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1 March 2019

posted 28 Feb 2019, 18:25 by Carolyn Brett
I think (hope) I have managed to shake many of my perfectionist tendencies off as I've moved through this thing called life! Having a chat with one of our newly graduated teachers this week, I was reminded of my final year of University. Going to University as a 16 year old wasn't all that easy. The freedom was fabulous but I hadn't come across the essay form too often. This meant my grades in my first year were fair to middling, improved remarkably over the next couple of years and by the final year if I didn't get an A I was devastated. So when my final results came out, I saw As, A+s and ........... and A-. All I could look at was the - symbol. I was not happy with that.
 
Fault finder alert! 
 
A few years back, Dr Tal Ben-Shahar was one of my lecturers in my Positive Psychology studies. In one of his many books "The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life”, he explains that chasing perfection may be the number one internal obstacle to finding happiness.
 
"He argues that instead of being a perfectionist, we should aim for being an optimilist. Here’s the difference between the two:
  • Perfectionism is the neurotic belief that everything about you and your environment has to be perfect.
  • On the other hand, Optimilism is setting high standards which are grounded in reality; accepting that failure is a natural part of the process of achieving goals; and knowing how to find value and satisfaction in an imperfect performance.
While perfection is a destination at which you’ll never arrive, optimilism is about focusing on the journey and being happy with doing your best as you strive to achieve your goals."

It's something I actively work on, not just personally but with my staff, colleagues and also our Worser Bay kids. We can't worry if it's not perfect. 

As the adults in children's lives, parents and teachers, support staff (and principals!), we have such a huge responsibility in terms of the role modelling we provide. I was reading something the other day about anxiety in children after listening to Psychologist Gwendoline Smith on RNZ. This is what she said:

"I wanted to draw your attention to this aspect of worry, not just because it is educational, but because this is what children observe. If you are a worrier there is a 37.7% chance that one or more of your children are genetically predisposed to worry, just like you were. So, as with almost everything there is ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ working together. Hence, children learn about how to manage, or not manage life’s challenges, through watching their parents just as you would have. It’s called Role-modeling. Yes, every furrowed brow, every time your hand clutches your face, they’ve got their eyes peeled, because that is how they survive. Children know they are safe when the adults are ok." 

I'm going to watch my facial expressions in Assemblies (although sometimes.............!) 

Let's all be mindful of the impact we have on our tamariki - let's make sure they know the adults are OK.
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