When I started running I remember, as I got tireder and tireder, promising myself that I’d walk once I got to the next lamppost. That was my target. However when I did reach that longed-for lamppost, I’d say to myself: go on, make it to the next lamppost. Then the next and so on. Whilst I could feel myself slowing down and naturally tireder, I wanted to show myself that whatever goal I set I could push through. I was no faster. My legs didn’t get a boost of energy. I wasn’t doing it for that. I ran to the next lamppost time and time again because I wanted to build a reference library of experiences that showed me that I could achieve and smash whatever I focused on. The feeling of exceeding my belief of myself pulled me forward.
I find it useful to believe that our lives are made up of experiences and the quality of those experiences determines our feelings about what we can do. Your life experiences are creating a reference library which you use in the future to propel you into action or inaction.
With each small step you’re now closer to getting to other side. Just keep on taking those steps.
I was listening to my son read the other night. He read the chapter he’s been set and I asked him to read one more page. He asked, ‘why?’ I replied, ‘you’ve done exactly what you knew you could do and that’s great; and if you read one more page you are showing yourself you can do a bit more than you thought’.
We can often forget how far we’ve come because the steps we take can be very small. I remember a time when my daughter and I crossed a shallow part of a relatively strong river while on holiday.
She took my hand and we crossed over step by step, barefoot on the large pebbles. The water was wasn’t very warm and came up to my knees but came up to the top of her legs. We walked together and though we were safe she was getting more and more anxious. I reminded her to just focus on each step. However at one point she stopped and didn’t want to move. Gently I asked her to turn around and have a look behind her. She turned and saw that she had already travelled well over half way. I said to her: look how far you’ve come. It may not seem so but with each small step you’re now closer to getting to other side. Just keep on taking those steps. She looked at me and she started walking again. This time with a little more eagerness borne from confidence.
I use this to remind children that we need to notice how far we have come because you can surprise yourself by the progress you’ve made. And that’s worth adding to our reference library and celebrating too.
It doesn’t have to be a massive action, just a small step. If we helped our children compound and add to their positive reference library, what effect would that have in other areas of their lives?
In conclusion, I should add, my son did read that extra page.
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Ben Jackson is a registered counsellor, coach, and lecturer with nearly 10 years of professional experience. He helps clients with stress and anxiety, anger management, self esteem, confidence, and depression.