What Are We Rewarding?
I think my daughter goes to a “good” high school. By that I mean it is a relatively safe, low-violence place where my experience has been that the majority of administrators and other staff there are engaged and enthusiastic about the work they are doing with our young people. As with many things in life, however, the term “good” is all relative.
I have no doubt that the staff there are well-meaning. And, they are still a product of our society.
Recently I went to a winter sports awards ceremony at the high school. I was both astounded and saddened by the nature of the accolades and literal plaques being given out to the students there. Student after student walked across the stage to the applause of the audience for things like being “the toughest self critic” the coach has ever met, the runner who ran (and won) a race with a broken foot, the athlete who played basketball with shin splints.
No one gave any sign of what I was thinking: “what is wrong with this picture?” Our young people are being taught that it is admirable to criticize themselves and to sacrifice their own well-being for the goal of winning and being seen as strong by others.
Hmmmmm….is that really the message we want to send?
I know, it goes along with the whole “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps” and “big boys/girls don’t cry”. AND, what I’m wondering is this: how are we as a society ever going to get to the level of self-love and self-acceptance that we say we are at, or at the very least say we want to be at- if we don’t break the cycle?
How are our kids going to teach their kids that they are lovable and worthy whether they win the race or not if we don’t start teaching them what real self- love looks like?
The first step is awareness.
What do you think of this? Where are some other places in our society that you see a need for increased awareness about the damaging messages we are sending? How can we all start increasing our own self-love so that it will be naturally passed on to our children?
One way I know of is to start practicing more self-compassion. For example, when we get sick, it is an opportunity to take extremely good care of ourselves. When we get injured- same thing. When we struggle with something emotionally, it is an opportunity to treat ourselves with the utmost of understanding and gentleness- the way we would for anyone else we love. Rather than expecting ourselves to tough it all out. Or ignore the pain. Or “just get over it”.
I’m not saying we need to start feeling sorry for ourselves. We are not victims. Simply, however, treating ourselves more compassionately and more lovingly is enough to make a major paradigm shift and to start setting a better example for our children.