We were walking in the woods today, my family and me. My kids were taking turns leading the group, when I became aware that one son was trying to lead more than the other. We stopped to talk about it, peel it apart and down to the root cause. They spoke their truths to each other when I asked my younger son if he was in force, and if so what he really wanted. This is a powerful combination - the acknowledgement of force and the inquiry as to what is really wanted. Leading the group is a means of achieving a deep need, not the actual need.
Yes, he was in force. He said that he wanted to lead more than half, and then immediately teared up and reminded me that I hold told him that he could lead the walk entirely. It was an unfortunate and inadvertent phrasing at the beginning of the walk that led to the misunderstanding, and he was right - I had said that.
Once he felt seen and heard, honored for my mistake, he immediately understood that his older brother also wanted to take turns leading, and they quickly reached an agreement on how to divide the route for equal leadership. Witnessing the experience, his older brother more clearly understood the dynamic going on, why his brother was being so demanding and unfair. My older son then offered a solution that met the needs for both, immediately losing the energy of force himself.
But, without getting to that root pain, it is unlikely the solution would have been as easy or as equally agreed. Seeing and acknowledging the root cause of the force, his tender pain, enabled his compassion and innate fairness to resurface. He was back in his power.
What if this is the inherent opportunity to be mined when we find ourselves in force? That we have an unmet need, a tender truth to hear and say, or an injustice to honor? And that using force isn’t actually ever going to solve the problem, it only makes it worse? That the way through the force is to dig deep into the pain, speak it, and allow the release to restore our peace.
Norma Van Horn