If you are the parent of a teen who over-thinks, over-worries and makes themselves anxious, this is for you!
Does this describe your adolescent son or daughter? If so, consider what I am offering here both as insights and to directly help.
Anxious adolescents are often difficult to effectively help. Often the most they get is help coping with their anxiety so they can manage living with it. Many are already managing it “on their own” by self-medicating (like with weed or Netflix binges or video games) or just avoiding risks all together.
Just living with them can be challenging as they drag everyone in the home down with them as they go through their emotional tornadoes.
It doesn’t have to be this way. I am having remarkable success now helping teens overcome their anxiety, by attacking it at the source and adding in essential missing pieces.
NOTE: This is not about those who suffer from severe Clinical Anxiety which is a mental illness medical condition that a small percentage of humans suffer from. That often needs clinical treatment and medication to help them stabilize.
Rather this is about those who suffer from what I call Modern Adolescent Anxiety™:
This is the kind of anxiety fundamentally brought on by living in a culture that sends constant fear based messages about how due to scarcity and competition, survival and future success depends on being the best or near the top at everything they do or must do in almost every aspect of life, and teaches very little about how real personal and professional happiness, satisfaction and success is actually obtained.
Our competitive schooling instills this message.. . Social media makes it look like everyone else has more of it than them… Well intentioned parents inadvertently reinforce this every time they compare their kids to someone else or some ideal standard that is out there… The media contributes every time it talks about how bad things are or how amazing things are but only for those who have status and tons of money… and I can go on.
These fear and scarcity messages are so pervasive that they have become ubiquitous.
Few people seem to fully appreciate the link between those inhibiting messages, and the magnitude of anxiety it is generating in our youth.
There is little attention paid to the over-stimulated imbalanced impact this has on the sympathetic nervous system, essentially leaving these kids to be living a disproportionate amount of their lives in “fight or flight mode” even when no real danger is present.
The toll this takes is immense – and it is not sustainable without great consequence.
I hope this blog helps change that.
Every adolescent I’ve worked with who struggles with this Modern Adolescent Anxiety™, shares three things in common:
1: They are “Over Thinkers” – Often their minds are racing so fast with thoughts about what could go wrong, that it is nearly impossible for them to quiet their minds or think rationally.
2: They feel inordinate pressure to get everything right or perfect or successful the first time, thus they are terrified of even partial failure. This is because they often believe there is little to no margin for error in life.
3: They orient from Fear, instead of towards Adventure: i.e. They think their future beyond childhood is something to be scared of versus believing the future is an adventure to look forward to.
This anxiety can generalize across many areas of their lives or be context specific: e.g. It only happens about test taking in school or it only happens in social settings with new people where they are worried that they won’t be entertaining or interesting enough (as if meeting a new potential friend is an audition or performance where they only get one chance) or where they are so sensitive to failing that they will only do things they know they can be “good” at and “look good” in doing, etc.
Either way, it is anywhere from annoying to psychologically paralyzing for the teen.
25 years and over 50,000+ hours of experience helping adolescents grow into thriving adults, has taught me three more things about this current trend:
1: Those who suffer from Modern Adolescent Anxiety, rarely respond well to just rationalizing and logic.
2: Modern Anxious teens, tend to also become cynical about many things. Cynicism is seductive and a bottomless pit.
3: They often become either frustrated or angry at the world/system for being so messed up, and/or frustrated with themselves for not being able to easily do what seems to come easier to others.
For some this is motivating. For most though it feeds their stress and makes things worse.
The combination of these things makes it challenging to help them “un-anxious” themselves!
As I stated earlier, conventional interventions tend to focus at best on offering “coping strategies” so they can at least “manage” it. Something is better than nothing, for sure.
I have developed a very different way of addressing modern anxiety in youth, and it is working and accomplishing far more than that!
I am both aggressively attacking the very root causes of it and very subtly, artfully destabilizing the grounds upon which it is built, replacing this with a much richer, more compelling mindset and narrative.
The results are pretty amazing!
When hesitation, fear and doubt get replaced with confidence, courage, direction and trust in themselves and life, they come back to life and finally really start living.
It’s magical to watch and a privilege to be part of their journey.
Earlier today I had a skype call with a 22 year old college senior who, when I met him a year and half ago, was mired in insecurity and anxiety.
He felt lost. He compared himself constantly to others who seemed better off than him. He was having trouble sleeping. He had broken out in acne and hives. He was calling home multiple times per week, sometimes in tears.
A year later he is thriving.
He has a fantastic girlfriend, soaring confidence and is completely okay with doing the work to venture into the unknown as he finds his way into a career track that he is fascinated by, even though it is a career he must create, not a job he can secure.
No anxiety whatsoever, just discipline, patience, direction and readiness.
These results are typical. That’s why I can be so bold as to write this.
And it never gets old to witness the transformation from Modern Anxious Adolescent to thriving young adult.
Do you have a teen or young adult in your life who fits the profile I described above? Bright but often over-thinking things… feeling overwhelmed by fear of failing (or of rejection) … hesitant, even fearful, about the future…
If so, what I offer may be the game-changer you have been searching for.
If you want to discuss this further, contact me.
I will schedule a no-cost 30 minute phone consultation with you.
As always, I hope you find these insights helpful.
1: This is NOT treatment for a serious mental illness. There are cases where medication and/or clinical psychological treatment is necessary. What I am referring to as “Modern Adolescent Anxiety” is something very different. We can discuss and determine if this is appropriate for you
2: This is NOT a ‘quick fix” but it is an effective one that works and sustains. It is likely a 6 to 12 month engagement.