By Barbara Rose, PhD
WHEN YOU THOUGHT LIFE WOULD BE BETTER
This may be a time in your life when you thought it would be better than it actually is. If you are feeling unhappy, you may have received negative messages from your parents or your peers or other adults, and you may believe those negative messages.
When I was a teen, my adoptive father used to call me “dumb, stupid, and dead from the neck up, a nothing, and a nobody.” The sad thing was that I believed him.
For the most part, I was deeply unhappy during my teen years. I never felt good enough or accepted. I didn’t know what self-love felt like, and I didn’t understand how to feel better about myself and my life.
From years of verbal abuse, physical beatings with a belt, unfair treatment, and degradation, I felt worthless.
The Search to Feel Better
Because I felt so bad about myself, I began to look for anything that would make me feel better. Of course, back then I was looking outside of me, because I hadn’t yet learned that the feeling of being good enough could only come from inside of me.
I tried to mold my appearance to copy famous rock stars and actresses. I tried to look cool by wearing whatever clothes I thought would make me popular. I went along with what other teens were doing, things that in the beginning I really didn’t want to do, because I didn’t know that I actually had options. For example, back in the 1970s when I was a teen; drugs were everywhere, especially in school. I remember so vividly not wanting to try drugs, but I did try them—only because I wanted acceptance.
Friends, Drugs and Acceptance
When I tried drugs in high school, I honestly did not feel any better about myself than I did before I tried them. Then I tried more drugs just to numb my emotional pain. The sad part was that once the high wore off , the emotional pain was right there waiting for me.
It didn’t help me at all when I did drugs for six years in my early teens. It truly didn’t make me feel better about myself. It didn’t turn around the lies I believed about myself, and it didn’t help me turn anything else around for the better, either.
Eventually, I got sick and tired of trying drugs to be cool or feel better because they didn’t do a damn thing for me in the self-worth department. I still felt worthless.
What massive lesson did I learn?
Drugs that got me wasted were a complete waste of my time.
When You Have to Have it
I went through every phase of trying to look cool to be accepted. Whatever was “in” I had to have.
Having Your Own Identity
I used to copy how other people looked, thinking that if I looked like them, then I would somehow be better than I was. I didn’t have my own identity, and I didn’t know how to have my own identity.
The purpose of this book is to help you learn how to turn unhappiness around from the inside out so you can break the vicious cycle of trying everything outside of yourself to feel better, trying everything to feel that you belong, and are good enough. Believe it or not, many, many adults I work with still feel the same way about themselves as they did when they were teenagers.
It is only by learning how to turn all of the unhappiness around that it finally makes the most awesome and positive difference. That is the most important thing you can get from this book: learning how to transform any low feelings you have about yourself. I can assure you that you were not born with those feelings.
I will tell you this right off the bat: that if you don’t think you’re an awesome person, you’re wrong. And that’s the first view we’re going to turn around in the next chapter.
The above excerpt was re-printed with permission from the book Teen Relationships Adult Choices © Copyright 2012 Barbara Rose, PhD. All rights reserved.