The Nutritional Value of Comfort

In the Post Office at the mall today, there was a woman and her 2 or 3 year-old daughter. They had a big shopping trolley with them. At some point, the trolley fell on top of the little girl. As I heard the noise, I turned around and I saw I was closest, so I stepped over and lifted the trolley up so the girl could get from underneath it. As the girl got up, she started crying and crying. The mother immediately picked her up and held her tight against her, talking to her and trying to comfort her. The girl was physically fine.

So – that’s the basics of the event that took place. Now let’s slow down on some points and have a closer look.

After I’d picked up the trolley and I heard the girl starting to cry, I immediately reacted with anxiety, fear and a form of panic. I wondered for a moment if there was something I could do for the girl, how I was able to help her – but realised that since I wasn’t stable in that moment, I wouldn’t be much help. There was already a lot of energy moving around and I figured that if I’d try to jump in as well, getting involved while reacting – and thus throwing in my energies into the mix as well – I’d just be throwing oil on the fire. So, I stepped back into the queue I was previously standing in and didn’t further participate.

Also – as I saw the mother’s reaction of immediately picking up the child and comforting her, I wondered if that was really a good idea. As soon as I heard the girl starting to cry – my first instinct was the same – get to the girl and comfort her asap!! Lol.But I’ve recently been watching the TV-show 'The Dog Whisperer’ with Cesar Millan and he explains how – when you give a dog affection, you’re always nurturing the state of mind the dog is in at the time you give the dog affection. So – if your dog is aggressive and you pet him to try and calm him down – you’re actually, from his perspective, supporting his aggression and encouraging him. Or – when your dog is scared or shy and you pick up your dog to make them feel ‘safe’ – you’re actually nurturing the dog’s fear and shyness. Which makes total sense – I mean, the only way your domadonna&childg is going to get over his fear, is if he faces it. By picking him up, you’re just giving him a place to hide from whatever it is that he’s afraid of.

So – as soon as I saw the mother pick up her child as it was crying, I looked at it the same was as with a dog. The message she was giving to her child was that crying is a good way to deal with a situation like this.

And – regardless of this dog psychology perspective – when you look at it from the mother’s perspective: was she trying to help her child or herself? In that moment of seeing her child underneath the trolley (which was luckily empty, btw) in between all those people – what was going through her mind? Fear of the girl being hurt, embarrassment, fear of people thinking she’s a bad mother and a whole lot of guilt because this happened on her watch. So – if I look at it – the point of her ‘trying to calm down her daughter’ was for a big part based in self-interest. She had to show the people around her that she cared, she had to make her daughter stop crying asap so that the people would stop looking/judging and so that she can feel better about the event. Because if the girls stops crying, then surely she didn’t get hurt that bad and she doesn’t need to feel so guilty.

So – considering those two points: the mother’s starting point for her action as well as the message she was giving to her daughter: I’d say it wasn’t the most practical/best for all solution. Rather – make sure that you’re calm first as a mother. You can’t expect to calm someone else down, if you’re not calm, stable and assertive yourself. Just as a dog can pick up on what it is you’re experiencing – so can human beings on some level, and children are more sensitive to it. So – to calm a child down, the best thing you can do, is to calm yourself down first lol. In participating in the whole commotion by letting your fears and emotions run rampant, you’re merely participating in your daughter’s fearful and emotional state and thus – only feeding that experience.

Then – the point of holding the child is also not really advised. The same example as I gave with the dog: if you give the dog a hiding place, then the dog is merely hiding from his fear. In embracing/holding your child, you’re giving her a place to hide and suppress the experience – instead of allowing the child to see what happened, check if she’s okay and realise that if she’s okay, then it wasn’t all that bad – and next time, she’ll know not to do whatever it is she did to get the trolley on top of herself.

So – I would suggest to everyone to watch ‘The Dog Whisperer’ as Cesar Millan gives some cool, simple perspective in terms of how our inner experience influences the experience and behaviour of the beings around you and how, if you’re not calm and assertive – you can’t be a directive point in your world – instead: something or someone else will direct you.

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