A Masterpiece in the Making

“Teenage years”, are not easy years for parents and teens alike. Some teenagers can be seen as moody and angry, at times disrespectful and clumsy. Parents might even feel heartbroken and sad when faced with their teens attitude. 

If that is the case for you and you have experienced unpleasant attitude from your teen, please don’t despair. It is not their fault!

Let me explain! There are a number of factors causing them do what they do in this critical and scary age. 

1- Their frontal lobe is not yet fully developed. They are still working with brains that are under construction.The front part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is developed last compared to the rest of their brain. The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making part of the brain, responsible for the ability to plan and think about the consequences of actions, solve problems and control impulses. Changes in this part continue into early adulthood.

Because the prefrontal cortex is still developing, teenagers mainly rely on a part of the brain called the amygdala to make decisions and solve problems more than adults do. The amygdala is associated with emotions, impulses, aggression and instinctive behaviour.

2- Your teen is learning to become independent. They are growing up and want to show it to the world but they don’t know how to handle disagreements and different point of views properly. All they want is to have a voice and say what they want to say. 

3- At times, they feel frustrated because they even don’t know how to express what they mean and their inability to communicate could create misunderstanding and frustration for others, too. And sometimes, they are worried or scared and the only way they communicate is through anger and bad behavior.

I hope you feel a bit better now. Instead of reacting and changing the situation or trying to change our teens, we can learn more about their brain and better ways to communicate and interact with them.  

Here is what I learned and share with other parents on handling their teens behavior: 

1- Concentrate on the way you feel when countered with their bad behavior and communicate it to them but refrain from labeling their behavior.  If they are misbehaving, not responsive or rude, just tell them how their attitudes and actions are making you feel instead of telling them they are rude or irresponsible.  This will make them think about the consequences of their action instead of reacting and defending themselves.

2- Try to communicate to connect. Be an active and patient listener when they talk to you and show that you are interested in them. Share with them the mistakes you have made and what you learned from them when you were young. 

3- If you want them to act in a certain way, you need to model it and show it to them first. They are watching you and learning from you.  Don’t argue with them and if you are angry, keep some distance and take some time to breath and relax. Again, they are observing and learning. Also, don’t take their bad attitude personally.

4- Instead of lecturing them on what they should or should not do, listen more and let them talk to you. Ask them to talk about their day, their frustrations and show them you care.

5- Whatever you do, please don’t use sarcasm. This is one of the things that triggers more resentment, anger and disrespect towards you.

6- Set some rules. Let them know how people should talk and behave in the family but encourage the behavior with understanding and love.

Remember, there are some instances when some major and deeper issues are involved that need medical and professional intervention. Don’t be shy or embarrassed to talk to other people and seek help. 

I hope this helps. Being parent was never to be easy but we all know it is really worth it!

Turning Fear into a Fuel for Success

If you think your child doesn’t know how to perform to their potential at school, they most likely are scared of tests and exams.✍🏻🎓

Fear is probably the most experienced emotion by human beings.  Some people are more courageous than others but fear is real and we all know how debilitating it could be.

Test anxiety is a big issue for most students and even we as adult can experience it. I still dream of being late for my exams or failing at them.

Let’s think about it for a second.  Is there a real danger when we have to take a test? Do we need to protect ourselves when going for an interview? The answer is no, of course.  

So what is fear? Fear is an emotion caused by a subconscious trigger when we feel threatened.  It can be caused by a real threat like being chased by a bear in the middle of the forest or could be an imaginary one like the fear of failure at the exam.

We react to fear in many different ways. When we are scared, we run away, fight, faint or freeze. Our response to fear is in fact our brain trying to keep us safe.  

Imagine we are trying to take a test, we are going for an interview, we have a deadline to achieve a goal, or whatever that is, we are activating the fear center of our brain, amygdala.  The fear center or the emotional center in the brain will then release neurochemicals like cortisol, epinephrine, or norepinephrine. This rush of neurochemicals in our blood stream creates a huge amount of energy.  We use this energy, as we said before, to freeze, run away, fight or faint!

John Assaraf in his recent book, Innercise, explains so beautifully how fear is triggered in the brain and what we can do to not only defeat it but use it to our advantage.  Let’s explore John’s work in collaboration with a world renowned psychiatrists and brain imaging experts, Dr. Srini Pillay from Harvard.

John shows us how to channel fear and use it to not only to take control of our emotions but also to take a step towards solving the issue.

Here’s what he suggests:

“When you recognize a fear, try these two steps:

Innercise number 1: Take 6 Calm the Circuits.

Take a deep breath in for 5 seconds, and blow out like you’re blowing out through a straw… and if you do this 5 seconds in 5 seconds out, with 6 to 10 breaths, you’re going to deactivate the fear response centre and that actually is going to reactivate your thinking centre in your brain so that you can move on to Innercise number 2.

Innercise number 2:  AIA

A-I-A  stands for Awareness. Intention. Action.

A: Ask yourself in a calm and relaxed manner the following questions:

What am I thinking right now?

What am I feeling right now?

Am I calm or am I tense?

Am I breathing deeply or shallow?

Is my heartbeat fast or slow?

Observe what you are feeling and what you are thinking and what you are doing.

I:  What is my intention right now?

Is my intention to move forward or is my intention to stay in this fearful state? And chances are you’re going to say: Well I really wanna move forward.

A: Ask yourself what is one action step that I can take to move forward towards my goal and dream.”

So let’s wrap up the process. In Innercise number 1, we calm the circuits to deactivate amygdala and then in Innercise number 2, called AIA (awareness-intention-action), we take control by being aware of the fear, of what we’ve been thinking and then deciding what to do.

These 2 Innercises combined “reconfigure the neural networking in our brain around the goal that we want to achieve” and instead of allowing the real or imagined danger to control us or to stop us, we  take one action step forward. By taking one small action, we rewire our brain.

This one small action forward towards what needs to be done, like deciding to take the test anyway and deciding to do well will neutralize that fear overtime.

This is such a cool method and it really works. It is good to know there are actually ways to rid of fear effectively. There are other methods other than breathing that can calm the amygdala such as visualization, meditation, exercice, affirmations and positive talk.  They are all good but breathing should be always combined with these other techniques.

I wrote this blog to give you a technique to work with when fear happens. It is amazing and it works but the underlying cause of test anxiety might still be there. 🤔🙄

Most likely they need a more solid foundation to tackle the academic needs.✍🏻🎓 They need executive functioning skills, such as time management ,organizational skills and much more. They need to learn their best learning style to do better academically and they need to know how to take notes, how to take tests and so much more.🎯🗂🗓

Being a student isn’t easy with all that is required of them. But knowing the right strategies can change the game and more importantly reduce stress and build confidence. 🏆🏅

Potential is living and breathing in your children but it might be hiding. They need to see it and grow into it. They need to create their future with a purpose and goal aligned with their strengths. They need to build a success mindset for life. 🔮

If you have a student or know someone who needs help, let me know. Your first session is complimentary.


How to celebrate the real you and the world around you in 2019

Last night, I watched a movie based on the life of a twelve years old girl who was abducted during the tribal wars in Sudan and sold to a family as a slave. The account of her life was a statement of how most wars are originated from human’s reaction to differences and their fear of the unknown.

Difference are usually the subject of resentment and prejudice in most societies and there is a good enough reason for that:  we are scared of change!

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What Do You let Get Inside?

Are you using a shower filter? How about a water filter for your drinking water? I confess: I do!

Today, I had to walk out of my house with a mask! Most of you know the air is really toxic in the Bay Area because of a series of unfortunate wild fires in the North and South of Beautiful California. You see most people with masks and so I decided to use one, too!

When I was walking, I was thinking about the air that was being filtered through my mask and getting ready for inhalation!

I thought we filter many things before we let them get into our body. Don’t we? We purify water for consumption and for shower, we filter air when it is toxic.

But we don’t do anything when we are in a toxic social environment and we inhale all in and let it get absorbed to our mind, body and soul without any filter!

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Rejection! Does it scare you, too?

Hello friend! I have a request before you start reading this blog post. Give this topic some thought and read it after!

Rejection!  It is a very scary word, isn’t it?  No one wants to be rejected.  I completely get it!  I know we all, at some point in our life, have been rejected by someone in the past.  Maybe we were very young but we can still remember exactly what happened.  Ok, it is a bad place to be! I get it!

I remember how devastated I was when my classmates, a couple of times, didn’t want me to play in their games or didn’t want me to be in their circle!  I remember when I heard I wasn’t invited to a birthday party in third grade!  Back then, I was thinking there was something wrong with me.  What happened as a result, I became self-conscious and worried.  You see, this happens to all of us but if we are not careful, it can change our life, and I mean really destroy our life!

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Friendships Take More Than Being Friends!

Friendships can last a life time or only a season. We click so quickly with some people and not so fast with some others.  Some friends are supporting and comforting while others make us uncomfortable and upset.  I should note that there is a difference between acquaintances and friends. Friends are those we connect to at a deeper level and we would like to have in our lives but acquaintances are those we respect and we talk to but we don’t share a deep level of connection. Read more

The Thought of Exams Can Be Stressful, But You Don’t Need to Fall For it!

As we know, when life gets tough and we are stressed, our body goes into “fight or flight” mode. This is the primitive and automatic response of our body to protect us from danger and threats to our survival.  When we are preparing for our next big exam or we are overwhelmed with the thought of being behind our work, we get that fight and flight process going in our mind and in our body and we all know how awful that feeling is! Read more