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When your old self is taking over

By Michal Spiegelman

“It’s your decision! We’ll support any decision you make!” I told my 28-year-old daughter a few months ago. I felt proud of myself, maybe even a little smug, that I was not repeating my mother’s mistakes. She used any opportunity to passive-aggressively show her displeasure with plans my husband and I made as we “grew up” as a couple. I was a better mom, a lot more aware. I’m doing the inner work, and I can be there for my daughter without trying to control her decisions.

Hovering over my children used to be my style. I had to use the tools I teach to others to catch myself whenever I became a helicopter mom—especially as my children grew into adults.

My motherhood self-discovery process led to the creation of my “I want to do less; I want to do more” lists, which I shared in my blog, “The Mother’s Guide to Growing Up with Your Adult Children.” This blog received a lot of good feedback—it clearly struck a chord with a number of you who are adjusting to the fact that your kids are grown-ups now too!

My intention to let my daughter find her own way worked for a few months. I chose to be a listener and only gave advice when asked. I even let my husband have it after he firmly shared his opinion with our daughter on a video call. We were preparing to visit her 6,000 miles away in Israel, and he was NOT going to ruin our visit on MY watch. I did what I could to prepare us both to show up as supportive, not-at-all-controlling parents.

I’m not sure if it was God’s sense of humor or simply a reminder of one of my spiritual lessons, but it didn’t take long before I messed up.

Maybe I forgot to pack my “I want to do less; I want to do more” lists, or the jetlag affected my memory. In the first few days of our visit to Israel, I reconnected with my over-the-top self who loves to take control and assume responsibility. You know, to be helpful.

The good news is that, unlike in my relationship with my mother, which was not based on open, honest communication, my daughter called me on my behavior. “You’re seven steps ahead of me,” she said, “You’re deciding on things I’m not even ready to talk about yet.”

My husband, who I had been so worried about before the trip, rescued me when I pushed boundaries, suggesting we take a step back and let my daughter make the decisions.

With their kind reminders, I activated my tools to turn the situation around, stop relying on my old tendencies, and show up as the better version of myself that I (and my family) prefer.

Crisis averted. Before returning to the U.S., we had a nice lunch with our daughter in a favorite restaurant on the beach in Tel-Aviv. I asked if we had anything to “clean” before we left. We all shared and left in a good place.

Back at home, I reflected on the whole experience during my self-Reiki and meditation practice.

The higher guidance I received helped me to see things in proportion. I was carried away into my old “taking over” tendency. Once she and my husband pointed out my missteps, I toned it down and shifted to a more centered, grounded presence.

Was I disappointed with myself? I was. Did I feel a little ashamed? I did.

When we mess up, it’s essential to make space for shame. It is also essential to release the shame and fill up the room with self-compassion.

Just like practice #9 of the 12 Practices for Living at Full Power calls us to do, I allow myself to be human and imperfect.

This past week, while connecting with the Reiki principles during my morning practice, I found new meaning in them:

Just for today, do not worry about failing to be perfect

Just for today, do not anger at yourself for messing up

Honor your teachers, your parents, your neighbors, your friends including your mother, husband, and children, who are your teachers on this journey

Just for today, live honestly even when it’s uncomfortable to admit you messed up

Just for today, be kind to all living things especially yourself

Food for thought: Can we truly be kind to ourselves if we don’t release the self-judgment and give ourselves compassion instead?

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