Entries in direction (9)
This week alone I sat with five different teenagers all describing intense anxiety, worrying, stomach problems, and problems sleeping. Upon further exploration it was revealed that most of this worry comes from school and friends. Did you know that 84% of teenagers describe themselves as overwhelmed and suffer psychological consequences because of it. So how do you as a parent encourage excellence from your teenager without adding to this pressure, and how can you help relieve the stress they already feel?
1. Listen: This is the number one thing you can do to help your teen manage their stress. Listen empathetically without trying to fix their problems. Also, avoid telling them how they could have done it differently. Try to stay away from statements such as “Well, if you had only.... you wouldn’t be in this position.” Chances are they already know, and telling them now will not help their current position. Say things like “I know what its like to have that big of a deadline looming,” or “that sounds like its really getting to you”. Further you want to make statements and ask questions that encourage further discussion from your teen.
2. Encourage healthy eating and sleeping patterns: Teens who eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly can manage stress with less psychological consequences. While I know that you can’t control what they do, you can make sure nutritious food is available to them, and model a healthy lifestyle yourself.
3. Watch your expectations: Make sure your teen knows you expect excellence and not perfection. Perfection is toxic and can lead to stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
4. Encourage them to “be vague”: So many teens come to me with one plan for their life, make valedictorian, get into (Insert prestigious school here), and become a (insert high power job here). While its great to have a plan and goals, they need to be flexible. There are things outside of their control for all of those goals so they are not appropriate to have. Encourage them to have goals that are only within their control. Strive for excellence with their grades, get into a good school, and major in something they enjoy and will be able to provide them with a future.
Making these small changes with your teen can help them lead a balanced and less stressed life, giving them less anxiety and irritability. A win win for everyone!
Now you might be thinking, “What do all of those things have to do with pain?.” Frequently a client will tell me, “I just want to feel better,” and if that statement becomes stronger than “I want to heal” nine times out of ten they will choose one of the above dysfunctions instead of the path towards healing.
The thing about pain is it takes a while, sometimes you have to be there for longer than you want to. Its uncomfortable, it hurts, and it can often be excruciating. It will also stretch you and require you to grow in so many ways. If you reach for a “quick fix,” the pain does not go away, it is simply delayed and it continues to grow and fester until even your favorite coping mechanism does not work anymore.
If you are experiencing emotional pain, it takes courage to allow that pain to heal; to grieve, journal, talk, cry, sob, surround yourself with loved ones and wade through it. However, the end result of feeling rather than avoiding is freedom. Freedom from the pain, and from a vice or dysfunction that has the ability to keep you stuck for so much longer.
In its simplest form, ambivalence is the state of both wanting to do something and not wanting to do something at the same time. Have you ever been in that place? I certainly have, especially when it comes to dealing with emotional issues. I am writing about this because it seems like ambivalence is a common theme right now with people. They know the importance of continuing their journey to reconcile emotional issues within themselves, and yet are unsure. Everybody has their own reasons for staying in that place. Fear, uncertainty, feeling out of control, scared of change I think are all part of it. Emotional freedom does come at a cost and part of the cost is having to embrace pain and take a hard look at yourself. However, like anything else that requires a price, the cost is worth it. If you find yourself in a place of ambivalence, I encourage you to keep moving forward. You will not grow with God, yourself, and others as long as you remain in that place.
Waiting is not something we, as Americans, do well at. I know I am making a generalization, but our society has become more and more “instant” so we do not have to wait on much. To name a few, fast food, instant media access, and numerous ways to get in touch and stay in touch with friends and family. How our society currently operates, lends our thinking processes to an instant time frame or frame of reference. If we are not careful, we can generalize this type of thinking to how God works in our lives and even expect Him to operate in our instant time frame from which we are accustomed to operating.
Waiting on God I believe is what develops our character with God, ourselves, and others. It is in waiting on Him that we have to depend on Him, listen, and be still. It is all too quickly becoming a lost art. I came across a quote recently that says this:
"There should always be more waiting than striving in a Christian's prayer" - Evelyn Underhill
May we all take this to heart and learn to wait on God, verses demand that he come through for us.
I was having a fairly good run today, my legs felt strong, and I had a good breathing rhythm going. Suddenly, as I rounded the corner I ran smack into a brick wall. Okay maybe not a literal brick wall, but the wind was so strong and pushed back at me so hard that it might as well have been a brick wall. As I struggled against the wind putting one foot in front of the other, I couldn't help but think how much easier it would be if I could just turn around and run in the opposite direction. In changing my direction I would not have to fight the wind and have it at my back. It made me think of an especially tearful session I had this week.
The client was struggling as she attempted to change the direction of her life and make better choices. She felt as if she was fighting with everything she had and going nowhere. With a sob she declared that she should just stop trying and that it would be so much easier to just "go with it". I actually agree with her. Many times it would be a lot easier to "go with it" rather than continue to fight to see the change in our lives. Therefore, where do you want to be in six months, one year, or five years? If you "go with it" you're guaranteed an easier ride, but you are also guaranteed that you will not get where you want to go. You may feel like you're not making any progress, but as long as you continue to fight and put one foot in front of the other you are, at the very least, moving forward.
As I fought the wind and rounded the corner, I was suddenly sheltered by a row of houses and my run once again became pleasant. I was reminded that while we may feel like we're fighting with all we have, struggles do not last forever and there will be a reprieve. If you're struggling today or feel like you are running into the wind, I would encourage you to keep close to God, keep fighting the good fight, even if it would seem easier to give in.