Monday, March 16, 2009

Where Do Bullying and Jealousy Come From?

A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.
- Lazarus Long, fictional character in Robert A Heinlein novels

"Neurotic" in this case may be taken to mean "emotionally excessive to the point of being harmful."

Insecurity breeds jealousy. The two are not irrevocably linked. Insecurity can also lead to bullying, to lack of an ability to commit to a relationship, to various emotional problems other than neuroses, to addictions, to violence and rage, to bad relationships and to divorce.
Consider how prevalent these are in our society.

They are so common that social scientists refer to them as social problems, meaning that so many people have these problems that the numbers alone create further problems in churches and clubs, in communities, in the workplace, in legislative assemblies of government, in countries, even at the United Nations.

People learn to feel secure during their maturation, as they grow from children, through adolescence, into adulthood and beyond. They key word in that last sentence is "learn." People learn to feel secure. It doesn't come as a matter of course. People learn insecurity as well.

If security or lack of it is learned, who teaches it? We all help in the process of teaching insecurity. Insecurity is another word for fear. People learn insecurity in their families, as children, in school (not intentionally in the classroom), in the playground, in various groups and unhealthy friendships. They learn it from television and newspapers that encourage us to fear each other, on the street, in offices, in elevators, in our homes. They learn it from clerks in stores who ignore them while helping other customers who came in later.

Where do people learn security? That which should be learned is usually taught by someone, isn't it?

No one teaches people how to be secure. No one teaches them that fear is not just harmful, but unnecessary. In the United States, the recently retired president, self-titled "the war president," taught the necessity of believing in a War On Terror (with what results?) and he personally controlled the status of alerts (Amber Alert, Red Alert).

Learning to avoid fear and how to feel secure can be taught. It's a matter of understanding certain facts and mastering some skills. If it can be taught and if it's so important and so damaging to us personally and to our communities and our countries, we should be teaching it.
The information needed and the skills to be learned are available. They are neither hidden nor secret. They simply are not taught.

Are you afraid of anything? Do you feel insecure? Lots of people do, but it's not a necessary consequence of modern society as ultra-conservatives would have us believe.We fear and we feel insecure because we have not learned how to avoid these harmful emotions.

Someone has something to gain by making us feel afraid and insecure in such massive numbers. Of that you may be certain. I won't point fingers because it will not take much thinking on your part to figure out who is responsible for your fear and insecurity.

The economy is bad, are you afraid to lose your job? Unless you die within the next two years, you will survive the recession and get another job. Plan now what you would do and how you would go about it if you were to lose your job. If you don't make a plan, maybe you have something to worry about. If you do, you won't need to worry because you will know exactly what you will do.

If your spouse died or unexpectedly announced his/her desire for a divorce, what would you do? With a plan, these events would bring unhappiness. But they would not necessarily destroy your life. Having a plan of what you would do in case of tragedy is not a self fulfilling prophesy. It's simply being ready.

There are two ways to avoid insecurity and fear. You learned them by reading this article.
It would be wise if this kind of information and these skills were taught to everyone. It could be taught in schools, if we wanted it.

It would cost almost nothing to prepare teachers to teach social and emotional skills. Just give each teacher a book about it and the authority to teach it.

Imagine a world without fear.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow secure and self confident children into adults who won't contribute to the social problems we endure today and who will lead emotionally and socially healthy lives.
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Why Should You Care?

That is called integrity. Unfortunately it is not something you can buy or steal.
- The L Word

The easiest way to understand the basic concept of integrity is: doing the right thing when no one is looking and no reward forthcoming.

The delicious irony of the second sentence of the quote is that buying someone's good will or stealing anything would be the opposite of having integrity.

Does integrity exist today or is it a virtue more comfortably left in the past?

No one can claim to be pure and noble. We all have our weaknesses and strengths. None of us is perfect. When we demonstrate moral weakness, we join the vast majority of humanity that is not consistent about integrity.

Most of us try to do our best most of the time. Whether anyone is watching is or not, whether we may get a reward or not. If we don't, we may have trouble sleeping at night, we may suffer stress and its resulting anxiety beyond what we should, our relationships with those we love will surely suffer eventually.

Our media fill our minds with examples of every kind of immoral behaviour that is anything but integrity. Yet, somehow, most of us keep trying to do what is right.

Whether we have integrity or we act the opposite way, a large part of the responsibility lies with our parents. In the first five years of life, parents teach us by example or by actively teaching us lessons to live with integrity or to work against the benefit of society as a whole to gain for ourselves. As adults, we each make decisions for ourselves. Yet most of us, especially after age 40 (usually sooner), follow the life lessons and role models given to us by our parents.

Integrity is how we survive instead of descending into chaos as families and communities and nations.

Why should we care about our community as a whole if our community seems to not care about us? Actually, it does. Communities don't have good enough social skills to express to us how much they appreciate us. What they do have is a penchant for whining and crying when its citizens misbehave. They whine and cry because they have not yet gained sufficient maturity to know what to do to solve its problems and avoid them in the future.

As sophisticated as we have become technologically and to a lesser extent scientifically, socially as communities we are just entering our adolescence. Seven billion of us live in an immature world that only our descendents will see into adulthood.

Just as we can't force an adolescent of 14 years to act like an adult in all ways, we can't push our communities to act more mature when they don't know how.

We can only do the right thing, do our small part to see that the community we belong to grows in a healthy way.

That means living with integrity.

Bill Allin
Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to grow children into adults who live comfortably with integrity and maturity.
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Thursday, March 05, 2009

You Can Find Peace

Peace begins in the heart of each person -- not societies, not countries, not nations. Each person.
- Prem Rawat (

The United States has gone to war many times in my lifetime, each time with one of the stated causes being peace.

Two world wars have been fought by dozens of countries, each of whom wanted peace. Some of them wanted power and domination over others along with that peace, but peace was ostensibly the primary objective in the reasons they gave for going to war.

I remember the Dukhobors, a spiritual Christian sect from Russia that wanted nothing more than to be left in peace when they migrated to Canada in the mid-twentieth century after being persecuted for over a century in their native countries. They defied Canadian laws, though their behaviour was in line with their own beliefs. When the police came to arrest them, they protested, often in the nude and sometimes violently. They wanted peace for themselves, not so much for others.

In our past, every society, country and nation has gone to war to exact peace. It hasn't worked.

The United States issues more and more permits for its citizens to carry handguns to protect themselves, the idea being that they can have peace of mind and their communities will be more peaceful because bad guys won't risk creating problems for themselves with people who carry guns. Neither the United States as a country nor its citizens as individuals nor its communities feel safer or more at peace. Peace and fear remain, as always, at odds with each other.

The individuals who are really most at peace are those who have created peace within themselves. Unlike those who advocate violence, promote fear and create unrest among their fellow countrymen, those who have peace within them do not advertise or brag of their accomplishments.

We don't know much about people who live peaceful lives because our media find nothing interesting about them. People who live peace do not proselytize to find others to join them. To do so would be to violate their peaceful existence.

Those of us who want to live lives of peace must find it for ourselves, within ourselves. As Prem Rawat said, "peace begins in the heart of each person." It cannot be otherwise. Peace doesn't work that way.

Peace cannot result from fighting. Fighting for peace is a false objective advocated by those who want violence. For them, the promise of peace is a tool for war.

People who want peace want it for themselves. People who want violence want it for others.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who are capable of living peaceful lives, who have the knowledge and skills to find peace for themselves.
Learn more at

Monday, March 02, 2009

What a Child Learns From You

By the age of six the average child will have completed the basic Americaneducation. ... From television, the child will have learned how to pick alock, commit a fairly elaborate bank holdup, prevent wetness all day long,get the laundry twice as white, and kill people with a variety ofsophisticated armaments.
- Russell Baker, columnist and author (b.1925)

Some will read that quote and think it ironic. Others will think it sarcastic. Some will consider it pessimistic.

Yet what the quote missed is a child's main source for life information: parents. The quote is not wrong, just inadequate to convey the message.

While Baker had the age right ("by the age of six") he missed something extremely important, critically important about what a child learns in his first five years. In his first five years of life, a child learns what life is about.

You may think that age five or younger is too young to understand what life is about. Especially what the extremes, the best and worst of life, are about. While that is generally true, a young child gains his sense of the values that he will carry through his life from his parents. The life values of parents tend to be passed along to children, in so many varied ways that they can't be enumerated.

Let's say a young child is with her father in a store. The child doesn't pay attention to what the father buys or speaks about with the clerk. Back in the car, she overhears father saying to mother that the clerk gave him back five dollars too much and that he didn't return that money. That brief experience might leave a mark for a lifetime.

Children learn by example, as most of us know. Many parents don't know how important their role modelling is. A young child whose parents use drugs is highly likely to use drugs or alcohol when he grows up. Kids need to learn what life is about and we tend to not teach them until they are older, "old enough to understand." It doesn't work like that. They learn about life by taking markers from their parents, sample experiences they generalize into life lessons.

The little girl whose father kept the five dollars will generalize the experience to accept that it's all right to steal from someone, especially if the person doesn't know about it. A general belief that dishonesty is socially acceptable may not happen with a single incident. The child has no idea that the clerk will have to make up the money from her pay when she cashes out at the end of her shift. Nor might the child care. The kid is interested in what the parent does because the whole purpose of parenting is to teach actively and to be role models passively and the primary objective of a child is to learn about life from her parents.

For most children, their parents are their life for the first two years. How the parents act is how they come to believe that life is. At the time of life when their brains act like sponges to find examples to help them understand what life is about--their main purpose in life in their first few years--what their parents do is treated as a model for what they should do. They want to be adults, as all children do. They accept the values of their parents because they are desperate to learn what values adults have.

For various reasons, a child will sometimes understand that what a parent has done is wrong. Neglect or abuse of the child, for example, might make the child determined to be just the opposite with his own children when he grows up. However, history shows that a majority of children who were neglected or abused become parents who neglect or abuse their own kids. The acorn doesn't fall far from the oak.

Ironically, bad behaviour by a parent may be picked up more readily than good behaviour. The reason is that parents behave well and properly most of the time, whereas bad behaviour is so different from the norm and so rare that a child will pick up on it. The child, wanting to fill in the gaps in his understanding of life values he seldom has opportunities to learn, will see some action or hear some words by a parent and generalize from them. One tiny example of bad behaviour (believed to be tiny by the parent) becomes a life lesson to be utilized later by the child.

If you are the parent or grandparent of a young child, everything you do may be scrutinized by the child and generalized as an example of a life value or lesson. The admonition "do what I say not what I do" doesn't work with kids. They take their first examples more from behaviour of parents, less what the parents say.

If you are the parent or grandparent of a young child, you are a living example to that child of what life is. Lessons learned later may change that, but most times the later lessons do not stick the way role model lessons from parents stick.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents, grandparents and teachers who want to know what a child needs and at what time he or she needs it. It teaches people how to treat parenting responsibilities with a professional attitude.
Learn more at