We’ve lived six decades plus to know we can’t escape unexpected surprises, good and bad.
Several weeks ago, I wrote some thoughts about a phenomenon I’ve witnessed throughout my 40 years in behavioral health. I embedded a familiar story, which I thought most people knew. My mistake fueled some to send a few arrows my way. Ouch.
One of them really stung. The commenter excoriated the overall article, with the entire world to see. I read and reread the sentence that set the bow and arrows in motion, and agreed about one word, which replaced, would have better served the article.
Other than that, I stand by my writing.
A traditional publisher took on my book.
I’ve written article upon article on a variety of themes, and I received supportive comments on this article, including one standout.
Yet, the sting lingered.
The good news? Nothing pierced, so what to do? Brush off the arrows, consider the critique, chisel my craft, keep writing, and lead by inspiring those who wish to succumb after harsh comments.
My message? Don’t retreat.
Why raise this topic?
We can help the 21st century younger generation, who cry at anything resembling criticism. More than ever, many suffer from a malaise infecting their spirit.
With a bright future ahead, young people are becoming more disillusioned. They’re unable to replace cloudy lenses with clear ones. No sunlight permeates the fog before their eyes. Inertia dominates.
A myriad of issues plagues the youth, including the pandemic effects of isolation, and we shouldn’t minimize the harm from bullying via physical and modern-day internet forms, contributing to the bleak outlook on life.
Many loving parents are zealous to protect their children from suffering adversity.
A worthy cause, of course, and often a necessary one.
What’s the downside to shielding children from the unavoidable, the rocky trajectory referred to as life?
This well-intentioned overprotection prevents children from developing tenacity and resilience and doesn’t ward off life’s obstacles placed in front of them.
One lesson doesn’t do it.
Practice and repetition, like sculpting a muscle, will help them develop those necessary attributes.
Young people need to endure disappointments to understand there’s life beyond the heavy fog, with a majestic rainbow waiting, ushering in sunshine. Life includes sun and fog.
Is this anything new?
No, but youth bleakness dominates our 21st century landscape.
With everything attainable in our immediate gratification society, depression and anxiety rose even pre-pandemic. The adolescents weren’t prepared for it.
Advances in innovation haven’t prevented these increased maladies and might’ve even exacerbated them.
Facebook, Instagram, TikTok provide a venue for both younger and older people to connect, learn, and aspire. But a dark side ensues.
More young people have developed eating disorders, and on September 14, 2021, the Wall Street Journal published an article, Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show. Facebook played down the impact on teen’s mental health, but most therapists understand the harm that’s been unfolding for years.
Suicide has also increased among all age groups, including the youth. Outlined in an article published by UCLA Health on March 15, 2021, the National Alliance on Mental Illness revealed 20 percent of high school students report serious thoughts, and nine percent have attempted to take their lives. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people age 15 to 24 in the U.S.
How does this relate to Boomers?
First, whether a grandparent, teacher, therapist, or anyone else encountering a troubled young person, we must set an example. Share narratives about challenging situations of your own or about others who’ve endured the worst of situations.
Second, we need to emphasize their uniqueness and strengths. Don’t exaggerate but use some of their language. For example, years ago, I saw a lovely woman who couldn’t describe anything positive about herself. When I explored how others see her, she said, they referred to her as their rock.
How did I help her augment that symbol?
Being a hypnotherapist, I used her loved ones’ words, stating that not only was she a rock, but she rocked.
Third, young people don’t like lectures, so provide your information with pizazz, as if you told them a story. Invite questions to engage them. Use facial expressions and body gestures, and I promise, you’ll rivet them.
The most significant issue is hope. Offer it to them in language that works for you and the young person, conveying, “this too shall pass.”
For me, the day after the arrows came at me, I saw a post from Write or Left that said it all:
Writers are weird. We won’t believe 100 people who tell us our work is good, but we’ll believe that one person who says it’s garbage.
How fortuitous for me to read this accurate statement. It helped the sting from those comments disappear, and I ready myself for what will come.
Your thoughts? I invite you to share.
Do you think a negative comment sting more than 10 positive ones? How do you brush off the arrows that come flying at you? Have you noticed that adolescents and younger people don’t take criticism very well?
I think a criticism that’s given without allowing opportunity for response can always make a person unhappy. I ran a large training program and we did evaluations of every class. Repeatedly, a trainer would be upset by one negative statement out of 100 good ones. If we go public with our views, we have to welcome criticisms. They’re bound to happen. No question— they hurt.
Thank you, Susan. I appreciate it. I did respond with an overarching positive message.
Well said…. and thank you for pinpointing an enormous challenge for the youth today. Humans are resilient but that resiliency only develops through the challenges and difficulties that they need to face head on in order to have that growth experience.
Than you very much, Christine. Yes, the youth need to keep sculpting that muscle.💖
Excellent info and well written article. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much, Elizabeth. I’m most grateful.
It is so true that we can hear 100 times that we are doing something right or well, and then the 1 time we hear otherwise, it’s hard to let go.
Thank you, Maureen. Yes, we need to let go of the Lone Ranger or two. I appreciate your comment.
What a fantastic article – very timely as I just saw, last night, a piece on PBS highlighting the increase in mental health problems among young people. One difficulty in connecting is the problems they face are so huge – the ones we faced seem piddly in comparison. Climate change, wildfires, extinctions, rampant homelessness, mass shootings, global war? It’s hard to relate, but thank you for showing me ways to be there for them.
Thank you so much, Susan. I appreciate it, and I’m sure you’ll find a way to convey.💖