This is the first of a 3-part post, part of the ‘inspirational stories for women’ series.
One of my first jobs was as an assistant teacher at a pre-school on 125th Street in NYC. I remember it for one experience in particular with a little girl named Yesenia.
I got the job in a peculiar way – the Director of the school walked up to me on the platform of the 125th Street IRT Subway station and, out of the blue, offered me a position. She was a kindly, middle-aged woman with long grey hair. I connected with her immediately; she seemed an intuitive spirit, like me. I was in the frame of mind of accepting what life sent my way as a gift, and I was flattered to be asked. Besides, I needed a job, so without much hesitation, I said “Sure,” and showed up for work the following day. In retrospect, I believe that the lesson in my experience with Yesenia was so pointed that assuredly a higher power must have orchestrated the spirit that moved the Director to offer a job to a perfect stranger on a subway platform.
Yesenia was a wild child, always acting up. When it was time for the children to lie quietly on their cots, Yesenia was up and down the room, making noise. To my intense annoyance, she seemed to enjoy doing exactly the opposite of whatever was being asked of her.
At first – I am chagrined to say – I tried to dominate her into submission. It was back in the late seventies, and I sported a pair of clogs from Sweden. I would stomp over to her cot, hoping that my heavy footfalls, stern words and intimidating looks would cow her into silence. That didn’t work at all. The ‘scarier’ I was, the noisier and more unruly Yesenia became.
Then, being a new student of universal laws, a thought occurred: I would use the power of positive thinking. Quietly, I knelt by her cot. “Yesenia,” I whispered to her, “you are so smart. You are such a good little girl. You are so wonderful.”
The effect was instantaneous. Yesenia liked this new definition of herself; if she was a cat, she would have purred. The transformation carried over for the rest of the day and the rest of the school year: Yesenia was smart, she was good, she was wonderful.
The power of positive thinking was tremendous! More colloquially, the old saying was true: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Equally affirmed was the psychological dictum of self-fulfilling prophecy. Yet how did it work, and why were my words so powerfully effective with Yesenia?
The universe was presenting me with a case study for my educational benefit.
When Yesenia was defined as ‘bad’ she wasn’t bad, of course. Ironically, what looked ‘bad’ (read disruptive, unruly) from the outside was actually her struggle to combat the label ‘bad.’ Her inner self, indignant, needed to cry out: “It isn’t so!” However – strange universal quirk – her struggle against the false label just made the label stick harder. Like fighting quicksand, the efforts to free oneself only suck one deeper in the mire. Too often, as the child grows, the flailing attempts to escape the label and reach for the love and acceptance that is her birthright only serve to call forth new negative judgments. On it goes, the quicksand solidifying around the sliver of soul at its core.
Words, words: so powerful, so insidious. What limiting labels have been placed upon your soul?
‘Bad’ is simply a false separation from the purity at the core of the soul. Yesenia knew that the ‘bad’ label was incorrect, and rejected it, just as her soul knew the ‘good’ label was closer to the truth, and embraced it. At four years old, Yesenia was immediately receptive to the new positive message. As adults, it may take more effort to undo some of the old messages, nonetheless, we, too, may be healed and reunited with our own true selves.
This is the first of a 3-part blog post: Part 2 will be posted Feb 18, part 3 on March 4.
Reba Linker is author and coach specializing in inspirational books for women. Her book, Follow the Yarn, leads by example, encouraging others to ‘follow their own yarn,’ tell their own stories, and discover their own true voice.