Category Archives: Teenage

Do This at Least Once in Your Life

Sophie is seventeen and about to make one of the most important decisions in her life – choosing a university program. Her parents are watching closely that her choice is reasonable and practical. They want to protect her from disappointment and unhappiness. Sophie has a dream which she has not shared with anyone. She tries not to think about it. It is distracting and in the way of her realistic and accessible goals.

According to Debbie Millman, one of the  most established contemporary creative designers and successful entrepreneurs, before Sophie proceeds with her choices, she can benefit from a ‘dream’ exercise. For the last 12 years, Debbie has asked her students at the School of Visual Arts in New York City to take 30 minutes to describe the day exactly ten years from now. In the dream, everything they wish to have, do, be with is possible. It is exactly as they want it to be. From the morning to evening, every detail that they can imagine is to be laid out on paper.

I come across this exercise through Tim Ferris’ podcast interview with Debbie Millman. As soon as it is finished, I sit down and put on paper what my mind has to offer. The result surprises me. I have not thought or envisioned what I describe in my half-page essay.

I take this fantasy very seriously. But why, it is just a fantasy? We know what happens with fantasies. And who fantasizes anyway? It is silly.

Debbie’s students found that what they described on paper, they achieved. ‘It is magic,’ she laughs in the interview. She achieved her own goals that she listed in a bullet form as part of this exercise years ago. As a psychotherapist, I found my own explanation of the ‘magic’. What we dream of is what will unconsciously influence us in the important decisions we make in our lives. If what we really want is not made conscious, recognized and thought through, it will remain a powerful force, albeit unknown to us. If we ignore it and proceed with reasonable, realistic goals, when we achieve them we may still feel discontent. Even more, we may not be able to achieve those goals because that is not what we really, really wanted, in other words what our deep intelligence wanted for us.

The exercise gets this narrative out of the depths of our unconsciousness on page for us to read it and see it. If you do it today, you will be fascinated with what you find. It may trigger some fears and the need to dismiss it. But if you work through those fears and allow yourself to consider your dream, you will be moving one step closer to aligning with your inner self and becoming successful in the deeper sense of the word.


On Motherhood

Children are endearing to watch. They are funny. Cute. Delightful. Other people’s kids.

Three-year-old is Max playing in the sand. He dashes towards the road and looks back at his mother laughing. She sprints to catch him. Her face is tense. No trace of delight.

Charming smiles, tight hugs and sudden kisses, heartwarming love admissions. Squeals, loud cries. Expressions of misery and hate, grabs for the face and hair. A mix of pleasure, love and fear. Richness. Exhaustion. What was it like before – when she was just a child and not a mother? A distant memory she grasps on in brief off-duty moments.

Homework, backpacks, lunches, sports, play-dates, negotiations. Her eyes are no longer locked on her child. Her mind still follows him. The possibilities of future form, hopes of success and happiness…

She stands before the mirror and sees a woman who has nurtured, worried, and sat in the car for hours chauffeuring. Things are no longer the same. She heads toward her son’s room to remind him of something she has just remembered. A gentle knock. A loud yell in response, “Go away! Leave me alone! And you know what? I don’t like you.” She sits down. Waves of disbelief and rage sweep over her. Her knees feel weak. Her mind is empty. She stares in the dark space.

So, this is what it feels like to be a mother? Her soul aches. She is confused and grasps for answers. She tries to push back and revert the past. She wants to add control, to attack or even belittle just like her mother did to her. Or maybe she could just check out of motherhood?

She suffers yet she chooses to stay…close to her son’s experience. She feels theforce of growing up and changing. Her own self-hood is called to find answers, strengthen and expand. She must find a way to be that makes her happy.

Mother and son sit in the kitchen. Her son puts his arm around her shoulders. She looks up. Their eyes meet. He smiles so very innocently. “Sorry.”

Emotional Intelligence for Parents

Parenting is emotionally intense. Parenting teenagers is particularly hard. It could sweep the peace out of your home and throw you into a storm. Staying open to ideas when emotions run high is not easy. Part of your child’s job is to test your parenting fitness. If you are on your way to scold, lecture or insult your child marching to his/her door, you might want to turn around, take a walk or go to your room, and consider the following:

  1. What emotion am I experiencing?
  • If it is fear, what am I afraid of?
  • If I feel anger, what specifically angered me?
  • If I feel hurt, what specifically hurt me?
  • If it is something else, what exactly is the issue?

2. What other thoughts are coming to mind?

For example, if your child arrives from school with a low mark, you could think “He is going to end up like me. I think I was wrong to sign him up for this school. I failed him as a parent.” Or “I give her everything and she is not doing the one job that she has! Does she think it’s easy for me to work 50 hours a week. I hate this job…” You get it.

3. Could my emotions have anything to do with how my day has been going or how I have been feeling about myself recently?

An example would be when at work your team has failed to deliver what they promised today. You come home and find the tasks you gave your child are not done. You kept polite at work but you are enraged at your child for going against you, disrespecting you and ultimately trying to bring you down.

  1. Is my child demonstrating a repeated behavior? If so, have I set aside some time to think through what might be going on? Have I discussed it with my parenting partner?

For example, you have noticed that your daughter has started staying up late, her marks have dropped, and she is more abrasive with you than before. Fear overcomes you. Following Step 1, you have identified what you are afraid of. In Step 2, you have made connections to your past experiences and determined what your fear is based on. In Step 3, you have de-tangled the issue from your current emotional state. Now you can think more clearly about the problem, come up with some ideas of the reasons and potentially bring them up to your partner.

  1. Could I ask my child and how would I go about it?

In the case above, you could go straight to her and ask her to immediately revert her behavior, or you can sit down and talk to her. It would be of interest to understand when and why her behavior has changed, what is preoccupying her, and what she thinks about the change.

Finally, you may often get the steps wrong or skip them. Emotions often rule over our intelligent minds. However, when you are calm again and your thinking starts to clear, do tell your child that you have made a mistake. Admit that emotions took the best of you, and then talk to them. Keep trying and you will succeed.

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Thank you for reading,