Feel like you’ve been left out…

Have you ever had the feeling a couple friends of yours had something going that, when you discovered it, you instantly felt like you’ve been left out? I mean you know you’re all just friends, but you still feel kinda like the odd wheel? For a brief second, moment, or maybe much longer, you feel some combination of anger, anxiety, pain, disgust, sadness, or even contempt. After awhile, however, as a mentally mature adult, you tell yourself some kinda rationalizing story. “I’m sure they just forgot to text me, or I must have missed the email, I have other friends, or the old reliable one for me – at least Tiki (my dog) still loves me.” The amygdala (emotional center of brain) quiets. You calm down. The sense of unipolar depression is replaced with a more sunny outlook and back at it you are. Good.

Now, follow the same scenerio with someone who is not so mentally mature. This person, specifically, their prefrontal cortex (the part of gray matter that activates rational thought) is not fully functioning. Their amygdala can’t stop thinking about how their friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, best friend, or even bff, could have done this to them. Instead of calming themselves with some rational PFC thoughts, their emotions increase in strength; this person feels increasing distressed, soon hyperstressed. According to Robert Sapolsky, author of the book titled Behave there is no neurological disease involved. None. This person is a typical teenager.

A typical teen…

Slow down and sit with this one for awhile, friend. As a parent, somewhat mature adult, and lifelong learner there may be an insight here we can use to slow the epidemic of teen depression, cutting, destructive behavior, and even suicide. Talk to your teen. Talk to your young team. They aren’t processing like a mentally mature adult because their brain is still, in fact, developing. Expect this. Anticipate this. Talk about this in a way that understands and broadens their perspective. Don’t judge. Understand.

Remember the PFC doesn’t fully develop until the mid twenties. Sobering. Good…

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