Nobody ‘made you’ act or feel that way! (Books 1-4)

The concept that nobody can make you feel a certain way is definitely one of the most challenging concepts for many of us to learn! I remember how one of my daughters kept trying to figure out scenarios where this concept would not apply. The notion that we have control over how we respond to any given situation is often resisted until we begin the practice  of controlling how we respond. Eventually the initial resistance gives way to a much deeper sense of empowerment.

Many children believe that outside circumstances are responsible for how they feel inside. As adults we often reinforce this belief without understanding the long-term consequences for our children’s mental health and well-being. When challenging circumstances arise, it is absolutely important to connect with our child and let them know that we understand how they are feeling. This allows the child to feel felt and is crucial to helping them move through the challenge. Once the child feels understood and connected to us, our job is then to guide them into a place where they are able to recognize the story their mind has created about the circumstance and help them to choose a more empowering story. Sometimes children move quickly through this process, and sometimes they may come back over and over again for several days to tell you about the new disempowering story their mind made up about the same situation.

Understanding the concepts introduced in this program before challenges arise is a key preventative component. For example, when children have a repertoire of Source connecting activities they can turn to when they feel distressed, this is enormously helpful for self-regulation. When children can recognize that Fred has been released, they can begin to understand the reason behind their physical sensations, and begin to recognize their unhelpful stories. Children can begin to practice self-compassion, recognize when they have bought into a popular invisible hierarchy, and even recognize when they are choosing to hijack their mind to get relief from their unhelpful stories.

For example, a child may be upset because they were not included in an activity by the cool kids. Allowing the child to feel felt by listening to their story, helping them name and describe  their feelings, and simply taking the time to connect at the lifelight level is an essential component to helping them move through their feelings in a healthy way. Once the child feels understood, they can then be encouraged to reveal their story about the circumstance. Many children have stories relating to wanting to be cool and the horrible repercussions of not being cool. This presents an opportunity to discuss the immediate physical threat story they’ve been feeding Fred, as well as examine their belief in invisible hierarchies – in this case, the hierarchy of what constitutes cool. Children can then be guided through some steps of self-compassion such as speaking kindly to themselves and understanding they are not alone in their suffering. Finally, they can move forward by choosing a more empowering story and connecting to Source through various activities on their repertoire.

Eventually, these steps flow smoothly together, and children will naturally begin to move through their feelings without stuffing them down or sitting in a pity-party and identifying themselves as a victim of circumstance. The ultimate goal is not to get rid of all the challenges in life. It’s to teach children how to practice resilience when the challenges are small, so that when the challenges become bigger, they have the foundational knowledge and habits in place to see themselves through and become stronger and wiser.