Second Question

Are You the Babysitter has started posing a weekly question from a book as a writing exercise. Seeing as my brain is usually on Wallace and not on things that make my mind expand, sign me up!

This weeks question:

Is it true that you have to see it to believe it, or rather, do you have to believe it before you can see it?

I had no idea how to start approaching this and I had a migraine most of the week keeping my brain out of commission. That is until I heard an episode of This American Life last night. When I can find a link to it, I will come back and update.

The premise for the story is a study about rats. People were told that the rat was either smart or stupid and then they handled the rat before running it through a test. The rats were all average but the “smart” rats did better and the “stupid” rats did worse. It was all in how the people handled the rats, which varied because they perceived them to be either stupid or smart.

The program then went on to introduce two men who are blind but raised very differently. One can get around on his own and came up with a way to see his environment. His mom let him be a kid and didn’t raise him differently because of his blindness. The other man had gone to a school for the blind and was told all of his limits because of his lack of vision. He believed those limits and couldn’t navigate his environment.

What you believe in will shape your experiences in the world. If you want your circumstances to change, you have to believe they will (and of course work towards it) before you will see the changes. The reverse is also true – if you believe your life will never change for the better then that will be what you see around you. That’s the basic Law of Attraction.


" Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

When it comes to the expectations we set for people, just like with the rats, if you have a positive outlook and think and say good things about people then they will be the “smart” rats. If you constantly call your toddler “trouble” or “monster” or call your teenager “moody” or “dramatic” then that is what they will be, just like the “stupid” rats. How we perceive people effects how they act with you.

This is also true for your own inner dialogue. I have my moments that I am less than stellar as a mom, that I get self depricating, or that I wallow in my aloneness. But, I haw a few rules for myself. I will not even jokingly call myself a bad mom. If I am feeling stressed out about the day, I do not think about how horrible it is going to be or what 80 things will go wrong. When I am feeling defeated, I remember to look for and appreciate the little things that are good.

You have to believe it before you can see it.

About JennP

Single mom by choice, lesbian, natural living, parenting, car free, Chicago.Thank you for reading and feel free to leave a comment!
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6 Responses to Second Question

  1. RoiAnn says:

    Wow – I love this! Of course I’ve been bothering my family with this question all week and today over lunch, my partner told that story from This American Life (!), and after a bit of conversation, I quoted the line you used here from Alice in Wonderland. All before reading your blog just now! I think we’re onto something here … I like your social justice angle here quite a lot, and would love to share your post with colleagues on Monday.

  2. Wow! Maybe some points for collective consciouness theory? Feel free to share it.

  3. The thoughts > words > reality part is a basic Buddhist concept too. One zen talk I attended was about forgiveness. If you want/need to forgive someone start with positive thoughts like remembering good interactions and thinking about what you admire about them. Then move onto good words. Stop speaking negatively about them to start. Then move onto good interactions. For one scenario I used this with, I got them a very thoughtful gift because I knew quality bonding time wasn’t going to happen. I forgave them in my self and moved on because I knew I couldn’t change her mind of me.

  4. Lindsay says:

    I firmly believe this, and have done several experiments with myself. My experiments have proved to me that our thoughts indeed to create and shape our realities. Sometimes I go down the rabbit hole of negativity. And when I do, I remind myself that thinking positively can change things slowly. And it always, always does.

  5. It can definitely be hard to pull ourselves back up!

  6. Sarah says:

    I know you wrote this days ago, but I needed it today! So glad I was able to check in.

    It can be such a challenge to keep our minds right in the face of day to day discouragement. Such a great reminder that it’s worth the effort to literally stop and think. 🙂

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