When your teen starts comparing themselves to someone else, they will always be able to find something they like better about the other person. It is really easy to look at someone else’s life and only focus on the positive aspects while ignoring the challenges.
A teen might see a peer who has beautiful clothes and always looks “perfect” and wish they could be just like them. After teaching for over twenty years, what I know for sure is that most teens are insecure about something. The teen with the beautiful wardrobe might wish they had straight hair, a bigger family, a dad who worked less, or the confidence to perform. Nobody loves everything about themselves, but if your teen replaces the habit of comparison with gratitude, I guarantee they will stress less and be happier and more confident.
In the Moment Strategy to Be More Grateful
Visualize a Stop Sign
If your teen finds themselves comparing themselves to someone else, they can visualize a stop sign. This symbol is instantly recognized by the subconscious mind and is a clear message to stop the current thought process. It can be helpful to silently repeat the phrase “Stop” while visualizing the stop sign.
Once the comparison has been stalled, it is time to fill the mind with gratitude. Let’s say your teen is jealous of a friend who has a pool.
- She is so lucky to have a pool.
- I wish I had a pool.
- My house is so boring.
- I am grateful to have a friend with a pool.
- I am grateful that I get invited to swim in her pool.
- I am grateful that I know how to swim.
- I am grateful for my house.
- I am grateful for my cozy bed.
This strategy takes less than a minute and easily and quickly shifts your teen’s mindset from negative to positive.
Long Term Strategy to Be More Grateful
This a great way for your teen to end their day. In the notes section of their phone, or a journal, your teen records 5 things that they are grateful for. They don’t have to be huge. I am often grateful for a warm cup of tea. By taking the time each night to think of everything good in their day, they are focusing on what they do have rather than what they don’t. This small shift has been scientifically proven to boost happiness and reduce stress.
If your teen has a particular area where they struggle, they can focus on finding things to be grateful for around that topic. For example, I worked with a teen who felt like nobody liked her. She did friend notes each night. She spent her day searching for everything nice her friends did for her, and she eventually realized that people did in fact like her and were supportive and kind.
Comparison Versus Gratitude List
Have your teen take a piece of paper and divide it in half. On the left, your teen writes down everything that someone else has that they really want. Once they have gotten all of their comparisons out of their system, it is time to fill in the gratitude side. If your teen has 10 items or events on the comparison side, then they need at least 20 on the gratitude side. The main point of this exercise is that the gratitude side should be twice as long as the comparison side so that your teen can give more attention to what they do have.
It is totally natural to see something that someone else has and want it for yourself. However, if your teen frequently compares themselves to others, this unhealthy habit keeps them stuck in the Chronic Stress Loop which can lead to unwanted manifestations such as low self esteem, self worth and confidence. Comparison can also be the catalyst for other unhealthy habits like jealousy and being overly critical. If you feel that your teen could use some support breaking out of the Chronic Stress Loop for good, grab a copy of my free Stress Less Guide here and learn my top 5 tips to manage stress better, so your teen can be happy and healthy in school and beyond.
Originally published at www.claireketchum.com