Girl Talk Blog

Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think

Posted on: October 16, 2008

Hey girls!

Dr. Wolf, who has helped me to answer some of your toughest questions in the “Ask Katie” posts, has offered help out even further! He thought it would be helpful if he had a chance to write directly to you. Dr. Wolf gives excellent advice and I know that you will all love reading what he has to say to you! This article is about being yourself – and not being afraid of being different.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think

It really is better to say what you think than what you think they want you to say. The big problem is that you don’t know in advance what they are going to think about what you say. You worry that if you say the wrong thing, they might pull away from you; they may not want to be your friend.

Carly at lunch asks her friend Ruthie,

“Do you like pickles?”

“Yeah.”

“You do?”

And Carly who had been leaning across the lunch table towards Ruthie pulls back, sits up straight and starts looking around the cafeteria.

Quickly Ruthie retreats.

“No, what am I saying? Pickles are gross, yucch!”

Ruthie worries that Carly will think: “Ruthie likes pickles? What kind of weirdo likes pickles? Maybe she’s going to stop shaving her legs. Does Ruthie think it’s cute that she says she likes pickles? Well, it’s not.”
Maybe Ruthie, not knowing if it’s okay to say that she likes pickles, not wanting to take any chances, decides to play it safe.

“I don’t know. Carly, do you like pickles?”

But it could backfire.

“Ruthie, what is your problem? You’re afraid to tell me if you like pickles or not?”

It’s true that saying what you think risks turning people off. But there is a bigger risk with always playing it safe – always saying what you think they want you to say instead of what you think. You can lose confidence in yourself. You pay so much attention to what you think they want you to say, that you stop paying attention to what you think. What you think doesn’t count anymore. So you ignore it. You become a shell person. And when you’re on your own and have to make the big decisions in your life, you look inside yourself for guidance, and there’s nothing there.

“I think I really like Bobby, but he also puts me down a lot. Should I still see him? How do I really feel about him. What do I really want to do for me? I don’t know what I think. I don’t know what to do.”

At first it’s not easy. But try it. Try saying what you think and not worrying so much about what they’ll think. Take a chance. You’ll be surprised by how nothing bad seems to happen. And when you get good at it, it’s amazing how talking with friends – and anybody else – is so much easier and definitely makes you feel better about you. Stronger.
_________________________________

Dr. Anthony Wolf is a practicing child psychologist and the author of numerous books including the bestselling and widely acclaimed, Get out of my life but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the Mall, A Parents’ Guide to the New Teenager. He is often quoted in the national media, has had a regular column in CHILD Magazine, and currently writes a bi-weekly column on parenting teenagers for the Toronto Globe and Mail. He has appeared on many TV shows including The View, The Today Show and CBS This Morning, and is being featured in a PBS television special on tweens. He is a frequent and widely sought after lecturer for both parents and professional audiences, known for his humor and very practical advice.

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