When the student becomes the teacher

The best rewards I get in my work come when my clients give it back to me. After group the other night a client of mine A.A. wrote me about choice, about changing herself, about changing the world. She changes me….

“There’s this way in which human beings desire to be a part of something bigger. It is why we, as humans, are so vulnerable to societal pressures, fashion trends, or advertisements. We are programmed with a want to do what is “right”, and we look for external signs of what that is. It’s a selfish phenomenon. We are selfish creatures, in the sense that we want to self-preserve. Thus, we listen to the generations of intuition that tell us to look around at what others are doing, in order to keep ourselves safe.

Though the initial intention behind said susceptibility was self-promoting, as our civilization has exponentially evolved into a far more complex entity, this way we have learned to survive has somehow, in some ways, manifested into self-destructing. Basically, we’ve massively screwed up on a certain level.

The very phenomenon that led our people to gather together during the Civil Rights Movement, brought others to congregate as Nazis. As we have assembled for Labor Movements, we have also banned together to purchase top brands that exploit horrible labor conditions in developing nations. And it is with the same need we had to advocate for women’s rights, with which we have given billions of dollars to tabloids that continue to prime our brains on what women should look like and how we should dress or what we should eat to look that way. It is the very parts of ourselves that fight to end world hunger that simultaneously feed into juice cleanses, calorie-counting, and other dangerous diet fads which leave those with access to nourishment starving.

We’ve stopped questioning the sources. We’ve used our most incredibly gifted minds to stop thinking to our detriment. And we’ve suffered.

Listening to a leader to whom I consciously choose to listen the other day, I heard the solution: we are powerful. As quickly as I am able to hand over the power to an industry that frames beauty through the eyes of emaciated distortion with the words, “I am fat”, I am just as swiftly able to take back that power and put it towards a belief I support. It’s all about the next best action.

The fact of the matter is that we are promoting our suffering in our actions; not only the pain we feel, but also that with which we inflict onto every child today and for generations to come who grows up believing he or she needs to be different than he or she is to succeed, to be loved, to have worth. The rate of new cases of eating disorders has been increasing in unprecedented growth since 1950 and today we are left with nearly 28 million Americans and 70 million individuals worldwide struggling with this mental illness that has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Beyond those who will have an eating disorder severe enough to be treated or diagnosed, there is an even greater percentage who suffer on a level that will go unnoted. It has been recorded that at any moment, one in every three women and one in every four men are on a diet. Body distortion is on the rise and we are in the midst of cultivating the most image-oriented society to ever exist. And, it can change.

When I sat down and listened, I realized I, as well as every other person on this planet, no longer needs to be a subject of our own torture. We have the power to question and the ability to take charge of our own actions. We have suffered enough. Some more than others. Instead of sitting by, passively taking the role of the targeted, it is time we own up to the role we play and recognize how to cast ourselves. We have the chance to dream something different and create a reality in which our natural selves are welcome. We get the chance to paint a picture where health, happiness, and the pieces of ourselves we want to enhance are on the forefront of our actions.

Today, I declare I am not submissive. Some things will happen to me that I cannot control, but many things I have allowed to affect me of which I now know the pain. Just as it is the nature of my humanity that allows me to be susceptible to the ways of others, it is this very pain that teaches me how to transform in a way that aids myself. It is our suffering that gives us permission to say enough.

It is in my choice to feed myself that I speak louder than an ad to diet. It is in the way I love and respect myself and the vehicle in which I live, that I tell a story that differs from that of any magazine. It is the way I put my emphasis towards the heart and the mind of myself and of others that I say f*ck you to every TV show or movie that exemplifies self worth through material possessions. It is in eating what I want, wearing what I like, saying what I mean, and connecting through what’s real that I take the reigns in the reality in which I choose to live. It is in giving less energy to what’s wrong and focusing on what’s right that I find the path I choose wider and less lonely.

We are powerful. This is the answer. We are simply humans with the chance to choose our next action. Choose with wisdom. Question who and what you follow. Lead. Imagine.”

-Carolyn Costin

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