If a stranger approached you in the street and started diagnosing you with all kinds of problems, I’m sure you’d walk away, ignoring them.
But content on the internet doesn’t get ignored or scrutinised as much as it should. So every ‘report’ and every rumour about foods to avoid, foods to eat, conditions we apparently have, what the best form of movement is for our bodies, how we should look and think and relax…
Well, the truth of it is, nobody’s met you. They don’t know you. They certainly aren’t qualified to be talking about your body, emotional or mental health in the way they do – i.e telling you to quit one thing and making you feel like a failure if you’re not doing (or loving) something else.
So why don’t we treat the internet and its billions of contributors like the strangers they are?
Why do we give away so much free and constant access to our private thought space?
Here’s some food for thought.
1. Unique individuals should strive for diversity, not feel shamed because of their differences.
Did you know that even on a cellular level, diversity and difference is essential to life? Homogeny can even create fatal weaknesses…
2. We shouldn’t all love the same thing.
Boring. Imagine a world where we all have identical shells – and then think of all the many hundreds of movies out there which call that dystopia.
3. Finding out what you like and what you need is essential to developing a sense of your own self.
Being handed instructions does not provide any meaningful challenge or adventure. But it does keep you occupied. It keeps you predictable. It keeps you herded.
4. Who you are is up to you.
When you’re listening to so many outside voices all the time, it gets hard or even impossible to identify your own. But any uncertainty you feel about a decision or a direction is not a sign that you’re not up to the task.
Ultimately who you are, what you choose to fill your time with – these should be things that mean something to you.
5. Give yourself the respect you deserve and do it right!
Seek a professional. Only someone treating you as an individual will be able to tailor knowledge to your needs on every level – and they should have enough experience and information to be able to do that for every body, not just one, vague, generic body.
6. Seek Inspiration, rather than Instruction.
The internet is great for that! And when you make your choices, then find your expert.
Protect your private space. It is the place you need to develop your own voice and sense of self.
So whether the pressure (which is so carefully disguised as advice) is to look a certain way, exercise a certain way, eat a certain way, feel a certain way or get involved in certain things like causes, politics or spiritual work – remember this: people who don’t know anything about you are not more qualified to tell you what to do.
Seek guidance from masters by all means – other people’s experience is a valuable resource – but make sure you find them. Don’t let them find you every day with complete and unmonitored access.
Detail from Christine McConnell’s Self Portrait in the Style of Stepford Wives
This week’s recipe, inspired by all the wild garlic growing around the office at the moment.
Jersey royals & wild garlic from Jamie Oliver
Important: Debbie is selecting recipes with combinations of ingredients to inspire your cooking regimes, but while they are healthier choices in general, they will not address individual issues. You MUST make sure that all ingredients you use are compatible with your own individual medical conditions, medications, allergies and goals.
- 500 g Jersey Royals
- 1 handful of wild garlic leaves
- olive oil
- a few fresh sprigs of rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas 6.
- In a large pan of salted water, parboil the Jersey royals. Drain them in a colander and place over the hot pan to steam dry.
- Bash the wild garlic leaves with a little sea salt in a pestle and mortar. Add a generous lug of oil and mix into a paste, then rub over the potatoes.
- Place on a tray, pick and scatter over the leaves of the rosemary sprigs.
- Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Serve with grilled meat or fish.