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The is learning to take control of his emotions

October is Mental Health Month and to celebrate, we’re sharing the story of Be Xuan The, a 14-year-old boy from Bac Kan Province in Vietnam. He took part in ChildFund Vietnam’s program to improve his emotional awareness.

The program was run in secondary schools across the province. After taking part, 70% of participants said that they felt their emotional and social skills had improved. We heard from The about his experience. Here’s what he wrote:

My name is Be Xuan The. I am currently in Grade 9A at Na Phac Lower Secondary School. I want to share my story and to tell people about the emotional difficulties I’ve experienced and how I have changed.

I was an outstanding student. I always ranked second in the class. But I also had a bit of a temper and sometimes found it difficult to control my emotions. I was easily irritated and a bit anti-social. I only talked to people who were like me and had similar opinions and interests. I studied hard and I was interested in chess. I felt driven to graduate from high school with a high ranking.

In class, my peers would sometimes ask me questions while I was taking a test and it felt like a form of harassment. Sometimes I pretended to be deaf and ignored them, but they threw paper at me to ask for the answers. I threw it back at them and said I didn’t know. I got good marks, but they weren’t my friends anymore. I was gradually alienated from the class and started to feel alone and sad. I became very isolated without realising it.

Everything changed when I joined a self-awareness activity run by teachers in the school. During the session, with guidance from the teachers, I realised I was becoming grumpy, irritable and had stopped sharing with my peers. I found that I needed to change and to realise my worth. I learned the tools to be able to be happier and enjoy life. I even started humming to myself!

After a week the next surprise came. I had the opportunity to take part in another activity called ‘Emotion Recognition and Self-management’ that was run by my homeroom teacher. I had never seen her so passionate about something. I admired the way she spoke. Through the training session, I learnt more about confidence, passion, fun excitement and how not to react to every situation so quickly. But instead to stay calm, evaluate the situation and take a few deep breaths. My teacher helped me to change, and I think a lot about how to apply these skills to control my emotions.

Now I try to control my emotions when I am angry. I try to stay calm and analyse the problem, think positively and to understand the feelings of other people involved. When I feel sympathy for someone, I comfort them. When I am mad at someone, I calm down. I have started teaching my friend English. When they got high marks, I shared in their joy. My friends and I became closer again and this made me smile. My friends and I are now on the ‘path to Olympia’ – a path to success.

I told myself, “If I was open and sociable, then surely things would be better than they are now.”

Throughout all of this, I learned that emotions are normal, and that by being more aware of them, I can work through them better and deal with any challenges life throws at me. Positive thinking creates positive emotions. There’s a quote I like now, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it,” (Charles R. Swindoll).

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