Over the school holidays, I often give the kids a ‘sleepover’. My 3 are notorious ‘chatters’ and when they are in the same room together there is more high jinks than sleep, we invariably divide and conquer.
So on the holidays, I like to let them go nuts and have a family sleepover. They get to sleep in the same room, stay up later, have treats and a movie, play some games, and basically enjoy each other’s company. It’s a special treat that they love.
Where this tale begins is on the day of said event. We were all set for the big night and piled into the car to go treat shopping. Now I am a bit hardcore when it comes to sweets, I like them to eat nutritious meals and keep the junk to a minimum. So you can only imagine what it’s like for them to head to the supermarket to buy junk food! Their request lists were growing by the second and it was time to put up some boundaries. The latest was ice-creams so I said ‘only if they are on special’. Of course, all the while quietly praying they wouldn’t be!
I unleash these sugar-crazed kids on the supermarket and now that the flood gate was open they were really pushing hard to see how much they could loot. Every 10 seconds I had a new packet shoved in my face for approval. No, no, no, no yes that was on the list, no, no, no…So we had stuck ‘mostly’ to the original list and then it was time to head for the freezer section.
YES! The ice creams they wanted were not on special! Of course, they still asked. To which I triumphantly replied, “No, they’re not on special”. It was at this point that a strange turn of events sent me into a tailspin.
A lady came up to me with a box of icy poles in her hand. “These are only $2.80 for 20” I get them for my grandchildren and just keep them in the freezer, I can buy them for the kids”… I was rendered mute for a few seconds as I grappled with how, where, why… After a moment I recovered my composure and thanked her for her kindness, assured her she didn’t need to buy them, grabbed the box, and popped it in the trolley. Dazed and confused I wondered on.
I didn’t have the heart to refuse her kind intention for the kids, I had to buy those damn things now! Instead, I wondered how the situation had even come about? My motivation for refusing the ice-creams was to stem the flow of rubbish they were about to ingest. The price was just a convenient excuse. However, for this lady, I can only assume going without due to financial constraints really pulled on the heartstrings. She wanted to help my kids be spared the pain if she could help it.
The story doesn’t end there! She soon appeared out of nowhere, again, and thrust $3 into my hand! I just didn’t have the capacity to refuse her, it was so heartfelt. So now I stood even more dumbfounded holding $3 wondering “how on earth did I get here!” It was at this point that I shot a glance at my kids.
My youngest was wearing a hand me down Elsa (frozen) dress. You know the faux silk kind that collect every water drop as a decorative stain. She had also been in the garden digging in the dirt earlier so the sheer ‘white’ (I use that term loosely) sleeves had an inch cuff of mud. She had washed her hands which I guess accounted for all the water stains down the front. Did I mention the ripped collar??? Her hair was a mattered cluster of newly forming dread locks, well none of them had brushed their hair (come on, its holidays!) or were wearing shoes. If she’d been following us for any length of time she would have witnessed a barrage of “can I please have” “no” and I guess she joined some dots. Are you seeing how easy it is to add 2+2 and get 5.
So I got my derelict looking children home and pondered what had just happened. While they ate icy poles.
The thing is, we can only see the world through our own lens. It is our past experiences and the emotion that it triggers in us that makes us notice some details, and not others. Our brain can only process a fraction of the data that bombards us every second. So how do we choose what to notice and what to ignore? We notice what fits with our view of the world. What we believe to be true about the world. She saw 3 kids that couldn’t afford what they wanted. Maybe that was her experience as a child?
You see, our behaviour is driven by our beliefs. I would be very interested to know if she believes she can’t afford what she wants? She may have a lens through which she sees the world that says “I can’t afford that”. That underlying belief then gives the instruction to that part of the brain that chooses which tiny amount of the possible information in any one moment to focus on (RAS). So now she can’t see anything else.
Beliefs that are empowering get us focusing on what we want and ignoring what we don’t. Now they are the kinds of beliefs we want. Think about an area of your life where you really excel. You will have a bunch of beliefs that empower you, and an area where you’re not so happy. That’s where the beliefs are limiting. Limiting beliefs are driving your focus (RAS) so you are noticing the disempowering information over the rest.
I now have 3 dollars that sits in a neat little pile on my kitchen shelf. It’s a reminder. That we don’t see the world how IT really is, we see it how WE are. From our own perspective, our experiences, our genetics, our filters that only allow us to see things through our own lens.
Let me say that again, I keep it to remind me that we can ONLY see the world as we ARE and that others intentions, thoughts and experiences are interpreted by the way we are. The only meaning anything has is the meaning we give it. I remind myself to act with love and look for the kindness in others because I don’t know what pain and fear they may be running from. This woman did a tremendously sweet thing for my kids and that is enough.
Also a reminder that we can’t presume to know what unconscious beliefs are driving someone else’s behaviour. (Generally, they don’t even know- they’re unconscious beliefs.) Otherwise we can get 2+2=5
It’s a reminder for me to notice. To be more conscious of what beliefs are driving my own behaviours and decisions.
With greater awareness, we can create change. If you would like greater awareness and change you can.
“Our greatest tool for changing the world is our capacity to change our mind about the world.” Marianne Williamson
Photo from Upsplash Jed Villejo