Monthly Archives: July 2013
Because Life Holds Infinite Possibilities

Teenage Pregnancy – 10 Tips For Telling Your Parents

You’ve done the test.

You’ve done the test again.

You’ve done the test for a third time and thrown-up.

Yep, you’re sixteen and pregnant. You didn’t plan it. You thought you’d taken precautions but you’re pregnant. Oh boy, now what?

For some teenagers this may be a happy moment, yet for others it can seem like the world is about to end. The future you thought was unfolding before you comes screeching to a halt.

A multitude of emotions will compete for attention and then you realize there’s one thing you’re going to need to do. A cold blanket of dread envelops you. The words stick in your throat and you want to throw-up again. “How am I going to tell my parents?”

For many teenage girls this seems like an insurmountable obstacle, but sure as night follows day, this is something most will have to face (this also goes for teenage fathers).

Guilt and shame can be the primary unhealthy emotions felt at this time, driven by irrational beliefs such as, “I shouldn’t be pregnant, and because I am, I’ve done something really wrong and I’m no good” (guilt) or “I can’t have my parent’s think badly of me. I must have their approval because if they think badly of me it means I’m worthless“(shame).

These emotions can then trigger a secondary emotion of anxiety based on thoughts such as, “If they do think badly of me, I couldn’t stand it”, “What if they do reject me, and I won’t be able to cope. This is the end of the world.”

The combination of these thoughts and feelings are potentially paralyzing to a young person and it can make the process of talking to parents so difficult that often parents aren’t told until it becomes too obvious to hide the pregnancy anymore. This procrastination can cause complications to how each side communicates and the potential choices ahead of you.

I’m assuming many things about the relationship you have with your parents. You may be closer to one than the other, but if you do want to tell them you are pregnant, here a few things to consider.

  1. The longer you leave telling them, the harder it will become for all of you. Remember, the clock is ticking and pregnancy doesn’t stop because you’re scared.
  2. If you don’t have a great communicative relationship with your parents, it can sometimes help to first confide in others you’re closer to like a friend, sister, aunt or grandparent. This not only gives you some practice in telling people, but it’s also important not to go through this alone.
  3. The simplest route is always the best but chose a time when you know that you’ll have time to talk about it. Don’t say it in passing and rush off, and don’t say it in anger during an argument.
  4. Don’t beat around the bush. Be clear, calm and straight forward, “Mum, dad, I’m pregnant.”
  5. It’s common for parents to be angry and disappointed when hearing your news. That’s OK. Allow them their feelings.
  6. In the shock of the moment things can be said that you might find hurtful. Don’t take it personally. Even parents can react badly.
  7. Words like “abortion” and “adoption” might come up. This might be what you are also thinking, but it’s better to wait until everyone is calmer before talking about all the choices ahead of you.
  8. Some parents might try and pressure you to do something you don’t want to do. But remember you don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with. If in doubt, talk to an objective third party, such as your school counselor.
  9. If possible talk to your parents with your partner. This not only gives you an ally, but it shows a level of maturity from both of you.
  10. Finally, it’s your body and you will have to live with all your choices and consequences for the rest of your life, so think carefully about what is right for you.

In a time like this you might be surprised at how well your parents take your news, and how much they care about you. On the other hand, not all parents will be supportive. If you find yourself in a bad place after telling your parents, don’t think you have to do this on your own. There is a lot of support from professionals out there, so don’t think you have to rush to make a decision.

A good metaphor for this experience is like ripping off a plaster. You might feel a short intense sting, but then it’s off and you can get on with your life.

Be brave. Go talk.

Momento Mori.

I love the story about how, when Generals were parading through the streets of Rome during a victory triumph, a slave would be tasked with walking behind him saying “momento mori” – remember you’re mortal.

How great is that. Here’s a Roman general, top of the pile, a massive celebrity like the Jay-Z of his day, and there’s this slave reminding him that he’s mortal and not to get too high above himself because he too can die.

Personally, I think we need more of that today. Humility and the awareness to realize and accept that we are mortal, destined to die.

Death is rarely a fun topic to bring up, especially when you’re picking up a grande latte at Starbucks first thing in the morning. Not because it’s not an interesting subject, but more because people rarely acknowledge or want to think about their mortality.

So why is talk of death an unusual subject considering it’s a shared experience every human on the planet will go through (hands up if you’re about to stop reading this article because it’s too heavy)?

Richard Dawkins put it most elegantly, “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die, because they are never going to be born.”

Isn’t that amazing? You and I are so lucky. We are here and now. We can feel emotions like love and happiness. We can express joy and laughter. Feel warmed by the sun, chilled by the wind, cooled by the rain. We can witness so much beauty in the world, gasp at nature’s creativity, while doing amazing intellectual feats to understand it all. Yet, we’re still unable to stop the inevitable degradation of our bodies and eventual death. Bummer.

The idea of death seems to go against our western philosophy of being able to choose what we want. We can choose to buy that big 60″ HDTV with the surround sound home-cinema system, but we can’t choose not die. Who decided that nonsense?

No wonder most people will do anything they can to avoid the inevitable (myself included).

Have you ever seen the movie Logan’s Run? That film had a profound affect on me when I was younger. In the film, to control population, when people reach 30 years old they’re summoned to the carousel to be ‘renewed’ (killed), and I used to think that was a great idea – until I reached 30 and realized it’s a terrible idea!

So what is our problem with thinking and talking about death? In his Pulitzer-prize winning book ‘Death Denial’, Ernest Becker argues that most human action is taken to ignore or avoid the inevitability of death. But this type of thinking is totally irrational because death is inevitable, and this denial will only cause major complications in our lives.

I think many people are realistic enough to hold a healthy preference about their own death, “I’d really prefer not to die, but I also know that it will happen one day.” However, there are many more people that hold a rigid demand about death, “I absolutely must not die, it is too terrible to comprehend. I can’t stand it.”

Due to this unhealthy thinking, people often become overly busy, doing things to distract themselves from thinking about their mortality. Others strive for wealth and power as a way to shield themselves from the inevitable – “maybe if I’m rich, I can buy my way clear of death.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, just ask Steve Jobs, Joe Weider, or Jerry Buss. It doesn’t matter how much wealth or fame you have, or how busy you are, you can’t beat death.

The other way society avoids thinking about death is with this relentless drive for immortality. You’ve got to look young in society to be acceptable, so take your pills, exercise, stop drinking sugary soda, pray and you might live forever. But hasn’t this irrational goal held humanity back and caused irreparable divisions between people and cultures?

Let’s face it, death is a non-discriminatory experience. It doesn’t care if you are good or bad. Gay or straight. Deserve it or not. Christian or Muslim. We can’t make death go away, so let’s stop trying to make it go away. Our denial about something that is as natural as birth needs to be accepted and valued. By all means let’s minimize suffering, enhance life as much as we can, but we need to examine and remove the illusions that we create for ourselves to deny the inevitable.

Let’s bring our fear of death to the forefront of our awareness and use that reality to enhance and value our life, and the lives of others. Death denial will only lead to a life of fear and anxiety, and that’s not healthy.

Finally, let me ask you this. If you had the chance of repeating your life exactly the same, would you? Or would you like it to be different? Are there things you’d like to be different? Can you change these things now?

None of us know how long we have. We’re privileged to be here now, and the longer we procrastinate over areas of our life that really are trivial, or hold little happiness, the less life we are living.

Today is a good day to celebrate your alive-ness, because life holds infinite possibilities, and that is so cool.

Become Your Own Superhero.

I was giddy like a schoolgirl at a Justin Bieber concert when I went to see the movie ‘Man of Steel’ the other day. You see, I’m a big fan of Superman and this was the movie I’d been waiting for all year.

Thankfully, the film was great and I loved it. It also got me thinking about what we, as mortal humans, can learn from the life journey of Superman to help us become our own superhero. Clearly, I’m not suggesting that you go out and get yourself bitten by a radioactive spider or spend millions on a cool black suit with a utility belt to become a superhero, no nothing like that; what I’m suggesting is that there are many moral dilemmas which Superman faces that we can learn from.

Now, just to be clear, this list is about what we can learn from the 2013 Man of Steel version of Superman, not the morally dubious previous films*.

How you can become your own superhero:

  1. Understand that you are responsible for your actions, good or bad. Sometimes being responsible means that you don’t get involved in others affairs and you allow them their mistakes. Also, we need to recognize that sometimes doing the right thing means the outcome isn’t always in our favor and it may even be detrimental to our wellbeing.
  2. Being different can be hard and lonely but staying true to yourself is important. It’s better to be loved by a few people than sacrifice your integrity to be liked by many.
  3. Even though you may be exceptional at some things, still show humility to those around you who do not possess the same abilities.
  4. Sometimes it can take years to find out who you are. Don’t give up trying to be the best version of you you can be.
  5. Adversity is something to be faced not turned away from. There are times when life doesn’t seem fair and nothing is going your way, but these are growth moments when you discover your true strength of character. Face adversity straight on. Don’t cry “why me?”, but ask “what can I do to overcome.”
  6. People might not believe in you at first. That’s OK. Trust shouldn’t be freely given, but earned. Work hard, focus on your goals, and let your actions speak for you.
  7. Always stand up for the truth, even if the truth isn’t popular.
  8. Never take advantage of people weaker than you, that’s a dishonorable way to success. As a race we are only as strong as the weakest individual. Do what you can to care for them.
  9. Avoid your Kryptonite: whether it’s drugs, alcohol, food, work or anything else. We all have something that we have a weakness for. If you want to stay strong and healthy avoid your Kryptonite as if your life depends on it.
  10. Life doesn’t always turn out as planned. But that can be a good thing.

Now you have the magic list to Superhero status, go be great. Go be you. Because you are super, man (or woman!).

* Although I loved Christopher Reeves as Superman, there were way too many dubious lessons in those films. For example, in Superman II when Superman gave up his powers to be with Lois Lane, he got beaten up by a guy in a restaurant. Later when he got his powers back, Clark went back and beat-up on the guy. Movie Moral: it’s OK to get revenge, especially when the other person is weaker than you. In Superman III it was fine to ignore the fact Superman caused a massive oil spill, which would have devastated so much sea life, just because he wasn’t ‘himself’ because he was affected by fake Kryptonite. Movie Moral: People aren’t responsible for their actions if they’re under the influence of a some substance or other. And even the last movie, Superman Returns, Lois Lane didn’t tell her husband that she was pregnant with Superman’s child before they got married. She just let him go on thinking he’s the father and once Superman found out, he was also OK with that. Movie Moral: deceiving somebody about being the father of your child is OK.

 

Change is Easy, But Sometimes We Don’t Realize It

Change is easy, it really is. Don’t believe me? OK, try this and I’ll prove it to you.

  1. Sit or stand still with your eyes open.
  2. Take a deep breathe.
  3. Count to five.
  4. Now clap your hands.

There, I proved change is easy. You thought about something. You decided to do it and you did it. You went from standing still to clapping your hands. That’s change. Congratulations.

“But that was a trick!” – Nope, that’s it. That’s what change is all about. Easy, huh?

“You’re wrong, life is hard and you can’t just change things that easy!” – Well, I agree with you and I disagree with you. Life can be hard and some things in life which we want to change can seem difficult or even insurmountable, but that’s one of the main problems people have with change. How problems are viewed.

Rarely is it the thing we want to change that’s the problem. It how we view the unknown outcome that’s the real problem, and this view will most likely dictate whether or not you are likely to overcome and change or not.

Let me explain.

To facilitate change in our lives there are three stages we need to understand and embrace.

The first stage of change is contemplation. Thinking about change is starting the ball rolling. This is a very important stage because unless we are aware that we need or want to change something, then we are not going to change anything.

The second stage of change is decision. Once you’ve thought about making a change, you’ll then either decide to effect a change or not. But remember, if you choose to change or not, you are making a choice, and you are responsible for that choice. Never blame anyone else for you making or not making a change in your life.

The third and most challenging part is action. Once you’ve thought about change and decided to do something, you then need to do something. Change doesn’t happen just because you want it to. Change doesn’t happen because you hope it will. Change doesn’t happen because you’ve thought about it and you think you deserve change.

Change happens because of action – action, action, action.

I say action is often the most challenging part because, more often than not, people don’t reach this part. They get stuck in the decision phase because they are focusing so much on the unknown outcome. People can create all kinds of catastrophe when their anxiety based irrational thinking kicks in. When this happens, it’s all too easy to sabotage potential action by coming up will all of the reasons why this change is too hard, or the obstacles too big.

“This must go right or I won’t be able to cope with failing.” “What if it all goes wrong, that would be so awful. It must go right.” “I must know that this change will work out or it could be the end of the world.”

These are common irrational thoughts people have which hold them back from making a change. Change is all about dealing with the unknown and learning to face uncertainty and to do that it helps to understand and modify any irrational thoughts you have about the situation and outcome. Rational thinking can be difficult if you’re not used to it, but to succeed in change, it helps to have a realistic rather than fictional world view.

Also, just because you want and demand change to happen (and to happen easily without any setbacks), it doesn’t mean it will. You may fall on your face. You may actually make a mistake by making a change, but that’s what change is all about. It’s not called ‘staying the same’, it’s called ‘change’ which is a verb meaning ‘to substitute one for another’.

There are no guarantees in life, which is why good planning in the decision phase is helpful when deciding to change.

So, if you find yourself deciding to change it can be helpful to practice the rational thought, “I’d really, really, really, like this change to go well, and I will do all I can to make it so, and I also understand it might not go as planned because there are no guarantees in life; however, I will deal with that if it should arise.”

Learn to free yourself from irrational doubt. Question yourself on how you view your obstacles. Do you expect others to change? Are you holding yourself accountable for things you want to change in your life? Do you spend more time focusing on the negative outcome of change rather than planning for the change itself?

There will always be obstacles to face in life, even with the best plans. But with flexible, rational, thinking you can learn to navigate obstacles better. Sometimes we can find ways to remove obstacles from in front of us, other times we need to change tack and find a way around the sides. And sometimes we just need to back away and take a different path.

Change isn’t always quick or linear or how we planned, yet change really is easy. If you can learn to become flexible in thought, change your view of the problem and take responsibility for change happening, then who knows what you might achieve.