Last week, I wrote about how childhood conditioning affects us adversely in “Breaking Down Conditioning” I shared it on Facebook and many of my friends who are parents asked me this question,”Can we really avoid imposing our conditioned responses on our children?”
My answer to that is Victor Salmon. Victor was introduced to wakeboarding when he was 10 years old. He turns 15 this year and has won countless wakeboarding championships all over the world. Watching Victor execute his stunts precisely & fearlessly on water, is at once breathtaking and heart-stopping (his video Salmonized is attached). Victor comes across confident, charismatic and has an innocence and maturity all at the same time. He chats with adults and children alike effortlessly and it is easy to imagine that Victor is a perfect child from a perfect family. That’s not the case.
When I first met Victor’s mother Nath in 2012, she had come to see me in a state of emotional overwhelm. She was having a difficult time dealing with her insecurities and her life felt like it was falling apart. She was facing a potentially nasty divorce and her own childhood had conditioned her to doubt her own abilities. The fears, coupled with her natural sensitivity meant she was easily affected and made to feel a gamut of emotions running from guilt to terror by those seeking to exploit and bully her. Most people who met her saw fit to impose their own expectations on her. She had a natural fear of all things risky and having to deal with Victor doing these incredibly dangerous stunts at his tender young age was causing her to doubt her own judgement and role as a mother. This was made worse because she had been told by a metaphysician that Victor should avoid water at all costs. And here he was, doing stunts on water!
And then Nath did something crazy. Instead of allowing her own fears to overwhelm her and pull Victor out from wakeboarding. She lived with her fear and she took the bold step of watching Victor when he trained. She kept her eyes open, took deep breaths often and calmed herself every single time her heart leaped into her throat. Slowly, she started to be inspired by the fearlessness that she saw in Victor. She could have taken the convenient route and imposed her fears onto Victor, but she didn’t. Instead she confronted her own terror, walked clear of her conditioning and gave Victor unconditional support throughout his journey. Despite her overwhelming emotions, she kept watching, kept supporting, kept loving. This year, Nath took a leap of faith, conquered her resistance and did her first lap at the Thai Wake Park.
Nath’s experience was an inspiring lesson to me about empowerment. First we empower ourselves, only then can we empower our children.
Henry Ford said, “One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”
So first, confront our fears. Stay aware and only then can we unconditionally support the next generation.