Self Love. Self Care. Inspiration

My book of poetry, "Stripping- My fight to find Me" is a story of the triumph of the human spirit. It is a story of our deep need for connection and the infinite power of love to heal.

Hello,
It’s Sunita here.

I am a poet, an author, a wife, a mother, a clinician and a childhood trauma survivor. I healed when I understood that I was broken,
not a victim. I learnt that everything I needed was within me. And that my mental health and my inner life was the essence and driving force of my existence.

I now want to challenge and inspire you to move beyond your old stories so you can embrace possibility and fulfill your potential. So, if that is where you are in your life, I invite you to come visit with me every Sunday.

The conversation is honest, the topics are varied, the perspectives are from many angles, but the bottom line is always
Self Love Self Care First. I hope you will join me in a journey of discovery, wonder, growth and a celebration of our truth.

And love

Because what else is there to talk about?

Be well, Do well, Live well,
Warmly,
Sunita

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Why Prioritizing Your Sleep is the Key to Self Care and Success


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

There's an obvious, sharp increase in the number of new faces that show up to exercise at my gym these days. I hear an advertisement for a fitness center or diet plan every time I turn on the TV or radio, or glance through a newspaper or magazine.

It was no different last January. Or the year before that.

The start of a new year is a great opportunity to reset our life and being physically active is an essential part of a wellness and longevity program. But what gets left out is the fact that without getting restful and adequate amounts of sleep on a regular basis, we are unable to maximize the benefits of exercise. Or, stick to our program. Why?

Because sleep has a powerful effect on our ability to make decisions. 

Our wellness depends on many dimensions of Self Care. But the common denominator for all of these dimensions is the same- the need for mindfulness. And 'mindfulness' is really just another word for 'healthy/smart decision making'.

A chronic lack of sleep prompts us to make decisions that are not in our best interest.

Determination alone is not enough to be able to change unhealthy habits to healthy ones. Science proves that. And the yearly whittling away of crowds at my gym by March is evidence of that fact.

Another powerful example demonstrating this fact are our eating habits. Those who are don't get quality, restorative sleep are shown to eat an extra 350 calories every day, without any increase in demands for energy. So when we are not sleeping well, we are gaining weight. 3500 calories that are not required add 1 pound of body fat. So, if you are chronically sleep deprived, you are gaining weight, which in turn causes you to sleep poorly. This cycle continues with disastrous results.

So if you are serious about living your best life, then start with prioritizing your sleep.

There is a slow, but steady change in our culture related to our beliefs about sleep. Sleeping your way to the top now means literally 'sleeping' your way to success. The average amount of sleep that we need to function optimally as adults has been determined to be 7-8 hours every night.

To see if you are getting enough sleep, ask yourself these simple questions;

Do you wake up refreshed? (No)
Do you experience excessive daytime sleepiness/fatigue? (Yes)
Do you experience mental fogginess or have difficulty making decisions? (Yes)
How much sleep are you getting every night? (less than 7 hours)

If you have answered any of the questions as shown above, then here are some follow up questions for you to ask yourself.

Do you routinely give yourself an opportunity to sleep for 8 hours a night?
Do you plan/schedule your day around your sleep requirement?
Would you leave a party or an activity earlier than others there, to come back home so you could sleep at your regular bedtime?
Do you have a consistency to your bed time and awakening time?
Do you feel that you are unable to make consistent healthy food choices and/or have difficulty sticking to an exercise regimen?




Like anything else that is important to us, sleep requires prioritization. Getting enough sleep requires planning like any important event does. Only a deliberate emphasis on maintaining a consistency of our bed time and sleep time will allow us the opportunity to get the required 7-8 hours of sleep.

That will allow you to make the decisions that will help you live the life you dream of. So, go ahead and make sleep your number one priority. And 'sleep' your way to success!

Wishing you a week of healthy decisions!
Sleep well, Be well, Do well, Live well
Warmly,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#sleep#exercise#healthychoices#health#mindfulness#success

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Determine What you Want in 2020 and Know That Your Success Will Depend on This One Factor




Hello,
It's Sunita here.

By now, most of you have probably gone back to work after the holidays. Starting a new year gives you an opportunity to look at your business or work place with fresh eyes.  Planning for the year involves reviewing the many defined dimensions of success and financial outcomes of your business. Goals need to be set, and existing systems reviewed to make sure that the resources and processes necessary for achieving those goals are in place. 

This year we started with a different focus altogether at our practice. 

We asked ourselves these questions.
  1. What do I want more of?
  2. What do I want to do more of?
  3. What do I want less of?
  4. What do I want to do less of?
  5. What do I want to let go of?
  6. What do I want to hang on to?
We each went into our personal space to reflect, and spent time thinking about our wants. After we wrote the answers to these questions down, we shared them with each other.

A level of trust had to be created in order to feel safe enough to reveal our desires and needs at work. And we all had to bring our vulnerability to the table to do that.


Once we did however, we were unstoppable. The conversation was intense, truthful, emotional and brave. Each of us took the risk of revealing much more than our goals for work.  At times, tears flowed. Other times, there was a soft and comfortable pause. But the constant in the room was the support we felt for each other. We held each other in a sacred space and truly listened.

After sharing our answers, it was clear that despite the fact that many of our work goals varied, there was a common thread that ran through our wants for 2020. We all wanted a deeper connection with each other.

 'Relationships' was the # 1 priority on all of our lists. 

I am not surprised. I am a firm believer that our lives are driven by our relationships. We thrive when we feel loved, supported and understood. Conversely, when we are in unresolved conflict with others, we suffer tremendously and feel the stress of that discord. Working together and achieving goals is impossible under such circumstances.

Trauma, especially childhood trauma lends an added layer of complexity to relationship building by making 'reaching out' a shameful or uncomfortable experience. A history of abandonment, neglect and dismissal can teach you to look at cooperation and collaboration with distrust. It's hard to act in ways that were never modeled for you. Aggression or withdrawal can become a tool that you use to mask your inability to cope with being part of a close group. In such cases, your work behavior may be the sign that you need professional help.

My experience of leading teams for over 20 years informs me that we are incapable of leaving parts of our personalities and our emotions outside the door when we enter our work places. This is a biological fact. We are wired for connection and seek that connection. How could it be any different at work? 

We do not possess a switch that we can turn off and become robots at work. No matter how fervently we believe that we 'don't bring our personal life to work', we all do. We are just not aware of it. We are all guilty of not connecting how our behavior and actions impact our colleagues and our work place. 

The best and fastest way to do well at work is to forge relationships of trust and connection with your colleagues. Take the time to learn more about what trust is and how it can be built. An excellent resource is Brene Brown explaining BRAVING in this video. Brene's books and TED talks are loaded with information, inspiration and examples of how being vulnerable is a necessary risk we must take in order to build authentic relationships and authentic lives. It requires courage to be vulnerable. And being vulnerable makes you brave.

It is at that place of connection with ourselves and others that we do our best work. We collaborate better, we think better and we work better when we are in harmony with our team. And in that flow, we achieve success.

At our planning session, once we discussed our emotional and relational wants for 2020, we were able to quickly establish goals for our practice and patient care. Making plans for successful growth became a fun activity and the confidence that we felt in ourselves was a direct reflection of the trust we had in each other. We felt understood and wanted to understand in return.

The entire work week following our planning session has gone flawlessly and was full of all the things we had declared that we wanted for ourselves. We are not naive to think that there will be no challenges or conflicts ahead, but we are confident that we will be able to address them bravely and honestly because of the strong relationships that we have with each other. We are committed to being accountable to each other.

The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships. And the word 'relationship' really means love. What we want is more love!

I hope you start 2020 by taking stock of what you want, and then plan to have the best year you've ever had by working through great relationships with others.

With my best,
And love,
Be well, Do well, Live well
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#2020#newyear#relationships#vulnerability#brave#courage#connection#brenebrown#workplace#goals#love#business#workplace#success

Sunday, January 5, 2020

2020- An Ask That Has Nothing to Do With Resolutions, Goals or Measured Outcomes. The Tao Te Ching and Ursula Le Guin Illuminate

Sunrise at a place in this world

Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

I have started the year on a note of great optimism and excitement. Like many of you, I relish this opportunity to re-imagine and reset my life. In my home and my work place, the last few weeks have been all about cleaning, organizing, discarding the unnecessary and simplifying my environment so I can focus on what is important to me in a more efficient way. This cleansing also helps me be more joyful as it is designed to facilitate my Heart Bliss's.

But when I think deeply about the coming year and the years still to come, I am left with a prayer for only one thing. And it has nothing to do with my passions, my purpose, my goals or even my intentions. But it is the source of what I now know is the key to Being. Without it, I am not present. Nor am I truly living.

Softness. Flexibility. Adaptability. Fluidity. 

I believe that we receive what we are searching for, when we seek it with all our heart and soul. In life, a Master appears when we are ready for the lesson. This poem is such a master.

HARDNESS

Living people
are soft and tender.
Corpses are hard and stiff.
The ten thousand things,
the living grass, the trees,
are soft, pliant.
Dead, they're dry and brittle.

So hardness and stiffness
go with death;
tenderness, softness,
go with life.

And the hard sword fails,
the stiff tree's felled.
The hard and great go under.
The soft and weak stay up.

These words from the Tao Te Ching are thought to be over 2500 years old. They are believed to be written by a man named Lao Tzu who may have been a contemporary of Confucius. This poem is from Ursula Le Guin's version of the Tao Te Ching and speaks to my searching soul. 

In a world of millions of choices and options, it soothes me and guides me to Just Be. I start to flow like a quiet brook in a leafy forest when I read it. It moves me to a place where I am able to sit still and wait for what the Universe has for me. And most importantly, it reminds me that I will be stronger if I go with what is given to me instead of fighting it. With this wisdom, I surrender. In this surrender, I find my strength, discover joy and achieve my goals.

I hope you do too.

With my very best wishes to you for 2020,
With my love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#poetry#taoteching#laotzu#ursulaleguin#wisdom#2020#happynewyear#softness

Photography- Courtesy T. Carlsen




Sunday, December 22, 2019

Trauma Leads to Treason


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Treason is defined as the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family.

In law, treason is criminal disloyalty, typically to the state.

Why are we talking about Treason today? Let me explain.

Abuse, neglect, constant dismissal and disapproval of infants and children by primary caregivers are only a few of the now recognized, and currently studied trauma injuries in our society. The impact of genocide, war, refugee status and forced migration is heavy on families. It aggressively and completely destroys a child's sense of security. The burdens of parents who are mentally ill and/or have suffered from ACE's themselves are impossible to not actively be transmitted to their children. Many a times the consequences of such trans-generational trauma does not become apparent until years later.

Attachment Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experience's, ACE's affect every cell in our bodies. The impact of such trauma destroys our sense of self that must be developed, nurtured, encouraged and be present in healthy amounts in order to be motivated to practice Self Love. 


When we are struggling with depression, anxiety and the many other mental and physical manifestations of  trauma, we are unable to develop the necessary Self Care skills. Not only are we unable to practice Self Love Self Care First, but we engage in treason against our being. 

Treason as defined above! We sabotage our selves in many ways. Sometimes we adopt aggressive tactics against ourselves by turning to addictive behaviors like alcoholism, overeating, cutting ourselves, etc. Other times we turn to guerrilla warfare. Sabotaging our most important relationships, procrastinating on critical tasks that must be done to keep us out of trouble, performing at levels that are sub par of our intellect and potential are just a few of such acts.

We create an internal system of self sabotage, self punishment and self betrayal that we feed incessantly. Some of this sabotage is conscious to us, but most of it maybe unknown to us and driven by our unconscious. Even when we wake up to this tyranny against our mind, body and soul, we remain unable to change our path due to the practiced destructive patterns that our brain has stored as commands.

Trauma leads us to commit treason against our being. We betray ourselves, over and over again. We march up to The Traitor's Gate and present ourselves for gruesome torture and a most certain execution. Self Love Self Care First is only a concept, and not a reality for us- until our brain heals. And that requires treatment that is effective. And a relationship to develop that models a healthy attachment pattern. In other words, it will require Love.

As hard as the process of healing sounds, I know that it is possible. That is why I share my experience of healing through my poetry in Stripping : My Fight to Find Me. My poems are by no means easy to read. They were almost impossible to write. But I had to find the courage within to write about the inhumane imprisonment of my childhood trauma. Ultimately, I found liberation from my traitorous self thanks to what science had to offer me in terms of treatment (Davanloo's Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy, ISTDP) and, what humanity had to offer me in terms of unconditional love.


I now practice Self Love Self Care First. I hope you do too. And if you are stuck at the door of The Traitor's Gate and beyond, I hope you will find the courage to fight to heal.


Wishing you Hope for your Healing,
Be well Do well Live well
Love,
Sunita



#selfloveselfcarefirst#trauma#treason#selfsabotage#ACE's#attachmenttrauma#selflove#selfcare#Davanloo#dynamicpsychotherapy#healing#ISTDP#IEDTA#emotions#AllanAbbass#ReachingThroughResistance#love#relationships





Sunday, December 15, 2019

What a Cat, a Dog and Bob Marley Can Teach us About Overcoming Fears, Choosing Vulnerability and Giving Love a Chance

Runa (age 20 months old) and Thor (12 years old) as they are today

Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Things were not always harmonious for Thor and Runa. Thor is our 12 year old Collie and Runa is our almost 2 year old Siberian Forest Cat.

Runa joined our family as a 8 week old kitten. At that time, she was a frightened little baby, separated from her mother and the only environment she had ever known. It was obvious from her responses that she was terrified of everything in our home. The new room she was sequestered in, the sounds outside her room, and most of all, she was frightened of our 'Big Dog' Thor. Little did she know that he was a gentle giant who was anxious to make friends with her and impatiently waiting to shower her with his love. His temperament has always been one of a care giver with a soft soul.

As we followed the instructions that Runa's breeder had given us to help her ease into our home, she began to become bolder and show signs of curiosity about the sounds and smells outside of her room. It was weeks before we actually introduced Thor directly to Runa. And that too, was done under close supervision and, for only short periods of time.
Baby Runa at age 12 weeks

The first time she met him, she cowered under the bed and did not come out for many hours. But as we continued to expose both of them to each other, the barriers between them started to break down. Runa saw how Thor was not aggressive with her and allowed her to lead the way to a possible friendship.

Now, almost a year and a half later, they cuddle up together and sleep on the same bed. Runa enjoys bossing Thor to no end, even though she is a fraction of his size and weight.

There is a lot to be learnt by us all in how they reached this point of trust, connection and love from a place of fear and suspicion.

Runa had to let go of her fears and learn more about this big, new stranger she had met. Thor had to be patient with her and continuously reassure her on how gentle and safe he was.


We can find ourselves feeling guarded in situations with someone new for many different reasons.

  1. We may feel uncomfortable, or even scared if they appear different from us in any way. 
  2. An initial negative experience with a person may also turn us off from proceeding to get to know them better. 
  3. Our unconscious biases, personal insecurities, inherent shyness, and limitations in social skills also have a role to play in how far we extend ourselves to others. Especially when we don't have a natural and immediate affinity with them. 
  4. If we carry the baggage of trauma and past abandonment's, then we are prone and practiced to avoid pursuing and initiating intimate relationships. 
  5. Lastly, we fear rejection. "What if they don't like me?" This fear and possible projection is so real that many a time, we just don't bother to make an effort to extend ourselves.

After all, why take the chance to get our hearts broken again and be left with nothing but pain and shame. It's understandable. But entirely self defeating. Not taking a chance on love is a guaranteed path to us being alone, disconnected and isolated. Because, without being vulnerable and opening our heart up to another human being, we will never find the pleasure and sense of connection that only an intimate and deep relationship can give us. Only when we risk getting our heart broken can we get close enough to someone to feel the rush of such love.

And that's what Runa and Thor can teach us to do. Despite Thor looking like a big ogre to Runa, she slowly took the opportunity to learn more about him as she grew older and more confident of her surroundings and herself. In that self awareness, she found the strength and will to take a chance. So can we!

I hope you will feel vulnerable enough to put your heart out there. Just think of all the love that can come your way! There is no higher plane of existence than the one we inhabit when we feel seen, heard, understood and loved by another human being. And that is the same cocoon of belonging that we feel in all it's magnificent intensity when we extend such love to them. But to get there, we must put our barriers away and take our guard down so we may venture forward with courage.

Wishing you a week of glorious vulnerability and courage,
Love,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst#vulnerability#love#courage#bobmarley#collies#siberianforestcats#dog#cat#relationships