Do you boing, boing, boing or splat!

A pediatrician and author, Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg, as reported in an article in the Paly Voice, spoke last Thursday at Gun High School somewhere in the vacinity of Palo Alto California on building resilience in children, and preparing them for life. It’s a lesson that I feel a lot of people in mental health treatment must have missed.

The key to success and less anxiety, according to Ginsburg, lies in building resiliency. Resilience, he explained, is the ability to “bounce back” after something goes wrong and recognize that “every bump is an opportunity for growth.” Ginsburg also said that part of resiliency is determining what is truly worth stressing over, using the analogy of a real vs. paper tiger.

The depressed individual is an individual who hasn’t ‘bounced back’, perhaps because he or she missed Dr. Ginsberg’s lesson. Oh, but we have drugs he or she can take for life that work as well as sugar pills. Time, after all, can have a way of driving Dr. Ginsberg’s lesson home to a few of those who didn’t make his lecture anyway.

Turning a negative into a positive, and seeing that “every bump is an opportunity”, is another training deficit in the mental health departments around this country. “You fall down; you stay down”…That’s just not the best attitude to take. It’s also the attitude of a bully and a thug, and the reason we teach youngsters to fight/bounce back.

“A real tiger is something that can chew your face off,” Ginsburg said. “A paper tiger is something that feels like it’s really stressful, but can never hurt you. You have to learn to differentiate between real and paper tigers, otherwise you’re always running. And when you’re running, you’re not able to focus. You’re not able to think.”

Here we are talking about the line between fantasy and reality. This is a line that some people have not been able to draw so well, and the consequences of that inability can be devastating. For every real tiger people face, there must be thousands of paper tigers. What is the point I’m trying to make here? Facing your fears is one way of finding out they usually don’t amount to much in the end. Overcoming your fears is a way to accomplishment.

Ginsburg described the core ideas of resiliency, a motto he calls the “Seven Cs”: confidence, competence, connection, character, contribution, coping, and control. Ginsburg emphasized confidence, connection, contribution and coping as the most important traits to have.

Okay. Strip a person of his or her confidence, and you have a frightened sissy cowering in a corner of their room. Disconnect him or her, and you have somebody who is really isolated. Discourage him or her from contributing, and you’ve got a useless bum. Teach him or her not to cope, and you’ve got a whimpering whiner.

Whoopee. Now we’ve got a frightened sissified isolated useless bum of a whimpering whiner. Maybe we should just slap a psychiatric label on this person, and encourage them to seek professional help. Counseling I think they call it. Then we could dump this deemed unfit person into a warehouse for the dregs of broken humanity where he or she can receive drugs for his or her condition for the rest of his or her natural life. A life that won’t last so long given that these drugs are actually slow acting poisons. What da ya think? Should we waste ‘em?!