on power and compassion

I'm always on the lookout for tools that will help me (and you!) deepen our parenting practice.  Recently, I was working with an awesome coach on moving through some stuck places (oh yes, I've got 'em ;)  During one of our sessions, I had a HUGE 'aha' that I couldn't wait to share with you...

We've been working with confidence and power.  It's actually been pretty overwhelming, and reminds me of this quote by Marianne Williamson (only part of it here):

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us... We are all meant to shine, as children do... And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Even if you have read this quote a hundred times, even if you have it hanging (like I do) on the wall above your desk, it's worth reading carefully, line by line, word by word. 

Take a moment to read and absorb the meaning. Then, think about this:

In your life, what's been your experience of power? How have you felt your own power or witnessed others using theirs?

Here's what my coach illuminated that I so wanted to share with you (I'm paraphrasing because I was so engrossed in the experience, I didn't write it down...) 

Many of us equate feelings of power with anger, because it's where we have most often experienced it in our lives. 

So, let me ask: when you think about how it feels to be powerful, what comes up for you?

What happens when you face the need to be powerful as a parent?   Do you fall into anger, as so many parents do?  I ask this not to bring up shame, but to name a truth behind a common experience of parenting. 

It's a challenge to be powerful while being compassionate, not a model we often see in our Western culture.  But both are important, to be an effective intentional parent. Without strong models of power with compassion, striking this balance takes awareness, intention, and practice. 

A great first step is building awareness.  Notice: when a situation with your child calls for you to step into your power as a parent, what happens in your body?  What do you hear in your mind?  What's your default setting?  If you take the time to become aware, you have taken the first step toward change.

Then share what you notice!  Sharing is a key step in un-shaming parenting. When we share with other parents and see that we're all having similar struggles it creates another shift, in ourselves and our parenting.