We come into this world programmed to love everyone unconditionally - to not judge others or ourselves. Yet, as we move through the world we began to put conditions on things and judge. It’s easy to look at someone else’s life and think, “How do they have it all? When will it be my turn?” When in reality, you do not know their life – you do not know what they are going through or where they have been.
It’s amazing how early this actually starts. While I was teaching young 5s, I could watch the kids become judgmental of their peers and themselves. Something as simple as them writing their name would become a big deal and judgment would surround the experience. As educators, we know that everyone is at different levels. In young 5s, my students ranged from being able to write their own name to not even knowing how to hold a pencil.
But instead of letting them judge themselves, I always instilled in my kids that we are all growing and we are always learning – each person has their own goals they are working on. After those conversations, I noticed the judgment would stop and honestly, I think my kids made more growth when they weren’t judging themselves.
I saw this when I taught marching band this summer too. I hung out with the flute section a lot on the field and there were a few girls who claimed to be perfectionist. You could see they were hard on themselves – it was clear by their body language. They were so caught up in judging themselves that they couldn't see past what they were doing wrong and find where they wanted to grow.
When they were in those modes, I would remind them to take a breath and find where they want to grow – don’t get upset about it. When I would do that, their mindset would shift and the next set of moves would be better. If I didn’t do that, it would be just as bad if not worst than the first time.
When I was little, I remember being yelled at for being wrong. The only thing that did was make me more nervous and make it worse. I know I’m not the only one who felt that way and if we do that to kids today, what kind of message are we sending to them? Obviously not the kind that tells them they can make a mistake but they can learn from it and do better.
Because that's what mis-takes are. Opportunities to grow. We don't need to judge ourselves on our mis-takes - we need to find the opportunities that await us.