What Teens Do Depends on What Teens Think
If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do. - Napoleon Hill
Just as the ship anchor keeps the vessel from drifting into the open seas, so anchor thoughts keep the individual from wandering into unapproved behaviors. These anchor thoughts embed themselves into the mind and without conscious effort from the individual, they influence attitude, speech and conduct.
What if we can help our teens establish some virtuous anchor thoughts to guide their decisions as they take to the open seas of life?
Teens formulate their anchor thoughts by adopting messages they receive as beliefs. Because they often misinterpret messages (from speech and conduct in their space, from media presentations, and even from their own perception of life), it is important to help them clarify the meaning of what they see and hear. The sooner they get it right, the sooner we can trust them to be responsible.
Repetition is a proven method to help inspire them with good thoughts that can become anchors to good conduct. By using appropriate slogans, affirmations, or event themes, teens may eventually adopt them as anchor thoughts.
How an Anchor Thought Works
From her repeated conversations with parents and guidance counselors, a female teen establishes an anchor thought that marriage comes before motherhood. That thought is embedded in her mind.
She is in a relationship with a young man who convinces her that he loves her, and her emotions begin to control her responses to him. One day, he suggests that they surrender to their physical passion and he adds that if she gets pregnant, he will marry her. What he said conflicts with her belief that marriage comes before pregnancy. Her anchor thought pulls her into making a decision which complements the belief she has already established.
Replace Faulty Thinking
Many errors in teenage thinking have been established and passed on to the detriment of those who believe them. Following are two situations.
- A male teen is driven by his need for power and recognition. He is convinced, through false messages he received, that his proof of manliness can be measured by the number of girls he seduces. Acting on his belief, he creates emotional disasters for himself and for the girls. It is not enough to scold him or ground him. He has to be taught that there is error in his belief, and then be encouraged to adopt a new anchor thought as a replacement. For example, the proof of manliness is the practice of self-control, and a healthy admiration for girls.
- A female teen is driven by her need for security. A young man offers to protect her and provide her needs. She has learned, through false messages, that the young man who is kind to her deserves the right to her body. Soon, she receives all she needs, as well as some of what she does not need—various forms of abuse. It is not enough to forbid her to see him. It helps to teach her that there is folly in her belief, and then encourage her to replace it with a thought like, Building my self-confidence will benefit me more than depending on someone else for my happiness.1
Sample Anchor Thoughts
Following are some sample anchor thoughts, under four different headings, which can be powerful in the life of a teenager. Some teens need help putting their thoughts into words, and they can be encouraged to help each other.
Self Esteem Posters with Good Anchor Thoughts
- I’m God’s masterpiece, always valuable to Him.
- My beauty is to be admired, not exploited.
- I show others how to respect me by the way I respect myself.
- I attract people with my personality and wit, not with my body.
- My self-worth remains intact, no matter what folks think or say about me.
Deportment and Conduct
- I decide who and what are allowed into my space.
- Disrespect for anybody is disrespect for everybody.
- I am careful about the impression I make by my deportment.
- I intentionally feed my senses with wholesome thoughts.
- I help other people, being careful not to hurt myself in the process.
Friendship Poster with Good Anchor Thought
- Wholesome friendships offer freedom to grow.
- If it’s true love; it’s patient.
- Love supports; neither competes nor manipulates.
- Teen relationships have no adult relationship responsibilities.
- Practice zero tolerance for abuse.
- It is my responsibility to discover my God-given purpose and pursue it.
- I make a list of my goals and focus on them.
- I avoid relationships which sabotage my goals.
- I measure my progress at regular intervals.
- I have the talent to achieve the success I was designed to achieve.
2. Mind-Sets: Accelerated Success Conditioning, Thoughts © 2011 www.mind-sets.com.
3. Holy Bible: New Living Translation, Proverbs 4: 23, © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation.
Selecting wholesome thoughts from among the 50,0002 we receive every day, can be challenging but it is not impossible. Here is a good anchor thought to adopt which can help with the process.
- “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”3
Teens who accept this message as a belief will be careful to guard their senses, especially of sight and hearing, in an effort to control their thoughts. Prayer and meditation will help them focus, and adult encouragement will help them succeed. Good thinking can be a way of life!
© 2014 Dora Isaac Weithers