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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Worry Myths

While I try to always be as orginal as is possible, this was a list from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zen Living that I could not resist sharing. Read it. It's a very user friendly book that is well done.

"If I worry about something, it won't happen. Wrong!

If I worry about something, I'll cause it to happen. Wrong!

Worry shows I care. Wrong!

Worry helps. Wrong!

Worry is productive. Wrong!

Worry equals love. Wrong!

Worry will keep me better organized. Wrong!

Worry will increase my awareness of danger. Wrong!

Worry makes me a conscientious person. Wrong!

Worry makes me a person. Wrong!

If I don't worry, I'm heartless. Wrong!

If I don't worry, I'm not a good parent/child/sibling/friend. Wrong!

If I dont worry, bad things will automatically happen. Wrong!

If I don't worry, others will have to worry. Wrong!

If I don't worry, I won't get the job done. Wrong!

If I don't worry, I'll be out of the loop. Wrong!

If I don't worry, my whole life will fall apart. Wrong!

You mean...worry is a waste of precious life energy? Right!"

page 209

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Guidelines for Landing Your Helicopter: Why Helicopter Parents are Deadly.

Helicopter parents are deadly. They are not only letting down their children down. They are killing their spirits. Ultimately, if they aren't destroying them, they are certainly crippling them.

If you haven't heard the phrase, a helicopter parent (father or mother) is one that is always there to take up their children's cause. They do not let them scrape their intellectual or emotional knees. A parent who micro-manages a child's friendships, grades, teacher/student relationships, etc...is a thief. These parents, metaphorically, are not letting go of their child's bike which has just had it's training wheels removed.

I know a parent who will not let her son of 12 to go to a school camping trip unless she can go with him. There are plenty of counsellors, plenty of teachers, food, comfort, and safety at the fantastic camp with all kinds of confidence building activities. And yet, during this important age where a child transitions from childhood dependence to the adolescent exploration of independence, this boy is being robbed.

What does this insulation do?

As mentioned above, it does not allow them to transition to young adulthood. This alone puts the child's future into a precarious position. Not meeting certain developmental goals in a timely fashion can cause a life of everything being slightly to largely "off".

It also prevents them from being immuned from stress. If you do not deal with tough situations, you never learn that they will not kill you. I have heard stories of the mothers of college students calling deans to complain about course grades. How does one learn to handle failure in this way? What happens when he gets a bad review from his boss later on?

Lastly, hovering causes children to lose their sense of responsibility. If one doesn't succeed or fail on his own, he will never learn his role in either. And responsibility becomes just a quaint idea.

The argument is that this is a different time. We don't let kids walk to the store or go to the park alone anymore. It is a dangerous world. They need us more in these dangerous days. But this argument shows the difference between common sense and over-reaction. Dealing with a teacher who has been vetted by the school and dealing with a pedophile/killer/kidnapper/gang-member is something quite different. Students should be allowed to deal with teachers mostly on their own. Children need to be protected from pedophiles.


First of all, separate your fears and concerns into categories: "Truly Dangerous", "Maybe Risky", "Uncomfortable for Me", "Uncomfortable for My Child", and "Safe". Definitely allow your child to do the last three, if they don't fit into the first two. Check out "Maybe Risky" and decide if it is an opportunity worth the risk, if it is actually "Truly Dangerous", or if in reality you are just uncomfortable. The "Maybe Risky" items are an informed judgment call. However, if it is simply a parent's discomfort or the child's discomfort, he is doing a grievous wrong to his child if the child does not participate in a basically normal and wholesome childhood or adolescent activity.

Second, if it's your discomfort or fear, deal with it. But don't make your child deal with your discomfort. That's just selfish.

Third, if it's the child's discomfort, talk with him or her and help them see that most worries never actually happen. Make them as familiar with the situation and the safety built into this opportunity and then let them know that, if it is just about being afraid, they need to go anyway . As the book says, "face your fear and do it anyway" and that is really the only way to growth.

(Keep in mind the categories above and, of course, never insist on anything truly dangerous.)

Relax parents. Most adults today survived a far less safety-oriented childhood. Most children in America today have an even better day-to-day chance of surviving than adults did. Think seatbelts for the Baby Boomers (not required and probably not present in most cars). Everybody owes it to children to make them ready to enter a challenging, tough world with the emotional, ethical, and intellectual tools they need. Hovering over them and doing for them is not the answer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nothing Bad is Going to Happen...

....Well, at least not most of the bad things people worry about. Being anxious about what "might be" is a killer of "what is".

Think about it. Even the most positive people at times worry about things that aren't going to happen. The U.S. government has been run on a campaign of negative "what ifs" for the last seven years. It's effective for controlling response and keeping people from paying attention to what is actually going on right now. The only bad things that have happened to this country as a whole are those things the government has done while keeping our attention on potential disasters which never occurred.

Those nights when you don't sleep are probably either filled with regret or disappointment about what has happened in the past (another topic for another day) or conjuring images of a possible bleak future. What would happen if we enjoyed the bed and the sheets and the darkness and the ability to lie down and? ...well, you get the picture.

When we worry about what might be, we are only limited by our imagination. We can create hundreds of stressful scenarios for ourselves. And while we are letting our stomachs get tied up in knots over these, the harmless and quite possibly enjoyable present is escaping our attention. The real killer is that the things we worry about, more often than not, do not happen. We really have no idea what the future will bring.

Tool for Cutting Down Personal Stress Pollution

My guess is that if you are online now the chances are pretty good that right in this 60 second bubble things are okay.

You have probably eaten or know where to get your next meal.

You probably are wearing comfortable clothes (or not...your choice).

You most likely have some kind of a roof over your head or know where you have access to one should you need it.

You have in front of you a world of information, communication and/or entertainment on this computer.

For this 60 seconds - things are actually okay. Most of our 60 second periods of life are. It's only when we pollute them with negative "what ifs" that are made up fantasies about our futures that we create a toxic place for ourselves.

Enjoy this 60 seconds without worrying about the past or the future. In this 60 seconds everything is alright. And, in reality, you really have no idea what the next 60 seconds will bring. But in this 60 seconds, you have nothing to worry about.

If you find yourself particularly anxious, mentally focus yourself back into the present moment. Take account of what is actually happening now. It's real and, most likely, it's comfortable, it's safe, and it's satisfying unlike many of the imagined futures we are prone to create.

Sleeping with Cell Phones

Monday, January 21, 2008


"A single question can be more influential than a thousand statements." - Bo Bennett

Etiquette as Stress Management

Etiquette is just a formalized way in which people kindly acknowledge another person. It is not about rules and regulation. It's about being gracious to other people and showing that you have basic human respect for them.

Etiquette is about paying attention. We lose so much in this day and age because we are so busy and so much is going on. We fail to see people around us. When was the last time you were jostled in a crowded store without so much as an "excuse me" from the jostler. It doesn't sound like much, but that little jostle without acknowledgement from the jostler is as good as a "I'm taking this space - screw you." A sincere "excuse me" or "pardon me" says, "Sorry, I should have been paying attention. I should have recognized that you have feelings." Now multiply that by how many times people are pushing into each other in this busy, overcrowded, "I gotta get mine, screw you" society that we live in. In the stores, at work, in your car, anywhere. On some level, it all equals stress.

Returning "civil" to "civilization" as a society would be a great step toward managing stress.