T loves a good story. We read 2 books together every evening plus a “short one” (which sometimes turns into several “short ones” depending on how much resolve I have and how late it is…). It always amazes me how he remembers every line. If I miss an “and” or a “the” he calls me out. I guess it’s true what they say: for better or for worse, kids are like sponges.
According to UNICEF, “Early childhood years from birth through age 8 are formative in terms of intelligence, personality and social behavior. The first two years are particularly crucial”. Just a little pressure on us parents of young children, eh?
As adults, many of us still harbor some hard-wired beliefs regarding our personal capabilities. Juvenile sponge-like brains tend to soak up external opinions like truth, even when they may be far from. The good news is, if your own juvenile sponge-like brain soaked up some less-than-ideal beliefs about your capabilities, you are not doomed for life. Once thought to be pretty concrete, we now know the brain is more like plastic; changeable throughout the course of ones life. Remember neuroplasticity?
Like T’s favorite book “Never Ask a Dinosaur to Dinner”, the stories we’ve been telling ourselves may not always be true. Just as a dinosaur would probably not cozy up to the dinner table with a family of four humans, you may not be completely clumsy or slow or weak or (insert inaccurate belief) here. The stories we tell ourselves are not always true.
If some jerky gym teacher didn’t appreciate your sweet kickball skills and you’ve avoided ball sports ever since, it might be time to join a social kickball league. If your acrobat aunt labeled you as inflexible as the tin man, show her what’s what and sign up for some aerial yoga. One of the fun things about being a grownup is that we are allowed to decide when and how to move our grownup bodies. This is one thing I love about working with a mature population: nobody’s mama is forcing them to be there (at least not that I am aware of….).
The tricky thing is, old stories tend to be more sticky. If you’ve spent 30, or 40, or 50 years of your life telling yourself one thing, questioning that belief can be a little bit of a mind (insert inappropriate four letter word that T will never say here…oh wait, he already said it…now remembering why we pulled him out of that daycare…).
Rearranging the brain is not impossible, but it is certainly not easy. For more specific info on inviting a bit of neuroplasticity into your life, you can look back through my Mindfulness Monday series. For an even simpler hack, next time you doubt your capabilities, follow up with the question of “Is this true?”. You might be pleasantly surprised at your answer.
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