Kendall Jenner contemplating her mental health

Kendall Jenner Goes Deep

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The celebrity supermodel and reality show star gets honest about mental health.

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Last week, Kendall Jenner gave a remarkable interview on Jay Shetty’s popular and insightful “On Purpose” podcast. 

Among other topics, Jenner discussed her clever use of the inner child concept, the practical way she deals with her anxiety and frustration at family gatherings (yes, those family gatherings), and the power of being kind to yourself. 

The interview revealed aspects of the 26-year-old’s thinking and personality rarely seen through the typical Hollywood media outlets. She is honest, unguarded, and sounds more like a typical young person who struggles sometimes than a perfectly polished celebrity. As she discussed, she ran headlong into a major personal crisis a few years ago and continues to fight through it one day at a time. 

Happy days turn more difficult

As she related to Shetty, Jenner spoke of a happy childhood. She loved spending time with her small group of friends. She also loved horses and spent most of her time on weekends and during the summer at the stables. 

At a very young age, she got her first job as a dog walker in her neighborhood. She remembers posting flyers on telephone poles to drum up business. “I can remember from way back that I was usually happiest when I was busy,” she said.

She was also self-disciplined, and would announce to her mom on many nights that she was putting herself to bed. “I always enjoyed being by myself,” said Jenner. “When I wasn’t with my friends or my horse, I liked hanging out in my room.”

At age 14, she decided she wanted to be a model, and asked her mom to help her do that. “I executed that plan, and I’ve always been proud of that,” she said. “I followed through, I worked hard, and I made it happen.”

Fast forward to 2019, the year before COVID hit. By that time Jenner’s modeling career had reached the stratosphere. At only 23 years old, she’d surpassed Giselle Bundchen in 2017 as the world’s highest paid supermodel. 

But she was miserable. In her telling, she was burning out, and felt very close to her breaking point.

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Taking control of the situation

Before reaching total burn out, “Somehow I was able to figure out in time what I needed to do,” said Jenner. “Mainly it was looking inward and prioritizing me. In practical terms, that meant saying ‘no’ for a change. No to work offers. No to business opportunities. No to people’s requests for my time.” 

“The business I’m in is hyper-competitive, so that ‘no thank you’ stuff was really hard for me to do,” she said. “I felt like I had a lot to lose in saying no. I was worried people were going to stop offering me projects, and that maybe the work was going to dry up. I thought people would move on, and I’d be forgotten.”

“But I also knew I was going to lose myself if I kept going how I was going,” said Jenner. “I just wanted to feel good again. I remember having this very strong sensation, and I let it guide me. I needed to start setting boundaries or I wasn’t going to be any good to myself or anyone else. Eventually I learned to trust that feeling of saying no, and having faith that things were still going to be alright.” 

Let’s consider that thought as Jenner’s first piece of takeaway advice from the interview: practice saying no on occasion, set boundaries to protect yourself, and learn how to be okay with that. 

Here are seven more insights from her:

  1. Sometimes the best therapy is doing nothing 

When Jenner vocalized that she was struggling, the people around her had lots of ideas and suggestions. Too many. Which became a problem unto itself. “That part was overwhelming to me,” Jenner said. “Should I do this? Should I try that? Do I need more exercise? Do I need less exercise? I felt like there were too many options, which made me anxious.”

Then it hit her: just give yourself space to do nothing. Or at least very simple, normal things. In Jenner’s case that meant going to her niece’s birthday party and being fully present. Or taking a long walk by herself. Or catching up on her reading. Or, quite literally doing absolutely nothing for two hours. “I had to force myself to do some of these things at first,” Jenner said, “but it got easier once I got used to the feeling of it.” 

  1. Find your higher goddess (or god!) and seek shelter there

“For me, the higher goddess concept is about being my true self, and it’s also a state of mind,” she said. “My therapist says it’s good for me to ‘stay in your higher goddess’ when I need that. People can’t touch me there.” To get to that place, Jenner uses a lot of affirmations. They help reassure her about who she really is. 

“I’m part of a celebrity family, so a lot of people think they know me,” she said. “They don’t. There are a lot of false narratives out there about me and my siblings, and sometimes that feels unfair, as most of these people have no clue. My higher goddess helps me remember who I am. Also, my family knows who I am. So do my friends, my dog, and my horse!”

  1. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, try hitting “pause” before “stop”

Unsurprisingly, Jenner said that at times her family can be intense. But she said that when they’re together, they’ve mostly learned to not be on top of each other. “The way I do that is, when things feel crazy or intense, I sometimes go into the bathroom and sit,” she said. “I just step away for a few moments. Once I’m there I take a deep breath–maybe several–then I’m ready to head back out. It usually works.”

  1. You need to get selfish to become unselfish

Jenner said the concept of self-care used to feel self-indulgent to her. Nowadays, she loves taking care of herself. “It became super obvious to me that I needed to do that so I could be my best for me and for others,” she said.

She’s become a big believer in the concept that you have to love yourself first before you can love others properly. (A little like the flight attendant directive to secure your oxygen mask first before helping others, right?) Said Jenner, “Once you learn how to be kinder to yourself, you will naturally be kinder to others.” 

  1. Put your inner child on display

A lot of times, we can be mean to ourselves. Our self-talk can be very negative. “I’m not as good as she is. I don’t belong here. I’m in over my head. I wish I was more handsome or athletic.” Jenner used to engage in that sort of degrading self-talk frequently until her therapist introduced her to the concept of “the inner child.”. She told her to find a photo of herself as a child–so literally a picture of her inner child–and tape it to the refrigerator or the inside of the bathroom mirror.

That way, if you start saying something negative about yourself, you know exactly where to go to look at that picture and remind yourself to be kinder when speaking to yourself. “It stops you in your tracks because you do not want to say those things to your younger self,” Jenner said. “It doesn’t feel right.”

  1. Validation is way overrated

“I used to seek validation a lot,” said Jenner. “In my business as a model, I was always asking, ‘Did they like me? Do I stack up? Did I look my best?’ The validation thing is what so many people are looking for with social media. People want to be ‘liked.’” Finally, when Jenner was years into her career, it hit her: if your happiness or self-worth depends on others, you’re at the mercy of people and things you can’t control. She still cares what people think of her (which is normal) She just doesn’t care as much. 

  1. Look forward to the future

As a naturally curious person, Jenner said she is looking forward to getting older and learning more about herself and life. She’s excited about what’s to come, beyond the work part. She said she looks forward to connecting more with people, and sharing the positive things she’s discovered. 

“Hopefully I’m doing some of that now with this podcast,” she said. “I want to share things that inspire people and make them more content and more accepting of themselves. Corny as it sounds, I want to share love.”

Care at Charlie Health

Even celebrities need help with their mental health. If you or a loved on are struggling with serious depression, panic attacks, PTSD, OCD, or some other serious mental illness, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. At Charlie Health, we provide Intensive Outpatient Programming for teens and young adults looking to attend therapy more than once per week. 

Supported groups, family therapy, and individual therapy are combined into individualized treatment plans to fit your needs. 

Reach out today to get started.

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