Advice for My Children

Dear Child,

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A Letter to My Children

You are perfect just as you are. Remember that it’s never too late to unbecome who the world thought you were supposed to be.

There are times when you might forget your own worth. You might twist yourself in a pretzel to make someone else happy, but make yourself miserable. Just be yourself.

It is possible to be brave and scared at the same time. Don’t let fear to stop you from doing the things that bring you happiness.

Seek joy! Be enthusiastic even when others aren’t. Laugh so hard your belly hurts. Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Find sparks of happiness in tiny, ordinary moments.

The only certain thing in life is that one day you will be faced with uncertainty. You can’t control what happens to you, but you do have power over how you react to it. Write your own story.

Sometimes, hurt people hurt people. When someone tries to dim your light, remember that it takes courage to keep shining bright.

It’s ok to cry. If you don’t let the sad out, sad can turn into mad. Whether you are a boy or a girl, everyone feels sad sometimes.

Show up for your loved ones when they are suffering. Sit alongside them without needing to fix them. Simple isn’t always easy.

There will be times when you will have to protect your heart. It is possible to be a kind person and still say ‘no.’

Choose people who choose you. Surround yourself with those who see your gifts. Seek out people who already believe in you. Don’t waste time proving yourself. You might not be for everyone. And that’s ok.

Learn to give compliments from the heart. And most importantly, learn to accept compliments with grace.

The way you speak to people matters. Always speak with kindness in your heart. You just never know what they are struggling to overcome.

Don’t make yourself small in order to fit the places you’ve outgrown. It’s ok to dream big, spread your wings, and fly!

Everyone is capable of creativity. Your work will always be bad before its good. Make lots of it. Share your gifts with the world. Keep creating. Keep sharing. Keep getting better.

Done is better than perfect. Perfect is impossible. Shoot for your best, instead.

At times, you might get knocked down. Keep getting up. If you’re tired, allow yourself to rest. Keep trying. The only way to bounce forward, is to never fully give up.

Listen to others with an open heart, and don’t be afraid to speak up for what you believe in.

Every so often, ask yourself: Am I proud of the way I make people feel?

Clap for friends and strangers even when you envy their success. Their victories don’t equal your failure.

Take care of your body. Feed it healthy foods. Move it, every day.

Take care of your mind. Feed it healthy thoughts. Give it the gift of stillness, every day.

Pick yourself. Don’t wait for permission to change the world. Express yourself. Find your voice. Don’t wait. Start now.

Walk through the world trusting the compass in your hand and following the whispers of curiosity on your heart. You might be unsure of your destination right now, have faith that it’ll all make sense in the end.

Love, Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shame vs. Humiliation vs. Guilt vs. Embarrassment (Brené Brown)

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Have you ever wondered what the difference between shame, guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment are?  Often we use these words interchangeably, but Dr. Brené Brown has so beautifully described the difference between the 4 terms:

  • Shame is “I am bad”  Shame is a focus on self. Imagine you’ve worked really hard to prepare a presentation with a coworker for an important staff meeting. One of your responsibilities was to prepare the powerpoint. You forget to save the file onto your computer and, as a result, your coworker is disappointed. If you feel shame, your immediate thought pattern is that you’re a bad person. “I’m the worst co-planner ever. I am such a loser for forgetting that powerpoint.”
  • Guilt = “I did something bad”  Guilt is a focus on behavior. If your self talk is : “ahh. I can’t believe I did that.  That was such a crappy thing to do,  I made such a poor choice not to back up my work!”  That’s guilt.

Our self-talk really matters and often frames the way we move through our relationships. Shame is highly correlated to aggression, addiction, depression, suicide, bullying, eating disorders, whereas guilt- the ability to separate who we are from our actions-without degrading our worth.

Guilt is inversely correlated to these same outcomes.  So, it’s much better for our mental health to focus on behaviour, even when we’re speaking in jest about ourselves.

  • Humiliation. With humiliation results in the same physiological response as shame except that you don’t believe you deserve the treatment:  sweaty palms, wish that the ground would swallow you up, wanting to make yourself small, nervous laughter… Dr. Brené Brown uses a school example:

A teacher is handing back papers and one of the students doesn’t have their name on the paper and the teacher calls the kid stupid:  If that child’s self-talk is “that is the meanest, most nasty teacher ever, I didn’t’ deserve that” What that child is likely experiencing is humiliation. As a parent or caregiver- I’m going to hear about that when the kid gets home- because they’re going to be angry and hurt and want to share it.  If the child’s self talk is immediately “ ugh. She’s right, I’m so stupid, why do keep forgetting to put my name on my paper, I’m so stupid,”  Thats shame.”

  • Embarrassment-it isn’t rooted in shame, is often funny and fleeting, and it doesn’t make you feel alone (it’s usually some universal human experience). Just think of that time that you put your sweater on backward and the tag was sticking out for the better part of an afternoon lunch with friends. Once you realize your mistake, it could leave you a little red-faced, but you know deep down that it’s human and that other people have done the same.

Shame is not funny.

Shame leaves one feeling alone and isolated.