There are many issues that can interfere with achievement. The adolescent years are a period of adjustment. Negative emotions, from time to time, are normal. Continued feelings of anger, depression, anxiety, fear can result in withdrawal, sarcasm, blame, avoidance, excuse-making, dishonesty, and name a few. Such feelings can lead to low self-esteem, interpersonal relations, and poor performance in school or work. The COVID pandemic created for many young people (and adults) emotional challenges not usually experienced under normal circumstances. In fact, based on UNESCO monitoring reports 78% of high school and college age students reported educational disruptions resulting in increased emotional issues. Let's look at a few. 

                                               Fear and Worry

Often the underlying emotion of many negative responses is fear and/or worry. Such feelings can de-motivate and debilitate. Certainly, fear and worry can adversely affect academic performance. Psychologists point out that often the underlying emotion resulting in negative responses is "fear". So, identifying what you are afraid of can be the first step to helping resolve emotional issues. Doing so may not always be easy. Assistance provided in publications, support groups, and by therapists may be necessary

                                     Stress, Anxiety and Depression

According to 2022 "Seven out of ten teens in the U.S. (between the ages of 13 and 17 years old) have named anxiety or depression as a major problem among their peers. 75% of high school students expressed boredom, anger, sadness, fear, or stress while in school." There can be many causes that contribute to such negative feelings. Included are life and adolescence adjustments, academic demands, peer relations, family life, and finances. If negative feelings become excessive, it can result in abnormal sleep patterns, unusual weight gain or loss, guilt, hopelessness, and/or relationship problems. If negative feelings linger, serious emotional issues can result sometimes leading up to suicide. So, if emotional issues persist, professional consultation should not be delayed. Attempts to deal with negative emotions by self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or non-physician prescribes medication must be a avoided at all costs! Doing so will not only make matters worse, but it can also lead to permanent disability and even death.

             Other Obstacles to Achievement

In addition to the emotions listed above, other obstacles that can adversely effect success (and happiness) in school and life include lethargy, relationship issues, over-extension, poor time management, procrastination and addictions (tobacco, drugs and alcohol, gaming disorder, social media).

Overcoming 0bstacles

There is no one solution to every obstacle. However, there are several sound principles that can go a long way to addressing obstacles. Here are a few TIPS, that if conscientiously followed will not only help prevent obstacles, can also influence resolution. Again, if symptoms persist, seek professional help.

Recognize that our minds will try hard to help us to cope with conscious unpleasant feelings such as anxiety. Mental health professionals label these coping strategies as "Defense Mechanisms". Typically, they are unconscious. Examples are denial, repression, rationalization, projection, suppression. These mechanisms can help for short periods but can be problematic if applied too frequently and for too long. An analogy is it is like sweeping dust under a rug. You cannot see the dust, but if the rug is stomped on...out comes the dust. So, the goal is to sweep up the dust and throw it away. Here are a few strategies.

Focus on solutions, not the problem.

For example, rather than saying to yourself "I feel anxious allot. I cannot help it. It is because I have too much schoolwork and home chores. Some of my schoolmates do not seem to like me". Such "self-talk" will, often exacerbate the negative feelings. Conversely, when you say to yourself "I feel anxious. It is probably caused by schoolwork right now. I feel a bit overwhelmed and am worrying about up-coming exams. I know this feeling is not permanent. When I apply effective study and learning strategies, I am confident my anxiety will subside. I will just do the best that I can and not worry about what may or may not happen. In terms of classmates who I think do not like me...this may be just my perception and not fact. Besides, I have friends, so what do I care if someone does not like me? That is their problem. I will not make it mine nor allow it to effect my attitude. I am a wonderful person and will not allow others negativity to influence how I feel about myself. I will try to get to know them better. I may make new friends."

Notice that in our example, she is not fretting about the feeling, rather focusing on solutions. Taking action deflects on the tendency to stew on problems and helps the negative feelings subside.

Maintain a Life Balance

Think about it. The world about us is based on balance. Nature survives because natural systems maintain a state of equilibrium. Likewise, our bodies health is reliant on all the different components working in harmony. When one element is disturbed, the entire system is disturbed.

Thus, it makes sense to maintain balance in our lives. Proper balance can help provide meaning and fulfillment, which in turn contributes to our feelings of self-worth and happiness. How does one create and maintain "life balance"?

Give appropriate time to the most important areas of your life. What should these "areas" be? Health, school/career, family, hobbies/personal interests, spiritual, chores, finances. Too much time spent on only one or a few of these will result in being out of balance and with negative emotional and physical consequences. The clip at the bottom of this page, titled "Ten Truths: How to be Happy and Successful in Life" . It will help you to identify and PRIORITIZE that which is (or should be) most important. It is recognized that everyone will not give priority to the areas in the same order. Although in the clip I provide recommendations, you may determine your own priorities. That is long as you recognize that which is most important and give appropriate time to each.

Eight more truths for dealing with challenges.

1. Create a PLAN for carrying out your desires, then just DO IT!

2. Every minute of your life is a gift. Do not wait for someone else or some event to make you happy. Look at what you have, not at what you do not have.

3. Embrace spirituality! Doing so helps to define your way of loving, accepting, and relating to the world around us. There are countless stories of persons challenged with misfortune, sadness, anxiety, loss, mistreatment, discrimination, hatred, etc., yet were able to deal with such challenges when they were willing to believe in a higher power.

4. Laughter is one of the Lords greatest gifts. It allows us to step back from adversity and challenges, deal with them and move on

5. If you hang on to negative feelings, guess what! You get to keep them!

6. Forgiveness heals! When you choose to let go of wounds caused by yourself or others, you can no longer be hurt by it. Forgiveness allows you to grow and thrive. It is a gift you give yourself.

7. Without friends and family, you have nothing. Treasure the laughter, the tears, the memories.

8. Service to others and your community will yield great self-satisfaction and joy.


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