“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.”
–Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember
A disability is defined as a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses or activities. The key word in this definition is the word “limits.” Now to be clear limits do not necessarily mean that someone cannot do something at all but rather that they may not be able to perform at a high level or are faced with some sort of restriction(s) preventing them from accomplishing something fully.
It is my belief that through hard work and dedication that limits can be improved upon. It is through a growth mindset that anything is possible. As Fred Rogers, also known as Mister Rogers (and who is often associated with Social Emotional Learning through his teachings) posed various questions within this quote that makes explicit connections to self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making. But it is what he questions first asking “But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings?” that must be addressed before even attempting to answer the other questions. Self-awareness is the heart of Social Emotional Learning.
If we are unable to recognize the emotions we may be experiencing at any given time then how will we ever be able to accurately portray the life we want to live? How can we ever let anyone get close to us without the ability to express ourselves openly towards the ones we love including ourselves? We need to realize each of us have special talents and gifts. That learning to express our emotions is truly a strength and not a weakness. It all comes down to perception and we should perceive ourselves as unique individuals with so much to give to one another. That sense of optimism is what makes all the difference and helps to build our self-awareness.
What does this quote mean to you and how can you apply today’s message towards increasing your own self awareness?