What we resist persists: practicing acceptance of the present moment

lotus-present-momentWow, I really don’t want to write a blog today.  I can feel myself resisting, procrastinating, and trying to find anything else to occupy my time.  Sound familiar?  Whether it’s dishes, laundry, taxes, a project for work, or just getting off the couch to get some exercise, we all have the tendency to procrastinate.

So, why do we stare in disbelief when after the 10th time of reminding our kids to put their shoes on and get out the door, they’re still reading or playing with their toys?  I’m pretty sure we’re engaged in a double standard here.  We have a specific agenda that we’d like them to agree to, but they haven’t actually agreed.  So instead of outright resisting, they procrastinate.  Or sometimes they actually physically resist, and often they verbally resist.

But here’s the thing about resistance, what we resist persists.  You don’t just go away and stop asking them to put their shoes on.  And neither do they stop asking for the toy they saw on television, or for a trip to the ball game.

What can we do without giving in to every whim of our child’s but also without resisting?  And how can we invite our kids to accept and embrace what we’re asking for, rather than resisting it?  I think empathy is a key here.  When I offer empathy to a kid who’s procrastinating, often, before I know it, he’s doing exactly what I asked.  I suspect that’s because I didn’t resist what was actually happening in the moment.

It’s easy to get frustrated that things aren’t going the way we’d like.  But this week, practice “being a yes” to whatever is happening.  When we can accept the present moment for exactly what it is (rather than wishing it were something else) things will often shift more quickly.  And we’re teaching our kids that getting mad about it doesn’t change the outcome, instead, accepting what’s actually happening (instead of resisting it) often gets better results and almost always is more fun and generally easier.

So, instead of resisting when June wouldn’t put her shoes on, I consciously tried not to force the issue, nor did I get frustrated with her procrastination.  Instead, I said something like, “Wow, it’s time to go and I asked you to put your shoes on 15 minutes ago.  It looks like you are enjoying the book you’re reading so much that you lost track of time.  OK, well I’ll be waiting in the car and we’ll leave when you have your shoes on.  By the way, you’re welcome to bring your book with you to the doctor’s office.”

What if she retorts with, “But I don’t WANT to go to the doctor, I HATE going to the doctor”.  Empathy again.  “I hear you.  Going to the doctor is no fun.  In fact maybe it’s even a little scary.  Are you concerned you might have to get a shot?”  “Yeah, the last time we went, I got a shot and it really hurt!”  “Yes, shots do hurt.  Well, hopefully you won’t need a shot today.  I don’t know for sure, but I’m wondering, is there anything that would help you feel better about going to the doctor today?”  “Ice cream?!”  “Hmmm, so you think some ice cream would help you feel better.  Well, let’s get going and we can talk more in the car about what will help you feel good about going to the doctor.”

At this point, I would come up with some alternate ideas of things that might help her feel better, especially if ice cream is a strategy I don’t feel good about.  I might suggest singing some songs or some extra hugs and downtime afterward.  And then the two of us would come up with a strategy that we can agree on.  Because throughout the exchange I never resisted her thoughts, ideas, or suggestions, but accepted them and put real consideration into what she shared, she’s willing to work with me to figure out something that will work for both of us.  This is an example of practicing a “power with” vs. a “power over” approach to parenting.  I’ll write more about “power with” and “power over” in future blogs.

Have a wonderful week and I hope to see you again here next week!  Warmly, Shelly

3 comments
Valerie
Valerie

Love your honesty Shelly. We all know what you're talking about. And great insight. It's so true. When we take a few minutes to connect instead of insist the energy changes and things work out feeling much better for everyone. I'm guessing tomorrow mornings routine before school will be much smoother thanks to this post. Thanks for chosing to DO IT. :)
With Gratitude,
Valerie

Patrick McMillan
Patrick McMillan

Shelly, what a wonderful post:) I use this with my boys all the time, and I must say it is a wonderful way to model empathy for our kids. My boys just mellow right out when they know "I get it" and I am always sure to repeat back what their concerns are just so they know for sure that i got it. At that point its easy to redirect their attention toward thinking about something they want and the incident is soon in the past.

I would like to put a link to this blog post on mine if you don't mind?

Thanks again Shelly:)

Hugs!
Patrick

Jill Nagle
Jill Nagle

Beautifully said, Shelly. One way I have worked with the multiple and intense desires for toys that arise when we go into a toy and game store (and help prevent myself from feeling drained and "pulled on" by repeated requests for purchases) is to encourage him to express what he wants full tilt, but instead of asking me to buy it, saying "Someday, I'd really like to have THIS! And someday, I'd really like to have THAT!" Wow--what a difference! I felt I could support him and be a yes to his desires, and he also got to be a yes to Wanting Big. BTW, Shelly, I am calling you soon for a session! Love, Jill

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