“Mirror, mirror on the wall…
It doesn’t matter if I’m short or tall…
It only matters who I am inside…
Blue eyes, brown eyes, black or green…
What makes me most beautiful cannot be seen…
When you look at me, don’t judge me by my parts…
The most beautiful thing about me is my heart.”
I absolutely LOVE working with children and teens, their beautiful minds and big hearts warm my soul. This past month I have been working with a teenager who came to me heartbroken, feeling (and I quote) “worthless, stupid, ugly, and will never be popular.”
Hearing a child talk this way makes my stomach churn in a million different directions. It’s not a new story. I’ve heard it with many other young (and older) clients. The story doesn’t discriminate by gender, age, skin colour, what a person looks like or social status.
It took a couple of meetings for this beautiful soul to share more of her story with me – none of which I will share here. Suffice it to say her story contains characters who are mean, who bully, a family that works really hard to provide, but are ‘busy’ and a young girl with a lot of time to figure life out on her own.
She has until recently, been filling that time on the internet, on Snapchat, on Instagram and watching Riverdale and a few other shows that seem popular with teenagers.
She like many other young adults, had been using these venues as a platform to gauge her popularity, to gain acceptance from her peers, as a learning tool on how to engage, how to dress, what is the ‘in’ thing to do and as a source of validation of her self-worth and her place in this world. The problem was it was making her feel horrible.
Her parents thought I could ‘fix’ her. When I told them there was nothing to fix they were skeptical. I asked them to give us time.
During our conversations, I asked her why she continued to engage when she was having such intense negative feelings. Her response was “because everyone else is doing it.” My initial reaction was to get her to see how unhealthy it was to keep doing something that felt wrong, that made her feel bad and make bad choices. That the opinion of others didn’t define who she was.
I wanted to tell her that she wasn’t broken, there was nothing to fix, what a bright, caring and loving person she was, but it wasn’t the time. I knew that wouldn’t help her at that moment. I had to let go of my own agenda, my own beliefs and listen. Really listen, and just listen.
Thought Bomb Moment: When we listen, we give our children the space to explore, to look deep within themselves and the stories they have come to accept as truth, we also give them the opportunity to work through their own feelings. Doing so helps them realize their own resilience and well-being.
We shared some beautiful conversations about how human experience works and where our feelings come from. I love that kids get this so quickly. It’s an easy mistake to believe that the number of followers or likes a post gets on social media reflects something more meaningful, or that self-worth, love, and acceptance come from an experience, other people, money, etc. In reality, none of this is true.
Everyone is born whole and complete. There is only one of you in this entire Universe. You are unique and one of a kind. There is no person or experience that can take away from your innate resilience, your significance. All the feelings of love, self-worth, and validation come from within. The only requirement is a heartbeat.
We spent time uncovering who she was at this point in her life, what brought her good feelings and what thoughts were behind the feelings she was having…there is so much information in the feeling!
She really blossomed during our time together. I was so honoured to receive a lovely drawing from her today. She sent me a beautiful picture of a heart with the words “I am a heartbeat, I am love, I am me and that is beautiful. I am perfect just as I am.”
Some parents think as our children grow that they need us less. I would argue that they need us more. Our children are growing up in a much different world with the internet and social media. Helping our children understand that they will never find validation, love, acceptance, etc. from an external source (friends, alcohol, drugs, etc) and encourage them to look inward changes everything.
When they understand that all the answers they need are within themselves, within the feelings (a built-in GPS) – they are much more likely to trust their inner wisdom, to look inward for solutions, and to go through the ebb and flow of life with grace and love.
With this in mind, I invite you to connect with your kids, listen to them. Have beautiful conversations about social media, friendships, their feelings, and more importantly, their innate resilience and wholeness, their beautiful space in this Universe.
Be well. Be present. Be you.