08.24

No Bullying – Guest Post by Dr. Linda Kreger Silverman

by Linda Kreger Silverman

We have greater awareness today of the harmful effects of teasing and bullying, but there is one area of our lives where it remains unchecked: within ourselves. Even the most sensitive and compassionate among us, who would never intentionally hurt another, do not think twice about mercilessly berating themselves. I would like us to examine this accepted practice. What we have labeled “perfectionism,” and have tried to cure in gifted children, may actually be this self-denigration exposed, which is uncomfortable for us to view.

As Peace Pilgrim and Virginia Satir have affirmed, peace in the world can only be attained when we have achieved peace within. If our children could read our minds (when they are little, some of them can…), would they hear words of self-comfort that they could emulate? How often are we our own Greek Chorus, our own cheering team? Have we ever asked ourselves if it is OK to treat ourselves the way we do?

I wrote this in the last chapter of Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner:

We expend an inordinate amount of psychic energy defending ourselves from blame and ridicule, and the vast majority of time the judgments we are defending against are from ourselves!  Can you imagine what it would be like to totally accept yourself, and not have to justify your thoughts, your actions, your reasoning?  Not have to defend yourself?  Not have to answer, “Why did you do that?”  “Why didn’t you…?”  No “you should haves”?  We are so used to living in an internal court of law that we assume it is “natural” and appropriate to continually prosecute ourselves.  But it’s only our left hemispheres running amok. (Silverman, 2002, pp. 348-349)

Jill Bolte Taylor (2006), author of My Stroke of Insight, offers wonderful suggestions for keeping that part of our brain in check. I urge you to listen to her Ted Talk on YouTube. If these ideas resonate with you, I promise that you will find those 18 minutes enlightening and her book even more so. Jill is a brain researcher who experienced a massive left-hemispheric stroke and documented the different realities of our left and right hemispheres. She says that there is tiny portion of our left hemisphere, no bigger than a peanut, which gives us all these negative messages. We are so used to this brain circuitry that we do not even question its appropriateness. But we have choices about listening to it and we can teach our children that they have choices as well.  In Chapter 18 of her book, Jill gives practical, concrete advice for dealing effectively with these persistent cognitive loops of negativity.

At the end of an exhausting day, when my own “Peanut Gallery” reminds me of all the things I didn’t get done, and starts to make me feel guilty, I now hear another voice in my head with competing messages. This appreciative voice says to me, “Look what you accomplished today! Good job! You’ve done enough. Now it’s time to rest and rejuvenate. Everything else will wait until tomorrow.”

Consciously create your own positive messages and discuss them with your children. Before they go to sleep at night, ask them to share a positive message about themselves with you and to think about it as they fall asleep. Let me know if it makes a difference in the happiness quotient in your family. I would love to hear your stories. Write to me at gifted@gifteddevelopment.com.

More about Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D.

Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist.  She directs the Institute for the Study of Advanced Development, and its subsidiary, the Gifted Development Center in Denver, Colorado. Over 6,000 children have been assessed at the Gifted Development Center in the last 32 years.  She also founded Visual-Spatial Resource.  Her Ph.D. is in educational psychology and special education from the University of Southern California.  For nine years, she served on the faculty of the University of Denver in counseling psychology and gifted education.  She co-chaired the NAGC Task Force on IQ Interpretation, during which research was conducted leading to extended norms on the WISC-IV.  She has been studying the psychology and education of the gifted since 1961 and has written over 300 articles, chapters and books, including Counseling the Gifted and Talented, Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner and Advanced Development:  A Collection of Works on Gifted Adults.

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