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How to Shift Teens from a Complainer to a Reformer?

Learning to command change

Teens today can often be misunderstood. Their dialogues are quick to get emotionallyempowering teens charged and the older generation could describe them as complainers.  I would not argue with that label at times, but, as with all characteristics, it has a flip side that can be embraced. We have to ask ourselves, how do we as adults help to empower teens to become reformers and not complainers?

Teens will at times find complaints about life inside their social circles, family life, or at school. As parents we wish we could tell our kids to demand a higher expectation or outcome for their life and from their friends. Instead of complaining we want to shift their perspective to the status of a reformer who can take charge of their life and do what needs to be done. So how can the change be made from a complainer to a reformer?

How to become a reformer

The definition of a reformer is a person who makes changes to something in order to improve it. As a teen this can be done by becoming highly alert to your surroundings and its context.

“When you start to feel yourself wanting to complain or are unhappy with your current situation, stop and examine those feelings. Ask yourself, what can I do to change this?

empowering teensIf it feels like something is out of your control, find someone with a higher amount of control and approach them to make the change.”

Even if the teen is unable to physically make the change, that doesn’t mean they can’t start a conversation with people who can!

The parents role

Instead of complainers, I advise parents to see your teens as reformers. Meaning that they’re not satisfied with the way things are because they know it could be better and are willing to work to change them. Feeling powerless is often the source of teen angst. Therefore parents need to put them in a position of power in which they can solve their own problems, as set up and modeled by the adults.

You can start in the home. Interview your teen, or start the tradition of family meetings, to see what they’re happy and unhappy with in the family setting. Having power at home can give them that boost of confidence they need to make changes at school or even in their social circles. A teens observations and demands for change come from a passionate belief that life should be as good for everyone as it has been for themselves.

This can be done by demanding equity and compassion in all areas of life. Becoming areformer is a powerful position from which to approach the wider world that our teens inevitably enter. Teens today represent a cross-section of the world across all parameters—women and men of color, a range of religions and ethnicities, national origins and visa

healthy teens at a party, empowering teens

statuses, complex family dynamics, sex and gender roles.

Challenging teens to do the work

We have many teens today that are willing to do the work to make the changes.  We must present them with the right challenges to get them moving in a positive direction. We want our teens to work hard and take full advantage of any opportunity or challenge put in their path.

Your teen can go from being a complainer to being someone who is willing to jump in and work hard to make that change happen, not perfectly from the beginning but ideally in the end.

Learning to be a reformer is never a clean and perfect process but we take and celebrate each small accomplishment along the path. Our role as parents is to call it out and say “I see your power in action, keep building on that!” Teens are going through many changes on the physical and emotional level. Help your teen by adding a tool for releasing stress into their daily routine. Click here to learn about Transcendental Meditation for your teen!

Interested in learning about how the hero’s journey narrative can help your teenager? Click here.

To learn more about Transcendental Meditation at our school, click here.

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

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Helping Teens Grow in Times of Crisis: The Hero’s Journey 

How can heroic narratives help teenagers?

We can look at “the hero’s journey” as a framework for what we are collectively experiencing as a society today.  Joseph Campbell is perhaps the world’s most renowned expert healthy teens at a partyon mythology and advisor to the likes of George Lucas, who based Star Wars on this archetypal journey. As adults, we need to help our students/children find their own archetypal journey amidst the grief and loss they are experiencing. We seek to reframe these challenging times in a way that is realistic, while observing quarantine protocol, but also give them hope for the future.

I want to talk about what has become an important topic during this time of isolation: the social-emotional well-being of our students. The stress and anxiety that adults experience are felt even more intensely by our adolescents. They may express their feelings in ways that are hard to interpret and even downright exasperating. That’s why the Hero’s Journey  can be a useful template to young adults and I am including a diagram of the journey, as I think it might be helpful for you to share with your children.

The Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey is a classic story structure that’s shared by stories worldwide. Designed by academic Joseph Campbell in 1949. Many author’s draw on it to illustrate a wide-ranging category of tales in which a character ventures out to get what they need, faces conflict, and ultimately triumphs over adversity. The Hero’s Journey can be broken up into 4 main parts.

heros journey for teens in crises

Part 1: The ‘Call to Adventure’

The journey begins with some event that pulls the hero away from the comforts of home into an unknown world. Resistance to the call (the pull to remain in a child-like state) is normal as venturing out into the unfamiliar can be a daunting task. According to Joseph Campbell there could be a supernatural guide or mystical item that encourages the hero to go forward.

 

 

Part 2: The Initiation

Once the call to adventure is accepted by the hero, the journey will be the ultimate test and reveal  their true nature. The trials experienced on this road will force the hero to lose old coping skills and be pushed to new levels of self discovery. All energy in this phase is concentrated on resolution. A humbling of our hero occurs when there’s successes and failures, discovering new values, beliefs, and gains a deeper wisdom because of this. In this phase our hero may find a mentor or seek guidance from a higher power to aid on their journey

One example of the therapeutic use of the Hero’s Journey is by the CRC Health Group , which includes a wildlife treatment program that helps over 30,000 people every day overcome addiction and related issues. Meghan Vivo reflects on this issue in her blog “Slaying the Dragon: Teens Embark on the Hero’s Journey in the Wilderness.”

“Although the mythological road of trials is made up of ogres, demons, and three-headed monsters, today’s teenage hero faces obstacles like overcoming his use of alcohol, drugs, or other addictive and high-risk behaviors. His battle is with himself.”

Part 3: The Hero’s Transformation

The actions taken thus far on the journey have deeply changed our hero. There’s an inner and perhaps outer transformation that takes place when all tasks have been completed. This is necessary before the hero can return home with an expanded vision of life, a matured understanding of self, and lessons that will enrich the family as well as the boarding students at Maharishi Schoolcommunity.

Part 4: The Return 

The hero has a transformed perspective and is therefore “reborn” into an evolved version of self. Meaning has been found in the hero’s life where before there may have been a sense of purposelessness. Our hero has triumphed over the enemy and has returned with the freedom to live.

Life slows down and growth speeds up

You may be wondering what all of this has to do with being a teenager during a pandemic. Well many who study Joseph Cambell have related the coronavirus to a similar catalyst in the Hero’s Journey, the dark night of the soul. Here is an article by Vogler that he wrote a number of years ago explaining the hero’s journey. The website actually includes a new article that specifically likens Covid 19 to the “dark night of the soul.” Vogler explains in the following paragraph what that means.

“If it (coronavirus) really is the global darker night where the self-destructive complexity became as bad as it could get and in order to survive we had to hit a wall, then the virus is going to remain long enough to complete what it needs to do to create the circumstances needed to complete our transformation.”

Today’s experience of isolation can push us to the brink of what we previously were comfortable with in our minds. Perhaps we are forced to examine unhealthy habits of eating, or parts of ourselves that need closer work. This anxiety and/or depression that people are experiencing can be channeled into a drive for growth, adventure and challenge. One way that inner growth can be achieved is through the Transcendental Meditation® technique. To transcend, by definition, means to go beyond human limitations and to break boundaries. At Maharishi School, we teach you a technique to break internal boundaries and to sink deep into yourself, to tap into your essence and live in a state of flow.

Consciousness-based education

To learn more about the Hero’s Journey during the coronavirus click here.

To learn about Transcendental Mediation at our school click here.

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.