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Maria’s Musings & Advice: Mind your own body

By on Oct 4, 2017 in Advice | 2 comments

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Dear Maria,

It needs to be socially understood that it is not acceptable to comment on someone else’s body. Recently I’ve heard things like, “Do you ever eat?” or “Take some of my fat! You’re so skinny you could probably lose it in a week!” I am aware that these are intended to be backhanded compliments, but let me make it clear that they aren’t. You have no idea why someone’s body looks the way it does. It could be anything from genetics, an eating disorder, side effect of medication, or bad eating habits that are likely the result of lacking access to healthy food. You have no idea what kind of can of worms you could be opening with those “compliments.”

Another thing about them is that they usually aren’t genuine; the reason I get told these things a lot is because the person saying it is insecure about their own physical appearance and is trying to make me feel guilty about mine so they don’t have to feel so threatened by me.

The worst thing is that I hear this stuff from people with heavier builds than mine! Our society is too focused on slender bodies and does not spend enough time appreciating, let alone accepting, thicker bodies. And people who are larger than me probably get told much ruder things about their bodies, which is also never okay. You do not need to tell someone that they are skinny or fat because chances are they know! Would you tell me “Oh my god, you’re so white!”? No, because you know that I know, so why are you wasting your breath?

Unless you are a doctor, you are not qualified to tell someone that they need to gain/lose weight or eat more/less.

My body looks the way it looks. If you are not close to me, you do not need to tell me what I already know. If you think I am beautiful, cool; if you think I am ugly, cool.  Keep it to yourself. I should not be made to feel ashamed or self-conscious about my body, and neither should anyone else.

So, I don’t usually make posts like this, but as of lately I’ve been getting comments and I think this issue needs to be addressed.

Signed,

Don’t Even Go There

Dear Don’t Even Go There,

Amen! Our bodies are beautiful beings that carry us through life. Let’s respect and honor our own, and others. Readers, your thoughts? Post them in the comments, below!

 

 

Dear Maria,

My question is: How can I make myself think before I speak or act? Whenever I disagree with someone, which happens a lot these days, I say or do something I later wish I hadn’t. I end up internally fuming over what I wish I’d said.

Signed,

If Only

Dear If Only,

This is a great question. I can relate. I’ll probably publish this response, and later I’ll think of a few more things to say. On a blog post, there’s a handy update feature. In conversations, not so much. Improv is the final performance. We can’t reel back in something we wish we hadn’t said. And, it seems we can’t stop our minds from grinding on the regrets.

Lately I’ve had some success in getting out of a mental rut. I’ve discovered my thought processes can change, with time and conscious effort. We need to attend to the part of us that says, “So, I said to myself….” That’s the part of our consciousness that is the Observer. Let the Observer recognize when you’re having a thought that you don’t want to have. But, don’t beat up on yourself when you do! Just acknowledge the thought, then choose another. Over time, you’ll see a change.

Recently, there was a difficult person in my life who found their way into my thoughts. Truth is, I let that person into my head, and it was up to me to release them. One day while journaling (yet again) about this person, I stopped writing and imagined a beautiful sunset on the beach. My thought about this person bobbed in the water, and a sea gull came along and scooped the thought up and flew away with it. This beach scene became my go-to image when the Observer stepped in. You might call it my happy place! The gull carried the thoughts, and this person, out of my awareness. No amount of fretting over this person would have changed the situation; it was time to release them, and myself, from the rut.

When the Observer calls, turn your thoughts to ones of gratitude, beauty, and love. Above all, be easy on yourself when you over-think things. A lot of us are in the habit! Your desire to change it is an important start to making the change. I’m not sure we ever get completely over it, but we can move past it more quickly with that conscious effort. We CAN choose better things to focus on.

 

Dear Readers: In a quandary? Life got you down? Need some perspective? If you’d like to submit a question, click here. I look forward to hearing from you, or “for a friend.” Please add your thoughts, and suggestions in the comments section, below. 

Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist.  This column, its author, and the publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity, and all comments are moderated.

2 Comments

  1. Sue

    October 8, 2017

    Post a Reply

    Regarding the question on “How can I make myself think before I speak or act?” I learned from a meditation class I took a few years ago a few things about myself, and a few ways to train myself to be in different situations.

    (1) One activity I learned that works, is to sit or lie still and think of a river where leaves or logs float on by, and then as a thought enters your mind, put the thought on a leaf or log and let it float by. And continue doing this for several minutes. If your mind should wander off away from the river imagine, gently guide it back, with no condemnation toward yourself. Just let the thoughts flow one at a time down that river. The reason for this activity is to show you actively change how your response it to your thoughts. We all have thoughts, many an hour, a few a minute, and NONE OF THEM or YOU should be judged for them.

    (2) Once you can master doing the above activity, you can then work on another activity called Mindfulness. In my classes I learned how to mindfully eat a meal, mindfully walk for several minutes, whether there were distractions outdoors, indoors, or in my own body or mind. Eating a meal, sitting just thinking only about the smell, taste, and other sensations of the food, holding the utensil, etc, and letting the thoughts of anything else just move along (like down the river from the other activity). Walking back and forth along a path of say 50 feet or 50 yards, and paying attention to every movement of your body, when you pick your foot up, when you stretch your leg out, when you move your foot to set it down, when you transfer your weight from one foot to the other, over and over, and that is the only thing you keep your attention on. When sounds exterior to you come up, let them float away (down the river).

    (3) If you can master these two activities, you can master other activities. Like when to say something, or when not to say something. You stay mindful on what you are doing each and every moment, for an hour, then lengthen that out to a day, then to a few days, and so on. Until it is habit. When you can hear someone complain about something and you don’t immediately have to say something, you have mastered mindful speaking.

    I have not mastered mindful speaking. I think almost everyone needs to learn this…. In this day and age, it would do every adult (young and old, from everyone walk of life) to learn to master mindfulness. It helps to lessen tons of stress that harms our bodies and our spirits. I have gotten away from doing my mindfulness activities. I see that I am in need of picking it back up again. The horrific weather events, and tragedies that humans have played on others recently, as well as the political craziness around us, has piqued my stress again.

    I think it is always possible to learn how to stop yourself from saying something in a reactionary way, and mindfulness is a wonderful way to do just that.

    • Maria

      October 9, 2017

      Post a Reply

      Thank you for these great suggestions! I love the image of the river flowing. Like my beach, you can pick out a scene that’s comforting and create the images needed to release the thoughts. Your number 2 is particularly important to practice, now that it’s so easy to have a distraction close at hand with our smart phones. The main point is that we must choose to practice these techniques…they won’t just happen on their own!

      And, don’t be hard on yourself for getting away from your mindfulness activities. We all cycle through times when we’re more or less faithful to them! Good to recognize that you want/need to get back to it. Especially with all the bad news today, we need to connect with peace and beauty. When we do, we’re more likely to bring peace and beauty to others and the world, too.

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