Tuesday, April 23, 2013

For my Girls

Via Pinterest

From articles my friends are sharing on Facebook here and here, to articles that pop up on my Google News Top reads here, this topic of Self Love and especially the effects of social media has been in my face constantly. And when I saw the picture below on my Tumblr dashboard I could no longer avoid talking about this issue that I can’t take my mind off.   

So girls, I fully anticipate that after you read what I'm about to say some of you will complain and talk to friends/sisters/Twitter followers how this random chick with a cheesy blog thinks she’s all high and mighty preaching to others. I am 110% including myself in the previous sentence of being someone who has done that. But what I'm going to say, I beg you to read with an open mind.

Women are by nature extremely kindhearted, emotional and loving/nurturing. But also, they are often keen on perfectionism, organization and competition. To me all those qualities make up a really wonderful person. But most often we women use these positive traits in the wrong way. 
The one common factor I’ve seen across all females regardless of culture or age is an incredible ability to protect and care for everyone else we love. But, often we neglect our own self to such an extreme that it becomes self-deprecating. We do this because we want to avoid being selfish but the irony is you MUST to love yourself to truly love another. And loving yourself is not the same thing as being selfish. If you are genuinely content in your existence it improves your attitude in life, which allows you to become a positive force in the lives of everyone else around you.

Due to our nature, we tend to fixate on having all elements of our life be perfect. When the reality is that we and our lives are far from it. All this perfectionism if not handled moderately begins to create an overcritical self-view. I am not saying it's a bad thing to hold yourself to a higher standard and not accept mediocrity, but be wary not to allow this notion to run so wild that it becomes detrimental to your wellbeing

Whether it’s physical appearance, academics or personal ability we can get very disparaging and just plain mean with ourselves! Especially when it is something we can’t totally control, it frustrates us even more. The most common mistake we make when frustrated with ourselves is that we become competitive with others. Competition and perfection are both great traits, in moderation. Women in their lack of self-love, take it to the next level.
Via Google Image
Time for some damage control: 

Can you truthfully tell me you have never looked at another girl’s Instagram/Tumblr/Twitter/Facebook/Blog picture and felt envious of her: body, kids, vacations, husband, career, home etc? Was that envy heightened and negatively affected you if those pictures were seen in a moment where you were feeling down about your own life? I’m not saying the blame is on social media because it prompts these feelings, I’m also not saying that social media is entirely blameless. I am saying that we control how much we allow it to affect us. It’s natural to feel envy. When you allow that envy to make yourself feel worse about your own life that is wrong. And when you allow that envy to turn into plain ol' evil that is very wrong! Don't allow the success of someone else to damper your own, use it as fuel for inspiration.

Do you like to ‘keep it real’ and be vocal about your honest thoughts about others all the time? Do your truthful words actually help bring any positive change; are they ‘honestly’ worth saying? If you have to wonder if maybe it’d be better to keep your honesty to yourself for the sake of not hurting another person’s feelings then you’re probably right. Even if it isn't hurting another person and it's just for the sake of conversation, all this critical chatter starts accumulating overtime and it affects your mindset and people's perspective of you. It creates a world where we are constantly scrutinizing each other and never celebrating. If someone is rocking an hairdo you aren't crazy for make an effort to ignore it."If you have nothing nice to say, it's better to say nothing at all." On the other hand find every opportunity to compliment something you DO like!

Do you allow life situations to stress you out? So much that you lose sleep or lash out at others in your life? Sometimes others instigate you, but other times it’s really just emotions that get the best of you making the situation worst. You are not your emotions. Your emotions are real and do occur, but they do not control you.  If you need a moment, take it. Breathe. B R E A T H E. it’s something so simple that has such a profound result. And it’s funny how often we forget to do it. 

Do you like watching reality TV, creating a love/hate relationship with characters portrayed? You can’t help but feel normal beside their catty/crazy personalities. Their lavish unattainable/ unsustainable lifestyles at times leave you wishing you had all that and how you’d handle it with less drama no doubt. Enter unhealthy envy, greed, bitterness, frustration with your own less than perfect life and of course judging other people. I used to be a religious Kardashians viewer. I even got hooked on Mob Wives! It was just too much once I truly saw the unconscious effect on my personality. We are lead by media to believe that an empowered woman is vocal about all her thoughts and lets all her emotions be put on display. Suddenly divas, drama queens and b*tches are words women are okay with using to describe themselves. I realized I no longer want media to dictate who I am to be. Not even the person who judges others for choosing to live differently. If something doesn’t agree with you, remove yourself from it.You will respect yourself for it and others will too.

This past December I participated in a hormone/mood study conducted online. For two months we had to keep a daily log of our mood and also any experiences that affected it. During this time the group leader would send out weekly emails with positive messages about being kind with ourselves, and when our emotions were roaring how we should repeat a mental chant of “I am not my emotions, I will not let this defeat me.” 

Personally, keeping the log didn’t show me anything new. (Yes, I’m more sensitive around my period, aren't we all?) What it did was make me more conscious of my actions. Sort like, "yes I have fluctuations in my hormones which affect my emotions. However, I will not allow my emotions to dictate my mood. I will not allow them to define who I am." Keep a personal journal, it promotes self-reflection. After the study ended, I felt besides being more aware of my emotions what really changed me was the moment I decided I needed to change. Half the task of change is realizing when it is necessary.  You won’t change yourself, your attitude, or your outlook until you resolve to do it.
It is so easy to fall into a rut of bitter unhappiness; especially with all the stories in the news thrown at us it seems almost impossible to avoid it. Social media plays a big hand in our perspective because of the immense amount of information it provides us with. But before we turn to it to judge, compete or hate, we need to make a promise to ourselves:
We MUST be merciful. 
We MUST accept our flaws and celebrate our victories. 
We must NOT bring down ourselves OR others. 
We must resolve to become promoters of happiness. 

Only another woman knows what it feels like to go through cycles of hormonal change and the pains that come with it. Only another woman truly understands the HOW strongly we feel emotions or the simultaneous joy/fear of motherhood. Only a woman. So then why do we judge, berate and hold malice towards each other? The only way we can teach our young girls about positive self image, respect and love is if we apply it first ourselves.
Via Tumblr

If only we could become aware of the immense amount of power our existence actually holds, we would be able to channel our competitive nature into a craft rather than weapon. Our perfectionism would drive out so much amazing work into this world that there would be no room left for hate, violence, and prejudice. Love yourself, love your sister. We all know the difficulties that come with life, make it easy on yourself and each other. Compliment, encourage, forgive faults and look past grudges. There is so much beauty to be brought into this life, leave no room for anything else.

I leave you with my absolute favorite quote of all time
Via Google Image
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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

From the desk of a Chronic Pessimist

About 10 years ago my grandfather wrote an Urdu book called 'Fikharein Choro Jeena Seekho' it was a translation of Dale Carnegie's best seller 'How to Stop Worrying and Start Living'. I was very young when he wrote it but I remember we had numerous women who would call or send letters from Pakistan seeking Dada’s advice on an unending list of things they worried about. In my opinion, Dada wasn’t a self-help guru, but he hit the nail on the head with this book. Just the title is enough to show that it’s probably the best advice anyone will give you about life. Sadly, I never even attempted to read the book myself! Lately though a lot of things going on have had me thinking about this concept. This "worry wart pessimistic" attitude which seems to be more prevalent in us women was blaring in my face everywhere I went. Especially after watching Kashaf’s behavior (female protagonist of the current Pakistani TV show I’m hooked on, Zindagi Gulzar Hai) I couldn’t stand it anymore, I had to dish out some advice to the current generation, just like my Dada once did.

Girls, can we please admit to this ‘flaw’ of ours and work on fixing it?! Please?

We worry beyond belief! This issue of stressing about every possible scenario that might play out in our lives literally drives us to the brink of insanity. I know we really can’t help it, its innate. But you know what? We give men a lot of grief about being lazy and irresponsible, so maybe we should take our own advice and fix our quirks when they become a problem. Perfect example: Kashaf is a manic worrier, this girl couldn’t recognize happiness if it punched her in the eye, because she’s perpetually afraid of what can go wrong next. She is doubtful of anyone who is nice to her and of any possible hope of good times in life. Watching her I thought, wow who can be THAT negative? But it took a few seconds to realize I do this ALL the time! Last week, I read in the news about a young mom dying in her apartment and her four year old son walked around alone for days surviving only on a bag of sugar. Suddenly, I’m crying. AT WORK. Because the little boy’s story was so sad I started worrying about what if I die and no one finds out. I imagined Ali locked in with my corpse, eating nothing but fistfuls of Nutella. SERIOUSLY? Get it together girl. Yes bad things happen. Yes they do happen to good people. But GOOD THINGS HAPPEN TOO. We cannot not allow fear of these ‘what ifs’ to consume us.



We need to take off the green lens and actively seek the good in our lives. It may be exams and 8 page papers in college life or endless hours at work or a baby who doesn’t sleep at night that cause us to worry and become Negative Nancys. But the truth is WE allow it, life experiences may be triggers but we are the ones who choose to pull it and shoot out that bullet.

While Kashaf on ZGH is an extreme example of it, we all have this inner pessimist that we sometimes let get the best of us and it only wreaks havoc when we do. Think about at least two things you obsessed/worried about in the past week, month or year that turned out “not so bad” after all. Yes it wasn’t entirely how you expected but it wasn’t as terrible as you worried it would be. And maybe, possibly, some of your worrying negatively affected the outcome, like a self-fulfilling prophecy. By stressing too much we actually cause the things we fear to come true. When I first got married I had this constant dream of my husband dying! Once I woke up bawling from a dream that he went out jogging, was got hit by a car and my parents are telling me he’s dead. It took me a long time to figure this out, but I realized it was my fear of a good thing. I had never loved someone so much and was majorly afraid of losing the best thing to ever happen to me. I had to come to terms with the fact that this amazing occurrence in my life was actually here, and  I wasn’t allowing myself to love him wholeheartedly for fear of losing him.

I’m trying SO hard to fix this worrier side of me, and it may be working. Like last month when we spontaneously decided to do a trip to Turkey planned in 2 days I did not panic. I just got to work on what needed to be done. And even if we dashed to the passport office a few hours before our flight, it all worked out. IT ALL WORKED OUT. As women we are planners and organizers with a big part of our nature is to be a perfectionist, wanting every detail to be flawless. In doing so, we begin equating planning with stressing. If we aren’t stressed we don’t care enough. This attitude has got to change. I care very much about everything in my life and a huge part of me does want to panic at times, but I am making a constant conscious effort to remind myself that freaking out will not help. Worrying won’t make it perfect and ‘perfect’ will only happen when I accept that there will be flaws.

Learn to let things go when they go wrong. Work your absolute hardest and when you find yourself freaking out, stop. Take a moment to breath and tell yourself:

Have hope. Know that this too will be over eventually, so while it’s happening you must enjoy the best of it and let go of the worst of it.

So now with all that being said, can someone please shake Kashaf ‘Churail’ Murtazas’s shoulders, slap her across the face and say "GIRLFRIEND YOUR HUSBAND IS HOT AND HE LOVES YOU, STOP WORRYING ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT CAN GO WRONG AND FREAKING HUG HIM ALREADY!"
Images via Tumblr 

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Carnegie, Dale/ MacMillan, An (Google Affiliate Ad) 

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