We spend so much of our time telling young people how they could do this differently, exploring why doing that isn’t such a good idea and looking at the practical steps of how positive change can be achieved.
The problem is that our words, however well-meaning will just go in one ear and out the other if they don’t believe that they can change. If they believe they are deficient in some way- lacking the character, the support, the willpower or the ability to stick with a change- then change becomes impossible in their minds. No matter how much desire they might have to make a change, with this sense of lack, they will be unlikely to get started and even less likely to meet their goal.
Those kids who have never believed in themselves, who may never have had someone cheering them on from the sidelines, bolstering their self-belief, have often been mentally over-run by a sense of their own deficiencies, where the negative voice inside their heads hasn’t been reduced to size by the positive encouraging voices of others.
Some kids have had someone cheering them on, but just because of their brains going through a chemical storm thanks to teenage hormones or because they are going through a difficult time in their lives, they stop believing any positive messages they hear from you or from significant others in their lieves. The negative voice in their heads is front and centre of their thoughts. A sense of lack dominates.
When a mantra of lack dominates, young people (and the rest of us too), become like rabbits caught in headlights- they freeze. They want to get out of the way of the car, but they suddenly forget how their legs work, how to move forwards and their eyes become wide with fear. “I can’t do this”, they say.
So no matter how large the sense of desire is to change a situation, they feel that they just can’t because they don’t have the ability to. They are not enough to fix this. They are stuck.
But they are enough. And if we are to really help them, then they need to know that they are enough. This needs to be front and centre of everything we say and do. Every word we say, every piece of advice or guidance we give needs to be infused with the message “You are enough”. It can take many forms, it can be “You can do this”, “You’ve got this”, “You have more ability than you can possibly realise right now”, or “You have so much unrealised potential”.
This is often tied in with, “I’m always here to help and support”, “I’ve got your back”, “I can help pick you up if you falter” but the main message is always that they are enough and they can do this.
They should know that a few hiccups are to be expected and you will help them, but you believe that they can pick themselves up and continue on their change walk. They are capable, they are enough, they just don’t quite know or believe it yet.
So often it’s about getting them to believe enough in themselves just to take that first step because once they’ve started, the positive feedback from achieving the first step, will spur them on to taking their next step as their self-belief grows. But it’s not until they believe in a mantra of enough rather than lack, that the change become a possibility in their minds, let alone a living breathing action.
We need to be that voice, that mantra, the background soundtrack to what they are trying to achieve. If they hear it enough it will become part of their internal monologue; as they make more changes they will believe it more and more, until you don’t need to sing it nearly half as loud, because they are singing along with you.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW TO REACH TROUBLED TEENS? WATCH THIS….