Posts Tagged ‘truth’
National Teacher Appreciation Day was this week on May 7 2013. This is a wonderful idea. Teachers deserve much more appreciation than they currently receive.
Teaching and education are the tool and the outcome in a student’s life. Much like the artist uses a brush to paint. The teacher is the artist, teaching is the brush and education is the finished canvas.
Teaching has been my journey for the last 27 years. I am not a school teacher any more but I still consider myself an educator. I teach, I coach, I present, I motivate, I do public speaking, I write, I do community work and in all those things I educate kids and grownups to find the gift they have inside let it shine.
Parenting is a really important part of every child’s life. Not only because we rely on our parents 100% for food and shelter, but also because it lays the foundation for our futures. I want to share some things I learned in my psychology degree about how important parenting is in shaping kids’ lives, for better and for worse.
In my third year of psychology, I did a course on Psychopathology – the study of mental disorders. I found out that humans have an amazing capacity to cope. And boy, are we complicated! I also found out that one of the most important things with regards to mental illness is what happens to people in their early family life. On the one hand, if it is bad, it is one of the strongest contributors to mental illness. On the other hand, one of the best protective factors against mental illness is a supportive family. So what I want to talk to you about is the importance of a positive childhood. Because it is important.
As children, we look up to our parents. They are all powerful and all knowing. They tell us how to behave, and the difference between right and wrong. We turn to them when we need help. We copy their behavior, their coping mechanisms, and their attitudes. We define ourselves based on their feedback.
I think the desire to be right is another survival mechanism that humans use in order to manage uncertainty. The belief that the truth is absolute and that our aim in life is to find it and live by it is false. Trying to make others live by our truth is even worse. This mindset brings lots of pain and misery to everybody and if we want happiness to come into our life, we need to let go of our desire to be right.
The desire to be right is always accompanied by the risk of losing the relationship, because the question who is right only appears when there is a conflict. Being right is another part of our identity, our emotional “skeleton”, and most people believe that letting go of it might make them unstable. In fact, people who have a high need to be right are trying to overcome a deep feeling inside of them that they are wrong. People who are secure trust that they are OK, that their beliefs are good for them and that they only need to follow what is right for them, so they do not need to “prove their points” to others.
The concept of being right is a relative concept and always stands opposite being wrong. When you have a high need to advertise your “rightness”, you are trying to force your surroundings to fit into your definition of right and wrong. This is the source of many conflicts in our society. In relationships between parents and children, the parents often think that they are “right” and their kids are, well, just too young to know what to do. This continues at school, where many teachers think that they hold the absolute truth about what and how kids must learn (and why). Sometimes, it leads all the way to relationship breakdown and, in extreme cases, even to war.
Personal integrity and honesty are very important to me. One of the strongest values my dad managed to pass on to me is the truth. Numerous times during my childhood, I saw him sacrifice acceptance and even money in order to follow what he believed to be true and real. He also repeated that lesson to me often.
While growing up, however, I found out this was not the case with everyone. There were many situations in which I knew the truth and witnessed people denying it or acting as if the opposite was the case.
When I talked to my mom about it, she told me, “Sometimes, people don’t exactly lie, but they tell a ‘white lie’ to avoid complications or embarrassment”. The world, it turned out, was not a courtroom drama, where it was “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.
In fact, it seems that lies have been institutionalized and you cannot get very far without them anymore.
Some time ago, I attended what I thought would be a series of presentations on building great websites, but turned out to be a series of presentations on various topics, including personal philosophy, business, training and other things. One particular presentation was called “Do not lie” and it made me revisit the issue of living honestly from an adult and even a parent perspective.
From time to time, 10-year-old Noff makes me so proud I just have to write about it. This girl inspires me so much I want other parents and kids to be inspired too. To me, these are the things that make the world a better place. This time, Noff showed how to be a good friend.
Noff’s school has a special unit for children with various disabilities. These kids spend much of their time in “normal” classrooms and go to the special unit for additional support, specific exercise and maybe a little bit to get out of classroom competition.
At the same time, the school includes these special students in every extracurricular activity – choirs, school plays, instrumentals bands and even dance troupes. We are amazed and moved to tears watching the little brave souls get up on stage with walking frames or in electric wheelchairs during concerts and performances and pour their heart out, their faces beaming with joy.
Some time ago, I picked Noff up from school and she said that one of the special education teachers had approached her and a few other girls for a secret mission. She said, “She wanted us to help one of the girls without telling anyone about it. She said the girl needed someone to help her get from the special unit to class and back and someone else to protect her in the playground from bullies”.
“Wow”, I said, “Are you proud she picked you?”
“Yeah!” she beamed at me, “And straight away, I asked her if it was Kelly [not her real name] and she looked surprised, but I know it’s hard for her to walk all the way to the special unit and back with all her stuff and I know some kids are picking on her”.
Personal development means never stopping to look for things that will help us grow, understand ourselves and the world better and enjoy life more. Life is tough nowadays, so anything that makes it more enjoyable is welcome, especially when it costs nothing.
TED is a really special forum, where truly remarkable people from many areas – thought leaders – give short presentations that educate and inspire. I visit that site from time to time and often find golden nuggets, like I did this week.
Here is a presentation by Neil Pasricha, an award-winning blogger and best-selling author who writes about the good things in life. Not big things, but good things. Not things that blow us away, but things we should still notice and draw strength and happiness from.
I was especially moved by his authentic display of emotions, which stands out in a world where everybody tries to look cool all the time.
It is called “The 3 A’s of Awesome”.
As a parent, I often wonder how my kids interpret their world. Besides being younger than I am and lacking experience, they have grown up in a period and an environment so different to mine this is worth looking at.
Try to remember the last time you watched the news on TV. The anchors smiled most of the time, didn’t they? They even exchanged jokes from time to time, right? But the topics on the news were all doom and gloom – shootings, robberies, dishonest politicians, government decisions you may not like, etc.
Is it appropriate to behave cheerfully when you deliver bad news?
Now, consider most of the “sitcoms”. In a typically conversation, the audience is the real listener and the participants are just acting out a script, so delivering hurtful words, putting others down and using sarcasm are all “part of the deal”, while keeping a posture and facial expression that says, “Yeah! I’m all that”.
But in our daily life, there is no audience. The only ones hearing the words are us and we get hurt by them. And when someone we love says something that hurts and looks like they have just won the lotto, it makes us wonder how much they care.
I believe these things (and others) are leading our kids to distrust body language, facial expression and tone of voice as ways to receive messages from others. Worse, by often mimicking this inconsistent behavior, our kids are actually training themselves to lie better, which makes me worry for them sometimes.
This week, my 9-year-old daughter Noff went to a play day with 4 of her friends. The parents who came to pick them up also had a bit of “play” time socializing and having a nice pizza and some watermelon.
The discussion was about kids, Santa Clause and fairies. We talked about the right time to tell kids who really puts the money under their pillow and who really buys their gifts for Christmas. I had taken part in similar debates and they always become passionate, as did this one.
Is it honest to tell kids about Santa and the Tooth Fairy?
What should we say when they ask? (Liar, liar pants of fire!)
When is the right time to tell them about the role their parents play in this?
What will they think when they find out we are the real fairies?
Much of our feeling of certainty in life comes from what we know. We get up in the morning and know the sun is there, even on days when it is hidden by clouds. We go to work and know others will be there too, because it is a working day. We stay home on weekends and know it will be OK, because nobody will be at work anyway – they are all at their own kids’ football games.
This is a very good thing, because otherwise, we would spend most of our time wondering what to do and being totally confused.
But most of our knowledge has been acquired by a process we call “learning”, which is when information comes to us from a trusted person (teacher, professor, parent, etc) or a trusted source (books, newspapers, TV).
This type of knowledge is delivered to us by subjective sources and is very often only valid in the context in which it is given. We feel we have gained new knowledge, but we have actually created a new belief based on our trust in the source.
Recent research about the perception of truth has found that when we hear something three times or more, we tend to accept it as truth. Scary, no? During our lifetime, we receive an enormous number of messages more than three times and therefore, we are doomed to be confused. As an example, just take competing ads for similar products, like toothpaste, hand cream or frozen peas and you will know what I mean.