Inner Beauty

Written by Ivette Moutzouris

Inner Beauty is a concept that is not celebrated enough in our society of instant gratification and remaining forever young!

I saw a movie recently where an elderly man was describing his wife and he stated that her inner beauty never aged!!! How wonderful it would be if our youth and some of us adults could celebrate and value inner character as opposed to outward appearances.

The danger of over focusing on our outside appearances can be detrimental to our overall self- esteem, particularly since we cannot remain young and inevitably change physically. There is a growing trend in modern society to look perfect….that is flawless and air brushed, no or minimal wrinkles, a toned and slim physique and even how we look under our clothes appears to be of importance! It is unhealthy to make this the focus of beauty at the expense of what really counts, which is  good character that can be nurtured and does not fade with age.

I have counselled many females (but I am sure this is an issue for men) who feel depressed or unhappy because they do not live up to ideals that are either unrealistic or superficial. The truth is that we are all individual and we can’t be someone else. In order to have healthy self- esteem we need to value inner character and inner strength and what makes us who we are. Everyone is unique and special regardless of how they look on the outside and it is extremely important that we teach this to our children from a very young age. As a modern society and as adults we need to encourage inner growth of character not false perfection of the external. Characters traits such as respect, integrity, honesty, compassion, empathy, love and so on. These traits need to be demonstrated and valued in a superficial world where youth are being bullied for how they look and are learning that this is what gives someone their worth. Researchers have noticed that plastic surgery is occurring in increasingly younger ages and the obsession with the outside self is overriding the search for the inner you.

I encourage to you to help reverse this trend by thinking of yourself in terms of inner character and uniqueness and not fall into the temptation of comparing yourself to others. I also encourage you to make an effort to value the traits that last a lifetime and do not fade with age but can become more and more beautiful!!!

If you would like to read more on this topic of self-esteem and the values our youth are adopting I would recommend authors such as Maggie Hamilton and Melinda Tankard Reist.

 

Maggie Hamilton, ‘What’s Happening to Our Girls?’ 2008.

Melinda Tankard Reist and Abigail Bray (Eds), ‘Big Porn Inc –Exposing the Harms of The Global Pornography Industry’ 2011.

Dr Patricia Weerakoon, ‘Teen Sex By The Book’ 2012.

The Art of Storytelling

                                          The Art of Storytelling                                   

What is your story?  Everyone has a story, all 7 billion of us today, and billions more who have already walked and left this earth.

While storytelling has been a pivotal form of communication since the beginning of time, it is only in the last few decades that it has been pinned as an ‘art’.  Cavemen, clans and tribes spent hours around campfires hearing stories from elders recounting daily happenings, community news and generational traditions, as a way of passing down invaluable information about their culture and heritage.  Storytelling included moral lessons, legends, rituals and myths as part of their legacy for the longevity of generations to come. 

How would we have learned about religion, moral beliefs, values and customs had it not been for the quintessential storytelling communicated in the Bible, Quran, Torah, Vedas and Tripitaka? How would we have known about life in ancient Egypt had the story not been depicted laboriously through Hieroglyphics?  Or the incredible stories of Indigenous communities through unique Dreamtime Stories of the Aboriginal culture?

Storytelling is not only recounted and passed on with spoken word, but also via other communication mediums, including drawings, paintings, visual and sign language, written, print and digital space.  It is used in a personal and professional context, as an educational, persuasive and therapeutic tool.  The application style and modality highly depends on the desired outcome, and how the individual wishes to differentiate themselves from others in order to highlight their individuality.

The commonality in all forms are the importance of authenticity, honesty, establishing credibility, engagement and emotional connection with the recipient of the story.  Stories influence people; stories connect generations; stories create a sense of belonging to a universal force.  Personal stories are unique and the telling inspires a courageous journey to self-discovery. 

Our story is the unique footprint of who we are, where we have come from, how others in our lives have contributed to shaping us, and most importantly how we have taken the resources made available to us to make relevant choices to the best of our ability.  The choices we make, the outcomes they bring forth and the effect it has on our life will then become a permanent part of the repertoire of the next generation.  A story is about inspiring change as we set the scene, stimulate a sense of wonder and create an atmosphere for the recipient to care and therefore learn from. 

There is a natural storytelling need in each of us.  The nurturing of this intrinsic impulse can bring about self-actualisation with positive results.  Storytelling can be a valuable therapeutic tool, as it gives us a courageous voice, taps on to the now, shines clarity on our past and current life, and enhances optimism to plan for a desired future.  It provides an opportunity to look inside ourselves, giving us the permission to express values we feel deep down in our core and validate our existing resilience.

Our motivation is powered by what we know and what we have experienced, as we draw strength from pain and adversity, celebrate joy and success.  The true path of self-development and envisaging a desired future can have an extremely enlightening and healing effect.  Navigating through the complex dark jungles of our mind and coming into the bright pasture of hope promotes an incredibly empowering sense of well-being and freedom.

What is your unique story?  Trust your intuition and start telling it today.  It’s not just art, it’s your gift to future generations.

Ida Soghomonian

One in seven billion, Uniquely Me…

 

 

 

 

 

Introvert or Extravert???

It’s Friday night. It’s been a long, difficult week.  Some of your friends have organised a group social function for the evening. Which one of these reactions reminds you of yourself?

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               “Oh I’m so excited!! Can’t wait! A party! That’s just what I need!!”

 

OR….

 

iStock_000024086772Medium Worried Businessman

“Can’t go. I just need to go home and relax”

 

Delving shamelessly further into the world of stereotypes…I posit that if you identify more closely with the big smiley face chances are that people have told you that you are extraverted, loud, often the centre of attention, a bit of a showoff….or fun, outgoing and chatty. People have also probably observed that you have 1024 friends on Facebook.

If, on the other hand, you completely related to the importance of sitting at home by yourself on Friday night then I suggest people may have used words like introverted, shy, quiet, anti-social… or thoughtful, private and observant to describe you.

How am I going? Recognising yourself …or someone else perhaps?

 Some of these behaviours and observations point toward the world of personality types and differences…specifically the personality dispositions termed Extraversion and Introversion by psychologist Carl Yung. Firstly, though, I want to clear up the slight social misconception that being extraverted or introverted means being either loud or quiet. You might be…but that is not the full story….

In psychology introversion and extraversion actually refers to what energises you or where you put your attention. Introverts are people who get energized by the internal world of ideas and images in their own mind. This is often achieved through time alone or with one significant other in order to reflect and process. They can become drained by too much social interaction. Extroverts are people who get energised by the social external world of people and things. This is often acquired through social interaction and activities and expressive communication with others. They can become depleted when they spend too much time by themselves or are prevented from social company.

 A good way to understand the basic cycle experienced by introverts and extraverts is to imagine a good old fashioned hourglass…(refer to picture below;))

 

hourglass-1328506-m

Now imagine that the sand is your energy source.

….imagine you are an Extrovert. You have become empty of energy because you have been by yourself. You feel flat and unenthused…so you surround yourself with people and activities. Now…imaginatively turn the hourglass over and start letting the energy sand flow through and fill up the base …. The sand grains filling the base represent a gradual build up of energy derived from company, social activities, talking and being in groups. You feel terrific and full. You are at your best.

Now imagine you are an Introvert. You feel full, refreshed and energised after spending time reflecting on ideas, processing and being alone. Hence the base of the hour glass is full of sand…now turn the hourglass over. The sand grains slip through and represent a gradual depletion of energy due to being in company, attending social functions, being in groups and having conversations. You start to feel depleted of energy…and need time to process and reflect in solitude.

The reason why introverts and extraverts seek different ways to energise was hypothesized by Psychologist Hans Eysenck in 1967 as being because they have different levels of arousal or activation in their brains, specifically the ascending reticular activating system (ARAS). Basically, Eysenck’s theory suggests that introverts have generally higher levels of resting activity in the ARAS than extraverts. This leads introverts toward inhibitive behaviours that tend to decrease excessive external stimulation, whilst extraverts tend to show more impulsive behaviours and seek social experiences to increase the activation in the ARAS.

So, basically, its ok to need company and its ok to need solitude. It is just the way our brains are. Everyone needs solitude sometimes and everyone needs social company. You may simply need more of one of them to recharge your batteries:)

It can be tricky negotiating the differing energy needs of extraverted and introverted people in relationships, workplaces and family groups. Sometimes a little understanding of the qualities behind the differences can go a long way.

So here’s some tips…

For Extroverts dealing with Introverts:

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…understand that introverts have a lot going on beneath the surface. They have a lot to offer. Don’t underestimate them:)

For Introverts dealing with Extraverts:

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…understand that extraverts have immense social skills and the capacity to bring people together. Don’t judge them:)

Phew we got past the ‘Dont’s’. Think its time for some ‘Do’s.

This is how to ‘love’ your extravert or introvert…

For extraverts:

Affirm them publicly.

Let them try new things.

Talk things out with them.

Encourage their contributions.

For introverts:

Give them time to think.

Allow them privacy and space.

Let them observe new things first.

Encourage their perception.

The world needs us both. Understanding and accommodating the differences where possible is the key.

OK…introverts…sit and ponder this quietly for a few minutes….and feel validated.

Extraverts…………extraverts….??? um…where did they go?? At a guess… I’d say probably already chatting with friends about how excited they are to be extraverts;)

🙂

Written by Shannon Gostelow

Provisional Psychologist

For an online personality test go to

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

For further reading

http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/extraversion-or-introversion.htm

References

 

Bullock, W. A., & Gilliland, K. (1993). Eysenck’s arousal theory of introversion-extraversion: a converging measures investigation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(1), pp. 113-123.