Origins of a Healthy Sense of Self (by Andrea Scott)

“Your Body Believes Every Word You Say”

I believe your body also believes what it hears and experiences–even before it understands language. And these experiences are among the earliest seeds of a Sense of Self.

From the first week my son was born, most of his naps were outside in the fresh air. I am an avid hiker and climber; I hiked or walked practically every day from a week after his birth. If Dan, my son, wasn’t sleeping in the backpack carrier, I was generally talking to him or a girlfriend I often hiked with, so he heard lots of conversation. I had so much to show this wonderful child of mine. I loved showing him wildflowers as I had a passion for learning the names of flowers and carried a little Northwest flower book in my pack.

Dan started talking early and one of the first words that flew out of his mouth, other than ‘dada’ and ‘hot’, was ‘trillium’! Mom did not come until later. The word ‘trillium’, one of the first flowers of spring, was one of his first discoveries. I’ll always remember that sweet voice saying, ‘!’

At two and a half, Dan, was getting too heavy for me to carry in a backpack. He was way “off the charts” for his age. At that young age, he was often mistaken for four. He is eighteen years old now and is six foot five inches (go figure!). I wasn’t working at the time, I had taken several years off on purpose as he was and is our only child and I wanted what I felt would be the best for both of us; to stay home. I am so thankful that my husband has a great job as a firefighter, and I was able to do this during the formative years of Dan’s life.

In order to continue hiking, I had to start him walking early unless I wanted to hurt my back. We would hike a short distance, like a quarter of a mile. I felt it was a great accomplishment so I always acknowledged Dan with lots of compliments and much excitement. Each time we went hiking, we’d go longer distances, discovering new flowers and enjoying the outdoors. We would generally hike as far as his little legs would go that day and then I would put him in the pack if we wanted to go further. One of the things I would say to him was, “We are full of energy!”  I knew intuitively if he was getting tired so I listened to that and did not push too much lest he get discouraged. We would always talk a lot which generally helped with longer treks.

Occasionally, I invited a friend who was a couple years older than him to come with us. She adored him and was really short for her age and athletic. He adored her as well. My only rule for hiking was that you could not complain. I always told them, “Your body believes every word you say. If you complain and whine about being tired, your body will get tired. If you said, ‘I’m full of energy’, guess what? (You’d be full of energy!).”

If they were honestly tired I knew when to stop. There were always food breaks, lots of water, and generally a picnic at the top. ‘I’m full of energy’ worked so well with Dan. Having a friend along encouraged him to go even further and pretty soon he made his first three mile hike. We started taking other friends along and again the main rule was to be curious, explore, have fun, and remember to tell yourself that you were full of energy as opposed to … we won’t say it, (I’m tired).

By three and a half years old he had a three, five, and six mile hike under his belt. He loved hiking and is still an avid hiker and climber today. He started college at fifteen years old and will be a senior at UW at eighteen years old. He is a high achiever and is a handsome model of healthy sense of self.

A couple of days ago I asked Dan to think of something that started his healthy sense of self. Dan answered my question after I had written the first four paragraphs the night before. When Dan and I were eating waffles with strawberries in the morning he said, Mom, “I was thinking about the question you asked and the first thing I thought of was when we used to hike and you would say to me, ‘Your body believes every word you say’, and you’d remind me to say, ‘I’m full of energy!’ “This made a great impact for me.”

Great minds do think alike!  We finished our waffles and I said come look what I wrote last night! He remembered that trillium was one of his first words and was very surprised to hear that it was said by him even before saying ‘Mom.’

Have you ever wondered where your Sense of Self originated from?

Language can make a big difference when you are making any achievements in life. How you are talked to and how you talk to yourself, positively or negatively, will be a huge influence in whether you make it up the mountain or do not make it. Life, mountains, accomplishments, whatever you consciously choose. Dan has always carried on the legacy of being positive, persistent, and passionate in whatever he chooses to accomplish.

How are you talking to yourself about the direction in life you want to go? Are you, as Dr. Seuss says a Canner or a Canter, a Willer or a Wonter, a Doer or a Donter? What are you telling yourself, what are you telling your body? Remember the importance of what you say. Where is your mountain and what is is needed to help you climb it?

Andrea Scott – Health Empowerment Coach

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