I’ve only recently really started to see the connections between so many things that have happened in my life.
Not in a “fate” or “destiny” type of way, but rather in the sense that everything that has been painful in my life, the bullying for being both “fat” and “foreign” in my childhood, my later struggle with undereating and over exercising, not being able to find a relationship for a long time, etc. All of that ended up being my biggest motivation and the push that didn’t only motivate me to pursue my dreams but CREATED them in the first place.
Stop fighting your problems so hard! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t work on improving yourself and the world – but stop letting the EXISTENCE of problems in itself be such an issue.
Whenever we are afraid of something bad that might happen, it feels like it’s that ONE thing that stands between us and happiness. But the thing is – when we overcome that thing or THOSE things, the time we actually spend celebrating or enjoying our accomplishments, or freedom, or whatever it may be is SO short – if it exists at all.
Don’t we all immediately think of the next thing to worry about? An event in the future, the possibility of failure, of not achieving something or of losing what we have or what we have JUST acquired?
My point is this: we are addicted to worrying. These negative thinking patterns become a HABIT that we are attached to on a subconscious level. You will never free yourself from the feeling of unease or unhappiness in the FUTURE if you don’t free yourself from them in the NOW.
Stop stressing about the existence of problems – the bad things that happen or that we are afraid of spark a DESIRE within us for the GOOD we want to see in our lives and in the world.
Everything bad that ever happened to me lead me right to where I am now (currently doing a Ph.D. in social psychology in the area of social diversity and stereotyping):
I became an observer of human behavior because I was a lonely child who was watching everyone from the outside. I wanted to understand the hatred people feel for those who are different, and learning about and researching the psychology of discrimination and social exclusion came so easily to me because my strong drive to KNOW was shaped by my life story.
There is not one person who is living a life without problems and never in history has there been a time without its issues. So stop fighting the EXISTENCE of problems.
Instead, let the problems that spark the most outrage or pain within you be what helps you find your path, what clarifies your core values, what tells you what YOU were meant to fight for – whether it’s simply by spreading kindness within your immediate circle, inventing products or services to make life easier, or organizing movements FOR what you believe in.
I guess that’s the last thing – I’d love to see people spend less time being AGAINST things and AGAINST those they disagree with and instead put more energy into being FOR what they want to see more of.
If you spend all your time telling others what they are wrong about, who will be there to create the things you know you’re RIGHT about?
My current goals:
It’s not easy… we get caught up in worry and in fear when we see bad things happening. But that’s my goal for the rest of my life – I never want to go back to that mindset again, I want to keep looking towards what I want to create, support, and see more of in the world. That doesn’t mean I want to be unaware of what’s happening (or hamptoning;), but just that I don’t ever want to let it make me cynical, lazy in my thinking, judgmental, hateful, or stop me from getting back up again and trying FOR something again.
This Is NOT A “Shameless Selfie”
Have you seen that “shameless selfie” caption before? I’ve seen it all around and I’ve used it myself too. For ME, the need to write that my selfie was “shameless” (thereby acknowledging the social judgment that is often made about people who post selfies) was precisely the opposite: a sign that I absolutely still HAD shame!
Beauty standards are a funny thing. Women (but also increasingly men) are bombarded with subtle and very direct messages of how important their beauty (or absence of it) is.
You may be telling your daughter that other things are more important, but when we see women being celebrated or judged precisely for THAT thing all over the place, when girls hear their mothers and other women talk about needing to lose weight, about not being beautiful enough in this or that way, the message is clear: Your beauty is an important determinant of your value.
This pressure and disproportionate focus on ONE aspect of ourselves is already a problematic issue in itself – especially because the media’s message is not only “Be beautiful”, but “THIS is what’s beautiful.” (Thankfully there are now many campaigns attempting to set a somewhat more diverse standard.)
Here’s where it gets better (worse). Do you know the @onedirection song “What Makes You Beautiful”? If not, here it is: “you don’t know you’re beautiful, THAT’S what…”
This is just ONE example of how society sends a mixed message to women: Always strive for beauty, but never arrive, never be satisfied with how you look.
Of course, this is a very lucrative message, particularly for the companies using it to sell us products and services aimed at spending our lives improving our appearance.
It also keeps us in a disempowered state. We are forever meant to chase the carrot being dangled in front of us, but the moment we think we got it, we are shunned once again.
(I am not saying that this is a CONSCIOUS effort to affect women in this way. It’s an effect of something that absolutely has its roots in humanity’s evolutionary needs etc. But that doesn’t mean we need it to continue today.)
So here it is: this is NOT a shameless selfie. I HAVE shame because I’ve been trained to have shame. Shame for not being enough of this, shame for being too much of THAT, for never being “just right.”
But I’ve never been happier with my body. It does not match the “ideal” I once unfavorably compared it to, but I started to truly feel beautiful when I became happy WITHIN myself when I started to love myself unconditionally when I stopped needing anyone to AGREE with my particular brand of beauty.
When it came to OTHER women, I’ve known it all along: Women of any size and shape can completely STUN you and disarm you with their beauty when they are full of joy, passion for something bigger than themselves, self-love, love for others and the world.
I’ve met women who haven’t found that feeling yet, but I’ve never met a single one who didn’t HAVE that beauty, whether it was glaringly obvious or right beneath the surface ready to shine the second she is.
Follow Justina and her journey on Instagram.