Trust vs. Fear and the importance of teaching this message to children and teens
My Piece of Advice for a Group of Young Teens
Last week I, and a few other adults, had the privilege of speaking with a small group of 13/14 year olds who are part of the grade 8 “Coming of Age” program at the North Shore Unitarian Church (a spiritual church). This group of teens has spent the last eight months participating in activities to help them figure out their own personal Credo, describing their personal beliefs for themselves, at this moment in their life. (They will be presenting their Credos during the regular Unitarian service on April 30th, 2017).
Our task was to share one piece of advice and/or a quote with them – this was no small task…
I thought about what I know now and what I wish I had known when I was their age…
I decided to share a piece of wisdom that I became aware of in my twenties…
I talked to them about how our thoughts are just thoughts and we don’t have to believe every thought that comes into our mind. We do have the power to choose which thoughts we want to hold onto and we do have the power to reframe our thoughts from negative to positive.
The key concept is that our thoughts create our reality.
Trust vs. Fear
I explained that one of the opposites of FEAR is TRUST and we can choose to perceive our life and the world through fear or through trust. Either way we don’t know the outcome, but if we choose the path of FEAR we’re going to feel more anxious, stressed, concerned and serious. If we choose the path of TRUST, we’re going to feel more calm, peaceful, comfortable and joyful.
(Some people may trust in a higher power, and others may trust in their higher selves.)
Our thoughts create our reality.
I then shared with them a quote that I also share with many of my clients, from A.A. Milne:
Winnie the Pooh and Piglet were planning a walk in the woods on a very windy day…
“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?”
“Supposing it didn’t” said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.”
I also shared the following quote from Gabrielle Bernstein:
“When you choose to perceive love (trust) over fear, life begins to flow.”
I distinctly remember when I first became aware of this concept of trust vs. fear and how much it helped me when I was facing difficult times.
Whenever I could feel my self coming from a place of fear, I would pause, silently talk to myself and think about how I could view this same situation in a more positive and trusting way: Trust vs. Fear.
Shortly after I began practicing shifting fearful thoughts to trusting thoughts, I decided to spend a year in Tokyo, Japan. I had completed my teaching degree and I had heard that certified teachers were in demand in Japan. I got my visa, packed my bags and arrived in Tokyo, knowing no-one (except for one of my best friends in Northern Japan), had no job, and had no home. However, I was super excited and positive. I decided to really focus on trusting that everything would all work out.
I quickly met new friends at the youth hostel and within a week I had found wonderful roommates, whom I would live with for the upcoming year, and I was offered a Kindergarten teaching position at the Japan International School in the heart of Tokyo. (By good fortune, their enrolment for kindergarten had increased and they had suddenly needed to hire an additional kindergarten teacher at the end of August, which is when I arrived in Tokyo and applied for the job!) This experience of arriving in a new country and new culture, whilst perceiving everything through my TRUST lens, became my Modus Operandi (M.O.) for the whole year that I was there and beyond…
Throughout my life, whenever I’ve felt fear, I’ve continued to purposefully restate my fear thoughts as trusting thoughts. It’s not always easy, and it doesn’t mean that I don’t ever feel fear, but I find it comforting to know that this is what I do, and if I can shift my thoughts to be more trusting, more trusting feelings will follow…
Interestingly, my counselling practice supports a lot of children and teens with high anxiety and this is the same message that I share with them. In my twenties, I didn’t realize that this concept of trust vs. fear would become my passion to share with as many children, teens and adults, as possible.
I recently watched an excellent TedTalk related to this concept of Trust vs. Fear by Dr. Mcayla Sarno – a clinical psychotherapist based in California. Her TedTalk is titled: Who determines what is real? and as you can guess, it is about the power of our thoughts and how these thoughts impact our reality. She has some excellent metaphors and a true case study which brings her message to life. I highly recommend watching it. *Be sure to watch it right to the end, as she shares important information at the end.
To everyone who celebrates Easter, Happy Easter to you and your families, and to others, Happy Long Weekend with your loved ones,
PS. If you would like to receive my free ebook: 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Your Child Is Anxious and weekly parenting tips, please click here.
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PPPS. Dr. Shimi Kang, author of The Dolphin Way (read my summary article of her excellent book, here) is speaking at the Kay Meek Theatre on May 2nd, 2017. Tickets are still available.
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