Acceptance of Life & It's
It would be easy to have a positive world view if everyone lived in paradise. It would be easy to have a positive world view if every part of the world was beautiful, if everyone was always treated with love & respect & if everyone was given all they need to be happy & live forever.
Unfortunately, we don't live in a world like that.
If scientists are correct, the earth started with no animal or plant life. Life on our planet has had to struggle to
exist & to develop into higher forms. Life has always been a challenge & a series of overcoming problems.
Evils such as illness, death,
pain, unhappiness, cruelty & destruction have been part of each generation. Even people who seem to have it all, in reality,
have also experienced more pain, unhappiness & hardship than others may ever see.
Negative life experiences can lead to a negative philosophy of life & pervasive anxiety & depression. My client was in her early 30's & had already led a life filled with tragic events. She grew up in a small
Midwestern town exposed to "all American values"; except, her parents were both alcoholics & hid their secret well.
On the surface her family
appeared normal. Yet behind closed doors she had to take care of her younger bother & her intoxicated parents.
As a teenager, she escaped to the downtown area of Detroit. There she got involved with a man who said he would take care of her. Instead, he turned out to be a drug addict & dealer. He got her hooked on alcohol & a whole variety of drugs. Her life there was a nightmare.
Besides her drug dependence, she was physically, sexually & verbally abused for several years. Her views of herself & the world grew very dark. She felt like she was in hell. There
seemed to be no way out & suicide was a real option.
Then she gave birth to her daughter.
Although she had almost given up on herself, she decided that she wanted her daughter to get out of this terrible mess. So
she went to Narcotics Anonymous & began a 12-step program to become drug & alcohol free.
She has now been in recovery for more than 8 years & turned her life around. She began supporting herself & her daughter, went back to college, finished a bachelor's degree & is now doing very well
in a graduate social work program.
She has immersed herself in
self-development of all kinds. Besides Narcotics Anonymous she has taken many classes, read many self-help books & received counseling. Thinking positively has been a foundation of her new life.
When I met her in a class I taught, I was impressed by her openness, her thirst for learning & her ability to interpret difficult situations positively. These characteristics have been the secrets to her recovery & success. However, it hasn't been easy.
After the class, she came in for counseling. Whenever she heard of gangs, drugs, or violence in our area, she would feel a sense of terror. She couldn't understand it. Her life was going so well, how could she still have flashbacks of these feelings.
We explored her underlying
beliefs & we discovered that a part of her still believed that the negative, dark forces of the world are "winning" & that the positive forces are "just struggling to survive."
Her fear of the "dark forces' power" created an undercurrent of anxiety & depression that entered her thoughts daily. Her positive side had to keep fighting these negative thoughts. But in the past she had fought them on a superficial level.
Instead of exploring & confronting her deeper world view, she often tried to instantly substitute positive thoughts as band-aids. She'd tell herself something like, "Everything will be ok, it's silly to worry about this." Her band-aid therapy
helped her feel better temporarily, but didn't change the source of the negative thoughts.
i.e., one of the key underlying beliefs we discovered was that there were so many "bad guys" that they were overwhelming the "good guys" of the world. When we explored her "worst possible scenario," we found a feared image of the world eventually being overrun with drug addicts & violence.
I asked her to look at her beliefs about that image & the evidence for it. She realized that much of her "evidence" came from the media &
their preference for presenting many more negative than positive stories.
The creative forces are inherent in all life. I questioned her belief that the "world was going to Hell." I suggested that she look at this in a broader historical perspective &
look at the progress that has been made in the past 5,000 years.
I pointed out that within
each cell & within each living organism powerful forces are tenaciously pursuing health & harmony. These inherent forces aren't just in a few "good guys,"
but are part of every one of us.
we all have a Higher Self inside - no matter how weak it may be.
When I finished talking, she became animated & excited. She said she knew that what I said was true. She said that as I was talking she thought of her inner city experiences. Her daughter's father & the other people she lived with were hardened, violent
criminals. Most people would believe that they were evil to the core.
But she knew their backgrounds & could understand how abuse by others had empowered their inner, abusive parts. They had developed hardened shells to survive. Yet, she knew them well enough to see that each had a
softer, more caring part. She had seen times when each of these hardened criminals showed vulnerability, empathy, tenderness & love. She said, "I know that if these people have a Higher Self, then everyone does."
She no longer experiences the bolts of fear when she reads the morning paper or sees the evening news. She now believes the forces of love & happiness - though gentler - are stronger than the forces of raw power. They're winning the war.
Sometimes we tend to idealize the past & therefore believe the world is going downhill. Sometimes we look at all the unethical, harmful people who have achieved financial
success & power - even world leaders - & think that the "dark forces" are winning the war. However, when you have these negative thoughts, consider the creative forces in even the worst of people. Also, consider what Ralph Waldo Emerson (1991) wrote more than 150 years ago,
Things seem to tend downward, to justify despondency,
to promote rogues, to defeat the just; and yet by knaves, as by martyrs,
the just cause is
Although knaves win in every political struggle,
although society seems to be delivered over
the hands of one set of criminals into the hands
of another set of criminals as fast as the government is changed,
the march of civilization is a train of felonies,
yet the general ends are somehow answered.
We see, now, events forced
on, which seem to retard . . .
the civility of ages. But the world spirit is a good swimmer,
and storms and waves cannot
. . .throughout history, heaven seems to affect low and poor means.
Through toys and atoms,
a great and
beneficent tendency irresistibly streams.
students, parents clash on rules
College freedom, other changes can create differences over lifestyle
As a freshman at Michigan State University, Ryan Beck tends to go out with his friends 5 nights a week, partying
until all hours of the night & answering only to himself.
That changes when he’s home for the holidays. Suddenly, he’s
back under the rule of his parents & must adhere to their rules & curfews.
Beck says the restrictions are oppressive.
“I think they don’t really respect me,” he says of his parents.
Many college students experience this sort
of socialus interruptus when they’re home for the long holiday break. After all, home life is to college life
what college courses are to high school classes: more complex.
Beck’s concern about respect is no surprise to Susan Newman, social psychologist & author of “Nobody’s Baby Now: Reinventing
Your Adult Relationship With Your Mother & Father.” Respect is the main issue & point of contention between parents & their college-age offspring, she says.
A little give & take is needed from all parties involved, Newman says. “There have to be adjustments made on both sides, particularly
for parents,” she explains. “Parents need to respect & understand that the person coming home is very different than the person who left 4 months ago.”
Beck feels he doesn’t get that. At
home in Wyandotte, “it’s the same thing as when I was in high school,” he says of dealing with his mother.
“It makes me feel like she doesn’t think I’m grown up.”
His mother, Debbie, says it’s not
that. “Once you’re 18, you’re an adult & I’m reminded of that every moment of every day,”
Moreover, she feels a lack of respect on his part & feels Beck puts his parents on the back burner when he comes home,
except in a few notable cases. “If he needs food, money or a car, we'll be the priority,” she says.
According to Newman, Beck & his mother
should sit down & talk thru their differences & come to a series of compromises. “And it can’t be, ‘I’m
on my own now, this is ridiculous’ on the student’s part,” she says.
These conversations can lay the groundwork for what will become the student’s adult relationship with parents. Parents, meanwhile,
should note it may be rocky at first, but over time, patterns change & new roles begin to take form.
In the meantime, parents should recognize & understand their son or daughter “possibly & probably has adopted some habits they’re not going to love as parents,” Newman says. Chief among these is a revised bed time, which could mean going to bed at 2
or 3 a.m. & waking up somewhere in the vicinity of noon.
“It’s a world that parents
don’t relate to & as a parent, you’re going to have to sit back & say, ‘OK, that’s the way
he lives his life now,’ ” Newman says.
A late bedtime is a way of life for Kristina
Robinson, a freshman at the University of Michigan. At school, her lights go out usually around 5 a.m. & that’s
the way she expects to live when she comes home to Oak Park too.
“When I come home & I’m out really late, my mama calls my cell phone to try
& figure out where I am or when I’m coming home & it’s like ‘Mom, I’ll be home when I get
home,’ you know?” Robinson says. “If I was at school, she would never know I was out that late & if
she did, there’s nothing she could do about it. So it’s a little weird.”
Robinson says she also thinks her mother is having a hard time accepting that she’s growing up. “She wants it
to be like if I was still in high school & it’s really not like that,” she says. Still, Robinson says she
tries to adjust to life at home because she doesn’t want to spend what little time she gets to see her mother fighting
The phone has been a major issue for Kristina
Paige, whose parents imposed a phone curfew on her, meaning she couldn’t place or receive phone calls after 10:30 p.m.
“It's hard,” Paige says. “I’m used to doing what I want to do, going
about my business & then when I return home I’m under restrictions, so it’s kind of aggravating.”
Newman says control over the phone is a constant source of trouble between students & parents. She suggests parents accept that while their students are home, the phone is
going to be glued to their child’s ear.
Instead of dealing with the phone curfew,
Paige chooses to spend the majority of her time at her sister, Nicol’s, house. At Nicol’s, Paige can come home
whenever she pleases & talk on the phone all hours of the night. Nicol, 11 years older than Kristina, knows what she is
going thru & likes to act as a buffer between her sister & her parents.
“She kind of gets away & pretends to be at college over at my house,” Nicol says.
“I know she gets frustrated over (at her parent’s
house) & it’s always the same talk that ‘you’re
not mature,’ & she doesn’t want to hear that.” Hence, Nicol provides Kristina - & Kristina’s
friends - sanctuary from the fallout of holiday home clash.
Kristina’s father, Phillip, wishes
she'd stick around the house more while she’s home. But he knows its a part of her growing up & leaving the nest.
“I’m a parent that’s trying to teach her & school her, that’s all I can do,” he says. “And
so far, she’s doing pretty good.”
While at home, students should assume old
responsibilities & take on some new ones, as well, to show they’re still an important part of the family but they have an increased role as well, Newman says.
That means doing
old chores like setting the table & taking out the garbage, as well as doing their own laundry, if they hadn’t before.
“It’s reassuring in a back
door way to know when you come home you haven’t been displaced & that you’re still a part of the family,”
Newman says. “The student need to know it’s not a case of out-of-sight out-of-mind & they still do have a significant role in
Most important of all, the student needs to develop a sense of humor, as well as a sense of understanding of what their parent is going thru, Newman says. Beck seems to have accomplished that.
“I know they do it because they love me & they care about me & because they can’t watch me (up at school) & they try & make
up for it when I’m home,” he says. “I know they’re just keeping a watchful eye out.”
Acceptance & Children's Behavior
Children's understanding of emotional expressions & situations has been found to relate to how well peers like or dislike them.
A study at George Mason University suggests that well-liked children are better able than other children to read &
respond to peers' emotions.
Disliked children may misinterpret peers' emotions, leading to difficult interactions & eventual rejection by peers.
In general, positive behaviors, such as cooperation, are associated with being accepted by peers & antisocial behaviors, such as aggression, are associated with being rejected. This is confirmed by recent studies identifying characteristics & behaviors related to being liked or disliked by peers.
Good communication is a skill important to the continuation of social play. Well-liked children appear to communicate better than disliked children.
In a study at the Univ. of Texas, well-liked children were more likely than others to be clear in direct communications
by saying the other child's name, establishing eye contact, or touching the child they intended to address.
Well-liked children more often replied appropriately to children who spoke to them, rather than ignoring the speaker, changing the subject, or saying something irrelevant.
While well-liked children weren't any less prone to reject peers' communications toward them, they were more likely to offer a reason for the rejection or suggest alternatives.
e.g., in rejecting a peer's suggestion, "let's pretend we're hiding from the witch," a well-liked child was more likely to say,
"no, we played that yesterday," or, "no, let's be robbers instead," rather than just saying, "no."
Peer Acceptance & Social Reputation
It's important to recognize the role of the peer group in maintaining a child's level of social acceptance. Once a child has established a reputation among peers
either as someone with whom it's fun to play or as someone with whom joint play is unpleasant or dissatisfying, this reputation may influence the way other children perceive the child's
If a negative reputation is developed, helping the child become accepted may require more than a change in the child's behavior; it may also be necessary to point out to the other children when the child's behavior
changes & to guide them to respond to the child in positive ways.
How Can Teachers
& Other Adults Help?
Studies such as those mentioned above suggest important elements to be considered by those who wish to understand why a particular child is unpopular & need to decide what to do to help that child gain social acceptance. To assist a disliked child in gaining acceptance, careful, informed observation is needed.
Observe behavior & note:
- Does the child have greater success interacting with 1 or 2 peers than with larger groups?
- Does the child often seem to misinterpret the apparent intentions & emotional cues of other children?
- When rejecting a playmate's suggestion, does the child provide a reason or an alternative idea?
- Do classmates consistently rebuff or ignore the child's attempts to engage in play, even when the child is using strategies that should work?
- There's no recipe for facilitating acceptance.
To help a child, it's essential to identify the child's areas of difficulty.
Strategies To Consider
Adults who work with groups of children may feel frustrated in their attempts to help a child achieve social acceptance.
Many approaches can be adapted to particular situations & needs of individual children. Special play activities can be arranged, such as grouping children who lack social skills
with those who are socially competent & will thus provide examples for learning effective skills.
Planning special play sessions with a younger child may help the socially isolated child. Research reports that socially isolated preschoolers exposed to play sessions with pairs of younger children eventually become more socially involved
in the class than do isolated children who play with children of their own age.
The decision to pair a child with a younger or more socially skilled child should depend on whether the child's socially isolation is due to ineffective social skills or lack of confidence.
Some children have adequate social skills, but are anxious & inhibited about using them. Opportunities to be the big guy in play with a younger child may give the
inhibited child a needed boost of social confidence.
Sometimes disliked children behave aggressively because they don't know how to resolve conflicts. Planned activities can help children generate alternative solutions to difficult social situations.
Skits, puppet shows, or group discussions that present hypothetical situations can encourage a wide range of ideas for potential solutions. Such methods can increase the number of appropriate strategies,
such as taking turns or sharing, that are available to the children.
However, to effectively implement such newly learned strategies in the classroom, children must be given on-the-spot
guidance when real conflict situations occur. To help with conflict resolution, the adult can encourage the children involved to voice their perspectives, generate potential solutions & jointly decide on &
implement a mutually acceptable solution.
When a child has difficulty entering ongoing play, an adult can steer the child toward smaller or more accepting groups, or can structure the environment to include inviting
spaces for private small group or one-on-one play.
A loft, a tent, or a large empty box might make an inviting space. When a child asks, "Can I play?" the teacher can
guide the child in observing the ongoing play, figuring out the group's theme & purpose & thinking of a role to play or of ways to contribute to the group.
On-the-spot guidance by adults can facilitate communication, which contributes to successful play. A child who rejects playmates' ideas without offering explanations or alternatives could be told, "Ben I don't
think Tom understands why you don't want to play store. Can you tell him why?" or "Can you tell him what else you could do together?"
A disliked child having difficulty reading others' emotional cues
might be given a suggestion - "Look at Mary's face. Do you think she likes it when you poke her?"
In addition to using techniques that focus on the disliked child, adults may need to translate for the peer group the unpopular child's behavior & apparent intentions.
e.g., an adult might say, Thomas wants to play with you. If you don't need another father, who could he be instead?" However, when intervention focuses on the peer group, adults shouldn't
force peers to play with a disliked child.
This may cause resentment & increase rejection of the child.
The teacher's attempts to help a disliked child find a comfortable niche in the peer group may prove more successful if the child's family is involved, either directly or indirectly.
After describing to the parent what techniques are being tried in the classroom, the teacher may suggest how the parent
can use some of the strategies to help the child play with peers at home or interact with siblings.
Children who feel good about themselves & experience loving family relationships may bring their expectations of acceptance & success to the peer group. Such expectations can become self-fulfilling prophecies.
For the child whose poor self-concept reflects difficulties in the child's family, parent conferences in which the teacher can offer support may be helpful. Literature on such topics as positive discipline & effective parent-child interaction can be offered on a parent reading shelf or bulletin board.
Parent discussion groups, facilitated by a knowledgeable professional, can provide information about the importance of social competence & guidance strategies that can help parents facilitate their child's development.
Steps to Attaining a Perfect 10 Body Image
- Don't skip breakfast: just accept it!!! Eating breakfast is important to do; plan out your breakfast menu for the week & include nutritious foods only! This will boost your metabolism into full gear instead of telling your
body to start producing fat to store up in case you're in a "starvation mode!" Read more about breakfast by visiting
anxieties 101's lifestyle diet page, or if you're a teen, you can click here to visit teen's scene's - "her diet" page or "his diet" page! you can also go to the changes website to check out more in depth ways to change your present lifestyle diet!!!
- Eat fruits & veggies : click the underlined links provided here to visit the changes website's full page informational resource for each topic, both, "fruits & veggies" are covered in detail there! hey,,, what's your excuse this
time for not taking personal responsibility for your diet. learn about fruits & veggies & why they're so important to your diet!! maybe that will help to reinforce the concept of "changing your diet," instead of "going on a diet!"
- Drink plenty of water
- Limit sugar & fat intake
- Don't crash diet
- Don't deprive yourself ofoccasional treats
- Don't eat during the RED ZONE (between 9 PM & 6 AM)
- Begin a fitness program at your local gym
- Swim laps 2-3 times a week
- Join an aerobics class
- Power walking
- Tai Chi
Challenge Your Mind
- Be open to learning new experiences
- Sign-up for a new class/workshop
a new book
- Pen into a personal journal
- Morning meditation (10-30 minutes)
- Yoga stretches
- Nature walks
- Volunteer/Be a Mentor
- Join a support group
- Immerse yourself into work/hobby that brings
out your creative juices
- Schedule routine health checkups
- Pamper yourself
- Get a massage
- Have a Reiki treatment
- Soak in a steamy bath
Smile at your reflection in the mirror
Acceptance doesn't equal approval.
think acceptance means approval. This confusion causes them to balk at the whole idea.
In the way we're discussing it, the 2 aren't equivalent.
Acceptance doesn't equal approval. i.e. Accepting the fact that there's poverty in the world doesn't mean you approve of poverty. (by the way, it's kathleen here! clicking on the words, "approve" & "approval" will open a new window of opportunity for you to read about other negative needs we may have. We don't
need approval, learn more about being competitive & feeling like you need to be perfect!")
Acceptance also doesn't mean you're giving up. Accepting your doctor's diagnosis of cancer doesn't mean you'll refuse treatment & just roll over & die.
Acceptance doesn't preclude taking appropriate action. Recognizing that you're anxious & experiencing shortness of breath
doesn't mean you won't use the coping skills you have for calming down.
Acceptance is simply paying attention to the way things are
& taking appropriate action.
What is Change?
Change can be considered as:
- A break
in the normal routine
- An alteration
in our current life-style
- The unknown,
the ambiguous, the uncertainty one must face after a loss
- The modification
of current patterns of social interaction & conduct in adjusting to an altered life after a loss occurs
the calm peace previously established
- The requirement
to shift one's way of reacting to a loss
process by which a system reshapes or reforms itself in returning to a stable, functional condition
- An undesirable
reality for individuals who have suffered from an unpredictable home life with continuous reshuffling
- A motivator for individuals to review the way they're living their lives & relating to others;
a chance to improve their relationships & their quality of life
the sense & order we have maintained in life
of priorities to make new order & sense out of the consequences of the change
- An unbalancing in which we are unsure of ourselves &
unsure of our ability to adjust
A requirement for us to call on our inner, untapped resources to adjust & cope with the results
- Often a
requirement for us to call on others to help us adjust & cope with the consequences
with fear & dread because of its unknown & ambiguous nature
- A continuous
process of readjusting & refining relationships & ways of acting
- A way of
life for people who thrive on crisis & disarray. Some people need continuous change in order to feel vital & alive.
- A process required to improve our current level
- The desired outcome of all therapeutic processes in which people are addressing personal, emotional &/or physical problems
How do people who avoid change act?
People who actively avoid change in their lives:
- Act in a cautious manner in all aspects of their lives, personal & professional
- Are very security oriented & seek a set or patterned way of life for themselves
- Resist discussions that'll focus on areas needing change in their lives
- Withdraw from situations that may result in a need for change
- Deny the
need for altered behavior resulting from a loss
- Get angry with the people in their lives who confront them with the need for change in order to adjust to a loss
- Fantasize how life has remained the same despite a loss & ignore any signs of the need for change
- Are willing to do anything in order to avoid necessary changes in their lives
- Associate only with people who support their beliefs & value systems that deny the need for change
Those that exhibit these 4 of the 5 stages of loss:
What are some benefits to be gained by adjusting to change?
- Appropriate coping & development of adaptive behavior patterns required by the loss
personal, social & emotional growth
personal, marital, family or work productivity
of a sense of order & purpose to life
"getting on" in life with a minimum of delay, confusion, or complication resulting from the avoidance of
of a set of internal resources & strengths perhaps not previously evident in ourselves
conservation of our personal energy by channeling it into necessary & desirable activities in the adjustment to change
- Avoiding fearful, paranoid, or frightened behavior in activities that might result in change.
of view about the realities of life & open acceptance of the inevitability
of change & adaptation for the future
realistic establishment of goals for ourselves & others that fit within the parameters of the resulting change
- Giving ourselves
a chance to use our positive qualities & attributes to their fullest, validating our self-worth & goodness
- An improvement of our mental
health by reducing stress induced by the need for adapting to change
Accepting Change: What feelings do people have when facing the possibility of change in their lives?
- threatened anxiety
- uncomfortable dread
Accepting change: What are some irrational beliefs we have about change?
- Change is bad.
- I could
never adjust to that change.
- Change is unfair.
- Things in
my life should always remain the same.
- I've experienced
too much change in my life & I don't want anymore change!
- If I ignore it, it'll go away.
- There must be something I can do to avoid this change.
- Why did this have to happen to me?
- I'm never happy & relaxed at the same time;
I need change to keep me alive.
- There's no need to change my current lifestyle, even though I've experienced this loss.
- It only hurts for a little while.
- You should adjust to all changes easily.
- Security in life is creating an unchanging environment for oneself.
- My life will fall apart if I change like that.
- There's only one way I want my life to be.
- Life should be easy!
- Change should be avoided at
- I don't need to change; the others involved in my life need to change.
- You must always lose a part of yourself in
order to adjust to a change.
- You can have stability in your life only by
avoiding the continuous adjustments
Action steps for accepting change
Step 1. Determine what change is most likely to occur after a specific loss. In determining what the change is, answer the following questions:
- When will
this change take place?
- How will
the change affect my interpersonal relationships?
- What material
things in my life will be affected by this change?
- How will
my work be affected by this change?
- How will
this change affect myself or my personality?
- What are
the benefits to me of fully accepting this change?
- What are
the consequences if I don't fully accept this change?
- How will
this change affect my family &/or marriage?
- What information
do I need in order to openly accept this change?
- What personal
beliefs, opinions, attitudes or behavior will need to be adapted in order for my full acceptance of this change?
Step 2. Once you've answered the questions in Step 1, describe the change with which you're dealing as a result of the specific loss.
Step 3. Now that you know what the change is, create a visual image of yourself 6 months from now after having fully accepted the change.
In this visualization picture
yourself as successfully coping with the change. Include the following variables into your visual image:
- People involved
- Material objects involved
- Your work, if involved
- Your family &/or spouse, if involved
You as a person:
Step 4. Use the visual image
of your successful acceptance of change in a process of self-instruction.
the following events:
- Get yourself
into a relaxed state by using both muscle relaxation &
- Once you're
relaxed, begin to visualize the image of successful acceptance of change.
- As you observe
this image, tell yourself how you can achieve this changed life.
- Tell yourself
you deserve this successful conclusion to your loss.
- Keep observing
this image in a relaxed state for up to 30 minutes.
- When you're
ready to end the visual image count backward from 5 & arise with a commitment to full acceptance of the change & the successful life adaptation you just visualized.
- Repeat this
visual imagery at least once a day until you begin to believe & act in a way that reflects your full acceptance of the change in your life & your adaptation to it.
Step 5. If you remain unable
to accept or adapt to the change, perhaps you never realized exactly what the change would be. Perhaps you're immobilized due to your resistance to change.
In either case, return to
Step 1 & begin again. Repeat Steps 1 thru 5 until you have gained acceptance of the change.
Affirmations of Commitment to Change
When you're deciding to change your lifestyle to one which is more balanced & healthy, you'll be fighting
the messages & beliefs which you've hidden in your mind since you were
a little child.
These messages are typically negative & don't encourage you to pursue the balanced lifestyle in this program. The first task you need to accomplish to assist you to be successful in your lifestyle change is to change the messages in your mind which sabotage or unravel your good intentions to change.
To do this you
need to first use the ALERT system to identify the irrational beliefs which hold
you captive to negative thinking about yourself & your desire to change &
To do an ALERT
you need to first Assess what's causing you anxiety, panic or stress. In this situation what's causing such stress is that you're wanting to change your lifestyle & this includes changing your relationship with food, implementing an exercise
program into your life & changing the ways you relate to yourself & your body.
This will be very stressful if you have a number of messages or old scripts in you
brain which tell you that you'll never be able to accomplish this goal. Once you have assessed what's causing the stress, then you need to Lessen the impact of the stressor by identifying the sick,
irrational, unrealistic, non-reality based thinking which underlies your beliefs & feelings about the stressor.
You need to identify what irrational messages you have in your head about
food, weight loss, exercise, body image, thinness, size, appearances, diets, etc.
You then need to Ease out of the stressor by developing new rational, realistic, reality based, healthy messages which are affirmations which you
can use in self-talk & visualizations which teach you a new way to think about, image & feel about things which are involved in developing a balanced lifestyle.
Once you've identified the new self-talk messages you can Relax by breathing in the new messages & breathing out the old stale ones. As you become more relaxed & less anxious about pursuing your balanced lifestyle changes your can then Take Action to implement the changes needed.
Once you've "ALERTed" out what the old messages are you then need to change these messages into new healthy self-affirmations which you need to then consistently tell yourself for the rest of your life to keep your efforts at balancing your lifestyle on track.
The use of the ALERT system in identifying the unhealthy old self messages will assist you to reduce the anxiety, stress or panic you feel as you begin the process of lifestyle change.
What follows are
sample negative self-scripts which keep people stuck in their unhealthy lifestyles. After each negative message you'll find
sample affirmations which utilize the I am... I can... & the I will... sentence stems.
Put the messages
which you need to hear yourself say on 3 x 5 index cards & keep them handy to repeat to yourself throughout the course of every day you need until these new messages become habitual ways of thinking about the change in lifestyle you want
You can also put
these affirmations on an audio tape in your own voice to
listen to throughout the day so as to help motivate you & to keep you on track in your efforts to establish a balanced lifestyle for yourself.
- I shouldn't have to expend so much time, energy
& resources on trying to changes my lifestyle.
- I'm willing to spend the time, energy &
resources needed to change my lifestyle.
- I can spend time, energy & resources necessary
to change my lifestyle, because I deserve it.
- I will spend the time, energy & resources
necessary to change my lifestyle.
- I need to spend time, energy & resources to change my lifestyle.
- To change one's lifestyle takes a great deal of personal
time, energy & resources.
- I'm beautiful.
- I can acknowledge my beauty every day of my life.
- I'll acknowledge my beauty every day; of my life.
- I accept myself unconditionally.
- I can accept myself unconditionally every day of my life.
- I'll accept myself unconditionally every day of my life.
- I accept myself as a human being who needs to change my lifestyle so that others will be able
to see the beauty I possess.
- I accept myself as beautiful & am making a commitment to let that beauty shine for others by changing my lifestyle.
- I'm willing to do what's necessary to change my lifestyle so that my beauty will shine
- I've always failed in the past. So why try? Since I'll fail again in this effort.
- I'm able to change my lifestyle despite the failures in the past.
- I can change my lifestyle despite my failures in the past.
- I'll change my lifestyle despite my failures in the past.
- I'm changing my lifestyle by ridding myself of guilt over my past.
- I can change my lifestyle without resorting to use of
guilt to motivate me.
- I'll change my lifestyle without using guilt as a motivator.
- I shouldn't have to give up food & begin
to exercise to change my lifestyle.
- I'm developing a new relationship with food & incorporating exercise in my life to change my lifestyle so that I can be healthier,
have more energy & feel better about myself.
- I can develop a new relationship with food
& increase the level of exercise in my life.
- I'll develop a new relationship with food
& increase the level of exercise in my life.
- I should be on a diet program in order to
loss weight & gain a balanced lifestyle.
- I'm able to lose weight & gain a balanced lifestyle by not going on a diet.
- I can lose weight & get my life in balance
by not going on a diet.
- I'll lose weight & get my life in balance by not going on a diet.
- I'll lose weight by developing a new relationship
w/food & increasing the exercise & physical activity in my life.
- I'm free of diets.
- I love myself enough to cut back on the foods which keep me out of balance.
- I love myself enough to increase my exercise & physical activity when I
choose to eat foods or large amounts of food which put me out of balance.
- I'll work at keep my body's bank account in
- I'll balance the deposits of calories & fat grams into my body's bank account
with the withdrawals of exercise & physical activity.
- I should enjoy exercise in order to make it
part of my balance lifestyle.
- I'm able to implement an exercise program in
my life which is reasonable & healthy for me.
- I can exercise in a healthy & reasonable
- I'll exercise in order to balance my body's bank account.
- I'm committing to make room in my day for exercise & physical activity.
- I can exercise consistently & learn to
- I'll exercise consistently in order to feel
- I'll exercise consistently because I deserve
- I should be able to achieve my goals for weight loss & a balanced
life right away.
- I'm committing
to a life time of balancing my life.
- I can take time to do what I need to do to
lose weight & balance
- I'll allow myself the time needed to lose weight & balance my life.
- I'll grow in patience
with myself as I take the time needed to change & grow.
- I'm able to have patience to face the tasks ahead of me to put balance into my life.
- I should only be rewarded if I lose the weight
I believe I need to lose.
- I'm going to stop being critical & judgmental
- I can reward myself for the internal changes I make & not judge myself on the externals.
- I'll reward myself for the efforts I'm making
because I'm worth the effort.
- I'm changing my lifestyle for me & no one else.
- I'll stay off of a scale during the next 2
- I'll measure my success in balancing my lifestyle on my internals & not my externals.
- I'm growing in a guilt free lifestyle.
- I'm able to do good things for myself.
- I'll let go
of the need to be self-critical & self-judgmental in my efforts to balance my life.
- I'll do what it takes to change & will reward those internal changes as they come.
- I recognize that a balanced lifestyle comes first by changing the way I think about myself.
- I should never be easy on myself or I'll never
accomplish the goal of a balanced lifestyle & loss of weight.
- I love myself enough to do what's necessary to balance my life.
- I can grow in self love & do what I need to do to put
my life into balance.
- I'll love & nurture myself internally as I put my life into balance.
- I love myself enough to do what's necessary to put my life into balance.
- I'll live a guilt free lifestyle.
- I'll do what I need to do to balance my life because I'm worth it.
- I'll change the way I live my life because I deserve
- I'm changing the way I live my life for me & no one else.
- I'll not use self-criticism & self-deprecation
in order to motivate myself.
- I'll love & nurture myself to grow in the commitment to do what's healthy for me.
- I'll accomplish more in changing my lifestyle by being self-loving & self-forgiving.
- I shouldn't be seen by others until my body
is thin, beautiful & presentable.
- I'm willing to let others see my body today the way it is rather than what I wish it was.
- I can let others see my body just the way
- I'll let others see my body just the way it
- My body is me & I'm acceptable, loveable & beautiful.
- My body is undergoing a change due to the change in lifestyle which I've begun.
- My body will continue to change as I balance my lifestyle.
- My body is worth being seen & heard by others.
- I accept my body today just the way
it is, because it's me.
- I love myself, therefore I love my body for what it is.
- I love myself enough to do what's necessary to help my body to become healthier.
- I have a lot to offer others & I'll make
myself present to them.
- I'll overcome my need to be invisible in order to help myself grow in self-confidence & self-love.
- I'll overcome my "Achilles heel" of embarrassment over my body.
- I'll do what I need to do to accept my
body as worth being seen &
- I should be able to change & balance my lifestyle perfectly or I should quit trying.
- I'm a human being & don't expect myself
to be perfect in changing & balancing my lifestyle.
· I can accept that I'll not be perfect in changing & balancing my lifestyle
· I'll accept
that there's no need to be perfect in my efforts to change & balance my lifestyle.
· I'm aware that relapse & slips are a part of recovery & I'll
get back on the "wagon" as soon as I fall off in my attempts to change & balance my lifestyle.
· I accept that the Balanced Lifestyle Program is a program for human beings who're fallible & imperfect & that there's no need for me to be obsessed with doing it perfectly.
· I can only do what's humanly possible to change, grow & get my lifestyle into balance.
· I'll measure my changes in this program by the changes in attitude & the increase in exercise & physical activity I accomplish.
· I'm giving up my need to punish & humiliate myself because I view myself as a failure for not being perfect.
· I let go of the need to have a perfect body in order for me to love myself.
· I'll continue to love myself even if I slip or relapse in my efforts
to balance my
· I'll utilize the tools of self-forgiveness &
letting go of shame & guilt in order for me to accept that I'm a human being who'll fail & make mistakes in my efforts to change.
· I should be able to do this on my own & privately
without the need for group support.
· It's ok that I'm using a group to support my efforts to change & balance
· I can reach out to others in my support group for support as I work at changing my lifestyle.
· I'll reach out to others in my support group for support as I work at changing my lifestyle.
· I can utilize the emotional support of others as I make changes in my life.
· I'll accept the emotional support of others
as I make changes in my life.
· It's healthy for me to reach out to others for support
as I make changes in my life.
· It's important for me to be open & honest with my feelings with the support people in
my life so that they can provide me the emotional support when I really need it.
Living w/your spouse
can bring about strong feelings. Some are positive feelings & some can be negative.
Feelings of isolation & rejection
can surface when uncomfortable feelings aren't shared with one another. When we share this with our spouse & feel accepted &
loved, it's a warm experience.
Accept everything about yourself - I mean everything.
You are you & that is the beginning & the end.
No apologies, no regrets.
Who's To Judge?
by Marie T. Russell
Over the past few years, numerous teachings about unconditional
love & acceptance have come to our attention. Many
of us have begun to realize the importance of being nonjudgmental & accepting people the way they are.
Individually, we all may not have attained the reality of this practice in our moment-to-moment existence, however, we're aware of it & have set this realization
as an attainable goal.
Ideally, we all want to be in a constant state of total unconditional acceptance. However, in your zeal to become 'unconditional'
have you overlooked yourself?
Have you been able to stop judging & accept the inconsistencies that occasionally cause you to fall short of the mark?
When we embark on the 'spiritual' path, we begin judging ourselves (& sometimes judge others) as not being 'spiritual'
enough. In the past, some people whipped themselves physically when they judged themselves to have sinned.
In this modern day & age, we, at times, chose instead to whip ourselves mentally & emotionally. How many
of us have internal beliefs that sound like this:
- "I'm so stupid."
- "I can never do anything right."
- " I'm selfish."
- "I don't deserve..." (cancel)"
Many of us were raised with an internal belief of being a sinner. We were told that we were born sinners.
With programs like this running the show within, no wonder we are harsh on ourselves. We get 'down' on ourselves for still
not getting it right.
We strive to be unconditionally accepting & when we aren't, we berate ourselves for our behavior. When we don't attain our goals, we judge ourselves as no good, or at least not good enough.
It's time to fire our self-appointed judge & jury.
We must begin to forgive ourselves for believing we were bad & begin to stop acting as if we're fallen angels. We need to realize that we're only 'fallen' when we choose to believe that we are. If we realize that we're truly good & live according to that belief, things will come into place.
We're emerging from a time of believing ourselves to be "Sinners," to knowing we're "Winners," when we live
according to our inner truth & light.
More understanding & patience toward ourselves is a must.
Unconditional love & acceptance must also reside w/in us & for us. We
must realize that, as with any new skill, it takes time to make it an automatic part of our lives.
i.e., when you began to ride a bike, you probably fell a few times before achieving the right balance; when you learned to ski, you didn't slalom down the hill at high speeds
the first few times, etc.
It's the same with learning to release behaviors from our insecure & guilt-ridden past. It's essential to realize that we're like children learning something
new & we need compassion for our mistakes. I feel that if we were 'perfect', in other words, if we've learned all that this 'school of life' has to teach us, then we wouldn't be here.
By the very fact of our existence on this topsy-turvy planet, we know that we still haven't graduated... we still
have some things to learn. Remember being in grade school? Does a child in grade 3 criticize himself for not knowing everything
that a grade 10 student knows?
That child may
wish s/he had that knowledge, but knows it's not 'her or
his fault' for not yet being at that level. So it is with life. If you're still in grade 3 in the school of life (or grade 6 or 10), be compassionate with yourself. You still have a ways to go.
Do the best you can with the knowledge you now have & forgive yourself when you don't pass the daily tests. Simply make a conscious decision to strive to do better next time & let go of the guilt-ridden thoughts, need for punishment & self-criticism. You're a student of life, love & inner peace.
As a student, you're expected to make 'mistakes' & to strive to correct them. Guilt, self-afflicted judgment & punishments aren't required of you. Let that stuff go! They can only hamper you in your movement forward into the light of total love & acceptance. Blessed be the children that we truly are!
from "Painfully Shy: Learning the art of Acceptance" by clicking the title. Some of the above information
was taken from their website!
What Others' think is Important to Health & Happiness
COLUMBUS, Ohio - What others think about you may affect your own health & well being. A new study found that college students held in
high esteem by their roommates were happier & had less physical problems
than those who were not liked as much.
The less-favored students had more mental & physical problems, such as low self esteem, depression & illness.
And while researchers in the past have acknowledged that a link exists between social
acceptance & personal health, the jury was out on how the
2 affected each other. According to this study, social acceptance affects mental & physical health more
than health predicts social acceptance.
"Self esteem & other health factors were hurt if a student lived with someone who disliked him," said Brad Schmidt, a study co -author & an associate
professor of psychology at Ohio State Univ.
The research appears in the current issue of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Schmidt co-authored the study with Thomas Joiner of Florida State Univ. & Kathleen Vohs of Dartmouth College.
The study included 143 undergraduate students & their roommates. Some of the students, 84 women & 59 men, chose
their own roommates, while others were assigned roommates by the university.
Roommates of the participating students filled out a questionnaire in which they were asked how much esteem they had for their roommates (i.e.,
"I see my roommate as a person of worth, at least on an equal basis w/others.")
The participating students filled out questionnaires that measured their own feelings of depression, aggression, anger & self esteem, as well as physical illness & alcohol & cigarette use.
All students completed the questionnaires twice; the 2nd session took place 3 weeks after the first.
Students who were disliked by their roommates reported more depression, anger, physical illness & lower self esteem. Also, the self esteem of disliked individuals tended to deteriorate during the 3 weeks between questionnaire sessions.
"This relatively quick change in self esteem suggests that a lack of social interaction can create immediate emotional distress & physical consequences," Schmidt said.
Students who had low social acceptance from a roommate at the 1st session also reported
higher levels of physical aggression at the 2nd session.
"When a person is judged less than favorably, he's faced with either accepting or rejecting that opinion," Schmidt said. Acceptance might lead to depression, while rejection could lead to anger & physical aggression.
"But as feelings of social acceptance increased, so did self esteem," he said. "An adequate level of social support can be a buffer against physical & mental health problems."
Overall, the findings suggested that social
acceptance during the 1st session was related to a variety
of mental & physical health factors 3 weeks later. But physical health was the only factor that seemed to have an influence
on social acceptance.
"Physical health plays a role in social acceptance, particularly with individuals who don't develop
social affiliations easily," Schmidt said.
"If you're not taking care of yourself initially, you're not going to be attractive to & accepted by
those around you. And this lack of acceptance may exacerbate your physical illness."
5 Steps to Accepting Compliments Graciously
- By Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach
Many creative artists are uncomfortable with praise and compliments.
We can be so busy judging ourselves harshly that we don't quite know what to do with positive feedback.
wish people would just "come out and say it," "it" being the negative thing that they're REALLY thinking, just to prove our
Instead, when we can learn how to embrace positive feedback and accept compliments graciously,
we open up the door for more positive thoughts and interactions, and we actually start to BELIEVE them.
our inner critic starts up again, we can intentionally choose to believe the POSITIVE messages we've been receiving.
are five steps towards accepting compliments graciously.
1. Notice. Begin by noticing what you tend to say when
someone gives you a compliment. Do you minimize it by saying, "Oh, it was nothing", do you argue with it by saying, "No, I
don't look good, I look awful!" or do you find yourself so uncomfortable that you're at a complete loss for words?
Practice. You can learn to accept compliments more graciously. After noticing what you tend to do now, decide how you'd
like to respond the next time you receive a compliment. Then, practice saying your new response (in front of a mirror is best)
until saying it feels natural and sincere.
What to say? A warm and heartfelt, "thank you", coupled with a smile, is
always appropriate and is usually enough. Be cautious of feeling the need to explain, justify, or return a compliment automatically.
3. Pause. When someone pays you a compliment, stop before you respond. This is where change happens –
when we step out of autopilot and try something different. Take a deep breath and remember your wish to accept compliments
4. Turn your attention outwards. Focus on the person who's giving you the compliment. Think
about their intentions. Sometimes our inner critic tells us stories about the person being sarcastic, having some kind of
ulterior motive or not truly meaning what they say. Instead, expect the best and act on the assumption that the person is
Focus on being kind and courteous to that person. If you make them feel good by accepting their compliment
with genuine appreciation, they'll remember that and speak up the next time they have something positive to share with you.
if you belittle their words by arguing, minimizing or looking as if they've just insulted you, they'll remember that as well.
Try it from the other side. Another way to get better at accepting compliments is to GIVE more compliments. Notice how
other people receive them. This can improve your relationships greatly, because now you'll be focused more on the other person.
As you're looking for positive things to compliment them on, you'll also be keeping your thoughts more positive overall, and
you'll have less time for worrying and negative thinking.
© Linda Dessau, 2006.
Our Ideal World vs Reality:
How can we be happy
in an imperfect world?
One of my hobbies has been to invent ideas of what a more ideal world would be like. Perhaps you too imagine what a better world would be like - at least better for you. However,
I live in the world as it is today. I can't change the past & my abilities to change the future are limited.
If we don't accept the limitations of our situation - or of ourselves; then we are choosing to be unhappy. Some of the saddest & most unproductive words we can utter are "what if."
"What if I had been born wealthy,
beautiful, or with a happy family?"
"What if we had discovered a cure
"What if she hadn't left me?"
"What if I had gotten that job?"
"What if I hadn't made that dumb mistake?"
"What if. . .?" instead try saying,
"It is. . .& I'll make the best of it - I'll find some route to happiness."
If I'm to be happy,
I must learn to accept & love this world as it is, was & will be -
not focus on what isn't, wasn't, or can't be.
Every creative act also produces waste & "garbage." Our
bodies take in food & convert that food into energy & into structural parts of our bodies. As part of this natural,
growth process, our bodies also produce waste from that food. Any manufacturing or creative process also produces a certain
amount of waste & garbage.
With every creative idea or action there is also a certain amount of waste or garbage that occurred in its production.
Perhaps we had to make mistakes before we learned the right way to do it, or perhaps doing it produced negative side-effects.
Do you ever develop expectations that you should do something perfectly - with no mistakes or waste? I may make mistakes & I may make things worse. No matter how hard I try, I will produce a certain amount of waste & garbage.
To be happy it's necessary to accept & forgive mistakes - my own & the mistakes of others. Otherwise,
we choose guilt & resentment over love & happiness. The only way to produce no waste is to think or do nothing. However, that would be the biggest waste of all!
Our limited time on earth. One client who came in because of persistent
depression & frequent suicidal thoughts said, "The religions teach you that there is life after death, but I don't believe it. What good is life if it is so short? You go thru a few years of living, then you die. I might as well die
His argument was like the fool who wished he had $100,000, but only had $100. He threw away the $100 because he thought, "It's not worth anything." The wise man who had $100 said, "Since I only have $100, I must spend each dollar carefully & get the most for it - for each dollar is precious."
There are different "Levels" Of Reactions
Our thoughts consist of different levels. At a lower (more specific, sensory, externally tied)
level, we may react negatively to negative situations. However, we can overcome that initial negative reaction by viewing the whole situation from a higher, philosophical level.
Viewing it from a higher perspective can enable me to accept the situation & view it
more constructively. This new view can help me feel better. We can use this method to rise above even the most painful situations. Our Higher Selves & constructive philosophies (or
religious views) provide the beliefs for this higher perspective.
Accepting the "Unacceptable" - Such as Pain, Cruelty & Death
What seems too unacceptable or too overwhelming for you to cope with? List all the situations you believe you couldn't stand or couldn't cope with.
PRACTICE: Stop & make that
unacceptables list now. Imagine the worst possible conditions that you're most afraid of - no matter how unlikely they may seem right now. What are your greatest fears?
What if these unacceptable events happen despite your best efforts? As long as you have no way of viewing these "unacceptable" events (& their effects) in a minimally positive way, then they'll be an underlying source of negative emotions. Whenever you perceive any possibility that these "unacceptable events" might occur, you'll feel bolts of anxiety, depression, or other negative emotions.
Some events - such as death & taxes - either are inevitable or are a threat to all of us. Some of our most feared events might include poverty, failure, prolonged periods of pain, exposure to cruelty, illness, loss of loved ones, serious financial reverses &
death. You may wonder what value there is in even thinking of such terrible things.
Why not just wait until we face poverty or death before thinking about them? If we consider such terrible things now, aren't we just bringing up a lot of bad feelings unnecessarily? Isn't this negative thinking?
The strategy of avoiding these issues as long as possible may seem to work. However, even if we don't face a severe threat often, we still get less severe "reminders" that stir up fears of these unacceptables. My client's little reminders were stories about drugs & violence - what are yours?
If you live by the avoidance strategy, you'll live a life full of little fears. If one of your worst fears does come true, you may be overwhelmed emotionally because you were totally unprepared. Facing your worst fears now immunizes you against all fears from those sources. It gives you earthquake insurance against both the big one that could hit anytime
& the daily tremors of its reminders.
Once we learn to feel at peace about our "unacceptables," then we can feel calm about almost anything. During a workshop I gave at a
professional convention, a woman, Genevieve, told this story. She had been in a severe automobile accident & she was put
in a full body cast.
She was totally immobilized for more than a year & couldn't use her legs, arms, or hands. It wasn't even possible
to read or watch television. How would you feel? How would you cope with this situation for a year? Could you be happy?
Lonely people are often terrified of being alone & don't know how to make themselves happy. Yet, Genevieve learned how to be happy in these extreme circumstances. At first, she didn't know how she would cope with being so cut off from normal
sources of interest & happiness. Then, she heard a true story that helped her cope.
A Vietnam prisoner-of-war was confined for over a year in a mud hut so small he couldn't even stand up. But he chose
to overcome his initial feelings of depression & resentment. Instead of thinking of himself as a helpless victim, he decided to take mental control of the situation.
Instead of viewing the mud hut as his cell & his guards as his captors, he viewed the hut as his home & viewed
the guards as his guests; i.e., he'd save bits of his meager rice ration. Then periodically he offered the rice to the guards,
whom he treated as guests in his home. He found happiness in the mud hut by living according to his beliefs - not theirs.
Genevieve realized that the source of happiness was in her mind - not in the external world she was so isolated from. She overcame boredom by generating interesting & loving thoughts. When Genevieve had guests in her hospital room, she focused her attention on helping them become happier.
She gave so much that her small daughter once said, "Mommy, it isn't fair that you cheer everyone else up - you're the one who is sick." Her daughter was too young to understand.
She immersed herself in thoughts about her life & her future. She changed many of her basic beliefs & values. During her year in the cast, she changed her life in many ways. Genevieve decided to pursue her "impossible dream" of getting a doctorate & a job
in counseling - goals that she has since accomplished.
Before the cast she had low self-esteem; afterward she loved herself & was confident about the future. Before the cast she was shy, timid & fearful; afterward she was outgoing & assertive. How well did she adjust to being in this full body cast for over a year?
"It was the
happiest & most important year of my life."
It may be time for you to face your worst possible fears. If you can develop a way of viewing them (or planning for them) so that you know how you can be happy despite being in that situation, then you'll be set free from those worst fears. Genevieve said, "Now I know that I can overcome almost anything. If
I could be happy in that situation, I can be happy in almost any situation."
you've faced your worst fears & successfully overcome them -in your mind; then you can say confidently, "Now I know that I can overcome almost anything. If I could be happy in that situation, I can be happy in almost any situation."
Dealing With the "Ultimate Negative Event" - death.
The existentialist philosophers & psychologists recognized that there are certain types of major problems in life that we all know will happen to us. Death is
one of those unavoidables. Have you ever had a strong experience with death - such as almost
dying yourself, losing someone you loved, or fearing the loss of someone you loved?
Have you ever given much thought about your own death? How would you feel if your health or life was threatened for a long time? If dwelling upon any of these topics is uncomfortable for you, then you haven't dealt constructively enough with the issue of death.
Overcoming your fear of serious catastrophes & death is a necessary step toward achieving peace & maximum happiness.
If we can learn to deal with our fear of death, then perhaps we can use this as a model to deal with any negative event. Each different religion makes dealing with death
a central theme. What's your view of death - especially your own death? How do you feel when you think of the possibility of dying?
We don't need to view death as good in order to rise above our negative feelings about it. I view it as one of the "ultimate bads" - we can't be healthy & happy if we're dead. So how do we develop a view of death that helps us deal with the death of someone close or our own potential death?
People have developed many different views that help them accept death or feel better about it. Each person must find a view that's consistent with their other beliefs - such as their religious or scientific beliefs. Some hope they'll go to a better place after dying, some believe in reincarnation, some believe they'll live on thru their children & their children & some focus on their accomplishments lasting beyond them.
A view of death is emotionally effective only to the degree that we can truly believe it. However, we can create our own image that's a partial solution based on our own reasoning. Even if
we can't know that it's true, we can hope that it's true. Don't underestimate the power of hope. Hope is a force that goes beyond belief. In many cases, hope can ultimately create reality as well as reflect it.
I've struggled with my fear of death from many different philosophical & religious perspectives. Currently, I focus on my belief in life as a gift & my appreciation of every moment of life. I'd like to live forever because I love life. I live a healthy lifestyle to extend my life as long as possible. But I know that I'll die someday &
want to have an accepting attitude about it.
I hope for future awareness in some life form I don't currently understand. No matter how likely or unlikely that hope may be, I can still hope to be conscious at some point in the future. My knowledge is too limited to know how that could happen, but this hope comforts me & helps me accept death.
Another great fear of mine is that my wife, Sherry might die. (She fears the same about my death.) However, we both know
that we're each responsible for our own happiness & have the philosophy of life & life skills to be happy - even if the other should die. That knowledge comforts us. It also helps give us confidence that we could overcome any loss. That confidence gives us a sense of security that radiates thru our entire life & affects even daily "little fears."
Fears of poverty or lifestyle changes.
I've talked with many college students who feared losing financial support upon graduation & feared not finding a job. I've talked with other college students who were leaving home (often after a conflict) & had no means of support. I've talked with people who were leaving a marriage or a partner who'd been supporting them & were terrified of not being able to financially take care of themselves.
Often, these people have a real fear of being homeless & on the streets. Or they may fear drastic changes in lifestyle which seem totally unacceptable: having no car, living in a small room or rundown apartment, having no money for entertainment, or not being
able to afford the type of social life they were used to. Or perhaps their fear is working in a job which is far below their potential.
Remember, the more confident we are that we can find routes to happiness in a certain scenario, the less fear of the scenario we'll have. When I work with people facing poverty or restricted lifestyles, then we look at
what their basic needs & values are.
We look at activities they can still enjoy that are free or inexpensive - reading, walking, enjoying nature, visiting,
watching TV, helping others, sports, listening to music, "personal sex," or thinking. Then the person develops a plan for what he or she'd actually do if that scenario were to become a reality.
For example one client couldn't sleep because he was hopelessly in debt, was making far less money than he was spending & couldn't pay his rent. He had tremendous anxiety because his mind kept going in circles. Generating this anxiety was a fear of being homeless.
He kept repeating, "I don't know what I'll do, I don't know what I'll do." His lack of clear routes
to happiness created the anxiety.
explored his fear in detail & he planned what he'd do if he couldn't afford a place to live. He could rent a storage unit & move his
furniture & extra things into it. He could live in his car until he found a job & saved enough money to pay for a
less expensive room.
thought living in his car would be like "camping out"- a much more positive way of looking at his situation. Immediately, he felt much better. "What a relief." Instead of viewing "homelessness" as some sort of death, he actually chose "homelessness" until he got his finances
A few weeks later when I saw him again, he'd found a job, had a room & was financially stable again. He said his
experience living in his car hadn't been bad at all. He said, "Being homeless wasn't nearly as bad as the fear of being homeless."
like Franklin Roosevelt's statement,
"We have nothing
to fear, but fear itself."
We Can Choose How We'll React To Daily Negative Events
Every day there are thousands of negative events occurring all over the world - people are abused, mistreated, sick & dying. If I choose, I could focus on these events & feel miserable every minute of my life. Many of us live our lives focusing on those negative events or others closer to home.
Focusing too much on these negatives creates a negative inner experience. It can lead to recurring unhappiness & depression.
If we really care about others, how else can we react? One alternative is to ignore these events. I know people who'll never watch a news program or read a newspaper because of so much negative news. I can appreciate their efforts to draw boundaries & screen out a certain amount of negative inputs. That can be a partial solution to the problem.
However, we can't completely screen out all of the negative news of the world. To do so would cause us to be become hermits & turn away from responsible involvement
in the world. One result can be like a woman I met who was retired. She lived in a small apartment & constricted her world
more & more until she became afraid of almost everything outside the safe haven of her apartment.
Then she gradually became suspicious of her neighbors too. The more she constricted her world, the more suspicious & frightened she became. Constriction & fear became mutually reinforcing until she reached an isolated, almost paranoid state. Avoiding our fears & constricting our world isn't the answer to overcoming our fears.
If we care, it's natural to have initial negative feelings to negative events. However, it's how we deal with these initial negative feelings that's important. We can let them habitually overwhelm us & entrap us, or we can develop a positive philosophy of life & world view that will help us "rise above" these negative events.
How Can We
Be Both Caring & Happy When Others Are Suffering?
Do you ever feel guilty for feeling good when someone else is feeling bad? Does part of you feel like you should suffer after watching all the "bad news" on TV? If you visit a sick friend,
is it better to be upset so they know you care or to be in a good mood to help them feel better? It's possible to care about the other, show concern & feel good. The combination may help cheer them up.
"Mutual misery" vs. "Mutual happiness" as a sign of caring.
Many of us have learned that "If we care about someone who's feeling bad, we should feel bad too." We've learned to measure our degree of caring by how badly we feel when the other hurts. According to this mutual misery philosophy, the more you suffer when I'm suffering, the more you must care about me. If, on the other hand, you feel happy when I'm miserable, then you must not care about me & you're a "bad," "uncaring" person.
The logical conclusion of the mutual misery philosophy is that both people will end in dramatic expressions of suffering. You may have witnessed people
who suffered together dramatically & created beautiful misery together to convince everyone how much they care. Is that what we want? Wouldn't it be better if caring could be expressed more simply & honestly & both people could end feeling happy?
There's a philosophy other than the "mutual misery" approach. I call it the mutual happiness approach. In this approach we don't have to prove that we care for one another by our own suffering. We show our caring by our gifts of understanding, comfort, or whatever it takes to help us both feel happier.
We can express sensitivity & empathy by asking them how they feel & be willing to listen if they want to talk about their feelings. Being upset ourselves isn't what the other person needs. The clients who come to see me don't want to find a therapist that gets depressed over their problems. They want someone who'll listen effectively, show caring & help them solve their problems. They want someone who is confident & realistically optimistic.
In the mutual happiness philosophy, we measure how much we care by how much we attempt to contribute to the other person's happiness. We express our caring by doing something active to help them. Or we might decide that the best gift is freedom & support so they can take care of their own needs. That's especially true in codependent relationships.
A student of mine, who had been gravely ill, recently read this section. She said that people visiting sick
people needed to understand how important this section is. When she had been in the hospital, she disliked having people visit her who were too upset
about the seriousness of her condition.
They not only increased the "gloom" of the situation; in addition she said, "I wanted to cheer them up; but I was so sick, I felt a tremendous burden." On the other hand, she looked forward to seeing
people who were happy & cheerful - she felt no burden & their cheerfulness helped her feel better. Just what the Doctor ordered!
The best way you can help me when I'm feeling bad is to feel good, because I care about your feelings. Similarly, if you care about me, I expect you'll ultimately want me to feel good after your misfortune. Both bad feelings & good feelings are contagious. Which do you want to give?
To Think Postitively Being Honest with Myself?
Being honest has always been one of my most important values. When I was 16 & first began considering a more positive view of life, I had a serious reservation about "positive thinking." I didn't want to fool myself or be naive. I wondered, "How can I think positively without being dishonest with myself? Aren't I fooling myself?"
I realized that being honest with myself isn't really so simple. I knew that I wanted to be totally honest with myself, but I realized that most situations in life are ambiguous. The truth is usually not so clear. If a situation is ambiguous, there are 2 types of errors I can make: the 1st is to
be too optimistic & the 2nd is to be too pessimistic.
However, I decided right then that I'd rather err in the direction of feeling too positive throughout my life than err in the direction of feeling too negative.
go thru life being too optimistic & happy
than too pessimistic & depressed.
Consider 2 types of errors. 1st, consider being too
- What if at the end of my
life, I found that I'd been too optimistic about the future?
- At least I would have spent
my life being happy.
Next, consider being too pessimistic.
- What if at the end of my
life, I found that I had been too pessimistic?
- I'd have spent my life being
& wasted all that worry & misery. How sad!
Our view of an ambiguous situation can profoundly affect our emotions & our actions. A sudden change in our interpretation can have dramatic effects on those emotions & our behavior. It can also dramatically affect others around us.
A 22-year-old client came in because she'd been angry with her father for months. She thought that he was being "totally selfish," "no longer really cares about what happens to me," & "doesn't want me around any more."
communication had all but stopped, they'd constantly bicker about little things & it had gotten so bad that sometimes
she'd purposely do things to "get even."
did appear that her father had been doing many things in which he was reducing contact & support of her - with no explanation. However, after hearing in detail about the history of their relationship, it seemed to me that
her father really did care about her.
I noticed that she'd been fueling her own anger all this time by focusing only upon her negative interpretation of his behavior. I asked her why she thought her father was doing these things. The only thing she could think of was that he never really cared for her as much as she had always thought. No wonder she felt so hurt & angry! I suggested a more positive interpretation of his actions.
Let's start by
assuming that he really loved her. Suppose that he thought she might want more independence & want to be treated more as an equal adult. She seemed interested.
After the Christmas break, she had returned from a visit home & was elated! She said that everything was fine now.
She'd talked with her father & had discussed this issue in a more positive, understanding manner.
She'd found that his own explanation was similar to the one we had discussed; he was just
trying to treat her more like an adult.
They developed a completely new & more positive understanding beyond anything she'd thought possible only a few weeks before. Had we worked some miracle?
By changing her interpretation to the positive, understanding one that assumed the best of her father's motives, she also changed her behavior. She became open, communicative & viewed his words & actions more positively.
What had begun as a long complaint list about her father, ended with mutual understanding & renewed affection.
of the Social Behavior of a Child with Special Needs by: Colleen Finegan,
Wright State University
Positive relationships between children are a concern in inclusionary classrooms. This naturalistic study examines the relationship between children's perceptions
of their peer's capabilities &
its significance in making friendship choices.
It was found that young children utilize verbal & non - verbal language skills as the basis of decisions about friendship.
Friendships between children with & without identified
special needs have been an increasing concern of parents & teachers as more children with special needs are included in regular educational classroom settings.
One of the goals of inclusion, especially among younger children, is to foster positive social interaction among children with/& without special needs. (Peck, Odom & Bricker (1993)
describe social interaction in the preschool classroom as "the direct exchange of words, gestures, toys, or materials between
2 or more children.")
They viewed social interaction as
chain of social behaviors
in which social partners contribute different behaviors or links in a chain. The first behavior in a social interaction chain
is often called a social initiation & subsequent behaviors in the chain are called social responses.
These behaviors are bi-directional or reciprocal in nature, in that
different partners in social interactions direct social behaviors to the other partner, who in turn directs social behaviors
back to the original child (p. 41).
Rewarding friendships & successful social interaction
have been documented as especially important to children with special needs. Negative experiences in social interaction with peers in early childhood are related to later emotional & mental health problems (Kemple,
Children with disabilities who're placed in regular preschools & experience social rejection by peers without disabilities, tend to "display
more social isolation, place more demands on teacher time, are less attentive & are more often the recipients of negative behaviors from normally developing children" (Hundert
& Houghton, 1992, p. 311).
Despite the occasional warmhearted stories of a typically developing child asking a peer in a wheelchair or a friend
with Down Syndrome to a birthday party, teachers & parents often hear reports of isolation, exclusion & rejection.
These early experiences of rejection can lead to low
self esteem & loneliness (Bullock, 1992). These negative interactions may contribute to "less favorable perceptions of school,
higher levels of school avoidance & lower
levels of school performance" (Kemple,
1991, p. 48).
These can also have adverse effects on higher mental functions. When children have limited opportunity to or facility in watching, imitating & interacting positively with others, the development of higher social, cultural & psychological skills may be affected.
Limited social experiences also may hinder
language development, which, in turn, leads to a diminished level of linguistic interaction since children have less to talk
about. This lower level of language development completes the critical circle by restricting & therefore affecting social interaction.
In spite of the emphasis on the benefits of inclusion for both students with & without disabilities, formal &
informal research continues to report that children with disabilities placed in regular preschools often experience social rejection by peers without disabilities.
Diamond (1994) reported that children without disabilities are likely to view peers with disabilities
as less competent in the cognitive, language & physical domains than their peers without disabilities.
Children with disabilities are less likely to be chosen as "well-liked" playmates (Devoney, Guralnick & Rubin, 1974; Diamond, LeFurgy & Blass, 1993; Guralnick
& Groom, 1987) . Children with disabilities are more
likely to be described as "isolated" & more often participate in solitary as opposed to cooperative
play (Guralnick, 1990; Odom & McEvoy,
1988; Snyder, Appolloni & Cooke, 1977) .
Young children with special needs, it's noted, engage in less frequent & less sophisticated social
play than do their typically developing peers (Bredekamp
& Rosegrant, 1992).
It's important to note, however, that much of the information available on peer interaction between
children with/& without special needs is based on informal measures of feelings & attitudes of the typically developing children.
e.g., a child might be asked whether or not she'd be willing to
include a little boy who uses a wheelchair in a game of Candyland. A little boy might be asked if he would include another
little boy with visual handicaps in the kitchen center.
Consequently, the answers of the children (self-reporting measures) would be used to assume
the children's attitudes regarding their peers with special needs. Self-reporting is generally thought of as a weak measure of behavior & attitudes.
Thus, the conclusions reached are based on "hypothetical interaction" between the children with/& without special needs. Research results based on formal assessment, measuring children's actual interaction would
be more reliable.
Diamond (1994) suggests that the results of informal assessment of a peer's competence are limited because the respondent may not have been presented with the opportunity to interact with a child with a disability.
In addition, a child without a disability may not be inclined to choose the peer with a disability as a friend &
therefore the typically developing child has little experience on which to base his or her opinion.
Diamond (1994) suggests that the relationship between children's perceptions of the capabilities of their peers & significance of such information in making friendship choices should be studied closely.
It's been suggested that the difficulties experienced by children with special needs in participating in positive social interaction & in establishing friendships may be the result of the tendency for these children to be slower in
acquiring the skills & knowledge to interact successfully with other children.
Direct intervention may be beneficial for children to increase the likelihood of successful integration into the regular classroom. It would be necessary to delineate the specific skills needed in order to begin appropriate support. Therefore, the following research question was proposed:
"On what basis do
young children in a classroom setting make the determination of desirability of friendship with their peers?"
A 6 year old girl, Mindy (a pseudonym) was enrolled in a kindergarten class in February of her kindergarten
year. The family had just moved into the neighborhood & although her daughter hadn't attended kindergarten previously,
mother wanted Mindy to start school then.
It was reported that there were no transfer records from previous pre-school programs & medical records were generic
in nature, so no information was gained thru that channel. It was evident from the child's physical appearance that she had
Down Syndrome, yet it would have been unwise & insensitive to assume that the mother was aware of this fact.
It would have also been illegal to presume that just because the child appeared to have Down Syndrome, that she needed any special placement or services other than the regular kindergarten classroom placement, perhaps with some special services.
Mindy was assigned to an afternoon kindergarten class with an exceptionally effective & understanding teacher. The teacher, Ms. A. was informed of the dilemma in which the school had been placed & was advised
to do the best that she could do with Mindy until the proper steps were initiated.
The principal assured the teacher she would be given support, if needed.
There were 23 kindergartners enrolled in Ms. A's class, 11 boys & 13 girls ranging in age from 5 yrs., 7 months
to 7 yrs., 3 months. Ms. A. presented herself as a creative & understanding teacher, who respected each
child as an individual & who was supportive of the developmentally appropriate curriculum in the classroom.
Children sat at 6 large tables, identified by color; interest centers were located around the room & continually
updated with objects & stimulating activities that would spark the children's curiosity.
Children's artwork hung from the ceiling & covered the walls in the hall & music was often played as the children
worked. Books & stories on tape were available at a variety of reading levels from board books to chapter books.
Ms. A. incorporated the approaches of whole language & language experience, using units or themes to "teach across
the curriculum", in her kindergarten classroom. Children were free to interact with any of the other children at their assigned table while seated as long as it was in an appropriate
Formal instruction was short, interesting & active & children were allowed to move around the room in a manner
that showed respect for the activities
& needs of other children. While working in centers, the children were encouraged to interact
with the other children in the center.
Children seemed busy & happy with their kindergarten
Since this was most of the children's first year of formal education, it wasn't possible to ascertain the degree to
which the kindergartners had interacted with children with special needs in the past.
Ms. A was
certified in early childhood education & had received no formal training in special education. She stated that, as most
experienced teachers, she had previously taught children with mild special needs.
Description of Interaction
Mindy was welcomed as a new student in the classroom. A "buddy" was assigned to show Mindy where & how to store
her personal belongings & the location of classroom supplies.
Mindy's buddy also showed her where the bathroom, office & cafeteria were located, how to return a book to the library,
what to do in the computer & science labs, etc.
Mindy was transported to school on a bus with several of the other children in her room.
Although Ms. A. allowed for an abundance of physical movement during classtime, remaining seated in a chair during tablework
& sitting on the floor during group time was a difficult task for Mindy.
Ms. A. gently reminded all of the children to sit on their bottoms & verbally
praised responsive & appropriate behavior. Recognizing that the attention span of most 6 year olds is limited, group activities were kept short & included opportunities for
verbal & physical responses.
Mindy appeared to have difficulty focusing on the teacher during group time & was therefore unprepared to respond
as the other children did. Mindy displayed other inappropriate behaviors such as taking off her clothes, throwing herself
on the floor, running around the room & knocking supplies off the tables.
Mrs. A instituted several interventions to help Mindy adjust to her new classroom & to help her become familiar
with new expectations, but these seemed only mildly effective.
The intervention assistance team was convened & a diagnostic evaluation was recommended for Mindy.
It was decided that an aide be provided for Mindy in the classroom during the period of time that Mindy was participating
in a multi-factored evaluation. In addition, the aide accompanied Mindy on the bus ride to & from school, in the classroom
& to music & physical education.
It's important to note that the teacher didn't explain to the children why
there was an extra person to help on the bus & in the classroom.
Extra adults were commonplace in Ms. A.'s room, as she had instituted an active volunteer program.
When the children questioned Mindy's behavior, the teacher explained that Mindy was getting used to new rules in a new
classroom. Ms. A. was very respectful of the individual needs of all children & continued to hold the same expectations & interact with Mindy as she did with all the other children in her class.
After the multi-factored evaluation was completed, it was decided that Mindy's needs would best be served by placement in a self-contained classroom in
another local school. This placement was effective immediately. She had been in the kindergarten classroom a total of 5 weeks.
3 days after Mindy left, Ms. A. hadn't, as yet, given the class any explanation of the whereabouts of Mindy, but planned
to do so at the start of the following week.
As a volunteer, this author had been working individually w/the children in the hallway on a literacy project on a bi-weekly
basis. Therefore, rapport had been established between this author & the children. As each of the 21 children present
that day completed the project, specific questions were asked in a conversational manner.
The author attempted to retain an informal atmosphere in questioning about Mindy, as would be commonplace if the child
were relating information about other students who might be absent that day & therefore not coming into the hall to complete
their literacy project.
The responses that the students offered were recorded as the children answered the questions. Recording their responses
didn't appear to disturb them, because the literacy project in which they had just participated
required the recording of their answers as well.
The questions asked of the children & their responses follow. Where appropriate, the children's responses are used
to support previous research on the
topic of social interaction between children who're typically developing & those who're atypically developing.
15 questions were asked of the children as they colored or drew or completed the project that was provided in their individual
packets during a literacy project.
1. Where is Mindy?
- 6 students replied that they didn't know
- 2 stated that she was sick
- 13 said that she had gone to a different
2. Of the students who answered that Mindy had changed schools,
the question was asked "Why did she go to a different school?"
- 2 students answered that
she had moved again
- 11 stated one of the following:
- "They had her in the wrong school"
- "She couldn't behave on the bus & she
had to go to a school where they had seat belts on the bus"
- "She kept running around the room"
- "She did stuff she wasn't suppose [sic] to"
- One boy explained that she had to "go to
a school where the teachers could train her to act better."
(This boy's mother was a volunteer in the kindergarten classroom & his response might indicate that
he & his mother might have discussed Mindy's move.)
3. With the 13 students who said she had changed schools, the
author acted surprised & commented something similar to "Gee, I didn't know that. Do you miss her?"
- A couple of students just
looked inquisitively at the author, making no response
- One student responded "kinda"
- 10 indicated that they didn't
4. To the 10 students who indicated that they didn't miss Mindy,
the question "Why?" was directed.
- 2 children shrugged their
- 8 responded with the following
or similar statements:
- "She didn't know how to behave"
- "She just ran around the classroom &
took off her clothes"
- "She wouldn't listen to Ms. A."
- "She wouldn't sit down"
- "She wouldn't be quiet"
- "When she wanted something, she would just
yell, she wouldn't tell anybody what she wanted."
To summarize, behavioral reasons were given as to why students didn't miss her.
5. When asked
"Did Mindy have fun in your classroom?"
- most children responded "Yes"
- 1 continued that she had
"messed the room all up"
- 4 children said that they
didn't know or weren't sure, because she didn't talk with or play with the other children
6. The children were asked "What did Mindy learn in your room?"
- Several children indicated
that they didn't know.
- One child answered "To play
in the kitchen area"
- another child said "to run
around the room"
- A couple of students said
that she had learned "nothing"
- the rest offered no answer
7. When questioned "At what did Mindy do the best?"
- 2 children said that Mindy
was good at playing in the kitchen
- 1 of them adding that "she
left a mess in the kitchen" which one of them had to clean up because Mindy wouldn't.
- This child was asked "Did
you play with Mindy in the kitchen?"
- "She wouldn't let anybody play with her,
she just grabbed every toy I picked up," she explained.
- 1 child noted that Mindy
was "good at putting the markers away".
8. "What was hard for Mindy?" elicited answers
- "Sitting still in the classroom
& on the bus"
- "Sitting on the carpet"
- "Drawing the pictures that
- "Keeping her clothes on"
When asked "Why do you think those things were hard for Mindy?"
- 1 child responded "She was
little & didn't know any better".
- Another child proposed that
"Mindy was new in school & no one told her she was suppose [sic] to"
- One child suggested that
"If Mindy needed something, she should ask us. I'd get it for her, if I was tall enough"
Responses to questions #4 & # 8 support the findings of Peterson
(1991) who found that children expected other children to ask for something if they needed it.
9. "How do you think that we could have helped Mindy listen to Ms. A or sit still in class & on the bus?
- The suggestion was made by
a couple of the children that Mindy could earn candy (or stars) by sitting during the whole story which
Ms. A read.
- Another child stated that
"If Mindy watched us listening to Ms. A., then she would know that she was suppose to listen & maybe she would."
- One boy shrugged his shoulders
w/his hands out & said "Beats me, everyone tried"
- Another little fellow, who'd
recently spent time with the principal, offered to take Mindy to the principal & added "It makes me be good"
- A little girl had an idea
on how to help Mindy keep her clothes on; she suggested that Mindy's mom buy her overalls with "snaps on them that are too hard to open". "That would do it", she
The suggestions made by Mindy's peers supports the findings of Diamond (1994) which indicates that young children suggest the same type of problem-solving
strategies to help children with disabilities as they'd to help children without identifiable disabilities.
10. The question was asked "How old was Mindy?"
- Student responses indicated
that they thought that Mindy was either 4 or 5 years old.
- All the kindergarten
respondents were, by this time of the year, either 6 or 7 years old.
- All the students
judged Mindy to be younger than they, although based on her stature, it would have been logical for the kindergartners to judge her to be older than they.
When asked "Why do you think that?", all the children indicated one of the following
behaviors as being responsible for their judgment that Mindy was only 4 or 5 years old:
- "She ran around the room"
- "She took off her clothes"
- "She didn't
listen to the teacher"
- "She didn't sit down in group
- "She talked baby-talk"
- "She couldn't talk - just
These were all behavioral reasons for assuming Mindy was younger than they, not academic reasons. No one said of Mindy,
- "She didn't know her letters"
- "She couldn't color neatly"
This suggests that the children weren't judging Mindy's academic abilities & thus that the classroom was likely
developmentally appropriate in nature & that the emphasis & measure of success weren't on academics.
Referring to the answers to questions 9 & 10, Mindy's peers gave the fact that Mindy was "little & didn't know
any better" as the reason that Mindy displayed inappropriate behaviors.
This supports the findings of Diamond (1993) who noted that
young children often refer to immaturity when explaining the inappropriate behavior of their peers with disabilities. Young
children are very aware of immature language & other behaviors associated with language
delay (Diamond, 1993).
11. Of all of the children the question was asked "Who
was the woman who helped Mindy out sometimes?
- Many of the children indicated that they didn't know
- 6 of them said that the woman (the aide) was Mindy's mother
(1 child added that she came to school to
make Mindy behave)
- 1 of the children said that the woman was another teacher.
12. The question was asked "Who were Mindy's best friends?"
- Some children shrugged their shoulders
- 7 said she didn't have any
- 5 responded that Lisa was Mindy's best friend (Lisa & Mindy rode the same bus, but didn't live near each other).
13. To the question "Why didn't she have any best friends,
the 7 children said of Mindy that :
- "She was just
little & didn't know any better"
- "She didn't
say hi or talk to us"
- "She didn't
play with anyone"
- 1 child said "She sat next to me, but she didn't look at me"
- the child who sat next to Mindy at table responded "She wouldn't share"
When asked "What did Lisa do to
be Mindy's best friend?"
- the 5 children said that Lisa was kind to Mindy & had helped Mindy find the right
room when she got off the bus
- 3 children noted that Lisa "had let her" sit next to her at storytime
Lisa was asked "Why do you think that the other children thought that you were Mindy's best friend?"
Lisa answered that "Someone needed to help Mindy out, because she was a new kid."
The author responded that it was very kind of her to invite Mindy to sit by her. Lisa responded that she told Mindy she could sit by her, but that "she
never stayed put, anyhow". Lisa also mentioned that Mindy didn't know how to play in housekeeping, she just took the dolls
& ran around the room.
She added "Even when I didn't chase her, she kept running...she didn't even care".
14. How could you have been a good friend to Mindy? was the next question asked.
- Several children indicated that they didn't know
- 2 said that they didn't want to be a friend to Mindy
- 5 indicated that when she acted like she was supposed to, they'd be her friend
- 1 child advised that when Mindy learned to talk, then she would have lots of friends
- 2 children observed that when Mindy grew up or got older, they could be friends
- 1 little girl said that if it was her classroom job to be Mindy's buddy, that she
would help Mindy & would let Mindy sit by her
15. "If Mindy came back to your room,
what would you do?" was the final question asked of the
- "Nothing" was a statement made by several children
- 3 said "Try to help her be good".
- "By showing her how a kindergartner
- Another child said "I'd tell her to sit by me at my table".
The research question examined was: On what basis do young children in a classroom setting make the determination of desirability of friendship with their peers?
Based on the answers to the informal questions asked of Mindy's kindergarten peers, the following conclusions may be
- These kindergartners
judged Mindy's desirability as a friend based on her behavior rather than by her common placement,
interests, physical size or appearance.
- Behavior was more important to these kindergartners than was academic performance in judging Mindy's acceptability
- The children judged Mindy's age on the basis of her behavior even more than on her physical
size or the fact that she was in kindergarten with them.
In the area of behavior, social interaction appeared to be more influential in determining desirability as a friend than did general classroom behavior:
- These children expected Mindy to look at them when interacting with her.
- They expected Mindy to physically interact with them when playing.
- They expected Mindy to answer questions when asked & ask them questions in return.
- They expected Mindy to ask permission to play with toys with which they were playing.
Implications of findings
What conclusions can be drawn from the responses of these kindergartners?
- It's evident that verbal & non-verbal language skills are the basis of decisions
about friendship made by children.
If one goal of inclusion is friendship, then what behaviors need to be developed & encouraged in young children with special needs to facilitate
acceptance in the early childhood classroom?
- From Mindy's classmates, we've seen that social behaviors are most important in determining friendships,
judgments of age, appropriateness &
On the basis of on Mindy's peers & supported by other research, it is
evident that several skills must be developed prior to inclusion & continually reinforced once inclusion has taken place:
These communicative skills could be reinforced among children in the inclusionary classroom as well, for the benefit
of all children:
- Eye contact: Research results by Raver-Lampman
(1985)which supported eye-gaze
training in children with visual handicaps, indicated that people
judge others as more friendly & capable, when eye contact is made with them.
Therefore, young children need to be encouraged to fix their
gaze on the speaker & to look at others to whom they're speaking.
Likewise, children without disabilities might be encouraged to tell a child to look at them when
- Verbal greeting &
conversational skills: Diamond (1994) found that children with disabilities were viewed as less competent
than were children without disabilities in the areas of language.
This supports the findings of this qualitative research, which shows that language as related
to social skills & interactional skills was used to judge the subject's rating as a friend or as a peer desirable with whom to play.
Batache (1993), in reviewing research of social skills,
consistently documented interactional language skills including verbal greetings:
o ("Hi!"), social initiations
o ("Can I play?") inviting skills
o ("Want to play w/me")
general conversational skills
as critical to a child's social success. Mindy's peers pointed out that she didn't talk with them or respond
to their queries or communicate with them, even when they happened to be involved in a group play situation (such as in the kitchen center).
Therefore, young children need to be encouraged to use social
language in greeting others & to make their needs & wants known by using language.
- Play & Sharing Skills: Mindy was
observed to spend less time in interactional play than did her peers, which supports Guralnick's (1990) conclusion that children with special needs often engage in solitary play.
Batsche (1993) indicates that play skills, including the
ability to play near or with another child, are crucial to a child's
Adequate role-taking skills such that a child is able to identify with the feelings or perceptions of a peer, are also recommended by Batsche as a pre-requisite skill for successful inclusion.
Young children should be encouraged to discuss their
own feelings & to conjecture what others may be feeling based on their own feelings in similar situations.
Practical application of this naturalistic study would indicate that the pre-school youngster with special needs should experience many opportunities to learn, observe & practice interactional skills, both verbal &
A fully-inclusionary, language-rich classroom with caregivers or teachers who're committed to providing a language-centered classroom with a developmentally-appropriate, individually-appropriate curriculum
would be the ideal environment for young children with & for that matter, even without identified special needs.
Parental & caregiver expectations for appropriate social interactions should be maintained at as high a level as possible to help all young children
develop those skills that will help insure friendship & acceptance in
the kindergarten classroom.
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