Guest post by fellow overthinker Matt Halfin
For many years my mum has told me that when I was 13 I ‘turned’ from a loving, model son into a rebellious, uncommunicative teen- and never turned back (I’m now 37 and counting). This always raises a groan, and latterly a smile from me, but turns out she might have been right…well partly…
Several years ago I was on a personal development course where I saw for the first time the degree to which my experience of past and present circumstances and the people in my life were a product of the judgements and interpretations I had made in my head rather than being true or objective as they had previously seemed (as I now see, only 100%).
Whether it was at a fixed point in time or something that evolved into my teens and twenties whatwas definitely true in the case of conversations with my mum is that for many of them I really wasn’t fully present or listening. Whilst we had a close relationship with very regular contact, innocently and unconsciously I was often distracted by my own judgements about how I thought my mum should or shouldn’t be, anticipating familiar patterns, or just pre-occupied by what was going on for me elsewhere in my life. For my mum’s part this looked like I didn’t care or was ungrateful and we both reacted to our version of events and each other.
What I saw in a moment of clarity was that she had only ever been doing what made sense to her as a supportive and caring parent, not doing or saying anything to deliberately wind me up! With that a whole load of built up thinking fell away, and that evening after apologising we had the first conversation for a long time where I felt fully present and connected – truly being in two-way communication, listening to what was going on in her world, both what was being said and the feeling behind it.
Since then we both may have times when we are pre-occupied or in a bad mood and old habits re-emerge, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Because I now understand that these clashes are a reflection of our state of mind, with either of us just doing the best we can based on where we’re at, rather than saying something meaningful about our relationship or each other any bad feeling passes quickly.
In my experience, the natural state of our relationships whether family or beyond is love, connection, compassion and acceptance. However, when we fall into the habit of experiencing people through our filter of judgement and expectation this can rapidly deteriorate to resentment, irritation, jealousy or anger. The more that we can see that these feelings are a product of our own thinking and state of mind not caused by another person (no matter how much it looks otherwise!), the more opportunity there is to restore connection and enjoy a rich, loving relationship with those closest to us.
So this mothers’ day just notice to what degree you are fully present and connected, and, if not, what might be getting in the way. And when those inevitable moments of tension arise, consider if it’s the other person’s bad habits or your own that are really showing up.
f any of this resonates with you and you are curious to find out more why join us at the JW3 Thursdays from 8pm for our ‘Overthinkers Guide To Taking Life In Your Stride’ For full info and bookings click here.