Don't Allow Shame to Extinguish Your Spark, We Need You to Ignite a More Inclusive Future!
The current culture tries to dehumanize, but I know you are willing to interrogate your programming to become part of the solution.
Do you believe in an inclusive future?
I do. I believe we can eradicate shame in one generation. If you need proof, look at the young, neurodiverse people already tearing down harmful, oppressive systems.
I don’t work with parents because I think I know the secret to stopping their kids from having meltdowns. I’m not a superior parent, and my work certainly isn’t about teaching kids to behave. I work with parents because I know it is the most direct route to impact the future I want/need to create for my son. I can’t do it alone.
If parents learn self-compassion, they will eradicate their own generational shame and stop blowing it all over their kids. They will break the cycles our culture has indoctrinated us into and they will raise inclusive kids, antiracist kids, anti-ableist kids, feminist kids, kids who are so resourced and self-regulated that they can tear down patriarchy and hold billionaires accountable for saving our f-ing planet.
We already see the future in our kids: Greta Thunberg is one example. She doesn’t concern herself with things that many other girls her age agonize over: Should they post a picture of themselves on Instagram, already afraid they won’t get enough likes.
Greta is autistic, but I don’t think that’s why she’s irreverent, trusts herself, and unapologetically calls out world “leaders.” I think it is because she is driven by her mission. She is going to save our planet, so why would that stuff matter to her? When Greta was on the cover of Time, I bet she got a lot of likes. She can hold a vision and she’s unafraid to hold everyone accountable. She is incredible, but she’s not extraordinary. In fact, she’s disabled, and she’s a girl. Her spark has eclipsed her adversity.
I wonder, what are Greta’s parents doing differently?
That’s what excites me! Did they parent the way their own parents did? Did they say, “It was good enough for me, I turned out alright?” Um, no. They listened. They saw Greta’s spark and they had enough awareness to let it ignite. They didn’t extinguish it, even as Greta accused her parents of being "huge hypocrites."
“She is supposed to be in school; we cannot support her action,” her father told The Guardian. “But we respect that she wants to make a stand.”
"I did all these things, I knew they were the right thing to do... but I didn't do it to save the climate, I did it to save my child."
Shame extinguishes our spark.
Parents, you also have a spark. Don’t tamp yours down to watch your child’s flame rise. All that will do is suck up all the air. You will smolder in resentment and you will both suffocate.
When we are willing to go to our own dark places, interrogate our programming, give ourselves the compassion and empathy we need, we will parent differently.
So, no. Don’t give me your children. My mission is you.
Drop your kids off at school, and before you do anything else:
Take 15 seconds to be with yourself for one conscious breath.
Take 2 minutes without distracting yourself to pause and ask “How am I feeling? What do I need?” Write the answers.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and do something you LOVE, especially when you are busiest with other peoples’ priorities.
I believe we can eradicate shame in one generation. That’s my goal.
I eradicate buried shame and heal the trauma within myself, layer by layer. How do I do that? I practice self-compassion, mindfulness, yoga, and yes I have a wonderful therapist.
Yoga has always been about the mental health benefits for me. I was stressed out, I went to yoga, I felt better, and then I wanted to share that with more people because I saw so much suffering in the world.
That hasn’t changed in these 20 years. The suffering is still there. But I’m clearer and more granular in my approach. I don’t just want people to feel a little more relaxed right after class, and then go home and yell at their kids. I want them to learn something they can take home with them so they pause right before the urge to yell, to remember their own WHY.
I’m asking more of my students, and my approach isn’t for everyone. It’s for those who are ready for internal transformation.
Do you believe we can eradicate shame, and live in a more inclusive world? Why not? What would you have to believe to convince yourself it was possible? What if you start with yourself? For the sake of the next generation, whether you have children or not, start by giving yourself compassion.
I teach gentle yoga, mindfulness & self-compassion to stressed out parents who are committed to their inner growth and emotional balance. To have the most impact on your life, you can’t leave your yoga behind on the mat. Your meditation can’t stay behind on your cushion. It has to seep into your relationships, or it is meaningless.
Our relationships with others won’t change until we can be in relationship with ourselves. Don’t bother trying to change anyone. It won’t work. Have you looked at yourself? That is where true courage lies. It takes courage to parent consciously. Especially since we must raise a whole generation of Greta Thundbergs!
Parenting a disabled child takes next-level courage, NOT because of the kid but because of our ableist culture. Read David M. Perry’s vulnerable article in The Nation about his experience regarding his son’s Individualized Education Plan, or IEP:
“By now, the wound of seeing our child described solely in terms of deficits in official paperwork has long since scarred over…” “We struggled through form after form, lost in the bureaucratic hurdles that stood between us and help… We dehumanized our son in the paperwork but got support.”
-David M. Perry
His conclusion is that false scarcity is a symptom of ableism, and if we simply give everyone what they need, our culture will improve. I would add that capitalism is also to blame, and giving everyone what they need is the radical, courageous and inclusive future I’m working towards.
If someone asked you today, “What do you need?” could you answer? When was the last time you sat with that question? I know you are willing to interrogate your programming to become part of the solution, so get in touch with self-empathy. Ask yourself, “How are you feeling?” Listen to yourself with tenderness. After you shed the armor of stress and shame that has imprisoned you, it may feel like you have lost a protective shell. That’s because you’re coming out of your shell. You no longer need it.
The current culture tries to dehumanize, and empathy is the antidote. No one should ever be dehumanized to receive support. Not parents, kids, disabled adults, anyone. Shame dehumanizes, and ridding yourself of internalized shame can actually be a simple process: Value yourself enough to ask how you are feeling and what you need every day. If that is hard to do, you’re not alone. You can use lists to identify feelings and needs. It takes practice to develop self-empathy. The more granular you become in your self-empathy, the more attuned you will be to the feelings and needs of other beings. We have to start with ourselves. Then, we will be open to hearing our kids tell us about the future.
What will you do to eradicate shame?
As a parent of an atypical kid, a mindfulness teacher and author, everything I do is to eradicate stress, shame and stigma. I work on myself first, and then within my family, and then parent-to-parent. We’re breaking cycles to co-create a more inclusive future. I believe in that future, and I know you want it too, or you wouldn’t be reading to the end of this post. Thank you for going on this journey with me.
Tell me in the comments, what will you do today to give yourself empathy?