My partner is very good with children. If you know anyone who works well with children you know that there is a skill or talent to constantly massaging them pass to their own fears and self-doubts. When Margie does this, she's scaffolds, or builds in small steps, on what they can already do and feel comfortable with.
So here's a small child is saying, "I can't do this!" While Margie is saying, "Of course you can, look at how you already do…" Then, if the child is still hesitant, Margie will say, "Listen, just do a little and then you can help me out with the rest. This will get you started."
The question for all of us to face is: How were we trained when we were children? Were we encouraged to get past our own self-doubts? If not, how have we been successful in getting past our self-doubts as adults?
Every fall, the community school in the town where I live holds classes for beginning bridge. A group of women, all of them older in years, are taking those classes now and so I hear them discussing the challenges they face. What I hear, is their discouragement, as they face a strong intellectual challenge with that small voice in their head suggesting, "You can't do this."
I am paying particular attention to how they take on the sometimes overwhelming tasks of putting all the bidding, playing and memory components of bridge together because the way in which they tackle bridge will largely bear to determine their outcomes when they come to my class on feeling 10 years younger. I am asking myself how to inter-weave attitude into the topics in class, because whether we can turn around the calendar and feel younger will largely be determined by our beliefs about aging.
I don't have any answers yet, but I believe that my partner Margie is correct, it all starts with the discussion of attitude. If we are not prepared to look at the places or reasons that our negative self talk enters our lives, we will always stand the risk of having our dreams derailed halfway through building them.
Some questions you may wish to ask yourself:
- Under what circumstances do you find yourself thinking or feeling, "I can't"?
- What kinds of tasks make you feel powerful?
- What kinds of new learning make you feel scared?
- When you are scared what does that small voice inside of you tell you?
- When you feel powerful what does that voice say?
How you answer these questions will give you some indication of the support system you innately have built for yourself inside of yourself. If you find that support lacking, not easily available from your own self talk, then as you begin to build dreams for yourself, you equally need to find outside resources will be positive in your behalf.
One of my friends calls me "sunshine" and she regularly tells me how negative she is, as though that will drive me off. My a response to her is always the same, "It takes all kinds, and in varying circumstances we are different." While it is true I am usually an 8 or a nine on the scale of 1 to 10 in being positive, there are times I am depressed. Likewise, this friend may tell me she is always negative, but she uses her negativity to think pass the challenges and to offer suggestions, which I find invaluable in her as a team member.
The trick, is to know ourselves, our natural attitudes, and to find balance in our lives, whether with in us or through the teams or support systems we build. At the end of the day, when discussing our ability to build our dreams, it all starts with attitude.