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I talk to myself all the time. For example, this morning on my walk to work (an adventure in itself navigating the crumbling who-needs-infrastructure streets of Kathmandu) I stepped in what looked and smelled distinctly like – ok, was – a human poo (no point judging – when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go, and open defecation is just one of those things in Nepal, slowly improving as water and sanitation practices improve). Anyway although my initial reaction was wanting to scream in fury at the sheer inconvenience of the world, instead I found myself talking…aloud:
“Well, that sucks. Stepped in a poo. Cool. Stinks a fair bit and looks like that person liked corn. Ah well. Buck up Matilda, onwards and upwards! The day is definitely – can only be – all uphill from here.”
This is a pretty flippant example, but talking to myself – both aloud and internally, consciously and unconsciously – influences my days, and their general outcomes and my impression of them, completely, and I think a lot of this boils down to how I talk to myself. (However, if you are one of Life’s people who can look in the mirror, pull down your cool sunglasses and with a beaming twinkle of a smile go with the “Hey hey good lookin’, whatcha got cookin’ today? Growr!” 100% of the time, there is no need for you to read on).
Sometimes we can be super harsh on ourselves. Sometimes if I catch myself in the mirror after a big night out, or when an enormous bowl of pasta consumed during a 10 p.m. indulgent dinner is still chilling in my tum at 8 a.m. the next morning, my immediate thoughts will inevitably centre around, “Why hello Madame Wobbly Jobbly, how are we today?” usually joined by a detailed examination of cellulite on the upper legs.
Obviously, such self-talk really leaves you feeling positive about your body and self (insert Australian sarcasm here), and it’s amazing how quickly this can turn to “what am I doing with my life/what is it all about/what is the point of it all?” thoughts – particularly if hungover. Even slightly banal self-talk can be unconsciously negative, and have an impact on our thoughts and actions, and not for the better. When was the last time you thought about how you talk to yourself? How does it influence your day to day functioning, your relationships, your general self-perception?
Another common one: being super busy – at work, socially, with family, chores, washing, picking up things, getting to the bank, appointments – and having that “Oh, I have to do this/I should do that…” and feeling a bit frazzled, stressy and stretched a bit thin. A handy technique can be to switch such thoughts from “I have to” and “I should” to, “I choose to…” Suddenly, it’s not the world controlling your life and making you tired – it’s you realising you choose to do these things (ok, to be fair, at the far end of such a spectrum is the “I choose to wash my clothes so as not to be socially excluded because of my stench.”) But you see what I mean.
If you suddenly start to realise you choose to do a lot of the things in your life, and you’re finding it too hectic – maybe you can choose not to do all of them, or not all at once, or maybe just a bit less, and you can then choose to take up that course/job hunt/brilliant-but-scary opportunity you’ve convinced yourself you don’t have time for because you have to do all those other things.
Sometimes you can feel like crap. And that’s fine too, particularly when something really, really cruddy has happened, like a traumatic incident. Sometimes there’s nothing worse than someone saying, “It’s okay” when it’s really not, or “These things happen”, when you really wish they plurry well wouldn’t, and actually, they really shouldn’t happen. Then it’s ok to say, “Well, yeah, life is just dang cruddy right now, and it sucks.” That’s ok too, as long as when the time comes, you can see the positives again.
Have a go at first listening to how you speak to yourself – and then actually talking to yourself positively. Sometimes it can be surprising how harsh you can be on yourself at times. So be gentle. Practice thinking (at the risk of sounding like My Little Pony-meets-Enthusiastic-Life-Coach-meets-Peter-Pan) happy thoughts, focusing on the enjoyable, nice parts of life, and how awesome you, and your place in it, is.
All I can recommend is: don’t let an innocent little poo ruin your whole day. Make sure you spend a bit of time every day thinking about how cool, awesome and amazing you really are.
(image CC-licensed by Jean.julius via Wikimedia Commons)
“I think that dating is awful. I just don’t understand people that can go out with someone and be so relaxed about it.” –Natalia, Girls
I’ve been dating for about a year and a half. This was after a substantial hiatus of over five years where I did a lot of work on myself. All the while I silently snickered at the articles I’d read about women in their 20s and 30s online dating and having a terrible go of it. Oh the horror stories! I’d sit there behind my computer screen stroking my cat on my lap and smirk away. I’d think to myself, “That won’t be me! I am a catch! I have my shit together! When I am ready to dabble in online dating I will pick good and sensible men and not get jerked around!” No really. I really thought I’d sign up for a online dating site, meet like three guys, and one of those guys would fall for my adorable good looks and charm and that would be it. Bam. Consider me off the market boys.
I’ve met a handful of men (I’m picky and you have to weed through A LOT of crap to find any decent guys. LIKE A LOT) and overall I’ve been pleased. They have been charming, good looking, educated, have jobs, have dreams, don’t live with their parents, and are genuinely nice humans. And they love their mothers and sisters (my mother always told me to judge a man based on how he treats his mother and sisters). But they all seemed to enjoy, what I have dubbed “The Girlfriend Experience”, in that they want to skip over the actually dating part right to the sweatpants and sex.
I am not a fancy gal. I’m not interested in being wined and dined by someone I barely know. All of these men I’ve met for a quick coffee and let it progress from there. Which usually brought us to my apartment. And I’ve had a really nice time entertaining a few of these gentlemen.
The evenings usually consisted of sharing a bottle of wine on the couch, some good conversation, and heavy petting. And while I am not one to shy away from casual sex it really isn’t what I am looking for at this point in my life. I need something more. Don’t get me wrong: I love comfy pants, wine, and sex. But didn’t we skip a part? Like the part where we get kicked out a poetry reading for making out and groping each other? Or having sushi and going for a walk along the ocean? Or exchanging dirty texts at 3 a.m. on Saturday night?
And after this happened to me a few times with a few different guys I named this behavior “The Girlfriend Experience.” After a while you start to feel like the girlfriend they have been with for a couple of years who they come home to, unload their day on, drink beer with, and give a quick bang to. Then you don’t hear from them for a week or more until they are lonely and want something comfortable to slip back into.
A good friend of mine calls this the “Comfy Sweat Pant” (where a guy treats you like a old pair of sweatpants they can throw on and veg out in). So how did we skip all the fun and get right to the part where you text me daily updates about your car repair and hectic work schedule after we’ve hung out twice? Or tell me you have “mild managed depression” yet have a bathroom full of anti-psychotics and only call me when you need someone to listen to your disturbed ramblings?
Now I am not trying to make this sound unpleasant. Like I said I’ve had nice experience with a few guys where the wine/couch/conversation/hot making out was a very enjoyable experience. However, this would lead any lady to the place where she also feels comfortable to expose herself to him by telling him how she constantly gets herself stuck in/between things because she often misjudges just how much room her voluptuousness actually requires.
Now if a lady is telling you one of the their secret shames then she is comfortable with you. Comfortable enough to text you something like, “Hey man I think you’re rad, I like spending time with you, and let’s get naked again soon.”
To which I believe the guy reacts like this:
Whoa now, crazy lady. What did you think was going on here?
by Ashli Scale
Like many girls, I grew up reading Seventeen Magazine, Cosmo and Vogue. Also like many girls, I had horribly low self-esteem and I hated by body. I spent hours agonizing over the models’ faces and bodies, wondering how I could achieve the perfection found in the glossy pages of my magazines.
No matter how much information I gleaned from the magazines about improving my body, dressing in style and enhancing my looks with make-up, nothing seemed to work. I even spent most of my allowance on cosmetics, clothes and diet products recommended by these magazines. No matter how much money I threw at the “problem” of my appearance I could not achieve what these magazines promised.
Many years later I read a book called The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. This book was a game-changer for me because it completely opened my eyes to the manipulation of the beauty, diet and fitness industries. I had always considered myself intelligent, savvy and a bit of a conspiracy theorist so how did I get duped for so many years? This insight kick-started my interest in the body acceptance movement so when I was given the opportunity to review Jennifer Nelson’s book Airbrushed Nation: The Lure and Loathing of Women’s Magazines, I was thrilled. Read more
Toronto born-and-raised singer Meredith Shaw is using her talents and her networks to help empower girls. Last week Shaw launched the Girls Who Believe contest with Girls Inc. I spoke with her about the project, her music, and why she thinks it’s important to work with girls on issues around creativity and self-esteem.
Meredith Shaw got started with music at a young age: “I had always kind of known music was my thing…I think my parents really recognized it before I did.” She took classes on piano, guitar, voice from when she was a little kid. When she was in her mid-teens a producer heard her and she decided to go into music as a career. In the last couple of years Meredith met Gordie Johnson. He produced her first full-length album, the positive and inspirational Place Called Happy. “Getting to do that with someone like him is really amazing because his track record is awesome…we got to do it [recording the album] in Willie Nelson’s studio in Austin, which I was really star-struck by,” she said.
Place Called Happy has a track called “Girls Who Believe”.
“Girls Who Believe was a really special song for me on the record. I knew when I was writing it it was a very special song to me. It’s really true to me and what I believe in…usually those songs are what resonate with people,” Meredith told me. The song got picked up in an episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation and that process of realizing that a young demographic liked the song helped spark the GWB project and contest.
“I thought that demographic for the show likes the song, maybe I can reach out to them in some way that isn’t inviting them into a bar they can’t get into,” she explained. Read more
Last month I did something really brave – I set aside my fears of public speaking and co-facilitated workshops for junior high girls on body image and beauty standards. The workshop is a tool developed by Hopewell Eating Disorder Support Centre to raise awareness of body image concerns. It covers a range of topics such as:
I observed two disturbing trends throughout the series of presentations. First, the narrowness of beauty ideals being taught to our youth was clearly demonstrated when we asked how women are portrayed in the media. At every workshop the very first answer was “skinny”. The only other answer provided was that women in the media are made to look “perfect” with no flaws like acne, moles, scars or wrinkles.