When you’re a teenager, the pressure to look and act like those around you is really heavy. In fact, sometimes it can feel irresistible!
I understand the feeling. Even as an adult, I’ve felt the pressure to do what others around me are doing. And I’ve seen people my own age pushing each other to act like the crowd, almost as if they’re still in high school! The pressure doesn’t necessarily let up as you get older.
And hey, if most of your peers are leading successful lives, why wouldn’t you want to look and act like they do? But that’s exactly the question you need to be asking yourself: Are the people I’m imitating actually succeeding? Who influences me? Those who are doing something positive with their lives, or those who are doing things that are dumb and destructive?
What I’ve seen is that, especially for teens, there’s no shortage of bad advice out there. I’m sure you’ve had a friend—or stranger—tell you who to date, where to hang out, or how to spend your money. And too often, that advice is guaranteed to lead you down a bad path.
So, how do you tune it out?
Here are three steps to help you block out the bad advice and focus on the good.
1. Consider the Source
This goes back to what I said earlier about who we let influence us. When someone gives you a piece of advice, don’t just blindly follow it—especially if you’re motivated only because it’s the popular thing to do. Instead, take a look at how the person giving you advice is doing in their own world.
For example, let’s say you’re wondering who to go to prom with. That’s a pretty big deal, and something you want to handle wisely. Along comes your friend Jody, who’s convinced she’s got the perfect guy for you. She’ll even help you out by asking him ahead of time if he might be interested in being your date. Since you’re kind of a shy girl, this sounds like great advice.
But hold on a minute! Have you taken a look at Jody’s dating life lately? Before you allow her to become your matchmaker, make sure she doesn’t have a long record of drama and heartbreak behind her. Relationships are one area you cannot afford to jump into without some serious thought ahead of time.
The next time someone gives you unsolicited advice about relationships, money, or anything else, compare their words with their reputation or experience in that area. Giving this extra level of thought could help you tune out some bad advice.
2. Ask Yourself: What Would Grandma Do?
My grandma used to give me all kinds of advice. And when I was younger, I didn’t always listen to or follow what she said. But as an adult, I truly wish I’d paid more attention to her words back then. Time after time, what my grandma told me I should do turned out to be right. She was a wise woman! Whether it was advice about how to handle my money, how to be a good worker, how to make friends, or how to get along with people, everything she recommended was gold.
Depending on the subject, there were a few different ways I saw how Grandma was right—but she was always right! Sometimes I could tell immediately that she was giving me good advice because it just made sense. Like when she told me:
“Anthony, you’ve got two ears and one mouth. So listen more than you talk!”
Wow. Those are valuable words I still keep in mind!
Or sometimes I knew she was steering me right because I could see she was saying something she actually lived up to herself.
“Son, don’t gossip about other people. You know how bad it hurts when other people talk about you.”
Truth! That’s the kind of wisdom you can take to the bank and live off for years!
And of course there were those times when Grandma’s advice sounded crazy to me. But what did I know? Every time I ignored her words, it came back to bite me—hard!
“I don’t ever want to hear that you participate in those wild and crazy college parties, Anthony! Those are nothing but trouble!”
She was right again!
Whether it’s your grandma, your uncle, a teacher, or a coach, chances are you have someone older in your life who wants what’s best for you.
So here’s another tip on tuning out bad advice: If somebody is telling you something that goes against what your grandma—or uncle or teacher or coach—told you, leave it alone.
3. Seek Out Good Advice
I’ve talked about how to ignore input from unreliable sources, but tuning out bad advice isn’t always enough. It’s also important to tune in to good advice.
And guess what—doing that is easier than you think. Once you’ve identified what not to do, it will help you zero in on what you need to do.
Let’s take your schoolwork as an example. Say you’re struggling in math class and your parents tell you to get your grades up or face the consequences. While talking it over with your buddy, you find out he’s got a copy of the answer key to next week’s quiz.
What do you do?
Apply what you’ve already learned to the situation. First, consider the source. Is this dude a straight-A math whiz? Probably not, seeing as he’s trying to cheat his way to a better grade. And what would your grandma say if she knew you were getting ready to do something dishonest in school? Mine would give me an earful before I had the whole story out of my mouth!
So, what’s next? Seek out some good advice! How? Find someone who is actually succeeding where you’re failing and tune in to their advice! This could be the teacher, who will definitely be happy to help you. Or it could be a classmate who’s doing well in the subject, or a tutor in an afterschool program. See what they have to say.
We live in a loud society, full of pressure and opinions. If you want to tune out some of that noise, you need to be ready to filter out the bad advice and focus on the good. I promise, the effect will be worth the effort in the end.
About the Author: Anthony ONEAL is one of Your Monthly Mentors. Since 2003, Anthony has helped thousands of students make good decisions with their money, relationships and education to live a well-balanced life. Now Anthony has joined Ramsey Solutions to spread this encouraging message to students nationwide as a Ramsey Personality. His youth conferences, concerts and events have drawn enormous crowds, and he’s spoken for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Bishop T.D. Jakes’ MegaFest Youth Ministry, television personality, Judge Glenda Hatchett and Rory Jones. Anthony has also appeared on Fox and Friends, CNN and TBN. Read more and check out Anthony’s other articles…
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