January is the time of year for making changes, and I would like to share with you one of my challenges and my plan for success. As a member of the health care community, being fit and healthy is an important goal of mine. However, I have been perpetually frustrated by my inability to lose the same 25 lbs for the last couple of years. Although, weight has been a highlighted issue for me, I see other areas of my life where breaking new ground has been scary and has stunted my growth. It is a cycle because the less you succeed ,the more you feel unable to do so. As a lover of psychology and seeking growth in all areas of my life, I have been analyzing why I haven't been able to get past certain plateaus. I realized in all of these instances where I was nervous to move forward with my goals, I lacked sufficient confidence. Although, I really wanted to get from point A to point B, there was always a fear that got in the way of making real progress. I didn't have the confidence to excel at something new where there was unknown consequences. However, I have discovered that there are small and easy ways to build confidence. But, it should be noted that the most important way to build confidence is to eliminate sources of negativity. Negative self-talk destroys confidence so quickly that a person can literally become stuck in the same patterns of behavior indefinitely. Negativity can come from yourself, or any other person you respect who is critical or your capabilities. To help myself and my other readers, I am suggesting a radical approach to building confidence that is entirely action based. Action therapy is so great because it prevents the mind from conjuring-up any negative scenario that will inhibit growth and increase fear. I am now following a plan of "Aggressive Self-Love." Whenever I feel myself slipping into a self-defeatist frame of mind, I will do something immediately that conjures up the opposite feeling. For example, if I am feeling unattractive, I will make an appointment at a hair salon. If I am feeling unintelligent, I will read a complicated book. If I feel unlovable, I will call someone who I know loves me. If I feel ineffectual, I will speak to a client I have really helped or create a new business development strategy. So the key to "Aggressive Self-Love." is to challenge every negative thought with an action that will snap you out of your current state of mind. I will be keeping a diary of my experiences and look forward to sharing with you in the upcoming weeks.
I haven't written for a while since I have been distracted with wedding planning. I am now married and happy to provide more insight during such a unique time in my life. The transition from being single to married has been an interesting one. In yoga philosophy, we learn to embrace transitions. In vinyasa flow class we move from one asana to the next in a relaxed fluid breath. But in our daily lives, transitions are not always so graceful. In real life transitions are not beautifully choreographed according to our comfort level. We are not always prepared for the next movement. With every major transition ones's perspective changes. The body and mind are physically and mentally and spiritually in a new direction. You don't feel like the same person. When a transition is healthy, changes bring needs from the soul to the surface. The real you shines through as you become more authentic. However, a light also intensifies the similarities and differences among people around you. Sometimes the changes allows you to see just how different you are from people and sometimes this growth can alternatively strengthen the bond. Nevertheless, sometimes people can't follow you to the next chapter in your life because they are not evolving in the same way. Often during transitions you have to say good-bye, to make room for the growth you need. This doesn't mean these folks will never be a part of your life. Never underestimate the power of people to change and even be inspired by your growth. Everyone is on their own path towards reaching their version of nirvana.It is important to be patient with these people while also giving yourself the space you need to fully evolve.
There is a problem many of us kind-hearted people experience when dealing with others. The problem is empathy, specifically too much empathy. Often times as children we were taught to be sensitive to other people’s struggles and feelings. We were told to think from another person’s point of view, identifying with their struggles. If a person is upset that we care about we should compromise and accommodate them as best we can. We were taught that getting along was the priority. But, what if the person has a never-ending list of problems and critiques? What if you are made to feel bad on a regular basis for not living up to expectations? The fine line is deciding when empathy is healthy and when it becomes abusive. When empathy is healthy, there is a natural give and take, and both parties feel respected, acknowledged and content with each other on a regular
basis. However, there are some people in this world that do not want to take accountability for their own problems. They will take advantage of flexible, good-natured people. This is when empathizing can get out of hand. For these people, nothing you do will ever make them consistently happy. Every problem in their life will become your fault and your mistake depending upon how close a relationship you have. These people thrive on creating an unequal balance of power so they don’t have to take responsibility. It is easier to blame everything on another person than change
themselves. I identify very closely with this dilemma because in the past, I had a tendency of empathizing too much. I was in abusive situations because I prioritized making people happy
over feeling respected. I lost my voice because constantly accommodating people who didn’t care about my feelings made me feel worthless. I started to see myself through their critical eyes and
believed I deserved to have nothing I wanted. Thankfully, through yoga and surrounding
myself with people who cherish me I was able to develop higher self-esteem. Now when I have a conflict with someone, I think about my action independently of their thoughts. I think about whether my actions were in line with my values, such as did I make a decision fairly, did I have good intentions, etc. If I feel a person is upset with me, I apologize for hurting their feelings. However, I refuse to link their views to my character anymore. I set boundaries for how I am treated. I also can see if accommodating another person gets out of hand. Here is a good litmus test to see if you are empathizing too much. If a person continually makes you feel you are making mistake after
mistake and you have to earn respect/ approval, you are empathizing too much. Set boundaries for what behavior you will and will not accept while being kind and understanding. That is the safest and healthiest form of empathy.
One of the negative experiences I had growing up was feeling limited, especially feeling limitations were placed on my thoughts/abilities. Often I felt my instincts or natural intelligence was dismissed because I didn't have the right credentials to have an opinion. From family, to friends, to work culture, I felt frustrated because my ideas were not acknowledged. I wasn't the right age, gender, or have the right diploma to have ideas that differed from popular consensus. Having spent time in the "self-improvement" yoga industry, I realize I am not alone in this struggle. One way this problem pops up for some of my yoga clients is at work. I am starting to see a strong link between anxiety/depression and "office culture." The office environment is a fascinating psychological study of how people get along in the wild. As a woman, I can only attest to my experiences having been employed in a corporate atmosphere for several years. Consequently, men may have differing opinions based on trends in gender roles. From a consensus of opinions, I find that there is a strong yet fine line in knowing when to be submissive and when to be aggressive. It is especially frowned upon to be a leader when one is not given a leadership role. Anxiety occurs when workers feel they need to act subservient to be liked and not '"rock the boat." At the other extreme are workers fighting for dominance just to be acknowledged. Like my earlier stated personal struggle, in corporate culture there are roles to play and everyone has a part. The problem is that positions of power are rare and fought over. Therefore, respect and influence are fought over. Consequently, workers feel disrespected, limiting their potential. This creates a lot of frustration. As one can guess, being the radical egalitarian I am, office culture does not appeal to me, but not everyone can or should be an entrepreneur. So how do we fix this? Where is the solution? I wish I could offer advice but I got nothing lol. Thoughts welcome!
Pantene has created a few ingenious and powerful video campaigns to boost women's self esteem and their product. The first link is their overall video series, starting with the ways women apologize too much. Something I can definitely relate to. The second link deals with the unattractive labels we attach to women when they strive to be successful. Very cool stuff!!
My grandmother suffers from memory trouble. Not exactly Alzheimer's, but maybe a mild form of dementia. She is in her mid 90s so doctors say that is to be expected. About a month ago, my grandma started to forget many important things, like where she lives and how she met my grandfather, etc. It was a drastic change, since she normally remembers these key aspects of her life. Although my grandmother is very fortunate that she lives with my family, in the past few months we have all been so busy there hasn't been much time for in depth communication. I was upset about this mental decline so I decided to try an experiment. For the past few days I have been spending time with her before she goes to bed. I take about an hour to chat about her life, the past and present. I remind her that she used to be called "cookie" and how she loved to play bingo at the senior center where she won cans of tuna and toilet paper. I can see why she may have stopped going there lol. I noticed that these intricate details seemed to generate a memory recollection. She was frustrated because she doesn't remember everything, but I tell her to relax and that she will remember more in the morning. When she wakes up, I ask her the same questions and details of her life. I have noticed such a change in her overall alertness and memory!! I wonder if Alzheimer's patients or those suffering from dementia could reduce their symptoms if they had someone to remind them of their "life story." It is so important to spend consistent time with older people because without reminders of who they are, it is all to easy to for them to stay in a state of confusion. It is a shame that in most senior centers and nursing homes, relatives do not visit very often and the staff does not have the ability to help them remember their life.
One of the things I struggle with as an adult is witnessing people behaving in unethical ways. I say ethical, because I believe most people are taught or spiritually inherit the knowledge of what is right and wrong conduct. In my daily life if I treat someone poorly I beat myself up and extend an apology. It bothers me if I feel I committed an injustice. Something inside me, call it good manners or divine moral imprinting makes me realize if I made a mistake. However, what truly puzzles me is when I find those who choose to act spiteful to others on a regular basis without any evidence of a conscience. I guess this is the bullying epidemic we hear about so much. I often wonder about a bully's ideology. Of course everyone is susceptible to feelings of jealousy, anger, hurt, and all of those ugly emotions. Possibly, those who bully others are so upset at their core that they can't muster much good-will? Another possibility, not mutually exclusive is that they are spiritually lost, not able to connect with the divine spark within. I do believe that people, having all of their basic needs met are kind and loving in their souls. I guess the answer lies in hoping that those with the meanness bug realize that their unhappiness resides only within them. Only through self reflection can one find the cause of disconnect from others/God and why happiness eludes you.
In our culture we are influenced to feel that "rare" things are more valuable. Diamonds are incredibly expensive because of their scarcity in nature. People in our culture who are famous are idealized. I often see a prejudice towards people that attend ivy league schools and have fancy degrees. Women who are tall and skinny with blond hair and blue eyes are very rare and considered more beautiful. Currently, there is a special appreciation for those women and men with foreign accents because of their uniqueness. I believe the reason so many people are painstakingly working towards a false state of perfection is that whatever is common is not considered valuable. When I was a child I thought all trees and wildflowers were beautiful. I did not care how many there were in sight. I found each one lovely in its own way. I still think a "common" grilled-cheese sandwich is more delightful than expensive caviar and wine. I believe quartz stone is more exciting and attractive than a colorless diamond. To understand beauty is to appreciate it all around you, not just in things that are hard to find. Try to think about the types of people, jobs, and material possessions that are lovely to you, independent of what society believes to be their worth.