“Shut Up: Silence the Negative Thoughts in your Head,” by Christy Pierce is a book that would be very significant for middle school students (and their parents) to read. And for high school students, who are already well into these trenches, this book review provides relevant advice.
Ultimately, “Shut Up” points out –
- There are multi-faceted reasons for the anxiety/depression epidemic in teens today.
- Many young people are under great pressure resulting in struggles of low self-worth, shame, perfectionism, self-hatred, performance anxiety, generalized anxiety, depression, guilt, obsessive thoughts, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts.
- Kids are not talking to adults like they should because they are believing lies about them instead of trusting them.
- Because of the dark nature of common thoughts and modern behaviors, evil forces must be at play a lot of the time.
- There are 4 kinds of thoughts speaking to youth today. They are the voices of: others (can be good or bad), self (can be good or bad), the Enemy (always bad) or God (always good). Many teens today are not listening to any of the good voices because the bad voices are so loud.
- The ultimate solution is determining to learn how to tune into God’s Voice.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
Middle Schoolers –
- Read this book for the stats, stories, and solutions. You will need them, if you don’t already.
High Schoolers –
- Get it out in the open. You are either hearing about anxiety, depression, and damaging thoughts; or you’re dealing with it personally. Transparency walks you to freedom! (1 Jn. 1:5-10)
- Most of you have at least one wonderful adult in your life that you can talk to about hard matters. Choose to believe that. Stop buying into the lies that adults in your life will judge you. Trusting an adult with your battles will be the best thing you ever did.
- The very safest adults encourage you to believe God’s voice and not the enemy’s. Stop shutting Christian adults out. Tell them everything and let them speak soothing, life-changing Truth into your mind and heart.
- Taking seriously the impact of spiritual forces doesn’t mean you are being mystic. First, spiritual warfare is entirely Biblical, and second, it really does explain the degree of darkness present in the struggles of this generation (prevalence of mental illness, cutting, eating disorders, and suicide).
- Work overtime to show youth that you’re safe. Be approachable so they will come talk to you and/or ask you if they can work with someone to help them expose negative thoughts and listen to God’s voice. If needed, help them find the right mentor, youth pastor, discipleship-leader, or counselor to come alongside you/them in this journey. Give them plenty of grace, and do not shame them for dealing with these matters.
- “Shut Up” does talk about demons, but don’t let that keep this book away from your middle schooler. Read it first, or alongside them, and be encouraged that God’s power prevails over darkness.
- Drawing near to the next generation through these troubling issues could be the best way to lead them to an active, freeing relationship with the Lord that would change their lives forever!
“We…wrestle…against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand…” (Ephesians 6:12b-13a)
If you’ve heard of Cutting, or know people who inflict self-harm by purposely Cutting their bodies, you may have wondered if these actions are attempts to end life. Even though the act of Cutting oneself is physically dangerous, someone who Cuts is not necessarily suicidal. Actually, non-suicidal self-injury is an ongoing, serious addictive behavior that shows itself in numerous hidden and not-so-hidden bodies. Further, this “drug of choice” for young females and males is increasing at an alarming rate today.
What makes this generation vulnerable to Cutting? Many young people today are not learning how to regulate their emotions, how to tolerate distress, how to cope with pain, or how to have healthy, expressive relationships. As a result, they are desperate, and desperate people turn to quick relief, which Cutting provides. For people who self-harm, there has been an incredible build-up of emotions not being properly dealt with, and as a result they feel that something must be done. They know it’s not the best choice, but it makes sense to them in the moment. It gives them distraction, control, and a reason to believe they are addressing emotion in some sort of way. Cutting is not something that only THE most emotionally hurting young people do. Rather, Cutting is something that is common for people to do in order to cope WHEN they are emotionally hurting.
What makes Cutting such an appealing “drug?” It’s potent and “it works.” Just like any other drug, it feels good at the time – even producing a “high.” Also, this next generation “drug” has become incredibly popularized on the web and encouraged in peer groups.
Keeping Room Tips:
*It is important to remember that this is a fallen world and everyone is vulnerable to dysfunction. The next generation being susceptible to the influence of Cutting is not a worse sin than the previous generation being susceptible to something else. “If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins…who could stand?” (Ps. 130:3).
*As with the awareness of drugs in the past 40 years, there needs to be public awareness regarding the challenging reality of Cutting. It’s not something that those who self-harm can “just stop.” Rather, it’s been said to be as addictive as narcotics. Even thinking about how much they need to stop Cutting can make them want to Cut even more. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, this I do.” (Rom. 7:14)
*There needs to be enormous compassion, support, and patience for those who impose self-harm. Anyone who Cuts needs a team in place to keep them accountable for managing their emotions, dealing with life’s challenges, operating in healthy relationships, recognizing when they’re vulnerable, and knowing when they haven’t dealt with their issues. (This can include individual counseling, support groups, parental therapy, accountability partners, life-skills training, etc.) Everyone does better when they live life in community; and those who self-harm or who have addictions demonstrate that very clearly. “The Lord makes His covenant people to be a light, to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” (Is. 42:7)
*Cutting is very powerful, but He is more powerful. The Lord will do a work in someone who Cuts IF they don’t try to take over and do all the work for themselves in their own strength. Overcoming Cutting is not about willpower; it is about teamwork with the Body and empowerment from the Lord. “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” (Phil. 3:12, NLT)
There are times when a person will self-inflict physical pain as a distraction in order to avoid experiencing painful emotions. For example, the temptation for self-injury in the form of Cutting is very real and powerful for certain hurting people, usually females. Cutting is an unhealthy way of coping with unbearable emotions, and unfortunately, has found acceptance and even promotion on the internet. Of course there are serious physical and emotional consequences of Cutting because it can be life-threatening, the relief is not long-lasting, and visible scars do remain. Further, it is an activity that has addictive properties, making the cessation of this behavior very challenging. An alarming behavior such as Cutting is always a precious cry for help.
Keeping Room Tips:
- You may not be able to relate to the temptation to Cut, but don’t let that diminish your compassion.
- Every middle and high school girl needs at least one trusted adult with whom to discuss difficult issues such as Cutting. It is a prevalent matter in their world.
- Young people who Cut need safe, positive, healthy friendships.
- Know that professional counseling will focus on: 1) discovering effective ways to stop Cutting 2) uncovering the path that led them to choose Cutting and 3) learning new ways of functioning.
- Be prepared for healing to be a process. Even while acknowledging the need to stop the unhealthy behavior, those who Cut have compelling reasons for doing so and need even more compelling reasons to stop.
- As you are reading this, pray for those who are Cutting to develop a productive relationship with someone who will faithfully stand by them and also lead them into the arms of Jesus.
- If you personally know someone who is Cutting, every chance you get, pour this life-giving Message into them: For He will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy, and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in His sight. (Psalm 72:12-14)