As I've shared so often, I've spent a lot of my parenting in power struggles with my boys. Quick and controlling reactions are still a bit of a habit, although it's become a much milder habit over the years as I've practiced mindfulness.
When I'm battling with one of my sons, or with anybody really, it helps me to imagine a boulder. Am I pushing it toward them, ready to crush them with it if I 'win'? Or are we on the same side?
In a power struggle, we are on opposite sides of that boulder. If anyone gets more power, the other one will be hurt. We both feel like we're fighting for our survival,and there can only be one winner. This comes out of fear--fear of being wrong, of losing, of feeling crushed, of being 'less than.'
I practice lots of practical mindfulness, being aware of how I feel in the midst of parenting moments. When I'm in a power struggle, I sometimes get tunnel vision and tightness in my jaw, shoulders, and shoulder blades. As soon as I notice this, I get an opportunity to shift, imagining how I can get on the same side of the boulder.
I know in my heart that there's only one side. I know if I open my perspective I can find a way of understanding every situation with compassion, love, and respect. And I know that my most important disciplines in this practice are awareness (of the feeling of a power struggle), understanding (that we're on the same side), and creative thinking (to reframe this issue for myself in a way that helps me see us as on the same side of the boulder, pushing together).
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.