Remember what happened
at the water park!"
A young father's anxious voice shattered the peace I was bathed in, wrapped in the warmth of the Caribbean sun. A destination wedding brought us to St. Thomas last summer, and Sarah and I were lounging by the pool at Frenchman's Reef.
I suspect this exchange between a father and his five year old would have normally escaped my notice. But the stark contrast of the quiet ocean breezes against his stern warning struck a chord and sparked a thought. The father, intending to keep his son safe in that moment, may have unwittingly planted a seed that will grow and impact his son's view of the world in proportions he couldn't possibly predict.
Thousands upon thousands of small moments like this translate into impressions that long forget their origin. I have no idea what happened at that water park. Perhaps carefree exuberance resulted in a fall and tears. Maybe he ignored numerous warnings and eventually paid the price. Regardless, aware or not, this father was now helping his son form a belief about how life works.
Blissfully reacting is not worth the price.
Don't take risks. You can get hurt.
Listen to your authority figures to stay safe.
One seemingly innocuous event can give birth to a belief. And unexamined beliefs that don't serve us well can impair us and stand in the way of our happiness, or worse. It doesn't take much to form an early belief. Babies in their second year of life have extraordinary reasoning ability. Way beyond what you'd imagine possible.
When we returned from our trip, I stumbled upon a TED talk by Laura Schulz from the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. Her talk is titled "The surprisingly logical minds of babies." Her experimental evidence is simple but profound. Even fifteen month olds can make generalizations and draw conclusions about causal relationships that can and do stay with them for a lifetime. If you're reading this now, guess what? You were once a fifteen month old.
So what's in your way now? What beliefs aren't serving you well? Examine those things that seem to be consistent roadblocks in your life. Their roots could run deep, unintentionally planted by even your most loving and best intended caregivers. If you discover this in your life, forgive the source, whether or not you can identify it. Then work to start replacing these beliefs with your truth. It's clear that babies and children are wonderfully made for this adaptation. The good news is that you are too.