Acceptance and Our Shadow
Before you read this piece understand that it is my opinion based on my own personal experiences, work and research. I am not a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist. Please if you are in a situation where you or your child have emotional challenges or trauma, please I encourage you to go and seek professional help.
I have this new little book I love called ‘Think Happy Be Happy’…
I have always loved books with quotes that inspire and help me to develop a positive outlook. However, my years of striving to be positive had one dyer consequence, beneath the surface lay a pool of hurt, resentment, anger, insert negative emotion here because I had all of them.
In the last 2-3 years, I have started to embrace a very important part of myself. The dark. Some people call it the shadow. This inquiry began, a little less than a year after my second daughter was born, when I finally admitted to myself and my doctor that I had been suffering from Post Natal Depression.
I finally started to accept that dark times, memories, feelings, behaviours and emotions exist. If we try to shove them away, like I did, and put the happy thought in their place it does not get rid of them. They are still there, somewhere under the surface waiting to seep through the cracks of our positive outlook facade.
It was only when I looked at these difficult emotions, challenging memories, fears, or beliefs, which no longer seemed to fit with my life, that something magical happened. The sting eventually started to subside. I am not saying it took one magical stroke of a wizard’s hand, because it didn’t. I learnt the hard stuff takes time and Acceptance.
Acceptance for me is…
Accepting that this dark piece of myself is there and if I keep pushing it away it will only rear its head more.
Accepting that there may be no quick fix, happy thought or single tool that will get rid of it.
Accepting that I am human and therefore by proxy I have had a life time of ups and downs like everyone else. Letting myself of the hook, embracing my humanness and finally giving up this insane societal view that we need to be perfect.
Accepting that when I shine a light into the dark it may not be as bad as I think or maybe it will. However by pushing these difficult feelings away I am stopping myself from really embracing the possibility of freedom.
Accept it all because this ‘Too Shall Pass’.
Also, this crazy drive to make everyone think we are fine has another tricky by-product. For parents, we may unknowingly be putting the same pressures on our kids. I am not saying this to give you one more thing to feel bad about. I acknowledge that ‘Parental Guilt’ is REAL. This is a call to be more compassionate towards yourself.
Acceptance with Children
There are so many times with my kids I have become reactive to their inability to deal with life at different moments. The tantrums, the refusing to get dressed, washed or any other hygiene related task, the screaming, poor manners, the list goes on. Basically, all the behaviours that to the rest of the world may indicate that I am a bad mum. In my head at times, the possible judgment of the world outside overrides the needs of my child and the freedom that Acceptance brings.
When difficult behaviour presents itself, I try to be understanding, I bribe, then I threaten, and none of it works…
But the moment, I accept that ‘this too shall pass’, the energy shifts.
Maybe the screaming continues but its o.k. because in that moment I am allowing the dark to emerge and be expressed.
I am not stopping it… forcing it…I am allowing it to rear its head.
Supporting Our Children To Regulate Their Emotions
Just after it arcs, when I feel we have weathered the storm even a little bit I may start (encouraging little person to join in) with belly breathing, blowing on the hot coco, blowing out the candles, ect.
WE have taken a walk down monster ally and now it is time to get some oxygen to the brain to help get this kid and I get out of our fight, flight or freeze mode.
Maybe after, we can have the conversation, when everyone is calm. The conversation about catching anger, frustration, sadness, before they get too big and redirecting it to drawing, talking it out, mindful breathing or whatever calm down technique feels right…
Or maybe big anger that needs to be expressed could be screaming into a pillow, running around the house, jumping on the trampoline, always releasing rather than stuffing it back down.
Your kids, emotions are real. Teaching them that all emotions are important and deserve to be expressed and released is healing. Often our knee jerk reaction is to try and stop them, or make it better somehow. But maybe what they need is to sit with these emotions so they can naturally go on to the next appropriate emotion.
Put Your Oxygen Mask On First
Now, the first step is giving yourself permission to feel and experience the feelings or emotions that you try to hide out of sight because the best teachers lead by example.
I don’t mean having a level 4 tantrum in front of your kids, but if that is how it manifests it is a great opportunity to have the ‘I am human talk’.
“I am human. And as a human I don’t always show up the way I wish I could. Things hurt or frustrate me and I want to throw myself on the floor as much as you do. Sometimes, I forget to use the tools I know will help me calm down or process life in a way that feels good for me and those around me. I am sorry you had to see that. Just know I love you no matter what, and I will always try my best to be honest and loving.”
In your quiet time accept the parts of you that you may be rejecting or judging as bad. We are human and the fastest way to have true compassion for others is to first accept ourselves, worts and all.
After I finished writing this piece I walked out of the house and there on the walk way was this card…
I had to laugh! It is a reminder that I have had a life time of challenges that I may have pushed down and not even realised it. Although, I may have done a lot of work to release issues the fact is I am human and there is always more parts of myself to accept, hurts to heal and old stories to release. When troubling thoughts re-emerge I can lovingly and compassionately face them head on and practice acceptance.
A Final Note:
Again, I am not a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist. Please, if you are in a situation where you or your child have emotional challenges or trauma, please, I encourage you to go and seek professional help.
I am a person who spent many years looking at myself and trying to find ways to feel my best. The opinions expressed in this piece may resonate with you but I didn’t get to this point on my own. Reaching out for appropriate assistance from trained professional may be the missing link for you to transform the life of you and your family.
Wishing you love and a light to shine in the dark
P.S. My go to modalities for shining a light into the dark, as a parent and teacher, are journaling and Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique). I use yoga, mindfulness and meditation to help me connect to the healing well that exists with in all of us, all the while embracing acceptance and impermanence for ‘This too Shall Pass’.
P.S.S. You may be wondering ‘What’s with this heavy topic of discussion’? When I made my own healing a priority that is when the stories started to whisper in my ear. I had released my inner child and she was finally ready to play.