Enjoy the Struggle


Sometimes our kids go through experiences that we wish they didn't have to go through. It could be something as small as the neighbors dog barking next door in the night or something that happens at school. Anytime our children are feeling sad, we want to fix it right away.

How many times have you said to your child, "Oh, did he hurt your feelings?" This is a big misconception. Remember how the world really works. Think about the Model from Brooke Castillo. 

Circumstances are neutral. These are the things that happen in the world. The fact that one kid took a toy away from another kid is a circumstance.

You have a thought about that circumstance. He shouldn't have done that. She had it first. He needs to give it back. You need to play fair. 

Your thought is going to determine your feeling. If you had any of the above thoughts, you're going to experience a negative feeling.

Your feeling is going to drive your action or in-action. You might get mad and take the toy back from the boy and give it to the girl. Notice how you did the exact same thing to him that he did to the girl. Ironic?

You might get mad and do nothing but try to soothe the crying girl, and be more wary around the boy.

Our actions produce our results. If you do those things, you are going to get certain results. Maybe the boy throws a fit. Maybe both kids throw a fit. Maybe you decide it's time to go home.

life is supposed to be difficult

What if it was supposed to happen?

What if it was okay that the toy exchanged hands?

Because what happened is neutral.

What if we could remember to choose a different thought?

I know some of you are saying, but that's not fair! If she had it first, he shouldn't come take it from her. Or maybe you have a child who has experienced bullying or anxiety. I understand how we want things to be fair.

But they aren't supposed to be fair. Life isn't supposed to be fair. 

If it was, you might not have clean drinking water.

You might not have a lot of what you currently enjoy in your life.

It is a good thing that life isn't fair.

I think it's the very unfairness of life that challenges us to grow and evolve. It's when life feels difficult that we are about to grow to our next level. We are supposed to experience discomfort. It's part of the process. It's part of being alive.

feel better from the inside out

I've had a couple of my kids go through though bouts of anxiety. I tried so many different things to help them feel better. 

But the thing is, they were external things. Sleep with the light on. Do this, do that. But when we seek help from external things, we are avoiding the problem.

We have to go internal to fix things. Because we can fix everything with our mind. In fact, it's the only way to fix things. Actually, I'm not even going to say fix because you are not broken. Your child is not broken. You just haven't come to the realization of your full potential.

It's like how the oak tree is already inside the acorn. Derek Rydall talks about this in his book, Emergence. I love it because it's the same philosophy as the Buffalo. Everything you need is already inside of you. You just have to strip away the stuff you don't need to see yourself as you really are.

So if we go inside of ourselves to feel better about someone taking something from us, what we need to do is to change our thought about what happened so we can experience a different feeling.

It sounds super easy, but it's actually kind of difficult. It is a simple concept, but putting it into practice takes work.

Because in order to feel the way you want to feel, you need to believe the thought.

One of my boys had a lot of anxiety at school last year. It took a while, but eventually I uncovered his thoughts. He wasn't good enough, he wasn't smart enough. He wasn't fast enough. He couldn't do things right. 

If I had those thoughts, I wouldn't want to go to school either. 

Now, with a child, it didn't work for me to just tell him that he needs to change his thoughts. He is too young to understand the concept. But I can guide him, and that is what I did.

I pointed out to him every paper that had a sticker. Every paper that had a good grade. Every time he was helpful at home. I started giving him evidence that he was good enough. That he was smart.

I also taught him that life has both good times and bad times and sometimes we have to get through the bad to get to the good. There were days he went to school with a belly ache and I really just wanted to keep him home. But some of those days he would come home feeling so triumphant because he ended up having a really good day. He was such a trooper! It made it so worth it.

enjoy the struggle

It can be so hard to enjoy the struggle when you are in it. But if you can remember, this is supposed to happen, it makes it a little easier.

So what about the kid that took the toy from the other kid? Let him have it. Find another toy to play with, and if he takes that one too, give it to him. Be curious. Say, I wonder why he wants all the toys? and then have your child go find as many toys as she can to give to him. You have the power to totally turn the situation around.

When things are feeling really tough, remember it's about to get better. Don't try to make your children feel better. That's their job. You can guide them, but let their experiences help them grow.  If you're willing to enjoy the struggle, you can get to the other side of discomfort.

And that is where we all like to be.