Am I good enough?
I share the concerns about the impact of social media.
A recent study by the Happiness Research Institute (2015) took 1,095 participants who visited Facebook daily and split them into 2 groups: One continued to use Facebook as before; the other stopped using it altogether.
After just one week, the non-users were found to be less worried, lonely or stressed, compared to users and also more enthusiastic and decisive. www.happinessresearchinstitute.com Perhaps it’s time to view social media in the same way we view alcohol. Used in moderation, it’s fine.
Used to excess, it can be debilitating.
The biggest concern I have is in relation to the rise in student suicides
95 recorded suicides in UK Universities in the 12 months ending in 2017 – a 56% rise in just 10 years; up from 6.6 to 10.3 per 100,000 students. And this compares with a suicide rate of 5.9 per 100,000 for 15-19 year olds in the general population.
This means that a university student is nearly twice as likely to take their own life as a young person not in Higher Education. And the rise in female students taking their own lives has been particularly striking, with the rate more than doubling –more than doubling – between 2012 and 2016, from 22 suicides in 2012 to 51 in 2016.
As a university lecturer, pastoral tutor and counsellor, the single biggest cause has been a huge increase in the number of students who subscribe to the myth of perfectionism – young people feeling that they are inadequate or worse, that they are devoid of any value – unless they are perfect.
And, of course, none of them are – or ever can be – perfect.
I routinely have to support highly capable, yet highly distressed young medical students who, having been awarded a ‘B’ for their first assignment ask me ‘How on earth am I going to tell my parents?’ As if, to get a ‘B’ is the most shocking thing they can imagine and is equated with them being a total failure, and with letting everybody down.
If you know, or are working with, a young person suffering with low self esteem or beating their selves up for ‘failing’ in some way, the visualisation exercise below can really help reframe those negative thoughts.
Try this exercise: I am OK
Close your eyes and relax
Picture yourself as a new born infant, lying in a cot
And as you look at yourself as a new-born child lying contentedly in your cot,
Get a really strong sense that you are fundamentally OK
That you are fine, just as you are
That you are totally unique and that this uniqueness gives you innate worth and value
And sense also, that you don’t need to be the best at everything in order to be OK
You just are OK
And that you don’t need to be selected as captain of the first team in order to be OK
You just are OK
That you were born OK
You were born worthwhile
You were born with innate worth and value
And these are not qualities that you have to earn
They are qualities that you are born with
And since no-one will ever perform surgery on you to take these qualities away
They are qualities you will carry with you always, regardless of how you perform in exams or how many friends you have on Face book
You will always be a work-in-progress, never the finished article
Since that would require that no further improvement were possible
And there will always be room for improvement
Self-improvement is a journey, not a destination
And you will therefore never be perfect
But you will always be fundamentally OK, fundamentally worthwhile
You will always have innate worth and value
And be aware also, that since all of us are always works in progress, never the finished article
Our imperfections add value; they do not take it away
And if every person were perfect, then every individual would be replaceable by anybody else
But we are not
Our imperfections are what make us indispensable
For we are all imperfect in our own ways and no one is universally gifted
Our imperfections are what make us unique
Just as in a mosaic, every piece of stone is imperfect; incomplete
And yet each piece is the only piece that can make its unique contribution to the whole
As the far from perfect Leonard Cohen once wrote
‘There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in’
So celebrate your imperfections
Accept yourself unconditionally as a work in progress
Yet always and fundamentally worthwhile
Fundamentally OK, and absolutely fine
Just as you are
And, in your own time, gradually become aware of your surroundings
And when you’re ready, open your eyes
Stretch a little and re-orientate yourself to your surroundings
It’s good to know you are good enough, just as you are
John Perry, University of Southampton
John is a Principal Teaching Fellow in Healthcare Communication in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton.
He is also a qualified Counsellor, Coach, Fusion® Therapeutic Coach, Human Givens Psychotherapist, Reality Therapist, Logo therapist, Hypnotherapist and Supervisor and has a particular interest in Psychological Resilience.
Raising self esteem, suicide prevention, the Rewind Technique, Mindfulness Based Mind Management (advanced MBSR), worrying well, solution focus, guided visualisation, resolving addiction, epigenetics, mapping the connectome, polyvagal theory, the reticular activating system (RAS), secondary gain, trauma resolution, coaching for kids, treating depression, worrying well, working SMART, therapeutic stories, insight, psycho education, affirmations, positive mental rehearsal, imagery, dissociation, goal setting, new paradigms, reframes, fast track learning, perception shifting, self actualisation, positive psychology, reframing, metaphor, personal empowerment, motivational thinking, resilience and resourcefulness, human flourishing, anchoring, rewiring your brain, the STOP System, the SAFE SPACE happiness recipe, holistic coaching and working on the continuum of wellbeing plus many other professional theories, tools and techniques underpin the content of the fast paced, fast track, Fusion training programmes.