It can be difficult to find your path, get unstuck, build confidence, and overcome fear. And if it’s challenging for us as adults, how do we create positive habits for children and set them up for happiness and success?
In an effort to uncover tried-and-true strategies, I spoke with Brent Feinberg, author of Freeing Freddie, who breaks down for us the best ways to approach these topics, no matter your age!
Join us in the conversation:
Darrah Brustein: What motivated you to start writing these books, and why did you choose to write for kids?
Brent Feinberg: My decision to write a book was to convey to readers profound life lessons in a simple-to-understand manner for all ages. I wanted to create an easy way for parents and children to connect and relate to each other on a deeper level of understanding, something I have noticed is lacking. In Freeing Freddie the Dreamweaver, my first publication, I wanted to show that fear can be overcome in order to create our dreams in life. That living life with greater awareness and intention can direct a person to a desired situation of being. It is our challenges in life that makes us stronger and more compassionate.
Brustein: You write about believing in oneself as the foundation for curiosity and wonder. What is preventing kids from developing this self-esteem, and how do they begin to build it?
Feinberg: The quote in my book is from e. e. Cummings. Fear is a big factor holding children and people of all ages back from exploring life in a way that will bring them greater fulfillment and happiness. Self-esteem is built by exploring and pushing our own boundaries further within a safe environment. Complacency and staying in one’s comfort zone prevents us from discovering what we are truly capable of creating and accomplishing. Fear is a powerful aspect within each of us that prevents us from reaching our true potential. When we learn the skills and tools to deal with our fears positively, we learn to take on more in our lives and then build greater self-esteem.
Brustein: You mentioned fear. How does this show up and how does one move through it?
Feinberg: There are two types of fears: one that protects us and one that we create within us. I am writing about and working with the latter. The story teaches that fear is normal. The first process in order to move through fear is to acknowledge that it is there and pinpoint exactly what the fears are. If we can show children and youth that we have fears too, and that there is nothing to be ashamed of in having fear, a transformation begins to happen. Some fears can be overcome through action, and others through going within ourselves with techniques of visualization and meditation.
Brustein: For parents who want to teach their kids these lessons, what’s the best first step?
Feinberg: It is a positive experience when parents speak openly to their children about how they too experience fear within their own lives. Sharing how they have overcome fears and how they did so gives a reassuring example to their children that fears are normal and can be used to learn and grow. Explaining how their fears and challenges in life have brought them lessons and wisdom to use moving forward is a powerful perspective to teach. In this way, parents have an opportunity to prepare their children for their journey of life.
Brustein: The web is a metaphor you use. Can you explain what it means?
Feinberg: The web is used in two cases in the story: one being a web of fears that entraps us, and the other a web of dreams. It’s just like a spider web that can be seen from the view of an insect trapped in it, or from a human perspective. The insect’s perspective would be frightening. Overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness, the insect feels so small in the web. As a human, we can see the beauty in the web’s incredible design. We can choose the web we want in life; a web of dreams that feels expansive and free, where we have the ability to see the beauty of life and construct a life of our design. Or, we can choose to remain stuck in our fears: stuck in a web that keeps us limited and small.
Brustein: What’s the role of possibility in a child’s eyes?
Feinberg: A child sees only possibility. It is the adults around him or her who see mostly limitations. Adults have an opportunity to re-learn life when children become part of their lives, instead of merely trying to impress on them their own ways of living.
Brustein: Can you share your message about intention and action?
Feinberg: As people, we are making choices and taking action consistently, but mostly without the awareness of what our intentions are. If we are not aware of the intentions behind our actions, we cannot focus our lives in the direction we choose. We have free choice in life only when we become conscious of the reason why we are doing something, and what we want the outcome of our actions to be. In this way we can create our dreams and lives that we want to have.
Brustein: You write, “All you need to learn and achieve is all already within you.” If that’s the case, how do children and adults unearth that, and what’s the role of outside growth opportunities (like conferences, workshops, mentors, books, etc)?
Feinberg: We all have an enormous wealth of wisdom and knowledge innately within us. This statement is there to emphasize that through sitting in silence with oneself, through techniques of meditation and visualization, we get to know ourselves deeply. Going within creates great expansiveness with higher levels of perception and consciousness. Conferences, workshops, mentors, and books are all powerful tools to ignite a spark and show the way to creating a life filled with meaning and happiness. This is all there to reveal the latent potential that lies within us all.
Brustein: What is the role of challenges in one’s life?
Feinberg: Challenges are inevitable in life. We have the choice of how to perceive them. If we can reflect back on our lives, challenges are really opportunities that push us to become softened and strengthened. Softened is all about the heart, becoming more compassionate and understanding. Strengthened is about the mind and our will to strive forward to greater peace and joy in our lives. With this in mind, we have the choice either to see challenges as a gift, or, adversely, we can curse and complain about them. It becomes a choice. When we see them as an opportunity to grow, then we see how much more we can handle moving forward with the newly- found skills learned from each challenge through which we move.
Feinberg: Choosing our path in life is subjective and only an inner knowing can tell us when we are being truthful or straight with ourselves. It is important that integrity is the foundation of our choices when creating a path for ourselves. We are all faced with times in life when we question where we are going. This is normal. Being restless is important as it pushes us to find answers. Reaching out is as important as going within to answer what we really want from life and then finding a way to make this happen. Being honest with ourselves is true integrity.
Brustein: Why is dreaming so important?
Feinberg: It is impossible to create a life that we truly want if we cannot even imagine it first. Dreaming symbolizes imagining the greatest possibility for our lives and the world. If you dream of reaching the starts, you might hit the ceiling. If you do not dream at all, you stagnate and cannot create anything noteworthy or fulfilling.
Brustein: You share that happiness is a choice. Please elaborate on this.
Feinberg: Happiness is an inner experience. We can choose to be happy within us no matter what is happening in the world around us. We see life through our own perceptions. Therefore, when we can see the positive in life experience, we create happiness within. Happiness then becomes the foundation from which we live life. The choice is therefore linked to expanding our consciousness. If we can do this, happiness will be a constant flowing fountain within us.
This article was originally published on Forbes.
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