The Art of Letting Go: Trapped by Labels

Human stereotype wordsCreating labels is another function we use in order to help us survive this world. Humans use labeling to manage the complexity of our environment.

Think about schooling. We send all the kids within a date range to 1st Grade when the difference in age between them is much higher than that between the youngest child in 2nd Grade and the oldest child in 1st Grade (could be just one or two days). We have built a whole education system on that huge range of 365 days, in which kids were born at different times of the day, have different family structures, live with a different number of other people in the same house, come from different socio-economic backgrounds and have different interests. Still, we categorize them all as 1st Graders.

Labeling is part of our day-to-day life. We do it for our own sake and not necessarily for the sake of those we label.

If you take 1,000 random people and put them next to each other, you will not find two that have the exact same skin color or the exact same hobbies. Yet, we often label people by skin color or say they all love drawing, although their skin is different in shade and texture and some love drawing animals, some prefer to draw plants and each person uses a different technique.

In 1930, Linguist Benjamin Whorf came up with the “linguistic relativity hypothesis”. According to him, the words we use not only describe what we see, but actually determine what we see.

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From the Life Coaching Deck: Troublemaker

Girl with labels projected onto herIan’s parents came for coaching about 5 years ago. Ian’s mom, Lou, booked the sessions as a last resort before she divorced his dad. About two months ago, she sent me an email and said, “Hi Ronit, Dave and I renewed our vows last year on an overseas trip. I want you to see Ian. He’s in trouble at school”.

Kids’ coaching is not something that most parents understand, but Lou and Dave, after making a huge change in their own life through coaching, did not need to ask what it was. When I called Lou and asked what she needed and why she wanted Ian to come and see me, she said, “Ronit, I’m not sure how you do what you do, but I need you to do it for Ian. He’s a great kid, but he’s in trouble at school and it’s affecting his self-esteem. It breaks my heart to see him like that. I’ve tried different things, but he is still in trouble. I’m sure if he spends some time with you, he’ll gain some confidence, just like we did”.

Ian was one of the most beautiful 11-year-old boys I had ever seen. In his first session, I went over some assessments to figure out what was making him get in trouble at school. Although he could read high-level books, thought math was easy and schoolwork was not a challenge at all, his grade average was “B”. Not that I think everyone needs to get an “A”, but all my assessments showed he was an “A” student, maybe even one of those smart kids that find school so boring they stir up some trouble to get some attention and make things a bit more interesting.

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How to Change Habits: Flexibility of the Mind

People jumpgin and cheeringThis is your self-help guide to changing habits. Now that you know about types of habits and how they are formed and you know how habits affect your life, it is time to take control of your life by breaking limiting habits and creating new, empowering ones, instead.

  1. Write down 10 recurring situations or outcomes in your life that you are not happy with
  2. Decide which category they are in
  3. Ask yourself what is you think, feel, say or do that brings you into each situation or gets you each outcome
  4. Check if the items on your list have anything in common
  5. Take yourself into one of those events in your mind and experience it again. Look around and try to discover the exact circumstances in that situation. Are you tired? Worried? Has something else happened that day? The day before? Are you hungry? Write as many details as you can. If you do it for the 10 items, you will find a pattern
  6. Take yourself to the one of those events again. This time, pay attention to the way you feel. What scares you about what happened? Stay in that situation until you find out what you are afraid of. When this fear first formed, it made you develop the habit to overcome it or manage it. We all develop habits to help us cope better. Sometimes the habits are not updated. They were appropriate 30, 20, 10 years ago, but may not be appropriate under different circumstance. We are just not the same people

Read more about how to break bad habits easily

What Does the Future Hold for Our Kids?

Hey Matthew song posterIf I gave every parent a peek into the future, most parents would want to know what would become of their children. We dedicate a lot of time, effort and love to get them to a good place and even a glimpse 10 minutes into the future could really help us direct our actions.

Eden had to raise a virtual child in a computer program for a course in psychology. I thought it was great fun. The rumors were that some of the virtual kids in the program had died or had gotten into lots of trouble before they had reached the age of 18, which was the end of the “parenting game”. Eden’s daughter was gorgeous, happy and successful.

I told Eden that her real daughter would be even better, because the choices the program allowed her to choose from were limited to 4 options, when in reality, you typically have many more options.

As Eden “played” the game, I started thinking it was a good learning tool for parents – not 100% realistic and I would not let any computer program or statistical research help me raise my child – but I really thought it was interesting to know how different parenting styles result in different behaviors in children. In a way, I thought the game was the closest thing to predicting your child’s future.

Read more about how to help your kids have a bright future

How to Keep an Open Mind

The wheel of lifeAs soon as you start any personal development, you bump into the term “beliefs”. These are thought patterns that are set in our mind, mental shortcuts we use to make decisions quickly. The catch is that by not questioning our beliefs, we no longer have an open mind about everything and sometimes, keeping an open mind is just what we need.

Imagine you are learning to drive. Every little task requires mental effort and after driving around for half an hour, you get out of the car feeling exhausted. Over time and with practice, however, you get the hang of it and then you just go where you want to go.

Now, imagine you have been driving on the right side of the road for 10 or 15 years and you move to a country where driving is done on the left side of the road. Continuing to believe in your training and to assume that everyone drives on the right side of the road can be fatal.

Life is the same. As babies, we have to figure everything out, often with enormous effort, until we know it and start doing it as a matter of course. When we grown up, the circumstances change – we go to school, we grow in size, we move to another environment, we become adults, we have children, we grow old. Holding on to beliefs from our first years of life may not be fatal, but it can seriously complicate our life.

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Best Anger Management Tips and Quotes

Girl screaming in anger

If you kick a stone in anger, you’ll hurt your own foot
– Korean Proverb

Some people are angry. Most of them learn anger from their parents and are trapped in a vicious cycle. One of the saddest things is an angry family, in which the parents are angry at the kids, who are angry at their parents, who are angry at their kids…

Sounds familiar?

Anger always comes from frustrated expectations
– Elliott Larson

Some say anger peaks during the teen years. I am not sure this is true for everyone. I know many teens who are joyful and happy. I was angry until I became a teenager, so I believe anger has nothing to do with age and hormones and everything to do with awareness. I think anger is a mindset that clutters our thinking and we are angry because we have poisoned ourselves with thoughts of disappointment and frustration.

For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let’s face it, we are all angry at times. We are angry when things do not happen the way we want them to. Anger is a form of extreme disappointment that we think we are directing towards what we believe to be the source of the disappointment, but in fact, we direct it only towards ourselves. When I think of anger, I immediately see a bottle of poison.

Read the best tips and quotes on anger management

Anorexia: Love Your Body

Model smiling with diet symbolsWomen with Anorexia have issues with their body image and a feeling of helplessness and inability to control their life. The combination of these challenges makes them seek control in any way and not eating seems to them a great way to gain control.

Society around us obviously contributes a lot to the negative body image and self image girls have during childhood, through their teenage years and later on into adulthood. The image of an anorexic teen girl can be misleading. There are also many women are anorexic who need help.

One way of healing is learning to love your body.

Loving your body is giving yourself the permission to feel good physically and it must be done slowly, with love and with patience. If you are a parent or someone who wants to help an anorexic person, just saying, “You need to love your body”, will not make the required difference.

The best idea is to help the anorexic person search for good things – positive thoughts, encouragements, small bits of progress and every little achievement – to help change their perception of their life’s reality.

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Not Fair!

Little kids checking each other outIf you have ever spent more than 5 minutes around a group of children, you have heard at least one of them cry, “Not fair!” If you have more than one child of your own, or worse yet, you live in a “blended family” and have some kids who are yours and some who are not, it is very likely you have also heard this cry many times at home. “Not fair!”

In sober grown-up moments, we all know life is not fair, but when things get out of hand and we feel down, that innocent cry rises up inside us too. “It’s not fair! I’m a good boy/girl. Why is this happening to me? I don’t deserve this”.

Young human beings can only experience the world through their own senses. When they are unhappy, they cry and someone makes everything all right again. Later on, they learn to identify that someone as “Mommy” or “Daddy”, but the world still revolves around them and Mommy and Daddy still do whatever it takes to make the child happy again.

As the grow up, kids begin to notice other people, but they only perceive these other people’s effect on them and do not understand that the other people have their own (different) thoughts and feelings. The most they can imagine is that other people feel exactly the way they feel themselves, that they are as cold, as happy or as sad at the same time.

Experimenters asked children what they believed to be the contents of a box that looked like a particular brand of sweets. After they guessed that the box contained sweets, they were shown that the box in fact contained pencils. The experimenters then closed the box again and asked the children what they thought someone else, who has not seen the contents of the box, would think was inside. Children up to age 4 or even 5 said the other person would say, “Pencils”, because they already knew.

Read more about how to be happy in life

Accepting vs. Expecting Bad Luck

clip_image004_thumb[3]It has been a little while since I last wrote a post (OK, a long while). Sorry for the extended hiatus. I was recently accepted into an honors degree in Psychology and in order to graduate before I am old and grey, I took on some extra subjects. A lot of study and not a lot of sleep going on, but in any case, I have been bursting with ideas for posts. I thought I would put in a quick one for your reading pleasure. The topic: accepting vs. expecting bad luck.

A friend of mine, Ashleigh, has been having a bit of a hard time. Things have been going a little pear shaped and getting a bit too much for her. Unfortunately for my friend, this is somewhat of a recurring theme in her life. In any case, we chatted one night about life, love and the universe, and Ashleigh decided to justify her predicament by saying that bad periods in life should be expected. Things HAVE to go wrong at some point and we should not be surprised when they do.

Well, I do not know about that. I would be the first person to concede that life is a rollercoaster (especially my life!). It has its ups and downs, and you cannot truly appreciate the good things if nothing bad ever happens. But there is a huge difference between accepting bad things and expecting them.

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I believe in you (3): Being Proud

Happy kidsDuring the camp, I noticed the kids did not display a sense of pride in themselves. They talked freely about being proud of a team they admired in sport, but had quite a different attitude towards being proud of themselves, their family or their class.

I discovered the difficulty of the “pride” feeling at a very early stage, when I asked each of the kids to introduce themselves and then to tell the group something about themselves they were proud of. Everyone, kids and adults, looked at me in surprise.

Recognizing my own feelings is the basic level of emotional intelligence, so I thought that when we address leadership, recognizing things I am good at as a starter would be a good way for the kids to start appreciating their strengths. I was not surprised to see how much easier it was for kids (and grownups) to talk about things they were not proud of, as if they had practiced those so much they came to them naturally.

Most of the kids struggled with the idea of being proud. I pushed them by giving an example. I said, “I’m Ronit (we were still getting to know one another) and I’m very proud of myself for organizing this camp”. Some shy kids said hesitantly they were proud of themselves for having been chosen to be in this camp, but most of them said they did not know what to say. They used words like “boasting” and “bragging”, being “full of themselves” and “arrogant” as the reasons they could not find anything they were proud of.

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