Looking for a different kind of meditation for your teenage kids?
Why becoming aware of what we choose to focus on and give our energy to is so vital for wellbeing
21 Nov 2021
By Emer O'Donnell

No need to close your eyes with this one. 

It starts with understanding about our unique brain filter, we all have one… more on that later.

 

First an important fact…

’A regular person gets more information now in one day in their lives than a person got in 1900 in their whole lifetime'.

That is a lot of information overload on our brains. 

For teenage kids this is especially so, as their brains are not fully mature and are still under construction. 

Many are getting information trigger overload, which are often judgemental and fear based. 

This can be a big source in the creation of stress, anxiety and uncertainty in their lives as they are not yet mature enough to handle their reactions to these triggers. Nor do they usually have a big bank of experience to draw on for guidance.

 

Brain Rewiring

The rewiring of their brains during their teenage years has a big part to play. 

Their prefrontal cortex which is the last part of their brain to be fully connected, and which is not fully mature until their early 20s, is responsible for a lot of the skills needed to navigate their way through the noise and distractions they are exposed to now. 

The skill functions and the degree to which these are inhibited is unique for each individual teenager but as a general rule many can struggle to:

List of skills that teenagers can struggle with

 

All these skills are vital for their ability to make healthy choices in how they behave when faced with negative triggers or challenges in their world.

Image of bulb and the words big - idea

 

That unique filter

This is where understanding about our unique filter come in. Regardless of the amount of stimulus our brains get they can only process a limited amount of stimulus in any one moment. Our brain just filters out the rest. So, what we choose to focus on and let through our unique filter and then think about, we tend to give our attention and energy away to.

By keeping a conscious log for 10 days e.g. a diary of triggers that you are exposed to, then by writing down where you are giving your focus and the subsequent thoughts, beliefs and reactions to these triggers that you have can be very useful. 

It can show you the impact of where you are choosing to focus your attention, what is causing the stress and anxiety and what is not.  

There is then the opportunity to discuss these results with a trusted individual in your life e.g. a parent, guardian, teacher, informed friend etc to gain a more objective perspective. 

It is good to download and get this stuff out of your head so sharing experiences can be very useful.

If you are feeling less overloaded with the stuff that is not helping you function well then you are on the right track.

 If not then you need to have an internal chat with your brain, you can do that, and tell it what you want to focus more on e.g. the good trigger stuff.  

Our brain, because it is very clever, will start to look out for this new stuff among the influx of information and stimulus available and then chose to let it in so more of the useful stuff will become obvious and arrive instead.

For example:  if you want to buy a particular kind of mobile phone then you start to see it much more often among all the mobile phones you are generally exposed to. It is the same for anything we focus our thoughts on. 

It is about being able to build better self-awareness and being more selective and more creative about your focus and what you want to think about. 

Hearts with smiling, neutral and sad faces

 

The big question to ask 

Is your focus and attention serving you well or not in your life?

The more you can become aware of checking in and answering this question when you are not feeling good, and then choosing to make a change and practise this approach, the easier it will get to do.

It is all about learning to take back control in deciding where to focus attention so that a more useful outcome is created in your life rather than being at the mercy of triggering external events.

 

We often have more choices in our lives than we first think we have

To learn more about your unique filter and how your thoughts can be supported to create better wellbeing...

 

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