In the winter of 2002, as a recent first-time mom, I participated in an extraordinary Yoga Teacher Training program in the Big Apple. I was exhausted, nursing and neurotic about doing everything the right way, but I was also optimistic, open-hearted and open-minded. This program wasn’t simply classic yoga poses, breath work and philosophy. It was boot camp for the soul.
One of the most impactful lessons I took from this program was a yogic philosophy called asteya, the concept of non-stealing. Truth be told, I kinda suck at it. It’s so much work, and it’s a lesson that can test you all day, every day, and not just as a caregiver, but also a life lesson for your kids. Sure, people shouldn’t steal or take stuff that doesn’t belong to them, and I don’t. But stealing comes in countless forms.
Stealing is grabbing a handful of sugar packets at Starbucks when you know you only need 3 for your coffee. Asteya is paying attention, correcting yourself, and only taking what you NEED in life. Stealing comes in other ways as well, such as commandeering someone’s space, time or energy, taking up more real estate in a conversation, running late or acting like a Debbie Downer. Even stealing someone’s opportunity for learning, growing and owning their mistakes and life-lessons is a form of stealing, even if your heart’s in the right place and you’re trying to save them from pain.
While recently on a road trip—and honestly, there isn’t a better teacher for self-reflection than being in a car with your family—I overheard one of my kids speaking with a friend and it wasn’t so nice. I took her aside and we spoke about it, but her age and lack of experience are not on her side. She sees me as an out-of-touch OLD PERSON. This is how we communicate and you just don’t understand.
I know it’s essential for my kids to learn to get along with others, but accepting that the consequences of bad choices are ultimately theirs has been a huge lesson for me. I TRY to be a good listener and not dole out too much unsolicited advice, yet I cringe when they make choices that I know will haunt them.
However, trying to steer them out of harm’s way all the time steals ownership of their lessons and experiences. We learn through moments of discomfort. In this stage, the discomfort may be theirs.