I have always been a big fan of acronyms, especially inventing and reinventing fun, relevant, obsolete and useful ones with friends in quirky little cafes. We all know what FINE, really means, don’t we? F.. up, insecure, neurotic and emotional. Or FEAR, Face everything and recover. And we all know the tried and tested, SMART goals, Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timeframe.
My blog title, BWM, was coined so, Body, wise, mind, to reflect the primal interconnection between our bodies and our brains,following an emerging trend in personal story/ personal development blogs and the increasing value society places on the inter relationship of our body and brain and more broadly how the physical body impacts mental health.
Neuroplasticity and rewiring our brains is no new topic and increasingly, many people are adopting this in fields of behaviour change for both individual, group and even corporations. CBT once was at the core of all behaviour change, and as we rapidly grow and expand in a global and thriving world, more and more we advance to improve, succeed and thrive. If anything we tip too far into the push to thrive as it can create extra pressure, demands, unrealistic expectations and stress, that can in fact do the opposite of thrive and that is pushing people too far, into gridlockS of states of fight, flight and freeze, which can lead to operating from places of fear, failure and survival mode.
So there is certainly a fine balance, to be masters of our lives, to follow our own moral compass.Just as a trapeze artist masters their balance with daily practice and support, each day aiming to walk their way across the vacant space between New York skyscrapers. Not without long hours of practicing on land, time and time again. Repeating daily rituals and habits may seem arduous and tiresome, like making your bed, mopping the floor, washing the dishes, but even these small daily actions play a part in our overall life direction toward optimal performance and success, as we uniquely define success, not society’s expectations.
What then do values have to do with all this? Values can drive our behaviour and actions toward fulfilling and purposeful goals and outcomes. Some schools of thought suggest half the problem of the human condition is clearly identifying and prioritising our values and beliefs. When I reflect on my past counselling work, so often many of my clients presented stuck in their life and unclear of what specifically their values were and which were the most important to them. Once we become clear on our values and able to identify the top non negotiables, many of us can become less stuck and able to move forward.
My passion for the mind and body connect, also has deep roots, as I have lived experience with chronic pain and more recently I have a stoma and join a large community of ostomates. Having experience d chronic pain,illness, disability;physical abnormalities and stoma’s are not life choices. No one wakes up one day or dreams as a child to be chronically ill, or in pain, or to be disadvantaged or marginalised, not to have a non functioning bowel, disease or cancer requiring a stoma. These are all not ideal, problematic by nature and create extra challenges and barriers. Personally, I know I often have felt like I have unfavourable options, like two short straws, ducks that don’t line up and yet another square peg for another round hole. So why don’t I only buy round pegs don’t you ask? Sometimes, either we are born with a deviation from the “norm’, or by accident, injury, actions or inactions we may have one or several deviations of the “norm”, that may be in various forms as already defined.
Without doubt, some of my greatest role models and friends are people who have suffered physically and in deeply, profound and life changing ways and who rise above their barriers and reclaim power, purpose and identify.
I see these people as courageous, strong, wise and resilient. There are too many to mention, but some of my favourites are Frida Kahlo, Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Robin Williams, Stevie Wonder.
What we don’t often see or know are the other 23 hours or more that a person experiences as we may only see them in our passing. People may not have an obvious aid such as a wheelchair, to alert the mass. Many of us, and myself included, have invisible conditions and/or disability and may venture out to the supermarket or a walk and for the rest of the day we may be confined to a bed or a bathroom, or we may not have walked for days. People are too often quick to judge and discriminate. I am very passionate about social justice and respect for all persons, which is an intrinsic part of me, strengthened from my social work studies, working with vulnerable and at risk youth and personally I have experience with disability, chronic pain and now a stoma.
However, I say enough about disempowerment and disenfranchisement. Lets flip this coin well and truly and for all our unique and various imperfections and deviations from the “norm”, whatever they be. For “norm”, is really only a cycle on our washing machine dials, right?
So for the purpose of this exercise, to be fair, non discriminatory and in an attempt to be as inclusive as possible, lets name the physical condition/s that have caused us a great deal of pain, suffering and difficulties etc Norm! For the stoma community a lot of us name our bags, mine is polly. So polly for me and Norm for you. Now, close your eyes and imagine if we look at our Polly and our Norm and acknowledge them for their uniqueness, and say we are not going to be defined by our differences, struggles, pain, and challenges. We can and will learn to manage and balance our needs, advocate for our rights and stand tall and proud of who we are, not what we do or have or don’t have. BODY.WISE.MIND. Is also an acronym for BRAVE.WARRIOR.ME, BRAVE.WARRIOR.MANY. BEAUTIFUL.WOMEN.MEN.
So I invite you all to discard the chains of your inner critic, the unrealistic expectations, the cruel and hurtful assumptions and judgements of others and know you are reading this still as you are a warrior who has endured and suffered a lot and whose character and person touches, inspires and motivates many people. Stay true to your values, and use them as an anchor point, a reminder of your preferable life direction, goals and plans. Like a warrior you and I are brave, determined and fighters. Don’t ever give up! Even when you feel so flat and burdened, remember when your flat on your back, there is only one way and that is UP! Anchor yourself to your values, positive people and environments. DARE to be all that you hope and wish for and be uniquely you! For you and I have an imprint to make on this world and a calling. Shine the light on your face, be brave to speak up, be tall and proud of who you are, not what you do or what you look like. And do not accept cruelty, suffering, injustice, discrimination and any damn right denial or violation of your rights.