I was talking with my 4 ½ year old son a few weeks ago, lobbying him for some preferred and relevant behavior that I felt would make my life, and his, so much easier. He was listening very intently, as he often does, and I was using my very best rhetoric, as I often do, with logical reasons and easy comparisons and ways to do it differently (my way); “It’ll be way easier for you,” I say, “…and it won’t hurt at all,” I promise, “…and it’s sooo much healthier, and it’s what all big boys can do,” were just a few of my entreaties. I went on and on about this for a few minutes, feeling as though he was very close to being convinced, when he looked up at me, in his little omniscient way, and said, “Daddy… just let be how it is.”
It was one of those “ah-ha” moments that can stop you dead in your tracks - one of those moments of clarity that leaves me feeling forever transformed and enlightened. I made him repeat it on video, I was so proud of his wisdom, and with duty and dimples he complied. And, of course, I stopped the lobbying.
Since then I’ve shared this little gem with every single one of my clients. Not randomly, or as some cute personal anecdote, but in a chosen moment of their anxiety or stress about the lack of change in self, or in situation, or in their partner. These moments can be very frustrating and discouraging, bringing up deep feelings of anger and resentment, and of wanting to give up. And without fail, this little offering lands like a balm. For I believe that acceptance is the first small, if giant, step toward any attempt at real change. To gain the ability to first accept ourselves, our situation, and our partner for who we really are right now, opens a gateway to curiosity that compels empathy and allows for change - instead of mandating it.
I share this with you now because it has brought such peace and insight to me, and to all of my clients. My son and I use it as a mantra whenever we butt heads, or if I’m stuck in traffic, or in some inevitable mundane struggle. This little gift of wisdom seems to act as a salve to both the frustrations of the limits and differences of the people in our lives, and to the vagaries and difficulties that the complexity of living often imposes.
It is my great hope that it also brought a moment of levity and peace to you…