Focusing on their efforts rather than the outcome shows children that we value who they are internally, rather than simply what they can do or give us.
I can be very fiery and have a habit of stewing on my emotions. I have never been very good at ‘letting go’ of my feelings, and I tend to think about how angry or upset I am feeling over and over, feeding my anger until small upsets become much bigger issues.
Recently I managed to completely change how I react to and handle my difficult emotions. Through learning about mindfulness I have realised that I can have my emotions, and fully observe and experience them: but, they do not own me! I do not have to be consumed by my emotions!
The mind is separate from the thoughts that it produces.
This is a very subtle but hugely important tenet in being mindful. It can be difficult to grasp at first but as soon as it ‘clicks’ for you, there is no going back.
The first time I tried this technique of mindfulness was after a family member had upset me and I felt hurt, angry, and disappointed. I was ranting about it to my husband when he said “isn’t this the kind of time you could practice that mindfulness you were talking about this morning?” Rather than biting his head off I thought, ah, good point – and it actually worked! I was amazed. This is what I did…
First, I tried to almost ‘step out’ of my mind, to observe what was happening as if I were a bystander. I saw that I was feeling hurt, anger, sadness. I still allowed myself to feel the emotions – it is very important to still feel them and truly experience them, or you end up with a whole host of other issues!! But instead of allowing myself to be consumed by the emotions as I normally would, having them fill my whole brain and not being able to move on, I tried something else. I took a step back, to observe them, and did not allow myself to be taken hostage by them. I actually visualised myself standing on a river bank, the water being my mind, and watching my feelings bobbing up and down in their individual ‘boats’ on the river. I also had an internal conversation with my mind, describing the feelings it was experiencing, and that it was ok to feel that way.
Importantly, I accepted the negative emotions. I didn’t allow myself the usual guilt of having them: I didn’t spend the usual half hour bitching to my husband to justify to myself why I was angry. I purely accepted the negative emotions as valid, and allowed myself to feel them and observe them.
Having followed these steps the last part then came completely naturally and even unexpectedly. I was able to let the negative feelings go, sailing down the river in their little boats, and I realised I had experienced anger without getting angry myself. This was a huge internal revelation to me, and such a powerful tool of mindfulness.
My emotions no longer own me. I feel so free!
I’ve had a bit of a personal revelation this last week, and would love to share it with you.
I was brought up in a very busy household and have all my life struggled with the feeling that I always need a project on the go; to be busy with something; to somehow be doing something. It has never come naturally to me to just sit, and be, and enjoy the present moment. I always worry about what I should or could be doing.
It’s only in this last week, after reading a bit about mindfulness in the Evening Standard magazine, followed by some articles on Zen Habits and some remarkably insightful e-mails from Karen at The Global Kindness Initiative, that I realised why this was.
You can only be fully present in the moment, if you are happy and comfortable with yourself. If you love yourself.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But it has taken 31 years of self discovery for me to make the connection. It is only in the last couple of years that I have grown to accept and love who I am, and only then comes the ability to be able to just enjoy the present.
When I was not happy with who I was, when I hadn’t fully accepted (and loved) who I was, my constant having to be busy and working on something was, I now feel, a form of escapism. I was constantly wanting a project to work on or think about as something to do so I didn’t have to deal with the uncomfortable reality of the present, which was that I wasn’t fully happy with myself.
When you are being completely mindful and present in the current moment, there is a raw truthfulness about your situation: your inner core is laid bare as there is nothing to hide behind or distract yourself with. And that is why I could only become fully present in the current moment, after accepting who I am and being happy and joyful with myself!
I feel truly liberated to have made this connection, by gaining the inner truthfulness that allows me to just be and to enjoy the present moment, without worrying about the future. For I think that is what all this busy-ness was about: trying to constantly make things different, better, and planning how the future should be rather than experiencing the now.
In the last week alone this realisation has beautifully enriched my relationship with my daughter. I am her fulltime carer, and I have always been careful to be fully present with her in that I don’t use the phone, TV or do other things while playing with her. I only now realise that although I was ‘physically’ fully present, I was not generally fully mindful, or ‘mentally’ present.
I am so glad that I stopped to think for a while about why I was unable to be fully comfortable in the present moment, and what it was that was stopping me.
Having finally understood the gift of mindfulness, and the importance of inner acceptance, truthfulness, and of just being in the moment and savouring it for what it is; our connection has been so much stronger, so much more joyful. I feel alive and full of peace and joy in a way I have never before experienced!
I invite you to take a journey inwards and have a think about if there is anything stopping you from fully enjoying the present moment? Do you fully accept yourself as you are? Are you fully comfortable with yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, with you? Do you love yourself? I wish you all the best on your own inner journeys.
“If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first
examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be
changed in ourselves.” Carl G. Jung