Happiness, Addictions, and Letting Go

iStock_000017804760XSmall

Don't We All Want to Belong?

Don't We All Want to Belong?

One of the advantages of adulthood is being able to selectively avoid new situations and, I suppose, that’s a reason, too, why more adults are lonelier than kids.  It sure is tough to make the transition from elementary school to junior high.  Even with old friends by our side, there are the inner jitters of a new place.  “Where do I go?” “What if I end up in the wrong class?” and then what happens if we meet some kid who just does not like our looks, our name, or the color of our backpack?  Don’t we all want to belong?

Junior high presents the firsthand conscious experience of fitting in or not.  Look back on your own experience and recall what memories are stirred up in that block of grades from sixth to eighth. I think of sitting next to Bill and laughing at our private jokes during class.  I remember, too, getting tackled on the playground by an eighth grader for the “fun” of it.  The guy who wrote the screenplay for the old movie, My Bodyguard, knew something about the difficulty of belonging in a new school.

So how do we help those whom we love punch through the necessary new events in life?  The simplest wisdom is that it will get better if you work at it.  When “get better” arrives is, of course, not guaranteed for this year.  Nonetheless, while most John Hughes movies suggest adolescent anguish is wrapped up in about two hours, helping kids see that sustained efforts at friendliness can pay off in the long run and in life, and is a durable lesson worth learning. Allowing a child to sort through options and experimenting with alternatives promotes the kind of growth school is about.  My son informed me shortly into the start of sixth grade year that a fellow classmate was peeing on him during showers after gym.  Three years of study at Northwestern University never covered that psychological topic.  Fortunately, with parental ballistic responses under firm control, Michael spoke up to the teacher and got the leak plugged.

Outside of school activities, it is important to encourage the interests the child expresses.  Finding a place to shine and a thing to do that is enjoyed for its own pleasure is a goal worth pursuing for the sake of contentment as well as personal achievement.  Having a natural refuge from some of the stresses of transition does much for the spirit.

Finally, we can do a great deal for our children’s hope by telling them that it really does get better as you get older.

Read more:

iStock_000016970047Small

How Can You Tell if Someone is Suicidal?

My friend Steve and I talked about him the last time we met for breakfast.  The three of us had been college classmates but Steve and Rich were closer in those years.  A few years after graduating school, Rich shot himself to death.  Neither of us could remember any sign or warning of his despair.  He was there in our lives and then gone.

IS PATH WARM - Warning Signs of Suicide to Watch Out For

“IS PATH WARM?” is a mnemonic device developed by Lanny Berman, Ph.D. (Executive Director, American Association of Suicidology) to identify acute risk factors for suicide.  I share it with you for we all want to be on our toes for those we care about.

I Ideation - directly or indirectly disclosed thinking of ending one’s life.
S Substance Use - misuse of alcohol or drugs.

P Purposeless - finding no meaning or value in living.
A Anxiety - a regular sense of being on edge; sleep problems.
T
Trapped - thinking that there is no other solution.
H
Hopelessness - and it will always be like this.

W Withdrawal - increased isolation from family, friends, and usual activities.
A
Anger - rage at self or others.
R
Recklessness - making risky and dangerous choices.
M
Mood Change - endless despair or a sudden and unexplained release from it.

In the thirty years I have worked as a psychologist, I have gone to court one time to speak with a judge about detaining someone in a hospital because of imminent danger of suicide.  This list captures many of the signs I saw back then.

More information on these suicidal risk factors is available at www.suicidology.org.

On a minor note, I recommend two books to bolster our strength before we get to despair: Endurance by Caroline Alexander and Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand.  These true stories, one of hardship and the other of wartime cruelty, and are breathtaking descriptions of impossible conditions and human triumph.

iStock_000015384568XSmallcrop

Thoughts on Obsessive Thoughts

Thoughts on Obsessive Thoughts: Nothing is as Important as You Think it is, While You're Thinking About It

I still remember their names to this day: classmates of mine from seventh and eighth grade. I envied their athletic prowess and basketball self-confidence playing on the asphalt behind St. Rita Grammar School.  I'll bet I thought about them and their talent nearly every day and probably wished as often I could be just like them.  There have been many times in my life that I have been so caught up as well by an idea (marketing employee assistance programs in 1985) or an event (not getting into DePaul University in fall 1973).  This kind of thinking has often struck me as merely and stubbornly obsessive.  I came across another explanation recently that I find more compelling and freeing.

Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist at Princeton University, describes this cognitive distortion as a Focusing Illusion, namely “Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.”  I invite you to recall two or three times in your life where you may have been so lasered in with concentration on something and test out whether it still matters to you today with the same importance.

In treating depression and anxiety issues, I have found this kind of sticky preoccupied thinking present.  Using Kahneman’s observation both respects the thinker and dislodges the thought.  I have not found successful ways to argue myself or others out of strongly held viewpoints.  I think intentionally remembering that whatever we obsess about as “true and forever” will be so until we think about something else.

On a minor note, if you have not heard The Moth storytelling radio show on NPR, I’d recommend it.  The show presents true stories told live.  I know when I hear it, it gives me something else to think about.

Till the next line…

David

iStock_000016260383XSmall

Your Guide to a Peaceful Household

Let's face it. Conflicts are inevitable.

Kids have different ideas, different solutions, and different ways to approach problems. Because of this, resolving conflicts peacefully is a key skill that kids need to succeed (1). It’s also one of the 40 Developmental Assets (2). As kids grow up, it’s important that they learn how to resolve conflicts peacefully, without giving in, and how to get along well with others.

Did You Know?

  • The number one way young people resolve conflicts is by fighting (3). Most kids say that if someone hit or pushed them for no reason, they’d hit or push right back (4).
  • Teenage guys are twice as likely as teenage girls to say they would try to hurt someone worse than that person had hurt them (5).
  • Kids who bully others tend to have difficulties in their relationships with parents and friends (6).
  • Younger teens (those in sixth grade) are almost four times as likely as twelfth graders to talk to a teacher or another adult if they’re having trouble resolving a conflict (7).
  • High-school seniors are almost twice as likely as seventh graders to talk to the person they’re in conflict with and try to work out their differences (8).

Conflict resolution skills are gained by experience and practice—so help your child start building these crucial abilities by engaging in peaceful conflict resolution at home. If your child is able to work through problems well at home, she will have an advantage when it comes to conflicts at school and beyond.


References

  1. Peter Benson, All Kids Are Our Kids: What Communities Must Do to Raise Caring and Responsible Children and Adolescents (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006), 55.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Search Institute, Developmental Assets: A Profile of Your Youth, Executive Summary, (Minneapolis: Search Institute, 2005), unpublished report, Appendix A-18.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. ScienceDaily, “Children Who Bully Also Have Problems with Other Relationships,” ScienceDaily, March 26, 2008.
  7. Search Institute, ibid.
  8. Ibid.

Archives

Stay in touch with updates

Call Us
630 377 3535

Email Us
info@goodmanpsych.com

405 Illinois Ave., Suites 2B, 2C & 2D
St Charles, Illinois

1200 Harger Rd., Ste. 310
Oak Brook, Illinois

©2020 Goodman Psychologist Associates | Site by Andiamo Creative