Remember when we were teenagers? Pimples on our faces, insecure towards all others, irritated by our parents, unhappy about our own bodies, and desperately but hopelessly in love with Miss or Mr Most-Popular? We could not see our true selves in the mirror; we only saw in ourselves what we thought was not good enough compared to others. The result of this false self-image was that we too often did not value ourselves, which often resulted in sadness or even depression, social distancing and loneliness. Many of us never learned to love ourselves!
Can you imagine how much more difficult this must be today for our children? In addition to all the challenges we had to master in our families, schools, sports clubs, hangouts, and youth magazines, they now have to deal with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, GroupMe, WhatsApp, Tik Tok, Houseparty, Live.me, YouNow, Whisper, Monkey, or Yubo.
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Our children continuously compare themselves with images and stories of beautiful, smart, successful, cool, and socially accepted kids. And this comparison constantly nags on their self-confidence. On top of this, ongoing criticism about their performance in school, their behaviour at home or anywhere else by vigorously but not necessarily ill-meaning adults increases doubt about their very own beautiful personalities.
You, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserves your own love and affection. Buddha’s teaching is crucial for a peaceful and happy world – regardless of religion or culture. We must all learn to love ourselves – to accept who we are, with all our strengths and abilities, our personalities and our shortcomings. If we love and respect ourselves, we can become better versions of ourselves every day.
We must all learn to love ourselves
Parents and teachers, please look into a mirror and think about yourselves. Be aware of your love and affections you have towards yourselves - perhaps meditation can help you to become more aware of this. If you do not love yourself, do not have affection for yourself, how can you truly love others?
It is our foremost responsibility to teach this most natural but unfortunately too often forgotten attitude to all children and teenagers as it is much more critical than Math or Geography. If your children are young, learn from them, as societies and media have not killed their natural instincts of self-love and self-affection, which were given to all of us at birth.