I’ve spent a lot of time this year thinking about my core values, and trying to get a clearer vision of my life and how to really live in alignment with my values. I’m realising, it’s a moment to moment thing – in each moment, when the awareness is there, I can think: “is this what I want? is this the kind of world I want to live in?”.
This week has given me lots of opportunities to ponder this. My daughter broke her arm on Sunday when a branch she was climbing on broke. There were three other children present when she fell and two of the kids ran off after she fell.
When I said that I wanted to talk to the children (and their parents) who ran off, people said to me “That’s just what kids do. I did that when I was a kid.” I thought, well that’s not the kind of world I want to live in, to just say, well that’s just what people do so I’ll accept it and not speak up. I think we need to consciously foster empathy and compassion in our children. We are born with natural empathy but much of our empathy is trained out of us, especially in our hierarchical education system which uses power and domination to control students.
Even though I’m trying to teach my children to be compassionate, they still use a lot of blaming and judging language which I guess they learn at school. I asked the mother of one of the children who ran off if we could have a chat together using NVC Feelings and Needs cards for children to process what happened and how they felt during and after the event. We aren’t going to focus on the story – that’s where conflict and disconnection arises – it’s so hard to tell an objective story. By focusing on the feelings and needs that arise in them when they remember what happened, they can develop their emotional literacy and hopefully grow inner resources that they can draw on as they face challenges in their lives.
My daughter fell from quite a height so it was a bad break which had to be set under general anaesthetic (I’m grateful it wasn’t a worse injury). As we made our way to hospital and were treated in Emergency and told that she would have to have her bone reset under general, I could tell that she was drawing on her experience a few months ago of having stitches in Emergency after an accident on a trampoline. The fear that she worked through then and the exploration of what it feels like to be brave seemed to really support her through this new experience. She seemed so much braver this time with the inner resources from her past experience that she could draw on.
My vision is of a compassionate world, and step by step I will strive for that world in whatever way I can, however small. None of us can be compassionate all the time but we can hold this as our intention and practise it moment to moment.
Follow up after Feelings/Needs session
We got together with the mum and the child who ran away after my daughter fell. I laid out the Feelings and Needs cards for children. The kids picked out their feelings and then a need associated with each feeling that came up in them as they remembered the events of last Sunday. E.g. Fear/Safety. Little bits of the story of last Sunday came out as they talked about their feelings and needs and what they had thought was happening. My daughter had been angry with her friend because he ran off after she fell. She thought he didn’t care. He said he thought she was going to break her back because she fell from such a height so he was actually relieved when he heard her crying because he knew she was going to be ok. Then he ran to get his mum. My daughter told me when she heard that he was relieved, she wasn’t angry with him anymore. It felt good to clear up the misunderstanding between them and trust was re-established.