5 ways to help your teen let go of limiting beliefs

Yesterday I shared something on Instagram that felt a bit silly. I talked about how I nearly didn't go to the gym because I had a load of spots on my chin. Yep, my face resembled a pizza. I nearly allowed my negative thinking about my appearance to stop me from training even though my intuition was telling me a hardcore cardio workout was exactly what my body needed. I had a word with myself and went anyway, feeling a bit silly that I nearly allowed the fact that my skin wasn't perfect to hold me back from doing something I love.

But…it’s not silly though, is it?

According to the Dove campaign ‘Show Us’, nearly 90% of the women they polled said that they had missed a social event such as a family occasion because they weren't happy with the way they looked. Whilst this is shocking to see in black and white, it’s not really a surprise, is it?

My self-esteem is OK. It was pretty easy for me to see my limiting belief and address it so that it didn't hold me back yesterday. But what if it’s not so simple for you or your teenager to have a word with yourself and crack on with the things you love?

Here are 5 ways you can start to release those limiting beliefs. This would be a great activity for you and your teen to do as I am sure you can recognise some in your own thought patterns. Get those journals ready folks!

  1. Write down all the negative thoughts they have about themselves. Can they identify where they come from? Limiting beliefs are problematic for so many reasons, the main one being that they come from so many different sources including the stories we were told has children, things teachers may have said in the past, and of course the cultural noise including social media. This first task may take some time, and might not be achieved in one sitting. Reassure your teen that it is OK take their time, and to be gentle with themselves. None of this is their fault (or yours!), but it is their responsibility to address it and not allow it to prevent them from doing the things they want to do. This is how we build resilience!

  2. Now with each belief, can they see how it is holding them back? For example, they may believe that they can’t run very fast, and so they don't engage with any sports. Gently nudge them into seeing how this negative thinking is preventing them from a whole world of possibility. Many sports don't involve running. Furthermore, who defines ‘fast running’?!

  3. Ask them what they want to do about it. Is there something the other side of this limiting belief that they want to reach? Are they afraid? Reassure them that fear is normal, it’s our brain’s way of keeping us safe. What is their intuition telling them? Encourage them to get really quiet and listen to it. It’s very possible that the negative thinking voice will be shouting pretty loud-tell them that. But is their another voice? A quieter one? What’s that one telling them to do about it? Get them to write it down.

  4. It’s very possible that your teen’s brain has got into a pattern of negative thinking. It’s also possible to retrain it into thinking more positively, but it takes work and commitment. Start with creating a positive belief that counteracts the negative one. Let’s go back to the running example. The positive thought could be ‘I am open to trying out new sports’. Check that your teen isn't using any negative language here; they are quite like affirmations.

  5. Set an achievable goal/task that proves that positive belief. Perhaps they could try a new sport with you? There are loads of free YouTube videos if you don't want to invest in something just yet. Trying yoga, or a cardio workout could be a good place to start.

    Have a go! You never know, this could set your teen on the path of finding their spark which is so important for personal growth and self esteem in these formative years. Do pop back and let me know how it went!

    This is a core part of the work I do with my one-to-one clients. If this is something you think your teen could benefit from having ongoing support with, then why not book a no-obligation clarity call with me.