A Mental Health Professional Sheds Light on Tiger’s “Shocking Sexual Escapades”

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Tiger’s story line left out an important part – there is a huge emotional cost to a performance-only life, emptiness on the inside. And it does not need to happen with proper parenting.

who I am on the inside.

As a child mental health counselor for nearly forty years and author of Unleashing the Power of Parental Love, Gary M. Unruh MSW LCSW says, “Tiger’s problems are typical of a person who has relied heavily on a performance-only life for pleasure. The problem, inside emptiness will eventually require costly quick fix pleasures, typically sex. And it doesn’t need to happen.

There’s a mental-health-take home lesson in Tiger’s situation for parents. Unruh regularly instructs parents to ask themselves this critical question: what pleasure source is best for children? A child’s performance, or from what’s inside -- a child’s special attributes? Here are some key points for parents to consider so that a performance only life is not what happens to a child.

1. A performance-only life leaves emptiness inside. Emptiness inside will eventually burst out through some form of quick fix pleasure—usually sex or drugs. Unruh says, “It’s all about pleasure, a basic human need.” (We’ve heard plenty about the sex component from prominent politicians in the last six months.) Here’s the problem with developing the capacity for inner pleasure: it takes time and commitment to develop; ideally from birth on, supporting a child to feel good and acceptable for “who I am on the inside.” Unruh emphasizes, “It takes a lot of work to develop this capacity in adulthood.” Mental health professionals label this inside part as "being" and the outside part as "doing" (see article To Be Or to Do? That's the Question - A Case for Parenting - What's on the Inside of a Child?, http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Gary_Unruh).

2. “Who I am on the inside” is what needs the most attention, and it needs to start from birth on. (Good performance may very well be the result, but it needs to come from the inside out not the other way around.) According to Unruh, “Pleasure is the key issue with this attention-to-the-inside stuff, just like it is with performance.” After counseling over 2500 children Unruh is convinced that “The highest level of human pleasure comes from establishing a core belief of 'I’m good, I’m acceptable for who I am on the inside.'” Unruh sees continued evidence through his daily practice that this “I’m good” belief is a life-essential need equal to feeling the need for food. (see details in his web site, http://www.unleashingparentallove.com)

3. Our society places far too much attention on performance. What do we read and see in the news every day—the high achievers, the winners, the beautiful and sexy, the rich and famous, or those who show compassion and kindness to others? Unruh observes, “Of course there are exceptions, but generally, we idolize performance far too much.”

So how do we develop this internal sense of “I’m good?” The answer is simple but difficult to achieve without training. Unruh makes these observations for parents to consider “It all starts with the adults (parents, teachers, and media) focusing consistently on what’s good within a child. The ultimate pleasure is to feel “I’m good for who I am on the inside.” The real test for adults is to make this “I’m acceptable” feeling happen even during discipline. Sound impossible? It is if new skills are not learned. Many parenting programs are available to learn these skills. (See Tough Love Is Good For Children, http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Gary_Unruh.) The reward is enormous. Your child (perhaps a future professional athlete, artist, or public figure) will not need the quick-fix pleasure remedies.”

So, at the end of the day, here’s Unruh’s take-into-your home message from Tiger’s situation? “Parents, it’s what’s on the inside of your child that is most important. Inside self-confidence produces the most satisfying outside performance.” And here’s Unruh’s challenge: “President Obama, please provide leadership in the child mental health field so that more children will grow up feeling pleasure from who they are on the inside."

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