|Mental and Emotionally Vaccinating Young People
against mental health, health, social, behavioral
and academic problems
Behavior of any kind always starts and continues because it
serves a purpose. It's always goal orientated. All of us would
prefer to live as long as we can, be healthy instead of sick, be
happy instead of unhappy, be successful at whatever we do,
have good relations with others, have as much freedom as
possible to live life as we'd like, and have as much control over
our destinies as possible. Ideally, everything we think, feel, say
and do would help us realize such goals. But no one does that
perfectly, or all the time.
People often have "mistaken" goals that get them off course
from getting what they'd really like in life. They get something
out of thinking, feeling, saying and doing what they do, but
make getting what they'd really like less likely in the long run.
People can get so caught up in trying to achieve "mistaken"
goals that they lose sight of what they really want.
These "mistaken" goals arise because of the thoughts, attitudes
and beliefs people generate about themselves, others, life and
what happens to them. These same thoughts, attitudes and
beliefs often give rise to a dysfunctional amount of emotion -
more than is helpful or necessary, more than someone wants to
have, more than someone knows what to do with. This emotion
gives purpose to all kinds of unhealthy, self-defeating, and
even self-destructive behavior. It also becomes the driving force
behind attempts to achieve "mistaken" goals. The more emotion
people generate, the more purpose unhealthy, self-defeating
behavior will serve. The more emotion people generate, the
more driven they will be to achieve their mistaken goals.
Some common mistaken goals are attention, power and control,
revenge, avoidance of failure, withdrawal-avoidance-relief, and
who's right and wrong in conflicts.
People often seek an inordinate and unhealthy amount of
attention (acceptance, approval, respect, love) from others. It's
what often gets students in trouble in classrooms. It's the
underlying basis for so called "peer pressure". Peer pressure
doesn't come from outside as most people believe. It comes
from inside. It's also what causes people to make mistakes in
relationships. Loneliness is often the driving force behind
behavior intended to get the attentions, acceptance, approval,
respect or even love of others. The more loneliness people
generate, the more likely they are to seek an inordinate amount
of attention from others, the more purpose doing so will serve in
their lives, and the more driven they will be to seek such
attention. Like all feelings, loneliness ultimately comes from the
thoughts, attitudes and beliefs people have about themselves,
others, life, and what happens to them.
Avoidance of failure is why students stop working in school,
stay home from school, and eventually drop out. Shame and
anxiety are the driving forces behind such behavior. Too many
students believe and are even told they don't live up to
expectations - that's the formula for shame. If you believe you
haven't and don't live up to expectations, it's easy to imagine not
doing so in the future and to become anxious about the
possibility. Low self-esteem is really shame about the past and
present, and anxiety about the future because of it.
Behaviors like smoking, drinking and drug use, overeating or
starving oneself, and suicide typically have the mistaken goal of
withdrawal-avoidance-relief. People try to withdraw from or
avoid some unpleasantness in their lives, and get relief from the
feelings that go with such unpleasantness. The more anxiety,
depression, shame and guilt people generate, the more purpose
smoking, drinking, using drugs, starving themselves, and even
suicide will serve in their lives, and the more driven they will be
to withdraw from or avoid unpleasantness, and seek relief.
When people make themselves angry, it's often the driving force
behind behavior with the "mistaken" goals of power and control,
revenge and who's right and wrong. The angrier people make
themselves, the more driven they will be to demonstrate to
others that they have the power and are in control instead of
others. The more driven they will be to get even with others,
and prove they are right and others are wrong.
By teaching young people to keep their emotional thermostats
turned down, and to turn them down quickly should they go up,
wehelp vaccinate them against having "mistaken" goals, and
engaging in unhealthy, self-defeating behavior. That's exactly
what the "tools" teach young people to do.