Every relationship is a classroom; the closer the relationship, the better the teacher. This is why your partner, your family, and your closest friends are the ones who can teach you better than anyone about yourself and about life.
My children have taught me several important lessons that I have been able to apply to any other relationship in my life. I want to share the three that have proven to be most valuable:
I learned this right at the very beginning, when my children were babies. My wife and I had twins and didn’t have any family support, so we both had to be totally devoted to the needs of our newborns. I focused on their needs and had to waive mine. I’m not going to say I was the happiest man in town, but I surprisingly felt better than I expected to. When I was single and had zero obligations, I expected that this kind of sacrifice would be terrible, but it wasn’t as hard as I expected. Back then, I was mainly focused on me and my pleasures and was terrified about the idea of not being able to fulfill those desires if I had children. But I discovered that that’s not what it was like at all. I didn’t know then what I know now: focusing on making a loved one happy is more rewarding than fulfilling my selfish needs.
I’ve also realized that there’s always a way to help my children listen to what I say or do something I would like them to do. Getting upset is the easiest route in the short term, but it damages our relationship in the long term; being creative is more challenging in the short term but has amazing rewards in the long term. If I’m able to create a game, my children will be happy to follow what I say. If I lecture them, they’ll become bored and uninterested. This tactic works with adults too. It’s easy to blame others for not listening to you or not following your advice, but if that’s the case, you haven’t tried more engaging strategies. If I notice that my clients are finding excuses for not changing their life, I know I have to find more creative ways to make it fun and interesting for them.
My point of view is just mine; it’s not a universal truth. I’ve acted unfairly so many times! Many times over, I’ve assumed that my children have the same concept of time as I and that they understand every word I say, or I figured they know which behavior is “correct.” Nope. I live in my own world and they live in theirs; their world is purer and cleaner. They don’t have all the conditioning I have about timing, rushing, what others think about me, what is supposed to be right and wrong. My job is to meet them where they are and help them adapt to the world, respecting their unique spirit. Meeting them where they are means that I have to be aware of all my assumptions about what they know and also of why I think my point of view is better for them than the one they have right now. It means that I need to be humble enough to acknowledge when my point of view is not the right one. I’ve been conditioned to think a certain way without being aware of that conditioning. I also have to acknowledge that most of the time I assume people see a situation the same way I do; however, that’s never the case. Our experiences create our reality, and because every person has had different experiences, each of us has a different reality.