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By nature, girls want to please. Girls define themselves against a backdrop of relationship. Feeling known and loved is crucial. So to say something that might sound crazy or weird, or might make others reject them, can feel like a terrible risk. You might not like me anymore, they think. Even more than that, you might not love me. You might think I’m crazy. Maybe I am . . .
And so the thought that should be a flash gets stuck. It becomes what I refer to daily in my offices as the one-loop roller coaster at the fair. The thought goes around and around and around in the quiet of kids’ heads and becomes deafening.
School - One - Fear - Worry - Lot
I feel sick. I’m going to throw up.
I can’t go to school. No one there likes me.
I have to check and recheck this until I get it right. I can’t mess up. A little fear becomes a big worry. And that worry loops around and around and around . . . until it feels a lot like a gigantic, catastrophic, insurmountable monster of anxiety. We’ll call him the Worry Monster.
In her worries, your daughter often feels alone. She doesn’t know that others feel the same way, because it’s too scary to put her worries into words. Maybe people won’t like her. Or they’ll think she’s weird. So she thinks she’s the only one and that something is wrong with her.
Adults - Worry - Monster - Tears - Anger
It doesn’t help that we adults often don’t know she’s battling a worry monster. We only see her tears. Or anger. Or hear the endless questions. Her outsides don’t match her insides, and her worries come out sideways through a whole host of other emotions. We don’t understand. Neither does she.
The more she listens to the tricks the Worry Monster tries to play on her,...
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