Many of us are born into a religion. It’s not until we get older that we have the opportunity to question our beliefs and decide if they are for us. This is an opportunity that not everyone takes. It can be difficult to ask the tough questions like: Why are we here? What is the point of life? What happens when we die?
As a therapist I am sometimes the person that gets presented with such big questions. I feel honoured that I get to help someone better figure out what they believe and in turn better understand themselves. That is why exploring your own view on spirituality is so important. Spirituality is more about deciding for yourself what the big questions are and how to answer them. Deciding when and how you feel connected to yourself and others. For you that may not be in a church but in nature, near the sea or being surrounded by those you love. The forest can be your church and any sunny day your sabbath.
Giving yourself the space to explore what religion and spirituality mean to you is important. It will allow you to better deal with difficult situations. Believing that every experience is to help you learn and grow means that the ups and downs of life are easier to make sense of. Religion can feel like it opposes spirituality because some of the planets biggest religions have outdated views on woman and equality in general. It’s not their fault, these religions were formed thousands of years ago. Being a person now is completely unrecognisable the world of our ancestors. Which is most likely why more and more people are finding it difficult to relate to religion like our generations before.
If you never ask yourself what you believe you can end up feeling confused and alone. It’s okay to ask questions and change your mind. Life happen and we grow, sometimes our beliefs change. Maybe that’s why we’re here, to ask these questions and figure out an answer. At least we don’t have to ask them alone.
“We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Due to the society we live in there is a large focus on looks. For both men and women there is a standard we are all supposed to ascribe too. The problem with that is how we look only tells a small story of who we are. However, feeling positive about how we look on the outside can help us feel more positive on the inside.
We all know that diet and exercise is the key to having a healthy body but it also contributes to a healthy mind. When it comes to the food we eat and the activities we do, I believe the key is balance. Diets have been proven time and time again that they rarely work. The diet is usually too restrictive and when you go back to eating the way you did before you gain more weight back.
Many of us have become incredibly disconnected from our bodies. Not noticing the connection between our diet and how we feel. In a past post I spoke about our relationship with food and how our patterns with it can be formed young. As we grow-up it’s important to look at why, when and what we eat. As well as when, why and how we are physically active.
If you find you don’t like exercise maybe you haven’t found the right activity. The gym and going to classes can feel intimidating. Why not try exercises at home? Here are some examples of exercises you can find on Youtube:
These are just a few examples of what’s available. If you don’t even know where to start it always begins with awareness. Notice what it feels like when you eat and what you eat. After a difficult day do you crave sweets? Do you find instead of getting upset you eat until you are so full it’s uncomfortable?
Living in the extremes of restrictive dieting isn’t good for your body, listen to it and notice what it’s asking for. Try to find balance and enjoyment, your body carries you through each day, treat it in the way that it deserves.
“Health isn’t about being “perfect” with food or exercise or herbs. Health is about balancing those things with your desires. It’s about nourishing your spirit as well as your body.” – Golda Poretsky
As this post is about the detrimental effects applying ‘shoulds’ to your life can have, I am not going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. However, I hope to demonstrate how freeing it can be when you start recognise the regular judgements you have on yourself and let them go. Many people go through each day doing what they feel like they should, not what they want or even what might be good for them.
Usually if someone tells us: ‘You should do this…’ or ‘you shouldn’t do that…’ we can feel the need to rebel, most of us don’t like being told what to do. Yet we do it to ourselves all the time and can be left wondering how we ended up feeling so unhappy. You might be telling yourself you should be over that break-up, or you should be ready to go back to work. Perhaps you think that you shouldn’t want more from your partner, or you shouldn’t still be angry.
Who gave you these shoulds? Who told you it’s time to move on? Who decided what is the right path for you?
These shoulds often become so ingrained that they can form harsh judgements of ourselves. It’s okay that you want your life to be different. It’s normal that you are still grieving. And it’s fine that you’re still angry. Telling yourself to be any different then you are is not going to help you heal any faster. I try to remind my students and clients how much better they would feel if they spoke to themselves like a loving friend.
Being compassionate for yourself means trying to be caring and non-judgemental. Recognising how you feel and allowing yourself to feel it. Insisting to be different doesn’t help us move on any faster, often just giving yourself some space to be with your emotions is all you need. Starting today try to ditch the shoulds, or at least be aware when they are calling the shots. Remember you have to figure out what’s best for you not anybody else.
“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.” ― Christopher K. Germer