We Have a Choice

There has been an explosion of research over the past decade that shows how important the first few years of a child’s life are in terms of social, emotional, and cognitive development. For many years, preschool and infant toddler care providers have focused on helping children compensate and overcome traumatic experiences and home life deficits.

Their devoted work has shown that just because a child has experienced trauma or grew-up in an unstable home doesn’t mean they are destined to create the same life for themselves as an adult. Basically we don’t have to be victims of our past. However, in order to really shed the constraints of the past and be creators of our future, we need to understand how our mind works, what triggers those old ineffective patterns and beliefs, and how to change them.

So let’s begin at the beginning.

While we are growing in our mother’s womb, her beliefs, which are triggered by her experiences, are chemically passed to the growing fetus. So if the mother feels safe and is in a loving and supportive relationship then her body will release chemicals into her bloodstream that send the message to the growing fetus that life is safe, and good.  But if the mother does not feel safe, and adequately supported by her partner or is ingesting substances that alter her brain state then the chemicals that are sent to the growing fetus will send a different message. The message might be, life is difficult, unsafe, and you will not get your needs met or you won’t get the love you need. Unfortunately it doesn’t take into account that the mother’s experiences might be out of the norm or an inaccurate assessment of life.

During this time a child also learns patterns.

Here is an example: The mother has an experience that triggers feelings of angry or fear. The chemical of those emotions is passed through the placenta to the growing fetus and is experienced by the fetus. Now let’ s imagine, that then in response to that feeling or in an attempt to squelch that feeling the mother eats a sugary donut. That sets up a pattern that anger or upset will trigger a desire or need to eat sugar.

Since the child does not realize the limitations of the parent, he or she takes on the pattern, which then sets up a pattern of struggling and ineffective outcomes.

Let me give you another example: When I was growing in my mother’s womb, I experienced a series of traumas. These experiences set up a pattern of fear in my system, which eventually metastasized into an array of learning challenges and medical disorders. For years I felt victimized by what had happened but then in my mid twenties I came to the realization that I could choose a different path and I did. I chose the path of learning and growth instead of the path of fear and victimization.

How did I see that I had a choice? What lead me to that point? I think there were several contributing factors. At the time I was in college studying art, I was very curious by nature, and loved to spend hours observing and pondering things even though I was often riddled with fear.

In my first video, I talk about how I was up late one night trying to finish a drawing that was due the next day. It was an optical illusion done in pen and ink. Since it was due the next morning, and one misplacement of ink would ruin the whole drawing, I had to really pay attention to what I was doing. This created a lot of tension and stress in my system.

So in an attempt to not make a mistake and reduce the tension in my body I drew from my movement background and began using my breath to focus my mind and integrate my body and mind. As I slowed my breathing down and focused on having my breath propel my pen I began to notice changes in my demeanor. At first they were subtle—less tension in my neck and hand. But then I began to notice changes in my breathing and my mindset. I wasn’t wrestling with my usual overwhelming cloud of fear. The more I worked on the drawing the more I noticed I was becoming relaxed, felt lighter and happier. This process went of for several hours as I slowly and carefully finished my drawing.

The thing that really caught my attention the next morning was that the old cloud of apprehension and fear seemed to have disappeared. It was like waking up twenty pounds lighter. I assumed the change was only momentary, but that old cloud remained at bay for quite some time. Where had it gone? Would it return? And what brought about this change? These questions and that sudden change in my consciousness catapulted me into a life long fascination with the mind, and its power to heal.

If you are interested in learning more about the I Create What I Believe! (ICWIB) program here are some upcoming events that are open to the public.

Introductory ICWIB presentation
Date: Saturday March 15th
Location: JCAEYC Conference in Medford, Oregon
Time: 10:00- 12:00
Presenters: Nancy Marie and Cathy Scott
For more information please call Sara Stearns at (541) 552-8225 (W) or email her at stearnsms@sou.edu

Introductory ICWIB presentation
Date: Friday April 4th
Location: CAEYC Conference in Pasadena, CA
Time: 10:30-12:00
Presenters: Nancy Marie and Kate Ashbey
For more information about the conference or Nancy and Kate’s presentation view the conference website: http://caeyc.org/main/page/navhome

For more information about the I Create What I Believe! program: www.icreatewhatibelieve.com

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