25 Weeks of Rediscovery: When You’re the Bogeyman

Posted January 14, 2015 by jimhigley

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(This is the second week of  a six-month journey of self-discovery. Thanks for joining me. Monday I shared Chapter 1 from my book, “Bobblehead Dad: 25 Lessons I Forgot I Knew.”  And yesterday we talked about that chapter. Today we talk more about “bogeymen.” Come back next week for a new lesson and some new thoughts. 

Lesson 1: The scariest bogeyman is the one in your head.

Here’s what I’ve learned about bogeymen in the last ten years.

It’s no fun to have your own. But it’s worse when you give them to people you love.

We’ve been talking about bogeymen the last couple of days. Bogeymen are those fears we carry around in our head – many from childhood – that hold us back. Keep us from living our life and reaching our potential. I’ve certainly had to try to shed a few bogeymen in my life. I have tremendous self-doubt when it comes to anything and everything related to athletics – thanks to a bogeyman who has been in my head since I was about five years old.

And I have daily dialogue with the bogeyman I inherited after losing so many many people in my life at an early age. That bogeyman still scares me. Because he keeps whispering me to that I’m likely not going to be around for the long run. It’s an “odds” thing. I’ve got crummy genes.

However, coming to know my bogeymen have given me peace because I now own them. They don’t own me.

But here’s the other part: we have to be mindful to not give bogeymen to others. Especially our kids.

As parents, it’s so easy to fall in to the trap of projecting our feelings and fears directly on our children. We presume that – because we feel (or felt as a child) one way about something that our children will naturally feel or react the same way. We assume they must be embarrassed because or their performance in a sport. Or perhaps we think they are feeling left out (spelled, “I’m not popular”) because they weren’t invited to a classmate’s party. And then we do the worst thing possible: we project those feelings on to our children.

We pass on self-image bogeymen. We pass on self-worth bogeymen. Academic bogeymen.  And we usually have no idea we are doing it.

I was certainly guilty of that. But I masked what I was doing as efforts to see them succeed. Be better. And succeed.

All natural goals for us parents. Unless, in doing so, we become the root of their bogeyman.

So the last ten years have caused me to modify that life lesson:

The scariest bogeymen are the ones in your head. And the ones you give to people you love.  

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Want more?  Read the first week’s posts including the  Prologue and Introduction. And come back next week for a new chapter!