We zijn niet van suiker - some tough love from the Dutch
Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2008. It was pouring rain and my wayward Dutch sports class wanted to go outside to play soccer! It doesn’t rain very often where I’m from and when it does, we certainly don’t take our sports classes outside to play in it. If I did that in Australia I’d get complaints from parents and probably a warning from the school principal!
“We can’t go outside in this weather!” was my answer, unsure if the students were just messing with their weird new Aussie teacher.
“We zijn niet van suiker!” came the swift reply.
I learned that "we zijn niet van suiker" is a common saying in Dutch, which means “we’re not made of sugar.” In other words, we won’t melt if we get wet, so toughen up and get outside!
That was all I needed to hear before heading straight outside with my class with no raincoats or umbrellas for an hour of soccer (voetbal!). I had no change of clothes so I spent the rest of the day soaked but grateful for that important lesson.
I’ve since applied this in my own life many times and in many different ways. Most obviously when I don’t want to go for a run because it's raining… ik ben niet van suiker! But I also use it for other challenging or uncomfortable times, usually way out of context but hey, it works for me.
When I haven’t slept enough and I’m worried about my busy day ahead - ik ben niet van suiker - I’m not gonna melt, I’ll be ok.
When I’m nervous about getting on stage to give a talk - ik ben niet van suiker - this crowd can’t hurt me, their opinions won’t stop me from doing anything I want to do.
I also sometimes find myself wishing I could say it to others who write to me to ask things like “what if I get bored?” or “what if I try this recipe and it doesn’t work out?” or “what if people judge me?” What’s the worst that can happen? If your cooking goes wrong, your mashed potatoes might be slightly less delicious than they otherwise would’ve been. Je bent niet van suiker!
There are lots of different ways to think about all these situations and I’ve personally put a lot of time and effort into changing the way I think and also helping my coaching clients to change the way they think and behave in all types of ways. This work is important.
Sometimes we just have to look at an uncomfortable or even a scary situation, square the shoulders, stare it in the face and say “ik ben niet van suiker”.
The worst that can happen is never as bad as we imagine.
Sometimes the worst thing you could do is stay on the path you’re currently on! We’re not going to melt.
Read this on the blog HERE
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