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Exercise Psychology Tip #7: Stop the Insanity! Time to Stop Obsessing & Just Love Each Other & What Nature Gave Us

Posted Oct 18 2008 4:08pm

Do any of you remember that TV commercial in which a very macho guy asks in earnest, "Do you think my hips too big?" It usually exudes laughter from the audience, as the obvious point is that this is NOT something that would typically be uttered from the mouth of a "normal," heterosexual male.

Men, as it turns out, are not supposed to be fixated on such things. What a bunch of bull.

Yes, the secret's out. Despite the typical male stereotypes, this issue is not solely a concern of the female realm. So don't believe the hype!

Heterosexual men actually do focus upon (& also frequently obsess about) their bodies too, (as well as weight & food-related issues), and in some cases, even more so, than us females of the species. But they'd be damned before they'd let "you" know it. Well, that is, especially if the "you" refers to a person they don't trust very well with these rather sensitive subjects.

I know plenty of heterosexual men who fret about their bodies, their food intake, & their physical fitness. And while you might not hear their carping or worrying out loud in the public sphere, let me tell you, they are just as concerned about it as us ladies.

So, you might ask, how do I know this as a member of the opposite sex? Did I somehow secretly infiltrate the other gender's camp in the middle of the night?

Well, no! I happen to know this from -- Shock, shock! -- personal experience. Not only have I been privy to such frank comments from family & friends, but all of them have willingly disclosed the information to me at one point or another. And even though the request for the information to be kept confidential is never uttered out loud, I realize that the details of these disclosures are like top government secrets that I must protect with my life. ;-)

Now, of course, I'm not about to reveal anyone's secret nor am I going to rat out anyone here in this blog, but I just want to prove the point that men are just as sensitive about this topic as we females.

Now, I'm not just talking about the most vain of men nor the most insanely body-obsessed of body builders out there.

I'm talking about your average guy, who after a certain age, might be feeling a tad bit self-conscious about his "tum" or his pre-mature balding, or anything else that might make him feel less-than-fantastic about himself.

On this note, I'd like to talk a little bit about male self-esteem. I know that the men might feel a bit neglected sometimes, as the media & educational system often focus on this subject as it relates to women. However, I do think that this is an equally important topic for men, and they deserve their due when it comes to this topic.

Hand-in-hand with this topic, is the subject of how men & women can help each other out, to build each other's self-esteem, instead of working against each other like we are engaged in the ultimate "battle of the sexes."

So let's let go of the knee-jerk reactions & useless epithets. It's time we got beyond that phase & evolved into something more.

I'd also like to offer some advice to the ladies, as a way of helping the men in their lives.

Ladies, the best thing you can do for your man is to make him feel great about himself. Yes, men need the self-esteem boost & compliments just as much as the lady-folk out there. Perhaps even more sometimes.

Not I'm not saying to pump your man full of lies, but he does need to hear genuine compliments when he looks nice when he gets dressed up to go out, or that you (still) think he's handsome & sexy.

And ladies, if you want to avoid further magnifying already-existing problems in your relationship, the number one thing I recommend to you is this: Please don't nag & tell him what's "wrong" with him, whether it be something concerning his physical appearance or his apparent inability to effectively complete his "honey-do's," familial responsibilities, personal goals, career objectives, or "Tasks X, Y, Z." Men hate this. Most guys I know will just turn off like a faucet & become non-responsive to this sort of thing. And now, he's really going to get mad & dig his heels in & do nothing from that request list. Trust me on this.

Regardless of gender, who wants to hear what they aren't or need to fix!?! Certainly not I. Don't you think most people are already aware of those "sensitive spots"? They definitely don't need the constant reminders of the ways in which you think they are inadequate or lacking in some way. This never works. And will accomplish nothing for either you or your mate, and will probably tank your relationship faster than a certain Hollywood pop star's career after her run-in with a buzz-clipper.

So ladies, let us dispense with the nagging, carping, & whining, & just shortcut to the action part. This is something that men (on the whole) actually excel at doing. While us ladies are frequently bitching & moaning about "X, Y, & Z," the men are usually just doing what needs to get done. I'm not saying that the men are perfect or that the ladies are all like this, but in general, this is certainly an area in which the ladies could certainly learn a lot from the men. (Likewise, many men could also take a page from the ladies' book & learn how to communicate what's on their minds a bit more frequently at times too! ;-) )

A much better approach is positive reinforcement. This approaches not only work wonders in the self-esteem department for the men, but also for the ladies. So guys, please take note as well.

Also important is the idea of setting an example through your own actions. As the saying goes, if you want to bring more love & compassion into your relationship, be more loving & compassionate. It might sound utterly cheesy & "Dr. Phil"-like, but who cares, because it actually works!

Again, I'm not telling you to be a doormat & just put up with other people's crap, nor obsequiously flatter someone into submission, but rather to just stop & think about what you want to achieve by your words & actions. I'm just saying that we need to achieve consciousness of thought first in order to take a conscious action or make a conscious choice. So chew on that before you launch into the same old, tired script that threatens to tear your apart your relationship & tank your partner's self-esteem along with it. ;-)

This brings me to another topic: Conflict-resolution. As many of you already know, following that old, tired script in your head usually keeps bringing you to the same place: a knock-down, drag-out verbal sparring match with your mate. With a little rewiring of the mouth & the brain, I think we can really try harder to avoid verbal boxing matches with our mates.

Ask yourself, how will it benefit either of you to get into a fight?

Whatever actions you're thinking about doing when you're at your angriest are probably not a good idea to act upon. In fact, I'd venture a guess that what you really need to do is to take a time out, walk away, regain control of your faculties, and think before speaking or acting.

Just walk away.
If more people would heed this advice, there'd be a lot less family-related violence & crime in the universe.

So people, please don't punch a hole in the wall (or worse, someone's head) in a moment of anger. Take a breath & just walk away. Don't engage, just walk away.

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Not that I'm perfect by any means, but I will tell you honestly that Erik & I rarely fight, if ever. So what's our secret?

Well, number one is the fact that we're very compatible. Secondly, we genuinely like each other & enjoy each other's company: We started out as friends before we dated, so we actually like each other in addition to obviously loving each other! (You'd be surprised to learn how many couples there are who love each other but don't really like each other! You think it'd be common sense, but not everyone thinks through one of the most important decisions of their life. You know the old adage, "You mate accounts for 99% of your happiness or misery"? Well, it's one of truest & wisest statements I can offer as advice!) And thirdly, & perhaps most importantly for avoiding conflict, we know when NOT to push each other's buttons.

If one of us is feeling crabby or frustrated, we usually know when to leave the other one well enough alone. We also give each other the proper space to work out our own issues privately if necessary (or when personally requested!), and usually give each other help when help is needed. Our dynamic is like a finely tuned radar; we know each other very well & are attuned to the other's moods, so much so that we can usually anticipate the other's verbal & non-verbal needs -- whether it be for space, a shoulder, or other kinds of "stuff." OK, sometimes the wires get crossed, but typically, we are on the same wavelength.

And again, I'm not saying that we never fight, but it has to be something fairly/significantly maddening & frustrating to even get us started down that path in the first place.

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So, in summation, the title of this post basically says it all. We need to love ourselves & each other & love the skin we're in. It's as simple as that. I write about this subject not from some isolated ivory towers perched on high, but from the down-to-earth perspective of someone who's "been there, done that." And, as I've expressed many, many thoughts of my own (on the triangulated subjects of body image, weight, & self-esteem) in previous posts, you can tell that it's something that concerns me greatly. I use the word "concern" here in its most positive & meaningful connotations, because I think it's important to realize the powerful effects that we as individuals can have on the lives of others. Although we might often like to think ourselves immune or insulated from the effects of each other's behaviors, actions, and words -- especially from the negative ones! -- the truth is that they all still have an effect, whether consciously realized or not. Like a small ripple in a pond. No matter how subtle, the effects are still felt. And I feel this is particularly true when it comes to body image, self-esteem, and weight.

The choice is there for all of us to make. And I would urge you to choose to be supportive & help others in their quest to find & believe in themselves, or rediscover the wondrous capabilities of their bodies.

I think that our health is one of the most precious gifts we have, & we should love our body for what it is & what it can be. And not just for what it looks like on the outside.

Amen to that, my brothers & sisters. 8-)
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