A friend of mine’s son has been absent from Kindergarten this week. It turns out a regular operation to remove his tonsils went sideways. All is well now with the child; he is bouncing around and smiling. That’s what most children do – they bounce right back with a smile.
Adults can only wish for such resilience. His mother is living with flashbacks of blood and screaming. She hasn’t been sleeping well for two weeks, as her life has been turned upside down. As she bent down to tell her son off for being too active (’the stitches might break again’, is what her mind was screaming at her), I suddenly saw myself, bending down to my child, only four years ago. My daughter had no idea why I was always on edge. To her the world was just opening up, full of wonder and things to explore. To me it was a dark place, full of hidden dangers. Trying to communicate this to her was an anxious, frustrating and doomed exercise in near madness.
When we are in this state of worry and anxiety, our children look at us as if we are mad. They cannot see the monsters that our mind creates. We try to make them see these monsters, but since they are only in our heads, it is a futile mission. We think that because we are adults, we know the dangers and consequences of actions more than they do. And there is the key! We are, innocently, trying to protect our children. In doing so, our mind tries to be helpful and generates all the ways they can get hurt, so that we can protect them. We become on edge all the time, trapped in a cycle of anxiety where we remember the past and try to predict the future.
For me, it took a long time to climb out of this pattern of fear. I tried many different approaches, but only after coming across the 3 Principles was I finally free of the images and thoughts in my head. I came to understand that those thoughts were like sitting in a scary movie of the fate of my daughter, as if I had a psychic hotline to a future that only I could prevent. That was my job wasn’t it? I came to understand that couldn’t control the world and that I wasn’t 100% responsible for the safety of my child at all times (including when I wasn’t even there!). Accidents happen, botched surgeries happen – these things are out of our control and no amount of thinking or worrying will prevent them. Living in the past of trauma and the future of fear is no way to live. I should know.
Looking at my reflection in the kindergarten playground was quite a shock. I saw so clearly what life used to be like and I became very grateful for the understanding I now have (and I gave my friend a coaching session to help her see the illusion of the monsters in her head and celebrate, rather than fear, the resilience of the child before her – as he dangles off a climbing frame!).
Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.
– After Earth, 2013 (the movie).
More and more I am working with parents who have had an experience a difficult event such as an accident, illness, difficult birth, post natal depression, relocation and wish to step out of their pain and depression. If this description fits you, or someone you know, please contact me for a free consultation.