Friday, 31 August 2012

Challenged when you least expect it

After living for almost 35 years I am finding so many of my long held beliefs are being challenged, it is exciting and scary, it causes great internal turmoil and my head is hurting a lot, but I think there could truly be a better way to exist than what I have done up until now, but am I brave enough to explore it further?

Previously I quoted Steve Jobs as saying something along the lines of “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice”.  Have you ever tried to think and live outside the commonly accepted stereotype or expectation people have of you?  I find it really difficult, I feel a bit like a failure, I feel weird and strange and it can be a bit lonely; it seems much easier to go with the flow, the only problem for me is it leaves me feeling empty and confused and lonely as well.

As I blogged a few month ago I was challenged by the concept that you don’t have to do to be, this idea continues to change my life every day.  Now I am being challenged by the idea that as a parent it is not necessarily my job to tell my children, or any other children, what they should or shouldn’t do, or try to manipulate or control them to say, do  and think what I want them to, not even my job to solve their problems for them.  Rather the idea is to provide an environment to help them make the most of their own skills and energy to secure cooperation and responsibility. The objective is to grow confident and responsible adults, that I will share a strong connection with.
Another idea is that when our own needs are met we feel affectionate, confident, empowered, engaged, inspired, excited, hopeful, grateful and exhilarated but when our needs are not met we feel annoyed, disconnected, sad, vulnerable, embarrassed, tense, confused and angry (M.B. Rosenberg).  To meet needs we need to listen to our own bodies and intuition, or truly listen when our spouse or children talk to us.  It takes time, you need to be really connected to yourself and those around you, and it cannot be manufactured or faked and as I am finding you need to be prepared to have your beliefs challenged and you need to be courageous. 

Unschooling is another idea that has caught my attention lately and this challenges a lot of my beliefs.  Unschooling believes that children can teach themselves through their curiosity and eagerness to explore the world. It focuses on real world learning experiences, and it allows the child to dictate his or her education by deciding what they do, or don’t, want to learn about.  This seems crazy to me, but the number of children who struggle through 13 years of formal education also causes me a great deal of concern.

If I looked at my world and saw love and peace and hope and joy I probably wouldn’t see any reason to challenge mainstream beliefs and ideas, but I don’t.  I see lots of sadness, violence, brokenness, abuse, depression, anxiety, worry and fear which is what gets me thinking there must be a better way.  
There is a lot going on in my head and heart at the moment, I am not saying any of the above ideas are the answer, as I approach my birthday so many things I thought I already knew are being challenged, and new ideas are being formed and investigated and I am certainly being extended outside my comfort zone.   Gail Sheehy said “If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living”, and one thing I am sure of is while I am here I want to really live, not just exist.  what do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I found this post interesting! I agree with the general gist - being challenged is important to our development as human beings. When others disagree with us and talk to us about it, we grow because we change or we strengthen our own views because they stand up against the challenge.

    I agree - you are right, it is very difficult to live outside the expectations of others. You would understand that as a mother-of-five, I spend a lot of time talking to others about my family life and a lot of that time is spent listening to silly comments or defending myself.

    I must confess I'm a little confused about the term "make the most of their own skills and energy to secure cooperation and responsibility" regarding children. I'd love it if you have the time if you could expand your thoughts on that a bit?

    My personal take on parenting is that children must be shown through example, teaching and boundaries what is right, what is wrong and told the truth about everything as much as is appropriate for their age. How parents do this for their own children varies widely and that's OK, just as long as children are raised to know right v wrong and have the truth to stand on.

    I'm often challenged by unschooling, but as a former educator, I do believe that some sort of structure is needed for a holisitc education. Having said that, I'm a huge fan of homeschooling and I'd be doing it with our family but we feel God wants our children in the small christian school they are in currently.

    I believe the reason so many children don't do school well is due to a much larger societal problem. Ultimately, I'd say it's due to the most basic sin: selfishness. Me first. Parents who are too wrapped up in themselves to teach their children how to listen, act responsibly and enjoy learning for life. I'd also say that the problem of curriculum comes into it as well, but ultimately children are just coping with so much more than school these days that it's just overwhelming.

    It breaks my heart, too, when I look around at people. I see so much heartache, trauma and blindness. However, I do know that this is to be expected - it says it in the Bible, most particularly in Isaiah and Revelation. It helps me cope with it better and to focus my work on stuff that really matters.

    Our job is to be Jesus' hands and feet to those caught up in Satan's lies and to pray like crazy for the heartbreaking injustices in our world.

    I was also interested to read your paragraph about 'needs'. I'm pretty big on self-denial, to be honest. I don't think Jesus was too concerned about His needs when He was here. But I also agree that there are basic human needs that need to be met. I love that quote, "Feelings are indicators, not dictators.", meaning that we shouldn't let our behaviour be dictated by frustration, fatigue, anger or bitterness - we should instead talk to our spouse or a trusted friend if there are strong feelings on a particular issue that need to be talked about.

    However, we can choose to be happy despite our circumstances. You can choose to see the blessing in everything, even if it's thanking God simply for the fact that He's with you when things are going bad. Things like choosing to sing when cooking dinner and the children are going crazy, or choosing to stop and pray before doing something you may or may not regret are ways to short-circuit feelings dictating actions or behaviour.

    I absolutely agree with you that we are here to LIVE, not just exist. It's one of the main reasons I'm a christian. I don't believe we are given life just to exist and that we are an accident. I believe we are here for a reason and we have a purpose.

    I must say I do like how you really think about things and tease issues out. Good on you (and a very belated 'Happy Birthday!') :D