Feeling sensitive to others is normal in teenagers, because they can't control what's happening to them and don’t yet have confidence in themselves. This is because during teenage years their hormones run higher. Hormones determine our mood, and our mood determines the way we think. Because hormones are changing your teens body and brain, they may feel insecure, not yet knowing who they are. They are looking for approval from others.
A teen’s world is still very small because they have limited experience of the world, their experiences are still very few in comparison to ours. This lack of experience tends to make them feel insecure, unsure about what is happening to their bodies, or thoughts. There is so much change going on for them. Everything is new and they are experiencing everything for the very first time.
Change makes people feel insecure. But feeling insecure is a normal in a teenager.
However, when a person feels insecure, they tend to judge the people around them. And when you judge other people, you are more likely to think people are judging you.
Teenagers often feel that everybody is looking at them. They may think that in looking, people are judging them. They may be. But whatever a teenager thinks, when they feel they are being judged, they will probably draw their own conclusions as to what that judgement might be, based on what they think. But nobody can know what anyone else is thinking. The only person who can know the absolute truth about you is you. You can remind your teen that when they look at others, they are probably judging them too.
Whether this judgement it is real or imagined, the feeling of being judged is a normal part of being a teenager. Out there in the world of their peers and school and friendships, they can feel very vulnerable. They want so much to belong, to be accepted, want desperately to fit in. But at the same time, they also want to be different, to stand out. And all of this while they are trying to find where they fit in this world.
We all hate to be judged, adults and teens alike, but in a way, this is actually how we learn about the world around us. We look at the way in which others behave. We learn what it is that makes us accepted amongst our friends. As children, this is how we learn about right and wrong.
As humans have what we call ‘personalities’. Our personality and our experiences are what make us who we are. We are all unique and we all have our faults and our strengths. We wouldn’t judge a really great surgeon for not being a great ballet dancer, would we? So, we should look at what we are good at. What we can do. Our strengths. Our personality traits. And this is where we can work on how we feel about being judged by others. Because it is all to do with how we feel about ourselves, not what others think about us. If we don’t feel good about ourselves then we will always think that others are judging us in the negative way in which we judge ourselves.
And our teenagers feel this, because they are actually judging themselves!
But if we help our teens to learn to think about the things they are good at, then they will see that they shouldn’t judge themselves in a negative way.
And all those people who are judging them….
Well, they are also judging themselves.
They are also feeling insecure.
They too are trying to work out where they fit in the world.
So, regardless of what your teen THINKS other people might be thinking about them, the first thing they need to do realise is that the other person is feeling exactly the same as them. And the next thing they should do, is to be kind to themselves.
Here are the 3 Key Points to teach your teenager.
· Know your own strengths and the areas in which you are not so strong. (Great Surgeon or Great Ballet Dancer). You can’t be everything. None of us can. I might be a good teacher - but I’d be a rubbish hairdresser! If you know what you are good at and what you are not so good at, you won’t be so likely to be affected by what other people say or think about you.
· Don’t let others define you. People will always have an opinion. It isn’t usually right!
· Be aware of your inner critic. ... the parrot on your shoulder telling you that you aren’t this or you are that! What does a parrot know? Nothing!
How can teens stop judging themselves?
Catch those negative thoughts and words, and stop them.
Practice mindfulness and being in the present moment.
Don’t make generalisations.
Don't believe your negative thoughts.
Accept compliments gratefully.
Focus on the positives about themselves.
Love themselves as they are.
Remember to tell your teenager that other people can’t “make” them think or feel anything. Only THEY have control over their thoughts and feelings. And they can change them.