Back to School as Adults

| September 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

As children are starting a new school year, we all are hopeful of beginning the season with a clean slate. Days are getting cooler and shorter and our work morale and ambitions are reaching new highs. We’re eager to do things better, and maybe even tackle the one or many left over projects from earlier in the year.

Why is it that we so naturally find motivation to push the reset button on overloaded to-do lists and address things with a clear mind? It may be because we have been trained during our school years to get in the rhythm of carefree and playful summers, then returning to homework and school hours in the fall. While this is a good thing, it raises the question what other things we might carry over unconsciously from these formative years.

Some things are less useful, like if you have ever been bullied. You might still not speak up at work because you hope not to get noticed so you won`t be the recipient of unwanted – and destructive – attention. Unfortunately, this might get in the way of you being noticed as a valued employee, or as someone who contributes quality ideas. It is not advisable to not stick up for yourselves as an adult. Being a grown up includes many situations where we need to advocate for ourselves. We are now mature enough to show bullies (they often stay in the habit as they grow up as well) that they are out of line and that we are not allowing that kind of behavior.

Another thing that may be carried over from school years can be a sense of entitlement. Maybe we were a teacher`s pet. Maybe our parents made sure that things went smoothly for us to a point where we did not have to put in the required effort. That is a very destructive attitude, especially as an adult. People around it get tired of it quickly and won`t tolerate this attitude. The person with the attitude often gets excluded, not knowing the reason and feeling even more connected to their entitlement attitude.

Some people I know still have the habit of celebrating this feeling of a fresh start in the fall to a point where it slows them down at work and in life. They want to improve every aspect of their lives. They end up stuck in lists and organizational tools, charts and time tables for the smallest things. Then they finally have to relinquish all of it and return to their habitual state of “winging it”. They become frustrated, experiencing a sense of failure, followed by a chronic adrenaline rush, or anxiety, that is the outcome of “winging it”.

No matter what you experienced during your school years, there is a benefit of reflecting on that time of your life. What is it that you still have in your life that`s a remnant of the memorable “back to school” feeling? Some people return happy, eager to learn new things. Others, unfortunately, may dread their place in the social web of their environment.

Take a moment to consider the good memories and activities, maybe even do them more consciously this year. Then let go of the things that don`t serve you well, that you don’t enjoy. Remember to embrace those memories that are beneficial and discard those that aren’t. I hope you have a wonderful start this fall and remember, choice allows us to determine the destinies of our lives.

Author Sabine Starr is a psychologist licensed in Vienna, Austria, currently living and working in Mission Hills. She has written numerous articles for professional psychology journals. For further information, visit and follow her blog at; and a new social media offering is


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