3 THINGS I WISH I HAD KNOWN EARLIER AS A PARENT
- I was a ‘Narcissist’ – you would recall the story of Narcissus. The young boy who fell in love with his image and spurned every romantic advance. Toward the end, he was the cause of his death.
I too was a ‘Narcissist’. My focus was all on myself. The human brain reigns on two emotions – survive and thrive.
What will happen to me if I do not get this order? What will happen if I do not get a life partner? What will be the outcome if I do not ace the test? What will happen if I am not able to pay the salaries this month? What do they think about me?
These are all the survival questions I have been asking for many many years.
When can I buy that car? When can I become the President of that Club? What do I have to do to get possession of that house? How do I become a market leader?
These were the thriving questions that my mind kept asking.
On a scale of 1 to 10, my narcissism was 10. I was totally in love with myself. The whole world existed for me, everyone needed to give me attention.
In this state of mind, where was the time, where was the energy to give attention to my child?
Unbeknownst to me, I was transferring my Narcissistic bubble to my daughter. Unable to get my love and attention, she was creating her bubble chamber.
The world is filled with Narcissus, only the degree varies. When parents are filled with – I, I, I, where is the energy to nurture the kids?
Hence, Adam’s original sin keeps getting transmitted down the generations.
Man is born free, but everywhere in chains.
What is the antidote to this malaise?
Daniel Kahneman in his best seller ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ talks about two systems of thought – SYSTEM 1 and SYSTEM 2.
SYSTEM 1 – I keep having random thoughts about thriving and surviving. I am a puppet chained to these thoughts. Never able to extricate me from their vice-like grip.
SYSTEM 2 – My thoughts are deep, refined, purified, and aligned with the energies of the Universe.
SYSTEM 1 is the Narcissistic bubble and SYSTEM 2 is the zone of compassion.
A great parent must be in SYSTEM 2.
How could I as a parent have gotten into the SYSTEM 2 mold and broken the shackles of the SYSTEM 1 mold?
I did this through Vipassana Meditation. I wish I had learned it 20 years back. This would have helped me come out of the Narcissistic bubble chamber and become a compassionate parent.
2. I was casting my dark shadow on my child – Carl Gustav Jung said that every child belongs to an ‘archetype’. The parent must not trample this space. My child came into this world bursting with joy. Her eyes would sparkle. She knew no rules, she could laugh when she wanted and cry when she felt like it. Her actions were spontaneous.
Osho said that – a child should live like an animal in a jungle with emotions unabashed.
Unfortunately, we are civilized and we throw them into a cage in a zoo (the cage is sometimes also called a school). The poor animal growls and grunts and then succumbs to the peanuts thrown by the passers-by.
Children are also taught to pretend, to put up a bright face, to smile, and act as though everything is alright in this world.
But there is a dark shadow lurking behind, it wants to roar like the Lion King in the jungle (the OTT and social media have now become tools to vent out our shadow).
I have also been part of this shadow-creating project. I wish I had given my daughter more time to roam in the jungles.
3. Beware of ‘Mirror Neurons’ – walk into one bank and notice that all the staff are aggressive, walk into another and you will notice that all of them are calm and placid.
Behavior varies from organization to organization, from college to college, from restaurant to restaurant, and from family to family.
Monkey see monkey do – We copy each other’s behavior.
People in the same society have the same mannerisms. People in the same community have the same mannerisms. People in the same caste have the same mannerisms. People of the same religion have the same mannerisms. So do the people of the same gender and the same state.
We are all trapped and reflecting on each other because of our mirror neurons.
This is a world of copy-cats – we conveniently call it C-U-L-T-U-R-E.
I wish I had shown my daughter myriads of culture so that she would not have fallen into any trap and got cast in its mold.
Into that heaven of Freedom, my Father – let my Children awake.