THE ADOLESCENT OPPORTUNITY
Coaching for families with Adolescents
I'm a bridge builder. I build bridges that are sustainable through life's toughest storms. They have a sturdy foundation and anchors to hold the relationship. Parents and young adults need bridges to be built between them in our current terrain that seems impossible to cross. I teach and facilitate the tools and healing.
The Adolescent Opportunity is the perfect name for what I do. Adolescence is such a pivotal time in one’s life. It seems like families are suffering now more than ever. What if what seems like the worst thing can turn into the best? That’s how I'm experiencing life these days. As we realize the Bounce that is waiting for us, our lives can be so much richer because of what heartache we’re going through.
While texting to someone about The Adolescent Opportunity, I needed to shorten the title, and lo and behold the acronym for my program was TAO. How perfect is that!
Martha Beck, the coach, teacher, author extraordinaire, uses the TAO to stand for how we communicate by being Transparent, Authentic, Open. I love that and use that and many things from Martha in my work. I'm probably most aligned with her coaching style and beliefs about how we move through this life with meaning and joy, finding what is most true for each of us.
Tao is a Chinese word that signifies ‘way’, ‘path’, ‘principles’. It’s an intuitive knowing of life that can only be grasped through living experience of one’s everyday being. It can mean ‘the way the universe works’. The Tao is a non-dualistic principle, meaning it can hold the whole. Everything belongs and is beyond either/or. When we can see each other non-dualistically, we can see with the contemplative mind and heart with a capacity to love like we don’t have in our dualism. I like to think of how Love looks at us versus Judgment. There’s a time for dualism. We need our discernments. But then we approach one another with whole seeing, and that makes us calm and conscious in our behavior and intentions.
I love that the Tao is usually described in terms of elements of nature and most similar to water. Our emotions are referred to as water. How we work with our emotions is key to the peace we have in our lives.
Yin and yang is tied to the Tao. Every action creates counter-actions. Even understanding and owning more fully how others experience us raises our emotional intelligence.
Yin yang is about how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary or interconnected. Everything has both yin and yang aspects. Shadow cannot exist without light.
As we mature we want to move from either/or to both/and in our thinking. The sooner we can do this, the better. Our western world has an over-abundance of dualism. I see how difficult it is for people to collaborate and think together, have a holistic decision-making process in companies today because of our training to be so dualistic. In debate, we get stuck at who wins and what idea has to be killed. In true dialogue, we move to inquiry where true learning and reflection can take place. We don’t have to give up our point of view, but we move away from the ego position that ‘we are our point of view’. We have to transcend our egos time and time again if we want to live in this flow. We have both - our truth and hearing someone else’s. We have healthy boundaries and openness and vulnerability. We advocate and we inquire.
In this way, more love, more healing, more growth always awaits us. That’s what I call an abundant life.
THE ADOLESCENT BRAIN ON DIALOGUE
The skills I teach fit beautifully with what Dr. Daniel Siegel (The Mindsight Institute) teaches regarding what the adolescent brain needs. He says the following four things. My work gives adolescents these.
Passion in life with Emotional Spark
Relationships strong with Social Engagement
Trying new things with Novelty
Challenging mind with Creative Exploration
Adolescents are hungry for what I teach. It feels to them like a banquet for their brains. It’s a banquet for our brains as well. It’s a dopamine release for all of us, and I’ve seen how quickly people’s well-being increases. It’s also restructuring our adult brains because we’re unlearning things that aren’t working and keeping us stuck, and giving us a spaciousness that is light and opens up our worlds, our bodies and relationships.
The boredom in the relationships with family can come from the predictable patterns that are set in ways adolescents are wanting to challenge anyway. So, Emotional Spark is stimulated by learning a new way of relating that they can get passionate about. The need to challenge parents is the Creative Exploration. Adolescents say this makes sense to them when they see it, what they believe or thought intuitively but didn’t know how to get there, or they didn’t know that’s how their brains were responding. It feels like a way off the hamster wheel. So, learning something new that they can be passionate about that strengthens relationships with family, peers and other adults in their lives, gives them that Emotional Spark, that confidence, that Social Engagement that makes for strong relationships that puts them in the leadership role with their peers versus the follower who can succumb to peer pressure. They come to the social interaction equipped in a way to be a leader that builds more compassion, empathy, reflection, connection and learning for everyone. Adolescents are sick of just hearing people download their well-crafted debates just as much as we adults are tired of that non-reflective, non-learning field we can all get into. And through Creative Exploration they’re getting to challenge the adult world in how we’ve all been taught to communicate based on our survival brain and not our evolved brains (which can reflect and question our habituated ways of selecting data and what we tell ourselves about it). It's a breath of fresh air for them. Instead of it being a time of disillusionment toward their clueless parents, it can become a time of humility and learning and unlearning for the whole family that builds Connection, Awareness and Inquiry as the foundation for the rest of their lives.
Learning these tools can be the replacement for behaviors that can be packed with consequences they may have to live with for years. We can all break our triggered patterns a lot easier and quicker than we think. That’s what I do. Help people to change as quickly and as sustainably as possible.
Dialogue is the container that holds us all accountable to more awareness, humility, inquiry and learning so we can help one another. It’s not winning and losing but growing and learning to develop a mindfulness that just by the practice, calms the brain down and strengths that in us. I call it developing our Inner Stillness.
The Ladder of Inference is the anchor that reminds us how we are reacting in ways that are breaking our connection and cooperation because we are stuck in our heads without sharing our thought processes and inviting the other person to tell us if we’re correct in our assumptions.
The Sales and Customer Service Processes are the intentional tools to decide I’m going to be more conscious in the way I communicate based on connection and finding out what someone needs and communicating in a way that makes it easier for them to say “yes.” The days of no filter, no empathetic language, no choosing words that flow from being more connected than separate, superior or important, are over. It’s not working for us as a society. It’s how we cut corners in our homes because of stress and familiarity that breeds more stress and distance.
Empathy and Anger Tools strengthen social engagement and mastery over our emotions when we feel ruled by them. We can compassionately help one another change emotional states, not by fixing, but how naturally our brains want to process.
The Second Look is the respect and non-critical view that opens our hearts to one another as our teacher. It holds someone’s dignity, humanity and divinity. It’s crucial for mindfulness and true well-being.
This is just a taste but all the tools and the way I weave them into the sessions is foundational to teach all of us how to bounce into the True Self that is who we are. Adolescents are looking for transcendence (an experience beyond themselves at the physical level). That’s partly why they try drugs, want to be famous, want something that says “I’m bigger than I thought I was.” The good news is the True Self part of us is more than we think we are. That’s the expansion that is scalable and sustainable for the rest of our lives. It’s the place of abundance that takes us out of so much separation, suffering and feeling stuck.
One of the biggest lies is that we can’t change. It’s just we haven’t always been shown how. Think of it as putting a cone in the road of an old brain track you’ve been on. Now we create a new way, a new part in our hair, if you will, and intentionally, with Connection, Awareness, and Inquiry, are able to go down a path that is life-giving for you and for those around you. And that gives us Emotional Spark, Social Engagement, Novelty, and Creative Exploration all in one.
That’s The Infinity Loop of communication that I teach, coach and facilitate that develops us spiritually, in our emotional intelligence, intellectually and even physically and will bear healthy fruit in all areas of our lives. It’s an abundance you’ll want to share with the whole world. Together, let’s learn from one another and change our world by changing ourselves as we grow in our ability to connect from our Smart Brains that are connected to our heart-centered intelligence.
That’s The Bounce and it’s just so much fun.
FOR PARENTS WITH ADOLESCENTS
What I needed more than anything in the world when I was an adolescent was Older Krista. But there was no one to be found who could give me what I could have given Adolescent Krista today.
That's one reason I have such a passion for developing teens and building bridges with their parents. The building bridges part is because parents can have so much wisdom to share but it gets lost in translation... or a prophet is not without honor except in their own home. The bridge building drive comes from my suffering with my own children when bridges weren't built and I stood there lost and dumbfounded. One reaches a place in life where your passion to end suffering for others and not wanting them to suffer like you did, energizes you more than anything. As Tony Robbins says, "It becomes an addiction." I'm an addict and high as a kite when I'm doing coaching. It's the ultimate thrill. It's mind-blowing to see people transform, learn, and engage with life and each other in a whole new way.
I’ve had the privilege of coaching and developing thousands of young people over the years. That number is high because most of it was in the corporate world with sales and customer service teams. What was done with them - to develop them as people who want to serve the customer - has translated to developing adolescents and helping parents develop their adolescents. I don't know anyone else who approaches communicating with this age (puberty - 25) this way. It works.
The lost in translation part comes when there's a gap between our intention and our impact and we see and hear each other through old patterns, hurts, and assumptions that cloud the present moment. We're stuck and we need a re-set and a new way of relating. The ways we are like our offspring, the ways they are like other family members that annoy us, our own shame and regrets, can make it hard to find our way through as well.
In my corporate work, one of the reasons it's so effective, is because I'm not just teaching communication and leadership tools. I teach spiritual development through our Connection, Awareness, and Inquiry. I teach mindfulness because we're pretty much of a mess without it. It's the Who before the What. Who we are is how we show up. We can all use support from one another to help us reset and to stop doing the same thing, expecting different results.
Sometimes the adolescent has to hear from someone else what their parent has been saying for years. That's okay. They'll remember you said it. Together we can make a great team and see how things can change when we are able to choose how we communicate in a more productive way. Approach matters more than ever.
I offer a free, one hour consultation to explore working together.