The Power of Influence
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Last night I watched the Netflix Documentary “Won’t you be my Neighbor”. Chronicling the life of Fred Rogers, more commonly known as Mister Rogers. I watched the show as a young child but little did I know that he had been on the air since the late 60’s. I was mesmerized by the movie and the message of the story as it triggered all sorts of emotions and memories in me. Towards the end I found myself sobbing with overwhelming passion and here’s why.
A couple months ago as I was completing my final essay for my Wellness Coaching Certification and I felt the same overwhelming passionate emotion inside as I did last night watching the documentary. The passion related to the mission I saw for myself that was simple and very clear. My actions from that moment on had to be directed at ensuring that I did my part in this world to ensure that no one ever has to feel like they are not good enough, like they are less than others, like they don’t belong, and like they don’t deserve to be loved. Mister Rogers had a similar mission in his life directed mainly at children, which makes the most sense because that’s where the majority of the molding happens. The influence of life’s “teachers” determining what kind of thoughts we have about ourselves, which then determines what kind of beliefs we hold about our worth and our potential, which then determines the actions we take in our life and how we treat ourselves and others, which ultimately determines our destiny. Children truly are the way to changing the future of this world.
If someone I didn’t know stumbled across my blog they might think I had a negative upbringing. If I had that would definitely offer some understanding for the overwhelming feelings of worthlessness that I grew up feeling, except I didn’t. I had two extremely loving parents, they did everything for me and my siblings. Their lives literally revolved around making sure we had the life of opportunity. We played and participating in every extracurricular activity as my mom shuttled around 3 kids to different venues day after day and my dad worked tirelessly to build his business and provide for us all. I never went without and know my parents had and still have the fierce love for their kids that I can recognize now as I have the same for my boys. So why, under these glowing circumstances, did I still grow up feeling the way I did? The shame about myself, undervaluing my worth, fearing judgement, and allowing others to treat me poorly?
Here’s what I know
The influence is far more reaching than just our parents. It includes every other human being that we have contact with including our peers, teachers, coaches, our bosses, coworkers, our intimate relationships, our casual relationships, as well as the media. It all influences us. We are continually creating stories about ourselves in our minds, all day every day, and most of them are negative and completely untrue. Every situation and encounter we have throughout our day involves hundreds of thoughts that create a story and a belief about it. If we hold on to this creation in our mind and never ask questions to identify and clarify the true story, then that belief becomes a part of the foundation of our minds functioning. The more times situations occur that affirm that belief then the deeper and more true it seems (although it is most often profoundly false). Our mind then helps us to create more situations and encounters in our life that will follow this same false story and further perpetuate this negative process.
The Influence Creates Your Reality
By the time I was 16 I had encountered so many relationships and situations that had affirmed the false story in my mind that I was worthless, no one likes me, no one wanted to be my friend, and I’d always be alone that my entire reality reflected this belief. It was the foundation for me entering and staying in an abusive relationship which compounded those beliefs to such a degree that there was not a shred of truth left about the true me in my mind. My mind was running my life, the true me was buried beneath, my heart was trapped and unable to communicate, and I sunk into what we widely now call depression, however how I see it now was a false sense of self, and it’s a condition that I see many people suffering with.
The science of neuroplasticity is phenomenal and has discovered that our brain can create NEW pathways. Meaning all those negative pathways that we created throughout our whole life because of everything mentioned above, can be replaced with NEW positive beliefs about ourselves through the same methods that we created the negative ones. The catch is that the negative beliefs were formed automatically, but our positive ones we are going to have to consciously create, meaning it will take effort, dedication, consistency and support.
Media’s Negative Influence
Before I tell you in a nut shell some simple steps to start shifting your mindset I want to come back to something from the Mister Rogers documentary that made me really pause and feel a heavy weight of guilt and fear for my own children. Mister Rogers was angry. He was angry because as media developed and television for children became more mainstream, the content of the shows was destructive. The little developing and highly impressionable minds of children were watching hours of television that was geared towards consumerism, make believe, violence, and all sorts of other negative messaging that created thoughts and feelings of less than, fear, anger, aggression, sadness, and loneliness. Sound familiar? Well it should, because it’s exactly the messaging that still exists on tv for children and adults and has become exponentially worse. And if you think you’re immune to it, sorry to break it to you, you’re not. And neither are our children. The more times we hear a message whether we consciously believe it or not, it becomes a thought, that when repeated becomes a belief and so on goes the vicious cycle.
It’s all Connected
When I watched this portion of the movie, it wasn’t a news flash to me, like some brand new concept that we are influenced by tv, our kids in particular, but it was a light bulb that it’s all connected. Our beliefs are a culmination of different exposures and influences that have created these negative thoughts in our minds. TV needs to be included as one of childhoods teachers because most kids watch it, but sadly the messaging is powerfully negative. Don’t get me wrong my kids are among the majority that watch tv, almost daily. It’s the only way this momma can get a moment of peace sometimes! But that overwhelming passion that is burning inside of me to protect everyone from feelings of worthlessness burns especially hot when it comes to children, in particular my own. The guilt about the negative exposure I’ve given my kids as all of this washed over me became intense, until I caught myself and remembered the mantra “focus on solutions”. So let’s head there now.
Creating a Positive Mindset
- Focus on Gratitude – If holocaust survivors can find gratitude and forgiveness then surely we can find some too. It can be hard to see the good when you are in the midst of a shit storm but there is always something that we can find to be grateful for. Even if it’s the air you breathe, or the sun in the sky, or the roof over your head, there is something that we can show appreciation for. The real deep practice of gratitude is when you can find appreciation for things that are seemingly not so amazing. Like the flat tire you got on your way home from work, or your grumpy coworker, or the piles of laundry waiting for you.
- Start a gratitude journal. Every night write down 5-10 things you are grateful for. Using pen and paper is best but if you like a digital option there’s a great free app called “gratitude” where you can write your list for the day and also practice using affirmations. Teach your children about gratitude and make it a family practice.
- Use Affirmations – an affirmation is a positive present tense statement about yourself or a situation that is what you WANT to believe. Remember we need to change the thoughts and the words that are frequented in our mind so repeating positive statements is a road to creating new beliefs. Saying only affirmations without working with a guide to help you identify and clear the negative energy blocks will still have a positive impact, but you can profoundly accelerate this impact by first clearing the negative away. Involve your children here too. They can create and repeat affirmations just like you can.
- Use the gratitude app or create your own and practice daily affirmations. Repeat your affirmations using a power pose for 2 minutes twice a day. Utilize a powerful grounding essential oil to help anchor the new belief.
- Energy Clearing Techniques – my technique of choice is Aroma Freedom. It is a powerfully effective step by step process that identifies negative thoughts, emotions, body sensations and images that create a negative memory complex. By introducing the powerful effects of aroma using high quality essential oils we dissolve the negative energy and allow for free flowing positive energy to be but in its place with affirmation and forward action.
- Find a technique that resonates with you and schedule a session. Try Aroma Freedom click here
- Find Forgiveness – this doesn’t mean excusing someone’s poor behavior or treatment and doesn’t dismiss how it affected you but when you hold on to resentment and negative emotions like anger, tension, disappointment and sadness it’s like taking poison and expecting the other person to become ill. The negative energy only affects you and when you can find forgiveness it will release that weight from you and allow the positive to flow more freely.
- Sit someplace quiet and close your eyes. Think of someone who you are holding anger, hatred, or resentment toward in your heart. Take a few deep slow breaths and allow yourself to feel those feelings and just notice them. Now realize that you can’t change the past or that person’s actions. Also realize that this person may never change the way they are. Take a few slow deep breaths as you accept this truth. Now see the person the way they are, doing what they did because of some paid, some lack, see them as a child that is hurting and lashing out at others in their own pain. People hurt others only because they are hurt themselves. Can you find and feel compassion for them? Sit quietly breathing as you feel the expansion in your heart that compassion brings. You may need to repeat this exercise a few times to release the pain in your heart but your forgiveness will grow as you feel more compassion. Again something you can guide your children through. Listen to the Finding Forgiveness Audio here.
- Clear out the Negative Messaging – Mister Rogers message to kids applies still today to us all. If you find the message on the tv (or nowadays on social media and other media outlets) scary or unsettling or making you feel tense and contracted then do something about it… TURN IT OFF. Stop exposing yourself to negative messages that tell you either overtly or covertly that you are not good enough and special just the way you are. Fill you social media news feel with positive pages and groups of people that create feelings or happiness, lightness, joy, love, gratitude, openness and kindness.
- Go through your social media accounts and delete negative people, groups and pages. Be the gatekeeper in your home and set controls to the types of shows and messaging that your children are receiving through media. Set the example for your children to learn from by thinking, speaking, and practicing positivity, gratitude, and forgiveness every day.
Take Back Control
Changing our mindset and our beliefs about ourselves from the inside out is a lengthy and tedius process, one you might dismiss because of its simplicity. But I urge you, as something who feels so wholeheartedly passionate about bringing self-love into my own and other’s lives just like Mister Rogers did, please try these simple tips. Just trust and take my word for it and try it on for 30 days and notice the shift you will feel. We are all amazing beings capable of the most incredible things living with a limitless potential in this world. Don’t let another day pass you by that limits you because of self-doubt, fear, and negative feelings. You are in the driver’s seat of your life and are the only one that can change its course, it’s time to start taking back control!