6 major decisions in your life

6 major decisions in your life. A guide for teenagers living in the digital age

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Author: Sean Covey

6 major decisions in your life
6 major decisions in your life

T6 major decisions in your life: A Guide for Teens: Updated for the Digital Age Sean Covey 2017

Who knows better than anyone what a transitional age is and what challenges it poses? Of course, teenagers themselves. That’s exactly what Sean Covey, author of 6 Big Decisions in Your Life, thought and interviewed hundreds of teenagers around the world to understand what really young people have to deal with. He asked everyone the same question: “What is the most difficult for you?”

After carefully studying the answers, Sean noticed that among the thousands of different problems, six challenges are the most common. Looking closer, he discovered that at the heart of every challenge lies a difficult choice. Literally, his whole life depended on which path a person chose in each of the six spheres. And all these decisions fall on the teenage years!

The good news is that where you will be in 10 years is up to you. You have free will and choice about what to do with your own life. By and large, neither parents, nor school, nor your environment can impose on you how to live: study or score, smoke or save your lungs, control your sex life or let everything take its course.

The bad news is that every choice has consequences, and you no longer choose them. They come bundled with the accepted solution. Holding one end of the stick, you automatically take the other, with no exceptions. For example, if you did poorly in school and decided not to go to university, it will be difficult for you to get a good job – this is a natural consequence of the choice you made.

And again, the good news is that even if you messed up with the choice, you can always change it. Yes, it will be more difficult for you than for others, and you will have to overcome the obstacles that you have created for yourself, but nothing is impossible in life. You can always turn the steering wheel the other way and straighten your course.

In this book, you will not find teachings about what is right and what is wrong. What will be your choice – you decide. But let it be made fully armed!

Ultimately, you do not just lay down the future level of income and professional success, but determine what many days ahead of you will be filled with – bitter disappointment or sparkling happiness.

How will you deal with your education?

Let’s start simple. Everything teachers say about school is true. The way you do in school really defines life 50 years into the future. Why? The quality of studies at school determines which university or institute you will enter and whether you will go there at all. The number and quality of doors opened for you when you start looking for a job or start-up capital for your first business depends on the presence of a diploma of higher education. Wealth, quality of life, freedom of movement, daily schedule, and even the number of children that you and your partner can provide depend on all this!


Can’t keep throwing

At first glance, it might seem that dropping out of school is a tempting prospect. Finally, you can get a full-time job, move out from your parents, and live your own life. And does a person really need a lot? A roommate and a healthy appetite for fast food are more than enough. But take a closer look: in a few years you will get tired of bad food and a loud neighbor, friends will start getting good jobs and starting families, and you will only have to envy their successes: expensive cars, exciting travels, good houses, professional recognition, self-satisfaction, and life.

Of course, the main goal of getting an education is not to get a prestigious job as such, but to learn how to think critically, broaden your horizons, realize your strengths and weaknesses, and learn how to find non-standard solutions to complex problems. It is these skills that allow us to develop professionally, nourishing an inner sense of self-fulfillment and satisfaction.

Earnings and professional prestige have nothing to do with the value of a person and his dignity. However, a good education gives you a choice. If a low-income job is your conscious desire, fine, so be it. But many people get stuck in low-paying jobs, not because they have consciously chosen this lifestyle, but because they simply cannot move on. The quantity and quality of future options depend on education – that’s all. But this is a lot.


How to cope with difficulties and improve academic performance

Now that we’ve figured out why education is so important, let’s face it: school is not the Garden of Eden. Studying is difficult and we have to deal with a variety of problems, the main ones being: stress and fatigue, lack of time, lack of motivation, problems with academic performance. Let’s try to figure out how to deal with them.

1. Stress and fatigue. It is important to make a reservation right away that with the end of school, stress will not go anywhere, its source will definitely be found in something else: household chores, work, children, elderly relatives, etc. So it’s pointless to try to completely get rid of stress from your life, but you need to take care of yourself and replenish your internal resource regularly. It is he who gives you inner peace and the ability to overcome difficulties, or, as HR specialists say, stress resistance. Self-care has four components:

  • body (eat well, sleep well, choose the physical activity that suits you);
  • heart (maintain a friendship, set aside time for relationships that are important to you, get involved in the lives of loved ones);
  • mind (constantly learn new things, read, take up hobbies, look for new interesting activities);
  • soul (help others, reflect on yourself and life, keep a diary, read inspirational literature).

2. Lack of time. Lessons, extra classes, sports sections, but you also want to live! How to do everything? If only there was a 25th hour in the day, that’s seven extra hours a week. Let’s see if we can get seven hours or more without resorting to magic. To do this, you need to neutralize four-time thieves:

  • Gadgets. Install a screen time tracking app on your phone and live for one week as usual, and then analyze the results. What do you spend the most time on? Is it really worth your attention or can you cut down on a social network by a couple of hours a day without significant damage?
  • Personal robber. Maybe your weakness is not a smartphone or Xbox, but shopping or long conversations with a girlfriend on the phone? Imagine yourself as a detective and go in search of your robber, and when you find him, feel free to cut the time in half. There is nothing for him to feast at your expense.
  • Failure to refuse. Excessive obsequiousness leads to overload. Participating in different clubs and extracurricular projects is great, but everything is good in moderation. Such activities usually take up too much valuable time, and this is especially true for part-time jobs. Many aspire to start working while studying at school or university. It is believed that this teaches people responsibility. However, there is an opposite point of view: the best way to learn to take responsibility is to enroll in the most difficult courses where you are currently studying and complete all the tasks associated with them with high quality and on time.
  • Procrastination. The well-known method of preparing for the exam according the method “postponed the whole semester – learned in one night” is good because it is better than nothing, and most likely it will pull out for a three. And it is bad because nothing that is squeezed into the head overnight will remain there in the long run, although this is precisely the goal of education. Fortunately, the secret to productivity is as simple and ingenious as the Nike slogan: “Just do it.” Get a glider and write down everything you do. So you will get a clear picture of what is happening and you will clearly see that you will not have time to prepare for the math exam next Friday because on Monday there will be a test in geography.

3. Lack of motivation. If school is perceived by you as an obligation and causes rejection, think about what you can control from what is happening. For example, class size, required subjects, and teachers are out of your control; on the other hand, electives, extracurricular activities, friends, our own diligence, and our attitude towards learning are directly related to the zone of our influence. You don’t have to love the school, but you don’t have to be the victim either. “I don’t like it here, I won’t even try” is a losing strategy. In real life, you will need a broad outlook, and the ability to think and express your thoughts competently. This is what we learn at school, and different sciences are just convenient simulators.

4. Problems with academic performance. Even if you try hard, but still study poorly, do not despair! How many famous people in their time faced the same problem: Albert Einstein did not study very well at school, which did not prevent him from subsequently discovering the theory of relativity. Isaac Newton, the father of modern physics, got bad grades in math. A music teacher said of Beethoven: “As a composer he is hopeless.” This says two things: firstly, teachers make mistakes too, and secondly, each of us is good at something in his own way. Someone has better developed spatial and abstract thinking (read: a penchant for physics and mathematics), while someone wins in the field of emotional intelligence and empathy. Learn to appreciate and develop your unique gift.

In any case, it is still possible to influence academic performance. Of course, schooling isn’t all about cramming and getting good grades, but it never hurts. Here are six secrets to help you improve your GPA:

1. Believe that it is possible in principle. If you want, you can figure out anything, it would be patience.

2. Go to all classes, so as not to miss a sudden control, the opportunity to complete an additional task or make a report – all this significantly affects the final grade.

3. Be polite to teachers. Teachers are people too and appreciate a good attitude. Say hello, be friendly, sit in the classroom closer to the teacher’s table and remember that in 99% of cases the teacher does not have the goal of flunking you. If you don’t have time to turn in your work on time, come up and politely ask for permission to hand it in a little later. There’s a good chance you won’t be rejected.

4. Save energy. Many students work so hard during the quarter that they come to the quarter tests completely exhausted. Try to soberly weigh the situation. If one control is worth all the additional tasks, the main forces should be thrown into preparing for it.

5. Accumulate all available resources. Enlist the help of everyone who can give it to you: teachers, parents, friends, grandparents, school mentors, counselors, psychologists, etc. Asking for help does not mean signing your own impotence. This means that you know how to competently manage the resources you have – an important skill for later life.

6. Organize the learning process. Set up a daily routine and nutrition routine; find a quiet place where no one will disturb you (if there is no such room at home, go to the local library); allocate time that you will devote to study every day (this includes homework and any additional activities); start with priority tasks that must be handed in tomorrow, and gradually move towards fewer priority ones; Divide the process of learning new things into three parts: 10 minutes to scan the material and highlight key topics that you need to pay attention to, take 30 minutes to read, and another 20 minutes to review and self-test.


How to find your calling

With graduation approaching, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to be when you grow up. Do not decide once and for all, but start thinking. Fortunately, you are no longer obliged to work all your life only in your specialty at the same enterprise, as it was before. And yet it is better to strive to ensure that all your subsequent work is not a chaotic set of dead-end positions, but fits into a single career or professional path.

How to come to this? It’s important to find your voice. Look at the diagram below. You see four circles: talent, passion, demand, and mission. Talent is something you’re really good at, something that goes into your own hands. Passion is what you enjoy doing. Demand is what the world needs and for which people will be willing to pay you money. The mission is what you think is important to do. At the intersection of these four circles is your own voice.

Let’s say you love music (passion) and are great at playing a musical instrument (talent). The chances of becoming a rock star are one in a million, and you need to complete two more circles on our scheme. As a demand, you can choose the profession of a music teacher (teachers are always needed, and people are ready to pay for their work), if the mission of spreading musical culture and developing the talent of others is close to you.

6 major decisions in your life

Here are some more tips on how to find your voice:

  • Expand your horizons.
    You don’t know if you like something or not until you try it. Sign up for a master’s class in fashion design, photography, astronomy, writing, and culinary arts. When applying for a summer part-time job, choose different places and professions.
    The more diverse experience you get, the more prepared you will be when choosing your first serious job, and the easier it will be to get it.
  • Follow a lucky break.
    Do not persist if circumstances do not turn out the way you expected. Sometimes it only works for our benefit. If you feel like you’ve hit a dead-end, look around. Perhaps life is trying to point you in a different direction in this way. Be alert and try to notice happy coincidences, sudden breaks, abrupt changes in circumstances, and people who often see in us what we ourselves do not notice.
  • Think a few steps ahead.
    When choosing a profession, pay attention not only to the paraphernalia but also to what kind of lifestyle it involves. For example, if you have an explosive temperament and you hate to repeat the same thing five times, the profession of a music teacher will not suit you.
    If you want to become a doctor, study all possible specializations and their associated features. Try asking a few questions to a live person. How does he live and work? What does he like and dislike about his job? What is his work schedule? People and their experiences are valuable sources of information.

What kind of friends will you choose for yourself and what kind of friend will you become?

As with school, the friendship requires not one but many decisions over and over again throughout life. Contrary to popular belief, friendship does not happen by itself. It takes time, a mutual desire to make contact and forgive minor weaknesses.


How to choose good friends

Like any human relationship, friendship undergoes many different metamorphoses. You move closer and further apart, quarrel, reconcile, acquire common interests and develop your own. Friendship is a journey with no definite destination. What people you choose for a joint journey, depends on how comfortable and joyful you will be on it.

Of course, we all make mistakes and often choose the wrong people as friends. The good news is that sooner or later they will definitely show their true colors. True, we are too categorical towards friends, which destroys even a good, strong friendship that could last a lifetime. Here are some tips on how to keep friendships for years to come without wasting energy on undeserving people:

  • Choose friends who will love you for who you are, not for what you have. If a person was your friend only while you were the captain of the high school football team, don’t try to win him back. Such a person will bring nothing into your life except the desire to chase ghosts and false ideals.
  • Make as many friends as you can, but don’t put them at the center of your life. Friends are living people, they are imperfect, they make mistakes, they change, they come and go. It is better to prioritize what is important to you. What guides us becomes our paradigm – the glasses through which we look at the world. If you make your friends treat you with these glasses, you will be completely dependent on them and will rather succumb to peer pressure than do your own thing.
    What to place in the center, if not friends? Sounds trite, but principles. Yes, yes, the good old unshakable laws that will never betray or change: honesty, kindness, respect, responsibility. Looking at the world through the prism of principles, you will quickly understand what’s what, and separate real friends from situational ones.
  • Don’t chase popularity. Be yourself, and “your” people will catch up. There are people who deliberately strive for popularity: they dress and behave in a certain way, follow the likes on Instagram, and believe that they are better than others. And there are those to whom popularity comes by itself. They are polite and friendly with everyone, but at the same time they are not afraid to express their opinion, they study hard and often play some kind of sport. Don’t fixate on popularity. Instead, do your best to realize your own unique potential.
  • Forgive your friend’s petty sins and weaknesses. Of course, you should not maintain a relationship with someone who regularly behaves badly and treats you negatively. And yet learn to be tolerant of the everyday weaknesses of friends. If someone once said something behind your back, it is not at all necessary that he did it from evil. Maybe he was just a little envious, and this feeling is familiar to all of us. Clarify the situation, but do not break the friendship, succumbing to emotions.
  • Strive for multiplication of energy, not for competition. What is natural is not always good and useful. It’s natural to compare yourself to others, it’s natural to envy someone else’s success, and it’s natural to want to get ahead. Yet friendship is not a race for dominance. Friends are friends for that, to share everything: both sorrows and successes.
  • Remember that people change. If your interests diverge over time, this is normal. There is a big difference between turning away from a friend for no reason just because there is some kind of difference between you, and gradually moving away from each other, maintaining a warm relationship.


How to be a good friend

Friendship is a mutual movement toward each other and not a one-sided game. To have good friends, you must learn to be a good friend yourself. Here are seven secrets to help you along the way:

1. Don’t label. Imagine that your personality would be judged solely on the basis of physique, level of wealth, intelligence, and popularity … Often we simply label a person without getting to know him better. Before passing a verdict, try to dig deeper to really get to know the person.

2. Be proactive. Being proactive means making the effort first. Often we expect friends to fall on us as if from a cornucopia, but in reality, this does not happen. Learn to take the first step in everything: meet interesting people, be the first to call an old friend and ask how he is doing, and invite the company to have fun.

3. Invest in friendship. Imagine that friendship with a particular person is like a bank account. If the account is empty for a long time, the bank will soon cancel it. It’s the same with people: if you don’t put trust, intimacy, shared experiences, caring and kindness, loyalty, listening skills, and the ability to keep promises into a friendship for a long time, it dries up.

4. Work on your own attractiveness. This is not about external attractiveness (although no one has canceled the basic rules of hygiene), but about how attractive you yourself are as a friend. Have you been told that you are too loud, arrogant or talkative? Think about it and work on yourself. Are you often interested in the lives of your friends? Are people more happy or sad when they are around you? Do you take yourself and life too seriously? Focus on what is in your power. You cannot influence your height or completely correct your temperament, but you can change some character traits.

5. Be open and friendly. Sometimes a narrow circle of friends develops around us, which from the outside seems completely impenetrable. And we ourselves often do not want to let anyone in, enjoying exclusive access. Of course, it is very nice to belong to a congenial, safe circle, but think how many possible friends you are missing out on! Meet the newcomers in the class, keep your heart open and let new people in.

6. Be kind to ill-wishers. You will ask: “Why should I be kind and condescending to those who are rude to me?” Because everyone can behave politely towards nice people, but only a superhero can do the same towards those who gossip behind your back. Abraham Lincoln, the first president of the United States, was criticized by his supporters for trying to befriend his enemies instead of getting rid of them. He answered: “Isn’t that what I am doing, helping the enemy to become my friend?”

7. Inspire others. You have probably seen more than once how the atmosphere on the sports ground changed when a person came there, taking the game to another level with his mere presence. They say Michael Jordan was just one of those. Whoever found himself on the same field with him immediately began to play better. Such friends are worth wishing for, and one should strive to become such a friend oneself. Ask yourself from time to time, “What decisions do friends make when I’m with them?”


How to deal with peer pressure

As a rule, the most stupid things we do are under peer pressure. What it is? Peer pressure is when people the same age as you force you to behave in certain ways. Positive pressure is when your friends expect good things from you, like studying hard for exams, taking the first step in creativity, and showing courage, honesty, and kindness. Bad pressure is when you are persuaded to try alcohol or drugs, skip school, lie, start swearing, gossip, engage in bullying, etc.

Exactly how much pressure you will experience depends a lot on who you choose as your friend. But, firstly, even a “dark horse” can get into the best friendly circle, and secondly, sometimes a larger social unit puts pressure on us – a class, a sports team, a company in the yard. As Professor Dumbledore said, “It takes a lot of courage to rise up against enemies, but even more to rise up against friends.”

To withstand peer pressure, arm yourself with three protective shields:

1. Get ready. In most cases, we succumb to peer pressure simply because we are not ready for it. First, think ahead about what you will do in situations where:

  • your group will start laughing at someone;
  • you will feel compelled to lie, cheat, or steal something;
  • you will be offered alcohol or drugs;
  • a romantic partner will begin to insist on intimacy.

Second, write down your goals for life, year, month, and week ahead. If you know where you want to end up and what you need (and do not need) to do, it will be easier for you to refuse the temptation.

2. Get support. Talk to your parents, surround yourself with friends, like-minded adults who will put positive pressure on you. Set goals together and go to them, participate in interesting activities. After all, the less time you have for idle wandering, the less likely you are to get into trouble.

3. Be brave at the moment. No matter how well prepared you are, there will come a time when you will need to bravely refuse pressure from your peers or stand up for the weak. Here it is impossible to give unequivocal advice on how to find this courage in yourself in time, but remember one thing: in the end, the one who plays honestly wins.

And most importantly, don’t be silent about bullying. Recently, bullying, or bullying, as this phenomenon is increasingly called, is increasingly moving into the digital space. Cyberbullying can take many forms: spreading nasty gossip on social media, bombarding you with nasty messages, posting embarrassing photos, creating fake profiles, etc.

If you experience something similar on the Web or you are systematically offended at school, if you yourself are among those who poison the weak, and you cannot get out of this, in no case be silent. Ignoring the situation will only make it worse. Reach out to your parents or friends’ parents, a safe loved one, a teacher, or a school counselor.

You can also visit the No Bullying project website (https://travlinet.rf) to learn more about what bullying is and how to behave if you or someone else is being bullied.

Will you get along with your family?

Relationships with parents are lifelong relationships. Now you are sure of the opposite, but in fact, in 10 years, you will stop communicating with most of your current friends and will begin to be much more interested in the life of your parents. And if so, it would be good to make these relations harmonious and stable. Of course, a lot depends on the parents themselves, but still, this is not a one-way game, and you can significantly influence the quality of your communication.


How to contribute to the relationship bank

Do you remember we talked about the joint contribution to a friendly bank? The same principle works with parents. If the total score is positive, parents easily forgive minor sins like an unmade bed, but if the score is negative, they will have to listen to severe reprimands every now and then. Here are a few principles to help you achieve a positive balance:

  • Try to understand what is important to parents. Most likely, you are using different currencies.

When guests come to you, you want not to be disturbed. When the guests came to your parents, they want you to leave the room and talk to everyone a little.

6 major decisions in your life

Find out what matters most to your parents about you (it could be reading a book, cleaning your room, helping out with your little brother) and do it regularly. Then you can count on the fact that your desires will be fulfilled just as carefully.

  • Tell the truth. A lie in a relationship is much more destructive than any, even the most terrible, misconduct. In addition, parents have a superpower, sooner or later, to find out the truth anyway. So it is better to immediately focus on honesty.
  • Help your parents without waiting to be asked. Wash the dishes, pick up your sister from kindergarten, and give mom a little break from household chores. Parents are people too, they are very tired of having to constantly keep everything under control and organize the activities of all family members. Help without asking is one of the most powerful contributions to your relationship.
  • Don’t forget the little things. Because there are no small things in a relationship. A kind word, a smile, and a note of gratitude mean no less than the dishes washed after dinner.
  • Tell me what’s happening to you. Your parents may not be fashion-savvy or as fashion-conscious as you’d like, but they sure do know how to heal a broken heart, deal with academic difficulties, and get through bad days. If you are afraid of their reaction, warn in advance: “Mom, Dad, I really want to tell you something, but I’m afraid that you will get angry and swear. Please promise that you will listen to me calmly and not get too upset. If you start shouting or swearing, I will interrupt the story and this conversation. After such words, parents will be more attentive to your story and to their reactions.
  • Say the most important words. “Please”, “thank you”, “I love you”, and “how can I help you” are four spells that always work.


How to improve communication

And yet, despite the efforts made on both sides, parents are sometimes annoying. Firstly, this is the law of nature, and secondly, all people have their weaknesses. But instead of focusing on what you can’t control—that is, parenting weaknesses—it’s better to focus on what is in your hands: your own attitude and reaction to their words.  Let’s look at some of the most common complaints about parents.

“They constantly compare me to someone else.” First, don’t take the comparison too personally. Just remember how unpleasant it is, and make a pact with yourself never to do this to your own children. Second, say out loud how you feel.

“You know what, Mom? When you compare me with N, it hurts and unpleasantly for me. I am a different person and different from N, so it would be great if you would stop saying that.”

6 major decisions in your life

“They are never 100% satisfied.” The main thing you should remember is that even if your parents’ favorite saying is “Why four and not five?”, it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. Perhaps they were raised in a harsh environment and this form of communication is the only way they know how to express their love. Try to focus their attention on the good.

“Yes, dad, you are right, I have something to strive for. But you have to admit that five fives in a quarter is not a bad result, and even better than the previous one.

6 major decisions in your life

“They confuse me.” Even if your parents constantly make you burn with shame, remember that this will not always be the case. There is a wonderful quote by Mark Twain on this subject: “When I was fourteen, my father was so stupid that I could hardly bear him; when I was twenty-one, I was amazed at how much the old man had grown in the last seven years.

“They’re overprotective of me.” Most often, overprotection means that your parents are very worried about you and (often not unreasonably) worried about what might happen. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about it other than staying trustworthy and don’t lie. Remember that an open, albeit difficult, the conversation is better than an angry silence. Ask what the rules are, and think about how you can help your parents see that you are safe.

As you may have guessed from the examples above, the main problem of parents and children is the lack of communication. More precisely, its distortions. It’s like we’re talking on a broken phone all the time.

You say: “I don’t want to talk now!”, And parents hear: “I have time to get a manicure and watch YouTube, but I don’t have time for you.”

And vice versa – they want to share their experience: “When I was your age…”, and you hear: “When dinosaurs walked the Earth…”.

6 major decisions in your life

The difference between what is said and what is heard is called the communication gap. In one form or another, this gap exists even between the closest and most understanding people, but it can be overcome. Here are some universal ways to build rapport.

1. Get to know each other better. Offer your parent a pen, a piece of paper, and ask them to answer a few questions about you, such as: what is your favorite subject at school; what do you want to be when you grow up; What kind of music do you listen to; who is your best friend and why; where would you like to travel. While the adult writes the responses, pick up a pen and answer a few questions about him or her, such as: what do mom or dad like to do the most; if they had all the money in the world, what would they spend it on; whether any cherished dream of their youth came true, and if so, which one; How did your parents meet? what kind of music do they listen to; Where do they like to relax the most? Now discuss each other’s answers.

2. Think about how the situation looks in the eyes of the parents. Often in a dispute, we take into account only our own interests. We want people to listen to us first, and we don’t care too much about listening to the other person. We don’t want to compromise. The ability to build mutually beneficial communication will be useful to you not only with your parents. Think of them as a simulator to prepare for a great life. The sooner you learn to negotiate with parents in a respectful way and achieve outcomes that take into account the interests of both parties, the easier it will be for you to interact with people during further studies and work.

3. Parry without a sword. When parents say things like, “Because I said so!” or “You will do as I say, otherwise…”, they seem to raise a sword and challenge you to a duel. The worst thing you can do in this situation is to raise your sword and fight. There will be no winners in this fight, no matter what the outcome. Better try one of three possible “disarmers”:

  • Sorry.
  • Bite your tongue and don’t say anything.
  • Listen to the demands and retell in your own words what the parents are saying and feeling at that moment.

In the midst of a fight, say, “I’m sorry, Mom, I shouldn’t have said that,” or “Dad, I understand that you are very worried about me,” and sometimes just remain silent.

Who will you date and how will you feel about sex?

Of all the decisions, this is perhaps the most important, because the consequences of the choice you make extend to all areas of life.


Relations

Let’s start with romantic relationships. Dating someone is not as easy as it might seem at first glance. In addition to the obvious advantages – long walks, intimate conversations, butterflies in the stomach, and everything else – relationships involve mistakes, misunderstandings, pain when you are rejected and when reject. They are changeable and unpredictable. In your life there will be wonderful dates “like in the movies”, but there will also be frankly disastrous exits. It’s all perfectly normal if, at this stage in your life, you perceive romance as another opportunity to learn the art of human interaction, and not as the only sign of your human worth.

In order for the lessons not to be in vain, it is important to choose a partner wisely. Make a list of traits that you want to see in the chosen one or chosen one. What is important to you: beauty, intelligence, sense of humor, kindness, good attitude towards children, politeness, and tact in dealing with parents? So you will pay attention to the right person for you, and not give an important part of your life to the mercy of instincts. Don’t forget to add “flaws” you’re willing to put up with to the list. What will it be: inability to dance, not too fashionable appearance, modesty, and unpopularity? The key idea is to have a more or less clear understanding in your head of which person you would like to spend a lot of time together.

And most importantly, don’t rush. Relationships will not go away from you, but the years of relative freedom that you can spend on traveling, studying, and learning about yourself and the world, sooner or later come to an end. When you have permanent close relationships, and then family, work, and obligations, there will not be much time left for yourself. Use it now! Do not forget that romantic relationships are not the only possible form of interaction between people. You can be friends and chat face-to-face, you can get together in companies, and you can have a great time together without labeling it as a “date”.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a relationship and feel that something is going wrong, but we can’t say for sure what it is. Let’s figure out in which cases you need to seriously think about whether to continue communication.

  • Your partner gives you ultimatums. “Are we dating or not? Decide before tomorrow, or I’m leaving”, “Stop flirting with others, otherwise it’s over between us”, and “If you refuse intimacy, I’ll go to another.”
  • You are in the position of a lifeguard. If a person studies poorly, communicates with bad companies, or uses alcohol or drugs, there is no need to save him. The role of a good angel is pleasant only for a short time. Soon you will find yourself in a hopeless relationship that drags you down and does not allow you to develop. Remember one of the key laws of life: we cannot change others, only ourselves.
  • Your partner is lying to you. We all make mistakes and from time to time we are with loved ones, but if you repeatedly catch your partner in a lie, this is a good reason to end the relationship.
  • Your partner tells you that no one will ever love you the way he/she does. Firstly, this is not true, and secondly, this is direct manipulation. A person who truly loves you will not intimidate you.
  • The partner threatens to harm himself. “If you leave, I will kill myself.” The first thing to do in such a situation is to seek help. Talk to your parents or the parents of this person, and contact the school psychologist. Such a person needs professional psychological help, which you are not able to provide him. Then gently but firmly end the relationship.
  • The partner exhibits abusive behavior. What does it mean? Name-calling, the frequent raising of the voice, pushes, kicks, slaps, threats – all this goes beyond the norm and is interpreted as abusive behavior. As a rule, everything starts small. You argued, and the partner rudely called you names or pushed you in the shoulder, and then apologized for a long time and assured you that nothing like this would happen again. Do not believe. More often than not, a single incident is just the tip of the iceberg.


Sex

The paradox is that, despite the widespread discussion of the topic of sex, there are a huge number of myths about it. When we make a mistake, we make serious mistakes, which we later regret very much. Let’s take a look at some of the most common false claims.

1. Everyone does it. Many teenagers agree to sex only because it seems to them that everyone around is already doing it, and they want to “be like everyone else.” This statement is not true for two reasons:

1) a huge number of teenagers choose studies, sports, and other important activities that – unlike the presence or absence of sex – directly determine their future;

2) Are you so sure that all those stories about who and how had sex are true? Will a person who is in a respectful, trusting relationship with a partner even tell friends about this?

2. Sexual impulses are so strong that we cannot control them. People conquer Everest, participate in the Paralympic Games, give their lives to save others – and can not control sexual impulses? What nonsense. This is just a convenient excuse to justify, at best, frivolity, and at worst, a deliberately dismissive and consumer attitude towards a partner.

3. Safe sex is safe. These statistics are for Americans, and the numbers certainly vary from country to country, but they are still worth noting: according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four teenagers contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI); and by the age of twenty-five, half of the sexually active population in the United States has an STI. At the moment, more than 25 sexually transmitted infections are known to science: among them gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HIV, and human papillomavirus. The consequences of these diseases include cervical cancer, infertility, prostatitis, and other diseases, many of which are incurable. The main thing you need to know is that infections are transmitted not only vaginally, but also anal and oral. A condom is the most important protection during sex, but it is not an absolute guarantee of protection. Firstly, the quality of the product and its storage conditions are important (are there any integrity violations), and secondly, the condom does not protect against infections if its focus is localized outside its coverage area (this happens with syphilis, herpes, scabies and other diseases). Hormonal contraceptives (pills) help control fertility but do not protect against STIs. Neither condoms, pills, nor other methods of contraception guarantee 100% protection against pregnancy.

As you can see, the consequences of sex can be serious. But forewarned is forearmed. Feel free to learn more about sexually transmitted diseases, visit your gynecologist or urologist regularly, get tested, and don’t be afraid to ask for a test report from your intended sexual partner. This is very important and could save your life.

4. There is nothing special about sex. No wonder adults in unison repeat that this is not true. Because it really isn’t. Deciding to share this experience with someone you don’t love just because “it’s about time” and “for fun,” you run the risk of being very disappointed. In close relationships, sex is an exchange of feelings, energy, tenderness before and after, and a one-time adventure will quickly begin, just as quickly end, and will not bring anything but a feeling of devastation: after all, no exchange will happen with it. Even though some forms of sex may be physiologically safe, the emotional risks are still there. Regret, the feeling of being used, disappointment can affect self-esteem and provoke the development or worsening of depression. This, in turn, will affect all other decisions you make about yourself and your future life.

The key principle is don’t rush. You have probably heard this advice more than once, but this is just an occasion to think: if adults without exception repeat the same thing, perhaps this makes sense? There is nothing shameful or terrible about sex, but it is like driving a car: in order to get a license, you need to reach a certain age, because the consequences of mishandling a car can be fatal.

What will be your attitude towards cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and other addictive substances?

Many teens cite addiction as one of the most difficult challenges they have to deal with. And some consider them the most difficult challenge of all.

Why do addictions play such a role in our lives? Mainly because they take away our freedom of choice. When you become addicted to a substance or an activity, you become a slave to your habit. In a healthy person, there is a gap between the impulse to action and the action itself, during which we are free to make this or that decision. Addiction occupies this gap and deprives us of this opportunity. From now on, all free will is replaced by a poisonous whisper of dependence.

It is important to remember that there are no safe drugs. All of them (chemical, synthetic, plant origin) destroy cognitive abilities and emotional background, depress the liver, kidneys, lungs, cardiovascular system, and can cause the development of a psychotic spectrum disorder (accompanied by paranoia, delusions, auditory and visual hallucinations, amnesia, psychomotor disorders ). Moreover, these symptoms can stay with a person for the rest of their lives.

Any mind-altering substances (alcohol, marijuana, etc.) are fraught with deeds that you can greatly regret and are also frequent defendants in rape cases. The action of some drugs (methamphetamine and other synthesized substances) is so unpredictable that they can cause irreversible changes in the psyche from the very first use, and in some cases even kill. It is important to remember that all addictive substances have a deadly effect in the long run.

That’s why how you build your relationship with cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and other addictive substances is one of the most important decisions in your life. Below we will discuss in detail how having an addiction affects your life and the lives of others, as well as how to avoid or overcome its development.


How addiction affects our lives

Fact #1. Addiction is stronger than you. It seems to us that only weak, selfish people suffer from addiction. It is not true. Anyone can become addicted. The fact is that we are all born with a different predisposition to develop addictive behavior and the ability to resist harmful substances. One person can smoke a couple of cigarettes and never take tobacco into his mouth again, while another person becomes addicted to smoking from the very first cigarette. The problem is that you don’t know what type your body belongs to. So is it worth the risk? Look around. Among us, there are a huge number of alcoholics, gamers, and drug addicts. They are people just like you and me. Once upon a time, they also had dreams and other plans for life. The only thing that distinguishes them from independent people is a disastrously wrong choice, most likely made in their youth.

Fact #2. It’s not just about you. The most common response to the reproach that a person harms himself is: “This is my business and concerns only me. Take care of yourself and leave me alone.”But this is not true. The addition of one affects many 1 whether we like it or not. Here’s how it works. Let’s say you smoke. Parents will start to worry, a tense atmosphere will hang in the house, because of the difficult situation in the family, your brother will begin to study worse, which will cause even more stress for parents. Some of your friends will see your example and smoke too. Your friend’s parents will be more frivolous, and his younger sister will decide that if her brother can, then so can she. And so the chain goes on and on. But we have not yet mentioned the dangers of passive smoking. Friends, relatives, random people at the bus stop – everyone is affected by your habit.

Fact #3: Addiction destroys dreams. Imagine everything that you would like to achieve in life on one side of the scale, and smoking marijuana on the other. An unequal exchange, right? The use of any addictive substance costs us prohibitively: drugs take away time, money, neurons in the brain, the ability to focus on a task, relationships, emotional intelligence, happiness – everything. And as the years go by, the situation only gets worse. The body loses its ability to resist the onslaught of harmful substances and loses ground one after another. Having become addicted, you will soon find that not only are you physically unable to perform this or that action, but you also do not want to do anything, and the lack of motivation is much worse than any physical failure. Is this the kind of life you want for yourself? Of course not. So, we must learn to say to drugs and peers who offer them a firm “no”.


How to resist addictions

Nobody dreams of becoming addicted. As a rule, at the root of this phenomenon lies a certain deep need that does not find satisfaction in a healthy way. For example, the desire to belong to a social group and overcome feelings of self-doubt; share the experience with friends and the fear of resisting pressure from them; dull the pain of the loss of a loved one, divorce of parents, or other severe trauma; break too rigid limits of prohibitions; avoid current problems; get rid of boredom and satisfy curiosity.

If you are angry, sad, afraid if you experience pain and self-doubt if you feel that a black hole is growing inside you, which you are tempted to fill with alcohol, video games, and other activities and substances that dull your senses, try turning to more reliable and long-term ways to get through tough times.

Fortunately, useful and pleasant habits can also be addictive, only they will work not against, you but for you.

The list of major anti-drugs includes:

  • Sport. First, during physical activity, our body releases the hormone endorphin, which is also called the hormone of happiness. It has a natural analgesic effect and improves mood without any additional incentives. Secondly, healthy competition is good for the psyche in the same way as the abundance of new acquaintances that you will gain through joint activities.
  • Hobby. Music, photography, culinary arts, programming – any activity that brings real pleasure will give you a great opportunity to distract yourself, relax, or direct your ebullient energy in a peaceful direction.
  • Family and friends. We often forget that the family is not only parents but also grandparents, aunts, and uncles, cousins ​​and second cousins, etc. Even if the closest family members cannot give you the support you need, try to find it from more distant relatives. Lean on your friends and say directly that you need help and support. Sometimes all we need is to be heard.
  • Service. One of the most powerful ways to get what you want is to help someone else. If you need help, give it to your neighbor. Sign up to volunteer at a social organization, go to an animal shelter, or help a friend cope with a learning gap. You’ll see, your own problems immediately recede into the background.
  • Written practices. Keep a diary and write down everything that comes to mind. So you can throw out the tension, structure your thoughts and understand what exactly interests and excites you.

And most importantly, learn to refuse. People tend to pull others along with them. If everyone around smokes, but you don’t, you will definitely be persistently offered to join, because a person who stands out from the crowd causes bewilderment at best, and obvious anger at worst. Therefore, it is so important to learn how to gently but firmly refuse even the coolest and most popular guys.

To begin with, say directly: “No, thanks, I don’t want to.” If they start persuading you, use humor: “Thank you, but my neurons are dear to me” or blame everything on your parents: “You just have no idea what will start at home.” Sometimes it helps to offer an alternative: “Let’s go to the cinema. They say the new film is just super.” If none of the methods work, run. Literally. Look at your phone and pretend you got an important message, then get up and leave. If you are asked what is the matter, answer: “There is no time, I will explain later.” The main thing is to hold on and not take the first step.

If you have already taken this step, remember: the younger you are and the sooner you decide to get rid of addiction, the easier it will be to do so. Any addiction is fixed at the level of the brain, and it is immeasurably harder to overcome it 10, 20 years later than in the early stages. Here are a few key steps to help you move forward on this path:

1. Admit you made the wrong choice. Recognizing the problem is half the solution.

2. Ask for help from parents, friends, the school counselor, or any other adult you can trust.

3. Don’t delay. If you’re thinking that you might have an addiction problem, chances are you’re not fooled. Unlike preparing for exams, in this case, procrastination is fatal. The longer you delay, the more the knot of problems tightens.

What will be your attitude towards yourself?

Self-esteem is your opinion of yourself. What do you think about yourself and how much do you value yourself, regardless of external achievements and circumstances. Healthy self-esteem does not make you a self-confident nerd, but it helps you survive insults, ridicule, unkind words, deuces for test papers, and mistakes in relationships with friends and relatives without breaking.

Imagine that you have two mirrors: one is crooked, like in an amusement park, and the other is true. A crooked mirror reflects what others think of us; how we compare to others; what we are outward, on the surface. A true mirror reflects who we really are. It shows our inner potential and the true content of our personality.

Why is the mirror of social approval crooked? The image in it is distorted by deep cracks:

  • Unrealistic. Samples for comparison are provided to us by films and magazines, and, as you know, not everything is true in them.
  • Variability. Social trends, ideas about beauty, and fashion trends are constantly changing. Trying to match them is like trying to stop the rotation of the Earth.
  • Two-dimensionality. What others think of you and how you are seen from the outside are only two facets of your image. At the same time, a crooked mirror does not take into account the facets of your potential, inner beauty, and personal aspirations.

Which mirror you prefer to look in is your choice. Looking into a distorting mirror, you will rely on how others see you, and your actions will be determined by whether others like them, and whether they make you more popular in the desired environment. By choosing a true mirror, you will be guided by your own ideas about yourself and the world, your principles and values, and the main thing for you will be whether you like yourself.


Healthy Self-Esteem Arch

Self-esteem is based on two cornerstones: character and skill. Character is your inner qualities, and skills are the skills, talents, and abilities that you possess. On these two pillars stands the arch of healthy self-esteem.

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6 major decisions in your life. A guide for teenagers living in the digital age

On one side of the character stone are three blocks:

1. Integrity. This is the ability not to betray oneself, not to lie to oneself or to others, and not to betray one’s principles and ideals. Wholeness gives us a sense of harmony and peace with ourselves. This feeling is both a reward and a pivot that you can rely on in any circumstances.

2. Willingness to help. As you know, who gives a lot, he gets even more. If you are open to the world and people, they will definitely respond to you in return. Helping others helps us build confidence in ourselves and gives us another support when times get tough.

3. Foresight. The ability to see into the distance, plan our future, set big goals, and dream big, without hesitation, give us the opportunity to fully realize our potential. Make a list of goals, write down your mission, or just imagine the kind of life you want to live. Start from the end!

On the other side of the skilled stone, there are three more blocks:

1. Skills and talents. We are all born with unique talents and abilities. The problem is that they will not develop by themselves, it is our task to develop them. And it’s not always easy. But in order to grow, we need to get out of our comfort zone and show courage and perseverance. Try different things, use new opportunities, make mistakes and rise, explore, and get to know yourself.

2. Achievements. Achieving what we set out gives us great strength. According to legend, when a knight defeats a dragon, he gains its strength. It is the same with us: overcoming our weaknesses and shortcomings, achieving our goals, we appropriate the energy of challenge and become stronger.

3. Physical health. To achieve your goals, you will need all the health that your body has. A varied diet, sports, and healthy sleep are the three pillars on which your physical and mental health stands.

And the arch is crowned by the main block connecting the two columns – smart solutions. By putting it at the head of your construction, you will automatically collect the remaining blocks and provide yourself with good, stable self-esteem.

Top 10 Thoughts

1. A good education does not guarantee future wealth and professional success, but it does provide choices, open more doors, and increase prospects.

2. Choose as friends those who make you better and love for who you are, and not for what you have; and try to be that friend yourself.

3. Learn to resist peer pressure, because, as a rule, we do the most stupid things with someone else’s filing. Get ready to repel attacks and enlist the support of loved ones.

4. Relationships with parents are lifelong relationships. Make active efforts to build rapport and bridge communication gaps. The skills of mutually beneficial cooperation will be useful to you in your future family and professional life.

5. Romantic relationships are not the only possible form of interaction with the opposite sex. Take your time to start a serious relationship and put your lover at the center of your life. Use the freedom and time that youth gives you to study and travel.

6. Take your time with sex, this part of life will not get away from you, but the consequences of a thoughtless attitude towards it can be very serious.

7. Addiction robs you of your freedom. It enslaves the will, and no matter how strong a person is, there is very little chance of winning this fight alone. If you feel that the problem already exists, be sure to seek help.

8. Fortunately, good habits can also be addictive, only they will work not against, you but for you. A varied diet, regular exercise, and healthy sleep are as important components of future success as a broad outlook and honed professional skills.

9. Build self-esteem on the foundation of character and skills, and not on what others think of you.

10. The future is determined by the present and largely depends on what decisions you make right now. Choose wisely!

1.  For how it works on a planetary scale, read the summary of the book by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler  “Connected by the same network. How we are influenced by people we have never seen. 

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