The Friday Dose #113 – Addictions

931 FD Relax and Succeed - We may not be responsibleFor many years there was just a few of us offering a different idea of what an addiction was and how they truly worked. Until recently very few other practitioners subscribed to the idea because we made the addicts innocent. Even before that we also made the addicts culpable so the addicts didn’t like it either–at first.

Slowly addicts understood our point and successes piled up. People did believe there was a way to change their behaviours. Supporting science was done and articles were written. Increasingly people switched over to this other way of doing things until now it is fair to say that the model that people like Gabor Mate or myself were using is now considered the most logical and effective and now it’s only a matter of time before more recently trained or re-trained professionals start implementing these approaches in more clinics around the world.

There are a lot of things we can be addicted to. Alcohol, prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs, sleep aids, gambling, sex, work or even exercise, but each of these is pursued in lieu of something else and that is why the addicts are comfortable with their culpability because they come to understand it was innocent. They were acting outside of their own best interests but that was only because they hadn’t fully considered all of the definitions of what their best interests might include.

Kicking an addiction can take more time than other things but is no more difficult than changing any other behaviour if pursued the right way. And by going about things that way, once you’re finished with that process you’re not clinging to your health for the rest of your life. You are moving forward with understanding and confidence that you know the route back to addiction but it simply doesn’t interest you because your life is so rewarding to live.

Create a wonderful weekend for yourselves everyone. 

Much love, s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Parenting vs Exampling

It is extremely common for parents to come to me with what they feel are problem children. They talk about behavioral issues, worrisome friends, disrespect, aloofness, bad grades, or casual sex etc. Certainly there’s almost always at least a few kids in my roster who genuinely need some serious help from me, but I’m happy to report that most don’t need much. In fact, in most cases the kid barely needs me at all. Because the issue actually isn’t with the kid. And it’s not with the parents either. But it is with the parenting.

549 Relax and Succeed - The kids who need the most loveAgain: this isn’t to say the parents are bad. Their dedication isn’t an issue, and all of them are intelligent, successful people in whatever life path they pursued. They bring their kids to me because they love them and want them to do well. They’ve invested time and money and effort and endured all kinds of things before they meet me. And always, the kid in front of me is—despite their issues—impressive in all sorts of ways. So the parents have overwhelmingly succeeded, despite a few lingering concerns. In the end, the problem is really very simple: it’s just that most people don’t parent as consciously as they believe they do, so once I help them become more conscious they certainly don’t need any advice from me.

Parents will believe they’re putting a lot into their parenting by giving a lot of thought to their kid’s development and their “issues.” And they are putting a lot in, in a way. But it’s largely wasted energy because their parenting is choosing and inflating those issues unconsciously as a reflective or reciprocal resp0nse to the parenting they got. So if you feel like your life would have gone better if you paid more attention in school and your parents never pushed you in school, then you will be more urgent about trying to get your children to do well in class. But it’s also logical that if you did well in school and that brought rewards, then you will also urge your child to do really well so they can have those rewards too. Yet at the same time, it makes sense that a kid who is 549 Relax and Succeed - Make the ordinary come alivepushed too hard could crater and drop out from the pressure, even though they’re smart. The point is, you’ll act a lot like your parents, or a lot like the opposite of your parents, and you’ll do this in super subtle ways that you will find largely invisible, except for a few key issues (“Oh my God, I sound like my Mother!!”)

So most parenting is based in fear, and on the act of trying to prevent bad things from happening, and the parents choose the bad things they’re most afraid of based on their own lives and the parenting they got. If your mother’s sister died from drowning then you can bet that you’ll be taught to be extra wary when you’re near water. Or if your dad was never home because he was always working, you will have unconsciously learned to leave work exactly on time for the rest of your life, because you want to get home to your kids. Those are the kinds of motivations that create unconscious parenting.

Can you see how that’s like a crazy chain of misinformation and misunderstanding? You don’t need to manage a kid’s life like you’re their agent. There’s little need to focus on individual areas of a child if they feel fully actualized by parents who are parenting under the automatic assumption that their kid will be a successful human being. Not in an egotistical, materialistic 549 Relax and Succeed - The best security blanketway, but rather they will be confident enough to do as well as they should at whatever they try. So some things they’ll be built for, other things not so much, but they’ll feel secure doing either. We’re all crappy at some things, so if a parent’s focused on their child’s weak points, the child will soon have no self esteem and that is the worst blow of all.

If you really want to have an effect, the most effective form of parenting is exampling. If you and your spouse yell at each other, then you have no business telling your kid not to yell. That’s ridiculous. So they have to live to a higher standard than you? No wonder they’re sassy; you’re a hypocrite. And if you’re constantly focused on their bad classes and wanting them to do great in every subject, then again—they’re doomed. No one is good at everything. 80% of the world believes they are bad a math. For God’s sake, let them be a human. They’re allowed not to be good at things and so are you. Everyone gets that by birth.

School and sports have become like the stock market. They drive people insane. The book publishing industry was historically a 4-6% profit business. But then big international media companies bought all the publishers and because they were publicly traded, they wanted the same 15% a year that all their other businesses are whipped into providing—as though 6% is a failure. But of course, the desire of the market to make 15% does not change the state of the world any more than the existence of schools and classes means that kids should be good at 549 Relax and Succeed - The educational systemevery subject that gets invented. It doesn’t matter if you want 15% or A’s, sometimes 6% and C’s are all that’s available. And it seems cruel to whip a zebra because it’s not a horse.

Most people are much, much smarter than they give themselves credit for. But they limit themselves with narratives that they’re stupid or incapable. And those scripts come from responding to the demands of parents. You don’t want to push a kid into a subject, you want them to be inspired toward it. And for the few things they’ll suck at, you can use those as life lessons about how everyone has things they struggle at and that’s okay.

So the best thing you can do is, if you want your kids to focus, focus yourself. If you want them to speak respectfully, then speak respectfully yourself. If you want them to be kind to others, then be kind to others 549 Relax and Succeed - Behind every great kidyourself. If you want them to get their stuff done, get your stuff done. And if you want them to care about something, don’t demand it. Care about it yourself. Because you don’t build a kid. You nurture one, and they’ll grow toward the light.

Forget talk-parenting. Forget lessons. Take some responsibility for their behaviour. Example what you want to see. Show it to them and they’ll amaze you.

I normally would have stopped at the previous paragraph but I want to take a moment to stress that the example above is common. A lot of my current and past clients read the blog regularly and it’s remarkable to me how often they all constantly believe a blog is about them specifically. It shows how much we’re all the same. These are always amalgamations and re-creations of many experiences. So if you’re insecure about you’re parenting, this truly isn’t about any individual, it’s about you the human being. And I do hope it helps de-stress you so that you and your child can more fully enjoy each other’s company. Because I’m confident you’re doing a better job than you think you are.

with love, s

Disadvantaged Youth

452 Relax and Succeed - I am twoWhen parents talk about kids having it easy, they’re talking about the fact that they’re not dealing with either money or relationship issues. But to the child their challenges are very real and the emotions they face as a result are the exact same ones we face.

This means terrible disappointment feels like terrible disappointment whether we’re broken up about a divorce, or broken up about the fact that we can’t play at our favourite friend’s house. Relatively speaking, the disappointment is just as big and it’s felt just as strongly and we would do well to remember that.

Another thing worth remembering is the fact that kids are human. We see this all the time. A child is considered to have misbehaved every time they do something other than exactly what the parent wanted. They essentially get scolded for being their age.

Kids learn through interaction. They learn through trial and error. To be scolded for that is to be scolded for being human.

It’s understandable that parents get frustrated when their kids repeatedly drop stuff off their high chair in their attempt to understand concepts like gravity or here and gone—but we put up with it because they’re babies or toddlers.

Notably, as soon as kids can talk they’re treated increasingly more like employees or soldiers. They’re simply supposed to do what they’re told and anything else is classified as misbehaving.

There is a very good reason for a parent to have time sensitivity in the modern world,  but there is also a very valid reason that explains why making adult choices about time management are impossible for a kid. These are often days where parents can create teaching moments regarding how to apologize.

452 Relax and Succeed - So often children are punishedThere are days where you get a bad sleep. Maybe it was the way your body was positioned. Maybe it was the dreams you had. Or maybe you’re ill and don’t know it. But everyone’s woken up feeling less than ideal and it makes the day a lot harder. Diets can impact our moods as can the various bacteria and virii that compromise much of who we say is “us.”

Again, notably, adults can have those bad days. Kids don’t get bad days. Kids are being bad when they’re disagreeable. They don’t have the luxury of a grumpy day from a rough sleep or through not feeling well. We won’t give them that latitude. If a problem’s not visible, we act as though they are irrelevant.

Kids can’t want something different, they can’t need some time alone. Every disagreement is seen as bad behaviour rather than recognizing that it’s very often just being created by the simple and very real differences between the parent’s personality and the kid’s. In short, a kid isn’t obstinate and difficult—they know who they are and they know what directions feel like theirs.

The fact that society makes demands on them that are unnatural doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the kid—the concept of society itself is just a subconscious agreement we all make to follow largely silly unnatural patterns. Just because some guy invents the concepts of a clock and a job doesn’t mean that an actual individual human being is wise to live their life according to those two things. (See: Intentional Being Video)

452 Relax and Succeed - Normal is getting dressed in clothesIf we want to be truly healthy we have to respect what we are in nature and stop forcing ourselves into the shapes that society demands for conformity. Kids are still wise enough to resist that pressure as unnatural. Adults get subdued into a state of mind where they just follow the patterns and lose all consciousness. And then they wonder why they barely laugh while kids laugh all day.

Yes, kids need to learn society’s systems because those are mostly formalized methods societies have developed to manage large numbers of people, like traffic or the tax system, or how business works. Being able to flow with those things is helpful, but we do not want to do that at the expense of losing our Selves.

Humans are imperfect beings that learn as they go. Because of this, parents must maintain their emotional resilience while their kids test limits and make mistakes. Without that, we steal every individual’s ability to grow.

We all need to avoid an expectation of perfection from kids. We need to start to understand their behaviour not as something that’s not only relative to us and our rules, but as something unto itself. Because that’s what egos do—they assume everything has to do with them. So when a kid has a tantrum in a public place, the kid is making the parent look bad, rather than the kid is having their own very distressing experience.

Do we think back in our tribal history that when we saw a kid freaking out that our reaction was to try to get them to conform so we would look good to our fellow tribesmen? Or do we think we would have watched them in an attempt to understand their actions. Might we then see that the kid is discovering how the world works, or maybe they’re actually noticing something valuable that we’re missing?

452 Relax and Succeed - Childhood is not a mental disorderParents will have conflict with their kids when they try to talk them out of a noisy instrument like drums in favour of some musical instrument they have zero interest in. If a kid loves drums and we buy them a guitar because it’s quieter, then the kid isn’t being difficult by not wanting to go to guitar lessons—he or she is just being a drummer.

Largely we spend too much time reciting complaints and shortcomings to kids. We need to stop and ask ourselves if what they’re moving toward is really a problem, or are we creating one by wanting them to do what you expected rather than what was natural for them?

As an example, some people are naturally nighthawks and some people are natural early-risers. An early-rising parent who forces a nighthawk awake is placing a greater value on society’s external rules than on nature. Even their love for and appreciation of the individual that is their child doesn’t overcome that. We may not find that fact convenient but it’s true.

Cities and nations etc. make us conform. We have to surrender who we are to some degree to function smoothly with others. But beyond that a lot of people will still demand changes just to suit them personally. We can’t blame kids for pushing back against any unnecessary restriction–because they’re right. It’s not them that’s wrong; we’re the ones who’ve been brainwashed and convinced to subjugate our own natural impulses just a little too often.

452 Relax and Succeed - Play is often talked aboutWe need to watch ourselves around kids to make sure we’re behaving less as a corrections officer at a prison camp filled with rules, and more as a fellow human being who is co-discovering the world alongside them.

In the jungle there are no bedtimes, no wake times, no school and no rules. There is the world and how it works and after that everyone’s allowed to be who they are. And it works, because that kid in the jungle will know and understand his world far better than any city kid who only sees the world as a set of pre-organized concepts that can only be manipulated in pre-decided ways, like life is a Transformer that can be this or that, rather than it being like Lego where it has the freedom to be anything.

Kids are people first and the children of their parents second. It helps them if we respect them as individuals. Instead of telling them what to do we need to try listening for who they are. What do they place a value on that we don’t?

Maybe no one in our family plays an instrument but our kid sits at every piano he sees. Now that’s a kid to put in music lessons. Maybe we want them to sit still and they can’t. Well maybe they’re a kinetic kid who’s a dancer or an athlete. Maybe our kid likes to be off alone drawing or reading. That’s not anti-social, that’s a dedication to practising something important.

We all need to respect children. They do need our help establishing healthy limits. But we shouldn’t always assume we know best. Yes, for practical daily reasons sometimes they just have to water-ski along behind our days. But whenever possible, we really should do our best to try to see their behaviour as having less to do with us and life’s rules, and more to do with their own individuality and how that meets this great big world.

Ultimately a parent’s job isn’t to teach a child who to become, it’s to stay aware enough to be able to help each child realize who they already are.

peace. s