Lessons I wish my children didn’t have to learn the hard way: Post Number 1

I have been thinking an awful lot lately about lessons I wish I could teach my kids but that, in reality, I know they have to learn on their own – through their own life experiences, by succeeding and failing in their own endeavours, by falling down and getting back up again, over and over and over.

Still, even though there are certain things in life they will come to understand in their own time and on their own terms, maybe if I write something down and they take the time to read it, either now or in the future, while I’m on this earth with them or long after I’m gone, they’ll recognize the lessons more easily when the time comes. Or, at least maybe they’ll know that I love them enough that I wish for them to have this knowledge and the peace that it brings.

So here is the first in what will likely be a series of posts on what I wish my children could know about life right now.

You can do it.

From the time each of us is very little right up until (I imagine) the day we die, we have goals and aspirations ranging from small to big. And, for some reason, there is a voice inside our heads that sometimes convinces us that we can’t accomplish something we want to.

I think the voice has a different volume in each of us and is kinder (or harder) at different times in our lives, but it’s there in all of us.

I remember when each of you were learning to ride your bikes…all of you said, at least once, “I can’t do it!” and you really believed that you couldn’t. You each needed to be convinced that you could do it. You needed to be coaxed and encouraged. And, eventually, you all did it…and, well, William will do it soon. That feeling of shocked pride and accomplishment that radiated from your glowing eyes and huge smiles was worth the hours of pushing you on your bikes and begging you to just pedal.

As we get older, the things we want to do get bigger and the voices in our heads that say we can’t, get louder. Unfortunately, there’s not always someone pushing us along telling us that we can do it if we just keep trying. So, I guess what I want you to know is that, as long as you’re pedalling, as long as you’re trying to move forward and progress, you can do it.

It really doesn’t matter what it is you want or need to do. Maybe it’s a school assignment that seems to be so much more than you think you’re capable of. Maybe it’s a cartwheel on the balance beam. Maybe it’s making a decision about your future. Maybe it’s a fitness goal that you think you’re just not built for. Maybe it’s saying goodbye to a thing or a person that you know is just not good for you. Maybe it’s beating the bad guy on your new video game. Maybe it’s cleaning your room. It doesn’t matter what it is, and it doesn’t matter what that obnoxious, mean-spirited, doubtful or insecure voice in your head is trying to convince you of… trust me: you can do it.

The most important thing is to start trying. Sometimes, starting is all it takes and you surprise yourself at how easily you accomplished what you set out to do. Other times, it’ll be harder and you’ll get frustrated and that voice will get louder. Don’t. Give. Up.

You may need to ask for help, and that’s ok. It’s more than ok. It’s brilliant. Don’t ever be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help. The smartest, most accomplished people in this world know how to ask for help. I know I can’t always be the one you go to…and that’s ok…but it’s important that you ask someone if you need help or guidance or support. And, if that person can’t help you, ask someone else. And, so on and so forth.

Don’t decide not to start something because you’re afraid you can’t finish. Don’t decide a dream is too big before you’ve given yourself the chance to nurture it. Don’t do a poor job because that voice is telling you a good job is beyond you.

Start. Try. Dream. Do.

You will be happier for it. The world will be better for it. And, I’ll be here cheering you on, having known the whole time that you can do it.

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