My son became distraught yesterday over a drawing that wasn’t going quite right. He has a good eye for drawing but this time the pencil wasn’t flowing to his liking and he started on ‘the talk’. The talk went a bit like this. ‘I’m not good at drawing, it’s a waste of time anyway because it’s just a pencil and paper and it’s not that useful for the world and I’ll never be famous, like it’s not maths or anything’. (He’s only 8 so it was a bit of a jumble). What in essence he was trying to say is I’m rejecting this moment. He was pushing away his experience of pain in his world. He wanted to step into something else, more fanciful, more useful, more enlightened and fun.This moment was indeed the moment of rubbish. And each of the moments then piled themselves up on top of one another until they were a drama big enough to make him retract into a ball.
So what’s a parent to do in this situation? Try to take the pain away, I tried that; ‘it’s ok, it’s only today, you are good at drawing, etc etc’ or teach the child to acknowledge into their tiny world that there are some things that don’t always work out quite how we expected but all of your experiences are valid and part of who you are.
We all have the dramas, whether it be a broken nail or flat tyre, some physical or emotional pain, a criticism or some blame. They come in one after the other. So what do we do? We often try to take the approach one of the parent above. Make it go away or pretend it isn’t happening or do something to make us feel better. So we have a cigarette or a glass of wine, a rant or go for a run. Anything to avoid it or take it away because that was what we were taught. We were taught with love of course, that a band aid will fix it, a hug will take it away, do something to take your mind off it. Avoid or replace. And this really does seem to work for a wee while. We feel better, we feel good, life isn’t bad at all, but then we break the other nail or have the second wave of doubt or we go back to finish the argument.
Could there be an alternative though? Everything that comes into our lives is valid. Every pain or heartbreak, every feeling of doubt, insecurity, not knowing, sadness are part of us. Just as joy, ecstasy and happiness are part of us. Why should we push them away? They will soon pass, just like anything. Continually seeking some salve for them is relying on our external environment for a quick fix. What if we were to just sit with the child or with ourselves? What if we just saw and admitted the feeling, the urge, the desire, the boredom or the longing? What if we admitted it into ourselves? How would it be for you to ride the wave of the experience, watch it break and fall?
Practice for today. Our life is made up of moments. Some of these moments are desirable, some not so. Can you take time with yourself to see them all come into your vision from the boredom to the highs and then watch them go without trying to fix anything? There is actually nothing broken so just be with it all.