Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Boston Marathon Bombings: Helping Our Children Move Forward

The Boston Marathon, which takes place each year on Patriots Day, has long been a day of celebration, joy, and team spirit. We celebrate the elite runners, delight in the joy of thousands of ordinary people testing their mettle to accomplish an extraordinary feat, we support and cheer friends and colleagues who organize teams to raise money for causes near and dear to them. But at this year's Marathon, the incomprehensible and unconscionable acts of terror-minded individuals turned celebration and joy into horror and anguish.

The summer months are a stone's throw away which means family outings to sporting events, Fourth of July celebrations, and the like. So, how do we help our children feel safe in light of the bombings at the Boston marathon? How do we, their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, caretakers feel safe?

Like the instructions we receive when traveling with a child onboard an airplane — put on your oxygen mask first before assisting the child — we have to get our emotions, our state of mind under control first. We cannot tell our children that everything will be okay if in our next breath we are illustrating our fear and anxiety in words and actions to others around us. Remember: kids hear and see much more than we think they do.

How do we move forward and help our children to do so? We teach them that the actions of those two small-minded men represent nothing more than a speck of inhumanity compared to the heroism of the hundreds of first responders, EMTs doctors, nurses, and ordinary folks who ran into the fray to help. We explain to them that the actions of those two cowardly men represent nothing compared to the bravery of the hundreds of wounded who must reach deep inside and find the strength of character to redefine their lives and live courageously, albeit differently. We show them that the actions of those two men represent hatred in the hearts of the few rather than the love and grace in the hearts of the many. In other words, we show them by example.

As President Obama reminded us in his message at the Interfaith Healing Service on Thursday, “Like Bill Ifrig, 78 years old, the runner in the orange tank-top who we all saw get knocked down by the blast, we may be momentarily knocked off our feet. But we'll pick ourselves up. We'll keep going. We will finish the race.”

This is a vital lesson for our children. There will be times and events in life that knock us off our feet, that rattle our emotions. Challenges in life build character. We survive and thrive through the friendships we make, by reaching out and helping others, by maintaining a hopeful outlook, and by understanding and accepting that change is part of life.

Written for KidsTerrain. Reprinted with permission.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Accepting What Is Not In Our Control

"Never cease trying to be the best that you can be. That's under your control. If you get too engrossed and involved and concerned in regard to the things in which you have no control, it will adversely affect the things over which you have control." - From John Wooden on True Success (View video)

The frustration or anger that can well inside us from situations that are not only out of our control, but have nothing to do with us, chips away at our peace of mind and releases stress hormones which, left unattended, can lead to health-related problems.

The capacity to manage strong feeling, emotions, and impulses involves being able to:
  • take action without being impulsive and responding out of emotion
  • put emotions to the side when clear thinking and action are required
  • use thinking as a way of managing one’s emotions
When we allow ourselves to get worked up, particularly over the small stuff, we are needlessly causing our bodies to go into fight-or-flight mode.

To learn more how to management circumstances that are out of your control, visit Live A Flourishing Life.

Have a joyful day everyone. And remember to live a flourishing life.