A review of the Oscar-winning movie, Silver Linings Playbook, brings me great inspiration and hope for the future of Emotional Fitness Training.
The following is an excerpt from an article by Dr. Leon I. Rosenberg, the medical director and head of the Center for Emotional Fitness in Cherry Hill, NJ. Here is the link to Dr Rosenberg’s full article: p-Ed: Film casts important light on mental health issues | Courier-Post | courierpostonline.com.
Those of us in the psychiatry and psychology fields are all rooting for “Silver Linings Playbook” to sweep the Academy Awards tonight. This film has started a very important national conversation about mental illness, emotional fitness, understanding and compassion.
“Silver Linings Playbook” brings out the best about people with mental illness. And since more than 50 percent of Americans suffer from a mood, anxiety or psychotic disorder, drug or alcohol abuse or ADHD over a lifetime, this film brings out the best in most of us.
How is it that this feel-good movie about Philadelphia Eagles fans with mental illness can break through the nearly universal stereotype against the mentally ill?
It reframes mental illness and emotional fitness as two overlapping phenomena on a continuum and teaches that wherever one is on the spectrum, there is both the need and the ability to become more emotionally fit.
Here are 18 suggestions for all of us to become more emotionally fit. Each of us working to become more emotionally fit will help dispel the stigma associated with mental illness.
1. Acknowledge that we are all randomly born on the emotional fitness spectrum, a continuum that includes all degrees of mental illness and emotional fitness. Working on emotional fitness will help everyone, whether or not they have a mental illness.
2. Recognize that having a mental illness is not a weakness.
3. Work on emotional fitness beginning with exercise. In the 1960s there was a President’s Council on Physical Fitness and students were rewarded solely for their abilities. We need to update this concept and acknowledge the benefits to emotional fitness of competition, physical fitness, stretching and other physical activities that increase endorphins and improve blood flow to the brain.
4. Implement community-based acknowledgement for students and adults for progressing on the emotional fitness spectrum with awards for good decision-making, certificates for studying because it reduces stress, ribbons for not drinking, trophies for not drugging and applause/acknowledgement for taking care of oneself. You cannot take care of others if you do not take the time to take care of yourself.
Of course that he is the medical director of an Emotional Fitness Center spoke to my heart. When I read his article I felt like I had found a soulmate. I have hawked Emotional Fitness since 1997 and as Rodney Dangerfield would say, “I got no respect.”
My book Parents Are People Too, published by Penquin in 1997, was subtitled an Emotional Fitness Program for Parents. That was also the year I established my consulting business Emotional Fitness Training,® Inc.
The idea for my book and my company grew out of my experience as a special need foster parent. For those of you not in the know on that one, my husband and I dropped out of our professional careers to be home with our own sons during their growing up years. In order to do that we became foster parents to children and teens in trouble with the law and needing what was called “Non-secure detention” which meant short-term care in an open setting while the court decided what to do the charges against each child.
Special need means foster care with specially trained parents. The whole concept was an experiment and it was thought my training as a therapist would make us able to handle the kids coming through our home. Ha. Delusional.
In the first six weeks of trying to care for six teens, everything I had learned as a therapist went out the window. Mostly, I was ashamed of all the parent blaming I had done as a therapist before I became a foster parent.
My experience as the owner of a dog training business actually served us better in dealing with our foster children. The Dog Trainer’s Approach: Simple rules, enforced consistently and augmented with frequent and solid rewards for good behavior.
In time I re-invested in some therapy skills but became seen as a maverick mainly because of my rants against parent blaming.
Parent bashing and blaming lives on today, much to the delight of teens and those still in the adolescent mind-set and masquerading as adults. The bashing misses the reality that the best of parents have kids that struggle and even fail at life, while abusive parents often have great kids. Who we become is complicated and parents are an important part of the mix, but only a part.
My Parents Are People Too book was my way of making an amends to the parents I bashed before I became a parent. Writing that book also started me down the path to trying to remove the stigma from mental health.
Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence was published in 1995 and had impressed me and lead me to the idea of emotional fitness as a tool to combat the stigma attached to mental illness.
One hope motivating my writing and my company has been to make Daniel Goleman’s ideas useful for Joe and Josephine public.
As noted above, although those who found my book or heard me speak got my messages about emotional fitness, it has been a slow uphill walk. Being picked up by Fiona Gatt of MetaPlume and having them publish my material has made this a silver lining year for me. Dr. Rosenberg’s article added more silver. Part of that silver is hoping interest in Emotional Fitness will grow.
A fact of my life has been that I am behind in some things, while way ahead on others. I see this has played out in the social media, in my teaching about human development, and my work as a therapist. An example? I got an Apple way back in 1975 and immediately joined some email lists. I was into social media before it was dubbed social media.
Rosenbergs’ article fanned the hope that as my Emotional Fitness eBooks are hitting the market, Emotional Fitness is gaining respect.
So thank you Dr. Rosenberg and anyone who lives near Cherry Hill, NJ in need of support and added care should start with the Center for Emotional Fitness. Others should visit and like the Center’s Facebook page.
Thank you again, Dr. Rosenberg
As I tell myself a thousand times a day, stay strong, give lots of love, be grateful, practice kindness, live now, give and seek forgiveness, and always hope the blessing of the forces beyond our control are with you and those you love.
A repeat of my mundane update: I am shifting gears, jumping fences, trying to shift from the role of Parent Expert, to Emotional Fitness Expert. Mostly, I am working on what I hope will be my breakout book. The title for this eBook which is a chapter in the larger book, is Twelve Easy Exercises for Taming Mad, Bad, and Sad Feelings.
Many of you helped pick the title. Thank you.
As a result of trying to finish this book, I am posting less on both my blogs. I keep hoping to set a firm schedule, but my brain does not work that way, well, at least three-quarters of the time. Things will sort out a bit as the March comes.
Save the Date: March 21st is my 76th birthday. Instead of happy birthday wishes I am holding a book launch party of Facebook. If you have friended me on Facebook, watch for an invitation to that event. I will be on chat to answer questions, giving away some free stuff, and hoping for a boost in the sales of any of my books.
As always thank you for all you do that helps me stay strong as I move into my Silver Lining years.