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???? in the Box

What if we as parents entered our day with an intention such as “What can I learn from my child today?” We know that our child is always learning from us in every moment, right? They learn from what we say to them or to others in their presence. They learn from our interactions with them and with others, but that learning, in a certain sense, is a form of mimicry, not true understanding.

There is an altogether different type of learning that I am speaking of. It’s something that even the best of psychologists in the world know nothing about. It’s actually how we are intended to live moment to moment, because the present moment is always there to provide us with real understanding. That real understanding shows us, among other things, that mimicry is a form of unconscious learning, but authenticity comes from real understanding.

Most of us are familiar with the toy “Jack-in-the-Box”, right? You turn, turn, turn the handle until there is a “click” that releases the lid that lets “Jack” pop out of the box. If you turn the handle slowly, you can actually hear and feel the click right before it releases the lid.

We can use that toy to understand how we can learn about ourselves through our children. Here we are, going about our day, (turn, turn, turn the handle), just motoring on. Suddenly we notice that our child didn’t pick up something that we asked them to pick up. In that very moment, there is a registration of a disturbance, the “click” that is about to let “Terri-out-of-the-Box”.

The Terri (substitute your name) that is about to pop out of the box and demand to respond to the moment, is an old, past, borrowed part. That old pop-up part is only able to take action based on past known patterns that have been previously mimicked. Try to see it if you can – “Is there anything new in the way that I speak or act with my child or am I doing and saying the same things over and over again?”

We typically can’t see this because we have let those old past parts of ourselves speak and act on our behalf our whole life. That is why things go around in circles and never change. They can’t be changed until they are seen because a pattern can’t change itself.

Nothing new can be brought into this world, if we allow that old, hand-me-down nature to speak and act on our behalf. We need to become aware of that pop-up part at the moment of the click, so that when it “pops-up” we can consciously suffer it. Suffering it is not the same as resisting it. Resisting it is pushing Terri back down in the box. Suffering it is a certain waiting and watching of it to pass through, feeling that intense discomfort fully. It is not an easy thing to do by any means, but in agreeing to suffer ourselves that way, we will be given new and true understanding about ourselves that we can learn in no other way.

Change doesn’t take strength. Change takes a willingness to see and suffer those old parts of ourselves because we see the need for doing so. The strength is actually in the seeing. Sounds weird but it’s true, and just like everything that we work at in this world, we will miss the mark over and over again. That is part of the process. A warrior persists no matter what, and persistence for the sake of Love, always pays.

Exercise for the Week: Be watchful for the “click” that is about to let you out of the box. As best you are able, come to a complete inward stop in that moment. Wait and watch how that old pop-up part of you tries to push you into continuing its familiar old pattern. Agree to be new instead.

Image Courtesy of Elizabeth Beyer on

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