It’s not easy to wake up from sleep and here is why. In some cases motivation is still missing or not very clear of what you are going to do that requires you to wake up now. Sometimes you had a beautiful dream and are afraid to let go because reality may not be as beautiful as the dream. Often we stay in bed, lying there wide awake sometimes, and it just feels good to be aware but not rushing to get up, because getting up means to accept that there are new duties waiting to be fulfilled.

Just like we try to wake up from our nightly sleeps, in the same way we try to wake up to higher levels of consciousness. Scientific data points out that our reality is bigger than what our consciousness makes out. We start seeing miracles, noticing too many coincidences, witnessing unexplainable things happening all around us. However, not knowing how and why these strange things are happening, some people decide to ignore these facts and call them made up facts of a sick mind. On the best case scenarios, we may call them tricks that our mind and our senses play on us. People who reason like this prefer to stay in bed rather sleeping than waking up.  They may reason quickly, “Nah, I must be dreaming. There are no scientific facts or logical explanations, so let’s not wake up and dream some more.” Others, however, start questioning the fact that their bed, the little space they perceive themselves to be in, is all the reality that ever is out there. These people are so eager to get up and explore more and more. But you know, body is weak when you just wake up. Mind is not 100% awake either. So these people, as they rush to wake up, they stumble, they get hurt, and then they become quiet again, start questioning the sanity of their minds.

The best feeling is when you wake up but do not rush to get off bed. Instead you enjoy being in bed, stretching your muscles, feeling the sheets and the pillow, feeling alive but not urged. So, as some of us are waking up now, let’s allow ourselves to enjoy this process; let’s go with the best feeling. Let’s not rush getting up right away but not force ourselves back to sleep either. Enjoy this experience. Little coincidences here and there can guide us but let’s try not to feel so excited because we could miss other signs that are there to guide us. Let’s be like that little child that is learning to walk but is not too confident how to do that. A child takes it slowly, holds on things first until he learns that he can stand on his own feet. And so, we need to remind ourselves this: Don’t be too confident, be humble.

I was that little child that realized could walk on her own, but instead of walking I started running, and so I fell… My knee was scraped and my nose bled. My parents took a picture of me just minutes before I fell. Years, later they told me the real story. I tried to remember that, but you know, the picture I see is the one of myself standing up, walking on my own, running for the first time in my life, full of joy, and that is not realistic. That picture did not give me the warning that I must take things slowly. A picture of me falling and crying would have been a better reminder. But, parents, ah parents, they love us so much and they don’t want us to get hurt or remember our falls. They think they are protecting us that way. I instead, learned from this, and I try to remind my children about their mistakes without judgement, without making them feel guilty or bad about themselves, not even for a second. Mistakes are part of life, so just consider them as guides, as markers on the road to keep you from wondering in the wrong directions.

I love mistakes. They are blessings in disguise…Call me crazy, but after I teach my students a new lesson in math class, rubbing my hands full of excitement I tell them, “Well, now it’s time to make some mistakes, so we can learn what works and what doesn’t.” My students of course laugh; they think I am joking at first, but they soon realize that is my teaching style. My students learn that those little quizzes I give them after each lesson is to prepare them for their exam, and they should feel free to make as many mistakes as possible during these quizzes so that they would learn what works and what doesn’t before the final exam. This is the reason why my students take their quizzes and class work really seriously. Many at the college I teach, were surprised, shocked even, when they first saw me sitting at my desk, minding my own business, like marking or preparing new quizzes, while my students were all very preoccupied doing their work, all quiet, and even when they talk to one another it’s rarely for fun; They talk to each other to exchange ideas, and critically discuss the solutions they found. Now everyone, school administrators and other colleagues know why my students are serious about the time they spend doing work in my classes. That’s because I make my students aware of two things:

  • The real test is coming soon, so better practice in class when there are no real consequences. The only consequence they have to face at this time is to accept they made a mistake in their reasoning.
  • It is OK to make mistakes, and no one is being judged. In fact they get participation marks to encourage them to work more.

The same strategy I apply with my own children too. I talk to them, make them aware of what needs to be done and why. My children know their chores around the house. Obviously these chores are related to their environment and well-being, like keeping their things organized, finishing their homework on time, cleaning up after playing, not playing more than 30 minutes per day on their electronics, not whining or complaining but using their words to communicate what they want. To keep track of how they are doing, I use the strike system with my children. I allow them up to 7 strikes per week, but once they reach 8 strikes that means no playing on electronics for the whole weekend.

Children learn self-discipline when they understand what are the consequences and become aware of necessity of this process. When I talk to my children  and they understand their mistakes, they give themselves strikes. I don’t need to do that. We use the calendar in our kitchen and each one has a marker, one blue and one pink to sign themselves strikes. Now, there were times when they got carried away and they gave each other’s strikes. And that’s when a parent must step in. I do not allow my children to judge one another, because when they judge one another they will always find mistakes. I make them aware that if this happens again I would give them both 8 strikes all at once. No, I do not encourage my children to judge one another, nor do I encourage them to come to me to judge who was right or wrong. I don’t do the same mistakes other parents do. Siblings will fight and that is inevitable, but if I would allow my children to see me as their judge for their actions and mistakes then this is the same as killing my children with my own hands, and here is why:

  1. I will never be able to know the real truth, the whole truth of what happened between them. Therefore, I cannot be the best judge of why and how things happened. The more I will try to figure this out, the more I will make mistakes, and one or both of my children will end up being hurt.

2. If I would be their judge then my children will learn to hate not to love one another. Their aim as they grow up will be to take my place as a judge. If I do that, I will allow hate and rivalry between my own children.

And that pretty much summarizes how I would be condemning my own children if I would allow myself to be their judge or allow them to see me as their judge. So, how do I resolve their fights and problems then? I tell my children to go to their play area, or anywhere else where others will not be listening, and tell them to discuss among them what each one remembers of doing wrong to the other sibling, not vice versa. I  constantly remind them that If they keep pointing fingers at one another, they will always find mistakes, always. That’s because mistakes are and will always be made. I remind my children that when they continue to point fingers at the other and judge the other sibling, they will both pay the consequences for their actions, by getting all 8 strikes at once. However, if they accept of what each did wrong to the other by going backwards slowly, step by step recalling the events that brought the conflict they will realize how the problem started and fix that problem at the core of it which often is due to miscommunication.

My method works, and I feel blessed to have the privilege of seeing my children grow each day to being their best selves moment after moment. There is no better reward for a parent than this, I believe. But this requires lots of commitment to your children, paying attention to them and their psychological needs, communicating in a way that makes children aware that judging is never the right solution to problems in life,  but accepting your own mistakes and fixing problems that occurred due to miscommunication is the only way to make things right. Do not lecture your children and then judge them. To be a good parent and prepare your children for the path ahead allow your children to make mistakes by showing them that they will never be judged by you or one another for trying their best. Remind your children that they will always be loved for as long as they check and correct their own mistakes. Children need to learn that blaming others for problems will never bring solution; it will only bring consequences. This is the job of a parent. A parent needs to love and protect, not judge his/her own children.

So, my dear friends, whether you are a parent or a child waking up right now, take your time, slowly but surely, and learn not to judge others, but accept your own mistakes. Believe me it is a relief when you do that, because God, our father, does not judge any of us, we judge ourselves. And this is the reason we continue to sleep. God, our real father, this universal source of energy, only gives us love and supports us to grow. Remember that.

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