Observing the people around me for years, their problems, but also all those moments when they are sincerely happy and calm, I came to many conclusions and ideas on how to help them feel good more often. I think that is the basic principle that every conscientious therapist should be guided by. Therapy itself is a process that should improve the quality of life of the client.
Measuring The Pain
One of the problems I have noticed is that people tend to rank the “intensity” of other people’s pain. I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times, maybe even said or thought yourself, “What the hell are you nagging about? That’s bullshit! Look at me, I would have killed myself by now if I had your way of thinking”. This kind of thinking is very toxic, both for you and for the other person you are talking about. It may seem useful, because it looks like a kind of consolation to yourself or praise for your courage and strength, but even in that case, if you think about it, it seems like you are building your happiness on someone else’s misfortune. On the other hand, the situation is much worse. A person who has a problem and has enough courage to talk about it and seek help, will feel much worse if you diminish the value of their pain. The conclusion would be that by thinking like this, you are not achieving anything for you personally, or for the person you are talking about. The saddest thing about this problem is that a good part of the population thinks like this. My personal opinion is that teenagers and adolescents are the most endangered in such situations. Why?
It is common knowledge that teenagers and parents don’t get along so well. Okay, that’s kind of understandable. There are many reasons that prove that. For the purpose of this topic, I will not go into this “phenomenon” into more detail, at the moment. Another important fact related to puberty is that this age is very sensitive to external influences. Good and bad. Equally. The intensity of emotions is stronger than ever. All this happens because in that period the child becomes an adult. This transition is very stressful for both parents and children. The quality of the rest of a child’s life largely depends on the quality of this transition.
The Age Gap
Here we come to the heart of the matter. Parents do not understand teenagers for many reasons and one of the basic ones is the age gap. This is not a reason to condemn the parents. It is really understandable, because the modern age has brought some “speed” that a small number of people can follow.
This gap wasn’t that noticeable 10-20 years ago but as civilization develops it gets wider and wider. There are great differences in culture, art, technology, education, and due to all these factors, there is a great difference in human relations. Values change. I would like to add just one more thing, changes in values are not always as bad as it may seem. Only our ability to recognize them is weakened by personal experience.
A much bigger problem than parents for a teenager are peers but also other adults. Unfortunately, I have to say that even some therapists “don’t understand” teenagers. I think that with this approach, we are losing a beautiful chance to create healthy and happy people, and thus a healthier civilization. As long as we wait for them to just grow up, by the principle of mutual tolerance, the state of collective consciousness will not change and we will all be spinning in a vicious circle. They will grow into frustrated adults who will continue to “tolerate” their children. I want to break this tradition. I want to show people that there is another way that will bring good to everyone.
A Different Point Of View
I want to share with you my idea of “scaling pain”, which I believe can greatly change the development of civilization.
For example let’s talk about an average healthy teenage girl. The most important people in her life are her friends, siblings and parents. Then the first love appears in her life. At this point, that person becomes the most important. We need to understand that this feeling is very realistic and sincere, even though it probably sounds childish to you. The intensity of this “new” emotion is stronger than any other emotion she ever felt before. Next to a teenager, there’s an adult for whom the most important person in life is a child. One cannot imagine life without it. The intensity of this kind of love is stronger than all of human experience so far. When it comes to a situation where our teenage girl loses her loved one and an adult loses a child, the intensity of the pain could be measured equally. Why? Both the teenager and the adult have lost the most important person in their lives. The strongest love they know turns into the greatest pain.
In favor of this idea, I would add another tragic example that confirms my assumption about “measuring pain”. If the unbearable point of psychological pain is the one that leads to suicide, how would you explain the suicide of a nine-year-old boy? Do you think his pain was less intense than the pain of an adult? The number of teen suicides is so great that we should all seriously ask ourselves if their pain is really so “meaningless”?
Heal The World
I deliberately chose such drastic examples just so that I could vividly present this “comparison” of pain that is somehow invisible to a large number of people. This same teenager will grow up one day and experience a lot of different kinds of love, become a parent and then it would feel pointless for them to compare their first love with love for a child. But if they overcome this loss in their youth, they will understand their child much better and they’ll never tell them “Why are you such a drama queen? You know nothing about real problems!” So, the difference is in the current life experience and not in the “level” of pain. The point would be to be guided exclusively by the current life circumstances when we “measure” whose problem is bigger. It would be best not to measure at all, but if we really have to, then let it be fair to those young people who have not yet experienced more serious or more mature forms of love. Of course, love is not the only problem for teenagers (it’s the opposite), but I chose it as the most vivid example. Understanding and support are much more important for teenagers than adults, to become more able to cope with the new challenges that growing up brings them and how they can raise healthy offspring and lead productive lives tomorrow.