Thursday, October 14, 2010

Trapped Miners Touch the Hearts of the World

I don't know about you, but I was rivetted to the television for 23 hours as the trapped miners were brought to the surface one-by-one.  I cried as each was reunited with family (we won't mention the mistress in THIS blog post - but it is a great subject for another day!)  Everyone I talked to had been watching, too, and commented on what a miracle it was and the jubilation in what could have been a huge tragedy.

I can't help but think that we are all touched by this story because we all feel trapped in some way or another.  We all want to be optimistic that we will be liberated from our confinement (real or imagined) and we were just shown proof positive that it happens! 

I hear from parents every day in my private practice that raising kids is harder than they thought it would be.  They feel stuck and even victimized by their kids' behavior.  Let's look more closely at the miners and what they have to teach us about staying sane under challenging circumstances. 
  • Like the miners didn't anticipate the 69 days of isolation, many parents don't anticipate the feelings they experience when they become parents. Isolation, fear, stuck-with-nowhere-to-go, wondering if and how they'll get through it, looking for hope and tools for coping.
  • Adjustment to the unknown - It took 17 days for the outside world to find out if the miners were alive and to let the miners know they were working on their rescue.  When we bring our little ones home, it takes at least that long to figure out what the heck we are doing, what the cries mean, what life will look like now on so many levels and the adjustments continue for about the next 20 years and beyond!
  • Order and structure - One of the most important things that the miners did was to develop a hierarchy and a sense of order in their days. Someone had to be in charge, there had to be routines.  The same is true for our families.  Our kids need to know that we are the leaders, we will take care of the big decisions,  and that we know what's best and will act accordingly. Kids need to know that there are rules and boundaries and that those don't change from day to day.  That order and consistency creates a sense of safety, security and predictability that are essential for family health and harmony - just like it maintained the mental health of the miners.
  • Responsibilities - Every miner had a job. One was the medic, one was in charge of documenting their days, etc... This gave them a sense of purpose and focus.  Again, the same is true for families.  We have to give our kids age-appropriate responsibilities to give them a purpose and a buy-in that makes their contribution feel important as a member of your family.  It also makes them feel responsible for each other which is an essential element to being a member of any team.
  • Resilience - As each miner came out of the mineshaft, they were examined by doctors.  In fact, I believe those medical and psychological evaluations are continuing today.  The reports are showing that these men were incredibly resilient.  Their health is better than expected, in most cases.  Some of the men were reported to have run in place each day to exercise while in the mine.  Maintaining optimism and under those circumstances - WOW!
  • Joy! - Their hard work and hopefulness paid off - big time!  All of the men got out safely, in much less time than was expected.  Their sticktuitiveness enabled them to feel successful.  I hope that every family learns from their experience.  By sticking to their rules and most closely held values, families can have positive and joy-filled outcomes, as well!  ...and maybe even have fun along the way!

  • Stick with it, even when times get hard! 
  • Find whatever tools you need to keep your wits about you.  
  • Be a member of the team and a strong link in that chain.
  • Take good care of yourself so you can be helpful to others.
  • Never give up your hard work!
  • Never give up hope!
  • Keep your eye on the end-goal!
  • Get help when you need it!
I hope this feeling of overwhelming happiness from watching the events in Chile stay with us all for a long time to come!

Wishing you all balance,