Love Thy Self – Confronting Perfection

heart

Sara loves art class. It’s the highlight of her day, but today she is surrounded by balled-up pieces of paper, and hot tears are flowing down her face. She just can’t get the assignment “perfect,” and the messages streaming through her mind are: “You are talentless. You are so dumb. Everyone is already done, and you have nothing to show for your time. You are failing. Don’t ever draw again.”

Sara is a fictional student struggling against a very real roadblock: perfectionism. If we are honest, not only do our children battle perfectionism, we deal with it, too. Where do you think our children learned it?

Perfectionism is not reserved for the high-functioning, type-A personality. It can be the underlying reason some children and adults give up easily on assignments or tasks because they feel they just can’t get the job done “right.” Everyone has struggled or will struggle with the concept of perfection. We can’t escape it, in this 21st-century, media-saturated environment that constantly sends the message that we are not acceptable the way we are, but if we buy a certain product, we will then, be perfect.

The word, perfection, defined by Webster, is completeness in all parts or detail, a quality that cannot be improved. Personally, I think that definition is anemic. Think about the Sochi Olympics right now, and the way every Olympian is striving for absolute perfection. A simple eighth of a point can be the difference between complete failure or triumph. Imagine the enormous pressure and emotional burden in being an Olympian. Some of us are caring that Olympic pressure with our everyday living. When I think of perfection I think: flawless; without error; cannot be negatively judged; is always accepted; never shunned or rejected; good and right. I think that is why so many of us struggle.

But, here is the sick and twisted part of riding on the perfection road. There is no end, no landmark, the trip is in vain, because the place where we are going, Perfection, does not exist. We might as well get in a car and drive straight to the North Pole to say “Hi” to Santa. [Sorry for those of you who still believe;)]

Perfection is a mind-obstacle that can be disguised as doing one’s best. How do you argue with someone (or self) claiming to be doing their best work, putting forth their best effort? I guess it can boil down to a few checks and balances like motivation. Am I doing this work, hanging out with these friends, playing this sport, buying this house, so others will look upon me favorably, or am I fueled because I enjoy and believe in the purpose of my actions?

This internal thought process can be a real eye opener, because most of us are motivated by the external. That realization can make you squirm. We want acceptance by others, but, if we are real with ourselves and others, then we might not belong. There is a huge cost to staying the course to perfection.
We are hardly ever true to ourselves.
We do not believe in ourselves.
We are never good enough, and we believe the ongoing negative dialogue we have with ourselves about our inadequacies.
Our self-esteem, confidence, and worth get run over at 100 mph on the road to perfection. Our essence, the person we really are, becomes road kill.

How do we jump off the highway of perfection? Brene Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W., in her New York Times Best Seller book, The Gifts of Imperfection, outlines three areas in which we can practice.
1) Self-Kindness*: being understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate.
2) Common Humanity*: understanding that all mankind endures suffering and experiences feelings of personal inadequacy—i. e., “It’s not just me.”
3) Mindfulness*: taking a balanced approach toward negative emotions, so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. We cannot ignore our pain and practice self-kindness at the same time.

Our fictional student, Sara, would benefit from accepting that her assignment is not coming along like she desires, due to a creative block and that is okay and happens to all artists. She can acknowledge her frustration and compassionately tell herself, “This event does not define me as an artist”, and take a break, enjoy another’s project or ask the teacher for some help.

Keeping perfection at bay is daunting! May we be mindful of its presence, may we respect our person with kindness, and may we remember we are never alone in the process. Love thy self, and Happy Valentines Day!

~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

*Paraphrased from the book, The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W.
http://brenebrown.com/

Advertisements

ANGST – Book Review

Angst
Steven, Sarah, and Johnny are three best friends attempting to navigate the perils of freshman year in high school while dealing with the realities of teen life. Steven is coping with the return of his biological father and attempting to prove his worth for his father’s attention and time. Sarah is in her first romantic relationship with an older, mysterious, sophomore and is verbally tormented by a group of girls. Johnny seeks to live up to his father’s legacy on the football field and wrestles with his emotions for Sarah. Angst chronicles the personal stories of each individual as they grow apart over time but reunite in a dramatic conclusion.
Angst is a gem of a book! The author strikes the tone of the teen perfectly through his three main characters. Teen readers will relate and parents if you are wondering what is going on in your teenagers head and in their world, read this book. Nothing is off-limits, the real issues, pressures and doubts, but not without palpable solutions. A fast read and a super-cool ending!

Available on amazon.com here http://www.amazon.com/Angst-Christopher-Avery/dp/0984002200/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_dnr_1
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Dear Senia – A Note to a Brave Girl

self-esteem

Schools and communities across the nation are participating in Anti-Bullying programs this month providing a plethora of tips and techniques on how to handle situations. With respect to all those efforts, I wanted to move beyond providing information and take action. I want to share Senia’s story and reach out to her because she and kids just like her are worth it. Her story will never be on 20/20 or headlined in today or tomorrow’s paper. We are usually hand fed only the worst cases, like the recent and tragic suicide of a 12 year old girl. But, Senia’s story is extremely relevant.  Her story represents the millions of children who listen to daily cruel comments chipping away at their precious beings, and struggle to be comfortable and confident in their own skin. This month consider one child you know who could use an encouraging word to be brave, bold and already beautiful.  You can follow the link below to Senia’s post.

 

Dear Senia,

We do not know each other, but I just wanted to let you know how brave I believe you are to share your bullying and peer pressure story. It takes courage to let people know how you feel and what you believe.  You never know how your story may impact someone else who thinks they are going through the same thing, but alone. It takes self-respect to make the empowering decision to be who you are and move through the pressure to act a certain way.  I hope you continue to think of ways to help others work through peer pressure and prevent bullying. Your ideas were very solid and perhaps you may even want to pursue those ideas for your school or community.  Continue to embrace the unique and fabulous person that you are!
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

http://simplysenia.com/2013/10/15/senias-school-paper-on-bullying/
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Book Review – The Skin I’m In

The Skin I'm In2
According to Maleeka’s peers, she is too poor, too skinny, too black and too smart. All of which seems to make her a moving target for abuse by Charlese, a frienemy who extorts homework from Maleeka in exchange for nice clothes and a deferral from a beat down. As if life was not cruel enough after the loss of her father, she endures relentless insults from John-John. Every turn in the hallway, in class, and on the bus, he hurls negative remarks about her dark complexion. “What is his problem anyway?” She wonders and questions her self-image. Although the reader can assume Maleeka struggles with loving and accepting the skin she is in, the writer, Sharon G. Flake clearly examines the turbulent life journey of a young person trying to understand the right choices to make under tough circumstances, which is the more significant issue for Maleeka.
The Skin I’m In is a quick pick for reluctant readers and a Coretta Scott King award winning book. Appreciated for exploring how a young person with incredible potential can feel so low, and how one teacher can make a difference in a student’s life, The Skin I’m In is highly recommended and perfectly relevant for middle school and high school students.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

Positive Thoughts Control Destiny

positive

In an effort to organize and prepare for the new school year, I shuffled through last year’s school notebooks, and came across a poem taped to the inside cover of a black and white composition book. Perhaps, you use this poem in your classrooms or in your homes to stay positive. Perhaps, you realize the power of a simple thought can determine a destiny. Enjoy and share with others.

Things to Remember By: Pete Johnson

Always Remember
To keep your thoughts positive,
because your thoughts become your words.
To keep your words positive,
because your words become your actions.
To keep your actions positive,
because your actions become your habits.
And to keep your habits positive,
because your habits become your destiny.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

Image

Empowering Choices Powering Lives

Empowering Choices Powering Lives

Bullying reports will go down when a prevention model is in place. The TURNING STONEchoice character education program will empower students to feel confident and to stand up. Bergen County teacher states. “In my classroom, I have seen most of my students empowered to be able to handle conflicts on their own. In most cases handle the conflict in a positive manner. I have also seen impulsive students really control some of their reactions. A huge benefit is that it empowers my quiet students to be assertive and share their feelings instead of keeping them bottled up. The climate in my classroom has become very positive and I feel a choice-making model truly helps us maintain our positive climate.”

Your Independence Day

American Flag
Let’s talk independence. It’s such a power word often implying passage to adulthood. Independence commands respect. We all strive for it and beckon our children to attain it. It’s the word we celebrate on the 4th of July in this country with barbeques, parades and of course fireworks under dark blue skies.
Dictionary.com defines independence as; freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others. But, when I think upon the history of our independence holiday, I can adjoin to the definition, freedom from oppression, persecution and…taxation without representation (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself).
I applaud the definition on one hand and challenge it with the other. I think how we, as a society can strive for individual independence that frees us from letting others control us in hurtful, negative ways through our own empowering choices. Or, releasing the bondage of wanting everyone to like us – people pleasing is not diplomacy—making nice for everyone else, that is a boulder wrapped around a neck. Sooner or later it’s going to break.
Then I realize for true independence I need to surrender to interdependence (a kindred connection). See, I want the constructive influence of others. I seek the counsel of those with whom I respect and have gifts and talents to share. I take their wisdom into account to make my own decisions. We want that kind of searching for our children and students because they are still trying to maneuver this big bad world. Shucks, I’m still trying to maneuver this big bad world. I tell my kids constantly, the truly intelligent folks in this world know how to seek guidance, are not afraid to ask for help, and know to exhaust every resource available to them. We relinquish some independence at a moment in time and this can feel uncomfortable because we bare our ignorance. Yet, on the other side of the struggle emerges a more independent person because of new found wisdom.
Contemplate your independence day. Are there obstacles or struggles keeping you from realizing your freedom, your independence?

Have a Happy 4th of July!

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice