Sunday, September 28, 2008

Turning Kids Into Healthy Adults

My granddaughter will turn thirteen this week, and her brother will soon be sixteen. I have been thinking a lot about each of them lately, as well as the many other youngsters who are poised on the cusp of adulthood. Many of our children today are looking outside the family for role models and turning to young celebrities, which is a cause for concern. The problem is that when these famous child-stars leave the movie studios, concert halls or sports stadiums they sometimes have serious trouble coping with their lives.

It should be of intense national concern that there is such a general lack of attention, awareness and preparation for this incredibly important rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. Yet, how successfully or unsuccessfully our children negotiate this time will have repercussions for years to come for everyone concerned, including society as a whole.

Our nation’s children need to know how amazing and precious they are and that each one is a unique and necessary part of life on Earth. They need to know the value of adhering to a high code of ethics, that their actions have consequences, how to create healthy relationships, as well as how to control their minds, emotions and finances. In this way, they can successfully grow from childhood to adulthood and create meaningful and fulfilling lives that benefit humanity and our planet.

Surely we can come up with something better than merely observing the now universally accepted rites of passage of getting a driver’s license, buying alcohol or getting tattooed or pierced.

Throughout history, far less complex societies than ours saw the need and came up with some sort of training program that when completed marked a child’s transition into adulthood and also their acceptance of responsibility as a full-fledged contributing member of their tribe or community.

While it is no longer appropriate for a young boy to track, kill and drag home some wild beast to fulfill his claim to manhood, there still exists some primitive instinct in teenagers that drives them to seek some external action to prove s/he is a grownup. When there is not enough support, guidance or positive influence from family, the teens automatically turn to their peers, who don’t know any more than they do, to seek an outlet for this inner urge.

The danger in that default “parenting” is that the act can include such serious options as the use of alcohol, drugs, cars, sex and/or a strong show of bravado, which may include getting into fights and destroying property, harming others and/or rebelling against school, parents and all authority.

I thought back to something Kahlil Gibran wrote in his book “The Prophet.” He said that as parents we are the bow and our children and grandchildren are the arrows into the future. These young adults hold not only their own future, but the fate of our planet in their hands. With a challenging time facing us in every area of life on Earth, we must do much more to help our children negotiate the perilous passage from childhood to adulthood.

Since many parents today don’t know how to help prepare children for adulthood, or they handle it poorly, there must be another way in which we can rescue millions of youngsters who may end up becoming sad statistics instead of functioning members of society.

This could be done through the existing school system. There is hardly a thinking parent, teacher – or politician who doesn’t already know that we need a new vision of education in our country that will bring our educational system into this century and actually prepare students for the future they will inherit.

Looking at this situation from a wiser and more visionary approach would show our children that not only are they our most precious legacy; they are our nation’s highest priority. In the process, we would be giving them the tools to become fully conscious and aware adults – the real purpose of education – and to take their place as contributing members of society and protectors of our planet.
Copyright © 2008 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within – is available at, as well as through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dealing With the Dysfunction Around Us

A few weeks ago, I started to question why I was hooked on watching “The Office,” a television sit-com in which the main character is a real jerk, someone who is smugly unconscious of his inappropriate behavior. At first I thought it was because the lead actor is so perfectly cast in the role. But I soon realized it was because I could relate to such a dysfunctional office environment.

Years ago I worked in corporate offices where in one instance it was a co-worker and in another it was the department manager who specialized in backstabbing, gossiping, trying to turn individuals against each other and, in general, exhibiting egotistical, dysfunctional [inappropriate] and unacceptable behavior.

In looking back, I realized that the really annoying and frustrating part of those situations was that I felt helpless to change them. It didn’t take too much reflection to recognize that like many others I also have a family member who exhibits similar behavior. Not a big surprise, as John Bradshaw, a bestselling author and leader in the field of family health, says that 97% of families in America are dysfunctional, and the other 3% are lying.

For the countless number of us who find ourselves on the receiving end of such behavior, whatever the source, there’s nothing funny about it. I also realized that I had spent way too much time and life energy in a variety of loving approaches to this problem, none of which changed the problem externally or allowed me to come to peace with the situation. So, I sought the help of a retired physician who in his lengthy career has counseled many individuals on how to achieve healthy relationships.

The first thing I learned was that in most cases the dysfunctional person doesn’t have a clue that their behavior is annoying, hurtful, objectionable, or inappropriate. He further explained that most people who exhibit such behavior are usually surprised and shocked when they discover, if they ever do, how their behavior is viewed by others.

At first I found this difficult to accept, but eventually I had to concede that all we have to do is take a look around us to know the truth in his statement. Many of us don’t have any idea of what a healthy relationship looks like or what it takes to create one – such as an awareness of how our behavior affects others.

He said that one of the core reasons for toxic or dysfunctional behavior is that rarely does anyone have the courage to confront the offenders, especially if it is a family member. He offered a practical solution that, ideally, should start in childhood. If parents and other family members observe dysfunctional behavior – such as inappropriate displays of anger or acting on invalid beliefs and misperceptions – they could try correcting and guiding them into more acceptable behavior patterns. If this proves unsuccessful, this would be the time to seek professional help.

Our normal tendency, however, as he pointed out, is to be extremely cautious about confronting those who can make our lives miserable. In the workplace situation, for example, he said it would require sensitivity, tact and wisdom. All we needed to do, he said, was take the situation to the highest level of management – which has a vested interest in employee satisfaction and safety – explain the situation, and request that a code of conduct be drafted that covered everyone and would be enforced up to and including being dismissed.

When it was time for the expert to comment on my personal situation, he acknowledged the fact that my family’s lack of positive action to resolve the situation was also dysfunctional and resulted in a no-win situation for all concerned. He said when our family chose to silently condone the dysfunctional behavior, the victims were in a position of being doubly wronged, and the perpetrator never learned correct behavior.

While the information was a balm to the wounded child part of me that ended up feeling unloved and unworthy, I was still left with a nagging desire for some sort of closure and inner peace.

As a closing comment, he simply lowered his voice and said softly, “Fern, the primary purpose of human relationships is to learn to identify and resolve our own internal thoughts, beliefs, patterns and needs, and in the process to expand our conscious awareness and truly love ourselves.”

This profound and simple statement pulled me up out of the emotions surrounding “my story.” I not only got the lesson, I knew the answer was within me, had absolutely nothing to do with the other person and was something I had to do for myself.

When we find ourselves in any undesirable situation, no matter the source, there are lessons in it for us; otherwise, we wouldn’t be involved in it. I also knew that the first step in resolving the issue was to stop blaming the other person and to stop repeating the painful stories to ourselves and others. Under the law of attraction, ignoring that advice simply continues to draw to us more of the same. The final and most challenging step for many of us is to look within and heal the part of us that bought into the fallacy that we are unlovable and unworthy. This is what attracts such experiences to us.

I was also acutely aware of the fact that we have no control over the behavior of another human being. The good news, however, is that we hold the key to resolving these issues within us. The lesson learned: When we love, honor and respect ourselves, we will not attract people to us who seek a vulnerable target for their suppressed anger and other unresolved life issues.

[To learn Ten Steps to Healthy Relationships, go to:, and click on How-to Lists at the top.]
Copyright © 2008 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within – is available at, as well as through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Secret to Having Dreams Come True

I recently watched Tom Hanks being interviewed on a television talk show. The host asked him what it felt like to be the most famous and respected male movie star in the world. Hanks replied by naming a half-dozen other well-known male performers who started out when he did, and explained in his usual charming and self-effacing manner that he was simply “the last man standing.”

While attrition may have had some small role in his success, it certainly wasn’t the primary part. I think Tom Hanks had a dream and just kept on positively moving toward it. His further comments confirmed the fact that through the years he was so filled with the love of acting that he found great joy and happiness each day in plying his craft. Instead of hankering – pun intended – for the huge success-outcome to hurry up and manifest, he was happy to be doing what he loved. Tom Hanks obviously wears his success comfortably as the natural progression of his journey, which it is, and from all external appearance he is living a fulfilling and joyous life.

We can do the same. As simple as it sounds, however, the challenge is that in order to have a dream come true, we must have an identifiable dream. I believe that each and every one of us was born on this Earth to fulfill some mission-purpose that is uniquely ours. Some individuals know this when they are as young as three years old, as a friend of mind did. Gladys Taylor McGarey, M.D., knew that she was to be a doctor and never wavered from this dream. Actually, she became the acknowledged mother of holistic medicine in America.

For those of us who didn’t come in with such strong intuitive guidance or such a large dream, the steps to take to discover our mission-purpose are well known and fairly simple. First of all, we can begin by making a list of what we think are our heart’s desires, our gifts and abilities. We continue working on this and making adjustments, plumbing the depths of us, until what we’ve written resonates within our heart, mind and soul.

When we are secure that we know our unique dream, we commit it to memory, write it out as a positive affirmation/statement and place it where we will see it often throughout the day. We then use it as the focal point of our lives. Our responsibility is to remain focused, do the best we can each day and to trust the universe to determine when and how our dreams are fulfilled.

Remember, just knowing our mission doesn’t mean it will automatically manifest in our lives. Will Rogers once said, “Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.” Fulfillment of our dreams and heart’s desires is not achieved by sitting around and waiting for life to zap them on us. All we learn is a variety of ways in which to fritter away our precious time on Earth.

Even if the world seems to be setting up roadblocks against us, we must continue to move in the direction of our dreams. We must hold firm and know that something deep within us knows the way. Even if life’s circumstances move us along paths that we think are diametrically opposed to where we want to go, we must continue believing in, holding fast to and moving toward our dreams, no matter how small the actions we are able to take may be.

In the interim, it is important to appreciate every bit of happiness and fulfillment we experience each day, and to have an attitude of gratitude. Anguishing over the past or worrying about the future causes many people to miss the joy of living in the present and cherishing every moment of life, which is the path to true happiness.

Calvin Coolidge may not be as famous as Tom Hanks is today, but what he had to say pretty much sums up the secret to achieving our dreams: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent …”
Copyright © 2008 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within is available at and other online booksellers, as well as through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Living by Choice Instead of by Default

Did you know that when there is a choice to make, and we don’t make it, that is also a choice? For many of us the fact that we had any choices in life was never really obvious to us. By the time we looked up, life had already happened to us and it seemed the only option possible was to make the best of it.

At some point in time, we may have wondered why our lives didn’t turn out more like the classic love-redeems-all movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” in which the main character also experiences unfortunate life events but emerges the most beloved man in town.

When that thought arises and there doesn’t seem to be any hope for reversing our negative cycle, we feel helpless. Many people in this situation are resigned to just “putting in their time,” as they believe the light at the end of the tunnel for them is a knowing that at some point it will all be over.

It doesn’t have to be that way. There is another choice, and when we choose to follow it at any time in our lives, it opens up the opportunity to consciously move out of the victim role, which is living by default, and deliberately creating fulfilling, meaningful and joyous lives.

The original concept for doing this has been known for centuries, and now more and more people are becoming aware of the fact that by changing our thoughts we can change our lives.

What most people aren’t aware of, however, is the parameters that must be met in order to be successful in this process. For example, our desires need to resonate with truth at the core of our being. We must love ourselves enough to allow good into our lives. And we need to know our beliefs and priorities so that we will have a standard by which to measure our progress, as well as to make decisions easier, which helps us stay on track.

I know that may sound complicated, but before you make the choice to give up without giving it a chance, here is the good news. The true secret lies in making one simple choice. That choice will lift us out of victimhood, living by default, and give us the ability to realize the lives we truly desire. That “choice” is to go within and learn what we need to know about ourselves so that we can change our lives.

For those who may resist taking the inner journey, I offer the following: For a number of years I mistakenly believed that everything in life of any note was generated by activity in the external world. I certainly didn’t think I needed to spend time contemplating my navel. But I have known for a long time now that the opposite is true. Life is meant to work from the inside of us out.

I also resisted looking within because I was afraid of what I would find. What I discovered, to my great relief and pleasant surprise, was a sanctuary of unconditional love, support and wisdom that is within everyone and everything in the universe. I also learned that when we consciously align with this energy-intelligence-love, it automatically says yes to our conscious choices and actively assists in manifesting them in our life experience.

In choosing to live from the love, peace, happiness and trust in life that resides within us, we will naturally be drawn to choosing and expressing a more loving, harmonious and balanced state of being. As we become more positive and accepting of our good, this opens a path for all the health, abundance and goodness we consciously choose, and can accept, to be available to us. We are no longer living by default, but by choice.

We are now and always have been the point of power in our lives. At any moment we can choose to reclaim our power and begin to choose the lives we desire for ourselves and our loved ones.

The only question is: Do we continue playing the role of victim and allowing life to happen to us by drifting into default? Or do we choose to step up and own the fact that we are the central character, the star, of our own lives? We are also the producer, director, scriptwriter and casting director. We are always free to create a comedy, a drama, a tragedy, a series of unfortunate events or a wonderful life. The choice is ours.
Copyright © 2008 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within is available at and other online booksellers, as well as through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Loving Self Is the Key to Life's Problems

While the name of the speaker and the event are long gone from my memory bank, I still recall his words, almost verbatim. He said that our Good wants us as badly as we want it, and it is bearing down on us like a two-ton truck. The only one who can slow it down or stop it is us. The speaker also explained that the powerful energy of our abundant universe is all-loving, pure and good and seeking to express through us. As an example of how we thwart the process, he cited a garden hose that allows the water to flow through freely until we either step on the hose, causing a temporary stoppage, or turn off the faucet, which shuts off the flow at the source.

Our habit of “stepping on the hose” or shutting off our Good is actually regulated by the love we hold for ourselves. How much we truly love ourselves is apparent in the quality of our lives – as we, and we alone, determine how much Good, if any – we can allow into our lives.

Since loving ourselves is such a vital element in living successful lives, I couldn’t help but think about the way in which our culture has traditionally viewed this matter. While I was growing up, it didn’t take long for me to learn that it wasn’t acceptable to think highly of one’s self as this was considered arrogant, egotistical and wrong. Our families, schools and churches reinforced the message that “being full of ourselves” was a character flaw that would ruin our lives. It was drummed into us that we were always to place others before ourselves, which translated into meaning we were less deserving and less lovable than others.

What an incredible relief to know that what we need to be successful and happy in life is healthy self-love, and this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any of the invalid and false beliefs of the past. The truth is that we are born with a natural love of self, in which we accept and honor our gifts and abilities, and have no false sense of humility. Without any interference from others, we would automatically use this base of self-love to achieve success in every area of our lives.

No wonder all the great spiritual teachers throughout the ages realized this was a problem area and counseled us to turn within and know ourselves, for in this knowing we become aware of and can reclaim this healthy self-love. Actually, it is one of the most important things we will ever do. In truly knowing ourselves, we discover that we are one with all that is loving, pure, good and true in the universe. As we align with our inner selves, and accept that this is the truth of us, we realize that we are imminently lovable and deserving of all the good there is.

Once we realize this, we can also understand completely that thinking and believing otherwise about ourselves is what has kept us from allowing good into our lives. Our first reaction is to try to change these negative thoughts and beliefs, but until we know what beliefs we hold, we can’t replace them with positive statements.

Here is a simple way to expose these unloving and powerful directives that have determined our lives for many years. Take sheets of paper and begin by selecting one word and writing it at the top of each page. You can use words like health, love, money, success, self, relationships, life – or any others that occur to you. Write out what you believe about each one and continue writing until what you have written registers as truth at the core of your being. Your “gut” doesn’t lie. If any of your beliefs are negative, this is your cue to start replacing them with positive statements.

No matter the problems in our lives, the remedy lies in connecting with the love that is inherent within us. Everything we have experienced thus far has been created by the thoughts and beliefs of the past. What we are thinking right now will become our future. The point of power is within us at this very moment. We can choose to connect with and accept the love that is within us, which frees our Good to flow to us unimpeded, pressed down and running over.

Here are several powerful affirmations that I repeat as often as possible: I love and approve of myself right now. All the Good I desire is mine now, and flows to me peacefully, joyously, harmoniously with Good for all concerned.
Copyright © 2008 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within is available at and other online booksellers, as well as through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.