When I was growing up I was lead to believe that I was bad. This negative view of myself then led to more rule breaking and even more criticism. I truly tried to behave, but no matter how hard I tried I would eventually behave inappropriately and get in trouble. One day my grandfather’s response to my misbehaving offered me a different view of myself.
I must have been around six or seven at the time. We were spending the day at my father’s parents’ house for a family gathering. My father was one of 11 children, so gatherings consisted of lots of adults and children and invariably lots of commotion.
I assume it was near mealtime, because my mother and all my aunts were in the kitchen preparing food. I don’t remember what I did or said that made my mother so mad, but I do remember her telling my dad to take me outside and discipline me for my wrongdoing. I can still see the expression on her face as she yelled at him to handle the situation. I also remember his body hesitating as if he was trying to decide if he should question her judgment or give me a spanking. The next thing I remember was my father grabbing my wrist, turning on his heels and forcefully trying to drag me outside.
We didn’t get very far, because my grandfather met us at the door. “If there is going to be any disciplinary action in my house, I will do it,” he said. My father released my hand and backed away. At this point, I was wishing that my father would deliver the spanking because at least I knew what to expect. My grandfather grabbed my wrist and pulled me outside. Even though he was quite elderly he was strong and was moving so fast I could hardly keep up with him.
We crossed the lawn and headed towards the barn. At this point, I was experiencing so much fear I was having trouble breathing. I tried to defend myself, but he just said, “Silence!” and gripped my wrist tighter. When we got to the far side of the barn, he released my wrist and began looking for a switch. I thought about running away, but realized that was futile, so I just stood frozen in one spot waiting for the worst. He found a switch and began practicing by striking his own leg. The switch moved so fast it whistled as it moved through the air and then it uttered a loud thwack when it hit his leg. I cringed. I felt I was doomed.
He moved toward me, swung the switch and hit the barn. “Scream!” he yelled. I stood there staring at him in disbelief. “Scream!” he shouted again as the switch cracked against the building. Then he smiled and said, “If you don’t scream, I will have to hit you with the switch.” He cracked the switch against the barn wall, and I screamed. After a few more swings of the switch and some enthusiastic screaming on my part, a twinkle began to collect in his previously darkened eyes. Then he turned to me and smiled. “I think that will be enough,” he said and then threw away the switch. I stood there in complete disbelief.
He sat down on a bale of hay, “I know this doesn’t make any sense to you, but when my children were young, I made a lot of mistakes. I wish I had listened better to my children, had been more tolerant and kinder to them. I know I can’t change the past, but what I have discovered is I can affect the future by helping my children avoid making some of the same mistakes I made. If I am successful, I can hopefully prevent some of the hardship I inflicted on my children from being passed to my grandchildren. So that is why I do the disciplining in my house.
“I have apologized to all of my children for my wrongdoings and they know that I am truly sorry. They also know I am committed to helping them not pass any of my poor behavior on to their children. I want you to remember that when your dad is overly harsh with you it is not because you are bad, it is because I taught him to behave that way. I assume the same is true with your mother, though I don’t think she is aware of where the real problem lies.”
Then his eyes darkened and he got serious again. “Now when we go back into the house you need to look like you have been crying and are very sorry for causing trouble so your mother will think you were properly disciplined.” Then his smile returned, and he said, “Lets go back to the house, I think dinner should be ready now and I am hungry.” I smiled, gave him a hug and then I lowered my head and tried to look as humiliated as possible when I walked into the house, but inside I was exploding with a great sense of being seen, loved, and valued.
I have thought about that day many times over the years, but it wasn’t until I became familiar with the research of Bruce Lipton that I began to understand the real significance of that day. To this day, I am indebted to my grandfather for his insights, willingness to own his errors, and make restitution. His courageous behavior has paved a different way of approaching life and has given me the courage to make mistakes, acknowledge my mistakes, and make my own restitution.
I personally have found that changing patterns and beliefs can affect every aspect of your life, which is why I continue to teach the I Create What I Believe! Program to adults and children from all walks of life.
If you would like to explore the I Create What I Believe! (ICWIB) Program, the following activities are currently available on the website for free (just click the link to access an activity).
Just Scribble, ICWIB Activity One: Version One video
Just Scribble, ICWIB Activity One: Version Two video
Just Scribble, ICWIB Activity One: Version Three video
ICWIB Instructional Guide: Part One
ICWIB Instructional Guide: Part Two
Labyrinth, ICWIB Activity Four:
Just Scribble, ICWIB Activity One (text):
Labyrinth, ICWIB Activity Four (text):
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