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How can I get my friends to be more interested in self-respect

Dear Auntie, I’ve been working hard to become the person I want to be, but I’m finding it hard be around other girls my age. How can I get my friends to be more interested in self-respect when they’re just interested in going to parties and hooking up with boys?

First off, I commend you for putting the focus on being the best version of yourself. Getting into the habit of self-care is an incredibly powerful lifestyle trait that will certainly help you to achieve your goals now and into the future.

So just a quick comment about other girls your age, the teenage years can be pretty hard for both girls and boys. Partly due to the flood of hormones and testosterone, the transition of moving from childhood to adolescence, newfound responsibilities, including the potential flood of advice from adults and peers. All of this can be confusing and will likely be met by youth your age as a time to experiment and test the waters. This may be what they are doing when they are going to parties and worrying about boys. And, the same goes for boys.

How can you influence your friend’s behavior?

  • Be a good friend. Good friends listen to each other without judgment. You don’t want to nag your friends about some of the choices they’re making. However, if they are making choices that put their health or future in harm, then it’s okay to be straight up with them. Try to talk to your friends with respect and without judgment. People like to feel like they are being heard and taken seriously when they talk about sensitive topics like their self-respect.
  • Be a role model. It’s important for your friends to see you making good choices. If you’re out at the parties hooking up with boys, they’re less likely to take you seriously when you talk about working to become a better person. However, if you do make a mistake (and we all do), own up to it and tell your friends honestly how you feel about it and how you want to make up for it.
  • Encourage your friends to participate in activities you feel build you up.
    • Talk about it. Having an honest conversation with your friends about the things you are personally working towards will likely get them to open up about the things they themselves would like to be better at. So if you are working on things like becoming more involved with your tribe or becoming more responsible, tell your friends what you are doing about it…and maybe they’ll want to join you.
    • Community service/tribal involvement. Just some food for thought, if you and your friends do start to build momentum and come up with some ideas on how to not only help yourself but help your community or tribe, you should check out WeRNative’s community service mini-grants. They fund youth to put on projects of their own, all you’ve got to do is find an adult mentor, apply, and send in pics. And if you need some ideas you can check out DoSomething.org. Because heck, you might as well get funded for it…and it looks great on college applications.

A couple of tips on your journey towards self-improvement.

  • Journal Activities: Something you might consider as you work towards becoming a better you is to start keeping a journal. Some things you can focus on are to:
    • Visualize your best possible self and write about it.
    • What goals and expectations do you have for yourself?
    • Keep tabs on your feelings – what feels good/ what doesn’t?
    • Self-care – how do you exercise and eat right? How can you improve on this?
    • Positive self-talk: In what ways do you love yourself? How do you think this can affect your relationships? In what ways can you better love yourself?
    • Is there any way you can become more involved with your culture/ tribe?
    • What things are you good at? What would you like to be better at? How do you think you can do that?

So, there’s no for sure way to get your friends to behave the way you want them to, but you can encourage them to make better choices for themselves by first doing it for yourself. When they see you do this, they know its something you value and may start to notice some of the positive things that come from it. All you can do is be the best person you can be. Encourage others to not be like you, but to be the best version of themselves. I’m proud of you for caring about uplifting your friends and am wishing you the best of luck!

Take care,
Auntie Manda

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