We can tell our kids a thousand times not to touch the stove or they will get burned, but often they don’t learn until they get burned. Then they make sure it never happens again.
I was working with a dad recently who complained that his daughter lies. He was surprised when I was happy to hear it.
Why was I not upset?
I believe every lie is an opportunity to support our kids to explore how truth, integrity and wholeness feel different in our bodies than lies, fear and shame. Our feelings are our most reliable guides. To tune in and listen to what our bodies are telling us is a tool worth teaching. When it comes to learning how to make choices from integrity, paying attention to our bodies message is a game-changer.
Remember what it felt like to get caught in a lie when you were a child? Shame, embarrassment and guilt would instantly rise up. “Oh no!” our mind would think. “They will find out. Quick! Hide!
What does a lie feel like in the body: Constriction, tightness, butterflies in the belly.
These sensations trigger fearful emotions that lead to shame/guilt. Shame then leads to fear and fear leads to hiding.
What does truth feels like in the body: maybe butterflies in belly, lightness, openness. These sensations may also trigger fearful emotions tied to being “caught” however they will feel much different in the body. There may be fear but often it is followed by sadness which is a result of disappointment in oneself and then a deeper breathing, relief at choosing not to hide.
At our core we are made up of all “good stuff” - kindness, compassion, joy and truth, LOVE. We are inherently good. This truly is our natural state. When we stray from that truth, we separate ourselves from our inherent goodness and this separation naturally results in pain or discomfort.
We are not out of integrity simply because we lied. We are out of integrity because lying is not aligned with the truth of who we are at the core. So it feels BAD. We literally experience icky sensations in our body. In a recent piece from the Greater Good Science Center, Christine Carter points to our bodies innate intelligence. Here she says…”fortunately, our body always already knows what we are feeling, even when we aren’t conscious of it… What is true for us tends to make us feel stronger and more free. And lies tend to feel like constraint and constriction—our shoulders ache, our back hurts, our stomach churns.”
Our body is so wise. When we feed the shame that comes with a lie we create a pattern we repeat again and again, taking us farther and farther from our true selves.
How can we avoid this trap?
First, get Curious: Notice your judgments, thoughts and fears that arise when your learn that your child lied.
Next, open your heart and mind to another possibility and simply ask the question I wonder why he/she “lied”? Often when we listen in it makes perfect sense why our children choose to lie.
Create safety and teach your child to reveal rather than conceal. Let your child know it’s safe to tell you the truth by not overreacting when you hear their truth. Be honest about how you feel, but not punitive.
Creating space to allow the truth to BE without judging is freeing. We all want and need to be fully seen. Even having our “not so good parts” feel seen allows us to feel accepted, loved and human.
When we learn that fully revealing keeps our relationships intact and allows us to stay in integrity we feel whole, complete and aligned. And when we feel whole we feel good.
When we parent from awareness, we are empowered to parent from love, and we can let ourselves off the hook of needing to control our kids. We all want to feel loved by the most important people in our lives, and when we remind our children that they are loved and accepted unconditionally, integrity thrives naturally.
It is part of their job as kids to try on what it feels like to be out of wholeness and integrity so they can discover and then remember how good it feels like to get back there. When we are living in integrity we are living in wholeness. And our whole beautiful self is alive and contributing our unique gifts to the world.
And that is exactly what the world needs.
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