Friday, April 9, 2010

Saying is Believing

“Self concept is an accumulation of the beliefs, opinions and attitudes which a person holds true about himself.”

I believe that the ability to be creative, to generate original thoughts and products is in all of us. Yet many of us never allow ourselves to express this part of ourselves because the messages we’ve received in school and at home have resulted in a lack of confidence in our abilities and ideas. What a loss, both to ourselves and those who might benefit from what we might have created.

The freedom to be creative, to try new ideas and experiences, discover new interests, experiment with new processes, and perhaps fail at any or all of these, is a gift. It is also pretty risky. For many potential writers, artists, engineers, inventors and cooks, the creative process is blocked by questions and doubts. What if things don’t turn out as we hope? What if no one recognizes what we are trying to do? What if we are wrong? What if we fall down, what if, what if ....?

The fear of failing, of making a fool of ourselves, of taking a chance is often enough to keep even the most creative person from expressing their ideas or taking action.

Teachers, parents and mentors can help kids lose some of their fears by becoming aware of the things that kids (and adults) say to themselves and others. Negative comments, from siblings, teachers, peers and parents can be painful and embarrassing. They also have a way of coming true. Put-downs can cause self-esteem and confidence to wither like a rose in winter. A positive atmosphere, in the classroom, program and home can enhance a kid’s willingness to take risks and help them to see themselves as capable of success. It can make all the difference.

A simple two step process will help nurture creativity and self confidence.

1. Identify the negative messages we give to ourselves and others.

2. Provide a list of optional messages with kinder and more positive things to say.

Negatives

Positives

I’m no good

I’m so dumb

I made a mistake

I never do anything right

She’s smarter than I am

He’s better at sports than I am

I never be good at this

What a loser

You really blew it

That’s a stupid mistake

That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard

That will never work

You can’t do that

I’ll never be good at math

I let everyone down

I should have done better

Everybody thinks I’m an idiot

What a stupid idea
I’ll do better next time

Everybody makes mistakes

I learned something

I am good at ...

I really love sports

I’m doing my best

You really tried that time

Stay calm, you will do better with practice

I learn from my mistakes

If this idea doesn’t work, the next one might

I won’t know if I don’t try

I’ll try again

No one is good at everything

I worked hard on that

I answered some really tough questions

I got a lot of the answers correct

No one is perfect

I have plenty more ideas