Thoughts on Simon Sinek Explaination of the Millennial Paradox

maxresdefaultRecently, a video clip of Tom Bilyeu interviewing motivational speaker, Simon Sinek on his show Inside Quest was circulating around Facebook Land. I noticed it because it was titled  “Simon Sinek Explains the Millennial Paradox” I didn’t know who Tom Bilyeu or Simon Sinek were but I love millennials, so I clicked the play button and for 15 minutes I was educated about the Millennial plight. 

As I watched I was particular drawn to Simon’s genuine nature. He seemed passionate about what he was talking about and believable. Simon began by defining how millennials have been described by leadership in corporations as entitled, narcissistic, unfocused, and lazy. 

Then Simon went on to explain that millennials are the way they are because of poor parenting strategies, citing parents that gave their children what they wanted when they wanted it, creating an instant gratification generation and other parents that didn’t allow their child to fail, thus devaluing their achievements. Add to that poor coping mechanisms to deal with stress that Sinek attributed to addiction (to social media and cell phone) and finally he concludes that millennials have lower self-esteem than previous generation, through no fault of their own, that they were “dealt a bad hand.”

In his final admonishment he speaks to corporations, stating that “It’s a total lack of good leadership in our world today that is making them feel the way they do. They were dealt a bad hand. I hate to say it but it’s the companies responsibility, sucks to be you, like we have no choice, right? This is what we got, and I wish their parents and society would have done a better job. They didn’t, so we’re getting them in our companies and we now have to pick up the slack. We have to work extra hard to figure out the ways to build their confidence. We have to work extra hard to find ways to teach them the social skills they are missing out on.” 

I took serious his rebuke of poor parenting and the effects of technology. I thought, yes, my children have been bombarded with screen toxins and we, as parents, sensed it was dangerous but the cultural undertow drowned any efforts we might have made to try to protect our children.

Then his pinnacle conclusion that the reason millennials are the way they are is because they were “dealt a bad hand” and that their best case scenario, “as an entire generation, was growing up and going through life and never really finding joy. They’ll just waft through life but never find joy” just broke my heart. As a parent, I thought Oh no! I’ve failed them! The more I meditated on his talk the more l lamented.

My father, Jerry Price, author, counselor, consultant and one of the wisest souls I know, also watched the video and we had a lively discussion about it all. It is a discussion that we ended up moving over to email in order to capture our thoughts in writing so as to participate in the greater conversation. 

Jerry: My first thought as I watched this guy, Simon, give his ‘expert’ opinion, his ‘diagnosis’ on the problem was that he offered no hope. Where is the hope?

Jana: You’re right dad. Although I felt hopeful when I initially started watching his talk, I realized that what I actually felt was his excitement as he set a tone of confidence regarding his knowledge of the topic. In the end, there was no hope in his message. It was dire diagnosis and all Simon could prescribe ultimately, was for corporations to bear the load and try to repair this generation the best they can. 

Jerry: It’s interesting how perspective can expose issues. Much of what Simon said was funny and seemed to resonate an image of a millennial. Simon was very persuasive about identifying millennials but as I was listening my question was “Who is defining this?” 

Coming from an understanding of Marketing and Counseling (Twisted Thinking) combined, I know that anyone who is the definer of a problem gets to control the process. 

Jana: Yes, he seemed knowledgeable and I agree with much of what Simon said about screen addiction. I agree that millennials, as a whole, were even dealt a bad hand. However, if I’m playing poker and I’m dealt a bad hand, am I not still responsible for how I play it? 

Jerry: True, when he started to emphasize that a millennial is a millennial because they were dealt a bad hand, through no fault of their own, my ears perked up. Whether he meant to or not, he just promoted what I call Martyred Thinking. 

Out of Martyred Thinking develops a prearranged tactic that avoids responsibility so the person claiming they’ve been dealt a bad hand (whether its true or not) can go do what they want to do. It becomes a platform of pursuing anything that is forbidden.

How do I know this? I’ve been working with Criminal and Twisted Thinkers for years in clinical settings where individuals have perpetrated unconscionable acts on others as a result of taking this closed stance on being a victim. 

There is no hope for integrity, dignity, and living responsibly with people who insist they have been dealt a bad hand and use that belief to support why they become addicts of one sort or another. The blame game isn’t a new thing. It’s been repeated politically, religiously and socially throughout history.

The drug of choice or addiction of choice, at that point, is what I call the excitement of what is forbidden. This phenomenon leads to inflated views of self and not low self-esteem as Simon suggested in the video. It leads to a stubbornness, recklessness, impatience at not being instantly gratified and the result is that others will experience the brunt of it.

Jana: I was hoping Simon would give us something deeper, some of his optimism he’s famous for. I was hoping he would talk about the heart issue and empower the millennial to “play their hand well” but he seemed to make any hope for the Millennial everyone elses problem, thus paralyzing them. 

Jerry:  It’s definitely a heart or character issue. 

Much of what Simon taught was old hat. Baby Boomers (Eighty Million of us) weren’t using I Phones, I Pads, or technology to produce the chemical reactions we wanted to feel “okay” or superior physically/emotionally/spiritually.

In my day it was all out drugs and sex. Just think Woodstock and you’ll remember. People then weren’t good at relationships either. They tuned out, zoned out and dropped out in droves.

Experts or the definers of the process want to say it’s not the kids fault, that it’s a matter of parenting but the truth is that experts are scared of not being in control and the go to is that the “you were dealt a bad hand”, so billions of dollars can be spent on reorganizing the chaos or lethargy at hand.

There is no hope for those who would rather blame their environment or station in life by using Martyred Thinking to go and do whatever feels good and is forbidden. The arrogance that exudes from Martyred Thinking isn’t about low self-esteem but about being or thinking a person is entitled and if anyone gets in the way of their entitlement, a prearranged tactic to avoid accountability and responsibility is launched. 

As I watched the video I saw many faces that did not look hopeful but rather had a look in their eyes that said “how can I use what Simon is saying for my benefit.” 

Twisted thinking is very exciting and useful for people who default to “I’ve been dealt a bad hand” and that’s why a person who is practicing twisted thinking would have a core belief that says, “I’m self loathing or am having an identity crises thus I flounder and NEED technology to satisfy my thirst for well-being and want. Then I can BE and not have to worry about relationships which don’t work well. Give me my Xbox or Snap Chat and that’s living!”

Jana: This is familiar and as I look back on my teens and 20’s I know that I was a well-practiced Martyred thinker, blaming you and mom for not protecting me from abuse and from the pain of betrayal. 

It worked for me for a while. I felt a sense of freedom and lived a reckless and exciting life.  I did the drugs, redefined my sexuality and tried to distance myself from your religion. Think Footloose, The Breakfast Club and Trainspotting. I believed that I was dealt a bad hand and I spent a lot years playing that hand by operating in victim-stance, manipulating and lying to get my way. However, when I fell pregnant with my daughter my perspective was rocked to the core and for the first time I was able to see myself clearly in the mirror. What I saw was hopelessness, isolation and a great chasm between myself and others. It was then that I remember really having to work through a false belief that you and mom did not do all you could to give me a leg up. I knew it wasn’t the truth but it was very hard to let go of that belief for it had become so much apart of my identity. I was afraid of losing “myself” or more likely losing my sense of control. 

I believe that my plight was an indicator, a symptom, of the deep depravity of the human condition that we are ALL subject to. When I finally really looked at my hand and realized that the only good play was to fold, I found hope. 

I asked for a new hand and I found new life, real freedom and a deep reconnection with self, with you and mom, with my Creator and with others.

Jana: So is there any merit to what Simon is saying?  

Jerry: Simon really did have some sound things to say but in defining the problem like he did, he put himself in control of the process. What process?

The process that leaves the listener left empty unless they can agree that “Yeah, he’s right. Parenting is why I’m the way I am. Yeah, somebody is going to have to pay for this. I have a right to continue to live as a person who has learned helplessness and get away with it.” 

I’m not saying there aren’t environments that foster or influence this Martyred Thinking mindset for decision-making. But what I am saying, is like in a test tube, unless it’s proven right every time in the laboratory, it’s not really true science. Conscious or unconsciously, Simon just threw so many millennials out there into his beaker of Martyred Thinking who aren’t martyred thinkers. They don’t buy into what Simon has said because they’re out there creating, building, engaging and valuing relationships. 

Jana: Yes, I know many of them. They’re innovative, passionate and responsible but what about the others, where is the hope for the those listening to Simon’s talk and identify with his findings, those who believe they were dealt a bad hand and are functioning in the belief that it isn’t their fault. Where is the hope for them?  

Jerry: For me, hope for change would have been to have this expert call out their* responsibility for their laziness and to own how it hurts others.

Hope for change would have been for this expert to call out how their sense of entitlement hurts others deeply because others are treated as property that have no choice but to endure their selfishness. 

(by the way, *their represents us all, whether we’re talking about Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers or whoever) 

People who activate any Martyred Thinking have no empathy and where there is no empathy an individual is capable of doing unconscionable harm. That doesn’t look like HOPE to me.

Hope encourages self-respect and the respect of others.

The thought that Simon gave about the need to value and develop relationship was right on, but this need transcends to us all. Pointing the finger at parenting or other places of society as those who are the problem, those who dealt the bad hand, actually breaks down the relational concept he is promoting. 

As you have shown in your own story Jana, something happens that’s good on the inside of a person who has come to terms with their responsibility and accountability for who they decide to be.

Yes, it’s true we can be and are shaped by our personal history but we are not defined by it. There’s HOPE in that.

HOPE that pursues life! 

Unwittingly, that was what was missed in the talk this expert gave. 

millennials

“Since we’ve all compiled this long and sorry record of afflictions and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives Abba wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” Romans 3

The heart that has been broken and mended in one breath is a heart that understands the power of forgiveness.

Jerry Price (jerryprice.net) Tom bilyeu (Facebook.com/tombilyeu) Inside Quest (Facebook.com/insidequest) Simon Sinek (Facebook.com/simonsinek).

Advertisements

An Open Letter to James Dean

James,

My grandfather, Donald Price, was a bootlegger, gun-runner and a thief. He was the guy they called in when they needed someone skilled at picking locks. He was a “bad boy” to be sure. My grandfathers life story inspired my father, Jerry Price, to study psychology, specifically regarding the twistedness of our minds. I grew up sitting around the table with these men, gleaning wisdom and understanding the nuances regarding the depravity of the human condition. I set out to try their words and became quite good at conning others but in the end I found out what my grandfather and father already knew; that every con thinks they are unique and that belief sustains their duplicity. What I didn’t understand but do now is that the ultimate con is to con ones own self. My grandfather used to say, “you can’t con a con.”  Meaning, “I’ve been there, done that” and quiet frankly I can see right through you James. 

Even so, what you need to understand is that if you plan to continue to insert yourself into our daughters life that you are also inserting yourself into our lives. You can’t have one but not the other. So all these games you’ve been playing, deceiving one another, as well as, the community around you, needs to stop. It’s short sighted. 

During my pregnancy with my daughter, I glimpsed for the first time in my life, the future. Now mind you, she was conceived during a time in my life that was utterly dark. I was in the thick of my twistedness and like you James, I was short-sighted. I didn’t have a dream for my future, nor could I see past the immediate sense of pleasure and thirst for power that held me captive. None the less, God could see and knew that my daughter would be a life force of love and light and her birth would be my birth out of duplicity and into wholeness. Her birth was divine and from the moment she was conceived God placed his seal on her life for His glory.  

So, James, what you really need to understand is that when you initiate or for that matter, respond to my daughter’s initiation, that you are not just messing around with her, you are not just messing around with us as her family, but you are messing around with God’s plan for her life. And, my hunch is for your life too. The ancient text says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Prov. 1:7). My hope is that you are not a fool but one who is moldable, pliable and becoming all that you were created to be. So, live in the light but know that as long as I keep seeing you pop up in my daughter’s life that this mama is going to keep popping up in your life.

Sincerely,

Mama Holland

 

Unspoken Rules

DSC_5769The thing about travel is it takes you out of your normal context and thrusts you into a whirlwind of unknowns. The sites are in techno color and every sound is new to the ear. It’s exciting and yet there are times when the social construct becomes overwhelming and in the heat of the moment one finds a prejudice lurking in the dark corner. It rises out of the depth of the soul and lights fire to anything it touches.

This is a story of how when an unspoken rule is broken, it brings out the worst in all of us.

Recently we were up in Port Douglas, enjoying Four Mile Beach and decided to have lunch in town. We ended up on a little side lane with a number of food vendors to choose from. We walked up and down the street looking for something yummy and cheap to eat. The fella’s ended up with Meat Pies from the local bakery. And, Graciana and I ordered a Veggie Curry with Naan from a little Indian Cafe. The sidewalk was wide and all along the shops were tables, so we found one right outside the Indian cafe. An Indian couple served us while their two little daughters playfully danced around the tables. The couple wasn’t necessarily friendly, in fact they seemed a little bothered to even be there. None the less, the price was right and the food smelled amazing, so we paid and sat down outside their shop.
DSC_5972Craig and Banjo joined us with their pies and as we were waiting for our food we saw the infamous, Campbell the Bushman. We had met him two years ago at the Yackendanda Folk Festival (he’s a bit of an institution on the folk festival circuit.) He truly is a Bushman, carrying his tucker bag (backpack) and bed roll, roving the wild country and making his way from festival to festival to tell stories. He’s a large man with a bright smile but can be a bit intimidating if you don’t know who he is. I called him over, exclaiming “Uncle, so good to see you again, come sit with us.” He responded with a bright smile and joined us. We shared our food and drink with him and caught up on his travels across Australia. We learned that he was originally from South Australia and that he is part Irish, Part Maori and Part Aboriginal. As he and Craig were chatting I began to notice people around us. Mind you, Port Douglas isn’t for the average citizen but rather a tourist town for the wealthy. Everything is green and beautiful. The streets are clean and everyone has on their best garb. We even saw a young woman in a lovely dress and tiara. Not a dress up tiara, but a real one. There were fancy people and fancy cars all around us.
So, as we sat there I started to recognized the juxtaposition we were in, the four of us, looking a bit average with the homeless Campbell at our table. However, as I watched Campbell there was no shame in his gaze. He sat there with us chatting away like he belonged. It was refreshing and we took his lead. Sure, I noticed the energy from others who did not approve, could see it in their eyes and on their breath as they whispered our direction but it was as if we had a bubble of protection around us and we were free to enjoy the moment with our friend.
Then I noticed the Indian couple staring at us with an apprehensive stature. So, I went into the shop and with great enthusiasm, I let them know that Campbell was our friend, and that he was a famous story-teller! They were confused at first, but the more I spoke with excitement about Campbell, the more they smiled. Honestly, I don’t know if we even spoke the same language, or if they really understood what I was trying to tell them but it was lovely to see them smile.
I went back out to finish my meal, which by the way was fantastic. The Indian woman followed behind me with another table/chairs out for her customers. As soon as she went back inside, a blonde haired older woman sat at that table with her grandson. They had come up the street from the Bakery and were about to enjoy their meat pies, when the Indian woman come out and abruptly told the blonde lady that table was for her customers. The blonde lady was very bothered by the rebuke and shouted out, “So, are you asking me to move lady?” The Indian woman walked away and the bubble around us popped.
The Indian lady had made an effort to care for her customer and brought out an extra table and unfortunately the blonde lady crossed her unseen boundary. However, to the blonde lady it just sounded irrational because there were empty tables all around us. I turned to the blonde lady and kindly suggested that even if she just moved over one table it would appease the Indian lady and the conflict would be resolved. She answered, “I can’t even be bothered, what’s the point.” And with in a final effort to expel her rage she finished with, “this is what you get when things aren’t run by Australians!” I was flabbergasted and taken aback. I answered, “Yeah… No, that’s not right. That’s actually really rude.” and I wanted to add, you should be ashamed of yourself, but I chickened out.
I was up all night thinking about the interaction. How easy it is to sit in judgement! How does one go from smiles and lunch with a grandchild, to being asked to move and responding with a power thrust of hate?
It’s simple really, she broke an unwritten rule, crossed a cultural line and because she didn’t know about the rule ahead of time, spiraled into twisted thinking, becoming the victim and indignantly retaliated.
I know… because I’ve been dealing with it ever since we arrived in Australia. As an American, I don’t know all of the cultural norms here and so I find myself in situations where I break unwritten rules and feel rebuked much of the time. In some sense, it feels like I’m walking on egg shells, waiting for the next admonishment. And, when I fail, the anger that rises inside of me always catches me off guard.
For instance, we went to the movies a few days ago, I asked for a ticket and the young man at the register asked if I wanted front, middle or back seating. I was confused and asked him if they were assigned seats. He said yes and my heart deflated as the power to choose my own experience was stripped from me. I took my ticket and I walked reluctantly in to the theatre to find my seat. When I got there, I noticed that the screen was smaller than expected and the seat he assigned me was to far away. I looked around and saw an empty seat a few rows down so I moved. However everyone else was happy to follow the rule and I soon found myself being asked to move, as the seats belonged to another. Anger rose, my thinking inflated and I exclaimed to those close enough to hear what I though of the silly rule! I took another look around and assessed that there was plenty of empty seats but the question became, do I move back to my assigned seat or take the risk and try again? I went for the risk and looked for a more attractive empty seat, which ended up being open to me. However, once I sat down, the embarrassment from the previous move rose and more anger settled on me. Just under my breath, I mumbled, “stupid Australians, always following the rules.” Ugh! What a jerk am I! As soon as it came out of my mouth I knew I was in for a smack down! (aka. a lesson.)
So here is what I’m learning, in some of the most beautiful setting by the way, I’m learning, what I already knew, that we all have clay feet. Me, Campbell, the Indian couple, the blonde grandma, the clerk at the movie theater, the person who’s seat I took, we are all made of the same mud, we all struggle with a deep need for grace. Human nature is to self protect, to find favor and position by putting others down and feeling good about one’s self, feeling in control trumps whatever rules we find unworthy or in our way. I’m not convinced it’s something we can curb on our own by white knuckling our way through. Hoping that the next time around we do better. Here’s the thing though, I do believe we can be healed from it, just as the Psalmist writes “create in me a pure heart, Oh God. And, renew a right spirit within me.”
As we travel, this is my longing, that my mind be made new. God helping me: I want to take my everyday, ordinary life, whether nomadic or not— sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. I don’t want become so well-adjusted to my culture that I fit into it without even thinking. Instead, I’ll fix my attention on God. And as the ancient text says, I’ll be changed from the inside out! For that is where the change must happen, on the inside.

Maybe This Is The Storm That We Won’t Make It Through

“Below the street,” is a term counselor, Jerry Price, uses in his teaching on “twisted thinking.” It represents going deeper, being more transparent, removing the mask. You have to go below the street if you want to find out what’s really going on, if you want real change.

Well, for the past two weeks I have had a bitter root taking hold of me. Fears about things that might happen to my children to harm their minds and faith. Fear of what our future holds, how we will sustain. Little thoughts of discord, here and there, about my husband. Anger brewing, to the point of tiny outbursts. Stupid little moments would arise where I would feel he was not protecting me or the kids and I would blow up at him. Things that were totally out of his control or things that I misunderstood.

For instance, a few days ago we stopped in at a local youth center. We got out of the car and my husband made his way a cross the street. I was still back at the car and shouted, asking if we could get a business card out of the trunk for the director. Looking back, I’m sure my tone was harsh, as I felt he was abandoning me by going ahead so quickly. He responded, with a slight shift of his head and plainly said, “no.” He then stated that the case was buried under all our luggage. I really didn’t hear his whole comment but everything in me went hard and I began to yell at him, scolding him for speaking to me that way, like I was a child. He was a bit taken back and begin to explain that he was just stating a fact but I read it so differently. We didn’t really take time to work it out then and there but rather kept walking into the building; greeting the director only moments after this outburst.

After our meeting with the youth director (which went fine, by the way. Amazing how we can put a mask on and just soldier on when we want to) we returned to the car and just carried on with life but deep down I knew something was going strangely wrong. Harmony was absent, but who’s fault was it?

I could feel a storm brewing, and remembered Jerry Price’s teaching in our  More Married sessions, where we learned about “storming” and how it’s a natural process in relationships. However, we learned that when we don’t enter into the storm we go back to a dysfunctional “norm,” and stunt our growth, keeping everything on the surface. However, if we engage the storm and allow it to clean house, so to speak, we come out in a new form; a form that allows deeper connection and harmony.

Investigative, I scoured through the gamut of reasons to why my heart was so hard. From dire straits “this is it, maybe this is the storm that we won’t make it through,” to the more rational, “this is definitely a storm, how do we make it through?”  I began to move from focusing on what my husband was doing wrong to what I was doing. I considered that maybe it was hormonal or maybe it was the change in my diet, maybe it was living out of a suitcase in a foreign country or the uncertainty of life and feeling out of control. What ever it was, self loathing crept in every time a little blow up would happen. I felt more and more insecure and I began to feel extremely isolated.

I’m practiced at “white knuckling” and was able to fend off some of the outbursts; keeping them at bay, specially when we were around others. And, I even choked out a few prayers. However, all I could get out was a whisper of “help me.” What in the world, I hadn’t felt this way in years. What was going on?!

 

Then the final straw broke. We were planning on going out to a local coffee shop to work on web stuff.  We had spent a comfortable morning, sharing breakfast and getting ready for the day. I was lingering and at a certain point in the morning, my husband announced that he was going to get in the car. That was it, just a simple announcement and I flipped out. His declaration seemed abrupt to me. I began to bark at him, “What? What about the computer
 and the bag
and what about the kids…are the kids ready?” I panicked, trying to reel the words back in. He stood there looking at me like a deer in the head lights, asking what he was meant to do? He asked, what did I want him to do? No words came but rather I began scurrying around gathering the computer and bag, yelling at the kids and we all clumsily made our way to the car. Once inside the car, we all sat utterly stunned. My mind was racing, what is going on with me? Why am I so out of control? And, then I saw it plain as day, a manifestation of my past began to come forward.

My husband sat patiently, quietly, and then the vision became clear. Seems that when he announced that, “he’ll be in the car” it triggered a memory from my childhood and my dad saying this to my mom and then leaving the house. Then for the next 15 or 20 minutes my mom would hurriedly try to get all of us children out the door. I don’t really know what was going on between them but from my little person perspective, it seemed that my dad abandoned my mom to do all the heavy lifting. I made note of this at that young age and developed a belief system about men based on that belief.

I began to weep. I was paralyzed and didn’t know what to do next. Seriously, everything could have gone south at this point. He had every right to admonish me but he didn’t. Instead, he began to speak gentle words of truth over me. He declared harmony in our relationship and then he asked if he could pray for me and not is a sappy patronizing way, but in a genuine I care for you way. I wept even harder and said yes. What followed was an experience I can only describe as supernatural. His petition for Abba’s mercy, power, discernment and his declaration of Love began to envelop me to the point that the hard casing around my heart shattered. I felt immediate relief. I could see clearly now, all that had bound me up.

Look, working to get below the street was no easy task, as my ego was bruised and my natural tendency was to try to hold face. However,  the more his love covered me the more my pride was laid low. His was a true act of grace; the kind of grace that bleeds for another. The kind of grace that trusts the repentance process, that leads the recipient back towards Abba’s original intent for our lives. Not the cheap stuff, not the fabricated kind that says, “it’s OK, you’re just living your truth, you can be an ass and we’ll all get by” but the kind that says “this isn’t who you’re created to be and I will cover you in order that you might actually have a moment to reflect without the distraction of self-protection.”  It was in this moment that I could see my twisted thinking errors, my stubbornness, victim stance and manipulative thinking. I could see that my own ability to “fix” them was not enough. I began to pray silently along with my husband, weeping for forgiveness, thankful for this relief and new hope.

freedomLook, we don’t always get it right, but in this situation, my husbands humility and grace, is a beautiful example of how we are called to care for one another in the body. His faith carried me to the cross and in doing so, carried me into the presence of God. He fought for me, stepping out-of-the-way and allowed Abba to heal me. Had he allowed his pride to get in the way, we would probably be at ground zero, still storming. His willingness to fight for me and surrender his own pride set a wise tone that allowed me to surrender my own pride, see clearly and fight for us.

In the end, we stormed and can now get on to enjoying the new form. Everything is above the street. For now. 🙂

 

From the Inside Out

20130513-081732.jpgTaking a moment this morning to recognize the awesomeness of this journey we are on, specially as it relates to the interpersonal relationships of family.

There is a sweetness in the air and the sun is shining. I’m remembering a moment at the Mammoth Cave National park, two weeks ago. We signed up for the historical tour and were on our way to explore the caves. Our 11 yr old son was having a melt down because he didn’t want to hike. We had already paid for the tour and were dreading the next two hours of a whiny pre-teen. We had experienced these angsty, over the top episodes over the past months and they were wearing on us all. Each time the fits would come we would try to manage through them prayerfully, although not very eloquently. Then after they passed we would address him, sharing the impact that it was having on us all, including our son. We would bring to light the belief system in place that precipitated the fits and we would challenge him to identify the fear or twisted thinking patterns at the root. Then we would talk through the options and consequences. These conversations were long and tedious and often the timing was not ideal.

And so, as we walked towards the caves, the attitude started to seep in and we braced ourselves for the coming storm. However, this time it was different. Instead of the full blown episode, there was only rough blowing of the wind. And, after a moment of discord, our son turned back. Was this a new front? Was this a new tactic? We continued forward maintaing the joy and anticipation of experiencing the largest cave structure in the US, all the while our son followed and at a certain point must have had a conversation in his own head, the one that we’ve been having all along about root belief’s and decided to make a change. I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure it was a lasting change and wondered if there would be some sort of pay back in the caves or after the hike, but this time it really was different. This time the change went to the core. It wasn’t a white knuckling surrender but a real moment of clarity, of empathy. There really isn’t a formula for this stuff, only prayer, open conversation, vulnerability and belief that we are all connected. I don’t know what decision he’ll make next time around, but I do know that the more we replace lies with truth the more we walk in the light. The more we walk in the light the more we recognize the lies. I’m encouraged by the sacred text. “be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind.”

By the way, the Mammoth Cave’s were amazing and Kentucky was the greenest place we’ve ever been. Also, I would like to thank my dad for his wisdom and for authoring “Twisted Thinking Transformed.”  You’re a wise old soul dad!