Therapy That Works...

Mavs Win! - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How Resilience Makes the Difference

The Maverick’s historic win of the NBA championship reminds us that winning even against long odds is possible if you have the right formula for success.

So what does this championship win teach us about success?

The Mavericks victory shows us again that attitude is everything in achieving success. They remained optimistic when they failed and they showed unyielding persistence when things got tough. Coming together as a team with no grandstanding by individual players incentivized everyone. They won the championship because the group moved together to win.

Most people consider talent, luck, good looks and even hard work as key ingredients for success in life. They want a quick win without having to earn it over the long haul. But psychological science tells us that it takes at least 10 years of hard work or practice to become successful at any endeavor. Just look at Michael Jordan's championship record and see how long he had to wait!

The Maverick’s victory shows us that using perseverance, even when things can be discouraging, makes all the difference in the world. They were not an overnight success but they were a resounding success because they fought through an intimidating series of games against a team that had some of the best players in the league. It would have been easy to give up and to compromise their game.

Even though we've heard all the stories and seen all the movies, so many of us give up when things get tough. Here's why:

How you handle failure has more to do with where you end up in life than how you handle success. It’s easy to stand tall when things are going your way. However, the outcome of your life has more to do with the determination you exhibit during the hard times. Everybody falls short sooner or later and its up to us to pick ourselves up, to dust ourselves off and to get back on track. Otherwise the setback defines who you become and where you go from here. Everybody faces challenges but not everyone comes back from them. The Mavericks demonstrated that we should never stop believing in ourselves or in our goal even when we fail.

Here are a few keys to success that I recommend to my clients:

Passion and Belief: Two of the most important factors in succeeding are passion and a belief that you can create a great outcome. If you are enthusiastic, dedicated and absorbed by your mission or interest, you will go to any length to see it through. You will be single minded in pursuing all steps to achieve the goal. There is definitely something to be said about "blind faith."

Emotional Investment in Winning: Many people are convinced that they just need to focus on the steps alone to achieving but there is another factor that’s even more important. You must envision the achievement with your emotions. By constantly rehearsing the emotions of success you will maximize the chance of succeeding.

Self-Control and Self-Discipline: Almost every achievement in the world requires hard work. The ability to work at something relentlessly means sacrifice and sustained effort. But to achieve, you have to delay gratification and you have to sacrificing short-term pleasure for that long-term goal. Self control creates success. The Mavericks are a prime example of this principle.

Optimism: The ability to remain upbeat in the face of setbacks, frustrations and outright failure is important in any endeavor that requires work. If you are negative, you’ll get in your own way.

Patience and Staying the Course: The repetition of effort patiently delivered accumulates over time. Almost all scientific discoveries, works of art and literature and athletics are fueled by a basic sense of patience and staying the course.

Focused Specialization: Too many people apply their energies in a variety of endeavors without focusing on one specific goal. They neglect what they should accomplish because they are so talented at so many things. If you want to create a masterpiece, find the one thing you are good at and stay completely focused!

Know That Failure is Inevitable: Every successful person from Abraham Lincoln to Picasso has failed miserably at some point along the way. Learn to accept setbacks as a natural part of the climb upward in life.

Dallas parents have a prime opportunity to show their children that hard work in the face of intimidating odds can pay off.

The Mavericks were a model of self-discipline, teamwork and persistence in winning and kids need to learn the same things. Our children are surrounded by celebrity examples of quick wins and dumb luck.

Teachable Points for Kids:

Parents need to break down the steps to self discipline, teamwork and persistence so that their kids can apply them to their own lives.

Most of all, they need to teach their kids not to quit when its tough. It is tempting to abandon a marriage, a career or even a dream when things are discouraging.

Truly successful people never give up and are dedicated to the vision of winning in the end. They never allow the present set of circumstances to define how they feel about themselves or their efforts toward winning in the end.

And from all of us at Gearing Up - Congratulations Mavericks and Dirk! We can't wait for next season!

The Health Benefits of Giving To Others - By Chris Gearing

Friday, April 22, 2011

Survival of the Kindest - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Western Mother - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A recent best selling book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, illustrates how fundamental parenting strategies can be so violently misunderstood. Written by an Asian American Yale Law School professor, Amy Chua, the book argues that western mothers are undisciplined, over gratifying and only care about their children’s individuality. She predicts that most western children never reach their potential and live a directionless life of non-achievement.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Here are the myths perpetuated by the author followed by reality:

Myth: Parental Authority is Supreme

The premise is that children require micromanaging and constant direction that includes fear based parenting. Chua argues that kids are unable to grow without being controlled. The mother must be in the middle of their lives and has the final word, always.

Reality:

When kids are over-controlled by a parent, they learn to deny their own wisdom and intuition. Often, they become great achievers but are stunted emotionally. To survive a controlling parent, you learn to focus on the parent’s perceptions of you instead of your own thoughts. You miss the vital lessons of taking calculated risks in relationships, achievement etc. and then recalibrating your behavior based on what happiness.

Myth: All That Matters is Compliance

The child is an extension of the mother and must be commandeered into compliance. Nothing matters but the outcome and the child must blame only himself if the goal is not achieved.

Reality:

When you are over controlled, you over-emphasize how you are perceived by others. You pursue activities that will result in high achievement, praise and applause from others. However, you pay an enormous price for this. You don’t learn the basic tenants of emotional intelligence that can only be mastered by years of having a separate experience from your mother where you figure things out for yourself.

Myth: Nothing Matters More to Child’s Future than Achievement

Chua conjectures that all that matters in the world is achievement that in turn, honors the sacrifice of the parents. The parent’s duty is to financially facilitate opportunities that they choose for the child.

Reality:

Achievement creates self-esteem, but there are many valuable ways to define what achievement is. Emotional stability based on a well-developed and accurate view of yourself is invaluable in the world. Navigating the world without emotional stability is like sailing on a ship without a rudder and a compass--you could end up shipwrecked before you know it. Childhood should equip children with the following capabilities:

Failure: The ability to fail and bounce back from a setback

Self-management: A willingness to disappoint authority figures if you disagree with them

Decisiveness: Making the best call with the information you have even if you discover later you were incorrect

Understanding of Others: Emotional perceptiveness of others based on your own keen understanding of yourself

Self-confidence: Kids build an inner strength from thousands of experiences in which they made a decision on their own, self corrected and did better the next time.

Self-effectiveness: This is an essential part of managing in the world since it’s hard to assert yourself if you see yourself as ineffective and helpless.

Myth: Verbally Berating A Child Is Helpful

Chua argues that kids must be threatened to perform, which is the top goal in her parenting model. Calling a child, “lazy, cowardly, self indulgent and pathetic” somehow is motivating according to the author. She justifies her strategy by the achievements of her kids—if she hadn’t verbally assaulted them, she predicts they wouldn’t have achieved.

Reality:

There is no psychological research in the world that supports verbal humiliation, name-calling and threats as a viable parenting technique. The constant contempt of a parent out of control is damaging. The younger the child, the greater the emotional damage.

Myth: Parents Should Micromanage their Children’s Emotions

In Chua’s paradigm, there is minimal instruction in handling the inner dialogue in our heads that all children have. That inner dialogue doesn’t matter since it’s not something Chua is thinking.

Reality:

Longitudinal research shows that emotionally dismissed kids grow into adults who cannot articulate what they feel or how to manage it. They are often exquisitely sensitive to others, since they had to be that strong to survive in childhood. They tuck their feelings away and they dismiss their normal reactions. She insists that the child should meet the parents’ demands since they know better. Focusing on the parent handicaps the child’s need to measure his own reactions, learn to manage his own behavior and monitor his reactions.

Myth: No External Activities

This model of parenting rejects the usual features of Western childhood—weekend sleepovers, play dates, TV, video game, choosing their own extracurricular activities, and any grade less than an A. The child must conform, at all times, to the desires of the parent.

Reality:

Childhood is an extended practice arena for adulthood during which the child learns how to effectively communicate, to navigate conflict and to fail and bounce back. Parents need to provide the optimum environment for these skills by helping the child learn about himself and his own interest.

Myth: Western Mothers Are Slackers And Over-Indulge Their Children To Meet Their Own Needs.

Western mothers are relentlessly devoted to their children and buffer them against all forms of stress, adversity and failure.

Reality:

America has been the strongest country in the world for generations due, in part, to the work ethic and fortitude of American mothers.

We have taught our children how to fight against their fears, how to join with others against tyranny and how to accord all Americans the same civil liberties and rights. Such virtues require enormous courage and strength which are found in a people reared to define themselves as individuals, not as extensions of others. Obedience to authority at all costs, which Ms. Chua celebrates, can only get you so far. Our dedication to individuality, independence and creative thinking built this country and will continue to shape the world.

A Father's Influence Can Prevent Bullying - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Do your children think you work too much and don't spend enough time with them? New research from Vanderbilt University says that every minute that fathers spend with their children may actually be lowering their chances of becoming bullies.

How do you explain that the father’s time has more influence on bullying in kids?

This study has been a big surprise since most of us tend to think that the mother’s time with the kids would have the greatest effect. Not so, says this new study since the father is the key player here. But the crux of the matter is the child’s perception of the father’s interest and investment. If a neglected child feels valued and loved, they are much less likely to exhibit bullying behaviors. But if he felt neglected and marginalized by a busy dad, whether he was in fact really ignored or not, can determine whether he will show the following behaviors:

  • Cruelty to others at school
  • Disobedience at school
  • Hanging out with the wrong crowd
  • Having a bad temper
  • A lack of remorse for his misbehavior

Why would the mother’s schedule not have more of an impact?

While mothers are still centrally important to the child, they are often involved in the day-to-day maintenance of the child and his needs. Women still perform at least double the amount of childcare that men do although that number has dropped with the new economy that has centrally impacted men. But her tasks are often rote and non-inclusive—laundry, cooking, cleaning—that don’t include the child in dialogue or play. That’s where fathers come in.

Why are dads so important in preventing bullying?

Popular Through Humor: Often the father is the chief role model in resolving conflict without violence and in achieving social status without aggression. Bullying is essentially a strategy to gain social status through intimidation. We no longer think of the bully as the loner who lashes out. In fact, studies have found most bullies are among the most popular and socially connected children at school and torture others to raise their profile. Dads go a long way in helping kids socialize successfully through humor, repartee, and good-natured kidding with others.

Dads Teach Problem Solving: An attentive, competent father helps the child to reign in his aggression toward others and to play well with others by sharing, creating opportunities for group “wins”, etc. Dads can coach kids to solve problems, not create them.

Children Will Confide Through Activities: Dads are vital in just showing up and being present in their kid’s life. There is absolutely no substitute for putting in the face time with a young boy or girl. Dads are great at getting kids to talk through activities—throwing a ball around, building model cars or ships, and just hanging out watching the game.

Here are some specific suggestions for fathers who are worried about their kids:

If you plan to spend more time, make the interaction count. I always advise fathers to include planned, special activities with their son or daughter such as pancakes on Saturday morning or time at the gym together. Literally plan a “date” with your child.

It is also important that these interactions are one-on-one and you don’t try to cover all your bases by having one interaction with all of your children at once. Your absolute, undiluted attention on one child is an incredible influence and can really make the difference in their lives.

How To Become Emotionally Fit In The New Year - By Chris Gearing

Friday, December 31, 2010

Become Emotionally Fit In The New Year - By Chris Gearing

Friday, December 31, 2010

Many Americans are getting ready for the New Year. But while you’re assembling your list of resolutions, you may want to add another one – become emotionally fit. Psychologists agree that often the difference between success and failure comes down to emotional fitness.

What does "emotionally fit" really mean?

Emotionally fitness encompasses a set of beliefs, practices, and behaviors. Just like a well-toned athlete, emotionally fit people have specific thinking and emotional habits that help them to cope with a thousand different stresses which impact all of us on a daily basis. Emotionally fit people are highly resilient and have great tenacity in creating a vision of their goals and in implementing the steps to achieve those goals. They value other people, are good at maintaining their inner strength, and respond well to adversity.

Now, I know what you’re saying – “that’s great and all, but what does that affect me?”

Remaining emotionally fit and resilient in the face of adversity can make or break careers, marriages and even entire economies. We are simply happier when we are emotionally fit because we focus on the positives, the potential good in any situation, and we maintain hope for what’s to come next. Emotionally fit people are half as likely to die and half as likely to become disabled. They have better health habits, lower blood pressure, better health, and more friends because they are more empathic with others.

Sound pretty good?

Here’s how to get started on your path to emotional fitness:

Courage Under Fire: You must learn to remain calm under fire. Resilient people have an awesome ability to control their emotions even when things get stressful. If you overreact all the time, you'll wear yourself out and alienate those around you.

Impulse Control: People who speak or act before they think things through get themselves into trouble. Becoming emotionally fit demands that you limit your impulsive side. Making "snap judgments" or jumping to conclusions can lead to big mistakes.

Count Your Blessings: Focus on the positives and remember that positive emotions can literally undo negative emotions. I’m serious – neurologists have proven that positive thoughts can re-organize the connections in your brain to make you a happier and more productive person. Develop the ability to appreciate the little things -- the wonderful taste of your sandwich at lunch, a beautiful sunset, or the smile of your son or daughter.

Say "Thank You" Often: Expressing gratitude to others is a huge step in becoming emotionally fit. Too often we take for granted the enormous blessings that surround us. Tell a friend, colleague or boss that you appreciate them. An attitude of gratitude forces you to think more positively and find the happiness and blessings in your life.

Acts of Kindness: Volunteering and giving to others are huge boosts for emotionally fit people. Not only do you feel warm and fuzzy, but you become emotionally connected to other volunteers, you’ll appreciate your own circumstances even more, and your contribution will give you a sense of control and impact on your community and the world.

Make a Friend: I always tell my clients that friends are the cheapest medicine. People with many friends have the lowest mortality rates, lower rates of physical impairments, and are generally happier and more successful! Make sure you make a friend and see them often.

Screen Your Beliefs: Every behavior begins in the mind. We now know that our basic belief system creates everything else--our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Try to create a system of taking your thoughts and actions and dissecting where they originated and why.

Becoming fully emotionally fit requires a tremendous amount of self-reflection and understanding. For more strategies and tools, you should download my step-by-step video for reorganizing your thoughts and becoming emotionally fit from my website, GearingUp.com.

Emotional Fitness In The New Year - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

O Sleepless Nights - By Chris Gearing

Friday, December 10, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards' Courage and Resilience - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, December 09, 2010

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