“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”. Thich Nhat Hanh
As a parent, I find this easier to apply than to my ‘adult’ (I use that term loosely for some) relationships. Whenever my children are ‘off’ I go through an evaluation to see if they’ve had enough food, sleep or attention from us. The kind of attention where we are really present. It’s easy to get side tracked with tasks. Do your homework, brush your teeth, eat your lettuce! So ‘being present’ is extremely important in all our spiritual development. Do we as parents miss out the most if we are ‘too busy’ to enjoy the joyfulness of our children? Is there ever a time when life is so joyful as when we are children?
As we discussed yesterday a helpful tool for changing our state is having a declaration. Mine is, “I am a patient, playful, present and accepting woman”. Our children 8, 7 and 5 did their’s yesterday.
Madison, 8, I am a gentle, calm, good listener, and forgiving girl.
Cameron, 7, I am a forgiving, helpful, honest and complimentary girl.
Brennan, 5, I am a gentle, sweet talking, honest and big words boy.
So after we did this some hitting went down and you can narrow down the two responsible by their declaration. When this happens we ask what is your declaration? Ok so what would that person do? Then they naturally correct the behavior on their own. It’s a fun and beautiful process.
Some other questions may be how is the rhythm in the house, are we on a balanced schedule, is there much peace or stress in the home right now, are we getting enough fresh air, are we being playful or too serious, are we taxed or overwhelmed?
Our children can be our call to intimacy. When they become needy, whiny, clingy or demanding it is often times a wake up call to us that we are out of balance. Some of us may think yeah right, give me a break. The funny thing is we all think that at times, but usually not when we are joyful and balanced.
We usually have those thoughts when we are run ragged and taxed. Some of us may think I’m ragged all the time. Then this is a call to action if that is really true, because we need balance, our children need balance and today is as good a day as any to tackle this.
There are some caveats for us all. Times in life it’s a real challenge to sustain, let alone think of higher concepts. Here are two of mine; colic and stair stepped children.
Ours cried for a year. In those situations remember the ideal, but mostly remember to be kind and gentle to yourself and understand it’s short term and it will pass. My own experience was the more balanced and calm mommy was the less the colic flared up. It’s a vicious cycle because we don’t get any sleep, then we are out of balance and then we are ‘off’ and all that disrupts the colic even more. Especially for those of us that also worked full time. I had to schedule appointments around nursing because she also refused to take a bottle! Babysitters would often come one time, never to return, because hours with a screaming baby was not their idea of a cool gig.
We may also be the parents of small children stair stepped. Mine were 2, 1 and a nursing infant. The most zen mamma, with a perfect spouse, and supportive family will have her melt downs in this early phase of development.
My journey revealed all of those experiences and a willingness to dig deep is what allowed these concepts to take hold. I remember being frustrated with myself for not ‘getting it’ in the midst of all this chaos and I definitely had my demoralizing moments, but I was committed. These experiences stretched me beyond what I thought was possible and the rewards of doing the work were huge.
Now onto those adults relationship; they can be much more challenging for some. However, the course teaches ‘every attack is a cry for help’. So let’s focus for now on those primary relationships; the ones with our significant other. If we take a moment to reflect on our spouse and how we treat them what will come up? Are they the person we give whatever is left at the end of the day to? Do we say things to them in ways we would never say to another? Do we have the opposite issues where we speak our mind to friends but don’t allow ourselves to be that vulnerable with our spouse? Do we take advantage of our relationship or do we feel taken for granted? Do we show appreciation to our spouse or feel as though they lack appreciation for us?
Consider reading the 5 love languages by Gary Chapman or check back tomorrow for the cliff notes on this book and some ideas on how to break out of those blame games. How do you break out of the blame game? Our you a giver or the taker in your relationship? Is your relationship balanced? What do you love about your relationship? What do you want more of?