Who am I?
Please afford me a moment to introduce myself. My name is Lizette Dohmen. I have a husband and two young children (one girl and one boy) and two adopted fur babies (one German Shepherd and one Rhodesian Ridgeback). I have a degree in Social informatics. The study of how people pursue, navigate, consume, consolidate, assimilate and convey information. I also have a Master’s degree in Psychology. Specifically early childhood development with a focus on Positive Psychology and emotional resilience.
Naturally, none of this tells you who I am. Why do we insist on giving out this kind of information as an introduction? What have I told you about myself as an individual? It is all general and impersonal. Skillfully worded, using familiar terms such as family, dogs, studies, so that you think you know me. I have not shared anything of myself with you – I have not made myself vulnerable to you. I risk nothing and, in turn, I hope that you will read my blog and share your thoughts. Does this seem fair?
Who am I really?
What if I changed my opening paragraph to include the following information? I married my high school sweetheart. We were only married a year when he had two massive heart attacks. Love of my life, and I was almost widowed at the age of 23. Should I tell you that for years I required treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder from the shock and trauma of that day.
What if I told you that my focus on Positive Psychology and early childhood development came from being a trauma counselor for a non-profit organisation? My choice to work with children was because I was told that I would never be able to have children. Seven years and multiple miscarriages later, I have two beautiful healthy babies. What if I tell you that every time I have to take my German Shepherd to the vet I feel like my ribs are bursting with pain. I worry that this time they won’t be able to treat him and the fear of losing him paralyses me? Do you see me differently now?
Who am I as a person?
Would it be different, if instead of telling you about my family, I told you about my habits and quirks? For example, I truly believe black cats are a bad omen. I hate it that my parents never gave me a second name because I always feel my ID document looks so empty. Some days, I am convinced that duck-egg blue is my favourite colour. On other days it positively must be ballet-slipper-pink.
I love chocolate bars, but cannot stand chocolate flavoured anything. Similarly, I hate bananas but love banana bread and any banana flavoured treats. I always joke that there is not enough alcohol in the world to make a conversation about golf more interesting, but one glass of wine and I am on my ear. I can watch violent movies, but if an animal or a child get hurt I cry for days. What if I tell you that I am still afraid of the dark and I still secretly sleep with a Winnie the pooh teddy bear that is exactly as old as I am and barely still holding it together? Does this make you see me differently?
Why is all of this important?
Yes, I have a degree in positive psychology but I have fears. I have hang-ups and I have had to overcome pain just like you. Some days I succeed. Other days I fail. Some days I am a great and enthusiastic mother; other days I accidentally put my underwear in the freezer (true story) and I hide in the shower just to get away from the children and the dogs.
Just like you, the real me is a complicated amalgamation of ideas, beliefs, values and perspectives that have been shaped by my life experiences and choices. I am like you. I am constantly evolving as I am confronted by new experiences, new information or conflicting information. Like you, I like to believe that all of this accumulates to consistent personal growth. I am also pretty sure that on some days that personal growth comes into question when I just do not feel like adulting.
What is my blog about?
By now I hope that you understand that this blog is not about preaching or teaching. It is not about me seeking a platform to show you how clever I think I am. Instead, my blog is here to share with you some of the theories I have learned and researched about positive psychology.
I hope that it may be useful to yourself and your family during this time of uncertainty and worldwide pandemonium. I hope that together we can share practical ideas on how to implement these theories and together we can pull each other through this crisis in a positive way. Using the tools provided by Positive Psychology can be mutually beneficial to us and those around us. Remember one thing, just like a virus, enthusiasm and a positive outlook can be equally contagious. Go out (figuratively) and infect each other with that!
Tomorrow I will start by explaining the virtue of Justice and focus specifically on the strength of citizenship. Trust me, it is not as political as it sounds, but more about this tomorrow.
In the words of Disney’s Tigger, “TTFN”. Tata for now.