Being good at things isn’t something we are. It’s something we want to be or hope to become. For many people, being good at stuff is a life project. Because no matter how much we achieve or experience, we never feel good, or at least never good enough. Not as long as we can get even better and constantly seek out new areas for improvement. When being good at things becomes so important that it affects our wellbeing and the way we live – that means it’s starting to become unhealthy. The price we pay for always being able to become a slightly better version of ourselves is that we never feel good enough.
Young people today are probably the generation most affected by this. No other generation has been so capable and high-achieving while still feeling so inadequate. There’s nothing wrong with being good as long as it doesn’t reach unhealthy levels. Even so, many young people today seem to be achieving everything and look totally fantastic but still feel worthless on the inside and ugly on the outside. The pressure and stress feel like running to catch a train that has already left the station.
In this book Lars Halse Kneppe talks about some of the experiences and ideas he has shared with all the young people who are too good for their own good that he has met in his job as psychologist at sixth-form colleges in Oslo. He offers advice to parents about how they can calm stressed young people – and themselves as well: about how we can help young people to understand that they are good enough, and how they can resist the enormous pressure to constantly become better.
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