I just returned from an incredible adventure on the Yampa River. With 16 other folks, I spent 6 days camping out and rafting down the river. This was a first for me and my 9 year old daughter. I was worried how things would go and yet it became clear, right away, that we were both in our element. I learned a lot about the river and how she handles deep emotion. I was told, if we went into a hole that we were supposed to ball up into a little ball and surrender, allowing the river to take us to the bottom and then she would spit us out. The challenge was to surrender and not struggle to get to the top, which is the initial instinct. This metaphor struck me deeply for this is what is required when sitting with intense emotions.
When we feel our discomfort, in relation to our children’s behavior, we fall into a hole. We struggle and resist and do everything we can including, consequencing, controlling and shaming the behavior as we struggle to pop ourselves out of the emotional hole we are in. And yet, the work is to curl into that ball and surrender as we allow the emotions to take us to the bottom of the hole, and then pop us back out. Instead of struggling to control the behavior or trying to get our child to rescue us we must go to the bottom of the hole in ourselves and penetrate the limiting belief that creates the intense emotion. How poignant for we may have avoided this emotional hole for a lifetime. Our children are sure to show us the holes we have tried to escape and give us the opportunity to learn a new way of riding the waves.