Millennials: The Anxiety Generation?

Millennials are labelled the Anxiety Generation for good reason.
As a life coach for Millennials, the anxiety generation, I spend roughly 1000 hours a year face to face with Millennials. We meet through Skype world-wide. I mentor Millennials who are not doing well in life. One of the main causes is Anxiety, followed by self-sabotage and failure to launch. One could easily believe that this is truly the anxiety generation.

What is fascinating about Millennials is how extraordinary they are.
Millennials are extraordinary in non-linear thinking, embracing new concepts (like Big Data).  and in caring about their peers (virtual or real-life).

Once they have gone through life coaching, Millennials often find their way towards daily micro-successes. They learn how to assess what they do in their lives in a non-judgmental fashion. Most importantly, they learn how to breath and get back into their bodies. How to get  out of their heads. The Millennials who do this find a great deal of their anxiety goes away permanently.

Blanket diagnosing of Millennials with all forms of anxiety is happening on all fronts. Professionals, parents and the Millennials themselves witness the effects of a person who feels unsafe in the world. Anxiety becomes their self-diagnosis. To have Millennials understand the underlying issues requires a different way of looking at things.

So many Millennials feel safer in the virtual world then in the real world.
They feel uncomfortable advocating for themselves in words and writing.  Tweeting is their gateway to communication. They would rather give in to the many self-soothing vices like video-gaming, social media and weed, then figure out how to communicate to the “others”.

When we never look down as we hammer things, it’s easy to blame the hammer for our bruised finger instead of the fact we never learned to really look at what is going on.

Self Diagnosing vs Professional Diagnosing of Anxiety
People who self-diagnose and those who have been given a diagnose of anxiety disorder need to realize one thing; you are greater than your labels. For those who self-diagnose or who have professional diagnoses of depression they share a truth. Both are suffering, need understanding and need to rise above perceived limitations.

Is Anxiety the New Millennial Excuse?
I do not believe people use anxiety as an excuse for being stressed out. 95% of the Millennials I mentor suffer from anxiety. It is no less debilitating if they have been professionally diagnosed or not.

My heart breaks when I see them suffering as they do. The thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that I have overcome my own crippling personal anxiety where I could not function, I could not get into a subway car, an elevator, a plane or even a car and I know that with the techniques a good life coach for young adults can provide Millennials, they can rise above these debilitating anxieties just as I did.

Unless you are in a person’s shoes, you cannot know how hard anxiety can be to do battle with on a day-to-day basis. Every time Millennials attempt to rise above their challenges they are performing quit acts of bravery. Victory is not the true measure of their bravery.

To those suffering with anxiety, I say to you: Have faith, seek out mentors, align with those who see you as more then your labels. I believe in Millennials as the generation who will help this world get on track. Heaven knows we need it.

Know a Millennial in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

Interested in Mentoring Millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

Young Adult Depression and Life Coaching Young Adults

What is young adult depression? One of the things I hear more often than anything else as a mentor for young adults is parents asking for help with their child’s school failures, depression, low self-esteem and video game (and/or pot) addiction.

Often the depression seems most prevalent on both the parent’s and the potential client’s (the young adult in question) mind. What I often say to this is: “Most of us tend to see things in reverse order”.

Reverse Memory Syndrome with Young Adult Depression:
When a client has a “discussion” with his or her parent for the bazillionth time about why they stay up so late, the parents tell the young person why they are doing it and why it’s wrong. The client tries to explain what is really going on. Neither side listens. Voices raise and finally the client tells the parents to do something that is anatomically impossible. That’s when the parents say: “We just tell you how you need to be more responsible about going to sleep at a good time and all you do is shout and scream and curse at us”. That is reverse memory syndrome. The escalation and the accusing gets lost as a factor in the final result.

Reverse memory syndrome is often the reason why the depression is foremost on the minds of the people who contact me with the issues stated above. Let’s deconstruct the actual order of events for these clients and parents contacting me.

When Millennials were magic.
This generation is the first one that was told that actually everything they did was perfect. They were the best crayoners; the best howlers; the best poopers; and everybody got a medal when they “competed”… (you wonder why they think they’re magic).

For this particular group, they were able to pull off acceptable or really good marks out of their butts at the last minute at school and of course, Mumzy and Dadzy told them “they were magic”!!

Until they weren’t magic anymore.
Fast forward to the time when pulling marks out your butt (beside being non-hygienic) no longer works for our magic client. What comes next? False epiphanies.

Most of the people I meet have at some time come up to “issues” that blocked them in their lives. When natural talent wasn’t enough anymore. At that point, if they come up with “gee, I better learn some new study habits and work harder” I never get to see them. However, if they go for the false epiphanies: “My magic is gone”, “I am stupid”, “The world is not safe” or “If I choose to fail and I do… then I’ve won”, that’s when they are getting into choosing bad coping mechanisms.

What are those coping mechanisms? Self-medication (Video games or pot), anxiety, negative self-speak (low self-esteem) or depression.

Being careful with issues such as young adult depression.
There are thee kinds of depression that one comes across as a mentor for young adults.

1) Situation-based depression where the client’s constant failures and inability to find a way out lead to depression.

2) Negative self-speak depression. Where the mind has stopped being a motivational force and has become the worst in-your-head parent constantly leading to you towards self-defeat. This requires learning to retrain the mind through mindfulness-based exercises (meditation, visualization or things like yoga).

3) True clinical depression; a chemical imbalance requiring mental health professionals to do what they do best and help find the best way to get back that proper balance.

When it comes to clinical young adult depression, a Mentor’s job is make sure that a good mental health specialist is onboard, chosen by the family and that we help make sure that this label is not all that the client becomes but is a new starting point to help that client find their personal powers.

For situation-based and negative self-speak based depression, we begin with choosing goals, the challenges to those goals and the first indicators of success, creating micro-successes through daily routines chosen by the client and with the client in charge. The Mentor’s job is to let the client walk every step of that journey and simply help them out of dead ends in a way that speaks to the client.

We teach the client organization skills that makes sense to them in incremental stages. How to pick the best times to succeed in adding studying into their lives when it seemed impossible before. The learn how to advocate for themselves with teachers, school staff and parents (seeing both sides of the equation).

We work on finding the mindfulness-bases system that best works for them
Deep Breathing, Visualization, Mediation or, for some Prayer. The client starts in five or ten minute increments. Beginning by doing the work first with their mentors and slowly being able to do it on their own over time. This is the beginning of self-motivated empowerment.

The big take away.
Everyone tends to see things in reverse. Become a detective, free of judgment and go back and look for false epiphanies, coping mechanisms and most importantly, seek out people outside the family to help Mentor the child and the family to find that person’s true magic. It is there, waiting to be found.

Interested in mentoring Millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

Know a Millennial in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

Young Adults Failing at University

Young adults failing at university. This is the time of year where old habits get in the way of troubled teens and young adults in school.
The Just-in-Time habits from high school have not helped in mentoring young adults to succeed in college/university. This is where life coaching young adults in new ways to succeed is desperately needed.

In fact, these just-in-time habits have raised a lot of university student’s anxiety levels about whether they will or will not succeed to the point of the inevitability of failure in their minds. Most young people’s response: Ignore it and maybe it will go away… it doesn’t.

I have good news and bad news.

Bad news:  Dealing with young adults failing at University; The likelihood of them sharing these troubles with their parents is between zero and not-a-chance-in-hell. Not because they don’t care. Because they often care too much and don’t want to disappoint and unfortunately, the internet has trained them to one great Millennial truth: if life is overwhelming there are unlimited ways to get quick gratification through gaming; facebooking; youtubing and many other wonderful diversions.

Good news: Chances are your Millennials really does care and just doesn’t know how to move forward. Let us share with you some tips that really help the young adults we life coach.

Here are five simple steps to help your Young Adults Failing at University:

1) Your calendar is your friend. Write down in your calendar all of your classes (one color) all of your tutorials (another color) papers (a third color) and exams (you guessed it). Put in reminders for the first class of the day and any classes that are after more than a one-hour break.
2) Pick your reading times in each day. Once you have your outline of the stuff you have to show up for, it is easier to figure out what days and times are best to do the required readings.
3) Reading requirements: Go through all reading requirements and keep notes about when you do what and how you are required to do it.
4) Gravitate to the kids-who-care. There is usually an area in classes where students are who actually care about their work. Get in that area. Make connections with the ones that seem like they might be good to create study groups with.
5) Your teachers and T.A’s are your best resource. When s**t hits the fan and you are having problems, teachers and T.A’s are a great resource to get on track.

Parents
To get these things working requires an outside person; a Mentor. Someone who does not have all the history of issues in the past. Someone who can say things you may have suggested in a way that your child will actually do! That is why it is so helpful to seek out life coaching for young adults.

I train Life Coaches and Mentors to work with troubled teens and young adults struggling with these issues and what we find is that families the invest in a Mentor for the children are helping the whole family succeed.

Success in school: success in family communication; success in organization and so much more. Consider getting a Life Coach / Mentor for young adults as one of the best investments you could ever choose!

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!

Ken

Interested in mentoring young adults? Click here.

If your child is in serious mental health crisis, please look into it immediately. This link is a good staring place. Click here. When things are more settled, life coaching can be a great addition to a complete program.

Mentoring the Missing Millennials of Mental Health

I have good news and hopeful news for our missing Millennials of mental health.
But first: the bad news.

Mental health issues are at epidemic proportions in our young adults. Millennials and Generation Z clients with anxiety are through the roof but for those with extreme narcissism or undiagnosed border-line personality traits, the prognosis seems bleak.

Good news:
A great deal of our clients find the proper breathing techniques, meditations and a good life coach for young adults can be all they need to deal with mild to moderate issues of anxiety, depression, anger issues etc., For those with more advanced mental health issues, the proper meds combined with a mentor can make a world of difference.

But for those with extreme narcissistic tendencies or diagnosed or undiagnosed borderline personality traits, very little works. There is a way now for these young adults with these mental health problems to also find a way forward… but first… I’d like to share with you a case study.

Meet Skeeter and his mom Benjamina. When people sign up to have a young adult mentored, they go through a form. We then ask that they share a bit about their story. Here is a modified version of Skeeters’.

Tell us a bit about your situation.:

My son is trying to navigate life and deal with the consequences of his choices.
He is creative, bright and charismatic, but he is feeling uncertain about his future, depressed within himself, and swings from high highs to low lows.

He can come calm and clear and then be erratic and unpredictable.

My experience of my son is that he has difficulty focusing in a classroom, has a great sense of humour, very insightful, very sensitive, can be manipulative and possessive. He is also very self absorbed and can be defensive/aggressive. He loves to argue his point and prove people wrong. He has anger issues and can go from 0-60 quickly.

First session: Skeeter chooses his three goals:
1) Work on his anxiety
2) Time Management Skills
3) Work ethic

Challenges:
1) Drama – every time I do something and I have a decision and I tend to bring choices that bring more drama into my life.
2) I don’t put as much importance on what other people are doing/thinking.
3) Perfectionism – “I can’t do x until my y is done”.

First indicators of success:
1) When I enter a situation calmly being completely centered in my head.
2) Being where I need to be – consistency – order in life.
3) Me taking care of business and not second guessing myself.

Great first session.
Great second session. We start implementing ways to get s**t done and Skeeter feel good about it.
Third session… no show. Call him. Text him. Email him. No response.
Fourth session… I call from our office line (different phone number). He answers and then says: “Oh Ken!.. can I call you back?” Never calls back. (sigh).
Email mom. Explain the whole thing.
Session Five: She gets Skeeter to Skype for next session with her in the room. We explain what’s happening and how he has a choice to make. He says he likes the process and will be there from now on.
Session Six: I get a text from Skeeter.
Skeeter Peterson:
Could you call at 8 instead of 745 Ken
Thank you
Ken Rabow:
Yes. I’ll call at 8
Skeeter Peterson:
I won’t b ready at 8 Ken im just gonna call you when I’m done it won’t be too long and it will be in between my time of 8-9
Ken Rabow:
your time is 7:45 to 8:45 . you can call anytime in that and we’ll talk until 8:45
Skeeter Peterson:
Ok
(We end up talking at about 8:10 for 15 minutes. Apparently he accepted an extra bit of work last minute and his boss made him go back to work as he had simply snuck away to speak to me without telling me that or asking his boss. When told to go back to work, Skeeter says he will call back in 10 minutes… no call.) Text at 9:55
Skeeter Peterson:
I don’t know why I keep messin up
Makes me just wanna give up forreal
Ken Rabow:
you got to think about wanting to do better, feel you deserve better and plan a bit ahead. at least for our talks as a start.

Call his mom. Skeeter will not meet for the last two sessions. I offer to meet with his mom and I do some research. What can I offer someone who seems extremely self-involved, would rather sabotage things and live for the drama and tends to lie with no thoughts of ramifications?

I find it!

Hopeful News!

Schema Therapy. Schema therapy is excellent for young people with mental health issues that don’t seem to improve with traditional therapy or mentoring. They specialize in people with narcissistic issues, personality disorders, treatment-resistant depression and more.

I have a session with Benjamina, share my observations and give her a link.
The next day, I received this email:

“This has been very helpful for me. Thank you. This is why met. This resonates so much. I have found a woman Wendy Behary in Jersey. She wrote, Disarming the Narcissist and holy s**t the one passage on recognizing a Narcissist was spot on!!!! I feel so liberated and relieved knowing that this body of therapy exists. So truly thank you sincerely! I think this is the direction and guidance he needs”.

As a mentor for young adults, when we take on a client, we never give up on them, even it that means sometimes they need something else. To most of you out there, go find a great mentor, it will change your life. For those of you who find nothing works, there is always something. This is one for those missing Millennials of Mental Health.

Know a Millennial in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

Interested in mentoring Millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

Mentoring Autistic Teens – Path to Greatness

As a Mentor for teens and young adults with Autism and their families, I am struck with the level of trust, humility and indomitable spirit that I see in these families weekly on their paths to rising above others limitations of them.

I would like to share one story with you from one of my clients and his mom’s perspective:

Mom’s Story:
I knew my son had a brilliance inside of him that was just waiting to come out … if we could just get past this “autism thing”. At 3 ½ years of age, Stephen was working with a speech pathologist to work on his receptive language skills. There was a set of blocks and a Winnie the Pooh figurine sitting side-by-side on the table.

Pathologist: “Okay Stephen, I want you to put the blocks in front of Winnie the Pooh”

Stephen turned Winnie a quarter turn, so that Winnie was no longer facing forward, but rather facing the blocks. From the sideways angle, the blocks were now in front of Winnie the Pooh on the table.

Wow!

Stephen:
I was seven years old when I got the diagnosis for autism and ADHD. At first I felt very angry at the person who made this diagnosis, because I thought they were saying something was wrong with me. We eventually learned to deal with the fact that I had Autism, and that I did have some problems.

The situation was looking very grim. That same year in late second grade, we used some ADHD medication to try to have me pay attention in class. The medication worked as intended, and I was able to pay attention to class, but the side effects were painful to my quality of life.

Mom:
Some teachers “got” Stephen and some didn’t. The ones who “got” him had their hearts stolen by a little guy who filled their hearts with joy. We are truly grateful for the way that they connected with Stephen.

Stephen:
The medication made it so that I would no longer feel hungry at the normal times when I should have a meal, and I began to get skinnier and skinnier until my ribs would show entirely, and I felt a significant lack of energy. Eventually the ADHD medication was dropped in favor of supplements as an alternative as I moved into the fourth grade. My body slowly but surely returned to its normal shape, and I was able to pay attention in class because of the supplements, which had a similar effect (such as the fish oil).

With all of these supplements, my academic level went up at almost at a superhuman rate. I was then able to move schools gradually until I got to where I am now.

Mom:
A diagnosis is truly a double-edged sword. I tried, in the first few years to keep it a secret. But what I have learned is: don’t share this burden alone. Give others a chance to step up and help you lighten the load. Some won’t step up … they just don’t get it. But you would be amazed at how others do … including children.

Stephen:
I am in a fairly mainstream school now. Most qualities of life that you would expect from perhaps an above average life have been fulfilled. I now have unlocked a higher piece of myself allowing me to write these articles that I share with others such as you.

Ken: Although I hadn’t known it at the time, a standard test that Stephen would give potential mentor/therapists for Autistic kids was to talk about his complete feeling of betrayal by grownups and how they manipulated a basketball game with his fellow Asperger students vs. the local highest winning basketball team to let his team win.
Previous Mentors had told him to “get over it” whereas my response was “hey, let’s write an article about your feelings, shape them into a learning moment and see if HuffPo would publish it! They did ☺. This was a defining moment in Stephen believing his voice could and should be heard. To check out the article: click here.

Stephen:
The struggle with Autism has been quite the battle. Many tears were shed, many issues were fought, many goals were achieved, many hearts opened, many friends made and many lives changed.

Mom:
I felt that it was always important to share how much he had grown with Stephen … especially on days when things weren’t going so well or when he was down on himself.

Here are some things that I would like to tell parents of children on the spectrum:

Try to not be totally devastated by the diagnosis. They are still the same lovable, adorable child that you had before and you can have the same dreams for them.

Don’t ever let other people put limits or ceilings on what your child can do. Trust your gut. Trust that inner brilliance that you see and work like hell to find people to help you pull it out. You can teach your child to behave in a neurotypical way.

Embrace your child’s differences and let yourself dream of the way that he or she might change the world.

Ken: Who better to share their thoughts then people who are living it? I leave the last words of wisdom to my awesome client Stephen:

Stephen:
So what is the moral of the story? I am talking to kids like me who have been given a diagnosis of Autism: I guess you could say that where you are now is not necessarily where you will always be. I personally believe that nobody is only destined to one path.

I believe that the force of will is what determines success or failure, not fate, destiny or diagnosis. I believe that most people on the autistic scale can reach the level that I have and perhaps even greater. They just need the right parenting, the right mentors, the right people in their lives and most importantly… persistence.

Mentoring Millennials – The Difference Between Heaven and Hell

How do we Mentor Millennials and get them where they need to go? Start with where you are… So here we are. A new year has begun. Your Millennial is back in university and you are hoping that last year’s effort (best described as crap-tabulous) will not be repeated. Horrible marks. Terrible self-talk/self-image. Massive anxiety.
Here’s the worst part… who can you talk to about your child? Especially if you believe (as so many of the parents who talk to me about this feel) that every other person’s child is doing fine and it is just your child who cannot cope.

I will give you the answer to the parent/Mentor issue at the end of this article but let’s start first with helping your Millennial:

The Three Challenges

1. Just-in-Timers. for lots of students, it was easy in High School to wait to the last minute, binge study and pull off some nifty grades. The harsh reality is that this doesn’t work in University/College and the student does not have the resources or experience to try another way.

2. The Deliciousness of Indulgence. Being away from home and having no external controls, mixed with a massive amount of booze, weed and fellow video-gamers with unlimited internet access is a recipe for badness. The uninformed will say “just say no”… good luck with that.

3. The Scourge of Social Anxiety.
This is at epidemic proportions in North America. This anxiety can make it practically impossible to reach out for help in school. Making it difficult to get back on track when they fall behind, it can push them to make self-destructive choices when the inevitability of their situation is shoved in their face by mid-terms.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/millennials-stress_b_2718986.html

The Three Solutions


1. Just-in-timers meet the Daily Routine.
By starting with the simplest tasks inserted in one’s day-to-day life, the Millennial learns to use a scheduler (why does this generation prefer to keep notes on loose slips of paper?!?) to take control of their daily lives. It may seem like a small step but simply being able to do one five minute task a day instills in them what they didn’t get by obligation or just-in-timing High School

2. Indulgence meet Observation: Remember what I said about “just say no”? Well double that on this one. We are not talking about people doing serious stuff in a way that is self-endangering. Those people need immediate action but for those indulging just enough to keep them from doing anything in life; here is the solution; observe it. Yes. Notice when you are doing your indulgence. Think about why you are doing it. Is it to self-medicate (i.e. deal with your anxiety)? Is it to alleviate boredom? Is it for social sharing? Is it ‘just ‘cuz? This may seems nuts but all of those are valid. The trick is to figure out which one, when, offer better things to do that you would enjoy more for some and leave the others (at the beginning). This is the start of conscious use and helps make different choices in the future.

3. Calming Social Anxiety. This can seem so formidable. It requires a Mentor who conveys non-judgmental trust. It requires the Mentee/Millennial looking at their challenge with kindness instead of harsh self-judgment and then to implement the following over six months; deep breathing (versus shallow breathing); visualization/meditation; learning positive self-talk; patience and relaxation.

Why Mentoring Millennials May Not Work (at first)

OK. It will work. (Deep breaths please). The three solutions I mention above work for 90% of the Millenials I encounter, just please don’t try this at home folks at least until you finish this article: Let’s start with a story:

The Long Spoons.

So… true story. I wanted to understand Heaven and Hell. So first, I travelled to Hell (Insert Donald Trump joke here…)
There were rows of tables piled high with platters of the most delicious food. Each platter was more aromatic and more beautiful to behold than the last. Every person held a full spoon but both arms were splinted with wooden slats making it impossible to bend their elbows to bring the food to their mouths. The people were emaciated, suffering and bereft of hope.

So I went to Heaven (Insert Wayne Dyer tribute here…)
Everything was the same. Same tables, same platters of food, same splints on the arms making it impossible to bend elbows but the people were satiated, happy and fulfilled. The big difference: In Heaven as a person picked up their spoon and dug into the nourishment availed to them, they stretched across the table and fed the person across from them. That person thanked them and then leaned across the table to feed their neighbor.

What’s This Got to Do with Me?!?

Chances are there is nothing wrong with your mentoring skills (if you have been working on them) but imagine the mentor is the person with the spoon, the wisdom is the food and the person starving is your child. You cannot mentor your own child, the whole concept of tribe was designed to have you mentor your neighbor’s child and them mentor yours’.

This is why people come to Professional Mentors/Life Coaches like myself and the Mentors I train. This is why you should become a mentor but get a distant relative or friend from another city to study mentoring with you. Then, you mentor their child and they should mentor yours’.

Let’s start a movement and use the long spoons the way the were meant to be used. I believe the Millennials have the potential to be the greatest generation since the 1940’s but they need new mentoring paradigms.

Find someone you trust and believe in to train you and your mentoring partner and begin a tiny revolution! It shall grow.

Why We Should Mentor Millennials Suffering From Mental Illness

Do you know where you were when you heard that Robin Williams had died? I do. I felt like I had lost a family friend. Back in the day when TV meant something, Robin was a breath of fresh air, even on Happy Days.

He even made the Fonz look cooler. Then there was Mork and Mindy. His Johnny Carson appearances, including being one of the last two guests to be on Carson’s show.
Robin’s love of Jonathan Winters helped a whole new generation learn about a brilliant, improvisational comedian who had a great influence on Robin. From The World According to Garp, The Fisher King, Good Morning Vietnam to Aladdin, Robin grew and brought us along with him with kindness, humility and a never-ending well of creativity.

Then one of my troubled teen’s parents said to me: “You know, Robin seemed a lot like your clients” and it hit me. He did seem a lot like my clients. Creative people. Sensitive people. People struggling with life. Some with Aspergers. Some with Bipolar or other mental health issues but they had one advantage that Robin did not (I really wasn’t going to say me, please)… they had not learned how to succeed in life. They were stuck and nothing before our work had worked. The work which did help them was being mentored to use their talents to rise above their challenges. To have a mentor that could discuss their private fears free of the “real world”, friends and family.

Of course, this made me happy and hopeful for my clients but very, very sad for my lost family friend. Robin. Through his successes, his genius, his drive to push himself into new territories, Robing played the old magician’s trick of misdirection. We were looking at the wrong hand while the other was suffering.

There are three things I will take away from this.

1) Those who can should decide right now to mentor our troubled Millenials. Millenials with addictions, those with anxiety, those with mental illness and those with learning challenges.

2) We must be ever-vigilant to also mentor the Millenials who seem to be successful but underneath the surface are also suffering. Those with the same issues and more who are good at misdirection

3) In a world filled with divisions, hatred, war, gatherings of people wishing to cut off the head of democracy, we must counter that with love for all people, find those Millenials who might fall under the thrall of hatred and calls to war and help these Millenials to find how to be great from their powers of kindness, grace and charity.

Here is what I promise to do. I intend to train 1000 mentors by the year 2020, to help young people, focusing on Millenials in inner cities and underdeveloped nations to offer the three things I have just mentioned. This I so vow.

If you know someone who would be great at becoming a professional Mentor for teens and young adults please email us at mentor@RealLifeCoaching.ca

Millennials, Do This To Get the Most From Your Mentors

So here we are. A new school year. New clothes. New books. New gadgets, but most kids are walking in with exactly the same old labels. No. Not Calvin K. I’m talking about: ADHD; Depression; Anxiety, Slacker, Stoner etc. As a Mentor’s Mentor of Millenials I have a few suggestions to transform this year but…

First, let’s start with a quick pair of definitions:

Mentor; one who guides his/her charge.
Telemachus: one who seeks the help of a Mentor to make their way “out there”.

I have worked with countless young people who have made great changes for the better in their lives. Changes where they were responsible for their successful outcome. These successes are now part of who they are and how they see themselves and shall help guide them in whatever endeavors they take on in life. This is the most rewarding work I have ever done in my life and I consider it an honor to work with these people, following their leads, turning them out of the occasional dead ends and sharing in their joys, their quiet accomplishments and the lessons they learn from their failures.

Most systems of “repair” seem to be focused on the symptoms. They use the deficiencies to define the whole of the person. Statements such as: “I’m ADHD”. Hello, my name is Skeeter and I’m a stoner.” “I’m such a (fill in the blank)” ring throughout the school hallways.

To those who spend so much time on their symptoms, I would suggest you reflect on the following: We amplify what we focus on, in word, thought and action. The more frequently we are defining ourselves by what we lack, the more we allow our inner thoughts to validate those beliefs in our million micro-decisions of the day.

We cannot underestimate the amount of people who are in denial about their personal foibles. I am not suggesting self-delusion as a the road to success. I encourage you to (and by extension those you mentor) to “own” their challenges as well as their strengths, but please do not let yourself be defined by them.

Every young person I have ever met has the ability to be successful in every aspect of their lives, even school ☺ That may seem like a bold statement but the truth is, evolutionarily speaking, if you are alive, then you are doing something right. But to move forward, the Telemachus must find their own personal way towards success.

Mentors; know this! Each Telemachus has in them the seeds for success and the challenge is to find the proper system for that particular person. What you need to bring to this system and how you can determine when your “Telemachus” is ready for your mentoring.

A questions to all parents: Who knows your child better than you do? They do. They may not “know” it or share all of it with you but your understanding of your child is based on history. More than likely, theirs is about right now and tomorrow. The past is often the same place where broken toys reside. Rich and meaningful at one time, but now it is mainly of use for stubbing toes and tripping us up.

Secondly, to the Mentor:
It is in the future and the now that one must re-learn about your Telemachus.
You, the Mentor must bring an open mind, humility and the presence of mind to NOT JUDGE.

Finally: To the Telemachus. You are not your label(s). Not the ones your parents gave you, the ones “professionals” gave you, the ones teachers or peers gave you nor the ones you give yourself when you feel lost.

Live each moment as a new creation. Learn from the past and set a course for a new future. This is the job your Mentor should join you in but remember, it is YOU who must be in command. Use your courage to venture forth, your wisdom to assess, your determination to soldier on in the face of setbacks and your faith to learn from those around you.

Now go out there and kick some butt!

Basketball, Autism ……… and Deception

As a life coach for teens and young adults, I work with all sorts of people in their teens and twenties. I learn from all of them. One of my most powerful learning lessons came from a 13 year old client with Autism, who allowed me to see the dangers of people in power trying to “do the right thing”. I am pleased to share with you now the inner workings of one the most interesting minds I have ever met.

My name is Stephen. I am a creative, charismatic, wise, 13 year old who gets good grades and I’m autistic. Yeah, I said that. No, I’m not some dysfunctional shmoe sitting on a couch with my coach translating all my words. I’m a guy who has something to say, who happens to be autistic.

Let me tell you a story.
It’s a real story about truth, deception and the school I used to go to (you know who you are). One day last March we had an assembly telling us about the “special” basketball game that was going to happen one week from then.

Our principal told us that we would be facing a “pro” basketball team made up of grade sevens, eights and high school kids and that it was supposed to be just for fun.

Our team was mostly grade sixes. Pretty young. Not very experienced. Kind of noobs and it was a fairly small basketball team made up of kids with different levels of Autism. I hadn’t signed up that year because I thought I had enough to do with karate and had done basketball and soccer the year before. The last year we hadn’t faced another school, though.

The team started practicing and my friend found out who the other basketball team was and he was pretty confident that we were going to get demolished. I thought they were going to get demolished too, but as it turns out what happened was even worse!

On the day of the basketball game
, we walked into the school. It had massive hallways with lockers on both sides. At least it was massive compared to what I was used to.
We walked down a few flights of stairs and went to one of the three gyms in the school.
This gym was gigantic. The basketball nets were very high with a score board up top and bleachers for us to sit in .

I went to sit down on one of the middle bleachers only to find out that the opposing school basketball team was even bigger than I expected – high schoolers galore and even huge grade sevens and eights.

They started by introducing the teams and all the players.
The teams set up and we began the first quarter. On the very first play our team got the ball and went to the other team’s net. They were just standing all around shooting the ball over and over. They kept missing and then trying again to the point that it became ridiculous. Me and the teacher beside me made a joke that our team was camping and roasting marshmallows. Game-related chuckles ☺

After that our team eventually scored and the game continued. The same thing kept happening. We scored most of the goals while the opposing team would score the occasional points. It was in the third quarter that I realized what was really happening.

One of their players passed the ball to our player. That was when I got it. I knew why our team wasn’t being demolished. When our players were “camping” the other team wasn’t fighting back because the other team was being easy on us. We were lied to. Deceived. It was then I realized the truth. This wasn’t just for fun. It was to deceive us to make us feel good about ourselves.

It made me feel angry. It made me think I was lied to probably every other time we had played. It made me doubt all the victories I had achieved in the past. It made me feel that it was all for nothing.

I asked the teacher next to me: “why is the other team being easy on us?” The teacher said “I’ll talk to you about this afterwards” and the way he said it to me made me feel that he wanted it to be secret. That he didn’t want it to ever be known.

Now many teachers at my old school may argue that they weren’t “technically lying”,
but it doesn’t even matter. They used a form of deception on students that they knew would never figure it out. As one of those students who did figure it out, I can tell you: I’d rather be told I’m weak in something than to find out later that I had been lied to about it.

The Moral of the Story;
You can have compassion for people without deceiving them.

Try to find teams that are balanced and equal to each other and if that’s not possible, then switch the teams around, put some of the monster players on our team and some of the autistic players on their team. Then all the players would learn to cooperate with people that they aren’t quite used to working with.

Honest and realistic compliments and criticism would be much more effective and tolerable by people like me.

Afterward by Ken.
I was probably the fifth person that Stephen had shared this story with and the typical response Stephen had heard was that he should just let it go. My response was; “let’s write it down, figure out a moral and share it with everyone”! Now I’m asking you to please share this with parents, teachers, schools and every person who truly wants to help people in need, using respect and honor as their guidelines.

Please share with us your own inspirations and I’ll get Stephen to write back ☺

To join Ken’s mailing list click here. To join Ken’s Facebook page click here

Secret S**t Your Kids Won’t Tell You

There are so many things that teens and Millenials think that are simply not being heard by their parents. How do I get to hear it? As a life coach for troubled teens and unmotivated millenials, I ask the simple, slightly obvious questions that it seems no one asks them or takes seriously.

What is weird is that once you hear the answers they seem obvious and they actually work!
This will be series of short facts and solutions.
If you like them or if you have one you want us to look at please comment at the bottom of this blog.

The following are in no apparent order. Just when they are shared by my clients.

Case Study #3 – Why I Have So Much Anxiety Reason # 12

Kid’s Statement: I never know what will trigger it but when the anxiety comes I lose all control and feel lost. I get these attacks 4 – 6 times a day.
Fact: Most anxieties have specific triggers.
Question: How many attacks to you get?
Response: I’m always anxious. I get many attacks a day. I can have between four and six in a single class.
Ken: Are their times you can control them?
Client: Yes.
Ken: When and how.
Client: When they are not taking over. I can just calm myself down.
Ken: What is the range for your anxiety?
Client: My panic scale goes from 1 – 20. Up to six I can calm myself down. At 10, I’d stay home. 10 – 15 is a no man’s land. I’m a crying mess. At 20 I won’t remember saying or doing things. Over 10 I’m sort of out of control. Between 6 and 10 grounding exercises will help me snap back out of it.

Ken: What if I could show you a way to be anxiety free for one day a week?
Client: I would get anxiety without my anxiety.
Ken: That makes sense. Let’s find something that you would be OK having instead of anxiety. That let’s you feel safe. In command. And that you might prefer.

Result: Client now has two anxiety-free days a week and averages two to three panic attacks on other days. Client goes above 10 only once every one or two weeks and the over-all scale is reducing in intensity. Client is also finding that they can enjoy the healthy feelings they are choosing on the anxiety free day and has begun writing brilliant poetry.

Ken’s Comment: There is no way that this sort of issue that presents itself in this way can be dealt with by close family members. It requires an outside coach. My concern is that certain people would be too quick to medicate such a client. Although I am in favor of medication when self-harm is apparent, I do not feel that such a client, in this case required it and in fact, they didn’t.
Sometimes the triggers are not the first place to go. If the client already has some coping mechanisms, I want to get those “solid” before going back to the triggers. Everything is based on what the client’s strengths are. Rules are made to be broken 🙂

TIP #! Daily Showering (or the lack thereof)
Statement: “I only shower when I need to or if I have worked out or if I’m going out somewhere special”.
Fact: They sometimes smell like a homeless person.
Question: “Why don’t you wash more often?”
Response: “It dries out my skin”.
Ken: “What do you wash yourself with”.
Client: “(A commonwealth country) spring”.
Ken: You know, its close to impossible to really tell if you smell ok or nasty at least 1/2 the time. If I got you a quality shower soap, that didn’t have toxic crap in it, had moisturizers and didn’t have you smelling like a tart. would you try it?
Client: Sure!

Client now washes (almost) every day.
Ken’s comment. Up until now the discussion between parent and child stopped at you smell like a homeless person.

TIP #2 Reasons NOT to study – Reason #372

Kid’s Statement: I always intend to study and the day just slips away from me. Before I know it, the day’s done.
Fact: You know you’re not going to study and we know you’re not going to study.
Question: Why aren’t you studying?
Response: I just can’t seem to get organized.
Ken: If you started doing three 5 – 15 minute sessions of study a day, do you think you could handle that?
Client: I think that is do-able.
Ken: Let’s just start with that and figure out in each day the best time to get those sessions in and see what happens. Tick them off in a chart so we can figure out your best patterns.
Client: I can handle that.
Result: Within one month, client is doing three 15 – 25 minute sessions and learning how to take brakes (and what kind to take) and get back to studying.
Ken’s Comment: Parents pointing out the problem or telling them to “just do it” only reinforces the child’s self-condemnation. It’s kind of like the Chinese finger puzzle.

Stay tuned for more Secrets!

Finding The Confidence ……. To Find Love

As a life coach for troubled teens and unmotivated Millenials, I work with a lot of people with mental health issues ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia. What is really a great honor is to have people in their teens and 20’s trust me enough to share their deepest thoughts about their lives with me.

Sometimes, these thoughts need to be shared. I am doing so now with permission.

Meet Reginald (Really? You think that there is a twenty-something schizophrenic living in Toronto in the 21st century named Reginald?!?). No, it’s not his real name. He is on a fair bit of medication which he takes consistently since we have been working together. Reginald has gone back to university and is following my regimen of taking one course in semester one, two in 2nd semester, all the way up to five once he has learned how to study efficiently, prepare to write papers (not in the 24 hours before its due) and work with T.A’s and teachers when something doesn’t make sense.

Regg is doing famously. He is also in a wheelchair, more round than tall and although when I met him he radiated “I know more than you” (which he often did) he now radiates the warmth, the grace, the brilliant humour which is how I know Reginald to be.

So here we are. Doing great at school (low 80’s), contributing really well in class and what should come along? Valentine’s day! And who is sitting next to him in class but a warm, sensitive woman who seems to “get” Regg’s humour and he senses there is something there. Now remember, this is Reginald 2.0. Through the work we’ve done he has found new faith in himself and his self-worth has grown with every task we have set upon doing and succeeding or figuring out how to rise above.

They go for coffee. They share thoughts. They share fears. Esmeralda shares the fact that she used to be a cutter and then Reginald tells her that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Esmeralda’s starts shifting uncomfortably in her seat, not making eye contact and shortly afterwards excuses herself due to a very bad headache. She also doesn’t sit on the same side of class anymore.

I see Regg twice a week, which I do with all my clients, better to reinforce good habits and less time to acquire bad ones. We meet the next day and he shares the Esmarelda incident with me.

What do you say to someone who is the most thoughtful, astute, wise and sensitive guy you could know who has just had all his self-worth shattered. His greatest fears realized. “No one will ever love me for who I am”.

This is not just the cry of all the Reginalds in the world. It is the call of a great many people out there who feel less than worthy.

I told Regg the simple truth: “Regg, you are special. There is no one like you and I feel honored to work with you, laugh with you and learn from you. There is no question that there are other people out there like me who will see you for who you are and women who will not care about any labels you may have. They will fall in love with you”.

You can’t just give up because you haven’t found love or met people who live their lives based on appearances or fear. You know that. Tell yourself: “I deserve to be loved. I deserve happiness and I will be patient and relentless in my pursuit of both”. Say it again.
Say it everyday into the mirror while looking into your deepest self.

To all the Reginalds and the Esmeraldas out there: Keep your eyes sharp, your hearts open, your faith strong and your resolve everlasting and Happy Valentines Day to those who are loved and those waiting to know that there is a lover out there who will love them as they are.

Check out more of Ken’s articles on Huffington Post by clicking here

Anxiety in Teens – A Parent’s Nightmare

Anxiety in teens: Case Study #3 – Why I Have So Much Anxiety Reason # 12
There is an epidemic of anxiety in teens these days.

Kid’s Statement: I never know what will trigger it but when the anxiety comes I lose all control and feel lost.
Fact: Most anxieties have specific triggers.
Question: How many attacks to you get?
Response: I’m always anxious. I get many attacks a day. I can have between four and six in a single class.
Ken: Are their times you can control them?
Client: Yes.
Ken: When and how.
Client: When they are not taking over. I can just calm myself down.
Ken: What is the range for your anxiety?
Client: My panic scale goes from 1 – 20. Up to six I can calm myself down. At 10, I’d stay home. 10 – 15 is a no man’s land. I’m a crying mess. At 20 I won’t remember saying or doing things. Over 10 I’m sort of out of control. Between 6 and 10 grounding exercises will help me snap back out of it.

Ken: What if I could show you a way to be anxiety free for one day a week?
Client: I would get anxiety without my anxiety.
Ken: That makes sense. Let’s find something that you would be OK having instead of anxiety. That let’s you feel safe. In command. And that you might prefer.

Result: Client now has two anxiety-free days a week, averaging two to three panic attacks on other days. Client goes above 9 once bi-weekly and the over-all scale is reducing in intensity. They are discovering that they can enjoy the healthy feelings they are choosing on the anxiety free day and have begun writing brilliant poetry.

Ken’s Comment: There is no way that this sort of issue  can be dealt with by close family members. It requires an outside life coach. Some might be too quick to medicate such a client. Although I am in favor of medication when required.  I do not appear that this client required it and in fact, they didn’t.

Case Study #5 – 11 Yr Old Client. Anxiety – 2 – 3 times per week

The setup for anxiety in teens and the way to avoid it.
4:00 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. My day off. I hear my cellphone (that I forgot to turn off during our family nap) make the sound it does when someone has left me a Skype text.

It’s Victor (not his real name). An amazing kid. 11 years old. Brilliant. Funny. Some coping issues and he is asking if he can talk to me. “Ken can I talk to you for a little later in the evening if you can I want to talk to someone about a fear and your the best person”. I have worked on these sorts of things many times before with older clients but never someone of this age. I pick up the phone and we talk.

Since he has been very young he has had this recurring fear.
A fear that comes back several times each year. Sometimes an event can trigger it. Sometimes it just seems to happen. On those terror-filled days and sleepless nights, his parents are helpless to release their child from his terrors. They keep building and nothing works.

We spent close to an hour on the phone. The client and I had worked on breathing exercises in the past. Visualization exercises were incorporated to help Victor focus his mind towards positive thoughts. We mixed those up with some simple talk about his fears. His concerns and how they felt in his body when they would begin to appear.

Speaking with someone new on this subject seemed to help him a bit and he asked if he could come in with his mom the next day and work on the issue.
On the next day I met with Victor one on one first. We worked on a breathing technique where he put one hand on his belly and another on his chest. I had him focus on having his belly move on the breath without having the chest move and to breath in on a count of five, hold the breath for a three count and then breath out on a count of five.

This had an immediate effect of letting him focus on something new.
(There is more to the intake as to why I knew that diverting his attention would work).

We then added EFT (Emotional freedom technique). I don’t use this on a regular basis, but I really like the idea of having Victor doing tapping, focusing on breathing, and stating affirmations based on what he really wanted to focus on and had been avoiding.

All this brought him to a more relaxed state. At this point we brought in his mom. We determined that Victor should suggest three things that his parents could do when he was anxious at night that would be helpful.

This avoided all the frustration on the parents part of trying different things that didn’t seem to work. It also avoided the frustration on Victor’s part of feeling that his parents were diminishing his concerns.

We now have a short-term and long-term method of dealing with this and so far things are improving.
None of what I am saying in this article is meant to be anything other than a case study and to show parents and young adults going through anxiety and anxiety in teens, that there are many ways to deal with these things.

New choices must be based on what works for the client. The big question is; are they visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. I find that a great deal of these people are kinesthetic and that is why something that they feel has to be used versus talk therapy to get them to change their “reality”.

I just want you to know that there are alternatives.

2017 – Ken Rabow update on anxiety in teens and young adults.
It’s hard to believe but four years later, even more parents are coming to me dealing with anxiety in teens.

It is hard to know why things are getting worse out there but here is the good news. Mentoring young adults, giving them a place to be heard and not be judged for the anxieties. Allowing them to slowly build up good coping strategies: breathing; visualizations; better communication; and being listened to really works reduce anxiety in teens and young adults.

The wonderful part is when you remind them when they have a once-in-a-blue-moon anxiety event, how it used to be every day. It’s a great moment when they realize how far they have come.

For more articles by Ken Rabow on anxiety, click here

For a free consultation about how Mentoring Young Adults can help with anxiety in teens and so much more, click here.

If you wish to know the pricing for our mentoring courses, click here.

Mental Health Issues in Teens and Young Adults

Facts About Mental Health In Our Youth
According to the mental health commission of Canada, in any given year, one in five people in Canada experiences a mental health problem or illness. Only one in four children or youth who experience a mental health problem or illness report that they have sought and received services and treatment.

The Big Question(s) for Parents
The world today is label-happy. Go see a specialist with a troubled child and end up with a fixed diagnosis that may or may not be helpful. It can be the start of true healing or it can become a self-fulfilling label that limits the child’s beliefs and capabilities by thinking that this is all that they are. How do we help our children when they are suffering from what seems to be a mental health problem without stigmatizing them, getting them the help they need and the support they deserve?

There is Too Much Misinformation Out There.
The biggest danger is false or partial information. There are a lot of misconceptions and stigmas about mental health issues. They include but are not limited to:
1) understanding the illness in terms of the impact on the child and the family
2) medications – side effects, benefits and long term use
3) available treatments
4) advocating for your child
5) helping the patient gain insight on their illness
6) helping the patient be part of the healing process
7) how psychiatric forms work (should they be necessary).

The Big Answer for Parents
The big answer is that there are no big answers. We have to look at each individual client as their own person, free of the labels that some professionals would like to box them into. By looking at the total individual, we can come to an out-of-the-box way of seeing them and choosing the proper methods of creating a good mental health strategy. Starting them on a road towards their own successful lives, aware of but not limited by their conditions. With our life empowerment coaching added, you will also have ongoing support on this journey.

Contact us now for a free consultation!

Anxiety – The Quiet Demon

4:00 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. My day off. I hear my cellphone (that I forgot to turn off during our family nap) make the sound it does when someone has left me a Skype text.

It’s Victor (not his real name). An amazing guy. Brilliant. Funny. Some coping issues and he is texting through Skype if he can talk to me. “Ken can I talk to you for a little later in the evening if you can I want to talk to someone about a fear and your the best person”.

I have worked on these sorts of things many times before but each time is unique. Every person’s anxiety is different. I pick up the phone and we talk.

Since he has been very young he has had this recurring fear. A fear that comes back several times each year. Sometimes an event can trigger it. Sometimes it just seems to happen. On those terror-filled days and sleepless nights, his parents are helpless to release their child from his terrors. They keep trying but nothing works.

We spent close to an hour on the phone. We had worked on breathing exercises in the past. We had also done some visualization exercises to help Victor focus his mind towards positive thoughts. We mixed those up with some simple talk about his fears. His concerns and how they felt in his body when they would begin to appear.

Speaking with someone new on this subject seemed to help him a bit and he asked if he could come in with his mom the next day and work on the issue.

On the next day I met with Victor one on one first. We worked on a breathing technique where he put one hand on his belly and another on his chest. I had him focus on having his belly move on the breath without having the chest move and to breath in on a count of five, hold the breath for a three count and then breath out on a count of five.

This had an immediate effect of letting him focus on something new. (There is more to the intake as to why I knew that diverting his attention would work).
We then added EFT (Emotional freedom technique). I don’t use this on a regular basis, but I really like the idea of having Victor doing tapping, focusing on breathing, and stating affirmations based on what he really wanted to focus on and had been avoiding.

All this brought him to a more relaxed state. At this point we brought in his mom and we determined that Victor should offer three things that his parents could do when he was anxious at night that would be helpful.

This avoided all the frustration on the parents part of trying different things that didn’t seem to work. It also avoided the frustration on victors part of feeling that his parents were diminishing his concerns.

We now have a short-term and long-term method of dealing with this and so far things are improving.

None of what I am saying in this article is meant to be anything other than a case study and to show parents and young adults going through anxiety that there are many ways to deal with these things.

New choices must be based on what works for the client. The big question is; are they visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. I find that a great deal of these people are kinesthetic and that is why something that they feel has to be used versus talk therapy to get them to change their “reality”.

I just want you to know that there are alternatives.

Schizophrenia in Teens and Young Adults

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Aspergers Syndrom in Teens and Young Adults – Dealing with Rage and Anxiety

So, it was time for my Skype session with Stephen. Stephen prefers to call himself Autistic and before the DSMV, he would have been labeled Asperger’s Syndrome but if he was happy, I was happy. But right now, Stephen was not happy.

You would have thought he would have been. Instead of a Florida vacation, as a reward for doing great in school in marks, class participation and interactions, his mom had given him the dream vacation of his choice. 8 hours a day of D&D.

Unbeknownst to Stephen’s mom, there was a kid in his group that Stephen called and “ass-hat” who constantly annoyed Stephen and another kid from the moment they got their until the moment they left. Furthermore, instead of the nice drive in Mom’s Audi, they were going home by subway. (Wait it gets better). The subway cars were stopped and everyone had to leave due to a jumper on the tracks. (Wait it gets better).

Now after waiting for the bus or the streetcar for 30 minutes, both come at the same time and they are full of p—–off people, lots of sounds, smells etc., Stephen and Mom get home one minute before the Skype session with me is about to start….

Skype does its little Skyp-ee tune. Stephen is not on the screen. It is Stephen’s mom. Behind her is Stephen screaming: “I don’t want to do it! I’m f***ing fed up” (etc). (I have not heard what had gone on at this point.) Stephen’s mom says the we shouldn’t have the Skype session because Stephen is in his ‘out of control fit” phase.

(guess how it turned out)
to be continued soon!

Have questions? Contact Ken.

While you are waiting, Stephen and I put together an article which ended up in the Huffington Post about his issues with people trying to “make things easy” on people with Autism. Its a great read and got great response. You can read it by clicking here. If you like it please click “like” and share it.

ADD/ADHD in Teens and Young Adults – The Easy Diagnosis

Why is it that’s diagnoses for ADHD have gone up by multiples of a 100 in the past two generations?
There’s no question that it is easier to medicate a problem then it is to change a way of thinking.

Before I go on to share an alternative treatment that I’ve used with great success on a lot of teens and young adults who have been told that they have ADHD, let me say that for a certain percentage of people, medication can have a profoundly transformative effect.

Here’s the odd thing; 9 out of 10 people who come to me, claim to have some form of ADHD. What I often find are creative, inquisitive, multi-tasking minds, bereft of discipline.

How do we help young people who have been trained through the use of Internet, online chatting, texting, video walk watching, done all at the same time while gaming to not focus and supposedly “Multitask” to learn to focus?

We first have to understand is that the human mind is incapable of multitasking. What we do is, in effect, jump back-and-forth from one area of interest to the other virtually training our minds to be deficient in a linear attention span.

We have a natural ability to focus on things that grab our attention. But there is a natural ebb and flow to that ability. Filmmakers have used this ability and played with it through the use of tension and resolution. Just watch an Indiana Jones film for the brilliant use of tension and resolution (the calming scenes and the high-energy scenes) for how the push between these two forces to keep our interest.

In this art is the key to our own ability to enhance our attention to anything for longer and longer periods.

A Case Study

First Contact Email:

Ken: hi there. I am (name withheld)’s partner and we spoke back in the summer about my son “J”. “J” is still struggling and he has said that he would meet with you. Unfortunately, he will only be home from late today until the morning of the 27th. Is there a day you could meet with him before Christmas and then if that works, continue with Skype sessions when he returns to Queen’s?

“J” did very well in high school, getting straight A’s but always had attention problems. When he reached grade 10 he started smoking pot and his marks went downhill from there. He suffers from low self-esteem and never seems to finish what he starts. He takes on too many projects and then gives up when the going gets tough.

Now in University, he keeps having to let go of courses to not fail them. He started with five courses and is now left with two, of which he is getting a C- average.

First Session:

“J” and I met and there was a good connection. I noticed that as long as I changed gears (in ideas and themes) every six to ten minutes, “J” was focused and completely “there” for every part of the discussion. When I showed this to “J” he was extremely pleased with himself as he had completely bought into his inability to keep his attention on any one thing.

We created a study regimen in three 5 to 15 minute sessions with 15 minute breaks in-between.

Six weeks (12 sessions) later
The study regimen is at four 5-30 minute sessions with 5-15 minute breaks in-between.
“J” is generally keeping to 25 minutes of solid focus and his tests are coming back in the high 70’s, low 80’s and one 87.5!

We have also used visualization exercises as a way of getting control of his thinking process. Staring with a seven minute mp3 used 4 times a week and progressing to 12 minutes a day.

Finally, “J” has minimized his coffee intake and his chocolate intake (of his own choosing). In his particular case, this has seemed to have a very positive effect.

Tips for Teens with Bad Study Habits

For the students:
So, you’ve been hoping and buying into “the dream” that somehow, by keeping your science book under your pillow, it will all seep in. Or maybe, they will have some information on the Peloponnesian wars on the Family Guy marathon. How about, “I study best under pressure”? Or that tried and true classic “French is easy! All you have to do is sound like Inspector Clouseau when you say “duz yor dogue bat“? (“He’s not mah dogue“).

Well, we know how this ends up. You’ve received your mid-term marks, some of them squeaked by and some of them looked like you had a chimp take the exam (and not that clever one from Rise of the Planet of the Apes).

You have two choices:
Plan A: Continue to see your school future flushing down the proverbial toilet and say (to whomever you choose to blame) “well, if you believed in me more I’d do better,” or make a new plan. Let’s try Plan B, shall we?

Plan B is about knowing your strengths, knowing your limitations and building on micro-successes. Successes so small most people won’t notice, and you will get the time you need to believe in yourself without being overwhelmed.

Let’s face it, if you’re in this pickle, your study habits are probably non-existent and your parents’ expectations are something like: since you have so little time left you should be spending every waking and sleeping moment studying till you can’t stand it, then sit and study some more.

But you know and I know that faced with that option you’re sure that your head will actually explode (like that guy in Scanners) and if you could have done that (minus the exploding head part) you would have already done that. So, that ain’t happening.

Here is how to build a last-ditch effort to save your exams and create better possibilities for the following terms.

Five simple steps to change your exam destiny:

1) Do something you can hold yourself to.
You may catch yourself saying things out loud that you know you will never do (“OK, I won’t work today but tomorrow I’ll do twice as much!”) Try figuring out what you can actually do; Maybe two one-hour sessions with a 10 or 15 minute break in between. When you are working on something and you start to be really annoyed by it, go do something else for a while and come back to the offending subject later. It will seem less annoying.

2) Push it.
It is important to come back to it. You are teaching your inner-self that you can go further without the head exploding type of incident. Try adding 10 per cent more time each day until you get to a study time that is just too much. Then go back to the previous day’s study time. (Basically 10 per cent less.)

3) Poke into your “comfy time.”
At this point, you have figured out when you will do your study time each day and I’m guessing the rest of your home time is made up of all the stuff that drives your parents nuts. (Because you aren’t spending every moment studying.) Let’s call this time your “comfy time.”

Somewhere in the middle of that time, go back and work on one task, taking up either five minutes of time or one problem. Then you can go back to comfy time. This may not seem like much to an outsider, but it has so many benefits for you. First of all, if you can do this (tell yourself that it really will take just a little time and don’t let your inner id-self take over) you are beginning to take control of your future higher-character traits. Second, some part of your brain will believe that it has to stay on guard brain-wise, and will keep all the new info in your noggin’ with a bit more clarity. Third, there are benefits that no one can explain to you until you have done it — but it really helps.

4) Push some more.
On a given day, ask yourself the following: will an extra half-hour of gaming change my life? Because an extra half-hour of studying can.

5) Do it for yourself.
You are the main one who will benefit from this process. Do it to feel better about you.

Now, for the parents, here’s the hard part for you: it is so easy, as you see the exams coming around again and seeing your child about to make the same mistakes as last time, to freak out and try to strong-arm them into study submission. This never works. Never!

It might work one time but there can be no follow-through, and what will happen when you aren’t there anymore to strong-arm them? Show them these five steps and then (here’s the hard part) let them make their choices. Right here, they have the keys to make differences that won’t be stellar, but will be incremental, self-empowering and permanent.

One last thing to the students:
Your job in life is to rise above the people that came before you. It’s OK to do that. The best way is by challenging yourself and the easiest way to do that is in micro-movements of success. Pretty soon, it will be your standard equipment.

You can do it!

Phobias – Fear of Fear Itself

So many young people come to me these days with different levels of fears. The effect of these fears range from stopping them from succeeding all the way up to almost complete debilitation.

These are some of the fears I come across in trouble teens and young adults on a regular basis:

Fear of failure;
Fear of humiliation;
Fear of large crowds;
Fear of sleeping alone;
Fear of learning to drive;
Fear of life itself and basically fear of seeking new adventures.

The clients who come to me have tried all sorts of things to overcome these fears: talk therapy, medication, CBT, hypnosis and all traditional and some non-traditional modalities.

My success rate in overcoming these fears is between 90 and 95%. It has very little to do with me or my process but it has everything to do with tapping into the inmate positive powers that rests within each and every person.

I cannot deny that teaching some breathing techniques, some grounding techniques and some visualizations to create a “safe place” no matter where they are or what is happening is of great benefit, but the real transformation comes from taking whatever talents/strengths they have and starting a daily routine that involves doing the things that they have a connection to: (Writing, playing an instrument, dance, photography, Etc.).

Using something that they feel a connection to, we create a daily routine that helps them focus on the strength and power of doing something on a daily basis, rather than focusing on their fears. Each challenge is seen through the lens of how can we get back to their daily routine, free of judgment.

After a while, the client learns how to take any situation, analyze it and figure out a way through the challenges.

We then incorporate the strengths of current success to approach medium to minor fears, slowly building up the skills of: solid foundation, belief in oneself, good communication skills (Within and without), and “true grit”.

By focusing on what works, we teach these young people that you amplify what you focus on. The fears are approached from every angle possible in their newfound confidence helps dissolve those fears.

If you have any questions on the subject please feel free to send me an e-mail and I will get back to you on your questions within 24 hours. Click here