Integrity - “The state of being whole and undivided. Unity, coherence, cohesion, togetherness, solidarity.”
As I drove home yesterday, I was reflecting on all the negativity and assaults to the integrity of our bodies and minds reflected in the media reports of sexual assaults, shootings, and the divisive aggressive politics of the Country. These incidents are snapshots of some of the mainstream cultural norms that celebrate individualistic and dominant masculinity, racial and gender hierarchies and a privileging of only one way of thinking. What this means on a more intimate level, is that many of us take on and internalize these cultural norms and rarely have opportunities to step back and look at how we are perpetuating these types of violence (even on a smaller level) towards ourselves and others. What have we bought into when we harm our own bodies, speak negatively and hatefully about ourselves or dwell in unhappiness because we can’t meet certain standards? What happens when we believe so strongly that our perspective is right and others who disagree are wrong? What allows us to feel that we can dominate or access other people’s bodies without their consent? How does our lack of reflection or empathy impact how we treat or see others?
One of the gifts of my work and position in the world is that I am constantly trying to think outside my own box and striving for openness to different ideas and perspectives. I have to listen closely, ask questions of myself and those I work with. I have perspectives and a base of knowledge and experience, but I frequently practice having a critical mind about what I believe and how I may cast judgement on others. I invite you all to do this as a daily practice. Your thoughts and perspective are not always right; multiple perspectives can actually be true at the same time. Of course, there are times that quick judgements need to be made and action needs to be taken, but without awareness and time to reflect, repair relationships, or talk, it’s easy to make the types of decisions that affect us all negatively.
One of the sacred qualities of psychotherapy, is having the ritual and space to pause, reflect, question, share, and move toward a more fulfilled and fulfilling perspective about ourselves, others and humanity. I find sanctuary in creating space for this sometimes slow, ambiguous process, which is missing in so many parts of our lives. Hopefully this space allows us all to be more aware, compassionate, non-violent people, who also take action in creating a world that’s equitable.
Here is what I hope you can do for yourselves and each other:
- Turn off the TV and news sometimes and listen to music, podcasts or stories that remind you that the majority of the time, we are doing something right! There are good people in the world.
- Take time to run, swim, bike outdoors, without any music or media and just let your mind be free. This is precious time and can lead to so much more creativity, compassion, solutions and productivity.
Focus on ways you can improve care for yourself and others. How are you nurturing your body every day? How are you standing up against sexism, heterosexism, racism, homophobia etc.? What individual ways are you engaging with your own problematic behaviors and assumptions and how can you actively change this? How are you investing in people and organizations that are making differences in the world? What ways do you own your own power in making these changes? Are you listening to people who inhabit a more marginalized position in society and putting some of their ideas to practice?
- Spend time with friends, family and loved ones and share what’s going on in your lives. So many times, we present ourselves in pretty packages, all guarded and wrapped up. When you are with others, talk, listen and love each other, because at the end of it all, it’s our relationships and what we’ve shared and done with and for others that will matter most. Support each other and each other’s gifts and focus on what you can really do to contribute to a better world for everyone. It doesn’t have to be a grand accomplishment always. You can support those who will take leadership on issues and if you aren’t a gregarious leader (which we all shouldn’t be), what are you doing in your smaller circles and communities to create positive change?
- Have some fun while you are at it. The gifts you are presented with aren’t to be taken for granted – so enjoy nature, food, sports, art, music, love, and all that our bodies and minds can create. Please support, celebrate and nurture the integrity of bodies.
Cory Nyamora, Psy.D.
Dr. Cory Nyamora is an endurance sports coach with certifications from USAT and USATF, a licensed clinical psychologist, and the founder of Endurance – A Sports & Psychology Center, Inc. He provides endurance coaching for beginner and experienced athletes, as well as psychotherapy services to children, adults, and families.