Lately, as I bring my child to school and attend their various activities, I feel a certain ill feeling of jealousy over other kids receiving certain weekly awards while my daughter hasn’t yet. I don’t know why until I asked myself – Why do we envy others? Is it normal?
Don’t get me wrong. I am well loved as a child being the youngest of six children where the gap between me and my next elder sister is fifteen years. So you can imagine how everyone treats me like a baby even until college days.
However, I also grew up being compared to my elder siblings having accomplished high recognition in school as being always the top in their class. To be fair, I believe it is just my mother’s style of motivating me to do the same. Indeed, because I graduated with a distinction but not in the top rank. Self doubt came into being.
You might say, “No big deal.” Yes, I know. But you see, this strategy of instilling self esteem through medals and recognition has developed into a wound – an ill feeling that I am actually never good enough at anything!
Then just recently, I came across this book entitled – “Self-Compassion – I Don’t Have To Feel Better Than Others To Feel Good About Myself” by Simeon Lindstorm who explained:
Creating high self esteem seems like a reasonable goal on its face, but it has a built in trap that is designed to leave us unhappier, less accomplished and less kind. What’s worse, when we are constantly incentivised by praise and recognition for doing well, we eventually stop trying to do well for its own sake.
Tying up our self-concept with external measures is damaging us – it also saps us the joy from doing something well, from the enjoyment of genuine achievement. It makes us believe, perhaps unwittingly, that things that others don’t acknowledge as valuable actually aren’t, and that good actions that aren’t recognised as such don’t really count.
The world is a vast, complicated and sometimes downright hostile place. Today, more than ever, human beings have had to learn new ways to be resilient, know themselves and have the courage to be who they are.
Indeed, emotional wounds can be a lot stressful as it can trigger depression and other ill feelings. But as the author said, “We should have compassion for ourselves and others because life is hard, and we are all doing the best we can. We don’t have to do anything to earn self-compassion, we can enjoy it merely by virtue of being human, of living the best way we know how, of being the only thing we can be: what we are.”
Self-Compassion – I Don’t Have To Feel Better Than Others To Feel Good About Myself
I cannot blame my mother if she only knows one style in encouraging us to do well at school. Yet, now that I have my own daughters, I hope to not use the same type of motivation as much as possible, nor will I compare them to others and pressure them to be very competitive in school as I know – each child has a gift.
After all, there is much to life than all those academic recognitions! Maybe for some this will work, but what is important for me now is that I hope my children are happy and that they are able to love learning in all facets of life.
Being able to find their talent and develop them for the goodwill of men I believe entails – not only enhancing their Intelligence Quotient (IQ) but especially also their Emotional and Spiritual too. Honestly, this is hard! Hence, I wish for my children to look at life as a journey. There is so much to learn along the way, but what is important is they enjoy its ups and downs, twists and turns...fingers crossed.
Thank you for reading my long post. Cheers to all parents out there!