Confidence, Depression, Life Coaching, Motivation & Inspiration, Youth Work

The Quiet Teenage Plague

There is a quiet plague that is infecting teenagers around the globe. It’s the festering combination of lacking confidence, conforming to look, act and feel a certain way and the pressure to achieve success in everything before you make it through puberty. All of these things have manifested themselves in a generation of quietly insecure, self-loathing young people afflicting themselves with self-harm, too much drug and alcohol abuse, ill-equipped with the life skills to grow up and make a positive contribution to the world.

What have we done?

I recently contributed to a workshop for the lower 6th form of an elite girl’s school. The room was full of bright, beautiful faces. These girls are well-educated and have many opportunities before them. Yet, when I held my session on First Impressions, I asked them if they like what they see when they look in the mirror. I didn’t mean just the outward appearance, but what radiates from within.

Much to my chagrin, only one out of the girls in the room held up their hand. I suspect a few more girls felt good enough to, but didn’t for fear of being labelled arrogant. Either way, it was sad. Just the question itself sent two girl out of the room in tears. This problem does not afflict girls alone, I’ve seen plenty of boys who suffer this dark lack of self-esteem as well.

This affliction goes beyond the turbulent norms of puberty. Their discomfort was palpable as was that we as parents, teachers, care givers and leaders in society are doing something wrong. Our message is warped.

Here are some ideas on positive reinforcement for our teenagers in times of negative influences.

Take some of the pressure off. It’s good to encourage your kids to do their best, but when their best isn’t good enough don’t criticise, encourage instead. Children come into their own at different times. Early achievers often suffer setbacks when they finally fail at something, while those left to develop at their own speed without constant parental pushing appreciate and thrive on success when it happens.

And when it comes to failure, teach your children not to be afraid, to learn from their mistakes, and try, try again until they succeed. Failure is not a badge of shame. Tenacity paves the road to success.

Teach your kids the power of ambition, not blind ambition for the sake of success alone, but passionate ambition led by value and belief in something they love. This is the honest route to happiness.

Whether they like it or not, sport is nourishment for the body just as much as food. Start young by engaging your kids in sports; so, by the time they are teenagers and decide that nothing is more important than their social life, they’ve experienced the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise and it has become routine. I cannot express enough the value of this. Participating in sports can help young people develop confidence, self-respect, the ability to work with others, leadership skills, positive body image and healthy eating habits. Don’t take no for an answer!

Communicate openly and often. Express love. Tell your children you love them. Hug them. It’s been scientifically proven that hugging someone for 20 seconds a day reduces stress. Comfort them when they are sad or worried. There is no substitute for a parent’s love. Even if they seem not to appreciate your efforts in the moment, they will appreciate you in the future.

Share your life experiences. Our children often think we had no life before them! Correct their assumptions and tell them about the good, bad and ugly moments in your life. Let them in on your successes and failures, your loves and lost loves. Share your foolishness and fun. Let them know you’re vulnerable, sometimes weak, sometimes strong but most of all human with feelings just as significant as theirs.

Don’t let your teens overindulged. They will no doubt experiment with drugs and alcohol just like you did. In today’s world of unlimited internet access, they are also sexualized at a much early age. It is our job to make sure they don’t develop a warped sense of right, wrong and the norm. I may be older but I’m not stupid or out of touch with what our kids see and do. As parents, its our job to continuously monitor their activities and make sure they have a healthy, balanced perspective. There is a fine line between respecting your teens privacy while making sure they don’t lose the plot. Yet, we must actively encourage common sense.

Whether it’s nature, philosophy or religion, young people should explore spirituality. It’s my belief that you are not a complete person without your spirit and your spirit needs nurturing. Living in the land of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and the rest can leave one devoid of the human spirit. Furthermore, fashion magazines and “Reality TV” are more corrupting to the human spirit than most things. Tempt your teens away from technology and towards a different kind of enlightenment. Life balance is the key to a happy existence.

Finally, tell your teens they are beautiful and clever, especially when they least believe it. Bang it into them as if you are tapping on your computer keyboard. With so much external negative noise we have to reinforce our positive message and encourage thoughtful behaviour if we expect them to have a positive outcome in their lives. It is hard work being a good parent, but it’s worth it.

That’s my good life advice.

50 & Fabulous, Confidence, Depression, Life Coaching, Motivation & Inspiration, relationships

We All Need Heroes

 

The dictionary definition of hero is: A person who is admired for having done something very brave or having achieved something great.

Where would we be without our heroes to inspire us, to motivate us, to help us realise what we can achieve when we follow our passions and marry them with our values and beliefs. A true hero never asks to be put on a pedestal. Their achievements are powered by a deeply imbedded desire to go above and beyond average to carry out something life changing and selfless that has impact on not only themselves but the greater human condition.

There are super heroes and everyday heroes. We can’t all be Oprah, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, or Dr. king. However, it’s my belief that we all have a hero within, but they manifest themselves in many forms. You don’t have to leave your mark on the world to be a hero.

An everyday hero is the parents who dedicate themselves to raising good, happy, morally conscious children with and a zeal for life. A hero is the teacher who inspires her students to value education and intellectual curiosity. A hero is the public servant who puts their life on the line for our well-being. A hero is the musician who creates beautiful melodies that can stir our emotions and imaginations. A hero is the doctors who dedicates themselves to life saving research or the spiritual guide who rekindles our faith and hope. There are so many different kinds of heroes.

You see we all have the hero in us. They come out when your passion for something is so strong that you’re compelled to act for the power of good. Never under-estimate the impact you have on others or the hero in yourself. You don’t have to touch the world to be a hero, just touching one person in a positive way can make any and all of us an everyday hero.

Confidence, Depression, Life Coaching, Motivation & Inspiration

Top Tips To Beat The Blues

 

Like everyone, I suffer periodic lows and the bouts have increased with age and changing hormones. Thankfully they have never been unbearable. Nonetheless, there have been times when I’ve found motivating myself nearly impossible. Have you ever felt trapped inside your body on auto pilot and even the easiest tasks seem impossible to complete? Perhaps you just feel apathetic about everything. Are papers and unopened mail piling up on your desktop or do you have dozens of emails that need to be read in your In- Box? Ugg! Feeling low is such a bore and breaking through the haze is not without its challenges.

When I’m in a prolonged funk, I have some tried and true tricks I pull out of my bag to get my spirits lifted and my creative juices flowing. Before trying these simple steps, if you’ve been in the doldrums for more than a few weeks, I urge you to reach out to your GP for a once over. You could be suffering from proper depression and may need medicinal help to move you out of the dark and into the light – and there’s no shame in that.

Start by tuning out as much negativity as possible. That includes the news. Don’t count on the media to focus on the positive.  Shut out anyone who is an energy drainer and anything that gives you bad vibes.

Next, give yourself a swift kick up the backside with some brisk exercise. I know it’s hard but you can start by putting one foot in front of the other. Walk instead of ride when possible. If you can manage to drag yourself to the gym, that’s even better. Adrenaline will restart your flow.

Attack the clutter around you. Address your neglected responsibilities. Start with a ‘to do’ list and check off each job as you complete it. I guarantee you will feel better when you finish.

Temporarily cut out alcohol and sugar; you will feel a physical and emotional lift within days.

Do something nice for yourself, a massage or spa moment. Go see that play you’ve threatened to buy tickets for; try that new restaurant you read about. Do whatever floats your boat, just to something.

The thing to remember: life is a roller coaster. It is very rarely one long down hill slide.  So hang in there you’ll be back on top again. The key thing is you have to want to make the climb.

 

That’s my good Life advice