There are more veils before love than you can imagine and all of them are ready to be removed. Let me share one of my life’s lessons why bad behaviour is actually an act of love.
My five year old son is the most loving person I know, but there are moments when we clash. When he does come out of his bed for the tenth time when he actually is supposed to sleep, my mood does not get any better. There are days, after a long day at work, hormones in the most terrible state, etc. that I cannot deal with that as easily as on my most cheerful days. So, after some more gentle ways of trying, I become angry, commanding him to go to bed. This is what happens next..
He starts shouting back. I become even more angry. He becomes even more angry. I get frustrated. He gets frustrated. I shout. He shouts. When worst comes to worst I even take away his favourite fluffy toy. After all, parental methods tell you to set boundaries and not to give in to your child. This upsets him so much, he will surrender and stay in bed, crying himself to sleep which will take a long, long time. Leaving me exhausted on the couch, feeling bad he’s crying all alone, guilty that I let myself go so badly and disapproving my temper. And of course, it will be an hour past bedtime by then.
It does not matter whether you have been in exactly the same situation. There are so many other situations where we disapprove our bad behaviour, like smoking. Science has proven smoking is bad for your health. So consciously you are even aware you are damaging yourself and even others. Part of you knows and is judging you “silly! How can you do this to yourself?”. That´s not going to help, is it.. Otherwise you would have already quit by now. You might start wondering by now how smoking or shouting at your child can be an act of love.
Let’s look at my temper. At the moment I feel so angry, I know in the back of my mind it’s not going to help the situation, making me even more upset as I cannot manage to change my behaviour at that very moment, which makes me even more frustrated. And eventually even more angry with myself, how can I act in such way! My rational mind is telling me I am doing the right thing, as setting boundaries for a child is really important. And it is. But how I behave does not feel good. And my heart knows best.
I’ve been judging my behaviour as bad. But there was a point when I started looking at that behaviour. Why did I do it? Because my son was not listening to me? With a five year old that happens often and by experience I knew that explaining, being honest and consistent is much more convenient and takes less time than shouting or forcing him to listen. So why did I not choose the most efficient and effective way?
Interesting thought… A loving person with both a high IQ and EQ like me is not capable of choosing the most effective solution. Why? I dived deeper and deeper into my behaviour until I came to the root cause. I love my son. No wonder, you might think, he’s your son, of course you love him. And still I showed him such bad behaviour.. Why?
When he was born I promised myself to do whatever I can to give him the best. One of the things I want for him is to be happy and healthy. In my conviction, getting enough sleep is really important for his health and will also allow him to be full of energy and cheerful the next day. When he’s refusing to go to sleep, it upsets me more than just the fact he’s not listening. It upsets me so badly because not getting enough sleep is not the best for him. After sending him off to bed again and again, I start feeling powerless, uncapable to give him the best. Not his behaviour, but failing to stick to my promise causes my frustration and bad behaviour.
Understanding my bad behaviour is coming forth from my deepest love made me realise my act is not completely bad. Once this veil was taken away, I could see how loving I was even in my worst temper. And that I was actually hurting myself by judging a loving act as bad. Even though it might have come out in quite a bad shape, the root cause was love. Once I stopped judging and started accepting my love I could finally change how I acted.
I still have the conviction “getting enough sleep is important for your health” and I do set the boundary for my son when it is time to go to bed. He might still every now and then tell me “I do not want to go to sleep”. Looking at his heart I see he is not challenging me; apparently something is bothering him so much that somewhere, in his little five year old system, there is a more urgent need than falling asleep. Nowadays I am capable of choosing the effective way by telling him “I still want you to go to bed. What do you need in order to go to sleep, how may I help you?”
Tonight he came downstairs, again twisting and turning he could not fall asleep, it only took me two minutes to get him back in bed. This time a little lantern gave him the comfort he needed. Both of us will sleep tonight with a smile on our faces. Instead of falling asleep angry and upset, we both got what we wanted; he that little something that helped him to commit to sleep and I got the best for him by ensuring he fell asleep in time. All caused by removing that veil and understanding my love and my act of love.