Sheena Oxer

Sheena Oxer

I believe that every person has the right to a peaceful and happy life and be set free

Happy Families

What is a ‘happy family’? What is parenting success?

When I was first a parent, I had so many ideas about what being a good mother was. I had a huge long list in my head of what to do and what not to do. Then as my children grew up I found words slipping out of my mouth that I had promised to myself I would never say. My children argue, we have times where it feels like the people in our home are at war with each other. But there is something that I know about myself that enables me to ride these situations with so much grace and love even when is looks differently from the outside.

I have been wondering about the ideas that we all have around success generally. We go through our lives wanting the next thing that will make us happy. The next thing that will give us the relief we are looking for, that ‘I have arrived’ settled feeling that means we are no longer searching.

We often think that when I have the new job, then I will be happy. When I earn £X amount, then I will be happy. When I have a bigger house, I will have more room and that will definitely make me happy.

But what I have realised is that this also transfers into my parenting. I used to think things like:

– when everyone is not fighting, then I will be happy,

– when we can all eat a meal together in quiet, then I will be happy,

– when we have had a fully peaceful day then I will be happy,

– when everyone else in the family is happy, then I will be happy,

– when I have a glass of wine at the end of the evening and the children are in bed, then I will be happy.

Having a happy family is so important to most parents. I have come to see so clearly recently that we need to redefine what it means to be mentally healthy and also what it means to have parenting success. I had so many ideas of how my children had to behave in order for me to be happy, I put my happiness on their behaviour and how they were, as I innocently didn’t know the truth of where my happiness comes from. When I saw insightfully that my happiness comes only from thoughts that come to me, my children were more and more free just to be who they are and for me to be who I am – separate and loving.

I have had so much insight into family life, I have been blessed to see things from a different point of view which has made a huge difference to my peace of mind, no matter how it looks from the outside.

I thought that to be a good mother I had to have happy children. Happy children who did not argue, who did not hit, who did not have tantrums, anger or big feelings. I have come to see that this is not possible. I have come to know that it is entirely human to have all of the emotions and to try to reject any as not wanting them is completely nonsensical. I welcome my children’s worry, fear and anxiety as it has no meaning for me. The one that I struggled with the most was anger. Anger for me was not OK and was something that needed addressing. However anger is also passing through. It can have the meaning that we give it.

I innocently thought that my children’s happiness was my responsibility. I thought that I had to make them happy. I now see that this isn’t possible. I can be there for them, give them what I think they need: love, attention, food, warmth, shelter, activities, nurturing. But what they think about life, is what they think about life and I cannot change that. I cannot change thought for them. That changes on its own. I can teach them about the nature of reality and thought but I can’t change them.

Happiness only comes in this moment and if we pin it on some other time then it, most likely, will always evade us.

Happiness only comes from thought, if I think that it comes from outside of me and only when all my ducks are in a row, then most likely I won’t be happy, or I won’t notice when a happy feeling passes through.

My father has an expression,

‘You are only as happy as your unhappiest child’

This makes sense if we think that happiness comes from people, circumstances and places, but if we realise that happiness only comes from thought then this cannot be true. It is true that I am only as happy as my thoughts about my children – if I am thinking about my children in that particular moment. My children can be happy when they leave me and then unhappy when they see me and then thought changes and they are happy again.

One example of the transient nature of thought is this: A coach I once listened to many years ago, when I was still searching for the solution, said so beautifully and honestly that she lost two babies through miscarriage, she really mourned them and desperately wanted to have children. She went on to have two lovely children who she was delighted to welcome into the world. It was what she had always wanted and she thought that she would always feel this way about them. However, one day she wished that the children had never been born. She didn’t understand why. Why, having lost the first two children, would she possibly wish the second two to not be here. It didn’t make sense to her. But it makes perfect sense when we understand the nature of thought. Thoughts come and go and then we give it the meaning. It is OK that we give it meaning, but when we see that this meaning isn’t really true it feels such a relief. This coach had the thought that she wanted her two alive and well children not to be there but in fact of course she didn’t and as she noticed the thought passed through.

I innocently thought I could save my children from feeling as I did about the world. However I have come to realise that we cannot save others from their human experience.

One example of this is: My lovely mother in law died when my daughter was 6. We were devastated. I didn’t know how I psychologically worked at the time and I was really searching for peace within the turmoil that her death felt like it brought us. She was an amazing support to all of us in my family and we were very close. My daughter had a tough time. She thought that she was going to get cancer and die, Granny had died of cancer. If her hair touched her mouth she would scream and spit out all the spit that came into her mouth for a few minutes. I knew a little about feelings and I didn’t want to stop her from expressing herself. I held her and said that I knew it was OK. We had big chats about how you get cancer. But beneath it all I thought there was a problem and I wanted to solve it for her. I projected into a possible future that she was going to get OCD and have a real problem. I spoke to a charity who deal with bereavement in children and they told me it was normal for a 6 year old to react like this, but I didn’t hear it. I still wanted to save her. I didn’t realise that ‘it being normal’ was such an enormous message for me to take in. If I had realised fully that it was normal then I wouldn’t have tried to save her from her experience. I wouldn’t have had all the angst about it, I could have simply loved her as she went through the crying and spitting. I didn’t know any better so I don’t look back wishing it had been any different.

When we realise that most things that families go through are normal. We see that we can redefine what a happy family is – it is a normal family. We have this idea of what a family should be, and when the shoulds drop away we are left with a moment to moment experience of life.

When my second child was born, 18 months after the first, my husband went away with work. On his return he said ‘you have done brilliantly, everyone is still alive’. I would like to redefine parenting success to:

‘if everyone is still alive you have done brilliantly’

Or even

‘You are doing brilliantly’

This feels more true, as I know that you are always doing your best giving the thinking that you are having. That is such a precious thing to know about ourselves.

Thanks for reading to the end. I hope that this has inspired you to see that you are doing a great job at parenting and if you would like to see life differently then please do get in touch or come to a meeting I organise:

+44 (0)7879628312

sheena@sheenaoxer.co.uk

Parenting workshop: 17th March, 10 -12, Nancy Potter House, Topsham

Meetup: 1st Monday of the month, 1.15 – 3.15 Nancy Potter House, Topsham

Virtual meetups starting soon.

 

We are part of nature

I think it is time we were honest with each other. I mean really honest about how and what we feel.

There may be some people that breeze through life and feel great at every turn, always feel good about their decisions, their parenting and who they are as a person. On the other hand this may be a figment of my imagination. In any case, I am not one of these people. I feel everything- happiness, bliss, pleasure, peace, contentment, love, neutrality, frustration, anxiety, sadness, depression, confusion, anger, trauma, grief. I used to think that this meant that there was something wrong with me, as I should be happier. Now I realise that this is not true.

I have found a description of the way we experience life that has illuminated my innocent misunderstandings about my judgement of myself.

Within this movement of people, who see this description to be true for themselves, there is an honesty I have never encountered before. We say “All is well”, even if we are sad. We say “We don’t need fixing”, even if (in this moment) we feel depressed.

When we understand why we feel as we do:

We are not trying to push our emotions away.

We are not trying to choose the ‘good’ feelings.

We are not trying change the ‘bad’ feelings.

We are not judging how we are feeling.

Feelings come and go like the natural ebb and flow of life.

How refreshing to sit in front of a coach and say “I feel sad” and for them to say, in the most loving way possible, “I feel sad too sometimes, so what”?! Or “Me too” Wow! Really? I thought it was only me! Are we really able to say that to each other? Isn’t the coach supposed to be saying “Why do you feel sad?” and “How can I help you out of it?”.

There is something magical about knowing that other people feel sad. We realise that we are like every human being on the planet. We have our experience normalised. We all feel different feelings in different moments. We cannot hold on to a ‘good’ feeling, any more that we can get rid of the ‘bad’ ones. Feelings change. That is their nature.

I meet people during the day and no one really knows how I am feeling. What pain I may be in, be it emotional or physical. What peace I am in. We guess from the way people look how they are feeling. If I smile, people assume that I am having a ‘good day’ or feel good about life. If I say I have had a great day then they may be thinking that they should say that too.

I invite you to consider that a change in the way we see ourselves is possible. More and more people are depressed and suicidal, including sadly, children. More people are feeling traumatised by life. What if what we were feeling was completely normal, and completely OK. Could we really be OK with those feelings that had us running to the phone for support and comfort in the past? Could we really tell each other it is OK to feel whatever you are feeling?

Maybe we could see something different about life? We are part of nature and the way we experience life is part of that nature too, there is a pattern to all natural life. We see it all over the place, in fern leaves unfurling and spirals of snails shells, in viewing rivers from the air and blood vessels. There is pattern and logic.

There is a logic to how we are experiencing life. When we really see this logic to be true we are freer and freer of the things that used to be unbearable, or even annoying, for us. Nothing is wrong and there is nothing to fix. We are in this moment with whatever feeling we are having and all is well. Can you imagine that we could live in a world where that would be OK?

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Thank you for reading my blog. If you would like any more information about what I facilitate then please do get in touch for a chat. Also I have written a book that is simple enough for children, and it contains an adult explanation, it could help you to see life differently. The book can be bought here.

info@sheenaoxer.co.uk

+44(0)7879628312

I work mostly online so you don’t need to  be in Devon to speak to me. It truly is as transformational a conversation as in person.

 

A Gift

I was asked by someone, who also facilitates the Three Principles as a Paradigm, to recommend a book that teaches children about this understanding of the way we logically, psychologically experience life. She asked me because I have children of my own. I did buy a book a few years ago, only to find that my 8 year old, as she was at the time, was able to point out that it had misunderstandings in it. In fact, when I asked my daughter what they were she rushed off and brought the book back and showed me a page in which thought was being judged as good and bad. I was blown away. I didn’t know that she saw what I saw about how we work and I was delighted that she could see that you can’t split thoughts into good and bad ones.

So, finding that I couldn’t recommend the book I had, I had a go at writing a book myself from the logic of how we experience life as I see it, as best as I can. It was based on a situation that actually happened with my daughter. I was inspired to write a normal life story from within the logic of how we experience life and from outside of that understanding. It is a very simple story and one that I hope will be as much of a gift to others as this knowledge has been to me.

It has been the school holidays and over the holidays I had planned to let others know that this book is now available. However, my time has inevitably been taken up with my children. It feels good to know that this is OK too and that I don’t have to feel bad about not reaching my goals for myself. How often do we give ourselves a hard time for not doing the things we think we ‘should’ have done? It is such a relief to have that idea fall away as being important.

This book is my gift to you: it contains an understanding of how we experience life. Knowing how I experience life has made a huge impact on the quality of my life, reducing the ruminations and taking so much off my mind. I hope that this book will do the same thing for you, or set you on a path of curiosity of how you think you are experiencing your life.

Click here to order your copy from Amazon

It is written with children in mind but really it is for anyone who finds themselves searching, or overwhelmed with how they are feeling. It may well give you the peace of mind you have been searching for. Not just because of the words that are written, but because you may well have an insight when you read it.

Below are some comments from people who kindly reviewed this book before it was published.

If you would like to talk to me about the book or about the understanding and the difference it can make to you then please do get in contact with me. You can reply to this email or call me on +44(0)7879628312.

If you have any groups in mind that you think would like some relief from life then please do get in touch. I am happy to come and talk to any group.

Comments from others:

As a retired primary school headteacher and school improvement advisor (and as grandad to three children) I have seen first hand some of the struggles children face when they live in an innocent misunderstanding of where their feelings really come from. This simple tale, in two parts, will be so helpful in illuminating this. Children will easily identify with the story and by having the comparison of outcomes the simple but far reaching implication of knowing where our feelings come from is simply made. A great present for any child!
— Peter Anderson – Cert. Edn, Adv. Dip Edn (Cambs)

I work with business leaders many of whom happen to be parents. They often ask me to recommend books for their kids. I can’t wait to recommend this one! The simplicity of Sheena’s message and her illustrations really hit home. I expect the book to be read again and again planting a valuable life lesson in kids of all ages.
— Sandy Krot – Director of Learning at Insight Principles and co-author of Invisible Power: Insight Principles at Work

I love it. I work with business clients who have a tendency to overcomplicate and intellectualize the simplicity of the Principles. While this book will certainly serve as a wonderful introduction for their children, it may also help them have insights for themselves. There’s a beautiful innocence and hope in seeing our thoughts as neutral bubbles that will disappear. That’s a message for everyone.
— Cheryl Bond – (she is happy for us to edit) – Essential Resilience, Executive Coaching and Business Consulting.

I have taught this understanding to many hundreds of adults, and
when they see how much it reduces their psychological suffering and adds to their quality of life, they almost always say: ‘why aren’t children learning about this?’ Sheena Oxer’s story is a lovely and enjoyable way to help children catch on to the magic secret behind their experience, and likely save themselves a lot of the unnecessary anxiety and stress that so many people experience in life.
— Annika Hurwitt, Ph.D

As an author, teacher and therapist I often get requests from my students and clients for something to share with their young children. “If I only knew this when I was growing up!” is a refrain I hear often. Well, here it is in this early childhood gem on the Three Principles. It will be wonderful to now have something to share with parents. Just yesterday a young mom of four kids asked if there was anything she could give her children. I am so grateful I now can send this to her and all future requests.
— Joseph Bailey, Licensed Psychologist, Author, and Counselor

This simple book has the potential to eradicate the complexities, issues and problems that naturally occur when we don’t know where our experience is coming from. It offers a profoundly practical understanding that I feel is the future of the education system and indeed human evolution. What a wonderfully helpful resource for children – our future.
— Rudi Kennard, International Speaker, Innateevolution.com

Countless books have been written about underpinning of the imagination to the world we inhabit. Being and Time of Heidegger has 590 pages and Being and Nothingness of Sartre has 638 pages (to name but two). But nothing has been written so childishly simply in our choice of worldview as Understanding Thoughts and Feelings. In this book we are relieved to find that we all knew about a happier way of being already and so do not have to read through the history of philosophy (phew!) We do not have to think and see our thoughts as something outside ourselves talking about a world outside that. We can live with all of our being the nothingness and time of the moment. I recommend Understanding Thoughts and Feelings, A Walk to Grandpa’s by Sheena Oxer (16 pages including illustrations) as a guide for all ages and backgrounds!
— Philip Franses – Senior Lecturer Schumacher College, Director Global Synapses

My family are perfect in their imperfection

For the first year or so I loved my parenting and I very much love my children, but in my mind things started to go wrong, and I started to really struggle with my non-sleeping, emotional child.

As a parent who
wanted to ‘get it right’ with my children I have read a lot of
books that tell me what to do, and how to be.

I am not going to
tell you what to do. I have found that as soon as someone says, ‘this
is the best thing to do’, then I start judging myself for not being
able to do it all of the time. Because I wanted to be a loving mother
all of the time. For example the book says, when you feel angry
‘stop, breath, remove yourself from your child’. Well that’s OK
when you can actually do that but what about when you can’t?
When thought brings you anger and you don’t have the next handy
thought to go away from the child! Have you tried to stop yourself
from being angry? Does it always work? When it doesn’t do you feel
like I did, guilty and like I had got it wrong – a bad Mummy?

What I teach is an
explanation of how we are already working, that I can only be angry
if I have an angry thought. Noticing that the anger is coming within
me and not from my child is so helpful. I can sometimes have a little
laugh about it to myself, and then at other times I can’t see it
and I am angry. So what.

In the same way my children can have their emotions. I don’t tell them not to cry. I don’t tell them, ‘it doesn’t hurt’, how could I possibly know that? They have and express their emotions and I have and express mine. Again I am not telling you what to do. You know your children better than anyone and really you know what to do. I am saying that when we know where our experience of our children comes from, from thought, we have less cause to worry about them as it doesn’t make sense to us any more to do so.

For example, when I dropped an unhappy, clingy child off at school I would spend the whole day, or at least the morning, worrying about them; worrying that they were OK and feeling sad about them, and wanting to be there for them, to comfort them. However when I picked them up from school what I noticed was that they were fine and I had been worrying for no reason. I checked with the teacher and they had forgotten about their upset about 2 minutes after I had left the classroom. So why was I worried about them all day? When I realised that the worry was coming to me, that it was my thinking, and was nothing to do with them, it didn’t really happen any more.

What I am realising
is that family life isn’t supposed to be calm and constant, a bit
like we as human beings aren’t supposed to be calm and constant. We
all have our emotions, they go up and down like the waves on the sea,
it is natural. Family life has a natural ebb and flow and when we
know where our experience of that is coming from we get less and less
concerned about it being perfect and more and more comfortable with
its imperfectness.

If you have issues
with your parenting which you would like to address, please do get in
touch for a free half an hour chat.

info@sheenaoxer.co.uk

+44 (0) 7879628312

An unseen insight

This understanding is learned through insight, which is a ‘sight from within’, from within ourselves. As this is insightfully seen, you don’t believe something effortfully because I have told you, you see for yourself that it is true, effortlessly. When we can see what is true, we can also see what isn’t and our thinking about it falls away.

When learning about how we experience life we can have insights that are seen and insights that we don’t see. When we have an insight that we see we can clearly see our thinking for what it is around a particular subject or a particular belief. When we have an insight that we don’t see we simply notice that we are showing up differently from how we had previously been able to.

Some time ago I spent the day with Ann Ross on a beautiful and ice-encrusted Dartmoor and returned to collect my children from an after-school club.

While going about our evening antics I was surprised and shocked to hear what was coming out of my mouth. I am not a very impolite person by any stretch of the imagination but when it comes to my daughter, I can, at times, be a little tetchy. She was standing in front of the drawer in the kitchen which I needed to access for some cooking utensil, usually, I would say something less than ceremonious, like ‘you need to move’ and assume that she knew why. The same thought/feeling was going through me: she needs to move so I can get what I need to take out of the drawer and get on with the cooking. And instead of the usual ‘move’, I said, ‘Darling, could you just hop down a for a sec,’ (she was standing on a small chair) ‘I need to get something out of that drawer’ and then ‘Thank you’. I assume that something of my usual thinking had fallen away.

Through no effort of my own something more loving than I was even thinking came out of my mouth. It was not like I planned to be more loving or chose to be more loving. A more loving way of communicating just came out of my mouth. As I learn more and more about how our experience is being created I am being blown away by what ripple effect this is having on the rest of my life and on my experience of every day.