Professor Dawn Cathey kicked off the retreat asking participants to be true to themselves, during a self-evaluation, for a more “satisfying” life.
“It just paves the way for their success, personally and professionally,” said Cathey.
The freshmen inquiry and school health education professor delivered a lecture she called, “Self-Inquiry 101,” which she presents to her classes each semester.
On a sheet of paper, Cathey asked the student leaders to make a list of their negative attributes and then another list of their positives.
Whether the students labeled themselves as lazy, self-centered, disorganized, too talkative or shy, they found many others shared the same characteristics.
Cathey, a Southern alumna, asked the students to cross off the negative list.
“This is not you, this is what your powerful mind has caused you to believe,” she said.
The positive characteristics defined the students’ “inner selves,” said Cathey.
Leanne Bartosiak, a sophomore, said the presentation was “inspirational.”
“I think it was a great way to get rid of all your negative feelings, to put all negatives aside and focus on what you find positive,” Bartosiak said.
Everyone’s thoughts or actions can either come from a place of love or fear, and negative self-perceptions come from a place of fear, said Cathey.
Cathey told students that when they doubt themselves or dwell on negative attributes, it is their “inner critic” talking, not their true selves.
“You’re coming from a place of fear if you think who you are isn’t right,” she said.
Some students, like junior Rebecca Houde, had a difficult time understanding Cathey’s message.
“I have anxiety and for her to tell me to just cross it off is hard,” she said. “I shouldn’t cross it off because it’s a big part of my life and I acknowledge it and would like to get rid of it, but I can’t.”
Cathey said the inner critic is responsible for conditions like anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, addiction, eating disorders and over-achieving.
“That’s not to say there isn’t a physiological explanation, but a lot of it comes from working from a place of fear,” said Cathey.
By the end of her lecture, Cathey told students the best lesson they could learn is to act with their hearts on a daily basis and “incredible” things would come their way.
“Every minute of every day while you’re on this campus, be yourself,” said Cathey.