One of the greatest gifts my Mom ever gave me was her belief in me. Regardless of what I was doing or saying at any given moment, she saw my highest, best self. She was critical for sure –- and never feared telling me the truth — but she made sure I knew that anything I lacked was not about me lacking as an individual. There were just some things I could do better, ways I could respond more appropriately, or times I could reverse a course that she knew was heading down a dead-end street.
My ability to see others for their highest aspirations and dreams comes from her unconditional love and the way she demonstrated it. I always knew I was loved. I always knew she believed in me regardless of my belief in myself. And that comfort was my strength. I could go to her with my greatest successes and failures. She understood. She cheered me, but didn’t let it go to my head. If I’d just done a major face plant, she helped me up, dried my tears, and gently showed me how to begin again.
There are three lessons we can learn from my Mom if we want to support others, believe in them, and love them.
1. Acknowledge That Who They Are, Right Now, Works
We don’t yell at babies when they fall down as they begin to walk. We don’t tell successful people that everything they’ve done is due to luck or because they had it easier than we do. If we have wisdom, we separate the strengths from the weaknesses and encourage people to work from their strengths so that their weaknesses will lessen.
I have talked since I was 9 months old. My mother never told me to shut up (though she definitely asked me to be quiet at times). She cheered my passion and excitement. She loved to laugh at my jokes, which she would never repeat! And she said I could do anything –- even if it was impossible for her to do for herself. She was my biggest fan. To this day, I feel she would be proud of what I’m accomplishing. She liked me and that mattered. My confidence is deeply rooted in the fact that being who I am, works.
2. Acknowledge When You’re Wrong
Mom was very opinionated about how I should behave and act. Sometimes she was wrong and didn’t know it. BUT when she realized her beliefs were incorrect, she immediately apologized. (I LOVED it when that happened!) It was rare, but her ego was not as great as her desire to do the right thing. That ability to have integrity (which I define as doing the right things right, or cleaning it up if you mess it up) is one of the foundational values that leads me every day.
3. Acknowledge the Wisdom of Others and Credit Them for What You’ve Learned
My mother was never concerned about being my friend when I was a teenager. She was my parent and I needed her to stay in that lane through the entire trauma that is puberty and young adulthood. But after I safely grew up, we became friends. Then best friends. She stayed my mom, but we shared our deepest thoughts. I got married, raised kids, and helped her through her final illness.
She freely shared with me what a blessing I was to her as a daughter, but also as her confidant. There was nothing I could do to save her from cancer, but I was by her side and with her through the end. She never stopped thanking me for the gift of my love for her, for my husband’s support of her, and for the opportunity to share her deepest thoughts with me without fear of judgment. I, as the student for so many years, became the teacher, and her good work in me came to serve her.
A great woman is gone but I am determined to keep her wisdom with me and share it with the world, as the world would have it. In my book Dead Rita’s Wisdom I share stories of her wisdom and how it affected in my life. Please download the book as a gift from Mom and me. Remember the wisdom that lies within you. And if you don’t or didn’t have a mom like mine, you’re welcome to her greatness and wisdom through the pages of this book.