Pink Shirt Day began when a few high school students decided to start a protest, while wearing pink shirts, to show their solidarity and support for a young ninth grade boy who was being bullied. These boys took a stand and encouraged their peers to wear pink shirts to show their support. Teachers began to take notice, and all engaged in this sign of support. This act of kindness inspired larger organizations to begin raising funds to support anti-bullying programs. Participation in Pink Shirt Day has grown globally and inspired students and teachers alike.
Standing together against bullying creates a powerful force of connection and togetherness, particularly in a culture of independence and at times, isolation. It also changes the narrative around bullying to a focus on kindness and building self-esteem. Actively engaging in kindness can take the form of a friendly smile, kind words to others, reaching out to a friend or helping out someone in need. This can also mean being kind to ourselves and non-judgmental to our thoughts and feelings. When we are kind to ourselves, we often relieve stress and tension, allowing us to be more open-minded, compassionate and genuine. Self-compassion can translate in our interactions with others and can enhance connection and our sense of belonging. Connecting with ourselves and the world around us can both raise self-esteem and strengthen resilience. Resilience can be defined as the process of adapting to stressful circumstances and is often enhanced by our self-esteem and self-worth. Building resilience is a fluid, dynamic process that can occur over time throughout life.
CMHA Calgary’s YouthSMART program has an intentional focus on building resilience from a young age such that individuals can foster these compassionate skills early in life. Strengthening these skills are paramount to gaining awareness, empathy, and thoughtfulness, and can be built upon at any point. Here are some tangible ways to build resilience at any age:
- Taking positive action in your life, wherever possible. This could be spending time on activities that you may have been putting off. It could be spending time with loved ones. Planning that vacation that you’ve been daydreaming about.
- Celebrating your successes. Taking the time to actively congratulate yourself on your accomplishments, no matter how big or how small. We often spend time ruminating over things that haven’t gone well or focusing on criticism, that we usually skip over any positive accomplishments that have occurred.
- Treating problems as a learning process. “My art teacher wouldn’t allow erasers in class. If you made a mistake, you had to find a way to make it beautiful.” -Letters to a Young Therapist, Mary Pipher
- Cherishing social supports and interaction. We often become caught up in the demands of life and set our social lives to the side. Engaging in interaction is a healthy, human release of energy which can enhance our mood and relieve tension.
- Nurturing a positive view of self. Over time, work to build a positive, compassionate view of self. We build awareness on supporting each other, which can only be done if we begin with supporting and loving ourselves.
Building resiliency is a process and it can be helpful to work on it collaboratively. CMHA Calgary’s Recovery College offers courses that can help individuals recognize and develop their own resourcefulness and awareness to build skills in resiliency. Discussing these skills in a group can be motivating and may also provide you with some new ideas! Check out the Recovery College website for a list of upcoming courses!