"'I AM' Two of the most powerful words; for what you put after them shapes your reality."
- Stephen Covey
It's said we have anywhere between 15,000 - 60,000 thoughts a day.... 95% of those thoughts we had the day before.... and 80% of those thoughts are negative. I'd say Stephen Covey's "thought" on this was pretty accurate!
As natural as our thoughts are, changing those thoughts takes time and effort. Becoming self-aware, like many things in life, needs to be explored and practiced. And yet, for many teens (and adults), with some exploration and examination of their thoughts, their mindsets and perspectives can change quickly.
Here are 5 easy and practical areas you can explore with your teen today:
1. Meta-Cognition: noticing your thoughts and emotions while engaged in different situations, without making judgements about those thoughts and emotions. Thoughts are not always our reality. We can have hundreds of thoughts running through our mind at any given moment and yet our reality is what is actually happening in the present moment. The more we can help teens embrace this, the less stress they'll have.
2. Being introspective: noticing patterns of thinking (without judgement) and working to understand the root cause and why behind those patters. If 95% of our thoughts occurred the day before, we should notice some patterns. Many of those patterns are the result of assumptions - the 3rd ingredient.
3. Assumptions - Limiting Beliefs: Ask a teen the definition of an assumption and they'll tell you something like: "something that isn't necessarily true"... and they'd be right. Understanding which of the thoughts we hold are assumptions and how these assumptions impact our perspectives and influence our beliefs is an extremely powerful experience for teens. Ask your teen about a negative assumption they hold.... how it impacts their perspective and the actions they take... We love for our assumptions to be true and will do what we can to make them so! And then ask your teen to flip it - and make it a positive assumption... how would their actions change? Both are thoughts....
4. Clarity of Values: Gaining clarity on what matters most and making a commitment to honoring those values helps your teen work from a place of empowerment because their mind is removed of the clutter by others' expectations.
5. Empathy: Once your teen has gained a clearer sense of self, it's important for them to consider those around them and how they interact. If your teen has a difficult relationship in their lives, it's sometimes helpful to ask them to consider what the other person might be thinking - how the other person might see the situation - what they might think if their roles were revered.
Self-awareness is considered one of the most important components to living a successful and fulfilling life - whatever that may look like for your teen. It's a personal process that will decrease stress and increase confidence in any relationship or work environment.... and that's worth the time and effort.