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"Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones but Words can Hurt Forever"A Message from the Children In My Chair
By Trish Dennison
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Trish Dennison
All right reserved.
"Conditioning is a method of controlling or influencing the way people or animals behave or think by using a gradual training process; habituation."
The simplicity of the message of this book is that we are conditioned or brainwashed to think and feel the way we do and we are conditioning or brainwashing our children according to our own unconscious inner beliefs. The question we ask ourselves here is:
"Do these beliefs ring true for me now?"
The question, "What is conditioning?" was asked of J. Krishnamurti, who was a well known writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual subjects. Living to the age of 90 his expertise included: psychological revolution, the nature of the mind, meditation, human relationships and how to enact positive change in society. He constantly stressed the need for a revolution in the psyche of every human being. Here is his answer:
"We are conditioned physically, nervously, mentally, by the climate we live in and the food we eat, by the culture in which we live, by the whole of our social, religious and economic environment, by our experience, by education, and by family pressures and influences. All these are the factors which condition us. Our conscious and unconscious responses to all the challenges of our environment, intellectual, emotional, outward and inward, all of these are acts of conditioning."
Let's witness little 12 month old Susie crawling around her play room one sunny afternoon. She is quite delighted with all the textures, shapes and tastes she is discovering in her world. Noticing something move in front of her Susie focuses her attention on this short furry black thing moving along the floorboards. Naturally intrigued little Susie manoeuvres her way closer to the curious creature. As she sat up beside the wall she watched as the spider crawled onto her hand and began moving up her arm. It tickled and made Susie giggle.
Just then Mommy walks into the room, shrieks at the sight of the spider, rushes over to Susie brushing the spider off and stomping on it as she hugs Susie close to her crooning, "Did that big bad spider scare my little girl?"
No, but she did! Innocently but powerfully, Mom had impact. We all do. Susie carried that original imprint and consequent fear of spiders her entire life and was embarrassed to be a grown women still terrified of the little things.
This is a common example of simple "conditioning". We are all conditioned from the time of our birth. That conditioning may include;
"Say thank you."
"Be seen and not heard."
"Let the boys do the hard stuff."
"Stick up for yourself."
"Trust the authorities."
"Follow the Church doctrine without question."
"Care what the neighbours may think."
and so many more.
All of this is conditioning. The entire memory of an experience, how it made you feel and what you believe because of it is stored in the mind ready to be triggered or re-enacted at any moment. In twelve month old Susie it was first her Mom's thoughts and fears that ultimately she registered and adopted as if her own.
Thoughts create feelings and feelings lead to our consequent behaviour. Think for a moment about what it would be like to have a million dollars in the bank. How would that feel? What might you think differently? What might you do differently if anything?
Now imagine, which is thinking with pictures and feelings, what would it be like to lose your job or your house? What does that feel like and what would you do different if anything? Notice the difference between the two. One thought pattern makes you feel good, the other doesn't.
We now know that the stronger or more intense the emotion is, the deeper the feeling and belief about it all locks into our subconscious mind. We also know that emotion will override logic every time. An easy example is this;
It is in no way logical to get really angry or upset at the weather and yet so many people do. That is emotion overriding logic in its simplest sense.
Going back to understanding conditioning, some of you who have an aversion to spiders may relate to Susie while others may think it's all pretty silly. How can something so simple have such a long lasting effect? It is the emotional intensity of the moment that makes it important to the subconscious mind. The grown up logical part of you may respond with saying,
"Don't be silly."
"Get a tougher skin."
"Get over it."
These statements may come from good intentions to help the person stop the pain and fear they are feeling in the moment but they don't really help. Remember the Johnny Cash song "A boy named Sue"? With good intentions the Father, knowing that he wouldn't be around, named his boy "Sue" to help him get tough and stand up for himself. Yes, the boy grew up tough but he also hurt along the way. I believe there is a softer gentler way!
People generally do have good intentions and don't set out to hurt you on purpose any more than you set out to hurt others. The simple truth here is this; as children we do not have the capacity to discern real from imagined or fact from fictitious thoughts interpreted in the mind, thus we are easily conditioned by the people and authorities around us in our early years, good, bad or otherwise. This "Social Karmic Conditioning" comes from those who were already conditioned in their own childhood to be the way they are. We are all conditioned. We are conditioned with simple actions and with words.
"Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing" Albert Schweitzer
In our busy day to day lives little do most of us realise the full impact of what and how we speak to ourselves and others. Thoughts and feelings go hand in hand. Think back to an upsetting moment when someone said something that angered you or brought you to tears. Run it through your mind. Remember where you were, what was going on and most especially notice how it made you feel. Some of you may notice that just thinking about it or retelling it still makes you angry or feel like crying. The story still lives inside you and influences your beliefs and behaviour.
Thoughts, which are words, evoke a feeling response. Words we think or speak can be supportive and encouraging or mean and insulting. It is worth the effort to be more conscious everyday and observe what we are saying and thinking. We have all experienced or witnessed the tears from teasing and insults on the playground or at the supper table but fail to see the inner pain and conflict those words triggered inside and the chain reaction that follows. How insulting, hurtful, demeaning words can make us feel and how we learn to deal with them shapes our personality, our choices and our success.
The message from the children in my chair is that words can hurt, yes that's true. You will learn that the child mind, our subconscious, habitual mind takes everything literally or personally. You will also learn that the more emotional or intense you are feeling, the more open, sensitive and vulnerable the children around you will be. You will better understand how we are open and vulnerable to words, yelling and hitting as I teach you about kinesiology muscle testing in Chapter Three [smile].
Words and actions of others taken personally by a child can stay with them a life time! These include: The feeling of rejection they get when you turn away and wave your hand as if to say:
"You are dismissed."
"Get out of my sight."
The look of disappointment on your face when they didn't hit the ball, make the team or pass the test. These are simple moments with powerful impact.
Have you ever sat around reminiscing about your childhood with stories of memories like?
"You knew Mom was mad when she gave you the look!" Maybe you called it the stare, the glare, the threat or the plea.
"I hated to see Dad slump and the look of disappointment on his face killed me. He would always just turn and walk away from me."
"I hated to hear Mom do the 'sigh' like she was saying "Your hopeless, I give up on you," because she always followed with "Never mind I'll do it myself."
Body language is a science but a child doesn't need science to interpret your actions. Have you ever had someone say to you, "I'm listening," while you witness them sitting straight backed, arms and legs crossed with one foot shaking up and down while they stare out the window, look past you to the television or a teenager with her thumb madly texting her friends? Indeed they don't exactly look like they are open to hearing what you have to say do they? They are saying one thing yet projecting something different. Everything is a message; your face, brow, jaw, lips, your body stance, tone of voice and words or actions you use. Everything sends a message.
The stories presented here also point out that it really is communication on every level that has an imprinting impact especially on us as young and unprepared children. It is my hope that once you hear the message from the children you will be more inspired to simply pay attention and be kinder in your own life, kinder to yourself and kinder to others. Some of these stories are dramatic and more detailed and some are shorter versions of simple habits and attitudes that get passed on through day to day unconscious living.
These personal stories from the 'Children in my chair' are shared to get your attention so you may pay more attention to the ordinary yet profound moments of impact in day to day living. I also share a few personal stories and others to give you vivid pictures that you may relate to. Only once we become aware of what's going on can we focus our attention to change things for ourselves and future generations. The journey begins with acknowledging what is going on and being open to change. It begins with the willingness to pay attention and being open to hear the message and make a conscious choice today.
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference." Serenity Prayer
Only human beings have the power to change their minds and by doing so change their world. The gift of humanity is the freedom of choice. We are not born winners; we are not born users or losers; we are born choosers. Choose to live consciously.
The significance of this book is to educate you on how it all works and what that looks like in real life experience. It is not a book on parenting skills per say but rather a call to presence for everyone. So many of us are living today on auto pilot and early social karmic conditioning rules our choices. So again, this is not a manual for correct parenting responses and answers to specific dilemmas instead it is simply a call to consciousness in the moment. Pay attention, the inner voices of belief are controlling your life!
As a conscious witness you can become aware of the energy dynamics playing out within you and acting out in all your relationships. This is an invitation to embrace awareness practice and make a conscious choice of how you want to be, what you want to do and what you want to have in your life, especially family life. It all begins with you. No one else is creating your world for you and no one else can change it for you. No one else can do your push ups for you any more than they can think for you. It all begins inside you and how you perceive your world.
When you understand what conditioning is, how it manifests in our lives and how we pass it on, you can be more conscious in your interaction with yourself and others. What you say, think and believe is a direct result of your own conditioning in the early years of your life.
Conditioning comes from parents, siblings, relatives, peers, teachers, coaches, ministers and other people in authority. In fact the more authoritarian the source the more power their words can have. We can consciously choose to use words of appreciation, support and encouragement for ourselves and our children thus contributing to a generation of youth with high values, self esteem and a peaceful manner to carry our legacy into the future.
The core of this message is the dynamic power and relationship of words, thoughts, beliefs, attitude and behaviour. There are simple ways to pay attention and be more present in your life which are explained throughout the book. The empowerment to change your mind, your attitude and your behaviour can ultimately change your world. Throughout this book you are encouraged to look at the results of your own conditioning as you are guided through the reflective exercises and as you start paying attention to the moment. Keep what works and change the rest.
You are also encouraged to pay attention to how you interact and imprint the children in your life, again by being more present and aware. Simply by setting the intention to be more present and paying attention you have begun. [smile] You'll find yourself being quite good at it by the time we are finished this journey together. This book is not written as a text book of facts; in fact it is meant to be interactive so you will participate rather than "take my word for it." As you follow along and participate in the meditations, reflective practices and practice paying attention in the moment, you will very easily become aware of your own conditioned responses and be empowered to change them. Enjoy the journey.
I AM PRESENT AWARE AND PRACTISING
Chapter TwoYou Have Impact
"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show to my fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again". William Penn
Children grow up to be secure or broken adults through experience externally and internally. Internally is where it matters the most! As children we take things literally and still believing we take ourselves too seriously as adults indeed. We live our inner drama that is just a story we tell ourselves and believe to be true. The good news is the story is just a bunch of thoughts and these thoughts can be changed. I encourage you to be in awe of how it all works and get excited to know you have the power to change what no longer serves you.
The messages from these children in my chair are that words hurt us! Children take words literally and personally as they are subconscious and have not yet developed the process of discernment. Only the adult logical critical voice says:
"Toughen up, don't take it so personal."
Too late, we didn't know that when we were little and that little child energy still lives within us today. Both what was and wasn't said to us had and still has a strong emotional impact on the level of self esteem or confidence we carry within.
Children learn and develop from what we do, how we are and what we say. We are calling this form of brainwashing "Social Karmic Conditioning" or "Socialization". From all this teaching or conditioning we learn how we 'should' be. From the very beginning of life a child is taught what is acceptable, unacceptable, right, wrong, good, bad, ugly, beautiful, sacred, holy, important, valuable and worthless.
Excerpted from "Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones but Words can Hurt Forever" by Trish Dennison Copyright © 2010 by Trish Dennison. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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