Seven-year-old Tommy was getting nonstop coaching as he tried to play third base during his Little League ball game. A torrent of yelled instructions bombarded his ears.
“Tommy, move over!
Tommy, move back!
Not that far, Tommy. Move up a little!
Tommy, pay attention!
Tommy, the play is going to be at third. Be ready to cover the base!
Tommy, keep your glove on and pay attention to the batter!
Tommy, pull up your pants!”
Now Tommy was coming to bat. The coaching came from behind the backstop.
“Tommy, you can do it!
Keep your elbow up!
Keep your eye on the ball!
Watch the ball until it hits your bat.”
Why had the coach moved from the third base side to the backstop just for Tommy? It wasn’t the coach yelling at him. It was his mother. She was sending some powerful and negative messages.
Witnessing this, my heart ached for Tommy. What was he hearing the loudest? The instructions or the unstated messages? If this is Mom’s pattern, there is a very good chance that his subconscious mind is hearing two messages that will have a profound effect upon his life in years to come.
“Tommy, you can’t figure things out or think for yourself.”
Think about the impact this will have on his self-confidence.
“Tommy, you need to listen to a strong voice from the outside telling you what to do.”
There will come a day when his mind switches over from “concrete operations” to “formal operations.” This is the time when he will say to himself, “I don’t have to listen to her. I can think for myself.” But by this time he will be so conditioned to listen to a voice from the outside that it will be much easier to listen to the outside voice of his peers.
Tommy’s mom, who loves him dearly and wants the best for him, will be wondering why Tommy is so easily led by his peers. She will be saying, “Tommy, you have to think for yourself.” But will he be able to do that?
By the way, you can learn a lot more about the power of unstated messages in my audio CD, Shaping Self Concept.
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