“The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.” – Joan Didion.
Last night as I was putting my 6 year old in to bed, we were talking about how we were going to go in the morning to watch his 8 year old brother play soccer.
“But it’s so boring” he groaned.
Ooooh how I love these little windows that open up for me to show my kids the truth of how we work as human beings. But that wasn’t always the case. When I didn’t understand it myself, I would have totally closed that little window of a teaching opportunity but trying to rescue my son.
So I said to my son, “Well, you know that whether you think something is boring or not is totally up to you. It’s important that we go to support your brother, because supporting our family members in doing what they love is important. Whether you think it’s boring or not is up to you. And you can totally change that if you wish.”
He just stared at me and didn’t say anything. So I continued…
“So we are going tomorrow morning. And you can come and continue thinking it is boring and not enjoy the time. Or you can start to look for things that make it not boring. Like really watching the kids play soccer, watching your daddy coach, being with your uncle and having a sausage, playing in the playground, playing with the other kids. Can you see how it’s your choice as whether you enjoy something or not?”
He still didn’t say much and went off to sleep. And this morning we all went, and there was not one mention of the word ‘bored.’ He watched his brother, his daddy, played with Ava, and kicked the spare soccer ball around. He did whatever he saw to do.. and he took responsibility for his feelings.
How much did I use to think it was on me to manage the feelings of my kids. To rescue them from the ‘bad’ ones, whether that be boredom, sadness or anger. But it is never anyone else’s job to fix or manage the feelings of another. In fact I see that now to be actually detrimental to their own sense of wellbeing, and it completely misses the opportunity for them to see their innate gifts. We 100% do it innocently, just as I used to because it was what I saw to do. Until I saw another way. And what a gift it is to see that wellbeing lives in us all… and no experience can ever take that away.
I can’t tell you what a weight off my shoulders it was for me to learn that.
But it didn’t just take the pressure off me as a parent. It took the pressure off me as a daughter, wife, friend, and coach. It was never on me to change anyone. My job is merely to show people what resides inside of them and point them to that so they can see it for themselves.
“I am responsible for myself. I am responsible for leading or not living my life. I am responsible for tending to my spiritual, emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing. I am responsible for identifying and meeting my needs. I am responsible for solving my problems or learning to live with those I cannot solve. I am responsible for my choices. I am responsible for what I give and receive. I am also responsible for setting achieving my goals. I am responsible for how much I enjoy life, for how much pleasure I find in daily activities.” Melody Beattie, from the book Codependent No More.. How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring from Yourself.
Releasing yourself from responsibility of the things you are not responsible for is freedom.
It doesn’t mean you love or care for them less. In fact the opposite is true. When you see that their wellbeing is within them and their moods are just passing clouds, you will always see beyond their state of mind to their innate brilliance. And you will see the same in yourself too. If you’ve released all the energy you used to reserve for controlling others, you will have a lot more energy to focus on taking responsibility for you.