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How to Shred Negativity

Nadine Briggs

January is a time for resolutions and promises of fresh starts in the new year. It can also be a great time to let go of negativity or grudges from the past. For some people, forgiving is easy. But others tend to hang onto grudges and bad experiences for a long time (some for many years!). The participants in our program tend to struggle with forgiveness and letting go of bad thoughts. Ruminating on the bad things that happen can lead to bitterness but letting go and choosing to focus on what is going well, can help to build resiliency. This tip will help your child choose resiliency over bitterness.

Was the Situation Perceived Correctly?

Kids can hold on to negative thoughts that might not be based on real experiences. Many people who have social challenges have a hard time reading or understanding social situations. This could result in them holding a grudge for something that they misperceived, therefore adding to their negative load. For example, a teen in our program, who is allergic to peanuts, was convinced that her friend tried to harm her by giving her a peanut butter cup. She assumed that the friend knew of her allergy and gave it to her on purpose to bully her. When pressed to find out if she truly knew that the friend was aware of the allergy, the teen wasn’t sure. She had carried this upsetting thought in her mind for many years and it had cost her the friendship.

Those Who Can’t Forgive Will Need to Be Forgiven

Many of our group participants tend to think in very black and white terms. Someone is either nice or not nice or their friend or not their friend. These same kids who work so hard to get friends, will cut them loose at the smallest infraction. However, if the scenario flips, those same people want forgiveness from others. Learning to let go can help to preserve those hard-earned buddies.

Try this Simple Tip

Since holding onto grievances can be a substantial social barrier, and it’s essential to learn how to let go. Our favorite way of letting go is to do a “grudge smudge”. A grudge smudge is a simple task of writing down the grudge or negative experience on card stock and shredding it. We use a hand crank shredder to get the job done, but you can also just rip it to shreds by hand. Once the negativity has been shredded, kids should be reminded that this means they should no longer revisit that experience or give it any more energy. It’s cleansing to release all that negativity!

When we do this exercise at Simply Social Kids, group participants will line up waiting their turn to shred their negativity. Most will shred multiple cards and celebrate letting go of bad memories.

P.S. Here is the link to the shredder we use

If your child/teen/young adult needs coaching to help them make friends, contact us to schedule a trial or find out more about our weekly programs by contacting us at 978-764-2758 or

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