We did two really enlightening activities in Fearless Females yesterday, both of which left the girls and me feeling really great about ourselves and our place in the world.
This was an activity I picked up at a conference on relational aggression, “mean girls,” and cyberbullying. It was a great conference and I’ve used a lot of the activities I learned from there before. I held off on this one, though, because it seemed a little young for my high school girls. However, it ended up being a great activity and working really well with the activity that followed.
For this one, I asked the girls to each take a piece of paper and some markers. I told them to draw a heart that takes up the entire piece of paper and decorate it with things that made them happy. When that was finished, I told them that this heart represents their hearts (or their emotional centers) I asked them to call out things that either they did to themselves or others did to them that made them sad. They called out things like being called names, not feeling pretty, feeling like a failure, and being told they look bad in some way. For each thing they called out, we folded our hearts.
When we couldn’t fold it anymore, I asked them to open their hearts up and notice how many wrinkles their hearts had. Each wrinkle represented one piece of self-talk or bullying they had experienced that crinkled their emotions. Then, I asked them to try to get the wrinkles out. Of course, they couldn’t. This was symbolic of the fact that, once you feel bad about something, it’s always with you.
Compliments Behind Your Back
I couldn’t leave them on that note, so we moved on to a more positive activity. I put a chair in front of the whiteboard and each girl took turns sitting in the chair. Behind them, the other girls wrote compliments for the girl sitting in the chair. I took their pictures with the compliments behind them to send to them, and then they could look.
A few of the girls were near tears at the nice things their peers wrote about them. You can see mine above, and I felt the same. I was touched at the things they noticed and appreciated, not only about me, but about the other girls as well. Even when they didn’t know someone very well, each girl was able to write four or five compliments. It’s a huge testament to their positive attitudes and to the love they have for each other.
When asked if they liked the second activity, every girl said they did, but that they liked writing the compliments even better than receiving them. I loved hearing that, and reminded them how much it hurt to think of having wrinkles on their hearts – or putting wrinkles on others’ hearts – and how good it felt to compliment others. I told them that, at the end of the school year, we often get frazzled and frustrated with those around us. We just want summer to be here and the stress of school to be over. But we can’t forget that our words matter, at the end of the year more than ever, and we should make ourselves and others feel good by spreading compliments rather than wrinkles.