Self explanatory

I find the great thing in this world is not so much
where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.
—Goethe

“Lo mejor de este mundo no es adónde estamos,

sino en que dirección nos movemos”

Goethe

 

 

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Good girl!

Good boy!!!!

I heard a woman telling a boy. No need to say, I cringed. The expressions “good girl!” “good boy!” or the “good job!” “great job!” statements  directed to a child sometimes make me feel sick.

I tell you why: because for me “good boy” or “good job” are just plain attempts to show a positive attitude, some sort of positive input to encourage the receiver of this so-called compliment to carry on doing good.

In my view, when someone says to a girl “good girl”  because she did  something right is just an over used compliment. How about if instead of saying “good girl” we actually acknowledge what was done right in order to be judged “good”? How about if we say “Your drawing looks amazing! I like the way you used the yellow!” or “I’m so happy you helped to tidy up that corner of the room! Thanks to you it looks very nice”.

Instead of saying “good boy” or “great job” how about saying “Wow! Your homework looks great and I can tell you have put effort into it! I am looking forward to have a look at it”. Or how about saying “What you just did looks amazing!”.

I feel swapping the simple two-word expression for something a bit more elaborate, where it is mentioned what was done, compliment on a detail, it may make the receiver of this compliment feel more appreciated and cared for; it may make the giver focus 5 minutes of attention (even 2 minutes or perhaps 3!)  on the result and be present, truly present in body and mind to give appreciation and acknowledgement instead of a bland “judgement” with a “great job” or “good boy”.

Believe me, the receiver will feel it – particularly if we are talking about children – and they will feel appreciated, not judged.

And this is a key word. Appreciation. When you give a child a compliment such as “ I like the way you coloured the flower” instead of “great job” “looks good!” you are showing the child you put enough attention to her work to notice the different colours; this showing of appreciation can open the gates for the child to start to tell you a story about a flower; or her interpretation of the colours; or may prompt said child to go and paint many more flowers.

And many more flowers will imply the child exploring how to mix colours, how to use the brush how to apply pressure on the paper, how to hold the brush and what happens when you mix all the colours. This is pure learning!

Or it may mean for that child that someone does look at her drawings and make her feel cared for. Which is equally important if not more than the physical and intellectual  side of things.

When you ask a boy to tidy up and he does so and you acknowledge it with “I am grateful to you because you tidy up that corner and now it looks so much better” you are acknowledging  the boy, the person, and the effort  put into the task; you are showing you did put attention to what he has done, you did observed and you are appreciating him. It sounds so much richer and fuller than the bland “good boy” “great job” or “finally you did it”.

Shall I mention that chances are this boy will continue to tidy up to the best of his ability and it will do it perhaps even without being asked? Shall I start to list the amount of learning that goes into the tidy up? From spatial awareness to fine motor skills, you name it. Add to that he will feel appreciated, so a fabulous emotion is being nourished.

I feel we should start a revolution, erasing the bland two-word praise and replace it with a bit of presence and heart.

Fundamentally human.

Sorting papers out, I found this little quote.

Despite what you may believe, you can disappoint people and still, be good enough.

You can make mistakes, and still, be capable and talented.

You can let people down and still, be worthwhile and deserving of love.

Everyone has disappointed someone they care about.

Everyone messes up, lets people down, and makes mistakes.

Not because we are inadequate or fundamentally inept, but because we are imperfect and fundamentally human.

Expecting anything different is setting yourself up to failure.”

Daniell Koepke

I think we should remember this every single day. As we may try to be the best versions of ourselves, day in , day out, we still are as the quote says, fundamentally human and we are, at the end of the day  prone to mess up, to disappoint, to make mistakes.

This should be taught to children, so they can embrace their humanity wholeheartedly, they can be perfectly imperfect, fundamentally human.

Also – lest we forget – we should teach masterly lessons on how important it is to recognise our imperfections and act upon them. So we can restore, once more the balancing scales until next time.

P.S. Dear Daniell Koepke, thank you for writing this. Whomever you are, wherever you are.

 

 

 

Swa, ongietan (Thus, perceive)

A few days back I had one of those days where everything you can possibly imagine goes wrong.

It started with me missing my bus and right after it, missing my bus stop which made me walk twice the distance to work.

Yes, I was not happy, but nevertheless I carry on, went to work, walked through those gates with the same enthusiasm of not knowing how my day was going to be – although I do have some sort of idea, but my mindset is always the same: expect the unexpected which is for me a far more challenging mindset and inevitably puts a smile on my face.

As the day went through my enthusiasm dwindled and I finished my working day disheartened and feeling more alone than usual. I just wanted to go back home and find my ground. And settle my thoughts.

When I finally settled and quieted them thoughts I started to follow the succession of events from that day and everything made sense.  The inescapable conclusion was in front of my eyes and it was simple: my time at that work was over. I did not want to see it straight away; as a fact part of my brain was asking, almost shouting for a bit of peace and quiet to process everything, but the other side of the brain was asking for more with a louder voice hence it would silence it.

Once I arrived at this conclusion of game over the subsequent feelings followed suit. “I’m not good at it”. “If I was good at it, probably they would hire me directly instead of keeping me working as a contractor”” I should have taken more chances” “What / when / where did it go wrong?” And I felt tears rolling down my cheeks.

Immediately afterwards I started to think what I am going to do for money; thought again on putting my stuff for sale on how to do it; to catch up with my CV and sort out my pile of papers; apply for part time jobs and juggle everything in between.

You may say “right, tell me something I don’t know already; we all go through that path!”

To what I say: after all that thinking, I realised I did not think about the most important thing: my family. I did not think straight away “well, I can take this time to be there for them, to be more present”. I did not think “now I got this time out I can spend more time with my little one sorting out the patio, playing games or else when he is back from School”.

And that made me feel awful.

At this point I don’t know what made me feel worse: the realisation that I was going to be on the hunt for a job yet again or the awareness that I was running on a hamster wheel and lost sight of what it is important, what truly nurtures me: my family.

It was a slap on both cheeks, I tell you. Hard ones. Sometimes you do need them, so you can re-focus and stop the autopilot and be more attuned to the surroundings. I want to be present once again, and feel the precious weight of that word, and allow life to meet me so I can greet her on the here and now.

 

 

  • Swa (Thus) and Ongietan (to understand, perceive) are both part of what is called Old English Core vocabulary.