Are you a teen and live in the West? Then welcome to the new world. Even though no one is currently invading your country, there has been no generation before you that has been exposed to as much anger, violence, and bitterness as you. This stuff is in the movies, on the radio, in your school and on the news every blooming day. You are being sold that anger is cool, normal, even a tool to get what you want in life. I bet you have friends that are on antidepressants, sedatives and been diagnosed will all sorts of exotic conditions. Do you ever wonder why?
I have a clue – values. That is the lack of them. When I say values I don’t mean morals or conduct, I mean wisdom to discriminate between things that bring either true happiness or miserable suffering. What to do? As some wise sages would say… “In order to start making the right decisions you must first stop making the wrong ones.” It can start with something simple like taking control of those angry outbursts that even a corpse would be disturbed by.
Anger Management Tips for a Wiser Teenager
1. Your brain is not your friend, yet. New findings in neuroscience suggest that the average teenager’s prefrontal cortex is not ready to take on the role of the brain CEO. That is because that part of the brain fully matures only in the late 20s. Until then your emotions (driven by amygdala) can easy go unchallenged by the rational mind (function of the pre-frontal cortex) that can weigh out potential consequences and provide for a wider perspective on the situation. Crudely put, as a teenager, you don’t yet have all the brain power you need to make good judgments.
However, this does not mean your brain is somehow defective or “half-baked.” In fact, your brain has one large advantage over adult’s brain – it is more capable of leaps in cognition and adaptability due to its neuro-plasticity (flexibility in thinking and adjusting to new situations). All you need to remember is that your thinking and reasoning is very fast but you need to be careful with acting out those impulses because the “first think, then do” brakes are not always on, so to speak.
2. Be assertive, not aggressive. If you assert yourself, you behave in a way that expresses your confidence and earns respect from others. Assertiveness is nothing but standing up for yourself in a respectful but direct way. You know… that look in your eyes that you mean business.
3. When angry consider yourself drunk. Make no decisions and take no action while angry. No exceptions! You will either regret it or it will have negative consequence for your life – 100% of the time. It never fails. Your mind is really that clouded. Your judgement is that impaired.
4. Do not feel obligated to think happy thoughts or neglect your anger. Simply acknowledge to yourself that you are angry and rest assured that this will pass. Instead of suppressing your anger you are much better off learning to be patient and wait till it passes. My spiritual teacher always says, “If it wasn’t here before, it won’t be here in the future, then why worry?” Then he puts a carrot in his mouths and loughs loudly.
5. Don’t believe the moral high of self-righteousness produced by anger. In fact, if you feel angry and feel you are right about your position “I am right to be angry,” you can bet your arse you are probably wrong. Its an illusion! What do I mean? I mean that this is nothing but your ego trying to mask your anger as an appropriate response to a situation. BUT, if your anger is truly justified, for example you see some punk hurting a dog, then you will never question your anger, it will not come with thoughts like “I have the right to be angry at him.” Give this one a thought.
6. Who are your role models in life? It is said that you pick the qualities of people you hang out and identify with the most. Is their view of the world cynical and bitter? Do they lose their cool easily? Thanks to your brain’s mirror neurons, you may be modeling their behavior without even being aware of it. I can tell you a big change in my attitude started to happen when I started listening to tapes by people like Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins and the tectonic shift happened when I discovered my spiritual path and started hanging out more around people who radiated fearlessness, joy and compassion.
If you sense your idols are actually more like prophets of false hope and no longer serve your goals on living a meaningful life then it may not be a bad idea to find some new ones. I invite you to be mindful who you hang out with. See through the illusion of feeble fame and glory of these performers and the Hollywood crowd. Nothing wrong with enjoying a good performance but be careful not to identify with their melodrama.
7. Finally, trust me on this one, anger makes people look ugly. Just take a better look at angry faces of people around you. Damn they are ugly! They can wear Armani jeans, carry a Gucci bag, have the most stylish hairdo on the block and still look like a Gremlin when they are pissed. For a lady, anger is a terrible makeup and for a guy, anger is a sign of weakness. I share with you without any doubt – the most sexy character trait of any guy or gal is kindness and compassion.
Stepping Stones to a Better You
Teen years can be one of the most exciting parts of your life. It certainly was for me. It is also a time when you can lay foundations for your emotional intelligence. Trust these words: nothing gets noticed more in the society than a mindful, caring person. Not even your IQ is as important as your ability to deal with life’s challenges in a wise and cool way. Life will throw many curve balls but only your attitude will determine whether those challenges will be the road blocks or stepping stones to a better future.
Use these anger management techniques and tips daily and remember, as a teenager you can get away with the wildest behaviour but the scars that you may leave from anger may never heal. Be wise with your words, use them to heal and uplift people, not the other way around. This is your ticket to a rewarding and meaningful life.