- Start making choices intuitively – We make tons of choices every day – how we want to dress, what we want to eat, which workout we are doing that day, the affirmations we want to use, the tarot card we pull, the essential oils we diffuse. These choices are all frequent and have little to no consequences – you won’t be at stake of ruining your life if you choose a “bad” essential oil combo. Instead of falling back on your usual routine or making these daily decisions on autopilot, try to be a little more mindful for a week and see what your intuition draws you towards. Making these minute decisions can help you express your intuition without any fear that it will lead you off-track.
- When you have a tough decision to make, instead of running to your best friend or significant other for their opinion, journal it out. You may have heard of your “inner child,” but have you heard of your “inner mentor?” Both of these practices are great for developing your intuition. Grab your journal or some paper, and ask your inner Mentor (the older, wiser version of you), or your Inner Child (the younger, more fun, more carefree version of you) what they think you should do. Not only does this help you to look at your Self in a more holistic view, it will help you change how you look at time. This exercise allows you to feel as if you are asking someone for advice, but keeps the conversation pure rather than factoring in someone else’s fears and insecurities into the mix. It also teaches you that you are capable of making a decision without someone else’s approval. As someone who definitely used to be a people-pleaser, it can be shocking to realize how easily you can make a decision without having to get every single person’s approval first.
- This last one takes a little more imagination, but it is completely worth it. This is a visualization practice in which you think back on past memories of yourself when you were a child in distress. It is incredibly important that you let these memories come to you (it might even take a few days) and that you do not force yourself to relive or re-encounter anything that is too painful for you. In fact, the only memories that I have felt comfortable revisiting from my childhood have been memories before the age of 10, because my intuition has not guided me to revisit any painful memories from high school or college yet.
Self-Compassion is defined as “extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.” Kristin Neff, a leading researcher on self-compassion, has defined self-compassion as “being composed of three main components – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.”
It is inevitable, in all of our lives, that we will someday fail at something. Intentional or not, there comes a point when we make a mistake or feel betrayed or just plain screw up. We can lose days, hours of sleep, and precious energy mulling over the issues and choosing not to forgive ourselves. Or we can cultivate our self-compassion practice so that when we do feel let down or make a mistake, we can be patient with ourselves, learn from our mistakes, and give ourselves the space to grow. An article about self-compassion in Psychology Today elaborates that “people who have self-compassion also have greater social connectedness, emotional intelligence, happiness, and overall life satisfaction. Self-compassion has also been shown to correlate with less anxiety, depression, shame, and fear of failure.”
Step 1: understand the difference between your Self and your Saboteurs these voices have different sounds and even live in different parts of the brain. We all have voices that tell us that we aren’t good enough or that there is something wrong with us. This quiz is completely free and can give you a better idea of how exactly your self-sabotage takes forms. There are many different ways that we can trick ourselves into feeling less-than or unworthy, and it is important to face these head-on so that we can make decisions and life choices that are in alignment with our Higher Selves.
- Auditory & Visualization Exercise: When you hear these voices, pay close attention to where they are coming from. According to Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), the space where the voices are coming from can give you a lot of information. The next time you hear a negative voice, pay very close attention to the spatial placing of these voices. A voice that comes from your true Higher Self will come from the straight on or from a centered place. A voice that has been embedded into your psyche from someone else or from a traumatic event in the past will most likely come from behind you or from one side or another. This is likely because it came from a parent or adult figure who told you something unpleasant about who you are when you were small.
- After trying to separate the voices spatially, as you begin to recognize negative voices or sabeteours acting up, use your inner voice to confront and talk back to these negative voices by reinforcing your love for yourself and your safety within yourself. Repeat “I am loved. I feel safe.” and any other comforting mantras that may feel intuitive to you at this time.
Step 2: Cultivate your self-worth. We live in a society that benefits off of us attaching our self worth to external items. Capitalism benefits off of our desires for better clothes, nicer houses, fancier appliances, and high-paying, high-status jobs. We need to peel back these layers and confront our own sense of worthiness. Life is so immensely short, and the only way you can truly enjoy it is if you are in the present moment and find space to cherish exactly where you are in life right now. That means breaking away from the what-ifs and the self-doubt for just a minute to enjoy how far you’ve come, how many people you’ve met, and the impact that you undoubtedly have had on this world.
- Visualization exercise: picture the best memories that you have had, the most special moments that you have shared, the nicest things people have said to you or about you, and let those play through in your head. Allow yourself to “enter” these memories. Instead of just watching them like a movie of your life, relive these moments and feel what it was like to be at that age, in that space, with those people. Live in these moments for a minute or longer.
- Now, zoom out of one of these memories and watch yourself in it like a movie. Erase all of the other people who were there out of your mind, and just watch yourself in this place at this happy time in your life. Allow yourself to watch yourself experiencing these beautiful moments in your life. This practice has helped me deepen my self-love because it has shown me that at any age in my life, I have always been there for myself. As unconventional as it sounds, when you are constantly hearing negative voices about yourself and when you beat yourself up most of the time, (or are victim of negative voices as a result of depression), it can make you feel as if you are constantly attacking yourself. Even if it doesn’t seem to be happening consciously, these thoughts still take a massive toll on our psyches. This visualization practice really helped me rekindle my positive relationship with my self rather than continue the narrative of self-doubt and self-criticism. Realizing that I have more than a handful of happy times makes me feel connected to my entire life story, and helps me realize that I can choose, at any time, to create another happy moment – right here, right now. And so can you.
Step 3: Talk about yourself or a struggle that you may be having in the third person. If your best friend or spouse came to you and broke down in tears, how would you treat them? Wouldn’t you hug them, console them, tell them that you’re there for them, and that everything will be okay? Take this empathy and gentleness and speak to yourself in the same manner.
I have found myself getting so upset because of the struggles that other people face – because of my strong sense of empathy. However, the second I make a mistake or face a difficult situation, the more I am likely to criticize myself and be incredibly harsh. If you would never do this with a loved one, why do it to yourself?
- Activity: Speak aloud about how you are feeling in the third person. Speaking about yourself from a removed place can help you look at your behaviors or the situation you are struggling with in an objective manner, and can also help you create a deeper sense of empathy for yourself.
- If this is incredibly difficult for you, you can start by typing out how you feel or what you are struggling with as if you were describing it to someone else. Take a day, and then return to this statement the next morning or in 24 hours. Read over it, and think about what you would tell someone who came to you with this exact problem. You can even type back a response! This activity will allow you to take some of the pressure off yourself by again, zooming out, and allowing yourself to first cultivate passion from a third-person perspective the way that you would for another member of your inner circle.
Sending Love & Light,
Is it possible for Communities of Color to balance their cultural history without normalizing suffering?
Last night, I was at dinner with a friend from the Latinx community, and we began to talk about our lives and our current struggles. Inevitably, we had barely caught up on our struggles before we started qualifying them with one another and comparing them to the struggle of our parents.
For all immigrants and third-culture kids, it’s pretty safe to say that most of us understand suffering and have grown up with stories of our parents’ struggles – politically and financially.
It’s important for us to recount these stories and to understand and value our family history, especially when these are the stories that are often left behind by history books, movies, and novels.
However, is there a point when retelling these stories normalizes suffering?
As much as it is important to use the struggles of our parents and ancestors to motivate us, it can be extremely isolating and devaluing to compare your own life and struggles with the ones of past generations.
So many of us are told that we should stop complaining about negative comments, or bullying in school, or struggling with our education or peer groups because our parents had it worse. I think that there is a valuable lesson of human perseverance here. But I also think that repeating the idea that “other people have it worse” can be incredibly unproductive.
These ideas can even leak into conversations of mental health.
In my personal experience with depression, I have experienced it both as a result of grief and emotional abuse, and as a recurring illness. When I was 16, my grandmother passed away, and her sudden death and all the family drama surrounding it brought me into one of the deepest depressions of my life. She got sick and passed away in the span of 3 months – between August and October.
For about 6 full years after this experience, I would struggle with depression during those months like clockwork. Nothing had to happen, and it wasn’t brought on by a different traumatic experience every time. In fact, it often came up when everything else in my life was relatively normal and stable. It can make you feel completely crazy when your brain and body are telling you that nothing matters, that we all die anyway, and that life is full of suffering.
The first time I opened up to my parents about depression and the way I was feeling was when I was 16. The response I received was a literal slap across the face and a lecture on how there was nothing in my life to be depressed about. How my parents always had it worse, and that my life was perfect.
My life has never been “perfect,” and neither has our parents. However, playing into this “Oppression Olympics” does nothing for the wounded.
When our parents replay their own stories of suffering and peril for us, they are spreading the message that what happened to them is normal. They are telling themselves that that is the bar from which we live our lives.
No one’s idea of normal should stem out of a traumatic event.
Children should not feel that their suffering and pain is invalid simply because it looks different than the suffering of our parents. It’s time that we understand suffering – emotional, political, or financial – can look different for everyone, and that suffering is painful without devaluing it. We need to meet this suffering with deep empathy and greet our children with a deep sense of belonging.
Do you have any stories of suffering like this? Share them in the comments below!
Self care is not just for white people. Mental health is not just a “white people” thing.
I grew up thinking that therapy was for white people, and that only “goras” have mental diagnoses or struggle with mental health.
This hurts our communities in multiple ways – for instance, not only does it discourage anyone who seeks help from doing so, but it also places value on pushing through feelings of pain, loneliness, helplessness, depression, and anxiety despite the consequences. We are teaching our own children that it is better to care what others think of you rather than to take the time to prioritize your own personal growth.
Therapy, personal growth, and self-help aren’t just for the “damned” or the “crazy,” or for white people.
We all know how important it is to eat right and work out on a daily, or at least frequent, basis. However, when it comes to this kind of preventative work for mental health, it is completely dismissed.
What if we thought of attending therapy, or reading self-help books, or participating whatever forms of self-care and rituals resonate with us, was more of a preventative measure to deal with anxiety and depression, rather than stigmatizing these activities and the people who participate in them?
Self-care is a human issue, and we cannot exclude ourselves from taking care of ourselves on a basic level. I know this because I have seen so many family members, both young and old, and South Asian peers of mine choose to suffer in silence, rather than risk anyone finding out that they have a mental disorder or are going through a difficult time. This silence is detrimental. This lack of support can drive people deeper into depression, or help them to turn to self-medicating, and at its absolute worst, can result in suicide.
When we speak out about the shame and when we are vulnerable about our struggles, we become free. However, for many of us South Asians, it can be incredibly daunting when you know that you will often be ridiculed or told to suck it up by your own family members. We may even find it easier to open up to friends or a stranger rather than our own flesh and blood, simply because of how our communities have been taught to deal with mental health issues.
Our community deserves better.
Another point to make here is that self-care isn’t all face masks and rose petal baths. Self care can look like setting boundaries, cutting off relationships and activities that don’t serve your Higher Self, and can even encompass a spiritual practice or ritual.
Taking care of ourselves can help us be better partners and friends and can even help us make healthier decisions that serve us wholly.
If you don’t practice setting boundaries with yourself (yes, you can make self-care a boundary in itself), it will only get more difficult to make others respect your boundaries. When others don’t respect your boundaries and space, you begin to feel resentful and even taken advantage of. When you feel resentful, it’s difficult to be grateful. It’s difficult to live in the present moment.
When we’re constantly dwelling on the past, or constantly anxious about the future, we forget to stay present in our relationships, in your work, and with yourself. This is when some of life’s best moments can pass us by. This is the feeling that we get when things are so good, and so pure, that we immediately jump to fear because we believe that it can’t last.
Imagine that everyone in our community took a little time for themselves, to nurture their needs, and to become a little more self-aware. Consider a world in which our parents, cousins, and all the Auntys we knew took a little time for self-love and personal growth, and a little less time for judgement. We would become a much more understanding and tolerant community. There would be fewer individuals exiled from our societies, and would be embraced, instead.
Our families would grow. Our love for one another would grow. Our love for ourselves and our community would grow.
Invest in self-care. It is a step in the right direction for all of us.
Let me know in the comments below – What will you do this week to commit to self-care?
How many of us can remember these words “have you no shame?” Regardless of the specific language (in my case, Gujrati), we can all recount time after time of being scolded in this manner.
In the Indian community, we are taught that we need shame. That shame is good for us. We are constantly being reinforced with the idea that others’ impressions of us are more important than our own wellbeing and our own internal suffering.
Sure, you might feel horrible, you might be completely out of place, but sit tight, look pretty, and speak (only) when you are spoken to. Don’t be a burden, don’t be a nuisance.
Brene Brown says that “In the absence of love and belonging is always suffering,” and that “True connection comes from being seen, heard, and valued.”
When we are taught shame, we are being separated from that very connection that we so desperately desire.
So many of the beliefs that I personally held about myself, that “I am not good enough,” and that “I am unlovable,” all came from the aspects of shame that I was taught growing up.
There is an incredibly important distinction between shame and guilt.
Shame says “I am bad,” while guilt says “I did something bad.”
Guilt can be a positive feeling that teaches us that we are acting outside of alignment. When we do something that we feel guilty about, we realize that our actions were not a true reflection of our Higher Self. However, when we allow ourselves to internalize our negative actions as who we are, we run the risk of punishing ourselves rather than reconciling our negative actions.
Studies show that shame increases the likelihood of addiction, depression, aggression, violence, and anger. However, guilt actually has an inverse correlation with these same behaviors and emotions.
This is because when we truly believe that we are bad, we find no value in ourselves.
We don’t hold ourselves in high self-worth, and fall into depression, or substance abuse, or find other ways of acting out.
In my own experience, my first experience with depression was brought on by grief. I isolated myself, would run to the bathroom during every class period to cry in high school, and didn’t open up to anyone about it.
My pain was so surreal, and I had never experienced anything like it. I couldn’t open up to my parents. I didn’t feel right opening up to most of my friends because I internalized my depression to feel that something was wrong with me, that I was broken or ungrateful, rather than experiencing a mental disorder for the first time in my life.
But there’s good news: Shame cannot survive being spoken.
We must allow ourselves, trust in ourselves, and believe in our worth enough to know that we cannot go on blaming ourselves. We cannot keep isolating ourselves, running to public bathrooms and hiding in our bedrooms to deal with the pain.
We must share our struggles and our shame.
True connection comes from being seen, heard, and valued.
Allow yourself to be seen. To be heard, and to be valued.
You are worth it.
Share your #ShameChronicles in the comments below! Or, if the Shame is just that real, send your story in privately to BetiGrewUp@Gmail.com!
It’s been over eight months since I’ve seen my parents. For a lot of other Desis I know, that concept can be a difficult one to picture.
As you may know, I live in Colorado and left home in Texas about 6 years ago for university. I frequently came back home, as most students did, on school breaks while I was in college, and was able to see my parents about every 3 or 4 months.
When I graduated and got my first professional, full-time job at the same university, my parents warned me that I could only take this job if I came home once a month. So last year, every month, I flew home on my own dime and visited for 3 – 4 days. They were short trips, but so frequent that it felt like I wasn’t really away.
This year, I haven’t been home since March. I bailed on my Thanksgiving plans to go home, (much to my parents dismay) and now I’m heading home for 2 days for New Year’s Eve. Though I don’t always get along with my parents, and love living away from home, I dealt with a lot of guilt that I was away from home.
I never even realized that moving back home was what was expected of me after college. The only expectation that I was aware of was to get a good job, which I did.
For so many South Asians, and especially South Asian women, our role is often defined by what we can provide for our families. It’s always great to be of service, to be there for others, and to cultivate healthy relationships with our loved ones.
However, we are entering a new world in which we can begin to redefine our roles, our families, and how we allow ourselves to cultivate our own sense of self.
We are CREATING culture as we live and breathe. We define and redefine our culture as Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Canadians, Americans, British in every waking moment.
It’s okay to change the rules.
More importantly, it’s okay to disconnect from people when you grow.
This past year has encapsulated the most personal growth and healing that I’ve ever experienced. Not only did I launch this blog and my youtube channel, but I also discovered the powers of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and am studying Neuro-Linguistic Programming as a result. I’ve finally reestablished my yoga practice, and I’ve finally been able to bring myself to meditate.
None of this would have been possible without me taking these months to myself.
We all need some time away from the “energy-suckers,” as Oprah calls them.
My biggest point here is that not every ‘energy-sucker’ has to be a completely, all-around, horrible person. Our seasons of life can also factor into who we should be spending time with, and how much that time can vary.
It’s probably not great to be out at the club 4+ nights a week, every week. But if you’re on vacation, it might make perfect sense to spend a few days that week partying it up. These seasons of life are natural.
It’s okay to take a break from all your family members, or to take a hiatus from seeing your friends for a couple of weeks. Especially if this means that you will grow and be a better person because of it.
When you take time to nurture who you are, and you allow yourself to truly care for yourself, you begin to reap the benefits. When you finally reconnect with your loved ones, you have more positivity, more energy, and more presence to bring into the relationships.
Disconnect to reconnect.
To anyone who has been emotionally, physically, or mentally abused by close family.
To anyone who cannot come out to their family.
To anyone who has lost family support because you stood in your truth.
This is for you.
You are precious gem in this often soulless world. You will find a chosen family. You did not betray anyone.
You are breaking through generational trauma. You are investing in the future of your family and your own descendents.
You will create a home that you love. You will thrive.
You deserve to have boundaries. You deserve to be treated with respect. You deserve genuine happiness.
You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are loved.
I get a call from someone impersonating an officer, with all my information, concerned about missing a court appearance for jury duty.
Not only have I never even been called in to jury duty, but I have also never had any experience with missing a court date.
I fell into the trap of listening to this asshole go on about how I could either go in for an arrest, today, or make a payment, today. He scammed me out of $1000, and if you want to know more about the story and what happened, let me know in the comments – I’d be happy to make a video about the details of the scam!
After navigating through the shame, embarrassment, and anger of being tricked out of losing a significant amount of money, I was at an emotional crossroads. I felt like I could either take this as a sign that I shouldn’t run my own business, or that I will never be able to handle my own money, or I could use this time to prove to the universe that I’m serious. Serious about my business, serious about my financial future, and someone who won’t back down from my dreams.
Lesson One: Money is a Tool // You Are More Than Your Bank Account.
I have heard so many wellness coaches and authors mention this, and though I have been trying to incorporate this into my perspective, I felt like a part of me was dismissive of this story because the people who were telling me this also had more than enough to cover their basic expenses.
I felt like I had to earn a certain amount before I could truly let myself believe that money is a tool.
Even though my account totals have dropped, I know that I have never missed a rent payment, I still generally feel safe, and now I know that I would never fall for such a thing again.
I can wait around forever to have enough money before I finally “fix” my relationship with money, or truly allow myself to feel like I deserve it.
Or, I could realize that what I actually want is to be able to support myself with my business, to be somewhat location-independent, and to feel supported through the relationships in my life.
I wasn’t angry that I was manipulated out of my money, I was mad that I was manipulated out of what that money represented to me: freedom.
Think about what money represents for you – focus on that. I don’t have piles and piles of cash, but I truly recognize that money is not an end in itself. Money is a means to the life you truly want.
Don’t give it more power than you need to.
When we get stuck using measuring our self-worth through quantified terms, it will never be enough. You can get so focused on increasing the numbers in your bank account, or losing more and more weight, or getting a perfect test score in a shorter amount of time, that you honestly forget what it’s all for.
And I urge you to remember what the bottom line is and what your true motives are. Because when something happens, like you get scammed and you lose some money, or gain some weight back, or when you have a bad test day, that can be all it takes for you to lose all of your self-worth.
Your sense of worthiness is not quantifiable, so stop telling yourself it is!
Lesson Two: You Can Only Control the Power you Give to a Situation.
I could spend the rest of the holidays skulking around about how I was taken advantage of, manipulated, and paranoid about someone out there who knows my information. Sure, I genuinely felt all of these things. But I choose not to give this situation more power than it needs.
Looking back on my college experience, I can think of an entire list of times I had been betrayed, wronged, or manipulated.
Not all of those times were as serious as being scammed, but plenty of them sent me into emotional turmoil far worse than what I am experiencing now.
The reason is because I saw myself as weak, powerless, and only a victim of what was going on around me.
In reality, other than aging a few years, and switching from being a full-time student to a full-time employee, not much has tangibly changed in my life.
But what is different is my perspective on how to deal with negative situations. The point is, shit happens. It will look differently in all of our lives, but we will all be let down at some point.
In any of these situations, you have the power to chose how you feel and how you will deal with the situation.
Do you want to be defined by your struggles, or by what you accomplished in spite of them?
Empathize with yourself and allow yourself to feel hurt. Then pick yourself up and keep going. Make changes, redefine relationships, do what you need to do to heal.
But don’t stop being you.
There’s nothing worse than floating around in a directionless space. But we have all experienced, most likely on a daily basis, ourselves constantly critiquing and comparing ourselves to everyone physically around us and in our newsfeeds.
The antidote to feeling lost? Using your Comparison Envy as a teaching tool for what you truly want.
A few years ago, I would feel a literal pang when I saw how many likes someone’s Instagram had, or saw how talented my friends’ pictures on social media were. Now, here I am, starting an online business, focusing on improving my photography and videography abilities, and finally feel like these are actual skills that I can work toward rather than a talent that just completely missed me.
I didn’t quite connect the dots at first, but looking back, had I paid closer attention to that comparison envy actually teaching me what I wanted for myself, I could have saved a lot of heartache by just admitting to myself that that’s what I wanted. Instead, I lost both time and confidence in pitying myself.
I don’t want you to lose this kind of precious time – I want you to be able to set it and get it.
Don’t let yourself be pushed around by the comparison envy in your head. Instead, let it fuel your motivation and help you get to the bottom of what you truly want.
1. Ask yourself why you are constantly comparing yourself to others, and what is at the core of the comparison.
2. What can you start doing, today, to help you reach the goal outlined by your comparison envy?
Leave a comment below, or shoot me an email, and let me know what your comparison envy has taught you!