Take a minute sometime to observe any infant: No matter what they look like, they are surprised and delighted at their bodies. They coo and gurgle at discovering their toes, finding they can hold, and are constantly engaged with their own body.
What happens to that joyful, positive curiosity about our bodies when we grow?
The answer is that we learn to NOT be body positive. Every day, we are bombarded with images of perfect bodies, smiles, hair and smells in a million marketing commercials, showing those ‘perfect’ people succeeding while in the background ordinary people look on in envy.
Is it really true? Do better looks and six-pack abs actually guarantee you success? Well, there is no concrete proof of that, and in fact, the opposite has been shown to be true: If you don’t feel good about your body as it is, you are likely to be less happier.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying one should not exercise or be well put-together. I am saying you can be fit, healthy and smart no matter what your body is like – no matter your skin colour, hair volume, body type etc.
How to know if you are body positive?
Look at yourself in the mirror:
1. Notice 5 things you really like about your body
2. Notice 5 things you really dislike about your body
If 2 was easier, you have probably taken to heart many of the hurtful messages from the media, society or even in what you tell yourself, and it is time to come back to being body positive.
How to get back to being body positive?
Here are 5 basic things you can practice:
1. Stop commenting on others’ bodies. Assume that everyone knows their body and love how it is
2. Don’t assume anything by how one looks. Fat people aren’t necessarily lazy. Fair skinned people need not be fair in their dealings with others.
3. If someone comments on your body, just accept it. “You have become dark” is only a bad thing, if you let it be
4. Reject the media’s portrayal. Remember: The dark, very hairy & moustached Anil Kapoor was the hottest actor some 20 years ago!
5. And above all: Love your body. Be grateful for it
Enjoy what your body allows you to do. Treat your body with kindness & gentleness like you’d treat a good friend!
It is never easy when a marriage or significant relationship ends. A breakup launches us into uncharted territory. Everything is disrupted: your routine and responsibilities, your home, your relationships with extended family and friends, and even your identity. Grief is a natural reaction to loss, and the breakup of a romantic relationship involves multiple losses:
• Loss of companionship and shared experiences
• Loss of support (financial, social, emotional etc)
• Loss of hopes, plans, and dreams
Allowing yourself to feel the pain of these losses may be scary. You may fear that your emotions will be too intense to bear, or that you’ll be stuck in a dark place forever. Just remember that grieving is essential to the healing process. And no matter how strong your grief, it won’t last forever.
So what can you do:
• Don’t fight your feelings: It is normal to feel many conflicting emotions, including anger, resentment, sadness, relief, fear, and confusion. It is important to identify and acknowledge these feelings.
• Talk about how you are feeling: Even if it is normally difficult for you to talk about your feelings, it is very important to find a way to do so when you are grieving. Journaling can also be a helpful outlet for your feelings.
• Seek help if you need: Seeing a counsellor or joining a support group can help you come in touch with your feelings and express them. Seek least one place where you feel comfortable opening up.
• Give yourself a break: Give yourself permission to feel and to function at a lesser than usual level for some time.
• Make time each day to nurture yourself: Do something everyday that you find calming and soothing - a walk, music, enjoy a hot bath, get a massage, read..
• Stick to a routine: A relationship breakup disrupts your life, amplifying feelings of stress, uncertainty, and chaos. Some regular routine can provide a comforting sense of structure and normalcy.
• Take time out: Try not to make any major decisions (change of job, home etc) in the first few months after a separation. Wait until you’re feeling less emotional.
• Explore new interests: A breakup is a beginning as well as an end. Take the time to explore new interests/ activities.
• Remind yourself that you have a future: It is hard to let go of the dreams you had. As you grieve the loss of the future you once envisioned, be encouraged by the idea that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace your old ones
(previously published in the Frazer Times)
(Reposted with Permission from our column in Frazer Times)
We all have one — an inner voice that expresses criticism, frustration or disapproval about our actions. It might sound like, “you should,” “why didn’t
you?” “What’s wrong with you?,” or “why can’t you get it together?” The actual self-talk is different for each of us, as is its frequency or intensity.
It is a cultural norm to believe that criticism or guilt-induced comments will motivate behavior Over time, these comments internalize and become our “inner critic,” the persistent negative self-talk that keeps us stuck. Unfortunately, this type of communication is anxiety-provoking and shaming, which is the opposite of motivation. When we feel shame, we feel that something about us makes us so flawed that we don’t deserve to be in connection with other people. Shame disconnects us from others. The point is that shame and self-criticism keep us from doing the things we need to take care of ourselves and ultimately find comfort, connection and motivation.
Awareness is the first step to recognizing and letting go of your inner critic. Many of us don’t even realize its presence. Catch yourself the next time you’re aware of feeling anxious, distracted or numb. Identify the voice of the inner critic. Identify the situation that may have triggered the inner critic. What are your genuine feelings about this situation? Remember, the inner critic helps you to feel in control. So ask yourself, “What am I afraid of? What would it mean if that happened? And what would that mean?” Allow yourself space to dig deeper and find your most vulnerable feelings about the situation. This is what the inner critic is protecting you from feeling. Do you really need all that protection?
The inner critic’s self-talk tends to fall into one of two categories, “bad self” and
“weakness.” Bad self is shame-based. Those who struggle with it might feel
flawed, inferior, inadequate, deserving of punishment or incompetent. The weak self is based on fear and anxiety. Those who fight it might feel dependent on others, unable to support themselves, submissive, vulnerable; worried about loss of control, isolated, deprived or abandoned. These beliefs are neither useful nor helpful. They are generally destructive.
Practice listening for clues to these beliefs by paying attention to the self-talk of your inner critic. Go on, challenge those beliefs!
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.