Ever have those conversations with someone who is miserable and no matter what you say to cheer them up, they turn everything into a negative?
+ But you've got a lovely family
- Yeah, they just take me for granted
+ At least you have a job
- For how long, though?
+ You're really talented
- You're my mother, what do you know?
Eventually you get fed up giving them any positive support and throw the towel in saying 'Okay, be miserable then.' At the end of the dialogue you both end up feeling negative and miserable.
I had just that this morning with one of my kids. I could see all the possibilities and potential of a situation he finds himself in and yet he countered everything I said with a 'yeah, but'. I could feel myself getting annoyed with him and then suddenly I got it, we were polarising each other. His low feelings were getting to me, I didn't want him to feel bad about himself because it would make me feel bad about myself. Instead of facing my own negative feelings I went to the polar opposite feeling, becoming super positive and trying to make him feel positive too. None of my suggestions were of any use because I was talking at him not connecting with him. How could I connect with him when I wasn't prepared to connect with my own feelings?
I can love my son, support him, encourage him, tell him 'you're amazing, you can do it' - give him a loving kick up the backside even - but the most effective way for me to help him is to have the courage to face my own fears. How on earth can I expect him to overcome self-doubt if I don't have the courage to address the places where I feel held-back by fear and vulnerability?
If we want our kids to be feel happy, confident and successful the best thing we can do is to show them how we achieve it for ourselves.