Wise words from the founder of Pennsylvania

Wise words from the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn:

I expect to pass through life but once.  If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.

William Penn (1644-1718)

Penn

William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) was an English real estate entrepreneurphilosopher, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early champion ofdemocracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Indians. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.

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Could this be why do we overeat or smoke or do other repetitive behaviours?

Could this be why do we overeat or smoke or do other repetitive behaviours?

A great deal has been written about “The Child Within”.  Bruce Davis, in his book “The Magical Child Within” (1982) explains how the way we live our lives depends to a very large extent on the relationship we have with our child within.  He bases some of his ideas on the theory of Transactional Analysis, and sees the child as that spontaneous part of us – the child we once were, but also the child that is very much alive and present in us each moment of each day.  How we relate or choose not to relate to this child determines to a very large extent not only how we live our lives, but also our quality of life.

The only way we can ignore the child within is by running away – and in some cases this can be quite literal.  Davis explains how we are taught to ignore our child from quite an early stage of our lives, and how we become so ‘busy’ doing other things that the voice of our child is lost somewhere in the noise and confusion.  We may engage in repetitive behaviours, such as overeating or smoking or drinking in an effort to still the muted cries of our child.  Sometimes we live our entire lives in a way, which totally ignores our inner child.  We may become very severe parent type people, who keep the child locked away in a high tower, like Rapunzel in the fairy tale, or we may drown the child in constant sensory input – whether it is work, drink, food or pleasure.  There are many patterns of acting out, which deny the reality of the way we feel inside – the feelings of our inner child.

Davis’ solution to this almost universal problem is that we allow ourselves a second childhood.  He speaks not only of the process of growth from within, but discusses how this impacts on the external world, just as the presence of a small physical child affects others.  Just as a physical child needs support from the environment, so our child needs an external world that is safe and supportive if it is to venture out.  This can mean something as simple as setting aside time for yourself to do the things you need to do, without being imposed upon by the needs of others.  Sometimes this is difficult – but even an hour or two in a ‘safe’ place will be Good Enough.

So, let us assume that we choose to begin looking at our lives in this perhaps unusual way and that we want to listen to that little voice and respond to the feeling inside.  What can we do?  How can we begin to free ourselves from the voices of others telling us what to do, or how to live our lives?

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

Why do we react the way we do? SOME people seem to be able to take in their stride!

Why do we react the way we do?  SOME people seem to be able to take in their stride!

We are a composite of all the things that have ever happened to us as well as our genetic input   This is obvious in some situations, as we have already discussed in previous blogs, such as in the way our reactions to situations often reflect or echo reactions to events from earlier stages of our lives. 

feelings trapped 1

As we become aware of these reactions as patterns, we begin to realise just how much of our lives consist of similar patterns of behaviour.  Research has shown that somewhere within us we carry the memory of absolutely everything that has ever happened to us.  This means that we carry the memory of each event, the way we experienced it at the time.  So unless we ‘process’ what happened in any given event, and by this we mean unless we take our experience of what happened, and change it by perhaps replaying it in our hearts and minds, or in some other way re-organising the way it caused us to feel or react, we store the memory of the event exactly as we understood it at the time, somewhere within ourselves. 

feelings trapped 3

So if we think back to our childhood now, we can ask ‘Was it a happy childhood?’ ‘Did I feel loved and honoured and respected?’   If we can answer ‘Yes’ to these questions, we probably have a good chance of being able to live our lives in a creative and constructive way.  If our early childhood contained these qualities, even if we are not happy at the moment, we probably possess the tools to change our circumstances in a way that brings us closer to what we want out of life.  And if we did not have the benefit of this type of care and support in our childhood, we can call on our resources as adults to change the way our memories are stored, and go back and re-resource the small hurting child that we were.

feelings trapped 2

Even in the happiest childhood, there were moments that weren’t happy, and these too, are stored uncritically in our own personal storage system. As adults, our storage system is quite complex, and normally a great deal of processing takes place before events or experiences are laid down as memories.

Take the following example:

The telephone rings at work, and it’s your boss.  Before you can say anything, s/he hurls insults at you, leaving you speechless by accusing you of something you didn’t do, and threatens you with the loss of your job.  You can’t get a word in edgeways, and you have a less than clear idea about what the problem is.  All you can follow is something about incomplete paperwork, and the consequence that month end figures are grossly distorted, reflecting badly on you, your department, and your very angry superior.

What happens inside when we are attacked like this?  It is an awful experience, especially if we are unaware of any failure on our part.  If our self-concept is bad to start off with, chances are, we will ‘take on’ a number of the insults aimed at us, and think in terms of what we did wrong, and what is going to happen to us as a consequence.  We will internalise a significant portion of the tirade, because it will reinforce the way we experience ourselves anyway.  As a good employee, we will probably make it our personal responsibility to correct the error, even if the fault turns out to lie far from our door.

A second possible response could be that we are so shocked by the event, that we immediately block significant portions of what transpired from our awareness.  Later we may well remember that s/he said certain things to us, but we will no longer be at all upset, or perhaps we will even change our memory of the incident slightly, to reflect less blame on ourselves.  We may still ‘take on’ many of the insults, and they will be stored as corroborating evidence of how useless we are anyway, or they may be totally hidden in our awareness, stored under ‘those experiences that are so awful, I choose to forget them’.

Alternatively we may well and truly ‘laugh it off’, because we know deep down that none of the things said could possibly apply to us. Our response or reaction would be that our boss is having a bad time, and wants to know about something-or other to do with incorrect figures.  In our storage system and memory, the event becomes ‘the day the boss went ballistic about a mistake someone made.’

Yet another possibility is that we hear the insults and carefully consider them, matching them against the way we have come to know ourselves.  We may choose to look critically at ourselves in case something in the way we project ourselves needs to be modified or altered. As we can see, as adults we take our experiences and process them in some way before storing them as memories.  Of course, our method of processing depends on the memories we have already laid down, and on the state of our self-concept, or how we feel about ourselves.  As young children we didn’t have the benefit of many memories, or even much of a constructed self-concept to guide us. Thus many of the memories we have are laid down much as we lived them at the time, without the benefit of processing them in any way. If something rotten happened to us as a small child, like we fell and hurt ourselves, and we were feeling a little shaky to start off with, or the people around us were busy, and were unaware of our distress, the memory may be stored as ‘nobody loves me.’  Even if later our life experience proves to us that there are many people who care deeply about us, and we have subsequently come to know ourselves as a ‘loved’ person, that childhood memory is not taken out and re-classified as ‘unfortunate accident’.  It remains under ‘I’m unloved’.  Because the child sees itself as being at the centre of its own particular universe, it takes responsibility and the ‘unlovedness’, in its own mind, becomes ‘unlovable’. Part of the difficulty is that at the time of the incident, the feeling is too much for us to deal with, and therefore to protect us from ourselves, the unconscious mind shuts it down, and makes the emotion(s) related to the event “frozen in time”.  The feelings lie, dormant, and when a similar feeling or feelings arise at a later date (and remember, we have already said that the unconscious mind stores by association) then the feelings connected with the original events as well as the current ones can be activated.

unloved

How many times have we thought that either another or ourselves have over-reacted? This is the reason for that process.  Because the feelings from the earlier time were so raw, so un-processed, since we had not the ability to rationalise at the time of the incident, those same feelings spill out at the later date in their raw and often child-like strength.  We may be convinced that this is the unconscious mind saying, “I’m now going to incapacitate you” – but in fact this is far from the case.  The opposite is true.  The unconscious mind is actually trying to help by allowing trapped feelings out!

It is therefore in quite a literal sense that we have within us the small child that we were, and as we journey towards full integration of ourselves, and set about optimising the way we live our lives, we need to pay some attention to this child within. Although we refer to stored memories when we speak of the child within, our memories are much more comprehensive than mere records on file.  They include input from all our senses, and most certainly include the emotional content as well.  So if we access a particular memory, we will recall not only the event as we experienced it, but how we felt about it at the time.  We remember as the little child we were, and our adult response to this in the here and now must be to supply what the small child needed at the time if we want to re-process and re-classify the event.

This is why writers on this subject speak of the Child Within, and recommend that we treat that part of ourselves in the same way as we would treat a physically small child outside of ourselves.  This may feel strange at first, especially to those of us who have learned to become terribly grown up about our lives. Remember that there is no need for anyone else to know what we are doing – that’s the beauty of working with the child within – we can do it privately.  But we do need to be aware that the strict or very mature adult we have become may well be that way (i.e. very strict and mature) in order to control or suppress the huge pain which is threatening to overwhelm our child within. By making our child happy, we release great amounts of the creative energy that was holding things together internally.  Imagine being able to apply this energy to living our adult lives!

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

Have you a little self-critical voice in your head? Are you your own worst critic?

Have you a little self-critical voice in your head? Are you your own worst critic? So, let us assume that we choose to begin looking at our lives in Davies’ perhaps unusual way (published a couple of posts ago) and that we want to listen to that little voice and respond to the feeling inside.  What can we do?  How can we begin to free ourselves from the voices of others telling us what to do, or how to live our lives?

critic

Self Acceptance  When we were children, and something went wrong, our natural response would have been to wonder what we had done wrong. This would have been true no matter what the situation.  If our parents had a fight, we would have felt responsible.  We may have felt that the fault was because of something we did, or perhaps even just because we were ‘there’.

selfacceptance

If the event or events for which we felt responsible was traumatic enough – if it had serious consequences, it may have become necessary to ‘punish’ ourselves (subconsciously) in the hope that things would go back to the way they were before.  At the very least we would have scolded ourselves for our bad behaviour, and this would have built into a pattern that we carried through to adulthood.  As adults we continue to scold our child, and we can hear this if we listen to the number of times we send ourselves the negative messages that reinforce our poor sense of self – Ellis’ sentences that we repeat to ourselves over and over.

acceptance

Responding to these negative messages is like responding to one of those radio signals scientists sent into space many years ago to make contact with intelligent life ‘out there’.  The source of the radio signals is no more ‘alive’ today than the messages we give ourselves.  The signals relate to a different time and a different reality, and all that makes them relevant to the present time is the fact that it is our child within that is responding.  If we use our adult creative intelligence to begin to see what we are doing and to understand the patterns of behaviour that hold us captive, we can accept those parts of ourselves that we previously rejected, and we can bring ourselves more into the present reality.

 There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

Do you over-react? This could explain why.

Do you over-react? This could explain why.  A great deal has been written about “The Child Within”.  Bruce Davis, in his book “The Magical Child Within” (1982) explains how the way we live our lives depends to a very large extent on the relationship we have with our child within.

over-reaction

 

Davis bases some of his ideas on the theory of Transactional Analysis, and sees the child as that spontaneous part of us – the child we once were, but also the child that is very much alive and present in us each moment of each day.  How we relate or choose not to relate to this child determines to a very large extent not only how we live our lives, but also our quality of life.  The only way we can ignore the child within is by running away – and in some cases this can be quite literal.  Davis explains how we are taught to ignore our child from quite an early stage of our lives, and how we become so ‘busy’ doing other things that the voice of our child is lost somewhere in the noise and confusion.  We may engage in repetitive behaviours, such as overeating or smoking or drinking in an effort to still the muted cries of our child.  Sometimes we live our entire lives in a way, which totally ignores our inner child.  We may become very severe parent type people, who keep the child locked away in a high tower, like Rapunzel in the fairy tale, or we may drown the child in constant sensory input – whether it is work, drink, food or pleasure.

rapunzel

There are many patterns of acting out, which deny the reality of the way we feel inside – the feelings of our inner child.

over-reaction 2

Davis’ solution to this almost universal problem is that we allow ourselves a second childhood.  He speaks not only of the process of growth from within, but discusses how this impacts on the external world, just as the presence of a small physical child affects others.

download (1)

Just as a physical child needs support from the environment, so our child needs an external world that is safe and supportive if it is to venture out.  This can mean something as simple as setting aside time for yourself to do the things you need to do, without being imposed upon by the needs of others.  Sometimes this is difficult – but even an hour or two in a ‘safe’ place will be Good Enough.

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

Autobiography in five chapters – Portia Nelson

This is the Autobiography in five chapters – Portia Nelson falling in hole

One

As I walk down the street,

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost …

I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

Two

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again. I can’t believe

I’m in the same place. But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

Three

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there.

I still fall in … it’s a habit.

My eyes are open. I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

Four

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

Five

I walk down another street …….  

Quoted in

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

Building Bridges

Build bridges Look after yourself.  Start making little changes in your life that will get you even a tiny bit more of what you want – no need to go all out for change immediately – step by step will do.

bridges1

Practise sharing Practise sharing your feelings and also helping your partner, children, friends and colleagues to share their feelings.

bridges2

Go easy on yourself In terms of building bridges, are you prepared to go easy on yourself and learn these new skills bit by bit without worrying that you are not doing it right? It is useful to remember that we are all doing the best we know how at any particular moment.  The fact that you have begun to learn a new way does not take away from the fact that when you are at home in your normal situation you react in the way you ‘know’ in that situation. It is OK to be a good enough listener bit by bit remembering to try things differently and learning from the nice and not so nice examples you experience. There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

Lack of Support – unsupported

Sometimes we seem to find ourselves totally alone in the world, and unable to cope with our lives – unsupported.  For most people the reality is more likely to be that our solitude is a result of choice – our choice not to allow others to assist us.  We do this in many ways.  Perhaps we pride ourselves on being self-reliant, so we never express a need for help.  This comes back to the point we discussed earlier, that we expect others somehow to read our minds, and automatically know what it is that we need – or that in fact we need anything at all.

lack of support picture 2

Perhaps we honestly do not believe that we are important enough to warrant a fuss being made.  We feel that we ought to be able to cope – a mother struggling to meet the needs of her family and as well as fulfilling her obligations to her job; a husband struggling to fulfil the expectation that he earn enough to support a growing family on his own – the examples are endless.  We do not live in isolation, and while it is often easy to reach out and help others, it can be difficult to allow others to do the same for us.

lack of support picture 1

A common area that we express this inability to accept support from ourselves and from others is in the way we treat our physical bodies. We often drive ourselves to illness, and then still keep on going, insisting that we are ‘okay’, when we are clearly not!  Some of us play the game the other way.  Unable to cope, we express constant neediness, and demand support from others to such an extent that they withdraw, frightened by the force of our need.  We are left without support, and the message we set ourselves up to receive is the same.  We do not get support because we don’t deserve it!

The way to break this cycle is once again to cultivate an awareness of the way we act and interact, and as we become aware of our patterns of behaviour, we gain the power to change.

The common theme running through all these examples is clear.  We invest a great deal of energy in maintaining the image we have of ourselves, even if this involves deeply destructive cycles.  Our belief in our worthlessness sets up a pattern of reinforcing events, and we find ourselves in situations with predictable outcomes.  The key to changing this process is awareness, and ultimately, choice.  Change is seldom comfortable, but one thing that it does for us, is that it builds awareness – and we find that we have initiated another cycle – this time a positive cycle.  All we need to remember is that ultimately we do have the choice, and, that no matter how hopeless things appear, there is a moment – perhaps only a split second when we can choose to change things, this time.

 There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!