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Teens: Taking Control of Your Confidence

Life is ten percent WHAT you experience and ninety percent HOW you respond to it.

Lou Holtz

The life of a teenager is full of daily uncertainty and stress.  From school pressure, friend pressure, parental pressure, and maybe even pressure from an after school job, it can be hard to manage without confidence.  

Don’t panic. It’s totally normal to feel uncertain and nervous. Truth be told, most adults feel the same way when confronted with the many responsibilities in front of them every day.

So how do you cope with it?  By building confidence.

Confidence and certainty are two very interweaved parts of being human. When your confidences are high, it gives you the certainty to attempt new things (regardless of whether they do or don’t work out!). It offers you the capacity to adapt to any missteps you may make.

Regardless of whether you’re asking a teacher for an extension on an assignment, performing on stage in a play, or an athlete competing in front of the whole school, here are a few different ways you can build your confidence:

Use Your Strengths

Using your strengths to their best advantage is an important strategy. Always know that you can practice and improve the things you are not as good at but it is also important to accept them for what they are, a work in progress.  To find out what your strengths are, I highly recommend the Clifton Strengths Finder (I don’t get money from them).  It does cost money, but I think it is worth it to find out where you should start.  I think schools should give this to everyone!

You Are Who You Hang With

I know, I rolled my eyes at this one when I was younger too, but it is so true! A great deal of how we see ourselves depends on how others see us, or rather our perception of how others’ see us. Subsequently, it’s critical to surround yourself with the kind of people that mirror what you want to be like. Invest your energy in friends and grown-ups who help you to feel good about yourself, that encourage you and give off positive energy.

Positive Self Talk

Start to become aware of how you speak to yourself, in your head.  Just becoming aware will give you the ability to shift your self talk.  Do you call yourself names, curse at mistakes, make demeaning comments about your appearance?  If so, it’s time to stop.  You are talking to yourself all day long.  Just think about how all that negative self talk effects you by the end of the day!  From now on, any time you catch yourself saying something nasty to yourself, stop and say “oh, there you are negative voice” and change the negative into a positive statement.  Such as “you are such an idiot” into, “you made a mistake, what did you learn”.

“Comparison Is The Thief of Joy” -Theodore Roosevelt

Don’t compare yourself to others.  When you do, it robs you of all that makes you awesome.  Just because someone dresses better or gets a 100% on a test, doesn’t mean they aren’t battling something on the inside.  Just because someone else is a better artist doesn’t mean you can’t be just as good or even better some day. When you find yourself comparing just stop yourself and focus on gratitude for all that you do have, that others may not.  If you want to be better at something, then work on it EVERY DAY.

Develop A Habit of Helping Others

Finally, when we reach out to others, we are more likely to feel good about ourselves. A 2017 article in the Journal of Adolescence, described a study of 681 U.S. teenagers (ages 11-14)  and analyzed their self-esteem over a four-year time frame. Scientists found that there is “a stable link between helping strangers and feeling better about oneself across the early adolescent years.” (1.)  There are so many people in need, the best place to start is your own community, but I am also a huge fan of volunteering at Feed My Starving Children in Eagan.  It is so rewarding to be able to provide someone something meaningful and without expectation.

I hope you found these tips helpful and inspiring!

  1. Xinyuan Fu, Laura M. Padilla-Walker, Michael N. Brown. Longitudinal relations between adolescents’ self-esteem and prosocial behavior toward strangers, friends and family. Journal of Adolescence, 2017; 57: 90 DOI: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2017.04.002

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