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Life lessons for teenagers
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[Day 12] 10 Things I Wish I’d Known as a Teenager

Life lessons for teenagers

I’ve had to learn a lot of things the hard way. Partly because I didn’t have any support and partly because I was too stubborn to ask for that support.

But had I known the following ten things then, I would have most certainly been happier, had more self-respect and felt confident enough to say no to the things that were hurting me.

These ten things are exactly what I teach and encourage the teens I work with to embrace through my coaching programs, so if at any time you’re feeling like you (teen or parent) are ready to take it a step further and get the support you need, you can go here to fill out the form for a free discovery session with me.

Now, the ten things.

#1 Getting other people to like me will never be a substitute for liking myself.

My primary motivating factor in my younger years was to get people to like me. I was able to feed off others’ love or infatuation for me, but the moment I was alone I would lose my mind. Had I known how to accept myself first rather than looking outside for validation, I would have been able to help myself. Instead, I gave other people the power to determine how I felt.

#2 My body is beautiful and sacred.

I did a lot of stupid things to my body because I didn’t really care about it. I thought I was fat and ugly and tried to numb myself in any way I could. Sex, drugs, cutting and starving myself were my (very ineffective) ways of dealing with pain. Had I known my body was sacred, I would have cared more about how I treated it and how others did too.

#3 It’s okay to be angry, just make sure I know what I’m really angry about.

I was incredibly bitter and pissed off as a teen. It was my normal state. And while I had every right to be, I also took it out on myself and other people who crossed my path. I thought I was mad because of what other people did, but I was mad that I didn’t know who I was or how to express what I was feeling. I was mad because I was disconnected from my true self. Had I known how to connect with the real me, I’d have been able to process my emotions instead of adding another layer of “I shouldn’t feel this way” on top of the challenging emotions I was already experiencing.

#4 I have the right to feel everything I feel.

I thought I was just supposed to be happy. I thought I had to be happy so everyone else would be happy. No one validated my feelings so I learned to invalidate my own (classic borderline personality disorder). I was sad and pissed off, but because no one else thought I should feel that way I denied it and my behaviors became the only means of expressing my pain. Had I known I had the right to feel what I felt, I would have made better choices because they would have come from me and not my unexpressed pain.

#5 I’m not responsible for how other people feel.

Manipulation and guilt trips were used frequently in my home. I felt like because of me my parents were fighting, because of me my mom had to work her butt off after the divorce, I thought because of me everything was screwed up. With no one to tell me otherwise, I truly believed that I had to change to fit everyone else’s needs. Had I known I wasn’t responsible for how other people felt, I would have stopped carrying all the burden of other peoples feelings and been free to be more of who I was.

#6 I’m not the only one with problems.

With all this burden and thinking everything was my fault, I had convinced myself that I was the only crazy person. I would isolate myself from other people because I felt like a disease. I felt as if somehow being around me would ruin someone’s life. Had I known I wasn’t the only person with problems, I would have stopped trying so hard to fit in and embraced (and therefor accepted) myself and others more.

#7 The world does not revolve around me.

Because I was so isolated I started to become self-obsessed. My ego, in an effort to protect me, convinced me I was better than everyone else. I walked around like I was so cool, but felt like I was dying on the inside. I didn’t realize or understand how much others around me were struggling too. Instead, I made sure everyone knew how bad I was feeling. Had I known the world didn’t revolve around me I would have been much nicer to the people around me.

#8 My worth does not depend on anything outside of me.

With my inflated ego running the show, and no connection to my true self, everything became about what I wore, the kinds of cigarettes I smoked, the bands I listened to. I was constantly trying to prove my worth to other people – especially my peers. Had I known my worth didn’t depend on anything outside of me I would have never given up on the things that mattered to me. I would have been able to hear what my soul really wanted.

#9 Friends don’t make friends do drugs.

As you may know, I struggled with addiction. I thought doing drugs with people made them my friends. Not true. We were never friends. We were just lost teenagers trying to feel like we weren’t so alone. Had I known friends don’t make friends do drugs, I would have chosen better friends and not taken such a long time to overcome my addictions.

#10 I deserve to be happy.

During my teen years it never occurred to me that happiness was an option. Real happiness. I could chase the next guy, have adventures and be reckless to simulate happy feelings, but I was never really satisfied. Had I known I deserved to be happy, I would have stopped waiting for something to change to be happy. I would have set myself free.

As you can see, what we believe impacts how we show up in the world, the choices we make, the actions we take. All the things we have ever done are because of what we were believing about ourselves and the nature of the world. The good news is, with practice and support we can rewire our brains, change our beliefs and begin to have a say about what we will and won’t allow into our experience.

We have a choice in every moment.

What will you choose?

If you’re an adult, what are some things you wish you’d have known as a teenager? And kids, if a future version of yourself came to visit you today, what would he or she say? Leave me a comment below.