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Turn Burning into Learning with Self-Inquiry

By April 26, 2018Blog

Spilt Milk Moments — 5 Things You Can Ask Yourself to Turn Burning Into Learning.

Spilt Milk moments are a part of moth­er­hood. Some­times they are BIG and OBVIOUS, some­times they are small, snag­ging at your aware­ness with a lit­tle gut-tug of “Oh, some­thing about that wasn’t right.”

So can we do some­thing with those moments to evolve our behav­iours, to glean a sense of progress amongst the rep­e­ti­tion of chores, to choose new respons­es rather than trip our­selves up on the same old habits and humps? Here are 5 sim­ple self-inquiry ques­tions I shared in a con­tri­bu­tion arti­cle to Hap­py Mama Mag­a­zine recent­ly. These sim­ple ques­tions can yield enlight­en­ing results and turn the burn­ing moments of moth­er­hood into learn­ing that grows your wis­dom, joy and sense of pur­pose.

I used these self-inquiry ques­tions in a recent spilt milk moment, and found they were the dif­fer­ence between hav­ing a tan­gled, anx­ious hol­i­day, or one focused on appre­ci­a­tion and ease.

The spilt milk moment occurred on hol­i­day with wider fam­i­ly when I pub­licly vol­un­teered my daugh­ter to do the vac­u­um­ing. Tepid com­pli­ance would have been good enough but her glar­ing dis­plea­sure was plain for all to see. This moment of civ­il dis­obe­di­ance was par­tic­u­lar­ly sharp-edged, because I could see that her effort would be appre­ci­at­ed, after all this was everyone’s hol­i­day and we’re all sup­posed to pitch in and ENJOY IT!!! Uh oh.

My inner “relaxed hol­i­day-tak­er” packed her bags in a flash, and my “anx­ious worth-prover” set up camp in her place. This anx­ious, con­trol­ling part of me is not some­one I want to be on hol­i­day. This part of me gets all tan­gled up in mixed motives and sinks her own boat doing the right things for the wrong rea­sons.

It’s one of those snag­gy spilt milk moments.

Lots of mums have told me they appre­ci­ate me dis­sect­ing my moth­er­ing in the open, because it helps to know they’re not alone, and it also helps to hear how self-inquiry sounds when some­one else does it. So let’s walk through these self-inquiry ques­tions togeth­er and see what I dis­cov­ered, because I wouldn’t offer you any­thing I haven’t test­ed on myself.

  1. What con­cerns you about this spilt milk moment?
  2. What is under­neath your con­cern?
  3. What do you notice when you reflect on this?
  4. What are you reach­ing for?
  5. How could you use this spilt milk moment to focus your prac­tice and cul­ti­vate more of what you want in your life today?

What concerns me about this spilt milk moment?

That my daugh­ters’ grumpy response will be chalked up against her, or me, as a char­ac­ter-flaw.

That I don’t know what to do. Do I take my foot off the gas and reduce pres­sure on her to avoid the ugli­ness, or is that just giv­ing in, and being ruled by her mood? Or do I take her on, 

wear the moth­er-pants, put my foot down and dish out some con­se­quences?

I’m wor­ried that I’ll be judged for hav­ing non-com­pli­ant kids, and that my fam­i­ly will think I should’ve done bet­ter teach­ing my child to con­tribute will­ing­ly.

What is under­neath my con­cern?

Under­neath I realise I want­ed her to put points in the family’s behav­iour bank to pro­tect her, and me, from the judge­ment that comes with a con­tri­bu­tion low-score.

What do I notice when I reflect on this?

I notice that I’m wish­ing she’d just get off the wi-fi and offer to help, be amaz­ing and impress my fam­i­ly with her com­pli­ant and will­ing atti­tude. OMG. Who am I kid­ding and what am I think­ing!?

I thought the moment was about my daughter’s glar­ing behav­iour. But I see now that I was throw­ing my daugh­ter under the bus of my own anx­i­ety. It was a tan­gled request. No won­der she glared at me, and no won­der I felt caught.

What I am reach­ing for?

Instead of judg­ment, resis­tance, and anx­i­ety I want to cul­ti­vate accep­tance, appre­ci­a­tion and reas­sur­ance.

I’d like to find a way to work with my daugh­ter that teach­es her about con­tri­bu­tion respect­ful­ly.

How could I use this spilt milk moment to focus my prac­tice and cul­ti­vate more of what I want in my life today?

I have an inten­tion for myself for the hol­i­day! When I notice my daugh­ter doing some­thing vol­un­tar­i­ly that con­tributes to the fam­i­ly hol­i­day in any way, I will let her know that I see and that I val­ue and appre­ci­ate her offers.

I will prac­tice notic­ing when I get anx­ious, and dis­en­tan­gling myself from the need to please oth­ers.

Phew! I feel clear­er, empow­ered in the face of old pat­terns, and more of the moth­er I want to be. My “relaxed hol­i­day-tak­er” returns smil­ing and unfolds two deckchairs, one for her­self and one for her new hol­i­day com­pan­ion. Trans­formed from the “anx­ious worth-prover” I have grown my friend­lier and eas­i­er “appre­cia­tive worth-builder”.

Spilt Milk Yoga is the process of mak­ing space to think and feel through why we do what we do, and com­ing to know our­selves through meet­ing the chal­lenges of moth­er­hood. When we under­stand more about what is behind our uncon­scious respons­es we can con­scious­ly cul­ti­vate new options for our­selves. This inner Q and A brings us toward our own wis­dom, con­nects us to our joy, and refresh­es our sense of pur­pose as we live each day.

If you have a burn­ing spilt milk moment big or small that you’d like to trans­form into learn­ing run through the self inquiry for your­self, write down your answers, and see what emerges. If you have any ques­tions Amy has put my con­tact details in my bio.

All best with the many spilt milk moments mama’s. I hope this helps. Xxx Cathryn

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