Thursday, November 3, 2011

Compassion, Joy and Staying Connected to Yourself

Yesterday the weather here in Toronto was totally GORGEOUS so the children and I decided to go to the zoo.  We're Unschoolers, so we visit at least one of the fabulous attractions in our great city every week.

While we were there one of my daughters was doing something that I felt might create a minor danger or annoyance to other people.  I pointed out to her what she was doing and I asked her if she could see the danger and would she stop her action.  Then I left her to deliberate her next move.

But before she could do anything, an adult passing by yelled at my daughter and made a derogatory about me.


I can handle being insulted, but when someone who has no connection to my child chooses to intervene when I am RIGHT THERE it is a HUGE emotional trigger for me.

My usual reaction to an event like that is to let it ruin my day, my week, or even my month.  I replay it in my head over and over and over.  I make up hundreds of insults and smart-ass comments that I wish I had thrown at that intervening adult.  I degrade myself for letting that situation happen.  As days go by, every time I am out in public with my children I am suspicious of any one who looks at us because I am afraid of another confrontation.  In fact, I even let myself become so fearful of negative interactions with other people that I will deliberately avoid going out.

This time I stayed connected to myself.

Yesterday, as I felt my emotions rising and the blood rushed to my head, I took a deep breath and I blew it away.  I relaxed my shoulders, looked into my daughter's eyes and smiled.  The angry thoughts started to bubble up and I took another deep breath and I blew them away, too.  I asked my daughter what she would like to do now and she answered by skipping away down the path and calling to her sisters.

Mentally, I hugged myself.  I repeated to myself: I am not my experiences.  I am who I AM.  When I caught up to my daughter, I hugged her and I saw that her joy, her authenticity, was completely intact.

This is a big breakthrough for me!  I am so used to sabotaging my own joy that this has been a hard habit to break.  I am learning to reprogram my thoughts to stay connected to my authenticity.

Recently, two similar incidents have been the catalyst to make me more aware of how I am used to abusing myself.  First, a person from my past left a hateful and vile comment on one of my blog posts.  Later the same week I received a (gentle) reprimand for a professional mistake that I made years ago when I was an elementary school teacher.  I knew that those two events would normally have sparked a long and sad descent into self-flagellation.  I couldn't let that happen because, honestly, I have a lot to accomplish!

Instead, I found a way to be grateful for each of those events.  I experienced them as reminders to stay connected to myself, to examine who I am, and to wish joy upon the people who brought these events into my life.  I accepted with genuine gratitude that these were reminders to chose my own words carefully and to maintain my online presence as a reflection of my integrity and authenticity.

How do you stay connected to yourself when you experience a negative situation?


  1. So glad you were able to let the incident go and be refueled by seeing how your daughter handled it. This whole story was making me think of your post about the dog from awhile back...

    So true that only we can decide how we will feel and react to stimuli. It's important too that we know what triggers certain emotions for us so we can identify them as just that: triggers. Then we can work through them efficiently and adequately and return to the state of joy we were in. :)

  2. I believe that you are an incredibly strong person. You have the gift of deep knowledge that you share with all of us.
    I am truly trying daily to reach this place in myself. Self deprecation and abuse is bad for us and our children who witness it.
    Keep being you!

  3. I absolutely love this post! I'm one of those people who can go numb with anger if someone were to speak to MY child that way. And, yes, I'd spend a lot of time afterward thinking up all kinds of great comebacks. I don't know if I'd be able to get past this incident as you did. BUT, I have learned to deal with other things similar to this (just nor something directly at my children) like you described. Deep breaths, blowing it away... it really does make a big difference in MY life and the lives of those around me. I'll have to work on this more, but I see the good in it!

  4. Go Jazzy Mama! It’s such a fantastic feeling when you throw off an ingrained, negative reaction to something and decide to follow a new, beneficial path. What a great thing to model for your children too.

    I am learning to stay connected to the real me when my children trigger something that makes me want to control, control, control. Every time I remember not to fall back to this tendency and choose another way to be with them, it gets easier and more instinctive and I want to give myself a big slap on the back!

    Enjoy reading your blog very much...

  5. Whoo! This is a huge one for me, too. I have so much trouble letting things like the examples you share go. I'll use them against myself for weeks or years.

    You're right finding that gratitude is so important. And forgiving myself, hugging myself every time the thoughts and the pain comes up. Over and over as often as I need it-the same as I do for my kids.

    I hope you know I'm pimping your posts all over twitter because they're so good ;D

  6. Why is it that we (the small collection of homeschooling moms I know who've talked/written about this) feel chastisement from other adults so strongly and our children don't (as evidenced by their skipping gleefully down the walk while we're trying not to boil over)? I wonder if one reason might be that in school, we were trained to fear authority and to respond with shame when we were reprimanded, whereas our homeschooled children have never experienced this. Of course, there are tons of other variables, not everyone had this kind of school experience, and not every "schooled" adult responds this way, but I wonder nonetheless.

    I also wonder if adults who were homeschooled have the same strong reactions to reprimands.

    At any rate, thank you for the thought-provoking post!

  7. Oh my! Good point, CJ. I notice a huge difference in how homeschool kids react to adults: "I wonder if one reason might be that in school, we were trained to fear authority and to respond with shame when we were reprimanded, whereas our homeschooled children have never experienced this."