Recently I was in session with a teenage client and their mother had joined for part of it. This client has been struggling with social issues, isolation and poor self-esteem, among other issues. The client’s mother appears to be a good parent with good intentions, however, she made a familiar statement during the session, a statement that is somewhat of a pet peeve of mine. She turned to the client and stated “This is the best time of your life, you should enjoy it, it only get’s harder as you get older”. I’m partially paraphrasing but that was the general message.
You’ve probably heard some version of this statement before and it’s quite possible that someone has told you something similar. How did it make you feel? Chances are not great. It is the kind of statement I loathe because logically it is extremely unhelpful. Imagine telling someone who feels as if their life cannot possibly be any worse that this is actually the best of it and their life WILL in fact, only get worse. This is the recipe for flushing away hope for a better future, something desperately needed. It’s sad really because this statement is usually made as a way to get the person to “snap out of it” and to see the light. Again, it is said with positive intentions but it can easily create the opposite effect.
So please, refrain from saying it. If a young person is struggling with depression or if they feel lost, focus on what they are actually feeling in the moment. Validate their experience and help them understand that right now may the worst of it. Life can get better with time and things can change. These individuals need to be instilled with hope, not drained of it. I apologize if this came off as kind of a rant but the way we express our concerns matter. Depression is hard enough as it is, after all. Has anyone every said this to you and what was your reaction?
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