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I vividly remember how annoyed I would become each time my mother began one of her speeches that focused on the dreaded "P- word" .

As early as I can remember, every accomplishment brought about another version of my mother’s "P- word" speech. My mother’s intent: to encourage and inspire. The result, more often: Discouragement... Frustration... Defeat.

I was not raised in an environment that would allow me to revel, even momentarily, in my accomplishments. Because reveling in accomplishments might somehow suggest that one was accomplished, I was taught to acknowledge efforts. Every effort was weighed and measured by the demanding taskmaster of my dreaded potential.

Each morning at 6:00 AM, slumped on the bench before my piano for the morning hour of my daily two hours of practice, I would cringe as my own human metronome, my mother, would count loudly from her bed "1-2-3-4! 1-2-3-4!" She provided this service to help me keep the rhythm, intended by the composer. No wonder my father traveled, right?

When the glowing remarks from my English teacher on an essay, written the night before, would cause my mother’s eyes to narrow while her eyebrow raised, I knew what was coming. Immediately following what sounded like the obligatory and polite, "That’s good, Laurie." was the inevitable "Just think what you could have done had you applied yourself, and used all four of the weeks you were allowed, by your teacher, to work on this assignment!"

Wind promptly evacuated my sails. Flood waters of discouragement provided the torrential rain on my parade. Then I would retreat to the private space in my mind, where discouragement grows to resentment. Resentment gives birth to destructive and prideful attitudes.

Dots are incorrectly connected, through immature eyes. Words of encouragement are distorted by ears that crave approval and acceptance, and sound instead like the staccato stroke of the B flat key, over and over and over again.

Poor, pitiful me. While I was trying desperately to live a carefree and blissful existence, the weight of the albatross, I called Mom, grew constantly heavier. She was tireless in her exhortations to raise the level of the expectations I held for myself, applying constant pressure with the "P-word", and depriving me of my constitutional right to pursue my own happiness.

While my mother persevered with the never ending lectures that there is nothing gained in being good-enough... that while there may be nothing wrong with certain behaviors, and certain bathing suits, there wasn’t anything right about them either... while she continued the mantra ad nauseum, "Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best." I longed for freedom.

I longed for my independence day.  

False negatives and false positives come from cognitive errors that originate in the anterior cingulate cortex (a little bundle of something in the front of the brain that relays neural signals between the right and left cerebral hemispheres). Along with some level of participation in the regulating of blood pressure and heart rate, the ACC is the portion of the brain that controls rational cognitive functions such as decision making, empathy, emotion, and reward anticipation.  

Stay with me, now; and I promise I'll wrap this up in short order.  

Just when I thought that studies of the brain could not possibly provide more shock and awe for me, I learn that one of the components of this fibrous bundle in my brain, called the ACC, is an error detection function.  

Simply put, this function informs me that I have not received the results I expected from an event. The technical term is event related potential , and it means that I have an idea of the way things should happen. It also means that the dreaded "P-word is back, and trouble can not be far behind!  

So, when I have not received the result I expected ( or believe I deserve), when life isn’t fair, when everything seems like it‘s_ so much harder for me_ , my ACC (always choosing to be on my side) hollers "You go, girl!"  

It deems that this unfulfilled expectation is an error, and then decides what level of what is known as error produced negativity to create.

Scientists believe the severity of the negativity can be linked to Dopamine levels; and while that may be a large, contributing factor, I believe there is a distinct link to lack of maturity and prideful attitudes that hear encouragement in B Flat combined with a healthy portion of
"I will have what I want, for it is my right to have it."

The years that my mother no longer spoke of my potential were years of hollow victory.  No longer was I controlled by her standard of what was "becoming" and what was not. No longer was I forced to endure the cautionary lectures about the perils of giving myself over to the lowest common denominator.  

No longer was there an audible voice from the one who was wholly devoted to reminding me of how amazing my life could be, if my potential and I would fully participate, together.
Those were the years she gave me my Independence Day.  

Those were the years my ACC and my ERP were creating overwhelming amounts of ERN. Those were the years I was SAD.  I learned the real meaning of defeat during those years. There were no more songs of encouragement, in B flat. They gave way to my song of "There are worse things I could do."

God knows I am thankful that my maturity caught up with my ACC while I still have time to spend with my mom and that she speaks of the “P-word” again.  

I’m thankful that I have cultivated friendships with people who expect me to expect the best from myself and recognize the signs that I’m headed toward self-flagellation and the rigidity of perfectionism.  

I still sing that there are worse things; there are worse things than holding to high standards of character and performance, there are worse things than pushing myself to be my best.  

I’ve chosen to keep making an effort and to keep evaluating my efforts. You’ll not find me keeping a list of my accomplishments.  Instead, I’ll keep raising the bar of my efforts and measuring my efforts against my potential but never against the potential of someone else.

Even if it means giving up the right to be good-enough.  

_My mother’s song was a message of hope for my future and mine was a song of immaturity, insecurity and fear.
As it turned out, it was my song that was flat._  

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

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