Do you hear yourself say "I have to…" or " If I had/did this, then I would…." ?
If you responded yes, it's a sign that you may be suffering from "Unaware of Your True Power Disorder." It’s a kind of mental disease that is contagious and often starts when we are young. We are told “you have to….” We are brainwashed that we have no choices, no power, that life “happens to us” instead of seeing the truth: that we create life.
Fortunately, creating a life you love is simpler than one would imagine. with highly effective results which will transform your subconscious mind so that, with little effort, your life will begin to transform, like a flower blooming in spring, slowly, one petal at a time, just as nature intended.
The cure for "Unaware of Your True Power Disorder” is a special kind of homemade soup, taken daily, made with these three ingredients:
1. Measured doses of Intentional Decisions
Every day you make thousands of micro decisions and a few macro ones. The micro decisions, while often overlooked, become the foundation for your subconscious mind’s understanding of choice. Herein lies great power. Here is what I want you to do: think about your day from start to finish, from the time you decide to wake, to what you decide to think about first thing in the morning, to what you decide to think when you look in the mirror, to what you decide to wear, to what time you decide to break your fast, to what kind of food you decide to nourish your body with, to whom you decide to speak to, to what you decide to think of them, to what you decide to speak aboout, and so on…. As you can see, the emphasis is on the verb decide. The point is, in making these often habitual and unaware decisions intentional, great change will begin to take place. Every micro decision you make accumulates into your daily life. This requires subtle and minimal effort, but measured doses throughout the day.
Yet, the most important and most powerful micro decision you can make is choosing how you feel. To be honest, this is my absolutely favorite teaching that the field of psychology has given us: that feelings are a choice. No one is forcing you to be low energy, disconnected, or irritated--it is a choice you are making. Obviously, no one wishes to feel this way and often the choice to feel this way comes unconsciously as a result of feeling unloved, like you are lacking, and most importantly, that people and life have power over you. To transform these unconscious beliefs doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple practices such as what you think when you are falling asleep and when you first wake can create dramatic shifts in consciousness.
We process stress when we sleep, therefore, if you go to bed thinking about the things in your day that brought you simple joy--even something as simple as the great relief and comfort of laying on a soft bed, your brain will shift and patterns of positive thinking will emerge.
2. A Sprinkle of Possibility Mindset
A Possibility Mindset is a way of thinking that allows freedom--the essential block for creating a life you love. Like a cake without baking powder, your life will not rise up unless you add a sprinkle of possibility and freedom. The Possibility Mindset releases you from your unintended self-built prision to take you to a land of magic.
Your Possibility Mindset will naturally grow as you cook your Intentional Decisions (above). But there is something else you can do that is essential in relesing you from your prision. I call it A plus A and it’s my favorite equation. You take a possitive affirmation (e.g., I am getting healthier every day) and add an action to prove that this is true (you drink one green juice a day). It’s important that your action is an easily achievable one and that your affirmation is precise. For example, if your affirmation was “I am healthy,” your mind would argue with you about a generic globilization and it will lose its efficacy. Or worse, if you have an affirmation with no action to back it up, your mind will certainly not be fooled. We’ve learned since the 80s and 90s that transformations rely on data. Affirmations without actions are simply bad math. So, what does A + A=? A Possibility Mindset. And the best part is, once you begin to see the effects of A + A, you will see the sky is the limit.
Broth of Everyday Joy mixed with a Practice of Loving Everyone
Everyday joy mixed with a practice of loving everyone is the most fun skill to practice. It requires you to see the world as a happy child and find connection in people. It is incredibly rewarding and leads to my next favorite teaching in interpersonal psychology and neurology: what we feel about others is what we feel about ourself. Simple as that!
So, you can see the importance of finding love for everyone--from the grocery clerk to that person who absolutely rubs you the wrong way. Mirror neurons, the powerful forces of projection, repression, and denial are some of the forces that come into play here.
Relationships are a mirror. Everytime we have a negative feeling about someone, it infiltrates into our psyche and creates poison. One effective tool for releasing the power that negative behavior from others can have on you is to use the “Empathic Hook.” It’s a tool that was taught to me in graduate school when I was working with someone who sexually abused children. I was told that I had to create a positive relationship with this man and I thought it would be impossible based on his past behavior.
The “Empathic Hook” pulls you into people through empathy--that is, finding areas where you relate, connect and understanding the person’s pain. After about a month working with this man, his stories helped me to release my judgement and love him despite his behavior--and this became the basis for his healing. I now use this with everyone in my life. Whenever I feel negatively about someone, I imagine what they must have gone through to have such behavior and I look deeply into them to see them as a wounded child. With closer relationships, I will inquire more about their history or how they view the world. I also remind myself tht trauma is relative. Just because someone grew up priviledged doesn’t mean that they didn’t expereince pain.
Finally, there’s everyday joy. Can you remember when you were a child and how the simple forces of nature amazed you? Bring that thinking back...life is magical, amazing, and overwhelminglt beautiful when we really see it as it is.
Cook these ingredients every day, in warm and comfortable temperatures and you will be astonished at the miracles that happen.
I would love to hear all about how this recipe works for you!
Why Children Misbehave
“Every criticism, judgment, diagnosis, and expression of anger is the tragic expression of an unmet need.” ― Marshall B. Rosenberg
Children act out because they are in distress, not because they are bad people that need punishment. Acting out is a cry for help, a cry for love. When we respond to poor behavior with anger or punishment, it distances us and invalidates the child’s feelings, often sending them deeper into the feeling that caused the poor behavior in the first place. One of the biggest myths is that if we don’t punish our children that we will spoil them, but we couldn’t be further from the truth. Connecting instead of punishing creates emotional intelligence, allows us to help them process their big feelings, and increases their trust and connect.
Poor behavior is an expression of an unmet need. What is an unmet need? I often refer to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs when going through my checklist of what my children may need. I start with the physiological needs: 70-80% of the time a poor bevavior has to do with being tired or having low blood sugar (being hungry). The rest of the time, it is often related to a need to feel safe or or an emotional need not being met.
You don’t want children that are obedient all the time. “Yes I do! you plead. Just like many traps in life, in the short term, perfectly obedient and well-mannered children feel great. In the long term those children grow up to be people pleasers and even with years of therapy have trouble finding their authentic feelings and happiness. Children should be allowed to disagree, argue, and misbehave, they are trying to figure it out, trying o get their needs met, trying to find their way. Misbehavior shows that they are comfortable enough with us to show us their inner pain. Of course, we want to make sure we help them learn a better way to get their needs met and can use Positive Discipline (in this chapter) and Transformational Communication (Chapter 9) to help them learn without having them be afraid of our retaliation or rejection for misbehavior. If we are too rigid then they will begin to lie and sneak. Rules should instead be simple and few. Offer explanations, “You must be so tired to hit your sister in that way.” Look to infer their behavior to help them learn emotional intelligence, “did you hit your sister because you are jealous that she got a candy?”
The goal is to teach them to articulate their feelings instead of acting them out. When children feel heard and listened to, they have no need to act out. Their feelings are accepted and validated.
What an opportunity!
When a child acts out with us it is an opportunity for us to help them process their unmet need. Of course, in the moment it will not always feel that way. At times you may feel so angry yourself that you will realize that you also have an unmet need. What to do with all of these unmet needs? It’s an opportunity to learn together. Accepting your children then helps you accept yourself. Herein lies a beautiful learning opportunity, to teach your children that life is about learning, and that when they feel a negative emotion it is because something was not aligned with their core. When we teach them this, we can also remind ourselves, what holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl put so well, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Of course, this requires a change of attitude on our part. Our task becomes less focused on controlling external behavior and more focused on letting go of our need to control behavior. It is a place of acceptance instead of a place of judgement. Have you ever had the experience of being upset, telling a friend about your problem and them telling you what to do instead of comforting you? It doesn’t feel great and we do this to children all the time. We are so uncomfortable seeing them upset that we want to fix it right away. When they are sad, we feel responsible and sometimes even resentful…what do they have to be sad about? I took the day off of work, we just spent the day at the park and I just bought you ice cream…now you are crying?
Big Emotions Are an Opportunity for Growth
Instead of viewing big emotions such as crying, temper tantrums, becoming angry easily, and anger outbursts as something inherently wrong or that needs to be “fixed,” the interpretation can shift into a learning opportunity. Through interpersonal neurobiology, we can understand these meltdowns from a neurological perspective. It informs our parenting practices significantly. For example, we know that most young children have not yet learned defense mechanisms to suppress their feelings. The temper tantrums and meltdowns that children express are in fact the way we often feel inside also, but as adults, we have become experts at suppressing or denying emotions.
What happens when emotions are denied? When emotions are denied, there is a consequence. From living in denial or living an inauthentic life, to feeling lack of pleasure or connection to others, denying our emotions is chock full of negative results. Other consequences that result in denying emotions include addictions such as being “busy,” overeating, overspending, and generally dissociating from our body. Sometimes we unconsciously create situations to replicate what needs to be healed from our childhood.
Therefore, one of the most powerful gifts we can give them is to accept them in all of their manifestations: the pleasant and unpleasant. We need to learn to allow them to be in pain. Don’t teach them your patterns of minimization or denial, stay present with them, and the emotion will run its course and resolve itself. When we try to thwart the course of emotions and control them, we confuse our biological responses to stress and our yearning for authenticity with mind-games to hide from big feelings.
But it’s so hard to see our children in pain! When they experience rejection, or a scraped knee, or a tearful outburst, we yearn to comfort them, as much for them as for ourselves. It hurts us to see them in pain. “Don’t cry,” “Don’t be angry” and “It’s Ok” are well-meaning communications, but have a disastrous result. We are, in essence, telling them that how they feel is invalid. This unintentionally teaches them that uncomfortable feelings are not allowed. Instead, the best thing we can say is, “I’m here for you.”
This avoidance of pain is understandable, it’s in the air we breathe. As a society, we have a hard time allowing pain. We medicate fevers, which, within limits, are beneficial and meant to resolve themselves. We over-prescribe painkillers. We are so afraid of pain that we have become addicted to shopping, food, drugs, and being busy in order to distract ourselves from it. But pain does not go away when avoided or masked. The only way to process pain or uncomfortable feelings is to sit with the pain. The only way through pain is to go in it. To allow it to be, to teach us what it is we need to shift, to change—not to ignore it. And pain, can increase pleasure. Without pain, we wouldn’t recognize happiness. And when you have pain, you can experience a relief from pain and greater appreciation for what you have.
Often, when a child has a tantrum or acts out in anger, it is leftover from a previous time when they did not fully express their emotion. My son likes to say “I’m getting my sadness out.” The emotions do not disappear with time. Emotions stay with us until we release them either intentionally or unintentionally. When emotions pent up, they can lead to outbursts in children as well as adults.
What do you think? Do you agree? What has been your experience?
Jennifer Johnston-Jones, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and the founder and executive director of Roots & Wings Institute for Personal Growth and Family Excellence. In addition, she keynotes conferences and conducts workshops for parents, educators and clinicians. Dr. Johnston-Jones lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband and two children whom she adores.