For anyone who works, lives or deals with teenagers on a regular basis, you know how easily a power struggle can creep up on you. When I first started working with teens, this completely baffled me. I thought I was young and hip enough for them to consider me to be on their side (what a delusion!), but I would consistently find myself getting into these struggles that I knew I couldn’t win. I had a conversation with a colleague about this and she gave me a tip that would completely change how I approached my work with them.

When you find yourself in a power struggle, caught in a game of tug of war, just drop the rope. If you drop the rope, nobody wins and nobody loses. Don’t try to reason with them, don’t try to bribe, don’t try to force anything. Just let it go. State your point on move on to more productive things. When I tried this approach, it worked amazingly well. Instead of wasting time arguing a moot point, I focused on what was really going on and how to help the teen move past that.

I later realized this approach works with more than just teenagers. It also works with your relationship with yourself. How often do we get stuck in a tug of war between our emotions and our reason? Our emotions are telling us to do one thing (eat that delicious piece of pie!) and our reason is telling us another (you just finished dinner, you’re full, you don’t really need that piece of pie). The struggle is exhausting. What would happen if you just dropped the rope?

When you let go of the struggle between your emotions and your reason, you begin to live more genuinely and peacefully. You listen to yourself, and what you really want. You free up energy to focus on other, more important things. So you eat a sliver of the pie, you savour and enjoy it, and that part of you that wants to make you feel guilty for giving in takes a backseat. Then you move on to more important things.