Human beings learn through their experiences. What are the things I wish I had been taught in my early learning, that would also be beneficial for all children?
Babies are born with a level of confidence that ensures their survival, when uncomfortable, hungry, or unhappy, babies cry to alert those nearby to the negative condition. I wish I had been taught how to continue the level of personal confidence with which I was born.
To have navigated my life fully able to let myself and others know when I was uncomfortable or unhappy would have saved me hours, even years of pain! Especially as a woman raised in the 1940’s and 50’s, to feel I had the permission to let others know what was happening with me, and to have others respond, would have left me with no questions about my importance, how much I mattered, or whether it was okay for me to take up space.
Personal confidence comes from accepting and loving myself.
I believe we each arrive on the earth self-loving, yet we start to lose it as we get older. As a toddler, I loved myself enough to insist on being picked up, to try new things, to share my love with animals and people, to experiment, to share my ideas, to ask questions, to refuse, and to go to sleep when my body told me it was ready. Messages we receive from parents, teachers, coaches, and religious leaders can undermine such personal confidence. Only a few short years later, middle school girls no longer claim aloud what they are good at, and they are willing to fade into the background in social situations.
Instead, I wish I had been taught that:
Each person is different; whatever way I am is just right for me. If I’m told I’m “too sensitive,” “too emotional,” or “too skinny,” I can remind us I am just right for myself.
Consider that you created your own self, perfectly packaged for who you are, and the kinds of experiences life brings you. In that case, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you—or me, or anyone. I wish I had known.
I deserve the respect of not having to change anything about myself, not a hair on my head. Give me the opportunity to change, but don’t make me ashamed or stop me from being who I came here to be.
My granddaughter, Ava,10, spent time traveling with me in my RV last summer. Day one, I asked her to do two or three things. She ignored me. I pointed out this behavior, then said: “This is not going to work for me. There are some things I need you to do, and I need you to respond and do what I request. How can we work this out?” Her response surprised me. “We need a code word, Grammy! When I hear the code word, I’ll know it’s important and I’ll do what you ask me.” For the duration, the code word “Samuel P. Taylor” allowed us to interact smoothly together. I wish I had been taught I was the one with the power to direct my life, and that cooperating is more fun than power struggles!
Each person deserves love. Love comes primarily through ourselves to ourselves, and then from others. Most important, whatever happens, is maintaining Living by love is key to me and my life.
Researching for my “Exploring” books in the early 1990s, I found one resource saying “Love, is love, is love. It doesn’t matter if you love yourself or others. What does matter is in every moment, to choose love.” Accepting that challenge totally and positively transformed my life over the past 25 years. I wish I’d known sooner!
Loving myself allows me to love others more, not less.
I wish I had been taught that loving myself is not “selfish.” Like pouring coffee into a cup, the more love I have in my cup, the easier it is for it to spill over onto others. (See my website for more on all emotions.)
Life experiences are created, based on our beliefs. Identifying, examining, and knowing, every day, what I believe, is as important as daily tooth brushing.
I wish I had been taught that I can have access to my subconscious mind, that whatever is repeated and repeated stays in my subconscious mind as a belief, and that it’s important to get to know and work with all the beliefs that accumulate there. When I know how to identify and work with my beliefs, including creating new beliefs, I become the captain of my own ship.
As Esther Hicks and Abraham have acknowledged, we humans come here to follow what we want to do. The best way to identify what we want to do is to identify what we don’t want to do. I want to be taught how to live my life so that whatever I do, I do because I want to do it.
I once did therapy with a young woman who had all kinds of anger issues, had become physically abusive to a roommate, and was massively depressed. When I asked her what she wanted, she drew a blank. We taught her how to identify and live by her wants. The anti-social and abusive behavior disappeared, and the depression lifted! I wish I knew this sooner.
I wish I’d been taught how to live so that my heart and brain stay in balance with one another.
All the parts of us appear to have been created to work as a smoothly-operating system. Keeping heart and brain balanced with each other keeps that system working well. Being balanced on the journey called life, is an asset!
One thing I have learned on my own: If I wasn’t taught these things when I was growing up, I can still learn them. I can teach them to myself! It’s my best way to love me.
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Ilene Dillon, MSW, has dedicated her life to helping people resolve personal challenges once and for all, then design life to be what they want it to be. A Transformation Specialist, she has worked 50 years as a psychotherapist and 15 years as a coach. She is a global speaker, Amazon International Best-selling author (The Wellness Universe Guide to Complete Self-Care, Volumes 1 and 2), podcast guest, and plans to give her first TEDx speech (on Anger) later this year. Ilene is also the author of Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System and End Manipulation: Stop Being Jerked Around by Toxic, Energy-draining People. With her little dog, Pi, Ilene lives and travels full-time throughout North America in her RV, writing, teaching, and speaking along the way.