Sometimes I just love what I do, I mean I really really love what I do.
This has been one of those weeks when the lights have come on more than once and it is a joy, an absolute privilege to witness and see it happen, all over again.
The lights in the eyes of alienated children are dim, anyone who knows such a child will recognise it, there is no-one home, unless they are with the preferred parent that is, then the lights reflect back in continuous loops, in the relationship that the child is having with that parent.
So many parents do not know that what they are doing in their relationship with their child is causing the very behaviours that seem to arise mysteriously. And yet they are. Little wonder so many deny it, project it, see it everywhere else but inside of themselves, the feedback loops which cause a child to be trapped in the mirror – literally – are incredibly difficult to become aware of spontaneously.
When I say that children are literally trapped in the mirror I mean it. They are trapped in the mirror neurons of their brain which are activated in the attachment to their parent, reflecting back on a repeating loop, the anxiety, the fear, the belief that this is all being done by someone else. If the parent is anxious then so is the child. Breaking this loop is incredibly difficult without help.
But sometimes, just sometimes, there is a sudden and clear awakening in the parent, an ‘aha’ moment in which all of those things that they can easily see ‘out there’, become clear in their own internal awareness of themselves. When this happens I have to be stopped from literally jumping for joy because when it does it means the unconscious patterns which have held the child fast have come up into the light of the parent’s mind and suddenly that parent is conscious of what they are doing. And as a result, as in this case, can change. And do. And suddenly everything that was impossible is possible and the stuckness and the weightiness and the complete fearfulness lifts and there in the midst of it all are children who were trapped but now are not.
The change wasn’t achieved by empathy or sympathy, it wasn’t achieved by positive reflections or tentative steps or analysis of family dynamics or the belief that both parents need help or fixing or changing. The change was achieved by setting a boundary, by education and by consistent willingness to face difficulties with someone who could only see what was wrong ‘out there’. In bringing the lights back on I switched off my own mirror neurons after the initial engagement and went into educator/coach mode. I was patient but determined, I offered choices for thinking in different ways and I constantly moved the parent from stuck to moving thinking. Click, there went the light bulb moment and there stood a parent who ‘got it’ and did it and, in a comedy moment, almost laughed with relief at their own final ability to understand.
And I could dance a jig of joy because when both parents ‘get it’ the chances for children rise exponetially.
Their newly awakened parent will bring these children to see the parent they have been rejecting for months now. I am looking forward to seeing the lights go on in their eyes.