Rachel Simmons Visit
Laura Boismenue
By Laura Boismenue
Director of Counseling & Associate Director of College Counseling
May 2, 2019

This week Forest Ridge had the distinct pleasure of welcoming Rachel Simmons, bestselling author, educator, and consultant, whose dynamic message aims to help girls and women be more authentic, assertive, and resilient.  In her two presentations on campus, she delighted parents and students alike with her hilarious anecdotes, relatability, and spot-on wisdom. 

We know from her many books and articles that she has her finger on the pulse of what it is like to be a girl (and a woman) today and her presentation to the girls this Wednesday only further demonstrated how fully she gets it.  She had our girls- and all of us- laughing, snapping, and saying “SAME!” as she unpacked the stressors and insecurities that girls experience, especially in the middle and high school years. 

She shared advice about navigating friendships well- both in holding realistic expectations for our friends as well as ourselves – and reminded us all that friendships take practice, at every point in our lives!

She challenged overthinking head-on, reminding us that we can unknowingly get caught in the trap of thinking that if we devote more mental energy to something, we can improve the outcome.  Wrong.  Overthinking gets us caught in the spin cycle of anxiety and fear.  Far better: learn to notice when it’s happening; picture a stop sign in our mind as a reminder to quit; and redirect our thoughts to something else.  Turns out, research shows that not overthinking is a predictor of better outcomes.  What a relief!

Similarly, she had our number about the reasons females often want to avoid risk.  It’s all too easy to want to stay in our comfort zones- where we know what to expect and where we already get praise for our abilities- but we miss out on learning, exploring, and growing.  Instead, she armed us with 3 questions to ask before taking a risk:

  1. What's the worst that could happen?
  2. Could I deal with that outcome?
  3. What is one good thing that could come out of this?

Lastly, she led us in a powerful exercise of self-compassion that gets right to the heart of what girls and women need: to share the empathy that we readily give to others, with ourselves.

  1. Respect your feelings: Notice them and name what they are.
  2. What would you say to a close friend (who is going through the same thing)? Say that to yourself.
  3. Who else is facing a similar problem? (Hint: You're not alone.)

These steps utilize the practice of Mindfulness- learning to pay attention, on purpose- to notice what is happening on the inside and apply compassion to ourselves the way that we so readily do for others.