Nearly always I learn tons of good stuff from my adolescent clients. A few years ago I learned what “Macking” meant. When I asked my 16-year-old Latino client if it meant having sex (I gently employed a slang word while posing my question), his head shot up and he made eye contact with me for the first time ever and quickly corrected me with a look of shock and disgust. “Macking means . . . like flirting,” he said. And as he continued shaking his head, he said, “Geeze. You’re crazy man.”
The next half hour of counseling was our best half hour ever.
I’m not advocating using the F-word or being an obtuse adult . . . just pointing out how much there is to learn from teenagers.
More recently I learned about the Satanic Golden Rule. A 17-year-old girl told me that it goes like this: “Do unto others as they did unto you.”
Now that’s pretty darn interesting.
Ever since learning about the Satanic Golden Rule I’ve been able to use it productively when counseling teenagers. The Satanic Golden Rule is all about the immensely tempting revenge impulse we all sometimes feel and experience. It’s easy (and often gratifying) to give in to the powerful temptation to strike back at others whom you think have offended you. Whether it’s a gloomy and nasty grocery cashier or someone who’s consistently arrogant and self-righteous, it’s harder to take the high road and to treat others in ways we would like to be treated than it is to stoop to their level to give them a taste of their own medicine.
There are many flaws with the Satanic Golden Rule . . . but my favorite and the most useful for making a good point in counseling is the fact that, by definition, if you practice the Satanic Golden Rule, you’re giving your personal control over to other people. It’s like letting someone else steer your emotional ship. And to most my teenage clients this is a very aversive idea.
After talking about the Satanic Golden Rule many teenage clients are more interested in talking about how they can become leaders. . . leaders who are in control of their own emotions and who proactively treat others with respect.
An excellent side effect of all this is that it also inspires me to try harder to be proactively respectful, which helps me be and become a better captain of my own emotional ship.