Updated: Jul 26, 2020
Teens, just like adults, get triggered too. Unfortunately, teens tend to do a lot more ‘storytelling’ in their minds that unravels or stems from something that has triggered them.
These stories are not true, but can take on a life of their own. Practice this: when a teen is in a bad mood, narrow it down to the trigger, give them a chance to be specific. For example, I get in a bad mood when I am overwhelmed with things to do and don’t have time to feel prepared. After I narrow down the trigger, I ask myself, “what is the story I’m telling myself?” I then try to complete the sentence, “the story I am telling myself is that I am not prepared, I messed up, I will appear like I don’t know what I am doing, or that I am not smart enough.” Then I challenge myself with the next step, which is, “is this story true?” Of course not. I change the story, I say, “that’s not true, I work hard and I am doing my best with the time I have right now. I need to be fair to myself”
This way of thinking, with practice, tends to change the way our brain is wired. This leads us to our personal mission statement and values. It is important to remember our values. For example, I value truth, trust, and fairness. If I value truth, trust, and fairness. I need to be truthful with myself and remind myself to trust my word. I need to tell myself the truth, and trust that I am doing my best with the time I have. Working through negative self-talk is very healing; negative self-talk is destructive and habitual. In order to build resilience, leadership skills, and empowerment, we need to work on this skill daily; a personal mission statement, or mantra, that is built on core values. For example, I can say, I am a good leader because I value truth, trust, and fairness, and I will do for myself what I do for others. I will tell myself the truth, trust myself, and be fair to myself.
When teens are triggered, try this: “What has put you in a bad mood?” “What is the story you are telling yourself right now?” “Is this story true?” “Can I help you change the story?” Remember what makes you a good leader? That is your story. Or, you can try to nail down the triggers by asking, “Tell me 3 things that tend to put you in a bad mood,” and go from there. Sometimes it’s hard for teens to articulate what has triggered them; they simply don’t have the language, but giving them the option to write 3 things opens the discussion and by the time you get to number 3, you’ve got your answer! Reminding them of their personal values gives them an anchor and a personal leadership mantra! You got this!