“…on YOUR team?”

“Who says I want to be on your team?”

I had said this to a friend who was in awe of how fast and strong I was doing the punching/kicking exercise in Sifu’s class. She had joked that she would want me on her team. My reply was half joking and half serious. I did not mean any offense to her, of-course, but was instead expressing my independence. Imagine that; being 43 years old and only recently learning and getting comfortable with being me, and expressing myself without worry of what others may think.

As soon as those words came out of my mouth, I realized that I had not spent a single moment feeling grateful for having been picked or surprised that somebody thought well of my skills. You see, I had been growing from a person of emotional neediness to one of true self-esteem. I had finally reached a point where I had developed my abilities, tackled my emotional demons, and faced the world most days with an “I’m gonna get you!” attitude. I now have the ability to pick who would be on my team based on their skills instead of picking a person because they might boost me up emotionally.

And that is one of the many lessons kids learn through Sifu Martin Ferreira’s Kids’ Self-Reliance Camp. Sifu Ferreira is one of the people who has helped me these past three years to develop my true self, to help undo the many dysfunctional layers brought about from abuse and neglect, and society and family. In addition to coaching adults, he is on a mission to teach children the tools they need to survive and thrive in this often harsh world.

Using the game of Monopoly during the first week of his 3-week camp, he changed up the rules (yeah, he does that!) with the end goal of breaking the bank. In order to do this, the players were allowed to team up if they wanted to and create co-ops with each other. This allowed them to pool their resources and barter with each other, learn to develop solid working relationships with people that had skills they needed (instead of choosing that friend or family member because of their emotional needs), and taught them how to live independently of controlling institutions.

What a critical and valuable skill to learn!

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