Book Club Session Two: Covering pages 13-18
The following covers selected excerpts from my FB book club session.
For the full session, CLICK HERE
It is fear that drives our anxiety and other reactions to our children.
It is really the cornerstone of all our reactive emotions and reactive energy, especially around our loved one. Even our angry or worried reactions.
Now, you and I may not call anger – fear. Or you and I may not call worry or concern “fear” that emerges from our unhealed past. You may say: “Oh, that’s just caring about my child. So, Dr. Shefali, how is caring about my child connected to fear for myself?” Or, you may say: My spouse gets angry all the time. How is that connected to fear?”
Let me explain:
Fear masks itself in many disguises. Fear is really the other name for ego. Fear is the emotion that underpins the ego. The ego, as we talked about in session one, is really the false self. The self that has forgotten that it is one with everyone around it and one with the Divine Source, with the universe, with cosmos, with every energy possible. And especially one with our children.
This is especially true when our children are misbehaving.
Fear the emotional undertone of the ego, of the false self.
Let’s break this down further:
If you watch a person getting angry and ask them what are they feeling in that moment, they will say something like: “Well, I’m just so frustrated.” or “I’m feeling so helpless right now.” or “I’m feeling out of control because person X isn’t abiding by my fantasy, by my expectation, by my vision of what this moment should look like.” It could be a boss, it could be a sibling, it most definitely could be your child. So, as soon as you see someone angry and you ask them to tap into the their feeling – and you can do this yourself – you will begin to use words like “frustration”, “helplessness”, “feeling out of control”, “feeling powerless”. Well, what are these expressions of? Fear.
Anger is just a pre-step disguise of initial fear. So, on page 13 I write: “Because we all pass through childhood, and given that we were raised by the parents who were largely unaware of how to navigate the parental years in a manner that would result in our growing up to be emotionally mature, we are bound to suffer from varying degrees of unconsciousness. So, by fact that we were raised by parents who were largely unconscious, you and I have no choice but to accept bravely, courageously, that we are to a large extent unconscious.”
If you and I are not willing to accept that, then there is no point in even turning the page. There’s no point in continuing this discussion. I always tell my friends, my family, my supporters that I will shout it from the mountaintops: “I am unconscious” because the first step to consciousness is becoming aware of your unconscious. So, the more aware you are of your unconsciousness, the greater you are, the closer to consciousness. So, there is no shame in accepting, acknowledging and boldly noticing and witnessing your unconsciousness. It is a sign of a courageous, it is a sign of the maverick spirit. It is the sign of the revolutionary spirit, the one who can accept that they are unconscious. Noticing the unconsciousness, as it arises in the moment – wow, that is the key.
When we begin to be aware in the present moment, we begin to notice the ego and it’s emotional undertone of fear. And so when we are raised by parents who are largely unconscious, we have no choice but to understand that there are huge holes, gaps, voids in our emotional development. I, now, can pinpoint to my mother and to my father exactly how they passed on or did not pass on the lessons I need to learn, and now I have these gaps in my emotional development. But that takes courage to see. To notice – wow, I’m anxious right now and I’m anxious because I can’t tolerate this sense of powerlessness, and therefore, because I can’t tolerate it, I’m going to project it onto my child through anger, through anxiety, through fixing, through managing, through over-micro producing their life.
To notice that, in that moment, this is about our UN-development and NOT about the other, is key.
This is the key, this is the power of witnessing the unconscious energy.
There is only fear, at the bottom of every reaction. Even under arrogance. Even under hubris. Even under pride. Even under, dare I say, any sort of bluster, any sort of showing of, underneath there is fear. Fear of not being liked, fear of not being accepted, fear of not fitting in, fear of losing control.
When you begin to identify this fear it allows you to reclaim what it is about you that is being projected on to situation and not necessarily the situation itself. It is very hard for you and I to claim that we can see reality. We can’t. We can only see our projection of reality. There is no such thing as reality, when it comes to interpersonal relationships. There is reality when it comes to this bottle of water – it’s a bottle of water. There is reality when it comes to my hair length. There is reality for the physical and the material, but there is no THE reality for inter personal relationship. Because everyone’s reality in an interpersonal relationship is shaped by the emotional energy that they carry from their childhood. So, there can never be reality. There can only be perspective. And the greater degree that you can own your perspective, you actually can control how reality turns out for you. Our problem is that because we don’t own our projection or our perception or our emotional baggage, our ego as I talked about in Session number 1, we feel like helpless victims to reality. The moment you can own it and say: “Ah, that was me. I shaped that, I colored that. That all came from my energy, wow! Now I can change that energy and I can change reality.” – Now we’re talking about manifestation. And we talk about manifestation throughout, because this book, “The Awakened Family” -is about manifesting your highest vision for your family.
On page 14 in this book I write about: “We don’t realize that it’s precisely our fears for our children, which we think of as concern, that are the problem with most parenting.” So, here’s the catch for us – you and I are parents. We are clouded, consumed and obsessed by parental concern. Concern is healthy. Concern can be healthy… Or …highly toxic. Which side of the line does your concern fall? You can only fall on the healthy side when you are grounded in a perpetual state of abundance. Like we’ve talked about in Session 1.
You and I in mass culture have been disconnected from Oneness. Because we’re cut from Oneness’ energy, Oneness’ consciousness, we are perpetually in a state of inner conflict. Because, disconnected from Oneness means that we are in the state of lack. Meaning, we look at resources in a room, emotional resources in a room, and if somebody disagrees with us, or somebody’s not working to our fantasy, we are immediately hurdled into the state of lack. You may not realize this, but we are. The minute you’re in lack, you’re in to ego, which is consumed and obsessed by the emotional energy of fear. So, parental concern has two sides – a very healthy side of being concerned, which is care and compassion, and concern can go deep, deep in to assess pool of disfunction. And you and I know how quickly concern can become anxiety, anxiety can become control, control can become threats, threats can become anger, anger can become disconnection. It happens like this. Therefore, unless you clean up the inner space by meditating, by journaling, by reading self-help books, by attending lectures, by consuming yourself, at least one fourth of your life, at least 25% of your life on self-observation, on self-growth and self-elevation, you will not be able to live in a state of abundance – why? Because culture around you will not allow you to live in a state of abundance. That’s why I call my book a revolution in parenting and I said last week – it’s not a revolution, it’s what wisdom cultures talk about all the time. I am just here to remind you that we need a revolution. And the revolution starts by walking away from the mainstream culture, because mainstream culture will pull you into eternal abyss-like scarcity. It is only wisdom traditions – elevated wisdom traditions that are non sectarian, that do not believe in just one religion over others, but are open to the oneness consciousness that is available and abundant to everyone, even if you have a religion. Then you enter deep abundance. And when you enter deep abundance, you’re hard-pressed to enter toxic concern.
Let’s take an example: Your kid comes home with a C grade. Which side of concern will you fall into? Concern for the essence, the authentic learning, the spirit? Or concern which tips over into control, fear, micromanagement, threats, reactivity? This is the eternal choice we make, but if you don’t recognize that you’re on the precipice of this choice every day, every moment of your life, how will you be able to harness your power, your consciousness, to the go: “OK, here’s the choice – where am I going to go? Am I going to go in to abundance or am I going to go in to scarcity?” If you don’t begin swimming in this consciousness and being eternally using the muscle of oneness consciousness, you will switch so quickly into scarcity, which topples in to fear, control, reactivity, ego. This is the muscle you need to build every single day, 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes at the lunchtime, 20 minutes in the evening, 20 minutes at bedtime. Because mainstream culture is designed to take you out of abundance into competition and scarcity. So, you may ask: “How then do I react to a C grade? How do I stay on the good side of concern?” So, it’s like I would ask you – you come home with a bad performance evaluation from your boss, right? And you are now in a state of fear toward me, or fear of judgment. And how would you like me, a friend, a colleague, to react to your negative performance appraisal by your boss? How would you like me to react to that? Would you like me to threaten you, punish you, take away your phone, scold you, judge you and shame you? Or would you like me to work in the essence, in the elevated essence of your spirit? What does that mean? I would ask you: “Hey, what’s going on? How come? How do you feel about that? What are your thoughts about that? How can I help you? How can I support you?” You would do that so beautifully with your friends. Why, then, when your child comes home with the negative performance appraisal from school, do you tip over from healthy concern into dysfunctional concern? Why? We all know why, I’ve talked about it in every book of mine – because of that deep attachment we have with only our children and our families. It’s that deep attachment which messes us up.
We have to detach. We have to enter abundance. What does that mean? Don’t attach. Don’t get afraid. Don’t create internal locking knots of fear. Detach. Enter wisdom perspective. Enter witnessing. When you enter witnessing, you can then choose the right choice. Abundance or scarcity? So, just like you talk to yourself – maybe you talk to yourself in a negative way, so let’s eradicate that sentence, because most of us talk to ourselves in horribly critiquing ways. But, let’s imagine you would talking to me. Or you were talking to a friend that you respected. And they got a negative performance evaluation – how would you react to them? Well, that’s how you react to your kid. I know that’s hard to do, because when your kid comes to you, your fears rise to the surface because of that deep enmeshment, that deep attachment. Therefore, we must detach. How we’re doing?
Frozen in Time:
When we don’t understand how our past influences our future, we become frozen in time. So, this expression, and I’m sure it’s not just my expression, but it came to me during a session that I had with this client that I talk about on page 14. This was a client that came up to me and in my session, and said to me: “You know, every time I’m with my young child” – I think the child was five or six – I feel as if I am literally experiencing the same things that she’s experiencing. When she cries, I cry louder. When she’s angry, I’m more angry. When she’s hurt by a friend, I experience the same degree of hurt. What’s going on with me?” She said to me, she said: “Dr. Shefali, help me. I’m in my thirties” or the forties, but I think she was in her late thirties, hold on. Thirty-nine, she was thirty-nine years old, and this is Janet on page 14. My book, “The Awakened Family”, we’re talking about how we become frozen in time when we haven’t healed our unhealed wounds in past. So, Janet was so upset that she was falling apart and she felt that she wasn’t really being able to be a steward to her child’s development. So, I said to Janet, and I say this on page 15: “Whenever your children trigger you”, I explained, “you think you are responding to your adult self. However, you aren’t. Even though your are 39 years old, you go right back into the ways you learned to behave as a child. Reverting to the 6-year-old who had no way to speak up and assert herself. It’s as if, emotionally, you are frozen in time. So, the moment I said these words to her: “You’re frozen in time.” Janet took a pause, took a deep breath of air, I still remember the visual, and she burst into tears. And I then realized the impact of those words. “Frozen in time.” Now, when you and I react in the moment, in the present moment, as a 30-year-old or 50-year-old, or 55-year-old, it doesn’t matter what age, we truly are in a mass hypnosis almost, believing that we’re responding to the situation in front of us, right? However, the minute you have a rise in reaction, rise in tone inflection, your tone rises, your heartbeats skips a few beats, or your breath becomes accelerated, or you speak rapidly, or your cheeks get flushed, or some sort of elevation in emotional reactivity – that is a sign that you’re no longer in the present moment, but have been hijacked almost in a flight-or-fight survival response by an emotional memory that was buried, but has now come to the surface. Now, this sounds so complex, because you’re like: “Heck, I just got angry. Why does it have to be so complex?” Because present moment realities, when they are viewed simply as reality, or the as isn’t-ness of reality, often do not have the power to take us to the emotional reactivities that we end up engaging with our children. They only end up triggering us to that degree, because an unconscious emotional memory has been triggered. In Janet’s case, she talked about two instances in her childhood that shook her up at the age of six. It shook her up so much that it’s almost as if her emotional development was arrested at that time. Forever, from that moment on, she lost her oneness consciousness. She lost her power to tap in, to tune in to the Divine energy that kept her feeling powerful until then.
All our children come with the ability to tune in and tap in to Divine Oneness consciousness. And then, we happen to them. Us parents happen to them. And then they begin to separate from Oneness consciousness, because we react to them with so much fear and scarcity mindset, that they then begin to separate from Oneness and enter scarcity themselves. So, Janet, this client that is 39 years old, who felt like she was frozen in time, could literally pinpoint when in her past she began to lose Oneness and enter separation. Each one of us can, for the most part, pinpoint big or small pivotal turning points in our childhood, when we separated from Oneness consciousness. All of us did. Any emotional reaction which is charged is not coming from the present situation. It is coming from a past unconscious memory that has been triggered.
Once it gets triggered, it almost creates a flight-or-fight response in our metabolism, in our hormonal energy, which causes us to protect ourselves. Now, we can protect ourselves in one of two ways. We can either withdraw, sulk, check out, distance ourselves, hold our love as hostage. Or, we can spill over and just have no boundaries and over please, over accommodate, over rescue. Or, overreact – over punish, over yell, oversold, overcontrol. We go inward or outward. Both of them come from a flight-or-fight response, which is fear. Now, you may not notice this, because anger sounds so powerful. Hubris, arrogance, blaster, showing of, narcissism, all of this sound or look so grown up, so mature. So in control. But you and I now know, studying consciousness, that that is the reverse of consciousness. It is the highly unconscious state. When we are in a conscious state, we are in Oneness consciousness, therefore, even if our child is pissing us off and ticking us off, we know – ah, it’s not them. It’s a memory that has being awakened from my unconscious past. All that I need to look at. Oh, but thank you child, for showing that for me. When you are in Oneness consciousness, there’s no separation between you and your child. Therefore, when your child misbehaves – it is equally a mirror to you as you now need to be to them. So, when you are in Oneness consciousness, you will not say things like: “You’re lazy. How dare you? How could you? What’s wrong with you?” Or you say these things, but the you quickly remember: “Ups, where’s my Oneness consciousness?” And instead, you say things like: “I see that you’re having a hard time looking at me. I see that you’re having a hard time listening to me. I see that you’re unable to pay attention to what I’m saying. I need you to pay attention to what I’m saying. Put the phone down. Put the book down. Put the pencil down. Turn off the TV and look at me, because I respect you right now and I need you to respect me, too.” This is how Oneness consciousness looks. It takes longer, it takes presence, it takes modulation and discipline of your emotional energy. But this is how you respond in present moment awareness. When you’re frozen in time, then you just check out and you yell, you scream, you over rescue, you over please and you cripple your child’s ability to become resilient and thriving. We can only be resilient and thriving when we are in Oneness consciousness.
People get confused about this, because I talk about the influence of the past, but then I say: “Be in the present.” What do I mean? This is what I mean – when we are highly engaged and attuned and awake, in the present moment – the present moment is my portal for awakening. My portal for awakening is not some memory from the past, not what my mother told me when I was 2, not an event that happened to me when I was 9, not the bully in the schoolyard when I was 13. The portal for awakening in my opinion, and learning, is only the present moment. So, what does that mean? In the present moment, if I’m triggered, if I am wounded, if I am remembering and unconscious memory from somewhere, I take a pause, I go: “Oh, it’s here, it’s here.” What is here?2 The presence of the unconsciousness. The presence of my ego. Now, I don’t need to particularly go back into past and deconstruct who said it to me, what time of day, what was she wearing, should I go back and have a conversation with them – as Western therapy exposes us to do. All I need to know – where did I feel this before?
We don’t need to go back all the way into our past, remember what you were wearing. We don’t need to go back and talk to the bully. We don’t need to go back and write the letter to the teacher. No. We just need to know what the issue was, and now we need to see how it’s coming up in the present moment.” The present moment is the only moment of relevance, the only moment of concern and the only moment worthy of investigation. If the present moment takes us to the past, we’ll go to the past. But we must come back to the present moment. We can’t stay in the past. We can’t delve in the past. We can’t spend years of therapy talking about people who have not been in our present over and over again. We can – but that’s not the approach that I talk about in my book. That’s solely a Western psychotherapy model. The integration of East and West means using the present moment as the gateway to say something has been stirred up. What has been stirred up? Can I get the taste of it in my past? Come back to the present moment. And being awake to the present moment is how I will heal the past. When I recognize: “Oh, it has come back up. Oh, it’s come back up. Oh, it’s come back up. Oh, it’s coming up again. My shame. My separation. My scarcity. My insecurity. My desire to fit in. Here it is again. Here it is again, I can only heal it in the present moment. How do I heal it in the present moment? By changing the choice I make. In the past I was unconscious, I made a choice to enter scarcity …”
As you begin to embody the right choice you need to make next time. A thousand embodiments of the right choice or a hundred or even ten, or even one, solid one, immediately heals the past. The past has no longer the control over you in the present moment.
We have to know, every time we are in reaction, we are being hijacked by the past. But, we don’t go to the past and live in the past for the next ten minutes, ten months, ten years. We bring ourselves back to the present moment and say: “Ah… it’s coming up in the present moment. Now is the time I get to shift course. I need to make a different choice. I need to walk the next step with the different energy. We must do this in order to create shifts, and slowly recreate so much of the shift, that we are – lo and behold – suddenly planted in an abundant sense of self and we have healed ourselves. We don’t need a therapist to heal us – you don’t need anyone to heal you. Sure, we can all help each other, and we need wisdom guides to help each other. But you have the power to heal yourself through present moment awareness.
Instead of reacting to our children, because of what they are showing us about ourselves, the conscious response is to look into the mirror they are holding up to us, allowing ourselves to become aware of the many ways in which we still behave like children ourselves. The more immature we are emotionally, as I said in the beginning, we all have these huge emotional gaps, we want taught how to be resilient, powerful and in abundance. We constantly have gaps which creates fear, ego, reactivity, control or over-withdrawal or over-projection or over-pleasing. We have gaps and this is called emotional immaturity, gaps in our development, because of something that had happened in our past that caused us to separate from Oneness consciousness. The more immature we are emotionally, the more our children will present with complexes, insecurities and behavior problems. This is their way of saying to us: “Hey, parents! I’m here to show you that you have some growing up to do. Can you please just get on with it? So I can move on and be who I am supposed to be. I’m doing you a huge favor by showing you exactly what you need to do in order to become the mature person. The sooner you do so, the sooner I can free myself from the burden of being your mirror.” Answering the call to look into the mirror our children provide us is the hallmark of an awakened parent. So, I hope you are beginning to understand that it’s really quite simple, it’s all fear. It’s always fear, no matter how stunning it looks on the outside, how well made up, how well dressed up. If it’s an emotional reaction that’s charged, it is always fear. Now, it’s up to you to take to challenge, this next week, to notice when your fear comes up. Dare to look in the mirror. Just take that pause. Look in the mirror.
Ask yourself: “What about my own fears are influencing the present moment? What if I could state my fears right now? What would I say?” And then ask yourself: “Well, what if I was guaranteed – because Oneness consciousness guarantees good returns, good outcomes, in Oneness consciousness everything turns out OK – so what if I was guaranteed that this fear would not come to fruition? How, then, would I change my reaction to my child?” I offer that to you. Contemplate on it. Sit on it. Sit in it. Open yourself up and take the challenge to answer the call to your awakening. Thank you for joining me on my Session Two of my Global Book Club.