In Part 1 we looked at our own possible reactions to having an unpredictable teen in our family, and ways in which we could deal with any difficult states of mind, or delusions we may be experiencing, thereby improving our ability to support our teenager while retaining some degree of sanity!
The Buddhist term ‘delusion’ refers to negative minds such as anger, greed, jealousy, impatience, selfishness and attachment, which destroy our peace and wellbeing. However, positive states of mind such as love, generosity, patience and cherishing others, result only in happiness, both for ourselves and others around us.
It is vital not to label ourself with these negative minds, i.e. we are not inherently an angry person,or an impatient person etc, these are uncontrolled states of mind which arise within us. We know from our own experience that none of these minds are permanent, we may be very angry for a period of time but eventually this subsides. Our mind is like a balloon on the wind which is carried backwards and forwards out of our control, dragging us with it wherever it goes. This is why we can feel happy one minute and then maybe sad or irritable the next.
If we choose to label ourself in any way, we are perceiving ourself as something, that in fact , does not exist. We are not fixed or unchangeable, either physically, mentally, or in any other way .
The word ‘choose’ is the lynch-pin here. If we label ourself as an ‘angry person’ we buy into that image with a ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude, and ignore the opportunity to develop the patient, loving side of our nature, which gives rise to happiness for ourselves and others.
Whichever way we view ourself greatly impacts on the person we become, so if we think ‘I am just a miserable angry person’ we re-inforce that pattern of ‘being’ or behaviour, whereas if we think ‘I am /can become a calm, happy person’ we begin a metamorphosis into the person we want to be!
If we think ‘ I get a lot of angry feelings in my mind’ we are giving ourselves the opportunity to ‘choose’ to develop the opposite state of mind. We give ourselves the choice. We have the option of developing happy states of mind as opposed to unhappy or miserable states of mind.
If we drop the ‘labeling’ it also prevents us from being judgemental of ourself and others, including our teenager.We get some understanding that we are all ‘in the same boat’ trying to find some happiness in our lives and overcome our uncontrolled and often miserable states of mind.
So now from the teens point of view……
After learning about delusions in Part 1 it’s now easy to see that our teen is also overwhelmed by these same negative minds…….just when they are gaining some emotional stability…..wham!……knocked sideways by uncomfortable minds such as anger, impatience, jealousy, greed, selfishness, depression……all in one day (or hour!)
We all know the underlying biological changes that they are experiencing. There is much research about the effects of hormones and neuronal growth in the brain and so forth.
They are in unchartered territory, neither child nor adult. Trying to discover new ways to relate to themselves and the world around them. Attempting to assert their independence with an immature nervous system that isn’t quite ready to back them up 100%.
Worried about body image; their child body is disappearing while an unfamiliar image is appearing in the mirror. (Should it look like this? Do I like this? Will others like this?)
Their identity is changing rapidly, they are not even sure who they are changing into or even who they want to change into.
Similarly their world is changing,extra freedom also means extra responsibility and decision-making. All these uncertainties cause them to try to grasp onto something familiar, some fixed sense of self, where in fact one doesn’t (and never did) exist. (We are all changing every moment of every day, constantly in a state of flux, never fixed and solid as we like to suppose.)
As they try to grasp onto a fixed sense of self they are in fact increasing their ‘self grasping’ and therefore increasing their propensity to experience all the other delusions as they try to protect and ‘firm up’ this solid (non-existent) sense of their self and their world.
So the answer?
They probably don’t know where their mind is at for more than 30 seconds. Nobody ever warned them about this, they probably just thought it would be cool to be a teenager, so now they are at their wit’s end trying to figure out why they can feel great one minute and depressed or suicidal the next.
By attempting to hold this understanding in our mind, about our own delusions as well as theirs we can develop as much patience as we can muster, to remain a stable influence in their lives, just when everything else may be going ‘pear-shaped’ for them.
2.Try not to retaliate.
This may be your hardest quest of all!
It can be very easy to let rip when somebody is pushing all your buttons, especially when its been a long day, you feel tired, worn out, and run ragged, feeling nobody appreciates you.
Unfortunately, we all know that it rarely improves any situation when we lose control, and often exacerbates any difficulties, leading to closure of all communication or teenage ‘meltdown’. So we need to try to avoid retaliation. ( More about non-retaliation coming soon)
It may be helpful to understand that our mind of irritation, impatience or anger is interdependent with the troubled teens situation.
For us to experience any delusional mind e.g. anger, the potential (or ‘seed’ ) for that to arise already exists on a very subtle level of our own mind and will be activated when the necessary conditions come together e.g. when we are faced with an angry teenager. If we didn’t have that potential or seed already we would remain perfectly calm in any provocative situation. The good news is that we can transform these seeds from negative into positive by being patient and loving, a bit like weeding the garden so only the lovely flowers bloom, without being strangled by the weeds!
So you can focus on your love for them, your wish for them to be free of their pain, be happy and enjoy life, regardless of what you may or may not be getting back in return!
This in no way means discipline goes out of the window, you can maintain your own rules relating to behaviour, while remaining calm and peaceful, allowing you to be more patient, less angry and actually develop a calm peaceful mind giving you the platform you need from which to support them.
3. Be kind to yourself.
It’s so easy to berate ourselves :
“Oh, no! I lost it again” , “I should have done better”, “I should be able to cope better than this” (and all the other thoughts we can have about our lack of perfection!)
If we are trying , we are beginning to change, we are on the first step of the ladder (which leads us to the next step).
We just need to stick with it, we will have good days and not so good days, but the good days will show us we are heading in the right direction!
By understanding the current unpredictable nature of our mind, and realising that we can take steps to transform it, we give ourselves the option to become a calmer, happier person thus helping our troubled teen through the stormy times to calmer shores ahead!