Angst the Movie: a review and some thoughts

Last evening I had the opportunity to see the documentary “Angst, Anxiety is treatable – It is okay to say” at Broadneck High School. First congratulations to Broadneck and the feeder schools for their effort to bring this documentary to both the students, parents, and community. This film “explores anxiety, its causes, effects, and what we can do about it.” The film was very well done and the panel that followed was excellent also in answering questions from the audience.

If you were not able to make it to the showing, I am hopeful that other schools or faith groups will follow the lead of Broadneck. The issue of anxiety is pervasive not just among students, but also among adults including parents and teachers. The fears that plague many individuals range from the fear of inadequacy, not being good enough, rejection, abandonment, and of being judged.

Anxiety may become apparent in many ways starting with a general anxiousness that shows up with worrying excessively about many things and having physical reactions to that worry. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, social phobia, panic attacks or posttraumatic stress disorder are all different levels and types of anxiety disorders.

While it can be hard to understand where anxiety comes from, especially when we see it in very young persons the list is long and there is no one reason. It may include trauma, stress, personality, other mental health conditions, or having blood relatives who have an anxiety disorder. The specific causes are not really known, though some 1 out of 8 individuals are affected and it is commonly thought that the cause may be some combination of factors.

In the end, there were a number of proposed ways of treating the disorder, most of them by professionals, but what struck me the strongest were two things. First was what Michael Phelps said after his visit with a young man who was dealing with anxiety, was a swimmer and looked up to Michael Phelps. His quote was:

“We already have the tools inside of us to get through things.”

This really struck me because when you are working through the anxiety you certainly do not feel that, unless you have the continued support of those around you. So what can we do as non-professionals, as parents and caretakers, who just want to support our loved ones, young or older? Here is what I took from the film and the panel.

  • Learn to Listen
  • Do not judge or rush to judgment
  • Ask questions

The person with the disorder already feels like nothing is right or going right for them. We need to focus on what is good about the person, Listen with empathy and compassion. We are not there to save them or rescue them we are simply there to support them – “we already have the tools inside of us to get through things”.

Ask questions that are open-ended, accept each other for who we are and see the what is right about each other.

As I think about that, it sounds like good advice for all of us – with an anxiety disorder or not.

I highly recommend this documentary for everyone to see.

Want to learn more about how to listen and ask questions that support your child and loved ones, bringing out the best in them and yourself? I help parents and teachers speak a language that acknowledges the virtues of each student. –

Gift of Character: Strength – The Definition

Each month we will discuss one virtue. This month’s virtue is Strength.

Strength means:  “I have the power to endure my tests.”

Balanced Life Skills is about working with parents and teachers to empower them to bring out the best in our children and ourselves. We believe that each of us have all the virtues within us and the job of parents and teachers is to see their child as the unique individual they are, perfect in potential to be their best selves.  Their virtues only need to be developed and grown so they can use them in their life. Balanced Life Skills serves parents, teachers, and students to reach that goal.

Download a complete List of Virtues and the Five Strategies of the Virtues Project FREE.

How does empathy effect integrity to values?

Being true to ourselves, authentic and living to our highest values can be challenging, especially when the events of the day or the choices made by others hurt us. When there is an event that takes place that doesn’t fit into our plans or idea of how it was going to go how do we remain faithful to the virtues and values we hold at the highest level?

We may want to ask ourselves what virtue do we need at this time to help us remain in integrity to ourselves?  What could I consider to help me be understanding? What would help me be more likely to show integrity?

One virtue that comes to my mind that is helpful in many situations to show integrity to our highest values is empathy. When we can think first of the other person and put ourselves in their shoes, walk on their path, see circumstances through their eyes, the choice we make in our response is more likely to be guided by our highest self.

For students in school, if you were to see someone cheating in school or a competition, how would you react? If we use empathy the question would be, “If I do not speak up what might happen?” If you witnessed a person being picked on, bullied or an aggressor going after someone unable to defend themselves, empathy would have us ask ourselves if I do not act with integrity and speak up for what is important to me, what will the results be.

At the same time if we saw a person left out of an activity or group empathy for the person would move us not to ignore the situation, but rather step in and do what is right.  We act with integrity when we speak up, help others and give of ourselves motivated by our empathy.

Of course, this works for adults also. When we take a moment to consider the other person’s point of view, how they may feel or their circumstances, it is more likely that we will respond to the event or situation with integrity to our values. Taking that stance can be a challenge, mainly if an incident affects our family or us that we would prefer not happen. Maintaining our peacefulness and that of those around us occurs when we live by the virtues kindness, consideration, and understanding.

Empathy is a stepping stone to staying true to ourselves and practicing integrity to who we are and want to be.

3 Questions About Authenticity That Influence Your Children

Integrity is about being true to yourself, saying what you mean, doing what you know is right for you no matter what others are doing or saying. Integrity is about authenticity. But sometimes it is hard to be our authentic self, especially if we believe others are going to laugh at us or make fun of us if we are different than they are.

For kids, it may be the situation of a popular person picking on another person, and we have to decide if we are going to stick up for them like we have told ourselves we would do. It may be wearing the kind of clothes that we like and not going along with how others are dressing. Or it may be stopping ourselves from gossiping about another person when others are engaging in that activity.

It was Shakespeare who said, “To thine own self be true.” Such genuine and wise words. But how do we know what our truth is, how do we know who we are? It takes time and reflection. If we are a parent or an adult, taking the time to choose who we want to be and how we want to be in life is the first step that takes us away from just going from one reaction to another reaction. Continue reading “3 Questions About Authenticity That Influence Your Children”

3 reasons keeping promises is important

If integrity is about knowing right from wrong and telling the truth versus lying, it is also about keeping your word, commitments, and promises. As a young person, their obligations do not hold the weight that they will in later life. But what a child learns about promises and the importance of keeping them will affect them as they get older grow into adulthood.

Just as important for their self-esteem and confidence is keeping the promises they make to themselves. If they tell themselves, they are going to read every day for 20 minutes and then do not follow through they break trust in themselves. This erosion of faith in yourself over time is letting yourself down. Not doing what you tell yourself you will do, is like saying that you do not see yourself as valuable and you will begin to believe that you are not able to do it next time.

Losing the strength to keep promises you make to yourself begins to erode the trust you have in yourself to keep promises to others. Losing that trust from others is difficult to gain back and will take time and effort. So how do you develop this character trait of integrity of your word?

Both with adults and children, we start with the small promises. If we cannot keep the small commitments, then we will not be able to keep the large ones either. On the other hand, if we choose not to keep the big promises it will be easier for us to ignore the ‘small’ promises we make daily.

We may want to write the promise down as we are learning or re-learning to keep our word. Make it clear and measurable. When a promise is vague, especially with children, it is effortless to find a way to work around that commitment. Make that commitment an essential, high priority, to keep the promise. It may also need to perform it quickly or keep a reminder for the time and place that we agreed to complete our pledge.

When we keep our commitment to an activity, team or individual, others will trust us, think of us as mature, reliable individuals. Most important we are honoring ourselves as having value, not feeling disappointed in ourselves or like we let ourselves down again. All of this is true for children and adults.

So the three reasons we can use to explain to our children that keeping promises is important:

  1. Self-esteem and confidence
  2. Keeping faith in yourself
  3. How others view us – mature, reliable and trustworthy

Check out some of the simple starter promises that we can begin our children on so they are building self-esteem as well as trust in themselves while others see them for their integrity. Here is a link to a video about helping children keep their promises.