It helps a lot to face one's feelings and to bring them out into the open.
Then you're in a position to do more about them.
If they stay invisible, you are helpless.
It's been said: You can't mend a vase unless you see the pieces. Obviously--if the missing pieces are invisible you don't get very far.
Take young Jed. When Jed was a small child his father had been a traveling salesman, away from home a good part of the time. Jed had missed him. But Jed had also enjoyed having more of his mother in his father's absence. Most of all he'd enjoyed the coziness of sleeping in his father's bed. In his imagination he played he was Father, taking Father's place. And so, when his father got a new job that no longer took him away, Jed was glad in a way, but mad also. In his mind he fantasied that his father was staying home purposely to punish him for having tried to take his place. But like the "good" little boy he was, Jed held the anger in. He shut it tightly down in his unconscious mind, where it remained hidden.
At seventeen, however, a curious thing was happening. Jed had one accident after another when he borrowed his father's car.
His parents worried at first over his accidents and cheered him on to better driving. But when his mishaps continued, they condemned him for carelessness. They reasoned with him. They forbade him the use of the car for extended periods. But nothing worked.
"I don't know why I do it." Jed held his head in his hands. "Such stupidity! I let the car get going so fast I can't handle it. What happened last week was the final straw. I backed out of the driveway. I've backed out of it a millon times before. I know perfectly well that there's a lamppost right square across the street. But it was just as if I never knew the post was there. I went bang into it. And again I wrecked my father's car."
Jed couldn't help himself because he didn't see the feelings that were driving him.
However, after Jed had been helped by an acceptant person to bring his true feelings OUT he could acknowledge his anger toward his father. He could come to see finally that it had been groundless. And still more important, he saw that he had let his hostility come out in the act of wrecking his father's car.
Perhaps you've seen with your teen-ager just what Jed's parents noticed with him. That the techniques you've tried over the years don't work. This is because you have tried them without attending first to your young one's feelings. When you approach a problem without attending to feelings first, then--
The reasoning technique does not work.
The cheering technique does not work.
The forbidding technique does not work.
The condemning technique works least.
They all tell the troubled feelings to disappear.
And this does no good.
Moreover they suggest dishonesty. They encourage a person to dissemble and hide what he feels.
But--after the feelings have been attended to, then it's different. Then focus can be put more profitably on behavior. With feelings out, the young person can pay more attention to how he should act.
The reasoning technique often does work.
The cheering technique often does work.
The forbidding technique works too where it couldn't before.
The condemning technique even will work in its proper place.
In the past, we have been too prone to focus our attention on the troublesome behavior. We have left the troubled feelings to attend to themselves.
There's a better policy for us to adopt.