Just Be You - How To End Teen Insecurity

Photo by Colleen Sall

Photo by Colleen Sall

Recently, one of my children was lamenting about feeling "edged out" of a situation. It happens to all of us, but when you're a teen, the impact can feel even more devastating.

One thing we're working on around here is trying to be more objective and developing self-awareness. If it's possible to attain these skillsets as a teen, you begin to be able to decipher if in fact you actually WERE edged out on purpose, or if the circumstance was just someone inadvertently leaving a person out.

And, if you can determine beyond the shadow of a doubt that you ACTUALLY WERE left out, consider the facts as to why this may have happened:
1. Someone doesn't like you for a known reason
2. Someone doesn't like you, and you don't know why

Truth be told, there are those people who have great difficulty getting along with others. If you're concerned you get left out, you need to be able to see how others perceive you.

If a person believes they are left out on purpose, there are basic reasons for this: 1. The person who is left out has poor social skills and doesn’t know how to correct them (or is so lacking in self awareness that they don't even realize they have poor social skills). 2. The person who is left out is "barking up the wrong tree," trying to befriend people who will never be interested in that person 3. And possibly, the person leaving out another feels the need to do so not due to any characteristic of the individual left out, but due to their own insecurities. They feel superior making another person feel lesser.

In order to assess as described above, a person must work on their ability to be self-aware in order to actually BE objective and know their assessment is accurate.

We can't do anything about another person's pettiness, as described in Point Three above. All we can do is recognize that is what is happening – the individual (or individuals) are leaving someone/several persons out to make themselves feel more important. So, that's really THEIR issue, and not a concern of the person left out.

The only thing to do then is shake your head and move on.

That brings me to Point Two. If you have enough self-awareness to look at facts and reason that insecure people (no matter how secure they may appear on the outside) are fair weather friends or acquaintances, then don't bark up the wrong tree and expect to be welcomed. Those folks will look for others like them that also feel superior when they cut down others. In a way, misery loves company.

That brings me to Point One. If you suspect in any way that you possess poor social skills (or in fact don't possess good social skills), is there anything that can be done to improve yourself?

Negative attributes to consider:

1. Are you impatient with people?
2. Do you talk over others?
3. Do you talk too much about yourself and listen too little?
4. Do your strong opinions – regularly stated – repeatedly offend others?
5. Are you a know it all?

Positive attributes to consider:
1. Are you neat, clean, pleasant-looking and well mannered?
2. Is your disposition agreeable?
3. Do you build others up around you?
4. Do you listen to others and let them tell you about themselves?
5. Are you considerate of others but confident in yourself?

These are just some questions I came up with off the cuff; surely there are others created by teen psychologists and clinicians that are even better for self-assessing.

Point is, it's far too tempting to let one bad incident (or perhaps a perceived "bad incident) frame our whole picture of ourselves vs. actually seeing the bigger picture. And by bigger picture, I mean developing a true, complete image of who we and others actually are.

While it's easy to hang on to that one cut down or negative interaction and take all the positive strokes you receive in stride without appreciation for them, it's better to think of all the people who DO like you vs. the ones who don't.

Focusing on the negative is a normal human reaction, but obsessing over it points to an inability to recover from negativity – a critical competence. Time and time again, I keep seeing indications that our most recent generations are struggling with coping.

Resiliency is key. But, it has to be developed.

By being honest with ourselves about who we really are, what we're actually good at, what we can consider improving in ourselves, what shortcomings others may have (that we don't need to take personally) and learning how to be satisfied with our best version of ourselves, we are setting ourselves on the proper path. By promoting this type of thinking, I hope to see even greater self-satisfaction in my kids both now and in the future – in myself, too!

Last night on Facebook, I noticed one of those gimmicks on a friend's page that gives you a quote "designed just for you." Now, taking some personal change into advisement may be a good thing as life-long self assessment, but in general, your attributes are who you are, and I strongly believe that. A person's positive traits should be played up to benefit not only themselves, but all others around them.

Although I liked the quote given to my friend, I was surprised that the quote created for me by this Facebook bot actually fit. I liked it so much and thought it was so on-target,  I used it for the picture for this blog's journal entry: "I won't change so people will like me. I will be myself, and the right people will love the real me." Pretty true.

In closing, I quote the Book of Sirach. This translated quote is over 5,000 years old, and I'm surprised at its modern-day relevance. It contains the lessons in how to treat others, as well as guides the reader in utilizing the objectivity for seeking friendships and being aware of false motivations. It also underscores the value of true friends – it is remarkable sage advice!

Sirach 6: 5 - 17
5 A pleasant voice multiplies friends, and a gracious tongue multiplies courtesies.
6 Let those that are at peace with you be many, but let your advisers be one in a thousand.
7 When you gain a friend, gain him through testing, and do not trust him hastily.
8 For there is a friend who is such at his own convenience, but will not stand by you in your day of trouble.
9 And there is a friend who changes into an enemy, and will disclose a quarrel to your disgrace.
10 And there is a friend who is a table companion, but will not stand by you in your day of trouble.
11 In prosperity he will make himself your equal, and be bold with your servants;
12 But if you are brought low he will turn against you, and will hide himself from your presence.
13 Keep yourself far from your enemies, and be on guard toward your friends.
14 A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he that has found one has found a treasure.
15 There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend, and no scales can measure his excellence.
16 A faithful friend is an elixir of life; and those who fear the Lord will find him.
17 Whoever fears the Lord directs his friendship aright, for as he is, so is his neighbor also.

(My understanding is that "Fearing the Lord" means following rules about how to treat other people, because that's what God asks. When you hang around people who agree on things like that, you're more likely to find like-minded people who treat others well).

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