Thursday, 15 September 2016

After yesterday's post this is interesting

The 18 things mentally tough people do:
1. They move on - they don't waste time feeling sorry for themselves. 
2. They keep control - they don't give away their power. 
3. They embrace change - they welcome challenges.
4. They stay happy - they don't complain and they don't waste energy on things they can't control.
5. They are kind - they are fair and unafraid to speak up. They don't worry about pleasing other people.
6. They are willing to take calculated risks - they weigh the risks and benefit before taking action.
7. They invest their energy in the present - they don't dwell on the past
8. They accept full responsibility for their past behaviour - they don't make the same mistake over and over. 
9. They celebrate other people’s success - they don't resent that success.
10. They are willing to fail - they don't give up after failing and they see every failure as a chance to improve.
11. They enjoy their time alone - they don't fear being alone.
12. They are prepared to work and succeed on their own merits - they don't feel the world owes them anything.
13. They have staying power - they don't expect immediate results.
14. They evaluate their core beliefs - and modify as needed.
15. They expend their energy wisely - they don't spend time on unproductive thoughts. 
16. They think productively - they replace negative thoughts with productive thoughts.
17. They tolerate discomfort - they accept their feelings without being controlled by them.
18. They reflect on their progress - every day. They take time to consider what they've achieved and where they are going.

I like this list but can't track down where it has come from although it seems awfully similar to the list below that I found on Forbes entitled "Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid" (Cheryl Conner) just obviously written in reverse. I prefer the following list because it has more information attached.

1.    Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves. You don’t see mentally strong people feeling sorry for their circumstances or dwelling on the way they’ve been mistreated. They have learned to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair. They are able to emerge from trying circumstances with self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned. When a situation turns out badly, they respond with phrases such as “Oh, well.” Or perhaps simply, “Next!”
2. Give Away Their Power. Mentally strong people avoid giving others the power to make them feel inferior or bad. They understand they are in control of their actions and emotions. They know their strength is in their ability to manage the way they respond.
3.    Shy Away from Change. Mentally strong people embrace change and they welcome challenge. Their biggest “fear,” if they have one, is not of the unknown, but of becoming complacent and stagnant. An environment of change and even uncertainty can energize a mentally strong person and bring out their best.
4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control. Mentally strong people don’t complain (much) about bad traffic, lost luggage, or especially about other people, as they recognize that all of these factors are generally beyond their control. In a bad situation, they recognize that the one thing they can always control is their own response and attitude, and they use these attributes well.
5. Worry About Pleasing Others. Know any people pleasers? Or, conversely, people who go out of their way to dis-please others as a way of reinforcing an image of strength? Neither position is a good one. A mentally strong person strives to be kind and fair and to please others where appropriate, but is unafraid to speak up. They are able to withstand the possibility that someone will get upset and will navigate the situation, wherever possible, with grace.
6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks. A mentally strong person is willing to take calculated risks. This is a different thing entirely than jumping headlong into foolish risks. But with mental strength, an individual can weigh the risks and benefits thoroughly, and will fully assess the potential downsides and even the worst-case scenarios before they take action.
7. Dwell on the Past. There is strength in acknowledging the past and especially in acknowledging the things learned from past experiences—but a mentally strong person is able to avoid miring their mental energy in past disappointments or in fantasies of the “glory days” gone by. They invest the majority of their energy in creating an optimal present and future.
8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over. We all know the definition of insanity, right? It’s when we take the same actions again and again while hoping for a different and better outcome than we’ve gotten before. A mentally strong person accepts full responsibility for past behavior and is willing to learn from mistakes. Research shows that the ability to be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.
9. Resent Other People’s Success. It takes strength of character to feel genuine joy and excitement for other people’s success. Mentally strong people have this ability. They don’t become jealous or resentful when others succeed (although they may take close notes on what the individual did well). They are willing to work hard for their own chances at success, without relying on shortcuts.
10. Give Up After Failure. Every failure is a chance to improve. Even the greatest entrepreneurs are willing to admit that their early efforts invariably brought many failures. Mentally strong people are willing to fail again and again, if necessary, as long as the learning experience from every “failure” can bring them closer to their ultimate goals.
11. Fear Alone Time. Mentally strong people enjoy and even treasure the time they spend alone. They use their downtime to reflect, to plan, and to be productive. Most importantly, they don’t depend on others to shore up their happiness and moods. They can be happy with others, and they can also be happy alone.
12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything. Particularly in the current economy, executives and employees at every level are gaining the realization that the world does not owe them a salary, a benefits package and a comfortable life, regardless of their preparation and schooling. Mentally strong people enter the world prepared to work and succeed on their merits, at every stage of the game.
13. Expect Immediate Results. Whether it’s a workout plan, a nutritional regimen, or starting a business, mentally strong people are “in it for the long haul”. They know better than to expect immediate results. They apply their energy and time in measured doses and they celebrate each milestone and increment of success on the way. They have “staying power.” And they understand that genuine changes take time. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

"Hey EVERYONE, leave those kids alone"

I watched this brilliant TED talk today - How to raise successful kids - without over-parenting - and Julie Lythcott-Haims had some very interesting things to say. It was great being reminded of why I home educate in the way that I do - where my children find their own path to their passions and stretch themselves when they are ready with mine and their Dad's support and love.

"With our overhelp... we deprive our kids of the chance to build self-efficacy which is a really fundamental tenant of the human psyche... Self-efficacy is built when ones sees that one's own actions lead to outcomes." Julie Lythcott-Haims.

This has come at a really interesting time in my family's home education journey as ds has just turned 15 and is starting to consider what he wants to do over the next few years. He has a wonderful extended family where there could be chances to travel and work in Hong Kong; work in a family-run shop down South; travel with a worldly-wise niece; work for exams at a college or just carry on having fun as he does every day. Like every parent I want him to do everything; try everything; experience everything and do it all now whilst he is young. However that might not be what is right for him and it is his live, not mine.

What I do know about him though is that he doesn't base his self-worth on grades (mentioned in the TED talk) because at present he doesn't have any!! What he has had is a childhood "built on things like love and chores." This comment by Julie again made me smile because both my kids have helped with household activities from an early age. In fact, one of my favourite childhood pictures of ds was taken with him when he was helping trim the hedge at 20 months!!

Neither of my children particularly like doing jobs around our home but we have had family meetings where dh and I have explained how the household works, including finances so that they can understand that they are part of a system that works better when everyone is involved, understands the system and helps out accordingly.

My children can go to school if and when they want and as mentioned above ds is considering going to college next year to do some exams. It is so much easier for a child to know their own mind (desires, capability, etc.) when they have always been allowed to make their own choices. Luckily going to school doesn't stop that happening but it definitely makes that harder. As Julie states "If their childhood has not been lived according to a tyrannical checklist then when they get to college...they'll have gone there on their own volition, fuelled by their own desire, capable and ready to thrive there."

I loved Julie's last comment that her children are wildflowers of an unknown genus and species because even though both my children have been born to the same parents and neither has been to school I can tell you that they are not only wildflowers of unknown genus and species but that they are both TOTALLY different wildflowers of unknown genus and species. And as such they need very different things from me as a parent (and from their Dad) to help them feel unconditionally loved and valued. This is one of the many 'lessons' we discuss in our family about how different dd and ds are as well as how different Mum and Dad are (see the 5 Languages of Love results from the 4 of us here as one example of our different needs) I also agree that "it's my job to provide a nourishing environment, to strengthen them through chores and to love them so they can love job is not to make them become what I would have them become, but to support them in becoming their glorious selves."

I love this sentiment and I hope that is what I am doing for my children along with their father. However I do wonder after watching this TED talk whether that is enough?

What I wondered after watching it was by over-parenting do we actually make sure that our children NEVER grow into adults who can make their own decisions. Julie mentions that our children are growing into adults who need a "workplace checklist" because they can't think for themselves and implied in her talk it the need for praise and validation to build their self-esteem. As you may have read in a previous blog post of mine there is a theory out there that rewards are detrimental to everyone (read more here near the bottom of the post.)

Also in the blog post about mental health in children here  I stated that:

Mentally healthy and resilient adults are grown out of children who have such traits as: self-esteem, a healthy body image, positive self-belief, empathy for other people and the planet, a passion for life, an ability to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes, accountability for their actions, etc.

So what happens if these childhood needs don't get met? Do we then have adults who are still acting like children and can't take responsibility for their actions or decisions? Do we have adults who need constant validation and if they don't get it they blame those around them?

I think not over-parenting definitely, helps in this area and teaching our children about love is definitely a must. However, I think that our children also need to learn about not blaming and they need to learn about taking accountability for their actions (revisit Brene Brown here.)

I too often see that low self-esteem and low self-efficacy in adults leads to the blaming of others for things that those adults ALLOWED to happen to them. My children sometimes exhibit this behaviour and it is something that it really hard to teach/explain. I thank goodness that there are people out there like Brene Brown who show that blaming others and not taking accountability is not good (read more here -> blame is basically the discharging of anger)

We need to hold ourselves accountable for what we allow to happen to us.
We need to hold boundaries around what we allow to happen to ourselves.

Hopefully if we are brought up with unconditional love where we have the space and time to build self-efficacy, self-esteem (which I feel includes not blaming but holding others & ourselves accountable), empathy and positive self-belief maybe we can then move forward as an adult in an adult's body and not someone who needs external validation or to blame others when our life doesn't turn out the way we wanted.

A massively tall order I think and one of the reasons I write this blog: to remind myself of the huge task I have taken on being a parent and also the huge responsibility I have in being a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister or just being a human being interacting with others on this planet!!!!

Anyway go and watch the TED talk -How to raise successful kids - without over-parenting - and consider watching Brene Brown about blame here and Natasha Devon about mental health in schools via my blog here.