Being alone with your inner voice can be daunting. Especially for a teenager whose sense of self is in flux and his/her world, while exciting can also make them feel vulnerable and exposed. So, in the company of silence, a teen can quickly sabotage himself/herself. Learning how to reign in the voice that is hurtful is a key to successfully being alone.
My younger daughter has a joyful spirit. But, when she was in 5th grade, I watched her joy and confidence start to wane. Interestingly, she loved her teacher and was thrilled to be sitting next to one of her best friends so we couldn’t figure out why she was coming home with so much negative self-talk. Come to find out, sitting next to her friend was actually hurting her self-esteem as Katie was constantly comparing herself to this child, who by all accounts was very bright and proficient in many areas. It seemed, at every turn, my daughter fell short of her friend’s accomplishments and it was wearing on her.
The quick fix would have been to ask the teacher to move her “pronto”! But, I realized that if it wasn’t this girl, it would be someone else down the road in a different context. So Katie and I sat down and made a list of “Katie’s Gifts”. It covered everything from “nice handwriting” to “being kind”. We found a non-prominent place in her room to post it and I asked her to try to read the list everyday and feel it. The “feel” it part was a bit hard to explain to a 10 year old, but even reading the list would put specific and positive thoughts into her psyche. It’s hard to know if it was the list, maturity, or some other variable that redeemed Katie’s joy and confidence, but let’s just say, two years later, “Katie’s Gifts” is still posted on her wall. Remember, good thoughts win!