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The New College Relationship Phenomena & Why You Should Be Paying Attention

Why Are So Many College Freshman Trying To Keep Their High School Relationship Going?

As a parent, you probably knew people who dated in high school back when we came of age in the 70s and 80s,  then tried to make it work when they went off to college. It typically lasted until Thanksgiving Break. By that point, the distance, difficulty and sheer desire to just be somewhere new would intervene and most of these relationships would end. Those that lasted beyond that at most made it to spring time.

After all, how many people do you know who wound up marrying their high school sweetheart? Very very few…!

My wife’s Grandparents met in high school, married and stayed together for 70 years… of course they met in 1920 and back then every one was getting married and settling down by the time they were in the 20s. They met in Chicago, married in Chicago and stayed in Chicago their whole lives. It’s what people did back then.

Not too deep down, we all knew when we were teens that while young love and first love was intense, it was also not going to last forever. 

Something has shifted amongst today’s teens. An astounding number of them are desperately  trying to stay together in long distance relationships when they go off to college. They do this in spite of all the discouragement and advice they are receiving not to do it.

Why then are such as astounding number of today’s high school graduates trying to defy the odds and make their high school relationship work even though it is long distance and even though the odds are stacked against it?

In the last year or two,  this has literally become one of the most common topics of discussion I am having with high school  graduates turned college freshman… I had two more such conversations just this week!

It was always something that might come up in my work with this age group, but not with the frequency and intensity that it does now… nowhere near!

As my mentor and colleague Joseph Riggio said “See it once, you notice it. See it twice, pay attention. See it a third time, it’s a pattern.”  And I would add in now that I am hearing this for more like the 30th time:

IT’S A PHENOMENA!

And it sucks.

  • It sucks tons of time and attention away from just being able to be in this new place. The daily FaceTime and texting alone can literally take hours a day of their time and attention away from being present in this new place.
  • It sucks tons of emotional energy out as they go on this intense roller coaster of what happens when they are apart and from seeing each other’s Instagram and snapchat stories, wondering who they are with, jealously wondering if other guys or girls are flirting with them, insecurely worried their partner will find someone new or is having so much fun at their new school that they’d rather be free from a relationship.
  • It makes the contrast of the challenge of leaving home even more intense because they go back and forth between the comfort of the familiar and known vs the discomfort of the unfamiliar. Many times now I hear stories of this leading to scheduling weekend trips to leave their school and go see their girlfriend or boyfriend, and even wanting to leave their college all together to go transfer there or be closer.
  • They are typically making the biggest mistake people make: Making the journey of life about staying in the comfortable familiar, rather than stepping fully into the journey of their lives,  even it when it demands they leave behind what is comfortable and known.
Why Are They Holding On Even Though Long Distance Sucks?

I’ve thought a lot about this and have come to several conclusions:

  1. The pervasive ease of staying in contact that modern technology offers, gives a false sense of being together. Back in our day, we waited for the payphone to be available. It made long distance 10000 times harder. Now they can tech each other all day even if they can’t actually touch.
  2. INSTEAD OF HOOKING UP, TO SUDDENLY TRULY CONNECT… In this age of thousands of electronic friend counters (like Instagram and Facebook) and in this era where there is a pervasive casualness even cavalierness about sex, the moment these kids actually experience and feel what it is like to have the REAL THING… REAL INTIMACY… REAL CONNECTION..  they are overwhelmed by how enriching it is and feels compared to the shallow, hollow and falseness of what they had been doing prior.
  3. They work so hard to get the glory of grades and coveted college admissions and all the external markers of success, yet feeling satisfied on the inside in the way they do in a relationship is so overwhelming that everything else pales in comparison…
Such is young love.. always has been, always will be.

And there is a much deeper part to this… one that they are finally able to begin to process… that life is impermanent and there are things that matter and make it worth living, and things that don’t… and yet we live in a society that values far more all that doesn’t and they have been subscribing to it and caught up in it.

When they find this love connection, they also  suddenly come to know the deep loneliness and emptiness they had been living with but had been unaware they were feeling… they know it because what had been so familiar and normal, is now absent. And what is now suddenly – and finally – present, feels so “REAL”…

The pursuit of attention, like the pursuit of material goods, provides at best fleeting satisfaction… it is never what people wish they’d had spent more time pursuing and obsessing about when they look back on their lives, and this offers Wisdom.

People always look back and wish only for these kinds of things: To have had and held meaningful relationships  even more closely. . . to have taken more risks to go after their dreams. . .  and to have had more gratitude for the privilege it was to be alive.

No one ever lays on their death bed and says “My only regret is that I didn’t have more casual meaningless sex with people who didn’t care about me and who I didn’t care for… or I wish that i had spent more time finding ways to give me ‘likes’ and ‘thumbs up’ on my  instatwitterfacechat…. or I wish I’d spent more time watching porn or playing video games…”

It is this deep profound human truth:

That coming-of-age and growing old depends in part on having growingly complex and deepening relationships, developing them, working through conflicts, finding ways to make it work, and yes, moving on from them when it is time. This is work. It is not always easy. And it takes PRACTICE…

In the old days, before a few years ago, boys and girls had crushes, they fell head over heals in love.. then they broke up and moved on… and so by the time they were having a serious girlfriend or boyfriend senior year, it not the first time they had experienced the rush of hormones and shifts in brain chemistry that happens when we deeply connect… They knew by this point that each such relationship enriches our lives and offers us invaluable learning…

They also had experienced what its like for them to end and to realize that they get over it and move on and everything turns out fine! They experienced what its like to have learned from previous relationships and not make the same mistake again.

In other words realizing that not only can they live without this person, but they needed to go through that to learn the invaluable lessons that allows them to grow into the person they want to be and who one day can actually have a healthy life long committed relationship.

Perhaps most importantly they learn that while these early relationships  add to our lives and growth and learning, they are not what makes our lives.

What makes our lives is to have the courage and boldness to fully go on the journey … to find out who we are and what we are capable of in the best ways possible… and when relationships help move that forward, than these are the relationships we keep and invest in and never take for granted…and when one finally comes along that becomes our life journey, then we drop everything and marry that person and do whatever the work is necessary to help one another continue to grow.

But when relationships actually impede us from growing, then we must let go and move on. And most of these long distance ones they cling to impede them – and they either know it or soon find out.

They keep them from being able to be fully present where they are.

As I often describe it to students:

“You are going to be spontaneously hanging out with a group of kids in the dorm, having a great time and someone will suggest you go out to listen to music as their friends band is playing at some local club… You will be all excited to go when all of a sudden RING RING RING you look down and your boyfriend wants to FaceTime… now you have to step out to a quiet place and have whatever talk he wants to have because he misses you and has been thinking about you and wants to tell you about his day…and while you FaceTime away with him, your potential new friends go on their way to the club, without you…

But Friendships are formed in the’10,000 you had to be there moments’ and when you are on that FaceTime call or in that two hour textathon on your phone, you are not There with the people you could be building bonds with… and the hours add up while they bond and build friendships without you… So when you look up and it seems like every one around you seems to have more friends and is happier there than you, to the extent it is true, realize that it is because they did what it took to make this happen, while you have done what it takes to ensure you are stuck in the past.”

Often these relationships drag them down as well  because they are often driven by the fear that “I don’t know that I will be okay without you” or a belief that “this is the best there will ever be so I can’t let go of it”…

And they become a drug that wards off the awful – yet profoundly useful and critically important feeling – of being homesick, disconnected from the comfortable and familiar and forced to venture outwards towards new people and new adventures… the kind that necessarily precedes and feeds a quantum growth in self-confidence and self-reliance.

“But Our Relationship Is Different…”

If it is, then it is the 1 in a 1,000,000.  Again, how many people marry their high school sweetheart and stay together for life?

What I tell my clients is that if you are 100% sure that this is the person you want to marry and spend your life with and you are fully ready to make that commitment and act on it now, then by all means, go for it.

If on the other hand you have any hesitation about either this being the right person or your own readiness (or theirs), then let go and move on.

Thus the reality is, no, most likely yours isn’t the exception.

It is the norm. It won’t be the love of your life. It won’t last forever.

And even if it has the potential to be that relationship, you must let him or her go have the experiences they need to have to grow into that person you can one day marry, just as there is so much more growing up you have to do.

So What Is My Advice To A Student Contemplating “Staying Together”?

It won’t surprise you. As hard as it may be, let it go. End it before you go off to college. Then cut off ALL SOCIAL MEDIA and all contact whatsoever. Treat these next few months like Basic Training… no contact, just being where you are with whomever you are with… go through whatever withdrawal and loneliness and discomfort and homesickness… and go forward BEING WHERE YOU ARE… BEING PRESENT AS BEST YOU CAN.

There will be times – maybe many – that it will royally suck. Go through it anyway.

When everyone else around you is running to the phone to call their safety net who will tell them what they want to hear, BE THE EXCEPTION… only call people who will tell you what you NEED to hear… as I am doing right now.

If you do this, what awaits you on the other side will elevate your self-confidence, your sense of security will soar, you will develop tremendous clarity about who you are, what you want and what matters to you to make your life a success – your own personal definition of success, not anyone else’s…

And you will not wind up alone as you fear. You will instead move to a kind of peace and connectedness that few people ever attain.

If you think you are mature enough to make a long distance relationship last, then you first must be mature enough to let one go.

 

Learn more about Mentoring For College Students: http://collegesuccessmentoring.com

 

Another Category: Two Types Of Parents

By Jeffrey | Published September 21st, 2017

In my practice, I receive inquiries from two types of parents:

Those who it pains and saddens to watch their kids struggling

vs

Those who are just frustrated and annoyed with them for not just making better decisions.

The First Type:

Don’t get me wrong, those in the first group certainly have their share of frustrations with their kids like most of us as parents do, but the emotional toll of watching them struggle to put the pieces together, far outweighs the frustrations.

These parents are empathetic, remembering “what it was like” to be in this stage of life.

They “get” that the solution to adolescent struggles requires more than just “knowing what to do” because it also requires the confidence and inner-security and mindset,  to do it…  that the variables that impact adolescents are often out of their control (e.g. what their peers do), and that today’s world is far more complex, distracting and confusing than the one they themselves grew up in.

They understand that it is a journey to growing up and finding one’s way in the world… that no matter how much well intentioned people may say to youth “who cares what anyone thinks of you” they will still be impacted by the opinions and approval of their peers and others, until one day they mature out of this…

These parents will do anything they can to help their kids to grow into confident, respected, capable, successful adults… and they are in it for the long haul.

The parents in the other group are impatient, judgmental and ineffective.

They want someone to come in and “fix” their kid. Often, they think that enough “tough love” and consequences, should be enough to coerce them to change.

Most of the time I find that the dynamic between parent and child is not only keeping the “problem” in place, it is contributing to it even more intensely then the parent who is completely enmeshed and coddling their teen.

Yet these parents typically don’t want to hear it and don’t want to accept responsibility. They don’t see that often they are so hung up on trying to shape their kids into someone they want them to be, that they are destroying the best potential for whom they actually could become.

In my experience, the “alpha father” is typically the one who thinks this way. He has a more sensitive or less competitive/ambitious son, and sees him aspiring to a standard that is less than “winning at all costs”, as weakness. Sometimes he has the daughter who is caught up in classic teen social drama, continually dealing with problems and waves of emotion that gets in the way of her just doing her best schoolwork and maintaining a competitive advantage. Sometimes it is the Alpha “LeanIn” mom who leads the rush, and sometimes it is just the parent who was raised by a “spare the rod, spoil the child” parents who think that anything less  than that (as is common today) is weak and raising kids of weak character.

Rarely is  any one this one dimensional of course.

All sane parents love their children and want the best for them. But there is a grave disconnect between those who understand that each child is unique and thus the “right and best” ways to help them grow into thriving adults, is unique and different for each as well.

Many years ago when I first began working with Summer Camps, I was frequently asked “So Jeff where are you going to send your kids to camp?” At that point I only had one child and she was still in infant. I had visited hundreds of camps and worked with leaders from many, many more than that. I also clearly had a bias towards the camp where I grew up and spent my summers in Wisconsin.

My answer rarely satisfied anyone who asked, but it was honest: “It depends who she turns out to be.”

Choosing a camp for a child solely because it is where “every one else is going” or because it is where the parents went, is a poorly thought out reason in my opinion. Choosing a camp (like choosing a school or career) based on which one best meets the needs and interests of a child, is a far better reason. Sometimes that means camp isn’t the answer at all. 

It is very hard to get this concept through to parents who are stubbornly frustrated with the child for not changing just because they say they should, and who just want someone to come in and fix them.

It makes perfect sense though to the parent who recognizes that something isn’t working, something is needed and for whom helping their child thrive no matter what it takes, is far more important than insisting upon how it needs to be done, how much it should cost, how quickly it should happen and how little they should have to participate. 

I know this is harsh, but having doing this work long enough I so clearly see the distinctions in these parents, and the suffering in the child of the second set of parents.

I also so clearly see the correlation between the deep and lasting impact of my work, and the partnership with thoughtful, engaged, open-minded and patient but persistent parents. Most of the parents who choose to work with me, see it too. 

 

 

Own Your Cool ™

By Jeffrey | Published August 19th, 2017

Own Your Cool  

Dedicated to all those people who have dumbed themselves down, sold themselves short, gotten discouraged and/or given up on dreams because of shitty things that happened to them when they were younger or because of some belief that is only a certain type of person who succeeds in life or some other reason that ends now!

It’s time to stop being cynical or discouraged or stressed or settling for less than you can have and be.

Coming soon… Stay tuned!

KGO Radio Interview Adolescence Not A Disease

By Jeffrey | Published March 19th, 2017

Many people seeking advice on their future career or college admissions seek a career counselor or life coach to help them to make a sound decision. In my practice in Mill Valley I am not a psychotherapist, but I see many teens and young adults having issues with promiscuity, alcohol or drugs. But these behaviors or prescription medications don’t provide lasting relief for this part of their journey to growing up.

For today’s teens a lot of what they are going through is actually normal, biological adolescent behaviour and it’s the intensity of competing demands on them at this stage of transition that is actually tending to make them seem oppositional, stressed out or wanting to escape.

Here’s a facebook live video from an interview held at San Francisco Radio Station KGO Radio where we talked about my book and some of these points.

Where your teen is doesn’t seem to be giving them, (or you) what they expected. The popular routes can be too much – causing anxiety or depression, and throughout it all there are peer pressures bearing down on them as well. This can be difficult to endure for a sensitive minded teenager who has different ideals for their future, and suffers alone, not knowing quite where they fit in.

You can hear the full interview below, where I go into depth about some of these themes and issues, that may be affecting your teen. The beginning of change starts with a simple small step. You are welcome to drop me an email or leave me a message to explore the possibility of working together.

The interview audio below runs to just over a half hour and is a wide ranging and interesting listen. Check it out and let me know what you think.

[Begins 3.24]

Just One Belief Away -” The Self-Sabotager”

de5768527399a1f25df614dd16c28ea823 year old Mark and I sat across from one another at a cool  alternative cafe near his college campus yesterday. When I walked in he was busy chatting with the manager and two girls who were waiting in line to order.

He’s good looking, outgoing and an extrovert, and though he is about to graduate from one of the more prestigious Universities in the US, he’s a pretty legitimate  underachiever.

If there was an award given out for “self-sabotage” Mark would be a finalist.

The number of times he has slept through a critical exam, forgotten a deadline or left his car parked in a no parking zone just long enough to get ticketed and towed is almost laughable. None of this happened because he was just an irresponsible kid or was so “ADD” that he was incapable. It literally happened as he got lost in stress and worry and insecurity that came from feeling so much pressure to survive as an outsider in ways that were real (financial) and imaginary (social) and just plain wrong (that his GPA & status amongst his classmates alone would make the difference for his career, the way it did in high school). 

His story is not so simple.Though he looked like your typical U____ student, he wasn’t. 

Unlike many of his classmates, he is not at this very prestigious and expensive private school because did well in high school and his parents are wealthy and have the money to pay for it. He is here because he was an academic high achiever in high school and money was left for him in a trust designated only to pay for his college education, Otherwise, he was very much on his own.

When others wanted to join Fraternities, their parents wrote the check. He was excluded from this aspect of campus social life, and it really marginalized him.

 When others needed a new laptop, wanted to go out to eat with friends and or just needed new clothes to dress up for an interview, they used the credit card their parents provided. Not so for Mark.

Everything that was easy for most of the kids around him was never easy for him. He had to work, often two jobs, and had to choose between getting enough hours to pay rent or go to class and lose his job. He had to find ways to study and learn material without the help of tutors. He lived in a closet one year because it was all he could afford.

But the worst thing of all to him was the way he never lived up to his potential academically. His grades were often at best average. He so wanted to be a stand-out student like he was in high school so that his professors would write raving letters of recommendation. He wanted to be the guy who impressed all the Alums and was offered that killer job that everyone else in the Business program yearned to get.

Instead he was just a mediocre student who would get his degree, but not stand out and probably not even be remembered by many of his peers, sadly, because he couldn’t afford to party with them or be their Frat bother.

And while he sat there with me berating himself for having just missed another deadline, and looking discouraged and despondent, my only thought was: AND NONE OF THAT MATTERS.

NONE OF THAT MATTERS.

This is a story about Mark, and the millions of other Marks and Margarets out there. It is a story about every Millennial youth who has had their soul get crushed into anxiety by being CONVINCED that their worth and hope for their future is measured by their GPA, Class Rank, the prestige of the name on their college degree AND their place in the social rankings of their peers.

Any potential employer, investor or business partner only cares about One Thing: YOUR ABILITY TO PRODUCE RESULTS that matter to the business. 

RESULTS

Any potential employer, investor or business partner only cares about One Thing: YOUR ABILITY TO PRODUCE RESULTS that matter to the business. 

They don’t give a damn about your grade point average, where you went to school or what you wrote your Senior thesis about. If you can produce results, they want you. If you can’t, they’ll encourage you to wipe your ass with your pretty diploma or at the least, caution you to not let the door hit you on the way out.

Mark’s task is to convince potential employers that he can Produce Results. Period. 

The most valuable skills he can learn now, are how to go from stranger to hot commodity.

The most valuable skills he can learn now, are how to go from stranger to hot commodity.

All this comparing himself to others, not feeling socially accepted by them and feeling insecure about this, is a 100% complete and utter waste of his time.

And I told him this, in an animated way. 

“I REFUSE  to spend even 10 more seconds listening to you mope about how bad you feel because you didn’t get the grades or the praise you wanted here!  If that’s what you want to do, go hire a therapist who’s happy to take your money and listen to you pout about shit you can’t change and that doesn’t matter in the least!”

At one point the young woman at the table next to us, stopped typing on her laptop and began listening in on our conversation.

I told him he only had TO CHANGE ONE BELIEF AND HIS ENTIRE LIFE WILL CHANGE, HIS FUTURE WILL OPEN UP AND HE CAN LAUNCH INTO HIS LIFE.

And it’s not an easy one to give up, but it is the only one to change to get everything he wants.

It is the belief that how he did in college and who he was socially accepted by in his college peer group matters in any way whatsoever.

The moment he can change that, he is liberated. LIBERATED.

******************************************************************

He’s LUCKY TOOSt-Patrick-Minimalist-Clover---1.0.0-2400px
Many of the people I meet are about 9 beliefs away from getting everything they want. He is only ONE. 

your-beliefs-pave-your-way-to-success-watermarked

 

My work now is to assassinate that one all-encompassing stupid ass belief and liberate him from the bondage of giving a shit about the opinions of the wrong people and of believing that his GPA in school matters in REAL world out here. 

Stay tuned. This story is just about to get interesting. 

I believe it, just as I believe in him. 

The Overwhelming Cost Of Overwhelming Teens

By Jeffrey | Published February 25th, 2017

95% of the teens and young adults in our world who are struggling, are not mentally ill and don’t need psychological treatment  even though they are receiving it in record numbers. 

That’s not to say they don’t need help, because they do.

I start from the belief that there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THEM, but there is A LOT WRONG WITH THE SYSTEM AND CULTURE and what is being demanded of them and the extreme pressure it puts them under. 

 Thus, WHAT THEY ARE IS OVERWHELMED AND STRESSED to the point where it is hurting their well-being.

The SOLUTION IS is to equip them with the skills, strategies, mindset, perspective and capacity to manage the things that come their way. It is to help them grow to be mature and sophisticated enough such that these things no longer impede them. I have spent 20 years approaching the work with this population this way and have hundreds of success stories, often seeing enormous results in just a few conversations.

60% of my clients come to me AFTER they have “tried” conventional psychotherapy and not gotten results. 

Talking about how things felt may be comforting, but it does nothing to equip them so that next time they face these challenges, this doesn’t happen.

 Don’t subscribe to the medical/pathological model that wants to tell your kid has Depression or an Anxiety Disorder that needs Treatment. ADDRESS THE CAUSE not the symptoms. 

Here are the most common “Overwhelms” youth are succumbing to:

  • boy-stress-sat-deskOverwhelmed by the volume of school work. 
  • Overwhelmed by the volume of deadlines 
  • Overwhelmed by the immense pressure to compete for what they are warned are scarce opportunities to attend a college that is credible enough to give them social and financial status and success [a bold face arrogant small-minded lie]
  • Overwhelmed by the temptations and distractions of technology and instant gratification entertainment media
  •  Overwhelmed by the demands of keeping up with their social image 
  • Overwhelmed by the demands of keeping up with their social world (the volume of texts and instagram posts and snapchats) 
  • Overwhelmed by details and frustrations of bureaucracies (from college applications to the DMV)

Growing Up Doesn’t Just Happen Between 9 & 5

This blog posting shows real "screen shots" of text messages 
that were sent to me just in the last few days.  I think this 
gives a real glimpse into the world of today's adolescents. 
This is especially for those who are seeking to better understand 
the model and methodology of work I do with Evolution Mentoring. 

Growing Up Doesn’t Just Happen Between 9 and 5.

 Many life challenges can’t wait until a week from Tuesday at 4:00pm before the therapist or consultant is willing to be available. They need resolution now.

We’ve all been there! Something happens and we need to make a decision, pronto.

We need advice before the 5pm deadline.

We find ourselves in a difficult relationship situation and need to figure out what to do about it or what to say to this person – and they are on their way over right now.

We come home from a night out to find our teen decided to throw “a little kickback” that turned into a full-fledged teen party. Now we need to decide how to handle it.

A promotion offer came in just days before we were ready to accept a new job at a different firm. Should we stay or should we go? How do we handle it with everyone this impacts?

 

Appt schedule3This one to the right is from a college senior. He just learned that the application deadline for a highly selective government job that he is applying for was moved up by two weeks.

He called seeking two things:

  • Advice about how to best rewrite two of his essay questions. He keeps me on his short list of 5 people he turns to for these things (his father, two Professors, one of his close friends and me).
  • Help keeping his attention in the right place so that he stays calm and focused. He knows how to do this and has built an amazing capacity to do so over the years. This is one of the rare times he has reached out for this and it makes sense given the significance of the circumstances – a true “once in a lifetime” opportunity. (can’t say more given the confidential nature of this)

 

 

Appt schedule2This one to the left is from a college freshman. He’s been in a real funk. Thinking of changing his major and questioning whether or not he’s at the right school.

When we spoke that night he told me :

“I went to the Counseling center on campus, figuring they must deal with this kind of thing all the time. They gave me a 20 minute “drop in” appointment then told me I could come back for a full appointment on February 20th – a month from now, which was their next available appointment. I said “no thanks” and that’s when I reached out to you!”

 

How common is that in today’s world? What a difference it makes to have someone who will answer a message and be available that night.

Appt schedule

This one to the right is from a 19 year old who is needing to make a decision about how to handle a complicated relationship situation. I wrote about it in yesterday’s blog entitled Looking To Play Chess In A Candyland Culture.

Sometimes things come up that can feel too awkward to bring up with parents. Sometimes they just need to hear the words from the right source.

Sometimes they need to speak with someone who they know and trust can really “see” them, will not sugar coat it and who knows enough about the complexities of the world they are living in at their age.

 

 

Appt schedule9

 

This one is from a 17 year old High School Junior. A classmate friend of his has been spreading some very unkind rumors that are negatively effecting relationships in their friend group. 

He wanted to discuss ways he could handle this. Rather than just talk about this girl behind her back, he wanted to step up and directly address her. 

 

 

 

Appt schedule6

 

 

This is from a 16 year old high school student at a boarding school, who wound up having to switch out of her dorm after her roommate began having all sorts of disturbing issues. She was forced to deal with and confront some very “grown-up” circumstances, including not being able to openly discuss with others what went on and why things changed. 

 

 

 

 

Appt schedule7This is from a 22 year old who is dealing with some very difficult changes in her friend group. She wanted some advice and perspective on things she’s observing, and how to have appropriate boundaries given the realities of all involved. 

As she lives in New York, it was possible to just meet up in person a few days later. I travel to the east coast once a month to see clients in person. I worked with her extensively when she was younger. Now she just reaches out a few times a year when things like this come up. 

 

Looking To Play Chess In A Candyland Culture

By Jeffrey | Published February 14th, 2017

openrelationshipI received a call  today from a college student client who was concerned about something going on in his relationship with his girlfriend.

In short, she came to him last week wanting to have an “open relationship” – meaning one where they can be free to have sex with others, while still being boyfriend girlfriend. Only the sexual side of the relationship becomes “open” while the rest remains closed.

While it is still the minority who do things like this, it is something that is not uncommon amongst his generation. 

To his credit, he recognized instantly that this didn’t “feel right” to him. Recognizing internal signals like this in the moment and boldly acting on it, is a skill set and practice that I heavily emphasize in my Mentoring work with adolescents.

So without needing to think further or make excuses or apologies, he boldly  told her that he isn’t comfortable with it. He clearly stated that it doesn’t work for him. He understood that this meant that their relationship may have to end.

When he called today he asked me if I felt he had “done the right thing” and wondered if he “might just be being too uptight about it”.

I’m not going write out the entire dialogue from a 45 minute skype conversation. My answer though came down to two things:

  1. Regardless of whether or not both his and my values stem from some kind of outdated conservative upbringing (as many people who subscribe to this kind of noncommittal sexual free-for-all lifestyle will say), for now (and most likely, forever), it is who we are. To override this always comes at a great cost. He is at an age where he needs to take responsibility for what his values are and where he’s going to be uncompromising. He can always change it later, but to only do so when and if he is ready and only for the right reasons. In my opinion and experience, compromising his values just to try to keep some girl in bed with him a little while longer, is not the right reason.
  2.  Couple playing chess“Don’t get lost in playing Candlyland when what you really want is Chess I told him. He lit up with a smile when I said that metaphor. It resonated.    We live in a culture dominated by people who just want to play Candlyland whereas he is seeking a partner to play Chess. One is simple, shallow and filled with immediate gratification. The other is deep, complex, demands commitment and long term focus.

 

It’s much easier to live a happy content life in this current culture for people who are extroverts (they like being around lots of people lots of the time) outgoing (they are comfortable approaching people and starting up conversation) easy going (they shrug their shoulders and let things roll off very easily, satisfied to distract themselves with a good netflix binge of Breaking Bad rather than to dwell on things that happen that they don’t like) comfortable with competition and risk (they don’t mind it, even better if they love it) are academically adept (getting good grades in school comes relatively easy to them) and they are satisfied solely  by monetary success (having money and the materials and status associated makes them feel rich, often with less regard for  what job they have to do to make it).

It becomes incrementally, then very quickly exponentially, more challenging to live in this world the moment any one of those character traits is different.

This is true for a person who is more of an Introvert (preferring less time with people or smaller friend groups coupled with needing more alone and quiet time), OR less outgoing (harder to get themselves to approach new people or speak up in public settings) Or more sensitive (whether emotionally or physically) or less competitive or risk taking (either not inclined towards or if it causes more stress) or less academically adept (school is harder whether for intellectual reasons or mismatched learning style needs) or who are seeking more substance/meaning or have a higher standard of personal excellence in life (for whom monetary success and social status will never deeply satisfy and/or for whom casual relationships will always feel hollow).

Adolescents who have these kinds of traits are the ones I work with. It may not be easy being the kind of person they are in the world we currently live in, but easy does not mean better.

For the boy today who passed on the opportunity to have sex with lots of girls instead of just one, he may have lost some opportunities to have experiences that would make him the envy of many of his peers, but I would argue that he gained something far more important and valuable – a chance to have something with one, that almost every one out there not so deep down yearns to truly have: Their own Chess partner in the game of life.

The Root Of Insecurity & The Pathway To Autonomy

By Jeffrey | Published February 4th, 2017

Insecurity is directly linked to three things:

  1. How dependent a person is upon the approval and opinions of others for their sense of self-worth. The more they depend on affirmation from others, the more insecure they will be. 
  2. How much they trust their ability to safely and effectively manage what will come up in their lives. The more they fear things will happen which they will not be able to handle, the more insecure they will be.
  3. How distant the image and persona they present of themselves to the world is from the reality of who they really are.

The pathway out of this is not to sit around and pout about how insecure they feel.

The pathway out of this is:

  • To help them build a more mature, evolved sense of who they are and what matters to them and why, thus relieving the dependency upon needing so much approval and acceptance from so many others who ultimately do not matter.
  • Help them build trust in their ability to live through whatever they are fearing might happen, letting go of needing thins to be a certain way for them to be okay.
  • To narrow the gap between the image they project of themselves and their authentic self… Mostly this requires coming to peace with their imperfections and helping them to define and accept who they really and who they really want to be.

For many of today’s youth who have come of age in the 1% Culture, their insecurities run rampant. They fear that if they are not in the “top” of whatever category, that somehow they are doomed. Thus they must be in the most popular fraternity or sorority or social group… they must be a starter on the team… they must have the hottest girlfriend/boyfriend… they

 

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The Easy Daily Habits 24 Executives Say Give Them an Edge

As a teen counselor the relationship I develop with a young person can carry on through time, and I am now seeing more first and second job twenty something clients who are finding that they need additional input to succeed in demanding social and professional contexts.
My work has been published widely and includes this mention in Inc magazine which is a global monthly aimed at the business and entrepreneurial demographic.
Anyway you might be surprised at the routines some of the high achievers swear by in the article.
http://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/24-executives-share-the-daily-habits-that-keep-them-on-top.html
Maybe you have recently read Tools for Titans by Tim Ferris and are looking for similar mentors in real life, rather than just in print? I can help guide your search. Contact me to find out more.
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