February 27 was Pink Shirt Day and there were a lot of people wearing pink in Vancouver. The day is meant to draw awareness to bullying and empower people to stand up against it.
While I’m not convinced that encouraging dress code conformity (and perhaps alienating those who aren’t wearing pink) is the way to make a positive impact, I do think that looking at the causes of bullying and how to stop it is a good thing.
Bullying takes all kinds of forms and often self-harm is left out of the mix. As my friend Tim writes in his post No bruises can be seen…, “it can also happen when we look at how we treat our inner-selves and the relationship to our outer-selves.”
Sometimes the harshest bully is the one in our own heads. I know I’m certainly a self-bully and sometimes that nasty inner voice runs rampant.
Seth Godin has an excellent post on Destabilizing the bullying power structure that talks about bullying reinforcing conformity. Getting rid of bullying means encouraging others to be their own wonderful, weird selves. We need to turn that inwards as well and let ourselves be perfect exactly as we are.
Embrace your inner weirdo and stop forcing your own conformity. Seth encourages us to “share that weirdness and run with it.” Tim urges “start seeing what it feels like to give yourself a little slack.”
I’ll chime in and agree.
Beyond recognizing bullying and the urge to conform within society, look at your inner world and try to silence the bully inside.
There are a couple situations that reliably bring on negative self-talk and increase the nasty thoughts I think about myself. A couple nights of disturbed sleep and the grey nastiness of the slushy weather outside have led to recurring thoughts that I don’t care enough about others and that I’m not nice enough, considerate enough, or loving enough; that I’m just overall not enough.
Days like this, I need a reminder that I am enough. I need a reminder that it’s okay to be gentle with myself. I need a reminder to treat myself like I would anyone I love.
I’d never accuse a loved one of being a terrible person for the same perceived sins I’m calling myself out for… not even in my head.
I am enough. And I will be gentle with myself first.
Be gentle first with yourself if you wish to be gentle with others.
Yesterday afternoon I was feeling a bit low and struggling to combat negative thoughts. Needing to raise my spirits before teaching yin yoga at Bound Lotus in the evening, I decided to bake a batch of muffins.
Baking generally distracts me from whatever’s swirling around my brain, but I needed a little something extra to clear those negative thoughts. Cue the Gobinday Mukunday mantra, perfect for overcoming negativity. With SatKirin Kaur Khalsa chanting in the background I stirred my way to more positive thoughts and a dozen muffins.
Listening to meditative music while baking, cooking, or doing dishes is wonderful. I can’t help but start chanting along and it turns into a quasi-meditation as my mind starts to clear.
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