A Tough Question About Ourselves

Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity.  

Andre Gide

A recent revelation: We do not provide safety and vulnerability for us to share our gifts with each other; and just how difficult it is for most adults to talk about themselves. The fear of appearing bombastic or pretentious is often paralyzing. It is indeed a fine line that a lot of walk. But it might be something even more profound: a distinct inability to view ourselves in the same way that we view those we love and care deeply about. A lack of self-love.

Once a week for the past two weeks, I have challenged students in our community morning circle. The challenge was not a simple one. Nor was it something that could be contemplated easily. These thirteen and fourteen year olds were asked share their thoughts on this question:

What makes you feel awesome about yourself? 

As expected it has not been a straightforward or candid immersion. To date, only seven out of twenty-four students have been able to share a personal contemplation (NOTE: One of our trust agreements is the right to pass.). Yes, teen angst, anxiety, and the vulnerability of sharing in front of peers might account for the partial reticence. Yet, I have known nearly 70% of the students for at least two years or more, and many within the class have been friends for even longer. It is not a question of a group of teens fearful to share about themselves because if you asked them their favourite music artist or movie celebrity they were only too quick to respond.

I feel that it is much deeper than that. Nor do I believe the standard alibi about lacking any specific talents or prideful abilities (I’m just not good at anything…). We all have something about ourselves that we appreciate and that “makes us feel awesome.” We just never get to exercise that muscle. We are never expected nor required to reflect on ourselves. Rather, our western cultural norms have prevented us from asking questions about ourselves. We struggle to hold self-admiration, self-love, and self-compassion. So many of us are unable to hold both self and others in the same space. In the same perspective.

Once you embrace your value, talents and strengths, it neutralizes when others think less of you.

Rob Liano

Depression, anxiety, drugs and alcohol abuse, and other mental health epidemics among our youth might be easily blamed on technology and social media. But the more insidious culprit may be our inability to help them to cultivate true self-love and compassion.

Seventeen more to go.


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