In the car on the way to my daughter’s bat mitzvah lesson, I lost it.
“I am so sick of you speaking to me that way!” I railed. “I will not tolerate such disrespect.”
I was literally seething with anger, also on the verge of tears, for I had never imagined, when I so long ago longed to become a mother, that one day, my own child whom I love so dearly, would turn to me and spit venom with her words in my direction.
She went into her lesson and I sat down to write about the incredible seminar I attended this morning at ZingTrain, led by the amazing Ari Weinzweig, on The Power of Belief.
And then it hit me: I believe that my daughter is being rude and disrespectful, when maybe, she’s just being … 11.
I believe that my children should follow my words and listen carefully and act immediately upon my requests when maybe what is more realistic is to expect that somewhere between what I want and somewhere between what they want, we will meet.
Clearly, with my behavior, I exhibited a belief in the power of yelling and threatening in order to inspire a change in behavior, when what I really believe is that the complete opposite will occur.
As we think and believe, so we are, Ari said. Information is happening all around us and because of what we believe, we filter the information, only take in a portion and eliminate information that doesn’t fit the belief we have.
What we believe radically influences our response, which influences other people’s beliefs, and their behavior.
What a beautiful and inspiring morning – and then a mere few hours later, I abandoned it all by reacting on impulse and letting emotions overtake my true beliefs.
In the synagogue lobby, as I sat waiting for my daughter’s lesson to end, two little boys sat on the floor by one of the leather couches. One boy was probably 8 or 9 years old, the other one closer to 4. They started to fight and the little one shrieked. They hit each other. It escalated.
Finally, I asked them where their mom was and what her name was. The older boy said that his mother told him to watch his brother. The little one huddled over an iPad, playing a game.
I assume that the belief, on the part of their mother, whom I don’t know, was that her older son could adequately watch his little brother. Perhaps her belief was wishful thinking and yet misguided because clearly, he wasn’t old enough to succeed at keeping them both calm.
One belief we parents have, though really we shouldn’t, is that our children will meet our expectations for behavior and accomplishment, for desire and personality. We think they will be like us, and when they aren’t we are upset when we should instead change our beliefs to expect them only to be themselves.
Most people don’t intentionally do bad things, Ari said. The undoing of beliefs that no longer serve us in our current context is not impossible; it may be hard, but it is worth the work.
Living a life out of alignment with your beliefs is exhausting, he said. Stress occurs when we are out of alignment with our core beliefs.
What do you believe? We were asked today to write about what we believe about ourselves, and then what we believe about our organizations.
So here goes:
I believe I love being a mother, but some days I don’t love the act of mothering everyone, all day long.
I believe that I was probably as outspoken and snarky as my daughter, and I hated how everyone responded to me, villainizing me for being a strong girl.
I believe that I want to be the kind of mother who encourages my children to become exactly who they are meant to be, achieving all manner of possibility, even if it’s not my particular dream for them.
I believe that I have good intentions, always, and sometimes I am misunderstood. I believe this probably applies to everyone around me.
I believe that a life filled with community and purpose, making a difference and trying to heal the world, is the best kind of life.
I believe sometimes I get off the path by wanting and desiring possessions and goals, and I believe that it’s only human to sometimes veer off-course. I believe it is a very worthy goal to steer the ship straight.
Suddenly, the father of the two boys emerged from the rabbi’s study, probably because he heard his younger son’s screams.
“Robbie, do you want to go to Hebrew school while Nathan comes in with us?” he said, scooping up the little boy into his arms and carrying him off. Robbie slung his backpack over his shoulder and walked downstairs to the classrooms.
The father was tall and wore a leather jacket. He seemed like … an average man, a little tired, perhaps worn out from the demands of life. I believe he was probably seeking guidance from the rabbi, and tried to resolve a challenging situation by letting his sons sit free in the lobby while he and his wife focused on their meeting.
And I believe he realized that it was a futile attempt, so he would try to rectify it to allay all involved.
I believe I probably made decisions when my children were younger that may not have been the optimal choices, and yet we all made it through to this moment. And because of that, I can look at another’s situation with open-minded beliefs and aim for forgiveness.
I believe I have a conversation ahead of me with my daughter. Because I believe that at the core, we truly love one another and both aim for peace, togetherness and happiness.