Are problems less intense during the summer? Because a lot of people look forward to the summer and feel a sense of disappointment that it’s not necessarily changing their mood, I wanted to discuss this. First of all, I just set up a facebook page that has quotes and inspiration for staying balanced so please feel free to like it and make comments here. I think there is a lighter sense when the weather is warm and one can enjoy outdoor exercise in through jogging or swimming plus get to parks. However, this initial mood change can wear off after a few weeks and then some of the chronic problems surface once again. Insecurities, caring about others’ opinions and other longstanding issues can persist without breaking through to the root of the problem.
On a positive side, getting outside more and moving the body can help with depression and anxiety, so summer activities can create good habits. But, problems of deep discontent or reactions such as jealousy or anger won’t be solved by a temperature change. They require self-knowledge and an analysis of one’s personal history.
Byron Katie goes into how we think our parents train us in a certain way but we train them too:
Sometimes the summer increases certain types of issues for people. I work with a number of teenage girls and college students that are very self-conscious about their bodies. The summer is a time where it is easy to scrutinize yourself in terms of your skin, hair, figure and sadly some people really tear themselves apart. Why do we identify so closely with our own bodies? If someone did love you for your body wouldn’t you feel insulted because you’d feel they aren’t responding to your character, heart and mind?
Also there are cultural differences in what is considered beautiful. For instance, body hair is not shaved in many places around the world. Thin bodies often not seen as attractive quality in many countries (as well as by the fact that many people do not prefer that even in the United States for a mate). When I work with people that are self-critical due to their weight I try to get them to see this.
There was an interesting article that came out a few years ago about how in Mauritania in northwest Africa, obesity is seen in a very positive light. “Isselmou Ould Mohamed says he loves his wife’s 200-pound body and was pleased when she began adding even more weight during pregnancy. When he learned she had started walking around the soccer stadium to try to shed the extra pounds, he was revolted.” Click here to read the article that was on nbc news on this a few years back.
Questioning our insecurities, reactions and daily responses is the way to uncover them and gain perspective and wisdom. By doing this we can get unstuck from assumptions that imprison us and create limitations as well as suffering. Whether it’s a pimple we magnify or a dialogue with our boss that we replay over and over again, ask yourself if this will matter to you in a month from now.