Can you love this body?

She’s tall, long-limbed with striking blue eyes and luxurious brown hair, yet she’s caught in the trap most women find themselves in: not accepting and embracing their beauty, wondering in the face of our own media-saturated anorexic-inspired worship of false beauty ideals if she’s attractive, feeling discouraged at the prospect of dealing with the mating-game loaded with crazy expectations. 

Her question, how do you come to accept yourself–even love who you are–in this body?

I’m on the other side: a few years older and mainly avoiding the self-loathing of my very imperfect body.  How did I arrive in this place?  What are key comments of achieving self-love and acceptance while in our imperfect states of being?

I was stumped for an answer.  But the answer is very important.

Finally, I thought of a few items that have helped me along the way:

1) OPT OUT–choose to not saturate yourself with the media’s obsession with airbrushed beauty; don’t read the beauty magazines, don’t watch TV shows that prey on the false dream of perfection = happiness (Have you seen some of the “work” done on some of those Housewives?!).  Avoid conversations with body obsessed individuals.  You CAN walk away.

2) TELL YOURSELF THE TRUTH— focus on your positive features and on the healthy body that can move, dance, play and love.  What you focus on will absorb your attention so that there isn’t time for self-loathing.  Obviously, the opposite is true:  if you constantly compare yourself to others and talk about how much you hate your body, that is what will fill you up.

3) GO TO THE SOURCE–Let the creator of your body in on the conversation. It’s all about perspective.  You were made as a magnificent creation.  Your body is a holy temple.  Allow your creator’s LOVE to fill your perspective of your body.   What is God telling you about your body?  Do you think God’s perspective is the same as yours?

It all comes down to being intentional about who you are and what you focus on.  Protect your precious self from those that would ridicule or tear you down.  You are beautiful in your own way.  Really.

Those are a few tips that helped me move out of the loathing zone into the love and appreciation zone. Now, my focus is on incorporating mindfulness and body/brain integration techniques to seed lasting change deep down into every level of my being. It is a process. I’m on the path. Where are you? (We are working on these issues at https://www.facebook.com/groups/BraveGirlBrainBody/ Come join us!)

I would love to hear about what works for you in keeping your sanity among all the body beautiful craziness all around us.  Post your comments or drop me a FB note.

Emotional Integration Methods, Part 2

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Part 1 of this article, we looked at how natural emotional reactions can be triggered by primitive reflexes, among other things…

In addition to neutralizing in real time the charge of the emotion, we can then release it for greater freedom and peace.

The method is as simple as the previous techniques and equally profound in effect.  Many people have come up with variations on releasing these emotional “stores” in our bodies.  You can use techniques from Brain Gym, The Sedona Method, Heartmath or others.

It is helpful to be led through the process with a coach or practitioner the first time, but not necessary.

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The Heartmath website has a free survey for you to take that relates to this topic. Just click on the link below.

Welcome to the Stress & Well-Being Survey™

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The main component in all these methods is in noticing what is going on in your body, being with it and STAYING with it until it dissipates.  Usually, when we get uncomfortable with these negative feelings we want to escape them as soon as possible.  But, instead we need to remain in the presence of these emotions.  This is counter-intuitive to how we live, but it works.

The Sedona Method

I’ve used The Sedona Method while on the pre-core machine at the gym with great success.  I had a client that was really stressing me out with her habit of negativity and over-reaction.  I liked this client but was feeling avoidance at the thought of her name.  I had just picked up a book on The Sedona Method and was eager to try this cerebral approach.  I visualized this person in my mind, felt the aversion, pedaled harder and began the internal questioning process:

1.      Name it.  What are you feeling now? (aversion)

2.      Could you welcome this feeling? (No!)

3.      Could your release this feeling? (Yes!)

4.      Will you release it? (Yes, please!)

5.      When? (Now?)

I went through the cycle about three or four times, naming each different feeling as it arose.  And finally, when I felt complete I could picture this client and I actually smiled.  The Sedona Method doesn’t instruct that you need to be moving physically, but with my training with educational kinesiology I knew it could only be beneficial–and it was.

You’ll notice by my answers in the parentheses that it doesn’t matter if you answer “no” to any question.  Just keep breathing and going through the questions until you feel the emotion has released.  There is much great work that can be done with this simple method. (For more info go to www.sedonapress.com).

These methods can be combined with body centered tools that engage the heart/mind and body simultaneously.  This is probably why doing repetitive cardio helped my Sedona process.  All these techniques are useful for use on your own, although some take a bit of instruction or facilitation.

Brain Gym

Brain Gym is one brain/body integration method that listens to your body to unblock whatever is internally holding you back.  Again, this is a simple method involving 26 physical movements to achieve profound change in learning ability and overall emotional health.  This system of integrating activities is taught in person either one on one or in a group by a licensed professional.

Brain Gym

Brain Gym (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many schools are using the techniques with their students to enhance learning ability and readiness.  Once you have worked in person with an instructor you can use all you have learned on your own at home.  Some changes are instantaneous and others unfold over time. (For more info go to www.braingym.org). A benefit of this program is that it is appropriate for even the smallest child (you don’t need to be able to talk, unlike other methods that are more cerebral), whereas other methods profiled in this article are more fitted to school-aged children that have passed a certain developmental stage and adults.

The Six Attributes of Courage

The Six Attributes of Courage

By Melanie A. Greenberg, Ph.D.
Created Aug 23 2012 – 1:40am

 

Courage is something that everybody wants — an attribute of good character that makes us worthy of respect. From the Bible to fairy tales; ancient myths to Hollywood movies,our culture is rich with exemplary tales of bravery and self-sacrifice for the greater good. From the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz who finds the courage to face the witch, to David battling Goliath in the Bible, to Star Wars and Harry Potter, children are raised on a diet of heroic and inspirational tales. 

Yet courage is not just physical bravery. History books tell colorful tales of social activists, such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, who chose to speak out against injustice at great personal risk. Entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs and Walt Disney, who took financial risks to follow their dreams and innovate are like modern-day knights, exemplifying the rewards and public accolades that courage can bring. There are different types of courage, ranging from physical  strength and endurance to mental stamina and innovation. The below quotes demonstrate six different ways in which we define courage.Which are most relevant to you? In the last section, i present an exercise to help you define and harness your own courage.

(1)  Feeling Fear Yet Choosing to Act

“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’ ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Fear and courage are brothers. — Proverb

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear — Nelson Mandela

There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid. — L.Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Being terrified but going ahead and doing what must be done—that’s courage. The one who feels no fear is a fool, and the one who lets fear rule him is a coward. ― Piers Anthony

Courage is about doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared. Have the courage to act instead of react.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes

(2) Following Your Heart

“Passion is what drives us crazy, what makes us do extraordinary things, to discover, to challenge ourselves. Passion is and should always be the heart of courage.” ― Midori Komatsu

And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech, June 2005

To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.
 — Soren Kierkegaard

“It takes courage … to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.” ― Marianne Williamson, “Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of ‘A Course in Miracles'”

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3) Persevering in the Face of Adversity

When we are afraid we ought not to occupy ourselves with endeavoring to prove that there is no danger, but in strengthening ourselves to go on in spite of the danger. — Mark Rutherford

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer. — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them — Orison Swett Marden (1850-1924)

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the   day that says I’ll try again tomorrow. — Mary Anne Radmacher

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” — Mark Twain

(4) Standing Up For What Is Right

Sometimes standing against evil is more important than defeating it. The greatest heroes stand because it is right to do so, not because they believe they will walk away with their lives. Such selfless courage is a victory in itself ― N.D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes — Maggie Kuhn, Social Activist

From caring comes courage. — Lao Tzu

Anger is the prelude to courage. ― Eric Hoffer

(5) Expanding Your Horizons; Letting Go of the Familiar

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. — Lord Chesterfield

“This world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.” ― Robert F. Kennedy

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. — Anais Nin

(6) Facing Suffering  With Dignity or Faith

 “There is no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bear witness that a man has the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.” — Frank

The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances. — Aristotle

Until the day of his death, no man can be sure of his courage. — Jean Anoulh

A man of courage is also full of faith. — Marcus Tullius Cicero

Courage-Building Exercise

For this exercise, you will need a notebook and pen, as well as a quiet, uninterrupted space in which you can reflect.  

Beginning with the first definition of courage, “Feeling Afraid Yet Choosing to Act,” answer the following questions:

Think of a situation as an adult when you felt afraid, yet chose to face your fear?

(a) What did you observe, think, and feel at the time? (e.g., “I saw the rollercoaster and felt butterflies in my stomach”).

(b) What did you or the people around you say, think, and do to help you face your fear? (e.g., “I told myself that if little kids could go on it, so could I”).

(c) At what point did your fear start to go down? How did you feel afterwards?

(d) Now think back on a situation in childhood in which you faced your fear. How was it the same or different than the first situation?

(e) Finally, think of a situation you are currently facing that creates fear or anxiety. What are you most afraid of?  (e.g., being fired if I ask my boss for a raise).

(f) Now, is there a way to apply the same skills you used in the two earlier situations to be more  courageous this situation. Remind yourself that you have these skills and have used them successfully in the past. What mental or environmental barriers stand in the way of using these skills? How can you cope with or get rid of these barriers?

Repeat this exercise over the course of a week, using each definition of courage above. On Day 7, come up with your own definition of courage that is most meaningful to you and repeat the whole exercise using this definition.

About the Author

Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist in Mill Valley, California, and expert on MindfulnessPositive Psychology, and Mind-Body issues , who has published more than 50 scholarly works. Previously a Professor in a Graduate Psychology Program, she is now a practicing psychologist, executive  and life coach, speaker, and media consultant. Dr. Greenberg provides workshops and speaking engagements for organizations and coaching and therapy for individuals in person and via Skype.

Running on Empty?

Did you ever have a teacher in High School make the class do the exercise “if so and so were and animal, flower or car what would they be?”

I remember my classmates and I doing this once in 10th grade psychology class. My friend decided that I was a Mercedes convertible (I forgot which one exactly) classy, sporty and fun. It fit me. I loved convertibles, especially in sunny southern California.

Of course, my convertible was a sporty FIAT spider,  which eventually broke down beyond repair.

This was in part, because it was a FIAT (fix it again Tony) and in part, because I wasn’t the greatest with routine maintenance. Not horrible, mind you; my dad taught me the basics and I cajoled my male friends into changing my oil and other basic tasks. But, I definitely pushed the limits, arriving to work on empty and such things.

This is a common phenomenon among high school and college students. They call me to say they are running a “little late” for our appointment, because they “just realized” they need to get gas. I smile every time remembering my own adventures running on fumes, putting the car in neutral down the winding hills, so I would make it to the station! Sometimes I think that angels must have pushed me along because I always “just” made it.

It’s not just teenagers that push the limits and run on fumes.

Often we carry these adrenaline driven habits into adulthood just transferring the specific details. We might not ever run out of gas again in the car, but how many times do we run out of patience? Or energy? Kindness? Respect?

When our reserves are low – our levels of back up emergency “funds” – it is very easy to lose out in living our ideal self, living out the person God made us to be.

Maybe your basic physical needs are met. You have plenty of food, clothing and shelter, but your emotional account is empty from constant giving out and never refilling. I know that when I want to give someone “the bird” for cutting me off in traffic, that my emotional reserves are low! (Someone with “road rage” or anger management issues wouldn’t benefit from the above example.)

How do you keep your tanks full enough so that you can choose to respond to a situation, instead of simply reacting out of habit or desperation? What do we need in our lives so that we are free to choose?

One important element is making sure our needs are met and that our reserve tanks are full. One reason I hardly ever ran out of gas in the car I bought when I was 19 was because I knew I had a 2.2 gallon reserve tank. I drove and drove until the light flashed on. When that light flashed on I knew I had entered the “I better watch it” zone. Many times I used up my reserve tank within that .2 of the gallon, but I was intent on really pushing the limits counting on the accuracy of my readings of the mileage.

Not only do you need that reserve, you need an awareness of it, where you are within it, and the perspective to read it accurately. If you are used to reading the odometer in kilometers, but are driving a car with mileage reading only, you will misjudge the distance. How many times have you said “I thought I had more      “  (time, money, patience, whatever). We misjudge the reality of a situation when our perspective is out of whack.

What can throw our perspective out?

  • Fatigue
  • Hunger (low blood sugar)
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Illness
  • What we are ingesting mentally (movies, TV, books, radio and newspapers)
  • Relationships
  • Stress

The list continues. The important fact is to know what your triggers are, so that you prepare a “perspective intervention” for yourself! This isn’t as radical as it sounds. Actually a shift in perspective can happen in a moment.

Some things to experiment with:

  •  Call your “pick me up” person. This could be anyone that can talk you out of your craziness; your friend, mentor, coach.
  • Ask your friends how they shift their perspective and borrow or brainstorm techniques.
  • Go outside and walk around in nature; take time to notice the colors and sounds around you; get out of your head!
  • Off to the gym with you. Stop whining and get moving!
  • Do some Brain Gym (www.braingym.org)

What works for you? I want to hear about it!

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