Teen jealousy and judgment–they may seem like a normal part of teen life, but they can actually act as a major barrier for future success. When I think of teen jealousy, the movie Mean Girls comes to mind. The “burn book” and constant castigation of others, it’s complete jealousy and judgment. If you haven’t seen this movie, it doesn’t end well for the “mean girls.” Karma for their treatment of others comes back to bite them, but once they move past their judgmental ways, they move towards success. Psychology Today recently published an article discussing ways you can help your teen work past judgment and towards more acceptance.
Fighting teen jealousy and judgment
Jealousy is a common emotion for most people, not just teens. We see a co-worker receive the promotion we were working towards or a friend posts pictures of their new kitchen remodel on social media. It’s easy to see those things and find yourself thinking, “I wish that was me”. It is natural to have those feelings, but what makes a difference is that most adults have enough personal awareness to think “I wish that was me”, but still be able to reflect and be thankful for the things they do have in their life. Adults know that just because someone else is succeeding, that doesn’t mean that there is somehow less success left for everyone else. Teens often have not yet developed these skills. When a friend gets a new iPad or they see a lavish trip a celebrity took on Instagram, they do not understand why they are not having those same experiences. This can lead to spiraling feelings of disappointment and being unfulfilled. This jealousy can also be detrimental to teens’ mental health if they are constantly comparing their lives or themselves to others, and always find themselves lacking.
As humans, we don’t like being judged–we feel like it’s a threat to us. Yet we often do it to others. That fear of judgement can also lead to feelings of anxiety in social situations. When someone speaks out against what we believe, we feel like it’s an attack on who we are; when someone gets something we want, we feel like it’s unfair. While a strong sense of self is critical for success, it’s also extremely important to be open to others’ opinions. Teen jealousy and judgment can easily become adult jealousy and judgment, which is why parents need to help their teens get past this barrier.
Teen jealousy and judgment will stand in the way of being open to others’ views and perspectives, which will form into a future blockade against further success. To succeed, you often need to listen to other people’s ideas, but with an extreme bias against anything that doesn’t align with your views, it’s hard to do that.
Tips for getting past judgment and conscious bias
We consciously judge others all the time–it may seem innate, but it’s often not. If you look at someone’s hair, for example, and think it’s ridiculous, you may deem the person ridiculous. In reality, that person is probably much more than their hairstyle. Learning how to move past teen jealousy and judgment can be largely beneficial for your child.
Here are some tips on how to do it:
- Catch Yourself and Think. When you find yourself judging someone, take a moment to second guess yourself. How do you know what you’re thinking about them is true? A lot of the time, our judgements tend to be more of a reflection on our feelings about ourselves rather than the other person. If your reasoning seems flawed at all, it’s probably in your best interest to be more open to that person.
- Don’t Assume, Assess Your Views. Positive or negative, when you’re acting a certain way, take a moment to question why you’re doing it. We all see a situation through our own lens based on our life experiences. Know that your lens may color the situation from your perspective. If you’re choosing a side without significant reason or evidence, maybe it’s time to take a more flexible perspective on things until you have more information.
- Ask More Questions. Hear people out, listen to both sides, try to widen your view. You may end up being right, but this way you’re opening yourself up to the possibility that you may be wrong. This is an important skill for you to have beyond just personal relationships, but also romantic and professional relationships as well. You may actually learn something new in the process!
- Practice Empathy. For example, if you find yourself making a snap judgement about a friend who has been flaking on you, once you’ve asked some more questions to understand where they are coming from, think about how you would feel in their shoes. Maybe they’re feeling pressure from school or their family and they’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to spend energy on anything else. Maybe they’ve experienced a personal loss and their sadness is making it difficult to reach out. Whatever the reason, try to empathize rather than judge them for not showing up.
- Unfollow and Unsubscribe. This may be social media language, but it can apply to real world relationships. Are there relationships that you have or accounts that you follow on social media that always leave you feeling worse? If those hyper aspirational influencers or superficial friends are doing damage to your mental health, know that you can always unfollow or give yourself some space from those people. Surround yourself with supportive friends and follow social media accounts that are honest about the ups and downs of life.
- An Attitude of Gratitude. Studies have found that giving thanks and counting blessings can help people sleep better, lower stress and improve interpersonal relationships. Earlier this year, a study found that keeping a gratitude journal decreased materialism and bolstered generosity among adolescents. The simple act of writing down things you are thankful for, whether that’s a particularly tasty coffee at the drive-through, or a friend’s generous support can help remind you of all the things in your life that you have to be thankful for.
Building community through residential treatment
No matter your age, building a supportive community can be challenging, especially if you are working through years of patterns of jealousy and judgement. Residential treatment centers can help you process the reasons behind those feelings and help young women build confidence and social skills so that they are ready to build healthy peer relationships.
Cutting-edge neuroscientific research has identified regulation as the key element found in healthy, healing relationships. When regulated, our neurological functions can be centralized in the pre-frontal cortex– the part of the brain involved in rational decision-making. When dysregulated, our neurological functions are more likely found in the limbic system, the midbrain, or even all the way back in the brain stem.
When stuck in these less rational parts of the brain we tend to display poor emotional boundaries, higher levels of emotional reactivity, and are unable to attune to our own needs—let alone the needs of others. Moments of relational interaction that lack attunement are much more likely to cause damage in a relationship.
At Solstice East, we help our students and families learn to regulate their emotions through the modalities of mindfulness, relationship therapy, equine-assisted psychotherapy, adventure therapies and art-based therapies. We emphasize this teaching by training every member of our staff how to self-regulate, and how to help a teenager develop her own self-regulation skills. We provide our team with opportunities to implement regulation skills in real-life settings to increase their ability to provide attunement, safety and predictability while in-relationship with your daughter.
It is important for us to highlight that while your daughter is at Solstice East her healing work is not simply limited to the time she spends with her therapist. She is engaged in life-changing therapeutic work every minute of her day as she engages in relationships with each and every member of our talented team. Solstice East creates a safe, secure environment for teenage girls. This allows them to follow a path of self-healing and reflection.
Solstice East can help
Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional or behavioral problems. We strive to help our girls develop healthy habits and lead themselves back onto a path of success and happiness.
Success in working with young women requires specific and unique areas of emphasis, and sensitivity to how they respond to various approaches to change. As one of the best residential treatment centers, we have created a culture and approach specifically developed to fit the distinctive needs of teenage girls. Whether it is our specifically designed equine approach and addictions programs, or the clinical specialization and collaboration of our therapists, Solstice East is uniquely qualified to address the complex needs of girls in need of healing and growth.
For more information about how Solstice East handles issues related to extreme teen jealousy and judgment, please call 828-484-9946.