Helping teens and adults navigate stress and uncertainty with more confidence | Training practitioners to join the mission

Teenage Love from Teenage Hate: Change is Possible no matter how Young or ‘Broken’ Someone Is

My sister and I were in a movie theater restroom washing buttered popcorn off our hands a while back. On our way out she opened the door with a paper towel then threw it in a garbage can by the door.

This was maybe 15 years ago.

But I very specifically remember that moment because up to that point, I’d often see piles of used paper towels on the ground by the door in restrooms. And I was always puzzled by it.

And I’d think “what is wrong with people? They walk right past the garbage can by the sink, and then litter right there on the ground by the door?”

And it wasn’t just one paper towel, I’d see piles of them.

It wasn’t a big deal, but I definitely felt slightly disappointed in humanity.

Then in an instant, watching my sister, I realized why there were paper towels by the door. There was probably no garbage can by those doors. People littered to avoid germs from touching the door.

Suddenly it all made sense.

And my disappointment in humanity was gone.

This is a silly example but it demonstrates the healing power of understanding.

We’ve all had moments of understanding in our relationships with friends, siblings, parents, kids, where we suddenly ‘get’ why they said or did something that hurt us. And just like that, the pain evaporates.

Years of pain can evaporate from a single moment of realization and insight.

What’s even more remarkable is that we can have moments of realizations about ourselves.

Maybe we’d been feeling bad about who we are, or the way we are as a person. Maybe we’d felt like a sick or damaged person because of our habits or behavior.

Then in a flash of insight we ‘get’ what happens to us and why we do what we do.

And in that moment, WE make sense to us.

And the feeling of insecurity, that we’re not ok, just disappears.

Years of pain can evaporate from a single moment of realization and insight.

This is what happens to clients in the coaching process, and it’s what happened to one of my more memorable teenage clients 20 years ago.

This client had a moment of understanding about herself that made her ‘bad’ behavior suddenly make sense to her. And in an instant she felt compassion, forgiveness, and for the first time, confidence in who she was and her path forward.

She had a change of heart about herself (and her parents) the way I’d had a change of heart about people littering.

And it gave her freedom from her pain, her past, and gave her a fresh start in life.

She went from feeling hate and loathing towards herself to feeling love and forgiveness without any change in her past or her circumstances.

This teen’s transformation was the first time I realized how profound and transcendent a single moment of understanding could be. If a seemingly ‘broken’ teen could find love for herself, anyone could.

That’s what I talk about in today’s podcast episode.

Click here to listen. You’ll be taken to the podcast ‘We’re Listening’.

This podcast is hosted by my friend and colleague Rob Cook. You can learn more about Rob and the great work he’s doing on his podcast home page.

erika bugbee

I’m a global coach who works with teens, individuals, couples, and practitioners that are open and motivated to change.

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