A few years ago, I was looking after my youngest niece. She was five at the time and cried to me in a fit of frustration, “Auntie Ren, you have NO IDEA how hard my life is! My life is so hard! My life is harder than yours!” I am proud to tell you that I managed to stifle the laugh BEFORE it was vocalized and simply asked her why she felt her life was so hard. I wanted to understand why this little one was feeling so challenged by simply getting ready for school.
Apparently, my niece, who has a great home in the country where she runs, plays, and climbs trees, who has loving parents, a dog, a cat, an attentive extended family that dots on her, hobbies she loves, and an abundance of toys, and who appears in every way to have a perfect childhood, is sometimes miserable and deeply unhappy.
Now that she was five, there were just so many more demands on her. She had to get dressed by herself, go to school, and get up early in the morning when she just wanted to sleep in. She sometimes had to do things she didn’t like, and sometimes she couldn’t do the things she did like when she wanted to. It was all just so hard for her.
While these burdens might seem trivial from an adult’s perspective, they are monstrous from a child’s perspective. Of course, there are children in our world who are in dire situations, and who are enduring genuine tortures—some of them right here in Canada. It will be many years before my young niece fully understands what a safe and loving upbringing she has had.
That being said, I can tell you that these childhood perceptions later become encoded beliefs in adults. At five, my niece has already encoded the belief that “life has to be hard.” In my practice as a Counselling Hypnotist and Personal Coach, I work with dozens of people every day who have encoded this very perception. They then drag this perception into their lives. Soon, EVERYTHING, in every arena of their lives, becomes “so hard”—work, relationships, money, family, even being true to themselves.
Basically, in her five-year-old innocence, my niece has captured a centuries’ old truism—“growing up sometimes sucks!” (I’m sure it was someone brilliant, such as Aristotle, who said that.) With maturity comes responsibilities. Sometimes these responsibilities are heavy to carry. They often mean we have to “get dressed all by ourselves.” The older we become, the more independent we are expected to be. This independence sometimes carries the weight of isolation. Sometimes, the burdens we carry, whatever our age, and however small they may appear to others, feel like more than we can handle in the moment.
Truthfully, I have met few people who say their childhood was perfect. I’m not sure where the idea that childhood is a blissful time full of joy and innocence came from, but it appears to be an outright lie. In the hypnosis field, we estimate that 95–98% of issues and limited beliefs are encoded before the age of eight. In psychotherapy, family of origin issues contribute to most conditions and challenges later in life. How we are raised and the conditions we are raised in, shape us in every way.
After age eight, we begin a process of simply verifying what we already believe. If we have believed something since the age of three, then by the time we are in our 20s, 30s, 40s, and so on, it is a truly entrenched way of viewing the world. What we have forgotten is that it is ONLY a belief. We come to think of the belief as reality. (One of the things I love most about hypnotherapy is its ability to release these encoded beliefs and childhood perceptions easily.)
As adults, we can all relate to the times when we were doing the absolute best we could, straining and struggling to hold everything together, only to realize our efforts were falling miserably short. The same is true for everyone else on the planet. Most parents I know are doing the best they can, trying to hold it all together, and feel like they are failing.
Few people have perfect childhoods. We ALL have large amounts of negative encoding. We are all doing the best we can with what we have. And, we all have days (even years) when our efforts fall miserably short. Our childhood, and our families, were what they were. However, our adulthoods are of our own making. Our energy is better spent creating a great life now.
Surround yourself with what you love and what brings you joy. Whatever your dream is, do it TODAY! And remember, no matter how good your life is, there will always be days when you have to “get up early when you would rather sleep in.” Unfortunately, no amount of hypnosis can change that! Oh, if only it could.
10 Ways to Have an Even Better Life Today!
1. Play more.
2. Let go of the past.
3. Decide what you want to believe, not what others tell you to believe.
4. Spend time with innocence (pets and kids).
5. Love someone, something, or a cause.
6. Love yourself.
7. Surround yourself with beauty—whatever that means for you.
8. Make friends only with people who hold you up (hold them up, too).
9. Dare to dream.
10. Every day, do one thing in the direction of your dreams.
Renate Donnovan has over 20 years’ experience as a facilitator, educator and transformational coach, at the corporate, personal interest and post-secondary levels. She has worked with organizations, individuals and teams in Canada and the United States. She has 4 coaching designations and is a Master NLP Practitioner. Renate has a Master’s Degree in Leadership and is one of the few counseling hypnotists who specializes in hypnosis for leadership development. She combines her passion for leadership development with her passion for mental health recovery to support both organizations and individuals in increasing their overall mental-emotional health, and to reduce workplace stress.
In the past two years, she has been focused on supporting individuals recovering from past traumas, and she is especially passionate about working with individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, and stress.
In her spare time, Renate can be found hypno-doodling (a form of meditative doodling that helps send positive messages to your subconscious mind through play!) or reading books on neuroscience.
You can visit her website at www.emergencehypnotherapy.com