A few weeks ago Stanley and I watched the movie Luca with my kids – we missed it last spring because we were so busy getting ready for camp.
In the movie, young Luca, the lead (and a sea monster) is shown a world of adventure by his new friend Alberto. Luca has a lot of fear of these new activities (he’s got pretty protective parents), but Alberto teaches him to quiet his mind by naming his fear “Bruno” and telling it to back off – “Silenzio Bruno!” As Lynn Lyons would say: “talk back to worry.”
Our brain will tell us to be afraid of so many things, and that search for comfort will rob us of our right to have fun and try new things.
There may be times, however rare, when our lives are in danger and our brain will try to keep us safe by alerting us to this danger. The skill of filtering out true threats from what our worry brain is telling us is something we develop over time.
Our worry brain can sneak up on us at any time. Two days after watching the movie (I’d been wandering the house intermittently yelling “Silenzio Bruno!” because I loved it so much) Stanley and I gifted Asher (age 7) with a shiny, cherry red, child-sized electric guitar on the 1st night of Hannukah.
I spent more time than I care to admit researching the options, the lessons, the costs and the color. A lot of love, thought, money and energy went into this gift decision.
When Asher opened it, he dissolved into a puddle of tears. It’s too big! It’s too heavy! I’ll fall over! I don’t know how to play! Lessons? What if I don’t make any friends in my lessons!
His worry brain, his Bruno, was working overtime… and then mine started to join his. Mine went more like, What if I wasted all this time? What if we wasted all this money? What if he never plays an instrument? What if he cries all night? How did I raise a child who could be so ungrateful?
Gotta love the holidays.
I kept it together enough to simply be quiet, walk away, and let Stanley do the talking. I don’t know that I handled it perfectly, but I think for the most part I could silence my Bruno. 7-year old Asher? Not so much.
24 hours later, I was able to see his reaction for what it was. The gift was unexpected, he couldn’t picture the future or his plan, and it freaked him out.
I also didn’t get what I pictured through my weeks of research and purchasing, which was a thrilled child, exuberant with glee. Two days after opening the gift, Asher had a lesson and enjoyed it. He started to figure out the picture. Three lessons later he learned the first chords of Smoke on the Water.
When things don’t work out the way we expect, we struggle. We just need to remember to “Silence Bruno.” It can be so hard to hear the future guitar chords over the ever-present din of our worry.