Have you ever noticed that it is exhausting trying to help someone who does not want to change?
If so, keep reading . . .
A personal story:
I have been using a mood tracking app on my iPhone called MoodKit. It has a number of great features, but I am mostly using it to do a daily check in to rate my mood and track the results over time. I decided to challenge myself to use this app because I recommended it to one of my teen clients.
I will often take on various challenges in order to motivate my clients to take action. It is also meant to show them that I am personally committed to their success and I am not just throwing around fancy words and smart advice. My personal value is that I do not want to ask my clients to do anything that I am not willing to do myself.
Anyhow, I started to notice a downward trend in my moods over the course of the week. This bothered me a bit. It got me thinking about my life and why I have been grumpy and unsettled lately. It began to dawn on me that I am feeling somewhat burned out.
A little crispy in fact.
I genuinely love my work. I care deeply about the young men and families that I have the privilege of working with in my counseling office. However, most of the teenagers who walk through my door are fantastically ambivalent, not terribly excited to see me and generally unmotivated to change. Not all of them of course, but certainly a statistically significant number! 🙂
Of course this pretty much describes my attitude when I was 15 years old and seeing a therapist. Not exactly delightful.
I work hard with these guys to give them good information, help them understand their feelings, think through their decisions, talk about hard subjects and consider making changes in their lives. I am very good at what I do.
Nevertheless, I get push back. Sometimes they don’t think they have a problem or they recognize they have a problem, but say, “I don’t want to work on it.” Or they do everything in their power to be distracted from the issue at hand. They avoid talking about their feelings, they lie to me and they rarely ever say thank you or tell me how I am an amazing therapist. Ha!
I have to be honest and say that sometimes I get tired, frustrated and wonder if I am doing any good at all.
So, why am I sharing this story with you? Well, I was sitting in Starbucks today wondering what in the world to write in my newsletter and just coming up with a blank. All the while I am marinating in these thoughts and feelings about being burned out. Then it hit me. This is the same feeling that parents of teenagers experience, sometimes on a daily basis.
You love your son and you want good things for him. You work hard to help him succeed in school, learn to be respectful at home and contribute to the family. What do you get in return? Sometimes you get silence, sometimes anger, sometimes demands, sometimes rude comments, sometimes resistance to getting off the couch or off the video games and sometimes you just get plain ignored. I would guess that you feel tired, frustrated and out of gas at times.
Can you relate?
Now I have many ideas about parenting strategies and ways to deal with these challenging issues. However, today I just want to let you know that I get it. I have a tremendous amount of empathy for you and how tough your job is at times. I want you to know that you are not alone. Even if it seems like other parents have it together and their teens are well-behaved and well-rounded.
I want to say keep up the good work. Take care of yourself and know that it is OK to feel burned out sometimes. It is really good information that can guide you to making some necessary changes.