This is a question that I ask myself numerous times a day – and the answer sometimes seems clear, at other times not – and mostly impossible to act on.
Recently my son was going through a particularly challenging time. The agony of being a bystander in this brought me to question whether it was even possible to follow a philosophical approach like Stoicism (which seems to have a renewed interest & value for many of us) and be a parent. The wise advice to only worry about what you can control seemed not only pointless but impossible, and simply not the real world!
Then I tried to break it down into more manageable thinking for myself. In essence my worrying about him has no positive impact on him, me or anyone who is interacting with me. The act of worrying takes a significant amount of energy and leaves little energy for anything else. Most importantly it helps not one bit! And rather frustratingly I am learning that the only person who can do something about my tendency to worry is myself. So the simple solution is to not worry – not so easy.
The way I have approached it is to take a determinedly daily focus. I force myself to focus on that day, and that day only and for that day I ask myself the simple question – What can I do today to support, help and guide him. If there is something then I put all my energy into doing that thing. And if there is nothing – then my best course of action is to do nothing. Realising that the energy I spend on worrying actually harms him because it takes energy away from my ability to do other things, stay healthy, develop myself and be the playful dad I want to be. I now try and concentrate on being focused on the day I encounter – reminding myself that this way I conserve energy for him for tomorrow.
Some days this works like a dream – and other days it feels impossible. For now it’s just about one day at a time.
For those of you that one of your roles is to parent – try asking yourself this question each day to help the children you love so absolutely.
What can I do today to support, help and guide?
… and when you get it wrong as we all so often do – get over yourself and move on to the next new day!
This blog was written by Charles Irvine, Managing Director of Questions of Difference.
A conceptual futurist, affirmatively disruptive philosopher and organisational resultant