Day 73/366 days Towards Self-Mastery. Mood: frustrated for those who struggle with this
Our self-awareness and our authenticity are very close partners, and just like many partners, they are often not on the same page.
Awareness of self can be difficult and deceiving.
Take my weight for example. Over the decades my weight has gone up and down. On the scales that looked like something between 70 and 85 kg. Curious about what those scales told me, I attempted to match that with the look of my body in the mirror.
Full-length mirrors have always been a thing in my homes so I could see the finished piece before walking out of the house. In spite of these measures the only way I could grasp whether I had put on weight or not was the size of my clothes.
No amount of examining in the mirror, doing the pinch test, looking for visible evidence ever helped me. What did help was looking at the size tag on my skirt or shirt and finding that it had again crept up from size 12 to size 16.
The self-awareness piece here is realising that there was something amiss that I couldn't see my weight any other way. I couldn't see it in the mirror.
What was it that was getting in the way of my vision that I couldn't see what was obvious to everyone else?
Sarah suggests that today is the day we look closely at our body and begin to appreciate its every line, mark and wrinkle
Accept yourself as you are, today.
Take as your personal mantra, " I am what I am and what I am is wonderful".
Mantras are fine and good reminders to look at ourselves differently, however I am going to say here that there is so much more going on that is getting in the way of viewing ourselves positively, and with love and acceptance.
So may social rules, stereotyped messages of how we should look, what size we should be blah, blah, blah. Yet those messages sink into our subconscious mind and undermine our confidence on an ongoing basis.
When I was very small, around 7 or 8 years of age, my sisters and I have just finished our baths and I was admiring my body in a mirror, and doing a bit of a naked dance. My mother entered the room and walloped me, showing her absolute disgust for my little performance.
From that day on, I could no longer see my body in a mirror.
From a slim little thing, I became quite chubby, and that has persisted on and off over the decades, slimming down only in response to illness, then to find I was expanding my dress size again once I'd recovered.
No amount of name calling and bullying by my siblings, dieting, and exercise and social expectations was going to make any difference to my weight. And in fairness, I wasn't always overweight. Mostly I was overly stressed which kept the weight off me.
In fact, I knew that the best remedy for my weight was a good dose of stress. Not a healthy option by any means.
There's no space here to mention the other stories that affect my weight, one's that I'm still working on. In my awareness is the fact that when I concentrate, I eat. When I concentrate for long periods of time, like when I'm studying for a 4-year Masters programme, then I begin to notice the weight creeping back on. Happening now as I write!
That one has yet to be explored. Might be a good exercise for this weekend.
My self-awareness was supported by deep inner inquiry to discover the source of that issue. That deep inner inquiry was often supported by one therapist or another. Someone who knew the questions to ask, others who could tune in intuitively and help me see some of the story that was there in my past.
So when I hear mantras and positive affirmations as a remedy for how we think and feel about our body or anything else, I feel that we're missing the point. If it was that simple, we wouldn't have these persistent problems.
The real concerns are much deeper than that. Not inaccessible if you know how, but deeper, or hidden. When you access those stories, then those stories can be resolved. That's when we begin to rewrite our life story, and come to know what is authentic for us.
When I was able to get my mother's projection out of my system, and out of my adipose tissue, I began to see myself again. Now I make a point of checking in with my body, noticing it, being really acquainted with it and comfortable with it.
There's not one case that I can remember, of a women who considers herself to be overweight that I've seen in my clinic, that was not some form of protection. And that makes sense when you realise that the purpose of adipose tissue is to protect your organs and tissues and to insulate the body. Adipose tissue is all about protection in all the cases that I have seen and worked with so far.
And that protection is linked to some life story that is still there and still informing your body how it should be.
My reason for making a point of this is so that you don't beat yourself up if:
you're overweight and you don't know why
you're self-aware and those mantras don't work
you've been thinking positively and it hasn't made a damn bit of difference
you're tapping and tapping and tapping, and still nothing much has changing
you've dieted yourself to oblivion and back, and zip
you've spent a ton on exercise programmes and the weight just returned faster than it left you
These concerns, the ones that we know aren't quite right but we don't know why, they need a deeper enquiry. That's where you need support from a therapist.
Mental and emotional health is about discovering those deeper stories. It's mistakingly thought that mental health is about mental disorders. I think that's called mental illness, not mental health. That's something completely different.
Mental and emotional health is about self-awareness. Exploring those deeper stories that keep you stuck. Reviewing them so that you have more choices available to you. Life gets easier.
This is precisely why I am the therapist that I am. Because I have explored a minefield of stories that held me back in life, that kept me stuck. And with each new discovery, I began to live more of me and less of everyone else's stories, expectations and conditioning.
You can contact me anytime to talk over your concerns and to get the support you need to deepen into your self-awareness as you come to live more authentically as you.
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.
As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?
I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.