By Elizabeth Piper
Last Saturday I babysat my friend’s children while she and her husband had a much-needed date night. As I tucked her two daughters into bed, I had the idea for each of us to take turns sharing a high and low from our week. They asked me to go first and within seconds I listed not one, but three lows. When it was their turn, they had no problem listing all the wonderful things that had happened in the last week – they went ice skating, watched a great movie, played hiding-go-seek, and built a snowman in the backyard. But when it came to thinking of their lows – they pondered for a few moments, looked at each other and then at me, and said, “We can’t think of any lows!”
Once they had fallen asleep, I walked out of their bedroom, and became unnerved by the fact that at some point in the last twenty years as I transitioned from childhood into adulthood, it became easier for me to find the lows in my life than the highs. I wondered, “When did it become more familiar to find the things I hate than the things I love?”
For many of us, this tendency to zone in on the bad – whether it be little annoyances, monotonous routines or bigger life challenges –transcends past our daily experiences. It often takes shape in being in abusive relationships with ourselves. As a 26-year-old, it’s almost hard to remember a time when I didn’t feel self-conscious in a bathing suit, worrying about trivial so-called “flaws” like cellulite, fair skin, and jiggly thighs. It’s so easy, especially as woman, to get caught up chasing the media’s definition of perfection that we forget all the beauty surrounding us if we choose to look for it.
In the YouTube video, Jessica’s Daily Affirmations, that went viral a while back, a young girl, no older than the age of four, with frizzy, curly hair stands on her bathroom sink, looks at herself in the mirror, and passionately lists all the things she likes about her life.
I find myself watching this video every few months. It reminds me that we are not born hating ourselves. We are not born looking for the lows in our weeks. I know this because when I look at children I see little girls at the pool with their bellies hanging out of bathing suits without a care in the world; I see little boys splashing in puddles on a rainy day, covering themselves with mud; I see little bodies getting up after falling down on the pavement. When I look at children I see smiles, resilient spirits, and pure authentic joy. I see love – both for themselves and life itself. I see something we should all try to emulate.
Because children don’t come with an instruction manual, JCS offers a variety of programs, services, education and support for parents and families with children of all ages. Click here or call 410-466-9200 to learn more.
Elizabeth Piper is a health educator for JCS Prevention Education.