If you read a self-help book, study the Bible, or go to therapy but don’t practice, it will not help. Only practicing what you are learning will change occur. The highest form of change is practicing what you are learning.

The Buddha said, “If someone is standing on one shore and wants to go to the other shore, he has to either use a boat or swim across. He cannot just pray, ‘Oh, other shore, please come over here for me to step across!’” To a Buddhist, praying without practicing is not real prayer.

“You cannot solve your problems by taking psychoactive substances that impair your mind and the expression of your sprit. From illegal drugs to psychiatric medications, drugs suppress and distort our real emotions and should be avoided, especially in time of suffering and fear when we need to know what we are feeling to control our actions.”

Peter Breggin, M.D., Medication Madness

“Whatever goes on between two people is reciprocal and promoted by both, although it may look as if one of them started the motion hence is responsible for the action.” R. Dreikurs

1. Needing to be Right
a. Finding out whose view is more “valid” or “accurate”.
b. Leads to endless “objectivity” battles
c. Fuels the psychological violence of self-righteous indignation.

2. Controlling Your partner
a. Can be direct or indirect such as using one’s “sensitivity” such as tears (water power)
b. Humans do not like being controlled.

3. Unbridled Self-Expression
a. “I have the right and need to share my feelings with you –and you will listen.
b. Idea that all sharing is authentic and will increase closeness. Not true.
c. Rarely engenders generosity in other.

4.Retaliation
a. Perverse justice: “offending from the victims position.
b. Getting even, “you will suffer like I suffer”.

5. Withdrawal
a. Differs from responsible distance taking.
b. Another form of a fight—engaged or disengaged same end of the stick.
c. Form of punishment-I will teach you a lesson.

1. Stop criticizing. Not an easy step to take. However, it is an effective beginning toward changing the lines of communication from negative to positive.
2. Restructure relations. Tell your teenager at a quiet time that you have been thinking things over and wish to make some changes in your own attitude.
3. Establish a relationship of equity with your teenager. This, of course, does not mean that you, the parents, should give the child things which are excessively costly or service which puts you in the position of servant.
4. Set some logical limits. For example discuss where you think he or she should go socially, the appropriate hour for getting home, and the number of times per week for going out. If all are quietly talking and trying to solve the problem, letting go of the power struggle between each side, it is possible to reach some agreement.
5. Once an agreement is reached the teenager should then take the responsibility to carry through. It should not be the parent who has to ask, “Where are you going?” or the child who asks, “May I go to Ann’s house?” The teenager should simply state, “I am going to Ann’s house and will return at 10:30.” In turn, the adults should tell there teens where they are going and when they expect to return home.
6. When you talk, state your feelings, but do not imply that only you are right.
7. Listen to what your teenager has to say. Do not interrupt. Take the time to think about what has been said and ask the same courtesy for yourself, but stress that what you say is only your opinion.
8. Do not expect more from your teenager than you do from yourself.
9. You may have to change the lesions you are teaching by example. For example, if you want a teenager to stop smoking and you, yourself, smoke; see if you can both agree to stop. And even if no agreement is reached, you stop anyway!
10. Become willing to be taught by your teenager. Show interest in what he or she tells you. This will encourage friendship.
11. Enjoy the companionship of your teenager. Parents may invite the teenager to join them in some activity, which they enjoy. Do not be hurt if you are refused; remember this is the age for breaking away from parents.
12. Try to learn the teenage language and do not get angry at its use. This does not mean that you have to use it.
13. Live and let live. Trying to fashion your teenager in your own image will not work.
14. You may need counseling. A psychologist or family counselor may save much time and effort and help you change yourself or your behavior.
15. Let go, and let your teenager grow up.
16. Show your affection for your teenager with an occasional hug, an arm around the shoulder, a pat on the back, and expressions of appreciation.
17. You cannot give permission for a teenager to do anything illegal or allow the teenager to break the law while living with you.
18. You do not have to spend money on teenagers for any object or activity of which you disapprove.
19. You should be willing to listen carefully to proposed ventures and to discuss these sympathetically, giving your opinions. You may withhold your blessing, but you should not threaten or give an outright refusal.
20. In crisis situations, such as accidents while driving or arrests, the less said in heat, the better. Wait until everything has calmed down.

By Cameron W. Meredith, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

It is educational and psychological madness that:

1. While everyone agrees on the tremendous value of education in our democracy, we provide only 180 days of public school education.
2. While there is considerable agreement on the psychological principle of spaced learning we jam it all in long school days and homework only 9 months of the year.
3. We all know about newer and encouraging psychology such as Adlerian and Third Force Psychology, we still practice first force psychology namely behaviorism and obedience training called assertive discipline with belief in punishment and bribing.
4. While, since WWII, we believe in freedom and democracy, we still have too many autocratic schools and families practicing order without freedom as well as compulsory homework.
5. While we all agree on the value of cooperation, the helping relationship, and getting along together, we impose competition in our classrooms namely the ABCDF grading system where helping or receiving help is considered cheating.
6. While we all know how encouraging it is to have the freedom to choose and, when we invite and involve students in an atmosphere of freedom and cooperation, they become more responsible and feel that they belong, we are often inclined to tell them what to do and learn with few if any choices.
7. While we do a pretty good job of imparting knowledge and encouraging memorization in preparation tests, we often do a poor job in teaching the use of knowledge for daily living.
8. While there is considerable need for compulsory school attendance in a democracy for thirteen years, there is little agreement on the length of the school day. There is pressure to lengthen the school day. Almost all teachers demand homework as if it is compulsory. Then, as if mandated, there is three months with no school.

There is a lot of evidence that supports the use of Choice Theory and other Third Force Psychologies that focus on maintaining and improving the relationships. Especially staying away from external control psychology (Rewards and Punishment) and instead making use of encouragement (not praise) natural and on occasion logical consequences (4R of a logical consequences). There is a lot of confusion over what constitutes “emotional attachment”. Choice Theory, Adlerian Psychology, Person-Center Therapy, all offer helpful ideas of how to stay connected to the important people in our lives. For instances, empathy is a way to provide understanding and therefore belonging to those we love.

Although, I think the quality of time is as important as the amount of time with our teens. You can spend a lot of disconnecting time with our teens, children, and spouse (deadly habits). In addition, being overly focused on the need of our teens, not only develops self-centered human beings, but also takes away their self-confidence and ability to leave home.

Tampa Tribune, September 11, 1997.
Secure teenagers don’t take drugs

A Washington Post report
Teenagers who have strong emotional attachments to their parents and teachers are much less likely to use drugs and alcohol, attempt suicide, engage in violence or become sexually active at an early age, according to the largest-ever study of American adolescents.
The study, published in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association, concludes that feeling loved, understood and paid attention to by parents helps teenagers avoid high-risk activities regardless of whether a child comes from a one or two-parent household. It is also more important than the amount of time parents spend at home, the study found.
At school, positive relationships with teachers were found to be more important in protecting teenagers than any other factor, including classroom size or teacher training.
Researchers also found that young people who have jobs requiring them to work 20 or more hours a week, regardless of family economic status, are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, smoke cigarettes, engage in early sex and report emotional distress.
While the amount of time spent with parents had a positive effect on reducing emotional distress, feeling connected to parents was five times more powerful. And this emotional bond was about six times more important than was the amount of various activities that teenagers did with their parents.

Self-acceptance is a requirement in knowing how to get along with oneself.

Many of us as children learn we are not “good enough” as we were. If only we did things, better, faster, smarter, developed special skills and ability, only than we would “amount to anything”. Being human was not enough, and in our educational system hardly anyone is good enough as he is. We learn the fallacious assumption that improvement comes by being dissatisfied with our self. We develop a master-slave mentality and treat our self as a bad coach treats his players. We have no idea how to treat ourselves as a good friend.

We do not believe that anyone who is sure of himself and satisfied with his ability can function more adequately than some one who constantly berates and treats one self as inferior. We must constantly prove our worth. Yet, in contrast, it’s the feelings of adequacy not inadequacy that leads to successful endeavor.

How do we achieve a sense of adequacy?

1. The first step in developing a sense of adequacy is recognition of the fact that we have a prejudice against ourselves. We do not believe we have worth by the mere fact of being human. We must be “better” or the “best” and whatever we do. Functioning and contributing are not good enough.

2. The second step requires that we repeatedly ask ourselves: “Am I adequate or insufficient?” For those of us who regard anything less than perfection as adequate, this question is repugnant. These individuals lack the “courage to be imperfect.” Everything that anyone has every done, could be done better and improved upon.

3. To create adequacy we must recognize that whatever we contribute is useful. Usefulness alones gives meaning to life. However our prestige-status seeking society is not satisfied with just being useful. We have to be “better” and do “better’ than others or we have no worth. If we are not better than we are a failure.

4. Finally we must get beyond Success and Failure. No one is given continuous success or failure. It is human to make mistakes and humanely impossible to avoid making mistakes. Its not the mistakes that cause the damage its our interpretation of the mistakes that harm our feeling of adequacy. True character shines in how we handle our disappointments. If we learn to take our mistakes in stride without fear of humiliation, loss of status, we can continue to function, contribute, with a sense of adequacy. If we permit our self to become discourage, ashamed, and humiliated we lose our resources and cannot correct our errors. Discouragement is to lose the joy of living, the pleasure of doing things. Even though we think our concern stimulates our abilities, in actually lessens them, and our worry takes away the joy of living.

Adapted from Social Equality by Rudolf Dreikurs, pp. 9-11.

“We overlook the essential fact that the achievements which society rewards are won at the cost of a diminution of personality. Many aspects of life which should have been experienced lie in the lumberrom of dusty memories” C. Jung

“Hell is having worked so hard for success that it corroded your relationship with other people, so that you learned to see them only in terms of what they can do for you. . . Hell is the loneliness of having everything and knowing that it is still not enough.”

Harold Kushner, When All You Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough

He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.

Aeschylus

Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results. Bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results. This is but saying that nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but nettles. Men understand this law in the natural world, and work with it. But few understand it in the mental and moral world (though its operation there is just as simple and undeviating), and they therefore, do not cooperate with it.

Suffering is always the effect of wrong thought in some direction. It is an indication that the individual is out of harmony with himself, and the law of being.

As A Man Thinketh, James Allen