The question I got from a few parents in response to my email last week about my Mom Life bumper sticker was “What am I doing wrong?”
Firstly, let me thank you for your honesty and willingness to learn. It’s not easy to admit when we feel like we are failing at something. And when we think we are failing, we only see more evidence of that. Ever notice a particular type of car and then see it everywhere? That’s life. What we think we experience.
So let me offer a reframe. Instead of thinking, “What am I doing wrong?” ask, “What haven’t I learned yet?” or I like to make it a bit neutral and positive, so thinking something like “Reveal to me the way. Let me know if there is anything for me to do.”
Can you feel the difference in those three sentences?
“What am I doing wrong?” seems very heavy. It feels like defeat. Powerlessness. There is no way for a person who feels powerless to help another human being feel healthy and happy. If you feel powerless, how can you help your child feel happy?
Let’s look at the first reframe. “What haven’t I learned yet?” Feels a bit lighter. Not as heavy. The “yet” means that you know you will learn whatever you need to learn to help your child. The “yet” means it’s coming. Think about when you’ve used the word yet…is the food here? Not yet. Is it Friday? Not yet? Is it morning? Not yet. Yet means you know it’s coming, so this reframe feels a bit lighter, optimistic. Shall I even say positive expectations?
That first reframe is better, but maybe there is a tinge of regret and maybe even a little anger. The “I” feels heavy. As if it’s your sole responsibility. Remember another human being is involved in this…your child. They have to want to feel better. They are your teammate in this. What good is it if you get the perfect supplement protocol, and they won’t take the pills? Healing autism is a “we”.
Let’s look at the second reframe. “Reveal to me the way. Let me know if there is anything for me to do.” At my darkest moments, I would sit on the floor, in the yoga child’s pose, cry, let go of everything and say to God/universe/myself “Show me what to do.” It was a moment of total surrender brought on by intense overwhelm and accepting that I had no control over anything except my thoughts and actions.
Over time, I have learned to surrender without needing to be on the floor, crying and feeling terrible. I pass this wisdom on to you. If you can surrender the feeling of failure without having first been feeling like a failure, what are you left with? Possibilities.
And that’s what you want – possibilities for your child. To see the possibilities without the heaviness of it all depending on you.
This is something that is hard to do. I know that. It took me years to go through this. Right now, you probably are in survival mode. I know I sure was. For years. And it took a toll on my body and health. Maybe that’s happening to you too?
Start noticing your thoughts. Just notice them. Notice your thoughts. Don’t worry about doing reframes or changing your thoughts until you really know what you’re thinking.
Just with any journey, you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are to begin with.