Many of us go to great lengths to avoid making mistakes,and feel ashamed when we do. We forget that making a mistake is something we did and not who we are. If we learn from them and make amends to others when necessary, they are valuable learning tools that can actually increase our level of confidence and connection. Recovering from mistakes requires a sense of trust that we will be forgiven and loved even with our flaws. This creates real relationships and a sense of acceptance and relaxation.
The perfectionist culture we live in today (especially in Marin County) puts tremendous stress on teens. Often they are driven to participate in too many activities in order to compete with their peers for acceptance to the right college and don’t have time to rest, play or integrate what they’re learning. While it’s positive for them to reach their full potential, balance is essential and teens need room to try different things to discover who they are.
Mistakes are unavoidable when taking risks in life. If we’re not taking risks, we’re not fully alive and are playing it too safe. Mistakes deserve celebration when we use them as an opportunity to learn and grow. They can even bring people closer because they are honest. Perfection is about hiding who we are to be accepted, but that artificial acceptance never feels like enough. Deep down we know we’re human and fear rejection if someone finds out. This is especially true for teens who desperately want to be accepted by their peers. Mistakes are about revealing who we are, which can lead to greater understanding and acceptance. This is the culture we want to create for our youth.
The only way to accept your teen’s mistakes is by accepting your own imperfection. As a painter, I often avoid making mistakes. I want to produce something pretty so I try to make my painting look a certain way. Then I notice I’m all locked up and not having fun because I’m choosing to look good instead of trusting, creating and expressing myself. I’m trying to control the outcome and the aliveness is lost. This is what teens bring to their families; aliveness, unpredictability, and chaos. In chaos theory, things are broken down so they can be rearranged at a higher level of consciousness. If things are breaking down in your family due to your teen’s withdrawal or chaotic behavior, it’s an opportunity for the whole family to learn and grow and reconnect at a higher level.
Teen Solutions Therapy