I am making progress and there is still much to do

Yesterday evening I celebrated my birthday with wife and children by sharing a meal, talking and generally enjoying being together.  Being fortunate, I simply do not need stuff so my request is simply for family members to write a personal card and give it to me.

This year not all the family members ‘got their act together’ and provided those cards (3 did, 1 did not) so I asked them to point out my positive qualities – what they like about me.  This is what I heard:

Wife:

  • “You are caring”
  • “You can be funny”
  • “You are straight  with people”
  • “When you realise you have made a mistake, you admit it and apologise”

Daughter:

  • “Loving”
  • “Good at helping me deal with problems – you help me make sense of my problems, you provide good suggestions”
  • “Willing to give lots of hugs and ticklish; you give me lots of attention; you tell me stories and explain the life lessons; you lend me your clothes”
  • “Always up for going for a walk to the park with me”
  • “Always call us when you are away from us due to work”
  • “You can be funny”
  • “You give me hugs in the evening”

Youngest Son:

  • “Loving – emotionally open and expressive unlike many dads: you give me hugs”
  • “You stand up for me and with me; you trust me”
  • “I love your driving – you make it fun”
  • “Your dancing”
  • “You make the most of your life; I enjoy our walks together”
  • “Streaks of wisdom etched on your face as a result of your hard work”

Oldest Son:

  • “No bullshit – you are straight talking”
  • “Hard for things to get by you – you are on the ball”
  • “Loving, affectionate”
  • “Over protective – good and bad”
  • “Soft hearted – you have a really warm heart”

I enjoyed listening to this and being reminded of what (about my behaviour) matters to and makes a positive contribution to my family.  Then I asked for the negative qualities – what about me causes them pain, problems or my behaviour they simply dislike.  This is what I heard:

Wife:

  • “Impatient”
  • “Defensive, can become critical and talk down to people”
  • “Like to be right – don’t like being questioned”

Daughter:

  • “Overprotective – sometimes and rarely”
  • “Soft hearted – you will not say no even when it hurts you to do stuff we are asking for you”

Youngest Son:

  • “Impatient”
  • “When I hurt myself you tend to be critical (serves you right you should have been paying attention) rather than sympathetic”
  • “Sometime you cut me off – don’t allow me to say what I want to say  – making me feel that you treat me like an animal”

Oldest Son:

  • “You run away from problems and conversations that you find difficult (family conflicts) – you never really sort them out”
  • “Over protective: you rush downstairs when you hear us shouting – you assume we are fighting!”

What I take away from this

A little while ago, perhaps at the beginning of this blog, I wrote: “On violence in day to day living” .  Well, it looks like I really have not made that much progress on taming my violence towards my family.  Now I have a choice: I can feel bad about myself; I can give up; I can be with what is and simply accept it; or I can use what I have learned to re-commit to being a peaceful person and incorporate practices into my daily living to help me with that.

After careful consideration I choose to live in the possibility of being a peaceful, calm, person no matter what the circumstances.  And this possibility inspires me and puts a smile on my face –  that lets me know that I have chosen the right path.

A final word

Aldine, Rohan, Marco and Clea – I thank each of you for being a part of my life.  I thank you for sharing yourselves with me on my birthday.  I thank you for being honest with me.  I thank you for loving me and believing in me.  All these things make a HUGE difference to me.  Please know that I love each of you deeply – even if that is in my own imperfect way.

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.

4 thoughts on “I am making progress and there is still much to do”

  1. Really touching post – thanks Maz
    I see it as a really brave thing to do, especially with the ones so close to you. I feel it takes great courage.

    I agree with the comments left – and I know you have softened over the years, as have I. Ram Dass says righteousnness is that last thing that goes as we let go of the egoic I!

    My journney has been humbling in this respect. I often see where I think I know best for another, it’s a gift and a curse. I have tempered my involvment so as to make as sure as I can that when I offer my view to anyone, it is from personal experience and mostly spoken in that way. This de-personalises it for the other and they feel more free to accept the information or to ignore it. After all, it’s their journey not ours!

    I have had to learn this in my work as a dance teacher. I offer the suggestion to the group, and feel what comes up when they do something different. I notice my attachments to the group behaving in a way different to my expectations, and often in ways I feel might be unhealthy. The noticing and letting go gives me a new perspective. Often the group want to celebrate in a way which I would have prevented. Allowing the freedom, I have more fun and can join in rather than obstruct. It’s not always easy, but it is mostly rewarding.

    It is beautiful and inspiring to see how respected you are by your family. Children can be ruthlessly honest.
    I love and appreciate your sincerity and your capacity to strive to be as whole and loving as you can be in this human form.

    One thing I have learnt recently is that most of our behaviours are subconciously driven. We have little contorl over them until they are reprogrammed. I hold great sadness inside from what I do not know, and it manifests as anger and rightousness. I keep it under control most of the time, but this takes a lot of energy.
    It’s time for me to release and forgive.

    Much love to you Maz
    James

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    1. Hello James,
      I am pleasantly surprised and really pleased to receive this gift from you. When I started writing this journal, I was hoping to share more with my friends who are dotted around the world. As you know you are one of them!

      The interesting thing is that when I am being mindful then life flows. I simply let people do what they are doing and if it does not suit me and I can move away, then I do just that. And if I cannot move away then I simply accept what is going on and where it is appropriate embrace. For example, I might be reading a book and the kids come in and put on the music. I might move to another room and leave them to it. I might carry on reading my book or I might put the book down and enjoy the music with them! Of course the issue is when I am not being mindful.

      When I am not being mindful then I am almost always coming from the default position of I am right, my way is the correct way and even worse it is the only way! Then I create trouble. I am grateful that this happens less and less as I age and accumulate the grey hairs. And where I create a ‘mess’ I strive and often do ‘clean it up’.

      My friend, you and I have come a long way (it seems to me) since our university days! I am so pleased to see the beauty and the wisdom in you. I am delighted that you are being who you are and doing what is true to you. I trust that you are making a maginificient difference through your dancing/teaching. Shine brightly!

      I love you and think of you often though you are many miles away.

      Maz

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    1. Hello Lina,

      I thank you for reading this journal. And I thank you for taking the time to share the contribution it makes to you. Why? Because it really matters to me that I make a difference, a contribution to my family, friends and my fellow human beings. And knowing that I make a difference to you, makes all the difference to me.

      I thank you for all the kindness you have shown me and continue to show me. If you were here I would give you a hug.

      Finally, I apologise for my late reply. Until now, I could not find the right words to do justice to your gift to me.

      Maz

      Like

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