What shakes up your sense of inner peace?
Have you noticed how sometimes things change, and not for the better?
We’re bound to have reactions to these kinds of changes… but it’s what we do with those reactions that really makes a difference to our inner peace.
In this episode, you’ll get an exercise to bring you support when things in your life change and it challenges your inner peace.
My student Liz loves her 13-year-old daughter Sophia, who she described to me as a “smart, funny, and kind person.” Until Sophia was 11 or 12, they had a super-close relationship. They’d talk in the car and on walks, and Sophia told her mom all about the struggles and joys of her day at school. Liz adored feeling this much closeness with her daughter. She probably didn’t even realize how much it meant to her… until it went away.
Around the time Sophia turned 13, those intimate talks disappeared. Liz and Sophia still rode in cars together, but those rides included a lot of silence. On Liz’s part, it was an awkward silence. She wondered if she’d done something wrong and how she might reawaken their closeness.
Liz was able to confirm that Sophia’s new quietness wasn’t because she was depressed or because something had gone wrong at school. She realized that Sophia was entering a developmental stage where closeness with her mom was no longer what drew her attention.The problem was Liz’s own feelings of loss and longing.
Failed attempts to connect with her daughter left Liz feeling needy, lonely, and sad. And kind of desperate. Almost like SHE was the child, instead of feeling like the strong and steady mother who Sophia still needed.
She was also afraid that her attempts to connect were driving Sophia farther away.
Liz was feeling pretty hopeless, but then she remembered something I’d taught her called Self-in-Presence. Self-in-Presence is the idea that we can HAVE our feelings, but we can BE our larger Self that isn’t any of those feelings.
Liz realized that she hadn’t been Self-in-Presence in her recent interactions with her daughter. She’d been coming from her needy place… not just having needy feelings but actually BEING needy. And that’s why her requests for more contact had that “pleading” quality.
She realized she could BE WITH the feelings of “needy, lonely, and sad” so the feelings would have some company. That part of her didn’t have to feel so alone.
Here is what I showed Liz how to do (and what you can do too if there’s a relationship in your life where the person has changed, moved on, or become different from how they used to be):
ONE: Connect with her body and breathe… and feel a sense of being supported, resting into support, here and now.
TWO: Be able to acknowledge the feelings and not be identified with them by using language like: “I am sensing something in me that is feeling needy, lonely, and sad.”
THREE: Sense what kind of company that feeling place would like from YOU right now.
Liz took some quiet time when her daughter was away. She sat down and experienced her own sense of being supported, and the feel of her whole body being present, here and now.
Once she was more present with herself, she recalled riding in the car with her quiet daughter. She invited the feelings about that to come in the present moment. She could feel the lonely and sad feelings, and the feelings of missing the lovely conversations they used to have… and the feeling she called “needy.”
She acknowledged all of them.
“I am sensing something in me feels lonely and sad when I am with Sophia.”
“I am sensing something in me really misses the great conversations Sophia and I used to have.”
“I am sensing something in me feels needy.”
“And I am saying Hello to all of them. I can be here with all of those feelings, with compassion.”
Liz put her hand on her heart and really allowed herself to feel her compassion for those inner parts of her feeling sad, and lonely, and missing the conversations she used to have with her daughter.
An odd thing happened… Liz could feel those lonely, sad, “needy” parts of her were happy that SHE was with them. It made a difference just for her to be there and it brought a sense of relief.
She found herself breathing more deeply. This is what those feelings really needed… to be heard and understood and kept company.
Well, this story doesn’t have an ending yet. All of this happened so recently that we don’t know what’s going to happen now for Liz and Sophia’s relationship. Probably Sophia will continue to be a quiet teenager, as she develops her own sense of who she is, apart from her mother. And possibly Liz’s new steadiness and presence will let Sophia know that there’s a place to come back to when she’s ready. Sophia might even be able to sense that she won’t be blamed for needing her own space. But I can only guess.
This much we can be sure about: No matter what happens, Liz is more present to her own feelings, and that means Liz is more likely to feel inner peace and to communicate from there.
When change is out of our control and it seems like there’s nothing we can do… there actually IS something we can do. We can turn toward and keep company with our own feelings about the change. Amazingly, that really does make a difference!
When we can grieve what is passing out of our life and stay open to what’s still good, that’s a pretty good definition of inner peace.So here’s to you… having a more peaceful life.