I received this question from a client…
“I was in bed thinking about my 5-year-old and the problems he is having with interpersonal relationships at school and a little bit with his nanny. He seems to talk back and he can be a tyrant. Also he is not quite a big follower of authority. I know sometimes he says to me you don’t think I am smart, so obviously this is in his mind. I thought to myself about a CD where you spoke of playing positive affirmations, I think to baroque music for your son Trevor.”
This was my response…
I thought I was being a really savvy parent using affirmations with Trevor. Yet, the affirmation thing ultimately backfired on me. One example: We trained him to say, “I am smart!” and later noticed he would not try anything new for fear that he wouldn’t know how to do it and look dumb. Ouch. His Drunk Monkey took my positive intentions and turned it into something driven by fear.
No matter how great we think we are as parents, our children will misinterpret our actions, our words and our intentions. The Drunk Monkey’s job is to protect us from the scary world out there. Unfortunately, every single client we coach (no exaggeration) whether they had wonderful, kind parents or tyrannical, mean parents, they all end up misinterpreting something early on. No matter how well-meaning the parents were. This misinterpretation in the broadest terms is, “I’m not safe”. No matter how great your parents were, you accidentally started to protect yourself from them and the world.
Your son is displaying the same behavior you and your husband displayed before we accomplished the Inspired Action Coaching process together. Before we examined all of your beliefs you had about yourself, others and life… and then shifted your perspective, you were protecting yourself against the world that wasn’t attacking.
Consider this, at some point your son felt threatened, created a misperception about himself, others and the world… And now he simply views life like the threat is real. Why else lash out? Why else be afraid? Just like you did for 30+ years before your coaching with me, your son is protecting himself from all the people in the world who are not attacking him. He is retaliating against rules that are not meant to constrain him. His Drunk Monkey is convinced that there is a threat. Even worse, The Drunk Monkey believes that his own intellect is a threat as is evidenced by the “I”m stupid” comments.
Here’s the bottom line: After decades of trial and error, I believe a shift in context is the one and only change agent. All others pale in comparison. I see this in all the people still looking for the answer at the next seminar they attend. You know what to do! You’ve taken the coaching program. Now help your son see The Drunk Monkey for what it really is. Free him from fear forever.