So, did your parents mess you up also? Yeah, mine too. But I’m pretty sure I’m messing my kids up just as bad. I thought Tracy and Stein, in their book Kiss That Frog: 12 Great Ways to Turn Negatives into Positives in Your Life and Work, had one of the best approaches on dealing with how our parents screwed up. Tracy & Stein ask us to imagine that we chose our parents deliberately so that we could experience the trials and tribulations of a child growing up in that family because that was the only way we could learn, evolve and grow into a better person (68).
Difficulties come not to obstruct, but to instruct, Brian Tracy
For me, my parents were pretty awesome so I’m only a little screwed up as a result. Nothing a few years of psychotherapy and 20 years of self-help books couldn’t figure out (just kidding mom and dad), but I know some of you have experienced incredible trauma and somehow outright abuse in your past, and you are probably wondering, why in the hell would I pick these obstacles and challenges? You can also look at it another way and say, okay, I didn’t want this stuff to happen to me but now how can I use it? To not learn from the past gives the past, and those that inflicted those abuses and harm upon you, the power to continue inflicting that harm, for as long as YOU want it to go on.
Personally, I kind of like the approach that I chose my parents – it, as Tracy and Stein say, allows you to reinterpret your experiences as positive and educational rather than negative and hurtful (68).
I have found that whenever you commit to something life will bring you both obstacles and opportunities. The obstacles determine whether you are serious and they help you build the muscle you will need to take advantage of the opportunities, Jeff Price.
We should seek the valuable lesson in every problem or difficulty we encounter (Tracy & Stein 72). Problems are inevitable and unavoidable: if you are living an active life you will probably have a crisis every two or three months, physically, financially, personally or within your family (Tracy & Stein 74). When confronted with a problem or challenge, in the immortal worlds the great author Douglas Adams (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), first, don’t panic. Take a deep breath, which oxygenates your brain, keep calm, seek the valuable lesson, and take action to reduce or minimize the crisis (Tracy & Stein 75).
If you think our parents have screwed us up, just think about how bad the media screws us up. It frustrates me to no end that during every political season, which I think happens every six weeks now, a politician who has changed their mind is labeled as wishy-washy, as if changing your minds is a bad thing. It is a strength and not a weakness to admit that you did not make the right decision and you should always retain the right to change your mind based on new information (Tracy & Stein 76). It was this unwavering commitment to not changing your mind that used to kill hundreds of people in airplane crashes before the concept of cockpit resource management came along. CRM, or its various offshoots, is essentially a team concept where the captain actually listens to the input from the rest of the flight crew (novel concept, eh?) and he or she is encouraged to change their mind in the presence of new or previously unrecognized information.
- Many self-made millionaires in America have been broke or nearly broke several times before finally becoming wealthy (Tracy & Stein 77). The difference between the millionaires and the ones were still broke is that the millionaires learned their lessons from there earlier mistakes and made different decisions in the future.
- Many happily married people look back at an earlier negative relationship as being essential to recognizing the good relationship when it came along (Tracy & Stein 77)
- One of the marks of maturity is to accept that you are not perfect, that you make mistakes and you’ve made bad choices – so has everyone else (Tracy & Stein 79)
Bad Debt: there is a term in accounting that is used when certain debts will just not be repaid to you. This is either called bad debt or “sunk costs.” (Tracy & Stein 81). Instead of spending more time in relationship or on something that obviously has no chance of success, accept that what you have invested is a sunk cost and let it go. Quite simply, cut your losses and move on.
But while we are talking about parents let’s revisit that because I know most parents don’t want to screw up their kids. Remember that every child comes into the world is pure potential; children are born complete optimists, fearless and uninhibited, excited, curious and eager to experience the world around them (Tracy & Stein 83). In fact, it is this curiosity that makes preventing our kids from accidentally killing themselves a near full-time job. But the two major pollutants of a child mind, soul and future are destructive criticism and a lack of love.
Destructive criticism is the biggest single enemy of human potential and can ultimately lead to the death of an individual; it kills the soul but leaves the body still walking around (Tracy & Stein 84). Taking away love from a child creates tremendous insecurity that manifests in self-doubt, anxiety, worry, feelings of inadequacy and fear of not living up to others expectations (Tracy & Stein 84). Anthony Robbins says that the two greatest fears are the fear that we aren’t enough and the fear that we’re not worthy of love. Tracy and Stein echo these comments and say that of all the negative emotions, 99% of them crystallize around the fear of failure and the fear of rejection (85).
Fear of failure is often manifested in fear of loss, such as losing money, health, your house, security or the love of other people (Tracy and Stein 85). The fear of rejection is experienced as a fear of criticism leaving people overly hypersensitive to the thoughts, words, opinions and even looks from others (Tracy & Stein 86). Our goal is to develop into a “fully functioning person,” as defines by psychologist Carl Rogers – this is a person who enjoys a high level of self-esteem and personal contentment and who is confident with themselves in the world (Tracy & Stein 87). Imagine if you were the best kind of person you could imagine becoming? How you would react to the circumstances of your life differently if you were already that person?
Move forward, lose the guilt. Do this by never criticizing yourself or others. Some of our most harmful words are said to ourselves, by ourselves (Tracy & Stein 93). This doesn’t mean not taking responsibility for a problem you created or a bad decision, it just means not criticizing yourself for it – accept that a mistake was made and move on.
Refuse to engage in the deadly sin of envy, and it’s cousin resentment (Tracy and Stein 100-102). Envy is a beast whose thirst can never be quenched – it always wants more. Resentment arises when people feel that someone else has achieved or is enjoying better conditions than they are (Tracy & Stein 102). This is what is wrong with politics. Many political philosophies require an enemy, someone whom envy and resentment can be directed to justify the platform of the party leadership and its supporters (Tracy & Stein 102). You don’t have to play this game either – vote for people who are willing to cross party lines and see the others perspective – and who aren’t afraid to change their mind in light of new information.
Finally, there is forgiveness. If you are not willing to forgive just think about what the person you are still angry with with would think if they knew that they were still making you miserable – they’d probably be pretty happy – how would that make you feel? (Tracy and Stein 106). Forgiveness is the gift you give your self and there are four groups of people you must learn to forgive if you want to be truly happy: your parents (they did the best they could), your intimate relationships (learn from it and move on), everyone else (anyone who has ever hurt you) and finally yourself (Tracy and Stein 109).
You are not the same person you are today who said or did those things in the past and neither are your parents, your intimate relationships, your friends or anyone else who you need to forgive (Tracy and Stein 120). Forgiveness can turn every frog into a prince or princess.
Tracy, Brian, and Christina Tracy. Stein. Kiss That Frog: 12 Great Ways to Turn Negatives into Positives in Your Life and Work. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2012. Printby