For many reasons which I won’t get into in this post I have made a conscious choice to raise my children in the poorest neighbourhood in Canada ….. Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (DTES). The great access to transit and bike paths is just one of those reasons, including the #20 bus which as well as being a very convenient route, also tends to carry a very negative reputation.
It was Canadian Thanksgiving evening, on a dark, cold and rainy Vancouver night that I had my most memorable experience on the #20 bus. My daughter, then 4 years old and I were coming back from my Yoga Studio (Canada's first free or by donation studio which is located in the DTES) and boarded a #20 bus. After we sat down and the bus pulled away I realised that we were sat in the middle of two men who were having some form of conflict. It appeared that one was deliberately trying to provoke or wind-up the other, and the other man, who had a long white beard, was taking the bait.
We’d only traveled one block when the driver dramatically applied the brakes and just stopped the bus in the middle of the road and announced “I’m calling the transit cops, and we’re not going anywhere until they come”. The man who I was assuming was the provoker, got up, forced the bus doors open and ran off. The man who was being provoke with the long white beard was still venting his anger and seemed unaware that the man had exited the bus or that the driver had called the transit police.
Then many of the passengers started vocalising their feelings by shouting “Just shut up. Look what you’ve done now”; “shut up and calm down” or my favourite which was “For fuck’s sake, there is a kid on this bus“. All the comments just seemed to fuel the anger in the man with the beard.
My 4 year old daughter just turned to the man with the long white beard, and in the calmest voice just said “I see you feel very angry”.
I cannot even begin to describe the shift in energy that I saw from this man, as someone validated his feelings; showed that they could see how he felt without judgement or with intention to try and get him to change his feelings of anger simple by telling him to “calm down”.
With no judgement she just met him where he was at with his emotions.
I have always tried to parent this way, when I fully realised the power and connection of empathy and validating people’s emotions, feelings and experiences when my oldest child was a toddler. I was so proud to see her take this and be using it herself.
He talked very briefly about feeling angry and seemed grateful that someone was listening to him, then suddenly seemed to see or realize that he was talking to a little girl. Again there was another shift in him. He said that he used to have a little girl and we talked about her, although judging by his age and how talked in past tense, I assume it was probably many years ago.
When the Transit Police boarded the bus I saw them speak with the bus driver who pointed to the man with the beard. I saw the Transit Police confirm three times that indeed they were meant to be dealing with the incident with the man with the white beards who was calmly talking to the mother & daughter.
When the Transit Police finally came up they just said “time to go” to the man with the beard. He calmly stood up, and he and my daughter said “goodbye” and waved to each other as he was lead off the bus by the Police.
The bus driver continued, and as we were getting off at our stopped he gestured his head to get my attention and said “how did she do that? How did your kid get him to calm down?”. I replied “she said: “I see you feel very angry” ….. it’s called empathy”.
He just let out a long slow whistle which I assumed to take his amazement at the simplicity.
Just as my daughter demonstrated empathy and meeting people where they are at with their emotions, feelings and experiences, on the bus, I try to bring this to my parenting (I say “try” because I am not a perfect parent!), and am passionate about bringing empathy and meeting people where they are at to my EFT Practice.
If you want to find out how my EFT Practice can support you, and the healing power of empathy and my passion and gift for meeting you where you are at emotionally, then please schedule a free 20 minute phone or Skype call so I can learn more about what you want to achieve with EFT, and you can learn more about the EFT method. charlotteeft20min.youcanbook.me
Charlotte is an Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) Practitioner, who supports parents who are overwhelmed, stressed, and struggling so that they are able to parent with confidence and clarity. www.charlotterwatson.com