In my last post I mentioned how I hadn’t been writing as much, partly because I’ve been in the midst of a hot Sydney summer, and partly because I haven’t felt much like writing. Simples. Towards the end of that last monologue, I made a comment about only writing when I felt like writing. What I have since come to realise is that I only really feel like writing when I feel like I have something to write about.
Which I think probably explains why I’ve just powered on the laptop at 11.10pm on this hot, humid Tuesday night. I think I’ve found a topic.
Since moving to Australia I’ve doggedly stuck to my ambition of becoming a 10pm bedtime, 6am getting up, kinda guy. It’s futile. Ever since I was a teenager I preferred staying up late and waking up late. I was always late for school. Try as I might, I have not adapted to being a morning lark. I relish the solitude and silence of night time. One of my favourite things to do is go for a walk on the beach after midnight. Yonks ago I would regularly go speeding through the streets of London in my Mazda MX5 with the top down, loving the space on the roads that late night provides. I am happier in the PM. End of.
However, I don’t want to dive down the rabbit hole of my sleep patterns in this post though. No, today my topic is children. I want to talk about children, and more specifically what they can teach us.
“Wait, Chris, what to you mean, what they can teach us? Surely it’s the other way round, aren’t we meant to teach children?”
Yes and no, my friends, yes and no.
To provide some context as to why I’ve decided to cover this topic, you need some supplementary information: A month ago or so I found myself on the phone to an old friend of mine. A wise friend. The guy is a personal trainer, gym owner, health coach, performance coach, nutrition expert, social media guru, bio hacker, and all round great guy. Let’s call him a ‘Human Health Improver’, or ‘HHI’. I found myself on the phone to this friend in England after I made a comment on one of his social media posts. HHI pulls no punches and accepts no bullshit, we’ve discussed my health complaints before, and whilst I’ve listened semi-patiently, I haven’t felt like he was really telling me anything I didn’t already know. This time was different. HHI launched into what almost felt like an attack.
“Cut the bullshit, Chris, you’re still drinking alcohol, you’re not doing everything you can to optimise your health, but maybe diet and alcohol aren’t the root of the problem, maybe there’s something else. Something emotional. Go get yourself an appointment with a Rapid Transformation Therapist”
RTT is hypnotherapy on steroids essentially. Find some bad stuff lurking in your subconscious that’s messing with your chi, and replace it with something better. Makes sense? Google it if not.
So here’s the thing, I did that. I booked an RTT session. It was not cheap, and I’m not convinced it’s really made much of a change, yet. But it did send me down a path of thinking, which I have not been able to shake since. Much of the hypnotic session centred on my childhood and identifying incidents or feelings that I may have experienced, that in turn may have poisoned my subconscious mind, and as a result are having a detrimental impact on my experience of being an adult. Deep.
How much does what we experience as a child affect our ways of thinking as an adult? OK, sounds like a fairly tiresome question, doesn’t it? One that is admittedly often asked, often raised, but rarely answered, and rarely dealt with. But here’s the thing, children are fun, and they’re fun because they’re free.
When a child is happy it laughs, and dances, and giggles, and shouts, and smiles.
When a child is scared it hides, or cowers, or quivers, or runs to a parent or loved one for protection and support.
When a child is inquisitive it looks, and pokes, and asks questions, lot of questions.
When a child is sad it cries and moans and sulks.
When a child is angry it shouts and throws things and displays its anger.
When a child is hungry it asks for, or goes looking for food. When it fails it is generally frustrated or angry, or when it succeeds it is happy.
This is the common thread in all of the above, when a child experiences an emotion it displays it, expresses it, and in the process deals with it. I don’t have children of my own, sadly, but I have enough experience of them to know that they don’t stay happy, or scared, or sad, or angry, or hungry for very long. They deal with that emotion (experience it fully) and then move on to the next emotion, or thing.
Think about that. Children live in the moment. They experience fully what they are feeling. What does the mainstream way of thinking now tell us? To be happy, we have to be present, in the moment. Children do that by default. The lucky little mites.
Here’s the thing; as adults we feel all the same emotions that we did as children, but on a grander, much more complicated scale. As we age we develop a greater range of emotions; the skills of feeling ecstasy, illogical fear, contemplative joy, pride, envy, jealousy, guilt, sorrow, doubt, and so on.
But here’s the kicker, what do we do with this massive array of emotions? We seek to control them, maybe hide them from view. Lots, if not most, of us are never truly present because we have several other emotions bubbling away, suppressed, under the surface. Sometimes those trapped emotions may have been bubbling away down there for years, decades even. How can we possibly be present, happy and free with such a gigantic weight hanging around our neck?
But, wait, it’s get worse! Here’s the really terrible bit, we aim to replace all emotions with happiness. Our society, at least in the West, is obsessed with happiness as the number one desirable emotion. We aim to make happiness our ruler, and endure an unachievable quest of suppressing the other less desirable emotions in the process. Unless of course, you’re British, in which case it’s more acceptable to whinge and moan than to display joy.
This is the mad part of all this, when we do manage to feel happiness, or joy, or wonder, or pride, or excitement, despite all our other ‘baggage’, most of us suppress the very emotion we’re supposedly on the hunt for. We, as a people, especially in the Western world are fucking great at not displaying our happiness when we feel it. Which is FUCKING TRAGIC. I’m not saying I’m different, but when I’m happy, I sing, and I whistle, and occasionally do little impromptu dances. People appear to think I’m a bit weird for when I display this in the street, or the office. Fuck em.
Of course we also suppress our fear, our sadness, our anger, our frustration – the bad stuff. The ‘not happy’ stuff. This I would argue is more tragic, and more dangerous.
Earlier in the post I said we could learn a lot from children, and this is what I meant. When we feel bad emotions we need to express them, not suppress them. This is not new information. Everyone knows that mourning, crying and wailing is part of dealing with grief. With grief it is acceptable. But with sadness, well especially if you’re like me, and a man, then crying is apparently unacceptable. Because men don’t cry. Utter horseshit!
I went to see the excellent, Oscar-winning Green Book last weekend, and spoiler alert, there are some sad bits and some happy bits, I cried twice, one of each emotion. But I felt embarrassed that I had shed a little tear, so like a good soldier, I tried to wipe away those tears so no one would see my expression of emotion. Twat. I was embarrassed that I felt things about a deeply emotive movie. It’s fucking tragic, so tragic. It doesn’t even make any sense.
Before I go on any further, I’m not saying that it’s okay to go round punching someone every time you feel anger – if you’re feeling anger a lot then it’s likely you have some other issues beyond suppressing your emotions (or maybe you’re angry because you’ve spent a life time SUPPRESSING your emotions – yeah, that’ll do it, that’ll really get you fired up and ready to do some damage). No, what I am saying is that our parents, teachers, friends, society, because they know no better, gradually succeed at turning us into emotion-suppressing creatures.
Don’t throw that toy
etc, etc, you get the picture.
Parenting is an art, not a science, I’m not pretending to know it all, and of course children need to have clear boundaries, and learn how to behave, but I also reckon they need to be allowed to be children, and work out some of that for themselves. Parents get annoyed or embarrassed at their children misbehaving on a long flight. Here’s a thought, maybe children aren’t supposed to be on long flights. Why do we assume it’s okay for children to be cooped up in a pressurised container flying through the air for 12 hours, when in reality they’ve only been asked to do that for last 50 or so years, and only a small proportion of children at that. Of course children don’t behave on flights, they’re children, they want to run about, and shout and kick stuff and bite things, and cry, and laugh, and express themselves.
How often have you heard adults say they hate kids, or roll their eyes when kids are ‘misbehaving’ nearby, or moan about the fact a child is crying in a seat near you on a long haul flight
“not my kids, but other people’s kids, I can’t stand them”
This is so fucked up, this attitude. Children are us, we were children, they are our future, and one day their children will be next, and so on. ‘Disliking’ children is a reflection on you, and society, not the children themselves. They’re great, kids, they’re amazing, they’re full of wonder and excitement. they only turn into little dickheads when some adult fucks them up. They say children’s laughter can heal old people of their ailments. Maybe it’s not the laughter, maybe it’s the freedom. A reminder of what life can be when we’re truly free to express ourselves. Next time you see a child ‘acting up’, maybe try to have some compassion for the fact that child is being held captive in an environment that it’s not supposed to be in (think fancy restaurant), or maybe it’s got a couple of arseholes for parents who don’t look after it properly, so it acts up to get the attention is so desperately needs. But whilst you’re doing that, don’t judge the parents too harshly, they were probably fucked up by someone or something when they were children too.
If your kids are proper little arseholes, and you don’t feel that they can be trusted to work out how to behave on their own, well maybe that’s a reflection of what they’re seeing around them, or maybe it’s got something to do with what you’re feeding them. Or maybe it’s because you’re routinely sticking an iPad in front of them to shut them up. That is not normal, you are likely fucking your child up for life by placating them with a small interactive screen everytime they ‘misbehave’ (or show their emotion). Disagree? Well have a think about this. Adults, all over the world, who grew up with Nokia 5110s, are unable to control their addiction to their smartphones. I know this because I’m one of them, and also because occasionally I put mine down and look around long enough to notice that everyone else is too. What chance do children have of being present, and experiencing their emotions, if their default behaviour is to go to the screen when they feel something they don’t like. Or do like.
“But they misbehave without the ipad! Plus everyone’s giving their kids iphones and ipads, so why shouldn’t I?”
Hey, if you want your child to be in the first group of unpaid donors to a grand social experiment in child rearing and human interaction then go right ahead.
Now, before you go getting angry, think about this, that’s an emotion, well done, you have them. How do you now express that emotion? You have options because you learnt how to, as a child. Isn’t that wonderful. Don’t steal that beautiful gift from your children by teaching them not to display theirs. Now also think about this, if you’re angered by my comments, express it, by commenting on the blog, or debating it with your spouse, or maybe use it as impetus to have an open discussion with your friends. Whatever, just do something. Don’t bottle that shit up.
12:24am. Time for bed. Thank god for blue light blocking glasses. What are those you ask? See the photo above. If you’re anything like me and struggle to disconnect from the tech before bed, which let’s be honest, you probably are – Do yourself a favour and buy a pair.
Love ya 😉