If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.
Whatever truth is in this may lie in how we feel about ourselves. For example, do you feel confident? If so, then reflect on the encouragement you received from your parents and those around you while you were growing up. If not, then was there possibly a lack of this? Similarly, do the other statements also apply?
I’m not trying to over-glorify the poem, but it has been valued over time for a reason. Clearly, much of what we become is tied to how we have been shaped and even what lies we have believed about our value and identity. Without wanting to blame anyone’s parents for where they are at today – after all, we need to take responsibility for our own lives and beliefs – it is worth at least considering what has shaped some of those unhealthy mindsets and behaviours that get us into trouble in our dealings with others.
Getting over our pain doesn’t stop the wrong attitudes and thoughts leaking out somewhere when we are under pressure. It is only as we replace lie-based thinking with true statements that we really move forward in life. Is there any “stinking thinking” you can replace today? Alternatively, is there something in this concept which, even if you’re not sure exactly what, you can commit to discussion with somebody you trust?