Claim Your Own Mental Fitness

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You can be too special to thrive, if the eleventh toxic belief quietly liberates your Child. You can be too clever to care, if the twelfth belief incites your Child to action. Belief # 12, that if you’re more clever than most people, it’s okay to find shortcuts around the frustrating rules in our society, can lead you to act without conscience. The rules of our communities are carefully developed to protect the rights and safety of all members. When you realize you’ve chosen not to follow one of these rules, your Adult should rein in your Child’s self-focused behavior, for your protection as well as for others’.

For example, in most states it’s now illegal to use a cell phone while driving, especially to text, because this distraction leads to many accidents. My friend Alice offered to drive a group of us in my van to shop in a nearby town one day. Along the way we had numerous stops and at these she began to text on her hand-held phone. We kidded her about this, and mentioned she could get a ticket, but she kept at it. Then she began to do this while driving, and we urged her to stop, because she was alarming us. She continued to text, commenting that she does it all the time and it’s “not a problem.” Telling her about the studies that showed this was dangerous had no effect. After shopping I hurried to the car and took the driver’s seat in my van. Alice accepted this and mumbled that she realized she should have listened to us.

How did she get to this point? She had reason to believe she was endangering her friends and others on the road. She chose to do what was convenient for her despite this understanding. It’s not helpful to use black-and-white thinking and call her or her behavior “bad.” As can happen with any of us, her Adult was overridden by her Child, who was corrupted by her Indulgent Parent’s twelfth belief. Influences to ignore others, and just do what feels good to us at the time, abound from earliest childhood.

Although young people are known for “rebelling” while they’re defining themselves as different from their parents, Indulgent Parent beliefs like #12 continue to influence us all our lives. If we deny ourselves ice cream for too long, most of us could scarf down a whole container, even if it means there won’t be any left for other family members. Our Adult must be supported with Wise Parent guidance to keep us balanced between self-indulgence and the restrictions of our Critical Parent (see also post #21 in this blog). The FORMULA helps keep your Adult alert and your Child comfortable. How can your Wise Parent help you remember to consider your impact on others when you really want to do something for yourself?

As your mental fitness skills grow, you’ll find it easier for your Adult to keep an eye on your choices. Having awareness of which Indulgent Parent beliefs most affect you, your Adult can begin to anticipate when it will need to call in your Wise Parent. The next time Alice feels the need to text while she’s driving, her Wise Parent should ask her, “why do you believe it’s safe for you to text when it hasn’t been for thousands of other drivers?” Then it should remind her that ignoring this rule conflicts with her goal to be a responsible person, her goal to achieve things in her life with an undamaged body and brain, and her goal to avoid harming others and make a positive contribution to their lives. Her Wise Parent should warn her that if she violates this rule and hurts someone, she will suffer blame in the future from others and from her own Critical Parent.

This kind of Wise Parent influence supports your mental fitness, keeping you on track to discover all that life can offer you. Through it you can avoid getting trapped in the dead-end alleys of your sneaky, all-too-human Indulgent Parent.

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