Yin and yang can mistakenly be taken to mean bad (that’s supposedly yin) and good (supposedly yang). But in reality there is ‘good’ or ‘positive’ yin and ‘good’ or ‘positive’ yang. And then there are ‘bad’ versions of both. It’s all relative.
Actually it’s all about balance and excess. The worst place to be is actually when we allow either yin or yang to dominate our lives too much – things get out of whack – call it extreme imbalance. So rather than jump to judgement on whether something is good or bad, better to strive for equilibrium between yin and yang. Hope that makes sense.
Anyway – my mother was critical of me. Sometimes, in my wounded child memory at least, harshly, undeservedly so. I know she would admit it. Her mother was critical of her – I saw the subtle censure and grudging approval through childlike eyes when I was growing up, and know it to be so because I knew and loved my grandmother fiercely, despite this generational curse. I love my Mum fiercely.
Actually, can I change the tense of my first statement – sometimes my Mum is still critical of me and occasionally I think, harshly, undeservedly so. I still love her.
But this is not about laying blame at my mother or my grandmother, it’s about owning up to my own style of ‘prone to criticism’ parenting, my own way of relating, and my own mistakes.
I’m too critical of my daughter. Mr Yang tells me often enough. Then I’m critical of him for his admonishment, which surely must be unfair, harsh. Miss Yin is a sweet (if stubborn) soul and she takes my slings and arrows with good grace if not humour so they bounce off her. Most of the time (actually lately she fires back with ATTITUDE). But I can’t help but fear the wounds I’ve inflicted under the surface, the internal bleeding.
I tell myself that even though I give (too much) criticism, I’m always ready with piles of praise. But I know I don’t praise her enough to really balance things out. She’s a great dancer, but really needs to try harder with her maths-‘why can’t you just understand, it’s not that hard?’ She’s so flexible and graceful, but I can’t believe how lazy she can be – ‘you must be the messiest girl in the world, why won’t you just try to clean up?’ She can be kind and helpful with her little brother, but she can be so mean sometimes ‘you’re brother is going to hate you, I can’t stand it when you treat him that way.’ OUCH. OUCH. OUCH. So she can give up too easily, is very messy and has a bit of a nasty streak, but OUCH!
I have to admit there have been times in anger when I have told her that she is wrong, rather than her behaviour is wrong. Or implied as much. I’ve yelled far too much. I’ve berated from on high and failed to get down to her level to try to understand.
My sometimes cursory acknowledgement of her strengths and successes has been its own subtle wounding – I’ve been too preoccupied to notice, too slow to offer encouragement.
I try to justify my attitude and actions with the notion that I’m helping her grow stronger, pushing her to succeed (all little girls should grow up to be strong, independent women), when perhaps I’m merely reflecting my own faults and failures, my own fears.
I have a theory that our propensity to criticise is directly related to how critical we are of ourselves. And unfortunately I am highly self-critical. Poor Miss Yin.
But I am trying. So here is my list of ‘good’ yinyangmother traits and practices I’m seeking to cultivate.
1) Reflecting (yin) before speaking (yang) – good vs bad – stewing (yin) before yelling (yang)
2) Listening (yin) before speaking (yang) – good vs bad – retreating (yin) or fixating on your own opinions (yang)
3) Spending time (yin) instead of rushing (yang), which often requires using time more efficiently (yang) vs ruminating (yin)
4) Spending time just cuddling, comforting, reading together (yin) and spending time exploring, doing sports, playing games (yang)
5) Encouraging intuition and imagination (yin) and facilitating creative action (yang)
6) Loving (a perfect balance of yin and yang)
7) Not judging ie don’t be so bloody critical
I’m really trying. Linking up with With Some Grace for FYBF.