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  • Swati

Being our authentic self: Break conditioning

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

“You’re garbage”, “You’re so dumb and stupid!” – these might seem just words that we use to school children, most of the time unconsciously - leaving innocent, free-spirited and unencumbered young minds scarred for life. Children look to adults for cues to navigate in the world - it's not surprising that their self-worth, attitudes, values, stories and expectations become linked to external validation from society.

As a community, labelling what we feel are signs of ‘failure’ begin right at school and these subtle yet life-altering bullies are no one else but us – as parents, teachers and school friends. They tend to carry these ‘invisible pressures to succeed’ to adulthood, which for some trigger anxiety and left unaddressed translate to mental illnesses later on.

We tend to measure success with grades and superficial qualities that we have been conditioned to identify with. Similarly, the educators entrusted to nurture and shape young minds tear them down instead of teaching self-esteem and lifting them up when they fail – question is what exactly is failure?

Give Kindness

We need to teach kindness and empathy. If there is one ‘magical potion’ for all possible despairs in the world, its kindness and compassion. With mental illnesses on the rise, and humanity though inter-connected than ever before, beyond power and success - can seem more divided than united – kindness is the binding factor that can connect all of us.

Kindness translating to empathy empowers us to accept that the needs of others are meaningful and deserve our attention. Positive action towards others can inspire and help strengthen our bond as a community – if we make an effort to be kind to people, we can make a difference, especially those who are struggling or vulnerable.

Be compassionate

Be compassionate with yourself and others even when there’s too much going on in our lives, not to mention the current COVID-19 situation. This can throw compassion to one side, traded in favour of what appears urgent now. Compassion and assisting others are great ways to build and maintain our social connections.

Be here now

Practice mindfulness and being in the present moment – the worries of the past is in the past and anxiety about the future does not exist, yet. When we choose to worry about the future, we are unconsciously choosing to forgo the joys of today. Pause a while, take a step back and stay there – there’s no race, enjoy the stillness. The only thing real is here and now.

Connecting with others

Loss of social connections make us even more susceptible to depression and anxiety, which can further lead to isolation and loneliness. As humans, we have been wired to socialise spontaneously and flourish. Somewhere on the way, we seem to have lost touch with ourselves and as a result, our natural impulse to connect with our community. If anxious, we need to reach out to our loved ones and accept help. And similarly, be more empathetic and accepting of the reality of mental illnesses.

As a community, we have to live and be our authentic selves – little acts of kindness can increase feelings of wellbeing and optimism. Do more of the things that actually make you happy, even if it seems inconsequential. Practice gratitude and be thankful for the beauty called life.

It’s time to take our power back and re-imagine a caring and kinder community that better protects our collective mental wellbeing.

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