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Patterns you react to most strongly in others and misperceive as their identity tend to be the same patterns that are also in you, but you are unable or unwilling to detect within yourself…
Anything that you resent and strongly react to in others is also in you. But it is no more than a form of ego... it is completely impersonal. It has nothing to do with who that person is, nor has it anything to do with who you are.
~ Eckart Tolle's A New Earth
The path of true consciousness requires us to really understand our egos, not just yours or mine, but the collective ego of humanity. And in my opinion, the hard work is set out for us with our kiddos. Because they test us. They trigger us. They challenge us.
And they will continue to challenge us until we are able to step aside and realize their egos are not who they are. Just like our egos are not who we are. And when we can really internalize this truth, then we can see our situations simply as events. Not emotions. Not reactions. JUST events.
A year ago, I was triggered by my five year old…
She had just given her cousin, Jane, one of her special rings but told her not to wear it yet. Jane decided to wear it anyway. Soon afterwards, Jane lost the ring to which my daughter said, "See! This is why I didn't want you to wear it. I knew you would lose it." I saw Jane's face drown in sadness and I felt myself reach for her sensitive soul. My daughter was mean and cruel with her words. She did not show empathy. She blamed her.
I know that no child wants to be "bad". As Tolle referenced above, when we react in anger, our egos have been triggered. This is not our identity. This is not who she is. This simple fact helped me not react or judge her in that moment.
I also know that kids this age are acting out scenarios that they are still trying to understand and process. When she said what she said, she was recreating a situation that she had experienced before; a situation that probably didn't feel good for her.
Knowing this made me ask some important questions. Where did she learn to speak that way? School? Teachers? Other friends? Am I saying things like this?
That last question is perhaps the hardest one. "Am I saying things like this?" As soon as I said that, I felt my body tense up. I felt myself become defensive. I heard my thoughts say, Of course not. I would never say anything like this.
I realize how brilliantly Tolle described this human condition within me: Patterns you react to most strongly in others and misperceive as their identity tend to be the same patterns that are also in you, but you are unable or unwilling to detect within yourself.
So, I have been detecting...
Why? Because I am an empath. I feel deeply for others. I try my best not to hurt other's feelings, intentionally or unintentionally. I want to help nurture a kind and empathetic human in my daughter. The opposite of that triggers me. And according to Tolle, if it triggers me, it is also within me.
And he is right on!
Within just a few days, I noticed myself saying things like "This is why I told you not to..." "I knew you would drop that glass..."
Holy wow! She IS learning this from me. But what is wrong with what I am saying? It's true! I did tell her not to do this and she did it anyway. I have to point it out.
Well then, why did it bother me so much when she said the same thing to Jane? Because of the way she said it. Her words inflicted guilt on Jane. Jane was already feeling bad. She already felt guilty. Did it help her to have my daughter throw it at her face? Is it helping my daughter when I throw it in her face?
So, I have been trying to rephrase and reword a healthier way to say this. It's been over a year, and I finally feel like I have a concrete solution around this. Just this week it all finally clicked together.
Yesterday, we went to Ojai for a hike as a family. I held our nine-month old son on a carrier and Nora, our now six year old, wanted to climb a little hill. It had been raining so the ground was a little slippery. She was adamant about climbing that hill. My husband said no at first but then he finally succumbed and they climbed the hill. I heard her awe when she was at the top. He was encouraging her the entire way. Then they started to climb back down. The dirt was slippery, the rocks were loose, so their feet struggled to find their grip. This was hard. My husband started teaching her some awesome skills on how to fall the right way if she slips. I could sense he was worried about making sure she was safe. I could see my husband's patience being tested. When they were almost all the way down, they reached the steepest part. That's when I saw my hubby's animal brain turn on - the fight and flight had been activated - and he said "This is why I told you not to climb up. You need to listen to me next time." She looked confused and hurt. She even asked, "You said I couldn't go?"
I thank God for this moment because I was finally able to see it clearly.
At first, I felt myself get angry at my husband for saying that to her. I heard the narrative of irrational fear within me say that the awe and magnificence of her climb was being stripped away from her because of that one statement that inflicted guilt upon her.
But I know that: Anything that you resent and strongly react to in others is also in you.
So, I transformed my anger into reflection. I saw myself in my husband. I saw what was happening. We have been un-consciously saying these things because they have been said to us many times before. But I get to examine this and make sure my words are aligned with my intentions.
So I asked myself some questions.
What exactly are we saying when we say "This is why I told you not to climb up. You need to listen to me next time."
We are saying this is your fault. We are shifting our accountability and essentially putting the blame on the other.
Why do we want to find fault and blame in others?
Because of our own need to RIGHT.
Guess who is puppeteering that within us?
You guessed it! Our EGO.
Boom! Ego has been revealed. I SEE you. And thus, the ego no longer holds the power within me.
So, now let's get to the real work…
INFORMATION INTO TRANSFORMATION:
Conscious communication requires us to see our role in the situation. How can I rephrase this so it's about me and not my child?
Here is what I came up with:
Ego says: "This is why I told you not to climb up. You need to listen to me next time."
Consciousness says: "I should have listened to myself and not let us climb up. I will be braver next time."
You know, when I say these two statements out loud, I feel like people are mostly made to feel bad with the first one and they learn how to place the blame on the other.
Yet with the second one, people are allowed to hear some big introspective life lessons that they can carry with them for the rest of their life.
My Outer-Self: B.S. from USC in Industrial & Systems Engineering, owner of Amna Dance, Co-founder of Hatch Brighter and You Matter Too.