I frequently use writing prompts in my teaching and coaching. In fact, when the pandemic lockdown began in the Northeast, I had a regular weekly group and later developed a course under the umbrella of Prompted Expression. In the spirit of sparking my own creativity and getting ideas for my students and clients, I’ve decided to write from a prompt for seven consecutive days and share the results. The prompts are from a deck of cards called Actually Curious.

Writing Prompt Seven: What’s one thing you would change about the way you were raised?

I don’t think there’s much that’s more important than nurturing self-esteem in a child. It sets the tone for everything else to come.

I was raised by two people I think the world of. They consider their children their biggest accomplishment in life. But neither of them has self-esteem worth a damn.

So do the math.

There’s so much I’ve learned in adulthood about this topic. How insidious it is. How withering criticism can be. How it impacts what you think you deserve. How it breeds a bit of paranoia about others’ intent. How it tamps down dreams and lowers expectations.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s I explored this in therapy. It was life-altering. I had to grow my confidence, be comfortable and then some with my life choices instead of making excuses for them. Stand up taller in my gifts and use them to their fullest. Accept myself as is rather than consistently wondering why I didn’t want conventional things.

I am proud of being intellectually curious, using my “good” china every day, not settling for a mediocre relationship, unabashedly revealing my age, putting myself out there in my art. Surely I still have my hang-ups like everyone else, but I’ve acquired an acute awareness of my own emotional intelligence and am open to being better and smarter.

If I could go back and change something, it would have to start in past generations of my family tree so that the self-esteem would ripple right on through to my parents. I think their lives would have been enriched and uplifted.

Columnist, Blogger, Author, Coach in the Greater NYC area. Six-word bio: Zen chick with a Jersey edge. Favorite topics: gender, politics, race, meaning of life.

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