Empowering Our Kids Against Addiction: Part 3 – Facing The Hard Things In Life Directly
Let’s be realistic. Not every hard thing you or your kids will face in life is of giant proportion. It’s not always little David with his five little stones and his faith in God running out to meet the monstrous Goliath (But read the story – Goliath is truly humongous, and David actually runs to meet him in battle!). But it often feels as if our challenges in life are huge, ugly, sneering giants. Sometimes, it’s because they seemed to come from out of nowhere to surprise, shock, and intimidate us. Sometimes, it’s because we have faced them before – and failed. Maybe it’s because others are telling us how big and bad this thing will be. Or we’ve just had to overcome so many other obstacles and battles lately, that we just feel small in comparison to whatever is next.
For some – maybe our selves or our kids – early disappointments, defeats, or discouragements in life have implanted a belief that anything potentially challenging or unpleasant will be too risky or too awful, and should be avoided at all costs. This is one of the most deceitful and powerful weapons in the arsenal of addiction. It leads to a life of escaping, hiding, and avoiding. And that’s not really living. It’s a pathway aimed straight toward addiction, as a matter of fact. It is certainly not a way of life we want for our teens as they head toward adulthood. If your teens seem to be caught in this avoidant trap too often, you can help them find and walk a better road.
Start with your self. If directly facing the hard things in life is a challenge for you, get help for your self. I would be delighted to help you overcome this pattern, particularly since I have had to slay this mocking giant in my own life. Come sit with me in my office, and we will work through it together. Take some time to consider, challenge, and change the negative self-talk in your head. Are you believing lies and “half-truths” that keep convincing you to avoid hard stuff? You’ll be amazed what happens when you clean out the junk from your mental diet and start feeding your mind on positive healthy truth. And then your kids will reap the benefit of seeing your solid example.
Talk with your teen about what goes on in his/her head and spirit during times of avoidance. Help your teen recognize the difference between lies and truth in his/her self-talk. The difference between internal encouragement versus discouragement. Explain how FEAR is often False Evidence Appearing Real. Discuss how to change the script, take the time to actually write out the change in script, and be sure to follow that up with direct discussions along the way to celebrate progress and pinpoint obstacles.
Recognize and reward actions of courage, risk, and personal responsibility in your child or teen. At times where your teen experiences failure or rejection, help her/him see that this isn’t the final word or defining moment in their life. It may sting, but it isn’t the end. When your teen gets a taste of success, no matter how small, as a result of directly facing the hard things, be deliberate about inviting her/him to identify and savor the success.
Discuss facing the hard stuff in the context of freedom. Help your child see and understand the impact of living with a spirit burdened by the fear, guilt, and shame that comes from avoiding hard things. Then help your child recognize and celebrate the freedom and lightness of heart that comes from directly facing the hard stuff of life. Even when the outcome isn’t what he or she wants, the peace of feeling comfortable and confident in one’s own skin makes it well worth the risk and personal responsibility reflected in standing up to life’s giants.