Therapy for Therapy: Can we really change our behavior?

Anxiety. Stress. Fear. These are just a few of the many ways that I have heard my classmates describe their high school experience. Yet these seemed to be the most common descriptions I have heard about this period of life for people between the ages of 14 and 18. As I look at my own high school experience, I too recognize that it has been anything but a carefree journey. Through the combination of social interactions and academic expectations, teens are becoming overloaded. But by how much?

Apparently, it’s enough to drive us crazy. In a 2000 publication, the American Psychological Association (APA) reported that the average teenager will experience the same level of anxiety as that of a 1950s psychiatric patient. And this was just for the average teenager before the time of Twitter and Facebook. What would this data look like now? And, more importantly, why hasn’t anything been done about this teenage mental pandemic since?

Though the level of anxiety teenagers feel has skyrocketed, the psychological treatments for this problem has remained virtually the same. Across the board, stress therapy has focused on the concept of coping with our stressors. Even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has highly recommended stress management techniques that act as distraction to our mind from our stressors. The activities outlined by the CDC include participating on a sport, taking up a hobby, becoming socially involved, and of course, looking for professional help. By attempting to change our behavior, therapy tries to change our thoughts, and is often unsuccessful.  Though these activities do help alleviate stress, they are only temporary in their affect. After the activity has finished and the session is over, the fear, stress, and anxiety will still persist in our thoughts.

This still means that we are trapped in the same cycle. What if I want to do more than just “deal” with my stress? What if I actually want to change the way I feel?

By focusing purely on reaction, therapy has forgotten all about the creation side of the spectrum. We CAN choose whether we will simply react to the events of life or let our own decisions construct an entirely new concept on how to live life. By changing our thoughts, it changes our behavior.

In this mindset (or rather, open mindedness), we employ the Core Message of the Be-Do-Have Paradigm. With Have-Do-Be state, we rely on outside factors to shape our journey for us, while in the Be-Do-Have Paradigm, we are the source of our own change. Though our beliefs in our Old Cultural Story still think it is rational that we must have things to do stuff to be stress-free, we know that this simply is not the way. To change our thoughts, we must BE the creative cycle of Be-Do-Have, rather than the reactionary Have-Do-Be. By just being what you truly wish to be, you can do things that reinforce that state of being. And by doing these behaviors, you will have the lifestyle that you want to live.

If this sounds simple, it should. The entire concept of the Be-Do-Have Paradigm is that it is naturally applicable – it doesn’t require toiling hours or rigorous schedules. By being calm, by being flexible, by being controlled, we can take a look at our stress inducing environments with entirely new eyes. Suddenly, when you are being composed instead of acting composed, life’s unpredictability doesn’t seem that stressful anymore. So go ahead and try the Be-Do-Have Paradigm, and be your own triumph. At the very least, I know you will BE happier!

(Lauren is a Feature Editor of The Global Conversation. She lives in Wood Dale, IL, and can be reached at Lauren@TheGlobalConversation.com)

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  • Laura Pringle

    Great piece! I am grateful to you for sharing an alternate way to process and experience the demands of life. Thanks so much for sharing and enlightening us!

    It’s true, there are a lot more things to consider growing up in this world than there were even ten yrs ago. We absolutely must find a creative and healthy way to exist among the increased demands on our attention and energy.