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Alan White

Alan White

“Beware the bareness of a busy life – Socrates.

Life is becoming more and more hectic for all of us. I’m finding it hard recently to remember when I last had nothing to do. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is important for our well-being that we have goals and are motivated to work hard to get to where we want to be in life. However sometimes we can get so caught up in our responsibilities in work, our relationships and our daily routines that we forget to simply stop, take some time to ourselves and simply switch off for a while.

I was talking to a friend of mine recently who is a psychotherapist, working with teenagers. I had contacted him to refer yet another young person in crises. He told me that he would contact the person but that he was extremely busy. He then commented that there seems to be more and more personal suffering these days.

This is something that I have also noticed. Recently I have been wondering to myself why this is. I was finding it difficult to come up with any answers that made sense to me, until I was at an event with a small group of students this week. During the lunch break I overheard one of the students say to another, “I found that app that fixes my face in photos!” when I asked what they were talking about they were only too eager to tell me about a filter that can be used to make someone nose smaller, cheeks thinner eyes bigger etc.

Can you imagine living in a culture that not only requires you to need such a thing, but has also normalised it to such a point that my shock at the fact that young people used this in every photo they took of themselves, couldn’t be understood. In a culture where everyone feels the need to change how they look digitally before posting a picture, is it any wonder that young people being to feel that they are not good enough as themselves. This is having a catastrophic effect on people’s self-esteem which is consequently having an adverse and often extreme effect on mental well-being.

So as well as our lives getting busier, we are also being bombarded by images that have been digitally altered to portray perfection. This is a perfection that many people, especially young people feel the need to live up to. This can begin to take up a lot of a person’s time, either thinking about or partaking in this digital remastering of the self. When we can no longer differentiate what is real and what is an illusion or an abstract form of reality, is it any wonder that we begin to lose our sense of self and our self-esteem.

The quote that I began with reminds me not only of how we must be careful of how busy we let ourselves become but also how we must be aware of how our own internal narrative can become. Our inner dialogue can become overwhelming and full of self-deprecating thoughts and therefore we need to take the time to develop our own sense of self-acceptance. Our current culture is counterproductive to positive well-being and thus we must become more aware of this, if we are to learn to be satisfied and content with the uniqueness of who we are.

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