SHIFT OUT OF NEGATIVE THOUGHTS (GOAL IS NOT TO CHANGE THEM)

If your teen struggles with negative self-talk the DBT mindfulness skill “Fact or Judgement” may be the solution. They can enjoy the moment without negative thinking.

Thoughts and Feelings aren’t Facts

Anybody who has worked with teens or has teens know that negative self-talk teens are very hard on themselves and this impacts their behavior. Using “Fact or Judgement” can help teens notice what’s happening in their mind and have more control over their emotions and reactions.

For example, if a teen fails a test in school they may think “I’m not good enough. I’m a failure. I’m never going to succeed in school.” Thoughts like this just keeps going and going in their head and by the time they get home they may not be willing to talk or have an angry outburst and as the parent you have no idea why. They may even not want to do their homework, or not want to go to school anymore.

When using “Fact or Judgment” helps teens observe their negative self-talk and ask themselves is this a fact, or is this a judgment? This will help to give emotional distance from the thought.

Teens can say: “I’m having the that I am stupid because I failed this test and this is a judgement. The fact is that I didn’t study. I am passing the class.”

This will in turn impact their behavior: If your teen is no longer feeling like a failure or stupid and has stopped the negative-self talk wheel, they may be more open to studying, going to school, talking to you, etc.

Don’t Let Your Thoughts Drive You

Remember don’t let your thoughts take control. Thoughts are not facts. Practice noticing your thoughts and letting them go. Remind yourself of what the facts of the situation are. Ask yourself what is true here? What amI reacting to?

Some teens have even mentioned that it is helpful gain distance from their thoughts by saying them out loud or talking to them in third person (ex. Lianna this negative thought is just a thought, your facts are…).

This doesn’t mean to invalidate our feelings, just to acknowledge that the thought is just a thought and a fact is fact.

Need more support or tricks for your teen? Book your free parent consultation here.

YOUR TEEN CAN ACCEPT THE WORD “NO” (AND HERE IS HOW)

Does your teen get angry when told no or things don’t go their way? Accepting things that are uncomfortable is difficult for anyone, especially for teenagers. Teenagers are still developing their frontal lobes where decision making and patience reside.

Life can be messy. We experience pain, we are wronged, and sometimes life is simply unfair. When faced with a problem we can start by asking ourselves these questions:

1) Is there anything I can do about this? If so, do it. Change your situation.

2) Can I change how I feel about this situation? If so, change your feelings.

3) Can I tolerate this situation? This is where today’s blog comes in.

Many of the teens I work with at Mindful Healing struggle with accepting when things aren’t the they want them to be. This leads to anger, frustration, resentment, which in turn result in outburst at school or arguments at home. This can be related to parents having to set limits or it can be related to facing challenging situations in their life such as being justifiable wronged.

Teens often feel more in control when trying to change things they actually cannot control. There is an illusion of control for them. They are often trying to change their parents’ minds, trying to change the past, trying to change or control what other people think about them. This leads to increased suffering.

ACCEPTANCE

One skill I teach to help teens manage being told no, not getting their way or dealing with a painful experience from their past is Radical acceptance. We all have those moments we wish would could change but can’t. The first step to acceptance is realizing what it is not. Teens often feel like if they accept a situation they are giving up or saying that something wrong or unfair was okay.

ACCEPTANCE IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF PAIN

Acceptance is about accepting the moment as it is and a willingness to be present in our lives without attachment to the past or future. In DBT we often use the mantra “I don’t like, I Can’t Change it, but I Can Accept it” to help shift us to an open state of mind.

If you have a teen who is struggling is experiencing anger, frustration, sadness or low self-esteem over things out of their control go ahead and reach out to me at hereand I will connect with you help explore the next best steps to helping your teen find happiness.

FIND YOUR TRUE SELF

If your teen struggles with not knowing who they are or feeling lost negative core beliefs may be part of the problem.

Many teens are filled with these negative core belief systems. Core beliefs are belief systems that impact how we see ourselves, others, our future, and the world. They develop over time, usually from childhood and from significant life events and circumstances. They are strongly-held and ridged belief systems that are reinforced by the tendency to focus on facts that support the belief and ignore evidence that contradicts the belief system.

Many of the teenagers I work with at Mindful Healing believe that “They will never get better,” “They aren’t worth helping,” “They are hurting the people around them,” or “They don’t deserve to be loved.”

These beliefs are distress intolerant and can be activated by certain circumstances. When they are triggered they create such a pain response and such large emotional reactions teens cannot tolerate distress.

Core-Beliefs Are Attached to Values

One of the skills I teach at Mindful Healing is the DBT skill: Finding Meaning

This skill helps teens take a look at their distress intolerant beliefs and identify the value and meaning that it is triggering. If they say “I hurt the people around me,” they may value relationships. If they say “I will never get better,” they may value hope.

When teens are able to identify their values and begin to stripe away their self-doubt they are better able to tolerate distress. Adding meaning to life can help create a sense of purpose, life, and hope for the future.

It can help them begin to change their distress intolerant beliefs and find their authentic self!

3 WAYS TO HELP YOUR TEEN FEEL HEARD

Does your teen ever say you just don’t understand me? If so, you are not alone.

As a teen therapist one of the most common things I hear from parents is “my teen won’t talk to me.” It is natural for parents want to connect with their teens and know what is happening in their lives. However, teens have a different perspective. One common thing I hear from teens is that “my parents don’t understand me,” or “my parents just don’t listen,” or “my parents make it all about themselves.”

One of the most difficult parts of being a parent is seeing your child suffer, watching them be in pain. When this happens parents tend to try to solve the problem for their teen, they want to take the pain away. However, They are also giving unwarranted advice, they discuss how they “would handle things.”

Teens, like most of use, aren’t looking for someone to solve their problems, so when you do, it feels really invalidating. It feels like you aren’t listening. As a parent you want to share your years of wisdom and experience. As a teen they want to have their own experience.

Parents often also go into “comfort mode.” They tell their teens everything is going to be okay. How often to get an angry response to this…

Teen: ”No it’s not, how would you know.”

When teens, or anyone really are in distress they don’t feel like things are going to work out. Telling them things will be okay, is the same as telling them their feelings are wrong (at least that’s what they will hear in that moment).

So what do to do instead?

Validate!

 Validation is the acknowledgement of another person’s perspective and feelings. Often parents misunderstand it for complete agreement. This is not true. For example, if your teen says “I hate you, you are the worst parents ever.” You may not be inclined to agree with this. However, you can validate it! You can say “Given the situation (being told no), I can understand that you feel this way.”  Validation is letting them know that you can empathize with them and you understand their perspective.

Here are a few starting points on how to validate:

Listen:

Just listen to what your teen has to say. Don’t interrupt them. Allow them to express their feelings.

Summarize and Reflect:

Reflect it back to them. Show them you are heard them by rephrasing what they said. Ask questions if you need clarification.

Create a safe place for their feelings:

Hold a space for them to feel distress. Sit with them through the pain and tolerate their feelings. Do NOT try to give advice or solve the problem. Just be with them. Let them feel whatever they feel, however, they feel it. You may find that after their feelings have passed they actually ask or your opinion.

When teens feel heard and connected they are more likely to open up.

Keep in mind validation is a practiced skill. Be kind to yourself while you are learning it.

If you need help communicating with your teen Contact Me to schedule your FREE parent screening.

SELF-ESTEEM BOOSTERS ARE NOT THE ANSWER (AND WHAT IS)

Many teens have a lot of insecurities, and they say things like I feel like I’m not good enough. They often say things like “I feel like my friends don’t like me,” “I hate how I look,” “I feel like everybody hates me,” etc. These are the types of things that I hear I hear at Mindful Healing all the time. When you hear these things as a parent, one of the things that we think of is that we really want our teens to have better self-esteem.

SELF-ESTEEM IS NOT THE GOAL
Sounds crazy. You are probably wondering why wouldn’t you want your teen to have good self-esteem. What we don’t realize is that focusing on improving their self-esteem can actually make things worse. Many helpers and people working in my field focus on teaching with teens on what or positive self-talk. Trying to help teens shift from the negative thinking of I’m not good enough, to positive thoughts and say positive affirmations such as “I am loved.” Another example would be to teach teens who feel bad about how they look to shift from saying “I hate my body” to say “I feel beautiful today.”
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
The problem with this is, is that it ends up invalidating themselves, and then teens feel even worse. They feel like that what they’re thinking in the first place is wrong. If I don’t believe I am loveable, telling myself I am is not going to make me believe it. In fact, teens often feel worse because now they are failing at “getting better.”
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
We want to help our teens build self-compassion. At Mindful Healing we focus on self-compassion as a primary tool to build confidence as feel empowered. Self-compassion is the ability to be kind to yourself, to care for yourself, to show yourself compassion when you’re not feeling good. Compassion when you feel pain, when you’re suffering. That means the ability to say that it’s okay to feel bad. It means you know saying that there’s nothing wrong with the way they’re feeling. It means that you’re okay the way that you are. It means that you don’t need to be perfect. Self-compassion is treating yourself the way that you would treat a friend.
You wouldn’t tell a friend that they need to be different in order to be a worthy person. You would say that, “I’m here with you through this pain. I know what that feels like.” When teens learn to show themselves that compassion, they end up feeling better and building confidence and believing in themselves. That is what we want for them. We want them to learn how to have compassion, and to know that they are okay the way that they are.
If you want to learn a more about this or your teen is struggling with insecurities contact me here.