My two-year-old son, like your average American child, rarely goes a day without viewing television, and often quite a bit of it. He watches a show or two when he wakes up in the morning, maybe a full-length animated film in the afternoon, and another program sometime in the evening. With a one-year-old to manage simultaneously, it’s not uncommon for my wife and I to occasionally entrust one of our many animated allies with briefly babysitting our toddler. Of course, neither Nemo, Lightning McQueen, nor Buzz Lightyear can change a diaper worth a damn, but they certainly are adept at keeping kids from sticking forks in electrical outlets, which is a plus.
My wife and I understand that our sons will be constantly learning from everything they’re observing and hearing, so we don’t choose our cartoon caretakers lightly. We carefully select only those that will not only entertain and amuse, but will also promote our values of kindness, cooperation, and non-violence. Minimal pushing, shoving, hitting, fighting, shooting, killing, that sort of thing. We aim for sweet, gentle, innocent, nurturing. Too bad we didn’t, until just recently, know about The McGurk Effect.
This is a perfect demonstration of the Loop of Doom. In this scene, both Lilo and her older sister are outside their emotional comfort zone and acting out toward one another. As the emotional reactions of each progressively escalate, the conflict reaches a breaking point, at which point separation and disconnect occur. Although this dynamic unfolds here very rapidly, in real life, Loop of Doom scenarios can endure for much longer periods of time–sometimes as long as an hour–following this same trajectory of escalation culminating in abrupt, sometimes violent acts of separation. When participants eventually reunite, they will do so with greater emotional distance between them than that which existed prior to the encounter.
It would be foolish for us to ever blame the blade of grass in the flower bed for not blossoming, or the sapling for not casting wider shade. The same is true for people. Understanding this enables us to more easily forgive others for being as they are.
Oh, I remember the incident far too clearly. I was about ten years old. My family was taking a road trip to Ocean City, Maryland when we stopped at a fast food restaurant for a quick bite. We got our food, took it to one of the tables outside, sat down, then realized we had no ketchup. When my parents asked me to return, alone, to ask the cashier for some, I refused. They asked again and again I refused, this time more adamantly. Perplexed as to why I’d be making such a fuss about this, their request grew into a demand. I burst into tears, at which point my sister, two years my junior, cheerfully proclaimed, “I’ll go!” and scurried away. (She’s now a public speaking coach.)
This is my earliest recollection of being fearful of the spotlight, fearful of occupying center stage, alone with all eyes upon me, my first memory of being terrified—like so many others—of public speaking.
This is such a fantastic clip because it depicts a raw and beautifully realistic medley of family dynamics in action. While watching this scene, consider who is giving permission and who isn’t. Who is most responsible for causing the scene to escalate? How does each person contribute to the conflict that arises? What’s happening here from each person’s perspective and why are they reacting to one another in the way that they are? Who, here, is the most innocent? Who is doing the best job giving permission? Who the worst? Who is suffering the least? Who the most? What can this clip teach us about giving permission?
What if you inspired the very best in someone, what’s the worst that could happen? This is the way we want to think about and approach our relationships. The path to this type of inspiration begins with giving permission.