Sometimes, when I talk to teens, they tell me that teen life sucks.
It’s sad to hear them say that at a time in their lives that’s supposed to be wonderful, interesting and exciting. The teenage years are when they form their identity and it’s sad to hear that they came to the conclusion that teen life sucks.
It’s sad because if they believe it sucks, they are more likely to feel that it sucks. If they think teen life sucks, their subconscious will create a self-fulfilling prophecy, and their life will actually “suck”.
It’s not the thought that makes it true, it’s that subconsciously, the thought will lead to action that will make it true. Whatever you believe, this is your reality.
I love those Buddhist quotes and there’s one in which the Buddha said it perfectly:
Wherever you go, there you are
My motto is that in life, you get what you focus on. If you get up in the morning and you focus on what sucks, you will get exactly that, life that sucks!
Teen life is complicated and involves many aspects. Yes, there are components that don’t work the way we want them to. Sometimes, they work to our advantage and sometimes they do not. It’s still a far cry from considering teen life as sucking completely.
Teens can be very total in their thinking. During their teen years, they become more aware of what’s happening to them and they develop more critical thinking. They try to make rules and draw conclusions from what’s happening to them in life. If teens try something and it doesn’t work, they tend to think that it was a terrible idea and they should avoid it forevermore.
Unfortunately, such teens take this attitude with them into adulthood, “If I fail once, it means I will fail all the time”. As they become parents, it’s easy to pass this on to children.
It’s amazing that teens adopt this belief. When they’re kids, they think quite the opposite. As soon as they’re born, they behave along the lines of “Try, Try, Try again”. Otherwise, no baby would ever crawl, walk, hold a spoon, speak, go to the toilet or play.
Babies are born with this ability to try again and again. That’s why 5 minutes after a huge fight with a friend, even if they got to crying, pushing and shoving, they can play again as if nothing happened.
I think teens forget their ability to keep trying. We, the grownups in their lives (parents and teachers), need to help them learn that defeat isn’t in falling down but staying down. We, their socializing agents (parents and teachers), need to give them the tools to consider challenges as opportunities to grow. We often forget to teach them that “this too shall pass”.
Sometimes, life sucks and we cannot control that. It happens to the best of us. We need to teach our teens that what they can control in this “sucky life” they think they have, is their own beliefs and thoughts.
We need to help teens believe they have the power, every day, to make changes when something that happens sucks – to do something, to think something, or to consider something that will change their definition from “teen life sucks” to “this particular thing sucks”. This sort of mind frame allows room for hope that things can be better.
Teens need to learn to evaluate life as a “sucking incident”, an “exam that sucked”, a “not so good discussion” or even a “sucky day”. These things are a far cry from an entire life that sucks.
Here are some tips to help you get over things that sick in teen life:
- Say to yourself, “This too shall pass”. There’s always a way, there’s always a solution. Nothing but the end of the world is the end of the world. If you’re a parent or a teacher reading this post, make sure your passing on this message to your kids and teens. Even an F in an exam isn’t the end of the world. Sometimes it may seem like it to you, and you want to stress to them how important a certain aspect in life is. For example, academic achievement can have a huge impact on a teens future. Just be careful not to make them feel like it’s the end of the world if they don’t make it. This kind of attitude can backfire because when there are more important things, they can’t regulate their emotions as well .
- Remember that we can’t have light without darkness. We need both the sun and the rain to see the rainbow. Life has ups and downs, and at the end of every down, there’s an up. When a window closes, another one opens. Things will get better.
- Don’t fall into the happiness trap (which is a strange thing for me to say, seeing as I am the happiness coach!). Happiness isn’t the absence of any bad feelings. If we were always happy, we would never know it because we would always feel the same. Happiness is only when the good feelings occur more often than the bad ones. It’s OK to feel sad, hurt, disappointed… just make sure to have more joy, love, friendship, success.
- Remember to count your blessings. When you’re experiencing something that you think “sucks”, remind yourself of what you already have. Count your “fortune”. You know, every parent who’s experienced loss understands that every day that they get up in the morning to see their kids are around, healthy and alive is a happy day. We learn to appreciate things only after they are taken away from us. Appreciation always comes with the realization of how fortunate we are that things aren’t worse.
- Whenever you have an experience that sucks, ask yourself, “What can I learn from it?”. If you ask good questions, you will get good answers. If you’re a parent or a teacher, let your teen ask themselves this question. Don’t ask them for the answer. It can seem patronizing. Make sure you tell them that things will be fine, you trust them to learn from it and you’re convinced that things will be better next time. Let them ask the questions by themselves. They won’t learn otherwise.
- Listen! It’s important to teach teens to tune into what’s happening around them – to learning from everything and everyone around them. They can only do this when they listen. Teach teens that every second they listen, attentively, holds treasures. Every second they spend speaking about their day that sucked is reinforcing the memory of how much their day sucked.
- Learn how to Next! Learn to let go of things that you can’t change. Why? Because by definition, you can’t change them. I love the serenity prayer, I think every family, every class, every teacher has to have this on the walls as a reminder of our humanity.
- You’re not a victim. Victims have no power but you do. Nothing can happened to you without you knowing about it. Everything requires your participation. If you’re there when it happens, you’re participating. No one can step on you without you laying down. If someone is bully you (which is definitely wrong), you still have choices. Let me tell you how. No one can control your thoughts! Go inside your mind and indulge in the power to choose your own thoughts. Remember, there’s always, always, always a way!
- It’s OK to be on your own. It gives you time to think clearly without interruptions. Balancing time by yourself with good friends is essential for good health (mental and physical). Don’t be tempted to think that having 5000 friends on Facebook is the way to overcome loneliness, it’s not. It’s an illusion that doesn’t allow us to be ourselves. Be yourself, everyone else is taken.
- Keep moving forward. Action. Action is what you need. Every step forward, will get you closer to your destination. Just focus on the target and look forward. Eventually, you will get there! You don’t have to be the best at everything in order to reach your goal. Many people who could have made it will get tired and drop off along the way. You will succeed purely because you kept going.
- Be kind to yourself! It’s OK to make mistakes. It makes you human. Don’t punish yourself for every mistake. Reward yourself for every success. If you have more successes then mistakes you are already great! If you celebrate and reward yourself for successes, you multiply the positive feeling long after the event is over. This allows you to store happiness as back up for days that suck!
Remember that teen life itself doesn’t suck, only small parts of it. Tomorrow, when you get up in the morning, the sun will shine again and you will have a new start, a new beginning.