Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Let me Help You

This week marks the beginning (again) of one of the big rites of passage for me and my daughter as we start (again) the process of potty training (her not me by the way). I say (again) because we've started this a few times in the last several months only to have it be cut short when she absolutely refused to do it, or when she got sick, or when we were to travel by airplane and that just didn't seem an appealing place for accidents to happen. Because this training process is full of accidents and laundry, you know.

In the past I wasn't quite in the right mental/emotional state to help her through what will be a big transition in her life. Some how I thought she'd just pick it up in 2 days and be done. And I figured she wasn't motivated and so that's why she would argue against it. And when it didn't happen in a few hours (have we talked about how I have ridiculous standards?) I thought maybe she just wasn't ready yet. But that wasn't the case.

Instead, this time, I'm ready. I'm totally open and ready and willing for this process to take as long as it takes, even if that means we don't leave the house for 3 weeks. And this time, I really really know and believe she can do it, and so I'm ready and able to support her and to apply a little loving pressure as needed.

In the past few days, we've had a little bit of success. Hooray! Conventional wisdom (and all my friends on facebook) says that when the child has success you instantly GO NUTS with excitement. Jump up and down, smile, scream, yell, hug, cheer, high five.. GO CRAZY!! and all of this is meant to encourage the child to do it again to get just the same amazing positive reaction.

Well, we went crazy and she sort-of freaked out. Instead of wanting to jump up and down with us, she wanted to keep it a secret. Instead of a party, she wanted to run away and cry. (sound like anyone you know, mom?)

Yesterday the truth came out that she is very very afraid. Because I was in the right mental/emotional space I was able to respond with love. To tell her that it's ok to be afraid, that she's trying something new and that's hard and I feel afraid when I do that too. To say the things I want to hear when I'm afraid myself... and to ever so gently encourage her again to try. I say what I've heard before... I know this is hard, and I know you can do it.

And so today, when success came again (hooray!) I let her keep quiet, I let her "not tell dad", I gave her a big hug and acknowledged her bravery, and we kept it on the DL (other than this blog, oops!) And a few minutes later she did her own celebration dance which I got to join in. And a few minutes after that she proudly told her dad who also reacted not with a giant party but with a hug and a high-five.

All of this finally brings me around to thinking about how we offer support. How often do I offer the support that is what I want to offer. A lot of times, I give the support that is easiest for me, or that I feel would most help in a situation but is not entirely tuned in to what is happening. In some way, I start to meet my own needs by trying to meet someone else's. If I'm offering only what I want to offer, or what I think is needed then, no matter my intention, I'm making it totally about me. Offering support and encouragement is not about me, period.

Instead of doing what I want to do, what I find is that I have to back off, to listen, and to ask. Sometimes people don't know or can't say what they need, and then I have to listen more to the other things they're saying and intuit what is needed but always, I have to get myself out of the way. When I'm out of the way, when I'm in the heart space of service no matter what is asked, I'm much better at giving support in a way that it can be received and is of value. I offer the actual support that is being asked for, that is needed for the situation. When this happens, people learn I can be trusted and I really love them, because their actual needs are getting met. (not the needs I think they might have).

So that's my plan for this week (and possibly the next and the next) get myself out of the way, so that I can be in service to support my daughter as she transitions up into the big girl world. And it's my plan for this life (and possibly the next and the next) get myself out of the way so that I can be in service to support all those I love, all those who cross my path, all those who step onto the mat in my care as they transition into the beings they wish to become.

Contemplation: How do you best offer support to those around you? What kind of support do you need when you are challenged?

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