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Strength From Your Beliefs
I was thinking about what I could say to help a teen regain her strength. She has been weakened and damaged by her family and classmates. Now she is becoming afraid of people and has a risk of being labeled as having social anxiety disorder.
She did not grow up in a safe environment. She was not safe to express her feelings, or even safe to cry. Now she is struggling. She still lives with her family and still goes to the same school where her classmates, who she used to think of as her friends, even knowing inside they were not true friends, intimidate, invalidated and judge her.
She is afraid to go to school, afraid to tell her family how she really feels or what she really thinks. This isolation is suffocating her. Stephen Covey uses the expression "psychological air." He talk about how listening to someone empathically gives them this psychological air. This is exactly what she does not have in her life, thus she is emotionally and psychologically suffocating.
Getting away from the people who are suffocating her is, sadly, not a practical option for her right now. Intelligently, she turned to the Internet for help. We began to talk and I have taken a special interest in her situation. Now I feel a strong desire to help her as much as I can.
I know that she has been weakened and I asked myself, "What would help her regain her natural strength and self-confidence?" I thought about the possibility that she can start to tell her mother, for example, how she really feels, as one of my online clients in her twenties has been doing. A difference, though, is that my client now is financially independent and lives far away from her mother and father. And my client is not going to a school where she is emotionally used and abused by her classmates. Instead she is going to a job where her work contribution is valued.
So what can my young friend do? I know that right now her family will invalidate her. This could weaken her more if she tells them any truths. But maybe it could also strengthen her in the following way. Maybe, and this is risky, maybe she could try telling them something and then thinking about their reaction in a new way - a way that actually strengthens her.
What I mean is that maybe she will become more clear in what she believes and her beliefs will give her strength. For example, maybe her family believes it is ok to threaten a child who is crying, or even to hit them. And maybe they believe it is ok and even necessary to punish a child or a teenager when they don't obey you. But maybe she decides that she does not believe the same thing. Maybe she becomes strong in her belief that it is damaging to a child to threaten them for crying or to hit or punish them.
Maybe she will see how important it is that parents do not threaten children for crying and how important it is not to hit them or punish them. Maybe she will become very firm in her belief that children and teenagers need emotional support when they are growing up. Maybe she will become determined to not do the same things to her own children. Maybe she will even work to help change things in society, for example, to help change the beliefs about emotional abuse and emotional support, or even about how to develop and nurture a child or teenager's emotional intelligence.
On this website I offer young people a foundation for a new set of beliefs. Many of the ideas presented and explained here are literally foreign concepts to a teenager from an emotionally abusive environment. Knowing that my writing is making a difference in the lives of teenagers around the world helps give me strength. Or we could say my own beliefs give me strength, including my belief that I am making a difference. Like most other beliefs, sometimes it is hard to see the "proof," but when I remember my beliefs, it does help me most of the time. Then I can use this strength to help strengthen others. Today for example, I feel stronger because my belief that I am helping people has been reinforced.
Since emotions are said to be contagious, I hope that my feeling of being stronger helps others, especially the teens who have fewer options and fewer legal rights in our current world - a world I hope will change for future children and teens.
Please see also Teen Advocacy
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