Friday, August 7, 2009

The Pressure To Be...

Growing up, I was bombarded with many messages about what it meant to be healthy and beautiful. I remember very clearly in high school always comparing myself to other girls checking to see if I was looking the way I "should." Images of anorexic models and over make-upped girls in magazines and on TV flooded my eyes everywhere I turned. This is what I thought was normal and something to achieve. What I wasn't noticing at the time, was the damage this was doing to my emotions, self-esteem, and self-worth. As an adult, those media images persist and are added to with comments, gossip about others and their looks, and criticisms from adults in my life that are focused on this "normal."

Have you ever felt like you couldn't do something because you didn't feel like you were skinny, good-looking, funny, strong, or smart enough? Why do we fall into this thinking and allow fear to keep us from having fun or making changes? Unfortunately, we rarely have an abundance of positive thoughts in our head. Most of us have a tendency to focus on things in our life that are not working.

What we see as "normal" in society today, isn't normal. To be a healthy and happy person, you have to act like one. We live in a culture today where it is "normal" to be angry, depressed, negative and selfish. That is not normal, nor is it healthy. Unfortunately, in order to be healthy, you have to step out of the box and be different. It's time to create a "new" normal!

Now this shouldn't sound scary to you. If you feel like you don't fit in to the crowd right now, then you already feel different, right? Then why not still be different but feel good, proud of yourself, happy, and healthy instead? It's up to us to change what normal has become and unlock the knowledge we all have inside of us that we were born with to care for our bodies and be healthy!

Now I know this sounds easier said than done. It's hard to compete with our culture and the constant barrage of the media. I feel it too. And many times I have failed at what I truly want for myself and fall into the trap of what others tell me I should be eating, wearing, look like, or how much weight to lose. The best way I have found to battle this is to practice thinking positively...about weight as it is, my life, my job, my house, my relationships...everything! If something isn't going right in my life I ask myself a few questions to turn the negative thoughts into positive ones. What can I learn from this and change? What can I offer others in terms of support because I have gone through this? Start to pay attention to where your mind goes all the time. How much of your attention is on what is not going well in your life? How much attention is on what is going well?

I have a couple ways I battle the pressures of society today and keep myself positive and away from self-loathing and discontent. One, is to keep a journal. Each morning, I write my feelings and intuitions I am having upon waking. Then I write three things I am grateful for. In the evening before I go to sleep, I reopen the journal and review my morning writings. Most of the time, because I started my day on a positive note, I have more things to write that I am grateful for. If I have had a difficult day, I write about what learned and how I can grow from the experience. Then I close with gratitude for my day, what I appreciated about myself or the work I did, and a loving thought. It helps to start and end your day on a positive note! Another strategy I use is to ask people what is new and good with them. This immediately squelches any opportunity for them to begin a conversation on a negative note! I let them brag for a bit and then I talk about what is good with me.

You can incorporate positive thinking into your life in many different ways. Begin to consciously put your mind on positive thoughts or write everything you are grateful for into a journal. Practice different ways to incorporate positive thinking in your life and see what works for you. You will see changes in how you feel about yourself very quickly. The pressure to be something you are not will go away because you are focusing on what is already good about yourself. When your focus is there, it is easier to evaluate what needs change and to work harder and achieve it. Notice how you create your own reality. When you practice positive thinking, your world begins to look brighter!


Kristina P. said...

For the most part, I feel good about me. But I would still love to lose a few pounds!

Oh, and I'm on day 4 of no soda, and it's actually been fine. I have been more tired than normal, but I need to just get over the hump.

Jean said...

This is great advice and I need to take heed to it! thanks L! :)

Great-Granny Grandma said...

Now that's a very positive and uplifting post with some good suggestions. I do focus on the blessings in my life and give thanks, but when it comes to myself, I must admit that I do tend to focus more on what is wrong about me than what is good. I guess I have to pat more attention to what I'm doing and reverse that. (SMILE) Thanks for the admonition. You are 100% right.