Nik Naidoo dives into one last high-intensity workout, reflecting on the productive month the UA 360 community has had together.
“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.” ~Albert Einstein
When I was younger, I had a lot of opinions about what other people needed to change.
“Why can’t people conserve more?” “Why can’t people stop throwing cigarette butts on the ground?” “Why can’t so-and-so stop being so annoying?”
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
I’ve recently realized that as I focused on all of the things that others needed to do, I was avoiding taking a look at my own very real flaws and failures.
I used single-use plastic containers for smoothies and coffee. I had a car and drove a lot, often when I could have walked, biked, or taken public transit. I used air travel, frequently. I didn’t ever shop at thrift stores or make an effort to reuse things. And I also, um, was very critical of others, and myself.
In short, I had plenty of issues of my own.
There is a quote by Jacob M. Braude that reads, “Think about how hard it is to change yourself. Then maybe you will understand why it is impossible to change other people.”
Not only was it impossible for me to force another person to change, I was also avoiding the impact I could have made by changing myself.
This is true in so many areas of life.
Consider the person who always dates “horrible” or “crazy” people. We always blame the other person and think, “Why do I have such bad luck with men/women?” It’s rare that a person ever looks at themselves and considers that maybe there is something about them that is attracting this type of person—that maybe, in fact, we even subconsciously choose to get involved with screwed-up people so we can point the finger at them instead of confronting our own intimacy issues and asking ourselves why we are avoiding real relationships (or friendships).
So many people also complain about how “society” needs to change. Yet all of us doing the complaining make up society.
If we want change, we are the ones that need to change, every one of us.
This isn’t necessarily pleasant to hear. Because, of course, as long as we complain about what other people need to do, we avoid the discomfort and effort of looking at ourselves and making changes in our own lives.
We complain that people are always on their phones. Yet all of us are on our phones, constantly. We complain that the political process is corrupt, yet how many of us run for office, vote regularly, or even dedicate time to really understanding the issues? We complain that we never talk to our friends, but how many of us make the effort to reach out and really listen to what is going on in someone else’s life?
I’ve realized that for a very long time, I’ve blamed other people for my circumstances; and maybe circumstances did have an impact in some ways. That job that didn’t work out, those traumas that happened in the past. Yes, they are part of who I am.
But the truth is that as I look back at my past, almost all of the instances in which I’ve had a conflict or something “bad” done to me by someone else, could have been avoided if I had taken responsibility for myself and not given my power away to someone else.
For example, I’ve recently taken two international backpacking trips. After the first one, I stayed with relatives temporarily to get re-established in the US, and it ended with conflict and hurt feelings because boundaries and expectations were not clearly defined.
And while my first reaction was to feel sorry for myself and tell myself how “mean” they were, the truth is that I should have been more proactive about either having a discussion to determine a clear agreement or budgeting better and supporting myself.
I’ve realized that expecting others to care for me or take responsibility for my life can only end in disappointment and disempowerment for me.
I think in the past, because I was living according to others’ expectations of me and because I was afraid of intimacy and really diving into life, I subconsciously was not taking full responsibility for myself and on a certain level was expecting other people to care for me and support me.
It’s scary to take full responsibility for ourselves and our lives. In a way, it’s easier not to try, because what if we fail, or what if people don’t like the real “us,” the one we keep hidden? Because hey, if they don’t like us, at least it isn’t the real “us” they’re rejecting, and we can pretend that we “didn’t really care” anyway.
So many of us live with our dreams and selves tucked away and just float by with what life gives us, and criticize others or the state of the world instead of working on ourselves or taking steps to fix those things we can change.
The best realization I have had recently, which has helped me avoid despair in the midst of much dark environmental and political news and trying personal times, is that I can restore my own sense of personal power and commit myself to things that I can change.
That might mean pledging to never use a plastic bag at the grocery store again, bringing a Mason jar instead of using a disposable cup for beverages, or trying to use more kindness and less judgment toward others in my personal life. I can walk through the fire and take ownership of myself and my life.
Now, I’m not saying that it’s not worthwhile to fight for causes one believes in or speak out against injustice. But it’s important to look at ourselves first and examine what flaws we may be harboring in our own hearts. As spirituality author Marianne Williamson once humorously wrote, “It amuses me how angry I used to get when people wouldn’t sign my peace petitions.”
Williamson herself is an example of this principle. One assumes she did not find a great deal of success in angrily yelling at people to sign her peace petitions. Yet once she decided to look inward and change herself, and examine her own human failings and weaknesses, she gained spiritual knowledge that has impacted millions and helped them find peace within their own hearts.
Ultimately, we can try to communicate and share with others, but we can’t change them.
On the other hand, we always have the option to look inward, claim our power, and take the step of changing ourselves. We can make ourselves into the type of person we keep wishing others would be and do the things we keep wishing others would do. And while it may be scary, it should also be an encouraging thought.
Because the truth is that the power for change, either for ourselves or the world, is not anywhere “out there”—it has always been inside of us.
Shannon spent several years as a writer and editor at a public health agency in Washington, DC. She then spent a total of eight months over the past two years backpacking through Europe, and is now a writer and yoga teacher in Brooklyn, NY. Find her on Instagram (@shannonb_808) or her blog, balanced-perspective.com.
[…] 25. Toby Amidor – a Nutrition Blog […]
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
In 1990, in an early encounter between the Dalai Lama, the foremost Tibetan teacher of Buddhism, and Western students, the Dalia Lama was asked a question about how to deal with self-hatred. He was confused and didn’t understand the question. The translator translated the question again and still the Dalai Lama was confused.
Finally, the Dalai Lama understood that the question was about how to manage negative feelings about the self. This was a new concept to him: he knew that people had negative feelings about others, but he had not encountered the challenge of self-hatred.
I wish I could say that I had never encountered the problem of self-hatred, but I’d be lying. Like so many people, even if I didn’t necessarily recognize my self-talk as such, I was inundated with internal negative self-talk.
My process of coming first to recognize what that voice was up to, then to listen to it with more compassion, and finally, once and for all, to ask it to grow up and step out of the room has been a journey of self acceptance, growth, and ultimately, freedom.
Here are three steps to deal with your own inner negative self-talk:
The first step is to become aware of the negativity of your internal voice.
For the first twenty-eight years of my life, I was so familiar with my negative voice that I didn’t even recognize it.
I’ve been told that people with Tinnitus, a constant ringing sound in the ears, grow used to it and learn to live with it so successfully that they’re no longer really even aware the ringing’s there. That was the case with my negative voice: it was a kind of background hum.
If I did pay attention to it, I was tricked into thinking that its particular message mattered.
At sixteen it might have been the enormous, overly sweet corn muffin I’d eaten on the way home from school that was a sign of my failure.
At twenty-six it might have been that an essay I wrote hadn’t been accepted for publication; this was a sign, I was sure, that nothing I’d ever write would ever be fully understood.
It wasn’t until I’d been in therapy for a while and had a real mindfulness practice that I even began to notice the daily hum of background voices and to notice that the particulars of the negative voice I did hear were less important, actually, than the larger pattern it was a part of.
Any mindfulness practice can help you become more aware of the negative self-talk in your head. You can try guided meditations, deep breathing exercises, or mindful walking, or simply spend time tuning into your senses. When you become conscious of the present moment, it’s easier to recognize what’s going on internally.
The second step is to listen a little more deeply.
What was important was not so much what the voice was saying as what was under the voice. Often the negativity was there to distract me from something else.
Was the corn muffin or the publication rejection really the problem?
I learned not to take what I said to myself at face value.
After all, I was often shocked at what was going on inside my own head. I said what to myself? I would never say that to anyone else!
Though I had a PhD in literature and was a published creative writer, skilled at using language in all kinds of sophisticated ways, often the voice inside my head was stuck only at a toddler level.
When I was frustrated or upset, rather than slowing down and parsing out what I was really feeling, I’d lash out with simple and ultimately inaccurate phrases, phrases like “I hate myself.”
The negative statements were largely self-protective, a big blanket over deeper layers of hurt or pain. Often what those negative words were really expressing (even if they didn’t have the appropriate words to do so) was not I’ve done something wrong, but I’m worried, I feel alone, I feel uncertain, I feel lost or scared or hurt.
I learned to react to the feelings under that negativity with compassion.
I came to understand better what situations triggered me and why, in fact, some situations threw me back to being a three year old inside again.
Therapy, mindfulness, writing, and meditation all helped me heal and embrace those wounded parts of myself that were speaking in such negative terms. I learned to listen more carefully to what I was really feeling and to re-parent my inner child.
I learned to send myself loving-kindness and compassion.
My inner voice became less likely to be critical, less likely to lash out at myself. I was more able to express more uncomfortable things internally, like I’m feeling really insecure right now.
Take some time to dig beneath the surface of your negative self-talk. Peel back the layers to find the feelings and fears so you can offer compassion to these fragile parts of yourself.
When I first started doing this I felt happier. I had more energy. I was able to communicate better not only to myself but also to others.
I’d made lots of progress. But to my own regret, sometimes that inner negativity was still more powerful than me.
I’d lash out at myself with negative self-talk in ways that I couldn’t fully control.
What was the next step in healing? I meditated more. I listened with more compassion.
And yet, I still had that negative inner voice that could say some really mean things. If I woke in the middle of the night, the negativity was particularly strong.
Until one day, I decided I’d had enough.
The third step is to realize that the inner negative voice really isn’t helpful and to actively disrupt it.
I want to be clear here: don’t jump over step two. Most of us have not been fully listened to. We need to learn to listen to what is beneath our negative self-talk and not simply silence ourselves.
But after a while, we understand that our negativity is usually an expression of our hurt. We understand that we can listen to ourselves. And we want to be freed from this negativity; it’s not serving us.
I also understood that my healthy self no longer believed what the negativity was saying. It just didn’t make sense to talk to myself in ways I would never talk to anyone else.
And if I had compassion for other people it didn’t make sense for me not to extend it to myself.
I came to see my inner dialogue as lagging behind my own development as a person: I was stuck in old habits that I had largely moved beyond.
So what to do?
I disrupted the habit.
Because I had done step one, I could notice the voices when they came up. And because I had done step two, I didn’t feel that I was in denial or perpetuating old patterns of not being listened to.
So when the negative voice came up, I immediately interrupted it.
I used and still use an Emotional Freedom Tapping code that takes roughly thirty seconds. EFT is a system in which you tap on particular pressure points on the body. Every time that voice starts in with its negativity, I do that code, either mentally or manually.
The code activates my mind and memory, and also my body awareness and physical memory.
You can disrupt your negative voice with a mantra or even by reciting a poem, but bringing the body into the practice helps establish new patterns more quickly.
The important thing is that when the negative voice comes up, you do/say something else instead of getting caught up in it.
I realized that I didn’t need to put up with the toddler-style tantrums anymore. I could also establish some boundaries in my own inner life. I could disrupt the tantrum, take the child out of the room, and give her something else to occupy her.
This system works wonders! I no longer wake up plagued by those negative voices. I have so much more mental and emotional space.
The Dalai Lama had never heard of self-hatred. For many of us this may seem surprising; we may even come to feel that we must accept our negative thoughts about ourselves and accept our negative self-talk as something that we just need to learn to embrace with compassion.
But we can retrain our habits.
I’d trained as a writer to be skillful about the words I put on the page, and I could also train myself to be more skillful with and not be at the mercy of the words I use internally.
I learned to use my inner language mindfully and to retrain myself to speak an inner language of love. It’s possible and it’s deeply rewarding.
Because when we no longer allow those negative voices to take up our inner space, we can experience more freedom and not only more self-love but also more love for others.
Nadia is the founder of Align Your Story, classes and coaching to help women embrace their full story and full voice. For free meditations and writing prompts and a free eBook to write with more power and ease visit www.nadiacolburn.com.
The post Be Kind, Retrain Your Mind: 3 Tips to Overcome Negative Self-Talk appeared first on Tiny Buddha.
I love when I meet readers and people who follow The Healthy Maven and they’re surprised that I’m pretty much the same human in person as I am online. I suck at lying so even if I wanted to live an alternate persona, there’s no way anyone would buy it. Of course, I tend to have the same reaction when I meet people in real life. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been disappointed a few times, but most of the time it’s pretty much as expected. And then sometimes you meet someone you follow and they’re not only as cool as their online persona, but actually cooler. This, my friends, is Lily Diamond. I had the privilege of meeting Lily a few months ago during our trip with Earthbound Farms. Meeting Lily was like meeting a way cooler version of myself while simultaneously hoping she doesn’t think I’m a huge weirdo (I am for the record). She’s just one of those people.
I think what I admire most about Lily is how she keeps it real. I’ve always valued authenticity. Not in the 2019 sense of overexposure and word vomit vulnerability, but in being thoughtful with your words and sharing with intention. So today on the show we’re chatting about honesty, Lily’s own health and wellness journey and how she’s navigated many shifts in her life. It’s a good one!
Today I do a part two to my climate change Cheat Sheet I did up a few weeks ago. The debate continues, louder, more urgent, daily. I aim to alarm us all. Sorry. Not. Sorry. The alarm is real.
This article in the New Yorker points to something I fear like nothing else – the most viable solution presented by some scientists to being able to continue human life beyond the next 100 years is to… move to Mars. I rail against this. We belong here on earth. We are symbiotically connected. The beauty of the planet is my source of truest joy, its vastness feeds my spiritual innocence. I’d take a bullet for it. Which is to say I’d rather die than go to Mars. I weep right here, as I bang this out,thinking of how disconnected the folk who even suggest such an idea as a hopeful solution (and throw billions at its pursuit over shutting down carbon emissions). Where have our souls gone? Where is our awe at?
It points out a few digestible facts amid a wonderful broader treatise. I like to reduce things to snapshots, to invite you to read the rest.
Late in 2017, a United Nations agency announced that the number of chronically malnourished people in the world, after a decade of decline, had started to grow again—by 38 million, to a total of 815 million…and child labor, after years of falling, was growing.”
Both are due to climate-induced disasters.
The extra heat that we trap near the planet every day (my emphasis) is equivalent to the heat from four hundred thousand bombs the size of the one that was dropped on Hiroshima.
As a result, in the past thirty years we’ve seen all twenty of the hottest years ever recorded.
As we made our way across a broad bay, I glanced up at the electronic chart above the captain’s wheel, where a blinking icon showed that we were a mile inland. The captain explained that the chart was from five years ago, when the water around us was still ice.
In 2017, polls found that almost ninety per cent of Americans did not know that there was a scientific consensus on global warming.
They used (the science) to figure out how low their drilling costs in the Arctic would eventually fall. Had Exxon and its peers passed on what they knew to the public, geological history would look very different today. The problem of climate change would not be solved, but the crisis would, most likely, now be receding.
Did we all get that? Fossil-fuel companies have been allowed to determine whether we survive as a species, save migrating to Mars. Many of you (and I too) are despairing. What can be done. The writer arrives at the only conclusion I’m seeing among informed voices like his – we have to stand up to it. Protest. With all our gusto.
We are on a path to self-destruction, and yet there is nothing inevitable about our fate. Solar panels and wind turbines are now among the least expensive ways to produce energy. Storage batteries are cheaper and more efficient than ever. We could move quickly if we chose to, but we’d need to opt for solidarity and coördination on a global scale….The possibility of swift change lies in people coming together in movements large enough to shift the Zeitgeist.
To this end, the writer Bill McKibben is founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org.
While you’re there I recommend you read this by George Monbiot (read anything by George Monbiot if you want to stay woke). This grazed my heart – a young woman raises her hand at a conference at which he was speaking after a suggestion was made to find some softer, intermediate aim to the advice that CO2 emissions are reduced to zero by 2025 (which by now you’d know is really a bare minimum solution to a crises bigger than we can imagine).
“What is it that you are asking me as a 20-year-old to face and to accept about my future and my life? … This is an emergency. We are facing extinction. When you ask questions like that, what is it you want me to feel?” We had no answer.
Monbiot admits she’s right:
Softer aims might be politically realistic, but they are physically unrealistic. Only shifts commensurate with the scale of our existential crises have any prospect of averting them. Hopeless realism, tinkering at the edges of the problem, got us into this mess. It will not get us out.
When the US joined the second world war in 1941, it replaced a civilian economy with a military economy within months. As Jack Doyle records in his book Taken for a Ride, “In one year, General Motors developed, tooled and completely built from scratch 1,000 Avenger and 1,000 Wildcat aircraft … Barely a year after Pontiac received a navy contract to build anti-shipping missiles, the company began delivering the completed product to carrier squadrons around the world.” And this was before advanced information technology made everything faster.
While 50bn tonnes of resources used per year is roughly the limit the Earth’s systems can tolerate, the world is already consuming 70bn tonnes. At current rates of economic growth, this will rise to 180bn tonnes by 2050.
Which brings me, as always, back to my radical response. Stop consuming. Please. Happy Black Friday.
The post The earth is in a death spiral. Happy Black Friday, hey. appeared first on Sarah Wilson.