Many clients who come for counselling have received messages from family, friends and school about what they’can’t do’. Children learn successfully to hide their strengths and shy away from risking doing some things because of a fear of failure. What is more surprising is that many of us can be even more afraid of being successful. There is a huge motivation to fit in and John Holt wrote a book in 1974, Why Children Fail, which suggested that children actively learn to position themselves in the middle somewhere between those two. I’ve often heard university students talk about having been bullied at school for being particularly bright or being afraid of even higher parental expectations if they do well. Children are amazing at working out how to best survive their environment and thrive.
What I have always found important is that it is when role models, friends, family do well at something, this gives permission to other family members, friends, well all of us to achieve things maybe we didn’t believe we could. Wise, strong, powerful, humble and creative role models are essential in this world for all of us. Nelson Mandela has always been a hero for me with his capacity to forgive, put the past behind him and shine his light powerfully for the highest good of all. This extract from the Inauguration speech of Nelson Mandela which I think originally came from a book by Marianne Williamson was a handout I used often for clients: