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When I was an undergraduate at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, I did a thesis project in Sociology. My study topic was the portrayal of women's bodies in the media and the impact this has on young women as consumers. That was 21 years ago, and I'm still critiquing media and advertising messages.
For the month of April, though, I was given the opportunity to be a part of *positive* media--advertising that makes us feel better about ourselves, not worse. Positive media brings us closer together, instead of creating wedges through insecurity or fear.
I would like to know how you think we're all united? What helps you remember to be compassionate to others? Please tweet, post a photo, make a video, and tag @drjennsden, so I can see what you're creating in #PositiveMedia!
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexual Health Speaker, Sexologist, Intimacy Sociologist
What is free and can reduce stress, increase happiness, and make you more enjoyable to be around? Mindfulness! I discussed mindfulness and the new The Mindfulness Movie documentary on Channel 6's San Diego Living this morning with Marc Bailey.
The Mindfulness Movie screening this Friday night is a fundraiser for Jeans 4 Justice, a local nonprofit using components of mindfulness to prevent sexual assault, relationship violence, bullying, and suicide for teens and young adults. Tickets are only $15, and after the movie screening, I will faciliate a panel discussion with local mindfulness professionals. So come out Friday night to better your life, and better the world!
Click on the photo to view this news segment on mindfulness (and please be patient and take a few deep breaths as the video loads :)
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sexologist, Sociologist, Sexuality Speaker
“I’m exhausted but I said I’d do it, so I have to do it!”
“I’m just not feeling it right now, so I’m going to have to cancel on you.”
Which of the above represents you? Are you into strict discipline of the self? Or do you make choices only through the lens of self-nurturing?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the balance between discipline and self-nurturing, or discipline and compassion. One of my intentions for the new year was to actively create a more mindful life, and one of my commitments in that regard is taking an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course through UCSD’s Center for Mindfulness. I am several weeks in, and am exploring the course for both personal and professional growth.
I have participated in some courses with a heavy emphasis on discipline, to the point that participants seemed scared to share dissenting views. I’ve experienced programs with so much emphasis on self-nurturing, that it allows for wallowing but not growth. I like the balance in the MBSR course. We have homework assignments of both formal and informal practices to cultivate mindfulness. However, within the structure of the practice, anything goes, even distractions and falling asleep. Mindfulness is not about “doing” anything, but about noticing all the nuances of being, including our reactions and judgments.
It is difficult to break ingrained habits, and it can be difficult to create new patterns. This is why discipline is necessary in the personal growth process. We need some structure and accountability to consistently practice doing new things, and being in new ways. On the flip side, discipline without compassion can keep our walls up. We can go through the motions without opening to feel the process. Compassion towards ourselves is important to stop us from beating ourselves up in the personal growth process, and learning to accept "what is" without judgment.
Do you have a “personal growth” project that has been a struggle? This could be exercise, more mindfulness, taking down time, being kinder to your kids, finding a passion, speaking your truth, etc. Look at how you can strike a balance between discipline and nurturing. How can you create a structure to commit yourself to this new practice, but grant compassion for yourself within that practice? I think this balance is invaluable in the realm of personal growth, and is foundational to creating sustainable growth.
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sex Therapist, Marriage Counselor, Sexologist, College Sexual Health Speaker
(Image source: http://askdaguru1.blogspot.com/2012/01/discipline-gives-freedom.html)
"I'm doing so well! This personal growth stuff is a piece of cake and feels good!"
"Crap. I screwed up again. I suck at this stuff and just can't do it right."
Two steps forward and one step back. This makes sense. Personal growth is a learning and integration process. Part of the process is stumbling. If you already knew the path and had the answers, you would be at your destination. But it truly is a journey not a destination; a journey that involves pulling back layers, acceptance, and continually choosing to be on your journey.
I was working with a male client who wanted to be kinder to his girlfriend. He often snapped at her in frustration, despite being deeply in love with her. He was mimicking the patterns from his upbringing. His commitment to this unlearning and new learning allowed for impressive progress. However, on one occasion when we spoke, he was bemoaning a recent snapping incident and harshly blaming himself. We spoke about shifting from blaming to responsibility, and how to engage in personal growth with compassion.
Cheri Huber, Buddhist teacher, writes, "Rejection does not lead to compassion. Compassion leads to compassion. Rejection leads to rejection."
Mentally abusing yourself only adds fuel to the fire of negativity and frustration. Perhaps it would be helpful to view the "one step back" as actually a "step to the side." With your two steps forward, you will have new perspective on your patterns, even when it feels like you're still repeating them. This side view can allow the space for reflection and analysis, instead of rejection and negativity.
It's impossible to know where your personal growth journey will lead. What is possible to know is that you will stumble on the journey - and that's alright.
Sex Therapy & Relationship Counseling in San Diego