Before I trained as a counsellor, I was a dentist.
On this particular day, with her mother, a confident 8 year old walked into my surgery, “I want a sticker,” she said.
Reassuring her that she could choose a sticker at the end of the appointment I asked if she would climb up onto the chair.
“No,” she said firmly, “I want a sticker!”
I repeated my message that stickers would be available later and that more than one could be rewarded as various tasks achieved. (I would award a sticker as small steps towards a bigger goal were reached).
“But, I WANT A STICKER NOW!” demanded the 8 year old as she stamped first her left foot and then her right. Her mother watched on and smiled at me awkwardly.
Again, I repeated my message nicely but firmly. A sticker would be awarded if she sat on the chair and let me look at her teeth using the little mirror. She could even watch me using the handheld mirror.
“NO! I want a sticker!” She stamped her feet indignantly.
I decided to negotiate down and suggested that if she let me look in her mouth with a mirror whilst sat next to her mum (i.e. not on the dental chair) then a sticker would be forthcoming.
“NO! I WANT MY STICKER NOW!” she shouted.
Unfortunately, this little lass did not get her sticker as she refused to get into the chair or let me look in her mouth. Her mother did not feel able to encourage her and I certainly was not in a position to force her.
In life, it is not uncommon to either “have to do” or “want” things that we feel are out of reach. For this eight year old, sitting on the dental chair was a big ‘ask’. It might have a big ask because she was afraid but too anxious to say so. (Many people who are scared hide behind aggression and perhaps she expressed that through her demand for a sticker). Or, was it a big ‘ask’ because she was used to getting her own way and I was asking for a change of behaviour that was a step too far for her? Or some other reason entirely?
The point is that perhaps encouragement and strength from her mother, or a different, more realistic goal set by me would have meant she got her important sticker.
What about you? When you are faced with a task that is out of reach or even, just out of reach, do you find yourself demoralized, irritable or become demotivated? If you can, surround yourself with people who will encourage you, not mollycoddle you or chastise you but will be there when you need them.
Try to make small steps in the direction of a goal you want to achieve and make sure you reward yourself with that ‘”sticker” when you do so.
Perhaps, you need more support. If you feel you would like to explore difficulties with a counsellor then contact me to arrange an initial free session.
Newcastle Counselling, meeting you wherever you are in your personal journey.