Photo of Thomas & Family provided by Thomas Gagliano
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Thomas Gagliano talked about his book, The Problem Was Me.
In his words, “My book is based on childhood messages, those ingrained deep in our soul. While watching a baseball game on television my eight year old son explains this better than I . He said, ‘Dad why do the kids in the stands get so excited for their favorite baseball player.’ I said some baseball players are heroes to those kids. I suggested that someday one of those players might be his hero. My son paused and said, ‘They may be my hero someday but you will always be my first hero.’
As parents we are our children’s first heroes, whether we want the responsibility or not. Unfortunately negative messages in childhood will unleash a tsunami of negative voices and thoughts in our adult lives. If these thoughts aren’t exposed an inner critic develops in our thinking. This inner critic, who I call The Warden, is that little voice in our head which constantly tells us what they’re doing wrong, never allowing us to celebrate our victories. This inner critic will imprison us in roles, roles we may not want to play. For instance, how many people play the caretaking role where they carry the burden of the world on their shoulder unable to let it go? How many of us are the people pleaser where we say yes all the time because it is too painful to say no. Some of us play the invisible roles where we lose our voice in our relationships. The defiant role where we do the opposite of what others tell us to do. These are just a few examples.”
He continued, “There are three elements needed to silence this inner critic so we can stop listening to its commands and find peace in our lives. The first essential is awareness. This means we need to find out what is broken inside so we know what has to be fixed. Second essential is actions. Initially these actions will be uncomfortable because we are moving away from the roles we’re used to playing. This is where we may need the help of others to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. Finally, we need maintenance. If we don’t maintain these actions the Warden will be back to take control of our behavior again.
If we don’t expose this inner critic we will hand it down to our children. My book also serves as a blueprint, a blueprint to give our children the positive and loving messages that may have been denied to us. For example several years ago we had to put our dog to sleep. Our oldest son was the same age as the dog, and he was very attached to her. As we returned from the veterinarian’s office, I noticed our son was sad and withdrawn. I asked him if he was okay. He said, ‘I’m fine dad.’ I asked again, he replied, ‘I’ll be alright.’ Instead of walking away, I hugged him. His tears started to flow as his grip on me tightened. At that moment, I knew I was providing my son a safe haven for him to cry. The message I relayed to him that day was that to cry in the arms of his father is acceptable. I never had a safe place to go as a child, but my son does. We need to give our children the message that it’s okay to make mistakes in life so they don’t internalize themselves as a mistake. If we deny our children compassion when they stumble at times we negate a part of their humanness. If they lose compassion for themselves they will lose compassion for others as well. Only when I started to believe that I wasn’t a bad person who deserved to be punished but rather a discouraged person who needed help did I let the love of others into my life. Like all my other distorted perceptions, I believed the God of my youth was vindictive and angry, believing he would hurt my family for my injustices. How could a higher power love someone like me. When I healed internally I allowed spiritual love in.”