The Language Of Self-love

In the previous post I wrote, it was all about self-love, love being a verb and the actions of  love to express to yourself. Today, let’s focus on the language of self-love. This is by far the most important and useful thing you’ll ever learn in this process.

Kindness. That’s the language. You know, we’re taught from very early in life to say please and sorry. To others. But nobody teaches us to pay any attention to how we speak with ourselves. And by default we model how other adults speak to us and to themselves. It is invariably very self-critical, harsh and judgmental in nature. To give you an example, earlier I was listening to clients who said something like this –

” I’m so stupid G, that I left the house without eating. And without any food in my bag too! Sigh.”

” I came home and greedily ate up three samosas .. am shamelessly saying it also. Whatever. Who cares! I’m just going to be like this only I think!”

” It was my fault to have gone to lunch. They must be thinking what nakras she does. If I had just shut up and eaten my own lunch everything would have been fine!” 

(To give you some context, she had gone for lunch with her friends and ordered for a salad. They all called her Ms. Health Queen and made fun of her choices. She so wanted to fit in with her group, so she ate Fried Prawns and other things they ordered. Came home and felt miserable about herself. )

If you had to translate these sentences to this language I’m proposing – Kindness, they’d look like this –

“I left the house without eating and without carrying any food.”

Cut out the judgmental, unkind parts, they are not only useless but harmful too. No good ever comes of it. Also notice the voice and tone of your self-talk. And make sure it’s not sarcastic or condescending. It’s enough to just state them plainly, whether it is to yourself or to someone.

” I came home and ate three samosas. I feel helpless that I’m not changing my ways”

There’s one thing women misunderstand – they think being aware and refusing to give in to temptations is harsh. And calling themselves stupid and bashing themselves for non-compliance somehow counts as an okay thing to do. It is exactly the other way round!  Anything that feels like a verbal version of the 🙄 , know that there’s a kinder version. Seek that softer, gentler set of words that express the same thing.

“I’d like to remember that eating my own lunch is the best.”

In life, there are favorable outcomes and lessons. That’s it. Reframing your thinking to see faults as lessons is a hallmark of high achievers. Also, it is doesn’t matter what others think of you – when you run those mental horror movies about what or how others think of you, it will pull you down. And it is not a loving thing to do at all.

Like with learning any language, this one needs practice, too. Being around other people who speak the language fluently will give you a chance to improve your own skills with  speaking it confidently.

If Love Is A Verb … How Do You Express It To Yourself?

Many many great people have echoed the sentiment of how every relationship is a mirror of one relationship, the one we have with ourselves. In extension of this standpoint, our responsibility is towards learning to clearly express love in this all important relationship. This is of great importance, not just because of upcoming Valentine’s Day, it is owing to the fact that matters relating to wellness and self-care are a function of this.

In my one on one coaching sessions with women, I ask them how they’d express love or appreciation for themselves. They’ll say how they’ll buy themselves a gift – anything ranging from a book to saree to experience of some kind – like a spa treatment, eating out, travel etc. This is all okay, I’m not going to find fault with any of these choices. That said, it doesn’t convey love deeply enough to the person inside you.  These are more like toppings on an ice cream! What good are the toppings _without_ the ice cream?

What does self-love look and feel like?

It involves being in your own company showing a deep interest for all things about your inner person – her feelings, her needs, her fears, her shortcomings. Hand-holding her through her challenges patiently and lovingly. Not criticizing her or feeling exasperated for her errors and fall-downs. Learning about what she likes and dislikes and allowing for them by way of learning to speak up for her. Seeing her as deserving of good things in life. Joining hands with her to bring her dreams to fruition. This will very likely mean that you’ll have to let go of your leanings for comfort. You’ll have to develop an ease for doing newer and more complex tasks. And herein lies self-love – seeing your inner person and her desires as worthy of being pursued.

If you did not carve out time and space for this type of engagement with yourself, no amount of shopping for handbags, eating chocolates, drinking beer or buying sarees will satisfy your inner muse. This fact feels very awkward to deal with, for a lot of women – they say, they’re better giving/expressing love to others but with themselves, this is the only way they know to do it they say. Or they kinda feel lost.

So, here is a very personal post in that sense – am sharing notes from how I express love to my own inner muse. The promises I’ve made to myself, likes and dislikes that I’ve come to accept as important to me, rules that she’d like me to live by are all part of this. The only reason I share is, to motivate you to compile and curate your own list. And keep in mind, love is a verb. It is a promise of what you’ll do as an expression of self-love. So, write it like you mean it  – using action words, as if it is a to-do list.

with self:

  1. say it exactly like it is – ‘say the truth to yourself’ can sometimes feel heavy and hard. It can even make you defensive. where as ‘say it like it is’ is simple and easy to follow.
  2. comfort myself when I feel down – I’ve collected some of my fav songs, speeches, discourses and activity prompts so that I don’t have to think at that time.
  3. find myself opportunities to do what I do well.
  4. feel your feelings – pretending like they aren’t there, or like they don’t matter, or suppressing them is going to make them show up at odd times – better to just feel them as they come.
  5. own your power – it comes with immense responsibility and you can learn to be responsible. But girl, own your power! There’s no greatness in being a doormat.
  6. evaluate criticism wisely, Girija – don’t do things so as to stay in somebody’s good books – somebody else’s good books is not a good reference point.
  7. do the right thing – don’t overthink this – all day long, you live with you, so do what’s right by your standards.
  8. see clearly – see things for what they are, not what you’d like them to be.

with others:

  1. meet friends in person whenever you can – but don’t let this bother you when it’s not possible. Virtual meeting and connecting over phone is not all that bad either.
  2. share a hearty laugh whenever you can – I’ve learnt to honor my goofy side.
  3. learn to ask for and receive help gracefully.
  4. state your position on things – this will effectively sieve out those that may not vibe well with you.
  5. release the need to like and go along with everyone and for everyone to like you and go along with you.
  6. get-together with people can be over a walk or painting or a shared activity of some other kind.
  7. gift books – you don’t have to loan your books. As a younger person I’d love for a friend to read the books I read and it would pain me when they would lick their finger o turn pages, ugh!
  8. stop – do not compare your inner story with somebody else’s outer story

food related:

  1.  remember – if hunger is not my problem, then food is not my solution.
  2.  eat just enough.
  3. cook with love.
  4. stop – never ever force me to finish the food on the plate.
  5. don’t accept food if am not up for it.
  6. don’t accept enjlu or joota – I had an aversion for this even as a child and I’d sneak out at the time of cake cutting and birthday parties given how adults indiscriminately offered ten people a bite out from a same damn piece of cake.
  7. eat with joy, always.
  8. eat only plants! Period.

What A Peeing Dog And Its Wise Owner Taught Me About Self-Love

Do you feel you’re selfish sometimes? Have you been thought of as selfish anytime?

I was moping around all day, all of previous evening because someone very close to me at work had pointed out to me that I was selfish. It was someone’s birthday and they had offered me a piece (it was more like a slab) of cake with 2 inch-high pink and yellow icing.

First of all, I for one cannot stand even a millimeter of icing, let alone a pink and yellow mile-high icing! And secondly, when somebody brings a HUGE serving of something to eat, it throws me in a panic. Because, I am a terribly slow eater and usually find it very hard to throw away food! It’s comparatively easier for me not ever accept it. And I had just eaten a good lunch – my kind, and did not have room for anything. So, I wished her well and passed the cake.

And with that, three of my “friends” ganged up to say how that was very selfish on my part to refuse the cake, causing the birthday girl to feel “upset”. Whoa!! Well, that was a big blow to me given how in my head I thought of myself as more compassionate and giving and generous. Even more than Mother Teresa!

So, all evening I sat and sulked around until when my neighbor, lady J walked in with her little dog Snoop. The dog was a new addition to her family and I had taken a liking to the pup. J was already a great friend. So, I decided to check with J if I was selfish to say no to birthday cake. “Yes …! ” she said, looking me straight in the eye. Whaaat?? Just then Snoop started scratching at the door. A wet door mat was the last thing I wanted and so I hurriedly got up to let Snoop go out to relieve himself. And J continued ” … so is peeing!!” The way she said it … we both LAUGHED. In one simple sentence everything was put in perspective.

So ladies, always remember – many life sustaining processes are selfish – breathing, peeing, putting the O2 mask on yourself first, going to bed when your loved one wants to watch telly, choosing to eat healthy, saying no to your colleague’s birthday cake or even mom’s greasy plate of pakoras – many more! And that’s no reason to NOT do them.

So if you asked me today, if I’m selfish or if someone has thought of me as selfish – it’s yes and yes in my case. It keeps me alive and sane. When I speak of being selfish, I do not mean it in a petty way that I trample over other people’s rights. I mean it in a way that I honor my needs and my own judgement. I mean it in a way that I find it worthwhile to use my time and life to pursue what matters to me.

If you’re someone who’s looking to eat healthy, get enough sleep on a daily basis and exercise regularly, this is how it begins with this: you must d-e-e-p-l-y believe that learning and behaving in our own interest is desirable. Even if this is sometimes in conflict with what somebody else wants for you, you must believe that you have no obligation to live up to their expectations. Not only is self-interest desirable, it’s the only way to be.

So, if your friend says you’re being selfish about refusing to have a beer with her, remember to say to yourself – “Yes! So is peeing.” I’ll promise, it’ll put everything in perspective.

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Milking Your Money And Health!

This starts pretty early in life.

Your grandma tells you – ghee is sacred, it is the gift of cows and food for Gods.

Then your ma tells you – want lustrous hair and skin? Chupchaap take some ghee!

Then your doctor tells you – for easy digestion make sure you get your share of dahi.

And then you will hear yourself thinking and saying things like – “I felt a little confused when some friends were saying such horrible things about having milk! Par kya hai na, I really go by my gut feeling about these things – I need dairy – milk and all products of milk – to be healthy”.

Whatever role we may be in – grandmother, teacher, vice president, CEO, teacher, mother, sister, banker, whatever – ability to think flawlessly is a great asset. We can all agree that it will come handy in every situation of life. This requires that we go meta, and that means thinking and examining the process of thinking itself.

I’ll share the most commonly seen blocks to sound thinking that I encounter in my line of work –  

a. accepting inaccurate information

b. making wrong inferences 

c. tailoring the information and inference to suit one’s bias 

d. Making unjustified assumptions

e. Not staying open to listening to reasons

d. Getting defensive and or resorting to indifference

And when it comes to this particular topic of dairy, it’s common to see ethnocentric type of mental blocks. For instance, we north Indians, or we south indians, we hindus and we brahmins so on.  

 

We protect and perpetuate our faulty thinking in many ways. Here are some common strategies we indulge in –

a. forming groups with others just like yourself – we the dairy lovers, we the coffee drinkers kinda thing. In a room full of alcoholics, the lone sober guy is the oddball after all!

b. staying passive and unquestioning in relationships – there are many payoffs to believing “my mother is my encyclopedia!” 

c. cut off or use excuses when critiqued – aloofness is one way of cutting off. ‘This is how  – I was raised /I am / it works for me – are some examples of excuses.

d. full blown acting out – having an emotional outburst disproportional to the context.

In clinical and hospital settings it is fairly common to see variations of these blocks and strategies unfold in real life situations. The intention of sharing it with you is to alert you to your own possible flaws of thinking that may come up in reading and processing the remainder of this post.   

There is absolutely NO pressure on you to change your behavior. It is entirely your choice IF and WHEN you want to address it. So, take a brief pause, relax and read further. Read slowly. Assimilate the meaning of each statement in your mind before you read the next one.

Ready?

Let’s start.

The fat and protein content of mammalian milk varies greatly among the species.

It is inversely proportional to the the rate of growth at which the baby animal doubles in size. This is to say that, an animal that is fastest to double itself in size, has the highest content of protein in its milk. And it also has a comparatively shorter span of life.

Rat’s milk has 11.8 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 4 1/2 days – has an average life span of 2 years

Cat’s milk has 9.5 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 7 days – has an average lifespan of 2-16 years

Dog’s milk has 7.1 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 8 days – has an average lifespan of 10-13 years

Goat’s milk has 4.1 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 19 days – has an average lifespan of 15-18 years

Cow’s milk has 3.3 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 47 days – has an average lifespan of 18- 22 years

Horse’s milk has 2.4 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 60 days – has an average lifespan of 25-30 years

Human milk has 1.2 gm of protein per 100 ml – doubles it’s size in 180 days – has an average lifespan of 79 years

This is to say that, a human baby receives a low-protein content food, such a human breast milk – exclusively, that too – at the time of the greatest growth spurt in it’s lifetime.

While we’re on this topic of milk let me say this – you may have observed that fat content of human breast milk is same as that of cow milk. I only discussed proteins so far. But yes, it is same or similar percentage of fat content, in the region of  3.7%.

And you may be thinking to yourself – ” dekha! main na kehti thi ..! ” Wait, am not finished yet.

The cow’s milk is dominantly saturated fat, whereas human breast milk is not.

So having similar numbers don’t mean anything because they are of different composition altogether. This is to say, you can successfully make paneer, junnu and basundhi out of cow’s milk. But nobody can make ever make paneer, junnu or basundhi out of human breast milk for this reason. Eewww!

Now, you may decide for yourself whether dairy consumption is right for you, or not right for you. And I sincerely hope your actions will be in alignment with what you think and feel to be right.

 

 

 

“G, I want to be happy this year .. that’s my goal for 2019”

Background – A was someone who worked very diligently, lost a lot of weight and maintained it effectively. Now, she’s worried that she’s not “naturally thin” and “happy”.. whatever that means! We tend to put pressure on ourselves to make resolutions and to be happy around this time of the year .. so sharing it with you at an opportune moment. Here we go!

G: Hey, A 🙂 Excited about our session ..! Can we start .. tell me what you need my support with?

A: Hi G! Me too 🙂 basically I want to be happy G. That is my goal really. I don’t know what all type of details you want, I have checked my weight just this morning, got some blood tests also recently .. if you ask specifically I will share.

G: Oh, for this goal we will need other things A. (looking seriously)

A: Yeah, yeah! I will make a list and have it ready for our next call. Tell me ..

G: All we’ll need is a smile. A b-i-g bright cheerful smile!
A: Aww so sweet! That I have now only G 🙂 but I want to be happy in a different way. I have a sister, G. She is just so beautiful, naturally thin .. not like me! Eats whatever she wants – cakes, chips, and nothing bad happens! I did double masters, I work, have good kids .. good husband .. lost weight too – everything is nice. Now I want to be happy.

G: A, did you know this thing Kannada people do .. I am from Karnataka and for Ugadi (new year), we people have a teeny bit of jaggery with a teeny bit of neem flowers, the first thing in the morning after bath. You know why?

A: Oh, I did not know .. tell me?

G: To remind ourselves that life is 50-50, like it is for your sister, for you and for every single one of us. That is the nature of life ..! It is really not about anything else – rich, poor, job or studies – none of that matters. Right?

A: yeah .. but some people eat anything at anytime in any amounts they like no, G?

Pause.

I was reading somewhere how the conversation that you have with your own self is the most important conversation there is!

Just like losing tens of kilos did not lead to happiness, so also eating cupcakes like there was no end, wouldn’t make you happy. It would make you have a stomach upset and throw up, that’s all. Going by other people’s external story gives ZERO clues about what their inner struggles are. Even if this other person happens to be your own sister!

Happiness is a decision you can make. And that’s all there is to it – your situation doesn’t have to change even by a dot for you to be happy!

And specifically to this context, we’re similar to our siblings in some ways and different in some other ways. Even when you have identical twins, genes aren’t entirely identical.

Do you want to be happy in 2019? Then, please give yourself permission to be so and decide that you will be happy no matter what.

This is what you have to do – think happy thoughts!

If you’re sad about your fat thighs – think a grateful thought like “wow, I have thighs!”

If you’re upset about eating junk food – think a gleeful thought like ” wow, I get to eat!”

A friend who lost her beloved dog thought “wow, I was fortunate to have had this dog” and felt grateful even in her grief.

To eat healthy, to go on a diet or to work towards a better body or wanting to improve in some other way, it is not required to criticize yourself and berate yourself.

Healthy eating for it’s own sake, weight loss for weight loss’s sake – that’s it.

Want another option?

You can choose to be whole, see the value in other side of ‘happy’ and allow for it!

You know what this would look like?

It’s like saying –

“hey skin, please hurt if I were to touch something hot – so, I’ll be more careful next time”

“hey eyes, please cry if some dust went in and is bothering you – so’ I’ll remember to protect you better “

“hey mind, please go guilty if I were to do Facebook 5 hours a day – so, I’ll be more mindful how I use time “

While hurt, cry and guilty are f-a-r from happy, they have a purpose and place.

So please, realize while you can be happy no matter what, recognize the usefulness of non-happy and embrace it.

I promise you it’s gonna make 2019 and every year thereafter a very meaningful one for you!

Year-end Healthy Eating Goals – Tip #2

Just what could you achieve if only you decided to not get disheartened in the process of learning ?

I have had many many teachers who said some or the other version of this – you’re either succeeding at something or you’re learning. Let go of the harshness of the narrative of failure.

Here’s a video that can help you with some useful metaphors for an ideal mindset – it’s short, go watch it!

 

Year-end Healthy Eating Goals – Tip #1

With November fast approaching, if you’re the kind who is feeling a motivation high to get things done – #1 congrats, welcome to the club!

There are many people – myself included – that are the kind who study best the last three months before an exam. I’d like to think of it as peaking at just the right time. So, to make the most of this phase, I’ll be sharing my best tips with you to help you with your healthy-eating goals.

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE WHAT YOU CAN GET DONE IN 8 WEEKS, IF ONLY YOU FOCUS!

Here’s  tip # 1.

This particular tip gets all mixed up for perfectionism – and it is sooo not! Please watch the video to see for yourself, what I’m discussing.

 

The Power Of Choice

 
A nurse in palliative care took notes and recorded the regrets of dying people in the last twelve weeks of their lives. After doing this for many many years with that many people, she observed how there was a pattern emerging in what they had shared with her. She put it all in a book titled The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying, which has been translated in 29 languages and read by millions around the world. The nurse’s name and the author of the book is Bronnie Ware. 
 
One of the top five regrets expressed by them was – ‘I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me’. 
 
These words have a familiar ring to them for me when it comes to matters of food. Since I turned vegan close to ten years ago, I have interacted with a lot of people who have made a similar choice. And almost every single one of them wished – including myself – we had the courage to adopt a food choice that was true to who we are at heart, earlier in life. 
 
Now, pleeeease understand, I’m not imposing my choices of anything – let alone food – on anyone here. But I will say, wake up and realize that you do have a choice. You get to choose what you want to put in your mouth in the name of food. Claim your power.
 
Food you put in your body influences you at a very deep level. And if you are going to operate from a place of habit, at least make sure it’s serving you.
 
You need to take control of not only what you will eat, but also of how it is grown, who cooks it and how it is cooked. The world over, we as women have been the primary cooks within the family unit. Did we see it as our power? Until very recently we did, and this is fast eroding.
We are now outsourcing cooking at many levels – home-cooking to cooks, increased dependency on restaurants, food vendors and other food service providers, and ultimately to giant food corporations who serve us everything from our highly processed breakfast cereals to gooey chocolaty or sugary bed time drinks and everything in between – cookies, chips and whatnot.
 
In a book titled Cooked, the author Michael Pollan argues how reclaiming the control over our cooking is the single biggest thing one can do to rebuild our health – not just our own but of the family and the community at large. 
 
Even more fascinating is the insight as to how the Food Industry got its foot inside the kitchen door. Most women – this is true world over – held on to their responsibility of cooking for family the longest. We were happy to hand over the cleaning chores much more readily. But cooking was and still is perceived meditative and comforting. 
 
But when our negotiating for better labor division kinda got louder and with the eavesdropping food industry lurking by, it saw an opportunity. And acted upon it without wasting any time. And it “uses” feminism and women’s liberation to sell us convenience. What it actually is, is hyper-stimulating highly processed foods.
 
To recognize this, you need to develop awareness. And call upon the wisdom to pause. Wisdom to observe. And then you get to stand in your power and eat by choice.