But We Don’t Give Our Kids a Cookie Every Time they Tie Their Shoes!

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eileenanddogs

Here’s another remark often addressed to reinforcement based trainers, sometimes in a mocking tone, sometimes seriously:

A woman's hand is suspended over a clear glass cookie jar. The jar is full of Vanilla Wafers, a small, disc shaped light brown cookie. The hand is holding a cookie (has just pulled one out of the jar). But we don’t give our kids a cookie every time they tie their shoes or pay them a nickel every time they say thank you!

The writer often further implies that to do that with children would be the worst sort of bribery, indulgence, and permissive parenting (and-by-the-way-it’s-responsible-for-all-the-current-evils-of-society). And we’re being just as weak willed when training our dogs!

But the “cookie” objection is so easy to address. People who write this, with all due respect, don’t have much of a clue about how positive reinforcement works. And the misunderstanding has existed for decades.

Let’s let B.F. Skinner handle it this time. Yes, this (mis)perception has been around that long!  In the following excerpt from his Review Lecture: The Technology of Teaching, 1965, Skinner is referring to a case study about a boy with “childhood schizophrenia” (the…

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Live. Out Loud.

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“To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.” ~Unknown

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The good Book says: “Fear has torment.” And I believe it to be true. There is something about fear that holds you back from living the life you should, doing the things you ought to. There is fear of the unknown, which is good and realistic and there is this paralyzing fear that prevents you from living your life to the fullest. And that form of fear is absolutely unhealthy. That kind of fear kills people. It kills their dreams (if they ever find the courage to have one), it kills them emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and in all aspects you can think of. Fear ages  us beyond recognition, until we chose to break free of it.

But how, did you say?

Few years ago, I was involved in a situation that robbed me of my ability to trust people around me. It got so bad that I began to question all of my every decision. I was afraid to trust, believing that when I do, I am going to get hurt again and when that happens, I would never survive it.

I found a way to convince myself that if I let myself go, I would end up more broken and damaged. I forgot that in brokenness comes restoration, healing and faith. For over two years, I lived in fear and in those years, I was a shell of myself. Each time I went out, I left myself on the shelf back at home. I was unhappy, miserable and ugly. Everyone knew something was wrong with and they couldn’t place it.

At my wits end, I reached out to the One said “call upon me in the times of trouble and I will answer you, I will show you great and mighty things…” I found joy in liberation from the captive shackles of fear, I found love from those who surrounded me (which I had been blinded to). 

It took some effort on my part also. And these involved: leaving my comfort zone behind. For me, this didn’t involve big steps. All I had to do was change my thought patterns, channeling my energy towards positive thoughts instead on dwelling on the negative ones. I will tell you, it wasn’t an easy task, but committing myself to doing this everyday really helped. I am not there yet, but I am way better than I was, I can assure you.

I also made a commitment to believe in myself. You see, everybody around me kept telling me how capable I was, how beautiful and good I was but I didn’t see what they were seeing until I chose to look inward and believe in myself. I believe in my skills as a people connector and a great listener. I also believed in my abilities to bring a smile to people’s faces and believe me, these have tremendously enhanced my feelings of self-worth.

Then I created small goals each day and I allowed myself the breather that if I didn’t finish a goal, I was not a failure.

I chose to have a great attitude and maintain it, even when everything scream otherwise. I have not succeeded in not getting frazzled when things go wrong, but I am working towards not overreacting when stuffs happen.

I am also learning not to hesitate. I am learning to take opportunities when they appear/approach and I am also learning to create them.

I have found that with these steps, I am better equipped to live and to live with a bang!I hope these work for you too.

Cheers.

When life knocks us down

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Have you ever wondered why people give up on life and take their own lives? I have never been able to understand it until lately, when I was faced with the stark reality that yes, everyone, no matter how strong they are, has a breaking point. But in it, I also realized that the choice to pick ourselves up and stand is ours.

I had a friend who died a few months ago. Looking back, I wondered who she could have been if she had fought a little longer. I imagined how life would have been for her loved ones if she had just held on for at least a minute.

Although I initially blamed myself for what happened to her – I thought if I had been a better friend, if I had insisted she saw a therapist, if I had paid more attention to the little things she left unsaid, maybe she would have been here right now – but I finally figured that there was nothing I could have done to prevent what had happened.

As much as I would have loved to take her pain away, there was no way I could have, for the pain she carried was too deep and before she would let anyone in, the wound had festered way beyond healing, given the time of her demise.

My friend Tolulope had been raped by her uncle when she was younger. She was eight years old at the time. The sexual assault went on for two years. When she finally decided to speak up about it, she was called a liar and a witch.

The very first time I came in contact with her, I could tell she’s been hurt. Behind those beautiful smile laid some unimaginable pain and no, she wasn’t keen on letting alone in. After a few months of just trying hard to break the walls, she finally opened up to me that she’s been bruised, battered and yes, afflicted. Afflicted with the thoughts of suicide because as she put it, there was no reason to go on.

Through the pain of losing her innocence and a chunk of her life, she did manage  to get on with her life. She went to the university, met some remarkable people and made some progress in becoming a normal human. But that didn’t last.

As at the time we met, she had relocated to my city, in pursuit of a better life and she seemed to be doing fine, but the feeling of unworthiness and shame will not leave her be. Or should I say, she couldn’t let go of those feelings. She tried and heavens know that she did. She just couldn’t let go. And because of this, she made wrong choices. Because she felt unworthy, she didn’t expect something good to happen to her and when life smiled on her, she quickly found a way to piss it off.

As at the time of her demise, she was in an abusive relationship. She wouldn’t leave and when she did, each time the guy came around, she found a way to take him back. As the time she died, she was in the hospital, getting treatment for severe depression which she couldn’t get out of.

Seeing her laid on her hospital bed, I search for a friend who was once filled with life, who would smile with the assurance that everything would be alright and you would believe her. I realized then that although she gave assurances, she didn’t seem to believe in them.

What exactly am I trying to say? Life seems so deft and dealing us some gut-wrenching blows and the pains so hard we find it particularly hard to get back up. But the truth is, we have a choice to decide who we give the mastery over own destinies. Are we going to allow fate to turn around like the Greek gods or are going to do something about it and take some control over our lives and future?

For me, choosing to focus on the great possibilities that lie ahead of us and deciding to beat life at its own game seem like a better choice than to just choose to curl up in balls and gave up. From where I am standing, not giving up seems much prettier decision than being life’s punching bag.

But how do we really move on when something bad has happened to us? Personally, I seek and find strength in God through Jesus Christ. My relationship with God centers me. I also seek for support from my family and friends.

Look, I have had a big share of life’s disappointments and pain and I am sure you have too. But each time those happen, I tell myself that I won’t give up because I choose to focus on the glimmer of a brighter future I see everyday and I pursue that beautiful life that lies ahead of me, vigorously.

I am not going to lie and say it is a smooth journey, because in reality, picking yourself back up is one of the most difficult thing to do. But I will urge you, as the Chinese proverb, “do not fear going forward slowly; fear only to stand still.”

I hope you will find the strength to get back up!

Leave me a post if you have something to share or you need help.

Cheers.

Date a Girl Who Writes

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Street of Dreams

A while ago, I posted Date a Girl Who Reads which  is a splendid piece of the values of reading. After being tipped off to this essay, and reading it, I had to share it with you as well.

Date A Girl Who Writes by Effie Sapuridis

Date a girl who writes. Date a girl who admires the calligraphy of Ancient China more than the latest fall line. She has ink smudges on her fingers, sometimes on her cheeks. Date a girl who comes with a list of unfinished poems, underdeveloped characters, incomplete plot lines, who has been writing since she could read.

Find a girl who writes. Look for the girl with frazzled hair and a pen behind her ear. She’s the one who spends hours deciding which new notebook to buy, only to cave and buy three, the one who rarely makes a grammatical error. If you were…

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To begin again

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I have been toying with writing this post for a while now. “What exactly do I write? How do I put my thoughts to perspective and move on from there to putting them down? What style do I use to pass my message across? What message do I want to pass across? These and more have kept me from writing because frankly, I have no answer to some of these questions. I guess being a perfectionist comes with some problems.

The understanding that I am not perfect has pushed me into put something down and from here, I hope to continue to write something that will truly inspire people out there not to give up. Something that will help people out there find the courage to triumph against all odds. The courage to pick up the pieces of their lives and become someone remarkable and extraordinary.

It is my hope that everyone reading this post will find some answers they are looking for and reach beyond the sky to unlock their potential.

Follow me as I muddle through the pains, loneliness, battery, abuse, losses of life and the ultimate triumphs.

Like I said, may we all find answers we seek.