I often ask my young clients to try on a pair of over-sized blue shaded sunglasses. They are pink, obnoxious, funny. The children are asked to describe what they see. They look at me in wonder and amusement and begin to identify the details around them: the room is darker, the furniture has changed hues; I look pale and gloomy. Then I ask them to take them off and compare the difference: the room is all of sudden filled with sun light; I am less gloomy, they are happier, things are more real. I have them discuss times when things appeared “darker” to them at home, school and social settings. I give them coping skills about how to walk through those uncomfortable feelings that arise within them. Stories are shared about being bullied, academic underachievement, missing their parents’ attention, to name a few. They sit with those feelings, work through them with me and begin to heal; they consider different perspectives and take a greater sense of responsibility for their choices. Exploring alternative possibilities in an age appropriate- manner, they gain self-esteem and awareness, and best of all have fun!
Delving deeper, I begin to wonder how we as adults perceive the world around us through our own pair of dark sunglasses—how, through our own misperceptions and misinterpretations, our actions and reactions are misconstrued, too. Our choices are often based on them. It’s okay, though; it’s never too late to change. Phew! However, if you think it’s easy, think again. Try challenging your own perceptions of the world around you for one day and you’ll see how hard this truly is. The good news is that it’s pretty empowering, yet humbling at the same time (once we realize that the only thing in our power is ourselves).
If we dare, we can begin to explore our own emotional blockage that impacts our behavior and understand its origins. Looking back at the patterns and themes throughout our lives, we experience different faces, places, and situations: yet somehow the same challenges continue to re-occur. It’s as if we’re replaying the
soundtrack of our life over and over (and over) again. But why? Is this a coincidence or an opportunity for growth, change and healing? And right when we think we’ve learned the lesson, another challenge pops up always testing our ability to grow. The only way out, is to walk through; and the only way through is by going in. Whose job is it to do this? Yours. Believe me, it’s hard and uncomfortable. At times, it’s humiliating, but also a gift! We get the chance not only to surrender to what is, but we free ourselves to our highest potential and begin to make choices based on our truth, clarity and compassion–not only for ourselves, but for others. Each of us has our own journey, our own story, our own triumphs and struggles, our own inner child. Allow yourself to look back and smile; laugh at all the silly things you’ve done and still do. It’s healthy, builds character and humility.
But seriously: how can we ask a child to be responsible for his/her own actions and behavior without truly having done so ourselves? Perhaps some of you have and always do. Awesome! As role models, leading by example is a great way to provide a sounding board to assist not only yourselves, but your children. If they can do it, then so can you! They need you as much as you need them.
Have you ever considered the possibility that your children are at times your teachers? That each time they trigger you, they are there to help you work on the things you can change about yourself? Taking it one step further, what if everyone in your life, today, is a teacher: husband, wife, lover, boss, colleague, friend, an ex…Whoa, right? Perhaps it’s not so black and white, but a shade of grey; you take turns at playing the teacher/student role. It doesn’t have to be either/or, but rather both/and. Seeing it this way brings me clarity. I have nothing but gratitude for all my “teachers”. The ones that have pushed my buttons the most are the ones who taught me the greatest lessons about myself. Thank you!
A little food for thought: the next time you see your child, consider sharing an apple together. Life is in session; you might as well live and learn from it.