More than three decades of scientific research suggests that repeatedly telling children that they are especially smart or talented leaves them vulnerable to failure, and fearful of challenges.
Children raised this way develop an implicit belief that intelligence is innate and fixed, making striving to learn seem less important than seeming smart; challenges, mistakes, and effort become threats to their ego rather than opportunities to improve.
However, teaching children to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages effort rather than on intelligence or talent, helps make them into high achievers in school and in life. This results in “mastery-oriented” children who tend to think that intelligence is malleable and can be developed through education and hard work.
This can be done by telling stories about achievements that result from hard work. Talking about math geniuses who were born that way puts students in a fixed mind-set, but descriptions of great mathematicians who developed amazing skills over time creates a growth mind-set.
Learning how to fail well is perhaps the best thing you can teach your children in today’s rapidly changing world, where knowledge, technology and work processes are, in many cases, outdated before they’re mastered. And, by “failing well” I mean the ability to view “failure” as a means to grow and never stop learning. Mark John Sternal says it well in his book on learning to play the guitar,
“Work hard and it will come easy.”
Your Beliefs Shape Your Self Esteem
Many parents have spent a lot of energy on giving their children “self-esteem,” perhaps failing to realize that self-esteem comes from overcoming your own obstacles; figuring things out, solving problems, and achieving success through your own efforts.
Another unfortunate trend seems to be to “help” these children lacking in self-esteem by diagnosing them with emotional disorders and throwing pills at them, instead of helping them deal with their emotional, mental and spiritual issues – with devastating results.
The belief system that a drug can “fix” you, is simply the belief that you are a victim.
What are these children told when they’re put on drugs to treat their “disorders”? They’re told they are helpless. That they are incapable of helping themselves; that help must be dispensed from the outside by someone with a medical degree.
This article talks about the importance of people’s beliefs about why they had failed. Some students gave up when they encountered difficulty, whereas others continued to strive and learn.
What was the main difference?
Those who believed their poor performance were due to lack of innate ability lost motivation because they felt helpless. They knew there is no way to improve on inborn abilities; you either “get it” or you don’t, whereas those who had a “growth-mindset” realized that practice makes perfect – they were empowered to continue because they believe it’s their personal effort that creates mastery, not some fixed (genetic) trait that they were born with.
Do Your Beliefs Also Influence Your Health?
Similarly, your belief system about your health will either place you in a continual state of helplessness, or allow you to be the master of your life.
Do you believe you will succumb to cancer because “it runs in your family”? Or that your brother is an alcoholic because he inherited the trait from your father? Or that you’re overweight because everyone in your family is?
Then you’ve fallen prey to conventional medical beliefs.
Bruce Lipton, PhD., talks about the impact your belief systems have on your physical health in his book The Biology of Belief – Unleashing the power of consciousness, matter and miracles, and how the emergence of the science of epigenetics is correcting the fatally flawed medical paradigm from one of victimhood, to personal mastery.
How to Validate Your Children to Teach Them They are Powerful
Children do need emotional validation, however. If their negative feelings about what is happening in their lives are not validated, they may continue focusing on the negative until they are validated. Children can become pessimistic if they do not feel they are being emotionally heard and validated.
But, as Carol Tuttle describes in the article Messages Your Children Need to Hear, it’s important to not simply try to change their negative feelings into positives, but rather validate your child's negative feelings, and then offer them a choice:
1. Continue to perceive the situation as negative (which will teach them to be powerless victims), or
2. Choose to change it to positive (which teaches them they have the power to change things for the better)
How to Eliminate Self-Limiting Beliefs
Unless you are taught that you are resourceful, and therefore powerful, many of the outside influences that shape your belief system (including whether or not you’re “smart”), can sabotage your health for many years, if not the remainder of your life.
Some of these influences are so painful they remain buried in your subconscious and you simply fail to recognize the profound damage these influences have on your current health. Many times these events were not intentionally designed to harm, but nevertheless resulted in bioelectrical short-circuiting that can have profound negative influences on your health.
There are usually dozens, if not hundreds, of self-limiting beliefs that most of us carry around, which prevent us from the highest levels of health and happiness.
All the drugs in the world, and nearly most of all the cognitive talk-based psychotherapy models, will fail to heal this short-circuiting.
This new understanding of our biology, this new medical paradigm, requires new models of treatment, and the more we find out about how health is influenced by the psyche, the more it becomes evident that energy psychology tools can serve a vital function in the pursuit of optimal health.
Without a doubt, energy psychology is one of the greatest tools I have ever encountered in the healing modalities, and EFT is an amazing application of this discipline.