Page 26 - Ollie the Observant
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The road to behavior problems, school failure, substance abuse, etc., is paved with common irrational beliefs that form a perception of our world so difficult to modify, that we will endure significant discomfort and failure prior to addressing them. Many of these beliefs are with us in childhood and remain in their unmodified version through adolescence and into adulthood. There is little in our society, education or culture to help us identify these beliefs and determine if they are rational
or irrational.
Unfortunately, many of us must wait until we experience life failures and unhappiness before there is any possibility of evaluating of our belief system. This lack of understanding that our beliefs are the basis of our emotions and behaviors and lack emphases on learning effective, rational beliefs is at the core of many of the frustrations of parents, educators, therapists and law enforcement. Teaching our society, its children, adolescents and adults to manage their thinking and take responsibility for their lives is the challenge of the 21st Century.
Regarding Substance abuse, Jeanne Tschann in her 1994 article in Health Psychology wrote, “One current scientific theory is that those who stay with the habit (substance abuse), become increasingly dependent on alcohol or drugs, are using these substances as a medication of sorts, a way to soothe feelings of anxiety, anger or depression. Through their early experimentation they hit upon a chemical fix, a way to calm the feelings of anxiety or melancholy that have tormented them. Thus of
the several hundred seventh and eighth grade students tracked for two years, it was those who reported higher levels of emotional distress who subsequently went on to have the highest rates of substance abuse.”
It is not necessary that you or your children must experience emotional distress or drug abuse before learning to deal more effectively with life. Unfortunately, all too often the small behavior problems in our children, caused by their immature Stinky Thinking, are ignored in the hope that they will “outgrow” these problems. The passage of time however, is no guarantee that their thinking will change and these small problems usually must become serious issues before any help is
made available.
But as noted by Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence, “Acquiring the ability to handle those feelings, soothing anxieties, fighting depression, calming rage, removes the impetus to use drugs or alcohol in the first place. These basic emotional skills are taught remedially in treatment programs for drug and alcohol abuse. It would be far better of course, if they were learned early in life, well before the habit became established.”

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