Awesome Mikayla’s Burning Question: “Can LOA work for teenagers? I am trying to manifest my perfect life now at the age of 17, which I know is young but I don’t know if this can work for me! Like most teenagers, I want freedom and to experience things I haven’t experienced but how can I do that when I’m surrounded by unhappiness in high school and I have to rely on my mom for money and rides since I don’t have a car! I want to feel independent and start my adult life off right…how can I align with what I want so that I will have an abundant adult life and to help me be successful in this huge shift from being a child to “the real world?” Please help me!”
Dear Awesome Mikayla,
First of all, the Law of Attraction isn’t ageist. You don’t get a license to practice LOA when you’re 21. You, and everything else, are subject to the LOA, no matter if you’re aware of it or not. You wouldn’t ask if gravity will work for someone your age, would you?
But I get your question. What you’re really asking is can you do this work deliberately (as in deliberately receive your reality) at your age? And the answer is, of course you can! A five year old can do this deliberately! In fact, the younger you are, the easier it will tend to be for you. You haven’t gathered as much evidence to support your negative beliefs as some of us oldies have (although I would refrain from maybe pointing that out to any oldies. We can be a grumpy bunch).
I’m happy to give you some insights tailored to you and this important time in your life, though. But I must warn you. I talk to teenagers the way I talk to everyone else. That means cursing, no bullshit allowed, and I’m not dumbing this crap down. The way I see it, doing anything less would be incredibly condescending and disrespectful to you. Plus, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun for me, so…
Why it sucks being a teenager
I won’t lie to you. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that these are the best years of your life. The only adults that do that have very unhappy lives. I mean seriously, if high school was the highlight of your life, you’re doing something wrong.
Being a teenager can totally suck. Here are just a few reasons why:
- High School. I’ve written about our education system before, so my opinion on this isn’t exactly a secret. You’re being trained to be a good little worker, discouraged from thinking for yourself, and being sold a very narrow path to success, that doesn’t actually lead to any kind of monetary OR emotional well-being. If you find yourself thinking that this is mostly a huge waste of time, you’re totally right. It is. But once you’re in the system, you kind of have to go with it (I’ll show you later how you can turn this into a good thing).
- Hormones. They go crazy during this time of your development, which can cause acne, mood swings, and embarrassing outbursts. At no other time in your life will you have that little control over your body or emotions. Obviously, infants have it even worse, but they don’t really care, so in my book, you’re more screwed.
- Adults don’t take you seriously. Of course, there are exceptions, but in our society as a whole, we give very little respect to children and teenagers. Not only do we not consider your opinions valid (as if you’re too stupid to know what you want and what you don’t want), we minimize and dismiss your pain. What many adults don’t consider is that your perspective is a lot smaller when you’re younger, so everything that happens to you, impacts your whole world. When a boy breaks your heart, you don’t know that not all boys are like that, or that there are plenty of fish in the sea. You haven’t yet had the experiences that will teach you that (and no, you can’t just be told by an adult). When your best friend betrays you, it shatters everything you know about friendship and makes you feel unsafe in general. You cannot just get over something like that. You have to process it, the same as any huge trauma (adults, think of it this way: your boyfriend of three months leaving you at 16 feels the same as your husband of twenty years leaving you for a stripper.) It’s not your imagination that many people don’t understand you. Many of them really don’t.
- You have very little power to make your own decisions. As you pointed out, you don’t have your own car. You don’t have the ability to move out on your own and live completely independently. There are many things that are not legally open to you yet. If you have really controlling (i.e. strict) parents, who are making you responsible for their own fears (parents, you know who you are!), it gets even worse. You may have to live by rules that make no sense to you, conform to norms that make you want to run off screaming, and be told by others who clearly don’t have their own shit together that they know what’s best for you better than you do (which is, quite frankly, ridiculous).
So yeah, being a teenager can totally suck. If you choose to look at it that way. You see, while there are restrictions, they aren’t really any different from the restrictions that most adults live in, in the “real world”, as you put it. Where you have your parents telling you what to do, adults have idiot bosses who think they know everything. Where you have school forcing you to do work that doesn’t matter, adults have corporate jobs that are sucking their souls dry every day. You may feel limited by your surroundings, but so do adults. There are laws and rules and societal norms to adhere to, most of which make no logical sense.
And while your lack of emotional stability can be blamed on your age or hormones, let me assure you that most adults alive today don’t have a whole lot more skill in navigating their feelings than you do. Why do you think they’re so keen to remember their teenage years as better? Because the idea that their problems have gotten a lot worse feels so much better than the realization that they haven’t learned a damn thing about how to navigate the world since their teens.
Being a teenager can totally suck, that’s true. But so can being an adult. The good news is that none of it has to, not for you, and not for us oldies. Wanna know how to make it not suck? Course you do.
You’re not a child anymore
The first bit of validation I want to give you is that, no matter what the adults around you might say, you are not a child anymore at 17. There’s no magic shift that happens on your 18th birthday that suddenly makes you an adult. In fact, it’s quite difficult to define what makes someone an adult. Many people in their 30’s and 40’s (and beyond!) still don’t feel like they’re grown up and some of us never will (although, to be fair, being and adult and being grown up aren’t necessarily the same thing…). Some would say that adulthood connotes an ability to handle a certain amount of responsibility. But there are a ton of adults who can’t do that. One might argue that adulthood comes with sound judgment. Again, all one would have to do is go and look on the internet (“People of Walmart” comes to mind…) to disprove that theory.
To me, you’re an adult when you go out on your own, when you take responsibility for yourself and your own life, and you make your own decisions. Childhood is that magical time when you leave most of that stuff up to others and happily so. The teenage years are that weird and wacky time in between, where you have the ability to make those adult decisions (you have the ability to understand how to), and you certainly have the desire to, but you don’t yet possess the skill. To me, that’s what the teenage years are all about – practicing how to be an adult in a safe environment, where the stakes aren’t as high and the risks aren’t as big.
Why your parents suddenly seem like idiots
For the first 6-7 years of our lives, we are like sponges. We soak up anything and everything that’s presented to us. When we’re told how the world works, we tend to accept that almost unquestioningly, unless what we’re told is just complete and utter bullshit. You may have noticed that the little kids today accept less and less of the BS readily. Their nonsense meters are more highly tuned than any other generation before them.
The time after seven years of age, our main core beliefs are pretty much set and we use these years to solidify them. This is when we stop believing in magic, parrot a lot of what our parents say and begin to differentiate our own tribe from others. What our parents say is pretty much infallible. If anyone is going to be wrong, it will be the other kids’ parents. We’ve firmly taken on the false belief that our tribe is right, and only our tribe is right.
As we enter our teenage years, we naturally begin to question everything, including anything and everything our parents have told us. We begin the process of differentiating ourselves from our tribe and finding our own, personal identity. How can we make our own decisions if we don’t first throw out everything we’ve been taught? It’s at this time that our parents seem to turn into idiots. They’re still trying to tell us how it is from their perspective, but we want to develop our own. The more they push us to accept their point of view, the more we push back.
This is a natural phenomenon. If you’re a parent currently locked into a power struggle with your teen, do the counterintuitive thing and back off. Give them space. Stop trying to tell them who you think they are and let them figure it out. You’ll get a lot less push back that way.
If this process is stunted, if the home environment is so controlling that the teenager’s own identity isn’t allowed it emerge, they’ll then have to spend their 20’s and 30’s figuring out who they are. Now normally, these years and all the ones beyond are a continuation of the process that begins in our teens, but it’s a lot more comfortable to start the process of self-identification in a safe environment.
What our teenage years are good for
If allowed to unfold naturally, the teenage years can be an incredible time of self-realization and growth, both for the teenagers and their parents.
During our teenage years:
- We learn how to make decisions, while still having access to our parents’ guidance. In order to practice this successfully, however, we have to be allowed to make actual, real life decisions that have actual, real life consequences. In short, if we’re not allowed to make a bad decision, we won’t learn how.
- We learn how to exercise judgment. This is closely aligned with making decisions, as sound judgment is needed to make good decisions. We learn how to figure out what we want and what we don’t want, and how to evaluate which option is most likely to lead to our goal. If parents step in and tell us what to decide, if they exercise judgment for us, we’ll have less ability to learn it for ourselves. Because judgment can’t be mimicked. It has to be developed through practice.
- We learn about our preferences. This is what most people will call our “identity”. We learn what we like and don’t like, who we want to be and how we want to fit into the world. We begin to discover who we are, often by first figuring out who we are not. And yes, this process usually starts by us looking at our parents and declaring that we don’t want to be like them (many people are still declaring this decades later…)
- We question everything. As well we freaking should. A lot of the rules that our society applies are, to put it bluntly, complete and utter bullshit. And what’s more, we totally know it, if we’re honest. As teenagers, we rebel against these arbitrary, useless rules of life, most of which are based on appeasing other people. The answer clearly isn’t to just capitulate and conform. But the answer is also not to rebel and use all your energy to push against the crappy system you don’t want to be a part of.
The more we are allowed to practice our independence, to make our own decisions and exercise judgment, the more we are permitted to make mistakes and experience the real consequences of our actions (being punished is not a real consequence, it’s an attempt to control), the more emotionally stable we will be as “adults”. The more controlling our environment during these years, the more we’ll go crazy the first chance we get to leave the nest (have you ever seen college freshmen go absolutely crazy as soon as they leave home?).
But this post isn’t specifically for parents (although I know the parents will be reading and benefiting from this). It’s for the teens. What can you do, no matter what environment you’re living in (more or less controlling) to begin the process of deliberately receiving your reality?
Stop pushing against your parents
Yes, your parents might seem like idiots (I already explained why), but they’re not. They, just like you, are doing the best they can. They, just like you, are fallible. They, just like you, are still figuring it out. It will actually do you both good to remember that (parents holding themselves to a standard of perfection freak out the most).
The one thing you want to remember is that they love you, and they feel a responsibility for your safety and well-being that you may not fully understand until you’re a parent yourself. They can’t just leave you alone. They can’t just stop worrying about you. Believe me, they often wish they could. They’re not worried about you because they think you’re such a screw up. They’re worried about you because part of them still sees you as that little helpless baby. They’re scared to death every time you leave the house that something will happen to you. Your pain is their pain, and when you hurt and they have no idea how to fix it, it tears them apart. That’s why they sometimes act so weird, even getting mad at you for something that has caused you pain. They feel powerless to make it better, to protect you against all the possible dangers of the world. This is also why they try to control you – they figure it’s the only way to keep you safe.
No, none of this is your fault or even fair to you. But it does help if you remember that your parents aren’t being assholes. They’re scared. All. The. Time. If you remember this when you’re dealing with your parents, if you don’t deliberately trigger their fear but aim to soothe it in your approach, you’ll get a lot less push back from them (because it isn’t just up to them to cater to you. You can also meet them half way). For example, if you acknowledge and address their fears as you talk to them, (“I realize you’re worried about me driving and I know that it can be dangerous, but I also believe that I’m a very safe driver. I pay attention. I’m aware of other drivers and I am responsible, and I feel that the more practice I get, the better driver I’ll become.”), you’ll have a much better chance of having an actual dialogue with them rather than a screaming match.
Remember that, from an LOA point of view, whatever you push against, you get more of. So, if you insist that your parents are just stupid and brain dead and that things won’t change until you move out, that’s exactly what you’ll get more of. Good luck with that. Adopt the mindset that when your parents freak out, they’re just scared and do your best to have compassion for them.
Don’t wait until you move out to be free
Don’t see your move out date as a kind of release from prison. I get it, it’s harder to exercise your independence while you’re still living at home. But you know what? A lot of adults would argue that it’s nearly impossible to exercise independence while in an office job, or if you have kids, or if you don’t earn more than a certain amount of money, or if you have elderly parents to care for, or a horrible mother in law, or whatever. You can put yourself in prison at any age and for any reason. These are all just excuses to feel limitation.
If you decide that you won’t have any freedom until you’re 18, you won’t. But it won’t be anyone’s doing but yours. And this is where the valuable lesson for you lies – if you can learn to feel free in what seems like a restrictive environment, if you can exercise that power now, you will set yourself up for a lifetime of freedom. If you buy into the idea that your freedom is tied to other people on the other hand, if you give your power away, you’ll be volunteering for a life of slavery.
It isn’t up to your parents to grant you your freedom, no matter what it seems like. You can manifest a different version of your parents, one that isn’t as controlling, for example, any time. Not pushing against them is a good start. Here are a few more tips that will help you align with this new vibration:
- Focus on and celebrate the decisions you can make, instead of the ones you can’t. Every decision you can make represents a little freedom. Talk about what you’re allowed to do, rather than what’s forbidden. And yes, I understand that this won’t be easy. But this is how you change your energy.
- Become aware of your preferences. Even if your parents are making a decision, you can still become aware of what you would’ve preferred and why. This is an exercise in self-awareness, and something that a lot of adults still struggle with. It’s easy to bitch about what you don’t want. It’s a bit more work but infinitely more valuable to figure out what you want instead and why (and keep in mind that the why can’t be to piss everyone off. You’re going to have to dig deeper than that). Your true WHY will take all the other people out of the equation. It will feel right to you. It will require that you get still and check in with how you truly feel. It means acknowledging your emotions. This is the self-work that all of my adult clients are doing, and it will work just as well for you.
- Use your imagination. Focus on what you want, even if it’s not currently in your reality. This is what your imagination is for. As you do this, generate the feeling that you want this thing to give you. You have to be willing to emanate the feeling first, before what that feeling represents can come into your life. And don’t be afraid to dream big. If you knew what you were truly capable of achieving, you’d never limit yourself in any way.
- Don’t focus on the HOW. There will be a lot of things that you want that you have no idea how to get. There will be things you want that you’re convinced can’t happen. “My mom will say no”, is something that shuts down a lot of dreams. Take your mom and everyone else out of the equation. Forget about HOW you’ll get what you want. Just focus on what you want and let it feel good to you. You’ll be surprised by how the Universe can line up things you thought were impossible if you just let go of trying to figure out the HOW.
Stop trying to get anyone’s validation
Again, this skill will come in handy for the rest of your life. You may notice that all of the techniques I’ve mentioned so far have been ones that you can do inside your own head. They don’t require you to talk to anyone or argue with anyone. And they don’t require you to get anyone’s approval or validation. When you share your big dreams with people, for example, it’s generally going to be in the hopes of them agreeing that yes, you can totally accomplish this thing. You’re hoping that they’ll soothe your doubts. What will usually happen, however, is that they’ll mirror your doubts back to you, by picking your dream apart until there’s nothing left but a few pitiful scraps.
Own your dreams. Take responsibility for them. Protect them. And believe in them. Know that your dreams probably threaten a lot of people around you, people that have decided to settle for something less than they wanted, out of a belief that it was safer to do so. These people will be triggered by your passion – their own fears will surface, and they’ll have two choices. They can admit that they didn’t follow their dreams because they were too scared (this, in itself is scary), or they can just shut down your dream. Because believing that no one can follow their passion is often easier than poking at and acknowledging our own fears. But you don’t have to subject yourself to their fears. Keep your dreams to yourself and only share them with others if you know they’ll be supportive, and if and when you’re ready to. Those who can’t believe in you now, because they can’t believe in themselves, will come around once you’ve been successful. In fact, then they’ll claim that they always knew you could do it and will become your biggest fans.
Do not let other people’s fears shut down your dreams. But you don’t have to convince them to drop their fears in order to do this. Just ignore their fears and do the work in your head. This is where your true power is, anyway.
Learn to communicate authentically
Learning how to talk to people so that they’ll actually hear you is one of the most valuable skills you can acquire. Being authentic will not only feel a lot better, but it will shut down all the drama in your life. It’s also one of the hardest skills on this list to learn.
What is authentic communication? Well, in a nutshell, it’s learning to communicate what you truly want and how you truly feel. It means taking all the defensive barriers down and just being “real”. It means responding to every question, every remark, completely honestly. Scary? Hell yes. But worth it. Trust me on that.
Let me give you an example: Let’s say your mom decides to tell you that you can’t go to the movies on Friday night because you didn’t do your homework, which you think it totally unfair (I would agree with you, but don’t tell your mom). If you take a beat and think about why it’s unfair, you might discover what you actually think and why you think it. For example, you might figure out that you don’t understand why your mom is mad about your homework, since it doesn’t actually affect her. You might remember that awesome blog post that explained to you that she’s scared for you. Punishing you is her attempt to force you to do something that she believes is good for you (never mind that humans don’t need incentives to do what they believe is good for them, only to do what others believe is good for them).
Then, and this is the hard part, you’ll want to ask yourself why you really didn’t do your homework. You had a reason to blow it off (and don’t stop at “It’s stupid.”). Is it difficult? Or are you bored? Do you truly feel that it’s an exercise in futility (you’re not learning anything)? If so, are you pushing against the whole school system in a passive aggressive attempt at rebellion (you will not change the system by not doing your homework). Whatever the true reason is, is there something that would help alleviate it? For example, if the exercises are too hard or you don’t understand the class, can you get help? Yes, this would entail admitting that you’re having trouble, but we’re being authentic, remember?
If you’re bored, could you talk to your teacher about doing more advanced work instead? Perhaps your mom can help you. What is it that you really wanted to accomplish by not doing your homework? Do you think simply not complying will give you that? Or is there a better way? If, for example, you feel that the class you’re taking is useless to you, can you ask your teacher (nicely and respectfully) to maybe do a lesson on why this subject matter is relevant? Can you do that research yourself (challenge accepted!) and do a presentation for the class (can you say, extra credit?)? You can also read this post on how to make school work more fun for yourself and others.
Be willing to identify the real problem. Even if you hate the class because your stupid ex is in it, there’s a solution out there that doesn’t require you to have a fight with your mom. In fact, holding her responsible for whatever the real issue is will keep you from figuring it out. Look deeper and take your mom’s reaction out of the equation.
Then, once you’ve figured out what the real issue is, and therefore have identified what you truly want (this goal will feel really good to you. If it doesn’t, keep working on it), you may want to talk it out with your mom, if you have that kind of relationship. You may be very surprised by her reaction when you approach her authentically instead of with a bunch of sarcastic comments meant to convey your utter disapproval of her.
I realize that I may have stretched the limits of a teenager’s attention span here (this has turned into one of the longest posts I’ve ever written), but I also know that if something is important to you, your focus will keep up with you. Or, you can always print it out and read it on the toilet. Ha.
The bottom line here is that you can deliberately practice the Law of Attraction at any age. The skills you learn as a teenager can give you a huge head start and serve you for the rest of your life. The really, really good news is that if you implement even just one of these techniques (and I don’t suggest you try to tackle them all at once), you’ll see tangible results fast. And remember, the goal is not to somehow remove yourself from reality and then create what you want. That doesn’t take much skill. It’s to create your reality deliberately amidst all the chaos and limitation. Because that’s true power. You are a master creator and masters don’t choose easy challenges. You chose be born into this labyrinth of limitation on purpose, because you knew that you could find the beauty and freedom within it.
You have no idea how powerful you are and what tremendous awesomeness you’re capable of. But if you’re studying this work at 17, you’re certainly well on your way to figuring it out.