Why is it so hard for teens to say no to drugs and alcohol?

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A psychologist outlines the characteristics that make a teen more vulnerable to poor choices.

Drug abuse is a serious social problem in the world today because of the impact it can have on the health and well-being of society. Adolescents are one of the demographic groups most vulnerable to this danger.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has highlighted the importance of knowing and understanding why this group is more inclined to drug use, as well as the serious risks it involves, so strategies can be devised to help prevent and respond to the problem.

Excerpt from Javier Perez’s article in Aleteia- read more

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‘I really feel I mucked it up’: When dads and daughters disconnect

“I can’t think of an example in popular media of a really good father-daughter relationship,” says clinical psychologist Andrew Fuller.

The bond between fathers and their daughters has long been recognised as special. That is, until she hits puberty – at which point it often fractures, sometimes irreparably.

Excerpt from Madonna King’s article in The Sydney Morning Herald (read more)

The Soul of America and the Souls of Its Residents

 

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If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.

 ~Abraham Lincoln~

Not too long ago, I reviewed John Meachum’s book, The Soul of America. I noted that the soul of which he speaks is a patchwork of all of those who inhabit America and as such is a messy concept to describe and make sense of. Our collective soul is a fabric woven from our individual souls. But what does this mean?

Each of us has a stake in the meaning and makeup of our country. We do have some things in common. I would dare say the majority of us agree that we would like to have the basics to build a satisfying life for ourselves. We would also like to have adequate housing, enough food to eat, good health and the opportunity for our children to make their own way in the world.

Some of us are born with a head start. Support from our parents and relatives, family financial resources and a neighborhood in which we can feel safe give us confidence that we can set and meet goals for our lives. Others in this country barely have a toehold. They may have arrived as refugees from oppressive countries by the skin of their teeth. They may not understand or speak English. They may have valuable skills but not appropriate credentials by which their skills can be recognized or documented.

Some of us had a relatively peaceful upbringing and entered adulthood confident of our ability to make our own way in the world. Others of us have been marginalized and made to feel inferior in comparison with our fellow citizens. We do not all emerge from our childhood and adolescence with the same perspective on the world, our country or ourselves. All of the things I have mentioned go into the makeup of our individual souls.

In my opinion, your soul consists of one’s past experiences and how they have affected your sense of who you are, your feeling of self-worth and outlook on the prospects for a fulfilling life. In addition to thoughts about yourself you also carry feelings which result from these experiences. You might emerge from your upbringing as happy, optimistic and self confident. With different experiences, you might emerge as unhappy, pessimistic and unsure of yourself.

The soul of America is a mixture of all of our individual souls. With our different backgrounds and experiences, it can be very difficult for us to understand and support each other. That is the challenge we face. It may be difficult but that does not make it impossible. Just try to remember that not everyone has had the same experiences you have and may view their life very differently from how you view yours.

Action Steps

  • Take time to understand what lies in your soul.
  • What do you like about what you find and what could you change?
  • When meeting strangers, try to understand what lies in their souls.
  • Think what it would be like to have their history.
  • Try to understand your differences.

The fear, the fight, the future: The threat of gun violence is a new reality for today’s students

On March 14, exactly one month after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, thousands of students at area schools walked out of their classrooms to honor the 17 students and faculty who lost their lives on Valentine’s Day in Florida, also demanding stronger gun control across the nation. Photo by Eze Amos

The lights were off and the door was locked in Shreya Mahadevan’s fourth-grade classroom at Johnson Elementary School. Small bodies huddled quietly behind a wall of backpacks—their teacher in tears.

“It was really scary. Petrifying,” says the 9-year-old girl about the lockdown her school was under last October, when a man in nearby Johnson Village was on the run after a reported burglary and sexual assault.

But as she huddled near the backpacks, and then ducked behind a bookshelf for cover, she didn’t know why—she just knew it felt different than the drills she’d been practicing.

“It’s not scary if we’re having a drill,” says Shreya. “It just makes you feel like you know what to do when something happens.”

Pausing for a moment, she corrects herself: “If something happens.”

(Excerpt from Samantha Baars’ article in C-Ville- read more)

High School Senior April Ma Explains How “Students Demand Action” Is Working to End Gun Violence

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams organized a rally

I channeled my anger and frustration into action by founding my local Johnson County, Kansas, chapter of Students Demand Action, a national initiative created by teens and young adults who are ready to join the gun violence prevention movement and demand change. We knew that change wouldn’t come without responsible lawmakers, so we worked quickly to figure out how to make a difference before the midterm elections. Weeks after our founding, we hosted a town hall for the Third Congressional District of Kansas. We also began holding voter registration drives to make sure as many students as possible are registered.

(Excerpt from April Ma’s article in Teen Vogue- Read more)

Sweating the Small Stuff

 

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Okay, sweating is technically something the body does. Although your mind does not perspire, I’ll bet it feels like it does sometimes. First the big stuff. At its extreme, worry takes the form of a psychological disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder where your life is filled with anxiety about everything.

Another is obsessive-compulsive disorder which is based on fear that you have done or might do something wrong. You feel overcome by worry about what you did and what you are about to do. You keep doing the same things over and over hoping to get it right this time. Being consumed by this disorder allows little time for anything else and leaves you constantly exhausted.

Fortunately most people do not worry to this extent. Even if small matters look large at the moment, in the long run they turn out not to matter very much at all. For those with either of the disorders I just mentioned, self doubt comes close to paralyzing them and makes it difficult for them to quickly decide what to do in almost any situation.

Where does this feeling come from? For many people, it dates back to early childhood when they were given the impression that they were not competent to do much of anything. True, most people are not born prodigies but gradually learn survival skills and go on to develop special talents. Encouragement along the way helps them take their first faltering steps.

Have you ever watched babies learning to walk? The first awkward attempts lead nowhere except landing back on their seats. But with encouragement and support, babies are off and running before you know it.

(Excerpt from my book, Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life)

Anger and Its Aftermath

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Are you angry right now? If not, when was the last time you felt angry? How did you get angry? My guess is something happened to which you take exception. Someone or something – God, nature, someone you know, a stranger – did something which made you angry. If you can set aside your anger for a moment and think about it rather than indulging it, you will begin to realize that it is not the result of what happened or who did it. It is the result of what you tell yourself about what happened.

If someone bumps into you, listen to what happens in your mind. You may tell yourself that the person is clumsy, stupid or trying to upset you. Your anger arises when you tell yourself that the person should not have done something and that you have a right to be angry about it. So far there is an incident and what you tell yourself about it. If you tell yourself you have been wronged, you are likely to feel angry as a result.

Sometimes you have been wronged deliberately and you have a good reason to be angry. Sometimes you experience an inconvenience or worse which was not intended to harm you. In this case, you are less likely to feel anger. If you find yourself feeling angry, the next question is what to do about it. You have some choices.

You might try to discover whether you were harmed on purpose. If not, you can forgive the person who harmed you accidentally. If you decide you were harmed on purpose, you have other choices. These range from trying to ignore it to reacting in anger and seeking revenge for what was done to you.

How you react also depends on how you tend to think of others. You might see people as generally well intentioned and as a result do not make much of a fuss. You might also have had life experiences which incline you to view others as hostile making you more likely to feel angry and seek a way to even the score.

You have quite a range of choices of how to respond to anger. At the mild end, you can tell the other person you did not like what he or she did. At the other extreme, you can pull out a gun and shoot the other person. There is obviously a wide range of consequences for you and for the other person depending on how you respond. Yet many people do not stop to think about how to react to their anger or about the consequences of how they respond. Indulging angry impulses can have disastrous consequences for you as well as for the target of your anger.

Some people don’t find a good way to handle their anger and instead pile one grudge upon another until the load becomes too much to bear. Then they explode in anger in a way far more severe that the immediate incident requires. Again, dire consequences await all concerned. You can avoid this by being aware of your angry feelings and how they arose, examining your options and choosing an appropriate response.

Action Steps   

 Try to understand your anger before acting on it.

  • Write about your anger to clarify how you feel and what you can do.
  • Make sure someone is at fault instead of harming you accidentally.
  • Discuss the matter with the other person instead of reacting impulsively.
  • Look for common ground whenever possible.

 

For more on anger, see my Amazon book, How to Transform Your Anger and Find Peace.