While visiting Knotts Berry Farm with our youngest two children, we stopped at an attraction that involved sharing Native American stories. I remembered liking it when visiting once as a child, in the seventies or early eighties. As a child, I thought it was interesting and I loved the special effects. This time they had us and our children come in and sit on the floor. It felt as if we were sitting by the fire, ready to listen to a lovely story.
I hoped this would be an opportunity for me and my children to learn and grow. Stories are often a thoughtful way to learn, as they often teach truth from the side or behind, instead of head on, so we don’t feel preached to. Our minds are able to relax as we imagine ourselves being in the story itself. Our psyche captures the meaning and puts it into our subconscious to be utilized in our everyday living, creating a space for more awareness and being more truthful in our actions. Sometimes stories may even put meaning into words we may have felt but did not understand how to express.
What I Learned About Emotional Reactions From This Storytime
That day, the story was about a crow who visited a tribe member to give him warnings for the upcoming harvest season. Sitting there in the historical storytime attraction was very nostalgic for me. I was not even really aware of my children and husband, as I relaxed into my own memories of what it was like when I was a child. Until loud and clear, my 10-year-old son’s voice broke through my memories, “I hate Native Americans, they lie!”
A messy myriad of words and thoughts rushed to my mind.
My knee jerk reaction and thought was, “Oh my gosh, everyone thinks we are rude and prejudiced towards Native Americans! They are all looking at us and judging me!”
And surely they were, all heads turned towards us. “They obviously think I am a bad mother,” I thought. I was sure I could hear their thoughts. I was instantly convinced the strangers around us were envisioning my son as a future white suppremist, an ax murderer, or some other horrible thing. Luckily these were only thoughts flooding my mind, I had yet to react outwardly. Thankfully, I paused until the next thought came, until the next question in my mind was “Why would my son say these things?”
I took a calming breath and asked, “Aren, what do you mean when you say you hate Native Americans and they lie?”
Asking This Simple Question Changed My Reaction
He responded innocently, “Well, they said that the crows came and spoke to the man, and everyone knows that crows can’t talk. They only make crow noises.“
Ah, my mind calmed down and I began to look at this program from the perspective of my 10-year-old who could not understand symbolism and metaphors. He saw the world in black and white, no grays, no in-between. And I understood his frustration and anger too. He felt someone was trying to put one over on him.
We have all felt like this in life at times. We think in terms of black and white. No in-betweens, no grays, as those scare us. We may be afraid to go too far in our passivity or understanding. When we get confused or scared, we may react very similarly to my child. With an emotional outburst, assuming that someone is trying to trick us or take advantage of us.
I am grateful that I waited for a calm moment before reacting. A pause that allowed my fear to dissipate and logic prevail. I knew my son was not the person that his words seemed to present. I knew he had a loving heart and that I had taught him good things. So pausing even a moment longer before reacting, gathered everything I was thinking into a manageable package.
Gather More Information First
When you find yourself in similar situations, ask the questions: who, what, why, how – and listen fully to the answers.
Additional information may be needed before you act, so ask for it. When you do, you will most often see that the predicament you thought you were in, is not as big or crushing as you initially believed. You may even see that there really isn’t a problem at all, perhaps only an easily fixed misunderstanding. Don’t allow problems to be something you can’t work through and talk out, by never moving past your knee jerk reaction.
Practice Responding Calmly Through Meditation
If you are not in the habit of pausing before reacting, and calmly take inventory of your thoughts, try meditation. Click here to download the Eclipse Meditation App and practice adding intentional moments of peace into your day. Regularly practicing meditation will make it much easier to control your thoughts and respond with love when triggering moments do occur. If you find yourself often triggered by specific experiences, our meditation tracks within the Eclipse App are organized by topic so that you can tackle your most pressing troubles right away.
Adding a personalized meditation practice to my schedule has helped immensely with replacing my knee jerk fears with quick clarity on how to best react in tricky situations. I am thankful for experiences like this one with my son. They continue to teach me, and I hope you too.
This post was written by Eclipse guide Domonique. Click here to learn more about the Eclipse guides, or follow on Instagram here for more wisdom and personal stories from Domonique!