If you change yourself to the good to see in the world, the world will meet you halfway. And if the people around one become influenced then it becomes a ripple; when big enough it changes the world for a microsecond. That is only logical. So in fact, you do have the power to change the world with your mind. But let’s not get over dramatic with super hero shit. Let’s start with something simple. How do we tackle self-image with children?
At a young age we become aware of our image, body shape, hair, wardrobe, etc. We get conditioned to judge ourselves as an attempt to satisfy how the world sees us. A distraction from how the world feels to us. This causes self-judgment that initiates the pursuit of a target not set by ourselves; a never-ending loop. The reason it’s a loop is simple: the world’s ideal image will constantly change, and we have been conditioned to chase this change. Since the target of our pursuit is clearly never-ending, the best thing to do is change our perception. We start with our young. Remember, you are starting with a clean slate; they will follow in your footsteps. Your emotions will reflect on them, and your words have the power to influence change. So the fastest way to guide is not by trying to force change, but by actually being who you want them to be –and projecting the emotions you want them to feel.
Now let’s dive into the common mistakes that are promoted by culture, and adopted by society. I like to call this the pink or blue effect. It starts with a seemingly harmless choice regarding how your child “should” look based on the common or latest trend. At this point you’re probably thinking: how does this affect my child? And why might it be a negative thing? Keep in mind that the issue is not the choice of fashion but rather the lack of choice. As they grow, they will start developing their own preferences on the notion of trend-based expectations –how they should behave and what should interest them. Not only that, you already caused the world to respond in a certain way to that child –a body image trap.
The good news is that it’s reversible with a small mind switch. Compliment your child on qualities rather than looks. Watch out for expressions such as,“You look pretty today”,“Your hair looks nice”, or “You lost weight”. Start complementing qualities such as,“You were such a good friend today”,or “You were strong, graceful, and creative”. It’s also very useful to compliment assertiveness and anger with statements like, “You were brave to tell me how mad you were”,“I like how you stand up for yourself”, or “You are smart about these things”. Frequent words like these materialize into thought patterns, and eventually into normalized behavior.
Teach them that their body is a vehicle for them to explore life and the world. They need it to be healthy and comfortable to live in. Use words like cheerful, flexible, happy, soft, and strong; describe the feeling, not the look. This will trigger them to start looking for these qualities, and hence, chasing those feelings. The most important thing to do is to apply this on yourself as well; just having it at the back of your mind is enough to trigger change.
Logic says that you may change the world for a microsecond. Gandhi said it best:“Be the change you want to see in the world”. But what change do you want to see? At the core, we all want peace, love and happiness; they are all feelings. So teach children by describing feelings they should feel, rather than looks they should mimic.