to you. Hard decisions are made less hard by having a state of mind that is unencumbered by emotional turmoil. Relating to others is made easier by not being governed by your own unacknowledged needs and feelings. Life is sweet when you can rely on yourself and you can trust yourself. Life is even sweeter when you are free to love others as you have learned to love yourself.