The What and Who of Meandering About

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Narrative - Voices and Images

She hears the voices ringing in her ears...
"You will never fit in."
"I can't believe you would wear that."
"You aren't very pretty."
"Why can't you do better than that?"
"You are fat."

When he stands in front of the mirror he sees...
a failure,
an awkward castoff,
someone who will never be good enough,
a chubby wannabe,
a coward.

Whether these voices and images are real or figments of a wild imagination doesn't matter. The reality is that young people everywhere, even those who seem to have it all together, daily deal with such negative narratives playing in seemingly endless loops in their minds. These negative voices and thoughts can become overwhelming and all-consuming. It doesn't take long before one begins to believe the voices they hear and the images the see staring back at them. It is easy to fall victim to believing their message.

A necessary step in providing a new narrative is acknowledging the fact that the negative narratives exist. Giving young people the space to talk openly about their anxieties centered around appearance, performance and social standing is important.
In creating a safe space for these ideas to be shared, the door is opened for a new narrative to be created. Care must be taken to neither minimize the way a young person is feeling or interrupt them along the way to self-disclosure. Stay in the space with them (as painful as that may be). Allow them to cry or shout or just be silent. The value of this time cannot be overemphasized and can be the beginning of the new narrative. Your presence and willingness to listen to their heart will speak volumes about their worth.

The new narrative begins with a safe space to genuinely be oneself. If we are intentional about it, we can help create such a space for the young people in our lives.

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