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Children Absorb Your Emotions

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal how children are like sponges and absorb your emotional state.

First a quick update:

“Australian TV”
Why do women love bad boys? I will be live from Hollywood on Australia’s The Morning TV Show Thursday 9 AM (Aussie time) revealing the answers.

“Why do women desire bad boys?”
Read my quotes and insights on

“Summer Heat – Summer Lovin”
Read what I said about the link between summer and factors of attraction in the article for College Magazine.

“Justin Bieber’s bad behavior”
Is Justin Bieber another example of the Fame Factor suffering from delusions of power, grandeur, and denial? Read my quotes and insights on

“Is Twitter and tweeting bad for your brain?”
Read about the benefits and the negative impact that Tweeting has on your brain and mental performance.

Now, lets’ talk about children and how they are just like sponges and they absorb everything around them – including your emotions.

“He’s just a child; he won’t understand.”

That’s a comment often made by an adult who thinks that because a child’s brain hasn’t fully developed he therefore won’t be affected by either a comment or an event that is occurring – sometimes right in front of the child.

It is true that the human brain doesn’t fully develop until around the age of mid 20s – the last part of the brain to mature is the executive/decision-making center – the frontal lobes of the brain. However, that doesn’t stop children at a very early age from making conclusions, forming beliefs and experiencing and holding onto emotions, pain and trauma.

In my newsletter “It’s not your fault”, I discuss the movie “Good Will Hunting” as an example of the way children blame themselves for their parents’ actions.

Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon) is a young boy who happens to be a genius but there’s one block to his success – his belief about himself.  On the outside, Will Hunting portrays arrogance and self-confidence. But underneath, Will blames himself for the abuse his father dished out to him – his father would hit him almost nightly with a metal wrench. As an adult, Will Hunting subconsciously believes that it was his fault for what his dad did; ‘there must have been something wrong with me for my father to hit and abuse me.’

Will Hunting is an example of the way children take on a belief and make a conclusion about their self-worth and deservedness. But children also absorb the emotions of their parents as well as taking on responsibility for the actions and emotions of their parents.

Ray is 35 and his entire life he has been dating women that are sad, depressed and need rescuing. When asked what attracted him to these types of women, he became perplexed and confused.

“I don’t know why I like these women” Ray told me. “I mean, it’s not like they make me happy. The opposite is true; they drain me and bring me down.”

Eventually Ray saw the similarity between these women and his mother who he remembers as always being “sad, depressed and in her own world.”

Ray was subconsciously trying to rescue these women, to make them happy, just the way he wished his mother would be. But what Ray wasn’t consciously aware of, was the way he had absorbed the sadness and depression that his mother felt. He had taken on her pain and subconsciously believed that it wasn’t right for him to be so happy when his mother was so sad. He saw that she didn’t and couldn’t have fun and so he, too, believed that he wasn’t meant to have fun either. Ultimately, Ray had absorbed his mother’s emotions and pain.

Comedian and actor, Jim Carrey reveals a similar story when describing his childhood and explains the motivation that led him to become a comedian:

“Well, I was two people my whole life. I was in the living room entertaining people – being a monkey – doing my thing for the company and trying to relieve my mother who was suffering. She had rheumatoid arthritis, phlebitis and everything under the sun that was nagging at her. And she was depressed. And I wanted her to be free. And I wanted her to realize that her life was worth something because she gave birth to someone who’s worth something.

And then, I would go into my room and I would sit with a legal pad. I was a little kid and I would sit there and I would try and figure out what it meant – what it was all about.

Why are we here?

What is this?

And one day I read something from Buddha that said – “All spirituality is about relieving suffering.”

And I suddenly realized ‘that’s what I’m doing in the other room.’ And ’m aligned!  My purpose is aligned with this. So I felt incredibly lucky.

I lose sight of this all the time. I get caught up in different concerns and ego concerns but I’m so lucky to be part of this community and to do something that is of value.”

Jim Carrey took his situation and turned it into something positive – a goal to help people, to entertain, to make people laugh and to ease suffering. But for many years leading up to this point, Jim Carrey admitted suffering from depression and even in the video of his above comments, you can see that the sadness and pain of his childhood lingers.

Children are like sponges and they absorb and retain everything to which they are exposed.

And so, if you are a parent, understand that when you are in pain, so is your child; when you are joyful, so, too, is your child; when you are angry, your child becomes fearful but will also one day express anger just like you.

Singer Chris Brown who assaulted his girlfriend Rihanna, had an abusive stepfather who used to beat his mother. Chris had expressed resentment towards his stepfather, saying “I hate him to this day”, and even threatened to kill him with a baseball bat one day. And yet, Chris Brown ended up copying his father’s behavior, something characteristic of children who grow up in families of domestic violence; they copy the very thing they hate and often hate themselves that they couldn’t protect their mother and can’t stop copying their father’s behavior! Click here to read more.

The point here is not to throw guilt onto parents but rather to make them aware of the way they affect their children. The solution is to sit down with your child and let him or her know that she is not responsible for you or your happiness. Help them to understand that whatever happens between you and your spouse is not their fault. It is also critical to allow your child the opportunity and safe space to express what they are feeling, all of their emotions and to allow them to have a voice about those feelings and thoughts without shutting them down or telling them they are stupid for thinking or feeling something.

You can use these talks and open discussions as a way to increase your child’s emotional intelligence and social skills. You can also boost their self-confidence and self-image by helping them to become aware of their thoughts, feelings and emotions, helping them to understand those experiences and to gain insight into what they are feeling and experiencing. You can start now, regardless of how young your child is because whatever age he or she is, she is already absorbing you, your thoughts and your emotions as well as making conclusions about whether or not he or she is lovable, good enough and worthy. Teach them that they are!

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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