Elizabeth Spitzer

Expressive Ideas, LLC

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What impact do you imagine if positive recognition and appreciation were expressed in the ~home~ in a public way so others could see?

Positive recognition affirms us. In a family, where we come from - what impact do you imagine positive words of recognition and appreciation for: the efforts we make, things we do, or who we are, can have on a family, an individual, and/or a child?

IF you feel like taking this one step more ... assuming you have concluded that it would be a good impact, how do you imagine it would affect the future of that person?

Is positive recognition and appreciation a powerful thing to you?

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      Feb 1 2013: Thank YOU Carolyn for your kind words. I often read your insightful comments as well, and we continually have the opportunity to learn from each other....to grow with each other in our global society.

      I am sorry that you had a challenging experience as a young person. I had a violent abusive father, and I learned from him how NOT to treat people. So in addition to empowerment, which I received from my mother and 7 siblings, I also got a taste of disempowerment from my father.

      Remember....we may not have had a choice as children. However, as thinking, feeling, adults we DO have choices regarding how we use the information we received as children. What we experienced may not have been empowering, and with awareness, which you seem to have a great deal of, we CAN change.

      I don't perceive you to have a "flawed" view of life. It feels like you have a realistic view of life based on your experience. With your awareness and insight, it may be possible to create a "new" view? What was part of our life as children will always be part of our life experience....AND....we can use that information to create a new perception.

      For what it's worth, I perceive you to be already past any "meaness". If you had any meaness, you wouldn't be allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your honesty. I respect and admire that very much:>)
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      Feb 1 2013: Carolyn, you have the voice of so many people. You cry with the words that remain silent in the bosom of so many, who remain quiet because they fear the vulnerability or do not know the words to use. Thank you for sharing.

      You said something that stirs me greatly, "how are [those who feel inspired by the goodwill of their spirit?] able to lure [others] into change,when the evidence for this kindness being advantageous is not apparent within any major system...or is it? " Your question is what haunts me. And, I hope that I can spend my life carefully,wisely, and with sincere intent, trying to find a way to help answer that question.

      You Carolyn, are re-writing your story as you work through your past. No longer should it be said that you were this, or that ... You are now. A woman of strength and courage. A woman of hope and vision. Your experiences helped to created a rich tapestry of life, there are shades of black, grey, and red, but now you are adding yellows, blues, golds, and greens too.

      I wish you the best Carolyn, and may you find wealth as you continue along your amazing path. :-)
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        Feb 2 2013: Nice, warm, tender, friendly, wise, useful. You know what you're speaking about and your words are the ones from a good friend. Congratulations. Everybody would like to have a friend able to gift such advices. I feel obliged to say it so.
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    Jan 29 2013: Based off of the empirical evidence seen around helicopter moms and the scoreless sports leagues. It would appear the kid gets a sense of entitlement without any sense of exchange or accomplishment or effort.

    I would say giving a kid a false sense of worth or esteem is as bad as a false sense of low self esteem.
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      Jan 29 2013: Thank you Pat. Since I was not raised with a heli-mom and am not one myself (much to the dismay of some parents I have met) I had not thought along those lines.

      I appreciate your perspective. Everyone who has commented is giving me great stuff to think about. Thank you. :-)
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        Jan 30 2013: I see this as a cultural problem, the manifestation of the nanny state and the attendant lawyers as well as 100 years worth of memes coming from the Pavlov types. Hmm the chicken or the egg...
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          Feb 1 2013: Hi Pat,

          I am blessed to have a psycho-therapist for a mom and she has a breadth of experience; from family counseling, marriage counseling and working with youth inside of our military bases (worldwide). I mentioned to her the views of yourself, and Bob, and she concurred. The language is the key: praise vs appreciation. Praise vs 'positive' recognition.

          Praise is defined as: to express approval or admiration of; commend; extol (verb).
          Appreciation is defined as: gratitude; thankful recognition (noun)
          Recognition is defined as: the acknowledgment of something as valid or as entitled to consideration. Or, the acknowledgment of achievement, service, merit, (noun)
          (footnote on definitions. there exist more than one, I chose these to be most applicable ... :-) )

          I suspect that you, and the others, worry about unearned and misplaced praise. My mom admits that this IS becoming a problem in our youth and it is leading to social development problems, which may or may not translate into their adulthood. It is something that is growing in our workplaces too. Or, as someone else exampled, our volunteer programs.

          My questions rests more on the words: appreciation and positive recognition. They seem to define: that a person has evaluated, or considered, the action, or person; determined it, or them, to have earned, or been found worthy of, expressions of merit. I believe that is why appreciation and positive recognition can be so powerful. Perhaps we intrinsically know that to receive those expressions, it has been determined to warrant such expression.

          What are your thoughts?

          I think of Pavlov a lot ... especially with trying to bring up kids! What follows what ... :-)
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        Feb 2 2013: Actual communication, nice.

        I prefer to think of it as an acknowledgment or a reward. It reality you control people with the acknowledgment. If someone is not willing to do something he is not going to do it. But if you treat them with respect and understanding and good communication they will climb Mount Everest for you.

        The key I think is to acknowledge the act or accomplishment. The danger is in acknowledging them for just being there or praise for nothing.

        This actually is quite ubiquitous, a few examples:

        Getting paid for being there and not what you produce. Getting paid time and a half for being there longer and probably because you were slow. The pay is the acknowledgment but not for production as it should be but for "being there"

        Sports without keeping score. The acknowledgment is for being there not for winning. Life is a game and there are definitely winners and losers. Learning how to win is one of life's most important lessons. And the academics say sports are superfluous, when I look at them I can see why they say that.

        Welfare and unemployment extension. The acknowledgment is for being non-productive. Let alone workers comp or disability. The country is turning into a bunch of marshmallows.

        If I guy comes up with a great invention that raises the standard of living of everyone he gets taxed to death. The acknowledgment is not only if you are dysfunctional we will take of you but also if do something excellent we will punish you.

        If you stand out from the collective also know as peer pressure we scorn you. The acknowledgment is scorn for not fitting in, so the collective has stated that there must not be any prejudice of any kind. The problem is that this has gotten to the point that you cannot evaluate the value of anything as this can be interpreted as prejudice. The problem is that this makes people stupid as one of the primary requirements of intelligence is the weighing of things.
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      Feb 2 2013: Pat and Elizabeth,
      Your exchange started with Pat's comment...."I would say giving a kid a false sense of worth or esteem is as bad as a false sense of low self esteem."

      I agree with this statement, and everything you both have written, as this perspective evolved. I also agree that a sense of entitlement is emerging in our culture....perhaps based on the fact that kids are given a false sense of worth, and are not required to put any effort into the process.

      This seems sometimes difficult to balance, because we want to encourage and support people in the life journey, and let them know that they are valuable without "weighing of things", as Elizabeth says, so sometimes we may go overboard with praise and forget to reinforce the piece about cause and effect? Actions and consequences? If we consider these elements, which I think are important, there IS a "weighing" process, by which we consider the "value" of something/someone.....yes?

      My perception is that we can offer each other all the elements with respect, appreciation, consideration, authenticity and honesty. I believe that we can incorporate all the "tools" necessary to support balance......WHEN we are genuine, authentic and honest....which, of course is another "tool" we can pass on to others:>) What do you think?
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        Feb 2 2013: A fundamental teacher is the culture.

        The government has perverted the culture to one of entitlement.

        As I stated earlier the key is the acknowledgment and the examples I gave.

        And the key to that is acknowledging the accomplishments not the person.

        A big factor is that the free market forces in objectivity not subjectivity as then the individual attention is extroverted rather than in the case of the entitlement introversion. Extroverts have their attention on the objective which puts them at cause introverts have their attention on themselves which puts them at effect.

        Examples of this are ubiquitous:

        Hollywood is filled with the Paris, Lindsey, Kim types who are addicted to attention which puts their attention on themselves and puts them at effect which is the primary reason they auger. This is the primary malady with all of the child stars who become effect through this simple mechanism

        The current POTUS is also effect through this mechanism.

        The movie Spinal Tap a parody of rock stars and how crazy they get with this addiction to attention and being effect. In one scene one of the musicians was very insistent that they have M&M candies of only a certain color in the dressing room.
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          Feb 2 2013: Pat,
          I agree that culture, and what is accepted and/or rejected by the culture certainly influences behaviors within the culture. I do not agree that the government has, all by itself, "perverted the culture". After all, we, as citizens are part of the government.....yes?

          I agree that it helps to seperate the person from the accomplishments, and that is a difficult perception to embrace, although very possible:>) My mom always said....love the man...hate the behavior.....so as a child, I learned to seperate the behavior from the person. It is not, however, an easy concept to embrace if one is not regularly exposed to it. We, in our society, can certainly continue to encourage it:>)

          I do not agree with your perception of extroverts/cause...introverts/effect. I believe those who exhibit extrovert OR introvert behaviors can ALL experience the concept of cause and effect. I personally tend to have BOTH extrovert AND introvert behaviors at different times in my life, and I can tell you that the lesson of cause/effect/consequence was firmly taught to me, understood, and embraced as a child:>)
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        Feb 2 2013: Yes the government absolutely influences the culture and has created one of entitlement through welfare, the CRA and owning a house is a right, WIC, medicare, student loans, and a alphabet soup of other benefits. As one who voted for Obama this is something you do not understand. As to we are the government yes that is true and I suppose the most evil there is is the the entity that no one takes any responsibility for which government is the embodiment.

        The introvert/extrovert thing is specific to the subject. E.G. Celebrities are obviously extroverts but but their attention is on themselves.

        Your disagreements are duly noted.
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          Feb 2 2013: Dear Pat,
          I DO understand what you are talking about....I have read MANY of your comments:>)

          I take responsibility for MY PART in the government process, and that's all I can do. It doesn't really help to talk about what everybody else is doing....nor is it relevant to me to try to determine where celebrities attention is focused. We do not KNOW what is going on in the mind and heart of other individuals, and anything we try to project is simply speculation.......in my humble opinion:>)

          I sincerely hope that my AGREEMENTS are duly noted as well:>)
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        Feb 2 2013: Little of it is speculation.

        The most evil there is is collectively or individually complacency. I know this does not apply to you as your efforts in this area are remarkable.

        Other than that I will agree to disagree except on what we agree upon which is duly noted as well.
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          Feb 2 2013: I agree...complacency is generally not very usefuil:>)

          Thanks for your kind words, which are duly noted and appreciated:>)
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    Jan 28 2013: I think the positive recognition reinforces self-esteem and provides security, and why not? a little of welfarel. Human being need to feel esteemed and recognized. I also think it's a powerful thing, sometimes more worthy than money. And to me, yes, I like being the subject of positive recognition. Who does not?
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      Jan 29 2013: Sean, thank you for sharing. I really liked a word you used, 'security'. I had not considered that word before in all my thoughts of what appreciation and positive recognition does. Yet, I can easily see the emotionally security of feeling validated and seen, especially in a place that one holds their sense of self-worth. thank you for providing your insight!
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        Jan 29 2013: Elizabeth, I think it is a very interesting topic of conversation, because, in my opinion, other's recongnition is something that is not normally taken into account, maybe because often people hide their feelings for not seeming vulnerable, and sometimes we refuse to acknowledge that the esteem of others helps us, gives strength, safety and comfort.
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    Jan 28 2013: Positive recognition acts as a reinfoncer for future actions. When someone positively appreciates us for something, we tend to repeat the action in a similar set of conditions. So, positive recognition has been a powerful thing to me as it has made my decision making easier. It motivates me and also help me increase my self esteem. It also helps me identify myself with something.
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      Jan 29 2013: Hi Atul, thank you for sharing. I felt your statement, 'it helps me identify myself with something' was especially touching and thought-provoking. It seems to make me feel the weight of our words, and the feelings that they can create.

      Thank you for sharing such clear and honest words.
  • Feb 1 2013: Positive feedback is good but it needs a foundation otherwise positive feedback is just lip service. Creating reasons for positive feedback is just as important. Volunteering, and sports are two examples. Participation both within the family and society lead to positive feedback and positive perceptions of self and family.
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      Feb 1 2013: I agree Isabelle,
      We can do the "lip service"....simply say the words with no underlying meaning. Or we can say the words with genuine, authentic meaning. Do you think sometimes it is HOW we do or say something as much as what we do or say?

      I tend to think/feel this is true, and we can "feel" or intuit when a person is simply saying the words or being genuine/authentic.....don't you think?
      • Feb 1 2013: Absolutely. All too often I hear women's groups give positive power lectures to special needs groups and its pathetic. They elevate the perception of these groups and then they leave thinking their lifestyles will change to something comfortable when their special needs create so many barriers that this will never happen. Hence the big crash after the big high. No one is there to pick up the pieces and it creates a huge burden on our taxes because that isolation leads to the kind of misconduct you referred to. Even still most special needs groups know what they are missing while those who have don't realize and take for granted that special needs simply accept their isolation as normal. A bubble the average citizen lives within. I saw it often working in tourism where self entitlement didn't look pretty mainly because they didn't teach what they preached. In especially when it came to family values.
      • Feb 1 2013: That is why teaching your family to volunteer and participate in society creates a reason to trust that feel good sense each person has contributed wisely no matter what the barriers. But there is a fine balance to volunteerism as well when it comes to the special needs sector they don't get paid the big bucks to offset the massive number of hours they volunteer. Finally without the big bucks they don't have the ability to donate to charities which eliminates an element of democracy. When special needs groups must turn to the food banks they contribute to double dipping tax paying dollars. For if we pay our taxes shouldn't food banks be financed through those tax dollars. It would seem we pay our taxes twice. Once to a government who decides which departments get what, and then a second time for those departments who don't get enough. Then we continue to complain we pay too much tax. Corporations donate all the time as a tax write off. Computers and cellphones are a fine example of stock that didn't sell, there is still a return on that product too under the guise of donation value. Nothing is ever what it seems when you dig through the layers of profit and reward. Does altruism exist ? I was told it doesn't because there is always the expectation of reward
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          Feb 1 2013: My "reward" for the times I volunteered, was the education I received with the different volunteer experiences. Along with the education, was recognition and appreciation, which I could give and receive. It contributed to my confidence and self esteem as well as hopefully contributing to the recognition, appreciation, confidence and self esteem of those I interacted with......a wonderful cycle:>)
      • Feb 1 2013: Yes and so in theory it was not altruism because there is a list of benefits there in, some of which would have been of monetary value. We feel good when we do our part and it contributes to self confidence. Free training and workshops, free travel these are all rewards for volunteering. Not everyone is selected for the higher benefits of volunteer work. I am not stating this is a bad thing since my suggestion from the start was to participate in society to receive a true complement rather than a patronizing complement and I think I got off into left field for a bit going through the layers of this concept. Perhaps it was that you stated your work was with special needs people in the first place and after so many years there are some things this field takes for granted.
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          Feb 1 2013: Isabelle,
          You may be right...."in theory":>) However, in reality, I didn't experience any monetary compensation of any kind....no travel benefits. Yes, workshops and training, which I traveled to on my own nickel:>)

          I agree....there are many layers. The volunteer positions I've held were/are not always with "special needs people". For example, I am now a member of the regional planning commission, regional project review committee and transportation advisory committee, have served on the local planning commissision, development review board, and various other land use boards.

          I am interested in land use and our environment as well as people. After all, how are we going to have healthy people if we do not have a healthy environment to sustain us? These positions do not provide any monetary compensation either. They did provide more opportunities for me to learn, grow and evolve AND contribute to our community at the same time:>)
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        Feb 2 2013: Hi, Colleen and Isabelle. My reward for volunteering is very much like the intrinsic reward from loving those around me. And it gives me a gratifying sense of community that allows me to engage in "flow" experiences, in the sense in which TED speaker Czikzentmihalyi uses the term.
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          Feb 2 2013: I agree Fritzie.....I LOVE FLOW:>) I need to look at his TED talk.....read the book "FLOW" years ago and love it:>)

          I share the feeling you express when volunteering. It is a great opportunity to learn and grow as an individual, while contributing to the flow of the whole:>)
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          Feb 3 2013: Thanks for sharing the "flow" experience, I have never heard of it. I am excited to check it out!
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      Feb 1 2013: Hello Isabelle,

      Thank you for sharing, especially your experiences with how people have assumed that providing words is enough to 'take care' of others. While words can heal, sometimes it is the gentle hand resting on the arm, just letting the person know that they are there to listen, or just 'be' with them, is where the real need is.

      Thank you for pulling back that curtain for me. :-)
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      Feb 1 2013: Good question, and good point Carolyn!

      I like that.....I will create as I speak!

      We all have the ability to contribute to, and support others with each and every interaction, and by supporting others, we are contributing to our "self" as well......what goes around comes around?

      An example:
      Many years ago, I became aware of my thoughts on another level. You know how, in every day interactions, we may see things that we like? A scarf, clothing or jewelery on someone? A hair style? Shoes that we like? Words that we hear that are meaningful to us? So, I'm often thinking.....that is really attractive....that person looks wonderful.....that person says something really meaningful.

      Well, I started speaking my thoughts more. When I see or hear something that impresses me in some way.....I tell that person. Sometimes, someone says something that infuences me, and I don't realize it for a time. I send them a note reflecting my appreciation for what they said.

      I also became more aware of this idea when I regained consciousness from a near fatal head injury. I got many cards, letters, greetings, good wishes from a lot of people....often starting out with.....you probably don't remember me but years ago you said something to me that changed my life!!! I wasn't doing or saying anythinig special.....just being kind and respectful.

      Our words mean a LOT in every moment, and we have the ability to contribute to each other all the time. So, your recognition of "create as I speak" is so very relevant to this topic Carolyn.....thanks:>)
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    Jan 28 2013: Positive expressiveness among family members is surely uplifting.
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      Jan 29 2013: Thank you Fritzie, yes it certainly can be. My blended family has changed because of positive recognition, but more because of the way it has been expressed. It has been in a way that has allowed others in the house to see what was written, and even visitors to the house. (chuckling) even our guests leave notes. :-)

      Thanks for being a great host Fritzie.
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    Feb 3 2013: negative recognition,,,,
    positive recognition....

    they are both equally powerful.
    they both will positively determine what you create by enforcing either one.
    Parents, educators, friends and family, please think this through.
    Elizabeth is correct in keeping this solution alive. It is no longer a hypothetical solution, dual tests, the facts, and the results are in. now we have to find the patience to strictly and exclusively administer positive reinforcement, perhaps, return to multiple mothers for our children s health, and the future of our species.
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    Feb 3 2013: When those zero to nine testers came around to my children's school they us if we objected to the testing we had to sign this paper, and then they requested our presence the day of the test to object, Not to object, I think they thought they could change my mind. When the test administrators arrived I went to meet with them. My wife and I were the only ones objecting. I asked some general questions about the authors of the test and what its purpose was, and what accomplishments they hoped to provide for my children, (this was a well respected private school) after they informed me that their only intention was to help all the children excel, they wanted to do this by testing, determining where each child might be behind the rest of the class so they could work on the weak spots, bringing all students up to the average. Nice thought, I told them. Then I asked them to kindly stay the heck away from my children because i had informed them they were special individual;s, with a path and purpose in this life. I taught them to believe they had a calling of some sort, and it was up to us to know their strengths and gifts, because this is where my children were going to focus. not an area that they naturally were not predominately inclined. I told the school from now on I want you to focus on any divine gift, strength, and natural ability my children may exhibit and this is the area to focus on. Follow the child you un=educated educators. Make stronger their strengths, I don't want them looking at their short comings trying to be as good as the other children, polish their strengths. Our Creator has provided these babies with specific gifts and insight that our future disparately needs. There are people in the future expecting to meet these children on their proper paths and they had better be strong. I forbid the brainwash of looking at our shortcomings And, this is the damn school doing this retarded backward testing to remind each child where they are less than
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    Feb 3 2013: It would create a world recognized by none in this world. If your proposal existed it would also mean that our world would no longer know, judge, and remind one another in every circumstance of the past mistakes made. Today, in our world, we have nurturing completely backwards, laws of physics teach ; for every action there will be a reaction, for every force there will also be present an opposing force, try as I might, I have never found an instance these laws did not apply. Yet, discipline through punishment and negative cognizance creates the backlash to the negative reinforcement that will surely not be a positive change, that goes against thed very laws of physics, no matter what the level of matter it exists. therefore, positive change will only result after positive reinforcement. I di not make this up, meta-physical and universal physicists have been telling us for ever, but we don't ave the patience, love, or respect for any other individuals, including our children, to give it a try. This nation still preaches the diabolic slogan of "Peace through War"...Give peace a chance. No one ever said it better than John Lennon, may that prophets soul rest in the peace he yearned for.
    This has been a wonderful idea to think of, but ion a society that controls through fear and intimidation, positive reinforcement would create a healthy population, and they would be much to difficult to control. We have to continue destroying the individuals through corporeal punishment , shaming, ridiculing or we lose this population of haters which keep everyone divided and judgmental. Why, if everyone was healthy and balanced we might see where this road ios leading us, and maybe then we would not even have use for an armed military, or government.
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    Feb 1 2013: It's really interesting that this idea of positive = good and negative = bad is so strong. In other times and cultures it has been suggested 'that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger' and other philosophies and cultures all seem to suggest 'personal growth and wisdom' come from finding some way to cope with loss and grief. So I would like to offer the following paradigm (hope that's the right word). When you are a teenager, you have 15 or 16 years of life experience to look at. Let's say life expectancy is now eighty or ninety years. A teenager who has had loads of loss and grief generally tends to be quite angry which manifests as violence or depression. Making a bit of a hash of this with these overgeneralisations but trying to make a point about positive psychology. The 'glass half full' mentality is being discussed here I believe. As we age, we meet so many challenges on the way. A teenager who has received quite a bit of positive recognition is actually potentially less resilient when the challenges arise. Perhaps it is more about the support structures people are able to build (or not) that enriches or impoverishes a life. There is an interesting talk on women's midlife crises here on TED under Barbara Striesand's choice of talks. Am currently looking at ideas of family constellations and wonder if you are familiar with the ideas of Transactional Analysis (Eric Berne) and the idea of ego-strokes. To chuck something else into the mix have you read Petrushka Clarkson's ideas about relationships in her Five Relations Model. So to conclude yes relationships are important, but not just positive or negative, more who, what, where and when and what is going on in the wider community at the time.
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      Feb 3 2013: Hi Elizabeth,
      Yep I have read Petrushka Clarkson. :-) However, I have not heard of Transactional Analysis. I will have to look into that.

      I enjoy reading your insights. Thank you for sharing. :-)

      I have to think about your comment, "A teenager who has received quite a bit of positive recognition is actually potentially less resilient when the challenges arise." Actually, I think for me I will have to do some research and pose some questions to those that I know who work with foster youth and do counseling. The part of me, that sees the better side of things, is leaning toward the thought that being able to look at life with a positive outlook, through nurturing and self-teaching, may be more resilient in the long run.

      However, I could be mistaken. :-) Or, I could be right. Funny thing about people, we are such a kaleidscope!
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        Feb 3 2013: So very true Elizabeth, we are all a kaleidoscope. It's what makes us so rich as individual people. I am so lucky to live in London. I have access to a 92 year old who fought in WW2. My son is 16. I have always been keen to notice cultural difference and diversity because I am a cultural hybrid. Problem is, words are so difficult at times. So I am working on this theme of 'seasonality' as applied to people. As a middle aged woman with a certain amount of education and lived experience just happen to be in the right place at the right time and seeing a vast amount of social change happening very quickly. So yes I do agree fostering a positive mindset in the formative years is definately an asset in the long run but as you point out it is really complex. So love the chance to speak to people on TED. The field of psychology you might like to look at is 'Gestalt' - there are now upwards of 300 different psychology 'strands' and I found Clarkson the most effect way at the moment to form a framework to reflect on relationships. Berne is older but his ideas still echo very loudly in the cultural products of the USA by which I mean marketing and business strategies. Am aware of a tradition where the mother of a home is celebrated by her family once a week. Not going into further details here. Am originally from N.Z. Did you know N.Z. was the first country to have female sufferage i.e. the vote. Partly because so many women left the U.K, at that time to settle in NZ and took their ideas with them and were able to action them. Meeting some lovely minds on TED so please keep exploring your ideas.
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    Feb 1 2013: Hi Elizabeth,
    Positive recognition, appreciation and reinforcement make a HUGE difference in the life experience of a person. As you say....it affirms us....it strengthens us with confidence and self esteem, and it often impacts our entire life experience. I am grateful to have had very positive reinforcemsnt as a child, which I believe has contributed a great deal to my life exploration.

    I do not have to "imagine" how it affects a person....I experience it in every moment of my life adventure. I learned that there are no "mistakes" or "failures" in the life adventure.....there are opportunities to learn, grow and evolve. This has given me the strength and courage to face challenges with confidence. As a human, there are often doubts, questions, fears, and insecurities at times. And underlying all that, I realize the foundation I received as a child...the positive recognition, reinforcement and appreciation, which supports my exploration of life with curiosity. I perceive it to be very powerful.

    I have worked with people who have been victimized, and also with incarcerated offenders. These populations are insecure, low on self esteem and confidence, which is why they often cannot make the best choices in the life experience.
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      Feb 1 2013: Hi Colleen,
      Thank you for taking a moment to share with me, and with others. I too have seen some of your other comments, and have found your input to be like a fresh breeze. I am glad you wrote in response to my question. :-)

      You mention that you work with populations of low confidence, etc. Do you think that if their home had had a tool to communicate authentic appreciation or positive "I see you ..." (i.e recognition), it would have been used? Is it possible for people to be so 'broken' with pain and anger (maybe even hate) that such a tool would be considered a 'joke'?

      Do you think that if one person in the home could imagine the possibility of change, with hope, and used the tool to communicate to the others in their home, that it might make a difference? Even if it is just a ripple?

      Or, would even the hope feel like being vulnerable and to be vulnerable is to be open to further pain and disappointment? So in the interest of preservation and self-security, they reject such an idea?

      Look forward to your insight. :-)
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        Feb 2 2013: Thank you Elizabeth, for your "positive recognition and appreciation":>)

        I want to clarify that my interactions with populations seemingly having low self esteem were volunteer positions, rather than my "work". I mentioned in a previous comment that I had positive reinforcement as a child from an unconditionally loving mother and 7 loving siblings. We also had a father who was violent and abusive, so I got to learn from the best of both polarities.

        As a person who lived with domestic violence, I wanted to learn more about it, and also help support those experiencing it, so I volunteered in the women/childrens shelter and family center. After volunteering there for a couple years, hearing the same stories repeated over and over again, I decided to volunteer with the dept. of corrections and offenders of domestic violence...for about 6 years. I also had a short stint as a case reviewer with SRS (the agency which oversees kids in state custody....mostly because of violence and abuse in the home).

        One thing that was obvious, is that we were seeing the same families going through all of these systems for generations. So, to answer your question, I believe violence and abuse is a learned pattern of behavior, and if that cycle can be broken somewhere along the way, then so many people in our world would not be as "broken". There are a LOT of wounded people in our world, as I'm sure you know.

        Some of the "tools" we offered....like showing respect, consideration, kindness, compassion, empathy, etc., are so foreign to some folks, it's difficult to get them to accept them. However, there IS hope, in my humble perception, IF the message comes from various segments of our society. You know....the more we see, hear and experience something and the more familier it is to us (humans) the more possibility there is of change. Yes, I believe that one person can start the ripple effect.
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        Feb 2 2013: Continued......
        Just as violence and abuse are learned behaviors, I believe kindness, respect, compassion, and empathy are learned behaviors as well. When we reinforce and support these behaviors, there IS a chance of change. Some beliefs and perceptions need to change in our world before that can happen, and I believe it is happening.

        For example, I'm involved in another TED conversation, where a person is insisting that the way females dress, and females being in the wrong place at the wrong time is the reason they are raped. For example, years ago, and still in some cultures, it is acceptable to beat the wife. If people have been brought up with these beliefs, it becomes their "truth". To contemplate change, for some people, may feel very vulnerable, as you insightfully recognize.

        That is why I say that the idea of change needs to come from all segments of our society. Medical professionals, social services, educators, law enforcement and as many people as possible in our communities. We all need to support and encourage genuine empowerment rather than the behaviors and words that disempower. We also need to reinforce the idea of "choice", which, in my perception is empowering.

        The members of families I interacted with often said....."this is how it is"....."this is how it's always been"....."can't change it". I think it's important to introduce and encourage the concept of choice. I had a father who practiced and taught violence and abuse. I had a mother who was unconditionally loving, and I had a choice regarding what behaviors I wanted to embrace in my life experience. There are many people who break the cycle of domestic violence by making different choices, and we need to empower people to realize that THEY CAN make their own choices. As children, we may not have choices. As thinking, feeling adults, we DO have choices.
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          Feb 3 2013: So much to say Colleen so I would love to have you over for tea. :-)

          However, since we are on the internet I will be more brief. You shared words very similar to what my husband was sharing in our kitchen, trying to re-focus me. Thank you for affirming him, and me.
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        Feb 3 2013: There is a lot to say Elizabeth, and there is also a lot to "DO". One of my favorite quotes is...

        "One of the great difficulties in the new order of thought is that we are likely to indulge in too much theory and too little practice".
        (Ernest Holmes - "The Science of Mind")

        We can talk about theories FOREVER! Information regarding the benefit of positive recognition, appreciation, respect, compassion, etc., has been given to us by sages, psychologists, teachers, gurus, etc., from the beginning of humankind. It makes a HUGE difference in our world, and many times we are not paying attention. WHEN are we going to put into practice, that which we KNOW in our hearts? Not only is it beneficial to the person we are interacting with....it is beneficial to our "self" as well. Why would we NOT "do" it....and....."be" it in every single moment of our life experience? Why is this the year 2013, and we are STILL questioning if positive recognition and appreciation has any effect on people???

        Simply being totally present with each and every interaction sends a message of recognition and appreciation. Thanks for being my sounding board this morning:>)

        Tea with you would be lovely, and we may be talking so much there would be no opportunity to sip the tea! LOL:>)
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    Jan 30 2013: Pat, I agree, a false sense or worth or esteem (or any other feeling) is bad and dangerous. OK.
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    Jan 29 2013: Elizabeth, I was raised in an orphanage ... not many hugs and kisses there. So here is an opinion from someone that was raised outside of your question.

    1) Please explain "..in a public way so that others could see it."

    2) We all seek affection and approval. Yes that is a good thing in comparission to the opposite.

    What your statement suggests is that we as parents or family members promote our kids in a one-upsmanship contest with other families children. In a school of hundreds only five or so become cheerleaders ... not everyone makes the deans list ... not everyone is on the student council ... etc .... and only one or two would make all three.

    I do not want my kids compared with yours or anyones. I know and accept my kids strenghts and weaknesses and we applaud their successes and work to turn failures into wins. I want to build confidence not arogance.

    If I misunderstood your statement then please explain ... ".. in a public way ..."

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      Jan 29 2013: Robert, I assumed "in the home- in a public way" meant something like my sharing with dad at the dinner table that our son had written a beautiful poem.
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      Jan 29 2013: Hello Bob, Thank you for sharing your story and concern. It made me think, a lot. One, because you showed me that there are many people who do not feel that the place they were raised in - was their home. It could be a foster situation, or an orphanage. So, perhaps I may want to rephrase that to say, "We come from where we are raised..."?

      Second, I am always interested to learn how people can perceive things. When I said, "...in a public way" I was thinking of something very much like how Fritzie described it. I can recall a few moments, and they were very few, when I was young and my mom would share in front of my many brothers and sisters a good thing that I had done. It always made me feel a quiet sense of pride. Why? Because one, my mom felt moved to share it publicly and two, because my brothers and sisters got to see what good I did. I was 'seen' for just a moment by everyone. Interesting thing is - here is it 20 odd years later and I can still 'feel' that moment, even if it is just a shadow of what it once was.

      My intent is not to create comparisons. Every person is valued. Every person is important. How many people know this though? How many kids know this? I like to imagine that when we feel that we matter, we feel confident. :-)

      I was curious to learn other people's opinions because I know that I am just 'me' and not everyone thinks like 'me'. :-)
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        Jan 29 2013: The case in which this good intention can go wrong is when a parent cultivates an environment in which kids see themselves as being compared to or competing with ther siblings. Like so many aspects of parenting, this needs to be done carefully so as to keep motivation intrinsic and to avoid this sort of competition.

        You might know that Theresa Amabile of Harvard Business School is one of the leading researchers into ways certain types of extrinsic motivation and feedback (such as praise) can affect creativity in positive ways (as the research, generally speaking, suggests extrinsic reward reduces creativity).
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          Jan 29 2013: I agree. Parenting is such a delicate balance. I have to be aware of what I do with our in-home expressions of recognition; making sure I provide notes for ALL the kids in a balanced way.

          Teresa does a lot of research for the corporate world, which is highly valuable for me, however, from the research I have done over (which is sporadic because of ... life. :-) ) I have not found too much about family. Do you know any publications on family studies?
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        Jan 29 2013: She has results on children/students, though, I believe her results are experimental in a laboratory setting rather than in a family context.

        You best bet would probably be Psych Abstracts.
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    Jan 28 2013: It is, Elizabeth, and I wish I got more of it. In fact, I'd ask you to say something positive to me, but of course you don't know me.

    However, I've lived without positivity, and lived with criticism, for so long that I'm okay with it. I guess I believe in myself, and that probably is the first place you have to start. Didn't Whitney Houston sing a song about that?
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      Jan 29 2013: Hi Greg, Thank you for sharing. I am sorry that you have lived with criticism. I am going to guess that the people you have been around were/are hurting too and it is just easier to yield to that sometimes.

      It takes strength to share what you have shared. I hope that you can feel good about your willingness to be open and honest with me.

      Please allow me to share this with you:

      "Greg, for taking the time to write a comment and share a bit about himself with me. I am grateful for your feedback and your honesty. You have courage. You have sensitivity. - L"

      May you be extended an unexpected expression of kindness from someone you love.
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        Jan 29 2013: Thank you, Elizabeth. It's funny, the people who know me well don't say that many nice things to me. And yet if I walk down a street, it's funny how many people nod and smile and say hello. Or if I walk into a store, many employees will smile and nod and say hello to me. I wonder what the psychology there is, maybe the people who know you well take you for granted, whereas strangers don't.

        It's also funny, if I complain say to my mom about never saying nice things to me, she just doesn't change. What does one do then, because one doesn't want to look like a complainer, you can complain a few times, but if the person doesn't change, what then?

        I think you're terrific for starting this conversation. How did you come to this idea?