Connect before you React

I adapted this from Dr Shefali, who says ‘Connect before you Correct’ as a parent. I love that woman and I’m so grateful for how her work in the world and how it gives me a chance at becoming a better mother.

To Connect before I React is still a lesson I’m learning.

 It’s not just about how I parent but how I’m a wife, a friend, a daughter and sister, and most of all how I talk to myself. To be honest I thought I’d got it by now but hey, there’s more for me to learn on this. 

I did this personality test the other day, Bonnie told me about it and I thought I’ll give it a whirl. Being mindfully honest while answering the question meant that the result was rather disappointing to my ego. I immediately scrawled to the bottom of the 24 character trades to find that my greatest weakness is “Self Regulation.” – What? 

I thought I was so cool and together and I hardly ever overreact or ‘loos-it.’ 

Self-regulation relates to my ability to see my thoughts before they turn into fear-based emotions and I react, – well – like a child. “Mum, you’re behaving like a five-year-old,” Ruby said. I was in mid-flow of a tantrum. Her words brought me back to the moment long enough to get a feel for what my tantrum was really about (a need to be seen and valued). It didn’t come as a surprise that the original emotion that caused my tantrum, at the age of fifty-two, happened when I was five. These lessons become extra powerful when it is my own twelve-year-old daughter who is guiding me to examine myself. 

In an article I wrote for World Health Day in April, I spoke about how the root cause of the sciatica I’d had for decades related to being hypocritical. This idea is from the late and great Louise Hay’s teaching. The sciatica pain got worse while I wrote the article and I went in search of healing, which I found in large through acupuncture and self-reflection (self-care). I haven’t felt the pain of sciatica in five months so I’d nearly forgotten about the ‘hypocritical’ lesson until I got another reminder last week.

I’d been on my walk-run-skip-and-a-jump workout around school campus the evening before, and that morning, after sitting cross-legged on the floor during meditation, my left knee felt painful. It was a bit swollen and I immediately thought shit, now I can’t go on my evening walk. I wanted to know ‘what was wrong with my knee.’ Mr Green told me not to worry about it, ‘keep up your workout, it’ll pass,’ he said. Spoken like a true PE teacher, – which is what he is and one of the reasons I like his advice. Permission to skip-and-jump granted (yay). Evening Netflix session cancelled (bummer). 

Now, – I don’t go around with Louise Hay’s ‘Causes of Symptoms’ list in my head so I went back to her book – for if there was one thing I learned from the sciatica lesson – it is that my body speaks to me and ask me to listen deeply. Here’s what the pain in my knee represents: 

Pride and ego, an inability to bend and be flexible, stubbornness and a reluctance to give in. 

Sounds familiar? Oh yes, this is the ‘hypocritical’ lesson all over again.

So what’s the opposite of being reluctant to give in?’  Letting go, right? I have to admit to still being like a dog with a bone over certain things. I’m still a stubborn child, still holding on to my right to be right, to my right to my pain and my wound from not being seen nearly fifty years ago. 

In ‘The Awakened Family’ Dr Shefali gives us three things every child needs and wants:

To be seen ? To matter ? To be worthy

This is ‘new stuff’ that didn’t exist back in the 70s and 80s when I was parented. Discipline and ‘do as you’re told’ was the paradigm of raising children back then, so no – I wasn’t seen and my thoughts didn’t really matter in my family, simply because it wasn’t conducive to the environment at the time. In Speak #TRUTH Lies I write about how infuriating and unfair I thought it was that my parents always got to be right and had the final say. They were rigid in their rightness. They were perfect teachers and I learned to hold on tight to my own rightness, using weapons like drama and silent treatment when things didn’t go my way.

I know that having held on to my rightness all these decades has made me just as hypocritical as I accused my father of being. And I know ‘letting go’ will lead me to enjoy the freedom of being flexible in my views. I know it will give me a creative thrill to learn new ideas and new ways of doing and being. So why am I afraid to let go? 

Well, – what if everything I’ve ever held to be true is just a figment of my emotions and limiting beliefs? What, then, do I know for sure?

Can I truly let go of knowing, of control, of being right, even if it’s just some of the times? 

My ego is saying definitely NOT.

My intuition says I’ve nothing to lose and why not give it a go. 

I decide on somewhere in between, for now, and choose to start with Connecting before Reacting.

So next time my knee or my Kid or my Man or the traffic or the long queue in the grocery shop or falling out of flow with my writing, spark my monkey-mind to sing a self-righteous song, I will pause, breath and feel into the moment just before my monkey-mind takes over and I escalate into a full-blown panic or tantrum.

While I breathe into that moment I will ask; is the meaning I’m putting on this situation true or am I having an emotional reaction? Is this moment here to teach me to let go, to be flexible, to open my mind or my heart? At least then, if my temper flares and I raise my voice and stamp my feet, as I go in search for a door to bang, my ego will think I’m reacting as a ‘grownup’ and not just purely based on old emotions and limiting beliefs. 

“When you feel the stirrings of that emotion rising in your heart you have a split-second choice -to give it full expression. Or to squash it.”

As I’m writing this I feel the numbness of the root canal treatment I had last night, and I cringe in embarrassment at the thought that someone might read this and decide to look up ‘teeth’ on Louise Hay’s ‘Causes of Symptoms’ list. Now that would be embarrassing. 

. . . . and breath . . . . 

Much Love and Light

Vig ❤️

I’m reading ‘The Awakened Family’ at the moment, spurred on by Dr Shefali’s new Conscious Parenting Master Class on Mind Valley University.