Dylan’s parent were distraught. They knew Dylan was very bright but he wasn’t working hard enough in high school to guarantee he’d get into one of the very best schools. He didn’t participate in enough extra-curricular activities to compete with the very best students. They were sure Dylan would be a failure in the race of life. Dylan didn’t care. He was very happy doing what he did. He didn’t feel the need to compete all the time with all the other kids.
Of course, we all want our kids to be successful, to make enough money, to be happy. But Dylan’s parent had a bad case of a lethal virus.
Dylan’s parents thought that if he wasn’t the absolute best he would never amount to anything.
If he didn’t get the best grades or participate in the right activities he’d be doomed. If he didn’t get into the very best schools, he’d never make enough money, get the right wife, have a good enough career, be happy. Only the very smartest could succeed. Life was a battle ground and any slip meant doom forever.
Dylan’s parents were excellent at imagining catastrophes all the time. They felt intense pressure and tried to infect Dylan with the same virus. But Dylan wouldn’t accept their gift. He thought he’d do good enough and be happy. When he was interested in something he worked hard at it and got A’s. He wanted to enjoy himself while he pursued his own interests. He felt no guilt, shame or panic.
What happened to Dylan?
Does it matter to us what happened to him? Would our behavior toward ourselves and our children or grandchildren be changed if the latest scientific study showed that a certain percent of people with Dylan’s attitude actually did not succeed? Or another study showed that relentlessly panicked parents caused major psychological problems for a certain percent of their children?
Sure we worry that our children won’t be motivated enough to succeed. Sure, we worry they might slack off until it’s too late.
Dylan’s parents were excellent at catastrophizing and “self-bullying.”
I think what’s pernicious and infectious is the idea that we must go from success to success or we’re doomed, that only the top 0.1% will succeed in life, that we have to go only to the top 10-20 schools or we’ll fail.
Those ideas are simply not true in almost every area of life. Sure, there are only a few prima ballerinas, a few MVPs in any sport, a few world’s best in a few professions. And driving off a cliff can doom us. But all the rest of the world is open to people who have not had the most outstanding beginnings, or have failed sometimes on their way to success. Most mistakes do not doom us.
Oh, Dylan did great but his parents lived their lives wringing their hands in despair and worrying what their friends would think. The virus was lethal to their lives and spirits. How sad.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
- Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
- Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.