There are many ways to look at things. With so many perspectives and takes on life, how do we know which one is best for us? While there are many groups, books, and television shows that will tell you that their way is the best way, there is really only one way to know what is best for yourself. You have to go with what feels right for you.
Working with children in our school district, it is easy to spot the rebels and the people pleasers. The thing that they have in common is that their decisions are a reaction to what the people around them are thinking. As educators, we strive to empower our students to become curious, intrinsically motivated learners. When someone is curious and intrinsically motivated, they know who they are and have what it takes to persevere and prosper.
There was a student who was always blaming her teachers for her struggles. She often complained of being bored and called activities stupid. It was obvious that all of this was an act, a distraction from attempting to complete the work. She had learned to feed off of the attention she gained at the expense of the satisfaction that comes from being successful and learning new things.
It took time and several discussions with this student to help her see that her teachers were not against her. One day, while helping her to complete a math assignment, she repeatedly complained that I was bossing her around. Rather than getting upset with her, it became a learning opportunity. I pointed out, in a calm voice, that she was fighting with an idea she had in her head because in reality I was being encouraging and not attempting to coerce her in any way.
As she looked into my eyes, something clicked. For the rest of our time together, I intentionally let her know that everything I was saying was intended to support her in completing her work. In turn, she let me know more clearly when she did and did not require help. The assignment was completed quickly, and she went happily on her way.
It is easy to struggle with life by believing that we must either please or overcome others in order to be successful. The truth is that real success comes when we are tapped into our intrinsic motivation, living from a sense of inner satisfaction and a desire to share our gifts with the world. When we live this way, we neither compete with others nor chase after anyone else’s approval. All of this is replaced with an inner compass that lets us know when we are on the right track.
If you feel like you have had to force your way in a certain area of your life, take some time to consider your motivation. It could be that you have lost touch with what inspired you down that path in the first place. There are times when we all get caught up worrying about what others think of us. Now is the time to get back on track with yourself and live life on your own, delightful terms. The satisfaction you will feel is worth the effort.
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. He is also the co-host of “Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed” podcast on iTunes. For questions, comments, and ideas for future columns, send an email to: EdwardBiagiotti@ccusd.org