The Things We Don’t See in Ourselves

The Things We Don’t See in Ourselves

Originally published July 23, 2021

This morning I was opening the sliding glass door to my porch to get some fresh air when I saw my plants and remembered they needed to be watered. Sometimes my kid likes to water them and it can be a big help when they do.

I asked if they wanted to and they said “nah, not really.”

It wasn’t disrespectful or rude, they were just engrossed in a task.

I frowned and looked down feeling a little disappointed and said “oh, okay.”

Without missing a beat, and in the most neutral, matter of fact voice they said

“when you say it like that it makes me feel like I have to.”

Their statement stunned me into a moment of consciousness.

I felt a tinge of shame and defensiveness, but I also felt shaken –in a good way– by both the frankness of their observation as well as the completely neutral, non-judgemental tone.

Somehow this child has mastered something I still fight all the time to accomplish:

offering critical feedback without judging or shaming someone.

In my house I make an effort to own my stuff, and believe me I have had plenty of opportunities to do so, navigating burn out as a full time stay at home parent. When I am rude or get snappy, I always circle back not only to apologize but to explain the circumstances and that my snapping is not because they are bad or did anything wrong, but because of my OWN overwhelm, my own struggle to manage my emotions. I tell them they are wonderful, how much I love them and that I regret getting snappy. Sometimes we laugh together at how silly it can be when we’re upset. Laughter is our most reliable way to connect after a rupture.

I also normalize that snappy and rude behavior happens to the best of us. When they are snappy or rude and have had a chance to regulate, we will often laugh together about it like we do with my snappy moods.

But we aren’t always consciously aware of our impact on others. When I get snappy I am often acutely aware of it by the intensity of my overwhelm or frustration.

In some situations, it takes someone to point our behavior out to us to really see it.

And to prepare for those moments, we need to get comfortable with the reality that our behavior is not always kind and well meaning. Sometimes it is self-serving and intended to put the burden of our feelings on someone else.

We are often all too willing to pretend we are better than this, and we may justify and excuse ourselves, but I know that every one of us is fighting an inner battle to be something we are not.

And the paradox of this battle is that fighting it takes our attention away from actually being the person we want to be.

It is better to accept ourselves fully and face those moments of imperfection as a time to come back into alignment with what we wish to be.

I abandon the wish to be a pure and perfect person.

The Things We Don’t See in Ourselves

Originally published July 23, 2021

This morning I was opening the sliding glass door to my porch to get some fresh air when I saw my plants and remembered they needed to be watered. Sometimes my kid likes to water them and it can be a big help when they do.

I asked if they wanted to and they said “nah, not really.”

It wasn’t disrespectful or rude, they were just engrossed in a task.

I frowned and looked down feeling a little disappointed and said “oh, okay.”

Without missing a beat, and in the most neutral, matter of fact voice they said

“when you say it like that it makes me feel like I have to.”

Their statement stunned me into a moment of consciousness.

I felt a tinge of shame and defensiveness, but I also felt shaken –in a good way– by both the frankness of their observation as well as the completely neutral, non-judgemental tone.

Somehow this child has mastered something I still fight all the time to accomplish:

offering critical feedback without judging or shaming someone.

In my house I make an effort to own my stuff, and believe me I have had plenty of opportunities to do so, navigating burn out as a full time stay at home parent. When I am rude or get snappy, I always circle back not only to apologize but to explain the circumstances and that my snapping is not because they are bad or did anything wrong, but because of my OWN overwhelm, my own struggle to manage my emotions. I tell them they are wonderful, how much I love them and that I regret getting snappy. Sometimes we laugh together at how silly it can be when we’re upset. Laughter is our most reliable way to connect after a rupture.

I also normalize that snappy and rude behavior happens to the best of us. When they are snappy or rude and have had a chance to regulate, we will often laugh together about it like we do with my snappy moods.

But we aren’t always consciously aware of our impact on others. When I get snappy I am often acutely aware of it by the intensity of my overwhelm or frustration.

In some situations, it takes someone to point our behavior out to us to really see it.

And to prepare for those moments, we need to get comfortable with the reality that our behavior is not always kind and well meaning. Sometimes it is self-serving and intended to put the burden of our feelings on someone else.

We are often all too willing to pretend we are better than this, and we may justify and excuse ourselves, but I know that every one of us is fighting an inner battle to be something we are not.

And the paradox of this battle is that fighting it takes our attention away from actually being the person we want to be.

It is better to accept ourselves fully and face those moments of imperfection as a time to come back into alignment with what we wish to be.

I abandon the wish to be a pure and perfect person.

I would rather be imperfect and real, and embrace opportunities to take full ownership of myself with the people I love than strive for perfection and be too stuck in my own shame to connect authentically.

About the Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may also like these