Little Voice X: “Ugh! I have nothing to wear. I wonder if people are going to notice if I wear these pants again? Wait. What the? What the heck is that? Oh just lovely. A pimple. In the middle of my forehead. Well at least people won’t notice I’m wearing the same pants. Hmmm…I wonder if it’s going to rain today? Is today Wednesday? Today is Wednesday! Isn’t that thing due today? OMG. Today is going to suck.”
Any guesses on the owner of Little Voice X?
If you guessed a teenager you could be right but this is actually the mental conversation I caught myself having with myself this morning. (My understanding is that as long as you don’t answer yourself back you’re completely sane. Ahem.) As adults we’re pretty good at ignoring this kind of mental chatter (at least we think we are) but imagine how much worse it can be for a teen.
While we can brush off the co-worker or friend who is going to judge us for wearing the same pants two days in a row (and let’s face it, she’s not the best dressed anyway) this is the kind of inner monologue that can be hugely debilitating to a teen. I know I don’t have to tell you about peer pressure but have you ever thought about the self-induced pressure caused by our teens’ little voices? If we’re mentally beating ourselves up you can only imagine what teen self-talk must be like.
Here’s where you can help. It’s our job to alert our teens to the existence of their little voice to help them deal with it. One of my favorite exercises to do this is one I call “Little Voice Come to Life.”
Step 1: The first step is to just talk to your teen about their little voice (trust me, they’ll know what you’re talking about) and then ask them to just be silent and listen to it for a minute. Do the exercise with them and listen to yours too. After a minute share the thoughts of your little voice (within reason of course) so your teen understands the type of inner monologue you’re talking about. Don’t ask them to share their thoughts though. That will just freak them out and that’s not the point of this exercise.