Why Teenagers Self-Sabotage

We have been living in tribes for thousands of years. When a young person could not find the answers they were searching for from one elder, they had many others to choose from.

In the last 40 years, extended families have shrunk into nuclear families that have now become real or virtual single parent families. For most teenagers, school, sports, music or other interests replaced the missing tribal bond. But for teenagers who did not make that connection, a mentor outside their regular circle of friends and family may be the best option to help them find their positive power and release their fears.

The best work in guiding young adults is done in team work. I have been very lucky to work with some extraordinary fellow mentors whom you shall be meeting over the coming months.

We begin this monthly section with the question: Why do teenagers self-sabotage?

Of all the many forms of self-sabotage that young adults engage in, procrastination is probably the most common. It’s easy enough to blame the tendency to put things off on laziness. More often than not, though, procrastination happens because a young adult cares too much, not too little, about succeeding.

We inhabit a culture of the Photoshop Generation. Perfect teeth, hair, skin, bodies…. no flaw that can’t be erased with the click of a mouse and this expectation is implicit in everything they do, including their academic performance. When confronted by new academic challenges, then, the fear of mediocrity is enormous: a 70 per cent just doesn’t cut it.

So if they delay studying for a test until the last minute, don’t leave enough time to get all their reading done, write their essays the night before they’re due, get job applications in after the posted closing date– they always have an excuse ready for their parents, teachers, and, most importantly, themselves about why they didn’t do better.

By engaging in procrastination, young adults always have the Safety Net of “If I had started earlier, I could have…”, and so never have to confront the fact that, if they had tried as hard as they could to succeed, they still might have fallen short of the painstakingly pixilated perfection that is expected of them.

Nellie Perret. Ph.D.

The world of the modern-day teenager is saturated with an array of instant messaging, social networking, online gaming, recreational substances and more, all of which act as sources of great distraction.

As a naturopathic doctor, I look for imbalances and work backwards from there. Imbalances may be structural, nutritional, toxicological, mental-emotional or at other levels. For instance, the teens’ nutrition may be imbalanced and so they may be lacking in nutrients that promote a balanced mood and clear thinking (such as vitamin B12, vitamin B6, or magnesium). They may have excessive exposures to toxic elements – from seemingly benign psychoactive food additives found in processed foods and candies, to stronger addictive substances leading to compulsions. Simple tests can reveal these things.

They often have an imbalance in their ability to handle stress, so I encourage them to learn some effective mind-body techniques. Their perspective of the world and inspirational role models may be less than ideal, creating a disconnect with how they fit into the world.

Naturopathic treatments including nutrition, homeopathy, herbal medicines, cleansing and mind-body techniques to create a shift in their perspectives, empowering them to re-enter the world, ready to face the challenges that lay before them, free of their former toxic distractions. Rahim Habib ND

The phrase I often hear from my young clients at some point or another is “if I choose to fail and I do … then I’ve won!” This system that they have perfected over most of their lifetime encompasses every aspect of their lives; from school to hobbies foisted upon them, from therapists that they have learned to toy with so well, to the addictions that give them a false sense of empowerment; their coping strategies are the only ones they have learned to count on to keep themselves safe.

Once they choose to look for a different way and start a daily routine of simple effective steps to find their own positive power, these young adults embrace these new possibilities, showing amazing amounts of courage and fortitude.

I want to thank Nellie Perret and Rahim Habib for their contributions and their inspiration. I feel very lucky to have such talented people joining me in the goals of helping today’s young adults find their positive power. Ken Rabow – Life Coach

Stay tuned for more upcoming articles from Ken

Friday, July 29 – Finding the Perfect Music Teacher
Friday, Aug 05 – 12 Steps to Success for Young Adults
………………………..Part One – Strengths and Challenges
Friday, Aug 12 –  My Teenager Is So Smart …Why isn’t he/she doing anything with it?
Friday, Aug 19 –  The Four Secrets To A Successful School Year.

All of these weekly articles combine to create a complete system.
To see a list of previous Ken Rabow articles, go to:

Additional contributors to this article:

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