On one particular day, I spoke with three of my Environment Changer students – Frank, Sheila, and Darlene who happened to tell me the exact same story, but with different details.
They were hurting, struggling, anxious, overwhelmed, hurt, and sad – in other words, they were suffering and negative emotions were controlling them.
These negative emotions were attached to a variety of situations but I’m a firm believer that there is no solution in the situation so talking about their situations was of no help.
I reminded them that their negative emotions were coming from somewhere and it was NOT the situation. I’ve taught this before, but they kept forgetting.
Here’s the important lesson
During the first 10 years of our lives, we are awake 16 hours a day which means we are awake 53,760 hours during those first 10 years. Potentially, that’s 53,760 opportunities to hear terrible childhood messages from the people who raised us.
But it’s unlikely these messages were instilled into our young minds every second, of every day. Only a percentage of those 53,760 waking hours came in as negative messages.
A helpful question I often ask is this.
What percent of your 53,760 waking childhood hours contain troubling, painful messages?
If your answer is 50%, you have a huge collection of troubling, difficult, and destructive messages that are haunting you, inflicting pain throughout every aspect of your life.
These messages are here to govern your life whether you like it or not.
Childhood messages have a unique staying power. They come into our minds during those 10 years where we are a blank slate.
These negative messages silently take a back seat until, at the age of 30, they come alive – especially as we enter an intimate relationship as an adult.
And THIS, is where the chaos cycle passes on from one generation to the next.
- If your parents had a short fuse, you have a short fuse.
- If your parents had a gambling problem, you have a gambling problem.
- If your parents relied on alcohol for relief, you rely on alcohol for relief.
Note: The exception to this rule is if you are what I call a “bucker” who actively and consciously rejects your parents’ programming.
Your parents were governed by their childhood messages which they never questioned – or even realized were even there.
Now YOU are the next generation enduring the same messages they were given.
Childhood messages possess you
They activate suddenly without any warning and tell you what to do – and you have no idea it’s happening.
Let’s suppose you have to make a financial decision and your parents had destructive beliefs and values about money.
When these childhood messages talk to you, they’ll urge you to make destructive decisions that are not beneficial to you.
Once the decision is made and your body acts it out, the childhood message suddenly disappears, leaving you to suffer with the results of your decision.
This is how the poor remain poor or how the rich remain rich. This is how the addicted remain addicted or how the healthy remain healthy.
If you have messages to manage money well, you always manage money well.
If you have messages to be dependent on substances, you must rely on substances.
Break free from troubling childhood beliefs
Childhood messages tell you what to do and the problem all this time has been that you simply listen.
You don’t think your own thoughts, you simply listen to the messages.
I’m proposing you try something different. Instead of listening to the stories and messages of your parents, begin to tell yourself brand-new stories.
This change certainly doesn’t happen in an instant, you have take it one step at a time.
Step 1: Tell yourself tiny stories
- “I am not what they told me. I am a person with conscience, love and determination.”
- “I am not what they told me. I am worth it and valuable because I matter to people around me.”
- “I am not what they told me. I have made a difference in my own life and I will make a difference again.”
Step 2: Create repetition through a routine
Stories govern everyone’s life.
They carry ALL the power to cause events and situations to happen. In order for stories to win, they must be told again and again. Make repetition your routine.
I challenge you to begin telling tiny stories throughout your day. They’re short and contain words such as: “People love me and go out of their way to help me.”
The 7 day challenge
As an experiment, tell that story for 7 days in a row and watch how that story comes true.
Your childhood messages have been in the driver’s seat up until now. Now it’s your time to become the storyteller and replace childhood messages with your positive and productive messages about the life you really want.
Quieting your inner voice
What if the negative voice in your head is telling you things like “this won’t work, what’s the point, things will never change”?
Until you learn how to eliminate that negative voice completely and stop being an emotional pinball, telling these stories consistently will take determination and persistence.
If you want to learn how to shut off the voice inside your head and start making real progress in your marriage, like the airlines say, you’ve got to put your own mask on first. And it starts with securing your emotional condition.
Now it’s your turn.
Have you taken a back seat to your childhood messages? What messages are running in your mind?
Try this exercise for 7 days and let me know how it works for you in the comment section below.