In our mediation practice we sometimes see siblings who can barely be civil to each other. One says something that sounds innocuous to us, and the other flares up as if insulted. What’s going on here?
One of my favorite blogs (inward/outward.org), recently posted a quote from Madeleine L’Engle’s book, “A Stone for a Pillow.” Seems an 11-year-old girl asked her, “How can I remain a child forever and not grow up?”
L’Engle wrote back, “I don’t think you can, and I don’t think it would be a good idea if you could. What you can do, and what I hope you will do, is remain a child forever, and grow up, too.”
She adds, “That is what it means to be a whole human being, rather than an isolated fragment of our own chronology.”
In the presence of parents or siblings we’re always tempted to replay old tapes. The good news is, we can re-set the Play button. By paying attention to our inner thoughts and emotions, we can notice what’s happening, and then tell ourselves: “That was then, and this is now. I’m no longer that child, and neither is my sister. I can (and will) choose to act and speak as the compassionate adult I have become, here and now – and maybe that will free her to do the same.”
We don’t have to be stuck with childhood hurts. We can choose the road to wholeness and freedom.