A few weeks ago we held our first anniversary open evening at The Apple Tree Centre. As part of this event we had to think about all the work we have done over the past year. We had to break it down into specifics: numbers of families supported, professionals trained, parents taught in our group programme, children and young people supported through individual therapy as well as how many connections we had made, the time, thought and research we had put into our monitoring and evaluation measures and so on and so on and ….
After we had finished our presentation and my anxiety had been replaced by relief, I heard myself say ‘I’m beginning to believe my own hype!’ and as soon as i heard that, as soon as I felt that in my mind and in my body I knew it was a really important thing. I am working with some truly inspiring young people at the moment and part of the work we are doing is around noticing.
These young people have developed a habit, a way of being and thinking that has a bias towards the negative. They are acutely aware of the ‘bad’ things about themselves and the experiences they have, and minimise or ignore the good and the positive. They unconsciously seek out examples to underline and give weight to their negative self beliefs and focus only on the evidence that supports these. Our work together is often about bringing these subconscious biases out into the open and wondering whether there is any space around them to notice other things, things that may contradict or disprove. We reframe situations and thoughts and try on different filters and ways of interpreting things, we consider expectations and standards and how the young person measures themselves against these. By exploring these things we can begin to speak differently about them. The young person begins to hear themselves using different language, talking about their achievements and positive attributes out loud and beginning to shift the magnifying glass further away, letting in more light and space.
Noticing is a thing we don’t often consciously do. When we begin to be aware that we are noticing, then we can start to take charge of it. My hope for these young people is that they feel more in control of their responses and more aware of their biases and that occasionally, they can begin to believe their own positive hype.
(Image by Loco Steve)