“It’s the message insert name here receives – as opposed to the one we think we sent- that predicts the effects of our actions.” (Alfie Kohn, Unconditional Parenting)
You know, this is very valuable. So many of us forget, especially parents, that it is not our perspective that counts, nor is it the message that we’re trying to convey, it is the person we are interacting with, it is their perspective that matters while we are with them, it is how they’ve interpreted our actions, our message, that counts.
I can love my daughter unconditionally, or think I am, but if all she feels is a trapped energy within me that says over and over again, “please don’t leave me, please don’t leave me,” then she will perceive my love as having conditions. Let me explain a bit…
The healer/coach guide that our family sees let me know this fall that there was that energy within me, the please don’t leave me, from the little young Bradlee, who for many reasons, didn’t want to be left alone, who was so scared of being abandoned. Our coach, Jean, helped me to see how that stuck energy was influencing and controlling so much in our family life. Zara was aware of it, but couldn’t leave me because she felt it and because it was within me, I couldn’t leave her without experiencing pain, but I also wanted to find myself, to know who I was, to do something for me. So even though I was sending out so much love, it was burdened in a way I could never have imagined, that I was able to see once Jean pointed it out for me. It is now leaving me, through healing, through acknowledging it, through letting it pass as I feel it, instead of letting it dominate my actions and thoughts, and the difference in our home is huge. I was able to leave for two straight full days for a dance workshop (but come home at night) and I’ve since left her twice at night with her Dad. I’ve had to do so much work on this and I likely will continue to need to do it and I will do it, I am committed to doing it, to being my true self, instead of living through the pain that I stored in this body because I never felt I could express it.
So back to the quote. I think it’s so valuable, especially for parents. It’s time we see that our actions are being interpreted by our children, not through all of our life experiences, but through theirs, which are so different than ours, unless we get trapped by our past experiences, unless we get stuck recreating them and recreating them, like so many of us do, like I did, and definitely still do, but with healing and even just awareness, we can overcome, we can rise above, we can live in neutrality and in peace.
Let’s all keep that in mind, wherever we are, whatever we are doing. If we get stuck with someone, in an interaction with them that is so harmful, that is so a power struggle, let’s remember that their perspective of what is going on is loaded by their past experiences, and their reaction really has very little to do with us. Let’s all find some more compassion for ourselves, for our children, for our parents, for those we interact with, we are all carrying pain, we all want to be right. Let’s open up our hearts, know that we are all different, but that deep down, no matter what your perspective is and what your life story is, we all want love. Let’s do the best we can, even if we feel like our best at this moment sucks, it is what we can do, let’s let go of judging ourselves and others, and know that everyone wants love and let’s love ourselves too.
And then, with this, you can remember that your child’s perspective is different than yours. And with this, you will be able to see them clearly, see their actions as a way of speaking to you, and you will be able to respond with love instead of from a place of anger or hurt because they can’t see your perspective. They will only be able to see your perspective if you can see yours, and even then, their life isn’t really about seeing your perspective, it is about learning, growing and trying things in their own lives. We are here to love them, guide them and support them, not to fulfill our lives or make up for our past hurts through them.
Let’s honor our children and try to remember it is the message they receive, their perspective of everything, that will shape their lives. If we are open to it, we can see it and adjust as necessary.