Podcast 34/52 – The gift of failure

I am very interested in school development and life long learning, with the firm belief that schools and how they are shaped actually shape the society we live in, to a large extent. Hence I was thrilled to listen to Jessica Lahey on Good Life Project, since she’s a teacher with a passion for learning.

And was I ever rewarded! Jessica and Jonathan had such an interesting conversation that when I was finished, and still had several kilometers left on the bike ride I was on, that I just pressed PLAY and started to listen one more time.

BoldomaticPost_The-gift-of-failures-an-opporJessica Lahey wrote an article in The Atlantic in January 2013 entitled Why parents need to let their children fail and since then, she’s written a book on the subject of failure as well. And she’s telling some fascinating stories in this podcast, around failure (amongst other things), and on the opportunity for growth that most (all?) failures bring with them. I especially like the way she balances her own experience both as a teacher and a parent, demonizing neither party, but totally seeing the pro’s and con’s each role can provide in the development of a child.

So, are you a parent? Listen to this episode.

Or perhaps, you are a teacher or work in schools? Listen to this episode.

Maybe you are lucky enough to be a parent yourself, or have any kind of relationship with children, such as being an aunt, uncle, grandfather, cousin, neighbor, scout leader or anything else where you come in contact with children and young adults? Listen to this episode.

There. I think I covered the lot right then and there, didn’t I? Have I convinced you yet that this is simply a no-miss-podcast that you definitely will listen to?

Please be gentle, I’m still learning

”Please be gentle, I’m still learning” Robbie Williams sings in the song Advertising Space. Imagine living approximately forty years before getting that. Forty years before understanding that if I’m not gentle with myself, much less learning takes place. 

If I associate learning with pain, with being chastised, told off, ”I should have known”:ed, do you think my system would be promoting and encouraging learning? 

No. It (I) will run the other way. Shut down, slowly, insights will be fewer and farther apart… or at least, they will be significantly more quiet, almost unaudible. The inner voice of wisdom, of universal mind, will be barricaded, by myself, by my self-preserving ego. The innervoice will be unwanted. Out of fear. Fear of the pain that comes with learning, which I’ve associated with pain, harshness. 

And that will only change once I begin to be gentle with myself. And I speak from personal experience when I say that being gentle with me, is a very off concept for one accustomed to being harsh. Realizing my internal harshness was one of the greatest aha-moments of my life, and what I saw was that it’s not mandatory to be my own harshest judge. Kindness, gentleness, is an option. Also for me. 

This insight has been with me since 2006-2007 sometime, and took place during a therapy session. Since then I’ve practiced being gentle with myself, och it’s something which comes more and more natural to me nowadays. And that’s be reverting back to being more fully me, because I I think it is our natural state. We’re born and created to be gentle with ourselves, otherwise we wouldn’t be the learning creatures that we are, from the very get go. 

Imagine a small child being harsh with herself for not immediately knowing how to walk, run, ride a bicycle. A child is naturally gentle with themselves, trying, failing, falling down, trying again, failing, falling down, trying again…. over and over until suddenly, one step is managed, then two, then all of a sudden, the child can walk, can run, ride a bike. 

What happens to us? Why do we – at least I – stop being gentle with ourselves, and rather start to be hard on ourselves? Is that why children are the greatest learners there is? Not because adults don’t have the capacity to learn, but because we’ve stopped being gentle with ourselves, we expect to get things right away, and we are afraid to try and fail. Because we’ve put another meaning on what it means to fail, than the child trying to learn how to walk, run, rida a bike. We believe it means we are bad, not good enough. While the child simply knows it means that the learning process is still unfolding, there’s more to learn, more to master, before the learning process has manifested into yet another skill. And somehow, adults impose their faulty understanding upon children, creating yet another harsh un-learner. What if we adults instead learned from children what it is we are born to be? Life long learners, where the only prerequisite is being gentle to ourselves.

Please be gentle, I’m still learning. Are you?

Holding a space of love

Being held in a space of love is for me a great place to be coached from. But being held in this way is something that I’ve experienced in many different settings.

My MasterMind-group is a great example of this, and I think that is part of the success that group is/has. Being held in a space of love means that I can be me, full out, without feeling like I have to guard my human experience. I can just be, and tell my MasterMinders where I am at. Full stop. Daring to say what I am experiencing in the moment, is a liberating sensation, and not one that I’ve been used to experiencing. At least not this unrestricted, unfiltered and vulnerable. I’ve always been one for laughing when that urge sets in, but crying, or acknowledging my feelings of shame, guilt, embarassment and such, not so much. Letting those feelings shine through somehow meant that I was bad, corrupt, broken. Or so I thought. And that was a thought I believed to be true.

My beloved friends in back office of #skolvåren are another example of this. That’s also a group where I can just be me. And it’s such a wonderful sensation, let me tell you.

And yes, I feel this, sometimes, within my family. Not always. It’s as if the close relationships sometimes makes it harder, because there are so many expectations between all involved. Or is this just my perception of it?

There is the child. As is. And then there is my image of what that child should be, could be. As he/she is not. When I believe in the imaginary image that I am holding my child up against, constantly measuring, checking, judging to see whether or not my child ”fits the part”, I am NOT holding my child in a space of love. Rather the opposite.

There is the spouse. As is. And then there is my image of what that spouse should be, could be. As he/she is not. When I believe in the imaginary image that I am holding my spouse up against, constantly measuring, checking, judging to see whether or not my spouse ”fits the part”, I am NOT holding my spouse in a space of love. Rather the opposite.

And go figure, the more of this I practice, the more of this I get in return. So if I want to be held in a space of love, what better way than holding that space of love myself?

Holding a space of love

Because I can drop the imaginary images, I can shed them, and just be with what is. Be with my child. Be with my spouse. Just be and hold them, from a space of pure love. Because the love is there. That has never been the issue. But it’s been clouded, which has made it harder for said child or spouse to feel held in a space of love. Because love hasn’t been all they have been held within. And that has been the case. Except occationally, when all there has been has been that timeless and unconditional love, undiluted.

Now, this past year, as I’ve been shedding more and more of the layers I’ve been ensconsed within, layers that are no longer serving me, blocking the light within me to shine through, I have also dropped my attachment (most of it? all? is it possible to drop it all? it honestly feels like that most of the time) to the imaginary images, and I am with what is. And that kicks all of my relationships up into a different ball game. And you know what, I’m really curious as to what will unfold from this place and space.

I’m doing more and more holding from a space of love, and it has a calm and peaceful sensation to it. It’s like an exhalation after holding my breath for a while. Holding my breath requires a lot of tension. And the relief when I exhale is palpable. That’s how I feel when I hold a space of love. And I love that. So if I want to be held in a space of love, what better way is there than holding a space of love?