Last week we started to explore the idea that we can choose our thoughts and that when we choose the things we think, it either increases or decreases our love for ourselves, for our children and our general well-being.
But how? HOW can we choose these things, I’m usually asked?
Let me use an analogy of radio stations. Radio stations transmit their frequencies all the time – regardless of whether you have tuned into them or not. So they are available to you all the time. All you need to do is tune to that specific frequency and you can hear their music and their message. If I’m listening to one station it’s legitimate. It doesn’t mean the others aren’t also there at the same time and available to me if I turn my dial to their frequency.
So back to where we began. Our thoughts and feeling are all streaming at the same time. They are all available to you all the time. If your thoughts and feelings are your choice
Did you know that all thoughts and feelings are available to you at all times?
If you were to start thinking of something sad you heard about you would start to feel sad. If you now think of something funny that happened you would start to smile and giggle. Your brain doesn’t much distinguish between what is happening and what you think is happening. So laughing at a joke and remembering laughing at that joke will stir the same feelings. If you really get into remembering exactly how it was in the moment you were laughing at the joke you will feel pretty much exactly the same as you did then. You can change your thoughts and feelings simply by choosing what to focus on.
When I recently said this to a group I work with they became very upset with me. They seemed to feel I was telling them their ‘bad’ feeling were not legitimate and that they were doing this thinking thing wrong.
We are very attached to our patterns of thinking because our brain has
When my kids were little, a few incidences showed me how strongly my behaviour shapes their behaviour. Noticing it made me realise just how conscious I have to be about what I say and what I do because they pretty much copy us. Their behaviours and the comments they make can be an in-your-face mirror of what you say and how you sound. Now they’re older I still see it but many times I manage to tell myself stories to explain away the things they are doing as not mine somehow – even though they are. When they are little, it’s more ‘in your face’ and harder to justify to yourself.
Two small moments stand out for me.
When my younger son was two he whacked his big brother with something. In response his big brother picked up a large cushion and lifted it up baseball bat style readying himself to give an almighty whack right back. My little one flinched and threw up his hands to protect himself and shouted out in a panicked voice, “No! I too busy!” His big brother burst out laughing and
I went along with a friend on a cycle up one of Cape Town’s esteemed beautiful mountain passes, Chapman’s Peak. I’m no great cyclist nor particularly fit but I knew if I needed to could climb off the bicycle and walk. It was a chance to exercise in a beautiful place outdoors so why not?
It is a long slope that climbs up the mountain and becomes steeper as it goes. I was in the lowest gear pretty much from the get-go and my focus was set intently the top of that hill (aka mountain! What was I thinking?!) I really pushed myself – to the point that I had fleeting worries it might be the last thing I do – but I was all psyched up for that top and kept on pushing.
So much for exercising in beautiful surroundings – I was completely unaware of the beauty all around me. I was focused only on
You are the voice in your child’s head.
How’s that for a thought?
I was in a group and we were discussing the way we talk to ourselves. As people shared it became apparent that the way we speak to ourselves is something we learned how to do. As people were opening up about how they talk to themselves in that most private of times, we noticed the critical tones that most of us used. “Why did you do that? What will people think? That wasn’t good enough. No-one will love you if you are like this.” For many of us, self-talk was a running commentary on what we were not doing well enough combined with some mean scare tactics like, “If I don’t do it right then…”
Someone commented that we talk to ourselves as though we are children and then it unfolded that the way we talk to ourselves seems to mimic how we were talked to as children. So that means that when you are alone with yourself, your default mode is to hear your own parents or caretakers in your head. It seems to be that – unless we specifically make effort to change this – no matter how old you are or long it has been since your heard your parents speak to you in this way, when you talk to yourself, you use their voice and tone to do it.
Whether this is a good thought or a horrible thought for you depends on the role your parents played for you and what part of their message you took into yourself.
I had a beautiful example of this when my child was two years old. He’s a timid guy by nature and was often scared to do physical things like climbing or swinging high. I would encourage him gently saying, “You can do it” in a particular sing-song voice. I only know it was a sing-song voice because one day we were at the play park and I noticed him starting to climb up a ramp. I was near but not close by enough to help. I waited, watching, to see what he would do. As he tried I saw him falter, pause, consider going back down and then he quietly said in a sing-song tone, “You can do it” and continued laboriously climbing till he made it to the top. Then he looked really pleased with himself. I on the other hand was completely struck by his using my voice and words to encourage himself. He had integrated my message into himself. I was now the voice in his head.
Since this brazen demonstration, I have tried to make sure that the messages I give my children will serve them for the rest of their lives. I know what the messages in my head have done to and for me and I feel so blessed to have the magical powers to give my own children good voices and messages.
As parents we can use our magical powers for good or evil.
Of course I very often don’t get it right. I can hear myself in their conversations with each other. When one brother speaks in short sharp accusations to the other brother I see myself too. Then I step into my full Hypocrite Regalia and say in a short sharp accusatory tone, “Don’t speak to your brother that way!”
Ah, you can’t win them all 😀
Consciousness is what we’re after here. Just be aware that you are building a human being and your voice will be the guidance in their head in their most private moments with themselves. What will they hear in their mind when they face a struggle? A disappointment? Need courage?
For that matter, what is the voice in your own head like?
If your voice is not as loving or encouraging as you would like it to be, actively change it now. Its never too late to use your Parent Magic for good. Even adults still listen to their parents’ feedback with extra attention.
It’s never too late to say something loving and encouraging to your child. Try to say at least one thing a day. Build a human who can love him or herself – I mean both your child and yourself.
The young man who was the ringleader of the gang which had been causing all the trouble in the community was summoned to sit at the fire with the elder and the warrior.
It was already dark and the elder took some time to fill his long pipe. The other two waited for him to begin speaking. They sat in the golden glow of the fire in a lengthening silence, the younger man growing increasingly restless and irritated as it stretched on. The warrior sat strong and powerful. He deferred to the elder and threw occasional glances of angry disdain at the younger man’s callous impatience.
The elder, fully engaged with his task, seemed oblivious to the growing tension – yet he was not. He was choosing his time. When he finally spoke his tone was soft and gentle. Turning to the young man he asked, “What is it you need?”
The young man, who had perfected his mask of arrogant nonchalance, sneered at this question, “Need? My boys and I don’t need anything! We do what we want. We are powerful. If we need something, we take it.”
The warrior moved restlessly, clearly wanting to meet this challenge. The elder made no show of recognising this. The warrior sat still.
“But what of feelings?”
Now the young man really laughed, “Feelings? They only cause trouble! I tried those in
Being a parent can either be a distraction from the goal of becoming the shining, glorious beings we inherently are or it can fast forward you towards it. I learned this when I became a parent and lost my mind and my self-control a good few times. It all depends on what you do with it. The clay is there, what are you going to make from it?
Knowledge is power, said Foucault famously. The way I see it is this; everything in my life offers me insight into myself. It offers me