How can we support our children when it comes to ‘performance’ or shall I say participating in an endeavour where the outcome appears to matter?
It seems, that it is a commonplace for parents, including me, to want our children to do well in life, whether it’s sport, academic, career, relationships, and health. In short, those close to us are precious, and we feel a certain level of desire as well as responsibility about how things turn out for our kids! (I could mention a few pointers here, but I will save that for a later article). I want to meet you somewhere and here seems the right place.
It doesn’t feel very comfortable when our child comes home with the news that they are dropped for the next competition because they failed to reach the required standards and targets. Whatever the situation, your child is anxious, doesn’t eat and cannot sleep. They fail to shake it off even though you have tried all the usual supportive chat, “you can only do your best” or “next week, it’ll be different, a new game, a fresh start”. Then, there are lines which are not so helpful, “I agree the Coach is an idiot, I cannot understand what he/she is seeing? Alternatively, “don’t you worry, I am going to give the coach a piece of my mind”.
Let’s dive straight in here – the problem with any of these responses by parents is that you innocently validate your child’s experience as stable and permanent and not what it indeed is, transitory and changeful. Think about it for a second, whatever you feel changes from moment to moment. The ideas and beliefs you have throughout your life are not who, and what you are, they are merely the product of a mechanism which is mostly invisible that gives all human beings a conscious experience. If you are not your personality, character, identity, and beliefs, what are you? I can only point to what I am describing as it is formless. There is a Universal constant which breaths life and wisdom into our being from the second we are born. It is that which is behind our existence here on earth, including our physical growth, immune system, psychology and evolution. It is that which is before our birth into this world of form, the intangible Intelligence of our bodies and minds. It is the spirit of all human performance and is timeless. That’s your true Self, your Truth some would say, your eternal spiritual essence.
I digress, let’s get back to impermanent nature of experience. As the former National Coach for Scotland (Netball), I would have witnessed athletes experiencing a whole range of feelings following a loss or even a win. It’s extraordinary to watch these changes in states of mind (moods), especially during the first 24 hours and then after a week. Nothing else changes on the outside, the loss is the loss, and the win is still the win, yet visibly each player has their unique experience in each moment. So what accounts for this invisible phenomenon that human beings continually feel differently and nothing has changed on the outside. It is simple but profound; we are born into “Consciousness” and are gifted the Power of Thought to create an experience. We can think “anything”, no matter what is going on around us – try it, step back behind your eyeballs and SEE your perspective in action, you feeling the way you do? The possibilities for experience are infinite. Human beings cannot hold a thought; we are not designed to maintain and keep thinking, it is a moving occurrence, just like every cell in our bodies it is changing every second of the day.
Your child while distressed doesn’t know that what they are feeling isn’t coming from the situation, therefore, they will do what most people do, judge and blame someone or something else for the way they feel. You inadvertently look to the outside situation or circumstance, for it to change to get a better feeling or you go to work on your psychology with tools and techniques to change the way you think, but this is an innocent misunderstanding, and doesn’t promote long-term, sustainable change!
May I suggest for your consideration that all human beings are innately healthy and resilient and by this I mean; we all can change our minds, see things differently, and get over things. We are designed to give attention to new thought continuously.
Is time a great healer? No, it just looks that way, a bit like the illusion that the sun rises and falls in the sky! When you look closely “time” has nothing to do with it. At any moment, we can engage in a fresh new thought. In a nano-second, you can drop an unproductive experience when you realise that the thing you think is the cause of your negative feeling is not, it is the result and by-product of a mechanism which is the same for all human beings – the energy and intelligence of the gift of thought. It is a superpower to profoundly realise how human beings use our minds to create experience.
As a parent, when you look in the direction of what’s true, you’ll get suspicious about what isn’t true, and content will fall off your mind.
It is far more helpful to hold and love your child, profoundly knowing that they are not their thinking. They are innately healthy and ok, no matter how they feel in the moment. Of course, have respect and compassion for the way they see it, boy does it feel real, but it isn’t who they are as a human being, it’s temporary. We do not need to go after trying to control or manage our child’s experience; this isn’t in our domain. It seems that a more helpful and productive response is to remain connected as parents to our mental health, the space of inner peace, clarity of mind, contentment and joy that sits beyond the personal ideas of the various roles we play in the game of life. Our minds are designed to clear! Helping my children not to be afraid of their experience is probably one of the most powerful things I have discovered in these past five years. When young people profoundly see the nature of thought, it is hopeful, reassuring and comforting that there is nothing to be done, “the complete opposite to what they teach us at school”, a youth athlete recently told me.
Oh, and one last pointing, your anxiety when your child is disappointed is not coming from your child – yes you’ve got it – you are feeling your thinking in the moment, and nothing else!
I do hope this resonates with you if so you are onto something life-changing for everyone in your family. Do get in touch if you would like to learn more about this revolutionary new understanding of the human mind that is now sweeping across the world in many fields, business, reform, community, healthcare and sport. My website contains many articles and podcast shows with other leaders in this area of prevention and innate mental health and well-being at www.class-performance.com. You can also contact me via e-mail on [email protected]