“It’s Just Too Much”; Why Teens are Mean pt. 2

Yeah, yeah, it’s been a while. Are you still there?

 

As promised, I’m here to continue the conversation about communication, emotions, and our ability to express them in a healthy way. Today I want to focus on emotional numbing and how it affects the psyche.

In my last post I highlighted the ways in which all humans have a tendency to ignore or discount their own feelings and emotions. For maturing teens, this is especially difficult. Bottling up emotions can lead to violent outbursts and feelings of confusion and pain. When we express our emotions in a healthy way, we are able to let go of the need to bottle them up. Letting go of this natural tendency will allow more energy to flow through your heart, body and mind.

During transitional phases in our lives, bottling up emotions can seem like the only way to get through it. It’s not always possible to express our emotions constructively and many people don’t know how to start. Some people suppress their emotions, while others ignore them entirely. When an individual becomes overwhelmed with stimuli, a natural response is to shut down. Like a computer running multiple programs that hasn’t been restarted in weeks, the human brain becomes slow and bogged down.

You may wonder what the difference is between bottling up emotions and becoming numb to them.

When you bottle up an emotion, there is an air of secrecy. Maybe you think your feelings are unjustified, unimportant or that no one will care how you feel. In these situations, you keep your feelings and thoughts to yourself and ignore the emotions connected to them.

Emotional numbing is when we become closed off and unable to feel deep emotion altogether. Sometimes this is in defense against pain or injustice from our past, but there are innumerable reasons. When we feel overwhelmed by our constant flood of emotions and thoughts, we can become overstimulated and unsure of where to start when it comes to figuring out “what’s wrong.” Instead, we might just close ourselves off to emotion entirely.

Common phrases to hear from someone who is emotionally numb are “It’s too much to handle” or “I don’t know how I feel.”

Emotional numbing is a natural way of protecting oneself. When we have suffered a wrong, it can feel easier to just block everyone and everything out rather than facing the pain head-on. Compared to bottling our feelings which leads to outbursts, emotional numbing can seem like the “healthier” way to deal with problems. But in reality, it is even harder to recover from emotional numbing than emotional outbursts.

Emotional numbing can be incredibly damaging on the brain and heart. It’s not the freezing of the heart that hurts. It’s the thawing out that shocks our system. You might ask why not just stay frozen? After all, it’s comfortable there. You feel protected there. It’s easy to stay safe and avoid all the bad feelings if you look at life from far away. I’ll tell you why…

When you close yourself off from emotion, you not only block out the bad feelings, but you simultaneously eliminate the chance for good feelings as well. I’m not just talking about happy and sad though. I’m talking about a general sense of feeling alive, moving your body and exercising your muscles, feeling loved and excited and getting worked up about something that moves you. These are the feelings you eliminate by closing yourself off to emotion.

And the biggest part of it is that no matter how hard you try to block out those negative feelings  (anger, sadness, loneliness, insecurity) it won’t really matter because you’ll probably still feel them anyway. Instead, you’ll feel them inside. You’ll have conversations in your head with yourself reminding you of how you didn’t do well enough or that someone else could do better than you. This is called self-doubt. Self-doubt is a truly crippling type of hell. Plagued by ideas in your own head of what others must think of you, you avoid contact with people. Those who are most closed-off are often the most self conscious and insecure.

But let me ask you a question.

What’s the worst that could happen if someone says something rude to you or judges your character?


Teenagers are so driven by community and a sense of fitting in that they would do just about anything not to be made fun of for being different. Being the “weird” kid isn’t a title many kids sign up for willingly. The craving for community is what leads many teens to drug abuse, gangs, and dangerous behavior. It also leads them to bullying and an overall rejection of kids who are different from themselves.

This fear of rejection leaves a kid with few social options. Sometimes the choice is limited to only two options: be made fun of or make fun of others.

If you ask a teenager the question I posed above, the answer is likely to be radically different from that of an adult and also quite different from the answer of a child. During transitional phases in life, we experience a heavily opinionated inner critic who contributes to our self-doubt and self limiting beliefs. Much like a childhood bully, this critic picks apart the aspects of ourselves that we see as “flawed.”

The best way of preparing a child for the onslaught of confusing emotions, conflicting beliefs and uncontrollable desires that come with puberty is acceptance. Teaching children to respect, accept, and honor their feelings, even if they don’t know what these feelings mean, will give the child a greater sense of calm when faced with bigger issues.

Reminding kids to BE KIND to everyone they meet is the most important lesson of all- for every person is going through his or her own battle that we know nothing about. Every outward reaction is a mere reflection of one’s own relationship with the self. When someone is hurtful, they are usually hurting even more on the inside. Teach compassion, empathy, and an overall sense of care for others’ wellbeing.

This reminder to be kind no matter the situation reiterates the importance of honoring our emotions instead of ignoring them. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be honest with others about what you’re going through. It’s okay because we’ve all been there. The collective human experience is filled with pain and hardship, but at the turn of every corner, you will find a reward worth every ounce of pain. Just keep going. Just be kind. First to yourself, and the rest will follow ❤

Always with love
xoxo
Dee

Let’s Talk About Heartbreak

It might not be your favorite topic, but heartbreak is a key aspect of growing. It helps you realize what you want in a relationship by showing you what you don’t want. That being said, it still hurts like a bitch.

My closer friends know that I just had a pretty wild summer. I moved to Kansas for love, intent on spending several years there before coming back to California. For one reason or another, my life did not follow the course I had set for it. Maybe setting a course was my first mistake. Either way, I ended up back in Northern California on October 1st.

My best friend and her husband took me in right away. She even got me a same-day plane ticket home. She heard my desperation and heartbreak through tears in my eyes, voice, and heart as I told her that things in Kansas just weren’t going to work out. Big shoutout to this amazing human. I love you Christina!

For those of you reading that don’t know me that well, I’ll tell you right now that I’m a pretty private person when it comes to my love life. Don’t expect details or explanations. Don’t expect to hear me talking shit or bashing my exes. Every single decision I make in my life, good or bad, has taught me something. Every experience has opened my eyes to new perspectives. Every relationship I enter teaches me more about myself as a partner, friend, and lover. I am a pupil of life and love and heartbreak is just another subject to study. No regrets ya’ll!

If you wanted drama, go ahead and click away from this post. If you want to start a conversation about growth, shout it out! Here are a couple (okay, a bunch) of things I learned from heartbreak this year:

  1. See the blessing in EVERYTHING- life is meant to test and teach us.
  2. Without darkness, light has no value. Without shadow, there is no highlight. Without sunset, there is no sunrise. Appreciate the lows in life and let them come and go so you can focus your energy on the highs.
  3. There are no wrong decisions in love as long as you follow your heart.
  4. Don’t be afraid to make decisions on a whim. This goes along with following your heart. If something feels right, go for it. Don’t give a single f*** about what others will think of your choices. Adventure is so damn fun and will teach you so much. Embrace it!
  5. Don’t be ashamed when a relationship doesn’t work out (even if you told the whole internet and everyone you know that you were gonna end up marrying and having babies with this person) You can’t predict the future and it’s okay to accept that this one just didn’t work out.
  6. Just because it didn’t work doesn’t mean you did something wrong. Sometimes two seemingly compatible people are at such different stages of growth that their vibrations cancel one another out, leveling both parties.
  7. Don’t try to force something to work. You will end up sacrificing your own energy and personal growth trying to be a better match for your partner. When two people are meant to share their lives, it will happen naturally and bloom like a beautiful flower in spring.
  8. Hold onto friendships and relationships with an open hand. Sometimes people need to drift away from you to grow themselves. Try not to take this personally. (I like to view this as giving people the space they need to be the best version of themselves. Otherwise, you aren’t being a good friend to them and really, who wants to be a bad friend? Not me!)
  9. I can’t stress this one enough, so listen up!!!!!! —No matter what someone says to you, no matter how nasty, how mean, how hurtful, never react with that same energy! — Nine times out of ten, when someone is being hurtful to you with their words, it is a reflection of the pain in their own heart. Never wish someone pain in these situations. Wish them healing. Wish them love. ❤
  10. Never treat someone as “bad” as they are. Treat them as good as you are. Responding with negative thoughts and energy will only drain you and make you feel worse. Be the bigger person. Spread love around like avocado on toast. (And sometimes you can sprinkle a little salt on top for flavor, but be careful- there is definitely such a thing as too much salt)
  11. Don’t let an ended relationship set you back. Feel the pain, let it consume you, release it and move on. You have so many things to do in this lifetime. A true friend wouldn’t want to see you suffer endlessly over them, and an untrue friend is never worth suffering over to begin with.
  12. The only person you “need” in life is yourself. Feeling needed can be sweet, but it can also be overwhelming and suffocating if you don’t feel worthy of being needed by someone else. (I’ve always wanted to feel “needed” as a way to prove to myself that I’m worthy, but I realized recently that all I need is love and the love I get from others is dependent on the love I have for myself and the love I project into the universe.)
  13. You get what you put out. Seriously, read that again. Over and over. Get that shit tattooed on you if you can’t remember it. YOU CREATE YOUR OWN REALITY. The physical world and everything in it is only a mirror of your own self. If you are negative, the whole world is negative. If you show love, you will receive love. It’s that simple.

Life will go on. Time will heal you. Love will nourish you. You will prevail. You will survive. You will thrive.

Always with love- xoxo Dee