The third blog of this CHRISTMAS series:

What bugs me about Santa is that the one question he asks children is, “Have you been good?”

Where’s the unconditional love in that! Have we even stopped to question that!

What are the presuppositions in our society that are shaping our perception of the world?

At an individual and a societal level, we create a narrative of life from what we experience. This narrative subconsciously influences our thinking, our interactions, and our way of being.

R is for Relationship

Neuroscience is opening amazing new doorways to understanding that Relationship is essential to our well-being. But for at least the last century we’ve been seduced into believing that relationship is the poor cousin to what really matters. We’ve been brought up to perceive a false narrative as truth.

The narrative we have been sold is snake oil. We have ingested it, believing it will do us good. But it is a lie that has eroded our societal well-being. It undermines the fabric of society.FAKE NEWS that independence is maturity

And what is this snake oil that has been promoted as the solution to our problems?

Here is the 20th century deception that is still plaguing us, stated by Nathaniel Branden in The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem:

the central goal of the maturational process is evolution toward autonomy

What is True Maturity?

We were fed the lie that independence is the pinnacle of maturity. We were made to believe that if we were truly mature we wouldn’t need anyone else. Autonomy – pursuing a course for myself , often regardless of the consequences or impact. Doesn’t that sum up what’s wrong with our world today. Autonomy as the mark of maturity has been a dangerous and destructive narrative. That narrative is one of the greatest 20th century deceptions. It’s a narrative that destroys lives and destroys society. If we are focused on independence we lose sight that we are born to be relational beings. We forget the humanity of the other. It is a narrative that feeds fear and war. It’s a deception that has caused us to disconnect from who we are – beings who are made to be in relationship.

It is FALSE NEWS that independence is the mark of maturity!

Scientific Discoveries About Human Well-Being

A new and healthier narrative is evolving – one our world desperately needs. And interestingly that narrative is evolving from science. Neuroscience has proven our brains are designed to be in relationship. The neuroscientist Cozolino perceives a parallel between the neural synapses of our brains and what he terms the “social synapse – the space between us’. He states that our brains’ development is directly impacted by social interaction as “people, like neurons, excite, interconnect, and link together to create relationships.” Amie Senland*

Neuroscientist and parenting expert Daniel J. Siegel states,

For ‘full’ emotional communication, one person needs to allow his state of mind to be influenced

by that of the other.

It’s time to create a new narrative – a narrative of interdependence and co-operation as the goal of maturity – drawing from both ancient wisdom and cutting-edge science for a healthier, happier society. Human well-being is dependent on healthy relationships. We are not designed for isolated independence, we are made to be in relationship – to be collaborative and interdependent. We need to model this to the next generation, while there is still time to create a tipping point back to harmony and balance.

If we use how we were taught yesterday to teach our children today, we are not preparing them well for tomorrow.  Daniel J Siegel

Relationship

At an individual and societal level we need to heal breaches in relationship. What makes us fully and joyfully human is being in collaborative, nurturing connection with others. And this is especially true in parenting. Our children rely on us to heal the ruptures in relationship. We as parents are responsible for the emotional temperature in the home.

If this thought challenges or inspires you, you may enjoy reading my blog post on MyKidstime, “How to Avoid Christmas Meltdown By Understanding Your Child’s Temperament”.

Maturity is about collaboration and cooperation. This Christmas I invite you to think about how to create relationships that recognise this as the true goal of maturity. In our homes, education, work and social environments, how do we let go a narrative of authoritarianism and independence to embrace a narrative of collaboration and cooperation?

FAKE NEWS: independence equals maturity

So it’s over to you. I invite you to notice where you may have encouraged or modelled independence rather than cooperation.

What’s the one doable step you choose today that nurtures interdependence and cooperation in your relationships?

 In what ways can you support others to value cooperation and collaboration?

* Quoting Cozolino: “The Neuroscience of Healthy Relationships: Attachment and the Healthy Social Brain”   https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03057240.2014.971483 15/12/2018

Last edited December 17th 2018

The first in our Christmas 2019 series.

How do I offer Charity without undermining a person’s dignity?

Here are two words that can make a huge difference: 

C  is for Compassionate Curiosity 

“All I want is a room somewhere…”

I hum along to the familiar tune on the radio.

And suddenly I notice the words in a way I never have before.

“Far away from the cold night air.”

 Eliza Doolittle is homeless!

My Fair Lady - Eliza Doolittle with Henry Higgins

I’ve never thought about it. I’ve known this song as long as I can remember but I’ve never seen the situation through Eliza’s eyes.

I watched the film “My Fair Lady” years ago.

And what I most remember are her amusing mismatched interactions with ‘Enry ‘Iggins.

I’ve never stopped and seen her as a person who has suffered.

A person who has had to face the dangers and the freezing conditions of sleeping rough. Nowhere to call home. Nowhere to be safe.

What is it like to have so little that your life’s wish is to have just one room where you can be out of the cold?

To wish you had just one chair!

What Can We Learn From Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle?

Yes, we want to make a difference.

We want to ease the other person’s suffering. But how do we offer charity without undermining a person’s dignity?

The secret to offering help without damaging a person’s self-respect can be found in two words: compassionate curiosity.

We need a curiosity that goes beyond a scientist’s passion for discovery. We need a curiosity that is infused with compassion – a genuine desire to understand and respond to the other person’s unique situation and experience.

It’s much more than dropping a few coins into the bowl, or writing a cheque.

We need to see the other person.  We need compassionate curiosity for the vulnerable people in our own communities, and also the people we see through the television screen, who may be on the other side of the globe.

We need to see the humanness of the other. We can fall into the trap of  Henry Higgins mindset that we must clean them up, and make them look and act like we do.

Let’s stop. Let’s stop and recognise their need for human dignity, as well as their need for food, shelter and safety.

Compassionate curiosity - the path to Charity

 

When we want to offer charity let’s recognise we’re in danger of seeing the other who is in need as our ‘project’ – like Henry Higgins did. He demeaned Eliza by not seeing her as a person in her own right.

Yet ultimately it was Henry himself who was probably most impacted.

It was Eliza that made him confront his own shortcomings, and the shortcomings of the system of which he was a part.

 

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.  (attributed to  Aboriginal activist Lilla Watson)

Isn’t it time that we see the other with compassionate curiosity –  to seek to envisage life through the other person’s eyes.

And, like Henry Higgins, we often are oblivious to the systems that keep people trapped in poverty.

Power systems that replicate fear and war.

Isn’t it time we address the real issue of systems of power that seek to hoard humanity’s privileges for a limited few.

Starting From Home

I believe that the solutions start in the home and in our school systems.

It starts with viewing ourselves with compassionate curiosity rather than with critical judgement.

If I want to be a kind, connected and compassionate person it begins with being kind, connected compassionate to myself.

I’ll only be able to give to others what I give to myself.

“Charity begins at home.”

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world

Charity in our communities will grow from having a compassionate curiosity for those closes to us; we need a compassionate curiosity for those in our care.

What is life like when we see it through their eyes?

Eliza, like so millions of others, was a victim of her circumstances.

She didn’t choose poverty.

We overlook the huge disempowering impact of the systems of society.

CAN we make a difference?

If we want to change the systems of power it starts with changing those systems in the very first environments our children experience – our homes and our schools.

So often, with the best intentions, we have a Higgins’ mentality towards those in our care. We expect them to “behave” as we think they should, rather than seeking to understand and support them in ways that are meaningful to them.

We expect the other to behave as we think they should

 

I perceive the systems of power in the world will only be transformed when we model compassionate curiosity and mutual co-operation in the very earliest interactions in life, rather than impose our agenda.

It’s an old adage, but we often overlook the potential within it:

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

If you’d like to perceive what this looks like in the practical day-to-day living with a young child,  you will likely enjoy reading my book, “Baby and Toddler On Board – mindful parenting when a new baby joins the family”.

Isn’t our culture still  immersed in a Victorian “Henry Higgins” mentality that we have to “fix” the other  person, whether it’s our own child’s behaviour that we don’t like, the child in the classroom,  people who’ve taken different life choices to our own or people’s situations that threaten our own  level of comfort.

Higgins wasn’t able to make a difference, no matter how good his intentions were, as long as he saw the other person as a project.

He had to come face-to-face with Eliza’s humanness – and that transformed him.

My awareness challenge today is to notice when I slip into a  Henry Higgins’ mindset.

So over to you,  is there any way in which these thoughts on compassionate curiosity have challenged you?

Last edited December 16th 2018