I have an adult son who lives away from home. I am fearful of some of the choices he makes in his life (nothing serious). In discussing it with him, he says that if I am a worried mother now, I’ll still be worried when he’s 50. This is probably true! How can I overcome this fear?
Like all mothers, you love your son and want the best for him. On the surface, your intentions are good. You have a lot of life experience and perhaps you see traps that he doesn’t. It can be hard watching him fall.
As a mother, your primary job is to love your son. You believe you worry because you love him.
Love often confuses us. We think we are loving when we care for others, or try to protect them. But true love asks nothing of the beloved.
A story I was told demonstrates this love. A grandmother was watching her daughter give birth. The child was born, a little boy. The grandmother immediately felt love for this little boy flow through her. Then she realised that the child was not breathing. The grandmother’s love stayed steady. She whispered to him, “You don’t have to breathe for me. If you’re here just for a moment, that’s okay. I love you no matter what.”
Most of us, faced with a similar situation, feel fear. We panic. We want things our way. We have expectations that we want fulfilled, and feel hurt and angry when this doesn’t happen.
Fear is always about the future. We don’t suffer when we completely accept the present moment.
You fear your son’s choices because you fear their consequences. In your life, you have developed a set of beliefs about the world. These beliefs reflect your own experiences, and your own fears. You interpret your son’s behaviour in the light of these beliefs. When your son makes choices that you believe to be unwise, your fear arises automatically.
You know that if you’re still worrying when he’s fifty, your fear has little to do with him. He simply triggers the fear that’s lying dormant inside you.
It is possible to surface these beliefs and change them. You have an opportunity every time the fear is triggered. Instead of wasting your energy trying to change your son, focus on the fear inside you. This brings you into the present. Fear manifests physically, and you will feel it in your body, frequently the stomach area. Focus on this feeling. Breathe slowly and deeply. Avoid interpreting fear as negative. Remember, fear is just a feeling, a feeling you have created. Accept it. Wise people don’t resist their creations; they embrace them.
Thoughts can hijack this process; they pull you out of the present moment. If you are distracted, focus your attention back on the body. Eventually the feelings will subside. Realisations often surface at this point. You gain a deeper understanding of the origin of your fears. Once you surface a belief, you can challenge it.
Do this every time you are fearful. Every fear you release frees up more energy. This energy can then be focussed on the present moment. You will notice you become more peaceful. And others will notice that you have what is commonly called presence. Your energy is no longer bound up in fear.