How we think:  When we have a situation come up that is daunting, how many of us get to feeling that “we cannot do this”, or “oh this is a terrible situation”, or “this is too hard for me to do”.  When we start thinking like that we can very easily come up with all sorts of reasons why we cannot do the task.  That is how our brain works.  It looks through all of its files for proof for what we are thinking or feeling. 

Once we find one or more reasons that this task cannot be done by me, our body and mind shuts down and we make a decision not to do it or a decision not to even try.  We have convinced ourselves of these ‘facts’. 

The example I use with the students is riding a bicycle.  I am sure that all of us had our spills as we began to learn to ride a bike.  We would fall and someone would pick us up and we would try again.  Over and over we would do this till one day it happened for us.  We were riding, no one was holding the bike and we were controlling the whole experience. 

What if though when we had fallen off the bike at the beginning for the second or third time someone said to us, “You stink at bike riding!”, “you are never going to get it”, you always fall off”.  How would you have felt?  It would have been very discouraging and the next time you climbed up on the bike it may not have been with the same enthusiasm and belief that this was going to be the time that you would do it all by yourself.  You had placed in your mind negative thoughts and ideas and now your attitude had become negative too.

That would not have been a very good friend that was speaking to us in that manner.  In fact when I talk to the kids about this they tell me that they would never talk to a friend that way.  So I ask them what would you say to your friend that is falling off of their bike? 

They tell me that they would use encouraging words like, “you can do it’, “you almost did it that time”, “I had the same experience and I finally got it – you will too”, Keep trying, you will get it”.  Yes they had all kinds of ideas of encouraging things to say.  If we had a friend like that, we would learn to ride the bike pretty quickly because of all the positive energy around us.  Our thoughts and feeling would be positive and of course our actions would become positive results.

Now here is the question. If you would not talk to a friend with those kind of negative thoughts, why would you ever talk to yourself that way?  Our self talk is many times so mean and we will say things to ourselves that we would never say to a friend.  So I encourage you to talk to yourself in a way that creates a positive feeling rather than a negative one.  Ask yourself when you hear the negative way of thinking coming out if you would talk to a friend that way.  If what you are saying to yourself you would not say to a friend, then choose not to say it to yourself.  Treat yourself the way you would treat others.  You deserve it. 

This is not an idea of making everything positive all the time and living in La La Land. No you are your own best friend, so treat yourself that way.  Talk to yourself in a positive way and you will find that you will have a positive attitude and will accomplish more with the skills that you have.

Self control: yields consequences

Every decision or choice we make results in a consequence.  Now that can be a good or a bad consequence.  If our choice results in a good consequence we get rewards, and if our choice that we make results in a bad consequence then the results can vary.  It may be a punishment, or a bad feeling within ourselves or a loss of a privilege.  Just to take the time to examine the possible results will help us many times to make a decision that we will be pleased with in the long run. 

If we choose to work hard in school or at an activity, this will result in us feeling good about ourselves and some form of success in that activity.  We may improve in a skill, better our grades in a class, be chosen to help others.   If we choose to give our time or money to a charity, this will result in our feeling good about being of help and we may see the results of our efforts.  For instance recently I heard of an organization called Shelter Box.  This is a box that is sent to disaster areas like Haiti and in the box is a tent for ten people and all sorts of supplies needed for living including 6 months supply of water purification tablets.  This organization allows you to track the box that you contributed toward so you can follow where it has been sent and is being used. 

If on the other hand we choose to lie to our parents, workmates, spouse or if we choose to cheat or steal in some manner then we will most likely be found out and will suffer some form of punishment.  But lets say for some reason we are not found out and not punished in a public way.  The hurt and damage done to ourselves, the way we feel about ourselves is long lasting.  Every time we make a choice like that we damage our ability to be true to ourselves and others. 

So how do we make good choices and practice self control?  One way is to get into the habit of asking ourselves 3 questions:  (1) Is the choice I make going to work?  (2) Is this a safe solution?  (3) Is this fair to myself and to others?  Then evaluate them as compared to all the options and make a choice – not just doing the first thing that pops into our head!

Winning or losing reactions

We all know that when we play a game that it is more fun and fair when everyone follows the rules, without having to be reminded and told to do so.  But when the game is over how we react to the winning or losing of the game also has an affect on us and those that we played with.
Even though losing is never fun and winning does make us feel good there are ways of handling this that are fair to other and demonstrate good sportsmanship.  But first we need to get past the question about is it fair if someone wins or loses.  In todays world of children, there are parents and teachers that believe that it will hurt the self esteem of the child if they lose in a game or competition and so they have all sorts of ways of no one having lost, including not playing games that there are obvious winners.
Well the fact is that if we play a game and everyone plays by the rules – then it is fair if someone wins and others do not win.  The question that needs to be addressed is how do we react?  We can teach our children that it is great to desire to win – that is healthy.  In fact for me to want to be the best is healthy.  What is not healthy is when we get down on ourselves, when we decide that we are not good enough or when we cry, pout, throw a tantrum because we did not win.  Thats not fair to others and especially to those that did better on that particular day and time.  And it is not heathy for us, because those types of feelings and reactions do not allow us to go back to work on our game.
These questions are so important for everyone to discuss with their children and think about themselves before we face that situation.  We are not going to win all of the time / nor are we going to lose all of the time, even if it feels that way when we do.  So what is an appropriate reaction?

Agricultural Education Day

This Saturday according to an announcement in the paper last night, there will be an Agricultural Education Day in Harwood Maryland at the corner of Rt 2 South and Birdsville Road.  The event will be held from 11 AM to 6 PM with all sorts of displays and demonstrations.  Though I have not been to this event before, it sounds like an interesting event with the opportunity to get to learn a little more about our local food producers.  
For more information you can go to their site at Agricultural Day.  I am going to try to spend a little bit of time their myself, as I am interested in promoting the idea of awareness of where our food comes from and getting to know and appreciate our local farmers.  Maybe we will see you there.