My Blog:

A Dose of Insight

A lot of the questions I get from practitioners working with younger clients focus on how to handle certain issues, what to say to them, how to say it, what to do.

Often the dilemma is that the problems young people have are so different from what they themselves faced growing up.

I’m 49, for example, so I didn’t have to navigate social media as a 14-year-old, I never had to balance homework with screen-time. My teen clients face very different career path issues than I faced.

And for many practitioners and parents, they didn’t have mood swings, they didn’t struggle in academics, or their social life was fairly simple and easy.

So they have no idea what to say or offer a teen dealing with crippling academic pressure, social anxiety, rage, bullying, or depression.

But what I’ve found with struggling young clients is that what you say to them doesn’t matter much. What they really care about is the feeling you bring into the room.

When you work with a struggling young person (or you’re raising one), I’d like to suggest that your lack of input or experience is a good thing. Because the only thing you have to offer is openness and a soft landing for them.

If you stop to think about it, even if you went through exactly what they’re going through, teens don’t want to hear your story, your advice, or what you did. Chances are, neither did you when you were their age. They want to find their own answers. And they can.

So not knowing what to say, and simply listening, is ultimately what they want.

If you’re not busy trying to save or fix them, what they’ll feel from you is the sense that you’re in it together, trying to make sense of things, seeing what they think, listening and wanting to understand, asking things like “So what’s your biggest concern?” or “What’s the hardest part of all this for you?”

We all want to be understood, acknowledged, and have someone stop and show a genuine interest and respect for what we’re going through.

That kind of presence calms and settles people down. And for you, it can only happen in the absence of ‘doing,’ fixing, or saving them.

The more settled down you are, the more likely your client or your kid will drop into a more stable, secure, and open, creative state.

And in that state, people see their own answers.

I was late joining a conference call this morning and the cord to my headset was a tangled mass. Frustrated, but not making any progress, I set it down to get my water. In the walk across the room, my mind reset, I sat down, looped it through one place, and that was all it needed. It straightened out instantly.

That’s how the human mind works. When we calm down, where we see a tangled mess from a tense, upset state, we see a next step, a level of clarity, a sense of order, or the heart of the issue.

The circumstances are the same, but a shift in our level of consciousness brings a fresh set of eyes.

As practitioners, we can’t offer a struggling client a level of consciousness we don’t have ourselves.

By letting go of our own agenda and pressure to fix, solve, or save, we’re able to truly show up, be present and listen

And that calm and quiet state in us can bring out the calm and quiet in them. There’s a universal intelligence all struggling clients are connected to, even the messy teen clients. Our job is to create a space in both of us so that intelligence has a chance to surface.

That's what today's recording is all about.

Click below to watch.

A few weeks ago I got to see some of your faces on the webinar I did with Dr. George Pransky.

Teens and young adults often have very busy minds. Something that might go in and out of our minds in a matter of seconds, hovers in their thoughts for days, weeks, months...and the problems we might see as insignificant feel like mayhem and destruction for their lives.

If you work with teens, or live with them, you've probably seen it yourself - their hostile nature when they shut down, lash out at you, or hardly resemble the person you thought you knew.

That's the topic for today's webinar recording. For those who aren't familiar with George Pransky, he's my former business partner as well as my dad. He and I spent two decades working with teens and young adults to bring more stability and resilience to their lives.

George's strength has always been the sincerity, respect, and goodwill he brings to his young clients, even the ones that are shut down or upset. And that's what teens respond to best. It gives them the go-ahead to open up when they're ready.

George and I discuss how you, as a parent or practitioner, can find a way to engage teens, and approach the conversation so that they can feel you're in their corner.

Click below to watch.

In today’s interview I talk about the struggle of teens, but in a way that equally applies to adults.

Teens live a lot of their days feeling insecure, weird, overwhelmed, consumed, or let down by life, themselves, or other people. Just to name a few.

They also spend a huge amount of time feeling alone. Alone in their problems because everyone’s busy solving their own problems. Alone because nobody, even their closest friends, can fully understand what they’re up against. Nor can anyone really save them anyway.

They also feel alone because it looks JUST LIKE nobody else seems to struggle like they do.

But if you’re an adult reading this, chances are you’ve felt some, if not all of these things in the past month or week. Or maybe today.

The difference between teens and adults is that for teens, the volume is turned WAY up. Every feeling is loud. The good feelings and the bad.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, go to any rock concert. Teens get so swept up in their enthusiasm they’re crying, screaming, and fainting. Nobody does a rock concert like a teen.

But for teens, the intensity and volume is higher because they’re hormonal, which supercharges everything, and they haven’t learned things like restraint, composure, or how to regulate emotions.

As a result, they do look like a different species. At first glance, it does look like adults are human, but somehow teens are made from a different set of pieces.

So parents, the general public, even practitioners in the mental health field can get focused on how extreme, moody, and messy teens are, and start seeing teens as different. As separate.

And there’s two problems with that:

  1. Teens pick up on the theory that they’re different, they’re malfunctioning, there’s something wrong with them, that they’re separate from adults. Which scares them.

  2. Adults start to FEEL separate from them, and like there’s something wrong with them. And when parents feel that disconnect from their teens, they start living in feelings of worry, judgment, fear, despair, or feeling isolated themselves in their struggle. And that creates more struggle for both the parents and their teens.

But because I spend all day listening and getting to know the vulnerable and real side of both teen and adult clients, I have a unique vantage point.

I easily look past the intensity, the mess, and the loud volume of teen emotions, and can clearly see how teens are, in almost every way, EXACTLY the same as adults.

So I share with teens how an adult client from last week, at 54, is in a free-fall of hopelessness because she’s suddenly divorced and has to start a new career, new relationships, and a new identity. And has zero confidence or inspiration.

And how I myself was frustrated, blame-y, and doubting myself just a month ago because of a trivial and ridiculous painting project mishap.

Pointing to how we’re all universally the same in the way we’re built, the way we get lost, the way we always ALWAYS find our way back is, in my view, the real truth.

Yes we’re definitely different from each other and from teens, but we’re more the same than different.

And that’s what brings reassurance, hope, and openness to my clients. Not just the teens and/or parents I work with, but all of my clients. The message I’m pointing to, of course, is what all clients ultimately need to connect with when they get lost.

That’s what I talk about in today’s interview.

To listen to today’s recording, click here or below. You’ll be taken to the podcast series called Under the Noise. This podcast is hosted by my colleagues Wyn Morgan and Kate Roberts.

Hope you enjoy.


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