My daughter is one of my most powerful teachers and my memory bank is full of those powerful moments when she taught me some of the most valuable life lessons. I remember one from when she was just so little. I’m not sure of the exact age but she was still highchair little. We had a rule in our home at mealtime that you had to try everything on your plate. You wouldn’t be forced to eat it if you didn’t like it, but you had to have an open mind and give everything a fair shot.
There was one particular time when something was served, perhaps broccoli, who knows, but she didn’t even like the looks of it. She knew the rule, there was no sense in repeating it. I quietly sat, observing her approach. I listened carefully as she started to coax her way through the dreaded bite. “Cmon… just one bite. All you have to do is try it.” And…. nothing… She sat there, still staring, still wrinkling her nose at just the anticipation of it all.
Round 2. “Cmon. Just try.” I watched as she picked up her fork and poked at it. Again, she put her fork back down.
Round 3. “Ok. I’m gonna try.” Fork up one more time… poke, poke… and there she goes! Fork inserted, horrified face made, and then she settled as she realized it really wasn’t quite so bad. She finished chewing and smiled. “I think I like it” she proclaimed.
What a powerful lesson I learned from this young babe. How often we dread something, convincing ourselves that it’s going to be awful, and work ourselves into such a tizzy at just the thought of trying something new. We resist the unknown and often anticipate worst-case-scenario without even considering the possibility that it might be just fine, or even enjoyable.
I watched herself gently coax her way through those thoughts and feelings. Even at 2 or 3 years old she had the wisdom to know that she could talk back to fear and doubt. There was no judgement, shame, or ridicule. She spoke gently and encouragingly to herself until finally she had the courage to take action.
That was over 15 years ago and yet the lesson is still as powerful as it was back then. Sometimes when a situation presents itself we may anticipate it being awful, but how will we ever know until we just try?