Five pearls of wisdom that aren’t worth repeating
1. “PEOPLE DON’T CHANGE.”
Actually, yes, they do—every day. If people didn’t change, therapists like me would be unemployed. I have witnessed incredible transformations as people recognize unhealthy patterns, uncover selflimiting beliefs and choose to think and do differently. Perpetuating the myth that people are incapable of change is a dangerous form of discouragement that takes away not only an individual’s determination to change but also society’s collective capacity to evolve.
2. “LIVE WITHOUT REGRETS.”
This one is sneaky. Its intention is good, asking us to behave honourably. A regret, after all, is something we wish had never happened. But what’s lurking behind this sinister catchphrase is the notion that failures are to be ashamed of and avoided. What if, instead, we learned to see failures not as sources of shame but stepping stones? What if, rather than banning regrets, we embraced forgiveness? Then, regrets would become lessons learned.
3. “IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANYTHING NICE TO SAY, DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL.”
There may have been a time when zipping it was the right thing to do; that time is not now. Many of us are so timid in the face of confrontation that “Turn the other cheek” has reached a new level—it’s bystander apathy. The solution is not silence or aggression. Somewhere in the middle lies assertion. Let’s aim for that.
4. “LIFE ISN’T FAIR.”
This is one I heard a lot in my childhood, and it has always confounded me. As someone who is a champion for just causes, I don’t know what to make of it. Are we expected to lie down and take whatever misfortunes come our way? I’ll say it again: Apathy is a problem. If we must have a bumper-sticker slogan, a better, more socially interested one is this: Pick your battles.
5. “MY HOUSE, MY RULES.”
I hear this a lot from parents when they can’t get kids to cooperate. It’s a last resort characterized by top-down tyranny. But we’re raising children to live in a democracy, not a dictatorship. If we want children to have an appreciation for disparate points of view, for the give-andtake of social living, we need to model it by respecting their rights and giving them a voice. That starts at home.