Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Pygmalion Phenomenon: Bringing Out the Best Within

Thank you for all your kind words last post. Some of them made me blush. But your kindness warms my heart. They made me think of a book I’m reading, psychotherapist Piero Ferrucci’s The Power of Kindness, where he talks about the Pygmalion Phenomenon. (It’s a great read—I highly recommend it!)

This is when someone believes you are a certain way and because of their belief in you, you become that way. (See the My Fair Lady connection?) If a person thinks we are beautiful and elegant and tell us so, we begin to have the confidence and grace of a beauty. The same is true if we think we are athletic, smart, or etc. Suddenly, we are improving in those areas. 

Ferrucci tells a story about how when he was giving a lecture to a large group of people, a friend pointed out an individual and said he was very funny and could tell good jokes. Later, when Ferrucci had an opportunity to talk to the man he thought his friend pointed out, he said, “I hear you are very funny and tell great jokes.” The man, who was in the corner, quiet and by himself, looked at him in wonder and surprise. But all throughout Ferrucci’s lecture, he cracked jokes and brought a lot of fun to the night. Only later, when Ferrucci met back up with his friend, did he find out the mistake: his friend had pointed to a different person—not that quiet man in the corner. By the sheer attention given, Ferrucci had given the other man the confidence to express a side of him others in the room had never seen.

I love this story. First, because it illustrates the power each one of has in influencing others for good. And second, because we all have latent characteristics that can be enhanced by association with another. With effort and the right tutelage, our potential is really limitless.

Our weaknesses and our unexpressed characters can become strengths when we believe in each other.
It reminds me of another quote I tell my kids:

What does it have to do with writing? You guessed it: give yourself and your writing friends that positive confirmation to do the things they may be thought beyond them. 

I’ve just read two great manuscripts by two lovely friends. This isn’t the first time I’ve critiqued for them. These friends and I have come a long way together in our writing paths—but to see how much their self-editing skills have blossomed holds me in awe of them. They are destined for great writing dreams come true and I’m so happy for them. It’s like watching Audrey Hepburn walk into Henry Higgin’s house and look Rex Harrison in the eye. Only this time she kicks him and gives him the what-for. All in a lady-like way, of course. She’s that good.

Friday, January 11, 2013

2013: Leave Your Expectations at the Door

New Year’s Day came and went and I didn’t get the post out I intended. Truthfully, it sounded pretentious. It was a list of all the things I accomplished in 2012. There were quite a few failures on there too, but I make the list every year because it helps my perfectionist self recognize that I am making progress on my goals and in the creation of myself. This year the list felt like it should be for my eyes only.

Then the next post felt a little unsettling. It was a list of all the good hopes I have for 2013. If I am honest, there are a lot of things I’m fearful about in the upcoming year instead of hopeful. It’s kind of contrary to my generally cheerful personality, but there it is. First and foremost, my mother will not make it past the year. The aggressive cancer she has been fighting so valiantly for the last four years has finally taken over. It’s hard for me to think of life without her. It’s hard for me to think of my kid’s lives without her. She is only 55.

Yet it is impossible to stay completely sad for long. Happy, bright events continue to overwhelm my sense of love I have for this world. I have many things to look forward to and blessings far beyond those I deserve. I’m sure my mom would want me to see life this way too. That’s why this year I’m concentrating my efforts on keeping my heart open. There is too much good out there to let it shut down with sadness.

I have a word-theme picked out for every month. January is SAVOR. I plan on savoring my time with my mother, with my children, with my writing, and with all of my surroundings. Savoring is a way for me to keep my heart open to all the good available to me.

So really that is it. No goals and accomplishments are listed here this year. I have left my expectations for the future at the door. I am simply going to savor the good while I face the bad with faith and courage. Life isn’t easy, but the hard parts make us stronger and help us enjoy the sweet parts that much more.

Here’s to 2013. Whatever it may bring.