Loving Myself – Is it Vanity or Necessity??

From childhood most of us Indians are taught to love others. Show consideration for others. Even at the cost of harming ourselves, we do that to the T. Yet many a time we are never taught to love ourselves. Loving oneself is such a wholesome thing to do; yet, it is branded as being selfish. Why is it so?

For starters I look up the thesaurus for a synonym for self-love; I find a number of words all of which have a negative connotation. Look at this visual thesaurus below and you’ll understand what I mean!

Some other synonyms are words bordering egoism, self centeredness, pride and vanity! No, these are not words that I am looking for. Plain love and liking for oneself which will give each one of us tremendous boost of self esteem. A feel-good pill. The harmless and free  medicine to combat vexation and depression.

Everyday I come across young people who hate themselves because they are not like someone else. They have poor self image because they think that they are not like zero size models. They believe that they are a cursed lot because they are not as “fair” “shapely” or “beautiful” as say, glamorous actresses. How should we handle this situation, as parents and as teachers?

The secret lies in developing a sense of self worth in these young minds. Listen to them and their plaints. Patiently talk to them about loving themselves as they are. Personality is about character and one’s inner self and not the peripherals. The bottom line is to help them learn to enjoy their own company. The more they like themselves, the less they will want the lives of other people; be like other people.

For if you can’t love or like yourself, how can others love or like you???

Reference: http://thesaurus.com/browse/self-love?s=t

Teachers VS Students in the 21st Century

I am an educator. And I know education is going through challenging times.

Though living in the same milieu, today’s educator and today’s learner are like the two faced Roman God of transition, Janus. The student looks outward, beckoning to the future whereas most teachers look backwards, reminiscing the past. The text savvy digital citizen is given learning experiences by the bookish adult who uses the textbook as the prop and actually gets spaces out when it comes to tech tools and digital devices. So, the earlier our educator colleagues adapt to the changing scenario the better for us, lest we get fossilized.

During our student days you and I depended entirely on our teachers for information – they were in fact our primary and many a time our only source of knowledge. Today’s children on the other hand have technology devices, the World Wide Web and a host of other digital sources for their primary information. To them, we, educators are only the secondary source.

We were taught to focus on subjects when we were children and even in our very much outdated B.Ed. training courses. So we continue to lecture and use the hanging-all-children-on-one-academic-clothesline method of chalk and talk. We seem to be “stuck in a fixed body of knowledge and pass it on via drip feed” 1 – ouch!!! We do integrate ICT into our lesson (a PPT or You tube video at the most); yet, we are much more comfortable doing what we are past masters at – teaching lessons or more fondly “portions”. The word, “portion”, itself conjures in my mind the picture of morsels of food being thrust forcefully down throats of students! Besides, our Indian educational system is so very skeptical and conservative about using digital devices smart phones, I-pads and tablets in our classrooms.

I look at my 12 year old nephew. He is truly a 21st century learner. Give him a new digital device and he is all engrossed in learning how to use it. You and I need a manual. But not him! He explores and through cycles of trial and error learns. Soon he is thorough with all the functions of the device. Take him through a traditional lesson, he is stiff bored. His mind would have wandered in 5 minutes to a hundred different things – imagine how much of this would happen in a 40 minute session! It is these kinds of children whom we subject to the torture of depending on text books and hardly ever provide any hands on experience.  We subject them to our boring drones and expect them to listen.

We need to seriously relook at our classroom transactions and see if we are actually helping our pupils to prepare for tomorrow.

Reference:

1 Gilbert, Ian; (2010) Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google? The essential guide to the big issues for every twenty first century teacher: Routledge

Loving Yourself – The How To

When I wrote my earlier post on Loving Myself – Is is Vanity or Necessity and shared it on my FB page, a former student commented that it would be good to learn about the “how to” also. Therefore this post. I hasten to add that all these are tried and tested ways when I went through a “low self esteem” phase.

(I hope this is useful, Swati.)  

1. Discover yourself.

Ask yourself these questions: Do you know yourself well? What are your strong points? What are the areas where you have developmental needs? Write them all in a private journal. The more you know about yourself, the better you can accept yourself.

2. Smile often.

Research says that one uses less facial muscles to smile and more to frown. Therefore smile should come to us easily and naturally. It is not for nothing there is this saying that exhorts one to smile, for ‘it adds to one’s face value.’  Smiles beget smiles and what an amount of happy cheerful energy surrounds you! This is the most positive aspect of smiles. They are like sunshine – life giving and radiating.

3. Cultivate acceptance.

You are what you are physically. Technology has advanced so much that there are costly quick fixes like Botox or tummy tucks and the like to enhance one’s body image. It is also worth remembering that such alteration comes with heavy prices – the actual cost factor and the after effects that can be even life threatening. Look at yourself in the mirror and lovingly tell yourself “I love my … “ (fill it with every body part from head to toe). Look at yourself with new eyes. What a marvel you are thanks to each and every invisible part in your body! Take the case of your heart – it does the job silently. Should it stop, we cease to exist. But have we ever thanked our heart for keeping us alive? Our legs, for taking us from place to place? This exercise of thanking each and every part of our body will help us with not only acceptance but also fill us with gratitude.

4. Learn from mistakes.

Society abhors the ‘F’ word – failure I mean. Historically educators as well as adults have created a climate that does not encourage errors. Failure is pictured as a bottomless abyss from which pupils / people can never come out. No wonder then that many young teens are hope-less and despondent even before they have entered the brave new adult world. Whether it is homework, test taking, making friends or playing games, learning is enriched through making mistakes. It is here that a parent /mentor/educator can play a vital role – encourage all even when they make mistakes. This will prompt them to try again and not give up in despair.

5. Be kind & positive to yourself.

Many cannot forgive the lapses they make or that of others. Research says that ruminating about the past and about mistakes committed releases so many negative emotions and expressions, increase cardiac reactivity and impair the body’s parasympathetic calming response. Compassion and forgiveness on the other hand generate a host of positive emotions and responses, giving the body comfort, control and the right social orientation. So, it is worth letting go of bitterness and grudges. The moment you do that you stop being and acting like a victim. More importantly, forgive your own trespasses. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and say, “I forgive myself for——.” Another technique is to write a letter to your own self about the transgression. Burn it (be careful and prevent accidents of fire). This is symbolic of burning the thoughts of guilt and being reborn from its ashes, like the proverbial phoenix.

6. Silence the inner critic in you.

Is your negative self with its nonstop chatter, chiding you at each and every step? Stop this; else it will kill your self-confidence, and leave you at the very edge of depression and anxiety. Such an inner critic is all about the past and looks for blame. Replace that which beats you up with something new that will make you feel good – something constructive, positive. Accept your imperfections and be grateful that you are you and not anyone else. Remember it is perfectly ok to not be perfect.

7. Affirmations – use them lavishly.

“I live in the present, here and now.”
“I am very contented and happy.”
“I am fit and healthy.”
“I am me, I am ok.”

Words are expressions of thought and repeated positive and fostering expressions send positive vibrations to the Universe and make thoughts happen. So use suitable affirmations to develop love for yourself.

8. Look after your Body.

Eat healthy. Nurture it with proper nutrition and exercise. Treat it with utmost respect and care. Nourish it with Love. Very often many body image issues occur because the body lacks love and care.

9. Stay away from the comparison trap.

Can you ever compare apples with oranges? Each has its unique features. Never compare yourself with others. Comparing results in judging and leads to resentment, hatred. It evokes either inferiority or superiority, besides a host of other negative, damaging feelings. How do you stop comparing? Count your blessings! Focus on your positives, your strengths. To love yourself is to stop comparing.

10. Journal and plot your shift.

This is a highly reflective and effective exercise. Look at the good and the bad / the high and the low of each day. Jot it down in a private diary. It is an amazing stress buster and helps to release all pent up emotions. The consequent reflection empowers you by clearing your mind and giving you focus. When life hits unprecedented lows of change, hurt, loss and pain, journal writing can detoxify and heal. It can be an observation journal or the very effective gratitude journal.

So, there we are – love yourself first. When nobody celebrates or compliments you, learn to do them to yourself. Learn to enjoy your own company. The more you like yourself, the less you will want the lives of other people. The more the encouragement comes from within you, the more wholesome you will be. And the more wholesome you are, the more you will love yourself!

Reference:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charlotte-vanoyen-witvliet-phd/surprised-by-happiness-wh_b_787126.html

http://www.deepermeditation.net/stressadviceblog/the-benefits-of-journaling-and-how-to-start-183

Loving Myself – Is it Vanity or Necessity??

From childhood most of us Indians are taught to love others. Show consideration for others. Even at the cost of harming ourselves, we do that to the T. Yet many a time we are never taught to love ourselves. Loving oneself is such a wholesome thing to do; yet, it is branded as being selfish. Why is it so?

For starters I look up the thesaurus for a synonym for self-love; I find a number of words all of which have a negative connotation. Look at this visual thesaurus below and you’ll understand what I mean!

Some other synonyms are words bordering egoism, self centeredness, pride and vanity! No, these are not words that I am looking for. Plain love and liking for oneself which will give each one of us tremendous boost of self esteem. A feel-good pill. The harmless and free  medicine to combat vexation and depression.

Everyday I come across young people who hate themselves because they are not like someone else. They have poor self image because they think that they are not like zero size models. They believe that they are a cursed lot because they are not as “fair” “shapely” or “beautiful” as say, glamorous actresses. How should we handle this situation, as parents and as teachers?

The secret lies in developing a sense of self worth in these young minds. Listen to them and their plaints. Patiently talk to them about loving themselves as they are. Personality is about character and one’s inner self and not the peripherals. The bottom line is to help them learn to enjoy their own company. The more they like themselves, the less they will want the lives of other people; be like other people.

For if you can’t love or like yourself, how can others love or like you???

Reference: http://thesaurus.com/browse/self-love?s=t

Charaiveti – the What and the Why

In 2008 when change enveloped me like a blanket in every sphere possible & it became too hot to handle, I took a break from work and took refuge in reading. That’s when I came across this interesting Sanskrit word, CHARAIVETI (चरैवेति) an aphorism from the Aitareya Brahmana*, which means “Go on”. A powerful and potent word, in true Upanishadic style it exhorts us to move on and keep going!

चरैवेति Chara+eva+iti = Chara = moving (things) + eva = alone ; only + iti = thus

The actual source of the word is a hymn about the long endless journey towards self-realization which each one of us must embark on, and each verse ends with the refrain: ‘Charaiveti, Charaiveti’, meaning, oh traveller, march along, march along!’

“Charanbai madhu vindati charantsvadu mudambaram.

Suryasya pasya sreemanam yo na tandrayate charan.

Charaiveti, charaiveti.”

Aitareya Brahmana*, 7.15

I am not a Vedic or Sanskrit scholar; yet the verse and its translation fascinated me.
[The literal translation of the verse according to sources is “The honey bee, by its motion, collects honey, and birds enjoy tasty fruits by constant movement. The sun is revered, by virtue of its constant shining movement; therefore, one should be constantly in motion. Keep moving, keep moving on!”]

Curious about the word, I googled it (No wonder today’s generation feel next to God is the Google – or is it the other way around? :P)

I discovered that Lord Buddha used to conclude his discourses & sermons everyday with these words: Charaiveti, Charaiveti. What a positive and meaningful way of urging and encouraging his audience!

Whatever the circumstances, we have to move on and persist like a dogged traveller in the journey of life. Enchanted by the word I have named it for my blogs and my FB page, both of which aims to inspire.

In the journey of life, we are sure to traverse through hills and vales, acmes and abysses. Success and failure, rising and falling. All these bring about change. Well, it sounds clichéd, yet change is inevitable and is in fact the only thing that is permanent, like the seasons.

Sometimes change can be exhilarating and exciting. Sometimes it can be frustrating and demoralizing. And sometimes it can be scary and terrifying.

Whatever the emotion it draws out from within us, change can really be a wonderful thing, if only we welcome, introspect, appreciate and learn from it. The learning in turn will strengthen our hearts, expand our minds and enrich our very lives. It would be a useful exercise to introspect and examine how much we have changed. And if we find that we have changed in one way or the other, we can pat ourselves on the back, for it is either for survival or for excellence. And the ultimate truth is the day we stop changing, we fossilize, we die!

Much later, when we look back, we realize that the change was to be. It made us stronger and clarified to us our life’s purpose. Wasn’t Friedrich Nietzsche who said that that which does not kill us makes us stronger? Besides change is one of the best of teachers!

Image

So, no matter how arduous the climb is, how long and winding the road is, how worn out we are, we need to carry on. . . . Charaveti, Charaiveti . . . keep going, keep going and never stop moving till the last breath of life.

Communications Psychologist Dr. Dennis O’ Grady says, “Change has a bad reputation in our society. But it isn’t all bad — not by any means. In fact, change is necessary in life — to keep us moving … to keep us growing … to keep us interested. … Imagine life without change. It would be static … boring … dull.”

So let’s embrace change – it may seem rotten now, but sweet later! And let’s keep going! Smile and move on!! I do know it is easier said than done. But do give it a try. I did. And I have never regretted.

CHARAIVETI, CHARAIVETI!! Move on, Move on! March along, March along!!!

Source:
*https://books.google.co.in/books?id=BNfTeKzSyO0C&pg=PA103&dq=Charaiveti&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xlNPVau7Csu5uATX-IGQCg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Charaiveti&f=false