Get The What, Then The How
I was part of a full house at the Heart Matters: Emotion & Conscious Parenting presentation by Gabor Mate and Gordon Neufeld last night held at the SFU downtown campus. It was a really stimulating evening and the two presenters seamlessly moved through great content in research and ideas. The fact that the two and a half hour presentation was sold out, tells you we are craving more information these days about how to bring up caring, compassionate and considerate children.
The event was held on ‘Pink Shirt Day’ and fittingly I was wearing my own pink blouse. Actually wearing pink through my day really made me recall my own experiences of feeling bullied (in subtle and overt ways) sometimes in school… and sometimes as an adult even today. It is painful still to notice myself shrink when I intuit judgment or emotional misalignment. Somehow wearing pink made me take just a little more time in conversation with my husband in the morning, with my clients in my clinic through the day, and at the Temper Chocolate Patisserie where I bought my lunch. I dropped into the Vitamin Store below my office just to say hi. I kept thinking to myself as I noticed others in pink or not so pink, “were you bullied in school”?
Admittedly I work hard at receiving and expressing anger even today. How about you? I’m sure you have your own moments of heavyhearted recollection. Maybe we all do and it is part of the initiation into the challenges of our world today. There is ‘caring’ and ‘not so caring’ in all of us at times, including our children. We need to get the “what is the problem” before we can get to “how to fix it”. What is the problem may answer our solutions. If we are disconnected emotionally because we are too busy, too stressed out, and too overly scheduled, we are bound to be emotionally unavailable to our children. Children do 'act it out'.
We have capacity and incapacity at times and that is normal. Dr. Mate talked about the way we all can be frozen in an angry fight or flight moment and want to exit stage left of even the most loving relationship. How do we stay in the grey between the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ of any moment with the ones we love so that we maintain unconditional love? I do think it is great to have a ‘Pink’ day to reflect on our emotional learning through our lives and make sure that we are taking care of ourselves and communicating ‘all’ our feelings (the good, the bad and the ugly) with compassion.
Dr. Mate talked about how important the first three years of a child’s life really are. Establishing strong attachments with our children we are inoculating them for life to have the capacity to develop a positive solid relationship with them selves. The first three years of life is really important to brain development. The prefrontal cortex, where we think and feel, is set up in those years. It is telling that in our community, events like these are sold out. Are we driving ourselves into disconnection with all the pressures and stresses of a culture that drives to accumulate wealth in the bank and not in the heart?