We are going to a party and I ask my son to change into a nicer pair of trousers before we go. He looks nice enough but he is in tracksuit trousers and it’s a very casual look. I want us to present well, right?
There’s a catch though – he doesn’t want to change trousers.
“Ok, I get it, you don’t want to change, but you need to, so just do it quickly and we can go.”
“But I don’t want to.”
I pause a moment to consider. How strongly do I feel about this Changing Of The Trousers? Is this a battle I want to step into? If I let him go like this he will be comfortable but what will I be teaching him about respect for others? If he rocks up in a tracksuit to the party what will people think about me and my family?
Such a lot of crap we have floating around in our heads, don’t we?
But this trouser thing had bumped into one of my own big ongoing dilemmas: In a conflict of interests, where is the line between respecting others and disrespecting yourself.
That day I decided I wanted to teach him respect for others and couldn’t leave the stupid trouser issue until I had quite ruined the whole party-going atmosphere for us all. I was aware of what I was doing and chose my actions moment by moment but I was driven by my anguish and indecision about ‘forcing’ him to do something he didn’t want to do – which is NOT my usual style at all – and, I suppose, fearing losing respect from others for my lack of social appropriateness. Pain facing me on either choice. Big-time triggered.
In the end I lost it at him briefly and immediately apologised. I pulled him onto my lap, hugged him tight and said, “I don’t want to make you do something you don’t want to do. I wish you would do it because that will make it easier for me, but you don’t have to make things easier for me. I must deal with my own feelings. I’m pushing you because I’m so confused about what to do. It’s showing respect for others to dress decently for their party but I want you to know you can listen to yourself no matter what. I don’t know what the answer is here. Maybe we can figure it out together? ” He agreed and hugged me back and we were ok enough. He went in tracksuit pants and we all survived it.
I was again astounded by how he can withstand my pressure by simply holding his position – I mean it stresses him hugely but he doesn’t disrespect me or back down. He instinctively respects both me and himself. I’m so excited and inspired by his strength and centeredness.
Three days after the party I had a conversation with a part of my body that has been very stiff and sore of late. I asked it, “What are you trying to tell me?” and I heard, “I’m resisting what you are pushing me to do.” What? Again?
I was SO pleased it told me because, my goodness, I HAVE been pushing myself in a direction that ‘seems’ right but deep in my heart I don’t reeeaally want to do it – certainly not in the way that ‘looks’ right. Then I realised, “This is just like those party pants!!” I’m pushing and pushing for what is socially approved and yet the truth is that the one in the centre, the one who needs to take the actions, doesn’t want to do it. And that part of Self which holds Truth won’t BUDGE! The only alternative is to sit down, hug myself tightly and then allow what feels right for ME.
So there was my child, as usual reflecting my deepest things to me. While it was happening I knew I was triggered, that something had deeply stirred me about those party pants, but I had no idea what depth and importance his reflection and his teaching had for me.
Now I do and I am – again – wordless with appreciation for his role in my life.
When you are triggered, it’s always worthwhile (non-judgmentally) thinking about it and opening to the wisdom and love that’s trying to communicate with you through it.