One thing to STOP saying to your child (and yourself)
There’s one phrase that is so deeply engrained into our society and culture that is causing tremendous problems and you can stop it. I can’t trace back to where it originated or when we, as a people started using this phrase but it’s been around a LONG time and it sure makes me question how different (for the better) our society/world would be if we learned to stop using this particular phrase/belief.
Let me give you a simple visual. Little Sammy Jones is playing on the rug with his toy truck happy as can be. Then Johnny comes walking by and see’s Sammy looking so happy with his truck. He thinks to himself, “that looks fun. I want to do that!” So he walks right up to Sammy and snatches his truck. Now, Sammy is crying (weeping and wailing more like it depending on their ages) and Johnny is oblivious and he now has a new toy truck to play with.
You hearing the screeching from the other room and come bounding in then putting two and two together you look at Johnny and you say…what? What do you say?
What would you say to Johnny?
This is really important that you think about this. What would you say to Johnny right now?
A good majority of people would say something along the lines of, “Johnny! Did you hurt Sammy’s feelings?” or “Johnny, you better give that toy back to Sammy. Can’t you see you’re hurting his feelings?” Followed by a lot of other parenting advice on curtesy and kindness I’m sure.
It doesn’t sound so bad right? After all Johnny DID come up and took that toy from Sammy. Sammy was happy before and he’s not now, right? DID Johnny HURT Sammy’s feelings?
Some of you will say YES, absolutely he did! But I’m going to say no…Johnny created a new circumstance (which if you’ve been with me for a while know that a circumstance is anything out of our control – hence, Johnny’s actions).
Johnny CANNOT hurt Sammy’s feelings…he can’t
I’m going to tell you this, Johnny CANNOT hurt Sammy’s feelings. Sammy might be surprised that Johnny would do such a thing. He might think that Johnny shouldn’t act that way. He might think that it’s not fair and that Johnny is mean. But it was NOT Johnny that MADE him feel unhappy. Sammy made Sammy unhappy because of his THOUGHTS about the circumstance.
I know you’re probably wanting to argue here – but stay with me…There are many times we feel as if others have hurt our feelings, or MADE us mad or sad or even glad. We think these things and we hold on to these thoughts for so long that they become beliefs; something engrained deeply into our minds. But what we don’t see is that it’s NOT the other person that is MAKING us feel anything.
They CAN’T make us feel anything. It’s a choice. It’s OUR choice how we want to feel and thus, WE hurt our own feelings. We make ourselves mad by thinking that they shouldn’t do that or that they should be doing something other than what they’re doing.
We hurt our own feelings?
We hurt our own feelings by thinking that that person shouldn’t have said those words or done whatever it is they did.
We likewise make ourselves happy when someone gives us an unexpected gift or compliment. THEY didn’t make us feel happy. We had happy thoughts about them and WE CREATED HAPPINESS for ourselves.
Brooke Castillo teaches in her model that in life we are presented with CIRCUMSTANCES – (anything out of our control that can be proven in a court of law – facts only here) and those circumstances trigger THOUGHTS inside us (our opinions, any adjectives we add to the circumstances ex: That mean Johnny took my toy – sorry, can’t prove Johnny is mean – it’s an opinion only…which is just another thought). These thoughts we create and decide to hold on to and believe inside our heads then generate how we FEEL.
This is so important to recognize because most people go around really believing that our feelings are non-negotiable. That when someone is mean to us therefore we must feel offended, sad, mad, etc. But it’s NOT so. We have a choice.
We ALWAYS have a choice.
Thomas S. Monson said,
“So much in life depends on our attitude. The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference.”
Dieter F. Uchtdorf said,
“We can choose to be grateful NO MATTER WHAT.”
Choose, choose, choose…All of these suggest that we CHOOSE how we want to feel and HOW do we do that? By deciding what we want to think about the situation.
I’d probably choose to be sad/mad at Johnny too…
Now, if I were Sammy and Johnny came up and took my toy, yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to choose to be happy about it. I’d probably choose to cry too. But the difference is in KNOWING that I am CREATING how I feel. If I know that I’m choosing to be sad and it’s my choice then it also implies that I can CHOOSE to not be sad whenever I’m ready too.
When we teach our children (and ourselves) that others have the power to MAKE us feel something it’s really a disempowering place. It also means that I have no control over how my day is going to go, that I’m at the whim of others and what they decide to inflict upon me. That would stink for sure.
Also, if we believe that others can MAKE us feel things then again, we’re at their mercy of when THEY decide we’re done feeling that too because if Johnny made me sad then I need Johnny to fix it so I can be un-sad and what if Johnny doesn’t feel like doing that? How long do I need to wait until I can feel good again?
We are NOT at the mercy of others
We need to teach our children (and again, ourselves) that we’re not at the mercy of others and what they do. They can do whatever they want to do because they have agency to choose just like we do. We get to decide what we want to think, feel, and do in every circumstance. Which is GREAT news because no matter what happens in your life YOU GET TO DECIDE how you’re going to feel about it.
No one has power to make you feel anything just like you don’t have power to make others feel anything either. It’s crucial to remember this. It’ll come in handy when you’re afraid to do something, say something, or not do/say something in fear that you’ll hurt so and so’s feelings. You can’t. It’s not possible. You don’t hurt them – their thoughts do.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we get to go around snatching toys from others or saying hurtful things because we can’t hurt others feelings. NOT what I’m saying at all. You still get to decide what kind of person you want to be. If I want to be KIND then I need to check my own thoughts, feelings, and actions. Are they in alignment with me and my goal of being a KIND person? Would a kind person say that? Think that? Do that?
There are still social norms and laws that we need to abide by just out of courtesy and our own character. But knowing this does release us from a lot of responsibility and weight from others. You are just in charge of your feelings (which stem from your thoughts) and THEY are in charge of their feelings and thoughts.
Learn, Apply, then Teach
It’s really a beautiful thing and when we can learn this, apply it to our own lives, and then TEACH THIS to our children how different our world could be.
STOP teaching your kids that they HURT other’s feelings or that they MADE ______________ feel _______________. Instead teach them the power of their thoughts and their role in their own creation of their feelings. It’s an incredible thing.
More on this next week – in the meantime – try it – internalize it – apply it – then teach it.
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