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Opening Up To Goodness

By on June 22, 2015 – 12:16 pm  8 Comments

Homaira Kabir is a positive psychology practitioner currently working in Muscat, Oman. She inspires and supports women to live engaged and fulfilled lives of purpose and well-being. She also enables adolescents to harness the brilliance of their age through programs in middle school. She is a writer whose work has appeared in media around the world. She is currently completing her MAPP from UEL. Web site. Full bio pending. Homaira's articles for Positive Psychology News are here. She plans to write monthly on the 7th.



My oldest daughter returned home a couple of weeks ago. She was back from her first year of university in Montreal. I had missed her terribly. I had longed to hug her, have her lie in my lap, braid her long tresses. Now she was actually here…

She was jet-lagged for the first few days. As her fatigue wore off, I searched for signs of the daughter I had left behind less than a year ago, the child who loved to rest her head on my shoulder, who staunchly backed every word I said, who laughed with glee at my every joke. I did not find her in the adult before me, who voiced her own opinions, preferred solitude to the noisy company of her younger siblings, and found greater comfort in her friends’ texts than her mother’s lap.

I was hurt. I knew our children eventually fly from the family nest. But no one had told me that they return as different people. I found it hard to accept the change in her and my mind fought against it. My inner lawyer worked overtime, especially through the wee hours of the morning, collecting evidence to justify my hurt. Hume was right when he said that reason is slave to passion. Passion fed my hurt tirelessly and began to transform it into anger. Like blaring sirens next to my hand-covered ears, the voice of anger penetrated my mind and kept my passions alive.

I turned to my mindfulness mat for relief.

In the uninterrupted chambers of solitude, the onslaught was easier to handle. I let its noise and racket wash over me. It took its time, but eventually it did subside. Then like a wild animal making its appearance in the stillness of the moment, my inner unrest spoke to me. In its fleeting images, I realized that my unease and anger was not about my daughter at all. She had awakened my inner child and ignited the fears I had kept hidden for so long.

I tried to dismiss this idea, and my rational mind kicked in again, making me doubt the transient presence of my soul. But in my quieter moments, it came back to me, stronger, more vivid, more daring. I saw the 6-year-old me sitting alone while everyone played. I saw the sixty year-old me in the future waiting for my child to visit with no one coming. Was it a personal fear of rejection or a cultural need for a child’s undying love? It may have been both, but I did not need to dig in much further. Once heard, my inner child seemed to calm down. Having made its appearance, the wild animal within me turned around and walked away in silence, into the darkness and depth of the jungle from whence it came.

We all have our own little bubbles of fear resting deep within the subconscious. Our relationships with our children take us back to these bubbles. If they burst, we risk scarring our precious babies and affecting their own parenting styles in the years to come. Looking inwards, we also have a chance deflate our fears into nothingness simply by recognizing that they may have once served us well, but now it is time to let them go.

Given the generational implications of our actions, I think we as parents have a responsibility to search inside ourselves for the past baggage that we carry in order to understand our reactions and curb the desire to control young lives. But there is another reason. When we act out of fear, we suppress our capacity to connect to our own goodness. We lose faith in the compassion, the altruism, and the deep desire to make a meaningful difference to the lives of others within us.

I am learning to see my fears as shaped by my circumstances and to have compassion for a part of me that has long been in hiding. I am beginning to recognize my reactions as based on these fears and to forgive myself for being human, so I can embark on the journey to change. I am reconnecting to my own goodness and beginning to embrace the parts of me that want to love unconditionally and accept non-judgmentally.

I wish I could say it is easy! In the countless moments I backslide, I have to remind myself that change is a work of a lifetime and that nobody is promised a smooth ride. But every day I am rewarded by the gratitude I feel for my daughter’s presence in my life, by the compassion I have for the struggles she undertook alone, and by the awe I feel for the strength with which she overcame them.

In so doing, I hope I am teaching her to value her own goodness, so she can find a way to live it too. Our world needs more of this goodness. Our fears certainly brought us this far in our evolution. But they’ve also given rise to the myriad challenges we face today. The difficult journey ahead requires a different approach, one that is founded on the goodness in others that we tend to take for granted, and in our own selves that we often forget to feed. It is not a feel-good option any more. Our very survival depends on it.
 


 

References

Lueke, A. & Gibson, B. (2014). Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Implicit Age and Race Bias: The Role of Reduced Automaticity of Responding. Social Psychological and Personality Science. doi: 10.1177/1948550614559651 Abstract

Neff, K. D. (2011). Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind. New York: HarperCollins.

Keltner, D. (2009). Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.

Palmer, P. J. (2004). A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.

Image Credits
Texting courtesy of TheRealMstiles
Wild animal courtesy of fortherock
Blowing away courtesy of John Liu
Heart courtesy of Anita Hart

8 Comments »

  • Christina says:

    Homaira, I really love your writing, and the way that you bring a soul-centered approach to positive psychology. When I read your pieces, I feel you reaching for an authentic, personal connection with yourself and others that is grounded in the real world. I’m really glad we are going to be seeing monthly articles from you!

  • Judy Krings says:

    Heartfelt, raw honesty, dear Homaira, your writing always opens the door to my heart. Elegant yet pithy, your message rang true to me as a parent. Embrace all emotions and learn. Barb Fredrickson’s loving-kindness meditations help me stay on track when life’s sticky wickets want to stop my game. Thanks for your vulnerable wisdom. Big smiles of gratitude.

  • Homaira says:

    Dear Christina and Judy, thank you for appreciating my article. Your comments make me think that you are with me on this journey to understanding what really goes on inside of us, even in the smallest of life’s challenges. Isn’t it wonderful how sometimes just being mindful of little shifts of emotion is enough to remind us to rise to our best potential.
    And yes Judy, LKM is amazing, anytime of the day!

  • Judy Krings says:

    I so appreciate your kind comments, Homaira. I am sending you all Barb Fredrickson’s 10 Positive Emotions to put frosting on our LKM cake! Keep writing.

  • Jan Stanley says:

    “I am learning to see my fears as shaped by my circumstances and to have compassion for a part of me that has long been in hiding. I am beginning to recognize my reactions as based on these fears and to forgive myself for being human, so I can embark on the journey to change. I am reconnecting to my own goodness and beginning to embrace the parts of me that want to love unconditionally and accept non-judgmentally.”

    Homaira – I am overcome with the beauty of the image you paint. After reading your lovely words, I sat in silent reflection, contemplating a world where we each are so willing to connect to our own goodness, and to the goodnesses of others. Thank you.

  • Homaira says:

    Thank you dear Jan, your words warmed my heart! Yes, it would be a wonderful world, and it is all in our power if we lived each moment consciously. John Lennon’s Imagine comes to mind…

  • Erin Chan says:

    When we act out of fear, we suppress our capacity to connect to our own goodness. We lose faith in the

    I really enjoyed reading this article. Fear most definitely suppresses our own ability to find goodness because it teaches us to be on high guard of almost everything. I agree with you that our world really needs more of this goodness because it will make the world a better place, filled with more love and compassion for each other. I most definitely need to work on this goodness and finding it in myself and in others.

  • Homaira says:

    Its the negativity bias that we need to counter, not by being blind to our negatives, but by embracing our wholeness and allowing or goodness to shine. All the best in finding whats bright and beautiful in you and others!

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