Story #4: Avert an 8.5 Earthquake When Your Child Makes a Mistake

I almost always cry when I make a mistake. Come on, I’m ten. Makes me so angry at myself. My mom and dad are getting really frustrated with me. I can’t stop saying the same old thing: “What’s wrong with me? I’m so stupid,” and stuff like that. I finally went to the school counselor. She sent me to our earth science teacher who teaches a new class called Earth/Human Science. What I learned changed everything.

The first thing he said is that our earth has lessons to teach us. Say what? Sounds crazy to me but I keep my mouth shut.

Then he pulled out this diagram titled “Mind Earthquake – Fear Fault Line.” It showed a fault line breaking open into two parts. And from the breaking point, seismic anger waves radiated to the surface epicenter where everything was a mess. He had pictures of kids banging their heads and parents yelling at kids and everything around them was broken. Two days ago, I barely survived an Alaska earthquake – really scary, I mean really, really scary!

Then he told us something like an earthquake happens in us when we mess up. He said all of us have a Fear Fault Line, and it splits apart when we make a mistake. He pointed to the anger waves and said anger is released from ourselves and from adults. Just like in an earthquake, the anger eventually goes away. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

He was right. When a mistake happens, down deep inside me I feel the same fear as I had during the earthquake: Something’s wrong. Will I die? There’s no way to stop this. I’m finished. Then I started to cry but was able to stop it – so embarrassing.

I pointed to the anger waves coming from the breaking point, “What’s this?”

“Well, when we’re fearful, anger kicks in to fight or flight. That’s the mind’s way of trying to get rid of the outside threat, in this case a mistake. We get mad at ourselves like, ‘I’m dumb,’ and parents yelling at us, ‘When will you ever learn?’”

Then he had a little good news. This mind earthquake eventually gets over the mistake. But the two-part bad news is: part one, we feel completely alone and misunderstood by our parents, and part two, we feel something is basically wrong down at our center and there’s nothing good down there – the most frightening thing that a human can feel.

Barely able to hold back the tears – again – I nod in agreement and say, “That’s exactly what I feel. What’s the fix?”

“There’s a new fix called LIFT. The minute a mistake happens, parents do something completely different. They focus on the inside starting point of the earthquake. They don’t wait for the surface epicenter part. A parent’s anger, making you feel like you are hated, is replaced with understanding kindness. Sounds crazy but it’s like spraying a gigantic fire hose on the fear. It reduces it to just a little smoke. It’s normal to be scared when a mistake happens, and the mind tries to get rid of the fear with anger. It’s very ineffective. The cool part is when fear is reduced to a little smoke, anger goes away.”

I’m feeling warmth in my body – just a little – as I imagine this happening. Really strange. I blurt out, “Do parents like this really exist and how is it possible to not be angry at myself?”

“I agree it sounds crazy but here’s the deal. The mind earthquake allows animal-type things to happen: Threat happens, the fearful fight or flight is turned on, fueled by anger. Inside – not conscious – we experience all this as ‘we are going to die.’ It’s at least an 8.5 Richter scale earthquake with a lot of inside confidence damage and feeling super separated from your parent. The biggest part is not feeling understood.” Now I can see why I cry so easily, just like I did during the Alaska earthquake.

“This animal response works OK when your dad swerves to miss a car crash, but it’s worse than useless when you need to deal with your parents finding out you got an F in Math.”

He pulls out another diagram called “Center Earthquake.” He points to the center of the earthquake (focus) showing a kid being gently touched on his shoulder by a parent. With a kind face, they are saying, “You feel scared and angry but that will go away as we support you to find different ways to think and feel when a mistake happens.” The diagram shows two parts of the fault line merged and eventually completely reconnected with two very light anger waves going out to the surface, instead of ten.

He explained that when parents do this every time, eventually there is little to no anger at yourself and mistakes are processed as easily as knowing when you get hungry, you eat. The parent’s input requires constant kindness, just like a healthy body requires daily fruits and vegetables. Regular anger mixed with French Fries and Hamburgers means constant mind earthquakes.

I point to the merged fault line, “Does this stay permanently united?”

“Almost always, and here’s why. Kind attachment during fear, from you to your worthwhile center and from your parents to your center, does the mending. Separation is deadly and kind attachment is life-giving. When something super horrible happens, the Fear Fault Line will fracture to some degree, but the healing and reconnecting always happens and reasonably fast. And the really good news – the Fear Fault Line is actually strengthened with each healing experience.”

I really felt hope for the first time. “Will you call my parents and let them know how to learn this stuff?”

“I’ll call them with a trainer’s name today.”

You have just experienced the new life enhancing parenting program Love Infusing Fear – Therapy (LIFT).