Being good gardeners in a debate culture

I was reading Lynn U. Nichols story about how to help kids build true confidence that comes from inside by helping them tap into their intuition. I really liked it. (And I hope you will, too).  That started me reflecting on how we find that inner voice, which we either learn to trust on not to trust.

We live in a debate culture where, it seems, we’re supposed to take our position and defend it to the end with arguments, eye rolls, fist pounding and raised voices. This type of bravado, in many cases, glosses over an internal lack of confidence. If I have a position that I can cling to and defend then I have something that I can be sure about and I can build those walls and feel “confident.”

But I think we suspect for ourselves and our kids, that that isn’t real confidence. That’s puffy-uppy-ness (OK…made-up word) that can lead to deflation. It doesn’t feel solid. I’ve heard it said that the three hardest words in the English language are “I don’t know.” I believe if we cultivate a more dialog-oriented culture then those three words would be much easier to say.

I have a sticky note stuck (because that’s what sticky notes do) on my desk that says “Am I right? Am I sure?” It’s there to remind me that when I’m feeling all defensive, and therefore not so confident, that I need to take a step back…take a breath…do something else, but mainly shut up for a few minutes and review my thinking.

I tend to be a pretty nice guy overall. I mean one thing I notice is that people routinely confuse nice for weak or nice for stupid, when, in fact, it takes a lot more courage to respond to a person or situation in an open way than in a defensive, me-first way.

So as far as our kids go, I think the messages we send them and that they are exposed to matter a lot when it comes to developing that inner confidence and learning to trust their own feelings. We all have many seeds in our base consciousness and the ones that get watered will grow and the ones that don’t get watered, though still remaining, won’t express themselves. We can help our kids learn to water the seeds that lead to true confidence such as kindness to themselves and compassion for others.

So maybe next time you hear an argument or, let’s say, a debate with your child, take a moment and talk about it. Would listening to the other person and possibly changing your position show more strength and confidence that simply repeating your position over and over in slightly different terms?

I don’t know,

Scott