Psychologists, school counselors, and some parents will tell you teens are experiencing a great deal of pressure nowadays. Whether it stems from competitive academics, performance on a ball field or in the arts, friendship roller coasters, romance woes, stress within the college application and scholarship process, or through their social media presence...there are a lot of things teenagers face daily that can induce pressure to perform, and in turn, cause many to feel lonely, stressed, and sometimes even overwhelmed. We are picking up on the fact that adolescents are feeling this way, but is anyone else watching what I am...
Most ADULTS are feeling stressed, disconnected, and isolated as well.
Why is this? What's causing adults to feel disconnected, negative, unsatisfied, and/or overwhelmed? You'd think we'd all be getting along better in life, not worse, considering how easy and convenient it is to connect with and support each other these days.
Maybe it's just me reading into the things I hear and see, maybe everyone else is totally satisfied with their quality of life and the state of the world.
But, I really don't believe that's the case. I've had too many conversations with parents, local law enforcement, counselors, and even within the walls of my own home in the past few weeks to believe we're all doing okay.
As I observe others, a couple of themes have been surfacing...first, and foremost, is FEAR. There is so much we're afraid of or anxious about now...the obvious issue taking center stage is the election and the future of our country. Then there's violence...we have been conditioned to believe there is no safe person/place/event. How about finances? Money is a great source of angst...from the skyrocketing cost of getting kids educated to the hefty price of insurance and how little it actually covers...the cost of anything in relation to the amount coming into the home. Beyond the ever increasing level of fear today, I am feeling in others a serious LACK OF TRUST. Credit card companies and identities being hacked, people publicly/privately saying one thing and doing another, terrorist threats and attacks, whether the food we're consuming is or is not actually "organic". The final theme I see and hear so much about these days (and yes, this will date me) are people feeling like they ARE NOT ENOUGH...let's face it, there's no way to grow old gracefully when every other ad on t.v./print/billboards is shoving another product down our throats about how to be sexier, thinner, stronger and of course, younger.
When I am talking with moms and dads about these and other situation specific concerns, all of which appear valid and are certainly supported by stories and images we ingest everyday, I wonder where the world is headed.
And I wish I had a miracle cure. I don't, but I can share with you how I survive, even thrive, and wake up every morning feeling optimistic about people, life in general, and the opportunity we all have to create a healthier world.
First and foremost, I am deeply grateful for every miracle, tragedy, and life-circumstance-in-between I face. We all SAY we'd like to have a "happy" life, one without stress, frustration, problems, but when was the last time you grew as a person while life was peachy and going your way? Doesn't happen. One thing I know for sure is that it's in my greatest personal struggles and darkest moments that I remember who I am and I make a purposeful choice about who I will be, as well as who I want to become in this lifetime.
Second, I make decisions with intention. From the music I feed my soul, to the programs I watch on television, to the activities I participate in, to how I take care of my body, to whom I will spend time with. I will only read a book if I feel it will help me to become a better woman/wife/mother...While I am nowhere near perfect in staying conscious every moment, I am keenly aware of, and actively practice participating in, life on my terms. Win, lose, or completely embarrass myself in the process, I say "YES" to whatever opportunity to write/speak/join in for positive change comes my way...and when they don't come, I figure out who I need to contact next to make things happen again. A body in motion stays in motion...
Third, I actively work at being open-minded. The older I get the more I realize that unless I have literally walked in the shoes of another I have zero business passing judgment on their life choices and actions. And even if I have had a similar experience, I work at not judging because the other thing I have come to live by is everyone is doing the best they can with what they know and within the framework of their life experience.
What would it mean to your life and outlook if you tried to operate under the same premise?
Yes, our kids are experiencing stress in their lives...and so are we. In order to change this, WE have to change. I have given you some thoughts above on what I've done differently over the past five or so years. No, it didn't happen over night. But feeding myself a steady diet of positive and turning away from the negative more often has changed my outlook on life, on my purpose here, on the potential for my marriage, as well as providing me the patience and unconditional acceptance of everyone else on this journey.
This life will always have challenges, it's how YOU choose to engage with life that will determine your experience. It starts right now...