I’m sure most of you have heard the expression “practice makes perfect" - meaning, practicing or repeatedly doing something will make one more proficient or skillful at it.
If you practice the piano but aren’t, what the world would call “a natural”, you still become more proficient at playing, that is, if you sincerely apply yourself.
This statement holds true across the board, even when it comes to negative characteristics in ourselves.
For instance, the more we repeatedly gossip, the more proficient at it we become. The more we repeatedly get angry and blame others, the more proficient at that we become as well. The more we condemn ourselves for our believed short-comings, the more proficient at it we become.
Can you see the pattern? Anything we repeatedly do, we become more proficient at.
So if this is true, why not teach our children to practice something helpful, something that would actually be beneficial to this world? Because if we don’t, by default, we are perfecting negativity which only harms this world and ourselves, as we can clearly see happening in the world right now.
What if we, as parents, were to practice kindness when a strong part of us wants to practice condemnation...
What if we, as parents, were to practice listening when a strong part of us wants to interject our opinion.
What if we, as parents, were to practice understanding when a strong part of us wants to prove how right we are about how we feel.
And what if we, as parents were to practice slowing down and paying attention, when a strong part of us wants to rush and move on to the next thing.
In doing the opposite of what we typically would do, could we then become proficient at those helpful things?
Yes, however, it takes a great deal of conscious suffering to practice anything that goes against our ingrained tendencies. Conscious suffering is quite different from tolerance. There is resistance in tolerance. In conscious suffering we suffer the resistance – we become fully aware of its presence in us and allow its energy to move through us. There is a certain pain in that allowance, but just as there is physical pain in bringing a child into this world, there is psychological pain in agreeing to birth something new into this world.
As always, the choice is always ours.
None of us would consciously choose to perpetuate old habits and beliefs in favor of something new. The old is the old because up until now, we have never questioned it. When things aren’t questioned, they mechanically take their own course in favor of themselves. Truthfully, we could say that they are unconsciously "practiced."
Let’s practice something new.
You won’t have to technically teach your children this because they learn by and through example. They learn through observing you and your actions and feeling your energy. That is the real teacher – being a living example of it.
May it be so that one day you will see your child truly listening to a friend with an open heart, and you will know that what you gave them through your living example was worth every bit of suffering. It is the true meaning of laying down your life for another.
And always remember this beautiful truth shared by Guy Finley (a truth teacher): “Life will always give you something greater than what it has asked you for, providing you are willing to let go of that part of yourself that favors the old.”
Exercise for the week: Practice Listening. Practice Slowing Down. Practice paying attention. Practice again and again and again.