Every body’s talking about the Olympic legacy of encouraging more people to take part in sport, and certainly anything that can be done to improve the nation’s fitness, and especially that of our children, is to be encouraged. But I’d like to see another legacy – one of us feeling rather more positive about ourselves.
Despite not being a great sports fan I have loved every minute of it from the start of the opening ceremony to the end of the closing, and I can’t wait for the Paralympics to start. Hasn’t it been lovely with everybody talking about how good we are, how well we’re doing, what a great show we’ve put on? For two whole weeks all the negativity evaporated, people actually talked to each other, people were smiling – even the newspaper headlines were positive and excited.
Do we deserve to be so down on ourselves?
Low national self esteem seems to be ‘Great’Britain’s special subject – largely led by the newspapers. Whenever I remark on this I’m told ‘Good news stories don’t sell newspapers’ – is this really true I wonder? Have newspaper sales dropped in these weeks – I doubt it; if they have then we get what we deserve. All the things that have made us feel great about the Olympics from architecture and engineering to creativity and sporting excellence are here all the time – we just choose to ignore them.
Take a bus more or less anywhere in London or any of our cities, sit on the top deck if you can and you will pass fantastic buildings – old and new – which, if you were a tourist in a foreign city would have you gasping and grabbing your camera. Thomas Heatherwick who designed the fabulous Olympic cauldron has been designing amazing buildings, structures, furniture and, objects for two decades – including The Rolling Bridge in Paddington (check it out on YouTube) – there has been an exhibition of his work at the V&A this Summer.
We have incredible orchestras and theatres – our great National Theatre has tickets for £12
and the Royal Festival Hall starts at £9 and regional theatres are also more reasonable. And the London theatre fringe is an absolute mine of brilliant material, generally very inexpensive because nobody is being paid for doing it! Most of our great art galleries and museums are free – how many countries can say that? And it’s not just the cities - our countryside is second to none (especially when it stops raining!), our gardens are beautiful and our towns and villages all have their own unique history and charm.
Let's try for a bit of balance
I’m not suggesting we should ignore what’s wrong – the banking scandals, corruption in the Police force and media, the recession, the NHS crises et al. But why not look at it in context? When individuals come to us with low self esteem they will often use phrases like ‘I’m useless...or hopeless... or no good’. To which our first response is generally along the lines of ‘Are you an entirely useless person, or is it more that there are lots of things you are good at, and at the moment you are struggling with [x]’! This changes the focus to the positive and ‘at the moment’ is key – indicating that what is less than perfect can change.
So, let’s just remember all the things that make Britain great – not just for these few weeks – but permanently, and even when individual stuff doesn’t look that good ‘at the moment’. I’m sure we’ll all feel better for it!
If there’s something you’re struggling with 'at the moment', check out the rest of our website and get in touch.