Counsellor delivers message of hope

Year 13 Marlborough Girls' College students were dished a breakfast of a different kind during a one-hour early morning presentation in the school hall by Nelson-based counsellor David Riddell.

Marlborough Girls' College year 13 dean Sheryll Gwynne organised the event to cultivate students' emotional resilience and help them "soar to new heights".

"Today you will get a breakfast of a different kind - a breakfast of soul food," she said.

Mr Riddell, the Living Wisdom Association of Counsellors founder and principal, provided students with insight on how to deal with life's difficulties.

Among the topics he spoke about were the importance of being optimistic, assertive, knowing who you are and what you want, having dreams and setting goals.

"To get whatever you want, you do whatever it takes," he said.

An optimistic attitude was key to emotional resilience; for children, their circumstances often created their attitude, but when they reached their late teens it was usually the other way around.

"Optimism is an attitude to practice until it comes naturally," he said. "Your attitude determines your altitude."

It was important to take a moment out of each day to step back and explore what was going on inside your mind, which could double as a friend or enemy, he said.

There was nowhere in the world you could escape your own mind and the attitude you had cultivated all your life.

Having been the "invisible" child in a broken home - his mother was an alcoholic and his father died in a tractor accident during his teens - Mr Riddell spoke of his experience in re-inventing and parenting himself.

He was the only male in his family not to have been imprisoned; while Mr Riddell's siblings blamed the economy, government or society for their actions, he had made something of his life because he knew there was no-one to blame but himself.

"It's called accepting responsibility for yourself," he said.

He encouraged students to find out what they were talented at and develop and use it to the best of their ability.

"I am convinced that every one of you here has some gift, some talent that no-one else in the world has."

It wasn't until Mr Riddell's mid-30s that he discovered his talent and set up his counselling practice in Nelson.

"I've got a dream of leaving the world a better place, but what's your dream?" he asked.

"You have permission to believe in yourself, even if no-one else does."


If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.

There is a short-cut to emotional insecurity – it comes by constantly comparing myself to others.

Assertive people don't need to get angry – they have already said what was needed – briefly, gently, clearly.

Teach your mind to become your friend; you are not merely your mind or your face, or body. Just as you can put cosmetics on your face to change it, you can change your mind.


The Marlborough Express