Dear Folks, I’ve been off line a few days with a family emergency.  In that time I was interviewed for a radio show called “Emotions R Us” about how vulnerable normal teens are in this day of news feeds and violence and social media.  What I explained to my host was that we are used to assessing kids with pathology: be it depression, panic or anxiety, etc.  But I am finding now that pathology is not in them but in us.  Our society has become poisoned by alienation, rage and revolt.  So that an A student is now shaking with fear during a test because she is afraid of getting shot.  So that the captain of the football team is paralyzed to apply for college because football kids are crazy.  So that an 11th grader stopped looking at colleges because her parents are tapped out.  This is how we live.

It becomes easier to simply avoid your life.

Avoidance reinforces more avoidance.

If you don’t try to make friends, meet new people and have new experiences from the age of teen and young adult you get trapped in a cycle of stagnation.  You fail to individuate.  You are stuck at home.  You develop a lingering depression.  You become glued to your phone.  You wake up when you’re 28 and say, wait, I forgot to grow up.

Here’s what you can do right now to stop hiding in your room.

  1. Get outside.  Even once a day.  Vitamin D is good medicine from the sun.
  2. Get some exercise, even a simple stretching routine will do.
  3. Get get your sleep cycle regulated, even on the weekends.
  4. Get a hobby that you can do anywhere, anytime, whatever it is.  Having a passion makes you interesting.
  5. Do one new thing, and report back.  Even if it sucked, at least you now know what you don’t like.
  6. Break it down: if you have to go somewhere, map it in your head.  Each step will become easier.
  7. Dare to love and be hurt.  It beats the alternative of loneliness and isolation.

You can use CBT, DBT and basic tricks and tools for this Halloween to stay calm and centered.  Called, “Taking in the Good,” you can train yourself to be more compassionate first to yourself and then to others.  What’s the worst that can happen?  Trick or Treat, hide or be hidden, first be real.  You can thank yourself right now.