April Newsletter

April Newsletter Dr. Bando

April is the quarter-mile mark. We officially have 25% of 2019 in our rearview. This is a good time of year to ask yourself how it’s going – though I suppose the answer depends on what measurement tool you use.

The “compare-yourself-to-someone-else” ruler is usually inaccurate, either underestimating or overemphasizing challenges and accomplishments alike. Rather, how are you doing compared to last year, last month, last week, or even yesterday?

If you notice an improvement, capitalize on your progress by taking time to note what is working, and be intentional about continuing on this path. If you identify being in a worse, less desirable place in life than you were, what got you here?

With curiosity and nonjudgment, can you describe what is not working? Can you articulate what you need to move toward positive change? What steps are necessary to turn you toward your ideal path?

My article and practice this month are about tuning in to your experiences and needs, and focusing yourself on personal responsibility as a way to build more of the life you desire. Both my article and featured professional are geared to help you understand how taking that step towards personal responsibility can make all the difference in the world.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

 

FEATURED ARTICLE:

Personal Responsibility Article
The Importance of Personal Responsibility

How often have you been driving and thought: “If that car in front of me would just move out of the way, I could get where I’m going faster?”  

These kinds of thoughts cross my mind often. If that car would move, or if that person would stop using that tone with me, or if so-and-so wouldn’t put me in an awkward position or “make me feel” a certain way, life would be grand!

All of these statements, however, communicate to your brain that your wellbeing is dependent upon someone else.

Let’s break this down . . .    continue reading

FEATURED BLOG/PROFESSIONAL:

Featured Professional Jordan Peterson

Jordan B. Peterson

When focusing on personal responsibility, there is no better colleague to feature than Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. Dr. Peterson was a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto until his straightforward, common sense, and psychologically smart teaching points landed him under attack in the media. Dr. Peterson has been lied about, falsely accused, and physically threatened, all for asserting his firm philosophical belief that freedom of language is essential to ideas and intellectual discourse.

Now a public speaker and author of a multi-million-copy bestseller. Dr. Peterson is a prime example of living your truth despite whatever comes your way, and accepting personal responsibility for your life and choices. I find Dr. Peterson a bright light with qualities to aspire to, and I hope you do as well.

For an example of what Dr. Peterson has to say, check out this video: https://youtu.be/o73pqQ9Gzt4

Visit Dr. Peterson’s website: https://jordanbpeterson.com


WANT MORE?

My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on either my YouTube or Soundcloud pages.


PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…

My guided meditations and practices are available in audio form – all for free! If you would like to enhance your mindfulness practice, experience this month’s or any recent offerings, click here!


LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO JUST SURVIVE.
THAT’S WHY I HELP PEOPLE THRIVE!

I hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you can do so by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page.
Amanda Gale-Bando, Ph.D.


Personal Responsibility

The Importance of Personal ResponsibilityPersonal Responsibility Article

How often have you been driving and thought: “If that car in front of me would just move out of the way, I could get where I’m going faster?”

These kinds of thoughts cross my mind often. If that car would move, or if that person would stop using that tone with me, or if so-and-so wouldn’t put me in an awkward position or “make me feel” a certain way, life would be grand!

All of these statements, however, communicate to your brain that your wellbeing is dependent upon someone else.

Let’s break this down… When I say that I want someone else to change their behavior, I am really saying that I don’t like how I feel – and I don’t know what to do about it. I want someone else to change so I can feel better.

Essentially, I have taken all of my “power chips” and handed them over for someone else to manage my life. Let’s look at an example:

I was recently at an airport, and the people in front of me in the security line were taking for-ev-er. One person took a shoe off and gently placed it on the conveyer belt – so slowly that I wondered if she ever intended on having the other shoe join its mate. The gentleman behind her agreed with this pace…

With all of us in line waiting, he leisurely drank his water before proceeding with the security routine. Man, did I have judgments! My head (and facial expressions) were screaming, “Have you never been in a security line?! We are all waiting! How rude! Hustle, hustle, hustle! Knees to chest, people! Get moving!”

I was so invested in their obvious-to-me socially unacceptable behavior that by the time I got through the line, I was huffing and puffing, wondering what could ever possess people to be so inconsiderate. Because of them, I had a stressful experience, and had to rush to my gate despite arriving at the airport in what I thought left plenty of time. I was irritated, and I placed all of the blame on the other people in the security line.

In short, what I believed at that moment was:

If they changed their behavior, I could feel better.

Wow, that is a loaded statement! By going down this train of thought (with my emotions quickly following), I just invested in the belief that someone else is responsible for how I feel.

Ugh, no wonder I was frustrated and felt powerless. In this experience, I believed I had fallen victim to someone else’s ignorance. Notice those words? Powerless. Victim.

Now, you might think that this was such a minor incident, how could this really affect how I feel about myself or my place in the world? You also might agree with the judgments I made about the slow-movers at the airport and share my frustration…

Well, the beliefs that we invest our time, thinking, and behavior into are important. They inform the blueprint of how we see ourselves in the world, and how we show up for life… And here’s the rub:

When you expect others to take care of you:

  • You cheat the relationship, and you cheat yourself
  • Your confidence dwindles
  • You begin to believe you cannot do hard things

When you expect others to regulate themselves so you feel better, you burden the other person with the expectation that it is their responsibility to make you feel differently than you do Deep down, nobody wants this responsibility. It is an unwelcome gift. Even if the recipient saddles up and takes responsibility for how you feel, resentment is likely to build. The other person has just received a weight that is too heavy for them to bear.

They have also received the inferred message that you are unable to meet your needs and regulate yourself – so you subtly lose some of their respect.

When you hand over your feel-good expectations to someone else, you cheat yourself by giving yourself the message that you can’t handle the responsibility. Someone else needs to ride in on a white horse and rescue you, all because you are not whole enough to handle things on your own.

When you use phrases such as, “so-and-so made me feel [fill in the blank with a favorite icky-feeling emotion],” it is like a slowly dripping faucet of self-disrespect. You may not feel the impact of the first drop, but eventually, the sink fills up, and you’ve got a big, sloshy pool of belief that others hold the power to “make you feel” – and you become a victim to their behavior.

Talk about a confidence buster!

When you repeatedly tell yourself that others are making you feel a certain way, or thinking that if others would behave differently, that would solve your distressing emotions, you are also telling yourself that you cannot do hard things.

This is one of the most dangerous messages for you to believe! Resilience is built upon knowing that you can do hard things, that you can roll with whatever life throws your way, and that you know as long as you are in your own corner, you’ve got this life thing!

When you start to lose sight of this fact by hoping others will change their behaviors to “make you feel” better, you are in serious trouble.

On the other hand:

When you look for (and accept) your responsibility and volition in all situations, you gain:

  • A sense of empowerment
  • More mutually rewarding relationships
  • Self-confidence and self-respect

If, in the airport, I had noticed my thoughts, “Damn these people for making me anxious and uncomfortable!” here’s how I could have responded:

“Uh-oh, did I just say someone else is ‘making me feel?’ Okay, it’s time for me to get to work here.”

STEP 1: NOTICE AND LABEL when you have just handed over the responsibility for how you feel to someone else.

STEP 2: FOCUS INWARD and QUESTION. Questions I might ask myself include:

  • “What am I feeling in my body?”
  • “What emotion is this I’m feeling right now?”
  • “What about this situation is making me uncomfortable, instead of the many other situations I’ve been through today that I haven’t focused on this intently?”
  • “What interpretation am I having of others’ behaviors in this situation?”
  • “Are there other possible perspectives here?”

This inward focus immediately grows your sense of self-respect and responsibility for your own experience. First of all, you receive the message (from yourself) that you are worth paying attention to – and that your experience is significant enough for you to focus all of your attention in this moment.

Second, by observing yourself in this way, you unglue from your interpretations and reactions and start getting reflective, leading you to other possible experiences. Third, this step is hard – and when you practice turning toward yourself in this way, you learn that you can do it. You gain confidence in your ability to tackle your unchecked reactions.

While you are building all this empowerment, self-confidence, and self-respect, you are also improving your relationship with the other people in the situation!

If I had put this into practice in the security line, I wouldn’t have glared, sighed, rolled my eyes, and in general, treated others with contempt. Perhaps I could have let others have their experiences and I mine, and focused on what I needed in that situation, which brings us to…

STEP 3: IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS and RESPOND. If I had asked myself what I needed in that moment, regardless of others’ behavior, I probably could have used some deep, slow breaths, stopped fidgeting (which was fueling my frustration), and maybe talked to someone or texted a friend for a brief distraction.

Maybe all I needed was to acknowledge that I felt frustrated, that my interpretation was that I was being disrespected, and I would have been able to let it go. Perhaps I would have decided to ask for the people in front of me to move more quickly, or request they let me go in front of them. The point is that I did not ask myself what I needed, so I did not receive the message that I cared about what I needed… And I certainly was not able to provide it for myself.

Even so, I still have…

STEP 4: REFLECT. Although I am not proud of my behavior in the airport, and it is not a representation of how I wish to walk through the world, I can still face it and move forward.

Notice your ineffective behaviors in retrospect, and walk yourself through what went wrong. Thinking about how it could go differently the next time, as I just did, facilitates change. After this exercise, I can tell you with 99% certainty that the next time I am frustrated in a security line, I will think of this example. When you wake up to the moment, you have a chance to make a choice and do things differently.

 

Here is a practice for what to do when you believe someone is making you feel a particular way:

A PRACTICE IN PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

(Listen to this practice on YouTube)

First, let’s take a moment to settle into this present moment. Let’s put our attention on a few things that are right here, right now, starting from the outside in. First, take a look around you, noticing the shapes, colors, light, and dark. Take a moment to notice where you are, using a beginner’s mind, and take in the environment around you.

Now, turn your attention toward sounds. Place your attention on your ears and notice any sounds or silence that floats through your attention.

Now, can you notice your body? Perhaps you can notice the bottom of your feet on the floor, the parts of your body touching another object, like a chair or your clothes. Begin to notice parts of your body in contact with other objects.

And finally, bring your attention to your breath. You do not need to alter or change your breath. Simply notice that you are breathing, in and out. Notice the quality and length of your breath, knowing there is no way your breath is supposed to be in this moment, and just allow your breath to flow, however it is occurring right now.

Now, shift your attention to a recent time you believed someone “made you feel” a particular way. It could be that you were annoyed waiting in a line or sitting in traffic, or perhaps you had an argument with a loved one. Whatever the situation, bring it as vividly as you can into your mind’s eye.

Now, pay careful attention. Focus on the point when you had the experience that this person was “making you feel” a certain way, or thought that if this person changed their behavior, you would feel differently. Say to yourself, “Ah, I just handed over responsibility for how I feel to someone else.” That’s STEP 1. You just practiced the skill, NOTICE AND LABEL. Instead of being a slave to your reaction, you’ve gained some wiggle room for a different experience to emerge!

Let’s practice STEP 2: FOCUS INWARD and QUESTION. First, put on your curious, nonjudgmental cap and start investigating. This is the part where you act like a scientist and explore what was going on for you, in your body, in the moment that you gave responsibility for yourself away. If you’d like to pause here and give yourself some time to reflect or write, please do so!

Some questions you can ask are:

  • “What am I feeling in my body as I am recalling this moment?”
  • “What emotion am I feeling?”
  • “What about this situation made me uncomfortable?”
  • “What interpretation am I having of others’ behavior in this situation?”
  • “Are there other possible perspectives here?”

Another helpful practice during STEP 2 is to write out just the facts on one side of a paper, and your interpretations, opinions, and evaluations of the facts on the other side of the paper. This is an exercise in separating the facts from your personal experience.

You may decide to pause and spend some more time on STEP 2. It is important to understand your experience with some clarity before you are able to move on to STEP 3: IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS and RESPOND. Given your new, more complete understanding of the experience by completing STEP 2, you can now ask yourself what you needed in that moment.

A helpful way of asking can be, “Given everything as it was in that moment, and given that I cannot change others’ behaviors, what did I need?”

You can ask yourself, “How may I have responded to myself if I were able to attend to my needs and take care of myself in that moment?” Now, your job is to listen. Give yourself the space to hear about your needs.

By engaging in this practice, you have already completed STEP 4: REFLECT. By taking the time to reflect on this situation, you have set the stage to do it differently next time. By engaging in this exercise, you have given yourself the message that you matter and are worth the time.

You have also taken a stand. You will engage with yourself and others with integrity. Don’t expect it to be perfect… That’s life! It’s an eventful journey of learning. You can keep practicing, and you will start to notice your relationships, both with yourself and others, shift for the better.

Come back to this any time you need it – and please, keep practicing!


March Newsletter


In just a couple of short days, Spring will officially be upon us. This change in season, with its blooming flowers, and new foliage on trees, tends to revitalize many people. It is a time to shed winter clothes, shake off the cob webs, and take care of those projects that have been put off for the last few months.

For some, it is difficult to shake that winter bleh. I have even known someone who has seasonal depression in reverse. When others are brightening up in the Spring weather, he withers, feeling more pressure to feel sunny, and becomes down in the dumps as a result.

If you feel the pressure of being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for Spring, read on! Even if you do feel revitalized, I have included a practice in this month’s edition that is invaluable for year round well-being.

In this newsletter, I continue my series on Chronic Illness and Mental Health. With an estimated 45% of Americans suffering with some sort of chronic illness, chances are that either you or someone you know are struggling. In part 3 of this series, I discuss Diagnostic Problems and Invalidation. This month’s guided practice focuses on SELF-VALIDATION, one of the most effective tools for quality of life, chronic illness or not. Also, meet the inspirational Elana Amsterdam, a NY Times Best Selling Cookbook Author who also suffers from Celiac Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

Whether Spring makes you sing or your tune fizzles out, please know we are in this together! We are all doing our very best as we navigate our way through this messy, challenging, wonderful life. I truly believe life is way too short just to survive, that’s why I help people thrive! Happy Spring!


FEATURED ARTICLE

Chronic Illness and Mental Health Part 3: Diagnostic Problems/Invalidation


Autoimmune and other disorders that may present with vague or a diffuse cluster of symptoms, or are difficult to diagnose, seem to be at an all-time high. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association estimates that approximately 50 million Americans live with an autoimmune disorder. On the other hand, the National Institutes of Health, also a reliable source of information, claims that only 23.5 million Americans suffer from an autoimmune disorder. The NIH recognizes less than half of what is reported by the AARDA. Why the discrepancy? NIH funded studies include only 24 diseases/disorders, while recent studies by the AARDA now include upwards of 80 to 100 diseases/disorders. Research is ever-evolving and it is hard to keep up!

You can see why chronic illness may be a confusing subject for so many people when two reputable organizations who lead our understanding of what diseases exist, supply different numbers based on what they consider to be different facts. Currently, conventional Western medicine does not seem to know how to detect or diagnose many of these diseases accurately.

Continue reading


FEATURED PROFESSIONAL

Meet the beautiful and inspiring, Elana Amsterdam; health blogger and author of three cookbooks geared towards the support of health and healing.

Often, when clients of mine have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, they struggle with the question of what their life will look like going forward. It is because of people like Elana that I can continue to offer them hope and encouragement. Rather than shirking into the darkness of chronic illness symptoms, Elana states, “My goal was simple. To be of service.”

In addition to her books and the many free and autoimmune-friendly recipes she makes available on her website, Elana shares her struggles and successes of living with MS with her readers and also promotes and volunteers for non-profit organizations she believes in.

What I love about Elana:

  • Her candor. She does not sugar coat the experience of living with chronic illness. She shares her struggles in a relatable way that preserves the truth without getting caught in the bell jar.
  • She LIVES with chronic illness, not suffers.
  • Her RECIPES!!! OMG, does this lady know how to cook. She has certainly spiced up my gluten/processed-free kitchen and brought bread back to my life whenever I want it. (Did I mention she has tons of Paleo and Keto recipes? AND you can search for recipes on her site by special diet requirements.)
  • She gives back. Before I ever spent one dime on purchasing her cookbooks, I benefitted from her tasty recipes and bright Instagram posts. Her life purpose of being of service shines through – anyone who is interested can benefit from Elana. She is a contributor.

You can read a piece of her story here.


WANT MORE?
My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on either my YouTube or Soundcloud pages.


LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO JUST SURVIVE.
THAT’S WHY I HELP PEOPLE THRIVE!

I hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you can do so by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page.
Amanda Gale-Bando, Ph.D.


Chronic Illness and Mental Health Part 3: Diagnostic Problems/Invalidation

MISDIAGNOSIS/NO DIAGNOSIS

 

Autoimmune and other disorders that may present with vague or a diffuse cluster of symptoms, or are difficult to diagnose, seem to be at an all-time high. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association estimates that approximately 50 million Americans live with an Autoimmune disorder. On the other hand, the National Institutes of Health, also a reliable source of information, claims that only 23.5 million Americans suffer from an autoimmune disorder. The NIH recognizes less than half of what is reported by the AARDA. Why the discrepancy? NIH funded studies include only 24 diseases/disorders, while recent studies by the AARDA now include upwards of 80 to 100 diseases/disorders. Research is ever-evolving and it is hard to keep up!

You can see why chronic illness may be a confusing subject for so many people when two reputable organizations who lead our understanding of what diseases exist, supply different numbers based on what they consider to be different facts. Currently, conventional Western medicine does not seem to know how to detect or diagnose many of these diseases accurately.

You may have personally been to doctor after doctor, hoping to figure out what is wrong and receive a treatment recommendation. When you are not able to be properly diagnosed or treated, it becomes an invalidating experience. You know that your body is physically off, but a doctor looks at your blood tests only to tell you, “Everything looks fine,” or is puzzled by inconclusive or confusing results. Perhaps your health care professional is able to make a diagnosis but then unsure what treatment to provide. Maybe the doctor recommends a medication to hopefully relieve some symptoms, but this often means coping with side-effects, and you both know this is not solving the problem.

When you do not understand why the problem is happening in the first place, the entire process of trying to get back to your normal, healthy functioning is frustrating. People have a range of experiences with attempting to receive a diagnosis, including being told they are exaggerating their symptoms, given a proverbial pat on the head and told to deal with it, being prescribed medications whose side effects make it difficult to impossible to function, or well-meaning doctors shrugging and looking puzzled because they do not know how to help.

INVALIDATION

Adding this lack of understanding to the stress and exhaustion of having an undiagnosed and/or chronic disease can feel invalidating. This adds additional stress and worry, maybe even worsening how sick you are feeling.

Well-intentioned family and loved ones may also contribute to this feeling of being misunderstood. Have you ever had a cold or flu, or some minor ailment and posted about it on social media? If so, you have probably gotten treatment recommendations from people with whom you didn’t even know you were friends. “Soak your feet in honey,” “Use essential oils – they cure cancer,” “Stop eating red cabbage,” and other off-beat suggestions are almost guaranteed. Often, someone will swear that their best friend’s aunt’s ex-next-door-neighbor, or someone equally as elusive, swears by the cure they are presenting to you.

People typically don’t mean any harm. They want to be helpful and for there to be an easy cure for what ails you. Even so, this can leave you feeling worse than before you reached out for solidarity. What happens is that this advice-giving oversimplifies the chronic problems you are faced with and can make you feel unseen and misunderstood. The suggestions imply that if you just took this one simple action, you would be fine once again.

These feelings of frustration, loneliness, and misunderstanding can also happen in conversations with loved ones. People in your life may not understand your particular limitations or be sensitive to them. Often, when people are in pain, for example, their cognitive abilities and emotional control centers are compromised. Try solving a complicated math problem in the midst of a splitting headache. Even if you can accomplish this task, it is much harder to do than when you feel well and takes putting forth a lot more energy, leaving you feeling depleted afterward.

People in pain or coping with other chronic symptoms may not know or be able to communicate all the ways they are affected. It can take a while to learn that you have brain fog, that your memory is not what it used to be, or that regular physical activities now cause pain and you are unable to finish. Loved ones may be frustrated that you are not trying hard enough when in reality, you can’t think as fast or recall facts you used to be able to, and you also cannot communicate that this problem exists.

If you are struggling with invalidation as the result of the diagnosis or treatment of a chronic illness, or loved ones’ reactions to your experiences, read on for coping strategies.

SELF-VALIDATION

A first and essential step to coping with the unpredictability, chronicity, and difficulty with diagnosis and treatment, is validation! Everyone needs to be validated on a regular basis. Validation does not mean that you need to be complimented or pacified; rather, validation means feeling like you matter and knowing that you make sense. This is a basic human need.

If you are living with chronic illness, you may feel invalidated by the medical community, family, friends, or even yourself. When doctors throw up their hands and don’t know how to help sufficiently, or friends and family have trouble understanding what you are feeling and need, it is easy to feel demoralized and start questioning yourself: Am I exaggerating this? Is it really that bad? Is there something wrong with me that I can’t cope as well as others?

You may have read in my previous installments, or even personally experienced, how the unpredictability and chronicity of a disease increases the difficulty of being able to cope. When you add chronic invalidation, go through each day feeling misunderstood, and then even perhaps blame yourself, this adds to the stress your body is feeling, making you feel worse, emotionally and physically.

SELF-VALIDATION PRACTICE

If you see yourself in this description, it may be time to learn and practice the art of self-validation. Self-validation means learning the skill of saying to yourself, “I make sense. What I am experiencing matters, and I make sense.” This can be difficult when you are not sure what you are feeling, what the reason is you’re feeling this way, or know why you are experiencing what you are. Here is a short practice you can use to help yourself learn self-validation:

Notice what you are feeling in this moment and see if you can label it. Describe what you are feeling in words. Are you noticing physical sensations such as pain, temperature (cold or hot), movement, or comfort? Are you noticing any emotional sensations like tightness in your chest, a relaxed belly, or butterflies in your gut? The point is to take a moment to notice what you are feeling in your body in this moment, without judging it as right or wrong, good or bad. Just notice and describe it as best you can to yourself.

Now, whatever you are feeling, say to yourself, “It makes sense that I am feeling _________.” If you know the reason it makes sense (such as it makes sense that you are tired because you didn’t sleep well last night, or maybe have not for many nights), then tell yourself that. If you do not know why you are feeling how you are feeling, you can still say to yourself, “I make sense. Even if I do not understand why I am feeling this way right now, human experiences, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors all make sense whether I understand them in the moment or not.”

When engaging in this practice, you are grounding yourself in the fact that your experience is real, and it all makes sense whether you know where it comes from or not. See how you feel after practicing this daily for a week. Most people start to notice some relief or burden removed. The illness and symptoms may remain but removing the weight of questioning yourself and your validity leaves you better equipped to cope with your illness. Learning self-validation is one of the most important pieces when it comes to coping with a chronic illness.


February Newsletter

Use Valentine’s Day as a nudge to practice self-caring!

February is here and whether you buy into the commercialized holiday or not, I like to view this as a time to think about and celebrate love. Love is a healing, warming, nourishing emotion. Independent of others, love is an emotion that is available to us whenever we need or want it; It may just require a bit of practice.
Self-love and self-compassion are essential to a healthy, vibrant, thriving life, and this goes for relationships with others as well. Sometimes, the most caring thing I can do for those I love is pay attention to myself in an honorable, compassionate way. This allows me to be present with those I love without expecting them to fix parts of me I haven’t attended to. It allows me to be available for their experiences because I am coming from a place of fullness, instead of lack. Whatever your feelings about Valentine’s Day, I invite you to use this time of year as a nudge to practice self-caring.
In this month’s issue, you will find a bold piece I’ve written on an alternative view to medication for depression and anxiety. I view most, if not all, mood disruptions as a disconnection from self. Read on to understand more and experience a practice in nurturing your Wisdom. Speaking of self-love and respect for your body, there is a book being released this month that could be a lovely act of self-care to purchase. Read on to find out more about “Feeding You Lies” and how to feed your body with the love and care it deserves.
HEALTHY, VIBRANT, THRIVING!
My whole way of thinking, and of helping others, is based around my philosophy of living a Healthy, Vibrant, and Thriving life! One way I love sharing this philosophy is through Instagram. Follow @drbando and receive encouragement to live a Healthy, Vibrant, and Thriving life yourself!

FEATURED ARTICLE…

The Answer Is Not In A Pill, It’s In a Process

It is beyond unfortunate that our culture is so accepting of popping pills for ailments that need a completely different remedy: self-awareness, attention, and honor. All too often, I see people struggling from the side-effects of medications or new disorders they’ve developed as a result of following their doctor’s well-meaning instructions. While medication certainly is useful and has its place, it is over-prescribed in our country and doing so deprives many of us of a deeper connection with ourselves. If you are experiencing mood symptoms such as depression or anxiety, it is your personal choice whether you treat these experiences with medication or other options.

Medication is not bad or wrong; at times, it is life-saving. However, the information we receive seems heavily weighted toward popping a pill to feel better. Here, you will find other options and ways of thinking about depression and anxiety. Please filter this information through your wisdom and do what is best for you and this short, meaningful life of yours.

Continue Reading


DID YOU KNOW?

I have been following food blogger and nutrition-based author, Vani Hari, otherwise known as Food Babe, for years. I am embarrassed to say that it did not occur to me to read food ingredient labels until well into my thirties. I was taught to be aware of carbs, protein, fat, etc., but it did not occur to me to be thoughtful about the quality of my food until over a decade into adulthood! I was never taught that this was important. Enter Vani, whose upbeat style and no-nonsense approach to nutrition, opened my eyes.
Food Babe’s philosophy is to inform and educate people on the “food” they are putting into their bodies and hold manufacturers of food accountable for responsible practices. She presents research on harmful chemicals that are snuck into food, exposes deceitful marketing practices, and suggest alternatives to the individual and larger corporations to help make our available options healthier. Vani is a crusader for nutritious eating, and in her new book “Feeding You Lies”, she exposes the untruths behind or food system from the food industry and our government. She is also uplifting, hopeful, and encouraging, leaving you feeling excited about treating your body well.
In her new book, Vani guides you through a 48-hour Toxin Takedown to rid your pantry, and your body, of harmful chemicals. She will help you live without preservatives, artificial sweeteners, additives, food dyes, or fillers, eating foods that truly nourish you and support your health. Pick up your copy of “Feeding You Lies” and learn what is needed to take control of what you are putting in your body!

WANT MORE?

My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on either my YouTube or Soundcloud pages.


PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…

My guided meditations and practices are available in audio form – all for free! If you would like to enhance your mindfulness practice, experience this month’s or any recent offerings, click here!


LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO JUST SURVIVE.
THAT’S WHY I HELP PEOPLE THRIVE!
I hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you can do so by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page.
Amanda Gale-Bando, Ph.D.

The Answer Is Not In A Pill, It’s In a Process

The Answer Is Not In A Pill, It’s In a Process

Listen to this article on YouTube or Soundcloud.It is beyond unfortunate that our culture is so accepting of popping pills for ailments that need a completely different remedy: self-awareness, attention, and honor. All too often, I see people struggling from the side-effects of medications or new disorders they’ve developed as a result of following their doctor’s well-meaning instructions. While medication certainly is useful and has its place, it is over-prescribed in our country and doing so deprives many of us of a deeper connection with ourselves. If you are experiencing mood symptoms such as depression or anxiety, it is your personal choice whether you treat these experiences with medication or other options.

Medication is not bad or wrong; at times, it is life-saving. However, the information we receive seems heavily weighted toward popping a pill to feel better. Here, you will find other options and ways of thinking about depression and anxiety. Please filter this information through your wisdom and do what is best for you and this short, meaningful life of yours.

Why depression and anxiety are not your fault, AND at the same time, your responsibility.

It Is Not Your Fault

Feeling depressed or anxious is not your fault. Emotions make sense. There is a cause-and-effect law of nature that we can apply to emotions. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, there is a reason, even if it is not immediately obvious to you.

Let’s take Sally, a high-achieving, married, mother-of-two.

Growing up, Sally learned that being angry didn’t work. When she expressed anger, her parents cut off affection and withdrew attention. She soon learned that her parents responded similarly to her expressions of fear, hurt, and other emotions that were painful and uncomfortable.

Now, in her thirties, Sally has learned to smile and “brush it off” when things bother her so that she doesn’t “make a big deal” out of things or upset the apple cart. People describe her as easy to get along with and laid-back. It is no surprise to me that Sally suffers from depression. She reports feeling like a shell of her former self and now has trouble experiencing all emotions, even joy, and mostly feels numb. Her doctor recommended she try taking an anti-depressant medication, but something inside her told her that was covering up and not addressing the true problem, so she sought my help.

I soon learned that whenever Sally suspects an emotion may bubble up, she does everything she can to shut it down and go back to feeling “fine.” Sally had so much emotional buildup clogging her every atom, it is no wonder she was bogged down with depression. My work with Sally was helping her feel those painful emotions she had stuffed away for all those years. I taught Sally some of what she already knew, deep in her intuition: how to walk through the hell of her emotions, look at them, feel them, and move through them, until she found herself. Through this process of facing, rather than medicating or numbing her emotions, Sally found bravery, the knowledge that she can do very hard things, and a self-respect she hadn’t previously known.

Another example is Ralph, a 40-something man with a high-powered career.

Ralph was anxious, didn’t know if he would ever find a relationship, and ran away each time he started feeling interested in a woman he was dating. In fact, this was Ralph’s M.O. Whenever he felt anxious, he either worked harder and achieved more to ensure his competence or found another way to run from and avoid facing his fear head-on.

It turns out that Ralph had this response to anxiety starting from a young age. He implicitly learned that once he quieted or escaped the anxiety, he felt relief. He recalled staying home “sick” from school as a young boy to avoid social situations when he felt unsure. This worked for a while. Every time he felt anxious about his work performance, rather than feel the fear run through his body and view it as an opportunity for growth, he worked even harder than his 60-hour-per-week job required and made sure there was no room for doubt. As a result, he quickly advanced in his career.

He also applied this philosophy to dating, and every time Ralph felt anxious (i.e., vulnerable because he really liked the woman he was dating), he figured out an exit strategy and reasoned that it was for the better and she just wasn’t meant for him.

In short, Ralph’s coping style was to run away from anxiety any way he could. Now in his 40’s, Ralph suffers from an anxiety disorder and was prescribed Xanax by his doctor. However, learning more about how anxiety (and emotions, in general) works, Ralph knew that escaping the feelings every time he was anxious, whether through hard work, break-ups, or medication, were contributing to him experiencing more and more anxiety and dissatisfaction as life marched on.

My work with Ralph was to help him turn and stand tall, toe-to-toe with anxiety. Ralph learned to move towards, instead of away from, anxious feelings, and has gained confidence, self-respect, and a loving dating relationship he enjoys as a result. Ralph’s work life also became less stressful and much to his surprise, his performance did not suffer.

What do Sally and Ralph have in common?

They both had mood symptoms they did not understand and were prescribed medication. They both also intuitively knew that for them, medication was hiding, not solving their problems. For both of them, treatment involved facing their emotions, connecting to the physiological sensations coursing through their bodies, and learning to welcome them in.

Last, and certainly not least, both Sally and Ralph learned to feel comfortable in their skin again and live life feeling purpose and meaning. For both Sally and Ralph, mood symptoms were signals that something was wrong. Their emotions were not getting the attention they needed and behaviors geared toward avoiding or pushing them down were moving them farther and farther away from the wisdom their bodies were offering through the experience of emotions.

In both cases, depression and anxiety was not their fault. Mood symptoms were a result of the behavior patterns they had learned to keep themselves feeling safe. They did not purposely engage in coping strategies to make them feel worse in the long run. In fact, they did not even know this was happening. They thought they were being skillful.

Feeling depressed or anxious is not your fault. There is always a cause and effect. This means, there is no need or even logic in harshly blaming, criticizing, or berating yourself: that emotion you feel makes sense. We can trace it back to a certain event or series of events that caused whatever is happening in your life now to happen. The take-home message here is, if you feel it, it makes sense; that does not mean that you need to live in it, dwell in it, swim in it, buy real-estate in it, or act out of that place of emotion.

Personal Responsibility

As a holistic psychologist, I view depression and anxiety as a disconnection from the self. Depression and anxiety are not your fault, AND the only one who can change things is you. Not a doctor who gives you a pill or anyone who offers a remedy. You are the only person who can change your experience.

Emotions are a physiological process, meaning they happen in your body. When an emotion fires, your biology instantaneously changes: your breathing, heart rate, temperature, and even blood pressure may fluctuate with each emotion that passes through your body. When you process your emotions, you are aware of your body. When you make a connection with your body by paying attention to your emotional experiences, you not only get rid of emotional buildup, you gain access to so much more. When emotional buildup isn’t getting in the way, you are able to feel grounded in your experiences and more readily identify what is important to you. In short, you free yourself to live with meaning.

That begs the question, “How?”

Once you begin to understand that your symptoms are signals for you to pay attention to, you can start to evaluate why your body, brain, and mood are trying to get your attention. You can ask yourself questions about how you feed yourself, exercise, rest, and how your daily behaviors are in or out of line with what is truly important to you. Take a look at today. Are you behaving in ways that produce pride? If you do not regularly engage in daily activities that you feel proud of, it is impossible to feel proud of your life. Where are you disconnected from what truly matters to you, and what step can you take today to move closer to living your values?

It’s a Process.

Dealing with depression or anxiety is a process. The answer is not in a pill, it’s in a process. The process is one of truly looking at yourself, without judgment, and listening to what your body and emotions are telling you. Then you can make this information actionable by asking yourself, “Where can I take a step forward today?” Don’t think of it as, “I’m at point A and I want to be at point B, but I don’t know how to get there.” Rather, ask “What is one little tiny step forward that I can take today that will start me down my path and my goal of reaching point B?” It could be something as small as “Today I’m going to drink a cup of bone broth”, or “Today I’m going to take 3 breaths and notice how my body feels before I take that first sip of coffee in the morning.” It could even be, “I’m going to open and read a page of that book that is important and meaningful to me.” Recovering from depression and anxiety is about the process and the relationship you build with yourself. Recovering means engaging in daily behaviors that support your best life.

The process of healing and self-connection is not about harshness, punishment, will power, and a “just do it” mentality. This stance of cracking the whip to get yourself in line is short-lived and impossible to maintain. You may have experienced coming up with a “tough love” remedy time and time again, only to wind up back in the same stuck place. Rather than more discipline, you may need more of a connection to yourself, because if you can relax into yourself, trust your body’s experiences, feel what you are feeling, and connect to what is important to you, you will move in a direction that is in your best interest.

 

CONNECTING TO YOUR WISDOM PRACTICE

Listen to this practice on YouTube or Soundcloud.
Let’s begin with getting grounded in the present moment. Focus now on the bottoms of your feet. Really see if you can feel any sensations present on the bottoms of your feet. Just notice.

Now, bringing your attention to the parts of your body touching the seat that you are in. If you are standing, you can continue noticing the bottoms of your feet or notice the sensation of your clothes on your body. Wherever your focus, bring your attention to your body touching another object.

Now, turning your attention toward your breath. Breathing in and breathing out.

Notice: where in your physical body does your attention go when you are bringing your awareness to your breath? Where do you feel your breath in your body?

Bringing your attention now to the very end of your inhalation. Take a few breaths focusing on the very end of your inhalation, right before the pause leading to your exhalation.

When you are noticing the very end of your inhalation, where, in your physical body, does your attention lie?

Some hypothesize that this is the physical representation of Wisdom in your body. Breathe into this place, notice this place inside of you. Within Wisdom, there is usually an experience of peace. Some describe this as a settling, much like sand gently settling into the bottom of the ocean.

This is a practice you can take with you anywhere to help settle into your body and your body’s wisdom. Three steps:

  1. Ground yourself by feeling the bottoms of your feet.
  2. Bring yourself solidly into the present moment and notice where your body is touching an object – your clothes or a seat you are sitting in.
  3. Notice where you feel your breath in your physical body. Then start to focus on the very end of your inhalation. Focus on this point, wherever in your body it lies.

You can also practice asking this part of your body, also known as the physical place of  Wisdom inside of you, a question. I like to practice with mundane, daily tasks, like how to prioritize what to do next or whether or not to go get a glass of water. Building a relationship with your body and your Wisdom requires time and attention. The more you ask and are present, the stronger your relationship becomes.


Chronic Illness and Mental Health Part 2: Chronicity

Chronic Illness and Mental Health Part 2: Chronicity

Listen to this article on YouTube or Soundcloud. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 45% of Americans live with a chronic illness. That means almost half of us are living with daily symptoms and do not experience complete wellness! Given this number, chances are that you or someone you love suffers from the grips of a prolonged illness.

Whether the symptoms are severe or just plain annoying, chronic illness can take a heavy toll on a person’s mental health, be physically draining, and affect day-to-day life. Know this: There is help for those living with chronic illness and improving quality of life is within reach.

In part 1 of my Chronic Illness and Mental Health series, I discussed the Unpredictability (link) of Chronic Illness and ways to cope. In this installment, my focus will be on Chronicity and how to face the truth in the service of self-care.

CHRONICITY

The chronic nature of certain illnesses makes coping challenging. Everyone has gone through having a cold or flu, and it is miserable! One consoling thought is that you know it will pass, and you will feel better again; you do not always have that comfort with a chronic illness. In addition to the unpredictability of symptoms, you may not know when or if you will fully recover. Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and sometimes those months can turn into years of feeling ill, and it can take its toll. Sometimes you think you are getting better, only to find yourself struggling with symptoms once again.

 

Most of us can cope with short-term emotional and physical pain; we have been through break-ups, death and loss, the stress of losing a job or starting a new one, the pain of childbirth or even a stubbed toe. No, I am not comparing childbirth to a stubbed toe! The point is that we have all survived time-limited emotional and physical pain. When pain is short-lived, we are equipped to cope. The same is true for emotional health. If you see a spider and experience fear or feel nervous anxiety anticipating giving a speech at work, you typically feel the emotion flow through you and then feel relief and move on. An anxiety disorder develops when the feelings and behaviors associated with fear (escape, avoidance) are chronic and do not disappear when the stressful event is over.

With chronic illness, such as autoimmune disorders, diabetes, SIBO, painful arthritis, and others, the stressful event does not immediately disappear; your body is under prolonged stress, and your emotions follow. You cannot take a break from illness like taking a vacation from a stressful job. The illness lingers, like a guest overstaying their welcome, until you want to scream at the top of your lungs, “Get out!”

FACE IT 

When you are sick and suffer from a disorder everything else you learn about coping depends on your ability to face the fact that you are sick. Often, in my work with others, I hear people report about various long-term symptoms or diagnoses and then sort of brush it off and act like they do not exist. I can certainly understand why. These illnesses are not welcomed. Who wants to be sick? Who wants a diagnosis predicting long-term illness or recovery? Still, I work with my clients to face the fact that their symptoms are a reality because when we can be honest about this, we can then take the steps needed to cope and maybe even heal. 

PRIORITIZE SELF-CARE

Prioritizing self-care may seem obvious. Nevertheless, it is often overlooked.

What do you need when you are sick? I need lots of extra sleep, quiet downtime and restful activities, food prepared and ready-to-go, and a clear calendar with as few obligations as possible. Yet, people often try to power through when sick, adhering to the same schedule and ignoring that their needs are now different. When dealing with a chronic illness, coping is not as simple as “powering through” until you feel better. In fact, often, this approach can work to your disadvantage.

As mentioned, if you have a cold or flu, you know it will pass. However, when a chronic illness takes hold, it can be necessary to accept long-term limitations and changes in your functioning. This is why facing the reality of your illness symptoms is such an essential prerequisite for self-care. To prioritize self-care, you must first be honest with yourself about what your new limitations are and what you need. This means putting aside what you think you “should” be capable of, what others seem to be able to do, and how you wish you were or how you used to be. This means standing naked, and full-frontal accepting and addressing what you need given your life at this moment. And then, of course, being brave enough to give that to yourself.

Self-care when chronically ill may not feel like pampering. In fact, it can mean saying “no” to activities you enjoy, asking for help or modifications, or telling others that you do not feel well and cannot participate as you once did. Facing these truths can feel devastating. Feeling despair is often part of this process. Notice the specification that despair is part of this process, not all. When you face the ways that chronic illness has changed your life, you need to grieve what you have lost. Just as with losing someone or something you love, if you can allow yourself to grieve, you will move through it and be able to move forward. If you are in this stage and feeling emotionally overwhelmed, try listening to my Welcome Emotions Practice to help you move through this stage of loss.

Remember that grief is not forever and does not mean that you are accepting your illness, as it stands today, indefinitely. Rather, you are mourning the changes in your body that you do not want so that you can clear your path and move forward in the wisest, most empowering way. Frequently, when we accept our situation and allow ourselves to grieve, this paves the way to change. You may find a helpful treatment provider you hadn’t previously considered, adopt a new perspective you did not realize was available, or other doors may open to you that you had not noticed were there. Through allowing yourself to face the reality and trusting this process, you can find meaning, fulfillment, and joy in your life.

BE GENTLE

I know facing your illness and prioritizing the reality of self-care needed now can be difficult, so please be gentle with yourself. Chronic illness is a process. For most, it is a long and winding road. Your needs may change periodically, and your symptoms may fluctuate without notice. As a result, how to best care for yourself can take frequent re-evaluation. Practicing gentle, self-compassion may be the kindest thing you can do. Even gently placing a hand on your heart or using soft, gentle tones with yourself can help ease the difficulty. (Listen to the meditation at the end of this article for a quick and simple practice you can use anywhere.) The tasks you are faced with require fierce bravery. Envelop these courageous steps forward in gentle, loving care, and you will see yourself progress faster and with greater ease.

GENTLE TOUCH PRACTICE

(Adapted from Kristin Neff, Ph.D. and Chris Germer, Ph.D., Mindful Self-Compassion Core Skills Training manual)

Listen to this practice on Youtube or Soundcloud.

An easy way to support ourselves when we are going through a difficult time is to offer self-comforting or a soothing touch.

Start by taking 2-3 nourishing breaths.

Gently place a hand over your heart, simply feeling the gentle pressure and warmth of your hand. If you wish, place both hands over your heart.

Feel the natural rising and falling of your chest as you breathe in and as you breathe out.

Linger with this feeling for as long as you like…

Some people find putting a hand over the heart comforting and this type of touch doesn’t resonate with others. Feel free to explore where on your body a gentle touch is soothing. Let’s try some other possibilities:

Cup you hand over a fist over your heart. Take 2-3 breaths and notice how this feels.

Place one hand over your heart and one on your belly. Again, breath and notice.

Now, place two hands on your belly. With each new position, continuing to breathe and notice how this feels.

Place one hand on your cheek.

Cradle your face in your hands.

Gently stroke your arms.

Cross you arms and give yourself a gentle squeeze.

Gently stroke your chest, back and forth or in small circles. See what feels best.

Allow one hand to tenderly hold the other hand.

Gently cup your hands in your lap.

Take a moment now to notice if there was any one position you liked best, or a gentle touch I didn’t mention that you would like to try. Take the opportunity now to place your hands where they feel most gentle, soothing, and compassionate. Allow your breath to nourish your body as you feel your hands comforting and soothing you.

You can practice this any time you are under stress or use this daily as a reminder to treat yourself with care.


January Newsletter

Welcome to my January Newsletter!

Although some people roll their eyes at this, I love the New Year! In fact, I love any new beginning – the start of the school year, change in seasons, my birthday – anything that symbolizes the birth of something new. I like to use these markers as opportunities for a clean slate; a bright, shiny new future full of possibilities. Can you feel the optimism? I promise, I won’t get New Year’s Resolution-y on you. What I will do is encourage you to use this change on the calendar to dream big and create even more of the life that you want.
If you or someone you love is suffering from chronic illness, this issue of my newsletter is specially designed for you. Read (or listen to) my article about the “chronic” part of chronic illness, how it takes its toll, and what to do about it. Also, I’m sharing a fabulous resource – a naturopathic doctor who specializes in chronic, hard-to-treat illnesses, and is accessible and collaborative with her patients. If you or a loved one struggles with chronic illness, you need all the encouragement and support you can get. My hope is you find that here. There is hope for fulfillment, meaning and plain ol’ fun in your future!
Welcome 2019!
Great News!
All of my blogs, articles, practices, and meditations, are now available on YouTube. You can choose one that feels relevant now, or listen on continuous play while you get in today’s cardio. Also, when you subscribe to my YouTube channel you will be notified whenever I post a new video. Click the YouTube link below and visit my channel today.

FEATURED ARTICLE…

Chronic Illness and Mental Health Part 2: CHRONICITY

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 45% of Americans live with a chronic illness. That means almost half of us are living with daily symptoms and do not experience complete wellness! Given this number, chances are that you or someone you love suffers from the grips of a prolonged illness.

Continue Reading


DID YOU KNOW?

Functional medicine is a form of “alternative” medicine rising in popularity. Different types of practitioners (MD, OD, ND, L.Ac.) follow functional medicine and use this modality to find and treat the root cause of chronic and other illnesses. Many people turn to this method when conventional medicine has failed. Take a look at my featured professional, Dr. Antonella Aguilera-Ruiz of Wild Lemon Health to learn more.
Dr. Aguilera-Ruiz started her career sharing an office with a psychiatrist and psychologist, and has become well-versed on the inextricable interplay between physical and mental health. She also loves treating “complex” cases and her ideal client comes to her after having been through many doctors either not knowing how to treat, or having treatment failed. If you are grappling with physical and emotional symptoms, and maybe aren’t even sure how or if the two are related, an appointment with Dr. Aguilera-Ruiz is a good place to start. She offers a free initial consultation and affordable on-going care with unlimited access to her. What are you waiting for?! Check out her website and contact her today!
Dr. Aguilera-Ruiz’s Anti-Cleanse
Join Dr. Aguilera-Ruiz’s January Group Program, “Wildly Nourished” to reboot the new year with healthy food, connection, and clarity.

WANT MORE?

My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on either my YouTube or Soundcloud pages.


PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…

My guided meditations and practices are available in audio form – all for free! If you would like to enhance your mindfulness practice, experience this month’s or any recent offerings, click here!


LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO JUST SURVIVE.
THAT’S WHY I HELP PEOPLE THRIVE!
I hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you can do so by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page.
Amanda Gale-Bando, Ph.D.

December Newsletter

Welcome to my December Newsletter!

The end of the year is upon us! As it seems to feel every year, time has flown by in the blink of an eye. It is true that our life here is short, and I like to use this as motivation to take a big juicy bite out of everything we can! Why wait until after January 1st to take stock and make changes that you know you need to thrive? The time is NOW! As we wrap up 2018, I would like to challenge you to face the path you want to be on and take a BOLD step forward.
What does your path and bold step look like?
Do you need to stop holding back some part of your personality for fear of others’ reactions? Perhaps slowing down and extending more kindness to yourself and others is a next, big step forward? Maybe you would like to get into shape and feel healthy and alive in your physical body?
Do you need to stop holding back some part of your personality for fear of others’ reactions? Perhaps slowing down and extending more kindness to yourself and others is a next, big step forward? Maybe you would like to get into shape and feel healthy and alive in your physical body? The step you choose is unique to you. There is no wrong answer and everyone may choose something different. Mindfulness is where it all begins. Mindfulness is where it all begins; it is the foundation on which any new habit is built. That’s why I have devoted this newsletter to the topic of, you guessed it, Mindfulness!
In this month’s newsletter…
You will find the final installment of my Body Image and Weight Loss series focused on Self-Compassion. While “self-compassion” sounds straightforward, it is a skill that requires practice to build. A strong base of mindfulness helps facilitate your ability to make use of self-compassion. In this spirit, I have also included two other perspectives from individuals with unique, science-based approaches to mindfulness and mindful eating. Read on to understand the effects on your whole-body health. Since mindfulness is best practiced rather than just understood, as always, I have included a practice this month, focused on self-compassion.
I hope you find something here to brighten your life and set you on the path toward THRIVING!
Happy Holidays!

FEATURED ARTICLE…

Body Image and Weight Loss Part 4: Self-Compassion

Body Image and Weight Loss are generally not topics that people enjoy discussing, yet the conversation is taking place in front of our eyes daily. Simply go outside or turn on any electronic device and you are bombarded with ideas about how you are supposed to look, feel, and even think. It probably does not occur to you to offer self-compassion if you don’t fit the perceived societal mold. The problem is that it not only feeds into the trap of Box Thinking, it also ignores that we are all individuals, and there is no template for the way we are supposed to be.

Continue Reading


ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW…

Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac is a globally recognized leader in the fields of ancestral health, Paleo nutrition, and functional and integrative medicine. He also has a talent of dissecting research and presenting the summary in a useful and reader-friendly manner. I have included links to some of his informative articles to help you understand Mindfulness, and get started on a daily Mindfulness routine. Chris is particularly passionate about disseminating information about the gut microbiome and how this affects overall health, including mood and mood disorders, so I have also included a link to an article here. Mindfulness involves awareness of our body and health, including what we feed ourselves and how we are impacted by our nutrition.

DID YOU KNOW?

If you have been going through life thinking in terms of, “Hungry – not hungry,”  or even not knowing whether or not you feel hunger, this book is for you. Jan Chozen-Bays, the author of one of my favorite books,Mindful Eating, explains SEVEN different types of hunger!
Reasons to gift yourself with this book today:
  1. Mindful Eating is a lovely, soothing read. I think of it as the book version of a massage.
  2. With the book, you receive access to 14 guided meditations.
  3. Never does this book shame you into what you “should” do. Rather, Chozen-Bays gently guides you down a path of discovering your likes and dislikes, what fits and what doesn’t.
  4. Jump start your mindfulness practice and learn to eat for your unique body.

WANT MORE?

My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on either my YouTube or Soundcloud pages.


LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO JUST SURVIVE.
THAT’S WHY I HELP PEOPLE THRIVE
I hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you can do so by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page.
Amanda Gale-Bando, Ph.D.

Body Image and Weight Loss Part 4: Self-Compassion

Body Image and Weight Loss Part 4: Self-Compassion

Listen to this article on Soundcloud. Body Image and Weight Loss are generally not topics that people enjoy discussing, yet the conversation is taking place in front of our eyes daily. Simply go outside or turn on any electronic device and you are bombarded with ideas about how you are supposed to look, feel, and even think. It probably does not occur to you to offer self-compassion if you don’t fit the perceived societal mold. The problem is that it not only feeds into the trap of Box Thinking, it also ignores that we are all individuals, and there is no template for the way we are supposed to be.

There are four skill sets that will help you achieve your goal of mastery and confidence over your health and body weight:

    • AWARENESS
    • NONJUDGMENT/CURIOSITY
    • REINFORCEMENT
    • SELF-COMPASSION

In part one of this series I discussed

Awareness, in the second part I reviewed Nonjudgment and Curiosity, and in part three I talked about Reinforcement. In this fourth and final installment of my Body Image and Weight Loss series, the focus is on the skill of Self-Compassion and how it can help you take steps forward.

SELF-COMPASSION

The skill of self-compassion is last, and certainly not least. Self-compassion is the final skill discussed in this series because there are some foundational tools needed to practice this profoundly life-changing way of being. Although self-compassion sounds like a straightforward attitude, it can be the most difficult skill to practice and often requires mastery over the previous three skills before you are able to use self-compassion with regularity.

My Self-Compassion Wake-Up Call

A while ago, I participated in a whole food cleanse that a nutritionist friend of mine was hosting. Her philosophy is all about filling up and treating yourself well, not deprivation. In preparation for our cleanse, an assignment was to tell ourselves three things about our body that we are grateful for before getting out of bed in the morning. I thought this would be easy. After all, I am a psychologist, I see myself as reasonably emotionally aware, and I am all for gratitude and self-compassion.

The first morning came, and I laid there, thinking. Moments passed, and I was still thinking, trying to come up with one piece of gratitude I could offer by body. This was a time in my life when I was plagued with an illness, and my body was often in pain. I had gained weight despite my healthy behaviors, and was experiencing many other unpleasant and difficult-to-diagnose symptoms. I laid there and could not come up with one single thing for which I was grateful. In fact, I started to notice angry thoughts about how my body was not functioning as I wanted. My attempted practice at gratitude shifted to a mental “F— YOU!” to my poor body.

Luckily, I had several years under my belt of practicing mindful awareness, nonjudgment, curiosity, and reinforcement. I was able to notice what was happening, and instead of being overwhelmed with shame that I could not complete the assignment, I decided I needed to practice self-compassion. (Don’t get me wrong, Shame made a strong appearance, I just decided that she was not going to make my decisions.) I made a commitment to myself to physically touch some part of my body (hands, arms, legs) every morning and say words of kind, gentle, compassion, whether or not I believed them.

Some days this felt aversive, and unpleasant, and other days it felt neutral or even somewhat soothing. This is often how the practice of self-compassion goes: it starts out awkward or even quite uncomfortable, and requires much practice to feel soothing and comfort. If you have spent years telling your body it sucks, it is going to take a while for your body to become accustomed to receiving soft, nurturing messages. Eventually, with daily practice, you gently learn to talk to yourself in a much nicer and more reinforcing way. Building this skill helps you maintain all of the behaviors you have worked so hard to change.

 

Getting started with Self-Compassion

Whether you are struggling with weight, body image, or anything associated with those concerns, you can start today by taking a step down a path towards the person that you want to be. Here are some suggestions for getting started with a self-compassion practice.

 

  • PHRASES: Find a short phrase you can repeatedly say to yourself, day after day, that shows compassion. Ideally, phrases are short, easy to memorize, and feel important and relevant to you. Some examples are:

“May I receive kindness and love.” 

“May I be happy, healthy, and at ease.”

“May I learn to accept myself as I am.”

Using “May I” ensures not only that the language is gentle, but also that you are able to receive it. For instance, if you struggle with self-acceptance and then state to yourself the affirmation, “I accept myself totally and fully, exactly as I am,” this is inviting resistance.

First of all, it isn’t true, and your body knows that. Don’t lie to yourself. It feels disingenuous, and it is going to be hard to keep up a daily practice saying something that feels inauthentic. Instead, make this an offering, not a demand. Try it both ways – a strong affirmation vs. a gentle offering – and notice how each feels to you. Typically, my clients report the gentle offering feeling softer, less intense, and easier to accept. That’s what we’re going for here.

  • TOUCH: Practice gently placing your hands on your body in a way that is soft and sweet. Some choices are: holding one hand with your other hand, gently stroking your arm, or giving your arm a soft squeeze, placing one or both hands over your heart, cupping your face with your hands, or lovingly placing your hands on your belly. Try out these suggestions and give each a few moments to see how you feel. Choose the one you feel most comforted by to incorporate into your daily practice.
  • WRITING: Write yourself a sweet, compassionate letter.

Think about a situation in which you are struggling; maybe something about yourself you don’t like and are harsh about, some way you feel as though you are failing, or a situation that has you feeling emotional pain. Write a letter to yourself as though you were writing to a dear, sweet friend who was struggling with the exact same situation. If this is difficult, write from the perspective of the loving friend writing you the letter. Offer words of support, compassion, and tenderness. After the letter is complete, read it often.

The key with all of these practices is to PRACTICE. Self-compassion is a gentle process that requires repetition over time. The practice of self-compassion is not one that you can understand intellectually or experience once or twice and expect it to make a daily impact. Rather, by practicing self-compassion, you are changing how you relate to yourself. You are learning to be tender and sweet, and this takes time.

Self-compassion is a place that is ripe for change. In other words, when you have a supportive, loving, nurturing environment, you are then free to honestly look at behaviors that are not working for you (e.g., eating, exercise, the way you are engaging in a particular relationship), and get to work changing them. Instead of having a drill sergeant yelling that you are doing things wrong, you create the feel of a loving grandparent, understanding and wise. Without the harsh judgment, you slowly (and surely) become unafraid to look inside. When we can truly look at ourselves, plainly and without judgment, then we can go about making lasting change.

 

SELF-COMPASSION PRACTICE: GENTLE BREATHING

(Modified from Kristin Neff, Ph.D. and Chris Germer, Ph.D., Mindful Self-Compassion Core Skills Training manual)

Listen to this practice on Soundcloud or Youtube.

Find a posture in which your body is comfortable and will feel supported for the length of the meditation.

Let your eyes gently close. Take a few slow, easy breaths, releasing any unnecessary tension from your body that is able to let go and be released in this moment.

If you like, place a hand over your heart or another soothing place as a reminder that you are bringing not only awareness, but affectionate awareness, to your breathing and to yourself. You can leave your hand where it is or let it rest at any time, whatever is most comfortable.

Beginning to notice your breathing in your body, feeling your body breathe in and feeling your body breathe out.

Just letting your body breathe you. There is nothing you need to do.

Perhaps noticing how your body is nourished on the in-breath and relaxes with the out-breath.

Now noticing the rhythm of your breathing, flowing in and flowing out. Taking some time to feel the natural rhythm of your breathing.

Feeling your whole body subtly moving with the breath, like the movement of the sea.

Your mind will naturally wander like a curious child or a little puppy. When that happens, gently return to the rhythm of your breathing.

Allowing your whole body to be gently rocked and caressed – internally caressed – by your breathing.

If you like, even giving yourself over to your breathing, letting your breathing be all there is. Becoming the breath.

Just breathing. Being breathing.

And now, gently release your attention to the breath, sitting quietly in your own experience, and allowing yourself to feel whatever you are feeling, and to be just as you are.

Slowly, at your own pace and in no rush, gently open your eyes.

 


© 2017 Amanda Gale Bando Phd · Designed and Developed by D-Kode Technology

Dr. Amanda Gale-Bando

Dr. Amanda Gale-Bando