Does the growing use of “Avatars” impact our self-concept and ability to be loved? I recently heard a quote, “If you are never fully known, you will never know that you are fully loved.” - author unknown
Avatar: An electronic image that represents and may be manipulated by a computer user.
“Definition of Avatar.” Merriam-Webster.com. 2011. (19 Sept 2018)
There seems to be a societal expectation that we are “supposed to” present a version of ourselves that fits into our surroundings without making waves. Even moreso, with the use of social media, children see their friends and family and even themselves as “Avatars” from a young age. Parents tend to post the cutest moments of their child and share idealistic social media posts, shaping how kids learn to present themselves.
The most powerful part of therapy is being fully present in the room with someone without judgment. We see everything that a child needs to show us, including their demons, fears, pain, messiness, and all the emotions that are and are not openly accepted elsewhere. One of the most significant gifts we give our clients is a space to put down their “Avatar” and be themselves. And in being transparent, they can feel accepted and valued.
In the therapy space, we give clients a glimpse of the possibility that an imperfect human being can be accepted just as they are. We, as clinicians, may be giving them their first experience of the freedom of being loved and accepted by someone who knows the things they believed made them unlovable. We teach people how to express themselves so that they can begin to share who they are with others and to find those people who are more likely to accept them for who they are. This is the beginning of connection and love; love of self and love of others.
My hope is that within MIAPT we can start to abandon our own “Avatars” and accept that our imperfections are an important part of who we are, that we can be respected and appreciated as perfectly flawed colleagues and friends. Maybe we can practice being gentle, non-judgmental, patient, and humble with ourselves and each other.
This is something I am honored to experience within my networking group, case consultations, and some friendships. I hope that each of us can find a place within MIAPT to be our vulnerable, blemished selves and that we can be that place of acceptance for each other. Then we can start making the world a safer place to set aside our “Avatars” both for ourselves and our clients.
Abby DuPree LMSW, RPT