Alyssa Wermers, LCSW

Play Therapy Services * Firestone, CO

Mimbulus Mimbletonia…how to cultivate greatness

Readers of Harry Potter first meet Neville Longbottom on Platform 9 ¾ where we hear him searching for his toad, Trevor. From the beginning Neville is an easy target. His family feared he was a Squib (non-magical person born into a wizarding family) and pressured him to be better, he melted cauldrons in potions, broke his wrist trying to fly, and constantly was locked out of his common room due to forgetting the password. We all know Nevilles…they are the kids that just can’t seem to get it right, and who find themselves the target for laughter at their own Hogwarts Schools of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

There were the obvious bullies that cultivated humiliation and fear for Neville, Professor Snape and Draco come to mind. I don’t even need to go into how damaging this is...Peter Pettigrew is evidence of that. However, let’s not forgot the unintentional shaming that Neville experienced too. Neville is compared negatively to others by his Grandmother, “Gran’s always telling Professor Marchbanks I’m not as good as my dad.” Professor McGonagall humiliates Neville by requesting he not let it slip that he can’t do a simple switching spell to students from Durmstrang. Even Ron took a seemingly unintentional stab at Neville when he said “I mean, the rest of us know it doesn't make any difference at all. Look at Neville Longbottom -- he's a pure-blood and he can hardly stand a cauldron the right way up.”

So often we focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s going well. What happens when all the negative energy is refocused and we pay attention to strengths? Professor Sprout saw potential in Neville and helped him foster his interest and talent in Herbology. He blossomed. Harry focused on the positives during D.A. meetings and bam! Neville disarms his opponent for the first time.  Lupin assured Neville he would perform admirably during a defense against the dark arts class. Neville helps defeat his first boggart…admirably. Dumbledore compliments Neville on his bravery when he stands up to his own friends. By the end of the series, Neville is standing up to Lord Voldemort.

What do you want to inspire in others? Failure or greatness? Greatness may not appear obvious with Nevilles…It’s usually easier to make an unintentional hurtful joke. But look closer, find a part of greatness, focus on that, and watch how it can grow.