Things like speed reading, avoiding jealousy, and being a super active, hyper-confident go-getter are all traits I am pretty sure I learned from my mom — or at least they were fostered in my youth. They are awesome traits, and having an idea of where I got them has helped me amplify the traits I want to make better. Maybe you can steal some of my mom’s tricks and help yourself.
There were definitely a lot of weird rules my mom had when I was a kid. Things I never realized where strange until I was older, like not being allowed to use coloring books, speed reading every sign we passed, or actively attempting to beat my relatives in any games/skillsets that I could get compete at. These weird things my mother did to me as a child were an attempt at purposeful play, which is one of the best ways to teach your children, according to Concordia University-Portland. Reading every road sign we passed on road trips was a great way to get me be a fast reader. As an added benefit, it also reminded my mom every time we passed a speed limit sign to slow down. Drawing instead of color books taught me to think of an endless world (she was afraid coloring books would limit my creativity, but now I can’t draw in the lines to save my life).
Figuring out what she was doing (eventually), didn’t ruin the fun. It has helped me teach myself things, change parts of my personality I don’t appreciate, and form new habits. It just has to be fun to do (and there are endless ways to make even something like working out fun).
I was gifted with a bucketload of self confidence — more than you could shake a stick at. I have so much confidence and love for myself that I’ve considered getting a wall sticker of my face instead of mirrors. It’s not even that expensive to wallpaper your bathroom in a variety of your own faces (I’ve looked). Where did I get this unnaturally high self confidence? My mom, duh.
I’m good-looking, smart, and have a decent personality. But realistically, I am not the golden god that I believe myself to be. However, praise was repeated to me over and over again during my youth that I am smart and great. And unless there is a social flaw that can be evaluated and addressed, on the all and all, I am smart and great.
What we repeatedly hear can be systematically leveraged for our benefit.
So what this has taught me is that mantras are powerful. What we repeatedly hear can be systematically leveraged for our benefit. So if it’s a goal you can’t actively change with physical means (goals like increasing self confidence or feeling more grateful) then actively stating in the present tense the way you want to act/feel will actually help you achieve that change of mindset–as long as it’s a positive, self-fulfilling mindset. For example “I’m the best” will help you become the best. BUT if you say “I am better than xyz-human being” then the negative mindset will probably prohibit true personal growth.
Don’t Spill Your Drink: Wanting More Means More Responsibility
I was a very demanding child. I wanted to be just like my older brother and sister. If they drank from a regular cup, I wanted that dang regular cup as well. With any of the requests (read “demands”) I made from my mother came with a long-list of responsibilities in exchange for what I demanded.
If I wanted to drink from a regular cup instead of a sippie cup, I was told that I could, as long as I never spilled. I’m a clumsy person, except when carrying liquids because of my determination to never spill as a child. Very high-level wisdom over here. A similar thing happened when I wanted to read. I had to sit down and try every day on my own first— otherwise my mom wouldn’t teach me. The lesson I took from this, and still use, is that if I want something, I need to take ownership of the steps it takes to achieve it and consider the potential risks and benefits to help me get what I want.
You can go after anything, as long as you lock down the steps to achieving your goal, take responsibility for making it happen, learn the risks and benefits, and take action. For example, if you want to become a billionaire the easy way, and are going to do it by counting cards in Vegas, you would start by learning to count cards, taking your trick on the road, and keeping sight of both the pros and cons of your end goal (including getting arrested, of course).
My Mom Was Kind of a Jerk
There were a couple things that my mother did to me and my siblings that might seem cruel to do (especially to the adorable three-year-old me), but they didn’t feel terrible at the time. This mostly consisted of frequent testing, to see how we would react to things. If a store had mirrors on the back wall so you could see the aisles, she would try to sneak away and watch me, to see how I’d react to being lost and how I’d figure out getting un-lost. You’d think that the constant tests would give me a ton of nervous energy, or make me a jumpy adult, but not really. Instead it prepared me to calmly handle stressful situations when they come up.
That said, don’t be like my mother constantly testing people around you. Instead take inspiration from this and apply this to yourself. Put yourself in unnecessary hypotheticals to prepare for real situations. Maybe walk the way you would in case of a fire (just to double check you know where it is), come with a mindset ready for anything (I am pleasantly impressed by how easy it is to morph into most situations, even when totally lost), and locate emergency equipment in your workplace. It’s easy to know something, but going and setting your hands on it will help you solidify your knowledge and assure you that you got ‘dis. Test out your knowledge IRL to avoid any accidents.
We love them,
we want to yell really loudly at them,
we learn so much from them.
So thank you.
My mom was unconventional—some may say a little nuts–but she gave me sky-high self confidence, helped me learn how to set and achieve goals, and forced me to get crafty and figure things out. What crazy things did your mom teach you?
Reminder: Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 14!