Dudes, we are out of control!
As much as we’d like to be, we are not in control. The grass, with its own innate and miraculous wisdom, knows how to grow on its own without us willing it to do so. If we could, we might tell it to stop growing at a certain height so that we didn’t have to go mow it, but we do not control it.
A stranger cuts us off in traffic and gives us a fright. We feel our heartbeat quicken and our hands tighten on the steering wheel as we curse them under our breath. If we could, we might tell them to drive more carefully, take away their license, or yell at them with all our might, but we do not control them.
At best, we influence others.
As a dad, I’d like to control everything. I’d like the grass to mow itself sometimes. I’d like to be able to make Aza not cry sometimes. Id like to control the medical insurance system to get adequately reimbursed for providing mental health care to people.
At best, I influence these things a little. And at MY best, I focus on myself, in the present moment and not on controlling other things.
When my daughter cries and I want control to make her stop, I get frustrated and tense; which makes her cry more. When I focus on myself, start saying sweet words and engaging with her by talking and singing made-up songs, she calms, gets happy, and falls asleep.
When the grass grows chest high and our riding mower is still not fixed, I want to yell and scream at this lack of control. Yet, when I am working on the mower and learning how to maintain it with the help of our generous friend that lives nearby, I am focused in the moment and greatly enjoy the shared activity. AND, I look forward to it being fixed and soon saying “Honey, grab me a beer. I gotta go cut the grass!” And Ill ride off into the sunset, mowing our acreage with beer in tow.
At my worst, I fight against, I get angry, and make things worse.
At my best, I focus on the moment and gently influence things to make them a little bit better.
Do Daddying Differently…
The cultural messages, the overbearing norms in tv and media; show men that must be strong, driven by money and success, dominant, and un-feeling except for anger. These qualities are not bad, yet they can contribute to violence, disconnection, and absence from the home. This is sad because men can have such a unique and beneficial impact and enjoy so much more in life.
It’s possible for men to be nurturing and strong, breadwinners and home to spend quality time with the family, and replace stress and anger with joy and ease.
It’s possible to DO Daddying Differently.
For us men, the first step is to look at ourselves without judgment, just objectively assessing whether we could be enjoying our life more, more connected to our emotions, to our families, and activities that we enjoy. Do we really want to keep feeling stress, frustration, and anger? Do we want to really keep looking somewhere else for something better and being disappointed with what we have? I know many men that have felt this dissatisfaction, which has led to infidelity, addiction, and abuse.
What’s needed is the courage to objectively and clearly keep the focus on ourselves. What do we really want for us and the people around us? And how do we really get there?
For me, when I look inward, I sometimes see stress, worry, anger and frustration about lack of control about things like finances. When I look inward objectively and without judgment, I see that I value my wife and my child more than anything else in the world. And I see that to truly be happy, I will create a way to spend the majority of my time with them, even if this means less financial and career success. When I look inward:I notice that when my little girl, riding on my chest in her Ergo carrier, grasps my side as we walk amongst the trees under the warm blue sky, my heart melts and there is little more that I need. I also notice that my mood and calm benefits when I find time for exercise and connecting with colleagues and friends. And I notice that when I maintain my focus in my present experience, my joy is boundless. I know a lot of other men feel similarly.
I invite men, to Do Life Differently and if you have a little one, let’s DO Daddying Differently together.