The most common reason girls don’t take care of themselves in both friendship and dating relationships is the negative beliefs about themselves they have acquired from past painful experiences. What you believe about you will drive your thinking, words, and behaviors, and if not reversed, will limit your potential. The reason behind most adult’s unhappy marriages and unfulfilling lives almost always harkens back to seeds sown during their youth; seeds that sprouted negative decisions about themselves, relationships, and life. Bottom line: you have to believe in yourself.
When girls experience negative events, they go into their heads and ask themselves questions like, “Why is this happening to me? Why do people leave me? Why aren’t people there for me?” Far more important than the questions is how girls answer them in their heads, i.e. their private logic that tries to make sense of what’s happening. Unfortunately, most girls come up with answers that reflect negatively on themselves, and over time these become the destructive beliefs I mentioned above.
Sasha, 17, was teased by a posse of girls in 6th grade, and then was ditched by her two closest friends at the start of 9th grade, leaving her wondering why she keeps being left out. Sasha decided that she was weird, didn’t fit it, was too shy and socially awkward, and that she wasn’t pretty or cool enough. The effect of those decisions was that Sasha was going through high school flying under the radar, being invisible. It kept her from being hurt or harassed, but it also kept her isolated and feeling lonely.
Isabel, 18, went through a divorce at four years of age, and hasn’t seen her dad for four years since he remarried and had two kids with his new wife. Isabel has decided that her dad’s new family is more important than her, and thus she is not important, worth spending time with, or good enough. She has been allowing boys to cross her boundaries sexually because her self-worth is so low.
Both girls and boys in the 5th grade teased Danielle mercilessly because she was the first girl in her class to start puberty, get zits, and have a curvy body. She decided she was fat, ugly, and didn’t fit in. Throughout high school she has drifted from one abusive boyfriend to another, always seeming to pick the “bad boys.” Her comment to me was that any kind of connection, even a hurtful one, was better than feeling unwanted, unattractive, and alone.
The girls who attend my personal growth/ leadership development retreats and camps are normal girls, not troubled ones. But over 25 years of experience sitting in circles with such girls in our safe environment has taught me that all girls have stories to share based on life experiences. I help them become aware of any limiting beliefs they may have accepted about themselves, relationships, trust, closeness, or their future potential. They are guided to re-decide what past events mean for them, and to recognize that they are always in charge of their story.
Sasha, Isabel, and Danielle have been taking much better care of themselves now that they believe that they are lovable, important, and deserving of the best life has to offer. Help your daughters become aware of what they believe about themselves, understand the cost to them of any limiting beliefs, and guide them to make healthy sense of their experiences.