I Learnt Acceptance from my Teen Sons Lyrics

My ear was pricked to a song I heard my son playing in his teen dungeon and it turned out it was a new one he had just started writing that afternoon. So I excitedly asked him to play it for me as I had only heard one other song he had written himself before. The first strumming’s were beautiful and as the words graciously unfolded I felt mixed feelings of joy, pain and guilt. The song hauntingly spoke of feelings of being judged, criticised, and hurt and I felt a little responsible for this outpouring of emotion being his primary carer for the last five years after a divorce.

My feelings of pain and guilt however were subdued by feelings of joy and pride, that my son could put his feelings into verse, that he had an outlet for his pain and confusion. So often we try to numb our feelings of ‘not being good enough’, even as adults and we can end up with physical addictions that provide temporary comfort and escape. These physical addictions can be over-eating, alcoholism, anorexia, compulsive sex and illegal drugs.

After the crisis of his parent’s divorce, my son (ten at the time) began comfort eating, and had bursts of anger. What eventually became his solace and what I now realise helped him through, was his love for his music and having that outlet to express his feelings and find acceptance.

Acceptance means embracing what is rather than wishing for what is not.

This morning I was soaking in my outdoor hot tub, reading the book Happiness Now by Robert Holden. I began pondering his words, “perception is projection’, and that “How you see anything external to you is exactly how you see yourself. Each judgement about yourself muddies the lens of your perception so that everything you see is stained with that judgement.”

I had read similar ideas that I thought flippant, suggesting that what we see in others is just a mirror of what we see in ourselves. I had never quite grasped this mirror theory, I did not believe that… what I didn’t like, found offensive, or couldn’t accept in others was something that I didn’t like, found offensive or couldn’t accept in myself. 

Still it got me thinking, was there in fact something in myself that I couldn’t accept, or that I judged myself for, that perhaps I may project onto others? Right there in the hot-tub I had a light globe moment; not the bright dazzling kind, it was more like the sun trying to flicker through the trees as you drive full speed in a car along a highway. I kept my attention drawn to this distant flicker as my ego tried to steer me away from the light, the truth. Then the light flickered with all its intensity, “Ah haaa… I am not good enough!” It was not the first time I had become aware of this theme song that sometimes played in my head, but it was the first time that I realised that I subconsciously projected this perception onto others.

"As soon as you lose sight of your own wholeness, however, you judge yourself and everyone else. For as long as you believe that you're not good enough,' you'll try to improve yourself and everyone else around you." ~ Robert Holden.

I really wanted to build a great self-esteem in my children and the teens I taught, because it was something I lacked as a teenager and young woman. On the most part I did help build their self-esteem and for that I was proud, but there had been that recent occasion where my pushy efforts to help build my younger sons self-esteem had the complete opposite effect.

I expected and pushed my son to do something he felt uncomfortable doing because I believed it would be an empowering, inspiring, self-esteem boosting event, but somewhere in my crazed effort to help him find these qualities, I instead strengthened the shadow qualities of judgement, rejection, isolation and disappointment. I in effect, accidently helped lower his self-esteem. I even dismissed his very decent pleas, “Why can’t you just let me, be me!” I had expected something of him, but not accepted something of him, heck I even grounded him and took away his pocket money for a month, because he refused to go to this 3 day inspiring event and it had cost me $250!

“Any kind of expectation creates a problem. We should accept, but not expect…” ~ Sri Swami Satchidananda.

My light globe moment had been triggered by many synchronised events that week. Firstly, by my son's honest lyrics and secondly by my yoga teaching theme that week, acceptance. I had been teaching all week that acceptance means embracing what is rather than wishing for what is not, and when we practice acceptance we can then find joy and peace. All week I was infused and showered with messages of acceptance in emails, Facebook posts, general conversation and also the book I was reading. I love that each week the yoga theme I work on has the same subtle serendipitous effect on my life.

The week’s theme, acceptance allowed me to be open to receiving the gift of my son’s lyrics and to let him teach me that the way to real joy and peace is through ‘letting me, be me’. By accepting our perceived faults we can trust and celebrate our strengths. Once we can love and accept ourselves just as we are, our mirror image changes and we can accept and love others just as they are. From a place of acceptance we can then find real joy and peace.

Article by Martine Ford