Our Stories are only our stories…
Why would we want to saddle someone we love with them?
You know that whole thing about a massage therapist’s family getting the fewest massages? That’s true in my vocation as well. Though many people come to me for advice and insight, I try to NOT lay that onto my own family. In fact, I go overboard sometimes. Some comments from my three grown children have included: “Where’s all your motherly advice?” or “You know if I tell you something, Mom, it’s not because I want you to say ‘that’s great,’ it’s because I want to know if you think it’s a good decision for me.”
It’s been a concern that I not overstep my bounds with my partner and kids. They are all insightful and capable and do just fine without my interference….er….help.
Recently I was talking to one of my children (genderless and nameless to protect anonymity). This particular young adult mentioned something that he/she didn’t do. Before he/she could finish, I went into my own story (in my head – not out loud) and the problems I had had and the expense that had resulted from my own ‘not doing’ this thing years ago. I freaked and went into that awful nagging mother role. I still did it subtly by many standards, saying simply…”you really should do that.”
As subtle as it was on the outside, he/she felt the unspoken sermon and it resulted in some resentment. Of course he/she knew what he/she should be doing. Of course! And, in fact, if he/she did not know what he/she should be doing…it was really up to he/she to figure it out. Our advice, even when asked for, is rarely taken. When it is not asked for, it falls on deaf ears in the best case and puts our loved ones on the defensive in the worst case. Advice or interference is really a result of our own insecurities and feelings of inadequacies. When we lecture, even subtly, we are most often trying to convince ourselves of something. Remember, it’s rarely (substitute never) about the other person.
After the conversation with my child, I chalked it up to a poor parenting moment but there was something more. I asked for expansion around this before I went to sleep and, as if by magic, I woke up with it. It’s a simple epiphany, but some of us are hard-headed. When my adult child was telling me of his/her experience, I was not truly present with him/her. I immediately went into my own issues and problems around this topic and projected those issues onto him/her. Of course, wanting to save him/her the pain I had gone through was a large aspect of this, but my story is not his/her story and never will be. The best support I can give my loved ones is to really hear every word, feel every emotion, without judgement and without projection. What I don’t say to my children tells them that I honor their right to have their own experiences and I have tremendous faith in their abilities to navigate their paths to wholeness.
Can we be truly present and aware when we are entrenched in our roles as adviser, teacher, counselor? That’s one that I’ll continue to explore and deepen into as I work with clients and communicate with family and friends.
Much Love to you as we all Relax, Listen, and Expand!