Earlier this week, my daughter Mia woke up on what she refers to as the wrong side of the bed. She proceeded to bury herself under the bedclothes, making it quite clear to anyone who approached what kind of mood she was in. The rest of the family decided to tread carefully and wait until the storm had subsided.
Half an hour later, the sun had come out over Mia’s bed. She emerged, dressed, ready for breakfast, all smiles and happy hellos.
“Wow, Mia!” I exclaimed. “What’s happened? You’re in a completely different mood!”
She then explained how she had decided to ‘change her head’, switching from her ‘bad-mood’ to her ‘good-mood brain’. She said that some people did it via a flap, but that she was able to make this change happen at will, without using her hands, “or anything at all”.
As a coach, trainer and NLP practitioner, I’m fascinated by the possibility of choice, our ability to select, from a myriad of options, what to think and how to respond to situations that come our way.
And I’ve noticed that children, when they put their mind to it, seem to do this quite naturally, as a route to happiness, comfort or a way out of frustration.
The key to our feelings
One book that Mia loves is The Soul Bird, by Michal Snunit (thank you for the gift, Esther Goodyear!). It describes the human soul as a little bird who lives deep inside all of us. This special bird can open and close the drawers of our soul, and each of the drawers houses a different feeling.
The book’s a brilliant way of helping children to articulate their emotions and a simple lesson that, in the end, our reactions are just drawers, which we can open and close, at will.
What I love about small children is the ‘cleanness’ in which they move through emotions. For Mia, once the storm had passed, all she could see was the sunshine: the bad mood had washed away.
And so perhaps the key is not only to choose which drawers to open, but also to make sure that once one drawer is open, we decide to fully immerse ourselves in it, have a good rummage around and enjoy the feeling that we’ve chosen to have.
How to change your head
· Spend some time observing how you, and the people around you, respond to situations
· Notice when you feel in control of your reactions, and when you feel like situations are controlling you
· Try using the drawer metaphor – or create one of your own – to enhance your ability to select how you feel
· Watch how children process information and deal with challenges. What else could we learn from them?
This article also appears as Kaizen Training’s Tip of the Week: www.kaizen-training.com