The Daily Groove


Boycott That Thought!

Conscientious parents often boycott companies whose products and practices undermine children's well-being. Today, let's play with the idea of boycotting thoughts that undermine your parenting vision.

The human mind is like a marketplace of thoughts, and attention is the currency with which you "buy into" a thought... or not. You boycott a thought by paying no attention to it — by focusing on a better, more empowering thought instead.

A conventional boycott is only effective if large numbers of consumers participate. But there's only ONE consumer in your thought market: you. So when you boycott a thought, that thought's "market share" goes to 0% and it goes "out of business."

When you feel bad about your parenting or your child, it means you're buying into some negative thought or perspective. For example, a thought like "I suck as a parent" closes your heart and undermines your creativity, so...

BOYCOTT THAT THOUGHT!

...and give your attention to encouraging thoughts like "I don't have to be perfect... My parenting is gradually improving... I'm finding my way."

Re: Boycott That Thought!

Exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I get so down on myself when I get angry with my kids - last night I was convinced I was the worst parent ever. But I am finding my way to a better way of parenting, I care enough to look for a better way, and most of the time I am doing fine!

Re: Boycott That Thought!

I find so much of the advice from the Daily Groove to be dead on, but occasionally there's something I see that's a bit off, and often in a really crucial way. This bit of advice has an important kernel of truth, certainly, but there's more to the story.

There is, in fact, not only one consumer our own thought markets. We have different sides of ourselves. We're all familiar with having mixed feelings. It isn't just a thought we'd be boycotting here, but part of ourselves, a part having that thought. You can't boycott such a thought without invalidating yourself. Indeed, it's invalidation that causes us to end up with these sorts of uncentered split psyches with mixed feelings and insecurities. So it's no more healthy to do that to ourselves than it is to invalidate our kids. We have to treat ourselves in those situations the same way we treat our children, with compassion.

We all know that this doesn't mean endorsement or indulgence. We all know you can be there emotionally for your kid when they are experiencing something unpleasant, and we know that being there for them in such a situation is the very path *through* that unpleasantness, whereas not being present for that unpleasantness is the surest way to have it end up sticking around. Same goes for ourselves.

The Law of Attraction is well and good as far as it goes, but it's not the only law in the psychological universe, and there are few things more subtly dangerous than believe it to be the only one. Indulging your unpleasant thoughts is something to be done at your own peril, no doubt, but just as surely, boycott them at your own peril as well.

Re: Boycott That Thought!

Your point is well taken, Mark. The intentionally short format of the Daily Groove is such that the deeper implications of the concepts are not fully explored. I set an arbitrary limit of 150 words for each Groove, and I exceeded it by about 30 words in this case, which was still not enough to address the nuances you outlined.

I think there's a difference between the kind of of thoughts and feelings that are authentic yet mixed (e.g., "part of me wants X, but part of me prefers Y") and the kind of thoughts that are not authentic at all, namely internalized messages imposed by authority figures. The examples I gave were meant to illustrate the latter type.

When someone holds a thought, the gist of which is "I'm not good enough... I should be better than I am... something is wrong with me...," it is not an authentic thought. More likely it came from a demanding parent, teacher, employer, religious figure, or "friend." To boycott such thoughts about oneself is, in my opinion, a way of taking back one's power and extricating oneself from the tentacles of others' toxic judgments. I have done this myself and the experience has been like a rite of passage, after which I felt a greater sense of empowerment and autonomy — more like myself.

Another nuance I didn't describe is that a boycott need not be violently opposed to the thing being boycotted. You can fully accept and make peace with the unwanted thought while turning your attention to that which you desire, and in fact that approach is more empowering. In that sense, the boycott metaphor is not ideal because part of what makes a consumer boycott "work" is that it draws negative attention to the boycotted company. The non-oppositional approach is more like "voting with your dollars," but now we're mixing metaphors. :)

Regarding the healing power of honoring the different parts of oneself, I totally agree, and frequently encourage parents to learn the art of Focusing, which is based on unconditional acceptance and presence.

Re: Boycott That Thought!

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Lots of good points. I do agree that certain thoughts are inauthentic. If there is a way to "boycott" them without making the part that has the thought feel invalidated, then that's great. It can be, as I think you've alluded to here, just as possible to get past the thought by going straight into it, just as we help kids get through any number of things by simply being present to it. In a way, it's failure to be present to it that just keeps it around.

Seems to me a question of mechanisms more than anything. We definitely agree that there are some thoughts that in a sense really ought to be purged and left behind. It's all just a question of how we do it, and I think it's pretty useful to understand that turning our cheek from such thoughts is often the worst possible way to actually leave such a thought permanently behind.

I do totally get that the Daily Groove isn't the place to go into such detail on these things :) Like a lot of things in life, seemingly contradictory things can often be true, and we get to see larger truths only by putting together a mosaic of smaller ones. I think of the Daily Groove as like that -- a bunch of small truths that have to be taken together, none alone out of context, in order to really make happen what we want to happen.

Thanks for continuing to share so much good stuff :)