Wednesday, 28 December 2016
No. 69: The power of the mind..
In a previous piece I wrote “The power of fear”, I mentioned a school of thought which centered around the premise that every battle fought had to be won twice – the first time in one’s mind. And from my own experience, I believe this to be true and central to the outcome of one’s endeavors, struggles and experiences. Since becoming a parent, I am ever mindful that my job is to equip the girls with these ‘tools’ needed to navigate their lives. Such as learning how to pick yourself up in the face of adversity, to being resilient when things are difficult, to being reflective when things don’t make sense and importantly, developing solving skills to find a way around a problem – because there is always a solution.
Some 10 years ago, Rhonda Byrne wrote a book called The Secret. While I never read it, I did study many similar books when I was in my early 20s. Why then did I bring up that book? I guess because it keeps popping up on my Facebook feed! Anyway, from Norman Vincent Peale’s “The power of positive thinking” to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and just about every book by the likes of Wayne W Dyer, Spencer Johnson, Robert Kiyosaki and more. The message is pretty much universal. You are in charge of your experiences and the outcome. But only if you believe because the power of the mind colors your experience. And yet, how to impart those lessons to three privileged teenagers who live in a generation of instant gratification? Where social media and advertising companies creates a culture whereby everything appears perfect but is in fact manipulated; and reality is hidden behind apps that correct blemishes or simply expunge anything less than utopian?
And so I talk to them about my childhood. Of being tied to a bed whilst my mother took my brothers out to the movies. Of being banished from the house with a few coins in my pocket and wandering the streets in the sweltering heat until I discovered the sanctity of libraries. Of being ashamed of the scars and scratches on my face and the looks and comments they attracted. Of being thrown against a brick wall and punched in the stomach so the blows would not be outwardly noticeable. Of finally leaving my father’s house at 17 with nothing but a bag of clothes – and not knowing a single adult I could turn to for help. I talk about my Cambridge-educated father who was able to project the picture-perfect impression of his blended family to the outside world where in reality my two brothers and I lived in a constant state of fear of violence – physically, emotionally and psychologically. Why? To teach them empathy and demonstrate that even when things are projected as picture perfect, quite often, there are struggles that are being wrestled with in the shadows. To teach them about being grateful and that ‘perfection’ is not real.
Then I share about how through my quests to ‘find a place’ for myself I worked multiple jobs and studied at the same time. I share the misadventures and wrong decisions that made me cry in earnest but how it also drove me - to learn from my mistakes and pick myself up. And then I talk about how even in my darkest days, I somehow always had an idea, a thought, that I was going to be okay. Of how I began to think about and, if you like, daydream about the life I wanted, about the things I wanted to accomplish and achieve, and how I used those thoughts and dreams to drive me in my everyday actions and decisions. In fact, even to this day, I still practice this. Where whenever I am able find myself in a quiet moment, I reflect on what I hope for and what I want to achieve. Is this praying? Or meditating? Maybe. But I don’t know. I have never thought to put a name to it. But it is how I center myself especially in moments of fear. Where I calm myself by trusting that everything will fall into place as it should. A belief. The power of the mind. To pass on to my girls.
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