38% of girls ages 8 to 12 told us they’re jealous of the way other girls look.
Sadness, anger, jealousy…you can overcome these ugly feelings!
Nope, it’s not just you—everyone’s emotions unexpectedly kick into high gear as they get older. (Hello, puberty!) You may be perfectly happy one minute and then suddenly you’re sputtering with irritation at your little brother, feeling sad for what seems like no reason at all, or feeling super jealous of your best friend in the whole world. All of these emotions are perfectly normal, but that’s little comfort when they’re totally breaking down your once-carefree attitude. Want to get back to just being, well, happy? Try these tips for dealing with the biggest, baddest emotions around…
Ever since her brother went away to college, Kirstin has dreaded the evenings without him. No one knows how badly she misses him, and with the holidays approaching, she feels even more lonely. She can deal with it during the day, but at night the gloom spreads through her body, making her feel heavy and hopeless. Sometimes she’ll call a friend to talk about fun stuff like movies and crushes…but the sadness always comes back the minute she hangs up. No one wants to feel bummed out, so it’s not unusual to try to skip over sad feelings entirely by packing your schedule with fun stuff. And keeping busy is a good idea…up to a point. But you also need to deal with whatever is causing your grief. If you don’t, it’ll just keep chasing you until you do…and you can’t outrun sadness forever. Try this instead: Give yourself permission to feel sad. Find a safe, comfortable place where you can play sad music, scribble in your diary, or confide in someone you trust, like your mom. Get it all out, and don’t worry about what people at school would think if they could see you curled up in a ball on your bed. The truth is, everyone feels sad sometimes and everybody cries. After you’ve had a chance to let your sadness out, switch to more upbeat tunes and get ready to re-focus your attention on something fun. Call a friend, play a video game, or get caught up in a funny movie. You’ll be surprised by how much better you feel!
When Kat and her younger sister Aubrey fight, tempers heat up in the blink of an eye. Before she knows it, Kat is breathing hard, yelling, and even shoving her sister or saying awful things like, “I don’t want you in my life.” Afterward, she wishes she could take it all back…but she still can’t seem to stop herself from acting the same way the next time Aubrey makes her mad. Anger can feel like pressure building up inside until you have to let it out or burst. But while lashing out at the person who made you angry might feel momentarily satisfying, it won’t do a thing to solve your problem…because anger isn’t the mood you want to be solving conflicts in. Worse, it’s almost guaranteed to increase the anger of the person you snap at, and she’s likely to throw it right back at you! Try this instead: First, find a healthy way to vent your rage. Race around the block, shoot baskets, lock your bedroom door and scream (warn your family first!), or punch a pillow. Once you sweat out your anger, it’s time to start dealing with the problem…but for now, deal with it alone. Try writing a letter saying everything that’s on your mind, then tear it up. Should you confront the person who made you angry, or just chalk it up to a misunderstanding? Sleep on it. By tomorrow, your thoughts will be a lot more clear and organized. If it’s worth talking about, it’s worth waiting till you’re no longer angry.
Rory knew that money was tight in her family this year, and that the pile of presents under the tree would be small. But she wasn’t prepared for the way she felt seeing her best friend Ariel’s gifts: so many cute clothes and a Wii with tons of games! Rory’s chest ached and she felt almost nauseous, especially when Ariel asked what she’d gotten. The book and sweater she’d unwrapped seemed so pathetic now… Maybe you don’t recognize jealousy as a normal emotion, but see it instead as a sign that you’re doing something wrong. In fact, at some point every girl wishes she had someone else’s looks, talents, family, or things. But when you hide your (perfectly normal) jealousy out of shame, it often grows…until you’ve built up so much resentment in your heart there’s no room left for friendship. Try this instead: It may sound strange, but the fastest way to deflate your jealousy is to blurt it out: “Wow, that’s great that you get to model for a catalog, I’m so jealous!” Instead of nursing that awful ache like some deep dark secret, put it out there…and you’ll see it’s really no big deal. Remind yourself, too, that nobody is perfect or has a perfect life. Whether you know about them or not, the girl you’re envying has problems, too—she may even envy you sometimes! Jealousy hurts, but you can turn it into inspiration by asking yourself what it is you’re really envying…and figuring out how to get some of it yourself. For example, if you envy your friend’s Disneyland trip, is it because you crave roller coaster rides, long for a sunny vacation, or dream of seeing all the Disneyland sights? Once you have the answer, it’s time to brainstorm: How much dog-sitting would it take before you could pay for a family trip to your local amusement park? Could you use your skills as a clarinet player to join the school band that’s going to play at Disneyland this spring? Once you see that you can improve your life and yourself, you’ll feel like you’re on more equal footing with your friend…and less likely to take out your jealousy on her and harm the friendship.
No matter how annoying, inconvenient, or downright painful these “bad” emotions can be, they’re every bit as normal as the “good” ones, like feeling excited, proud, or just plain happy. The key to dealing with tough emotions isn’t to do all you can to ignore them, but to find a safe outlet for—yes!—expressing them. The result: You’ll be in charge of, not just your emotions, but your life.
Originally printed in Discovery Girls magazine. Share this with your daughter.