Cyprus Mail
Life & Style

Striving to live in the now


By Alexia Saleem

I have often been told that you love all your children the same, but you might just like them differently. On the face of it, that’s reasonable – you’ll like them differently because they’re different people, the way you like your friends differently.

But what if the reason you like them differently is because they bring out different parts of you that you like? What if when you feel you don’t like them, it’s actually yourself you don’t like?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Why is it that one child triggers you more than another? Why is it you have patience with one more than the other? It’s easy to get into the mind game of blaming one or the other for why you’re in a bad mood. If X hadn’t emptied the bucket of water all over the bathroom floor for the umpteenth time, I wouldn’t be annoyed. If Y hadn’t jumped on my back and pulled my neck, I wouldn’t have snapped.

It’s much easier to judge what we see in front of us. To think that everything that happens is outside of our control. We forget that we actually have a lot more power than that. We forget that by watching how we think and feel, we have a lot more control of our experience.

Children can be our biggest teachers. They push our buttons and boundaries in ways we cannot imagine. Often, I catch myself losing my temper, when on the inside I’m not actually bothered at all. I’m more bothered about what other people might think or say, which then upsets my own internal compass. I know what is expected of children, and of me, and so I find myself complying to other people’s wants. I later find myself apologising to my children and explaining that I was more worried about other peoples’ feelings than theirs or mine.

Had I been able to maintain my own equilibrium and ignore what other people may be thinking or feeling, I would have reacted very differently because I would have felt very differently. I wouldn’t have been drawn into other people’s drama, because there would have been no content and therefore no drama. By content, what I mean is the thoughts we have on repeat whirring inside our heads based on past experiences.

People love watching young children because every day is a blank slate with little or no content from the previous day and so they meet every experience with an expectancy and excitement that is both captivating and infectious. They don’t have thoughts filling their heads about what was or what could be. They only observe what is. Right here, right now. If we could all empty our heads and merely take things as they come, I am pretty sure we would be much happier. For it’s the content that loads a situation or not. And it is those incessant thoughts that make up our beliefs. And it is our beliefs that eventually determine the course of our lives.

If we could just live in the now, we could take every day as it comes. But we don’t. We look at yesterday and we look at tomorrow. Incessantly. We know that isn’t the way to live. And yet we continue to do it. Which is probably why certain aspects of our children trigger us and why we think we like them differently, when in fact it’s the parts of us we like more or less that is the issue. If we liked all of ourselves and accepted ourselves then we wouldn’t like anyone differently, more or less, we’d just like them. Our children included. We’d love them as the perfect beings they are because we would love ourselves as the perfect beings we are. It is when we are not feeling the love for ourselves that we feel bad.

When we don’t like what we do, say or think, again we feel bad. When we live our lives for other people, we feel bad. And then it’s from that misaligned place that we try to parent, which nearly always ends badly, for our children are their own people with their own inner compasses.

Becoming a parent is easy. And yet because of all that content, which we have collected over the years, we complicate it and get pulled in all sorts of different directions, ending up feeling bad. We start to blame our children for feeling tired or being in a bad mood. We think one child is more difficult than the other. We start to wonder what we are doing wrong. Instead of approaching the situation from a place of love and acceptance, we approach it from one of guilt and blame and then look for a culprit.

When we feel bad ourselves, we will often look outside ourselves and think “it’s you, it’s because of you, I feel bad”. But if you observe how you feel in any given moment, you’ll see it started from a thought. If you can catch that thought before it takes hold, and with patience and love remain in the now, and choose a better feeling thought, over time you will ultimately set yourself, and your children, free.

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