“I am not supposed to cry, mommy.” My head jerked around as I looked at my son, sitting quietly in his car seat.
“What did you say little man?”
“I am not supposed to cry,” he repeated.
“Of course you can cry. You can cry when you are happy, or sad, or when you fall down and get hurt. You can cry whenever you want. Who said you can’t cry?”
Minutes later my husband and daughter joined us in the car and I told my husband what happened and asked him if he had told our son he couldn’t cry. I knew the answer before I had asked, but I wanted reassurance. Of course my husband hadn’t said anything of the sort.
When we got home from our scooter outing by the sea, I asked my son again about crying and he repeated the same refrain. I again repeated that it was okay to cry.
I am still reeling from it, five days later. Not only am a reeling from the fact that my TWO YEAR OLD son was able to so eloquently express himself, but I am reeling from the fact that he made such a bold declaration. I am reeling from the fact that he has interpreted various external responses to his crying, to create a belief the he is not supposed to cry.
As I learn more and more about neuroscience and the development of the subconscious mind, I better understand how small moments and small decisions in our childhood can have a major impact on how we interact with the world beyond our childhood.
Most people believe that it is the environment or circumstances that we endure in childhood that impacts our adulthood, but it is more accurately the DECISION or DECISIONS that we make in those moment that impacts us later on. That is why two siblings can see and experience the same moments, yet create very different personalities and future realities.
It’s not the environment, but the decision that is made in its wake that drives us.
That is the amazing (and sometimes detrimental) thing about our brains when we are children. We are like sponges, continually taking in information and making meaning from it. We are continually processing the information that we see and making micro-decisions about what we see, what we hear, and what we experience. We are so egocentric as children that even if it isn’t about us, we make it about us.
Even if I never told my son that he wasn’t supposed to cry, nor did my husband, he has interpreted our reactions to his crying, or the crying of his sister, to mean that he isn’t supposed to cry.
This is where my knowledge is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I know that I have until around the age of 7 to support my children to create empowering beliefs about themselves, others, and the world. On the other hand, I know that despite my best intentions, they might create limiting beliefs that I don’t recognize, nor do they.
If I look back to my own childhood, I know that I made a powerful decision when my mother went back to work when I was 5, yet I didn’t discover how influential that decision was until I was 35 and my career imploded. My mother had the best intentions and was lovingly trying to support our entire family during a recession. I didn’t see or understand it.
It wasn’t my mother’s going back to work that was the driver. It was the decision I made it it’s wake that became the driver of who I chose to BE and how I BEHAVED in the world.
Which brings me to you.
Just like my son, and just like myself, you also made some powerful decisions and created some even more powerful beliefs during your childhood. Those beliefs created the amazing and unique YOU. They have gotten you this far in your life. Yet...with every strength there comes a weakness. With light, comes darkness.
You can pro-actively choose to explore those beliefs with intention from a place of power, or you can wait for those beliefs to catch up with you, and explore them from a place of pain, as many of my clients have done or are currently doing now.
You may not have had a choice then, but you definitely have one now.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.