learning to skip

Lessons from a five year old

What a lot I learnt from my inspiring five year old niece during a day’s visit to my sister’s ...

My niece is fierce, fearless and oh-so-determined.

During my visit, she, her older sister and I were showing each other our handwriting and doing "signatures". As she practised hers, she made lots of crossings out and continued to practise over and over again with her tongue between her teeth. At one point she shook her head and said purposefully and firmly to herself, "I am better than this," before trying again.

The “I am better than this” stuck with me. Imagine holding that kind of self-belief. Imagine what that gives you. One of my old, unhelpful beliefs was “I’m not good enough” and, years ago, I had managed to change this to believing I was “good enough.” Now I’m thinking, forget being "enough" - imagine how it is to believe yourself "better" than enough! I am so going to be "better" than "this" at any point from now on!

After the handwriting and signature practice, I watched her practising her skipping and she could only do two skips in a row at first. She carried on and on and on practising and tripping. She tripped and stumbled a lot and the expression on her face was pure concentration and determination. She didn't care if she got tangled in the rope or if she improved and then went backwards, she just persevered until she could do six skips in a row. She kept at this for about 15 minutes solid, looking to me for encouragement and support (and getting it, obviously) and I was just bowled over by her self-belief and confident persistence again.

We can learn as much from children as they learn from us. I often remember this: there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. Success comes from taking the feedback and changing what we do in order to get more of the results we want. This is exactly what my niece was doing. She wasn’t experiencing tripping over the skipping rope as failure – it was just feedback telling her she needed to try again and to do it differently. And because she didn’t see this as failure, it didn’t dent her confidence. This gave her the resilience to keep on going until she got what she wanted.

For anyone who is struggling to stay sober or has experienced a set-back, it might be helpful to think of this as feedback rather than failure. The resilience and determination to keep going is what will lead you to success. Your belief in your end-goal will carry you through. So if your belief wavers, or you have lost touch with what you want to do or be or why you want to get sober, re-connecting with that motivation is an important step.

If we could bottle, or even mimic what self-belief and tenacity my niece has, we'd all be being “better than this” and achieving more than our dreams!

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