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The Change is Within

After all the talking is the listening.

Listening to your own inner wisdom takes time, patience and work.  Being quiet, peaceful and calm is where we can make the best decisions.  As a colleague pointed out to me: if you are, god forbid, in the emergency room, do you want your doctor to be frantic or calm, cool and collected?  Exactly.

Inner peace is not something attainable to many and yet we can try.  The voice in your head that says, you're not good enough is whose voice?  How did it get there?  You guessed it, The Body Keeps the Score.  Even if your parents didn't alienate you throughout your childhood, you might have internalized that insecurity when for example teachers said, you're not doing well enough, or a parent moved far away and you were left to conclude you're not good enough for one to stay.  Or you had a desperate breakup and you figured you're simply not lovable.  The law of coin flipping however might say otherwise: that each time you lose is the same chances as the first.  

The point is you gotta get out there and keep failing or having your heart broken in order to find yourself whole again.  It doesn't seem to work doom scrolling in your room.  We know that ruminating, obsessing, overthinking is part of the teenage-gloom that happens as a brain matures.  So with my own kids I keep on telling them - you can do hard things.  It's not that shocking!  Without these data points of life experience, you have no information on what you want or who you want to be.  Sitting around wondering if you'll ever be someone worthy is not healthy.  Trying new things seems to counteract this stagnation, paralysis and perfectionism.  The novelty of new situations trains your brain that there are other grooves available. Play a different tune!  Walk a different way around the block.  Unblock your senses.  

My client texts me if it's OK that her boyfriend didn't answer her last text several hours ago, as if his momentary lapse is tantamount to abandonment.  It's not the same thing!  It's just a few hours of work and a break; maybe he doesn't need to be in constant contact.  Seeing yourself make time for nothing is a great way to remember your humanity.  Sit with it.

       During the pandemic young adults became locked in their heads - an endless loop of worries.  Usually their friends would provide a rudder - to right the ship in the storm - and all together, one giant friend group.  Ezra Klein interviewed a social media and teen expert (Jean Twenge); she said that the uptick in suicidality in teens in 2012 was correlated with some unexpected items.  It's not the phones, it's the isolation and loneliness.

The phone rings.

You don't have to answer it.

You don't have to "come off" as somebody else.

But you do have to "lean into" what you're avoiding.  It will give you lots to talk about.  Having touch points, or turning points or transitions can be awkward, but also tremendously life-changing.  At least give yourself the chance to try.

As a therapist to teens and young adults I push them a lot.  I talk to their parents (when they allow it), I talk to their schools.  I have had more than one teen reporting agoraphobia.  Save that for when you're old.  Life is for living.  Check in with yourself, do a body scan - are you ready?  It's your Defining Decade.


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