Reflections #13  💌 Connection and disconnection



Connection and disconnection
Issue #13,
March 2016


Heart connection, essential for Inspired Parenting 



For those of you keen readers, I wanted to let you know that as well as the Reflections you receive on your inbox every month, I also publish regularly a blog post on my webpage (and I post a link to it on my Facebook page, so you can find it that way, too). My blog posts are a description of a parenting event I have experienced, like little windows into my life but without the “Theory behind the practice” section I write in the newsletter. I tend to do that towards the middle of the month, so you can have something to read every fortnight if you wish. I hope you find those inspiring, too.


A little window into my life

Connection and disconnection

Snippet 1.
We had just put the kids in the school bus and waved good-bye. My friend introduced me to a new mum. ‘She talks too much’, I thought. A little later, as I walked away, I reconnected within. I was aware of my judgement and was curious to find out where it came from. Underneath I found the feeling of vulnerability that had been with me for several days while going through a very intense process. And I realised that it was not that the new mum talked too much, but that I wanted to be heard and held by my friend. 
Snippet 2.
The kids were fighting. I restrained my daughter physically so she wouldn’t hurt her brother. She had a big cry, shouting and swearing at him from my arms. Once she was calm, I found the right moment and said to her:
‘I see that he speaks to you with anger; he blames you; he is impatient and unkind. What happens to you when he does that?’
‘I don’t mind’, she replied, ‘I just want to get on with the game’. 
‘Yes, of course, you prefer to carry on playing than to ask him to talk to you differently and maybe make him angry at you. But what happens inside of you, in your heart?’
‘I feel angry’. I was so happy that she could, not only see that, but also admit it.
‘Yes, that’s right. And every time he talks to you like that, there is a little more anger in your heart. And little by little, the anger piles up until you are so full of it, you can’t hold it any longer and you explode and hurt him.’ I could see in her expression that she related to what I was saying. ‘How would it be if you didn’t let it pile up? If you called him up on it every time?’
‘But I want to keep on playing!’ she moaned.
‘Yes, I understand, you don’t want to stop the game every time. And so what will happen is that this cycle will keep on repeating itself until you are ready to stop it; until not letting the anger pile up is more important to you than carrying on playing.’
I knew that was a decision she had to make herself, so I didn’t push it. She had seen my point and that was enough. I let that thought sink in while we cuddled tenderly. Then she went off to play.
Snippet 3.
This is something that happens often between me and my son: I ask him to do something. He refuses. I get triggered (in Aware Parenting jargon, a Sweet Spot gets stroked in me). I take myself away and listen to my inner girl. She cries and rants and moans. Once she is settled, I go back to my son. I get really close to him, touch him affectionately, I am curious to see how he is feeling. I often find the reason why he refused to help (like he is engrossed in something really interesting, or he needed to understand the reasons for my request, or I asked with a tone of voice that meant “you should help now” and he just didn’t want buy into my blackmail). From this space of understanding I connect with him. I might ask about the interesting thing he is into, or give him the reasons for my request, or apologise for my tone of voice and suggest alternatives that might work for both of us. From this place of connection, most of the times I reach an agreement with him about my request. The rest of the times, I still feel like I have won, because I am connected to myself and to him.

The theory behind the practice

Connection is one of the most important things in my life, and possibly THE most important in Inspired Parenting. Connection to ourselves, our feelings, to others and to something bigger than us (intuition, Spirit… whatever you want to call it). Lately I have been milling over how subtle the difference between connection and disconnection can be, and yet how big that difference is when one or the other express themselves in our relationships. When we are connected to ourselves and the people around us, love flows and everything is possible. When we are disconnected, energy can’t flow, and that is always painful.
For example, in Snippet 3, my son’s refusal strokes a Sweet Spot in me. Every time a Sweet Spot is stroked, it hurts, so our automatic reaction is to shut down so we don’t feel that pain. In that shutting down, we disconnect from ourselves; and when we are disconnected from ourselves, we cannot connect to anything else at all. Sometimes we don’t even realise we have closed down because it can be such a subtle energetic shift, and because it happens so often in our lives that we get used to being disconnected and loose sensitivity to the opening and closing of our hearts.
If I keep on talking to my son from that closed down heart space, things get worse very quickly. At some point, bad enough for me to realise that I need to do some inner work before I deal with the outer situation. But with practice, my radar is getting more sensitive. And I have got into the habit of taking myself away and finding a safe space to heal the pain that has been triggered. There is were reconnection occurs. First, I connect to my wound, and then to the need behind my original request to my son. Once connected within, I can go and reconnect with him. And from that space of connection, everything flows beautifully.
I have also been noticing that a judgment is always disconnecting. Snippet 1 is a great example. What was fascinating for me was to realise how it had all happened: I was feeling vulnerable and wanting to be held, but when my friend asked ‘How are you?’ I replied ‘OK’. I hate that habitual response, because it is so disconnected. I often take the time to check within before I reply, so I can give an honest answer, but I didn’t on that occasion. That left an empty stage and the new mum took the space. Then my inner girl got pissed off because her need of being heard and held had not been met. But she couldn’t see her part in it at first (which was the fact that she hadn’t voiced that need), so she projected the anger onto the new mum as a judgement: ‘She talks too much’. Funny how these things happen!
I learned with Byron Katie (see that behind every “should”, “ought”, “must” and “have to” there is a judgment. One of my “shoulds” was that children shouldn’t fight. My kids fight a lot, but because the “they shouldn’t” judgment was triggered every time they quarrelled, that meant I closed down. And from there I was totally unable to help. Slowly, slowly I have done the inner work: when I fought with my sisters, my parents got angry, so here there was some pain to heal. And under every time argument with my sisters, there was a need to resolve feelings of rivalry, inadequacy and powerlessness that I had no idea how to deal with in a resourceful way. So here there was some more pain to heal.

Having worked on that, I could see what was really going on for my children. The “shouldn’t” has disappeared now because I know that every fight creates an opportunity for them to heal their rivalry and power struggles (as long as I am there, present and connected). The dissolution of the judgment allows me and be there with true unconditional love.

Some time ago a phrase came to me: “Helping is looking for what wants to emerge”. Now when my kids fight, instead of the “shouldn’t” coming up, what comes up is a feeling of inquisitiveness. I put on my detective cap and look for what wants to emerge. That leads to situations like the one described in Snippet 2, where my daughter had a good release and I could help her understand the dynamics with her brother. This is my 50% of the equation. Hers is to decide to connect with her own pain so it can heal rather than get caught in a unhelpful pattern with my son. But I definitely feel that, finally, from that space of connection and non-judgement, I am actually able to help them. And from here, anything is possible.

If you see yourself reflected, touched , inspired
or if you have any questions or comments,
I would love to hear from you!   
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Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being.Albert Schweitzer


Inspired Parenting glossary

Inspired Parenting:
The dictionary defines inspired as ‘aroused, animated, or imbued with the spirit to do something by or as if by supernatural or divine influence’. “Inspired parenting” is, for me, the type of parenting we do when we connect to something bigger than ourselves, when we become clear channels through which pours unconditional love.

Sweet Spot:
Term created by Marion Rose to indicate the place where pent up feelings are stored up in our system. Related terms:
Emptying the Bucket: an expression of mine which refers to the release of pent up feelings in a therapeutic way.
The Balance of Attention: Aletha Solter uses this term to indicate the situation in which there is a balance between a sense of safety on one hand and the feeling of the difficult emotion on the other (Solter, A. Helping young children flourish).
This balance is perfect when it touches the Sweet Spot, and in doing so it allows Emptying the Bucket: the difficult feelings are released and healed through the vehicle of laugher or tears.
The distancing of emotion: Sheff’s expression indicating the feeling of simultaneous distress and safety, always a necessary requirement before any therapeutic emotional release. If the person is too overwhelmed by fear (“underdistanced”), they will not be able to laugh or cry. Likewise, if the feared element is not present at all (“overdistanced”), they will not feel at all frightened, and also will not laugh or cry (Scheff, T.J. Catharsis in Healing, Ritual and Drama).

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