Do you know what one of our main focuses as a society is at the moment? Comparison.
Opinions on stuff that’s got nothing to do with us, things like Facebook have a whole bunch of us focusing on other people’s grass.
And do you know where the grass is greenest?
Where you water it.
I was going to write a post about self-love. About body image. About accepting yourself. Your whole self, imperfections as well.
Because as women we do that badly on the whole. We could blame societal expectations about returning to some ‘pre baby state’ and there is those – I’m not discrediting that, but really it is often us who are our own worst enemies.
Often we are the harshest critics of ourselves.
But it strikes me that it’s maybe not even our bodies we do this to worst – it’s our hearts and minds.
Evident to me every time I delve ever so much more sceptically into my Facebook feed.
This person is getting trolled about that. Another person getting hateful or hurtful comments about this. That event occurs, something horrible happens and the first thing those people affected by it have to deal with is other, random, unrelated people’s opinions on their choices and decisions.
This is so amplified when you add children to the mix. Everyone has an opinion.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion. It’s like our right as people.
Even if we didn’t have freedom of speech or live in a democratic society, you are still entitled to an opinion.
The problem is not with the opinions-the problem is when we focus on everyone else, well firstly our opinions are based on things we know limited information about and beyond that, many times it’s not even relevant to us.
And we express them all over the show. Cause it’s our right, right?
But why is there so much negativity, hate, judgement and insensitivity when we express these opinions online?
Well there is actually lots of science around it. The accessibility, the convenience, the lack of seeing the impact of our words on the other person… All manner of things.
But obviously with fractured ribs, I’ve had maybe even more reflection time on this that I would have ever been able too otherwise at such a hectic time in my life. And for the universe I thank for that, painful and difficult as it has been.
The one thing observing and reflecting on all this did was resolve my ambitions and values and goals that I can look at some serious heavy issues that face many of us and use the voice and platform I have been blessed with to fight for change positively. To do it my own way.
In my attempts to write about the ridiculous expectations we put on ourselves and our body image as women, the amazing campaigners like fellow kiwi Gala Darling and her radical self-love movement, the many other TED Talks I have watched lately like Cameron Russell’s “Looks aren’t everything. Trust me, I’m a model” (a whole bunch included for you at the bottom of this post) and of course the Queen herself, Constance Hall, I realised not only these ladies but other inspirational speakers had some really common themes.
Ones we know so well as a society they are even colloquial sayings… Why do we keep focusing on the negative and why as a society are we not learning from our mistakes?
So what were the common themes?
Ideas like practise compassion for yourself and others. This idea again of self-love. Why do we all struggle with this so bad? For the record, I’m not excluding myself from the collective “we” by the way by any means. But this idea about not only being kind to other but compassionate to ourselves is vital I think.
“Turns out, we can’t practise compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly first”
Brene Brown – TED Talk on Vulnerability
Maybe this is what is somewhat contributing to hatefulness online? Is it that we struggle so badly to accept ourselves, flaws and all and love ourselves that we look for outlets like ‘clickbait’ headlines or memes online to express our judgement and bitterness at the world? Like not even considering that may have an impact or influence on someone else? Just because of the nature of the technology even?
Anyway, kindness was a common theme. I feel like I have talked the shit out of kindness so if you want more of my version of this one see the ‘Be Kind Online’ post.
“Comparison is the thief of joy”
Ok none of them used that quote, but again it was a really strong theme. Media of any form, be it “social” online, printed mass media like magazines or mainstream TV media- ANY OF IT – it’s all a construction. It’s not real life.
Comparing ourselves to others only focuses on what we don’t have. It’s watering the wrong grass people!
Maybe it is easier for us to forget the constructed, shiny highlight nature of social media because it feels more realistic, because it’s our friends or people we know..? But regardless it’s still constructed, its only one aspect of a greater story.
The mum who uploads the beautiful basket of freshly baked muffins her and her kids made together, with a baby on her back- looks a bit like super mum sometimes right?
Do you know why we took this photo outside? Because the kitchen was literally covered in flour because the “baby” on my back got into the “child proof lid” of our 10kg flour tub, tipped it over and his big brother threw handfuls of it in the air screaming “it’s snowing! It’s snowing!” while I lost my shit screaming for James to come out of his office, stop his work and “FUCK HELP ME PLEASE”…
Needless to say I didn’t include that in the photo description at the time as I was trying to convince myself not anyone else that baking with my kids, a passion of mine, that sharing that with them was still worth the torture of having to spend the next three hours cleaning ten kilograms of flour out of my kitchen as the kids tipped out every, fucking, vessel we filled over and over again.
Fun times… hahah well it is funny now. There was certainly a lot of cursing at the time but my point was, this picture-it only tells one little aspect of that story. It’s a construction. It’s not real life.
Comparing yourself or your situation or your choices or your decisions or anything to others, well, there is a limited amount of positive that can come from that. Compare yourself to you. It’s the only version of yourself you get in this life time and that’s special cause that means there is only one of you.
That goes for family and parenting decisions big time too. I way to often hear about or read judgment or criticism from or towards others simply for making different choices to the person expressing them. I’ve said it before and I will say it again and again; as parents we are all trying to do the best we can for our kids with the resources we have available to us. And different things work at different times for different people and different reasons. That is ok.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else but yourself. Focus on being the best version of you. Water your own grass.
Again a hugely common theme. Summing it up I guess, if you can’t appreciate what you do have you can’t see the joy in life.
If you focus on what you hate, that’s what you will see. The exact same can be said for if you focus on what you love, that in turn is what you will see.
That statement stands true be it your body image, your self-image, your mental health, your life, your kids – everything…
If you focus on the bad only, all you are going to do is rob yourself of joy.
Another great Brene Brown quote exert here I thought was amazing advice and particularly poignant as I rewatched one of her videos with James last night was, “in those moments of terror, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, just stop and say, I am so grateful because to feel this venerable means I am truly alive” ( I paraphrased a bit there, sorry Brene!)
Practising gratitude in your life in any capacity works to trick you into having a positive perspective, even if your conscience mind doesn’t want to have one 😉
You deserve it. You are worthy. You are enough. This message was repeated over and over and over again. To say it was a common theme is actually an understatement.
“The relationship you have with yourself is the longest relationship you are going to have. It’s not selfish to care for and love yourself, it’s your responsibility.”
Jenny Schatzle, TED Talk, ‘Rewiring how you look at yourself’
This concept of worthiness, like the other three points largely comes down to self talk as well – how we speak to ourselves in our heads.
I also appreciated the no bull shit solution Jenny had for that, “talk positively to yourself, sometimes you have to fake it until you make it, you are who you say you are, change the statements you say to yourself” (again paraphrased a bit there, sorry Jenny).
“People go on to say how radically different our world could be if every child was raised with unconditional love and support and I agree. But see I don’t think we need to wait until we raise a whole generation of children, I think we can start right now by making the decision to accept ourselves without any reservation.”
Micheller Charfen, TED Talk – Unconditional Positive Regard
We have this thing in Kiwi culture about being humble and this thing we call “Tall Poppy Syndrome” but I loved how Caroline McHugh put it in her TED Talk, “humility is not thinking less of yourself but rather thinking about yourself less”.
Which would lead me to think, if we truly want to be humble then those tenants of kindness and compassion to ourselves and others, not comparing ourselves with others, being grateful and feeling worthy could actually be more likely to help us achieve that.
This is such a huge one for me personally. So much so, in my rush to ‘finish’ this piece of writing I missed it off. When I checked my TED Talk notes from all these common themes again and asked myself, “is it really that important?” It was like someone grabbed a giant highlighter and started illuminating the term ‘slow down’ in my notes. Well that was eye opening…
It not only appears in every one of them on some level but in many of them it appeared many times in the one speech. It is truly that important and until I remembered to slow down myself enough to move beyond the “argh I thought I had finished that! Do I really need it? This is going to be heaps long already! Does it add value?” thoughts that it dawned on me – its actually pretty key. In fact it could potentially maybe even have been better placed as the first common point (but fuck rewriting the whole thing now!!)
The modern world we live in was fast paced enough even before we started seeing real life evidence that the internet is literally starting to change the way we think. It’s quicker – we skip steps sometimes, it makes the desire for instant gratification worse.
Not only that but we are all so god damn time poor we try to do a million things at once. We rush from one thing to the next. It’s tiring. And it spreads our attention thin. No one of those million things have your full attention and presence.
It goes for all of the above points too. If we can’t try to slow down, both our bodies and minds, there is no place to be kind to ourselves, there is no time for practising gratitude, there is no thought space for us to tell ourselves we are worthy and there is no opportunity for us to consider WHY we are comparing (when we compare ourselves to others it is an opportunity for insight into what we feel we are missing or needing or judging ourselves for).
Loving ourselves, being comfortable with being imperfect, accepting ourselves mistakes and all, being grateful and slowing down. Maybe doing some more of those things in our lives and remembering that the internet is a place that promotes hate and misunderstanding, maybe that could filter through?
Maybe just a little bit? Or maybe just make everyone a little happier and more whole generally?
Maybe if more of us are genuinely happy and focused on being better, whole versions of ourselves, then maybe the tones of the opinions being expressed could change?
Or maybe not….
Maybe this post could have just been, if you feel like being an arsehole online, just remember, those words are heard and felt by someone else. And, just, like don’t. Stop it.
Please try to stop the pack mentality. Please be kind in your words. Please don’t judge things you don’t know everything about. Please remember that we don’t all have to agree on everything, if we did the world would be boring.
And remember there is this really real thing called a “vengeful angel”, don’t fight hate with hate. Miserable people thrive on it.
Kindness, compassion not comparison, gratefulness, worthiness and slowing down.. That’s what we could really all benefit from remembering before we interact with each other online particularly I think… <3
FURTHER CONTENT & VIDEOS
Here is some of the great TED Talks I have been watching and recommend on this topic:
The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown- https://youtu.be/iCvmsMzlF7o
Radical Self Love: Gala Darling at TEDxCMU 2012- https://youtu.be/GFXHYtY9ag8
Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model – Cameron Russell- https://youtu.be/ks1FEtWlzTU
Rewiring how you look at yourself | Jenny Schatzle | TEDxOaksChristianSchool 2016 – https://youtu.be/6DNqKig7Xis
How do you define yourself? | Lizzie Velasquez | TEDxAustinWomen2014 – https://youtu.be/QzPbY9ufnQY
Plus-size? More Like My Size | Ashley Graham | TEDxBerkleeValencia – YouTube
Unconditional positive regard — the power of self acceptance | Michelle Charfen | TEDxRedondoBeach 2014 –https://youtu.be/4tkkL9w2pw8
Living without shame: How we can empower ourselves | Whitney Thore | TEDxGreensboro
A journey to self-acceptance | Ekaterina Karabasheva | TEDxDonauinsel 2014 – https://youtu.be/vEQs3z8Sydg