SCG Teaching Artist Anne Dugan led a workshop on positive self-talk for elementary students at our recent Super Saturday on November 9th. More from Anne on this empowering experience:
“I say, I hate myself!” says a 7 year old Sister. This is one of the statements that has stuck with me since our first Super Saturday event. Those words were uttered in a group workshop I ran for elementary Sisters on Positive Self-talk. And, they were an honest answer to the question I’d posed to the girls; “Who here sometimes says not-so- nice things to themselves?'” We ALL raised our hands. Even me, the adult leading the lesson.
Neuroplasticity. That’s the root of what I was getting at. Teaching kids that their brains can change..that they respond to the information they are fed..and that they treat that information as the truth. See, it’s not just that this little girl is saying these things to herself and it’s sad..it’s that what she’s saying, and what ALL of us are saying, our brains take as the truth. And, so it really matters WHAT you say to yourself- all the time. Why? Because, what you say, you believe, and what you believe makes you feel a certain way about yourself. And if you’re feeling not-so-nice, you may behave in a not- so-nice way to other people and that sets off a chain reaction. How do you change this negative self-talk? It’s not enough to tell your brain to stop, because we have to be thinking something. No, instead you actually have to re-program what you’re saying. Neuroplasticity. You teach your brain how to say nicer, loving and life-giving things to yourself. And eventually, it begins to believe those things are the truth of who you are.
So on this chilly November morning, that’s what we were doing. Sorting through the nice; I am fun, I am a light, I have a beautiful voice, I love myself…and the not-so-nice; I have a big nose, I have no friends, I am not smart, I’m not good at math.. things that we say, silently, in our own hearts and minds. Helping girls understand that they have the POWER to speak life and love over themselves and they have the POWER to believe it is absolutely vital to helping them create confidence and an inner knowing that they are innately worthy of love and respect. No better time to EMPOWER girls to create the habit of positive self-talk then before they reach the often, not-so-nice teen years. Though I believe, even then, this lesson is incredibly powerful and life changing. Heck, even for me, who learned this as an adult, it’s been so powerful.
We learned that we ALL say negative things to ourselves and that it’s important to watch that, and to choose to say good things. When we discussed the negative comments I asked the girls..’Would you say that to your best friend?” ‘NEVER”, they shouted back. That’s what we’re getting at , teaching girls how to be their own best friends . And making a craft out of it, because girls love crafts, and because we need to remind ourselves of the new words we’re supposed to be using.
We made ‘Feel Good Key Chains” They have tags that say things like; ‘I am a light in the world’ “I have a beautiful voice” “I am a good friend” “I love myself” and other uplifting, positive statements that should be the soundtrack that little 7 year old has running through her mind, that should be the soundtrack YOU have running through your mind. Empowering, affirming statements that we BELIEVE and act on. How do you change a community? Teach a girl how to speak love to herself and she’ll teach those around her to do the same!