I’ve wanted to write about this topic for a long time. Our society has been changing over the last five years in ways that are disturbing to me. One of these ways is the emphasis on creating “safe places” for students on college campuses to shield themselves from uncomfortable or dissenting viewpoints. This is a short-sighted answer to handling opposing opinions, insults and those who see the world differently.
Safe places are not the answer
Our children are growing up in a divided world. Our society is not governed by the morals, manners and decency we grew up with. On the one hand, our society tells us that “anything goes and all is acceptable,” and we need to adjust and accept all views, regardless of our personal beliefs and values. On the other hand, young people are told that they won’t be able to handle those that disagree with them or hurt their feelings, and that the answer is to find a “safe place” to retreat to when upset.
This trend has also bled into our adult lives. We get the message that the answer to feeling offended is to get the other person to change their opinion, or not say things that upset us. This creates a weakness of character in both children and adults, which has long term consequences. It also causes us to hand over our well-being and power over to the actions of others. This is a precarious place to be.
I very much believe that children and adults alike need protection from abuse and bullying. I’m not talking about that. I’m referring to the need we have to learn how to handle the normal differences of opinion we all have about a variety of topics. We also need ways to soothe ourselves when our feelings are hurt.
This trend is creating young adults who do not know how to handle and recover from hurt feelings, and differing viewpoints. There is a better way! It’s called self-compassion, and is a gentle way we can relate to ourselves, both when we’re struggling and when things are going well.We need to learn how to treat ourselves as we would a friend who is scared, hurt, confused, or learning something new. Click To Tweet
This way of relating to ourselves equips us to live in a judgmental world that doesn’t offer grace and understanding for mistakes. As we respond to our imperfections with kindness, we will learn to respond to ourselves with compassion as well. This makes us less vulnerable to the judgments and opinions of others, and helps us create a “safe place” on the inside.
Helping our kids
We need to equip our children, young adults and ourselves to handle the negative messages and pressures that come at us from all sides — from school, friends, society and social media.
It is normal for our kids to want to be accepted and included by their friends and social groups. This is not the answer to their well-being, however. They need a way to be their own kind friend and advocate as they are subjected to pressure, hurtful words and opinions they don’t agree with.
The reality is that our children will encounter people who disagree with them and don’t like things about them for the rest of their lives. The answer is not to make others stop saying hurtful things. Instead, we need to help them develop a compassionate friend on the inside to walk through life with.
Our children desperately need to learn how to be compassionate with themselves. They are vulnerable to being hard on themselves because they are constantly learning new things, which involves lots of failure. They are also prone to soak in how others view them when they don’t have a way to combat negative messages.
Practicing self-compassion helps our children do just this. Without it they are vulnerable to peer pressure and the opinions of others, and find it difficult to retain their own thoughts, feelings, and stand firm in their faith and convictions. Self-compassion helps them step back and be kind to themselves after going through a difficult situation. They are then able to evaluate what they’ve been through and decide how to handle a given situation.
When kids practice self-compassion, they become more resilient, feel better about themselves, and have a greater ability to handle life’s problems. By creating a safe place on the inside, they have a friend to go through life with who will bring comfort and help them learn to soothe themselves when they are distressed.
When adults practice self-compassion, they become more resilient, hopeful and enjoy healthier relationships. As we apply both grace and truth to ourselves, we take a look at what we did wrong without saying it’s no big deal or saying it was a disaster. Applying self-compassion helps us handle our humanness and the situations we are in with empathy, concern, understanding, and kindness. It also gives us the grace to forgive ourselves, as well as accept and correct our mistakes.
The good news is that we don’t have to turn on ourselves when we see our negatives. We can value ourselves, while at the same time commit to doing what is necessary to either repair any damage we caused or move toward growth in a specific area.
Check out my 2 minute video where I share a little more about this
I encourage you to learn how to be kind to yourself. I have some resources and soothing words to listen to that will help you find ways to interact with yourself with grace and truth. You can discover compassionate ways to care for and soothe yourself, and find kind words to speak to yourself. You are worth the time and effort. You really are.
I’d love to hear from you
What do you think about creating a safe place on the inside? What do you do or say to care for yourself when you encounter others who disagree with you or hurt your feelings? What other thoughts or feelings do you have about this post?
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