ed note: This is a guest post by Judy Tsuei of Wild Hearted Words. She was my best friend in junior high (28 years ago!) and we lived across the street from each other in college. She is now an entrepreneur, writer, yoga instructor and Reiki Master, visiting me in the Philippines with her three-year-old daughter for an extended period of time.
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I was raised in a traditionally Chinese household, so every second of my existence felt like I was consumed with pressure to perform.
“Straight A’s? Where’s your A+?” my parents would demand.
Now that I’m a parent, and an entrepreneur, I’ve been reframing my mindset around the cultures I was raised in (perfectionist Asian upbringing mixed with the “do more, be more” American mentality) to create a more peaceful existence for my daughter to grow up in.
That’s why I’ve loved discovering Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s work in The Conscious Parent and The Awakened Family, as well as her numerous interviews on Oprah’s SuperSoul.tv, Marie Forleo, and Impact Theory.
She keeps it real. Even acknowledging that her daughter will call her out when she’s living anything but the ideals she’s touted in her books to the point that she recognizes she has to go back and re-read her own writing.
One of the greatest things I’m learning in how to consciously parent my daughter is also how to consciously re-parent myself in my own life. Because what Dr. Tsabary touts is to allow your child to tap into their own innate sense of purpose and “doing.” This isn’t the kind of “doing” that most of us have a misperception about when it comes to parenting: the old paradigm is that if we don’t pressure and guide our children to extreme accomplishment, they’ll fall to the wayside as a complete failure.
A lot of us grew up in a culture that created a trap of DO MORE and BE MORE, so that your simple existence didn’t feel like it was enough.
But here’s what she shares: we’re all born of the same Universal energy of creation and abundance, so it’s inherently within us to expand into inspired greatness in a natural timeline.
In other words, there’s no need to keep pressuring ourselves, since by our very nature, we’re designed to evolve and grow.
As I listened to The Awakened Family on audiobook, I came across the line, “The Universe was born from a state of doing nothing.”
I paused. Hard.
I literally pressed the ‘pause’ button on her audiobook, my mouth slightly agape, and thought, “Holy crap. What the heck am I doing try to hustle so damn hard all the time? What if I’m creating this imprint in my daughter where she equates her value of being with that of doing, rather than simply existing and being?”
Even though I grew up in an immigrant family where we couldn’t have a single moment of down time, because my parents were rooted in fear-based parenting given their own experiences fleeing from China to Taiwan then moving to the States without knowing how to speak English, there’s no reason that I need to replicate that for my own child.
In reframing what’s essential, it helps to understand that what my daughter really needs and wants from me is an affirmative answer to these three questions:
- Am I seen?
- Am I worthy?
- Do I matter?
When kids feel assured they’re seen, worthy, and matter for their personhood rather than their accomplishments, they’re able to enjoy their own sense of empowerment, which translates into genuine enthusiasm for whatever it is they’re doing.
Said another way, “Their genuine love of self equals a genuine love of life.”
I don’t need to pressure her to do more or be more. I simply need to create an opportunity for her to feel seen in all the ways she’s showing up, to understand that she’s worthy for her pure existence, and that she matters to me and this planet.
Dr. Tsabary believes that children are “awakeners.” They’re here to show us our greatest Light, opportunities for growth, and shadow sides.
For myself, I’ve been able to breathe through moments of frustration with my toddler, by asking myself, “Is this really that important? Why does this mean so much? Am I trying to get her to fit MY standard of what’s right and wrong? Do I even believe this or is it something that I learned growing up and am repeating on autopilot?”
Usually, when I take a step back, I can see that the frustration comes from my wanting to impose my own beliefs on my daughter, rather than respecting her as her own sovereign being. That’s when our breathing technique comes into play, where from a very young age, I taught her the yogic breathing I used to teach my students in yoga class: “Take a deep breath in. Hold it. And, exhale.”
Now, at almost four years old, my daughter will call me out on it as much as I will her. “Mommy! You need to take a deep breath!”
And, I do.