Alberto Pavan Life Coaching and Counselling

My Blog 2. Alberto Pavan Counselling

My Blog 2. Rio

Love yourself a little more

I am still learning to love myself as I deserve; to accept myself without any judgement as I am without loosing my drive to self-improvement

Like most people, I used to find difficult to master this skill. I must admit that it is not na easy one. We all are subliminally trained at being modest, not to be big headed, to view pride as sinful.

We also prefer to talk ourself down before others do. Also, a collection of events in our early experience (attachment issues, fear of abandonment, dysfunctional family situations, difficult experiences at school , without even mentioning possible traumas) can make us develop some maladaptive conditions of worth.

These can take many forms and shapes and they might accompany us throughout our lives. Few examples:

  • I will be lovable if I am perfect at school, work, career, life in general

  • I will be ok as long as I am good looking

  • If only I could loose some weight my life would be fine

  • I must be the centre of the attention all the time and keep people around me amused and entertained

  • In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, on the other hand, we talk about Core Beliefs, intended as the beliefs we form in an early experience that mark us for the rest of ur lives and keep generating dysfunctional automatic thoughts that do not help us in our attempts to self-love.

  • I am unlucky

  • I am a looser

  • Nobody will ever love me

  • I am fat

  • I am ugly

  • Life is unfair

    Different schools of thoughts have different ways to explain our tendency to criticise ourself severely and to tend at judging our doing with merciless, punitive eye. In doing so, we end up drowning our potential.

    If we want to be successful in our quest toward happiness and fulfilment, the first step to take is toward self-love.

    Our tendency to generalise often make us feel that there is nothing redeeming about who we are, how we look, what we do; this is the best way toward depression. A good start to put some perspective could be asking to ourself what is it that we dislike so much. - Do I hate myself or do I hate some aspects of myself?-

    Very likely you will be able to pin point your dislike down to some specific characteristics. They might be ether physical or behavioural. It is a good start to acknowledge that it is not the whole self that we have problems with, but some specific parts of yourself.

    The next step is asking yourself : - Can I change this thing i do not like, or can I not?

    If you can make changes, then your work will be toward the setting of goals to make it happen (this we could do together). If the change is not possible, then I must tell you that the only option is for you to accept and embrace that part of yourself you dislike.

    Nowadays more than ever, with so much emphasis given to physical appearance, it is very easy to create for ourself conditions of worth related to how we look, e.g. : nose too long, eyes too small, lips too thin, bum too big, breast too small, biceps not developed enough and on and on.

    We concentrate on these characteristics we carry and turn them into faults. Also, by having these "faults" in mind so much, we end up highlighting and projecting them so that they will be visible to the rest of the world that otherwise wouldn't even notice them. Usually people do not care if you have a spot on your face, if you have a bum is a bit bigger that you would like it to be, if your nose is important. People get on with whoever they are presented with, but, our merciless inner-crititc will make damn sure that, through our insecurities, our distrust for the self, our trying too hard, these so called imperfections will be well visible, making us vulnerable.

    It is a case of self-fulfilling prophecy . One's embarrassment for her size will be perceivable by others and can result in being picked on; may be even bullied for it, which will re-inforce the belief that it is her size that people see first and this is ruining her life. Vicious cycle.

    If you think you are too fat, too thin, your nose is too big, your breast is too small, please do one thing: Think of how many celebrities you know that have a similar or even more of an exaggerated characteristic than yours and they have the admiration of the public, they live a charmed life, they have what you believe is forbidden to you.

    These people have been able to use that characteristic you dislike and make it work in a positive way. Barbara Streisand wouldn't be who she is with a smaller nose; Madonna is very short, Dawn French is certainly not thin. Did this stop them from achieving success? it did not. whatever you have that you think it is a set-back you can turn it into an advantage, a characteristic that makes you unique.

    But, even more important is to be able to look at yourself as a whole, avoiding focusing on details: go in front of a big mirror. Look at yourself in the eyes. Have a real good look at you and take in all your characteristic, good and less good. Then say aloud

    I accept and love myself as I am without any conditions.

    Repeat it 10, 20 , 50 times. You want to try to feel it. Teach yourself to believe it, but if you don't , if you feel it is just a mantra with no substance, it is also good. It is a new perspective. it took you years to evidence to yourself your unlovability; the new belief will take time to settle in. Keep saying it daily. It will be felt eventually.

    When I started to work as a counsellor, I did not believe in me being one. I didn't think I would have been able to go in a room with a stranger and create a therapeutic relationship. I felt like a phoney, an impostor. Nevertheless I kept doing it. I saw that people were coming back for more. Now being a counsellor is so much part of me that I couldn't see myself in any other way.

    It is a bit of a paradox the fact that you are asked to learn to love and accept yourself as you are but also you can aspire at achieving your full potential and become a better, more attractive, fitter individual, but without self-acceptance the change won't be real. It will be just a patching up job. It is about finding the balance between unconditional positive regard for yourself and the desire for improvement. You don't have to be different, you don't have to be thinner, with bigger breast, with bigger muscles, with a smaller nose. You are able to love yourself as you are but this doesn't mean that you will be complacent and lazy. If you see characteristics in your persona that you would like to change and you can do so, great! you will do it because you can, not because you must. Whatever you cannot change, that is still you and it is still to be loved.

    Think of the Bears phenomenon ! Being fat has never been desirable, or so one thinks, but, many of you will be aware that, in the gay community, there is a tribe that express their admiration for big, fat men, the bears. It is actually a tribe that is increasing in number and men that have never considered themselves as sexually appealing, found themselves turned into sex symbols. What I mean is that whoever you are, whatever you look like, you can make the best of what you have been given by nature and use it at your advantage if you learn to love yourself more.

  • Mindfulness

    So much talking about this practice! Even our pragmatic NHS has embraced Mindfulness as an effective, cost-effective form of treatment to improve on the effects of depression and anxiety. My rebellious self has felt a little antagonistic to it, at first. I made fun of it, calling it "A re-branding for Meditation"' "New Age mysticism for bankers', "something new made up by something very old". I have been sceptical and self-sabotaged the practice to prove myself right.
    I am sorry! I regret my dismissive attitude, How could I have been so blind? Mindfulness is probably the future of treatment as it behold an immense potential.
    I had the opportunity to re-consider my sceptical position during the last few months of employment in a leading organisation that treated people dependent on substances. The in-the-house clinical psychologist promoted Mindfulness and offered it to staff as a way to improve self-care in that very stressful field . What made me decide to attend to the offered sessions, was his description of the concept of pain. He stated that pain was composed by two elements: the 40% of it, was made up by the uncomfortable sensation experienced by the body and 60% was made up by our natural resistance to it. We feel pain, we resist to it, we want out, we have to do something. As soon as we experience it we think: this is not good! I cannot have this. I must end it! By thinking this way we become directed by the pain. it will take centre place in our thoughts and it will effectively disempower from the ability to rationalise. Mindfulness trains the individual to be in the now. With a number of exercises and a lot of practice we get used to experience our now as it is; without planning the follow up to it or without the intent to modify it. we learn to observe it and accept it. The same way we learn to forgive ourself if our mind is wandering while we try to focus on our breathing and we just acknowledge the wandering thought to return to focusing on the breathing, we can learn to observe the sensation we name pain. It is part of this moment, it is part of us. it is an event that our body is experiencing, but it is not us. and if you breath into the pain, the lung filling with oxygen will dump down the adrenaline that your nervous system cooked up to cope with this moment of stress. By reducing our adrenaline we can regain control, we can return to be in charge.
    We belong to the animal kingdom and we tend to respond to stress with a need for action. We try to think ourself out of the stressful situation. This because it is in our hard drive the information that stress equal action due to the fact that, originally, stress was caused by elemental sources: hunger, cold, dangers. In front of such difficulties, our animal organism produces adrenaline and the fight or flight state to help us to fix the dangers. In these days, however, more often than not, our malaises are of an existential nature. The doing mode, the adrenaline fuelled action might not be the most suitable tool to overcome the difficulty.

    You won't be able to think yourself out of a depression, I can guarantee that. The doing modeis not adequate in these cases. Mindfulness provides a new tool : The being mode.

    My Blog 2. Triceps

    Challenging well eradicated beliefs about how to loose weight

    Cardiovascular exercise. Best friend or hidden enemy?

    Yes, things are not as clear as they used to be. I was trained to believe that cardio is indispensable to burn fat, it is healthy and it is suitable at all ages.In fact, I was given to believe that it was the safest way to maintain a low level of fat and burn off calories.

    Cardiovascular, without any doubt, does do such service to the organism, but, in men over 40, recent research has come up with further information. Cardio, especially in men over 40 causes us guys to produce Cortisol. Cortisol is an Adrenal gland produced hormone, it is not a hormone we particularly want. It is the hormone produced in the "Fight or Flight" syndrome. In other words, we produce Cortisol under stress. So, when engaging in hours of running on that road to nowhere that is the trade-mill, we may feel in a meditative state, but our organism is taking the effort as stress. As a consequence, it will lower the immune system . iFight or Flight mode is there to send blood to arms and legs to run faster or to fight the alleged enemy facing us, make us think and act fast and take sudden decisions, but to do so it slows down other functions amongst which the production of antibodies.

    It also activates the production of Glucose, which it is sugar, which, even without being a scientist, I suspect that it is not such a good idea o have in abundance.

    Continuous cardio will end up eating into lean muscles and reducing them. This is the last thing a man wants; or probably not the last, the last is the reduction in Testosterone production. Testosterone make us men, give us a sex drive and is essential in growing muscles... Well .... be prepared for this, along with the reduction of antibodies. For the very same reasons, perceived stress' production of Cortisone will causes exactly a reduction in the production of Testosterone.

    It has also been noticed that the loss of fat by cardio is negligible. I was told by a trainer, not in scientific terms that cardio burns while you are at it, but stops burning as soon as you stop doing it, just a low fat sandwich will give you back the calories you just burned with great effort; exercise containing some impact, causes some muscle repairing to do and create a oxygen debit to pay back to the organism which means that we keep burning calories after we have stopped exercising.

    I have read a very clear and easy article online Does Cardio make you fat? by Poliquin Editorial that explains in debth the many disadvantages of Cardiovascular exercise. If you like to confirm what I just have told you, please have a look at it and you'll never think of Cardiovascular exercise in the same way.

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