Yesterday I finally brought myself to watch the “heartbreaking” video of Amanda Todd, the BC girl who committed suicide after years of prolonged bullying. I, like many, was moved to tears watching Amanda tell her story through flash cards. When the video was over, I was angry, outraged in fact. How did this happen? Why didn’t anyone help her? Who, and where are these bullies? Let’s find them and prosecute them!! Let’s make them understand what they did was wrong!
In my mob-like mindset, I decided to read what other people were saying about Amanda’s death. To my horror, many of the comments on Facebook and other social media sites were about shaming Amanda! “Well it’s her fault, she was the one who showed her breasts.” “She shouldn’t have gone over to his house when she knew he had a girlfriend,” and “what an idiot, killing herself.” Unbelievable! I ask: where is the love? Where is the compassion? When did we become a “shame and blame” society?
My response to the negative posters and anyone judging Amanda would be the following:
- Amanda was twelve when she made a mistake
- We all make mistakes
- Does that mean every time we make a mistake we should be beaten up, ostracized, and bullied?
- Or do we accept that we are all human and we make mistakes, and therefore we should be forgiving, understanding and compassionate toward one another?
I ask again: where is the love, the compassion? Do we as a society know what compassion means?
According to Dr. Brené Brown, author of the book “I Thought it Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey From “What Will People Think” to “I am Enough,” the heart of compassion is acceptance. The better we are at accepting ourselves, and others, the more compassionate we become. But do most of us accept ourselves – just as we are, right now? Or do we see ourselves as flawed, inadequate and unworthy? If the latter is true, do we then project our feelings of low self-worth and fears on to others? I would suspect we do. I think for society to change, we need to go beyond having a basic discussion about bullying and start the dialogue around shame. I think it would be revolutionary to talk to kids about shame, which is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore, unworthy of love and belonging. I believe talking about shame and shame resiliency, which includes self-acceptance and compassion, would get to the root of the problem.
On my personal journey of accepting I AM IMPERFECT and I AM ENOUGH, I took an on-line self-compassion survey at the beginning of 2012. I’m happy to say over the last year my scores have vastly improved and today my overall score shifted from a (sad) 1.5 to an awesome 3.73 out of 5. I know I still have a lot of work to do on self-kindness and self-judgement, but I know I’ll get there. If you are interested in finding out how compassionate you are, I encourage you to visit Dr. Kristen Neff’s site, www.self-compassion.org.
Change starts within everyone of us.
Rest in Peace Amanda.