Lessons you can share with your kids or with your inner child.
#1 Everything is a Neutral Fact
These are just facts:
There’s nothing inherently upsetting about these facts, but we may feel good or bad about them because of our thoughts about them. The good news is that we can change our thoughts – we are in control of our thoughts. That’s pretty good to know!
Facts have no emotion attached to them in and of themselves. However, we react to facts based on our beliefs (ideas) about ourselves. It is your thoughts that cause you to feel bad. So, if mom or dad yells at you, you are likely to be upset – not by the yelling itself, but by what you think it means about you.
It is just a fact that the person in front of you is going red in the face, looking angry and speaking at a higher volume than usual, but you are upset about this if you have a made-up idea about yourself that is being triggered.
The following made-up ideas would likely be triggered by this scenario:
I’m not safe
I’m not loveable
It is almost certain that you have all these beliefs and more. The reason is that you were a tiny being when you came into the world and you are looked after by big people who share these made-up ideas. It can be terrifying at times! It is important to know that these ideas are not true.
List your ‘triggers’ as statements of fact. So, for example, if you were upset by something your friend said to you or the reaction of your sister, or something you did that was clumsy, just
My sister laughed when I broke my favorite model airplane.
My friend called me stupid (or whatever it was).
I spilled juice on the carpet.
Now look at the list and see that when these are stated as facts they no longer have the same emotional charge.
Wanting things to be different than they are is painful. By stating facts, you now know that this thing happened. Wishing that it didn’t doesn’t help at all.
Actually, the fact that the trigger event happened can be a really good thing because if you have an emotional reaction to any event (or fact) you’ll know that you have an idea about yourself that isn’t true. You can learn how to find and fix those mistaken ideas. Eventually you may even be able to welcome triggers! We’ll work on that another time.
I know firsthand the emotional and financial costs of having a troubled teenager and I don’t want that to happen to you. That's why I wrote my book What They Don't Teach in Prenatal Class: The Key to Raising Trouble-Free Kids and Teens (available on Amazon).