I’m thinking about how I can feel lighter in the world. My first thought is to eliminate sources of stress. That seems logical. But the thing is, many of those things are also the sources of joy, growth and contribution in my life. Life would be a lot simpler if I wasn’t blogging and running workshops, for example. But these things give me outlets for my passion and ways to expand & to contribute. To withdraw from stress entirely is to withdraw from life. And what would be the point of a stress-free life? How is the soul to feel fulfilled, learn its lessons and make its impact if we play small?
So the answer may be to, instead, accept the discomfort and stress, rather than resisting it. (I’m talking about those things that, while difficult, we know are also growing us in some way.) In a mindful way, noticing it without losing ourselves to the anxiety of it. I have realised recently that noticing our internal response to things is a great step forward, even if we do nothing more.
Ekhart Tolle tells us that the forms of our lives are “play”. I don’t think that that means they’re not meaningful but that they aren’t me. If something doesn’t go well, it doesn’t mean that I’m no good. Equally, I’m no better when something I’ve turned my hand to does go well.
So, it comes down to our sense of wholeness and worth – really knowing that we are complete and valuable, regardless of what’s going on in our lives. There’s nothing to prove or to avoid. Who we are is perfect and indestructible.
I have written about self-worth a few times on my blog, each time going a little deeper, uncovering a new aspect of it. I guess that’s because it’s been a personal journey of my own to really believe that I am complete and valuable. But I don’t think I’m the only one. This may be the work of our lives – to get to that place where we know that we are whole and worthy at all times and through all things. And to know this about other people too.
I can see worthiness is at the heart of things – of inner peace, confidence and joy. For me, it really is a spiritual matter. If we don’t understand that we of a divine source, extensions of God (or whatever you choose to call it), perhaps our self-worth is always in question. In that case, there’s no choice but to attach it to the outward achievements of this world which are plenty some day and in short supply on others. Our self worth can only be shaky if it depends on things turning out the way we would have them, things we can never have full control over (although we may like to think we do).
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR CHILDREN?
Naturally, we praise our children for their successes to build them up and acknowledge their achievements. And I’m not suggesting we stop doing that. The question is, though, how do we give them a sense of their worth beyond their achievements?
Looking back at my post Giving Our Children A Resilient Sense of Self-Worth, I did write that one way to help our children be resilient when in doubt about their worth is to help them to know themselves as Spirit. This means recognising that they are not their thoughts and feelings and circumstances, through developing their ability to observe themselves through such things a meditation. I guess that’s where I feel a little stuck. I can tell my boys that they are wonderful extensions of God. I can do mindfulness activities with them like the ones I wrote about in my post on meditation. And I do think these things count. But, ultimately, they need to experience their divinity for themselves.
So this is as far as our parenting can reach. Over time, I have come to understand that, as a parent, there is nothing I can make my children do or know. Ultimately, they need to come to things themselves. As they say, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. In a way, it’s an emotional challenge for me because there are things I really want for my boys that I cannot guarantee, and I especially want them to be strong in their own self-worth.
But it’s also a relief. I am not as responsible for my children’s lives as I used to believe I was. Letting go of this need to control things to try and guarantee an unguaranteeable outcome is a stress I can let go of.
Many of my personal inquiries become inquiries into my parenting, as this one did. As I learn things for myself, I start wondering how it might be significant to my boys and how to bring it to them. There are many ways to inquire into ourselves. My favourite is to journal. I imagine some of you thinking, “I don’t have time to inquire”. I get that. I did a lot less of it when my boys were younger and if the choice was between writing my journal and getting to bed a bit earlier, I chose sleep! The more work we do, though, the more conscious we can be as parents. The day that I wrote this, I sat down just to relieve myself of a little stress and it has lead me to all of the realisations I have made here (I have typed them in bold so you can scan back and pick them out). It was worth the time both for myself and my children.
Much love to you and your little souls,
If you found this post thought-provoking, subscribe to get new essays & soulful parenting tips sent straight to your inbox.