I have trouble at home with some of my family. I'm the most happy at school, but it's getting harder for me to enjoy school because all I can think of is my family situation. How do I get rid of this negativity without taking it out on others?
- 16 year old female
Hello. First off, I want to say I’m sorry that you’re going through a difficult time at home. I know how hard it can be to focus on anything else and I hope things resolve soon. And good for you for trying to create boundaries so that negative aspects of one part of your life doesn’t bleed into other parts.
I have a few suggestions for you. Consider writing in a journal so you have a place for all your feelings and are able get them out. (Not to mention if you ever become a writer these might come in handy!) Your feelings are legit and having a chance to express them may help in keeping them from leaking out with other people. If you don’t like writing, you might consider drawing as another option.
Secondly, create a routine that clearly marks the transition from your home life and school. It might be a song you play, meditation, or going for a run. Picture in your mind that you are packing up all your worries and stress in a box and putting it in a closet. Imagine locking the door of that closet and maybe put a giant padlock on it. When school is over you can mentally unlock that closet and let those feelings out.
Third, talk to some of your close friends about what is going on. If you don’t want (or can’t) share all the details just let them know you’re having a hard time at home. Ask them to let you know if they hear you starting to be negative.
Make sure you fill your day as much as possible with things that make you happy. When you find yourself thinking something negative try to reframe the thought. Otherwise negative thoughts can grow. For example: “Ugh, I didn’t have time to make a lunch this morning, so now I’m hungry, and I’ll be miserable all afternoon, and I hate everyone.” Instead replace it with: “Ugh, I didn’t make lunch, maybe one of my friends can share her lunch with me, it’s not a big deal. I’m lucky to have such great friends.”
Lastly, if you haven’t already, think about talking to a counselor about what is going on at home. They likely can give you some additional resources to manage the stress and it can feel great to spill out all those feelings.
Hang in there. Being sixteen is hard. It gets better, I promise.
Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight languages. Her books have been optioned for film and TV. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. She’s an instructor/mentor with The Creative Academy and Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio Program where she loves helping other writers find their unique story to tell. Her most recent novel is YOU OWE ME A MURDER.
Eileen lives in Vancouver with two very naughty dogs.
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A final note: We are strong believers in the power of therapy. We know that this isn't a realistic option for every teenager, since some of you might not have the parental support or extra income necessary to make this happen. But, if possible, please consider therapy. Many of the adults you respect most have benefited from therapy, and it's likely that you will too. There's no shame in getting support. You deserve it.