Back when I was working with abused and neglected children, I read a study that said the most common factor among resilient children--ones who manage to thrive in what could be seen as traumatic and difficult circumstances--is to have a person in their life who believes in them. As children come to believe that someone genuinely cares for and wants the best for them--indeed sees the best in them--they begin to come out of their shell and shine in ways that melt you heart.
Believing in someone means that you believe in their power to shape their own life.
As a classroom assistant, I remember meeting one little boy for the first time. He greeted me at 4 years old, fists raised, ready to defend himself from the stranger in his classroom. This was a school of students deemed by the state to be too dangerous to themselves and others to be in a regular public school. My experience there taught me two things that have stayed with me ever since. Everyone is simply looking to be seen and to be loved. What we see on the surface misses so much of the detail of what has come before and what still lives inside a person. I learned to see and love the underdog. The one who is making the choices different than everyone else, different than the expectations. My last memory at that school is of the same child slipping his tiny hand in mine as we walked through the zoo on a school fieldtrip. Trust is a precious thing.
We lose trust when we try to shape others' lives for them instead of believing in them. Trust cannot flourish when one doesn't feel trusted.
Around the same time, I was reading activist books that instilled in me the belief that each individual is best at assessing their own path, of knowing what helps them move forward and what keeps them stuck in a way that no outsider can ever fully understand. We are our own best guides, yet we often live in a society that dictates from the outside who we should be, what we should do and when we achieve success.
Listen and look closely at the things near and dear to you in your life. Our beliefs are woven into the daily moments of living. What beliefs are guiding the choices you make each day? Where do our beliefs about success and how we want to live our lives come from? Make a list of the things that showed up today.
Our beliefs are not stagnant. Some we outgrow, some evolve, some deepen . . .
I will continue to believe in you, in the ability of each one of us to shape a life that can uplift ourselves and others.
I believe in you to show me something I’ve never seen before, to open my heart to a new way of being in the world that is uniquely you, authentic and true.
I believe that you will challenge my beliefs, help me find the holes, expand me with new ideas and perspectives and that I will be better and forever changed for having known you.
I believe together we can change the world, creating a place where we all feel loved and honored for our uniqueness and our underlying commonality. Will you join me?