February 26th is Pink Shirt Day – a day to encourage self-reflection on bullying and promote anti-bully awareness! Bullying is a BIG and SERIOUS issue in our world today and I want to look at bullying in a new way. Yes, I know the importance of equipping girls today with tools and strategies for handling bullies so that they can be empowered to stand up to bullying or have the knowledge to get help and support. I also understand that there needs to be some degree of empathy for the bullies because they, too, need the tools and strategies to understand why they bully and to get the help they need to stop bullying others.
However, I want to examine and explore bullying in terms of self-worth. I believe that when we know our self-worth, and when we know that we matter, we are less likely to doubt ourselves or blame ourselves when we experience bullying. And, we are more likely to take action and stand up to bullying. This is no easy task and it is not to say there is a guarantee that if you know you have value, you won’t be bullied. But, the more self-worth and self-confidence you have, and the more you can really feel, the better equipped you will be to face bullying and know exactly what you need to do.
Self-worth is the ability to identify who you are and accept that you are valuable, no matter what. To begin to explore your own self-worth, it is helpful to write down words that describe you. Take time to consider all parts of you and all your qualities. This can help you know who you are. Equally helpful, is asking a few people you trust to describe you. This can affirm the qualities you have already identified in yourself or you may just be surprised that people will point out qualities you wouldn’t think describe you! Following this, it is important to look at some possible examples of the qualities. For example, you may have identified you are generous. How can you show that you are generous? Perhaps you volunteer your time with kids. This makes you generous. Finding examples of your qualities may reinforce your understanding of your value and self-worth. Finally, it is important to accept compliments from people and try to really believe their words and also be aware of how you speak to yourself. Try to encourage yourself with positive and kind words. Try to avoid judging, criticizing, and speaking negatively to yourself. The kinder you are to yourself, the more likely you will feel worthy of kindness.
In working with girls, I hear a lot of bullying stories all the time. And I have a great deal of empathy and compassion for girls and their experiences as I, too, have been bullied. So, I talk to girls a lot about their self-worth! Knowing your self-worth may not be able to prevent bullying; we cannot control the behaviours of others. But, by knowing your value and worth, and that you do matter, you may just better understand that you do not deserve bullying! Bullying is never your fault, and you are valuable enough to tell someone and to push back when you can!