Two fantastic questions from Wolverhampton Grammar School, who came third equal in the Ask Nicola Morgan competition. Congratulations to them!
“If someone had given you Blame My Brain to read as a teenager, what single positive change would you have made as a result?”
I think I would have beaten myself up much less because I would have understood that my emotions and fears and pressures were natural and not my fault. The book aims to share a real, deep and useful understanding of the biological changes that happen in our brains as we go through adolescence. Of course, everyone is different and no two teenagers are the same, but all adolescents have to go through adolescence, and part of that involves a set of brain changes (as well as body changes, hormone changes and psychological changes, of course). Once you know what’s happening and why, it switches off a whole load of the pressure. Of course, it doesn’t make everything perfect – who wants that? But it gives a context and a reassuring explanation, and that is tremendously helpful.
So, I think I would have been able to focus better on the things I could control and try to ignore the things I couldn’t. That’s not easy, and I’m still not brilliant at it. but I’d have been able to manage it better and earlier. So I’d have had more mental energy to focus on doing what I could to make my life better. I’d have wasted less energy on being angry, sad, confused and guilty.
I think I’d have been a nicer person. I became nice in the end but it could have happened earlier!
“Did your parents understand you as a teenager?”
No! But then I don’t think most adults understood teenagers back then. They didn’t have all the science – neuroscience and human psychology – that we have now. So I don’t blame them, but no, they didn’t understand me.
Mind you, lots of teenagers feel misunderstood when they’re not so maybe I’m being unfair!
And lots of adults today still don’t understand. Probably most don’t, in fact, or not fully.
Understanding is what my work is all about. I fully believe that if we understand as much as we can about why we (at any age) behave and feel and think the way we behave and feel and think, it gives us power to have control, to make ourselves function better and to have better physical and mental well-being. To succeed better in whatever we want to succeed at, in work, socially, emotionally, every way.
It’s my whole message: let me show you how you work so you can make yourself work better.
I still have more questions to answer from the Ask Nicola Morgan competition. Keep your eyes open for more. Put “Ask Nicola Morgan” in the search box at the top of the page to find the other answers and the fantastic questions.