Tweens and teens may doubt themselves as they look towards their peers for acceptance and credibility. They might say things like, “I’m not as smart as they are,” “I’m not as funny as them,” or “I just don’t fit in.”
As parents and supporters, a typical first reaction may be to reassure your teenagers, to praise them, offer positive affirmations, and to try to help them undo or unlearn these beliefs.
Ten minutes later, though, you might experience a limiting belief of your own. You might look at your neighbor and think “They are so together, and I’m such a mess!” or your friend and think “Ugh, I’ll never be able to keep up with them.”
Many of these beliefs came from our own childhood and teenage experiences and/or cultural messaging, which is often biased and oppressive towards folks with marginalized identities.
In these moments, self-compassion can be difficult to access, and it is worthwhile work. This is the practice of staying in relationship with ourselves.
Please note that in this article I am talking about moments of self-doubt or comparison that pop up as we navigate daily life, not situations in which someone is actively causing harm. Affirmations are a personal practice that can support you in growing self-acceptance, which can be a radical act. However, I want to name the fact that affirmations themselves cannot heal systemic harm or undo these systems.
Noticing Your Thoughts
Recently, I was stuck in a cycle that looked something like this: “I don’t connect with everyone in the group as well as others do,” and “Maybe my presence isn’t wanted in this space,” and so on. (In this situation, I was doing a lot of personalizing others’ behaviors.)
In each of these situations, the mother and I got stuck in feelings of not belonging and not being enough– or even being too much. As a result, we both felt very alone, and it was difficult to be kind to ourselves.
Stop. Breathe. Feel.
Are any recent thoughts or experiencing coming up for you? Keep breathing as you allow yourself to be with anything that arises.
12 Affirmations that Help You Stay Self-Compassionate
These are a few affirmations or phrases I use when I am feeling stuck in self-doubt or repeating unproductive thoughts:
- I am perfect exactly as I am.
- I am growing and becoming.
- I am enough.
- I am right where I’m supposed to be.
- I have all that I need within me now.
- I am here for a purpose.
- I love myself.
- I am here.
- I can take up space.
- I trust myself.
- I am on my own unique path.
- I trust my process.
As a parent, you are doing difficult work all day, every day. Self-compassion can be a pathway to deeper connections with ourselves and one another. As you practice being gentle and kind to yourself, you are modeling these skills for your children and teenagers. Additionally, you can create affirmations with your teenagers.
Affirmations can be used in a variety of ways, including the following:
- Post the phrases on mirrors, fridges, or other highly visible places.
- Create screensavers or backgrounds on your phone or other devices.
- Repeat the phrase while “tapping” (Emotional Freedom Technique).
- Write in journals or planners as part of a daily practice.
- Create affirmation cards to pull each morning.
- Shift the “I” to “You” and affirm your loved ones.
Finally, as you and your family explore affirmations, you may enjoy documenting these on your support system map. There are so many tools and strategies we use on a daily basis to care for ourselves, and I invite you (and your family) to reflect on what support means to you.