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Who’s In Charge Here?

By: Dr. Jim Goldstein

Who’s In Charge Here?I’ve always been curious and fascinated by the period of time that all humans spend in the womb. There is really nothing else like it in our human experience. In the womb, someone or something is managing our entire existence for us, protecting us and loving us, making sure we have an environment is which we can safely grow. After we are born, while our needs are not met as perfectly, if we are lucky, we’ll have caring adults who then manage our lives. This allows us to be happy, carefree children able to explore and learn in our new environment. Someone, in most cases our parents, was doing his or her best to anticipate our needs and handle them for us.

Looking back, I can see that my parents managed my life in ways I never appreciated. I’m grateful now for what it took to make sure that I got haircuts, larger shoes and clothes as I grew, vaccinations, enough sleep, etc. They made sure I learned the skills I’d need to get along in the world. What I never realized until much later was that my life requires an ever increasing amount of management and that over time, more and more of it falls to me.

The biggest value of going away to college was not what I learned in class. (I’m not sure I could pass a single college exam if it was placed in front of me now.) It was learning how to manage my affairs and my relationships without my parents being around. Learning to register for classes, wake up on time, complete assignments, study for tests, etc.– without anyone telling me what to do and when to do it — was invaluable. When there was no parent or sibling to manage me and no one to resist (“Don’t tell me what to do!”), only then did I begin to manage myself.

Without life management, we pay a dear price as the consequences of our actions catch up with us. Unmanaged ADD is a nightmare of wasted trips back and forth to the store, lost keys, wallets, credit cards, etc. An unmanaged diet can lead to chronic indigestion, obesity, high blood pressure, doctor’s visits, prescription medications, surgery or worse. Unmanaged integrity i.e., keeping your word and living as your word, yields strained and damaged relationships and hurt feelings. The list goes on.

The key for me has been to accept that more and more things need to be managed as I get older. If I don’t resist this idea, life works a lot better. Managing my body and accepting its limits, I’m able to avoid a lot aches and pains and I heal more quickly from injury. Managing my diet, I’m much healthier than I used to be. Managing my relationships (and my temper), I have more solid friendships and experience a deeper connection with people. Finally, managing my thoughts, I’m able to create the life I want. (I’m still working on that last one.)

I’d love to hear your comments on this or any of the other blogposts you have read here.

Be back with you soon.


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