Teens often struggle with intense emotions, developing their true self, managing stress, and interacting with the world. After doing research and giving thought to these issues, I wanted to develop a concise list of circumstances that affect many teens and offer what I feel are helpful suggestions. Identifying the triggers young people face and employing other methods to manage these stressors are the solutions I propose here (hey ADULTS, maybe you'll see yourself or others in your life in these points – I know I did!).
Also, this list is written so as to be directed to the reader – so if you like this, have your child read it. I hope you do.
1. Conduct your life based on objective information and facts, not negative emotions. Taking a moment to objectively evaluate a situation and clearly look at the facts removes the negativity and impracticality of emotions.
2. At the same time, don't deny negative emotions. Negative emotions ARE real; they are telling us something about ourselves – they are triggered by an insecurity, an emotional hurt, fear or some other negative life experience. BUT, do MANAGE them. Figure out where they stem from and then decide how to channel them.
3. Anxiety/Anxious feelings are usually not reality and shouldn't be regarded as such. Anxiety/anxious feelings are powerful and can take center stage, but they are often not the truth. See point #1.
4. Beware of the difference between reasons and excuses. Being able to effectively communicate your own error, weakness or misunderstanding shows great strength. From this vantage point, a person can make amends and move on to making better decisions in the future. BUT, denying where your own responsibility lies and providing reasons for your actions instead of facing up to what you need to is only making excuses.
5. Take responsibility for yourself instead of blaming others. You are responsible for you. No one else is. This doesn't mean you should take the blame for things that aren't your fault, it just means you shouldn't make excuses for yourself. In the long run, that habit only leads to more bad feelings and frustrations. See point #4.
6. Give others the benefit of the doubt. When you make assumptions about others' thoughts and actions based on what you think in your head without any objective data, you create your own drama. And you unfairly blame someone else for actions or thoughts without any validity. See point #1.
7. Care about what others think only with regard to being courteous to another's feelings, time or effort. Accepting bullying from someone with regard to "caring what others think" is NOT the same thing; that is being a victim to another's negativity. This point is about self-realization, and closest to Point #5. You owe others courtesy; you don't need to subject yourself to others' unhelpful negative criticism. You are in control of how you feel about yourself – and others.
8. Accept that you cannot change others. We may find it perfectly reasonable for someone else to change their behavior, but we can't do anything about a person who won't. That is frustrating, but it's an objective truth. We can only manage our manner of dealing with that person.
9. Stubbornness generally is just unwillingness. It's usually negative and a defense mechanism people use to not change or accept responsibility for their own actions. Yup, cover in Point #4 and #5.
10. Live in the present moment, not a future one. FEAR is facing an actual, imminent and dangerous situation. ANXIETY is the fearing something before it happens - it's generally completely irrational. That's because the future is an unknown. Backs up Point #1 and #3.
11. Visualize a realistic view of the person you'd like to be, and create measurable, doable ways to get there. If we aren't proud of ourselves when we overreact, hate that we are late or don't keep promises to ourselves or others, don't complete our goals, etc., we're probably standing in our own way of being the person we want to be. A lot of reaching our goals stems with how we direct emotions and consider the facts in our lives as outlined in the points above. It can as simple as starting to make one good habit a life-long one; So for 17 days, make a point of achieving one goal at a time. Or, looking at others' in our lives and saying "I'd love to be more like this person" or "I know I don't want to handle things like this person." Consciousness and conscientiousness are key. Holding ourselves up to an excellent model is a good thing (but be sure that model is a good one; if we "idolize" a problem person we're just going to have more issues). The key to this is developing a sense of Self Awareness that is accurate, reasonable and reliable. Again, a conscious review of Points 1-9 above is necessary.
A myriad of quality resources exists on the Internet, in bookshops and in the form of emotional counselors that we can see in person. And having a professional counselor trained in how to help others develop their psyche is a good way to stay accountable.
Many people hire a trainer to get into shape, but they have to do all the work or they'll keep that couch potato body. The same is true for gaining a powerful emotional self – a counselor is a personal trainer for the mind.
But, the biggest cheerleader, hero and facilitator is...US. Find the tools, resources and people that work for you. Then, as U2 sings, "Get Out Of Your Own Way."
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