The first thing I know about encouraging gratitude in others is don’t tell them to feel grateful; encourage them to feel everything. Gratitude, for it to be deep and consistent in our lives, comes from a sense of wholeness. When we learn to feel everything, we are more likely to recognize the feelings of gratitude. As we more fully hold our pain, sadness and hurt, we will also come to see their connection to love and joy. That is, our pain and hurt are evidence of our capacity for connection and love. Holding our pain and hurt with gentleness and awareness, we will begin to connect it to the things in our lives we most value. Instead, we often try to block out or “escape” our pain and in doing so we limit our capacity to feel joy and love.
Viewing entries posted in 2015
While facilitating family intensives at Evoke Therapy Programs, I ask each family member what they would like to gain from the 4-day workshop. They almost always say the same thing. They want to walk away with tools for a new way of communicating. While I know that not all of our relationship problems can be solved with communication tools, I find that there are some simple skills, which, if followed, begin to change the way we think and relate to others.
During my son’s time in wilderness therapy, my wife and I were asked to come for a day visit. The goal was nebulous, but I assumed it was simply to have some time to connect and to possibly provide his therapist with some information for future family therapy work. We made our trip out to the field area—only getting lost twice—and finally arrived at the boys group. Our reunion was tender and tearful. The simple way we used to describe the therapy to our youngest child, Isabella, was that Jake “was in the mountains, learning how to be happy.” It had been 8 weeks since we had last seen Jake, and after hugs and greetings, we sat down to learn about how and what he was doing. Although I had served hundreds of families as a wilderness therapist, I had never quite experienced the kind of joy I felt from seeing all this new growth and insight in my son.
Parents often believe that praise is the key to creating self-esteem in their child. This thinking is so common it deserves some lengthy evaluation.
Hard Work. In Nurture Shock, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman explore many commonly assumed parenting “truths” by looking to emerging research. One of the many topics they look at is the changing concept of self-esteem. They explore the relationship between our culture’s declining regard towards hard work and their research which shows a steady decline in self-worth—this is because hard work often instills a sense of purpose. For example, they concluded that hard work has been replaced by recreation in many American families. Another enlightening study reveals that praising accomplishments rather than praising effort often fosters a hunger for success at any cost. Children are more likely to cheat or choose a simple task to maintain the praise rather than attempt a more difficult task and risk losing their status as the “talented one.” Citing a study conducted at Columbia University where children were praised for success on a certain task, researchers found that such children chose to engage in less challenging activities. “Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control. They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”
The relationship between communication, connection and self-worth
I had the wonderful experience of being trained in Marriage and Family Therapy [MFT] at Loma Linda University. Part of that training included observation from a one-way mirror or reviewing video recordings of my therapy sessions with professors and supervisors. Often, my professor and I would watch clients on the video recordings addressing a variety of complaints and life problems, and my professor would pause the tape and ask me what I saw. In peeling back the layers, I always seemed to arrive at the conclusion that the origin of their struggles stemmed from poor or low self-esteem. He would follow with this challenge: “How do you raise esteem in a client?” His idea was that a relationship with an unconditional source, such as God, was the key. The question about how to engender self-esteem in others and especially in our children has been at the forefront of my mind ever since.
Utilizing Transport Companies: Allaying Fears, and Addressing Myths Associated with Adolescent Transport
Now that you have decided on the need for wilderness therapy, how do you make it happen? As evidenced by their need for a therapeutic placement, the ability of your child to make healthy decisions is lacking. If your child is at a point where they need such an intervention, it is often the case that they are not willing to dialogue or more importantly, cooperate with you about boundaries, interventions, therapy and most especially, wilderness therapy.