WOMEN IN IN edition 2 edition 2
SELF SELF WORTH WORTH
ON ON THE THE PULSE PULSE
With With Dr Dr Maxine Maxine
LIVINGNESS LIVINGNESS TIPS Inspiring Inspiring Ways Ways to Build Self-Worth Build Self-Worth
RELATIONSHIPS RELATIONSHIPS The Adventure Adventure The of Dating of Dating
WOMEN & & HEALING HEALING WOMEN You Are Are Not Not Broken Broken You
MY BODY BODY & & II MY
Crisis in in Crisis Confidence? Confidence? ... & MORE ... & MORE
Self-Worth; Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s What We Make It
hen Self-Worth was proposed as the theme for Women in Livingness Magazine Edition #2, there really was no need to give it a second thought. We launched with the theme of Breast Care in Edition #1, knowing its importance as a topical and relevant issue. With the prevalence of breast cancer, the vital message for women to return to nurturing and self-nurturing as part of daily life, versus the otherwise imbalance of the rush and drive we have allowed to dominate us, has never been more important for us to explore. It is a theme that will never be out-dated, and self-worth and, or, understanding what and how lack of self-worth affects us daily, is an even bigger topic to tackle.
long or short-term relationships, whatever the variable, our one common denominator is an experience of lacking self-worth.
Lack of self-worth is having a detrimental effect on almost every woman, of every age, of every nationality, religion or culture. Your income, your profession, your physical appearance, shape or size, being employed or unemployed, studying, having kids and those without; women single, dating, or in
How many of us struggle to place value in what is innately true and important to us; over and above the otherwise desire for acceptance, recognition and seeming love and attention from those around us?
In contrast to what is now common place, every woman starts off and begins life with a sense of self-worth; a sense of her own worth, of what she values to be innately precious, true, and important. However, of equal standing is her view of the outer world, first starting with those closest to her (family, siblings) and later extending to the wider world (school, friends, media and trends). The point being that even though there is an innate sense of true worth, how a woman perceives herself to be accepted or not in the world has a determining impact on her relationship to self-worth.
We have all been there... And, it is not a “teenage” phase we leave behind us. In the phase of life we call the teenage years, or the transitioning from young girl to young woman and then to adult woman; High School and its fishbowl-like environment, becomes a condensed and somewhat intensified period of time where lack of selfworth and, or, low self-esteem prevails, as most of us try and test what’s on offer to find our place, fit in, be liked, and accepted; to then eventually arrive at a place where we say “I’ve grown up now, these things don’t matter to me anymore”, and we step into the world. ... But do we ever really address the underlying lack of self-worth? Or do we just become better at masking it in ‘adult life’? Are we comfortable valuing and appreciating what we bring through our unique expressions? To our professions? In
our families? And, or, in our relationships? OR, are we governed by playing roles in our life, living up to external demands and expectations and measuring our value based on the responses or reactions we get from outside of us? My daily profession affords me the opportunity to travel within Australia and to Europe, speaking with women of every age and many different nationalities. What I most commonly experience within the private setting of a consultation is women revealing how this issue of lack of self-worth plays out it’s many, many varied effects. It is an ingrained problem that is sadly, a common, widespread, and now considered to be “normal” issue we all endure. The Edition #2 of Women in Livingness Magazine and its many volunteering contributors committed to the challenge of addressing this topic. For us at WIL, our writing is not based on theory or concepts, or a telling to readers of what to do and Photograph by Iris Pohl
giving quick-fix solutions. We endeavour to share from life experience, honesty and a connection to our deep and innate wisdom. It means that when we make Self-Worth our theme, we want to look far and wide, and most importantly, deep within, to share articles that can truly inspire, if not at times equally educate women – all from women who are walking the same path as you. And so, what if Self-Worth is not in the hands of others, but determined by what you choose and make it to be? Where we have faltered as women is how we allow and accept that our self-worth or value can be measured and, or, determined by others and the outside world. In other words, we have handed it over, and not truly on our own terms.
˚ We have accepted that a man’s view of us decides the value of our beauty,
˚ We have accepted an industry of fashion that decides what clothes and colours are of most popular value each new season,
˚ We have accepted an industry of beauty and skin products that espouses youth and perfection as the highest value,
˚ We have accepted photo-shopped images of models that define beauty,
˚ We have accepted “likes” and “followers” on social media platforms as friendships and attention…
Ultimately, we have accepted in many areas of life a low mark of what is Self-Worth. This is where change is needed, asking and or looking to the ‘big fish’ in the pond to change it for us, isn’t going to work, and hasn’t in the last century despite numerous attempts. These industries and acceptable societal views and beliefs thrive off us to feed them so they can continue as they are. The everlasting change we seek occurs from us and from within, by taking the steps to address our lack of self-worth, what we have denied to be our true way and what we have accepted as a compromise. We need to empower ourselves to define our value and worth. We need not embark on this process with reaction or fight towards what is out there and what we have allowed society to become, because by bringing out and living our innate inner-truth, the other will dissolve its seeming hold over our daily choices. Throughout Edition #2 of Women in Livingness Magazine, you will read articles from women who have explored the theme of Self-Worth and who have explored the possibility that there is a way out of accepting lack of self-worth as a “normal” issue women have to endure through life. They have brought to the fore a renewed value for their own worth and its expression out to all others. Self-Worth is what you make it to be. Natalie Benhayon Editor-in-Chief Photographs by Iris Pohl
Cover photographed by Iris Pohl
Lack of Self-Worth – A Global Epidemic. Are We in the Midst of it?
WHAT’S TRENDING WITH REBECCA ASQUITH
WOMEN & HEALING
MY BODY & I 18 From Being Underweight to Being Full of Love 40 Alcohol and Drugs: A Form of Self Abuse 50 If I’m Dieting, Im Alright 62 Binge Eating – My Secret SelfHarm 74 Sexual Promiscuity – A Personal Experience 92 Crisis in Confidence?
HEALTH SPOT 38 Valuing Ourselves and Our Health 66 Visiting Your Doctor 84 Speaking Up – Valuing My Inner-Most Feelings
LIVINGNESS 24 Take A Quiz... Become Aware. Do You Feel Worthy 44 Self-Worth... Where to Start? 58 Take A Quiz... Become Aware Do You Self-Abuse 98 Live, Love Nourish... Inspiring Ways to Build Self-Worth 106 Beauty... Is Your Value Only Skin Deep 132 Beauty On The Go 136 Can Fashion Actually Support Women to Express Who They Truly Are?
RELATIONSHIPS 46 The Adventure of Dating with Karin 68 Getting Real in Relationships... A Revealing Look at Why We Accept less 80 Food, Eating and Self-Worth 102 Breaking Out of the Cycle of Self-Abuse 114 Teen & Youth... Do You Change to be in a Relationship? 122 Is Accepting a Cycle of self-Abuse in Relationships Connected to Our Lack of Self-Worth? 162 Dear Victoria’s
Like, Like, Like... But Where is the Love? You Are Not Broken
ON THE PULSE
Truly Valuing Yourself Makes ‘Just Having Sex’ Not An Option With Dr Maxine Self-Worth and the Self-Help Industry – Does it Work?
FITNESS & NUTRITION 138 Exercise To Build Your Self-Worth 142 Exercising For You 148 My Commitment To Exercise is Because of My Commitment to Me 152 Loving Our Body Rather Than Dieting 154 Toxic Beliefs of a Dieter 156 A Recipe for Self-Loathing 158 Recipes
WOMEN IN FAMILY 88 Dealing with Self-Harm in the Family: What Really Worked
WOMEN IN WORK 56 Being Employed for Who You Are Not What You Do 100 ‘Powerful Women’ at Work – Jusy How Are We Defining This? 110 Woman in Full Flight! 128 Working With or Without ‘Me’?
Photograph by Iris Pohl
HOT TOPICS Lack of Self-Worth – A Global Epidemic Are We in the Midst of It? By Jenny Ellis / Australia
Do we really know what self-worth is? Our current statistics and state of health affairs are showing us something of great significance about how we are living as women – are we truly listening? Or, are we in fact selling ourselves so short of what we know to be true much deeper within. With statistics showing a 50% – 60% increase for Australian and UK women respectively in the rate of non-specific eating disorders over a recent 10year period... does this not alone warrant pause (and cause) for alarm? With an estimated 1 in 10 young women said to suffer some overt form of self-harm at some stage in their lives, and some groups of teens indicating this to be as high as 1 in 3 girls who are saying they have self–harmed... What is indeed happening for our young women and their sense of self-worth? If we look further... it seems as women we now have such a serious alcohol problem amongst us that a new term ‘ladette’ has been invented to describe “women who behave in a boisterously
assertive or crude manner and engage in heavy drinking sessions”... did we invent this term to disguise another form of self-abuse & self-loathing? And if this isn’t enough to already make us sit up and take notice, and ask what is happening to our women, sisters, mothers, and daughters; current women’s health statistics show a dramatic rise in most cancers relating to our female parts over the last 10 years, not to mention our recent overtaking of men when it comes to the death rate from heart disease. The above may be considered the ‘more extreme’ behaviours or situations, however they are not the only indicators of our fundamental lack of self-worth.
Consider for a moment, are you a woman who . . . 1
Has become a 24/7 mum, forgetting the woman within?
Needs to be in a relationship to feel good about yourself?
Has spent your life on the ‘lose weight – feel good, gain weight – feel bad’ merry-go-round?
Never feels enough, no matter how hard you work?
Puts everyone else’s needs ahead of your own?
Is dissatisfied with your appearance?
Suffers poor self esteem or a lack of confidence?
Self-Worth is a topic needing to be discussed at a global level. How many of us can say we feel great about ourselves consistently so, just as we are? No effort, no make-up, no achievement, no fancy dress, no accolade, no partner, no kids . . . just our-selves. That is . . . for DOING nothing, but just because we are. If we did in fact use this as our measure, then how many of us can really say, with reflection and honesty, that our true selfworth is intact? Are we finally seeing the result, flowing through every generation without exception, of having bought into the fallacy that our worth is based on what we do, how we look, whether we achieve, fit the picture and tick 8
our own, our cultural, or the societal boxes arbitrarily measuring success? Only once we have measured up to these marks do we feel a sense of ‘self-worth’. But is it really? Or is this merely an ill concept that the current state of affairs is in fact exposing? Have we indeed sold ourselves so woefully short that the magnificence we are as women in our essence is rarely acknowledged, let alone lived? Our deep inner beauty forgotten, our innate sensitivity, understanding and naturally nurturing ways overridden and replaced with hardness, striving, busy-ness, stress and dissatisfaction, self critique, never feeling enough; living a life searching and seeking for relief of the tension this undersold and diminished state creates, and perhaps hardest of all to see – have we in fact built a life based on a false sense of self-worth, under the illusion that we have it, because the boxes are ticked? And so, is the state of our bodies and our behaviours reflecting that we have lost a true sense of who we are? That perhaps we are indeed everything first by virtue of this deeply held beauty, encapsulating a radiant grandness in our expression that remains at best for some, a vague childhood memory. Imagine a life built from this foundation of beauty. Imagine the ease with which our bodies respond as we unmask this inherently grand and natural state. Imagine if this were the reflection provided from which others, and our younger generations, could take their inspiration. All of this is possible and indeed perhaps where each and every one of us must eventually turn if we wish to reverse the trend that is increasingly disturbing and evident in the ill health, discontent, self-harm and flagrant disregard that has become so commonplace in women around us today.
â&#x20AC;&#x153; Your daily deeds and chores do not add up to your worthiness, for the loveliness was there at the birth of the day.â&#x20AC;? Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations pg 539
Throughout this edition you will find many accounts from women who have in fact trodden this path to restore a true sense of self-worth and the results speak for themselves. Their stories, insights, awareness and newfound expression is truly inspiring and as they come from every walk of life, it is easy to see that if they can do it... anyone can! Photograph by Iris Pohl
WHAT’S TRENDING With Rebecca Asquith
Like, Like, Like... But Where’s the Love?
n high schools across the country, nudes have become a form of currency. By the time you read this, that won’t be what they are called anymore, just like the term ‘sexting’ became passé as soon as it was taken up by the over 20’s. But nudes (those selfies where you are semi or fully naked) will still be a form of currency as more and more girls trade their skin for likes in an Instagram market increasingly saturated by a sea of headless bodies in Bonds underwear. The girls in nudes aren’t always headless, sometimes they will have a bad case of ‘phone-covered-face,’ a frustrating condition that is caused by trying to take a selfie of yourself in the mirror: in some instances this is deliberate – if you obscure the face you can’t ever be sure who it really is – but more often than not being identified isn’t a concern as there are too many likes at stake 10
not to post the photo direct to your social media account. In the last year, in my work as a media educator I have heard from hundreds of teens about what is going on for them online and at school. And while they are not all addicted to posting risqué pics to Instagram, how they will choose to portray themselves, and deciding how much of their body they will put online for their followers’ consumption, has become an increasing pressure of ‘normal’ teenage life. Some will say a firm no to posting pics at all and opt to post food shots or art instead, while others will perfect their duck-face pout and vacant stare through hours of Photobooth selfies, with only the ‘best-ofs’ making it to social. Others will work out how many incidental bikini shots they can post before it becomes too obvious a theme, and
some will just out-and-out curate their own soft porn wall featuring them as the star. On Instagram the so-called worth of an image is measured on the number of likes (hearts) it gets. If the photo doesn’t get enough likes an insecure teen will often pull it down and try again. Every teenage girl soon learns what makes hearts (likes) soar. It is skin. They learn this early. A number of teens I have spoken to tell me that it is usually in year 7 when the older guys first start pressuring you to send them ‘nudes’. Every teen seems to have a story of a girl who naively sent pictures only to be shamed and humiliated until she had to move schools. But if we focus only on these experiences, the primary issue seems to be the objectification of women by men, or the objectification of teenage girls by teenage boys. But dig deeper and there is another dimension. Many of the girls on Instagram aren’t being directly pressured to post the pics they do, they are taking a calculated risk and building a tonne of likes, clicks and followers in the process. They are winning dozens of ‘hearts’ – or at least a cheap pixel version of them; but why settle for a substitute? This is a question that I have experienced a number of teenage boys also asking. In a forum where teens were encouraged to talk about what was happening on social media a number of young men asked me “Why are girls doing it? Why do they post and send nudes? They know what can happen...” They looked at me with a mixture of concern, innocence and incredulousness. And it struck me that they could see the preciousness of the girls more clearly than
the girls themselves. Boys and young men expressing their natural care for girls and women is not as rare as we are led to believe, and their objectification of women is not a given either. Filmmaker Jonathan Baldwin notes, “From an early age boys are told what they should find sexy. Even in primary school boys are paid out if they are not into porn and all that it comes with. They are made to feel that there is something wrong with them as a man.” Meanwhile the pressure on men to become unquestioning consumers of porn is clearly working, with a 2006 study stating that 93% of boys aged 13-16 years old had seen porn – but the pressure on boys to take this up is coming from more than the obvious places. Educator Kristy Wood notes that, “in the pre-teen years sometimes it is the girls who are the first to initiate those kinds of interactions, through sending revealing pictures of themselves through Instagram direct messaging. Often the boys don’t know how to deal with it.” She continues, “They are at first shocked by it and feel unable to respond.” But they quickly become reluctant to express as much when they feel a pressure from friends to act differently. “Most start going into relating like that because of group pressure. And as well as this, everything – media, games and movies – reinforces to boys that they are expected to objectify girls. There is no other way offered.” From the time they are young, both girls and boys are conditioned to take on the gendered roles that are cast for them. And the ‘pop porn culture’ that has permeated media and social media representations of gender has made its mark. It is written (or in this case posted) on the Wall. Photograph by Clayton Lloyd
The irony is that the behaviour sold to both men and women is contra to the innate care, preciousness and respect that boys and girls naturally hold each other with before these roles are assumed. Yet once we buy into the behaviours, these innate and foundational ways of relating are substituted for imitations: • Respect becomes a guy telling you, you are ‘doable’. • An anonymous follower becomes a validation of your worth. • The amount of likes on a photo of you in your bra is a measure of your desirability (not lovability) to the opposite sex. But a like is to love what spam is to ham. Or said differently, Love is the real endgame and a like is a cheap substitute. In lieu of loving interactions, ‘filler interactions’ take their place through attention getting posts that leave neither young women nor young men truly fulfilled. As one 16 year old girl admitted,
“no amount of likes on a photo are ever enough for you to feel good about yourself anyway.” But if both genders are left ultimately unsatisfied by the synthetic interactions of social media and both are playing gendered roles based on a false set of parameters to begin with, who is going to call it out first? As Natalie Benhayon states, “Self-worth is what we make it to be.” And more than we like to admit, how we choose to measure our worth is actually in
our hands (and on our devices). As women, will we let another generation of girls be duped into measuring their worth based on ‘hearts’ (likes) for skin and duckface? Or will we start to know and live a sense of worth based on its true measure? The truth is that the reflection offered by a woman who is self-honouring and who holds herself with a deep sacredness is all too rare. And the true beauty and sexiness of a woman who knows her worth without needing another’s validation is also all a rarity. The way we relate to men at all ages is proof of this. Of course we could pass the buck. We could say that it is all men’s fault that they objectify women and that is why young women play into the stereotyped sexualised roles that they are rewarded for with male attention. But such a blame game is never going to be a game-changer. It is also completely disempowering. The preciousness and sacredness that as women we choose to have with ourselves will set the tone for the relationships we have with men, whether that be through social media or face to face. Our first relationship with any Body is with our own. This then becomes the foundation for our relationships with every Body thereafter. Self-worth is what we make it. The question is, as women, are we ready to take responsibility for truly reclaiming it?
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WOMEN & You Are Not Broken By Sara Williams / UK
et’s get the big one out of the way first – Healing is not about fixing you, because, fundamentally at your core, you are NOT broken nor have you failed. Esoteric Healing, true healing, always makes the starting point of healing, your re-connection with your innermost, that part of you that remains forevermore unaffected by anything you experience. From this rock steady foundation, we are all well equipped to face whatever comes our way, whatever needs healing, so long as we start from within and work out from there. Everything you need to be you, to be brilliant, to feel sexy, to walk in your beauty, along with all the wisdom you need to be healthy, to confidently relate to others, to mother well, to understand the world around you is all accessible from within. What gets in the way of you feeling and living all of this with confidence and authority, is what true healing is all about; it is about clearing the stuff that’s in the way, out of the way. It’s about feeling it, admitting it, taking responsibility for our part in it, letting it go, not holding yourself in judgment of it and making different choices in life going forward. Today we’ve got a situation in the world whereby a woman’s state of wellbeing is measured against the ultimate ill health marker of our time – cancer and most often breast cancer. Cancer is real, it is painful on so many levels for both the woman and those around her who feel the ripple affects of concern and potential loss of a loved one, and any woman with it (or person for that matter) deserves the best of care and to be treated with true compassion. But if our measure of ‘healthy’ is for many, the ‘absence of measurable malignant cancer’ in the body, what level of care are we accepting for 14
HEALING Releasing Your Potential
ourselves? How many indicators or messages from our body that tell us that the way we are living is affecting our wellbeing do we override or dismiss during the course of our day-to-day lives simply because we do not have cancer? We live in a world where it is commonly accepted that women live with fibroids in and around their uterus, cysts in their breasts and uterus, period pain is an uncomfortable but accepted part of menstruation and irregular and absence of menstruation are states you just live with. As women age we can also look forward to hot flushes, mood swings and loss of libido becoming an expected right of passage into the ‘post’ era, the ‘after the main event of menstruation’ phase of a woman’s life as she enters post menopause and the assumed descent into background of life. Photograph by Alan Johnston
WOMEN & HEALING And worse still, if you haven’t already been diagnosed, the spectre of breast cancer continues throughout a woman’s life; with 1 in 8 women being diagnosed, or as statistics in the US alarmingly state – a woman is diagnosed every 2 minutes with breast cancer. Could there be signs long before the formation of a cyst, a fibroid, a cancer, that women override as seemingly insignificant that accumulate overtime in the body, feeding an environment that is ripe for illness and disease? The only way to remain aware of these signs at their earliest, is to set as your marker the ever present state of stillness in your body, that place of connection where you readily access the profound qualities of what it is to be a woman; as opposed to making your marker some outer measure like your success in getting things done, having a body that looks like the dominant image of the time, or the absence of cancer. Instead, these qualities that lie within are unattached to the fickle trends of the world, simply awaiting activation for when a woman is willing to be herself and then she is able to bring forth the strength and immeasurable tenderness of the power in her fragility and sacredness. These inner qualities pre-date and are never tarnished by any ill condition of the body or mind. A woman’s re-connection to and expression from these natural qualities is central to her healing, so that the healing focus shifts from the single-minded focus on the need to be absent of disease and is moved deeper and focuses instead on the rediscovery, claiming and expression of who she really is. Standing firmly upon and living from this platform of reclaiming the true woman within, a woman can feel when she is overriding her natural inner knowing; and one of the many benefits is that she is far better equipped to understand and deal with the uncomfortable and at times life-threatening conditions that may arise in the body. 16 Photographs by Alan Johnston
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MY BODY & I
Loving The Body You’re In
From Being Underweight to Being Full of Love
An interview with Yvonne Covert by Mariette Reineke
e live in a time where body image and the way we look are of great importance. From an early age, girls seem to have the idea that they have to look a certain way in order to fit into the ideals and beliefs that are shown to them by the media and society. In order to stay really skinny many girls and women have developed an unhealthy relationship with food. Food disorders are quite common, even often hidden. They can and do result in girls being underweight or having anorexia... But I am wondering if food disorders are in fact only to do with body image or if there is something deeper to be seen that is underlying this...? Meet Yvonne Coevert (59, Holland), a sparkling, gorgeous and sensitive woman, who works as a practitioner and care-taker. She has a history, from a very young age, of being underweight and anorexic. What has she observed through her experience of eating disorders?
Can you tell me a little bit about your life and especially the time when you were a child. When I was one year old, my parents were suddenly gone. They took me and my sisters to a children’s home run by nuns. We all got separated there and I was totally in shock. I was afraid of the nuns, with their black dresses, and felt they were not treating us well. They told us our parents were in the hospital and that they could not take care of us. Photographs by Iris Pohl
How was this for you and how long did you have to stay there? Well, what I remember is the feeling of being suddenly abandoned. We did not feel at all well treated and I didn’t understand why we got separated from our parents. I didn’t understand the situation and this left an imprint, a feeling that there was something wrong with me. This was like the first seed planted. The nuns knew that my parents were actually not in hospital but in jail. After two years, when we all got back together again, this seed, of not being good enough, started to grow, as I became aware that my mother didn’t want to live anymore. My mother got cancer and didn’t want any help with it. She died when I was around 3 years old. I remember that my mother told me, before she died, that I was a strong girl and that I could do it alone. This has also had a big impact in my life.
In what way did this affect you? I thought I had to be strong, because my mother had told me so. This resulted in me becoming very hard on myself and adopting a kind of survival mode. I was very angry but not aware of it at that time. My father got a new wife soon after who used to beat me up, because she was disappointed in my father and their relationship. It felt as if all her anger was taken out on me. It was around this time (6 years old) that I became very skinny and in a way the anorexia unconsciously came in. I was thinking all the time, “there must be something wrong with me”.
How did this unfold in the years to come? I became so thin that the school doctor sent me to a special home for three months, to become fatter. Looking back now I can see that by being so thin, I got a lot of attention, I felt noticed. I so desperately wanted to be loved. I developed feelings of ‘why should I live when there is no love’. I never felt hungry, didn’t feel like eating and I always felt a tension. I was in desperate need of attention. Much later I became more aware of it, of food and eating, and I thought, ‘if nobody loves me, then why should I eat?’
At what age did it become critical? This was during puberty, I was staying in a children’s home and I got a lot more attention when I was not eating. People worried about me, which made me feel happy because I got attention. It was at this time that I wanted to be invisible and I didn’t like my life. But it was much later, when I was around 34 years old, that I didn’t eat for a whole month. I didn’t see the point of living anymore. I realised I didn’t care about myself at all.
“ How would you describe your relationship with food during these years up until your thirties? The thing is, there were times that I did eat enough but I still stayed too thin. I didn’t have any love for myself so I didn’t eat my food with love; it was like I could not absorb the food and be nourished - my body didn’t take the food in. Also, my stepmother was fat and I didn’t want to become like her.
Photograph by Iris Pohl
MY BODY & I
So what was it like in your thirties?
I was very far away from myself, feeling alone and I was full of undealt emotions. I was not living, I was in survival mode. I always felt like I didn’t belong and that I didn’t want to be here.
Did you feel like a victim?
Yes, very much so, but at that time I wasn’t aware of it. I was just not happy with myself.
What was the effect on your body around your thirties? I looked horrible, I was so skinny. I hated myself, I wanted to end my life, I felt out of contact with my body and with people around me.
Well, you didn’t end your life because you are still here! What happened? I realised I had to do something – stop suffering and ask for help. And there was something inside of me that told me that if I did commit suicide, my next life would be worse. I didn’t really fancy that, so I made the choice to really commit to life and change things. I realised I couldn’t do it alone. I immediately picked up the newspaper to look for a therapy and started with re-birthing sessions. I made a start with opening up, talking about my life and wanting to deal with my emotions. I also attended some groups. The groups and the therapies were helpful but only to a certain point; as I still did not love myself.
So even with all the help and therapies, it was still hard for you to love yourself. Could it be that to love yourself, you have to accept and appreciate yourself first? Yes, the big thing was that I did not accept myself. I didn’t listen to myself, I kept focusing on what I thought was not good about myself. This didn’t change, regardless of all the therapies. The real change happened, when I came in contact with Universal Medicine, four years ago. It was then, by having esoteric healing sessions, that I realised that I was not living truly connected to my body and was always in my mind. 21
“ MY BODY & I
Why do you think you were not connected to your body?
Because it was too painful to be in my body. Slowly, through the sessions, I started to take real responsibility for what happened in my life and I started to feel and deal with all the pain. It made me realise that it was not all a big drama, but simply that I felt that I hadn’t been loved by my family or that they did not see me for who I truly am. It is painful to feel the enormity of this, but in the end; it is my choice to either stay in the suffering the rest of my life or take responsibility and deal with it. I became aware of what I was doing to myself.
Great... So how would you describe your relationship with food now? I am enjoying food now very much and I love to cook. I am actually tasting my food and taking my time. I prepare my food with love and that is a huge change. The funny thing is, I weigh more now than ever before.
Do you have any feeling about what lies underneath girls and women having eating disorders and anorexia? For me it has to do with a lack of self-love and a lack of self-worth. But the most important thing is that we all are longing for the love of our parents. If we don’t get confirmation of our own love by our parents; who haven’t received it from their parents, then we begin to doubt ourselves and wonder whether we are lovable even though our true essence is love. You make yourself invisible by being thin, but actually you scream for love and attention. I feel there is a chronic lack of self-worth within women that already starts at a very young age. Later I actually realized that my father did love me but that he expressed this in his own way. This was for me something to accept, which I learned later.
You have worked with women who have had anorexia, can you see the same pattern with these women? Yes, I had a close girlfriend who died from anorexia. She also didn’t feel the love from her parents and she was desperately longing for this. I also worked with another woman, who was a twin, and she also had anorexia. She always believed that her mother loved her twin sister more than her. She was always busy putting herself down and had a deep lack of self-worth. Photograph by Iris Pohl
When I look at you now, I see this woman who is doing amazingly well, you are blossoming and you look great. What different choices did you make to come to where you are now? I have brought more awareness in my life and I am better at listening to my body and the signals it gives. I have taken more responsibility for my life and my choices. Instead of holding myself back, I appreciate myself more and focus on the good things about myself. I am less critical. Most of us only focus on what is not good about ourselves and what we have to improve. Every day itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a learning process, because there are still times that I am critical about myself. I experience more joy now, and I feel much clearer as a result of honestly dealing with my issues from the past. I stopped feeling like a victim because I chose to take responsibility for myself.
I take better care of myself, I take more time with things if needed, and I pay attention to looking after myself first, instead of neglecting myself in order to be there all the time for others. Food for me now is love. The more you love yourself, the more nourishing food you choose. I still have times that I eat too fast but thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s okay, I know that with each day I learn more about myself and to love myself is the biggest lesson in life.
REFLECT ON YOU
Take a Quiz... Become Aware Do You Feel Worthy?
elf-worth is something women struggle with no matter what age they are. It is all too familiar getting caught in behaviours of pleasing others, trying to look a certain way, living up to expectations, wanting to be perfect and making situations all okay for everyone else, regardless of how it feels for you. Appreciating where your self-worth is strong, and identifying where it can grow with an honest approach to looking at what can change are both great tools in building self-worth... take the quiz and see what you uncover.
When you look in the mirror do you like what you see? A B C
Do you take time for yourself and do what you need to do? Nice bath, walking or exercising etc.. A B C
Yes, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sexy! Mmm, sometimes, but I can pick and choose what I like. Nope, no way, I cringe.
Yep, I find it easy to make time and put myself first. Sometimes, not all the time, but it does happen for the important things. How do you do that?
Do you feel honoured and cherished in your relationships with others as a woman? A B C
Do you adjust to what people say so that they are okay or comfortable? A B C
Yes, I wouldn’t accept anything less. I have doubts about certain things, but mostly it’s okay. What does that mean?
Nope, I say what I feel and do what I need to do regardless how others might get upset. Sometimes, sometimes not, I’m trying not to... Yes, no need to rock the boat!
Do you stress over people’s problems and try to help out all the time? A B C
No, never stress, but help when needed. Sometimes, I am learning not to though – it puts me out to much. Yep, that’s how I get recognised.
When you get dressed, do you know you’re worth the time and pick clothes just for you? A B C
Yes, I love my clothes, and pick what fabric/ what I feel like wearing that day. Sometimes I’m too rushed, but sometimes I take time and play around with them. No, I just chuck on whatever- or something I know others will like.
Do you feel like you are beneath or above others? No, I know everyone’s equal and we all have our part to play. Sometimes, but I shake my head when the thought comes in. Yes, some people are just better than me..
A B C
Do you compare, judge and find yourself less/more attractive to other women? No, I feel that I am beautiful, and others are too. I do pick sometimes yes… Yes, majority or all of the time! I don’t feel okay with myself.
A B C
When your partner or someone else talks about what they like in another, do you get jealous or feel down or less worthy? No, Hardly ever. I notice I do, but remind myself that I’m okay. Yes – it makes me insecure that they talk about another like that.
A B C
Do you pick and choose stuff you like/ don’t like about yourself? A B C
I pick stuff I like, which, is a lot. Okay everything. I do, but then try to correct it and push those thoughts away or find where they come from. Yes, I don’t like my thighs.
How did you go? Mostly C’s Your self-worth needs some pick me up! Try feeling into what is right for you and follow it through... Take time to admire your beauty, push those negative thoughts out of the way, eat foods that feel good at both ends :) ...Stop fussing over kids, colleagues, friends and husbands at the expense of you, relax by taking a bath, go for a gentle walk, express and communicate your feelings, ask for support. But really, the main thing is, try to become more aware of all the ways you tell yourself you are not good enough, as these negative thoughts and feelings lead to the unloving behaviours... Saying no to that dress that you know looks amazing on you is giving power to the negative thoughts. Hiding your true beauty and hiding your natural sexy-ness is not being modest ladies, it’s affecting your self-worth! Love your skin and take care of it to cherish yourself, simple changes that stop you adding things to the lack of self-worth pile. The most important thing though, love yourself to the bone!
Mostly B’s You’re on your way! Your self-worth is there, it just needs more developing... Keep doing what you’re doing and start to build and refine it. Keep noticing where you drop yourself and make yourself less and where you beat yourself up. Love yourself to the bone and that self-worth will sky rocket!
Mostly A’s Whoa, You’re on fire! Your self-worth honours you and who you are. You love who you are and the skin you’re in. You feel honoured, beautiful, allowing and hardly stressed, simply because you take that time for you! Keep doing what you’re doing and your self-worth will get even stronger. Keep feeling into what’s honouring and taking that to the next level.
WISDOM SPEAKS Truly Valuing Yourself Makes Just Having Sex Not an Option By Josephine Bell / Australia
et me start by saying that if you truly value yourself and have selfworth you will never ‘just have sex’. Sounds radical, I know, but it’s true. However you may be open to the wonderful possibility of ‘making love’ with the right person. There is a difference, and it is in more than the words. I was saddened recently to watch a video that interviewed half a dozen gorgeous young women, all who had found themselves in various compromising situations where they ended up having sex when they didn’t want to because they felt they ‘should’. None of them felt good about it afterwards but the interesting thing is most of them felt somehow responsible for the wellbeing of their partner and they put that before honouring and valuing their own feelings. In only one instance was there any possibility of physical danger for lack of submission. None of these beautiful women showed any sign of a real sense of their own value, or the profound preciousness held in their bodies . . . but of course deep down they did know this, as we all do, and felt deeply 28
the selling out. But most of them made it okay, not so important, a casual brush-off rather than allowing themselves to feel what had actually happened. After all what did it really matter? It matters a lot. Why do we allow someone to actually enter the intimate and sacred area of our body when we really didn’t want them there? That part of your body, the most intimate place inside, your cervix, is the holder of the preciousness and divinity of a woman. It is no surprise that women will feel a little ‘out of sorts’ when they allow sex to occur in this way, as that hard sexual energy is going right up into that precious part of you and beyond. I feel we need a much deeper understanding about sex, sexual energy and making love, and I speak from having been there because I also have given myself away sexually. Where does it start? For me it started because I had a deep craving to be loved, to be held in a man’s arms and to be able to love back. The ‘craving’ for this
came because I was actually disconnected from myself, and couldn’t feel the exquisite and lovely young woman I was. There was also no outer confirmation of this, there was nothing around me that told me any different. My self-worth was almost zero, what little I had came from being good at doing things, with no appreciation of what lay within me. I had just about completely left myself and had given myself away to popular ideas that were floating around at the time. And this was because it suited me to be in flight from myself and be carried away with the excitement of what my newly awakened hormones seemed to be promising instead of feeling what was truly going on inside me. And so began my flight and foray into men and sex – and the lovelessness that came with it. Don’t get me wrong, I ‘loved’ men and their quality but I also needed their attention. All around me at the time the media was propagating the sexual revolution. It was cool to have sex, everyone was doing it and it was a rejection of the old values. It was natural, it was free, it was fun . . . liberating to be sexually active. I was also romantic
and had some very romantic notions about sex and what it should be like. And that’s exactly what the young man with whom I had my first real sexual encounter told me, “You’re too romantic”.
I felt crushed, stupid, uncool and it hurt. And yet I also felt that I was right, that there was so much more and that I’d given a part of myself away and it hadn’t been valued. But hey, that’s what everybody else was doing, perhaps I was weird or had got it wrong. What used to surprise me in those early experimentations was how these boys or young men — who could be so nice, charming and attractive — how they actually felt when they stuck their tongues in my mouth. It felt awful, like a hard grasping energy was coming through them and it didn’t feel anything like I imagined it, or Photographs by Iris Pohl
perhaps more truthfully knew it should be. So there was no love in it, it was just need and sexual drive — I could say it was violent. It felt like an assault, and that in itself was confusing — isn’t this meant to be a most beautiful and desirable experience? Giving up on boys, I had a mental idea that having an older lover would be a good way to learn about sex. Well I did learn a lot about sex but again I found myself feeling that I had let myself down. Once more I felt I had to make some grade of sophistication or cool. Sex was something you had to know how to do . . . I had a very strong sense of wanting to be a good lover and please the man. Being a good lover was important, it felt like it gave me value but it was really a mental imposition on the tenderness, vulnerability and sensitivity I felt inside, just to be myself. Finally I got to be with someone I felt I ‘loved’ but he turned out to be completely unable to be faithful. It was the hardest cut of all and yet I stayed with him for a while. And so my lack of self-worth just got lower and all in the guise of ‘loving’ the other person. Not really examining and trusting my own feelings and having no sense that my inner feelings were actually telling me what was right for me. Why did I stay? Because I thought I should be able to handle it. After all that was part of the ‘mores’ of the time, jealousy was not cool — it was easier to accept these
outer standards than be responsible and honour my own feelings. And what are the ‘mores’ of current times? Phone sexting and texting, naked selfies, teenage boys and girls (and younger) watching pornography and making their own explicit videos that are freely shared via the net. Giving a boy a blow job is as casual as having a cigarette in some school yards. Our bodies become objects to gain the attention we desperately need because we have lost connection with ourselves and our sense of self-worth. As I continued, each experience built a layer of more hardness over me while inside my own tender beauty called out to be recognised, cherished and listened too.
This is what happens to young girls, as they give themselves away to the norms, the current values around them, they gradually lose touch with or override their finer feelings which are telling them something else and offering them a way back to themselves. We grow hard in our sophistication, and yes our vaginas and cervix grow hard and
unfeeling too. We develop a need for sex, a drive and in many instances become as predatory as men traditionally are supposed to be, even hunting our sexual experiences through online hook-up sites. A quick sexual sandwich with a stranger and then back to our busy-ness. The sad thing is that nowadays this is considered a normal part of modern life. But what is really going on, what about these women’s bodies that are being so used? Well, we currently have a tidal wave of physical ailments that affect the reproductive area of our bodies as women: Endometriosis, Ovarian Cysts, Painful Periods, PMT, Fybrocystic breasts, Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer or precancerous conditions, Thrush, Herpes, STDs, HPV, HIV, Cystitis and so the list goes on with some of it leading to surgery in our later (and earlier) years. A silent wave of pain and discomfort that many women just accept as a normal part of life but it doesn’t get brought out into the open and examined. Let’s just take a pill and suppress it and once again get on with our busy lives. In the years that I abandoned myself to sex, I too had a string of gynaecological complaints and even ended up in hospital with ovarian cysts. But did I listen? No. The drive outside myself to seek exciting experiences and the need for what I thought was love was simply too strong, besides I
thought I was enjoying it. And although I did stop this form of behaviour some years later, it hasn’t been until recently that I have understood how the body reflects our behaviour on all levels. For example the ovaries store our experiences and our lack of self-worth affects their functioning and the breasts being our nurturing centres reflect our lack of self-nurturing. So is it any surprise that one in eight women develops breast cancer, endometriosis is on the rise and PMT is considered normal? It is a common experience throughout our society for women to accept less than love in their sexual experiences — even with their long-term partners and husbands — because they love them and want to please them, because they don’t know what else to do, or perhaps because they are afraid of losing them if they say no. When these marriages reach middle age we often find the women turning away from sex and not wanting to participate any longer. Is this our menopausal hormones or is it the deeply buried truth of compromise resurfacing in our bodies and asking to be recognised? Every woman deserves to be deeply honoured, cherished and to make love — not subject herself to sex, but how can this be if we don’t value ourselves first, realise how precious we are inside and start to listen to ourselves and what our bodies are telling us, and then act on those impulses?
Photographs by Iris Pohl
with Dr Maxine recently read an article written by a woman that stated that it was a feminist, strong and powerful act for a well known female celebrity to pose topless – simply because she had small breasts – and thus, it was a strong and courageous thing to do.
with their small penises or testicles, on show to publicly affirm their self-worth, power and confidence . . . do we? . . . and one would never dream of discussing it in these terms.
Feminist? Strong? Powerful? Empowered…?
As ridiculous as it may sound, consider how we would react if a ‘powerful’ male CEO or our male public leaders saw the need to pose semi or completely naked, sexually or otherwise, to publicly or personally affirm their self-confidence? Would they be seen as powerful for doing so? We would never dream of asking a man to act in such a way to affirm his power, so why would we expect or consider otherwise from women and call that ‘powerful’?
Really . . .? Is this what we really feel deep inside it is to be an empowered and powerful woman? To pose and be photographed topless for the entire world to see your breasts? Seriously? Is this really what we want to teach our young girls and women what it is to be an ‘empowered’ and ‘powerful’ woman?! This is not the true message of an empowered, confident and powerful woman, and it is certainly not the true empowerment or power that we are seeking as women in society. Rather, this is a ‘sign of the times’ for all women who instead are folding to the call from society to be far less than who they truly are. We do not see men being depicted publicly with a ‘confident’ stance 32
So, why the different attitude and discussion when it comes to a woman’s body?
Consider that, once one is seen naked in the public arena, one can be viewed as an object, and not as the full woman one truly is. Once one is seen as an object, one is seen as a ‘thing’ to be owned, rather than a person to be connected with, respected, honoured and cherished. As women, we are far more than our bodies. We deserve to be loved, appreciated, honoured, respected and cherished for who we are, without any focus or consideration to our cup size or the shape or size of our thighs. However, this celebrity is not alone – she has only done more publicly and for no doubt
profit, what many women, and young girls in particular, are doing more commonly every day on social media. There is a prevalent use of social media sites such as Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and others where many women post posed, carefully constructed and, at times, digitally altered images of their bodies, naked or semi naked, that are in no different terms also objectifying themselves for the pleasuring view of others in return for the ‘like’ they receive from public viewing. This particular female celebrity is quoted as saying: “I don’t mind exposing my tits because they’re so small – people aren’t really that interested”. And she would not be alone in such a statement. But Is this really a true statement of womanhood and self-worth? Do we now believe that for women of all ages to have a true confidence and respect for themselves and their bodies, that they need to pose nude or semi-nude? OR Is it instead a statement that shows that as women we have accepted to lower the bar of the ‘status quo’, to disregard the value of ourselves, our breasts and our bodies . . . ? It is a sign that we are in great need of true change.
And, This change will come from women To begin a different way of thinking a question to consider here: On whose terms are we to decide the ‘worth’ of our breasts? Public opinion? How many ‘likes’ we get on social media? Or, Our own terms? Is the worth of us as women to be determined by public opinion of the shape of our breasts or bodies? Does the size of our breasts determine the ‘worth’ of our breasts, or is it the worth of the woman to whom the breasts belong? Is not the true worth of a woman who she is, and thus, her body is sacred and to be honoured, cherished and respected because of who she is, and not because the body has a certain shape or configuration that society may in its most fickle way ‘value’ or ’desire’ at any given point in time? Are not the breasts worth everything because they are sacred to the woman they are attached to? Photograph by Iris Pohl
ON THE PULSE
Men certainly do not need to show their nipples or indeed their more intimate below-the-belt--man-parts to feel sexy or be seen as powerful, so why the need for women?
And, are clothes really such a bad thing...? On billboards everywhere we see young women, semi naked, sometimes fully naked but with select camera angles to not expose the ‘sensitive bits’. Everywhere we look we see young women sexualised, ranging from semi- naked, to fully naked, usually sexually suggestive, selling ‘fashion’ or ‘fragrance’. There are large billboard advertisements where there are naked young women huddled together to sell ‘skin care’. We do not see naked men huddled together smiling suggestively at the camera to sell skin care, or cologne, or anything else, ever . . . in fact, we usually see men fully clothed, in positions of power looking confident and strong in our public media. Where in real life I ask you are welladjusted women huddled naked together? Corporate boardrooms? Hospital wards? Classrooms….? What is it that makes us think that there is something sexy or powerful about women being seen in public topless and/or naked? Are we to see ourselves as ‘powerful’ or ‘sexy’ because we are willing to get publicly nude? Are we supposed to get publicly nude if we want to be seen as powerful and sexy? There was a recent campaign called ‘#freethenipple’ where women are encouraged to be able to display their nipples in public, as though there should be 34
no shame about women displaying their full bodies in public. Certainly, there is absolutely nothing shameful about a woman’s body, it is something to be deeply appreciated and honoured, but do we really need to show the naked female body in all its anatomical detail to make a point that there is nothing shameful about a woman’s body? Are we not then falling into the exact same cultural construct where women are demanded and expected to be seen naked to be a societal object at any given moment? Lets consider, another ridiculous possibility – is it really a powerful thing to whip out your nipple? . . . for example, perhaps in the middle of a business meeting, just, well, because you felt like ‘freeing’ it to be ‘powerful’ – “Well guys, I wanted to show you how powerful I am in this important meeting so I thought I would show you my nipple. . . and. . . here it is!. . . are you feeling my power?” ... or, is it rather more powerful to have the confidence to be who you are in full and be fully articulate in that, in your clothes, without being diminished? Men certainly do not need to show their nipples or indeed their more intimate below-the-belt-man-parts to feel sexy or to be seen as powerful, so why the need for women? Lets face it ladies – what are we really freeing ourselves from with the #freethenipple movement – dignity?
We are far more than our bodies. So why is it that there is such pressure for us to show our bodies and to be seen as ‘bodies’ and not the full woman that we are? Is this talk of ‘empowerment’ and ‘power’ as women to have the ‘confidence’ to pose naked in public not just another trick for us to hide our true worth and beauty? Certainly, women are free to choose to do with their bodies as they choose, but does it really and truly and deeply honour the woman to expose our naked bodies – or parts thereof ¬– for public viewing and entertainment? Is it a true reflection of selfworth? Or is it simply bowing to societal pressure, a lowering of the bar of the status quo, to be seen topless, or naked for societal derision, inspection, titillation, judgement, approval and or disapproval and above all, attention? What’s next as the bar lowers even further – labia photography in ‘fashion’ magazines? Or perhaps no clothes at all in the workplace to ‘prove’ we are comfortable in our ‘sexuality and our bodies’ as women in the workplace? Where do we draw the line, and do we?
I am no prude, but I find it concerning to see the drive and the pressure on women to be seen naked in society and have a particular shape. This does not honour the sacredness of the women that we are, and increasing the images that we see of women naked are NOT in fact empowering to women. These images are not empowering women to be who they are and to celebrate who they are, rather they are still making the worth of a woman about her body, and it is a selling of the woman’s body as an easy and cheap commodity for society. Highlighting this topical issue that a woman’s worth is pinned more to her looks and her body than who she is within, is that the fact that according to recent data gathered by ‘Techinfographics’, over one million selfies are taken every day. This figure could possibly be even more, however what is of particular interest is that 36% of people admitted to altering their selfies. And whilst this is the figure of those who ‘admitted’ it, this number doesn’t count for the already well-posed “best looking” angles we all know you find in a selfie designed to show ‘the body’ - or selected part(s) thereof! - to the best effect, for the most ‘likes’.
What if true POWER was a woman willing to say no to conforming to current ill-trends, to be willing to stay steady in herself, going against the tide with her head above the crowd…
Photograph by Iris Pohl
When you make the focus about the body of a woman being seen naked or otherwise, or being a particular shape, you are making that woman’s body a public commodity and feeding societal expectations that it is normal for a woman to objectify herself and to be seen as an ‘object of desire’ and not as the woman in her wholeness. When you make a public image selling a woman’s body or worse, part of her body, you are not making it about the woman as a whole being seen, you are making it about her body, something less than she is in her entirety and she then becomes an object who has or is ‘That Thing’ that you want…. or perhaps do not want... Objects are not seen as people to be accorded equal respect; objects are there to be owned, they are seen as less than the people that own them and are thus there to be the recipient of the ‘owner’s’ or potential ‘buyer’s’ whims, treated as ‘less than’. If we put our bodies or parts of our bodies out there as ‘objects’ and thus lessen their worth and by that, our worth, let us consider, what worth do we attract from others?
Breasts are breasts and they are part of the woman’s body, they are part of the sacredness of a woman regardless of size. It matters not whether they are DDDDDDD or AAAAA, they are still sacred to the woman. Displaying them to be public makes them an object. It makes them public property. It makes the woman to whom they are attached an object to be the recipient of anything anyone in the viewing ‘public’ chooses. As we know, public property is usually not respected ¬– it is often graffitied and treated with immense disrespect and disregard. Are women truly to be seen as any more valuable than typical public property once they make themselves and their bodies public property? This female celebrity who posed with her ‘small breasts’ is now not seen for the full woman that she is, she is rather seen as ‘that famous woman with small breasts who showed them in public’. She is now identified. She is now known by her breasts in all their anatomical details, and not as herself in full. Society now owns her body, she does not. She has sold it and with that her self-worth. There is no need to pose naked for the public when one has small breasts, nor even when
ON THE PULSE
one has large breasts. It does not prove anything. It does not add to ones power or sexiness, because ones power was not diminished for having small breasts, nor increased for having large breasts. There is no crime and no deficiency as a woman to have small breasts and it certainly does not make one less desirable as a woman to have small breasts, nor more truly desirable to have large breasts. The true desirability of a woman is the essence of who she is.
stooping to meet societal expectations or demands that ask you to be ‘a body’.
There is nothing wrong with dignity. Dignity is sexy.
That it is empowered and truly womanly to have the confidence to meet people, in your clothes, in the full appreciation of who you are and all that you bring as a woman, and not bow to societal pressure to get your kit off to be seen as a ‘body’.
What if true POWER was a woman willing to say no to conforming to current ill-trends, to be willing to stay steady in herself, going against the tide with her head above the crowd… This woman would know and live that… That true self-worth is being courageous enough to treat your body with utmost respect and love. That real power as a woman is found in the choice to honour yourself in full without
That it is empowering and a powerful thing to wear clothes that reflect who you are, ones that you feel comfortable in and enjoy wearing. That it is a strong statement as a woman to have the confidence to ask people to know who you are in full, and not know and see you by your cup size or nipple colour.
That it is truly powerful to be who you are in full in all of your engagements, never being less for anyone, never seeking to make yourself less to make others more comfortable, appreciating yourself at every step. Now that would be a table turner.
Photographs by Iris Pohl
Your Body & You
Valuing Ourselves and Our Health By Rachel Hall / Australia
big issue facing so many women today is that we do not value ourselves for who we are, tending to gauge our worth more on what we do or are good at. This can lead to low self-esteem, poor confidence and a lack of self-worth, which affects how we feel about ourselves on a daily basis. Often when we do not value ourselves this produces negative self-talk, feelings of disdain or even self-hatred that can easily spiral into self-abusive language and behaviours towards ourselves; potentially manifesting in cases of self-harm, cutting, extreme dieting or developing eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. How do our conditions end up being at the far at the end of the spectrum as these examples depict? Could it be that simply not taking the best care of our overall wellbeing and seeing to our own health-care needs can also stem from not feeling worthwhile? Why is valuing ourselves as women so important to our health? It is incredibly important because how we view who we are directly affects how we think, feel and treat ourselves in every moment. This affects our internal dialogue and our relationship with ourselves and our bodies, how we relate to other people and what behaviour or treatment we will tolerate or accept from ourselves and from another. 38
When we feel like we are worth cherishing we naturally take better care of ourselves and make time for our health, by eating foods that nourish and support us, exercising, going to bed when we feel tired and taking the time to nurture ourselves in a deeply caring way.
When we nurture ourselves we are less stressed or anxious and are less likely to be self-abusive or neglectful of the signs or symptoms of any health issues and aches or pains that require our attention. Valuing ourselves increases the likelihood that we will be more pro-active in taking true care of our wellbeing. We can support our bodies by going for a healing session, massage, dental visit or preventive health check and screening because we are simply worth this and are not willing to wait for a health issue to arise. Self-worth and the way we feel about who we are as women is deeply related to how we care for ourselves and our level of self-nurturing, and is intrinsically related to how we approach and value our health. Learning to truly value and care about who we are, so that we feel we are worthy of the love and attention we can give ourselves, is an essential part of any wellbeing and healthcare plan. Photograph by Iris Pohl
MY BODY Alcohol and Drugs: A Form of Self-abuse By Carolien Braakenburg / Belgium & Vanessa McHardy / UK
owadays recreational use of alcohol and drugs is very much embedded in our society, as is over-use. It is socially acceptable to drink on a daily basis and even for adolescents drinking alcohol and experimenting with drugs is seen as normal. Only few question the use of these substances that scientifically are actually classified as poison. Not that we need to know this scientific fact, as all of us who have ever had a glass ‘too many,’ know that this information is being shared loud and clear from our own body. Yet even after the worst of hangovers, or an embarrassing night that we just do not remember, we do not stop to change our behaviour. We may say ‘ugh never again!’, but next weekend we do not seem to remember this solemn vow, nor do we ever think twice about WHY we had that glass too many. Feeling a little bit off or more tired the next morning after a ‘normal’ use of alcohol and or drugs is not acknowledged for what it really is: a sign from our body that it is having a hard time with what we did to it. But let’s get really honest here… Do we not, at some level, always realise that what we chose was actually harming us? And, have we not become very good at ignoring this inner wisdom? When we do admit this, the next question needs to be – Why? “Why am I choosing to harm myself?” We need to start looking at what it is in our relationship with ourselves that we choose to hurt ourselves knowingly through our choices.
For us to find the answer to the question of why we abuse ourselves, we need to stop, and be willing to honestly and openly listen to our body. We need to truly feel the effect of the choices we are making on all levels of our well-being. 40
Loving The Body You’re In
Vanessa 43yrs describes her last hangover “I can remember my last hangover like it was yesterday (it was 8 years ago) I can smell the alcohol seeping out of my pores, the tightness in my face like my skin had shrunk, I can taste the foulness of my breath, I can feel the shaking of my hands, the ache in my head, all over my head. The whole hangover lasted for 5 days, a constant feeling of pain in my entire body. And funnily enough, my last hangover felt exactly the same as my first hangover, yet, I drank consistently for 19 years.“
It may sound harsh to some, or exaggerated, to call using drugs and alcohol self abuse, but when we look at the simple facts of how these substances effect our body and well-being, there really is no way around it. The effects are for some devastating, not only physically, as it shows in the headaches, nausea, vomiting, dehydration and aching pain all over the body or for others life threatening diseases, but equally so in the affect it can have on our relationships and surroundings. These effects are very common and noticeable for many, however, Photograph by Iris Pohl
MY BODY & I
the deepest harm lies within the burying of what it is we are so desperately avoiding in ourselves. If we are choosing to put poison into our bodies and happily take the after effects, then what is driving our use? What is it bringing us? Could it be that we use these substances to mask or numb the less physical pains that we carry within ourselves? In other words, we seek the numbness to not feel this pain we carry, such as; the suffering of others, the sufferings of the world, and fundamentally to not feel the pain of not loving ourselves for who we innately are. We know love, as it is who we are by essence, and if or when we make choices that do not honour this knowing in ourselves and our bodies, then we are not living the love that we are, resulting in us making choices from lack of self-love, self-loathing or fear of rejection.
Vanessa shares that: “At the basis of my drinking was a lack of self-worth, an emptiness, a feeling that I was not worth very much. That actually it would be better if I were different or prettier or smarter or clever or richer or tidier, but altogether different to how I was. So to avoid feeling any of the latter I focused on having ‘fun’ with others who were wanting to have fun. It became clear to me that I was choosing to live like this and abuse myself in this way.”
If we come to this clear realisation, then from there the road to take is one of making choices that honour our bodies because somewhere deep down we can feel we are worth it.
Vanessa: “The reason my hangover lasted a week was because I had really slowed down my alcohol consumption and starting to question why it was that I would drink. This was motivated after attending Esoteric Healing sessions. During these sessions I got to feel a whole new marker in my body. I felt amazing in my body! – better than any drug or drink I had EVER had, and all that was happening was that someone was placing their hands on me in love without any imposition or self-gaining intention.”
The experience of hands on Sacred Esoteric Healing offers a marker to the body of what is possible when we become still and allow ourselves the time to feel. Through exploring what came up in these sessions for me to feel, I became more aware of patterns and behaviours that were abusive for me. From here, I was supported to have the opportunity to look lovingly at those ways of being and living that are not in line with my true tender nature, a nature I had long disconnected with and appreciated that I had. The more I was able to feel how truly lovely and gentle I am the less I wanted to harm myself. The desire to numb myself with alcohol reduced significantly to the point where it is something I no longer wanted to do”
“From that experience I started to take better care of my self, with the food I ate and how I slept and eventually how I had ‘FUN’.” Having these sessions allowed me to connect to a quality within myself that I had not felt for a long time and it supported me immensely in dealing with the hurts and issues that I had been burying for so long! So in feeling the loveliness within and at the same time dealing with the hurts I still had, I no longer had any need for alcohol in my life. It was easy to let go of.” “Recently a friend was doing a dry January (where you don’t drink for the month of January) and she asked me “how do you do it?” and I said “I love not drinking, I don’t miss it at all” there is not one ounce of my body that would want to harm itself in this way. Which is pretty amazing considering I used to drink daily and often too much only 8 years ago.
I guess the key is that I live more from honouring my body instead of numbing from my mind”
By choosing self-love instead of and over self-abuse, we can re-connect to the beautiful being that we are within. Nothing could ever beat the feeling of the warmth and glow of our innate being that is love! When we allow ourselves to feel this and build a relationship with ourselves, we will naturally be making more loving choices. Choices that will support back to the truth of knowing we are all so incredibly worth it!
Photographs by Emilia Pettinato
Most women can relate to the feeling of a lack of self-worth at some point in their life, if not sadly, for a majority of their life. But did you know that this isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t an emotional condition that we have to tolerate. It can be healed, truly. This healing starts by a commitment to introducing a way of relating to yourself that is based on a true value and worth defined by your inner essence, and not by outside influences.
Photographs by Iris Pohl
Self-Worth . . . Where to Start?
Have you ever noticed how abrupt & careless we can be with our body? We can go through the motions on autopilot and not be aware of the quality we do things in. Experiment with what it would feel like to be tender and gentle with yourself.
Do you listen to what your body is asking for? Our body gives loud and clear signals that, if listened to and acted upon will naturally help us take care of ourselves. How often do we ignore the signals because we want to finish what we are doing first? Like not going to bed when we are already nodding off? We often prioritise what we need to do over what our body is saying it needs. Support your body by acting upon what it needs to be cared for.
Self Appreciation . . . Are you always quick to point out what is wrong with yourself? Then maybe itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time to turn this pattern of self-criticism around, and start introducing some self-appreciation as well. Practice pointing out all that felt good in your day first, and then recognising what might need changing for next time. Self-appreciation is built by recognising, acknowledging and appreciating our own unique qualities. 45
n our first Edition we explored the concept of honesty when it comes to the realm of dating and searching for a partner. As part of that we looked at the way women, via different sources and throughout their entire lives, have been conditioned to believe in a particular dream; that at some point during their adulthood a ‘Mr. Right’ would more or less miraculously appear looking for them. This occurrence would then lead to a ‘living happily ever after’ story. To debase this dream and release the grip it has on our view of, and expectations towards, our lives as women we need to commit to a deeper level of awareness and understanding of this topical issue. Somehow we seem to think that it is enough, if we have a certain kind of ‘feeling’, a certain amount of attraction, a reasonable level of communication, a few joint interests and enough information about a man’s 46
family and background, that this is sufficient reason for a romantic involvement after a relatively short time. Unfortunately in a lot of cases, we discover later that this was a wrong judgement as the constantly rising number of separations and divorces in our so-called developed countries society is proving. So how to approach it differently? Rarely are women honestly exploring what kind of relationship they were or are actually looking for. How much attention are we prepared to spend on discovering a bit more about our not-so-conscious ideas and ideals in regard to partnerships? Would it be possible to imagine for example, that we could use the conversations with our women friends to deepen our understanding about our wishes, hopes, ideals and even illusions when it comes to dating and relationships? Increased awareness in any
Dating with Karin The Adventure of Dating By Karin Becker / Australia
part of our lives results in an increased sense of empowerment, decreased sense of victimhood and more conscious choices. The subjects to honestly explore amongst others could be: What expectations do we have? ˚ Are we only looking for a friendship or ˚ platonic relationship to keep us company? ˚
On the contrary, are we searching for more loose encounters of one or maybe a few nights? Are we really looking to find a partner to share our life with, even moving in with or getting married?
Being aware of these very different ideas can make a lot of difference when it comes to the partner search whether the meetings are face to face or via online dating sites.
From experience it can be said, that finding a long-term partner to build a nurturing and truly loving relationship requires some ‘soul searching’ within ourselves first. Here are some helpful tips to consider as part of your self-exploration:
How did my last, or even previous relationships end? Unresolved emotions left over from separations and divorces can significantly impact on our dating experience if we are not attempting to be very aware and conscious of their existence. In fact, old hurts in any area of our life have an impact on the way we approach our present relationships. If we carry unresolved feelings of hurt into a dating process/new relationship, they will easily alter and taint the new interaction.
Photographs by Iris Pohl
RELATIONSHIPS With repeated disappointments and feelings of rejection, it is common to take on conscious or even unconscious expectations that this will re-occur. This can literally cloud our clear view and perception of certain situations and behaviours of the prospective new partner. We might at times be more reactive, less hopeful and prone to negative expectations. If any of the above is the case, you can almost be certain it will somehow flow into the interaction of the new relationship. As human beings we usually are feeling and perceiving a lot more from our partners and prospective partners than we might be willing to expose. One of the things we have a radar for in another is a feeling of ‘shut down’ or negative energy, it makes us uncomfortable and insecure and has a repelling affect. Therefore it is not very conducive to building a trusting foundation for relating in a fresh way with potential partners. After exploring the above issue it can be said, that the healing of old wounds and hurts is very beneficial before and during the adventure of dating and relationships. Awareness of these dynamics is essential if we are to ever shift this, and restore a more open and receptive place from which we can approach any new potential partner.
What is the relationship I have with myself? Old hurts increase our lack of self-worth, a condition most women have been suffering from to a certain degree since their childhood. Many of us have missed being truly seen and connected to by our parents in early childhood. Even though this is not meant here as a judgment on our parents, as due to their own experiences our parents did their best. However, this lack of true connection has left most of us with a weak sense of self. As children we keep compounding this sense of failure and lowered self-esteem. 48
By the time we start dating our increased lack of self-worth leads to feelings of despondency and a sense of not deserving a truly close and loving relationship. This condition results in, and can be observed as, the inner chatter we entertain in our own heads; when we are talking ourselves down, making ourselves small and are convinced we are less than others. In general for women this situation is being aggravated by our tendency to constantly compare ourselves with other women and coming up short. As a pattern, if this is constantly repeated, it constitutes part of our relationship with ourselves. This can then play out in different ways, but ultimately sabotages receiving the expression of another’s love into your life.
Who is the YOU that you are taking with you when you are going to your first date? Or differently phrased, who are YOU going to be on your first date? Are you possibly feeling nervous and insecure while getting ready, not sure what to wear, not really happy with how you look? Worried that things might not go so well? Concerned with what to talk about with basically, a stranger? A relationship is formed by every interaction that you have together and your future foundation is created by these first interactions in dating. Therefore, it is vitally important to be the real you up front, and this is not a switch that you can turn on just for a hot new date! . . . it’s got to be an everyday livingness that supports you whether you are currently dating or not. If we are not able to love ourselves, it will be difficult to accept the love from another, and even if we are being told that we are beautiful, special, talented and lovable, we can rarely allow this offered love into our bodies, feeling it in our hearts. On the other hand, if we were having an experience of
self-love within ourselves, these expressions of others would be appreciated and used as confirmation of our own sense of loveliness and self-worth. Hence, the relationship you have with you is paramount to what you then take into any dating or relationship experience. The exploration into the subject of lack of self-worth, when it comes to dating and relating in general, can enlighten us in regard to many ideas as well as any ideals we are holding that are motivating us to make repetitive choices which often lead to the same dreaded results. On this basis dating and relationships are rarely the deeply enriching experience they could possibly be. At this point, there are a few questions that are worth a ponder to support the deepening awareness and healing of your self-worth: What kind of relationship do you feel you deserve? Take time to be with this question. Generally speaking, we tend to start with a list heavily influenced by all the romantic comedies we’ve seen since our teens! It is however, a crucial question that we can ask ourselves. Have a look at what you have accepted in other relationships, is there a pattern? What you deserve is true love, but what you accept from another will come from the relationship you have with yourself.
Photograph by Clayton Lloyd
What expectations do you have in regard to yourself and your partner? This is a BIG topic in relationships, and sometimes one of the biggest destroyers. We need to be super honest about our expectations. Are you asking your partner to make up for, or fill a lack of what you’re missing in your own relationship to you? Your partner will never be able to fill that gap, but rather if you both bring a full YOU to the table, the sharing leads to much joy and deeper love. Are these expectations impossible to attain or are they all true qualities needed for a loving relationship? If your expectations are motivated by a desire to be protected from being hurt and rejected in a relationship, you are setting yourself up for pain. Keeping another person at arms length until they prove to be ‘safe’ to let in, is not a true way of building a relationship. Give someone a true go to know all of you, and if it doesn’t work out for whatever reason you at least walk away knowing you gave it your all. Navigating the dating terrain successfully requires a certain level of self-awareness and ability to self-reflect. Understanding our own motivations and intentions, as well as the ones of the potential new partners, is all part of developing our connections and relationships with others, and of course vital if we are to truly enjoy love, life and people.
MY BODY If I’m Dieting, I’m Alright By Alison Greig / Australia
The need to diet in an attempt to capture a sense of self-worth is a cruel and extraordinary punishment that many women put themselves through each and every day. From a young age I recall my sense of self-worth being measured by the size and shape of my body. I also recall a constant sense that I did not measure up and indeed I could not. My body did not fit within the parameters of what was considered beautiful by the current fashion. Whatever diet I tried I could not win against the form that I was meant to attain, the form that, because I believed I needed to be it, held me in a state of self-loathing and lack of worth for most of my adult life. I was not alone in this experience. Many women have an ideal weight – either measured by how much they weigh or the size of clothes they can fit into. Once upon a time the ‘perfect’ size, the size that was considered the picture of aspirational beauty, was a ten, now it is a size zero. If you consider that most women in western nations are an average size 14 this means that most women are not fitting this image of aspirational beauty. If a woman’s self-worth has been based upon her sense of physical beauty and that
has been defined in ways that she can never meet, then there is inevitably a problem. Dieting holds us captive An obsession with body image and weight holds most of the population captive. 75% of a large group surveyed in Britain reported having been on a diet in the previous 12 months and by the age of 45 most women would have been on 61 diets. That is a lot of dieting, a lot of willpower, and given the serial nature of dieting – a lot of giving up. What does the giving up, and continual sense of failure that inevitably accompanies it do to our self-worth? What many do not know is that traditional dieting is doomed to fail. 97% of people who lose weight by dieting will regain all the weight they have lost and gain some more. It is a vicious cycle, we are dieting in a race against feeling lack of self-worth and then we inevitably compound the experience of low self-worth with every failed diet.
Loving The Body You’re In Dieting – a lucrative business What is crazy is that we live in a false hope that this next diet will be different, this next diet will work, and the diet industry relies on just that to make a profit. A lot of profit. Billions of dollars in fact for a product that does not work, but the industry can conveniently blame the consumer for having failed at dieting, rather than considering that an approach based upon dieting has been proven not to work. What is fuelling our relationship to dieting? For most it is a sense of not measuring up – of only being worth something if we prove we can do what it takes to be very, very thin. A current icon of beauty, a very, very thin Super Model provided her answer for staying thin: “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” What she says echoes the message of the diet industry and is etched into our minds – as long as I am doing something about my weight, as long as I am working on it, as long as I am aspiring to be thin, I can allow my self a sense of self-worth – If I’m dieting, I’m alright. Instead of starving ourselves to be skinny in order to feel good about ourselves, is it possible to feel good about ourselves first? What shape are we already in if we need to
follow outside advice and deny, restrict and lock ourselves into a relationship with food, based on will power, self-loathing, denial and restriction instead of understanding, appreciation, self-worth and confidence? A starting point to breaking some of the bonds of the constant striving for the ‘perfect’ or ‘ideal’ body is to examine how we ended up with those ideals in the first place.
‘Everyone wants to lose weight’ Recent research in the USA suggested that at least 55-60% of people want to lose weight And although there appears to be a softening of attitudes to considering those who are overweight as unattractive – 55% of us in 1985 thought you looked more attractive if you were slimmer compared to only 23% holding this view in 2012. Experts suggest that this is a very human adjustment in perception, where dieting and weight loss has failed it is easier to adjust an internal attitude than make changes in lifestyle that are difficult. However, something that I have observed is that, even if you can say that others may be attractive if they are a few kilos overweight, it is a very different thing to say to yourself you are still beautiful and attractive if you are overweight. For every extra kilo is a thought – ‘I would look better if I was thinner’. Photograph by Iris Pohl
MY BODY & I
“The lack of love in you – expresses that lack throughout and out, And the true love in you, expresses that love within and then, for all to have.” Serge Benhayon
Where do the ideals about an ‘ideal’ body come from? Where did our obsession with weight and body image begin? In the Victorian era the perfect figure had an 18-inch waist – this was supported by corsetry that bound the human form into the desirable shape. There has in modern times always been a version of a fashionable body – from the Victorian ideals, to the boyish flapper of the 1920’s and the more buxom screen sirens of the 1950’s. What is certain, the trend of fashion and what is considered beauty at any one time will always find those who will not fit within the ideal of the time – the stylish flapper would not have been accepted as beautiful in 1950. But this did not translate to extremes of dieting until the 1940’s and 1950’s. BMI – Body Mass Index scale Our obsession with dieting, and a specific body weight and image, may be traced to the invention of the BMI scale, created by an insurance company in the 1940’s looking at mortality rates of clients aged 25-35 years old at the time of making a policy with them. They concluded that if they were overweight at that time then they were more likely to 52
die young. This scale was adopted as a norm and thus the average weight of a 25 year old became the standardised weight we were all meant to be. It is a measure based on weight and height and can be a good measure for population weight, but as a standard for setting individual weight it is a poor one, since the BMI does not differentiate varying body types or the difference between body fat and muscle mass. This concept of ideal weight meant that overnight, half the USA population were suddenly considered overweight. This wholesale adoption of the BMI scale appears to have burned into the American consciousness a belief that there was a weight problem – since everyone was told there was an ideal weight that they should be. This ideal weight has spread throughout the Western world – it has fuelled the diet industry which has burgeoned, based on a consumer market believing they were fat; it has reinforced bodyshame and self-loathing for all those who do not readily sit in a healthy weight range, and it has made many have an unrealistic expectation of the weight they should be, without cultural factors taken into account.
In fact, it was as if we woke up one morning and found that we had a problem that we did not have yesterday – because it didn’t ever exist - and since then our sense of selfworth has further decayed.
and how many are on a diet at any one time, the population in most western nations is getting fatter and further and further from an ideal weight.
The weight loss industry uses the BMI scale as the marker that consumers must reach to be regarded as succeeding on whatever weight loss plan they have purchased. However, the BMI figures were a reference for population health and the healthy weight range does not actually guarantee the best health, in fact being slightly ‘overweight’ appears to protect against mortality. It is true that there are health benefits to not being obese, but one thing is certain – population figures are not a good guide for an individual’s perfect weight. They do not take into account an individuals body shape, build and cultural background.
For some of us, an ideal weight will be imposed on us by the pictures we see in magazines and television of models and celebrities. Such body shapes are impossible for most to attain and, what is more, the images are digitally enhanced by computers using photo shop and airbrushing techniques, so we do not see a real image or a presentation of a real body. This can set us up for poor self-image and self-loathing of our own bodies, as we cannot possibly measure up to the ideal body and the ideal weight. We cannot computer generate changes to our own bodies.
The idea that everyone had a weight problem was used to market the diet industry, which presented itself as the solution to this terrible problem and caused many millions to adopt dieting as a way of life. What we now know is that dieting, does not work and for all the daily focus on weight
What we see on TV and in Magazines
The media has constantly bombarded us with an outer image to attain - men with large muscles, sexy women, the perfect family, the perfect bikini body, portraying taller, slimmer, perfected versions of who we could be. What does this do to our perception of body image and the ideal body? Does it change what we view as normal? Photograph by Iris Pohl
The ideal weight we aspire to may not be so ideal when we attain it What we do not see is that even people with what we imagine is the perfect body, who we believe are the ideal weight, are seeking to change something or are unhappy about the way they look. When people reach their goal weights with dieting they are often unhappy with the results – they will always find fault with the fact they have not lost enough weight off their thighs, their stomach is not flat….it all comes down to the battle for self-worth, which will not be won by reaching a goal weight or a perfect size. What if, rather than an ideal weight or perfect clothes size, we considered that
we each have a true shape – a shape that reflects a true expression of who we are, that we do not achieve by relentless dieting, (that does not work), surgeries or trying to achieve an elusive goal weight imposed by the BMI. What many have found is that as we develop a deeper understanding of what has been going on within ourselves, we may be able to begin to accept and enjoy our true weight, finding our shape, and let go of the idea that there is an ideal picture we had to be. We can develop a positive body image from within, not based upon an unrealistic external marker.
There is another way If we live from an ideal that comes from the outside and we try to achieve it, we do so at the expense of who we are inside and lose our regard for this most important part of ourselves. What if there may be a true weight that reflects a shape on the outside of who you are from within, and not what is directed and dictated from the outside back at you. As we develop a deeper understanding of how we have been influenced by external forces, and that there are other possibilities, we may also begin to accept and enjoy our true shape and let go of the idea that there is an ideal weight.
When we stop believing all the things that are wrong with us, stop measuring ourselves against the impossible images and ideals outside of ourselves and begin instead to live from within ourselves, we start to connect to the unique beauty we are and always have been and live from this knowing. When we build a connection with ourselves and begin to feel once more the beautiful, preciousness we innately are within, something amazing starts to happen: the things that fed our lack of self-worth begin to lose importance. Without a connection to ourselves it is easy to believe the hateful propaganda that we are too weak, too fat, too this or too that and to seek solutions like dieting, to fix a problem that did not really start with food. Our lack of self-worth began with us not feeling enough in the world, and we looked to the world to tell us how to be, what to say, do and look like to be considered worthwhile – to measure up and be ok. We can undo this– not by trying to make ourselves right with the ideal weight or perfect body – but by re-connecting to ourselves and finding out that who we are, and always have been, is perfect in and of itself.
From here, how we eat our food and how we treat ourselves, changes. Photo left: the women featured in this photo have each explored the topics shared throughout this article and through their livingness discovered a different understanding of dieting, weight and selfworth. If you would like to read more personal stories, go to – www.esotericwomenshealth.com/blog Photograph by Iris Pohl
True Power comes from Your Being Being Employed for Who You ARE Not What You Do!
A Different Way to Conduct Yourself in Job Interviews By Donna Harris / Australia
colleague and I were recently conducting interviews where I observed just how terrified the young candidates were. One woman felt so nervous that during the job interview she broke out in red hives all around her chest and neck. Another broke out in sweats and all of them looked frightened. Having just gone through the interview process twice last year I know all too well about being in the spot-light for your skills, performance and how stressful this can be. I used to put so much pressure on ‘getting the job’ and if I did not get it (which was many times) I would end up feeling like I had failed in some way, that somehow I was not good enough. I was comparing myself with the other applicants, instead of truly feeling if that was the job for me. I believed I needed that job to prove I was worth something. The whole process was set up so that my self-worth was defined by whether I got the job or not.
What if you went to an interview confident in who you are, first?
What if you were hired for who you are, whilst equally valued for your ability to do the job? Sounds simple. And, it is. Approaching an interview with a wholistic view can change the way one might feel during an interview process. While we do need to represent ourselves to show our practical skill-sets and capabilities, this does not have to be the only focus. Equally important, is YOU and your unqiue flavour of expression and qualities you bring to life. Women have the ability to express something solid, lovely and precious from within, that can be brought to any job – a valuable way of being that is innate. The quality we live by that we bring to an interview will be a most valuable ‘asset’ or ‘qualification’. To shift our way of thinking about interviews, we need to shift our of way treating ourselves!...and, this happens well before the interview process begins. Here are some tips on where to start. . .
WORK TAKE A MOMENT Find time to stop, breathe gently, and re-connect. Be yourself, and not the pressured version of you - stressed to secure the job. APPRECIATE Appreciate yourself and all that you bring to those around you - every day. Do not under estimate your amazing qualities and what only you can bring to the job. ROUTINES Start with choosing to care for yourself. ‘Work Life’ and ‘Home Life’ are always connected, and what is practiced in the home will naturally flow into your work-day. Creating daily nurturing routines supports us to think clearly, be more productive, and make the ‘right’ choices for us. ENGAGE Be friendly, open and honest with yourself and others. Be willing to be seen for who you are. BE DISCERNING Feeling like you really need the job gets in the way of being discerning about the job itself and leads to anxiousness. Address the pressure you put yourself under to get the job, and it will be easier to separate the outcome from your self-worth. BE PRACTICAL It can be practical to take a job that might not be quite what you want, in order to support yourself financially whilst you continue to look for the job that you feel is more your calling in life. 57 Photograph by Iris Pohl
REFLECT ON YOU
Take a Quiz... Become Aware Do You Self-Abuse?
elf-abuse is a tricky subject. It is hard to watch people self-abuse and it is even harder at times to recognise your own self-abuse. Self-abuse can come in very obvious forms, and sometimes not so obvious. The purpose of taking this quiz is to create more awareness about your relationship to self-abuse - is it obvious and direct? Is it indirect? As we grow and change what we call self-abuse one day may vary in 6 months time. The key first step is - AWARENESS - from here we can become more honest, and look within or to those who can support in order to address the underlying causes of lack of self-worth that leads to bad habits and patterns of behaviour.
The obvious abuse Q Do you physically self-harm? NO go to Question 2 YES go to Question 5
The ‘cover up and socially acceptable’ abuse of the body Q Do you drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or do drugs? NO go to Question 3 YES go to Question 5 We all know alcohol, cigarettes and drugs are a poison to the body. Yet everyone does it, so it seems okay. Just imagine the extra work your body is doing to get rid of these substances. That’s more time spent on fixing your body up and less time spent on doing what it needs to do.
The ‘I’m so strong and I’m getting fit so it doesn’t matter’ abuse Q Do you exercise to the point where you are exhausted and can hardly walk the next day from the lactic acid build up? NO go to Question 4 YES go to Question 6 Everyone thinks building muscle is the get go. But how much muscle does your body actually need to function on a day to day basis? The more time your body spends on repairing the tears in your muscles and getting rid of the lactic acid, the more it puts other important things on hold.
The ‘I’m trying to be healthy not listening to my hunger pain’ abuse Q Do you not eat because you compare yourself with others and want the perfect body or to look a certain way? NO go to Question 7 YES go to Question 6 It sounds like a no brainer. Yet everyone does it. All the diets and new food crazes that go around may not be exactly what your body needs. When you eat, there should be a yummy feeling, not just in the mouth but all over. That’s when you know you’re giving your body what it needs. If you don’t eat a meal when you need to, your body skips out on the nutrients it needs to function properly. So feel what you eat and don’t miss meals that you need because of how you feel about yourself.
The ‘I know this is wrong but oh well, I’ll probably do it again’ abuse Q Do you overeat and or eat things that don’t make you feel well or leave you bloated, tired or racy? NO my diets pretty good, go to Question 4 YES I love that favourite junk food, go to Question 6 Time and time again it happens, and it makes you wonder why? The more you fill your body up with things it has to get rid of, the less time it is spent on the more important things. And besides, it’s not a nice feeling being bloated and tired all the time. 59
The ‘work is demanding so I have to do it’ abuse Q Do you stay up late and make yourself stressed to get things done, so you don’t have time for you? NO go to Question 9 YES go to Question 8 Stress creates all sorts of problems for your body, digestion and sleep being amongst them. By not resting when you need to, the body has less ‘repair’ time and so there’s a waiting line to get rid of the abuse mentioned in the above questions. Doing this also means you are putting caring and looking after yourself on hold, so you are more likely to go with other abusive behaviour (food choices, rushing around etc). Try to say no when things are getting too much and ask for help.
The ‘don’t rock the boat it’s okay’ abuse Q Do you let things that make you feel down in relationships slide just to keep the peace? NO go to Question 8 YES go to Question 6 This deepens your lack of self-worth and how you feel about yourself. It makes you less important than the other person and confirms for you that your needs do not matter. Once you have that feeling, you are more inclined to further abuse your body and not care for yourself as much, leading to worse health and more abusive relationships.
The ‘I know this is wrong but oh well, I’ll probably do it again’ abuse Q Do you hold needing to go to the toilet in until your busting? NO your bladder thanks you! YES ok, you are not going to get any more work done…Go to the toilet.
The ‘I didn’t even think about this one’ abuse Q Do you walk bare foot over cold or hot surfaces (hot road, winter tiles, cold concrete etc)? NO ahh baby soft, nice work! YES oooh, poor feet. Your whole body would be feeling the toll of that!
If you answer NO to any of these questions, it is healthy for your self-worth to appreciate an area of growth or change, or, something you have always honoured. If you answer YES to any of these questions, this first step of becoming aware of self-abuse requires a loving honesty to understand yourself and what may be behind these choices. You can use the tips and guidance underneath the questions to help make a start... You might decide to change your patterns and wear socks on cold surfaces, or go to the toilet when your body is hinting you to! Who knows...You might even try an alcohol free month or see how you feel getting support with self-harm.
MY BODY Binge Eating – My Secret Self-Harm By Carmel Reid / UK
hen we look at eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia, it is easy to think “Thank goodness that doesn’t affect me, I don’t do self harm like that,” but that isn’t quite true, as many of us binge eat. It is not so obviously self-harming as, for example, anorexia, bulimia or cutting – but it is harming. When we overeat, we are feeding our bodies more than they need to survive and even if we don’t overeat we can abuse our bodies by eating foods that make us racy, overweight, bloated, lethargic and consequently miserable. I was overweight for over 20 years and attended many weight watching classes but still the weight kept piling on. Only after making changes to my lifestyle as well as the food I ate, did I return to my natural weight, and lost a total of 41 Kgs (6st 7lbs). This was a great step in addressing my lack of self-regard and a success in my physical health. However, even though my weight stayed the same, I noticed that I was still in the binge-eating habits...
60 yrs 62
Loving The Body You’re In
• Whenever I was in the kitchen, I would snack on something – anything!
• Always nibbling while preparing a meal
• Sometimes eating almost a whole meal before the one I am preparing
• Scoffing handfuls of nuts – not just a few
• Eating while driving
• Eating a whole 400g loaf of fruit bread or three cakes
• Eating something sweet then something salty to counteract it
• Eating before going out for a meal in case there isn’t enough I can eat
• Always having seconds and sometimes thirds
• Eating while watching TV or reading something
Sometimes I would start eating and be unable to stop, continually going back for more. So I asked myself what was really going on, rather than condemning my unhealthy habits, and I began to observe what was happening in my life before/after over-eating. I realised that feeling hungry was more a craving for food to avoid uncomfortable feelings that arose during the day. Hallelujah. Some clarity! This clarity helped me to understand that eating in this way was simply a way of numbing myself, so that I couldn’t feel the discomfort. However, knowing that didn’t help me to stop. I continued to eat and eat and eat, with the result that I put on more and more weight. 63
MY BODY & I
Carmel age 64
Photograph by Iris Pohl
Looking back, I recognise that I was approaching the whole thing the wrong way round. Focusing on the eating as the issue didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t help, because shame about my poor eating habits was cementing my low self-worth. I had an internal dialogue of self-criticism that always drove me to do more, because I always felt that what I had done was not enough. I had an ideal picture of how I should look, what I should do and how I should be. I compared myself to other people who were achieving great things, and decided I could never match that, so gave up on myself and ate instead. Then I would beat myself up for binge eating, living a never-ending cycle of self-abuse. Not only have I physically abused my body with the way I have been eating, I have psychologically abused it with an appalling barrage of criticism and negative thinking, but none of it is true. What true approach can we take? On a practical level, it helps to develop more awareness around food and how it affects us, but we also need to look at why and how we are constantly using food, so that we can learn to tell the difference between true hunger and simply feeling something uncomfortable. We can also lovingly observe our choices. Instead of waking up and criticising ourselves, we can spend a few moments in appreciation. For example, I allow myself to feel my body and appreciate that beyond the aches and pains, there is another, gentler feeling, and that is the true me. From there, I can take myself gently into my day.
As a result of working on appreciating myself, I find that I eat in a much more nurturing way. When I crave sweet foods (exhausted), or keep chomping nuts (numbing), I know something is going on so, instead of beating myself up about it, I can take time to pause and reflect on how I have been over the previous few days. Sometimes itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been trying to do too much, busyness being a great distraction from what I feel. Sometimes itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just thinking negatively about myself that takes me into misery. So then I can counteract that by being particularly tender with myself. What I have learned through all this is that, instead of focusing on changing the self-harming behaviour of binge eating, I needed to work on changing my attitude to myself. When I honestly accept and appreciate where I am at, I can see beyond the misery of self-abuse, and allow myself to feel the beautiful woman within who has, in-truth, been there all along. Then, without thinking, the old ways of eating drop away and I naturally want to eat in a way that is nourishing and self-nurturing.
HEALTH SPOT Your Body & You
Visiting Your Doctor By Dr Amelia Stephens / Australia
o you have a GP? A doctor who you feel you can trust to have an open discussion with about your health? Someone that you can talk honestly with about any concerns you may have, and whom you feel supported by on the topic of your overall health and wellbeing? If the answer is yes, then that is fantastic – and if the answer is no, then why might that be? As women, it is so important for us to have a truly supportive relationship with our GP – and this is absolutely possible. There are a lot of competing interests that can come between us and getting to sit in front of our doctor. When it comes to seeing our doctor, time is precious and there can be so much to do in our day that our own health frequently doesn’t make top of the list. Our work, our children and our partners – not to mention sisters, brothers, cousins and friends all seem to get higher on the list of 66
priorities while that niggling pain or lump gets lower and lower . . . If we don’t see our health (and therefore ourselves) as being equally or more important than all of these other things then finding an excuse to put off our next doctors’ visit is easy. We need to really look and see what might be holding us back from seeing our doctor – is it fear of what may be found? Denial of how we are feeling? It may also come down to not having an established and trusting relationship with our doctor. So how do we find a GP like that and have that supportive relationship? First of all, we can decide that our own health is worth the time, effort and money required in finding and developing a supportive and lasting relationship with our doctor. As women, this may be once every two years for a pap smear (in Australia), every year or two for a breast check, or more frequently if we have particular problems that need addressing. These in themselves
are such important aspects of taking care of our bodies, and ourselves as a whole so it’s definitely worth finding the right person to help us with them.
So what quality of relationship would you like to have with your doctor, and how can you support that to happen?
Finding the right doctor will be different for everyone, as we all have different people we can personally relate to and feel comfortable with. Cost, location, your preference of a male or female doctor and how available their appointment bookings are for you are all factors to take into consideration too. Asking amongst your friends, family or workplace for doctors they have found to support them is a great way to start this process – as there are many fantastic doctors out there.
An open mind, and the understanding that you are both human beings there for the same common goal – your best health and wellbeing – is an important place to start. This creates a clear platform, from which the both of you can work and communicate, to develop a relationship committed to your health. It might be that it takes a few visits to get to know each other a bit better and establish the full quality of the relationship, so being open to this process is also important.
Depending on where we live and our health system, we may not have as much variety or choice when it comes to finding the doctor for us. However, building a relationship with your doctor does have the potential to be deeply caring and supportive, as it evolves over time with the quality that you bring to it.
Your doctor will be there to support you in making the best decisions for your health and wellbeing. Valuing your body and caring for yourself are essential parts of your health care, as is having a great relationship with your GP. At the end of the day, spending the time to find the right doctor and starting (or continuing) the relationship to support you with your health and wellbeing is key for every woman. Photograph by Dean Whitling
GETTING REAL IN
RELATIONSHIPS With Annette & Gabe
A Revealing Look at Why We Accept Less
In this edition’s column, we are talking about how low self-worth can affect all of our relationships, and how the choices we make from this lack of self-worth and the not valuing and appreciating of ourselves, effectively results in us accepting less than what is truly loving in our relationships – less than what we do know deep down is a natural ‘inheritance’ for every single one of us. All self-worth and self-loathing issues originate within us from a feeling of hurt that we carry from being rejected and not loved back as we should be. We then each individually begin to express these hurts in our own particular way. For example, a lack of self-worth issue in a relationship could be accepting and making excuses with others for your partner’s prickly, somewhat hostile behaviour, rather than confronting this behaviour in your relationship; and a self-loathing issue may be putting yourself down when the meal you cook for your family doesn’t meet your exacting expectations or standards.
What if lack of self-worth had us accepting the belief that we don’t deserve and cannot have and sustain truly loving and long lasting relationships, and somehow denies us the knowing that our relationships can be healthy and successful in our way of communication and expression, and consistently renewing, always with something beautiful to learn from one another? Some of us even convince ourselves that there is nobody really out there to love us, or we ‘believe’ that it is impossible to sustain being in love. What choices could these beliefs lead us to make? When we think of abuse, for the most part we seem to think of the extremes, such as physical, sexual, gambling, drug and alcohol addictions; we don’t ‘rate’ the more subtle non-loving choices as abuse, such as the way we might talk down to one another or ignore each other when we are sensitive, the behaviours that come from self-loathing and lack of self-worth that are so ingrained in us we dare not expose them, because
it would bring up the terrible pain of the original rejection we are trying to escape feeling. Why else we don’t reveal this to ourselves can also be because we are not that fluent or even confident to identify what harm really is, and hence we deny and suppress our ability to feel it; or in some instances we look around at the extreme ‘obvious’ abuses, and out of denial and comparison we equate what we see in others’ lives as being seriously
Photograph by James Tolich
RELATIONSHIPS abusive, and conveniently choose to see what we’re living with as not being anything close to what we would call abuse. Could this be one of the many ways of how we begin to lower our standard? So what does lowering our standard look like?
Imagine for a moment when you’re first with someone in a relationship, you’re feeling great with each other, feeling the potential of a future together, talking about this with excitement and enthusiasm and your partner says to you… Honey, in a few years time --• I will have gained 15 kilo’s • my hello will not be “hi honey,” but to let you know I’m getting straight onto a conference call • my goodbye will be “can you pick up my dry cleaning?” • I will barely notice your body and the weight that you’ve gained, in fact we’ll only really see each other naked once a year on our annual ‘romantic’ holiday. • I’ll be too tired to actually give you any affection, and for the most part too overwhelmed and needing of my own space to want any touch from you, and even though we’ll both be craving this, we’ll never talk about it. • I’ll do everything to avoid talking about anything personal in the relationship, and often I’ll dismiss you and make jokes in front of friends at social occasions about our ‘differences’ and the things that irk us about one another that we haven’t actually dealt with. • In moments where I do choose to share with you it is motivated from a need and not from the generosity of my heart... • Oh and by the way, I’ll be ‘clocking’ everything I do contribute to later use as ‘proof’ that I’m still engaged in the
relationship, which actually seeks to mask the fact of my unwillingness to do anything purely from my love for you, or my love for myself for that matter”.
“So, hearing all of this and for-seeing this as our future, how do you feel about spending your life with me?”
Of course reading this feels appalling to the part of us that knows what we really want in our relationships, which is a commitment and willingness from each of us to keep the love active and alive; and yet why is it that we accept elements of this in our relationships, over time allowing for an erosion that effectively ‘lowers the bar?’ It’s as if we’re saying that we ‘can’t really be bothered to work on it’. Or is this just an excuse to cover up what we don’t want to look at in ourselves? For any one of us this hypothetical is not really a proposition or ‘recommandation’ for a great relationship, and there might be some who read this and feel that this is extreme; however, is it really?
So often we let ourselves down by acquiescing to what someone else wants, allowing an apathy to creep in, rather than following our heart and believing in and standing up for what is important to us. Little by little we allow ourselves to be slighted or diminished, losing sight of who we are and what is our own natural way of being, always being something or someone for everyone else. We can witness these kinds of ‘arrangements’ or situations in relationships all around us,
and who hasn’t themselves encountered elements of this estrangement and disconnection in relationships at some point or time in their life? It’s sad but true, most, if not all of us have; and it’s this that is often what makes us lonely within relationships.
• Accepting to have sex or giving in to having sex when you don’t even feel close with your partner, when no effort has been made to be connected first. This is an abuse on the two of you and completely shuts down and denies your sensitivity.
Sometimes we can look around in comparison and end up seeing the same thing in other relationships, and observe that no-one else seems to be challenging this, so we think that this may be ‘as good as it gets.’ And so it is that we accept to lower our standards.
To support ourselves in our own relationship with this we can ask some simple yet possibly confronting questions such as . . . . .
These moments, though they are not the obvious moments of abuse, represent more so the ‘chipping away at’ and letting go of our own respect and dignity for ourselves. Below are examples of some of the obvious, as well as the not so obvious, more subtle forms of abuse that we permit in our relationships. These examples provide a sense of what kind of behaviours that live outside the box of what is typically considered to be abuse might look like. • Not talking about the things that matter in relationships. We effectively disregard our self-worth by letting things go left unsaid, and ultimately this demeans and diminishes our confidence through a lack of expression.
Am I accepting less in my relationships because of lack of self-worth? OR Am I lowering my ‘standards’? If our answer is yes to these questions, the question then is, why is it typically so difficult for us to feel and admit the abuse we have chosen to live with? What is it that stops or prevents us from having the courage to speak out about these things? Could it be that it brings up a stinging hurt for us to reveal and expose to ourselves the level of love we are in fact living without.
• Allowing yourself to be controlled in a relationship, and how this gradually and insidiously undermines your sense of who you are.
If we have felt the pain of being rejected in love early in our lives, then perhaps we have begun our own cycle of keeping love at bay and not really fully loving ourselves, and thus not capable then of fully loving others or letting others fully love us. This holding back continues the cycle of rejection and abuse, which only perpetuates the behaviours that reflect our lack of self-love and self-loathing. There is nothing worse in a relationship than the feeling of not loving yourself and then having your partner or friend demonstrate this belief also by not being loving back. In fact, we end up making choices that give in to a life being lived with far less than the love we so naturally are; that every single one of us is.
• Not being open, generous and transparent in communication with your partner; withholding significant personal details in your conversation.
We avoid facing the fact that we have lowered our standards because we would then have to feel how little we love ourselves, and how much that hurts. It aggrieves us to
• Letting the little things slip in your routine, the things that are about your rhythm, your choices, when you exercise, what you prefer to eat and at what time, when you go to bed, when you can use the car, skimping on grooming yourself.
feel this, as it actually feels like the worst case of abuse; it devastates us when we realise we have not been respecting how special we are. It can be one of our greatest hurts to confront the honest truth of our choices reflected back to us, which show that we don’t hold dear and recognise our own true worth, our own unique quality. However, this honesty can also be one of our greatest means of healing. When we open ourselves up to this level of honesty to what actually harms us, it allows us the space to examine and contemplate why we would tolerate or accept anything less than love. When we are prepared to do this, to ‘go there,’ this can earmark a new beginning in our relationships. Here is where we can bring deeper understanding and conviction to the responsibility we have in relationships, addressing the mess and outcomes of how the lack of self-worth issues are affecting us. In reality, no-one enjoys to feel themselves, or to see anyone they love dearly, living less than their potential. Self-worth is about knowing who we are, being in love with ourselves, standing for that love in all that we are and being prepared to say no to anything that is less than that; and so, healing our lack of self-worth is a constant and unending exploration which is relative and consistent to the level of love we have developed in and for ourselves. The way to recover and grow from self-worth issues in relationships rather than lowering the bar, is through our communication and expression of love, beginning with the love and appreciation of ourselves; and through our preparedness to witness and nominate in fine detail what is actually harming us, the choices
we are making that hurt us, and choosing to say no to the negative thoughts that drive these choices. The more we begin to have deep care and value for ourselves and action this, the more it will stand out as obvious when we are not treating ourselves in a loving way, or accepting treatment from others that also feels not loving; in the understanding that we and our relationships are worth giving it everything we’ve got to make life about love, and nothing less. It’s time to raise the bar and claim the level of love we want to live within our relationships. This is what it will take to counter and expose the harm and abuse we have compromised ourselves to accept for too long.
Photograph by Iris Pohl
MY BODY Sexual Promiscuity – A Personal Experience feel to share my own personal experience of sexual promiscuity, with the knowing that this is not an isolated case within society, along with the understanding that everything I have felt and experienced is prevalent among young girls across the globe. As a child I was quite nervous and insecure, feeling I did not really fit in and therefore had to ‘do’ things to be accepted and to feel part of ‘the group.’ If I could ‘do’ something a little more crazy or daring and therefore noticeable, I would feel more accepted and needed. All of these feelings hid an inner sadness and unease that I felt about myself. My parents provided for me and loved me so all appeared well, but there was still an unease and feeling of loneliness inside. Looking back I see I was trying to find ‘my way’ in a life that seemed quite overwhelming and where being bullied at school had painful emotional consequences that were not soothed by parents offering that ‘sticks and stones may break your bones but words cannot hurt you.’ This I found to be untrue, as words did hurt.
By the age of 14 I held a strong desperation inside to be recognised, noticed, needed and above all, loved. 2874
Here is where the deviation came about, as I thought getting a boyfriend would satisfy these feelings. So at a youth club disco it seemed quite normal to invite the local popular lad outside to have sex with me so I could lose my virginity and ‘then I would be ok.’ He obliged and such was my naivety that I wondered why he was moving, not really having any understanding of the sexual act in progress. I call this ‘the deviation,’ as this new obsession of attracting boys became the cover-up required to distract and numb out all the feelings I was having. A period of grace ensued between 15 and 16, when a regular boyfriend came on the scene. He was several years older than me and presented a potentially loving relationship. I handled this for a couple of years, until I noticed the rumble of discontent was still very much there. Ending the relationship, I swiftly moved to the excitement of another and then another. Each time getting the fix of feeling needed, wanted and ‘loved.’ Of course I now see there was no love here as the abuse I was allowing to my body was quite damaging, both emotionally and physically. Due to the disassociation with my body that had developed I chose to feel none of it. Photograph by Iris Pohl
Loving The Body Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re In
One Saturday afternoon, at the age of 17, I broke up with a boyfriend and his reaction to this was to rape me. I struggled and hit out in an attempt to stop him but felt worried about screaming too loud in case someone heard. That sounds ironic but true. I just gave up and waited till he was done and then walked/ran the 2 miles home, rather dishevelled but not allowing myself to feel the true impact, hurt and shame of what had happened. I told no one and, seemingly unperturbed by this event I went out with a new guy the same evening, and also slept with him.
end to the out of control way I was living. But this in itself was the point - I was so out of control and change was needed, but at that stage I felt so low in my worth and sense of self, and I had no foundation to fall back onto but the emptiness I was running from.
It was around this time that genital warts appeared. These were seen to be quite common amongst people of my age, so therefore it was kind of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;normalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; to have that diagnosis and nothing out of the ordinary to be alarmed at. The treatment was intense and at times quite painful.
Such was the disconnection to the actual harm I was doing to myself.
It would make all logical sense that such an experience would bring an
Looking back I can see my self-worth was on the floor, maybe even beneath it, but if you had asked me at the time, I would have told you that I was great, enjoying my life and felt good about myself.
This swift turnover pattern of relationships continued on with one usually overlapping the other so as to avoid having any time alone. A branch out into married men seemed the next progressive step. The feeling of someone taking that much of a risk in order to be with me was a huge thrill
During the recovery phase, I actually allowed my body to have a break and found other interests other than the thrill of new relationships. Still feeling the inner emptiness and the need to be fulfilled though, I swiftly turned to charity work, which was both rewarding and got me noticed for being ‘good’. Of course, eventually the emptiness and unease within me bubbled through and at 25 I married and had a child; therefore ceasing the promiscuous behaviour, but the turmoil and unease inside were still very much there. I plodded along until, at 35, I took a look at myself and realised that I did not even know what I enjoyed doing. This was quite a shock. How could I at 35 years old not know what I enjoyed or not?
and it fulfilled all the needs I could possibly have, as I took it to mean that I was very important.
Unwanted pregnancy (with a choice of two fathers) was the next hurdle, and so abortion was seen as the ultimate form of contraception. Again, this was nothing unusual amongst people my age and, therefore, a ‘normal’ course of action to take, with no shame attached. My body soon healed and the cycle continued until at 23 a smear test showed abnormal cells. Here, I was told if left untreated, I would develop cervical cancer in my forties. The treatment was undertaken and involved the end of the cervix being removed.
STOP...and this is precisely what the findings of abnormal allowed me to do. 76
I realised I had confused intimacy and the tender loving touch this brings with sex and therefore the natural inner craving for true intimacy was gained through the physical closeness of the sexual act. The unease and emptiness was still very much there, as no love was present. It was purely driven by need on both sides and therefore not intimacy at all.
I was so deeply entrenched into these behaviours, I could not actually see the harm I was creating and perpetuating to myself and others – all by not truly facing the unresolved lack of self-worth and emptiness inside.
MY BODY & I
On reflection, I see that from an insatiable need, promiscuous behaviour could not but increase as the search and craving for tenderness intensified as the needs were continually not being met, and so the next â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;fixâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; was constantly searched for. In truth, this actually created more unease, as there was no true love and only harm. Here is where self-abuse becomes top of the list. All the time I was choosing to be oblivious to the fact that the origins were in a deep lack of self-worth. By choosing to be promiscuous with my body, I was able to fool myself that I had a great sense of power. I could be what I thought was sexy, attractive to men, desirable and wanted. All of the aforementioned, when based on the need to fill an inner emptiness, are destructive and extremely harmful. It became very clear to me that far too much time had been spent on doing what I thought was ok from the outside and what others would want me to do, but without any consideration of me and how I really felt. A huge STOP! How could I get to 35yrs and not know what I enjoyed doing?
And so began a re-discovering of a true relationship to myself. I started to explore what is supportive for me, developing a loving relationship with me and to truly take care of me. The result of this was the building of my own self-worth and deepening the love, firstly in honour of me. I now realise that the unbearable dis-ease I felt inside had come from me turning my attention to what was outside of me and expecting that to fulfil me, rather than looking to what was on the inside and developing this as a true foundation. A loving man came into my life and it was a challenge to be presented with a tender and respectful love. The old patterns of selfabuse rose up and the challenge was to surrender to a loving relationship and not fall into the old patterns of self-abuse and giving myself away. It has supported me greatly in appreciating myself as being a tender, loving woman and is very much a work in progress as the sadness and aches of the past abuse are released. In developing a more loving relationship with myself, it means there is a stronger foundation for me to share a loving relationship with another. How beautiful to have that as a foundation and what a joy it is. Photographs by Iris Pohl
MY BODY & I
My story here may be specific and personal to me, but in many aspects will be known and familiar to many women. We need to understand our choices and behaviours and not judge others or ourselves for what we see is happening on the outside. I realise now that had I made different choices and put focus to build a loving relationship with myself from an early age, I would have felt whole and complete and would never have looked outside of myself for the recognition and attention that was sought through the behaviour of sexual promiscuity.
As we as women develop a foundation of true self-care and love for ourselves, we naturally emanate sexiness, beauty and feel adorable. With self-love and self-worth as a foundation, we automatically have selfrespect and could never put ourselves in a disrespectful situation where we allow harm and abuse of our bodies. In each and every one of us is the inner knowing of what
Well, it’s never too late to start. The selfabuse of my body is not something that I will go back to, and I can see it was not done to me; it was something I allowed from the emptiness and cycle of abuse I was in.
it is to be a woman, and this we need to allow ourselves to express and share with each other. The key to unlocking this inner wisdom, is in the development of a loving and intimate relationship with ourselves, and in caring deeply and tenderly for ourselves. In doing so, we heal the lack of self-worth and are able to embrace the fact that we are beautiful, that love is our essence, and that we deserve only loving touch and care. As we live this knowing as a ‘normal’ way of being, we have the potential to offer a ‘true’ reflection to others of what it is to be a tender, loving woman and therefore become true role models for the next generation.
Photograph by Shannon Everest
Redeﬁning the true meaning of health and well-being
The Unimed Living Women’s Sphere is a platform dedicated to breaking age-old myths and misinterpretations of what it means to be and live as a true woman in today’s world. It is a call to the Universal Woman in all women, providing an inspiring, awareness raising avenue for women to re-connect to and express the wisdom we innately are. Along with an ever growing body of expression from a diverse range of women choosing to live and express increasingly from this uniﬁed truth, we include the latest statistics on global women’s health, articles, video conversations, interviews and sound bites ... on topics that inspire discussion beyond the site and into the ofﬁce, classroom, bedroom, playground and around the dinner table.
Period pain: what is our body really telling us? An article that explores what may be contributing to the period pain the majority of women are experiencing on a monthly basis and questions the fact that painful periods are normal.
Sex vs making love – is there a difference? Is it possible to make love without having sex? Can you make love all day long? ... And what does a ‘healthy’ love life actually look like? Kyla Baldwin doesn't hold back in this cutting edge article on the topic.
Menopause: hot ﬂushes – what’s it all about? This article by Sharon Gavioli explores a woman’s life-changing personal experience of transforming her struggle with hot ﬂushes to gaining a deeper understanding of menopause.
Unimed Living is a global website dedicated to the subject of health and wellbeing, with 250+ volunteers writing on topics relating to our everyday lives.
WISDOM Food, Eating and Self-Worth By Ariana Ray / UK
ood and eating can be one of the more enjoyable experiences in life and one most of us are cultured to use as something other than just the simple joy of nourishing our bodies and ourselves. So our relationship with food becomes complicated, an emotional activity which can often end up being self abusive. In this article Ariana Ray, who has changed her abusive relationship with food to one that is self loving and self supportive, sheds some light on this issue. Can food and self-worth ever be separated or are they linked together like Bonnie and Clyde or Beavis and Butthead? It certainly feels that way sometimes. We eat and then feel bad about what we’ve eaten and down goes our sense of worth. We eat and then wish we hadn’t because we feel fat, or fatter, or we know we’ve eaten the wrong thing and down goes our self-worth again. Or perhaps we feel bad about what’s going on in our lives, at work, in the family, in our social life and all the rest, so then we eat because we don’t want to feel those uncomfortable feelings. We add that to already feeling low self-esteem and it becomes a double hit. 80
I used to weigh 44 kilos heavier than I do now. I was really ‘bad’ in the self-worth department. In my life, I was bouncing from one reaction to another, then something else would happen and I’d react to that too. I’d never stop to consider why I was reacting, just grab for the chips or the chocolate or something else. I didn’t want to know really. I just wanted an instant solution to a constant problem. I felt bad about myself, or uncomfortable about what was going on in my life and I didn’t want to feel that way. I didn’t want to feel at all. All I was seeking was something to take the edge off, to take away how bad I felt and give me a passing sense of pleasure. So I let my mouth and emotions lead the way. As a child, I used to imagine what it would be like to have a magic wand, I’d wave it and I would be thin. I thought all my problems were to do with me being fat. They weren’t! Being fat was merely a symptom. My problems were all to do with the fact that I had all these feelings about what was going on in life. I felt how people were, what they said, thought and did (and yes I did say – ‘what they thought’). I felt all of this going on but never wanted to, as it
didn’t fit in with what the world said life was meant to be all about, and it hurt. The world was telling me I should fit in by thinking like everyone else; be slim, stay fit, be competitive, fight to get ahead, push and drive myself to prove I was ‘just as good if not better than men.’ The world may have been telling me all that, but where I was did not fit the picture. I felt
I didn’t fit anywhere, so I ate to not feel the pain and isolation that I felt. I abused myself with food on a moment-to-moment basis, and all to not feel what I could not get away from feeling. My sense of self-worth was fully tied up with the size, shape and condition of my body. It was all about how the world ‘must’ be seeing me, and how I measured myself against everyone else. Photograph by Iris Pohl
I had no idea that my self-worthiness was down to how I treated myself, appreciated myself, respected and listened to myself – that my feelings mattered, that I mattered. No one told me that the one way to get out of abusing myself was for me to appreciate and value myself.
of chocolate. It is so important we apply self-worth on the inside just as much as the outside; healing the inner turmoil and what in our life has attributed to our low self-esteem is vital, whilst we also support ourselves to change the daily behaviours (such as eating habits) that are harming.
That it was not about waiting for someone else to do it for me and in the meantime beat myself up as much as I could for all that I felt was wrong with me and not having anyone to value me. But don’t we all do this? I know that this story is common to millions of women.
A tip: When you feel some tension or unease, take a moment to tune in and identify what is causing it. It may be related to something that has just happened “I feel annoyed I didn’t speak up in that meeting or conversation;” or something being triggered of a past incident, “I remember feeling like this when I was a kid, it feels pretty bad.” Whatever it may be, identifying the cause can help to make sense of why you are feeling this way. Being able to say what it really is takes the intensity of the tension out of it, giving you space to step back and observe yourself and the situation. Observing yourself in what is happening rather than getting caught in a downward spiral, helps to release the tension, and through self-investigation in this way, it makes it less likely that you’ll need to compensate with food (or anything else!). The ‘bad’ feelings no longer dominate and eventually diminish.
Consider the power we have if we start to make choices to value ourselves. I noticed that by making caring and loving gestures for myself throughout the day in all the little things I do, I began to build my self-worth and feel a whole lot better in myself. Essentially, I started listening to what I was feeling in my body, and learning to appreciate the true good in myself as I started to make more loving choices around my food. Appreciating myself for the small things started me on a track of recognising what I am truly worth and my value. A key component in my healing was that I also started to address the old hurts I had been holding onto from childhood and those I had accumulated as an adult. By that, I mean that I started to look at what was really going on inside instead of running to bury it with a bag (or two) of chips or bars
Nowadays, this way of treating myself and exploring what I’m feeling without the selfcritique, has become the more consistent norm – but it didn’t happen overnight of course! It began with a simple commitment to be gentle with myself step-by-step, and the willingness to be very honest with myself. I have found that it is possible to live in another way, and know that everyone can do this too.
Photograph by Iris Pohl
HEALTH SPOT Your Body & You
Speaking Up – Valuing my Inner-most Feelings By Eva Rygg / Norway
found myself in the waiting area of a hospital, and I could feel an enormous anxiousness creeping in. Not because I was afraid of hospitals or doctors, but because in this case I had no idea what was ahead of me… I just had a strong hunch it was not going to be pleasant. Let me share why. A few weeks earlier I had a serious infection in one of my kidneys, I will not go through the whole story, but it took several weeks to ‘clean up’ my kidney and one part of the procedure was to have a stent in my urinary tract to support the natural flow. If you have been through the same procedure yourself, you will know what I mean when I say that this experience was different from anything I had ever felt in my physical body before, and it made me feel fragile. Very fragile. It was as if it was touching a very deep place or a nerve in me that I had never before been in contact with. A place where there was no hardening or protection, just a very raw and fragile feeling, extremely humbling and totally beyond any physical discomfort. It was a place where I instinctively knew that I needed to be super tender and gentle with myself. So there I was in the hospital waiting area… It was time to have the stent removed and I was feeling anxious and terrified of what was about to happen even though I had absolutely no idea what it would be like. 84
The nurse that welcomed me into her office, was like most nurses would have been - friendly but professional, getting on with what she needed to get on with and so she went straight to business, telling me how to go next. I said ‘I am not feeling ok with this, I am actually very unsettled’. She kept going, explaining the procedure as if she hadn’t heard what I said or as if she was on a tight schedule that she needed to stick to. That’s when I burst into tears
and said - ‘I am really terrified’.
At this moment a huge transformation took place in front of me. The nurse looked at me as if she had just laid eyes on me, she placed her hand on my shoulder and she talked to me in a very different way. Not with pity or any form of denigration, just deeply caring and supporting of me. I could really feel the tenderness that she was offering me. What happened next was magic - she got me on the table and had the stent removed without me resisting it or feeling any pain or discomfort whatsoever. I just felt truly held and most of all very safe and deeply connected with this woman, a ’stranger’... Simply amazing! I could feel how hugely important it was that I had shown her the truth of how I felt. I had let her in to truly see me -– all of me – in this case the tears, fragility and all - and by doing that she was able to meet me from a whole different place. A place that was still highly professional, but she first of all Photograph by Shannon Everest
connected to me from herself - her warmth, deep care and absolute presence. It was almost like what had been playing out between us had given her the permission to truly be and to show herself. It was just beautiful. In the past I would have behaved differently in this situation, I would have adjusted to what I felt was expected of me, to not be a ‘difficult’ patient. I would have held back my fragility and been ashamed of my tears – not honouring that I am most certainly worthy of being seen and met for all of me. I would have suppressed it all, only to leave the hospital with a deep sadness and resentment towards myself and most probably towards the nurse as well – not seeing that by holding myself back, I was keeping up an old pattern that was forever feeding my lack of self-worth. This is a pattern I adopted as a young child and since then, I repeated throughout my life. This profound experience made me realise how utterly important it is to not hold back, and to always let people in to see me. How could I ever expect anyone to share, be or meet me with all of themselves unless I do the same? This is a learning process that is forever showing me more of who I truly am – the key is to remember it is always a choice to let people in, or not. This experience has most of all brought a deep understanding that to truly be worth something is not about something outside of me, a reward for having been a ‘good girl’ or having lived up to someone’s (mostly my own) expectations – it’s simply about me honoring every signal that comes from within me. With deep appreciation of myself, a jewel of a nurse and everyone out there – we are most certainly not ‘strangers’.
Photograph by Shannon Everest
Redeﬁning the true meaning of health and well-being
Medicine is not what we think it is… like most people, when we hear the word ‘medicine’ we tend to think of doctors in white coats, stethoscopes, medications, hospitals and operations. But, medicine is actually more than all of this! Medicine is the way we live every day. Explore more on this site to learn about how your way of living is your medicine and how you can make every moment of your daily life be good medicine.
LIVING MEDICINE True Health – Are we missing something? Despite the vast array of medical and health options, the rates of illness and disease continue to rise. Perhaps there is another way?
What is good medicine? Good medicine is about living in a way that supports you as a whole.
Your body and disease - what does it all mean? Is there more to disease and illness than we allow ourselves to see? Could it be possible that there are deeper reasons for it happening?
Unimed Living is a global website dedicated to the subject of health and wellbeing, with 250+ volunteers writing on topics relating to our everyday lives.
WOMEN & Dealing with Self-Harm in the Family: What Really Worked
ulimia, anorexia, cutting (self-harm) and binge drinking are ‘selfabuse’ behaviours that are becoming all too familiar in our families, our neighbourhoods and our society. These extremes of behaviour are a glaring marker of the depth to which self-worth has plummeted for so many. Scratch the surface of a family nowadays and there is often a story of individuals and especially of teenagers and young adults, living with one or more of these extreme behaviours. Go a little deeper and we find women and men in families struggling with these situations in various ways: • Desperately wanting to end the suffering for the family member affected • Focusing on trying to get the behaviours stopped • Feeling guilt around the responsibility for the suffering being experienced • Turning a blind eye to what is going on, until it is unavoidable • Unable to seek support or share the experience due to a deep sense of shame We don’t just ‘arrive’ at these extreme self-abuse behaviours, their origins lie in how we feel about ourselves.
Where does it start? Have we normalised abuse to some extent and if so why? What do we now tolerate as acceptable? Is it possible that we have created a sliding scale of what we call abuse – which leads to ignoring or overriding certain marks, which are in fact abuse, and yet we don’t acknowledge them as such? If so, where do we place what 88
Nurturing You & Others
on the scale – what do we tolerate as acceptable? This is a big question, but one worth asking – what do we call abuse and how much of it becomes selfabuse through our willingness to tolerate it? We call abuse: physical violence, bullying, cutting, bulimia, drug addiction and so on goes the list of the typical ‘extremes’ that become very impacting issues on any individual and their family and friends. But these behaviours and vices do not begin overnight; they develop into problems or addictions over a period of time where self-abuse has already become a part of someone’s way of treating themselves. When the subtle layers of abuse go unidentified or un-dealt with we undermine our self-worth – which is ultimately a root cause behind all abuse issues.
First hand experience with self-harm in the family: As a mother, I have had the experience of a teenager caught in the compulsive pattern of self-harm. Initially my reaction was to the emotional pain that had pushed them into the pattern, and horror at the behaviour itself, which triggered a need to save them from the harm and keep them safe (of paramount importance to me as a mother). This was combined with guilt and shame about failing them as a parent. 89
WOMEN & FAMILY A stint of ‘addressing the issue’ followed with really no change to the situation other than my child becoming more defensive and secretive about the increasing self-harm and the whole family suffering. This clearly wasn’t working – something had to change! I realised I had to stop focusing on the self-harm, as hard as that was (and which obviously wasn’t going away!) and instead focus back on us, on who we are. This meant a reconnection to the loveliness within myself and the loveliness that I felt in my children which is always there, and knowing how much that is worth – reminding my teenager (and my family) that it was about who they are and NOT about what they were doing. I upped-the-anti with myself – paying deeper attention to taking great and loving care of me, to looking closely at what had been ‘acceptable’ on the scale of what I called abuse. I reflected on letting go of any guilt about the past, which would otherwise be impacting my reactions to this situation, and began to share what was happening at home with trusted friends. Let me tell you, this made the hugest difference – sure the behaviour was still there at first, but now there was a renewed focus on connection and love in the family, as well as SO much more. The self-harm was no longer guarded so fiercely or secretly (by any of us) – AND as my teenage child was honoured and met for themselves, the pattern of harm receded and disappeared. It was in developing my love for myself, that I was able to offer true support for my family.
How important developing our own self-worth is! It’s easy to focus on the awfulness of the behaviours of self-harm and bulimia, or to write off binge drinking as a teenage rite of passage… but it is most important to look deeply within ourselves and reflect on being prepared to claim that we are worthy of nothing less than absolute love, no matter what may have gone before. To renounce what we may have accepted or tolerated in the past and to say I am absolutely worth it, and bring that to the family table and thus to those issues that need addressing. We women – equipped with the ever-present ability to nurture and love our families and ourselves – can take the essential steps toward breaking the momentum of lack of self-worth and self-abuse. We can change the dynamics within our families, back to making it all about love and the love within us – with the power to understand and deal with issues from there, without feeling ill-equipped or needing to avoid anything. In being willing to take back and to honour our own self-worth, we reflect to our families, our friends, our neighbours and colleagues that same sense of worth, and believe me it’s never too late or too hard to start!
Redeﬁning the true meaning of health and well-being
Psychological well-being is how we live, how we breathe, how we work and how we play. It is the way we choose to live and be with others – it is our inner quality that affects how we are in the world – with ourselves, people, communities, nature and life.
PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING According to one researcher, self-harming adolescents are doing all the wrong things for the right reasons... This article addresses why young people self-harm, how self-harm works to relieve tension and how those who engage in self-harm can be connected with, understood and supported.
How to avoid feeling overwhelmed We all get overwhelmed sometimes by our emotions, but we don’t have to be ruled by them. Marianna’s article shares with us some tips to support us and lead us to have a much more supportive way of dealing with our emotions.
Self-loathing and low self-esteem Have you noticed just how much we use self loathing to reject ourselves? It seems that to have low self-esteem, low self-worth and to actively engage in self-loathing is absolutely acceptable in society, that it’s a ‘normal part of life’. How did that happen?
Unimed Living is a global website dedicated to the subject of health and wellbeing, with 250+ volunteers writing on topics relating to our everyday lives.
MY BODY Crisis in Confidence? By Lyndy Summerhaze / Australia
rue and natural confidence is one of the most beautiful qualities that a woman can radiate and share. We all know, for example, what it is like to go shopping and be served by a woman who not only knows and cares about the product she sells – but whose natural confidence is welcoming, fun and unimposing. It is a pleasure to do business with her. Recent editions of women’s magazines are reporting that women seem to be currently in the midst of an acute crisis in confidence. And is it any wonder, as women increasingly experience what it is like to be at the receiving end of out– of–reach cultural, fashion and beauty image propaganda from every angle – both commercial and from the media – telling them how to be and what to do? Even women who are seemingly very successful in the world are saying that despite their high-powered positions, they continue to act in a self-effacing manner and lack confidence in themselves.
What is happening? An article in Marie Claire discusses Shipman and Kay’s book The Confidence Code. In interviews with successful women, the authors kept hearing over and over again that these women felt like frauds and have huge self-doubt. Shipman and Kay suggest that the heart of the problem is women’s tendency to ‘overthink’ situations, coupled with a desire to please and be liked or accepted because they feel they have some ‘innate deficit’. It is a great start to voicing what many of us are becoming aware of. It is interesting that although women have been able to make the move to secure high profile careers previously unavailable to our gender – such as Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard, Angela Merkel the Chancellor Germany – many women of this ilk are expressing that they feel huge doubt and insecurity about their ability and worth despite their high-powered positions. 92
Loving The Body You’re In
It is great, and certainly ‘about time,’ that women have access to whatever kind of role in society they feel truly drawn to, whether it be wife and mother, research scientist or prime minister, yet it is clear that it is not, in fact, these outward signs, achievements or careers, that are responsible for bringing the confidence and security we all long for. We have already seen that no matter how ‘perfect’ a facial and bodily shape movie stars or models may physically possess, it is not the outer appearance that constitutes the vital ingredient that brings confidence, beauty and joy for a woman. Many beautiful women in prominent careers confess that they feel ugly, hate various parts of their body, are miserable, massively anxious, or are addicted to alcohol or drugs.
It is clearly not an outer appearance – a high-flyer career or an amazingly proportioned body – that assuredly brings us confidence and joy. If we are successful on the outside, by mainstream measures, but not truly well on the inside, what kind of success is that?
MY BODY & I
Is the existence of a lack of congruence between the ‘inner’ and the ‘outer’ the very reason why some women are admitting that they are feeling like a fraud... because, having become successful via something outside of themselves, or perhaps following outer rules about how they are told to be, and not by virtue of their own true knowing and essential inner-confidence, they know that at some level they are fooling everyone and therefore feel like a fraud? This state of affairs can feel very disturbing. Confidence: what is it really, and who has it? Could it be that we have all known and experienced true confidence at some stage in our lives and known that it has nothing to do with what we have strived to achieve? When I spoke with other women about what constitutes true confidence we all agreed that it has a great deal to do with the presence a woman carries. We were talking about such classic stars as Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly and the beautiful presence, freshness, and natural confidence they brought to their movies. When we considered the contemporary remakes of some of their films we realised in fact what we had actually so enjoyed about the originals was the presence of these beautiful women, and that it was their presence that illuminated the film and was at the heart of it all. This kind of presence has a lot to do with our connection to our inner-heart – our ‘whole-heartedness’ – and a willingness to be present in our bodies – a
willingness to know and feel the love that we are which is, above all, ‘authentic’ and never fraudulent – so that whether we are delivering a world-changing speech or hanging out the washing, we are in a state of connectedness and authenticity that makes what we are doing a joy. True confidence in fact depends on presence. The confidence that comes from living connected with bodily presence in this way is something that belongs to everyone without exception, and it is intimately linked with true beauty . . . that special spark, that emanating warmth of a woman.
The more we connect with our body, and with the unruffled essence that lies within us, beneath all the raciness and brittleness of everyday life, the more we connect with something exquisite within, something long remembered, ever-known to us, and never lost. As we allow ourselves to live from this inner-most place, rather than from the promptings of the outer world – a world which tells us we must be pleasing or we will not be liked and accepted – the more we reveal the beauty that we innately are. And the confidence we feel is warm, strong, never imposing and an inspiration to all. It is time to turn the tide on this ‘crisis in confidence’ in women and bring back our truth and beauty to a world that is crying out for this.
Photographs by Iris Pohl
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LIVE LOVE NOURISH Inspiring Ways to Build Self-Worth By Casey-Lee Lyons / Australia
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Practicing self-love is a great place to start. Even the little things that you do for yourself communicate your worth. How far are you willing to go to show yourself that you are worth it? Build a loving relationship with yourself. How do you perceive yourself? How do you talk and feel about yourself? Do you have a negative self-image? It’s time to get honest and self-evaluate your view of yourself. Learn to recognise and acknowledge your natural beauty, inside and out. There is absolutely nothing that you have to achieve or accomplish to ‘prove’ your worth to yourself or others. You are already great just the way you are. No external achievement or accomplishment is truly going to make you a better person. Self-worth comes from within. Trust your inner feelings. Avoid giving your power away to others and instead trust and honour what YOU feel and how YOU feel. Lean to accept who you are. You are unique unlike any other. The sooner you accept who you are the sooner the world gets to see you for who you really are too! Appreciate your body and learn to accept and value yourself and your amazing capabilities.
Know your strength and power. There is no doubt that within each and every one of you is all of the strength and power you will ever need. Learn to claim your strength and power and begin to exercise your full potential.
Build self-confidence and learn to hold your head high while walking in your own shoes. Self-confidence is sexy, inspiring and empowering.
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Leave no room for comparison. You are unique and weren’t ever meant to be like anyone else. That includes your unique body shape, your unique personality, your unique talents and your unique capabilities. Comparing yourself to others can feed a negative self-image and a feeling of being less, neither of which encourage self-worth. Stand tall as who YOU are. The roles you play in life are just that – roles. Roles are ‘hats’ that you put on but they don’t make you who you are. Before you are a job title, a mother or grandmother, before you are a wife – you are you. It comes from within! No amount of accomplishment that you ‘do’ can ever compare to your real worth. True self-worth comes from within. Learn to cherish who you are, your unique self and your inner qualities. For more ways to Live Love Nourish visit
www.livelovenourish.com.au Photograph by Iris Pohl
True Power comes from Your Being ‘Powerful Women’ At Work – Just How Are We Defining This? By Zofia Sharman / Singapore
ow much is a woman worth? Priceless agreed. But as a woman in the working world as it is, do we truly feel that we are price-less, and that we are worth everything and totally valued regardless of our job title or position? In reality and for most, our sense of worth is based on what we do, or have done in the past affecting the next type of job, or promotion that we accept. As we’ve come crashing through the ‘glass ceiling’, with increasing numbers of women over this past decade holding management positions, the question remains – “Have we achieved all of this at the expense of our true selves?” In other words, in championing what jobs we do as being the measure of where ‘our worth as a woman’ lies, have we completely forgotten, ignored and discounted the true value of us that is innate within?
“Top most powerful women in industry” A grabbing title by the press – but, is a ‘worth’ that is more often than not based on title or reputation, something that makes a woman truly powerful? Can we not already be powerful, or carry a power irrespective of a noted label? Perhaps, if we are swayed by what we do as being who we are, titles and positions qualify as a certain kind of ‘powerfulness’, but surely ‘a most powerful woman’ is just a woman who knows herself – i.e. a woman with not one ounce of herself bound, inflated or recognised by a job title, track record or reputation, but instead one who leads, holding an innate strength, steadiness, and confidence that is natural to herself, and not the engineered type that uses and utilises force, drive or push in order to assert. 100
WORK Do we demand a woman de-nature herself in order to ‘keep up’ and conform to valuing herself only as much as her job title, position, output or result she delivers on? Hence could this be a manufactured construct that brings halt to, or holds back and stops the true power of a woman from being lived and known? It would seem that way. Though, as women, it is a construct that we have readily bought into and fuelled along, ensuring that our false sense of worth is dented which in turn ensures we push even more, remain more hardened, aggressive, driven to compete – and in this continue to operate, lead and manage in opposition of what could be considered as being our true nature – that of gentleness, inclusivity, harmony, warmth, care, steadiness and without compromising on such qualities from coming into play. But in not seeing just how far we have stepped away from the qualities of who we naturally are as a woman, or not being honest about where we are basing our self-worth, haven’t we only contributed towards fostering the imbalance we can complain of or even dismiss exists, that either way ends up harming us? What if such women, CEOs or leaders truly said no to the outer-fed versions of worth, stepping forward to lead, in honour and cherishing of their true selves and innate worth with the natural confidence this allows? How amazingly influential and inspiring this would be for other women to equally want to have and enjoy. Such embracing of who we naturally are, minus any identified position or title, would not only have the power to change the landscape of the heavily male or masculine driven and dominated business world we have today towards being more balanced and equal, but could also show where the origins of true power exists for any leader, whether female, or male.
RELATIONSHIP With Self Breaking Out of the Cycle of Self-Abuse By Mary-Louise Myers / Australia
n this edition of our magazine we are taking a very close look at lack of self-worth amongst women, and what we do know is that this is an issue and an ill that plagues so many young girls and women; and along with it goes the subsequent and very destructive self-abuse that continues to feed it. This abuse may play out in the guise of eating disorders, with drug and alcohol abuse, or sexual promiscuity. Recently it has become ‘popular’ to express this lack of self-worth through cutting with razor blades, pins or knives; ‘cutting’, as it is known, into parts of the body that will not be seen. For some of us the ways we’ve abused ourselves might have been more subtle and not so overt. It may have been through our relationships, by making ourselves less than others, or through criticising ourselves in the mirror, or wherever else we would catch a glimpse of our reflection, and ‘bashing’ ourselves with relentless negative self-talk.
We could say that whether the type of self-abuse is overt and extreme, or of a more subtle and not so obvious form, but detrimental nonetheless, that it is in fact an epidemic in some form or another amongst most women.
When I was 13 years old, I gave up on a promising tennis career, and headed down a path of anorexia and bulimia. It took me only a year to reduce myself to skin and bones. No matter what people said, I refused to acknowledge how close I was to starving myself to death. Things only changed for me when my sister, worried about the state I was in, suggested, in the vague hope that I would start eating again, that eating and throwing up may be a better option. And eat I did! I would binge eat and vomit up to 5 times a day, always promising myself this would be the last time, though never able to stop myself from repeating the pattern over and over again. Whenever I went anywhere, the first thing I would do was to see what I could eat and where I could throw up without anyone noticing. My life was miserable, the only relationships I had were with food and the toilet bowl! This perpetuated a cycle of selfabuse that was to go on for the next 25 years of my life.
The number of times I vomited may have gotten less over the years, but the underlying lack of self-worth and lack of self-acceptance was still prevalent, it was always there. At first I thought, “if only I could stop this perpetual pattern of binging and vomiting then I would be okay”, but in time I came to realize that it was not just about stopping the behaviour; what I actually needed to look at was why I was choosing to abuse myself so relentlessly in the first place. What was it that I did not want to feel? In hindsight, I could have come out of this cycle of abuse much earlier had I been willing to ask this question, and to feel the pain and harm I was causing myself and all those close to me. At the time though I was resigned to the fact that this was just how life is. I had identified so much with my lack of self-worth that I actually believed I would amount to nothing in this life, and that I was useIess and ‘good for nothing’. When I finally gave in and relinquished myself to feeling what was going on, what
came up for me was just how deeply hurt I was by having never felt loved or seen by my parents, and that at the time I felt this was my fault, that I was not worthy of their love. This underlying hurt had began the cycle of self-abuse, which further fuelled the low opinion of myself I already had. Now looking back, I realise that my parents were unable to meet my needs as they had their own issues and pains undealt with, and they were simply doing the best that they could at the time. This process of healing was not immediate, and took some years to truly resolve my hurt and bring understanding to my experiences. But it was well worth it. Universal Medicine supported me in this time, and through ‘The Livingness’, as presented by Serge Benhayon, I truly turned my life around for myself. I now know that those thoughts of being useless were not true, and that any one of us can change the course of our life, if we are willing to come back to ourselves, take responsibility for our choices and make a continued and loving commitment to this in our life. Photograph by Iris Pohl
RELATIONSHIP WITH SELF
When I started to take care and learn to love myself in the way I would have liked to have felt loved, I stopped expecting this from others. I began to take responsibility for myself and for my choices, instead of blaming others, (in particular my parents), for the way my life was heading. I saw that all along I was the one feeding this lack of self-worth through continuing to use self-abuse and putting up with abuse from others as my reason for why life was ‘hard’. This realisation healing.
Through truly committing to caring for, loving, and appreciating myself, I began to rebuild my true sense of self-worth, and this helped me to come back to being the love I naturally always was. As I developed this deeper appreciation and love of who I am, no longer did I need to consider self-abuse as a way to ‘do’ life. This changed the whole way I felt about my body; from an attitude of extreme hatred of it, to one of love and acceptance. 104
No longer are my relationships limited to the toilet bowl or food, I now have a loving relationship with myself, my two daughters, my family, friends, colleagues, and also with the hundreds of women that I connect with in my work. Many readers may know me from the interview in Edition #1 of Women in Livingness Magazine by Rebecca Baldwin, and from these two articles you can hear and feel how I have turned my life around, from being addicted to drugs, alcohol, anorexia and bulimia, to now being one of the world leaders as a presenter in Esoteric Women’s Health and offering individual sessions to women globally. No way, even eight years ago, would I have thought it was possible to be living a life so rich and fulfilling. I am sharing my story so that you may consider – if low self-worth and self-abuse has a place in your own life, that change is in fact very possible, if you are willing to get honest and take responsibility for your life; I am living proof of that.
Photograph by Iris Pohl
BRISBANE â&#x20AC;˘ SYDNEY â&#x20AC;˘ MELBOURNE Women in Livingness workshops are events held in 3 major cities across Australia. Each event is brought to you by presenters who, through their own experience and insight, offer a depth of understanding and teachings about women and our way of living.
A woman in The Livingness is not defined by any external ideal or belief, but rather lives from a natural confidence in all that she does. Such confidence comes from her essence, a living stillness that is innate to all women.
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Emanating Our Worth
Is Your Value Only Skin Deep? By Kylie Connors & Nicolette Hoyle / Australia
any of us can relate to feeling better about ourselves when we receive a compliment about the way we look. But what is it that ‘makes us feel better’ exactly? Do we suddenly feel ok and assured at the prospect that we are now accepted, and valued by another? The way we look can have a significant impact on the way we feel about ourselves – for example, if we are having a bad hair day, feeling bloated or if an annoying pimple has popped up in a prime position on our face. These things can play a part in how we see and feel about ourselves on a particular day. Most of us can relate to wanting to hide away from the world on certain days because of the way we may look. How much of your worth comes from your looks? Is the way you feel about yourself based on a perception of how YOU see your looks? Is the way you feel about yourself based on how OTHERS perceive your looks? 106
As women, we tend to invest an enormous amount of time and energy in our appearance. Our perception of who we are is often influenced by the way we compare ourselves to others. When we constantly compare ourselves with other women we create a list of things that we feel are ‘shortcomings’ – which eclipse all the qualities that we could appreciate and adore about ourselves. The world media plays a huge part in fostering this comparison. We constantly see images that have been airbrushed, digitally enhanced and touchedup. Not to mention the glorification of models who may have been surgically enhanced, or may fall below what is realistically viewed as a healthy, normal weight and size. These images are not real and yet this is what so many of us then aspire to look like . . . an impossibility. However, it is well known that models and those ‘touched up’ we think we need to aspire to, also endure the same issues of lacking confidence and low self-worth… Clearly then, having the perfect body and ‘look’ does not hold the answer to long and true lasting self-worth.
So what does? True Beauty is not a look, it is a feeling first. When you look at yourself in the mirror, what looks back at you is not just a 2-dimensional image, it is a multi-dimensional character. You see a body that is alive and living a certain way in life. This body tells a story. It tells a story of how you feel, how you think, how you have been treating yourself, and how you allow others to treat you… when you “look” in that mirror you are not just looking, you are also feeling – feeling everything you have been choosing to live up to that moment. Woah. Let’s pause here a moment… If this is so, is it possible that the way to find true and long lasting self-worth is to live the true beauty we are, not just try to look like it?
True Beauty is found in the essence of who you truly are, but in order to see this you must let that beauty out!... in otherwords, the beauty of you is expressed every moment of how you are in your day – and so when you look in the mirror the story that is told by the body that you see is of someone who is living their beauty from the inside out.
Nothing in this world can bring you the sense of true worth and value you crave; For you are the one that brings the riches of true worth by the way you express you in every day. What would it feel like to wake up feeling valuable, to know there is nothing you need to do, or look like in order to feel good enough? Photograph by Iris Pohl
Beauty tips and ways we can nurture ourselves to develop our true self-worth and value . . . from the inside. Appreciate – Every time you look in the mirror, take time to stop, look yourself in the eyes and appreciate you. You can give yourself a smile, a cheeky look, or a wink – or just look lovingly at yourself and appreciate what you see and feel . . . Touch – Is your touch confirming your worth and preciousness? Or, do you touch yourself absently or in a rushed manner when you get dressed, apply moisturiser, sunscreen or wash your hands? Every touch of your body can be a way of reminding yourself how tender and valuable you are. Say no – We can say no to the critical thoughts, the judgement from ourselves, and others, and all the things that take us away from enjoying who we are. If we actually work on appreciating ourselves, there will be less and less room for these thoughts, 108
and they will seem even more ridiculous than ever! Whenever a thought comes in that is not appreciating you, do not accept it, say ‘no’. Every time you choose to value yourself it builds upon the last choice. We can build a different relationship with ourselves, the way we look and feel, one that is based on confirming, appreciating and celebrating our value and our worth. Now this true beauty is invaluable.
Photograph by Iris Pohl
Redeﬁning the true meaning of health and well-being In today’s day and age we have seen every fad under the sun touted to achieve vitality and wellbeing. Super-foods, best ever diets, intense exercise, calming exercise, and yet still stress levels, depression and obesity are at record highs. Enter Self-Care; a way of living that puts the care of your-self at the center of all that you do each day. Self-care makes no claims of overnight transformations, but is instead an ongoing development that pays full attention to the quality in which you are living. Read more..
SELF-CARE Self-care is not selﬁsh
A powerful article written by a Registered Nurse and mum that turns the belief that self-care is selﬁsh on its head.
The gentle breath meditation: caring for me at work Using the Gentle Breath Meditation has made all the difference to how I am at work, and it was surprisingly easy to incorporate it into my workday routine.
Sleep – time to restore and refresh Do you ever wake-up feeling just as exhausted as when you went to sleep? Discover how healthy sleep happens before you even close your eyes.
WOMEN IN Woman In Full Flight!
ecently I had the opportunity to feel on a very practical level what working from a place of self-worth looks like. In my job as an Air Traffic Controller, I sit in front of a radar screen and communicate with aircraft - put simply, to keep aircraft safe. In my patch of airspace, aircraft traffic has increased dramatically over the past few years. The systems and procedures we had in place however, had not kept up with the increase. For almost two years, my colleagues and I would often get smashed when ‘plugged in’ controlling traffic; many times situations arose where we were just managing to keep our head above water, operating at an intensity that should the slightest thing go wrong, there might be dire consequences. The responsibility was such that we would be plugged in for two hours straight, often during peak, demanding periods, which were repeatedly frightening and left us feeling exhausted and apprehensive about our next shift. While a few of us talked to management about the stress we were experiencing, we were never taken seriously. For a very long time, we just accepted that this was just how it was. We thought that because we were only controllers, we had no authority to actually bring about change. We allowed the situation to reach a crisis point – our health and the safety of hundreds of people were put at risk.
Success And Our Sense of Self-Worth Looking back now, none of us really tried that hard to change things. 110
True Power comes from Your Being
We were too worried about what our colleagues and management would think of us if we admitted we were finding the job tough; scared we would be seen as the weak link. While there is a certain level of ability that needs to be attained and maintained to provide a safe service, we all had erroneously connected our sense of self-worth to doing the job itself. We related ‘above and beyond’ performance to be a measure of our success - our value as people. There was the feeling that we had no choice but to just cope, become tougher and stronger, and continue to perform in order to receive recognition. I could see we were all handling it in very similar ways. The quality of our work was suffering and we were very reactive to stressful situations, instead of having time to make considered responses. The consumption of coffee was high, chocolate was consumed at an alarming rate while working, sleep patterns were disturbed, alcohol (after hours) was a common crutch, and sick leave increasing. And yet nobody stood up for themselves and the team. It seemed nobody valued themselves enough. Until, one day I did. I chose to stand up and speak up because I realised that: • I was playing a part in a potentially disastrous situation through inaction; • I did have a voice; it was me who was dealing with the day-to-day situations; and • I had a responsibility to myself, to my colleagues and the travelling public to reveal what was really going on.
Photograph by Michelle Aboode
WOMEN & WORK
I decided that as a human being I was completely worth standing up for; that the intensity of the situation could not be tolerated anymore. I could not put up with the extreme complexity of the job or living the anxiousness that was becoming normal every day. A mid-air collision seemed very possible to me. So what did I do? I started to speak up and say ‘No’ to what felt like abuse of us as controllers.
Speaking Up and Voicing Self-Worth Beginning to understand that there was actually no connection between my own worthiness and my performance of the job, it was no longer possible for me to put up with the way things were. I pondered on this deeper understanding with my colleagues and saw they too could feel how their own worthiness was not actually related to how they did their job – something that we all previously had thought.
We started to value our own wellbeing in our workplace enough to no longer accept living a situation that was harming us and in turn other people, and collectively we began very real, respectful conversations with our managers, the ones empowered to change the procedures. The truth is, self-worth is a conscious commitment to, and appreciation of, ourselves – a conscious choice – not anything related to our performance. Making our self-worth about WHO WE ARE, not what we do, collectively meant we realised how much we valued ourselves enough to ask for help, to ask for a change in the way we worked. And change we did get. Our management listened to us and regardless of the costs involved, the procedures were changed with the provision of more controllers to share the workload. We just had to appreciate ourselves for management to appreciate us. We found that honouring and embracing our Self-Worth was the true success in our workplace. 112
Photograph by Natalie Benhayon
RedeďŹ ning the true meaning of health and well-being
We innately love to work and enjoy the responsibility and commitment that being part of the workforce offers. Yet the question remains: why is this so different in reality - why has work become something to endure, survive and retire from? Why donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t we love our job? What is the purpose of working?
WORK Stress At Work Stress at Work - here we consider: what is stress and is it possible to be stress-free at work? What does self-care at work actually mean and how can we apply it? What really constitutes work-life balance and health and well-being in the workplace?
Feeling Exhausted At Work? - A Few Reasons Why ... This author shares how feeling exhausted left her craving sugar and coffee because of how she worked. By letting go of expectations and accepting things the way they are, she no longer feels exhausted after a long day of work.
Self-Care At Work Makes Sense, Why Is It Not Common Practice? No one at work ever tells us NOT to take care of ourselves at work, and, we all know that it is needed. Why then is self-care not consistently practiced in workplaces?
Do You Change to Be in a Relationship? By Isabella Benhayon / Australia
didn’t have anyone to offer me any great advice when I was a young teen. My sister was four years older than me and I didn’t see her too much, and as many girls can agree our parents were always a bit too old to be able to truly understand what we were going through. This of course does not stop them from trying (and it’s usually cringe worthy!). One of the most important topics that seem to occupy our lives when we are young is that of relationships. At that age, the ideas I remember we all had of what it meant to be in a relationship was from our parents, older siblings and of course from all the movies we had seen, but aside from that, it was just an ‘anything (and anyone) goes!’ Over the years of observing life and relationships I have learned that - A true relationship is an opportunity to be exactly who you are with another person, who by virtue of this, also has the opportunity to be exactly who they are. When I was about 13 I moved to an all girls school in the city, and that was around the age that all the girls became obsessed with getting a boyfriend. I remember it used to be like a competition, of who could get the oldest, best looking guy. 114
What I remember most however was the way the girls used to behave around the boys. They were never themselves at all – and would go from being normal one moment to an American teen-movie double the next. These girls would have boyfriends, yes, but the relationships always seemed to be putting on some show – and let’s be honest, as girls, trying to figure out what the particular guy classifies as the “ideal girl” and trying our best to look, sound and act like this Barbie doll seemed to take up all of our time. These days the pressures of what is ‘expected’ of young girls to do and be like in order to be in a relationship has become increasingly more alarming. Things like sexting, snapchat, video calling and so on are ever prevalent and now considered a ‘normal’ part of what happens when youth date. The thing is, and what I fast discovered growing up, is that there couldn’t be any true relationships because no one was truly being themselves. I did not fall into playing this false game, but I definitely fell for the pressure of wanting to be the ideal beautiful, sexy girl. When it came to a relationship I always imagined it being something really special. I had a lot of boys who were just my friends
at that age, and I always imagined my future boyfriend would be my absolute best friend first and foremost, before we decided to become closer. I wanted someone who I could talk freely with, and who I could be myself around and who would not play games with me. I didn’t want to play the ‘we’re dating so we have to do this’ game, or the ‘I’ll be your ideal if you be mine’ either. I just wanted a best friend who I could fall deeply in love with and be in a relationship with. It’s crazy! - We as young women are always selling ourselves out to the games we’re told we’re meant to play. Why do you have to be the ideal girl for the guy? And where does this ideal girl come from? Who decides what is the ideal and why on earth is it fair that you have to try and achieve something impossible when you are amazing just as you are?
We are young women and when we choose to be ourselves, we become bigger than life and absolutely amazing. It’s when we shrink ourselves because we feel inferior, or are told we are not enough, or are told we have to be something specific that this amazingness becomes hidden and at times can feel lost. Going through high school can at times feel like wading through quicksand – it can at times feel so difficult not to get swallowed up by it all. I fell for a lot of the games at school, and I hurt myself for years trying to achieve the ideal told to me from my external world. Looking back I wasted so much time when I could have just been enjoying who I already was! One thing I didn’t do however was enter into a relationship just for the sake of Photograph by Iris Pohl
TEEN & YOUTH
having a boyfriend, in fact, my first boyfriend was not until I was 22 and he is now my husband! I knew I was worth more than just ‘any’ guy, and I made the decision to hold out from having a boyfriend until I met a guy who I felt could love and deeply respect me as much as I felt I deserved. It was because I made this decision that such an amazing relationship came to me – I knew what it was instantly because it was the standard I had set for myself. I want to say to all the young girls that I meet that they can so easily do the same. This doesn’t of course mean that you do exactly as I have done and not have a boyfriend until your in your 20’s, but it means that whenever you do choose to have a boyfriend, whether you be 15 or 25, it is done from a place of fully honouring the real you, and knowing that the kind of man that you’re worth, is the one that will be able to cherish that real you and grow with you every day – not hold you back, abuse you, play games with you, try to make you an ideal and make you feel not enough – There is so simply no point in having such an arrangement when 116
the alternative – only accepting a true relationship in your life – is so amazing in every way. Being in a true relationship and finding one first comes from knowing who you are. So, who is the real you? What do you really like?... before you are told what is ‘cool or not cool’, what is most naturally your true expression? The best kind of relationship is the one where each partner can offer the other their true selves, and not go into the relationship seeking who they are from the other person. Despite the pressures, despite the feeling of quick sand and that craziness all around, hold onto that true sense of who you really are and don’t be afraid to go against the trend and live you, no matter what that looks like. The truth is, when you do this, you inspire others around you to do the same. And as for relationships, bring who you are to all that you meet –, and so long as you have the true you, you will never feel alone.
Photograph by Iris Pohl
Redeﬁning the true meaning of health and well-being
Human Relationships: Let’s Make Them About Love. As individuals living in a world of more than seven billion people, one thing we cannot escape from is being in Relationship with one another – our human relationships. Every day we are faced with many opportunities to relate to each other: as individuals, in groups, teams, families and as a whole community. Being in relationship is an essential part of our everyday life, and yet, if we looked at the way our Relationships are across our world, we would have to say … "There is room for improvement". We could also say it is very apparent that what everyone is looking for equally, is love; and to share this love in our Relationships.
How we start relationships Relationships form so easily in our early years. Why does it become more difﬁcult as we move into adult lives? Beautifully expressed, this article reminds us of the innocence we had as children in connecting to others and how we can re-establish that simplicity into our lives today
Relationship games – fear of losing love What happens when we protect ourselves from the pain of losing love in relationships.
There’s always tinder... Millennials and Tinder - the price may be your sensitivity. Do apps like Tinder lead to casual sex that numbs our ﬁner feelings.
PSYCHOLOGY Understanding People & Life
Self-Worth and the Self-Help Industry Does it Work? By Monya Murch, Dr.SOC. Sciences, Grad. Counselling / Australia
Self-Development has become a thriving and prolific industry. Recent studies confirm that, selfworth is not measurable, rather it is intrinsic to who we are. We come to this world in all our wholeness. In fact, some scholars have introduced the possibility and evidence that infants are not born as ‘blank slates’, as is often assumed to be the case. In this sense, we all have the same inherent worth and that it is always within, there to re-connect with whenever we choose it. When we take a closer look at the SelfDevelopment industry it becomes clear that most are offering and promising tantalizing quick and easy fixes and prepacked solutions to ongoing tensions and dissatisfaction, fuelling wants and needs by promising the jackpot of reaching ‘Success Goals’ and the ‘Life of your Dreams’. The industry is promoted and sustained by aspirations of self-achievement and selfrealisation that can be bought over the counter, but it forgets to invite the participants to feel who they truly are and to understand the underlying dynamics and issues that come in the way of feeling one’s true worth and sense of being – in relationship with all. 118
We know that being in relationships is a fundamental part of being a human being and yet, most of us struggle with this very natural expression that could possibly be the simple and only way to be and live, rather than the current difficult or seemingly impossible task it has become. In early childhood, an essential element for our psychosocial well-being and physical development is the ‘Quality’ of the interactive relationship with our caregivers - the quality and attunement of our first relationships are of significant importance as it is they that mirror and reconfirm our intrinsic worth as infants. When this sense of intrinsic worth is lacking or missing and the understanding of being in relationship with oneself is misinterpreted, life becomes a chore. Relationships are difficult, unsatisfactory and inevitably fall apart; the possibility to be and express one’s true self fades away, appearing to be impossible and a sense of ‘not being enough’ creeps in - by the time we end up feeling not enough, we have already forgotten Who we are to start with. This underlining sense of ‘not being good
enough’ or ‘incomplete’ leads to a never ending seeking, identification with life goals and roles that become the focus of our pursuit, providing relief with a false sense of self and being. The consequent doing, or ‘bettering’ is used as a ‘fix’ to mask the tension of this incompleteness. The marathon of the selfimprovement ‘journey’ thus begins. Everyday affliction, disappointment and mismatch of expectations opens the door to the ‘searching’, or ‘seeking’ of a solution, for an answer that appears to lay outside of oneself as, of course, we have fallen for the belief that ‘we are not enough’, ‘we have no power and therefore no worth’ and that ‘we need to improve ourselves or be better’ to be worth it. It is not uncommon to hear lines such as: “can you give me the recipe of life?” or “Is there a book that will tell me what to do?” or “If only I could be her”. The proposition of alluring self-improvement appears palatable and needed when there is a sense of inadequacy or at times despair and loss. If one does not feel or think to be
‘enough’ then the ‘fix’ appears to be found in courses, seminars and titles resembling: Change your life around now, Create the life of your dreams, or better, Transform yourself in 10 (or even 5) easy steps, Be the friend (or lover) everyone wants to have; Ask the angels for your soul mate or, a personal favourite would be, Women seeking for themselves… somewhere over the rainbow! The notion of Self continues to be shaped all through adulthood, our environments, society and different relationships. mostly provide us with descriptive information about ‘what one should do or try to be’ rather than being reflections of ‘who one is’. As we abandon, or switch off, from feeling the awareness of our own intrinsic worth, we become a ‘conceptualised assembly of thoughts’ where the Self emerges as an individualised, socially constructed identity that conforms to measurable rules or hoarding to-do lists, titles, roles and other societal requirements through which we dilute and diminish our sense of true Self who we are rather than reigniting it. The Self-help arena also provides an ample Photograph by Kelly Fenech
repertoire of descriptive information on how to better one-self, from a foundation that is not in connection with ones true self. The process of self-improvement feeds and maintains the perception of being ‘better or worse off’ than another, and the misconception that some people are more intelligent, capable, lovable etc., and some are less so. This comparison is measured against an idealistic ‘doing’ or ‘outer achieving’ and it is an individualised process that, at its bottom line, ultimately focuses on individual’s gain. The drive is to become ‘more’, not only of what one considered oneself to be, but also to become better than most or everyone else, and therefore separation from others is the result. This dynamic invites women and men to meet the world in disconnection from their true self and everything or everyone else in order to meet ideals, externally constructed and imagined standards, to measure up to worldly expectations or to be always ‘on top of things’. If we don’t reach the ‘top’ or even 120
when we do reach this set goal, the vicious cycle will be ongoing… which ultimately means perpetuating a sense of feeling let down and of distrust. This compounds what we are attempting to escape from to start with – a lack of self-worth, not being enough, not deserving and a self doubt which makes us question if we have what is needed to reach these goals. Best sellers, motivational and elite courses invite us to CREATE what we think is missing, setting women up to believe that the leader or guru’s prescription and recipe for success is what is needed to achieve self-worth. Within this view self-worth has to be gained, improved, forged, sought, bought and bartered with tools and skills that ‘will get us somewhere’, often at a costprohibitive (and therefore exclusive) fee and in constant comparison along the way – because in the field of self-improvement there is always ‘a more and a less’ to compare oneself to.
Photograph by Kelly Fenech
The stairway to self-development and self-help, regardless of how the package looks or sounds and what the promise of improvement is, too often brings us nowhere near re-establishing the sought after sense of self-worth – women often and openly share that the approach does not work. Mostly, the efforts to improve tend to implode, making space for the next self-development strategy to come along – same, same, just different cover and ambitions – and so the journey continues! Women’s sense of self-worth suffers as a consequence of: Relying on another or others to have all the answers and solutions is disempowering. It also keeps women in constant motion by seeking techniques, answers and fixes to the issue, it is a relentless cycle of comparison – ‘I am less’ or ‘I am more’, ‘how can I be better’ or, ‘I want to be different’. To self-improve is also linked to the pursuit to control life’s outcomes and the constant ‘trying to improve’ to be in control becomes exhausting – it contributes to anxiety as there is no pause, no appreciation of one self but rather keeping up with the shadow of possible failure. It is known that for optimum well-being and development, what is needed is to be met in a mutual, loving relationship where the quality, that is, love, warmth and reciprocity of the relationship allows us to naturally unfold. In turn this provides us with a mirror that re-confirms our own worth and supports the ability to keep returning to who we truly are. As we re-connect and feel the quality of our true being, our true self that is, there is nothing to search for or to improve, and as with babies and young children, there is evidence that we feel and know this from a very young age. Remembering this fact is the key to the unfolding path back to our true selves. It is also a reminder that it is not in the doing, achieving or identifying with outer goals,
images or ideals that we rekindle our self worth. It is about feeling and appreciating that we already are, and just need to uncover within ourselves that which we are seeking so fruitlessly on the outside. True self worth is developed through living in a self-honoring manner ensuring that the inherent message received by the ‘self’ is one of confirmation, appreciation and value. Each time we dis-honour what we truly feel, the message received is one that discounts and dismisses the true self. This forms the root of our lack of self worth. Hence restoring our self worth cannot be done through applying a formula, a potion, meditation, workshop or new age notion. It is not found in the next textbook, next course or in the hope that one will be saved, or will be improved or changed in the hope of finding the yearned-for new you.
If we want to re-connect to our intrinsic worth, we must start by making space to observe and listen to our own feelings, reconnecting to our own inner voice, and choosing to feel, discern and honour what it is that we feel in each moment. Through this we begin to discover our true self, and eventually bring this in full to all that we do. This daily practice, of feeling, listening, honouring and appreciating affects every one of our choices and in so, supports us to build a true and unshakeable sense of self worth.
RELATIONSHIP With Self Is Accepting a Cycle of Self-Abuse in Relationships Connected to Our Lack of Self-Worth
have been in a relationship for the last 35 years and for many years I allowed abuse as part of this relationship. This abuse has been emotional and psychological, and when out of control, at times physical, from both parties. Like many women I have questioned why was this part of the dynamic with the person I was supposed to love and who loves me? What I discovered is that I needed to accept that somehow, how I felt about myself had actually contributed to this. This was a hard pill to swallow but I did manage to get it down. I was floored to realise that I carry a sense of lack of self-worth that resulted firstly in a pattern of self-abuse and as a chain reaction, abuse from another. This lack of self-worth had infiltrated every aspect of my life, which had then allowed a cycle of abuse to prevail in my relationships. 122
On making this connection I began to weed out all the places where I held myself as less, and not deserving of being treated with respect and honour; let me tell you this was tough at times because often I just wanted to fall back into the pattern of blaming and reacting to the abuse by being abusive back. I realised though that this ‘approach’ had really never worked because my relationship was a mess and I was deeply unhappy. Conflict reigned supreme in our home, and deep within me I wanted to turn this around. And turn it around I did. I simply began to allow myself to feel the fact that the way I treated myself was actually abusive. I was the type of woman who always put everyone else’s needs before my own; I nearly always left myself last. I also came to realise that the way I felt about myself was the opening to allowing abuse from another in my life. Somewhere inside of me, I thought I deserved nothing better, even though it hurt me greatly.
The road to addressing this was firstly to look at why I didn’t care for myself, and from this make choices to care for me, with simple things like taking time to lovingly prepare for work in the mornings, resting when I needed, and making time just for me without apologising for it. As part of this process, I also watched for what thoughts came into my head about thinking I didn’t deserve care and love in my life, or that I just didn’t matter, and I began to challenge them as not actually being true. From introducing this in my life, I also began to acknowledge how words, actions or body language from another that felt abusive, actually hurt me. At first, I just gave myself the permission to feel that hurt and not express it; and believe it or not this started to change the amount of abuse in the relationship. Slowly, I added expressing that it actually did hurt out loud, which was scary, as I was afraid that more abuse would
come, which sometimes it did, and the cycle of abuse began again! Over time, from being willing to share what was really going on for me and taking responsibility for my part in it, the abuse became less and less. In this willingness to be honest I discovered that this cycle of abuse only existed due to what I carried in me; now this revelation seriously challenges the ‘victim’ culture in our society. Incredibly this cycle of abuse of over 30 years began to lose its power! The next step in unraveling this pattern of abuse was to examine where and how this had become acceptable to me. I can’t imagine as a little girl thinking I wanted to abuse myself or have an abusive relationship with a man; I think it was more I wanted to honour me, and for a man to truly love me just for who I am. I came to understanding
Photograph by Iris Pohl
RELATIONSHIP WITH SELF
that as a little girl I had watched my mother abuse herself and accept abuse from my father who was alcoholic, leaving all management of our family of eight to her. What occurred in my relationship was just a repeat of this, which seems to be prevalent in many of the relationships of women I know, even if this abuse is not physical or emotional, but even in expecting the woman to do all the housework and all the care of the children! It was confronting to realise that this pattern had been modeled to my daughters, as like my mother, I would never want that for them. I also came to understand that my partner was only acting out of his own learnt patterns and hurts from observing his own father being both physically and emotionally abusive to his mother. With this understanding, and committing to addressing my own pockets of lack of self-worth, I finally got to the 124
point when I said an absolute “NO” to any further cycles of abuse to be part of my relationships. The amazing thing in finally claiming this as true, is that I have been able to support my partner in unraveling his own pattern of abuse, as this pattern was something that was actually harming him too, as well as me. My story about accepting a cycle of abuse is the experience of many women; the amazing fact is that we don’t need to feel like we are victims in this cycle. The power to change is within each of us, if we are willing to let go of blame and truly embrace the responsibility that what we are experiencing and expressing in relationships can stem from our own lack of self-worth. And when we choose to address this it changes everything!
SAFE, GENTLE, DEEPLY STILLING & REJUVENATING A REVOLUTIONARY NEEDLE THERAPY Chakra-puncture is a health-care modality that is complementary to medicine in which needles, applied very lightly, offer a deep foundational energetic and physical support for the body.
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WOMEN IN Working With or Without ‘Me’? By Abby Hinchcliff / Australia
bby is working in her dream job, as an accountant. She has no obvious reason to not enjoy what she does, yet she finds in herself at times that the ‘enjoyment’ factor can oscillate – so what is really going on here? Could our self-worth and self-connection affect how we feel at work, more than work itself? Abby describes what a workday looks like when she chooses to spend her day feeling and connected and conversely, what a workday can look like when she doesn’t. “I felt a lack of appreciation in my life, a disconnection from what was truly available for me, and realised it related directly to my self-worth and how I value myself.” Every day we have the choice to invest our energy and care towards ourselves and others – or not. We have the choice to work in connection with ourselves or to disregard how we really feel. Both ways of working can appear to have the same outcome i.e. the work gets done. However each approach feels completely different . . . in the way we interact and treat our colleagues, clients, ourselves . . . and the work we do.
True Power comes from Your Being
Working in Disregard - Lack of Self-worth When I am not connected to myself at work I . . . • forget to drink water or feel as though I can’t be bothered getting it • I become disorganised – everything I do feels like I’m catching up and I allow my desk to get a bit sloppy and cluttered • I hold off going to the toilet until I finish what I am working on • I am not as dedicated to my attention to detail • I feel anxious when I make a mistake and get really down on myself about it • I can become quite insensitive towards my colleagues and not as considerate as I know I can be • I become more narrow-minded which impacts on my ability to problem solve • I become fearful about my job security and place pressure on myself to perform to keep my job • nothing I do seems like it’s enough, e.g. I will want to race to the next skill level instead of appreciating what I can do very naturally right now • I over-eat at lunchtime, even if I’m not hungry and generally come back to work feeling more tired than before lunch • I feel empty, tired and drained at the end of the day and don’t feel like engaging with my family • I gauge my day based on the amount of work I have executed. If I get everything I want to done, then it’s a good day. If I don’t, then it’s a bad day • I need other people to tell me I am doing a good job because I’m not appreciating myself
Photographs by Natalie Benhayon
WOMEN & WORK
Claiming my Self-Worth through Connection with Myself When I am in connection with myself at work I . . . • • • • •
• • •
feel steady and confident in dealing with whatever the day presents I listen to my body, how it feels, and take care not to override those feelings I keep myself hydrated I go to the bathroom when I feel to I am more aware of my posture and am constantly checking in with how I am positioned and make sure I release any tension held unnecessarily in my body I enjoy being organised and clear my desk between jobs I experience greater understanding for others and myself, making it easier to not take things personally and get caught in reaction I feel how to make best use of my breaks as a way to prepare and support myself for the work ahead. For example during lunch I will, eat, walk, rest, study, run errands, work or have a conversation with a colleague or friend depending etc I leave work in appreciation, feeling complete in all I have done
Abby exposes a fascinating scenario that we can play out every day, gauging the impact that lack of self-worth has on our workday . . . and what happens when we truly value ourselves.
We spend about a third or more of our lives at work, how would you choose to be?
Photograph by Alan Johnston
Emanating Our Worth Beauty On The Go By Kylie Connors / Australia
hy is our nurturing time the first thing that is compromised when we get busy? In this current day and age, where we seem to be getting busier – and there is always more to do – we are seeing the art of nurturing ourselves being lost in fast paced beauty ‘quick fixes’, at the expense of quality of living. In our ancient civilisations of Egypt and Persia, we deeply nurtured ourselves, and beauty was a way of living for us all. This time was sacred, and of equal importance to everything else in life. Cleansing rituals were a significant practise amongst women and men in Ancient Egypt, and were considered part of the beautification process. Women would gather and use perfumed cleansing creams to bathe; and women and men from all classes applied perfumed oils, and make-up as a part of daily life. ”In fact, scientists found that bath oils and other beauty implements were used as payment or wages, even to 132
the lowliest of laborers. Moreover, cosmetics and other beauty-related products or ingredients, and not food, were the primary reason why ancient Egypt engaged in foreign trade.” In Ancient Persia, the ceremony of beautifying and honouring the body was embraced as significant in the way of life for both men and women. Body polishes were part of bathing, as were daily perfumed massages with olive oil and essential oil such as myrrh. Today, beauty treatments are most commonly used and focussed on improving or enhancing our appearance.
Our relationship with beauty has changed; and we are not enjoying the nurturing quality of beauty treatments as a way of re-connecting to ourselves and deepening the way that we then go about living our lives.
It seems that when we get busy, this precious time is the first thing that we give up. We will make time for others, and for the so-called necessities, but nurturing is seen as a luxury, or something we can do without.
more than ever, and more deeply. Far more valuable than any box-ticking, or ‘to-do list’, this time really allows us to bring more of ourselves to our projects, work, families and friends.
And so we have asked for ‘beauty’ on the outside, without taking the time needed to replenish the inside… and thus, we have ‘beauty-on-the-go’ for the fast-paced woman or man who wants to look good, without having to really stop and consider that true beauty and nurturing is more that just skin deep.
However, we have managed to avoid accepting this as part of our daily living – and the opportunity to ‘go deeper’ – by continually keeping up our fast pace.
It is no coincidence that beauty may be viewed as something fickle, superficial or perhaps a luxury as we tend to let ourselves forget the inner wealth and deep beauty in true nurturing. We have bastardised the true healing art of beauty into a fast-paced version, which does not offer us the true properties that it once did.
When times are busy, beauty treatments such as waxing and nails – are often kept as ‘essentials’ – commonly because these are the treatments that affect the way we look on the outside. Why do we put ourselves in a situation where we need to decide between the ‘feel good’ treatments and the necessities? We may choose to wax but when do we ever get to that beautiful selfnurturing facial? And, whilst waxing can be a nurturing experience when applied lovingly, there are other treatments that support our quality on a much deeper level that we are not choosing to experience, or
In fact, it makes sense, that when we are busy we actually do need to factor in time to stop, check in and care for ourselves –
It is interesting to note the trends in beauty today and how they reflect our relationship with ourselves.
are delaying ‘for when we have more time’. We are compartmentalising beauty, and not appreciating the value as a whole. “Future domestic, social and economic changes will have multiple effects on the beauty industry. Indications are that increasingly time-poor Australians with higher disposable incomes will turn to the beauty industry to not only receive services such as facials, IPL and waxing, but also to receive a sense of well-being associated with ideas of personal indulgence and time-out. However due to a downturn of consumer confidence, many sectors of the community are not accessing what they term as ‘luxury’ services.” In the traditional manicure, we are asked to put aside some time for ourselves. Our nails are cleaned, prepared, shaped, buffed, cuticles trimmed; our hands are exfoliated and massaged, and then finally, our nails are painted and allowed to dry. This treatment affords us time to be still, to connect to ourselves, while waiting for our nails to dry. Any rushing will undo the entire ceremony
that has just taken place. Interestingly, we can see the trend away from this type of treatment as we see the rise of fast-paced nail bars and gel and acrylic nails. In this type of treatment we can see the change in what women are asking for. Gel-infused polishes offer us much longer lasting results – no chips, no breaks – just super glossy and lasting colour – for weeks. This type of treatment is often fast – we have uv dryers to dry our nails for us – so we can get ‘back to it’ as quickly as possible. We can even be rough with our hands and nails if we choose to – with no damage to our polish! For the modern woman, this is a Godsend – but at what cost? Many new long-lasting nail treatments require the nails to be soaked in acetone for up to 10 minutes in order to remove the polish. Repeated ongoing use of some of these treatments can mean that our nails do suffer the consequence. Something that appears so great on the outside, can cover up deteriorating nail quality underneath. Is this just another way of meeting our ‘outer requirements’ as women, without going
deeper and nurturing our quality within? And, why are we ok with ‘looking good’ on the outside if that ‘look’ compromises or causes harm to our bodies in some way? We only have to look at the way we have settled for painful waxing in fast-paced waxing bars. We are ferried in and out, and then sent out into the world red, and raw – but thankful that we have ‘done our waxing’… Is this really how we want it to be? Waxing can be a deeply supportive experience, that is pain-free (yes, you read correctly!) When practised with care, integrity and stillness from the appropriate practitioner, waxing need not be at our expense. However, we have asked for results – fast! And, we are not collectively saying no to the way we are being treated if it does not feel right. If we are giving up our beauty in such a way, how else are we doing it? When it comes to caring for ourselves, we
can apply our moisturiser, paint our nails or do our hair – but in what quality do we do this? Do we take the time to stop, connect to ourselves, and cherish our face and body as we carefully and lovingly apply our products? Or, do we just put the product on as quickly as possible, so we can at least say we do that step? Has this too been reduced to function? Do we just want a product that does it all – as quickly as possible? Our cleansing and home routines have changed to accommodate our lack of time – with more products promising the benefits of multiple products, so that we can do it all in one step ‘and get back to it’ again... Our beauty as women lies in our quality, above all else. We have a responsibility as women to make sure that all we do (and we do a lot) comes with our true nurturing quality. If we get caught in the vicious cycle of not taking that moment to connect and nurture, we really give up more than just our quality – but our beauty too. Our real and true beauty can never be just given to us ‘on-the-go’. We are worthy of the time to appreciate and enjoy the enormity of what lay within us, our true beauty.
Photograph by Iris Pohl
elf-worth for women is a prevalent issue in today’s society and an area of discussion that seems to get swept under the carpet. How we dress and the fashion we choose can be a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, but can fashion be one area that can actually support our worth as women? Clothes certainly do not determine who we are, but there are many examples out there of how fashion has been used as a way of determining who we are or possibly playing a certain role:
˚ ˚ ˚ ˚ ˚
The ‘power suit’ depicting a powerful woman Provocative clothing depicting the ‘sexiness’ of a woman Loose or baggy clothing hiding women’s insecurities about their body ‘Designer’ clothing showcasing the wealth of a woman ‘Grunge’ clothing to show that you are ‘different’ or ‘alternative’
But how we truly feel about ourselves can’t be covered up – or dressed up. 136 28
Photograph by Iris Pohl
Fashion has been used in many ways to display our supposed worth, particularly in the media – but has it been set up from a false premise? Most fashion magazines and advertising push the ideal that we have to be tall, thin, young, smooth, wrinkle free and pretty well perfect in order to pull off the latest trend. Models are air-brushed to within an inch of their lives and we are sold these images to depict something we aspire to, an unreal form of perfection. The psychological effect this advertising can have on us can be incredibly detrimental, slowly chipping away at us being comfortable and confident with the true beauty that lays within us all. The clothes we choose to wear can definitely be used to cover up how we might be feeling – to give a false boost perhaps to a melancholy mood, or to cover up a bout of insecurity by dressing provocatively. Tight fitting, low cut dresses can feel gorgeous, sensual and sexy on a woman, but say we do dress in a gorgeous low cut dress, not because we are feeling amazing, but displaying our body and breasts to gain
FASHION Style is You attention – if we were honest with ourselves, how does this truly leave us feeling? That we are ‘wanted’ or admired? Or is there a certain emptiness in this drive for attention? No amount of fancy fashion or clever accessories are ever going to make us feel great from the outside in. True worth most certainly comes from within, and building self-worth is the key to having a great relationship with ourselves, which in turn determines the way we choose our clothes and how we dress ourselves each day. Self-worth is something we re-build and re-connect to. When we spend time nurturing ourselves, being truthful and honouring how we are feeling, we begin to contemplate that we can always make loving choices. We reconnect and re-build a relationship with our true selves as women that allows us to reflect our true self-worth out into the world. Reconnecting to our innate inner beauty is something that every woman, every shape, size, colour and age has the ability to do – by choosing themselves first, and knowing, truly knowing, that their worth is immeasurable.
Honouring, loving and respecting the true beauty we hold as women is how we bring that to others. When we do connect to these gorgeous, natural qualities, we find that choosing clothes, makeup, and jewellery becomes a part of us nurturing ourselves. We begin to choose things that honour and cherish us – and getting dressed each day becomes an outward expression of the loveliness we are re-building from the inside out. Every day we can make a choice to support ourselves with how we dress, and walk confidently, comfortably and freely in the knowing that we are making choices that honour and reflect who we truly are – beautiful, amazing and lovely women – all of us, equally so. So yes, fashion can actually support us to live and express ourselves as women. When we develop our self-worth we can’t help but express to the world the connection we have with who we truly are.
True beauty does emanate from the inside out – and when we begin to live this – it is impossible to hide it from the world!
FITNESS & EXERCISE
What’s Right For Your Body?
Exercise to Build Your Self-Worth By Danielle Pirera, Exercise Physiologist / Australia
Women In Livingness’s in house exercise physiologist shares a whole body workout to make yourself feel whole again.
Since the last Women in Livingness magazine we’ve spent a few months in the exercise science lab, and performed some pretty serious and detailed research and you won’t believe what we’ve found. We’ve determined the exact exercise routine that you need to have the self-worth you have always dreamt about! If you get started now you’ll have your amazing self-worth for the new year – your family and friends will be astounded to see the change in you.
Changes You can expect to see and feel are:
Dressing to show the sexy, truly beautiful and powerful you, with no more hiding this fact
A way of speaking that inspires and empowers you and others
A tone and quality of steadiness and authority in your voice
Strength, fullness and power in your posture
Grace in your walk and movements An ability to ask for support without guilt or embarrassment
˚ ˚ ˚ ˚
Knowing when apologies are not needed
Loving the drop dead gorgeous woman looking at you in the mirror
Absolute appreciation and adoration of your body, how it looks, feels and moves
Can’t get enough of yourself, your playfulness and joy
A depth and authority in your eyes A bounce and sway in your hips Feeling equality in yourself and with others
You’ll never be the same lesser version of yourself again.
Photograph by Alan Johnston
So are you dying to know what the workout is? If you do 14 star jumps, 12 lady push ups, 17 crunches and a walk 15 minutes at a medium fast pace……you’ll probably be a little tired. However, if you take the time to consider the following points before you work out, then exercise not only is great fun but becomes a way to bring out your self-worth.
˚ Truly stop before every workout, close your eyes, and focus on how you’re feeling. ˚ Let go of any judgment or criticism you have about yourself or anything you become aware of that feels uncomfortable, painful or even emotional. ˚ Accept how you are feeling, be very understanding, caring and gentle with yourself and your thoughts, the same way you would be with a young and tender child. ˚ Focus on feeling your breath, and the movement of your chest as you breathe, choosing to breathe gently in and out your nose, and expanding and releasing your chest gently as you breath. You may like to do a brief gentle breathe meditation. Available as a free download at www.unimedliving.com 140
˚ Keep focusing on you and your body, connect deeply and stop and feel what is within, beyond any negative things you observed earlier or critical thoughts that try to pop into your mind. Accept that you are an amazing, gorgeous and glorious woman who is extremely powerful, steady and inspiring for all – this part of you is always untouched, and can be reclaimed whenever you choose to.
˚ When you connect to yourself in this way – you will feel what exercise and movements your body wants to do – instead of doing what ‘you think you should do’ and exercise becomes much, much more enjoyable. It’s up to us to accept that we are whole and amazing and not to keep this to ourselves, but to let it out. If this is not our experience, then we may consider that it’s because we haven’t been living our full self in every moment. Instead we’ve been allowing a flood of experiences and lies rule our way telling us that we are not enough. Over time it can become our accepted reality and norm, that we are naturally amazing and whole and we can easily live this throughout our day – exercising from this place is a great way to start accepting this fact.
Photograph by Alan Johnston
FITNESS & Exercising For You
We all know that regular exercise is great for us, to develop a fit, strong and healthy body. However, what is exercise really doing to our body if we are not looking at the way we exercise – the bigger picture of our health and wellbeing? Meet six women from different backgrounds – from bodywork professionals in physiotherapy, yoga, and exercise training, to women interested in developing exercise in their lives. They talk about their experiences of exercise and movement... what it looks and feels like, and it’s relationship to self-worth. How different would our body and wellbeing feel if we exercised from knowing our worth and accepting that we are already deeply beautiful and amazing?
Our state of being and mind has a huge impact on our body and its health. Low self-worth, for example, how different would our body, vitality and wellbeing be if we exercised feeling our true worth and value?
What’s Right For Your Body
Danielle: I smashed myself with exercise, constantly trying to be better, to be a leader in my sport. I wanted to be skinnier, leaner and toned and spent the whole time thinking about improving myself. I would exercise to increase my self esteem or self confidence, and once I achieved a certain goal I had a moment of feeling better about myself and an arrogance of being better than others, because of everything I had achieved. It was a very abusive and punishing way to treat myself and I was so driven. I was constantly trying to improve myself, but deep down no matter what I achieved I never felt good enough.
Fiona: Danielle, I can so relate to the not feeling good enough. The way I used to exercise was never fun or enjoyable and it never made me feel good about myself. It was something that I knew I had to do, in order to change the way I looked. I would either do it regularly or not at all. In classes or following a DVD, I felt like I was always trying to keep up with the instructors or the rest of the class. I would think that I didn’t look as good in my gym gear and that I needed more muscle or less fat. This constant feeling of comparison – what I should be able to do, how I should look, kept confirming my lack of worth. I have realised that exercising in this way, constantly thinking I am not enough, is like a fuel in the body that can be way more harmful than the food we eat. These thoughts keep building inside us, that there is something wrong with us and that we need to change or improve. These thoughts and feelings about ourselves become so accepted that we no longer see the harm they are doing and the affect they have on every part of our life.
Danielle: That’s been my experience too Fiona as I exercised in an attempt to whip myself into shape. The fuel motivating me was saying “you’re an ugly pig with a fat ass so you better get on that bike and ride hard”. It was a form of punishment. I accepted this self-abuse and yet I would never speak to others the way I spoke to myself.
Suzanne: Ladies you could all be talking about me! I would do boot camps, swimming with sandshoes on so I could hop out of the pool and be able to sprint right away. A lot of the time I distracted myself from the pain I felt in my body by comparing what clothes we were all wearing, be it a big sloppy t-shirt to begin with, then moving eventually to a small, tight one. When I toned up, the positive feedback I received encouraged me to keep going, making my effort all worth it. Then I would ‘reward’ myself by taking a break, aka giving up exercise, only to find myself wearing the sloppy t-shirts again, and the cycle would begin again. 143
Marika: Wow it sounds like we have all had similar experiences with exercise. The women who look fit, lean, toned and have the ‘body beautiful’ feed the ideals about how we need to look, and other women strive to achieve this. It sets an unrealistic goal, a need to get somewhere and leaves us believing that self-worth is attained through how we look. A lot of time and energy is invested in the ideals that we have created and we lose sight of appreciating how awesome we already are.
Ariel: I used to do what you did Marika and then I stopped exercising completely because I thought I was harming myself by exercising too hard. I thought that it was okay to stop because I thought I was loving myself more by no longer doing harsh exercise. But stopping exercise completely wasn’t loving or caring for myself either, I was being lazy because deep down I knew my body needed to exercise.
Kate: I can so relate to what you are all sharing ladies. My drive to exercise was fuelled by a sense of self-loathing. Nourishing my body with exercise was something I wanted to do, but the self-loathing and low self-worth didn’t allow me to exercise in a nourishing way. I wasn’t able to really make a consistent commitment to exercise – I was stuck in the “I’m not worthy of feeling that great”.
Marika: From what we are all saying and from what I have observed, there are 2 ends of a spectrum that commonly play out with exercise. 1/ Striving to reach an ideal body image or look a certain way to feel better about ourselves which drives us to ‘thrash n bash’ our bodies. 2/ Knowing that we should exercise but thinking it’s all too hard and giving up on looking after ourselves. Both ends of the spectrum, (the drive towards an ideal & the giving up) come from a lack of self-worth and neither is supporting a sustainable way to exercise and care for oneself.
Fiona: That’s right Marika, and it seems that our relationship with exercise is from a fuel source of not being good enough, which results in over exercising or giving up. What if we can introduce a different, truly nurturing fuel source that supports our natural vitality?
Danielle: It’s clear we can talk for hours on how we’ve exercised to try and be better, to improve ourselves, from a lack of self-worth; but I wonder have any of us truly developed a relationship with exercise that supports a self-loving way of living, with the knowing that we are already enough? What does it really mean to exercise with self-worth?
Photograph by Iris Pohl
Suzanne: It’s a great question Danielle. I used to exercise in a very hard or punishing way, but then I decided to exercise knowing my body was asking for something much gentler. These days I take my dog for long walks on the beach, walk for 20 minutes during breaks at work, or take a friend for an early morning walk with me.
Marika: Yes, for me listening to the wisdom of my body and what will support me on a daily basis has been very supportive, especially because I was someone who did a lot of exercise with drive and push and fixated on body image. But now I listen to what is best for my body - what kind of exercise I need, how long I need to exercise for, and in a way and quality that respects my body as a woman.
Kate: Like you Marika, I now know the benefits of exercising when I listen to how my body feels. Not looking outside of myself to others for confirmation that I am okay, but rather listening to the way my body feels, changes the way I exercise. This to me is exercising from a place of self-acceptance that is forever deepening. I feel so much more confident and more at ease in my body.
Ariel: Absolutely ladies - I also know now that I can exercise in a connected way, feeling what my body needs, where I am not constantly looking for approval from others around me. The approval I was seeking and getting before was determining my self-worth. I now allow time for long walks without the focus to improve my body or become fitter or toned, but instead being more aware of my body throughout the walk. I really enjoy my body when I do this and I don’t have to worry about ‘over-doing it’.
Fiona: I have discovered a new way of exercising that has completely changed the way I feel when I am exercising. The new fuel running my body is connection and appreciation exercising for me, just the way I am. I simply feel my body and allow myself to enjoy it as I move. For the first time in my life I actually look forward to exercising! When we stop comparing, we can start to enjoy ourselves and each other.
Kate: Yes, and having a curiosity that our body is incredible and will support us if we let it, is crucial. I have come to realise that my body really is my best friend.
I really like that analogy Kate of your body being your best friend. Recently I’ve realised that when we exercise in order to be more vital, more connected or gentle, we can still be exercising from an ideal, wanting to get somewhere. It looks like it’s coming from selfworth, but it’s not. If we are trying to achieve anything, it’s still coming from not feeling enough and needing to improve. How different would it be to stop to connect to how amazing and gorgeous we already are, then go, ‘I’ve got to let that out!’ It is then a celebration of the immense joy that is already inside us, overflowing and waiting to be let out.
Kate: That’s fabulous Danielle, exercising from the inside out, from a place of self-worth, actually confirms how amazing we are. It’s then inspiring to move our body and feel it, and express what’s inside.
Suzanne: And we need to let go of any outside goal or dangling carrot, no matter what that looks like, in order to exercise with self-worth.
Marika: Absolutely Suzanne, it’s about honouring that loveliness that we already are, and choosing a quality of movement when we exercise that respects the body.
Danielle: So ladies, maybe at times it’s hard to develop a loving and committed exercise routine because we are not actually living in a completely loving and committed way with ourselves in our every day, in all that we do. If we are not truly committed to valuing ourselves in everything we do, connected to the amazing and beautiful women that we already are in every moment – then how can we expect to turn it on for exercise? Imagine doing every day movements like getting into the car, dressing or doing the shopping from that feeling of connection with our worth, holding ourselves as precious. If we are developing this in our day, then it will be easy to exercise with that same quality. Exercise would simply be another way to express the power and beauty of who we are.
Maybe it’s actually very simple to exercise from self-worth. We don’t need to try; instead we just stop feeding the lack of self-worth, and allowing the critical thoughts and behaviours to run the show. In challenging our lack of self-worth, our undermining thoughts or behaviours we begin to realise that underneath all of this we do in fact have great worth. When we accept and appreciate ourselves, exercise and movement can be so enjoyable and a wonderful confirmation of how awesome we truly are. Photograph by Alan Johnston
FITNESS & My Commitment to Exercise is Because of My Commitment to Me By Marika Cominos / Australia
ecently I had the opportunity to really appreciate the support that exercise contributes to my life, and to discover the relationship between my commitment to myself and my commitment to exercise. I was quite the exercise fanatic for a large percentage of my life, but in recent years I had pulled back rather substantially from my exercise programs. Whilst I never stopped exercise completely, as I love my walks, I definitely reduced the amount, intensity and regularity. In effect, I had experienced the two opposite ends of the scale – exercising too much for most of my life, and then in recent years, pulling back to a very minimal exercise program. But I felt that something was not quite right with my approach and with my commitment to exercise – and so I started to explore. I began to introduce a regular gentle exercise program and I discovered that my body loved this new gentle and connected way of exercising. Listening to my body made me realise just how supportive and important exercise is and how it had such a positive effect on how I felt throughout the day. When I listened to the wisdom of my body and began to exercise for health and vitality, rather than weight management or body image as was the case in the past – I felt amazing! I started a more regular and committed exercise program of cardio, light weights and some gentle stretching. I noticed how this supported my energy levels and thus my days in a very positive way. And it got me pondering: •
Why did I stop a lot of my exercise in the first place?
• Why do such a large proportion of the population do very little exercise?
As I began to honestly reflect on why my commitment to exercise had waned, I started to piece some things together. Apart from the obvious fact that I was exercising way too much and too hard, and then not exercising enough, I started to connect the dots of what was happening in my life and why these choices were made. It dawned on me like a big yellow light bulb, that…
What’s Right For Your Body
There is an innate relationship between my commitment to exercise and my commitment to me. My lack of commitment to myself as a result of low self-worth was not something I was conscious of at the time: I didn’t go walking around saying out loud “I have given up on myself, I’m not worthy!” I discovered that this process of giving up on oneself seemed to be a slow chipping away over time that easily went unnoticed, as most of my focus was on getting through the day’s events. On reflection, I can see that I went down the path of giving up on aspects of my life like relationships, family and friendships, because it all felt too hard or hurt too much. Over time, the self-doubt started to kick in, confidence and selfPhotograph by Emilia Pettinato
worth headed south, and the joy of life started to lose its sparkle and magic. My energy levels became erratic and my exercise commitment started to decline. I had to pull in more vices and outside motivation in order to get off the couch to exercise. Examples of vices I used were stimulating food and drinks (caffeine, sugary foods) to give me energy, or convincing myself off the couch to go for a walk even though my body was tired and unmotivated. If I am really honest, the only reason I stayed in good shape during this time was vanity and my career. I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t choosing to exercise for health and vitality: I was choosing to exercise for the purpose of a body image that I knew was accepted by society. But as I was to discover, like many others have, this approach cannot sustain itself long-term. The relationship between the commitment to me and how this affects my commitment to exercise has become so clear to me now. The more I struggled with life and continued to feed a lack of self-worth, the more I struggled with committing to exercise. Now that I have seen this connection, my relationship with exercise is very different. Choosing to commit more to me and to truly living life has included dealing with the unresolved issues that were dragging me down. As a result of these choices all aspects of my life have changedâ&#x20AC;Ś the way I eat, relate to people, my work, my relationships, energy levelsâ&#x20AC;Ś life has become a joy! When I reflect back it all makes sense; of course I would lose interest in caring for me if I had on some level checked out or given up on aspects of my life. When we feel we are worth it and life is worth it, we pull out all stops to care for and nurture ourselves.
My newfound commitment has come from the understanding and claiming that I am worthy of expressing my full potential…and so I AM WORTH CARING FOR! Our daily choices really are powerful and have a big influence on our health and thus how we feel. I have started to notice more and more how my body feels during, and after, my daily gentle exercise program. Here are the things that I am very much appreciating that regular exercise offers me… • • • • • • • • • •
Increased endurance, stamina & energy levels Increased ability & ease to stay focussed on tasks A sharper mind with increased clarity Increased confidence in my body A content feeling in my body after exercise Improved quality of sleep Improved digestion & stool movement Reduced appetite, thus less likely to overeat Less likely to comfort eat, if at all An awareness of everything internal flowing with much more ease & efficiency (blood flow, circulation, digestion, assimilation etc.)
No longer is exercise a chore or something I have to do, but simply one of the many ways to support my wellbeing. It also confirms to me that my commitment to exercise is because of my commitment to me from a foundation of self-worth. Without a doubt exercise is an important part of looking after ourselves, and we are all absolutely worth it! Photograph by Alan Johnston
any of us know what it is like to be on a diet or to be watchful in what we eat. But have we ever wondered about the energetic quality of our diets? Energetic quality is based on the way in which and for which reason we make our choices. Are we dieting to look better, to feel more accepted, and to fit to a certain ideal or because we are worried about our health? Are we imposing food choices on ourselves based on what we are being told we should do (which is an ever changing message)? And have we not all been feeling guilty or frustrated when that diet would not work or we soon after gained weight again? It is fair to say that for most of us a diet is a strain, hard work, a discipline, a regiment of denying ourselves certain foods. For some it may feel as a punishment or something bad that needs to be endured until the wanted results are achieved. We often make our dietary choices from wanting to be different than we are, without realizing that in doing so we are actually continuously rejecting ourselves. Imagine what it would be like if our diet was not a diet but a series of loving choices that adhere to and honour what our body needs and is asking for. Our body is unique and therefore it has unique needs. It is for this reason that we can only learn from our own body what a nurturing food choice would be. Forget dieting, we have to learn to start listening to what our body is telling us. If we are feeling heavy or bloated, if we get tired after eating certain foods then these are distinct messages from our bodies letting us know that what we ate did not agree with it. If we have food cravings it may be telling us that we are too tired which is an indication of how we have lived. 152
NUTRITION Nourishing You
When we allow ourselves to pay attention to this we get to build a loving relationship with ourselves and our body and from there we can learn to make our food choices based on loving and nurturing ourselves. A natural approach with an energetic quality that may just start to change your life!
Photograph by Iris Pohl
FOOD & Many of us have really deep seeded self-attacking thoughts that come up anytime we look into a mirror or catch our own reflection. They have become so familiar to us that we often do not even notice them. But if we are to stop and catch them and feel the consequences of this inner dialogue we may find how toxic and self-abusing they really are. Stopping to feel the consequences of this type of talk, we not only notice the impact on our self worth, but also the common association between self worth and how we eat – each feeding the other in a self-harming cycle. From all directions, so much importance gets placed on the way we look rather than on our true and complete value, that we end up believing the only way to feel good about ourselves is to look like the perfect picture, the woman who ‘has it all’. Do you recognise any of these?
“There’s something wrong with me as I don’t look like SUPER SKINNY” “My body doesn’t look like I want it to look and I hate it” “I’m ugly because I’m fat”
“When I am thin I can start to love myself”
“I can never ‘make it’ if I’m fat & overweight”
“My problems in life will be solved once I lose weight” “OMG I don’t have a thigh gap, I have to lose weight” “Food and appetite are my enemies”
NUTRITION Nourishing You “I must eat less and exercise more”
“The less I eat, the more weight I will loose” “I will be liked more if I am thinner”
“My belly is too fat to wear that dress I like”
“My upper arms are too flabby to wear a sleeveless shirt” “My relationship will be better once I lose the weight” “I’m hopeless because I have no willpower”
“If I change how I look everything will be better” “I will feel sexy when I am thin or have curves”
We have taken on so many of these thoughts as being truth, when they are in fact, not. Many of these thoughts relate our value, beauty or self worth to a belief that food, or lack of it, will provide the solution to our self worth woes. However, the truth is, our real beauty and loveliness is in who we are and the value is the appreciation of ourselves for the myriad of qualities that are so naturally there within us. Real beauty and loveliness is never about the shape or size you think you should be; it is the result of how you feel when you are connected to yourself. Eating in accordance to feeling that connection will naturally change the way we eat and what we choose to eat. To make caring and nurturing choices in other little things throughout the day will also flow over into our food choices…and as a consequence when we look in the mirror, those self loving choices we are making are reflected back to us as part of our beauty and loveliness. We see that we are in fact worth every drop of connection, care and nurturing we give ourselves. Photographs by Kelly Fenech
FOOD & Nourishing You NUTRITION Ingredients: 20 minutes
Sleep in as much as possible
5x per week
Wake up grumpy, tired and frustrated
Rush all day because you’re running late
React to a work situation or colleague
Reinforce that you’re no good, tired and fed up
Reach for a biscuit, coffee or chocolate
Overeat at dinner or eat too much dessert
Procedure: • Add all ingredients into your body
• Leave to ferment
• Walk around all day with these ingredients inside you to ensure they’re fully absorbed
• Self-loathing will be ready to serve in as little as 2-3 hours. Leave for 2-3 days for best result.
Ok… so maybe not a recipe you literally digest, but these are definitely attitudes, choices, and expressions that we swallow daily. Eventually putting all these “ingredients” into our body is going take its toll on our health, our wellbeing, our quality of relationships to others and of course to ourselves. If “self-loathing” were a cake, I would definitely be the best baker. And what I have discovered through The Livingness, is a way that actually brought true change and healing to these long-term habits. It started with getting very honest, and taking a look at what ingredients I would put into my day. Do your ingredients contribute to you feeling “full” on self-loathing? Or... Do they contribute to you feeling “full” on self-worth? 156
Redeﬁning the true meaning of health and well-being
Are you looking for a way to lose weight for good? You may have tried so many diets only to ﬁnd they were a recipe for misery and not for weight loss. What we have here are articles by and stories of people who have lost weight without dieting – including many who have lost weight effortlessly. How is that possible? What is their secret? As you read through, you will see that the common thread is that at some point they all asked: Is it possible that we have been looking at weight loss in the wrong way?
DIET & WEIGHT LOSS
Self-love vs self-loathing Reconnecting to self-love is how to break the cycle of hating your body.
A body image lie: "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Starving to be skinny, poor body image, constant comparison with photoshopped bodies destroys our self conﬁdence.
Self-esteem Low self-esteem is a product of having a picture as to how we should be, and believing that we do not meet those requirements. What if you can build a new relationship with self-esteem?
FOOD & Nourishing You NUTRITION We’ve assembled some snack recipes as ideas to have up your sleeve for when the urge strikes and you want to reach for something. Rather than reaching for an unhealthy snack, these recipes support your body with quality proteins and fats to nourish rather than throw you out of balance... Enjoy!
Chilli & Lime Nut Mix
Ingredients: 2 cups Mixed nuts – almonds, cashews, brazil, pistachio, walnut 2 tspn Lime juice 1 tspn Chilli powder 1 tspn Lime zest
Procedure: • Pre-heat the oven to 180˚ • In a bowl, toss the mixed nuts with the lime juice • Place nuts onto a baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes or until crunchy • Remove the nuts from oven and place in a bowl • Stir lime zest and chilli through the nuts • Serve warm or at room temperature Note: Keeps for 1 week in an airtight container. 158
Baked Egg Cups The great thing about these egg cups is that you can change them up so much. If you don’t want bacon or ham, make them with just greens, or try an antipasto version with roasted vegetables. They’re easy to make, they travel really well, they’re perfect morsels of protein and vegetables, and they taste delicious! You’ll need a 12 cup muffin pan to make them in and portion them perfectly.
Ingredients: 12 slices of gluten free low sodium bacon, or ham, or smoked salmon 12 large spinach, kale or silverbeet leaves 1 bunch asparagus 1 cup dairy free pesto 12 large free range eggs 12 cherry tomatoes Cracked pepper to taste
Procedure: • Preheat oven to 180oC or 170oC fanforced
• Crack an egg into a small bowl, give it
• Grease your muffin pan with olive oil
a very light whisk and drop into one of the
• Line the pans with your green leaf of choice
muffins cups. Repeat this process with each
• Wrap the ham or bacon inside the holes to
of the eggs
create a cup • Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and put two halves in each cup • Slice your asparagus into inch long sections and divide among the cups standing upright • Divide the pesto into each cup
• Sprinkle cracked black pepper to taste • Bake until eggs are just firm • When eggs are cool enough to handle, remove from muffin tray. Do not leave in tray or they will sweat and get wet • Serve warm, or refrigerate and eat cold.
(approximately a teaspoon in each) 159
Banana Blueberry Muffins
Ingredients: 300g blanched almond flour or almond meal 1 ½ tspn baking soda 30ml sunflower oil 3 large eggs 4 mashed very ripe bananas 120g blueberries, fresh or frozen
Procedure: • Preheat oven to 160C and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners • In a large bowl, combine the almond flour and baking soda • In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil
• Spoon the batter into the muffin cups • Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre • Leave to cool for 20 minutes and then serve
and eggs • Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined • Stir the bananas into the batter, then gently fold in the blueberries
Makes 10 - 12 delicious muffins.
Redeﬁning the true meaning of health and well-being
It is true to say that one of our strongest and most dependent relationships is with food. We can abandon our relationships with people and even with various worldly religions (as many do) but for as long as we choose to live we cannot break up the relationship with food. Based on this simple yet accurate fact is it not wise that we invest a little – if not much – more time, effort and heart felt energy in making this the most harmonious relationship possible. What if we make this ‘marriage' one of True Love, hence allowing all the others to ﬂourish too.
Going against the grain Going gluten and dairy free brought a heightened awareness and the sense of feeling generally 'sharper' arrived quite quickly. The digestive system improved dramatically and so did my whole sense of wellbeing.
Apparently, the Food Pyramid is making a comeback but does it meet the needs of the modern man? Could the food pyramid actually be contributing to our ever-increasing health problems and making waistlines larger not smaller?
Gluten & Dairy Free Recipes FIND OUT MORE
elcome to the Edition #2 of the Dear Victoria column. If you read this section in Edition #1 of the Women in Livingness, you’ll know we’re three lovely ‘Victorias’, all offering to share our collective wisdom and experience with you in what is a modern take on the traditional Q&A advice column. In Edition #1, we explored the theme of Breast Care – Esoteric Breast Massage, drawing on our own experiences of this remarkable therapy to bring you the Q&As we felt would be of most use. In this Edition #2 of Women in Livingness, in keeping with the theme of Self Worth, we focus on the everyday choices we can make to support the development of self worth. So, as before, we’ve turned to what we know about this topic from our own experience, selecting what we felt would be universally asked questions and answering these. We trust you will find the responses useful and supportive. From here on, we’ll be answering your questions on any topic relating to you as a woman – from periods, sex, love and children, to work, body image, social concerns and more. We warmly invite you to send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org ... along with your name (your first name only is fine) and city or town and country of residence.
Dear Victoria, I’ve often wondered what it is ‘to be a woman’ and whether I actually value myself as a woman at all. Any clues as to what I might be able to do, on a daily basis, to strengthen my sense of being a woman – and a valuable one at that?
Oh yes, I know this one well! For years I struggled with exactly the same question – I really did not know what it was ‘to be a woman’ and had a strong sense of being a second-class citizen... that the qualities that women might naturally bring were of little value in the world. But I changed that by doing a couple of things differently. For a start, I made life about ME first. Why? I realised as a woman I was an expert at constantly putting myself on the backburner whilst tending to everyone else. I decided to reverse that trend, and take care of me first – before anyone or anything else. Once I did that, everything else fell into place. I squashed any thought that tried to tell me I was being selfish: I absolutely knew I wasn’t. I knew if I could re-connect to myself deeply as a woman first, before needing to ‘do’ anything, I could bring a whole lot of nurturing quite naturally, with no effort at all... but not if I’d run myself ragged. I thought of it this way: would it make sense to send an exhausted athlete out to compete? Of course not – the quality an exhausted athlete would bring to an event would be completely compromised. And so it is with us, yet everyday millions of women troop out there tired, stressed and in overwhelm, going through the motions – totally compromised and with no capacity for the kind of nurturing that flows naturally when we’re self-honouring and vital. To assist with my decision to value myself as a woman I invested in that most important of a lady’s accoutrements – the dressing table. Yes, retro as it sounds, the dressing table is your own mini-palace of YOU, where you get to seat yourself graciously, and gaze adoringly into your own amazing eyes as you apply your make-up tenderly and brush your gorgeous locks. And to support this, I found a beautiful brush with soft, gentle bristles for my hair brushing ritual. When I’d done this, I remembered my grandmother had always started her day this way, following a bath – the role model had been there all along. Yes ladies, it’s time to wind the clock back, literally and figuratively, and give yourself the time and space to be with you – to value you before you do anything else. One big step for self-worth, one giant step for woman (and man) kind! With love,
Dear Victoria, I often feel too tired to look after myself, which says ‘lack of self worth’ in a very fundamental kind of way. Can you suggest anything?
You’re not alone! Millions of women around the globe are deeply tired if not perpetually exhausted. I remember only too well being so tired at the end of the day that I would flop into bed with barely enough energy to brush my teeth. Being too tired can result from many things but I started with the obvious: was I actually getting enough sleep? Actually, I wasn’t – I discovered I would override my body whenever it wanted to go to sleep by watching TV, talking to friends, going out and so on – anything to keep me stimulated and engaged well beyond what was truly needed. So I decided to honour my body first and go to bed at the time it said it was tired, not when my mind thought I wanted to. As a result I started going to sleep well before 10pm! After a while of enjoying this ‘earlier to bed’ routine I started to refine it by developing a night-time rhythm. I learnt to wind-down well before going to sleep by taking time to reflect on my day and choosing not to seek stimulating conversation with others. This would bring me to myself a bit more. Now I sometimes go to bed as early as 7.30pm. Basically, if that’s what I’m needing, I go with it. And once I started working with my body in this way, I found I wanted to look after myself more in other ways throughout the day – there was a natural flow-on effect. I felt rejuvenated and wanted to take even better care of myself. This approach really has supported my health and wellbeing enormously. Finding the times to go to bed that support me and my body has definitely been worth it. Why not start here too and see what happens! With love,
Dear Victoria, I’m down on myself much of the time. Often I just sit here and I can’t seem to stop my negative thoughts and attitude to life. Basically, I don’t seem to have much of a sense of self worth. Can you help?
I too used to be overwhelmed by thoughts that brought me down and they were impossible to stop by will alone. Thankfully I discovered there was one thing I could do quite easily which made a big difference: change my sitting position! Yes, just by sitting upright for a moment, I found my thoughts would change – for the better. As I experimented with this discovery I then found I could build on it by walking and feeling my feet as I went. It got to a point where every time my thoughts flew off, I would make a decision to connect to and feel my feet, legs, hands, shoulders, chest and so on. Just connecting with my body and feeling it seemed to work a treat. I then built on this by making my walk as gentle as possible. My attitude to myself changed dramatically over the past couple of years as a result of this ‘take anywhere’ technique. Whenever I notice a slide into thoughts I don’t want, I make my body my focus. It’s not just about walking either – I also learnt to feel my fingertips and my hands as I type, open doors, pick up phones, and so on. As a result I’m no longer so hard on myself. Whenever an unwanted thought comes up, I just turn my attention to my body. It’s a choice I can make many times each day as a gesture of love and support to myself. In this way, my sense of self worth has improved enormously and I’m no longer plagued by negative self-talk or a dulled-down attitude to life. With love,
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