Hosted by Jodi Hildebrandt.
This is the first episode in a two-part series. Listen to part 2 >
In this episode Jodi explains why it is so important to teach your children about the power and responsibility of their choices. The pattern of choice and outcome / consequence is the most powerful way we learn as humans. Our choices and their outcomes have the power to teach us to empathize, connect, and develop depth and love. If this pattern of choice and consequence is interrupted (i.e. by co-dependency or care-taking), children are handicapped in the process of learning to empathize.
This topic is profoundly important, because children who grow up without experiencing the natural / appropriate consequences from their choices become narcissistic—they do not feel empathy. And this style of narcissism is reaching epidemic proportions in our world.
Episode 94: Teaching Children The Power of Their Choices (Part 1 of 2)
Welcome to ConneXions Classroom Podcast. We are so excited to introduce to you the opportunity for you to join us in a classroom setting where you will be taught the principles of connection. For those of you who have already joined us on the podcasts, and for those for you who have not, you are now ready to step into an extensive, hands-on, all-star classroom experience to better understand why you are experiencing and interpreting life the way that you do.
You will be introduced to the foundational principles of personal integrity, which are: how to live impeccable honesty, rigorous personal responsibility, humility, vulnerability, openness, willingness, transparency, and boundaries.
This is a 12-week intensive course that consists of meeting one time a week for two hours. You will be given six workbooks. In each workbook, instruction will be given to you on core concepts of how to live your life from a position of emotional honesty, Reality, Truth, boundaries, validation, being able to recognize your distortions, and how choice plays a central role in all of your experiences and emotional outcomes.
Some of the concepts covered inside of the classroom include: what validation and vulnerability are and how to animate those principles your life; how to live in Truth rather than distortion; how to recognize your distraction and your controlling behavior in your relationships; and how to live a life of peace rather than pain. Powerful concepts that change lives, beginning with yours.
Hundreds of people have participated already, and have drastically transformed their lives by living and being in Truthful, emotionally honest relationships. They report experiences of personal empowerment and emotional and mental sophistication being introduced into their relationships.
So, now it’s your turn to come and participate. This classroom experience will change the way you interact with yourself and others in powerful ways, giving you the tools and emotional sophistication to connect deeply inside yourself and invite other in your life to do the same.
Come and experience connection. Go to www.connexionsclassroom.com, and hit the “Go to Academy” button and sign up. I look forward to meeting you and connecting
Hello and welcome to ConneXions Classroom Podcast. I’m Jodi Hildebrandt. It is December 11th 2016 and I want to talk today about choice and children. So, how to teach children to understand that they have this incredible power called choice, and then also how to teach these children how to use choice and how to shoot their choice and then realize that there are always outcomes that follow the choices that they make.
Very important concepts. So many of us have children and we are not conscious about being very deliberate with them about the power of choice. They make choices and we oftentimes enable those choices, we cover those choices up, we don’t allow them to see that there are outcomes, or what many people relate to – consequences – for those choices.
And so, as a child is being reared—whatever age—they do not appreciate that when they choose—which they will always do—that you cannot not choose. So, when children make a choice, there’s always, always an outcome. Always. And the always part about the outcome is that they will be emotionally affected. The child, whatever age the child is, when I say child I’m thinking of birth to 18, call them a child or a teen, the child always has an emotional response to the choice that they’re making. Always.
And then, the other thing is that if they make a choice and it involves another human being, which oftentimes our choices do, either directly or indirectly, then they will always have an emotional outcome from the other human being, too.
So, choice produces outcomes and with every choice, there’s always an emotional response from the choice, or to the choice, or because of the choice for the child, and then also with the person that they’ve been interacting with. And again, either directly indirectly.
I mean, I might make a choice to not put the car in park and all of a sudden, I get out of it and it starts rolling down the hill. Now, it hasn’t affected anyone yet and I see that it’s rolling right towards a house. And so, you can imagine that whether there are people directly in its path or whether there’s no one home, someone owns that house and there’s going to be damage done to not only the house but also the car and heaven knows what else it might run over in its pathway to hit that house. But you can see that people are going to be affected because people own homes, and people own cars, and people own property, maybe bicycles that it has run over on its pathway to hitting the house. So, people are attached to these items and they are going to be affected emotionally because I made a choice and I did not put the car in the park and was not aware that the slight decline that I was sitting on would cause the car to take flight.
So, all of us when we choose, there are outcomes. And it is imperative as a parent, or a mentor, or a teacher, or a coach, or a spiritual advisor, anyone who has charge with children, it is imperative that we teach children that they do choose and that there are consequences and outcomes. And the first outcome that always happens is emotionally. So, when they make a choice, they will be emotionally impacted and then others will be impacted as well. And then, oftentimes, there are tangible consequences that follow those emotional consequences. But I just wanted to make it really clear that there are always emotional consequences that follow choice.
It’s unfortunate as I work with people in my practice, that very few children understand—for heaven’s sake, very few adults understand—that when they choose, there is always an emotional response and outcome that is attached and tied to that choice. But because we don’t put too much weight on emotions, few people point that out.
So, I’m here to keep underscoring that: there is always an emotional reaction/response to the choices we make, and it is your responsibility as parents and people who are responsible for children to teach them that they do choose and when they choose, there will be an emotional response for them and then oftentimes for others.
And then, this other kind of consequence which often follows choice is some kind of tangible consequence. So, the car goes down the hill, it hits the house and now I have not only emotional outcomes of everyone who saw it, the neighbors, the people in the house, the people who own the house, the police, maybe my extended family, they have to put in their emotional two cents as well and how they’ve been impacted. All sorts of people get impacted. And then, there’s this tangible outcome such as paying money to fix the house and fix the car. And I need to work more now at my seven dollar an hour job because I’m only 16 years old and now I have a car and a house to pay for because I just ran my parent’s car into the front door of the neighbor’s home.
So, choice is a powerful gift, and it is a gift that all of us need to use much more conscientiously because it has a lot of power. And part of the power is because of the outcomes that follow. So, when I have an outcome, it is my opportunity from that outcome to learn: to learn about my choice, and to make a different choice next time. Or I may choose to not learn from my choice and continue to make the same mistake, make the same choice again because I was unwilling to learn, and to humble, and choose to make a different choice the next time.
So, the power of choice has also been called free will or agency – these labels connote the ability to make autonomous decisions, to judge between alternatives, to choose Truth or distortion, to govern oneself and to experience the outcomes of choices made. Because you possess the power of choice, because children possess the power of choice, in reality, children are always capable of choosing how they will perceive, what they’ll think, and how they’ll behave. So, how they’ll behave independently of whatever else is going on outside of you.
So, you’ve got to teach children that choice is about understanding outcomes, and because they possess this power to choose, they’re always capable of choosing what they’re going to perceive, and what they’re going to think, and how they’ll react or how they’ll behave, independent of what else is going on outside of you. That’s a very important concept—that they are responsible to understand that. And again, children come into the world, they don’t understand anything, and so really, it’s our responsibility as the adult/the parents in their life to teach them that.
The power of choice also means that you are 100 percent responsible for the outcomes of every perception, every thought, every motive, every behavior, every action that you choose. So, when I say you’re 100 percent responsible, those are the outcomes. When you choose, you’re 100 percent responsible for the outcomes that get created. And how you perceive, what you think, what your motives are, how you behave, and the action that you choose. In other words, you will become the type of being you choose to become. You are always choosing. It is as constant as breathing.
Even if you choose not to decide, or desire not to make a choice, that’s still a choice. I mean, some people will say, “Well, I’m just not going to choose.” And it’s like, you just chose. The one thing you cannot do is cease to choose. You cannot not choose because the power of choice is at the center of who you are as a human being. Thus when you choose in honesty—which is integrity—you instantly connect with who you truly are: a being of Truth composed of choice and responsibility.
So, choice is incredibly, incredibly powerful because it gives us this opportunity to learn through these choice points because we have these outcomes. And oftentimes, our outcomes are not pleasant. And maybe it’s not often. For some people, it’s often, and if that’s the case where you’re often having outcomes you don’t like, my guess is that you have not learned how to choose more accurately to have outcomes that create outcomes that are not so unpleasant for you.
From the moment a child is born, choice becomes a part of their existence. Though many of us are not or were not taught about our innate power to choose, we all have been blessed with this capacity to create our own particular outcomes. Isn’t that cool? We all have this ability to create outcomes for ourselves. Dependent on our choice, how we choose to react versus respond—because that’s a choice, we can either react to things or we can be thoughtful and respond to things—dependent on how we choose to perceive, like I will perceive in Truth versus fantasize, I will perceive in distortion. So, that’s a choice that you can make – perceive in Truth or fantasize and perceive in distortion.
How we choose to feel: so acknowledge our emotions or if we choose to deny, like go into denial and say I’m not going to feel. It’s dependent on how we choose to engage Reality versus go into distractions, distortions, addictions, and fantasy.
It’s dependent on how we choose to be or take responsibility for our part (and the Truth is we always have a part in the dynamic) versus blame others, resent, feel entitled. How we choose to be emotionally honest or be emotionally dishonest. And how we choose to humble ourselves, be open, willing, live transparent, and full of compassion, versus living accusatory, angry, vindictive, unwilling, and always finding fault either in self, or other, or circumstances.
You get to choose all that stuff and much, much, much more. It’s all dependent on how you choose to choose. Choice is as constant as breath. Yet how conscious are we about our breath? Just as breath affects the body as a whole, so does our power of choice.
- We choose to feel the way we do, we choose to think the way we do.
- We choose to perceive the way we do, we choose to believe the way that we do.
- We choose to value the things we value the way that we do.
- We choose to speak the way we do.
- We choose to act and behave the way we do.
- We choose to react or respond the way that we do.
- We choose to learn or not learn.
- We choose to be influenced and affected.
And again, those are just a handful of things. We choose these things, and I want to make this so concrete for you because you are responsible to teach your children all of these things. Children come and they’re just this open little brain, it’s an open slate, there’s nothing in it as far as we know. And we are responsible to teach them, to teach them about this power of choice. And so, we figuratively talk about the child putting their hand on the stove and they burn their hand and then they go, “Oh my gosh, that’s hot.” And the parent goes, “Hot. Hot.” And the child goes, “Hot. Hot.” And they repeat the word. And they learn the word for hot because they have this emotional, visceral experience of, they burn their hand and it hurts.
So, when they say the word “hot”, they think “bad” because I just burned my hand and they learn. They learn. So, you are responsible as their mentor/care provider/parent to teach them that they choose and there always is consequence that follows.
It is impossible to stop the power of choice in your life. Some will say, “Okay, I just won’t choose.” Yet that right there is a choice. Choice and its outcomes are constant and just as your breath, we would cease to exist without them. As long as we’re breathing, choice will exist and with choice always comes outcomes.
So, why don’t we teach our children about this amazing, wonderful power called choice? We seem to ignore choice or be oblivious to it as we go along in life. And oftentimes, we attempt to control the outcomes that follow either our choices or another person’s choices because the consequences are unpleasant or undesirable.
Choice is so ubiquitous that it doesn’t stand out or demand for attention. However, when choice—either our own or others’—is used in ways that cause, or create, or invite us into outcomes or consequences that are displeasing, or difficult, or hard, or unwanted, or sorrowful, or are grievous, choice becomes more paramount and recognizable. It’s a force at this juncture, like you’ve got to choose.
[00:19:30] Examples of Choice
So, here’s some examples of choice.
- I eat, and if I eat a lot of calories—more than my body can burn off—then I will gain weight. There’s choice and outcome.
- If I choose to lie and be dishonest, then the person that I’ve lied and was dishonest with will not trust me or feel safe with me, and may not even want to be my friend.
- If I ride a bike, I could fall off and skin my knee or hit my head on the sidewalk.
- If I risk in a relationship, they could leave me.
- If I choose to be vulnerable, someone could invalidate me.
- If I act like a victim and act irresponsible, the outcome will be that I’m not safe and I won’t have connection.
- If I go outside and don’t dress warm in cold weather, then I’ll be cold.
- If I tell someone that I’ll be there and do something and then I don’t, then the outcome is they’re disappointed, and they don’t trust me, and possibly they’re angry.
So, all of these things, there are millions and millions and millions of choices that we make every day. Well, not millions every day but we’re making thousands of choices in a day. Thousands of them. And how many of them actually rise to your consciousness and give you awareness that you just chose and you just had an outcome?
I mean, the other day I was eating something and I bit my tongue really hard. I still have a sore spot in my mouth, it’s like oh, my goodness. I don’t typically do that. But that was choice—choice and outcome. I was chewing something which I need to do to survive, so it wasn’t a bad choice, it was just choice. And for some reason, I bit my tongue, I don’t even know why, but that was an outcome.
Our responsibility as parents and care providers to children is to prepare them for adulthood. We have 18 years to fully prepare to launch those kids into the world. It’s our charge to get them ready for all that will or might be presented to them. And too many children are not being prepared for this life that they’re getting ready to have. Yet they are being sheltered, and they are being protected from life, so instead of preparing them for life, we’re sheltering them and protecting them from life.
- They are being taught that you can choose whatever you want and someone will absorb or clean up the outcomes for you, especially when there’s pain or discomfort involved.
- We are teaching kids that there’s an endless supply of money and things to pleasure them.
- We teach them, “Don’t live in reality, always distract yourself.”
- We teach them, “You don’t really have to grow up and be accountable, you just have to come to me and I’ll give you money, and I’ll enable you, and I’ll always take care of you. And you can be an adult child if you want.”
- We teach them that parents, or government, or charities, or someone will do something for you. Always. That they’ll always be someone to take care of you.
- We teach them that they deserve it. Everyone else’s choices should produce the same outcomes. Life should be fair. Oh, my gosh, that’s a biggie. We are teaching kids that life is fair. Life is not fair. Life is not fair. I mean, look around. Look around. Life is not fair. There’s always someone that has a shorter end of the stick than you do. Always. Especially for us here in this affluent country of America, my goodness.
- We teach them that they’re entitled to what everyone else has.
- We teach them that nothing is their fault and life is being done unto you.
- We teach them that they don’t deserve anything that uncomfortable, anything that’s hard, or uneasy, or difficult, or emotionally distressing. They shouldn’t have to experience that stuff.
- We teach them to focus about themselves. Their wants, their feelings, their will, their desires. Me, me, me, me. My pain, my upset.
That’s what we teach kids in today’s world. It’s tragic. It’s absolutely tragic. And when we teach children these messages, we raise them to be narcissistic. Now, if you don’t know what narcissism means, go look that up, because that is a nasty outcome. And the reason children are being raised to be so me-ego-centric is because we won’t allow them to be vulnerable. We don’t want them to feel bad, or feel hurt, or feel sad, or have outcomes of choices that they’ve made.
And sometimes, they have outcomes of choices that other people have made. Sometimes, we or our children are on the receiving end of someone else’s choices, and we’re having outcomes of choices that they’ve made. Either way, do not take the outcomes away from your children. You can comfort them, you can succor them, you can love them, you can validate them, but DO NOT take away their consequences.
I was talking to a mom over the weekend, and it’s getting to be Christmas time here and her son has chosen to kind of dink around and not get his homework done. Now, this kid is completely capable and he just doesn’t want to do his work because it’s hard. It’s hard. He’s very talented, many things just come really easy to him, sports, and academics, but this particular semester, he’s really struggling because things are hard for him.
And so, he’s just not been getting his homework done. So, mom shows up at the school unannounced—I love this woman, she’s a wonderful parent—and he about swallows his tongue. He’s like, “Mom, why are you here?” And she’s like, “Oh, I thought I’d drop in to see what you’re doing.”
So, she goes over and talks to the teacher and finds out where he stands with his grades and she makes the announcement to her son that if you are not going to get your grades up by this particular date, there will be no Christmas for you. And she told him why she would be doing that, that it’s done in love, it’s done in the spirit of teaching him about the power of choice and outcome. And he just could not believe it. Like, he wasn’t going to be rewarded for his poor behavior, for his selfish behavior. And I said to this mother, I’m like, “Wow, if there’s any way to duplicate you, because you are an anomaly. Unfortunately, you are an exception.” Parents have a very difficult time holding their children accountable because little Sally, or little Molly, or little Tommy, or Frank are upset. And the parents have so much co-dependency with these kids that they take it personal and they want to make sure that their child is not upset. And so, they never allow them to feel the outcomes of choices made.
So, when we teach these children these kinds of messages, we’re raising them to be very selfish. We raise them to be incapable of feeling empathy, compassion, regard for others—like positive regard for others—they are incapable of feeling pain because someone has always interrupted that life experience for them, so they don’t and they can’t feel. Therefore, they don’t feel for others. Their life experience is so distorted that they believe everything around them is there to serve them, that all the people around them are there to wait on them, and take care of them, and make sure that they aren’t uncomfortable.
I know this sounds extreme. However, it is not. We are raising a generation—it’s called the millennials—of incredibly self-centered, disconnected, distracted, controlling children. I cannot believe the disrespect of children in today’s world. There once was a time when you called your elder Mr. and Mrs., that doesn’t happen anymore. Kids today just feel absolutely entitled and emboldened to call people by their first names. And I really don’t have a problem with somebody calling me by first name as long as they’re respectful. But when I get a person who is younger than me calling me by first name, some child, and they’re disrespectful on top of it, I have an issue with that.
It is a tragedy when we do this to our children—all in the name of loving them. To love someone is to allow them to experience their life as its presented to them and to be there for them in times when it’s challenging. But life is not there to take the experience away from them. Children need to experience their experiences and feel the emotions and the outcomes that come from their experiences, and then change and learn from them. And in that dynamic, they will grow. That’s what will happen, is that they will grow, they will become mature adults.
And the most important thing is that they will grow and they will learn how to feel empathy for another person. Because right now, our children do not feel empathy, they just don’t feel it. They don’t feel for another human being because their whole focus is around them – “me, oh and me, me.” And they don’t consider that, “Oh, you exist, too? And oh, you get disappointed, too? And I affect you? Wow, I didn’t realize that.” Because no one has taught them, no one has directed their attention to the other, because their environment is constantly just immersing them in this kind of goop—I’m trying to think of an image—this self-centered goopiness and we need to stop doing that because it’s destroying these kids. They’re growing up to become incapable of feeling and the outcomes are horrendous, the outcomes are addictions, the outcomes are distractions, and control, and anger, and lustful behavior. Just off the charts.
So, I want to talk about why when children are not given the opportunity to feel these kinds of outcomes in their life, what is actually happening to them? Why is it that they’re becoming so self-centered? Why do they go there?
Well, let me tell you just quickly. When children (or adults, but we’re taking about kids), when children choose and they choose something that has an uncomfortable outcome, it could be anything, it could be I stubbed my toe, it could be I studied really hard and I got a poor grade even though I studied, I dropped my computer on the ground, I dropped my homework paper in the mud puddle. I mean, whatever, there’s uncomfortable feelings and when I have those experiences, I am experiencing my vulnerability. That’s what it is, I’m experiencing vulnerability. Which means I’m experiencing what the outcome of the experience/choices were and are.
Now, if I’m not validated in that vulnerability and allowed to have the full experience of the outcomes, then I will never learn. I will be cut off or suspended from the actual learning part of the experience, so if my mother or my parent comes in and says, “Don’t worry about you dropping your paper in the mud puddle, I will go print off another copy and I’ll bring it to school.” Or when I drop my computer, my parent says, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll go buy you another one.”
If that experience is interrupted and I don’t get to have the full experience of the outcome, then I start thinking that every time I do anything that causes discomfort, then I need to have someone, i.e. my parent, or someone in my environment interrupt that experience and make it better. Quickly, make it better. Take all the pain away, take all the discomfort away, take the consequence away, I don’t want to feel it.
And what that teaches a child/an adult is that when they choose, nothing “uncomfortable” ever happens. And so, they become incredibly selfish because the Truth is, is that there are things that they are choosing all the time that have uncomfortable outcomes, but they demand that someone fix it. And they don’t ever learn how to mature through the experience which is what they’re supposed to do. Children are supposed to learn how to make choices, and have outcomes, and learn through the discomfort of the outcome that life doesn’t end, that it’s not the end of the world if they don’t get a new computer, that when they turn their paper into their teacher and say, “I dropped it in a mud puddle, I’m so sorry.” That the teacher says, “I understand, we’ll just let it sit here and dry out. I appreciate you getting your homework done.”
That there are outcomes that are necessary to teach them how to feel the experience and be in the reality of life, so that they can mature through life. They can mature as they are growing up in life. It teaches them how to regulate their emotions. And it teaches them that life is vulnerable. Life is vulnerable. That if I put my foot behind a tire, that the car or the bike is going to run over my foot and it’s going to hurt. And I might even have smashed toes. That there is always outcome and that they need to experience the outcome so that they can continue to grow and develop and mature in life.
Now, let me introduce a concept called shame. Now, I’ve talked a lot about shame and I’ve talked a lot about guilt. I want to talk about these two entities because the reason why children or adults become so selfish is because they go into this place called shame. Sometimes when they make choices that they know are wrong, or are dishonest, or violate their morals, they need to feel guilt, and remorse, and sadness, and regret. But because these people in their life keep interrupting their choices, and not allowing them to have the consequences, and teaching them to blame others, and compare, and they teach them that they’re unique, or special, or different, or that they’re a victim—these are all denial strategies—or they can compartmentalize, or they can just comply. Because their environment teaches them those things, they go into a place called shame because denial is all about dishonesty, it’s all about distortion.
What’s supposed to happen is that they’re supposed to have an experience and then they get to choose. They get to choose to either connect with the experience which means they show up in accountability, they show up understanding, in humility, they meet their own expectations, they’re emotionally honest, they’re vulnerable, they are open, transparent, they’re teachable, they allow for mistakes to happen, they invite and accept feedback, they view embarrassment as temporary, they ask for help, they’re willing to apologize, they know how to be humble, they’ll learn from their mistakes, they’re boundaried, they acknowledge their humanness, they see the experience as temporary and situational.
Those are all the things that children do or have the experience when they’re allowed to have consequence. That’s a lot. However, if children choose, and their environment/the people in their environment don’t support them to feel their consequences, then children will disconnect.
And it’s kind of interesting because you’d think that not feeling the consequences would make them connect but it’s actually the antithesis. It’s not experiencing the consequences that their choices, not experiencing the emotion that comes with the choice and the outcome that they need to feel. When they’re not given the opportunity to do that, they will disconnect, because what they’re being taught is that they’re not vulnerable. They’re being taught that life and them are not vulnerable, like they’re not vulnerable in life, that they can have a different experience than everybody else. And the Truth is, is that that’s not the Truth. They are vulnerable. It’s just people in their world keep interrupting the choice and consequence dynamic and so they don’t ever learn about their vulnerability, and so they feel like they’re God. They feel like nothing bad ever happens to them and that they can have whatever they want and they can do whatever they want and they can demand whatever they want. Oh, and by the way, they can demand you to do whatever they want. That is a state of disconnect, and here’s how they show up when they are in that state of disconnect.
Here are some characteristics.
When a person is disconnected, this is how they show up.
- They are irresponsible.
- They blame.
- They’re angry.
- They’re resentful.
- They have expectations.
- They’re entitled.
- They have addictions.
- They lust.
- They’re selfish.
- They feel humiliated, disgraced.
- They behave immorally or immodestly.
- They behave aggressive and entitled.
- They’re afraid of receiving feedback, and refuse to listen.
- They act deceitful and they’re dishonest.
- They act like they’re different and unique.
- They disconnect from not only themselves but others and God.
- They’re arrogant and selfish.
- They see mistakes are intolerable and not okay.
- They don’t hold boundaries, they don’t honor other people’s boundaries.
- They act perfectionistic and judgmental of themselves and others.
- They view experiences as permanent and absolute.
Oh, my goodness, what a horrible life to lead. Can you imagine living like that? That would be terrible, absolutely terrible. So, it all comes down to what they choose. And when people show up life that, they live in a disconnected experience.
So, I want to read to you a definition of shame, because shame is the author or architect of people disconnecting. Another word for shame is distorted thinking or false beliefs. So, shame is a painful, searing emotion. It is an emotional response to self-denigrating and self-adulating thoughts or beliefs. And I’m going to explain what self-denigrating and adulating thoughts mean here in a minute. Every person experiences shame; there is no way not to experience it.
However, because shame is an emotional outcome of lies and distortions, it is caustic and corrosive and will destroy your emotional, spiritual and physical life if you choose to live in a place of shame. So, another way to say that, if you choose to not experience choice and outcome, and hold it in the Reality of how it presents. If I drop my paper in a mud puddle, then the outcome is, I have a wet paper. I have a wet paper, that’s okay! Now, if I have time to go home and change it out and get another paper, okay great. But if I have a pattern that says every time something uncomfortable happens to me, that I have to have it fixed and I don’t ever experience the Reality of sometimes, I’m just not going to able to get a new paper—I need to have those experiences because those are connecting experiences. Going and handing my teacher my paper when I have historically handing her very clean, fresh pieces of paper that have not been dropped in mud puddles, and I have a relationship and a history with her that I turn in clean looking homework and so when I turn in this one day that I dropped it in a puddle, then he or she is compassionate towards me and says, “I understand. I understand. No problem. Don’t worry about it.” I need those kinds of experiences.
Since I was a child, I’ve learned messages about myself that were distorted and inaccurate. These distorted thoughts produced a feeling a shame, so when I go into a distortion which says I don’t have to feel outcomes, that’s a distorted thought. If you choose not to change and be responsible for your distorted thoughts, you will remain and live in an ongoing state of shame. This ongoing feeling of shame is excruciatingly uncomfortable and as humans, we will do almost anything to control it.
Shame drives most human suffering. In attempts to escape the painful feeling of shame, we will use almost anything – anger, depression, fear, addiction, violence, suicide – all to control or distract from the feeling, instead of reframing the beliefs behind the emotion of shame. And this diversion into control / distracting your feelings, instead of reframing the thoughts that are creating the feelings, this is how shame entraps so many of us, even for our entire lives. If you do not reframe your distorted thoughts and false beliefs into the Truth, shame will influence and affect your entire world, creating hopelessness and anger, perpetuating addictions, obliterating boundaries, causing caustic attitudes, enabling abuse towards yourself and others, and leaving a wake of destruction within you and behind you. Shame violates the Truth about your power of choice by convincing you that you cannot or should not make choices.
It will cause you to feel stuck, and trapped, and unable to change. Shame prevents you from becoming who you really are and who you really can be. Shame promotes a feeling of being forced or compelled, having no options and thinking in extreme black-and-white terms. Shame—which is distorted thoughts and false beliefs—offers promises of forgiveness through self-denial and self-punishment or through being “better than” others which is self-adulation.
In all cases, shame is based on the false premise that what you do somehow determines what you are. That your worth and your value as an individual fluctuates depending on how much good you do or how good you feel. This is a lie. Shame is a lie. If you choose to believe the aggressive messages of your distorted thoughts and false beliefs, you will continue to experience life in a state of shame and self-hatred.
That’s pretty powerful. Shame. That’s what is present when your child or you makes a choice and then doesn’t have the accurate outcome of what that choice creates—shame comes. Distortion comes. Because when you alter that outcome for them, and you don’t allow them to—Let’s say they’re mouthing off in class and you go in and you bawl the teacher out because you don’t want your son or daughter to take the consequences for choices they just made, they will feel shame. Why? Because they know what they’ve done was wrong. When a child or an adult does something inappropriate, they know that what they’ve done is wrong. And instead of feeling appropriate remorse and guilt, they feel shame. That’s what happens.
And so, shame is always the architect of disconnect. I can’t even think of a word that’s strong enough. It is vitally necessary in order for your child or a child to grow up and become a healthy adult, they must make choices and they must experience the outcomes of their choices as authentically and accurately as they present themselves. Whether they choose to do something that is a violation to themselves or whether the choices of someone else affect them, they must have the experience where they keep it in the Truth and they respond from a thoughtful position where they feel emotions, they hold themselves accountable, they are emotionally honest, they stay vulnerable, and they validate themselves and the other person.
So, let’s talk about guilt for a minute because shame is the counterfeit of guilt. So, guilt is a very misused and misunderstood word. Often, we say we feel guilty to express the idea of feeling bad or even simply feeling uncomfortable. In fact, guilt is a very specific experience with a very specific purpose. Guilt is the experience of dissonance or discord within your body and spirit. Guilt feels uncomfortable and emotionally painful. Its purpose is to get your attention, to alert you when you have thought, said, or done anything that violates your integrity, your beliefs, your morals, or ethics.
Guilt is necessary. It is your ally. Without guilt, you would not know when you have done or said something inappropriate because you would not feel the disharmony of any inappropriate behavior you have perpetrated on yourself or another. Unfortunately, because guilt is so uncomfortable, many of us attempt to escape it. Not by returning to our integrity—by redressing the wrong or infraction we have committed—but by going into distortion, distraction, and denial. If you choose to react to guilt in this manner, you will experience immense shame instead of guilt.
We were just talking about that. It’s our responsibility to feel the weight of what we’ve done and not to hide from it. So, choice, I want to keep going back to choice because I’m weaving a lot of concepts in here and I know that it might be confusing for you and choice is always connected to whether I go into shame, which is self-denigration, self-adulation and it causes disconnect. Or I go into Truth, which says, I will be responsible, I will be emotionally honest, I will be vulnerable, I will validate, I will be humble. And those things will create connection.
So, it’s all within my choice, and when I make a choice, there is always outcome. And so, I get to experience the outcome, manage the outcome, be honest about the outcome, be responsible for the outcome, and make choices that reflect integrity, that reflect emotional honesty, that reflect personal responsibility, that reflect a willingness to stay open and transparent, and be compassionate, and be vulnerable, and validate. That’s what I get to choose.
Now, when I do not choose to choose Truth, when I choose distortion instead of Truth, when I choose shame instead of Truth, here’s what happens. So, when I have an experience, no matter who, what, when, why about the experience, I get to choose how I will perceive it, how I will feel it, and how I will respond to it. That’s all up to me. It doesn’t matter who I am, what’s going on, when, or why, I get to choose how I’m going to perceive my experience and how I’m going to feel it, and how I’m going to respond to it. That’s my choice.
Now, children need to be taught that, because with little children, we all know that when Sally drops her ice-cream cone on the ground, she might perceive that her brother knocked it off her cone and so she reaches over and hits him. And so, parents have got to teach Sally that it’s not okay to hit your brother and that it’s not okay to poke Sally so that she was tipping her hand and her ice-cream fell off. So, both children have to be taught that the choices that they’re making are affecting the other person and they’re having outcomes. Sally’s outcome was that she dropped her ice-cream cone on the ground. Her brother’s outcome was that Sally hit him. And he also got reprimanded by his parents for choices made. And so, it’s appropriate for children to have these kinds of outcomes, so that they can learn to do something different next time. So, the next time Sally and her brother get an ice-cream cone, the brother keeps his hands to himself because he’s learned that if he bothers his sister, she might drop her ice-cream cone again and he doesn’t want to be at all culpable for why it is that she dropped her ice-cream cone on the ground. He doesn’t want to get hit and he doesn’t want the feedback from his parents.
And more importantly, he loves his sister and he doesn’t want to negatively emotionally impact her. And so, the goal is to help brother learn from an emotional standpoint that that is the main reason why he doesn’t poke his sister, is because he wants to be connected to her. Connected. And that is something that parents and adults have to teach children, because children don’t just learn that naturally. They have to have experiences where there’s emotional discomfort, and then they have to have people validate them inside that emotional discomfort, so that they know what it feels like to have discomfort. They’ve got to be taught how to feel uncomfortable and let them sit in it, so that they know what discomfort feels like. They know what it means to be cold, so that when mom says, “Hey, get your coat on, it’s snowing outside.” They go, “Yes, ma’am.” Because I remember last time when I chose not to get my coat on, mom didn’t go back and get my coat and I was freezing my tail off, and I learned. And she was very loving and very validating, kept saying, “Wow, you look really cold. I’m sorry you didn’t choose to get your coat.” And the child’s like, “Uhhh!” I’m all upset, but boy, did I learn a lesson because mom did not interrupt my experience and take away my consequences. She let me have them because she loves me, so that the next time I choose, I will remember that discomfort and I will get my coat. Consequences are absolutely necessary for all of us. But they start in childhood and if you came from an environment that did not teach you consequence, I’m sorry for that. That’s really unfortunate because you are in a world of hurt because you are perceiving your world from a position of I can do whatever I want, nothing bad ever happens to me. And that just is not the Truth, you have been bought and sold a lie.
So, I would invite you to humble your little soul and start practicing choice and accountability, and don’t let anyone take your consequences away from you. Experience them.
So, I’m going to stop here because it’s about 50 minutes and I’m going to pick up on the next podcast, so I will talk to you in just a minute. Bye bye.
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