No one needs to be a victim of their own biography.
Never allow your family’s story or your own past experiences define you without first framing it in a way that allows you to live your life on your terms. Too often people become stuck in unhealthy patterns because their self-talk is discouraging and limiting. They inherit legacies of lack and victim mentalities, self-destructive habits of thinking and acting, addictive behaviors, and unhealthy ways of dealing with stress and overwhelming emotions. Worst of all, people aren’t even aware of their plight or why it is so.
I work with a lot of teenage girls who are struggling to cope with the normal ups and downs of adolescence, as well as dealing with unhealthy family situations. When they face experiences like being ditched or bullied by their friend group, having a neglectful parent, or struggling to keep up with peers academically because of learning disabilities, they ask themselves questions like, “Why is this happening to me?” or “Why doesn’t my dad want to spend time with me?” or “Why can’t I do as well as my classmates?” Girls then answer theses queries with their own private logic, oftentimes with answers that are negative and untrue: “Maybe I’m weird, awkward, not good or pretty or cool enough. I’m not important or loveable. Or I’m stupid and worthless and never as good as others.” They then act out of these decisions, causing more undesirable experiences, and thus become stuck in a cycle of negativity and unhappiness.
All of these negative decisions need to be challenged and reframed. Girls need to understand that other people’s actions were not their fault and don’t have to mean anything about them. They are always in charge of their feelings and reactions as well as what life events mean about them. It’s just not true that they are not important or loveable etc.
When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about. Haruki Murakami
I also want girls to learn from their challenging experiences. I encourage them to ask themselves questions like, “What are the gifts and lessons I can take from this? What meaning do I want to take from this story?” Journaling thoughts and feelings are both a good release and a way to process through what’s going on. I encourage them to look back over their entries over time to see how far they’ve come and to reflect on how they have grown due to the circumstances.
If you want to change what’s going on around you, change what’s going on within you. Billy Cox
“What do I have control over and what actions could I take to take care of myself?” Don’t spend energy trying to change other people; keep your focus inward on you and what you have control over. Be in charge of your self-talk, your emotions, and your reactions to people and events.
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you. Anne Lamott
Take quiet time to reflect and process through what you are experiencing. That can look like staying off of social media or even not reading texts for a time until you have gained the strength and perspective to face people.
If you ever find your self in the wrong story, leave. Mo Williams
You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served. Nina Simone
It can be healing for girls to take a break from toxic friends, boyfriends, or situations despite their fears of being alone and isolated. They need and deserve to have friends who accept them for who they are, who are there for them in times of need, and who have their back. Some kids need time away from parents to let things settle down, perhaps spending time with trusted relatives. Going off to college is therapeutic for some adversarial parent-child relationships. Sometimes time and space apart is just what the doctor ordered.
You don’t drown by falling into the water; you drown by staying there. Edwin Louis Cole
If your life or relationships aren’t working, wake up and gain more awareness of why you are stuck. Uncover any detrimental decisions you may have made about your self and switch them to the truth about you. Live by the motto that you are indeed in charge of your story.