Why Do People Turn to Drugs and Alcohol?

Have you ever considered some of your maladaptive coping skills? You might turn to drugs or alcohol after a bad day. You might do a little retail therapy after a big fight with your spouse.

Do you know WHY you do this?

It’s often because you want to feel better immediately. You want those bad-feeling feelings to go away, if only for a few minutes or hours.

And who could blame you? Of course you want those bad-feeling feelings to go away.

But be careful that you do not brush your negative emotions under the rug permanently. Being distracted in healthy ways, like watching a funny video or going for a run, is a good way to relieve yourself from a flood of emotions, but ONLY TEMPORARILY. Your bad-feeling feelings will always find a way to rear their heads if you try to avoid them.

It is helpful to use an analogy to explain this. Imagine that your body starts feeling a little bit achy, so you take a painkiller. The painkiller makes you feel better almost immediately, but the effects are...

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Positive Thinking Is Rubbish (Sometimes)

From the time we are children, “positive thinking” is pounded into us.

We are bombarded with sentiments like:

  • “Look on the bright side!"
  • "Don’t be sad."
  • "Stay positive."
  • "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

The sentiment behind these pep-talks is admirable: A lot can be said about focusing on positive, empowering thoughts.

But the truth is that forcing positive thoughts when you feel lousy doesn’t work.

In fact, it can actually make you feel worse.

In one study, subjects were told of an unhappy event, but then instructed not to feel sad about it. They were, in essence, told to stay positive.

Guess what happened? 

They ended up feeling worse than subjects who were told of the event, but given no instructions about how to feel.

That’s right ...

If you are told to feel better when you aren’t ready to feel better, you end up feeling worse.

We call this the “tyranny of positive thinking.”

Sometimes, it can feel...

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Two Conversations About Money

Here are two tips for helping your children build healthy paradigms about money:

1. Replace “We can’t afford it.”

This phrase (and the belief it expresses) sets up a paradigm of being powerless with regard to money. On the other hand, if you frame it as a choice, such as, “I’m not going to choose to spend my money on that today,” you take your power back.

Sometimes you actually can afford it, you simply don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on the trivial or useless thing your child is asking you to buy. If you say, “We can’t afford it,” you are wasting an opportunity to say something that proactively builds a better paradigm about the relationship between values and money. More on that in a bit …

Even if you truly cannot afford it, saying that over and over to your child builds a disempowered model in their head of your family’s relationship with money. It communicates that you are never in a position to...

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Baseball and Resilience

Our friend and the president of the Santa Monica PONY Baseball league, Marc Shrake, has this to say of coaching: “Most of the kids know what to do; they just need to be taught how to figure out for themselves how to do it.” 

In other words, the wisdom exists inside of them. They just need to be taught how to find it.

He goes on to say that kids don’t need to be told every single time what to do when they swing and miss. Intellectually, they know what they are supposed to do.

“Most of the time, they need to be told to relax, take a deep breath, wait, trust their hands.”

The goal of coaching, he says, is that the kids learn to coach themselves. Instead of looking to the coach for step-by-step instructions, they look inward at what they already know. 

This is also the goal of teaching resilience. The goal is that over time, your kids can figure out for themselves how to tap into their Inner Wisdom. The goal is that they figure out for themselves...

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Let Them Feel Pain

No well-adjusted parents enjoy seeing their children sad, in pain, or fearful.

Yet …

When your children are experiencing negative emotions, do your best to remain calm. Do your best to receive those emotions and communicate that they are acceptable. Demand of yourself that you step back and allow your children to work through these emotions.

You can and should help them process their pain through conversation, of course, but do not rush to sweep their icky feelings away.

When you rush to do anything—everything!—to make your children feel better …

When you panic and, through language and tone, express that you are also flooded with pain …

When you step in and save the day …

… think about what you inadvertently communicate …

You communicate that pain is an unacceptable condition. You model the frantic need to make pain go away at all costs. You model the behavior of reaching for anything to make negative feelings dissipate.

This is...

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Prod the Bear

Do you revisit conflict when tempers have cooled?

Or …

When your child has a giant emotional meltdown, do you breathe a sigh of relief after it passes and go about your business?

Don’t prod a sleeping bear, right?

The truth is, the gold is in the second half. When you and your child revisit a conflict with clear heads, you can find solutions. This is where growth happens. It is where you and your child can begin to appreciate each other’s perspectives, and it is where you can find solutions absent of the flood of emotions that were clouding your thoughts in round one.

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