Oh, if I knew then what I know now, there are so many things I would have done differently! Starting with that perm I got when I was 13. That would have been a sleek bob instead. And that guy who used to hang up on me all the time? He would have been toast on day one instead of annoying me for the next four years. (I know!)
So now that my kids are edging ever nearer to their teens, it seems only right and proper to pass on my hard-learned lessons – the fundamental emotional facts of life that could prevent them from making the same mistakes I made throughout my teen years. For those of you out there with tweens and teens, here are the top three things they (and possibly you) need to know now!
1. Breathing is your best friend
Better than any drug or alcohol (yes, even tequila), breathing is your best friend when it comes to your teenage temperament. Angry and about to explode? Breathe. Deeply. Count to 10 on your fingers then exhale. Do it again. And, again. Then, one more time for good luck. Anxious about exams? Breathe. Parents pushing your buttons? Breathe. Deep breathing creates a space that allows calm to enter, turning reactions into responses and putting you back in control of your emotions. And that means that you’re far more likely to make decisions that you want to make, instead of ones you feel you have to make – something tequila definitely can’t do.
2. Everybody’s just talking about themselves
Everybody has a story. Wanna hear it? Just listen next time somebody’s angry. When anyone insults you or calls you names, don’t take it personally. They’re just talking about themselves. Write down what they said then replace your name with theirs and you’ll soon see how it works. The person who accuses you of being unreliable is usually the most unreliable of the bunch. They’re just not ready to see it, so they’ve decided it must be you. Maybe it brings up a memory they’re not ready to look at; maybe they just don’t want to take responsibility for their own feelings. Whatever the reason, as long as you remember that it’s all about them, you won’t allow it to become about you.
3. Not everybody is going to like you
Do not waste your time and energy wanting the whole world to love you. I’m not being harsh but it just ain’t possible! Look at your own life for proof. There are people in your life who you just love, right? You loved them as soon as you met them. Something clicked and away you went. Then there are people in your life that you neither love nor hate. They’re fine to chat to when you get the chance, but overall, you could take ’em or leave ’em. And then there are the others. The ones you definitely don’t like. Your personalities clash, you feel uncomfortable in their company. You just don’t get on. Well, guess what? It’s exactly the same for everyone else. Focus on the ones you love. Learn whatever lessons you can from the others without getting stressed. Simply keep on breathing, safe in the knowledge that they’re just talking about themselves and that you guys are never going to like each other anyway!