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10 Things You Should Never Tell Your Sons Even Though Many People Do

10 Things You Should Never Tell Your Sons Even Though Many People Do

This is the 21st century and as the old television and magazine commercial from many years ago indicates, ‘we’ve come a long way, baby.’ Well… maybe not! It seems that although we want to believe we have made tremendous strides when it comes to stereotyping the sexes, we may not have come as far as we think we have. Perhaps nowhere can this be more proven than when it comes to the everyday subtle or not-so-subtle instructions we give our own children.

We may not want to face it, but it is true. Many of us still, even in 2015 carry some pretty sexist thoughts, especially when it comes to the roles that we expect our children to carry on. Not only are they unsupported and quite stereotypically outdated, they may actually be harmful in a personal way.  One book that tackles ways to parent children in a gender-free way is Christia Spears Brown Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes. Below is a list of 10 everyday things we are guilty of telling our sons, even though we shouldn’t along with strategies for how to send a more stereotype-free message.

1. Boys don’t cry

This one tops the list. Not only is it incorrect and sexist, it is unhealthy. Evidence continues to pile up in study after study that links physical illness with repression of emotions. These negative physical symptoms and ailments most definitely do not show any preference for genders. Crying is a very healthy and appropriate way to release some deeper and more intense sadness, fear and grief and it harms everybody, including our beloved sons, if we instill inhibitions for crying in them.

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2. Don’t act like a girl

Although similar to telling our sons not to cry, this is much wider in its scope and much more clearly separates behaviors into gender-type categories. We should be grateful that we no longer live in a time when there are some powerful societies that do not hold to any fast and steady rules for what girls and boys are supposed to do throughout their lives. Once again, we can call on professionals in the field of mental health profession to back up that there is no harm in young children choosing one activity over another. Girls who play in dirt don’t turn out to be more aggressive later in life. Similarly, if our sons prefer creativity or more domestic activities than ‘traditional’ male interests, there is absolutely no cause for alarm.

3. Grow up to be just like daddy

Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh on fathers, but there are other models in the lives of our sons who may very well be more appropriate than daddy. Many of us are fortunate to know both men and women who are highly successful and just all-around great people. There are some dads that choose not to play a significantly positive role in their son’s lives. The emphasis should not be on creating a little mini version of dad or any other person, for that matter, but rather to encourage them the choice to be their unique and individual selves.

4. If anybody starts a fight with you, you need to know how to fight back

Two wrongs do not make a right. While none of us wants to see our children taken advantage of in any way, instilling the need to raise up hands to fight, even in the case of self-defense in a school-yard brawl, may not be the best advice parents can give their young boys. There is absolutely no shame in choosing to talk things out rather than resorting to aggression as a defense. There is absolutely no shame in teaching problem resolution skills before we each how to throw a hook or an uppercut.

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5. Boys have to be tough

Not necessarily. There is something quite appealing about vulnerability which can be seen as the opposite of being tough. There is a lot of courage in vulnerability. Although we still see a lot of the stereotypical behaviors and reactions, there are those that already realize that some vulnerability brings people closer together to one another. Teaching our sons that it is okay to be human and not have to feel the pressure of pretending to be the “rock” is a good choice.

6. Boys don’t have to express their feelings

Yikes! Communication is gaining more and more recognition and significance in successful relationships all the time. We don’t have to go far to see it in the workplace as well as in our personal lives. Learning to express feelings openly and appropriately is one of the most valuable things we can learn if we are to share our lives with others in a meaningful and purposeful way. By giving our sons an easy way out and letting them think it is not something they have to work on, we are doing much more harm than good.

7. Boys will be boys

This may be true, but if it is, perhaps it is because of poor advice that we provide them with. Boys will actually be men, and it is not a good idea to continue to permit behaviors based on a preconceived notion of acceptance that is grounded in someone’s gender. When we let our sons know that we already hold strong, preconceived notions, such as indicated by expressions such as this, we are setting the mold for them and preventing them from being themselves.

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8. All girls want is a rich man

There are many problems with this type of thinking. First, we are not helping raise children when we speak in absolutes such as “all” or “only.” It is that type of thinking that perpetuates stereotypical thinking and keeps us apart rather than brings us together. While there may be some women looking for a man to support them, there also are women who are looking for the exact opposite, a man who will help them further their own careers. It is a good idea to think about where, as a child, you yourself developed this type of thinking and rethink whether you still truly believe the negative advice you are spewing. Perhaps you will find that you have outgrown some of these negative gender images yourself and that even you don’t feel they apply.

9. More is better

We live in a world that is highly materialistic even though times may be rough economically. By teaching our sons that a man’s value is measured by his financial wealth, we devalue other characteristics and qualities that ought not go unnoticed. While it is important to teach our children how to become independent and contribute to society, it is important to help them see value in things other than money and objects. Nobody has proven that the one with the most toys wins. In fact, some of the world’s most important people are not known for their wealth and materialism, but their philanthropy and altruism.

10. Look for a cute girl

Just like there are many other qualities to a man than toughness and being the breadwinner, there are many things that can make a person attractive other than looking like a Hollywood star or Barbie doll. It is important to help our sons learn what qualities and characteristics they personally find attractive such as a someone good in sports or a great listener or maybe even one who is smart or clever when it comes to academics. Letting our sons decide for themselves what type of person they find themselves attractive to is a wonderful gift we can give them.

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By teaching our sons that people are people – that it is more important to focus in on our similarities rather than our differences, we not only become better people individually, but when the time is right for us to partner with others in different aspects of our lives, we are better prepared to do so.

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life. To control your thoughts means to influence the way you live your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affects your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Be someone who can control your thoughts—become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have a few thoughts that are not of my choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in control of your thoughts.

If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words—many times your parents
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples’ expectations
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is youwhy else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future—in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear, which is often irrational and has no basis. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Troublemaker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration, and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

This person can be set off by words or feelings and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control. He is run by past programming that no longer serves you—if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You can control your thoughts, but you must pay attention to them so you can identify “who” is running the show—this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind.

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go-to” thoughts in applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

1. For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself to discredit the ‘voice’ that created the thought—if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready.

This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

2. For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind, and creates anxiety in the body. This may make it more difficult for you to control your thoughts effectively.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above-stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time, you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense. Both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

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Now, take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like! Do it until you feel that you’re close to being in control of your thoughts.

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example: If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place.

Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

3. For the Troublemaker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers. But until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain.

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds—just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize. Now, you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior, and you’ll be more in control of your thoughts.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

4. For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher, and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with a replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and thoughts, and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method, I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (closed, of course). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon
  • Shut down your thinking
  • Calm your feelings
  • Simply focus on the present moment

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable, and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. You can be in control of your thoughts. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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