747 Relax and Succeed - Pain is inevitable

Let’s make one thing clear for (especially for people in their teens and twenties): it obviously hurts really badly when we feel someone has rejected us after we’ve opened up to them and loved them. That is the most meaningful connection in the world and every version of it is valuable.

Simultaneously, it’s important to remember that when we’re young we only have one or maybe two experiences to judge by, so it’s wise to remember that our views of any experience will always change over time. It won’t always hurt as much as it does when we’re young (I promise).

In the best cases we make good use of those painful experiences. The pain will be what makes us more compassionate and successful when we’re trying to help someone else who is suffering. Over time we come to value even painful experiences because we eventually realize that they are what connects us so strongly to other people.

Whether it’s with the ones who were there for us when we were in pain, or the connection we feel to the people who are currently experiencing a pain that we know personally, our love and our suffering increases our capacity for compassion.

Love is a huge feeling. Huge. The first time we feel one end, it makes sense that it feels like the entire world has ended. We can see why love’s such a big deal in art and life. Whether through romance or compassion the feeling is like no other connection.

Once we establish one super-strong connection it’s agony to yank it out of our lives. But over time we even get used to that. It can seem incredibly horrible but it’s true, and that fact actually adds the richness of life. Sometimes we’ll even volunteer for it, because sometimes that horrible feeling of it ending is still better than being in the relationship.

747 Relax and Succeed - You can be the ripest juiciest peach

The important thing is this: if we’re feeling rejected we don’t want to be concluding that we are being rejected. People can reject situations and choices and beliefs but they can’t reject a person. What would that even mean? All they can do is think about the other person differently and/or maybe they can physically place themselves elsewhere, but neither thing negates our value.

Thinking we’ve been completely rejected because our relationship ended is like saying that if someone leaves Paris for Rome that they’re saying Paris is worthless. The assessment of Paris’s worth happens inside each individual’s head, and everyone thinks their own thoughts, so just as some are moving from Paris to Rome, some are doing the exact opposite because they have different values and appreciate different things.

If there are almost eight billion points of view on the planet then it’s a guarantee that a huge number of them will love Paris just as a huge number —given a real chance— will love us.

Heartbreaks will hurt. But someone rejecting us does not diminish our overall value in this universe. We’ll think that it does for a while, but then it’s up to us to return to the awareness that our value is inherent and that it is only through our agonized thoughts that we are creating our agonized suffering. We are simply feeling the thoughts we are thinking in our attempt to deny reality.

We all naturally glow like the sun and the only thing that can interfere with that light is some temporary clouds in our thinking. Just remember that being lost or in pain or feeling rejected is all a part of this wonderful experience called life.

Both Paris and Rome will experience both sun and cloud. But by experiencing the agonizing parts of life in either place, each of us is primed to properly value the intense and beautiful connection that comes with the compassion and love we do receive.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #49

575 Relax and Succeed - Trying to understand

Welcome to the final Friday Dose of 2014. Thanks for your emails and calls and messages about The Dose throughout the year. I’m glad you find these distractions are helpful as you seek to alter the course of any counter-productive or unnecessarily painful thinking you are doing. Today we’ve got a fascinating mixed bag. We’ll start off with something really cool. There are some advantages to studying the human brain from the inside rather than the outside, so here’s a little prediction for you from my perspective: in the future this story here turns out to be a much, much bigger deal than it currently appears to be:

Researchers Discover How To Control Genes With Brainwaves


Next we’ll throw a life preserver to all of those parents of teen girls who are going through a massive hormone shift that is even crazier for the girls than it is for their parents. There’s a reason many cultures sent 13 year old girls away. And yet it is simply a biochemical aspect of growing up. They have to pass through puberty to get to adulthood. But it isn’t easy for anyone. But it can be easy-er. The hormones are the hormones and there will absolutely be wild behaviour swings. But this can be a time when bad relationships develop between one or more of the parents and the semi out-of-control teen. So this inevitable process is best met with compassion and as much understanding as we can muster. Below is a list posted on The Huffington Post. I found it quite comprehensive and would highly recommend it as worthwhile reading for anyone raising a tween or teen:

14 Essential Truths About Raising a Tween Girl


I’ve written about these subjects before. And let’s finish off with a heartwarming story about a new way to deal with dementia patients. With an aging population more and more of us can expect to be afflicted or related to someone who is. It’s no surprise to me that the latest innovation in compassion and effectiveness comes from the Netherlands. Below is a an interview that introduces a full documentary. I’ll put the promo below so you can get a feel for what the piece is about, and under that I’ll include the link to the full program. It’s pretty interesting. Especially for those struggling with these issues:




CNN World’s Untold Stories: Dementia Village

Thank you for your time. Have yourself a wonderful day!

peace. s


The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Focus on these and change your mind. Enjoy.

Teen Parents

An extremely common thing I am approached about is teens who begin to exhibit behaviors that are perceived to be undesirable. I’ve never actually counted them, but I’m confident they would be my most common client—them or their parents or some combination of both. Because it’s so common it’s also a good basis for discussing the concept of separate realities, so I’ll use it as a case study to explain where the tension comes from and what you can do about it.

553 Relax and Succeed - No one should abandon dutiesHuman beings are wired up not to notice things if they’re too repetitive. Better to invest the available brainpower in something useful, than to constantly stop everyth—SQUIRREL!!! You get my point. So if something goes on too long, it becomes invisible to us by being absent from our consciousness. As I often note, pig farmers don’t smell pigs.

A good example of this is one of the subtle things that happens to parents: they have, for more than a decade, unconsciously been the undisputed masters of their kids schedules, activities, resources and wisdom. So when the child actually begins to change that relationship by having their own ideas, that stands out as extremely noticeable to a parent. It is a shift from near-absolute automatically presumed control, to an inability to control, combined with belligerence and distance. It’s like a two year old with a driver’s licence. To the parent it’s a real whack to the wiring in the brain and even the most open-minded person will need time to adjust.

From the kid’s perspective, they didn’t go looking for autonomy. All that happened was, they eventually had enough trusted outside sources of perspective to allow them to develop an idea about the world that differs from their parent’s. And they notice it when they do it. I remember doing this. It was startling. It was like a whole new way to be. And kids like this new thing to do with their mind, and so they exercise it a lot—which is understandably insanely frustrating to their parents who, until then, could wade in and end any big kerfuffle quickly and effectively. There is no way to break up eye rolling. They either volunteer to quit rolling them or you voluntarily control homicidal fantasies on a fairly regular basis. Either way, for both parties it’s all new.

553 Relax and Succeed - You do not have to make your childrenThe kid is at a huge advantage. All of this capability of opinion is captivating. They develop paper-thin perspectives on everything. And blasting electricity into these new parts of the brain feels exciting and compelling. On the flip side, parents are pulling their hair out as they legitimately watch their carefully built lives completely upended by the dramatics that go with the hormones that go with the teen years. This whole era for the relationship is a much better deal for the kid than the parent.

What I want to focus on is the fact that the reason these two parties are in conflict is because of what is contained in their consciousness. The parent wants the kid to have a clean room, and the kid—at least some kids—previously kept their rooms clean out of a sort of blind obedience. But it’s not like a clean room ever had much actual value to a 10 year old. They’d live in a tree fort if they could. So they clean it out of obedience in a one-mind kind of way. They don’t recognize that they have certain autonomies and so they “behave.” But as they age those opportunities to decide appear more and more often and autonomy increases as a result. We never achieve pure independence, but that’s what we seem to target.

My point is that what is in the kid’s brain is legitimate. For a kid. Yeah, an adult can choose to think about how much they paid for the house and how they imagined it looking (like from a magazine), etc. So then this messy room gets converted into some glowing sign pointing at bad parenting, a bad kid, and a non-showhome home. But meanwhile the kid’s actually not doing anything wrong. Doesn’t it make sense that a teen isn’t necessarily going to be invested in the reasoning behind slaving to keep a gorgeous room that only the occupant will ever see? That’s saner than it is crazy.

553 Relax and Succeed - Yeah I made mistakesA lot of kids have trouble following the parent’s rules simply because their mind is filled with the sorts of things it should be at those ages. They are learning about who they are and an integral part of that involves learning things through experience. So they need to be involved in those experiences. They need to be invested in their own life and priorities to a large degree. If they’re destroying your home, kick them out. But if they leave socks on the floor well… so do lots of great people.

It is not unreasonable for parents to feel violated if they have worked hard to buy nice things and live somewhere nice, and then have it be disrespected by the very people who they built it all for. In their imaginations they have built that castle in the sky and now they want to live in it. But the kid sees no such castle and so they simply cannot comprehend what you mean when you describe their mistakes as defying logic and common sense. Because they cannot see the future you see, they cannot imagine what logical steps would get them there.

This process is entirely innocent. The kids aren’t aware they’re doing it, and yet the parents have every reason to feel exasperated on a regular basis. It’s simply the chemistry of those ages. It’s why older parents like mine are much more sanguine about things. They weren’t when my much-older brothers were kids. But by the time I rolled around they were wiser, and I got the benefit of that. They just didn’t offer much resistance at all and I was given general support, but never firmly guided on what to do. I’m sure I looked lazy for a while, especially during the time where my friends and I spent long summer days in the basement playing video games. But those friends grew into good men, and we’ve all gone on to good lives.

Periods of apparent drift shouldn’t be worried about too much, because it makes perfect sense that a teenager would not have the same priorities as someone in middle age. They are learning to socialize and this automatically translates to at least some failure as they learn to make their way through life. But however they get there, if children have been around respectful, positive, compassionate behaviour for most of their life, then they’ll have learned all they need to be truly successful.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #8 – Expanding Understanding

323 Relax and Succeed - The tiny seedWe’ll start this week’s Dose off with a look at teens. They can sure frustrate and perplex their parents but we must keep in mind the context they are in. They are at a phase of life where they are subtracting their parents choices as they experiment with their own. Most often, most will adopt choices very similar to their parents—eventually, after some bad experiences picking the opposite. But they’ll also find their own ways too. It’s just important to keep in mind the social environment they’re in. They’re trying to look impressive, so for them to exaggerate or over-dramatize life is in keeping with the phase they’re in. This where they will build much of their identity and they need room to experiment with what it will include. This interview is certainly an excellent peak into their psychology on line. I highly recommend it—and her book—for all tween and teen parents:

Understanding the Social Lives of Networked Teens


And from the same program, here’s a guy who might initially appear to be a geeky, socially inept nerd, but in fact he’s simply being uncharacteristically honest about how the human mind actually works. If you’re the type of person who gets locked into your work and you’re self-aware enough about that to know you need a way to remind yourself to demonstratively love your spouse, then creating a mechanism to remind you of something true isn’t unromantic at all. In fact it’s actually quite romantic. The person that creates that tool doesn’t have to just remember to call, they have to actually work to build something to make sure that happens. That’s a nice way to think of someone else. It’s worth a listen:

Tools for Love


And we’ll finish with some meditation. Often times people find meditation difficult because they find it challenging to quiet their own personal thinking. Artistry can often achieve this state of mind by fulling investing the viewer in the experience. Here’s something that has nothing in it for you personally. There’s no gain or loss for you other than the experience itself. It is simply a reality on which your mind can rest. I hope you find it as rewarding and soul-enhancing as I did:




Have yourself a wonderful weekend because you chose to make it that way.

peace. s