I have just returned from China where I was giving a 10-day seminar to students who have worked with me for 3 years and we had got to know each other pretty well. One of the last focus people spoke of her issues around her two kids and how they were beginning to rebel and move away from their parents. Parental pressure is a very common issue in China, where they really value children and education and in this case the mother had already enrolled her 4 year old into a school to learn Chinese written characters. Her 10 year old son, she claimed, had been doted on by his father who had managed his son’s life making him learn the piano and other things.
I asked the mother how much time there was for their childhoods in the schedule they had constructed for their children. She was confused by the question so I went on to ask her how much time in each day was there for play, for the child doing what the child wanted, for the child to explore their world, to let their imaginations, the bedrock of creativity, run free. How much time to learn and build friendships! The answer was basically no time at all and from a very early age their children’s time had been managed to fit into a tight schedule of “education”.
So I asked about her childhood and she told of a childhood of severe poverty with her working hard from an early age to help the family survive. After a while she understood this was a story of an almost non-existent childhood, and the process card for the session was “The Lost Childhood Story”. Since I have been involved in Psychology of Vision there has been a saying that goes “It is never to late to have a happy childhood.” This is based on the understanding that your past is a story in your mind so if you wish you can change that story and that would change your perspective on life.
But what is the point of changing one of your stories and therefore changing yourself? That question brings me to the second process card – “Spirituality” – which is what the focus person desired the most. We spoke of that biblical saying of how we enter heaven as a child and by telling a happy childhood story we win back the gifts of being as a child: the joy, the wonder, the openness and the innocence and so much more. Naturally we are no longer a young child so we are no longer naive but we also need to recognise that the serious, careful, dissociated and non-trusting self concept we have developed is not going to get us very far down the road of spirituality or even more basic versions of personal development.
We fully recognise that there are challenges facing us all. My bet on who handles their challenges the best is the one who approaches life as an adventure, with curiosity and enthusiasm and a strong knowledge of the ultimate goal of love. It is time to remember we all had a happy childhood and win back the gifts of a child not only because it is more fun but also because it will equip us better for where we are headed!