What you resist will persist. This has been such an important lesson for me to learn. It is so easy to resist things about our children, to not accept them as they are. How many times have I wanted to change something about my child? Somehow the problems came to dominate my thinking.
Unfortunately, focusing on what I wished would change did not seem to help. This is because you grow what you give attention to. What shows up in our lives is a direct reflection of our inner thoughts and emotions. If we devote our minds to what we don’t want we end up noticing it everywhere.
We go through life collecting evidence to back up what we believe. If we believe that there is something wrong that is what we will see. We block out the evidence that supports a more positive view. We simply don’t see it. This means that if we resist something about our children it will persist. We give it the energy of our attention and we unintentionally grow it rather than getting it to go away. Throwing all our energy into fixing something about our child may end up making it worse.
To reverse this process I practice the simple exercise of choosing to focus on the opposite of what I don’t want. I ignore the problem and collect the evidence for the other side; for what is going well and is acceptable.
Take this example:
What I was believing: He eats way too many sweets.
The opposite: He eats a healthy diet. The evidence to support it: He eats a lot of fruit. He eats a few vegetables. He eats nutritious food at least two or three times a day. He enjoys all sorts of savoury foods. He is almost never sick.
Or a hypothetical example like this:
Belief: His social skills aren’t good.
Opposite: He gets along well with people. The evidence to support it: When he is one-on-one or with the right people he relates well and easily. When he is relaxed and comfortable he has no problems expressing himself appropriately. He is fine with family. He enjoys spending time with friends. He sometimes plays happily with children he has just met.
Belief: She is lazy.
Opposite: She is motivated to do things. The evidence to support it: When she does something she really enjoys she is highly motivated. She puts a lot of energy and effort into things that really interest her. She can play games for hours on end. She is happy to help her friends even when it is something difficult.
The more I focus on the opposite, on what is going well, the more evidence I find. More joy and gratitude flow into my life. My children notice my appreciation. The problem starts to just fade away.
When I stop resisting it doesn’t matter whether “the problem” is persisting. It doesn’t bother me any more. It becomes a non-issue.
I have found peace.