Prudent Advice

Life Lessons for My Daughter

Category Archives: Pain

#155 You have responsibilities.

This is a big idea, little girl, but I know you can handle it. I want you to realize that as you grow you take on responsibility. In the beginning, you are explicitly accountable for items like your toys and your schoolwork. As you age, your responsibility becomes more implicit, expanding to include intangibles like friendships and family bonds. Whether or not you want this responsibility, it exists; you have influence over everything that you touch. Because I believe so strongly that you are worthy of this responsibility, I want you to embrace it. You have the capacity to make moral decisions and are therefore accountable to your choices. Those choices and the example they set mean something to this world, without ambiguity. You are of great significance not only to me, but also to yourself and to the world at large, so act accordingly.

#99 You are bound to experience disappointment.

Some people will tell you that if you never have any expectations, you will never be disappointed. Taken literally, that point is true. But the ability to remove all expectations from your psyche requires a zen mastery that few people possess. I actually think it is important to have expectations in general. People, especially children, tend to rise to meet them. It’s also about hope and hopefulness. Try to let disappointment be a learning experience from which you gather data about what is reasonable to expect, and don’t let it mar your optimism.

#83 Sometimes you will feel alone.

It is a part of the human condition, and it is both inevitable and imperative that you experience this feeling. You will notice a variety of different responses to it throughout your lifetime: feelings like fear, relief, loneliness, desperation, even pleasure. All you can do is experience your solitude and observe your feelings about it.

#71 Guilt is a paralytic emotion.

Guilt is not like shame, where you learn something about your values through experiencing it.  Guilt can be avoided in most cases by making thoughtful choices and feeling confident in whatever decision you make.  If you realize later that you made the wrong decision, absorb the lesson, make appropriate amends, then put it behind you.  Being paralyzed by guilt serves no one well.

#63 Don’t build a case.

When a personal relationship is causing you stress, be aware of your actual feelings and communicate them instead of building a case against the other person. For example, you don’t need to list the seven things the person did that you didn’t like, including the time they yelled at the flight attendant, yawned while you were speaking or fell asleep while you were driving. If you run off a list of errors you believe someone made, you will appear judgmental and will put them on the defensive. You will also get into a detailed discussion of each individual event rather then addressing your feelings as a whole. It’s just more productive if you speak to your emotions rather then the “case” you have built against the object of your frustration. It’s also a way to keep yourself honest.