Unintended Consequences

You wouldn’t think a loving family would torture their own mother but people do it all the time. And they’re not bad people in the slightest. But there are certain things that egos cannot see. And if someone is living in ego—which the vast majority of people are the vast majority of the time—then these things are inevitable.

704 Relax and Succeed - What's the differenceThere are countless examples of this and there’s undoubtedly times where in my efforts to care for my aging parents my passions lead me to unintentional disrespect them. A friend from another city recently told me of classic case of the road to hell being paved with good intentions.

We start with an elderly but very fit woman who is the most positive and supportive and optimistic person my friend has ever met. Always happy, always discussing what she was grateful for—she was even positive about the impending loss of her eyesight. She was always talking about how fortunate her life has always been.

In possession of considerable wisdom and in anticipation of her impending blindness, the very positive woman moved into an appropriate care facility and downsized to her most precious possessions but little else. When her sight did finally go her family’s reaction was understandably fear. Before that she could sort of half-see her way around, but now they were worried she would fall. When they visited all they saw was sharp edges on every table and pointy things, and potential tripping hazards everywhere. And so despite her heartfelt pleas they removed all of her things and replaced them with things they had judged to be better for her.

704 Relax and Succeed - The way you do thingsOf course they had no idea what it was like to go blind. But this is an experienced, well-adjusted woman. There was little reason to suspect she’d approach blindness blindly. She had moved herself into the facility, she found it herself and she did all of her own packing. She had a sharp mind and she had known her new apartment for 18 months. She was comfortable finding her way around in it blind just as you’re okay wandering your house in the dark. You know where stuff is. Because she was blind didn’t mean she suddenly had dementia.

She told friends about the incredible sense of violation she experienced as a result of having her entire home and her most precious things all stolen away from her in a single day. All to be replaced by strange things to which she had no connection at all. It was one of the most painful experiences of her life. And remember, all of this is being done by her genuinely loving family who believe they are doing the best for her. Do you see how the world works? Why we can’t get rid of evil? Because it’s not evil or bad or wrong. It’s an action and a consequence and in this case the intention is not at all ending up where intended.

Feeling profoundly betrayed by her children and isolated in a strange dark place, she slipped into very negative thought habits and before long she was miserable and deeply depressed. She felt as though she had lost her family right before death. I bawled my eyes out when my friend told me that the lady had fallen down a set of stairs and struck her head. She’s in a coma. The prognosis is not good. It is a tragedy of epic proportions and all made of entirely loving and arguably logical decisions that went terribly awry.

704 Relax and Succeed - A great relationshipWe want to care for those older than us. We want to make sure they’re safe and secure and doing things that are good for them. But we cannot become their parents. We can’t start ordering them around or making decisions for them if they’re not mentally debilitated. We have to calm down and remember that after as much living as our parents have done they actually know a thing or two about most or all of what might work for them.

That family was just trying to keep their mother safe. Their intentions were good and it was possible to make sense of their decision. The only thing missing was the blessing of the person at the centre of it all. So respect all people. Don’t listen with an agenda. Listen with an open heart. You might not hear what you expect to hear, but what you do hear might lead you to both different conclusions and different behaviour. And that applies to everyone, not just our parents.

Now go be yourself and have a great day.

Love you all.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #52

606R Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Magic is all around you

Quotes like this can seem fanciful and silly to people who see themselves as realists. They would talk about science etc., but of course most of modern science involves a great deal of inference, so our imagination plays a major role.

Some of the newer discoveries—as has always been the case—will be proven slightly  wrong and will be replaced by more complete theories later (in science, a ‘theory’ means they feel as certain as we could ever hope to be). But we will never come to the end of knowledge because our expansion breeds more expansion so, the more we know, the larger the universe of things-to-know gets.

So even in science we must always keep our minds open to possibility. If we do, then the world can know “scientific miracles” that revolutionize science itself—and that will happen simply because someone believed they could do something outside of the bounds of current science, which is also sometimes known as magic up until we learn how they did it.

606R Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - All men dream but not equally

Tribal cultures who still live their original ways are comfortable with the idea of a Shaman’s knowledge being born out of magic. A supposed example played out in the film What the Bleep?! makes the case for how their magic can be been seen by us as the sort of logical conclusion that science is. But it needs the Shaman’s imagination and willingness to believe to happen.

In this story, the native north american’s couldn’t see Columbus’s ships because they didn’t know what ships were. It was said that, until the Shaman had seen them and told the tribe that ships exist, no one else in the tribe even tried to see a ship. They just saw a blob on the horizon and they settled for that.

Because the Shaman believes he can know he keeps staring at those shapes until he slowly forms the brand new idea of what is vaguely a big canoe, and then eventually clipper ship. Once he has it in his mind he carries the necessary authority with the tribe to convince them something is true. Believing it, they they actually try to see it and, believing it’s possible, the ships sail into their consciousness.

That is no different than the remarkable story of Daniel Kish, except he’s a shaman for the entire world. If you haven’t listened to the detailed story of Daniel that was featured in the most recent Friday Dose, then please take a little less than an hour out of your life and spend some time really meditating on what this documentary is saying. Because this is a documentary about a blind boy with literally no eyes who neurologists agree can see. 

Read that again. Science agrees that; because this mother believed that her son could make his way in the world —because she just blindly believed there was some way that he would be able to make his way safely and comfortably— Daniel was allowed to simply follow his nature and that alone lead him to the miracle. It wasn’t that she taught him something miraculous —it’s that her fears didn’t impede a miracle from naturally happening.

606-relax-and-succeed-any-meaningful-thing

His abusive estranged father was what lead Daniel’s mother to decide to never operate out of fear again. And so because of that mother —and even strangely because of that father too— Daniel became the first known blind person who could literally see. He’s even better than you. He has no colour or distance vision but he does have night vision.

So the real question is, what is anyone’s parenting saying to their child? Are we constantly steeling them against, and preparing them for, fears and worries in life? Or is our parenting just assuming kids are capable and that success is virtually inevitable?

Do we understand that there is no reason to parent toward success? There should only be an effort to not have the parent’s fears invade and shape the lives of their children. From there their own version of success will emerge from the ensuing confidence of the child.

Please listen to the documentary and please really do consider how our parenting is shaping children. Because fear-based parenting only does one thing: it breeds fearful, incapable and very very small people who constantly feel overwhelmed by the world.

Let’s not teach our fears to our children, because a fear of heights or water or dogs doesn’t start at a young age, it gets taught at a young age by a person or an experience. One and a half of those is avoidable, so it’s worthwhile slowing down to look at each bit of parenting we’re doing and ask ourselves what is it really teaching a child?

Are we teaching children to be safe, or did we just teach them to think of themselves in painfully limited ways? For kid’s sakes, please listen to the documentary. She had every reason to worry, but because she didn’t let that stop him, he became great precisely because he needed to be. And that power lives in all of us.

peace. s

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