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Archive for June, 2010

“In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children but
what you have taught them to do for themselves that
will make them successful human beings.”
Ann Landers

I received such good feedback on my article on serving children’s needs (not necessarily their wants) link that I thought I’d share with you an article sent to me by my good friend Charlie Bloom: http://bloomwork.com/home.html

What Really Spoils Our Children?
John Robbins

No parent wants to raise a spoiled brat-a kid who is selfish, demanding, and insensitive to others.

But what is it that spoils children? I don’t think it’s an abundance of love and thoughtful attention. I think it more likely happens when we substitute material things for genuine love, when we try to give them everything they want, when we try to appease their every desire, when we indulge them with loads of toys and feel like failures if they aren’t always happy.

I think spoiling happens when we give our kids junk food that provides short- term pleasure, instead of providing them with real nourishment.

The truth is that we live in a culture where, as environmentalist Bill McKibben puts it, “almost everyone is a little spoiled, where spoiling children underwrites a significant part of the economy.”

If a child’s needs become so paramount to the parents that they sacrifice everything, the child feels insecure, with little chance to learn how to live a self- reliant life. If parents can’t tolerate any discomfort from their child, if they can never say no to him or her, the child grows fearful. If parents have no sources of joy other than their children, the children may believe they are the center of the universe.

What spoils kids is when they are taught to fill up their emptiness from the outside by purchasing things and activities, rather than learning how to fill themselves up from the inside through making good choices, caring, and creativity.

It’s not love that spoils our kids. They become spoiled when we ply them with too many toys, too much stimulation, and too much of the wrong kind of attention. They become spoiled when they learn, often from our example, to identify their self- worth with other’s approval, with how they look, with how much stuff they have, with how expensive their clothes are, or with how large their homes are.

We spoil our kids when we teach them to meet their deepest spiritual and emotional needs with material things. We spoil them when we don’t help them to learn to deal with disappointment or to learn about the joys of helping others.

Spoiling happens when kids aren’t helped to know their own inner beauty, when they feel they will be valued only for their looks, possessions, or performance. Spoiling happens when children aren’t celebrated for who they are, when they are forced to pretend, to put on a mask, to ignore their own deepest promptings and truth. Spoiling happens when kids aren’t valued for their inner qualities, their kindness, their laughter, their inspirations, their passion for life.

You may sometimes feel that children aren’t listening to you, but I can assure you they are always watching you. They may not seem to be heeding your words, but they are paying a great deal of attention to your example. They are great imitators, so be careful what you give them to imitate.

“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.”
Charles R. Swindoll

The following poem was written by Mary Rita Schilke Korzan, in gratitude to her mother, Blanche Schilke. She didn’t thank her mom for the money she spent on her, for the presents she bought her, or for the advice she gave her. She didn’t thank her mother for sending her to the best schools or for making sure she had designer clothes.

But it’s a poem that I think any parent would be grateful and happy to someday receive from a grown child. May it remind us all that the example we set for our children by the way we live is our real message to them.

“When you thought I wasn’t looking,
You hung my first painting on the refrigerator,
And I wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
You fed a stray cat,
And I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
You baked a birthday cake just for me,
And I knew that little things were special things.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
You said a prayer,
And I believed there was a God that I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
You kissed me goodnight,
And I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes,
And I learned that sometimes things hurt
But that it’s alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
You smiled
And it made me want to look that pretty, too.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
You cared,
And I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I looked,
And wanted to say thanks
For all those things you did
When you thought I wasn’t looking.”

*************************

For practical and down to earth steps you can take to live in accord with the values expressed in this excerpt, read the whole book. John Robbins’ new book, The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less, is available now. For more information about John Robbins and his work, and for access to dozens of his articles and posts, click here.

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“Life is about learning lessons”

Martha Borst

Have you ever found yourself encountering one catastrophe after another? You get a flat tire on the highway. A few days later, you get the flu. Then, as if that’s not enough, the plumbing goes out in the bathroom and your cleaning woman quits. Are these things connected? I don’t know because I don’t own the Truth but I do think it’s worth taking a look at what might be going on energetically that perpetrates such breakdown.

In my life experience I have found that when such things occur, there is some lesson for me to learn. Perhaps it means I need to be more conscious, proactive, or responsible. Maybe I need to learn that things don’t just run smoothly on their own and that it requires conscious attention on my part to proactively be aware of and attend to potential problems before they occur.

What if life is about learning lessons? What if . . .

1)  Life is constantly serving up lessons to help us evolve as responsible human beings. We are enrolled in a full-time informal school called life.  Each day in this school we will have the opportunity to learn lessons.  We may like the lessons or find them irrelevant and stupid, it doesn’t matter. The lessons will be there.

2) We will be served a lesson when we are ready to learn it and not before. If a lesson is being served then it is time to take the next step in our growth. We are never given something we can’t handle or that we aren’t ready for.

3) If we don’t learn a lesson when it is presented, it will come back bigger and louder. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it.  For some people, it has to get VERY uncomfortable before they are willing to learn.

4) A lesson is repeated until it is learned. (Notice I am repeating this.)

5) If you don’t know what the lesson is, ask yourself – “What am I resisting? What have I been unwilling or refusing to do? What have I been pretending not to see/know? What have I been avoiding? What have I not been willing to accept?”

6) Many people go through their lives never learning the lessons they need to in order to have an effective, joyful, free, abundant life.

7) Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons.  If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

8) There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error; experimentation.  The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works”.

9) Life is about learning lessons. Once you learn a lesson, there will be another lesson.

What if lessons are not problems, but are instead a constant opportunity to grow and develop?

What if we all learned them before they got big and loud?  It would be a different world wouldn’t it?

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“A child, like your stomach, doesn’t need all you can afford to give it.”
Frank A. Clark

A parent is someone who identifies and meets the legitimate needs of their children and prepares them to meet the world with self-confidence, self-reliance, a sound sense of accountability and an understanding of their responsibility to contribute to the health and well being of the world around them. To be a parent we must serve their needs.

Please note that I did not say that our job is to give them what they want, be it material things or the freedom to do whatever they like. Even when it seems easier to give in, to let them have it “this once”, to succumb to their pleading, begging, tantrums, slamming doors, tears and manipulations, in the long run, it is the toughest road because to do so makes us slaves of our children. We must be careful to use good judgment and not always give them what they want when they want it. Slaves do what others want. Servants do what others need.

Imagine a home where children are constantly given what they want. It is most likely a chaotic, unruly, loud and angry home where the children “rule”. It is not a happy place, because when one listens to what one wants and not what one needs, there will never be enough and there will always be dissatisfaction. It is hardly an effective way to prepare a child for life. The world out there is just waiting to show them what happens to people who think they deserve to have what they want. We never do our children any favors by avoiding discipline. They need boundaries and rules. Mind you, they don’t want them and they will fight against them, but they desperately need them. Without them they don’t feel safe.

The world today can be a dangerous place and children are faced with a lot of peer pressure and negative influences. If they don’t maintain firm boundaries, they are left to the mercy of external environmental influences and they have not yet developed the muscles to always stay strong, to say “no” – to not follow the crowd. If they can make their parents the “bad guys” and can say, “I can’t go to that party because my mean parents won’t let me,” they have an escape and can save face.

As our children grow older and especially into their teens, it is also important to gradually give them more responsibilities and freedoms (with guidance) so they can learn how to manage their lives effectively. Having too many “rules” can be stifling and that will instigate rebellion and havoc as well. Maintaining a healthy balance and granting privileges as the child is able to handle them is in their best interest and teaches self management.

“A want is simply a wish or desire without any regard for the physical or psychological consequences. A need, on the other hand, is a legitimate physical requirement for the well being of a human being.”
Author Unknown

As parents isn’t it our responsibility to serve our children and to know the difference?

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“The leader must know, must know that he knows, and must be able to make it abundantly clear to those about him that he knows.
Clarence B. Randall

Definition of a leader: One who influences others
Definition of leadership: The ability to influence others to actively and enthusiastically work toward accomplishing a common goal.

How do we get people (employees, children, etc.) to do what we want them to do? How do we get them to willingly align their ideas, commitment, creativity, excellence and actions behind what we want them to do when they are actually in control of all those things. How does a leader get his people (employees, children, etc.) to be voluntarily involved mentally, emotionally, physically and energetically?

You have a choice. Each involves using your power. You can lead/influence by control. That is to say, you can coerce, manipulate and direct someone to fulfill your will through domination and fear. You can use your position, size, money, etc. to threaten or cajole others to do what you want. We are all familiar with this style. Businesses, families as well as the nightly news are filled with examples: “Do it or else I’ll fire you, demote you, embarrass you, bomb you, ground you, beat you up, etc.” This is using power to over-power others and always ends up separating people into taking sides. It then becomes “us vs. them”, an unpleasant game where eventually, everyone loses, emotionally, physically and energetically.

Another way to use your power is to empower and influence through authority which basically is your ability to get people to willingly want to fulfill your will because of your personal influence, not because you made them, but because you asked them to. It is a skill that can be learned and it flows from within. It is who you are as a person, your character, your clarity, certainly, conviction and commitment. A person with authority is centered and grounded and everyone around them senses the boundaries immediately.

Power can be bought and sold, given and taken away. In fact the very reason that it can be taken away is why people control. They fear losing that control and so they are controlled by the need to control and end up overpowering. They operate from a survival context, always afraid of losing.

Authority, on the other hand, can never be taken away. It is your centered, grounded self. When you come from this place, you have a command over yourself and your circumstances and people soon realize that nothing can shake you. You are on a course of action and your confidence is alluring and draws people to you. People know a true leader when they see one. They can smell it and they are eager to follow because they sense safety with this person. He/she knows what they’re doing. They’re reliable, indomitable. They mean what they say and if there’s a breakdown, if their request isn’t followed, they won’t yell and scream or threaten, they will simply look you in the eye, hold you to your highest self and address the issue not attack you the person. When they speak, they hold everyone’s attention. They “hold court” so to speak. They choose their words carefully and are so comfortable with who they are they don’t need to flaunt their power. They hold people accountable and simply say, “I am disappointed. Do you agree this is not what I asked for and is not what you committed to? It needs to be fixed by tomorrow at noon. I trust you will make it happen.” There is no blame, no fault finding, but it is still clear that the job wasn’t done well, is unacceptable and needs to be completed immediately. When a person is respected and at the same time, held to high standards, the likelihood of something like that happening again is greatly reduced.

Authority is accepted and respected when there is a solid relationship based on trust. A leader who exercises authority doesn’t threaten to fire anyone, they simply hold their people to high standards of performance and in that space, only those with high standards will want to stay and play.

Power on the other hand, erodes relationships. Oh, yes, overpowering people can get things done for awhile but there’s a time when those being dominated will rebel, undermine and sabotage. History books are filled with evidence of the populous toppling dictatorial regimes. We also can identify companies that eat people up, squeeze everything they can out of them and then spit them out. Some of these organizations are even successful. So I cannot say that overpowering people never works. But each of us has to look within and at some point ask ourselves, is that how I truly want to live my life, especially when I can be equally successful by operating another way?

Exercise:
For a moment, look back in your life and think of three people in a leadership position who acted with authority. Perhaps a teacher, parent, coach. Make a list of the qualities these people exhibited. Now think of three people who exercised a controlling power over you or others. What characteristics were they lacking? What is the true difference between these two groups? What feelings do the two different groups generate within you now as you think about them today? Which ones would you eagerly follow?

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“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too.
All sorts of things can occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”
– W.H. Murray
Scottish Himalayan Expedition

The following poem represents the power we all have to change the face of things simply by taking a stand and aligning our energy with the infinite energy of the Universe/God. It was sent to me by a woman who wrote it when she was participating in one of my courses many years ago. I have always loved it and thought I’d share it with you, too.

Recipe for Dreams (that Come True)

An abundance of energy is all that we are.
The earth, wind, and water,
every far away star,
migrate through the millenniums
from near and from far.
Reality is
as i believe it to be.
Created by the power coursing through me.
And i always find what i expect to see.
So only without expectations am i totally free.
Deep within myself,
i know the place,
all of creation is mine to embrace.
Reality transforms as i reach out and touch grace.
Endless possibilities are mine in this space.
i announce my dream, my reason, my purpose for existence;
the path unwinds before me,
my perceptions the only resistance.
Blindly i go forth
seeking out each coincidence.
They are messages from the universe.
A recipe, in a sense.
The cosmos unites and excepts the command.
All energy aligned for i have taken a stand.
The ingredients are mine now.
it all seems quite planned.
My destiny,
my dream,
in the palm of my hand…

rie (Valerie Wilhelm 1992)

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“Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut!”
Martha Borst

The Tortoise and the Ducks

“Take me with you, please,” called a tortoise to a gray duck and a white duck that were flying overhead.

The ducks heard the tortoise and flew down toward him.

“Do you really wish to go with us?” asked the ducks as they came to the ground near the tortoise.

“I surely do,” replied the tortoise. “Will you please take me?”

“Why, yes, I think we can do so,” said the white duck slowly.

The two ducks talked together in low tones for a few minutes. Then they flew to the woods. They soon brought back a strong twig and dropped it in front of the tortoise.

“Now,” said the ducks, “if we take you off to see the world, you must promise us one thing.”

“What is that?” asked the tortoise. “I will promise almost anything if you will let me go.”

“You must promise not to say one word while you are in the air, NOT ONE WORD,” replied the ducks.

“All right, I promise,” said the tortoise. “Sometimes I do not say a word for a whole day because there is no one to listen to me.”

“Well, take firm hold of the middle of the twig; we are ready to start,” said the gray duck.

“If you value your life, you must hold on tightly,” said the white duck.

The tortoise took hold of the middle of the twig and each duck took hold of one end.

Then they flew up! up! up! while the tortoise swung from the middle of the twig. How he enjoyed it! He had never had such a ride.

They had gone a long way safely when they came to a hayfield. The haymakers looked up and saw the ducks and the tortoise.

“Ho! ho! the tortoise has stolen some wings,” called one of the haymakers.

“What a queer carriage he has!” laughed another in a loud voice.

“I pity his horses,” said another.

This made the tortoise so angry that he cried out, “You–” but no one knows what he was going to say, for he fell to the ground and was killed.

Fifty Famous Fables by Lida Brown McMurry

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