SEREN­ITY NOW

Canadian Living - - Contents - LIZA FINLAY IS A REG­IS­TERED PSY­CHOTHER­A­PIST AND AU­THOR OF LOST & FOUND: THE SPIR­I­TUAL JOUR­NEY OF A WOMAN AT MIDLIFE.

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.

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