Self-Attention: Listening, Feeling, and Responding

Self-Attention: Listening, Feeling, and Responding

August is an important month for young people, parents, and youth-serving professionals! It marks an end to summer holidays, the start of a new school year, and a transition back to routine. It is a point to pause and look ahead to all the potential a fresh academic year brings.

This time can bring a lot of mixed emotions, so it’s no coincidence that OTA is dedicating the month of August to self-attention—the practice of listening, feeling, and responding to the messages your mind and body are sending you. Take a moment to consider how you pay attention to their wants, needs, and feelings, and to the way you experience excitement, sadness, pain, and comfort. Below are a few tools and tips to help!

  1. Take notice of the thoughts swirling in your brain. Are your thoughts self-affirming or self-defeating? Are you kind to yourself or hard on yourself? Do the messages in your head match what you would say to a friend going through a similar situation? Notice and name your thoughts. Then, take control by transforming any self-defeating messages into self-affirming messages!

     Instead of . . .                          Try . . .

“I can’t do this.”                         “I can do hard things!”
“I am so stupid.”                        “I’m learning.”
“Why is this happening?”        “What is this teaching me?”
“I’m a mess.”                              “I’m human.”


  1. Check in on your feelings before reacting or making a hasty decision, especially if you’re feeling irritable or upset. Take a BREATH and reflect on the questions below. Then use this awareness to guide your decisions!

Am I Bored?

Am I Resentful?

Am I Embarrassed?

Am I Anxious?

Am I Tired?

Am I Hangry?

How you pay attention to, treat, and talk to yourself influences your mood, behavior, and decisions more than you may think. AND . . . your self-talk influences how OTHERS treat and talk to you!

Use these simple tools to practice self-attention and teach the tools to the young people in your care. Keep in mind that young people look to you! They soak up your energy, tone, and attitude, and they see the ways you pay attention to and talk about yourself. Using these tools and making small positive changes will ripple outward to the youth in your care. As we say at OTA, little ripples make BIG waves!

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