Relationships and Identity

Hello everyone and welcome back to The Journey to Wellness! I’ve had some well-deserved time to make some great discoveries and have epiphanies to help me on my personal Journey to Wellness. Now that I’m all rested and well- let’s embark on that journey together!

In the last post I wrote before my leave of absence, the poll at the bottom suggests that the topic for this week’s blog post would be about Relationships and Identity. I imagine this is a very exciting post for everyone, because in some way or another, we have all encountered issues of being in any kind of relationship and maintaining our identity at the same time. So let’s get started!

Traits of a healthy relationship

First things first, let’s define what a relationship is as well as what an identity is. According to the Psychology Dictionary, a relationship is a particular type of connection or association between two or more entities. Moreover, according to Changing Minds, an identity is considered a unity separated by its boundaries and recognized by the differences with others unities- it is the I, the self, the coherent person I see in the mirror. It may be cloaked by the many mechanisms of coping, but there is assumed to be a true self, the ‘real me’ hidden inside.

Whether the type of relationship we embark on be sexual, romantic, friendship or familial; they all have the same premise at heart- that two individuals are choosing to share themselves as well as their time together as a result of an attraction, connection or bond. What most people don’t understand about relationships is the importance of regulating oneself to keep the relationship healthy. To some this might be counter intuitive, since the mechanics of a relationship take place by working WITH another individual. Examples of this would be compromise, communication, trust, freedom, equality, respect, understanding, etc. However, it is actually EQUALLY as important to have a good relationship with your partner as it is to have a good relationship with yourself.

One of the most classic examples as to why is true is found in an article by Madame Noire named How I Realized I Was Losing My Identity in Relationships to Avoid Dealing with My Own Problems: “One of the greatest things about being in a relationship is the ability to get lost in something larger than yourself — to submerge your former identity beneath this new persona as part of a couple. But for me, this is also one of the pitfalls. I tend to lose myself in relationships so completely that my life starts to revolve around my significant other while my personal and professional growth grinds to a halt. Then inevitably the relationship ends, and I find myself returning to a life that no longer exists.”

I imagine many of you severely empathize with the quote from the article mentioned and that is because in our society, media and culture, it is encouraged to lose oneself in a relationship. In fact, it is promoted that we make it our life’s goal to find that “perfect someone” to make up for all of our insecurities, doubts, fears, etc. Nowhere in the media, society or our culture is it stated that we look inside of ourselves for what is missing instead of using other people in our relationship to make up for our losses. Granted, we don’t have go to extremes. There is the possibility of a healthy middle- which is where both individuals in a relationship feel bonded, loved and assured by one another as well as by themselves.

Venn Diagram representing relationships

We often act as if our single purpose in life is to love our partners and absolutely nothing else. As mentioned by Elite Daily in the article Being in a Relationship Doesn’t Require Losing Your Identity: “Giving our lives the singular purpose of loving someone else, the purpose of living for someone else, is what we call obsessing — not loving. The reason why I say this is because no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you obsess or sacrifice, you will be you and your lover will be someone else.You and your partner can never become “one” — it’s impossible. Your thoughts will always be your own. Your actions will always be your own. This isn’t something to be depressed over; it’s a beautiful thing. Being able to share your life, your travels and mishaps, with another person is a huge part of what life is about. But more important than that is keeping your own, separate identity from the relationship.Yes, you and your man form a “we,” but at the same time you and he must remain completely separate and live separate lives. Every person needs his or her own space, his or her own hobbies, and his or her own friends. Doing so will allow you to have an identity of your own, a life outside of your relationship.Having such a getaway is key to a healthy relationship; when things get messy — which they always do — you can pause and step out of the relationship for a few hours, or a day or two, and stabilize yourself within your own shoes. If you fall into the trap of losing yourself within a relationship you will eventually panic. It may seem nice now, but a few months or years down the road you will come to the conclusion that you need your freedom. And, like most people, instead of taking a step back and breathing, you’ll cut all ties with the person you loved because you will blame them for your own inability to hold on to your life. You will feel like you lost control of your life and lost sight of who you are; so you decide that the single life is better than your current situation. At least that way you can be yourself and not some convoluted “we” that you and your soon-to-be ex ignorantly formed. And that is how the love of your life gets away; not because your relationship couldn’t work, but because you got so obsessed with getting to know your partner better and spent so much time with them that you forgot who you are.You can either be you and alone or be you in a relationship — but you and your lover will never become “one”; it simply goes against human nature.”

The only way for us to have a healthy relationship with someone else is for us to have a healthy relationship with ourselves. This is possible by having a life of your own while being in love at the same time. A technique the magazine Everyday Feminism suggests that we visualize our lives as if they were a movie on a big screen in a movie theatre.

In order for this movie to function well and properly, the following beliefs must be put into place:

1. The only person I am responsible for in the movie is myself

2. There are three characters that make up a relationship: me, my partner and the relationship. This makes perfect sense because think about it. There would be no relationship without you or your partner so that’s why in order for a relationship to work, it needs to be maintained by both individuals. Both parties must tend to it and nurture it. In order for this to occur, both parties must be healthy to do so.

3. The relationship is what both people have in common, which means both people are responsible for it.

4. What each partner is not responsible for is the other. A lot of maintaining who I am in my relationship comes from not getting involved in what are my partner’s issues. Melody Beattie in Codependent No More says, “Detaching does not mean we don’t care. It means we learn to love, care, and be involved without going crazy.” The key takeaway is that it’s impossible to solve other people’s problems. 

Mind Map explaining Identity.

5. Feed Yourself First. To keep one’s side of the street clean (and healthy), what one has to do was figure out how to feed oneself first in the relationship.What this means is keeping yourself a priority and continuing, like I had when I was on my own, to make yourself feel good, happy, sexy, beautiful, and fun.That is, being in a relationship doesn’t suddenly mean it’s now my partner’s responsibility to make me feel good. What you do is keep to the rituals you had before you went into the relationship. To do this, I had to create time and space just for you. You- and the relationship- will be healthier for it.

6. Say What You FeelThe only way to get your needs and wants met is to directly express what they are. The goal is to drop the story around the feeling and simply deal with the emotion.

7. Checking In. Check-ins are an easy way to make sure that I’m staying true to yourself while in love. This requires monitoring and thinking about your issues, your partners issues, and the relationships issues as well as how that all works together. This requires self-regulation and making sure that you are well and taking care of yourself. Because the reality is You deserve to always be taken care of, and you know that it’s your responsibilitynot anyone else’s – to make that happen.

I hope this post has found you well in terms of how to manage healthy relationships with others and with yourself. The reality is that we cannot ask others to make up what we lack, but instead ask for guidance and use the tools discovered and necessary to make ourselves the better versions of ourselves possible and have better relationships because of it.

As usual, there is a poll below for you to vote for the topic for next time. Now that I’m back from my leave of absence, I will be writing here regularly again. I hope you enjoyed it.

Your blogger and friend:

-Ana Cruiz

On a Leave of Absence

Hello everyone! Welcome back to another post here at The Journey to Wellness!

I just wanted to let all of you know that I won’t be around for some time, and found it fair to notify you in case you worry or are interested in what topics are coming up next. I know I haven’t done a good job with updating with new topics on a regular basis here given how much I have been working and doing homework/studying for school. I have just finished my schooling for this term which is fantastic but now feel I need to embark on a new and necessary journey in my life.

I need to do some soul searching and in order to do so need to place absolutely all of my attention into just that. I hope that you understand and aren’t upset. I’m doing this not just for myself but also because it’s necessary for the relationships in my life- in order to be better for others, I need to be better for myself first.contemplation

If you still want choice over what topic I will approach next,if you look at the post below this one there is still a poll going in which you are welcome to influence!

I hope that your individual Journeys to Wellness are going well as well and wish me luck for what I have coming next!

Your blogger and friend:

Ana Cruiz

Insults and Compliments: The Truth

Hello everyone and welcome back to another post here at The Journey To Wellness! I’m terribly sorry that I haven’t been able to write to you for quite some time. I’ve been terribly busy with school as well as work, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been on my mind- please believe me when I say you have!

I’m very happy to be able to return to you and to write to you once again! It seems the choice on the topic for this post was a bit difficult given the fact that the results for the poll for last time’s post were inconclusive and tied all throughout. Thus, this left me to make the final choice. The choice I have made for this post’s topic is regarding Insults and Compliments: The Truth. This post will be consisting of information I have gathered through analysis and inquiry I have done to people throughout experiences and observations on others’ experiences.

Shakespearean insults.

Before we begin our analysis and observations about how insults and compliments affect us, and why they are given to us; let us take the time to properly define an insult and a compliment so that we are very clear.

An insult is to do or say something that is offensive to (someone) : to do or say something that shows a lack of respect for (someone) whereas a compliment is a remark that says something good about someone or something or an action that expresses admiration or approval (according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

Now that we have the definitions of each of these words, let’s take the time to analysis why someone would either insult or compliment someone else, shall we? I’m going to please ask you to breathe deeply for a moment and focus on a memory of a time when you have either complimented or insulted someone (if you could do both, that would be even better). Let’s do it: *breathe in- and breathe out*.

Thinking of the memory (or memories) that you have in your mind right now. Did you notice that when you remembered these moments- that you felt an immediate emotion? When you thought of complimenting someone- you felt joy and even positive nostalgia. But when you remembered insulting someone- you felt disdain, annoyance and even anger? These emotions arose within you not because of the memory itself, but because of where your emotions were when you gave the compliment or the insult. If you think objectively as to every single time you have ever complimented someone in your life, then you would realize that your motivation behind complimenting or insulting said person or thing was an emotion you experienced at the moment, or an emotion that you felt toward that person.

Let me make a good example of how this is true. Have you ever experience what it’s like when you have a fight with someone you care about, and they do something which is good, or they even look good, but you won’t say anything about it even though they deserve the compliment? Additionally, you might pick on and criticize the person because of how awful or annoyed you feel about the fight you’ve had? We’ve all had that feeling. This is what shows that when we insult or compliment people- it doesn’t mean that what we are saying is a fact or even neccesarily true- but that we either feel comfortable enough with that person to provide it to them, we want some sort of emotional gain by providing the insult or compliment or we are currently feeling a strong emotion about them, which then motivates us to insult or compliment them.

Moreover, another good example of this would be the very common example that I know all of us have experienced at some point: where we see someone compliment someone or something that we KNOW (objectively) that isn’t accurate. For example, when someone is good at something, but they really weren’t. Or that someone is (objectively) physically attractive, but they technically aren’t. (Please pay in mind by me saying this I’m not saying that because someone is not objectively physically attractive or not as good at something, that they are worthless or deserve lack of self-esteem, I am just suggesting that people be objective and realistic about their attributes while also realizing that none of these superficial aspects add nor minimize your self-worth). Anyways, looking at these examples, I imagine some of us have asked ourselves at some point: why are they getting complimented when what you’re telling them isn’t technically true/fact? The answer is again: emotion. I’m sure the girl who was complimented in my example was told that by friends who felt close to her and wanted to make her feel beautiful (and rightly so, everyone should feel that way). I’m sure the person who complimented the other on their performance wanted to be encouraging and make the other person feel good about themselves (again, rightly so because everyone deserves to feel good about themselves).

Compliment examples and categories.

If you notice a pattern here, insults and compliments are either driven by how someone feels about someone, or by what they wish to accomplish by giving that insult or compliment (in other words, making someone feel good or feel bad about themselves). Thus the truth come out. I’m sure there have been many times in our lives where we have been insulted by someone and have asked ourselves: is what they said about me true? The answer is not neccesarily, but mostly not likely (there obviously does exist the occurrence where a person just wanted to be honest with you and told you a difficult truth, but that’s not what I’m referring to here). The majority of the time when someone insults you is because it’s something spontaneous, purely emotional and irrational and is intended to hurt you. Similarly, the majority of the time when someone compliments you is because they feel comfortable enough in a relationship to do so with you, or because they are happy with you in some way and thus want to make you happy. Thus when someone compliments you- is (the majority of the time) a reflection of how they feel about you and your relationship with them in that period of time (of course there also exists the case where what they perceive about you is very much true, but that isn’t the case I’m referring to).

The conclusion and truth to this post regarding insults and compliments is that they exist and are driven by the fact that we are human beings, and primarily function based on emotion. We try to pretend we’re robots and have no feelings, but at the end of the day, we know that’s entirely false. Thus, insults and compliments are driven by the intent of the insulter/complimenter or the desired result in the insultee/complimentee.

I hope that this post has found you well and has shown you the reality behind insults and compliments (the majority of the time) and has given you some insight as to human relationships and how deeply emotional they actually are!

As always, I am leaving a poll below for you to choose the topic for next time’s post :).

Thank you very much for reading, I really couldn’t do this without you!

Your blogger and friend:

Ana Cruiz

References:

Nothing in Life is Personal

Hello everyone and welcome back to another post here at The Journey To Wellness! I’m very happy to return to you after a short time since my last blog post about Shaming, Myths and Empowerment and am very excited to write for you yet again!

I had a tough time with last time’s post poll results since there was a tie between the topics Nothing in Life is Personal and Attachment styles, infancy and adulthood. As a result, I had to make a judgement call and believed that the topic I could most effectively deliver for you today would be Nothing in Life is Personal, so let’s get started!

Two people fighting.

I imagine the reason those of you who have chosen this topic picked it because of some wish inside of you to see life for larger and much deeper than it really is. In other words, perhaps there are things in your life you have taken personally and are looking for broader perspective to help you see things more clearly.

This concept can be applied to a lot of areas of life, but I feel the most powerful (and probably the most popular) area of our lives are when it regards other peoples’ actions and words onto us. I know this sounds like a bit of a cliché, but as the saying goes “Whatever a person does to you is more a reflection on them than it is on you.” Let’s take the time today to figure out as to why this is true!

In order to begin on this journey, I’m going to ask you to please ask yourself about a time when someone else- someone you care about hurt you in some way- they didn’t meet some expectation, they said something mean to you, betrayed you, etc. I imagine this memory causes some pain to remember (which I am sorry for, by the way, but it will be helpful to our discussion). Now, other than the initial pain that you felt as a result of the wound you were inflected, you probably felt a lot of deeper and very conflicting feelings: shame, anger, sadness, insecurity, distrust, etc. Let’s focus on the feeling of sadness for a moment. Why do we usually feel sadness when something bad happens to us? Because we feel upset that something so horrible could have happened to us- that someone that we placed our trust in, our love, time, affection and care; could do something so devastating to us, right? Naturally, being the ego-centred and control freak human beings we are, we decide that the only way that we can cope with the sorrow of such a powerful blow onto us is by taking responsibility and power over the situation. Instead of processing the horrible anguish of the pain done unto us because it’s too much to process or bear, we choose to take the situation onto ourselves, as to lessen the blow. Our subconscious logic is “Well, if I was the cause of this somehow, then what they did to me wasn’t so bad, right?” This could not be more wrong and completely ineffective!

As much as it makes complete sense as to why we would do this. In fact, I’ll admit that I’ve done it myself, it really is a gigantic waste of time, energy, and emotion. Instead of taking control of the situation and thinking that the pain doesn’t hurt so much any more because we blame ourselves and since we know the cause of our own pain is ourselves, then we cannot only forgive ourselves much easier but can actively fix the situation. Well, this technique would work if we were consciously aware of what we were doing- but the majority of the time we’re not when it comes to feeling pain this deep. Usually, it is the mind and heart’s natural defence mechanism against feeling a pain way too great. The reality and downside to this technique is that it creates a much deep seeded root for insecurity that will most likely affect you for the rest of your life. So let’s look at this realistically: what we have been doing (and I speak for all of us, myself included) is that whenever we have suffered a massive heartache, instead of taking more accountable the person who inflicted us, we have subconsciously taken the pain onto ourselves and given us unnecessary insecurity because of it. That sounds really silly, doesn’t it? When you see it like that, of course it does. Before today I imagine in your subconscious mind you thought: “Well, I must be the reason they hurt me, or else why would they?” It’s almost as if we have measured our self-worth, competence and value on another person’s actions.

Man in anguish.

I’m going to use a very common example of a partner cheating on the other partner. I’m sorry if this is a tough subject for those of you who have been cheated on, or who have cheated, but please let me divulge if I may. In the situation where a partner has cheated on another partner. I’m sure that the cheatee deep down inside somewhere feels that in some way they deserved what happened to them (even if they don’t want to neccesarily admit it), that they weren’t pretty enough, handsome enough, smart enough, entertaining enough, and no wonder their partner left them. As understandable it is that someone would do this to protect themselves, the reality couldn’t be farther from it. The REAL reason a person cheats is because of their own psychological make-up: their beliefs, their values, their emotions, their needs, their issues, their experiences, their views and their reality. Just because you’re included in their life doesn’t mean that their decision making necessarily is related to you. The most basic reason a person cheats is because they are unfulfilled in some way, and so they are trying to replace the feeling of unfulfilment with an affair. Now I know what you’re thinking- “they must have been unfulfilled by me, so that’s why they cheated on me.”  Sure, it’s true that they were unfulfilled in some way, but that doesn’t neccesarily have to be by you, and if it was, they could have dealt with the situation in some other way. At the end of the day, the decision was theirs and was COMPLETELY founded on their own emotions. Their emotions, their values and their beliefs are what drove them to make those types of decisions- nothing more, and nothing less.

This is exactly the same concept for bullying. We always tell people that it’s the bully’s fault this happened, not theirs- and it’s entirely true! The only reason a bully would truly hurt someone else is because of their own emotions, their situation in that period of time, their needs, or perhaps as a cry for help. Just because children do this doesn’t mean the same concept doesn’t apply to adults! Whenever someone hurts someone else, it is fuelled by one’s own biased perspective and feelings where the victim just happens to receive the wound given the circumstances in that period of time. So if you encounter a situation in the future where you are hurt by someone, I encourage you to ask yourself “What is it about this person that drove them to do this?” rather than ask yourself “What is it about me that made them do this?” Expanding this concept a bit, the best way to picture human  beings and a lot of their interactions with each other is picturing a very individualized but very firm tower, each with it’s own design, aesthetics, and building process and no tower is the same as a result. Each with it’s own purpose, drive and reason for being. It just so happens that each of us affects each other with our intricate and complex factors on a daily basis. And sometimes they match and work well, and sometimes it causes pain.

Now that we are more aware of why people injure us the way they do sometimes, perhaps we can learn to not carry around useless insecurity and blame ourselves for something that has nothing to do with it. If you get anything from this post today, please learn that nothing in life is personal, so don’t feel bad about yourself when you don’t need to! Use your energy for better things :). And don’t measure your inner worth on someone else’s actions. They have nothing to do with you!

I hope this post has found you well and as usual I have placed a poll below this post so you can choose next time’s topic!

Your blogger:

Ana Cruiz

Shaming, Myths and Empowerment

Hello everyone, and welcome to another post here at The Journey to Wellness!

I’m happy to return to you again while trying to minimize the gap between the posts here and share information with you as always! Looking at last time’s post poll, and some comments below it, it seems the desirable topic for this post is of Shaming, Myths and Empowerment. I am very pleased to discuss this topic with you, being that it’s one that touches my heart very deeply and is something I encountered not long ago. Hopefully my experience with it can help any of you out there who are suffering through your issues and enlighten you to feeling comfortable with yourselves again.

I imagine the reason that those of you who picked this topic to discuss is because of the very damaging, aching and intimate nature of this topic, and I imagine on some level when picking it, those wanted to mend their own wounds or become knowledgeable in healing the wounds of others. Well, let’s begin on this road to discovery on how to mend these deep and sensitive wounds!

Ashamed woman.

Unfortunately, at some point in our lives we have all been shamed one way or another for aspects of ourselves that we are (or have become) rather sensitive about: our sexual orientation, our weight, our class, our gender, our race, etc. These factors have now become our vulnerable points: those points that if anyone dared to inflict again, we would feel almost as if our hearts were literally breaking. This would be because when facing these insults, we are forced to encounter the emotion of shame: “a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace” as mentioned by The Free Dictionary. Naturally, being the self-protecting humans that we are, we would do anything in our power to avoid such an inflicting emotion.

Now let’s look at what being shamed looks like. I will use myself as an example, I will be careful to not give explicit specific details to identity anyone other than myself, but will give the necessary information so that we can further our discussion about shaming, does that sound alright to you?

My story begins with my ex-boyfriend of almost 2 years and I breaking up last summer and taking some time off not talking to one another. The reasons for our breaking up being that he wasn’t mentally well to be in a relationship, and the terms of our breaking up being that hopefully he could change and we could see what happens down the road, but nothing was for sure. I remember it being very hard for me to let him go, so the fairy tale idea of him changing gave me comfort, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen. We took some time from not speaking to one another, and we were both single and free to do as we pleased. I personally took this opportunity to explore myself and my sexual identity being that I had the freedom to do so however I pleased to do it. I still missed him, and loved him, but didn’t believe that he would change, and thought it in my best interest to move on. A few months passed and I began to miss him, so we began to talk about and try to make amends for the past. He gave me the impression that he had gotten well and had changed, and in all good honesty, I told him that I had had various sexual experiences within the few months of our break up, and I thought he should be aware of it. I believed it was my duty as a person, if we were going to get back together, to let him know. When he was cleared with what actions I had taken in his absence, he wasn’t pleased at all, which was a reaction I expected, but I definitely did not expect him to call me a slut for what I had

Paths of Guilt and Shame

done. I was extremely baffled and thought the following: “So we break up, and I do what I want with my body with whoever I want to do it with, and you’re mad. That doesn’t make any sense, we weren’t together when I did that, and I had the freedom and right to do whatever I wanted. You don’t own me.” His justification for his insult to me was “While you were off….doing what you were doing…I was bettering myself for you”. That makes sense to me, but what he couldn’t grasp is that he believed that the mental and emotional problems he needed to fix would take months if not years to fix. Realistically, I’m not going to wait around, and I am going to move on. Yes, it is a hopeful wish to get back together, but I am my own woman and have the right to my own choices. I admit that this insult made me feel very scarred for a while, I was ashamed of my body, how it looked, and I hated being inside of it. I literally felt dirty, unworthy and disgusting.

For those of you currently believing that a woman consciously and deliberately engaging in sexual acts with any partners she wishes in a safe manner is slutty, let me direct you to the following video, and let’s proceed our discussion, ok? Please watch Re: JennaMarbles’ Slut Edition and come back.

Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed the video and opened your gaze a bit as to how not to judgemental and critical when it comes to the sexual decisions of others. As you can see, the problem in a lot of people (including our logic) when it comes to acceptance of sexual decisions is that we believe that people have to be put in a specific category and do what WE PERSONALLY perceive as acceptable. The current motto of our society is “Do what I think you should do/be who I think you should be and you will be accepted”. That statement right there essentially takes away all ability to identify to your own identity. The goal of my lesson here is for all of us (including myself) to see that we shouldn’t judge someone’s decisions, because everyone’s decisions are they own decisions and that is that, and that there is no need to label or categorize someone based on our personal beliefs. That’s unfairness in a snapshot.

The myth when it comes to shaming is that (and I’m sure all of us have thought this when we have been shamed): “Because they see me from the outside, they must know better then me, and they must be right about what they’re calling me.” I know that was really hard to read, so let’s take a moment to breathe “breathes in and out”. But that is what we have all thought in our mind at some point of dealing with the excruciating feeling of shame. Because SOMEONE ELSE tells you something that they believe we are, we often tend to inherit that as a truth because we think “Oh, they must know better than I do.” THAT IS SO WRONG! No one in this world knows you better than you know yourself, and if you can objectively look at your actions and see if they are hurting you or others, and decide accordingly from there, than no one should have the power to decide who you are but you! Looking at the making decisions piece, people only can judge what they see on the outside, because what’s what judgement is based off of: the exterior, right? So let’s take two ladies who are both very comfortable with their sexuality and have sex safely, with whoever they want, whenever they want. The majority of people would assume them both to be sluts, but I believe it’s much safer and wiser to ask ourselves “Why are each of these ladies doing what they are doing?” If one is doing it because she is genuinely comfortable and is just enjoying her

End Slut Shaming Ad.

life, and maintains the power of her body, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, if a woman is doing it because she is objectifying herself and thus objectifying men, women (or anyone else she wants to sleep with), then I would not call that woman a slut, I would instead say that perhaps for her own well-being, it would be wise for her to re-examine her behaviour. I believe this is a much calmer and respectful route to take when looking at other peoples’ lives and their decisions.

This is where the empowerment piece comes in. Please take the following advice from the bottom of my heart: Unless someone is trying to give you genuine, non-judgemental and caring advice, NEVER let anyone control or tell you how to run your own life! You can do, be, say, and act however you want to! This is your life, and no one else is the owner of it but you! I know I focused this post in slut shaming, because that is the most powerful example I can think of to prove my point, but this can be applied to any sort of shaming: for your weight, race, culture, anything!

The way I would suggest to empower yourself if you have ever had any sort of shaming done in your life: look deep inside of the situation that happened between the person who shamed you and you, and try to look at why that person did what they did. For example, after many arguments with my ex-boyfriend after the incident, he finally admitted that it wasn’t my sexual actions that motivated him to call me what he did, and that it was an incorrect choice of words. Where that fierce moment of rage was a sense of betrayal that he felt: he felt that because he was working hard to get me back, and I was exploring my sexuality, he felt cast aside. He had every right to feel this feeling, but he also had the power to address it to me properly, instead to try to control me into becoming ashamed of my body and sexuality, and sleep with only him as a result of the shame and to gain his approval (the entire purpose of slut shaming realized). Through my example, I hope you see that whenever someone shames you in any reason, it’s not because they’re right, or because they know better, it’s because they have their own personal biases, because they have no clue as to the real reason for your actions, or because they are hurt in some way, and want to cause you pain to minimize their own.

The reality is that at the end of the day, our actions and behaviours don’t neccesarily dictate who we are, and as a result do not dictate our worth as human beings. Only we can determine our own worth, because only we live with ourselves every day and know who we truly are. Never let anyone take away your dignity, your personal power and your sense of self!

Some current media examples of the topic of empowerment in terms of shaming are Jay Z’s rapping including the word nigger to demonstrate comeradery  between himself and other people of his race. In addition, there is the Slut Walk held in various places where women purposely write the word slut on themselves. The purpose of these influential actions is to take away the hurtful power of those who inflicted us, and change the meaning to what we want it to be and thus regain our power.

I hope that this post has found you well and that with you can learn how to be more accepting, kind and compassionate not only to yourself but others, and to remember that we all have the right to do what we wish (so long as we aren’t hurting ourselves or anyone else in the process).

As usual, I have left a poll below for you to choose the topic for the following time I return. I must say that it was a great pleasure to share this with you and hope that it will help you on your Journey To Wellness!

Here is a little poem I wrote not long after the incident I have spoken about, as my method of coping and mending the wounds of my shame named Slut.

A slut is not what you think I am

But something I like to be,

A woman proud of her sexual identity

Which has been so fiercely ripped from me

You hate me, shame me, blame me for my actions

When it is you who should feel justice

Just because you’re insecure and don’t understand

Doesn’t mean I need to suffer

And that clearly the union of us two only creates thunder

So leave me, free me, shoo and go off

And escape the corners of my mind

Where this horrible label has been implanted so deeply for all of time

Your blogger and friend:

Ana Cruiz

References

Vulnerability and Strength

Hello everyone and welcome to another post here at The Journey to Wellness! I’m very pleased to be back here writing to you after a longer than expected period of time, since I’m getting very swamped and overloaded with tasks. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to come back to you sooner, but believe me when I say that you were always in my thoughts!

Looking at last time’s poll results, it seems that you (my wonderful readers) are wanting the topic for this post to be about Vulnerability and Strength, so let’s get started on this very controversial, challenging but also eye-opening topic.

Before we divulge into how these two terms relate to each other emotionally and psychologically and how they affect our lives, let’s look at what each of these words mean. The word vulnerability itself, according to Dictionary.com means “capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt” whereas by The Free Dictionary, strength means “The power to resist strain or stress.” Immediately, you can tell by the definitions of these words that these are two opposing poles of one another, correct? One seams to appear as a negative quality and one as positive. By common knowledge and by our society’s teachings, being vulnerable is a quality that many of us (at some point) have not wanted to be, and instead have wanted to demonstrate strength.

Person crying.

If you are willing, we can analyse this together, but it will take some honesty on your end as well as self-awareness, ok? Let’s begin. If you could please breathe in and out and imagine a time in your life where you experienced an excruciating emotional pain: a breakup, a betrayal, punishment, anything of the sort. When I asked you to do that, was your immediate reaction to ignore the emotional memory of the pain you experienced? If so, then you are used to creating a wall to barricade yourself from experiencing your feelings- this is what you have known as strength for the majority of your life, right? For those that actually allowed themselves to feel the pain of what I described, those are the ones that are more comfortable with experiencing their feelings- whether good or bad. Bear in mind, neither of these techniques add or diminishes to one’s worth- they are just different and are a result of the product of how you have been raised.

More commonly than not, those who are accustomed to not allowing themselves to feel powerful and sometimes crippling emotions have been taught by either their parents, an authority figure, or some other loved one that experiencing your emotions to their fullest is a sign of weakness and will only be detrimental to you. These same people, I imagine, also taught you (either by example or through actual advice) that strength is not experiencing your feelings and instead resisting them utterly and completely.

I am here to unfortunately tell you that those people who taught you that, couldn’t be more wrong. They (and the majority of society) have had the reality completely backwards. Yes, I imagine most of you think I’m crazy right about now, but let me prove my point and then you can go ahead and make whatever judgements you please.

When it comes to being strong, what is actual strength? Let’s look at fitness, in order to be strong, you have to work out often and consistently add increments to weights and exercise difficult in order to become strong, right? Or let’s look at the mind, in order to become mentally strong, you had to have been exposed to various mental challenges, opinions, disputes and disagreements in order to solidify and create your own opinion and logic, right? Then why don’t we apply this same logic to the heart? Do we really think that by putting our heart into an imaginary box and not letting it experience emotions, we are going to make it stronger? On the contrary, we’re setting up the formula for complete lack of strength.

Vulnerable girl

Let’s take a look at vulnerability, then. What are our common misconceptions about vulnerability? That vulnerability is weakness, I imagine most of you immediately thought. Well, let’s imagine the case of a husband having cheated on his wife, and them working on making amends and fortifying the relationship together. In order for this to occur, the husband has to search within himself and explain to the wife what it was about him (character trait, past teachings, past influences and history) that made him the way he is that allowed him to commit such a horrible betrayal, which had nothing to do with the wife. Let’s pretend that we are the wife, shall we? And the husband doesn’t explain himself at all, and doesn’t even apologize, but he wants to have a relationship with you. How do you feel right now? Angry? Frustrated? Sad? Disappointed? Why is that? I imagine it’s because your’e thinking “Why can’t he just tell me how he feels?” There exactly lies the answer, that the wife wants the husband to be is vulnerable. But wait, you want him to be vulnerable. But- if we believe vulnerability to be weak and bad, then why would we ask someone to be it? The answer is because (as this example demonstrates) vulnerability in the husband: showing his guilt, his sorrow, his remorse, his compassion, and the ugly side of him that allowed him to hurt his wife so horrible takes great courage and strength to do. Think about it, the wife has ever reason to attack once she’s found out the truth about him, and “kick him while he’s down”, right? Of course, I don’t condone the wife doing this, but you see my point. If the husband, knowing this, still shows his true colour to his wife shows a tremendous amount of bravery and emotional strength.

Think about it, to be able to completely expose yourself like that to someone and know that the person could hurt you, but still remain secure in your own emotions is the ultimate achievement of strength. Think about a boxing match, we don’t applaud and admire the fighter who is always standing and is constantly hitting the other opponent, we are infinitely proud of the fighter who is willing to take a beating and regardless will get up and keep fighting. That’s how we have to think of the heart. The ability to expose yourself, to feel your true emotions and to be able to keep going and be honest with yourself and others is true strength. In my opinion vulnerability is true strength and supposed “strength” is weakness. A person who chooses to maintain their rigid and stoic sense of strength is a person who lacks emotional courage, who chooses their own ego or identity over expressing themselves and opening the door to their heart. A person who is able to take a good hard look at their true feelings and still be able to live with themselves every take takes an enormous amount of emotional strength. Those who are emotionally weak are not able to do this. Also, those who are too afraid to feel anything are too comfortable in emotional oblivion and don’t want to be shaken up. It’s sad to believe that the only way some people can feel good about themselves is by ignoring parts of the reality- that to me is true weakness.

Thus vulnerability is truly emotional strength because it demonstrates courage, love (for yourself and others), and security within yourself. Whereas strength demonstrates emotional weakness because it exemplifies selfishness, fear, insecurity and oblivion. I know this is very difficult to process and a bit life altering, but I hope that this post has helped you see the reality between vulnerability and strength and allows you to feel more comfortable with your emotions and with yourself.

My lesson for you, my wonderful readers, today is that vulnerability (even if you believe it or not), the ability to feel emotional pain and suffering even if someone can hurt you is the ultimate form of strength and power. It is an inner power that no one can ever take away, or replace, because it is the strength of you being your own person, your own identity, and having your own feelings. No one can ever, and will ever take your feelings and your dignity away from you. If you are able to get back up even after you feel pain, you know you have achieved what not many can. So please, don’t be afraid to feel what you really feel, it truly is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

I have left a poll below as per usual for you to vote for the topic for next time. If I don’t post for a while, it’s only because I’m so busy, it’s not because you’re not important to me. I promise! Thank you very much for visiting The Journey To Wellness and for supporting me, I couldn’t do this without you!

Your blogger:

Ana Cruiz

References

Power And Connection

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another post here at The Journey to Wellness! I’m very happy to come back to you all with some more time on my hands now that the chaos that my life was (school, work, etc) has slowed down greatly. I’m very happy to write to you again and have missed doing so.

According to last week’s poll, it seems that the topic of choice for discussion today is of Power and Connection. This is one I happen to hold very close to my heart so am very excited to bring it up to your attention! So let’s get started!

Connection

Connection (Photo credit: AshtonPal)

Before we discuss the concept of Power and Connection, let’s try to break down the definition of these two words so we have a better understanding of what we’re actually talking about, shall we? According to Oxford Dictionaries, power is “the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events.” Whereas connection is “a relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something else.”

Now I imagine some if not a lot of you are wondering: “What exactly is it about these two things that she’s going to talk about?” That’s a really good question, and the truth is that what I plan to discuss is how in each of our lives we usually have a combination of power and connection and it is extremely interesting and ironic how the more you acquire one of them, the more you lose the other. Let me explain what I mean by this.

Let’s all be honest with ourselves, in some phase of our lives or at some point, we have all wanted one of two things (maybe both): either 1) To be completely all-powerful, and know that at the snap of your fingers, you could accomplish anything you want- however you want- whenever you want it and whoever you want to do it with or 2) To have a large group of people surrounding you in your life and to feel a deep sense of belonging, right? The reality is that you can’t have both, at least not entirely, you will almost always have one more than you will have the other just because of the nature of both of these qualities.

Think about it, what exactly is power? Power is the ability to influence any situation or person as you see fit. In order for someone to accomplish this, they must first find a really deep sense of self-power, meaning that they can put their mind, their heart, and their soul into anything that they wish and obtain what they desire. In order to be truly powerful, you have to release all connection in your life. Think about any powerful person in your life, in movies and in the news: they usually have incredibly lonely lives because of the power they obtain. In order to use your power to its fullest potential, you have to drop everyone and everything around you and summon a power within that no one else can conjure but yourself, Just picture what it would be like if you were an extremely powerful person: you would have a million things to do, and a million goals to accomplish and hungry for more power. But if you were to allow opportunities to connect in your life, it would slow you down from your progress, your ambition, your success and therefore your power.

Praying for Power: Buddhism and the Formation ...

Praying for Power: Buddhism and the Formation of Gentry Society in Late-Ming China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the contrary, if we look at what connection is, connection is the ability to have a relationship with everything and everyone around you, right? This implies giving up a lot of your personal time, energy and emotion to these relationships you have built and are continuing to build. Consequently, your devotion and your success entirely relies on these relationships around you, on their health, their well-being and their strength. Essentially, your life revolves around these relationships and not about what you personally want, but instead of what you (you and your relationships) want. As a result, power is unachievable because you are way too busy being in relationships and spending time with everyone that you frankly have no time for yourself to really accomplish what you personally desire.

The thing most fascinating about these two extremes is that power has to do with the identity of the self and what the self is capable of on its own: its strength, its relentlessness and its determination. Whereas connection has to do with the identity of the self with others and has to do with its ability to nurture, love and care for others. In other words, power grows from what you can do for yourself whereas connection grows from what you can do for others. If you notice, these are two very extreme and very opposing poles which is why the growth of one demands the destruction of the other.

Something more interesting that I have noticed which explains this phenomena is how it portrayed in personal relationships. Let me explain what I mean. Have you ever personally experienced a situation where you have done really well at something and you tell your friends and they either criticize you when they can, point out something you did wrong, don’t compliment you, don’t commend you for your progress or get envious/jealous of you? This is unfortunately what happens when a person achieves a certain level of power: people feel small around you and therefore don’t want to connect to you, because in order to connect people must feel equal and you are trying to rise to the top, therefore you are no longer “equal” to them. Furthermore, when a person has a certain level of power, people often see it as an opportunity for something to take advantage of, because it’s such a valuable and unique gift that it must be shared with others. Here we see the scales flopping back and forth trying to establish balance. Funny how this works, isn’t it? It’s a never-ending sea-saw trying to achieve perfect balance. Looking at this example, we have seen that connection is about loving others whereas power is about loving oneself.

It’s sad to know that if a person satisfies their own desires, needs, wants and ambitions, they might lose others around them because they are not able to support them because of their own insecurities. It is almost as if some relationships depend on mediocrity in terms of success in order to survive. The ideal thing would be for someone to support and cherish those they care about even when they are succeeding. However, another way we could look at it is that power has to do with the ego and

The Power of Half

The Power of Half (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

connection has to do with martyr-ism. A person could be so caught up in their personal success that they only care about what they can achieve and not about anybody else. Or a person could be so dependent on surviving in relationships, coasting through life or keeping peace that they sacrifice their identity in doing so.

As you can see there are many different ways to examine the concept of Power and Connection in our daily lives. The bottom line is that power and connection are very opposite, extreme and desirable notions for all human beings. If I was to use similes and imagery to further explain how power and connection work. Picture how a family of lions work: the lioness hunts for the prey and has to rely on herself completely and entirely in order to do so, she is fast, hungry, strong and powerful, because she has no one to help her. Her success relies entirely on herself, and she rises to the challenge (and to the top) because of not having any obstacles or anyone in her way. Otherwise, the Lion stays back and has to protect everyone else (especially the cubs) and because he has to look after the needs of others, cannot look after his own needs. The sad reality is that in order to truly connect with someone or something- you must give up something you want or give up yourself. Contrarily, in order to truly achieve power- you must give up connecting with someone.

Remember, of course, that this is the analysis of what happens at the extremes of power and connection. The goal for all of us in all of our lives is to achieve a balance of these two ideals. But it is still very interesting to think about how these two concepts are intertwined and also oppose one another.

I hope that you enjoy this post and I hope that you are all having a wonderful set of holidays (whatever it may be that you celebrate) and I hope to write to you again before the New Year!

As always, there is a poll below for you to vote what topic you would like for next week. It was a pleasure to write for you once again.

Your blogger and friend:

Ana Cruiz

References: