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7 Things That Will Bring Change to Any Angry Teen’s Life

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Teenagers don’t have to be angry or disconnected, but many of them are. Rather than speculating on why they are this way, some practical advice on how to change would be appropriate. This article is for that teenager who is looking for help to change their thinking, behaving, and life trajectory. I used to be one of those directionless, frustrated teenagers. These seven things are proven, and they will bring change to your life.

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Help for Angry Teens

In the last article, I talked about several things that parents can do to help their children change. Now it’s time to bring some insight to the rebellious teen. There is excellent news here for anyone, not just the frustrated teenager. These truths are transcendent and transformative because they are sourced in the power of the gospel that can change anyone, despite your shaping influences or circumstances.

What you don’t want to do is fall into the common trap that tends to ensnare too many teenagers who did not get what they wanted from their parents. I’m going to mention a few of those snares with the hope that these words will make their way into the hearts of a few struggling teenagers.

Initially, it will be hard to listen because the hurt is so significant. I think back to when I was an angry, victimized teenager, who was living out rebellion. My anger was real, but there was also another story; I was hurting, and I wanted someone to help me. If you are a struggling teenager, you have that help here. You can let down your guard; we are here for you.

1 – You Are a Victim

People can bounce from one extreme to the other when thinking about being a victim. The truth is that everyone is a victim to some degree. To say that you have never experienced disappointment or hurt from someone is either dishonest, over-spiritualization, or a from person who is out-of-touch with reality.

There is a reason we call this world a fallen one. Everyone is imperfect, and the outcome is that we hurt people. You want to make sure that you don’t swing too far in either direction. If you play the victim card too vigorously, you will manipulate others, which you may do unwittingly in the beginning, but you could come to enjoy that kind of power.

You also don’t want to pretend that everything is okay. It’s not. Other people have hurt you. Don’t react to your hurts by playing the victim, and you shouldn’t ignore the truth as though it does not matter. The “tough guy approach” is merely a facade that reveals a hurting little person inside of you.

2 – You Are Normal

The more you talk about what happened to you in humble ways, the more you’ll realize how normal you are. I’m not downgrading your pain but saying that everyone has had a similar experience. There are different severities, but conceptually speaking, we all have experienced many disappointments within relationship structures.

It not unusual for a teenager to think that they are different from everyone else, which will create a sense of insecurity. Feelings of fear, inferiority, shame, and guilt will crop up, hoping to establish strongholds in your mind. When this happens, you will want to overcompensate by creating another version of yourself for public display.

It’s hard enough to live one life, but when you create a public persona that is drastically different from the “hidden person of the heart,” you will bury yourself under the weight of this added pressure. Eventually, you’ll start looking for escapes to “give yourself a break” from carrying the weight of a double life.

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3 – Your Greater Need

Humility is the secret sauce that will put you on an entirely different course. The obstacle to becoming a humble soul is an angry attitude that a person fills with entitlement. When you mix legitimate hurt with anger, you’re feel entitled, which obliterates any possibility for humility to take root in the heart.

James 4:6 is the classic verse about the differences between pride and humility. As hard as it is to lower your guard and humble yourself about what has happened to you, it’s a far better choice than holding onto your anger. Ultimately, the battle in your soul is between you and the Lord. He is asking to be the authority in your life.

In human warfare, we can become so horizontally fixated on what is happening that we forget the vertical battle. God is sovereign, and what has happened in your life did not come to pass without His permittance and oversight. Perhaps this angers you, which only speaks to your thoughts about the Lord. If God’s sovereign rule over you does not humble you, maybe you want to make that problem your starting place to work through your issues.

4 – Change Your Habits

As you ponder your relationship with God and how He’s working in your life, you want to consider your habits. The change process is comprehensive; it’s an inside to outside operation. Simultaneous to asking the Lord to change you internally, examine what you’re doing habitually. What are some of the things in your life that do not help you to mature in Christ?

The temptation for many teens is to isolate themselves behind the walls of videos, gaming, and social media. If these things are temptations for you, start the process of limiting the control that they have over you. I’m not saying those things are evil or sinful, but if they keep you from maturing, then they are wrong to you.

You want to consider the replacement principle: everything you take out of your life, you want to replace it with something better. You can think of it as the difference between being self-centered and others-centered. E.g., instead of spending hours on YouTube, find someone you can serve.

5 – Change Your Friends

You’re changing your heart, your habits, and now you want to look at your friends. Do they spur you on to love and good deeds? Read Hebrews 10:24-25. We surround ourselves with things we like, and those things influence us. Bad companions will corrupt you (1 Corinthians 15:33). In what ways do your friends affect you?

After I got out of jail at fifteen-years-old, I walked away from all my bad friends. They were not good friends; they supplied me with alcohol, drugs, and other things that were taking me down. I made a decision that was not hard. I weighed where I was and where I was heading and decided that it was enough. I was not going to walk down that road with those friends any longer.

If the Lord gives you this kind of clarity, don’t refuse it. Walking away from bad influences is not hard if the result of those relationships is more painful than leaving them. Time in jail was harder on me than moving on from my past activities and associations. I’ve never regretted that decision. You won’t either.

6 – What Do You Want To Do?

Most everyone senses a purpose in their lives. We believe that there is something more to life than sleeping, eating, working, and sleeping again. We feel eternity in our souls, as though God created us for something bigger than the mundane. Sadly, the fallenness that encompasses us tempts us to lose that transcendent focus. We dial-in on the distractions and disappointments and never reorient to the higher call for living on this sublunary soil.

I lived in that duality of disappointment and lack of vision, and it took decades for me to gain focus. You don’t have to be like me. Do you believe there is a purpose for your life? What is it? Do you know? Perhaps not, but what you don’t want to do is keep fixating on how bad things are while never swiveling your gaze to a grander plan.

What may surprise you is how today’s challenges and heartbreaks are the steps that will take you to where you want to go. I’m not giving you one of those impassioned, inspirational speeches with a sale’s pitch attached to the end of it. I’m telling you that if you want to contribute something of value to this world, there is only one way: you must crawl over mountains. You’re standing in front of a mountain of disappointment. How you react to it will set the pattern to all your future ones, and there will be plenty more.

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7 – You’re Like Your Parents

One final thought. I put this one at the end: you’re very much like your parents. I mentioned earlier that you’re normal, how everyone is a victim, and we’re all fallen. The all-inclusiveness of these statements includes you and your parents. You are like them, and they are like you. How does that strike you? Do you feel superior or inferior to them? Do you see them as different from you?

You are different in personality, habits, and preferences. I’m sure you can list a few other things, too. But you’re also the same when it comes to brokenness, fallenness, and making mistakes. Perhaps you see their sin as worse than yours. If you’re thinking from a “consequential perspective,” you may have a case. But I’m not talking about that.

All sin is the same as far as any wrongdoing putting Christ on the cross. What you don’t want to do is parse out your crimes against the Holy Spirit to the point where you feel superior to another depraved soul. If you have any good qualities, it’s because of the grace of God that is activated in your life, not because you’re more special than your parents. I’m talking about self-righteousness here, which is the one sin that will dislodge God’s power from your life.

God helps the broken, bankrupt, and needy. We’re all in need of His favor, which is why we talk about the level ground at the cross. You and your parents are in the same boat. Perhaps the place you want to begin is here: ask God to break your heart in another way—for your parents. Once the hatred, anger, vitriol, bitterness, and unforgiveness start to seep out of your soul, you’re on your way to getting what you want.

Call to Action

I have questions for you for each of my points. Will you take the time to answer them? Perhaps you may find it helpful to have someone more mature than you are, someone that you respect, with whom you can share your responses. If you don’t have anyone like that in your life, I would love for you to come to us.

  1. Victim: When you think about the victim/sinner construct, which one has the most significant influence in your life? Do you see yourself more as a victim or a sinner? What does your answer reveal about you?
  2. Normal: When I say that you’re normal, what goes through your mind? Do you feel like everyone else? Or are you the person who is always on the outside of life, social distancing—at least in your heart—from others? What are your thoughts about this?
  3. Humility: What hinders you from embracing humility and resisting pride? If it’s more than one thing, what are they? What do you believe that you need to do to change in order to have a humble heart?
  4. Habits: What are your bad habits? List as many as you can. Once you’re done, prioritize them from the least severe to the most severe. Start working on the “little bad habits” to build momentum to rid yourself of the more challenging ones. You want to build momentum toward the harder habits to break.
  5. Friends: How much does peer-pressure influence you, which ties you to bad companions? What would it take for you to walk away from people in your life that don’t spur you on to good things? What are three reasons you want to make some changes to your friend list?
  6. Purpose: What do you want to do with your life? What are two things that you are good at doing? If you could do anything with your life, what would you want to do? List two things that you can start doing today to get you on the right road to fulfilling your purpose in life.
  7. Parents: Do you see yourself as better or worse than your parents? Why did you answer that way? What do you need to do to remove any bitterness, animosity, or unforgiveness from your heart as it relates to your parents?
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