Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 11:55 am | Fair 54º

 
 
 
 
Teenagers

Louise Palanker: Fear Factors, Caught in the Middle of Sisterhood, A Friend in Need

Question from Charley

I am a normal guy like any other guys out there. I have many fears! I hate myself and I am very upset at myself because I don’t know how to get over my fears.

If someone yells at me I could get scared. Or if I were to get in a fight, I would be scared and not know how to brave my heart. I am very strong and that’s what all my friends tell me, but when it comes to situations like that, I don’t know what to do because I get really scared and I feel my heart pumping very fast and loud.

Weezy

All guys get scared. All people get scared. The tough part for guys is that they are socialized to believe that they must never show fear.

This compels boys to believe that they should never FEEL fear. That’s just not possible.

Boys are human. Fear is an essential emotion that serves to save our lives.

Have you heard of the fight or flight instinct? This is where any creature encountering danger will instinctively either fight or run. Remember that the key word here is instinct.

The secret to facing fear with grace is conditioning yourself to show courage even when you are frightened. Fear is your instinct. Courage can be learned. Everyone feels fear. Not everyone shows courage.

In reading through your letter, I get the sense that you have been yelled at quite often. If you come from a home in which stress and frustration frequently erupt into screaming and yelling, then it would stand to reason that you are easily rattled.

Children need safety, security and room to fail because failure is what leads to learning and growing. If tempers are quick in your home, then know that you don’t deserve that. In those moments, give yourself what is being withheld. Love.

I know that you know that your family loves you but when it looks and sounds like love is missing, love yourself.

Since it sounds like you are quite a tough guy and that this is your reputation, you must feel a tremendous amount of pressure to never show any weakness. That is really not going to be possible as you continue through life.

Find one friend who understands that everyone is only human. Confide in that person.

Try to avoid fights. You can stare someone down and say, “I don’t want to fight you. I like you.” It takes courage to do that, but learning courage will earn you respect. It is far more powerful to be loved than to be feared.

Be soft and sensitive where it matters. Look into the eyes of someone more vulnerable than you and give a warm smile. Ask a question that shows you care and that you are paying attention. Offer a compliment. Tell somebody that he or she has done well.

Give away what you need. It will come back to you. It is very important that you allow yourself to be human because that is all you ever can be.

As Jimmy Fallon and Kevin Hart show us here, sometimes it’s OK to scream like a little girl:

(The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Emily

My younger sister is so rude to me. She got angry for no reason and she said you’re mean and you try to act popular and people think you’re a brat, and I’m like no, I don’t.

She was being mean to this kid so I told her that she was a bully, but then I started doing some deep thinking about myself. I don’t think I try to act popular. But our fight was pretty horrible, and then my older sister got mad and threw her pizza at me.

I’m the middle sister and I get run over by both of them. I wanted to take my cup and pour it on my little sister’s head, but I had to keep in my anger. I hate it when they both do this cause then I have these deep thoughts and I start really wondering who I am.

Weezy

First of all, nobody knows exactly who they are at your age. Second, your siblings are reacting to their frustrations just as you are reacting to yours.

Try NOT to take anything too personally. And if something compels you to do some deep thinking about who you are and who you wish to become, welcome it.

Within a family, the bully and the bullied can shift from moment to moment. Most sibling rivalry is rooted in competition for parental love and attention. The rest stems from competition for each other’s attention or for privileges or belongings.

When you feel like you are being attacked from both sides, take a breath, dig deep and break the tension. Give your sisters a warm smile and say, “Hey, let’s do something fun.” Then plan an activity and get back to being sisters.

These two individuals are your best friends for life. They are your longest lasting relationships on this planet. You will know them longer than you will know your parents or your future spouses or children.

When you feel compelled to think deeply about who you are, think about becoming a more wonderful sister. Make it your goal to have your siblings come to you, not in anger but in search of a loving and understanding friend.

These adorable 100-year-old twins on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (with special help from Carol Burnett!) can teach us all a bit about sibling love and friendship:

(Colvins House video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Melinda

I used to be friends with this guy. I could tell him anything and he would always listen to me and help me.

I have been having suicidal thoughts since sixth grade. I’ve cut for a year but just recently stopped. This guy knew that I had just stopped, and he was the main reason I did stop because it always made him upset.

I am in eighth grade now and we’ve been good friends since sixth grade, and a few weeks ago he blocked me on everything because he said I was too dramatic and I had changed too much. I told him I was sorry and he ignored me.

This guy used to like me last year. I liked him, too, but was too afraid to admit it. I miss him, and I have no idea how to say I’m sorry to him again or what to do for us to be friends again. I’m getting to a bad place again and now I have no one else to talk to.

Help?

Weezy

It sounds like you had been placing too much responsibility on this boy. He wants to be your friend. He is not capable of being your therapist.

He is only a child like you. He can not be the reason you stop harming yourself. That is far too much pressure to put upon a friend. You need to get well for yourself. Not for him.

Go get help from a professional. Show him that YOU want to be well so that you can be a friend to him.

Remember that friendship goes in both directions. If it is always you unloading on him and him striving to save you from yourself, then that will get old and stressful really quickly.

If you want a friend, BE a friend. You may have to get yourself more emotionally healthy before you can be the friend that he needs.

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara​. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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