So much of my suffering in relation to my son--and probably with most everything else for that matter--is my desire for things to be different than they actually are—a seemingly plain and simple truth. If only I could settle into what is actually occurring. Like when it rains, and I desire the sun to be out, I perpetuate the desire for the sun to be shining by choosing to feel agitated about the rain. So, instead of simply saying to myself, today looks like it’s going to be dark and rainy, I suppose instead of hiking I will get on the treadmill,” I become agitated and disappointed, which only perpetuates my suffering. I’m purposely using this scenario of the weather to demonstrate what happens in my mind when I’m caught in the cycle of wanting things—things I cannot change or control—to be different than they are. The arena where this is most profound is motherhood.
“Possibly the greatest crime we commit against each other is this daily show of normality… The comment ‘Don’t mind him, he’s got a problem’ illustrates this universal attitude toward personal difficulty. The implication is that having a problem is a strange and avoidable weakness. When I come in repeated contact with this daily facade of normality I begin to assume that I too deserve such a life, and I get annoyed with the present and look upon my difficulties as unjust. And because I assume there is something unnatural about my having a problem, I too attempt to present a problem-free appearance.”
-Hugh Prather, Notes to Myself
If I were to write an article on adventure travel to tell you about this trip, I would move the story along, describing it with single words and numbers. It might look like this:
“An adventure spanning 17 days, 15,150 miles traveled by plane, round trip, which translates to 38 hours on a plane, 325 miles in a 4WD vehicle, 113 miles hiked, the 8th highest mountain in the world, lentils and rice, curry and potatoes, starry skies, meditation, Buddhism, spiritualism, about 20 suspended bridges crossed, lots of rain, monkeys, mules, great people, great country, huge elevation change, remote, unique…” the list describing the experience could continue but “telling” is not what I would like to do. Instead, I invite you to experience it along with me.
When asked to offer my perspective on the company I work for, Evoke at Entrada, in relation to its recognition in Outside Magazine’s top 100 list, a very simple thing hit me: I noticed that I address the company as ‘we’. “Why we made Outside Magazine’s top 100 best job list?”. “I’d love to write a blog post about us.” That’s right, over the last three and a half years that I’ve been a Field Instructor I have felt included in the company as an integral part of its functioning. From our newest field staff to the Program Director, there is a feeling of inclusion and care. There are what I consider the basics of care for a company; an appropriate wage, support with health care, proper working conditions and support, etc. Evoke has gone beyond what I expected. The following, I believe, are some of the reasons that for the last three years we have made Outside Magazine’s top 100 list for best places to work.
Recipe Serves 8
A tool I find myself teaching almost every parent I work with is to LAV on their children. LAV stands for Listen-Acknowledge-Validate. So often with the people we love most, we skip these three key steps and charge head first into fixing and finding a solution. I too am guilty of this both as a therapist and as a human. By skipping these three steps we often set ourselves up for what feels like resistance from the other person. But can you blame them? Two of our most basic human needs include feeling connected and understood. I personally do not feel either when someone swoops in and tells me how to fix my problem, how to be better. In fact in that moment I feel like the underlying message is “you are broken, you’re not good enough.” I may eventually want to brainstorm and figure out a solution but first I really just want to be heard, seen, listened to.
For years I had based my life on external validation and thought that my purpose was to make everyone around me happy. It was not until after my parents split up, and I came out of a very intense depression that I realized how important self-validation is and how to manage where I put my energy.