I always smile at babies. I read somewhere that our self-confidence stems all the way back to how many people reacted positively toward us as an infant. So, everyone needs to do their part and smile at babies so we can all live long, happy, peaceful lives.
Plus, even if you don't feel like it, smiling, high-fiving or giving a word of encouragement never makes you feel worse and almost always makes the other person feel better. Do the math!
I think a lot of our insecurities as an adult stem from events in our childhood that draw attention to what we are not - whether it was not making a team or falling behind in a class.
Our failures haunt us more than our successes. Why?
I have a child that wants to try out for a team. He immediately started to doubt himself and said, "What if I don't make it?" I replied:
"If you make it you make it, if you don't you don't. You will still be you and that will be enough. Maybe, if you don't make it, it will encourage you to practice and get better or you can decide maybe this isn't your thing and do something else. Not everything can be your thing."
We can't be good at everything. We weren't designed to be. We all have different strengths and what we perceive as our weaknesses are really just others' strengths. We did a quick exercise in the car the other day where we named some of our friends and what their strengths were and how we liked those things. I think celebrating everyone's strengths helps us overcome our feelings of inadequacies. After all we are all a team and it's better when we can bring different things to the table ... like a pot luck.
As a mom of girls, I try to look ahead to things that may be strongholds for them.
My oldest is very intelligent but I fear that she's so rooted in being smart that academic failures might cause huge blows to her self-esteem. I'm very careful to praise the effort instead of the outcome for that one. Being defined by just one thing I think is unhealthy. I make strides to praise different things that I see and try to open up different avenues of self-discovery. We are all a mixture of things and I think it's important to embrace all the things that make us, us.
The twin girls - I fear it may be outer appearance. One really loves her hair. I want her to realize that her hair is not what makes her beautiful. Beauty radiates from the inside. Plus, nothing she did made her hair beautiful, other than genetics. Being attractive is fine but what makes you interesting? We are all a work in progress, but our personalities (and overall spirit) are what draw in our lasting relationships. I've had bathtubs deeper than people only focused on appearance. Bye-bye!
I just had a friend that I was talking to on the phone say in response to a compliment, "Well, I'm not perfect." While I agree, none of us are and it's important to stay grounded, but my response to her and to everyone is this:
You are the perfect you.
And as long as we all keep walking our path and trying to be our best self, that's all we need to know ... at any age.
Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.