Yesterday Otha Brown joined students of Muskegon Community College’s College Success Seminar for “Midterm Motivation.” Otha talked to students about achieving their long term goals by overcoming the negative stories we inherit about ourselves. The event was organized by Bart Demeter, professor of the course.
“During this time of the year, a lot of students start doubting their ability. I wanted Otha to help address that. A lot of people have been over determined. Through our culture we’ve been given a script about ourselves that isn’t necessarily true or helpful. Today’s event was about overcoming that,” says Demeter.
Fountain Hill Center likes to take each opportunity we can to bring the skills that create individual healing at the center out into the larger community. “Just like in my office, I want people in the community to know that if they have a goal, they can achieve it,” says Otha.
“A lot of people think they are not allowed to make it. I wanted to let these students know that doubts they have about being successful don’t usually come as a result of individual talent or ability. Those doubts come as a result of their development. The way we understand ourselves happens in a context, and that context can change. This feeling people have that they can’t do something is learned, and they can unlearn it.”
Staying Connected to a Positive Story about Who You Are Is Important
Demeter says that being in touch with Otha and a place like Fountain Hill Center will help his students keep up the confidence they need to achieve their degrees and build lives around the goals they set for themselves. “The College Success Seminar is a class about developing college skills. We want our students to be aware of challenges and to have a plan for trouble shooting them. Not everyone has the ability and finances to learn the hard way, this helps people not get lost in the system. That’s where building relationships with someone like Otha can be so helpful to our students.”
Otha wants those students to know that the key to achieving their goals is understanding their individual strengths and building from there. “The effort to achieve your goals is going to be productive when it’s supported by a healthy self-concept. When you think of yourself as able, adaptable, and capable, that’s a healthy self-concept. If you don’t have this, you need to understand that the story about you that you’re telling yourself isn’t your nature. That story isn’t who you really are. You’re telling yourself that story because of your development. Somewhere you learned something false about who you are. It’s important to know you can unlearn this. You can learn a better story about yourself, you can write it.”
Leaning on a community of strong supporters is one of the important things to remember about changing that story. “Don’t try to do this alone. Talk your goals over with other people get their encouragement and wisdom, it helps.”
Otha received his Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a principle therapist at Men’s Resource Center of West Michigan, which is housed in the Fountain Hill Center for Counseling and Consultation. To learn more about Otha can help, visit his therapist page.