I think Anderson Cooper is one smart, foxy dude. I don’t actually watch his show, but I still enjoy seeing his baby blues when I flip by en route to an irresistible re-run of What Not To Wear. I also have a friend whose husband looks exactly like him. I mean, seriously, he could be AC’s lost twin.
Check this out. Isn’t that cool?!
Anyway, it caught my eye when internet stories started to bubble last week about Cooper’s reaction to the derogatory use of the term “gay” in a movie trailer. “We’ve got to do something to make those words unacceptable because those words are hurting kids. Someone else I talked to recently said that the words people use and the things people say about other kids online, it enters into their internal dialogue,” Cooper was quoted as saying in a discussion with Ellen DeGeneres. “And when you’re a kid, it can change the way you see yourself and the way you think about yourself, and the worth that you give to yourself. I think we need to really focus on what language we’re using.”
Well said, Coop! In the ongoing discussion about the suicide of New Jersey college student Tyler Clementi, and other recent–and completely unnecessary–tragedies involving gay teens, he makes an important point about “internal dialogue” which applies, of course, to all of us, no matter our gender or sexual orientation.
The sad fact is many of us don’t even need the careless and caustic words of others to influence the way we see ourselves. That internal dialogue is set, and way too much of the time it’s painfully negative. We may not even realize we’re doing it and thus don’t think of it as an issue of our own.
If asked in a research study if my own self-talk was negative or positive, I’m sure I’d give myself a good report and a self-congratulatory pat on the back. However, immediately after reading the Anderson Cooper quote and walking away from the screen the other day, I zipped in to check myself in the bathroom mirror before heading out for after-school pickup. My hair was dandelion-style and the previous night’s lack of sleep was showing under my eyes. And what to my wondering ears did appear? My own spoken-aloud self-assessment: “Well, that’s as good as it gets.” And I suddenly realized I say that to myself all the time. And that’s not nearly the worst abuse I heap on myself on a regular basis.
Not cool. Okay, I’m never going to be as full of self-love as that insanely adorable “I can do anything good!!” girl of viral YouTube fame, but I am raising two children who need a much better role model than that. As they speed headlong into their young adult lives, where personal interaction and internet socializing will be well beyond the control of even the most energetic helicopter parent, they need the basic psychological skills to keep the words of others from influencing and possibly damaging their own sense of worth.
Thanks for the wake-up call, Anderson Cooper. I’m going to make it a priority to reset my internal dialogue. The first step may be as simple as getting a haircut so I don’t have to look in the mirror and cry foul, but of course I know it goes much deeper. Obviously we can’t rescue our children from the innate frailty of the ego, but I hope we can try to teach them, through example, how to believe in our own best selves.
This is an original JerseyMomsBlog post by Deanna. Deanna is a New Jersey mom.
Photo credit given to WordPress.com.