Stealing is one of those things I have always thought of as clear cut and simple. Then, this week Michelle used Asteya - sanskrit for non-stealing - as our meditation focus. One of the affirmations she shared related to asteya was "I am whole and complete." As I contemplated this, I realized that stealing does not always related to a concrete item being taken.
We steal confidence from ourselves when we call ourselves stupid, judge ourselves harshly, or decide something about us is not good enough. When we dissect ourselves, accepting only what we see as good or attractive, we cannot be whole and complete. When we rely on others to provide approval for who we are, we steal from our sense of self-worth. We all have strengths and weaknesses and together they make us who we are.
As parents we unwittingly steal from our children when we fail to acknowledge the many things they do well and criticize their mistakes too harshly. We teach them to steal confidence from themselves as well by creating those negative messages that live in their minds and hearts.
Of course we will be critical and will need to redirect, reteach, and determine consequences for negative behavior at times. But when I look through the lens of asteya, I am encouraged even more to take those extra seconds to think about my words with care, to keep mistakes in perspective, and to acknowledge and apologize when I am wrong.
I want my children to lift up themselves and those with whom they interact. Therefore, I must model this for them at every opportunity. Whether it is showing gentleness with myself, with them, or with others, modeling lovingkindness and understanding teaches them not to steal someone else's confidence and self-worth as well as to value and nurture their own.
May we all awaken to the light of our true nature, fill our hearts with lovingkindness for ourselves, and spread it in all that we do.