Here are the 4 Principles I Want to Teach My Son
1.) You Have the Power to Change Your Thoughts
Our thoughts really matter and play a really big role in our behavior. The very classic model of human functioning is thoughts create your feelings which create your behaviors which create your results. So I have a really cute story about this with my son. He was sitting at the kitchen table opening pistachios and some of them are a little bit easier to open and some are a little bit harder.
You know the ones that are a little bit more closed. He was sitting there at the table and he was pulling trying to get this pistachio open and he said Oh I can’t do it.
And I said Say out loud I can do it. And he said Oh I can’t do it. I said say “I can do it.” And he said, “I can do it!” And boom opened up the pistachio the pistachio jumped out and it was like this aha moment. And it was so powerful that he could see that when he shifted from I can’t do it to I can do it. So anytime he says I can’t do it I reinforce you can do it. And I have him say out loud I can do it.
And last night before bed he was playing with some yoga blocks and he himself now that he’s getting a little bit older he who’s having a tough time putting a piece together.
And he said, “I can do it! I can do it.”
And the lego blocks connected
I was just so proud of him I didn’t say anything because I wanted him to just experience it. But that’s a really important principle that I want to teach him to shift from I can’t to I can and that he has the power to change his thoughts and that he can exercise this ability that we all have in flexible thinking.
2. Create a Gratitude Practice.
So we have a gratitude practice at night before bed. I ask him, “Evan, what are you grateful for?” Sometimes I use the word thankful but a lot of times I use grateful and he’ll say things like, “Sharks and Strawberries.” Then he’ll ask me, “What are you grateful for?”
We make it fun. Sometimes in the middle of the day, we’ll play the gratitude game and we’ll take turns looking for something in the environment that we’re grateful for.
And the reason why gratitude is important is because gratitude really impacts our emotional experience. And it also allows us to intentionally create good feelings. This is a really helpful skill because so often our brains can go towards what’s negative or what isn’t working out. And this is the ability to control our focus and to direct our attention to the good that’s already there.
3. It’s Okay to Make Mistakes.
We’re human beings. I make mistakes all the time. By no means am I a perfect mom and I am not trying to be perfect. I want him to see that I make mistakes. I own it when I make a mistake. I say “Oops, Mommy made a mistake.” And sometimes he’ll say to me, “It’s okay Mommy” because he hears me say that to him. This was inspired by someone I very much admire which is Sara Blakely and she’s the creator of Spanx. She became the youngest female entrepreneur who’s a billionaire. Part of her success story and why I think she’s become so successful is that when she was in school her father would reinforce this idea to celebrate failure with her and he would be disappointed if she didn’t come home from school and have something to share that she failed at. And so she was able to reframe this idea of failure that failure is just not trying.
This mindset is something that has allowed her to create because so many people hold themselves back from creating the business that they want or the art that they want because they’re afraid of failure. So I use the word mistakes because I don’t know for right now that’s what I’m using. Maybe it will be “failure” when he gets older and has a little bit more language. I think it’s so important because perfectionism holds people back so much. And we’re not perfect beings and we’re going to make mistakes — and if we can learn from those mistakes or a lot of very successful people have learned the most from their mistakes. My intention behind this is really to cultivate the attitude of just keep going, keep trying, keep figuring it out, because if you want to create something amazing you’re gonna make mistakes.
4. Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.
So before rerecorded this podcast with Evan, he said to me,”Mom, I’m a little bit nervous.” And I said, “It’s OK to be nervous.” And we did it anyway. So I think it’s really important to acknowledge that it’s okay to be fearful. It’s okay to be nervous. This was really fun because I do this in my work because the number one thing that blocks us is fear. All of us said to me I was laying in bed with him and I turned off the light and he said to me mommy I’m just a little afraid. And I said that’s OK say hi. Fear. How are you? What does fear say? I asked him. He said it asked me how old I am. And I said What do you say. He said I’m a little brave. The fear is starting to go away when we acknowledge the fear. We say hi to it rather than push it away or pretend that it’s not there. It can lose some of its power. And I also reinforced this idea that you can feel the fear and do it and give him the mantra I am brave and I have him point to his heart. And so he has this mantra. Sometimes when he’s afraid he went through this phase where he was really afraid of aunts in the summertime. And sometimes you would you know would scream and run away but sometimes he would go I am brave I am brave and walk through it. So I want to reinforce this idea not to let fear hold him back and that he can face it and sometimes he’ll say to me, “Mommy I am brave,” because he has that in his toolbox.
Facing fears builds confidence it builds courage and it goes without saying that that’s very useful for life. So there’s a big misconception that we should be confident before we do something. But confidence is often the result of doing something that you’re afraid of.
Life will always have its ups and downs. But my real goal is that to give not only Evan but the people that I work with and something I work on constantly is creating a toolbox to manage our mind manage our life to our best capacity. Ultimately, these four principles are pretty simple.