“I Hate You”; Why Teens are Mean pt. 1

Dear Reader,

Think back to a time when your emotions were so strong that you had to act on them- maybe you got frustrated and yelled out in anger, maybe you were feeling afraid and began to cry. Re-read that sentence and really think about it for a moment.

For some of you, this memory may be from when you were very young, still a child. For others, this memory of intense emotion may be from your teenage and young-adult years. For ALL of you reading this, it’s also possible that you experienced this just recently! We are human, after all. Emotion is what enriches our lives and also complicates it.


Teens and Emotions

Teenagers experience a wide range of emotions multiple times a day. Flooded with neurotransmitters, the teenage mind is in a constant state of rapid change. You may remember what that felt like or you may have witnessed it first-hand as it happened to your own child. The fact of the matter is that teenagers have a lot going on in their heads and it affects their behavior and understanding of the world more than they may realize.

There’s been a heavy weight on my mind and my heart recently. I know a couple of teenagers right now who are going through rough transitions into young-adulthood. One in particular is my little brother. I feel the pain he’s in when he acts out. I recognize the patterns of anger, sadness, insecurity, self judgment, and emotional numbing that I went through when I was his age (and still go through when my mind is not balanced). My brother and I share a tendency to bottle up our feelings and have subsequent outbursts of intense emotion. Sometimes we say things we don’t mean, whether intentionally hurtful or not, as an emotional reaction to how we feel on the inside. It’s not a fun place to be. It’s actually pretty fucking scary.

As a third party in the lives of both of the teenagers I know, I realize there is truly only one way in which I can help them through this tough time: understanding them. Trying to tell them what I’ve learned and how I learned it will do them no good. In order to grow, you must learn things in your own way and on your own timeline.

There are many ways in which a person copes with intense emotion. Two natural ways of dealing with emotion are through emotional outbursts and emotional numbing. Outbursts are caused when emotions aren’t fully expressed and bottle up over time. Numbing happens when a person becomes so overwhelmed by their thoughts and feelings that they become desensitized and experience a disconnection with all feelings.


Cause: Bottling Up Emotions

Even though we may not enjoy these emotions -anger, sadness, insecurity, etc- they are all natural emotions that we feel as humans. If we don’t express them, they can bottle up. Sometimes it happens in such a subtle way that we don’t even realize it.

Example: Adults Bottling Emotions Example: Teens Bottling Emotions
  • Your roommate stayed up all night and kept you awake, but instead of knocking on the door and asking her to keep it down, you laid awake in bed thinking about how rude she’s being and reconsidering living with her.
  • A kid at school made fun of you and everyone laughed. Instead of telling the kid to leave you alone and that you don’t care what they say about you, you avoid the kid and all of their friends.
  • You get jealous when your partner spends time with other people. You trust your partner, but you are unable to shake the feeling of jealousy, so instead you hide it. Instead of expressing the feeling, you pretend you aren’t jealous and think negatively about yourself for feeling that way.
  • Your parents are divorced and speak negatively about one another around you. Next time one parent does or says something unfair to you, you remember what the other parent said. Instead of expressing how you feel about the unfairness, you talk to the other parent about it. Your attitude becomes negative around the “unfair” parent and you naturally spend less time with them.
  • Your coworker tells you the boss is writing employees up unfairly and you feel compelled to stand on your coworkers’ side. After all, camaraderie is important. But instead of getting the facts straight, you hold a grudge against your boss and over time you develop a sour taste for your job entirely.
  • You hear from one friend that another friend is mad at you. You feel betrayed and question all of your mutual friends to see if anyone knows why. Overwhelmed with all of the opinions, you decide it’s easiest to be mad at your friend too. Besides, you didn’t do anything wrong. Why should they be mad at you?

Effect: Emotional Outbursts

Over time, we bottle up so many little things that are seemingly harmless, but actually take up a big majority of our energy. Once we reach our max, we have to release all the pressure in the bottle. Some people learn to release the pressure gradually, but many of us have a tendency to explode.

We’ve all seen this happen. Your partner blows up at you for something small and seemingly insignificant. Later on, you realize they have been hiding their feelings out of fear, embarrassment, insecurity, or a number of other reasons. Your boss had a bad weekend and takes it out on you and your coworkers.

The teenage brain, already overloaded with thoughts and feelings, explodes more often and sometimes more violently than an adult. Teenagers can be especially hurtful to others during these intense explosions. Sometimes they cuss, yell, slam doors and say things like “I hate you.” It’s important to understand that these intense outbursts are a reflection of their inner feelings.

How To Help

  • Don’t mirror their behavior! If someone is acting out, the worst thing you can do for them is reinforce their destructive behavior by responding in the same way. Take a deep breath and put yourself in their shoes before you start yelling back.
  • Don’t take what they say personally. Remember how toxic those bottled up emotions can make you feel. Remember the desperation you felt to express those toxic emotions in an attempt to get them out. Every outward reaction we have to one another is just a reflection of how we react inwardly within ourselves. Think of the skin as a window, not a wall.
  • Give them time to cool off. After any intense emotional reaction or interaction, it’s best to back up a few steps and recenter yourself. Emotions can be complex and take time to work through. If you are able to communicate calmly, you’ll get much further in resolving the issue.
  • Be open and calm when you talk again. Try to express how they made you feel without blaming or attacking. Ask questions! Most of us have questions, but for fear of judgment or of “sounding stupid” we keep them in. It might be uncomfortable at first, but if you can ask just one question that requires depth and starts a productive conversation, you’ll be glad you did.

 

In my next blog, I’ll talk more about emotional numbing and why it happens. Emotion can be powerfully overwhelming if you don’t know how to effectively express it. Instead of bottling it up and exploding or letting emotion flow through you naturally, some people cope by cutting off emotion entirely.

Until then, I’m off to do some yoga and ground myself after the momentous rain storm that just hit the entire West Coast at one time. I spy a few cracks of sunlight through the redwood trees.

Always with love,
xoxo
Dee

In Defense of Small Talk

How are you?
What’s up?
What do you do?
How’s life?
Where do you live?

I hear these all the damn time. “What do you do?” is my least favorite of them all. That quote all over Instagram rings so true to me:

grocerylisthappy
Today I was reflecting on this and how small talk works, and I thought of something. Small talk makes me uncomfortable. It’s not that it is under-engaging per se, but without follow up questions to gain depth it makes me feel vulnerable. The simpler the question, the more depth is required of my answer in order to have a genuine and engaging conversation with someone. That’s a lot of pressure for me sometimes. It requires me to be confident in myself, comfortable in my views, and transparent with my emotions. That can be so exhausting when you’ve been hurt a lot.

By avoiding small talk, I’ve actually realized that meaningful conversations are much harder to come by.

My generation was taught to hide behind a mask when we express ourselves or to just ignore it and bottle it up. For whatever reason,  I tend to do the latter. I have dreams, goals and ideas in my head and heart that bubble up from time to time, but sometimes I just keep them in. I have a hard time sharing my passions and interests with just anyone because I’m a bit sensitive to criticism. I worry others won’t understand the passion behind my beliefs, and because I’m an empath I am easily influenced by others’ beliefs and tend to change myself and my own energy to match that of other people.

Are you an empath?

planetaryhealer

The Planetary Healer Empath

Your Total Score: 80 out of 80
Your Out of Control Healer Score: 10 out of 10
Your Protection Tools Score: 25 out of 25
How Much You Mirror Others Unconsciously Score: 15 out of 15
Your Appreciation for Nature Score: 10 out of 10

“You scored extremely high on the overall results. You are definitely an empath.

You are highly intuitive and can almost always tell when people are lying. You may want to look into getting energy work and healing done on your second chakra. Usually people that need to be around water all the time have blocks in their second chakras. You love nature and unconsciously understand its healing effects — which is a general, but strong indicator that you are an empath. You have a deep love and appreciation for nature. You recognize the sacred expression of all beings. You are truly wise. But you have a wonderful ability to sway and change the moods, energies, atmospheres, and environments around you.

You need to learn how to recognize and differentiate other people’s energy from yours. Learning psychic/empathic meditation tools will help. You scored the worst on the “Mirroring Others Unconsciously” portion of the quiz. It looks like you have a tendency to mirror other people and their energy. This means that you give up your energetic seniority at the whim of the world’s changing winds (in other words: other people are able to control or influence you too much on an energy level). You would benefit from learning to control your crown chakra and probably cord removal or healing work.

You are a wonderful and loving person. You are also what is known as an “out of control healer!” You would benefit immensely from energy work and empathic tools for releasing guilt and responsibility.”



 

Luckily, these are patterns I am altering. I realized that small talk can truly be a valuable tool, especially when getting to know someone but that it must be felt and not just said. I’m learning to dig deeper for depth and authenticity in my conversations. For instance, instead of asking what someone does I may ask “What are your passions?” and instead of asking where someone lives, I might ask them instead “Where are you from? Did/do you like it there?”

Sometimes I worry I come across as nosy, but I’ve learned that people respond really well when you ask them questions they don’t answer all the time. It requires them to actually look inside themselves and come up with a new answer. It requires them to be vulnerable and allowing someone to be vulnerable around you in a safe, judgment-free environment is one of the best things you can do for them (in my opinion).

Safety is really important in making new connections and relations. Sometimes when a heart breaks, it freezes in order to stop the pain. It shuts down to avoid feeling unsafe again. The heart begins to fear the next break.

But in freezing, the heart loses the richness of strong emotion. An empath is capable of loving in a way that allows others to love themselves more. Or at the very least it brings to light the barriers standing between the person and true love.

Okay, I wandered away from small talk. Do you ever get carried away with your passion? It’s a beautiful experience.

All I’m saying is don’t hate on small talk because the true culprit of surface connection is the inability to let down your guard, to dig deep for meaningful connections, and to listen more than you speak. If you can step back and see things from another perspective, your world will fill with love. Your heart will defrost, and it’ll hurt at first, but that’s okay. Feel it deeply, let it hurt, then let it go.

Tell your heart not to be afraid. Remind your heart of what lies ahead if it can hang on a little longer. Remind your heart what true childlike bliss feels like. There is love on this Earth that will cradle you and heal your heart, if only you let it in.

Always with love- xoxo Dee