I'M VERY STRESSED OUT FOR A 15-YEAR OLD
As a teenager in the USA, I am experiencing a lot of problems. I'm very stressed out for a 15-year old. I get really annoyed at my sister's voice and whenever I hear her screaming and yelling, I can feel my heart heavy and breathing hard. As I am stressed out most of the day, I usually go on the computer and play games until around 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. I even lock myself up in my room, sometimes without eating dinner.
— Jeff, USA
Jeff, be assured that yours is not a unique case. All teenagers experience problems like yours as part of their personal development! Some people poetically call these problems the pains of growing up.
Yet, not all teenagers grow up the same way. While all teenagers experience the pains of growing up, the exact problems as well as the manners they deal with them are different. In your case you find your sister's screaming and yelling intolerable, some others find their father's advice or their mother's attention irritating, even though deep inside them they know what their father and mother do are for their own good. Reacting to the problem, you shut yourself up playing computer games. Some may vandalize public properties or take drugs.
These reactions are unhealthy. Vandalizing and drug taking teenagers destroy others and themselves. Compared to them, your reaction is not serious, but it is still destructive to your own personal development. These reactions are not dealing with the problems at hand, but running away from the problems.
What should you and other destructive teenagers do? Deal with the problems courageously instead of running away, and change destructive reactions to constructive ones. This provides the vision for your action. Once you have the vision, you will find your direction. In other words, if you have the will, you will find the way.
There are various ways you can employ to change destructive reactions to constructive ones. Many teenagers take up sports and games as well as reading and music, and some excel in them. You should choose whatever hobbies that interest you most.
Nevertheless, the following strategy is a useful one to adopt. Whenever you become upset, such as when you hear your sister scream, go outside or to any suitable place away from the upsetting situation, and perform “Lifting the Sky” about 20 times. If you have not learnt how to perform this wonderful chi kung exercise yet, read my books to learn it, or better still learn it from a competent instructor.
Then stand upright and be totally relaxed. Do not think of anything, but merge yourself into the cosmos. Then think of how lucky you are to be born a human, wholesome, intelligent and in peaceful environment. Thank God, or the Buddha, or whatever name you give to the Supreme Being according to your religion or culture, for the blessing you have. Then, thank your parents for bringing you into this world, and for the comfortable life you have.
After this, you can play computer games, read some books or do whatever wholesome things you like. You must do so because you like it, not because you want to run away from an upsetting situation. You may find a private place to enjoy your hobby, but not shut yourself up, and not continue for hours without end.
You may realize that your sister is also in a similar situation. Her screaming is her way of reacting to problems. It is also destructive, for herself as well as other people. Later when you are more skillful in handling difficult situations, have some compassion on her and teach her how she too can handle problems constructively. But you must tell her tactfully, and never impose your will on her. When she notices that you have handled difficult situations competently, she too would like to do so, and follow your example.
The above is taken from Question 1 of April 2003 Part 2 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.
Courses and Classes