This is a pretty simple concept, and when practiced, is enormously effective. In fact, I use it myself and have at times been shocked at the positive results I get by using a power word. So…let me explain the concept and the process so you can begin using it with your teen, and yourself!!
First, let me explain how our thoughts influence our feelings, using your teen as an example.
If your teen has a thought: “I don’t want to go to school”, or “I hate her/him” or “What happens if I don’t pass that test?”, their feelings will match the negative thought they are having (angry thought=angry feeling).
So, “I hate her/him!” = angry feelings = negative attitude or angry behavior towards that person. Oftentimes, the behavior is even displaced onto other people who weren’t even involved (sound familiar?).
The concept behind the power word is that everything in life has an association connected with it, positive, negative or neutral. For example, many teens have a negative association with their homework. In fact, they have challenges in many areas not just homework. When your teen focuses on that negative thought, the negative feelings will be amplified.
So, the trick is….to replace the negative association with a positive one.
That is where the Power Word comes in!
This is how it works. When you have a negative thought about a person or situation, choose your power word, imagine that person or situation that is distressing to you, and repeat your power word while imagining that person or situation.
Repeat this over and over, while tapping your knee (there is research to support that this allows your brain to be more receptive to the new thought).
So, to give you a concrete example, if your teen has a test coming up…have him/her choose a power word such as “Calm” or “Successful”. Have them imagine themselves taking the test, repeating to themselves their word, i.e. “Calm…Calm….Calm” while tapping their knee.
This can be done a few days before the test, right before, or during the test. I think it’s more helpful to start ahead of time, and not wait until the last minute.
By doing this, you are in effect, rewiring your brain and the negative associations that can get locked in your thinking patterns.
Here are a few Power Words that I use, or your teen can even come up with their own!
I hope this has been helpful to you and your teen.
Good luck! It really works!
Stay tuned for my next blog on Creative Solution #4: Have a “Mission Statement” or “Mantra”
Lynn Hoyland, LMFT
“Op-Teenism” Building Optimism in Your Teen