LETTING GO: Parenting Teens and Young Adults

Letting Go


Remember the well-loved musical film Sound of Music, and one of the classic songs in it… “16 going on 17…”?

16 0n 17

Let’s go through the lyrics of that song, for a moment…

[Verse 1: Rolf, the boy]
You wait little girl on an empty stage
For fate to turn the light on
Your life little girl is an empty page
That men will want to write on (…to write on…)
You are sixteen going on seventeen
Baby, it’s time to think
Better beware be canny and careful
Baby, you’re on the brink
You are sixteen going on seventeen
Fellows will fall in line
Eager young lads and roues and cads
Will offer you food and wine
Totally unprepared are you
To face a world of men
Timid and shy and scared are you
Of things beyond your ken
You need someone older and wiser
Telling you what to do
I am seventeen going on eighteen
I’ll take care of you

[Verse 2: Liesl, the girl]
I am sixteen going on seventeen
I know that I’m naïve
Fellows I meet may tell me I’m sweet
And willingly I believe
I am sixteen going on seventeen
Innocent as a rose
Bachelor dandies, drinkers of brandies
What do I know of those?
Totally unprepared am I
To face a world of men
Timid and shy and scared am I
Of things beyond my ken
I need someone older and wiser
Telling me what to do
You are seventeen going on eighteen
I’ll, depend, on you!

If you are the parent of a teenager, and you quietly ponder on those words, you’ll find a message in them.

A 16 year old girl is admitting to her 17 year old boyfriend, that she’s naive, innocent, and likely to get carried away by flattery, and more so, she’s clearly indicating to him, her NEED for someone to protect her through this time: “I need someone older and wiser, telling me what to do…I’ll depend on you.”

Now a parent will be thinking: “THAT is exactly what WE are here for, the PARENTS – the older, wiser adults, ready to look after and advise the youngsters who depend on us… and when I am around, WHY does she NOT admit this need to me… and why does she want it from a boy barely a year older???” or “She’s still my little girl…what does she know of this big bad world???”

The 17 year old boy confidently states:

“You need someone older and wiser
Telling you what to do
I am seventeen going on eighteen
I’ll take care of you”.

Now HIS parents may not think he’s ready for such responsibility… and probably admonish him to focus on his studies or career or whatever else will make him a responsible adult.

But have you ever realised that even though that song was part of Tinseltown, those words have loads of truth in them… as in, when given responsibility and no one else but themselves to handle it, youth develop skills and endurance to fulfil life’s demands. But WE have to believe in them for that!!!

Somehow our “once-little” children, now seem to need peers and mentors rather than parents for advice. It is definitely a hard-to-digest fact especially for parents who not so long ago, were loved unconditionally by these admiring off-spring.

Let’s not however get carried away by age here… each youngster is different. Some may show emotional maturity at 14 or 15, while others may seem childish even at 21. So some definitely need more monitoring from parents than others, and here is where your parental instincts come in… listen to that inner voice that tells you what’s good for YOUR child, irrespective of their age.

Now with THAT caution clearly stated, it is the need to be “independent from parents” that is the focus here. In fact THIS dependence or independence does not suddenly pop up in adolescence, but rather is nurtured by different parenting styles.

There are parents who have encouraged independence even in their preschooler, while some may have unwittingly developed dependence by doing even “simple tasks” for their children, believing that they were supporting or helping.

The “letting go” can begin early in life, by allowing our children:

  • to make simple choices or decisions (within reasonable boundaries);
  • to bear the consequences of their wrong decisions;
  • to go through difficult times (like strict teachers, unreasonable rules, failure in exams and competitions) without running to protect them, thereby helping them to build endurance and resilience.

All these above and more, are skills that a good parent develops over the years, always maintaining a safe distance to facilitate independence but also constantly communicating that they are there, for guidance and support, IF need be.

Parents in this way benefit doubly:

1) By raising children who can be self-sufficient; as well as,

2) The parents have time to spend for themselves, thereby avoiding burn out.

These parents will have time to build their own careers, or tend to their OWN needs and those of their spouse, thereby also facilitating a happier marriage and finally a healthy family upbringing, as children are constantly WATCHING and LEARNING how marriage and family works.

Finally, as parents of teens and young adults, it’s important to stay non-judgemental… if you want them to keep communicating to you, even if what they are telling you shocks you (however fast your heart may be beating for your child inside that chest… DON’T show it on your face).

This is what makes teens and young adults prefer other mentors or their own peers… because their parents judge them, start labelling them, compare their OWN younger days, blame their friends and start giving advice… or sometimes, even ground them. So what’s the best way they avoid the lectures and punishment…? “Don’t tell the parents!!!”

You get the drift?

Remember, as they grow through the teen years towards adulthood, the longer you hold on to them, or try to control them, the greater will be the rebelliousness.

Actually, this Letting Go, is an age-old idea I’m discussing here, that has age-old proof in varying fields from nursery rhymes to physics…

The writer of the Little Bo-Peep rhyme, knew what he was saying when he rhymed:

“Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep. And doesn’t know where to find them.

Leave them alone and they will come home wagging their tails behind them.”

And Isaac Newton sure knew what he was saying when he stated his third law of motion, that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”.

Of course, all this is much easier said than done, and I have made my own share of parenting mistakes that I’ve learnt from.

Three things become important at this juncture…. Three A’s:

  • Awareness of what constitutes Letting Go (whatever you have read above or additional material you may read)
  • Analysing what we are doing RIGHT and WRONG as parents…
  • Action which involves continuing what’s right, and changing what’s wrong !!!

As parents, you have to believe that through your words and actions, you have helped build their value system from childhood as they grew up. And if you feel what they are currently choosing is contradicting THOSE values, then gently encourage them to think about the consequences THEY themselves will have to face for their choices…and as difficult as it may be, LET THEM bear the consequences for their decisions even NOW… just as you did when they were younger. Believe me, it’s a tough learning experience, but who said life was easy… when the going gets tough, the tough get going!!!

Gradually, letting go then becomes not so difficult anymore… it’s just a stepping stone into adulthood for our children, and for us parents, it gives us time to do all those things we wanted to but didn’t have time for when we had children to look after.

Go ahead, enjoy and celebrate the different stages of parenting as they come! 😃


Acknowledgements: I’m tremendously grateful to my friends from different walks of life (in alphabetical order): Christabelle D’Souza, Jonathan Fernandes, Fr.Melroy, Merlyn Concessio, O’Neil, Payal Maheshwari, Priya (educators, fathers and mothers of young children, teens and young adults)  some of who gave me ideas, and some, who initially read my article and shared their perceptions and insights, which I used to make this message more applicable.



Images Courtesy:




The inner voice, gut feeling, sixth sense, vibes, instinct, having a hunch or an inkling … it may be called by many names… but our intuition is an important natural “cautioner” or “warning” especially when interacting with some unknown person or situation.

Little children are encouraged to use this intuition, when we label it as discomfort while teaching them about the “Good Touch – Bad Touch”.

When women travel in crowded places, it helps them navigate where to stand and where not to.

When we’re making important choices and decisions too such intuition may emerge.


But here is where we have to be AWARE…

Is this “inner voice” ALWAYS the natural intuition? Actually I cannot give you an answer to THAT question… it is YOU yourself who is the best judge of THAT. I can only give you possibilities to think about.

This “inner voice” as we call it can be triggered by:

  • God speaking to us (based on our religious or spiritual beliefs).
  • Our own sense of right and wrong, meaning our moral conscience.
  • A memory of a past experience and the emotions related with that experience.
  • The shred of memory of a movie or video we had seen, that is embedded somewhere in our mind.
  • The vague memory of a dream we once had.
  • Instructions we have got from significant people in our lives…like parents, teachers, etc.
  • Many more possibilities…!!!

Now, what is MOST important to be AWARE of, is that each of the above are NOT always a separate entity, but very often “feeding” each other in such a way, that at some point it becomes difficult to isolate the effect one has had on the other.

For instance, a parent admonishing us for something may emerge in a dream and then affects the way we make decisions during that day.

Another example: I love eating chocolate and often crave it after a meal… then there’s a clash of thoughts:

“It’s not good for my health”


Don’t we believe that we naturally crave or desire what we nutritionally need?”

and then the conflict…

“Which of the above thoughts should my behavior follow?”

This is the point becoming aware of my thinking… I may then give in to my craving as I “intuitively” believe I love chocolate so much since my body needs it.😋

But someone else judging me at this stage would say I gave in to my greed.😉

Does this example put across the personal and subjective concept of this inner voice?

What I am trying to say is that we may often rationalize or find reasons for our behavior, and use our “intuition and instinct” to satisfy ourselves, either intellectually (e.g. in decision making), socially (e.g. in relationships), nutritionally (e.g. in our choice of foods) or even physiologically (e.g. in satisfying our basic needs like sleep or sex).


And the truth be known, actual intuition cannot provide a rationale or reason… it’s just “I don’t know WHY, but I feel this strongly…” Does this ring a bell?

So my whole point of this article is to bring to our AWARENESS , where our ideas are coming from, to spare us later regret, as often we realize too late, that our intuition was right all along, but we made wrong decisions based on our reasoning and intellectualization.

However, before I end, I’d like to make it clear that BOTH intuition and rational cognition are important in our choices and decision making. Sometimes it may be the former we have to focus on; sometimes, the latter; and sometimes we need to strike a balance between the two. Hence being AWARE of each is then priceless.


Thank you for patiently reading…

Now, what made you sit through my commentary?

Was it an intuition that this article is going to help you somewhere? 😃

Jigsaw mind


Images courtesy: https://pixabay.com


A little boy is discouraged and ridiculed if he wants to cuddle a doll.

His family fears, what will it look like… people will laugh at him… and so he’s given cars, trains and even a toy gun instead.

As a Dad, was he ever encouraged to play with a doll? Yes….with his own little baby!

But how would that Dad learn to look after his own baby? Just by accident?

The Mommy was however allowed to practice a lot when she was a little girl, by playing house.

And now, since the New Daddy has never really learnt HOW to look after a baby, he loves his wife and baby, but just hugs and kisses them both and then says he has to return to work. THAT statement gets him glares from the New Mom as well as from the Grandma who’s come to help. And now he’s helpless… “But what do I stay back and do…I don’t know” he stammers.

Was this dad ever encouraged to play house, serve tea and look after a baby doll? Apparently, Never!

And now he is expected to stay home and help out… What a confusing society we live in!

If adult men are looked at appreciatively when they tenderly carry their babies, and help their wives with the washing and cooking…then why is a young boy ridiculed for his tenderness?

Aren’t we then living out hypocrisy in this society of ours…

Look at the further  implications…

How will that little boy learn to touch a girl tenderly? If he is stopped from a tender age himself?
And then as a man, we curse him when he touches a girl aggressively through rape or wife battering… but was he given a chance to learn how to treat a girl?

These ways of bringing up our sons are crucial to them learning how to treat a girl as they grow older…
We have to celebrate the differences between the genders. Yes! There ARE differences… and I’m not just referring to anatomical differences.
Males and females are psychologically and socially also different; in fact the best word to use is, they are complementary. Their abilities, strengths and needs complement each other, and both need the other instinctively, however much you may be encouraged to think otherwise.

Yes, society tells us to think equally, give equal importance to both…and all that IS necessary.

But in the process of promoting equality, let’s not lose track of the fact that humans are Androgynous, meaning we have both masculine and feminine traits. There are universally-accepted Masculine traits (like being brave, adventurous, independent, competitive, etc) as well as Feminine traits (like being nurturant, gentle,  sensitive, emotional, etc) in both males and females, in varying proportions.
And we have to therefore take EACH person as an individual, with their own special mental and psychological framework… much like each one is a special recipe, with their own proportions of special ingredients.
This would mean, we should stop stereotyping boys and girls or men and women and look at each as a separate individual. Celebrate each one’s strengths and abilities and doing this will make them better people.
So if a little fellow wants to cuddle a doll, let him do so… did you ever realize, he’s probably just imitating the love his Dad shows to him, by cuddling him?

Finally, there are a whole lot of benefits that can be derived from boys playing with dolls, just as all children benefit from playing with all toys:

Cognitive Development – E.g., he can learn problem solving strategies like what will daddy do to stop baby crying if mommy is out.

Social and Emotional Development – E.g., he can balance gender roles, being sensitive as well as emotionally strong; also being responsible, following instructions and giving instructions to the doll.

Speech and Language Development – E.g., he can constantly learn new words while talking to the dolls and while “being” the doll and talking back.

Gross Motor Skill Development – E.g., his larger muscles can get strengthened by pushing a pram, or dancing with the doll, etc.

Fine Motor Skill Development – E.g., his finger movements can be developed while dressing the doll by putting on a bonnet, buttoning up clothes, lacing up shoes, etc.

At some point, we’ll realize how lucky the little girls were as they weren’t stopped from playing with cars, trains, bow and arrows as much as the baby boys were stopped from playing with “girly’ toys. Let’s stop our little fellows from being deprived anymore!


kissing dolly

Interestingly, when looking for images and photos that I could use for this article, when I deliberately searched using the words “child playing with doll”, in the first 100, I got roughly 16 pictures of boys playing with dolls, hence majority were girls; and all 16 of the boy images had either Western Caucasians and a few African-Americans. I preferred using pictures of Indian children for this, but found no Indians there.

Then I deliberately searched using the words “Indian child playing with doll”, only 3 in the first 100 were boys (There were a few American-Indian girls too). This doesn’t imply that young Indian boys don’t play with dolls, but it definitely shows that even if they DO, their families aren’t proudly clicking pics and uploading them.

So I finally used pictures that I borrowed from my close friend, of her nephew, who they have been allowing to play with all toys, including dolls since he was born.

For additional reading on benefits of playing with dolls, there are several links on the internet.

A few for starters are:






Photo Courtesy: Dr. Kamini Rege (of her nephew, Parth)




Let’s think about this:

How often when you were a kid at school, did you love to play games or sing songs, but were frustrated when the Maths or History teacher entered the class?

How often, as a parent, have you wondered, “Hey, this child of mine is so bright, why does he fare so badly at studies?” or “She picks up such complicated dance-steps she watches on TV; and the words of songs she hears just once, but her studies….well, that’s another story!”

How often have you found yourself saying things like: My work schedules are crazy, no specific time to eat; my job is so stressful, it’s making me ill; I’m longing for my retirement day.

If you’re nodding your head right now to even one of the above statements, the key questions here are, “How can we make a shift from this unhappiness to happiness?”  or “How can we make a shift from this illness to wellness?”

This question brings to mind poem most of us must have read as children, called ‘Leisure’ by William Henry Davies1 . It begins with:

“What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare…”

…and ends with…

“…A poor life this is, if full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.”

Leisure has an enormous role to play in enhancing health and wellbeing. Today’s opportunities for leisure however, should not be confused with visiting a mall or going on an expensive holiday. Such forms of leisure sometimes increase stress levels on account of the expenses incurred or post-holiday work backlog! True leisure should leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed to take on new responsibilities effectively… and that in itself, would promote sustainability in health and well being.

So if we try to answer the initial question “How can we make a shift from this illness to wellness?” we’ll find that it’s no surprise that the answer lies in a simple truth: “Do what makes you happy”. In fact, it is often believed that what makes you happy makes you healthy. But WHAT is happiness actually? Just getting what we want? Or getting what we need? At some point, when we begin to focus on what actually brings us that feeling of content, we’ll find that it is doing what WE want to, not because it is expected by the society we live in.
Lets’ take hobbies for instance. Why do they make us happy, while a day at work may NOT? That’s probably because we’re doing what we have to when we work and doing what we love to when we play.
Isn’t it possible to merge the two?

This thought has implications for three sets of people:
1) for adolescents and young adults in choosing careers;
2) for those in their middle ages, who realistically cannot change careers at this stage;
3) for those who have retired or are retiring soon and don’t know what to do now.

So read on….there’s hope for ALL groups…

Not so long ago, theories which originally believed that Intelligence is a single concept were rejected and Intelligence was proved to be a multi-dimensional concept. In 1983, Howard Gardner2, a professor of education at Harvard University, proposed the term ‘Multiple Intelligences’ that focused on different intelligences (note the plural) that a human possesses.

Howard Gardner formulated a list of eight intelligences: 3,4

Linguistic intelligence involves sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals. This intelligence includes the ability to effectively use language to express oneself rhetorically or poetically; and language as a means to remember information. Writers, poets, lawyers and speakers are among those that Howard Gardner sees as having high linguistic intelligence.

Logical-mathematical intelligence consists of the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically. In Gardner’s words, it entails the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. This intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking.

Musical intelligence involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. It encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms.

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails the potential of using one’s whole body or parts of the body to solve problems. It is the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements. Howard Gardner sees mental and physical activity as related.

Spatial intelligence involves the potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas. Photographers, designers, architects are among those that Gardner sees as having high spatial intelligence.

Interpersonal intelligence is concerned with the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people. It allows people to work effectively with others. Educators, salespeople, religious and political leaders and counsellors all need a well-developed interpersonal intelligence.

Intrapersonal intelligence entails the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations. In Howard Gardner’s view it involves having an effective working model of ourselves, and to be able to use such information to regulate our lives.

Naturalist intelligence enables human beings to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of the environment. Those with naturalist intelligence may have a strong affinity to the outside world or to specific plants and/or animals. It has been speculated that naturalistic intelligence was undoubtedly the one that aided our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors in identifying which flora and fauna were edible and which were not.5

Dr. Gardner admits that our education, profession and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence.6 We tend to respect and admire highly articulate or logical people and don’t pay equal attention to individuals who are gifted in other intelligences: the artists, naturalists, dancers, entrepreneurs and others who enrich the world we live in7. In fact, there are some who have sadly left behind the talents and skills they possessed as children and youth, in order to earn a good pay packet.

A popular saying goes “All Work and No Play….?” ….makes Jack a Dull Boy….makes Jenny a Dull Girl? We’ve heard these words over and over so many times, that we can recite the other half in our sleep! But have we ever stopped to think, “What is WORK? What is PLAY?” and can the two ever harmonize? My point is, when it’s time for the vacations, we’ll take a break from WORK (at school, college or office) and will now take a shot at PLAY, through family outings, picnics, hobby classes, activity clubs, etc. After months of hard work, we need the rest and recreation…but hey, let’s stop and think? Why do we so desperately wait for these vacations? Are we too over-worked? We live just one life, are we cramming too much into it? We don’t have many more lifetimes to attempt change later, nor is it worth to realize at retirement: “Where has my life gone; what did I spend it doing?”

Look at it this way – if you suddenly get the news that you’ve got just a month to live, what will you do during this month? Would you:

(a) catch up on things you’ve always wanted to do but somehow never found the time for?

(b) continue in the same way, since you’re already doing what you love most?

If you answered ‘yes’ to (b), wonderful!

But if you answered ‘yes’ to (a), then start NOW…. do things you’ve always wanted to do (not just what you’re SUPPOSED to do to earn well!) Figure out where your own Multiple Intelligences lie, based on what you do best, even if you’re not paid for it.

Take out that dusty, rusty guitar; or that old basket ball; or that canvas and paint box…..focus on the emotions you feel as you hold them in your hand…that is what LIFE is all about.  “Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life!” said Confucius, the Chinese philosopher8. Of course, we can’t afford to leave behind our well-paying jobs and well-earned lifestyles, but we CAN find a way to BLEND the two. Where there’s a WILL, there’s a way! When we make a little time for what we love to do, we’ll find that the joy we originally got only from vacation time, is now here to stay!! We’ll find that we have put all our intelligences to use and that we have actualized all our potential.

At retirement, we’ll look back and say, “I didn’t just exist, I have LIVED!!”




  1. http://www.davidpbrown.co.uk/poetry/william-henry-davies.html
  2. Gardner, Howard (1983; 1993) Frames of Mind: The theory of multiple intelligences, New York: Basic Books.
  3. http://tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html
  4. Smith, Mark K. (2002, 2008) ‘Howard Gardner and multiple intelligences’,the encyclopedia of informal education, http://www.infed.org/mobi/howard-gardner-multiple-intelligences-and-education.
  5. http://thesecondprinciple.com/optimal-learning/naturalistic-intelligence/
  6. Gardner, Howard (1999) Intelligence Reframed. Multiple intelligences for the 21st century, New York: Basic Books.
  7. Gardner, Howard (1999) The Disciplined Mind: Beyond Facts And Standardized Tests, The K-12 Education That Every Child Deserves, New York: Simon and Schuster (and New York: Penguin Putnam).
  8. http://www.tenmillionclicksforpeace.org/index.php/category/empowerment/financial-success


music-2570451_1920Building Harmony in a Choir full of Different Personalities

Just as there’s MORE beauty in harmony than in unison, similarly we could use the SAME analogy to get along with the different personalities in any group like a choir, for instance.
If everyone thought and behaved in the same way there would be UNISON… it sounds good, no doubt, but not challenging, not creative, not dynamic and growth producing…. it’s just mediocre.
But HARMONY is always held in higher esteem than unison…why? Because it sounds not just good, but BETTER, and it is definitely challenging, creative, dynamic and growth producing.
But how is harmony produced?

Harmony is produced from different musical notes that work in coordination with one another.
For instance, in a ‘C Scale’, the ‘C’ chord sounds nice, but a song NEEDS more chords to blend in beautifully. At one point of time maybe a ‘B’ will want to come in…

But it’s NOT part of the ‘C-E-G’ harmony, so it will be told to stay out…

But if the ‘B’ decides to bend back a little (to compromise), and to become a ‘Bb’, we’ll get a new beautiful chord called the ‘C7’ made up of ‘C-E-G-Bb’, and THAT would lead and guide us to the new totally different ‘F’ chord so harmoniously.
But then is it always the duty of the minority to bend and compromise?

Not really…

If we NOW want to bring in our creativity and let the ‘B’ have its way, then sometimes…. just SOMETIMES, we may choose to play a new different sound, the ‘C Major 7th’ (C-E-G-B)
AND there are times…. that this newness and difference brings out a beauty in itself.
So it is with the different personalities in a choir…or in ANY group for that matter…  the blending in, and allowing our differences to strengthen us rather than weaken us.
The best example I can give is of the BEATLES music…most of their songs don’t have just the regular ‘C, G7, F’ chords…. But rather a ‘C6’ , an ‘A7’, a ‘G7sus4’ … and as a result of this ALLOWING of different notes, their music sounds richer and is the most coveted for over 40 years now.
So in conclusion, if we are not just tolerant but accepting of the differences in each others’ personalities in a choir or any other group, we’ll grow as a closer family and produce richer harmony.
I rest my keys….oops…I mean, I rest my case. 😊


I’m passionate about Psychology, whether it is Social Psychology, Positive Psychology or Developmental Psychology… and I’m equally passionate about Music, whether it is singing, playing my guitar or dancing…. and this is the basis for the thoughts that I’ve penned above.


IMG_20171030_121623Overcoming Labels that were stuck on you…

It is impossible to re-write our past, but looking backward often helps us understand WHY we behave in a specific way at present.

Looking BACK however, is ONLY necessary if it helps us DEAL with whatever we currently can. Otherwise it is a sheer waste of time and a grossly depressive act. When we were younger, there were probably people who told us we weren’t fit for something or couldn’t achieve something we coveted.

Did we BELIEVE what they said? Do we STILL believe those words?

If you have strived and proven those discouraging people wrong, good for you!

But if you still believe you CAN’T because of what you were told, then it’s time to create a new self image by identifying things you love doing and always wanted to do but were worried about what those OTHERS may think.

(See another of my posts that may help you do that: “DO WHAT YOU LOVE and YOU’LL LOVE WHAT YOU DO “)

Look at it THIS way… For how long are you going to worry about those others?

They have done their deeds and moved on. But if YOU hold onto those deeds, you’re allowing it to hurt yourself. The best way to stop allowing it to take effect is, ‘don’t accept a label when it’s stuck on you.’

Sometimes it may be someone in authority, or someone you have to show respect to, but rather than take it because of their power, it’s better in the long run if you develop the habit of politely asserting yourself. It’s important to learn to be assertive and tactful in responding to such persons, and not reacting aggressively or fighting back.

There’s something called Self Fulfilling Prophecies….these are things people have said about us, that have actually come true…. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it is already true1. The concept was used by the American sociologist Robert Merton as early as 19482.

For instance, someone may have said to a student, you’re going to flunk ‘cause you’re hardly studying. So what happens…? The student decides what’s the use of studying, it’s too difficult and I’m going to flunk anyway…and hence he actually doesn’t study and fails. That failure then positively reinforces him into believing that he indeed cannot pass… and ‘Lo, behold…’, before long, you have a drop out!

But HOW? It’s because HE made it come true by BELIEVING what was said and not even trying beyond that. Hence what was prophetically stated actually got fulfilled by the student himself…so the term “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy”.

Sad, but true.

So now, brace yourself for the GOOD NEWS…

If we’ve established that a person’s BELIEVING he’ll fail, makes him fail… then the REVERSE is also possible! If we believe that we CAN, then we CAN!

To develop this, we have to CHANGE our way of thinking, and although that is easier said than done, it’s definitely NOT impossible.

Depending on the depth of one’s past negative experiences, overcoming one’s faulty thinking may require professional help and therapy or can be self-taught, if the negativity is minimal.

If therapy is required, the best tried-and-tested methods are Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), developed by Dr. Albert Ellis3 in 1955, or Cognitive- Behavior Therapy (CBT), pioneered by Dr. Aaron Beck4 in the 1960’s.  Of course, a therapist that you visit could also have his/her own eclectic approach that has proven successful. The key, is to attend this therapy seriously.

On the other hand, individuals with a strong morale can read up sources on Positive Psychology, Positive Self-Talk, Self-Awareness, Emotional Intelligence and Optimism to help themselves.

Of course, one more thing worth focusing on for just a little moment is the REASON that person stuck that label on you. Often they themselves are victims of their own set of negative past experiences, or are over-protective of you, on account of some past inadequacies; but whatever their reason, you HAVE to forgive them in your heart. It is this FORGIVENESS and UNDERSTANDING of their motives, which will set you free.

So go ahead fearlessly, identify those incriminating labels, “un-stick” them with the elixir of SELF-BELIEF and then prove them wrong by doing the ONE thing that you probably didn’t do earlier….TRY!


  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psychology-writers/201210/using-self-fulfilling-prophecies-your-advantage
  2. http://www.popularsocialscience.com/2012/12/27/the-self-fulfilling-prophecy/
  3. http://albertellis.org/rebt-cbt-therapy/
  4. https://www.beckinstitute.org/about-beck/our-history/history-of-cognitive-therapy/