It's Only A Thought and A Thought Can Be Changed

Monday, June 30, 2008

Over the weekend we had a situation with little John that provoked a lot of thinking. The reader digest version of it...he took two toys out of store without buying them. He had asked for them and Daddy said no. So he hid them behind his back. Daddy noticed once John was trying to get into his car seat without using his hands. Daddy asked what was behind his back and John showed him stating..." I removed tags, now mine."

Hmmm...what to do?

What I know is what doesn't work. What doesn't work is what society teaches. How do I know? Simple. I look at all my friends, family and myself and I see how we all have fear and lack of prosperity and scarcity. Wait...how does that apply to what John did? Completely. Scott Noelle best describes it like this... "The scarcity principle is one of the central stories that informs our culture and frames our perceptions. This story is told to us over and over in a thousand subtle and unsubtle ways, from sayings like “you can’t always get what you want” and “money doesn’t grow on trees” to fairy tales like Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk to the endless drone of TV commercials urging us to buy now, “while supplies last.” The underlying message in so many of our stories is that there’s never enough to go around, but if you’re more virtuous — smarter, stronger, more beautiful, harder working, etc. — you might just get what you want... usually at someone else’s expense.

The belief in scarcity is central to the competition mindset. We are taught to interpret every experience as a win or a loss — to believe that even games played purely for pleasure are more fun when winning is contingent on defeating opponents.

But when a baby comes into the world, she expects to win by default. That is, she expects her needs to be met, and she doesn’t expect to have to compete for them. This — the child’s first nature — runs so counter to our “second nature” enculturated belief in scarcity, that we doubt our instinct to give them all the nurturing they need and the loving attention they desire.

Mother Nature is overridden by the voice of Father Culture, which warns us that we are in danger of “spoiling” our children if we dare to give them what they want. It implores us to give less. We are told it’s our job as parents to help children get used to the idea of going without.

The baseline fear is that if we give our children what they want, they will always want more. However, this theory is rarely tested because we seldom keep giving until they are satisfied. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy because they don’t get enough opportunities to learn what “enough” feels like. But what’s so bad about getting what you want? Isn’t getting it the whole point of wanting it? Here’s where one of our culture’s most destructive beliefs is exposed: the belief in scarcity, or the idea that there is never enough in the world to fulfill our desires, so we should desire less. There is nothing overindulgent about wanting to experience love, pleasure, fun, comfort and joy. Yet we often call children (and ourselves) “spoiled” when these needs and desires are fully and unconditionally satisfied."

So why in the hell would I want to repeat with my child what doesn't work and has made me miserable because it was taught to me? Why keep teaching my children the unhappy side of life because 'it is best for them'? Why teach my child that his nature is wrong?

A better solution is available and I going to grab it! I am going to teach myself as well as my child something different. I am going to follow another recommendation from Scot Noelle. I am going to consciously drop all ideas of scarcity and spoilability, and fulfill the request joyfully with 100% willingness and no arbitrary limitations. Indulge in the pleasure of giving until my child feels satisfied and stops of his own accord. Be curious about how much he can take.

I am going to let the discovery of my child’s capacity to receive teach me about my own capacity to receive. Perhaps I’ll learn to let more goodness into my experience.

If I begin to exceed my own limits, then of course I will stop. I will only give what I can give with integrity, from a sense of abundance

Remembering that Love — the greatest gift I can ever give — is something I can never really run out of, even when other limits are reached. Love doesn’t come from me, it flows through me. So when I give love I am also receiving it. Part of the process is saying YES to giving love even when I can’t or shouldn’t say yes to other things, and staying focused on that abundance.

Thanks Scot! Now let the experiment of life begin.....

4 comments

Bill McDonald said...

that's a real cliff hanger... I understand totally what your attitude is regarding the desire of "having"... but how did that attitude play itself out in the back seat that day? Did you just drive off? go back and return them? go back and buy them? Did you "explain" anything to John?
-Bill McDonald
-Vancouver, WA

Sissie said...

I love this post.
Because we have stopped the arbitrary "no" answer my kids are thoughtful about what they ask for-- they know we will do what it takes to get them what they desire.
I believe a culture of abundance creates a more mindful consumption.

Kristine said...

Hi Lucretia, I'm intrigued by this post and the lessons you're taking from this experience. But I am wondering--since this 'abundance' ideal will clearly take time to root itself in John, how did you handle the immediate situation? Did you have a talk with him about stealing being wrong? I'm just curious about the short-term lessons John took from this experience...what he learned.

Great blog--I love reading about how other moms handle these kinds of situations! :)

--Kristine

Alex Polikowsky said...

I could not agree more.

Great post!

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