Think it. Feel it. Act it. Prove it. Round and around the Unhappy Kid Triangle we go, blaming others for our misery and unhappiness. Here is a very real example of how this works (or in may case, how it worked for me as a child). I have shared this story many many times, with many many children, teenagers, and even adults…
Growing up, my parents struggled to make a living. They both worked hard. My mom did what she could to cut back on expenses. Wherever she went, she carried around a calculator and an envelope filled with grocery coupons. My unhappy story takes place in the 1980s (Stanger Things is very real for me), in a grocery store (most likely Stater Bros.), somewhere in Los Angeles, California (my hometown). I was probably eight years old, and had already decided that I was a bad kid that didn’t deserve anything. But man oh man did I want to deserve everything! We entered the grocery store, my little sister in the shopping cart, and I walking along side of it. Mom had a very detailed list of items that we needed to buy for the week. As we approached the cereal aisle, not quite having turned down it, something caught my attention. The breakfast cereal that I saw advertised on TV earlier that week, was very much on display at the end of the aisle (the end cap).
Count Chocula! I wanted it so bad! I excitedly asked my mom if we could buy it. I used all of the bribe and cuteness tactics I could think of to try and convince her to buy it for me. She told me that we didn’t have enough money to buy it that day, but that we might be able to but some the following week. I was crushed. Without being conscious of my unhappy thoughts…they began to rule me. My unhappy thoughts were "I never get anything. It’s not fair. Mom is so mean. She always says no. I have to take matters into my own hands. I’ll show her.” Little by little those unhappy thoughts turned into unhappy feelings of rejection, anger, vengeance and blame. I was eight years old. I was determined to get my way. My mind was spinning with ways in which I could get my mom to buy the cereal for me. Once we got what we needed from the cereal aisle (a tub of Quaker Oats), we continued our shopping. About two aisles over from the cereal aisle, I decided to make my move. I told my mom that I needed to go to the bathroom, and that I was old enough to go on my own. After lecturing me about kidnappers and knowing what to do if someone tried to take me, she allowed me to go. But I didn’t have to go to the bathroom. I lied. I went back to the cereal aisle, grabbed a box of Count Chocula cereal, hid behind the display case, opened it, stuck my hand in the bag, grabbed a handful and shoved it in my mouth. It tasted so good. I was feeling pretty proud of myself for pulling it off…until…I got caught. The store manager found my mom, told her what I had done, and demanded my mom pay for the opened box of cereal. Ugh! My mom cried. She told the store manager that she didn’t have enough money to pay for it. He told her she would have to put something back (or at least this is how I remember it). Whatever she ended up putting back was probably something pretty important that we needed for dinner that week.
Mom didn’t have to say anything, the look of disappointment and betrayal on her face said it all. The unhappy thoughts that initially created feelings of anger and vengeance, became unhappy thoughts that created feelings of shame, guilt and sadness. I was thinking “Why do I always get in trouble? Why are people always mad at me? Why am I such a bad kid?” I don’t remember what happened afterwards; whether or not I got to eat the cereal for breakfast the next day. But I do know that this pattern of unhappy thoughts, feelings, and behaviors continued most of my life. And from time to time, I will catch myself moving back into the Blaming Bully role as a way to “get what I want,” fearing that “they won’t let me.”
The Happy Kid Toolkit is such a great way to demonstrate to kids and adults how our unhappy thoughts, feelings and behaviors are the true cause of our misery and disharmony in life. It is NEVER what ‘they’ do or say to me that causes me to feel bad…it is ALWAYS what I tell myself it means about ME when ‘they' do or say something. What happens when we take our unhappy thoughts captive and transform them to happier thoughts that are based on TRUTH (God’s Word)?
Thanks for letting my share my Count Chocula story with you. FYI…Costco is currently selling a bundle of these nostalgic cereals including Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry. Yes, I did buy a bundle. My kids know the story. We got a kick out of opening up and tasting the cereal together last night.