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.