One of the hardest losses of life is the threatened loss. The possibility is real, and the probability inevitable. But how do we equip the next generation to learn functional skills of resiliency when many so many adults are walking around wounded and struggling themselves? Dysfunction breeds dysfunction.
Adolescence is hard under the best circumstances, and there is little to do about threatened losses
like a move, a divorce, a death, a job loss. As the possibility looms, the teen’s sense of control can is compromised until it withers away. As that loss of control threatens and plays out in a teen’s thoughts, emotions and physical feelings the threat pierces like every part of that youth’s being like a sword that pierces every cell in his body. To him, the perception can seem like it’s the end of the world.
is powerful. Pain left unto its natural negative progression can be destructive. It can set off a chain reaction of hurt that causes more hurt. The challenge for adults is equipping the next generation with skills for life that may not be in one’s personal toolbox. It means identifying what needs transformation. Kids learn what they live. No matter how diligent adults encourage kids to do different than what they observe in a parent, a default coping method innate to the teen is default learned behavior they have observed for many years. This can mean, worry, anxiety, depressive or other maladaptive tendencies like substance use or abuse.
There is some good news about pain. To the contrary of pain becoming destructive, it can be productive. Don’t believe me? What about courageous survivors of horrific tragedies that purpose to make a difference because of what they learned because of death, divorce, attempted or death by suicide. The threat of loss is real and manifests in a person with the same characteristics of actual death. The “death of a vision” or hope deferred leads to a broken heart and wounded soul. The real struggle is the assault on one’s sense of security and emotional development.
Pain, fear, insecurity, and threat of loss are not mental or emotional seasons anyone wants to get stuck in or to stay. While so much may be out of control in the world around a teen, he still has power in his choices. That is why it is crucial to help them consider beyond a cycle of hurt people hurting people. Such a sequence of behavior can be broken. It will require determination, direction, and mentorship. When a youth determines he will break a negative cycle impacting his world, the world around him changes. He needs healthy relationships to foster the direction that will lead to desired results. He needs mature mentors that can help him learn and grow because of the real threat and intense pain that motivates the desired change. His choices are what can be seized, and that is empowering!
Refrain from minimizing, patronizing or telling a teen (male or female) that his behavior is a melodrama. Lesson number one; words can build up and speak life in or tear down and suck the life right out of a wounded soul. The pain producing the behavioral expression is evidence to entangled grief-fueled thoughts, feeling, beliefs, and a physiological impact in need of validation, affirmation, healthy coping skills, and compassionate support. Too often teens suffer in silence or look to peers for the “how to’s” of dealing with pain. Hurting adolescents experience fuel to wounded thoughts and widespread pain that create beliefs that the way it is will not end. He needs to know that his suffering is significant and it is essential to address in a way that guards the heart. He needs help to learn how to navigate forward from the pain in a productive way.
As the series of various kinds and types of losses that impact our lives, one thing becomes crystal clear: Nobody likes to suffer or loss. My passion is equipping others with solid truths that promote post-traumatic growth. A threatened or actual loss results in grief. How we process grief can be productive or destructive. We all need to keep improving life skills.