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Mother-Daughter Radio Show

This week, my mom (/co-author) and I spoke about our book Just As You Are with my longtime friend Carolyn Twersky and her mom Laura. Listen to the radio show here!

We discussed issues like peer pressure and friend group drama, and also how Carrie didn’t think I was “sexy enough” to be in her talent show act at camp when we were in the sixth grade.

Spoiler: I eventually was allowed to participate thanks to our more compassionate friend Billie. Check out the photos below (Billie & I are matching–she’s in the orange cast–and Carrie’s center stage…who’s surprised?!) 

Side note: Carolyn writes for Seventeen.com! Check out her articles here.

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Seventeen Article: “A Guide to Finding Your Self-Confidence and Dealing with Negative Thoughts”

I’m so excited to share that our book, Just As You Are, was recently featured in Seventeen. Check out the article, written by Carolyn Twersky, here!

“Everyone struggles with self-esteem issues. Some deal with it every day, while others find those bad thoughts creeping up every once in a while. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to realize that you can gain control over your self-confidence.”

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Check out my feature on this radio show!

This past week, I was a guest on my mom’s radio show, Relationships 2.0 with Dr. Michelle Skeen–check it out here!

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Does Social Media Feed Your Feelings of Unworthiness?

by Kelly Skeen and Michelle Skeen, PsyD

How many times have you looked at your phone today? 10? 20? 30? 40? If you’re an average tween or teen you’ve looked at your phone 46 times. And, you’ve spent a third of your day using media—Instagram, Facebook, online videos, and music. Maybe you do it without thinking.

Have you ever thought about how all of these images are impacting your beliefs about yourself and others? It’s likely that, knowingly or unknowingly, you are comparing yourself to the images you see on your feeds every day. All of us struggle with some aspect of ourselves. This feeling is reinforced and likely made worse by social media and the constant and ever-changing messages you receive about what you need to do, to look like, and to act like in order to be accepted. It can leave you feeling like you need to hide parts of yourself that aren’t perfect and/or don’t fit within the norm. This by itself feels like a setup for failure.

As you might imagine, your beliefs about yourself are a mixed bag. You probably hold some beliefs about yourself that are positive. Maybe you make friends easily, you have great hair, you are close with your siblings, you excel academically, you’re good at sports, and so on. But you also likely have beliefs about yourself that are negative. In fact, this might mean that you are hiding parts of yourself because you fear being judged, not accepted, or both. You may feel that you are outside of the norm in some way. There might even be aspects of your identity that you have no control over or you don’t like—such as your ethnicity, religion, family, culture, height, eye color, body type…you get the point.

Of course, there is even more of your life that is out of your control, because you have parental figures who control parts of your life that you have little or no say about—where you live, what school you attend, activities you are or are not allowed to participate in, who you can be friends with, who you can date—the list goes on. There’s a good chance that you feel inadequate, flawed, or not good enough as a result of some of these factors.

Every teenager (even the ones that seem perfect!) struggles with feelings of inadequacy, defectiveness, and unworthiness. This impacts your feelings of self-worth, which might be holding you back or getting in the way of satisfying peer interactions and acceptance. Like most people, you care what other people think of you, and you probably spend at least some time comparing yourself to your peers. Social media feeds our natural tendency to compare how we measure up to others. This can result in feeling that you are flawed—not as perfect as other people might seem. When these feelings get repeatedly reinforced over time, it can lead to shame, depression, anxiety, and isolation.

We are all wired to connect with others, and when we do make healthy connections, we thrive. So it makes sense that we would want to be accepted by others, and we would fear being found not good enough and rejected. In fact, you may go to great lengths to avoid judgment or rejection from others. This might include seeking affirmation from others, being unable or unwilling to make decisions without approval from others, or having difficulty hearing even mild criticism.

You may find it difficult to accept and share parts of yourself that are out of your control, or you may feel like you need to be a certain way to be liked and accepted by others. Or you may focus more of your energy on others to distract them from the ways in which you feel insufficient. You may already be thinking about the parts of yourself that make you feel less than, or that you hide from others because you fear the response you might receive. And you might even be aware of the ways this holds you back from realizing your full potential or building the relationships that you long for.

The truth is that you don’t have to keep hiding from others or comparing yourself to others. You are beautiful and perfect just as you are.

Lifelong struggles with feelings of unworthiness and inferiority begin with beliefs formed when we’re teenagers. Just As You Are empowers teens to identify and eliminate these beliefs now, before they take root and cause problems like depression, addiction, and failed relationships in adulthood.

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Release of Just As You Are!

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In this fun, practical guide, teens learn how to silence their nit-picky inner critic, cultivate self-compassion, and discover what really matters to them.

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Praise

“This book provides effective tools for combatting feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, and low self-esteem that are so common among teens. Readers will learn strategies for self-acceptance, changing negative thinking patterns, and communicating effectively. The book is clear, easy to read, and filled with practical exercises. Highly recommended!”
Martin M. Antony, PhD, ABPP, professor of psychology at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON, Canada, and coauthor of The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook and The Anti-Anxiety Workbook

Just As You Are helps young people examine their negative self-stories from a place of compassion and value. The personal stories and exercises will resonate with a broad range of readers. Such a helpful book.”
—Ben Sedley, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Stuff That Sucks

“We all struggle with parts of ourselves and feel at some level not okay. But this common need to appear like you have it all together, is not only exhausting and disconfirming, it’s lonely as well. As you read others’ stories of this same struggle, work through exercises, and challenge your inner critic, you learn to accept yourself Just As You Are with the same care and warmth that you would your best friend.”
—Janetti Marotta, PhD, author of 50 Mindful Steps to Self-Esteem
 

“So many young people struggle with feeling ‘not good enough,’ or believing that something is fundamentally wrong with them. Just As You Are is a step-by-step guide to undo those negative core beliefs. Michelle and Kelly Skeen offer tools for understanding yourself, identifying strengths, and changing unhealthy habits. They teach mindfulness and self-compassion in down-to-earth language that will appeal to everyone, even those who are skeptical of self-help books.”
—Ann Marie Dobosz, MA, MFT, author of The Perfectionism Workbook for Teens
 

“Michelle and Kelly Skeen have written a powerful tool to help teens navigate the tricky world of self-acceptance. Their words are thought-provoking, genuine, and kind. Teens will relate to the heartfelt stories and learn to embrace and appreciate their authentic self.”
—Julia V. Taylor, PhD, counselor educator at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA; author of The Body Image Workbook for Teens; and coauthor of The Bullying Workbook for Teens 
 

Just As You Are speaks in a caring and thoughtful voice to the many teens who feel uncomfortable in their own skins. Filled with carefully crafted exercises that rest on a foundation of self-acceptance and self-compassion, teens will experience the power that comes with truly being themselves.”
—Michael A. Tompkins, PhD, ABPP, coauthor of The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook for Teens, and codirector of the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy
 

“A beautiful guide to self-acceptance in the face of the relentless inner critic. The feeling that one isn’t good enough, that one is unworthy, is a huge source of pain and paralysis. This book is a game changer, a healing breath of kindness and self-compassion.”  
—Matthew McKay, PhD, coauthor of Self-Esteem
 

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More About the Book

In Just As You Are, psychologist Michelle Skeen and her daughter, Kelly Skeen, offer teens simple tips to help overcome feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness, stop comparing oneself to others, and be more open and accepting of all aspects of who they are. Teens will also learn how to be more aware of their thoughts and feelings in the moment using powerful mindfulness tools, and build a plan of action for the future based on their values.

Sometimes it’s hard to see yourself with clarity and kindness. With this important guide, teens will learn to move past their faults, celebrate their true strengths, and discover what really matters in their life… Read More

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Flying out of my comfort zone

When I was 11, I sat up at the top of a zipline for forty-five minutes, refusing to slide down. I shook, I cried, and eventually I had to be pushed off the platform. It was very scary, and I never did it again.

I’ve always been afraid of heights, and sometimes I’m also afraid of trying new things (that I worry I won’t be good at!).

Recently, I went to a flying trapeze lesson with my good friend Jackson to celebrate his birthday. I chose this particular activity for Jackson’s birthday because I knew he would love it (he is a dancer and he loves adventure) and I hoped that I would love it too—11-year-old me would be proud!

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Jackson went first and wowed the trainers and other participants. “You’re sure it’s his first time?” they asked. I laughed.

It was my turn—I began climbing the ladder and started to feel more and more nervous. “Maybe I should just watch Jackson instead,” I fantasized. Once I reached the platform, I told the trainer how I was feeling. Tears welled up in my eyes. She instructed me to take a few deep breaths.

I closed my eyes and imagined how I would feel once I landed in that net—accomplished and confident. I slipped off the platform (not very gracefully) and flew through the air. I was surprised that it was actually fun!

By the end of the lesson, Jackson and I were having such a great time that we decided to continue learning trapeze art. On our second lesson, I performed a “catch”—I was swinging while hanging from my knees, one of the trainers grabbed my arms, and I let go of the bar! It was exhilarating.

So what? Jackson’s birthday celebration ended up being a great opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone and experience something new. And I really enjoyed it…I’m already looking forward to the next time we go!

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Women’s March on Washington

I was lucky to participate in the Women’s March on Washington with one of my closest friends and my mom. It was such a special, moving experience–I will cherish the memory forever. The friend whom I marched with, Carolyn Twersky, wrote an article for Seventeen about the #womensmarch which featured me and a few other awesome women. Check it out here: 4 College Women Explain Why They Joined the Women’s March On Washington!

My mom and I at the march

My mom and I at the march. So proud of her for traveling across the country to do this with me!

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Carrie and I were all smiles on Saturday as we marched on the National Mall

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Practicing Mindfulness in the New Year

Last week, my mom and I talked with Holly Rogers–author of The Mindful Twenty-Something: Life Skills to Handle Stress…and Everything Else. I had a great time getting the chance to speak with Holly about how mindfulness can benefit “twenty-somethings” like me. Her book is great–I even sent it to my friend Erin as a Christmas present. Find the podcast here!

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A few great podcasts you should listen to this week!

Hi, everyone. Happy Sunday! Recently, my mom interviewed a few fascinating authors on her radio show: Ann Marie Dobosz, author of The Perfectionism Workbook for Teens, and Andrea Wachter, author of Getting Over Overeating for Teens: A Workbook to Transform Your Relationship with Food Using CBT, Mindfulness and Intuitive Eating. You can listen to the interviews by clicking here!

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Change the Way You See Everything

This week, I read the book Change the Way You See Everything through Asset-Based Thinking by Kathryn D. Cramer, Ph.D. and Hank Wasiak. Interestingly, I was assigned to read it for a course in my Education, Inquiry & Justice minor. At first, I was a little confused why a self-help book had been assigned in school, and how it would be relevant to the class. So far I haven’t heard of our book, Communication Skills for Teens, being used in a classroom, but that would be pretty cool!

I came to understand why it was applicable to what we’re working on in my class, but here I’d like to focus on its impact on me personally. I especially want to talk about how it relates to communication skills we highlight in our book. Both books give readers tools for success in the way that they approach themselves, others, and situations.

So, this book presents the approach called asset-based thinking. Asset-based thinking encourages us to focus on goals, resources, and things we see to be valuable. However, the author is not saying that everything is good and there are no negatives. Asset-based thinking shows how the glass can be simultaneously “half-empty” and “half-full.” It helps us be less critical and more curious about how to overcome challenges.

Asset-based thinkers don’t say, “Why didn’t I do this?” Instead, they say, “What can I do better next time?” It’s not about pretending that you didn’t mess up or that something wasn’t wrong, but it’s about being proactive and looking for positive motives in negative action.

The book is split up into three sections associated with yourself, others, and situations. The author explains how engaging in asset-based thinking in these three areas can help you counteract obstacles.

  1. Change the way you see yourself

The key presented here is “Magnify what’s best, focus on what’s next.”

One exercise that had to do with changing the way you see yourself through asset-based thinking that I appreciated was the Morning Mental Workout.

Begin each day with a mental workout. Coach your first thoughts to be strong, clear, encouraging. This morning routine will keep you from wanting to roll over and go back to sleep. It is a vivid dress rehearsal that shapes what you aim for and how you respond to what comes your way. Review your most important objectives by completing the following sentence: “I am perfect person to accomplish ___________ (describe your objective) because I am/have ___________ (describe your assets).”

The book talks a lot about the importance of vision and that really resonated with me. If I start out my day with a confident vision, then I am more likely to believe that I can do it and am probably more likely to actually accomplish it, too!

  1. Change the way you see other people

The key in changing the way you see others is to utilize “positive filters.”

My favorite part in this section explained how to use asset-based thinking to give constructive feedback.

  1. State the behavior that bothers you clearly and concisely.

  2. State the impact of that behavior on you and the relationship.

  3. Present the positive vision you have to resolving the conflict or disruptive interactions. (This will set the tone of your listener’s action)

Here, the idea of vision comes back into play! It’s so important to talk about how to move forward when discussing a problem. Being proactive will always result in a better outcome. I can see using this model for constructive feedback with my siblings, parents, friends, significant others, and co-workers.

These steps for constructive feedback complement the skills we discuss in our book. In particular, it would be great to check out Chapter 1 on listening skills to help you in an interaction like this one. Knowing how to listen is just as important as knowing what to say!

  1. Change the way you see situations.

The key to changing the way that you see situations is to “widen your lens.”

Asset-based thinkers see problems as pauses, and think (…) not (.) This means that you don’t get stuck. Instead, you look forward when you face a challenge. You ask yourself and those around you “How can this be the best problem we’ve ever had?” I think that is such a cool question.

I would encourage you to check out the book if any of this sounded like it would be helpful for you. I’m glad I had to buy it for school because now I have it as a resource for my personal life, too.

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