In almost every phase of our lives, at home, school and work, we find ourselves being evaluated and sometimes this results in rewards or punishments!
If you’re a good boy then Santa Claus will come
You’ve been a bad girl so you can’t have ice-cream for dessert
Be a good boy today and I’ll get you something from the shops
Bad boys don’t get to go to the park!
At school kids are bombarded with judgements about everything.
That’s not neat enough
That’s worth a ‘C’ in effort and ‘C’ for satisfactory
Johnny could apply himself more
You’re rewarded for 1st/2nd/3rd in swimming but nothing for any other place because you’re not good enough
You’re skirt is too short (teachers) or too long (peer pressure)
You look scruffy, tuck your shirt in! You look like a nerd… un-tuck your shirt!
At work it’s promotions, bonuses and accolades and you strive hard to receive recognition and validation for the hard work and long hours you put in (to the detriment of your family time).
Women judge other women for their decisions about staying at home with the kids. Managers and small businesses look at mum’s as a threat to productivity in the work place because the kids come first. Men feel they have to stand out, get the boss to like them… fit in so they will be seen as part of the team. The pressure to conform is all around us. Lowering our ability for building resilience against other people’s judgements.
These judgements, situations where you feel judged and pressured to conform are a part of your life from infancy to old age and are hard to escape. Sometimes these judgments can motivate people into a place of excellency, but most times they stunt your personal growth because you dread failure… the negative comments… you can’t live up to expectations…. it impacts on your ability to succeed because you expect to fail before you even begin!
None of this is good for Building Resilience!
Unless you’ve been brought up with incredibly supportive parents who allowed you to learn from your mistakes and helped you to re-evaluate any negative comments you received, then it is likely that you suffer from a battered self esteem and need others to tell you how good you are (even if you don’t believe it).
Your performance as a parent…
Your performance as a partner or the fact that you lack a partner…
Your social status in your group of friends or how many friends you have…
Your success or lack of in your career…
Your physical body… are you too fat, not enough muscle, have the wrong hair, no hair, short, too tall…
Your intelligence… don’t have a degree or not having the right degree! Your capabilities with technology or mechanical challenges… the list goes on and on..
We are constantly comparing ourselves, our partners and our children against others. We never seem to be satisfied with the result. We push our children to get good marks and are frustrated when they don’t. We push our children to achieve in sport or music and will not accept it if they have a bad day or want to give it up. And like I mentioned in Step 3 ‘Focus on the Positive’ we make their accomplishments ours when we praise them for a good result.
Somehow our children’s success make our failure to succeed or lack of talent less unbearable. We rely on it instead of building resilience within ourselves!
The focus of this Peaceful Parenting step (one of 10 – see the previous) is to recognise that when we evaluate someone as good or bad, smart or stupid, right or wrong… anything negative or positive! Then we imply that is all they are… we label them… we give ourselves the power to evaluate them.. to judge them… and take away their power to do that.
Do YOU want to give that power to someone else over you? Haven’t you suffered enough from that yourself?
When I was working, as an outreach counsellor, I was meeting with young people who had dropped out of school and were engaging in risky behaviours such as drinking, drugs, self harm, stealing cars and so forth. The one thing that struck me in every single case was the young person’s lack of self esteem. These teenagers had been told by everyone how bad, useless, stupid and a waste of time they were and they bought it.
I didn’t try and tell them anything different, I had to bide my time and take my moments, because if I came along and told them the opposite to what they believed about themselves, they’d brush it off. Like many, who suffer from poor self esteem, the believed the pivotal people in their lives (parents, siblings, teachers, anyone that has a strong influence in your early childhood years) and this formed their sense of their own worth.
What I did instead was to listen very deeply, without judgement, without advice and explore… through many different conversations…the truth of what they believed… the impact it had on their lives… whether that belief was working for them anymore… whether it was it giving them what they wanted most in life… and what they could do differently to reach their goal. I was aiming to build their internal sense of who they are… building resilience against the external world and circumstances.
I also used EFT to help them release any of the emotions that held that belief in place (such as anger, sadness, grief, rejection, abandonment, betrayal, and powerlessness), because these emotions got in the way of the truth of who they are.
What my aim was was to change the point of validation from outside of themselves to inside of themselves. I asked them questions to help them reflect, such as…
Were they a good person?
What in their current situation wasn’t working for them?
What could they do differently to feel better about themselves?
What would life be like if they believed in themselves?
What would life be like if they only had to measure their achievements against themselves and no one else? Like they were on an island with no one around to compare themselves with?
We all know… from the centre of our hearts… that we are good people and yet we continually seek reassurance of this knowledge from outside and that’s a dangerous place to look for it. There is always someone who is better or worse than where we are right now. But the point is…. are we OK about where we are right now? If the answer is no, then look for inspiration from inside! The answers are always there… right in your heart!
Building Resilience – It starts with YOU!
If they are young (0-6) they will model their behaviour on what you do! If they are older, then you need to have the experience of building your own self worth up before you can explore and discuss their with them.
I want you to see yourself as “good enough” just as you are.
See yourself as in the process of becoming.
➢ just becoming
➢ not good or bad
➢ just becoming
➢ having potential
➢ having possibilities
➢ just feel how that feels…
➢ letting all of that evaluation go.
And for all of those who are now saying “Yeah but….” just for a moment let that thought slide away and return to the place of knowing you are good enough, you are expanding and you have potential. If the “Yeah but…” just will not go, write them down… list them all… evaluate the truth of these self-judgements, laugh at them to reduce their power and use EFT to tap them away!
Thoughts are just energy electrical impulses. They don’t have to be true. You don’t need to believe in your thoughts. In fact it’s helpful if you don’t! By believing in your thoughts you slip right back into negative evaluation and judgment in yourself and others. By stepping into possibility, into potential, into expansion you are seeing possibilities.
Now I want you to practice… focus on the most difficult member of your family, who ever they are and look at them without judgement, without labeling them as good or bad. See their potential, see them in the process of becoming, just becoming… whatever they want to be… they have that potential.
Notice that as you are doing that you are helping to confirm or make real the possibility of that potential because you are not blocking it with your evaluation of their capabilities. Next time you begin to worry about things like their school grades or achievements, step into this place of seeing them as potential little people and remind yourself of all of those great pioneers that didn’t succeed at school but reached their potential regardless. They had challenges but surmounted them… because they had a belief in themselves.
Everyone knows at least one person who has succeeded despite their personal challenges. See yourself as the parent that can help your child do that. Teach your children how to validate from within. Let them know they are good enough through their own measure. That they are potential waiting to happen. That they are in the process of growing and learning.
Sometimes the journey of life is hard and we experience failure. So when it does go wrong (and it will) give them the space to learn from it. They can’t do that if we punish and judge them for their failures. When we learn from our mistakes the rewards can be great! And remember to savor the wins with them but not for them :).