“Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t. I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.”
– Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (Dr Seuss)
I was a very lucky child. Growing up, I had the greatest fan-base I could have ever asked for: Mum, Dad, Grandmas 1 & 2, Granddad. Grown up, I have been blessed once again. I have gained a greater audience to cheer me on during my achievements: Mum, Dad, etc., Sisters 1 & 2, Hubby, Cousins 1-12, Aunties 1 & 2, and so on.
When I was 14 and decided to swim competitively, my mother timed my laps and washed an infinite number of towels. When I was 15 and tried out ballet classes, my grandmother drove me to and from on a weekly basis. When I was 16 and wanted to join the air-force, my father trained with me. My family, both immediate and extended, love me and will support me to the ends of the Earth.
But… we cannot listen only to our cheerleaders.
Otherwise, we risk not giving reason a fair chance. We may hear all the positives but none of the negatives. Firstly, I am not built for competitive swimming. Secondly, If I were to ever start ballet classes again, I couldn’t begin above Grade 3. And I may as well face it; with my fear of flying, what on earth was I thinking?
Cheering vs Coaching
Yes, we all need an occasional boost from our cheerleaders. They help us gain the courage to try, the motivation to continue, and the boldness to start again when we may not succeed. They celebrate our accomplishments and encourage us through the rougher patches.
But there is another side to your cheerleaders. They can encourage you to follow dreams that perhaps you should not engage in, for very good reasons. Worse, they may blind you to those reasons. Moreover, false hope is a dangerous state to be in, as is the impression that failure ‘isn’t that bad’. Generally, having a boost when you are down is not a bad thing, but when a person becomes immune to the very important effects and lessons of failure, they risk making the same mistake again.
What’s more, cheerleaders can help you excuse bad behaviour, release you from the burden of the consequences of your own actions. In my first year, I did not perform as best I could in my final examinations. I achieved a 2:1, but could have performed better. That said, I was mentally prepared with protection: an excuse, a comfort. My now-husband had proposed 5 days prior to my exams starting – how could I keep my head in the game when I was so wrapped up in engagement details? In hindsight though, is that really justifiable? Before even receiving my results, I had a rationalisation in place. What does that form of logic open me up to further down the line, if it is allowed to run amok?
So, cheerleaders can provide fantastic encouragement when we need it, but do not necessarily provide the realistic view we often need. They may not take centre stage during a game, but coaches provide the support and wholesome perspective you need! Your coaches will boost you, all the while advising when you have made mistakes.
Tip for the Day
Seek out your coaches, not your cheerleaders, when you’re looking for a balanced answer. If your cheerleaders are really loyal to you, they will still be there when you’re in search of boundless optimism.
More mindfulness and wellbeing tips can be found in my motivational calendar for 2019.
Whether reflecting on experience, or looking forward in anticipation, every day is an opportunity to do something positive. TV psychologist & author Dr Audrey Tang (43) and creative writer & millennial business blogger Rachel Gordon (23) have teamed up to inspire your 2019 – whatever your age!