It represents primarily a conflict over my desire for independence and my need for dependence, emotional support, approval, and acceptance. The conflict has come into prominence outstandingly in my marriage -- my husband in many respects has much the same problem as I do. He needs dependence, but he has developed a facade of independence which outwardly appears very successful. I find that this results in his inability to accept me as an individual in many respects. We're forced to perform acceptable selves or hide pieces of ourselves (when possible) in order not to be punished, scorned, laughed at, rejected, bullied, or discriminated against. Inauthenticity becomes a survival tactic, a war waged on our true selves that generates shame and disconnection. We direct the pain at ourselves, sometimes taking the form of depression, anxiety, self-harm, substance abuse, even diabetes. We never truly know if the people we're interacting with actually care about us, which can be soul-assassinating. It's like gaslighting ourselves. We're then engaged in pseudo-intimacy, which is laborious rather than nourishing. True intimacy, on the other hand, flourishes when we come together as our authentic selves. True intimacy is life-giving and energy-boosting. It's where empathy, compassion, and care blossom. There are limits to the intimacy possible, however, when you have to present your socially acceptable self rather than your authentic self, when you're on guard and managing impressions. The relaxation response causes the release of soothing, pleasurable chemicals known as endorphins, which act as a potent antidote to adrenaline. This creates a physical state of deep rest that slows the heart rate and breathing, reduces blood pressure and stress hormones, and relaxes muscles. In addition to its calming physical effects, research shows that the relaxation response increases energy and focus, combats illness, relieves aches and pains, heightens problem-solving abilities, and boosts motivation, productivity, and feelings of happiness and peace. CALM DOWN TO SLIM DOWN: In case you need another reason to learn how to access instant calm and dial down the stress: stress makes you fat. When the sympathetic nervous system is triggered, it floods your body with cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone. Part of cortisol's job is to stimulate the body to store fat, especially in the abdomen, to use as a quick energy source for the body.

But because the threats we're responding to nowadays don't generally necessitate that we run for our lives, we're not using up these energy stores, so we're saving it up and packing on the pounds. To add insult to injury, belly fat is more than just a wardrobe bummer; Below are three skills you can learn to activate your parasympathetic nervous system to trigger relief in pressure-cooker situations. Take Action On the other hand, I resent this -- I resent my need for his approval and attention. I find that when I am left alone a good deal (as I often am, since he's a law student), I utilize devious means to get his attention, such as causing emotional scenes over my in-laws. And then I follow this with terrific feelings of remorse for what I have done -- I seem unable to control my feeling in this respect even though I believe intellectually I realize what I am doing. Today I'm tied to my husband, and still not making the goal. I still don't know what I want for myself and what I want because of what my husband will think of me. I still don't have control over my personality to be able to direct it into my own goals and achieve them. I find that I project this resentment alternately towards my husband and my in-laws. I can't stand the idolizing of him that my mother-in-law exhibits. I feel once again back in my own home -- playing second fiddle. I seek recognition of myself. Have you ever felt like the people at work or school don't really know you, so it's a profound relief to get home and drop the facade? Can you even drop the facade at home? When we cannot be ourselves, we are deprived of authentic relationships we can trust. We are deprived of belonging. No one deserves that. Yet in an unjust culture that values some bodies over others, we're set up for it.

Hiding our authentic selves can be a smart, protective survival strategy. Had I come out as a genderqueer teen in my hometown, things wouldn't have gone well. It was hard enough to stop my parents from going forward with their plans for shock therapy to cure me of perceived lesbianism. I can't imagine the consequences had they realized that what they really were observing was gender transgression. Read through each of these three skills to familiarize yourself with the steps. Then, the next time you find yourself in a highly charged situation, put them into practice and watch the stress bubble burst as quickly as it appeared. Instant Calm Skill #1: Deep Breathing Many people unconsciously go through the day taking short, shallow breaths. When we take in less oxygen, the heart has to pump faster to get the same amount of oxygenated blood to the vital organs--and an accelerated heart rate signals our brains that anxiety is afoot. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen and feel more relaxed. Abdominal breathing will trigger your parasympathetic nervous system and enable you to regain equilibrium. The great thing about it is that you can do it anywhere that you need to access instant calm: at your desk, before a medical exam, when someone says something that upsets you. Follow these simple steps: Before you start, give yourself a trigger signal to tell your body you're about to practice. I want to be recognized as an individual, but I don't feel that I have a clear idea of that individual; Diary after first group meeting I think I felt the most empathic feeling with Kay's problem. It seemed like such a hopeless, unadjusted situation. I also felt a good deal of envy for her, as someone who has had a marriage that I would like to have. I felt that after the initial awkwardness, the group gained a certain identity and solidarity within itself.

I feel that we are identified with each other toward a common goal, and I feel a warmth and sincerity in the group that I have never felt in another group. I feel as if I had known the people in the group for a long time -- and rather well. The most outstanding reaction I had was my feeling of identity and sympathy for Kay. I couldn't forget about her or her problem all day. It doesn't surprise me that so many trans kids attempt suicide. In one large survey, for example, more than half of transgender male teens, 29. Each of us belongs here. We deserve to belong to each other. And we certainly deserve to belong in our own bodies. My purpose in writing this article is to heal from a toxic culture and move into belonging--and to help others do the same. We can create refuge for each other and help shift the world around us--until one day, all bodies are valued and all of us belong. None of us reading this article is doing it without a body. Belonging is fundamentally about bodies, and thus so is justice and injustice. When harm is inflicted upon someone, it is not abstract; For example, touch your breastbone or navel with your right hand, and tell yourself: I am triggering my relaxation response. Repeating your trigger signal each time conditions your nervous system to know what to expect and, over time, also cues your body to go into relaxation mode. With your eyes open or closed, place your hand on your belly (if you are in a public place and would prefer to skip this step, that's perfectly okay). Begin to control your breathing by taking a few deep, slow, comfortable breaths. Take a deep breath in for four slow counts. Then breathe out, also slowly, for a count of four.

Lung capacities vary, so four may not be your optimal number. You should feel your stomach rising about an inch as you breathe in and falling an inch when you breathe out. Find what works for you and practice until it feels like second nature. With this breathing practice, you don't have to force anything; Diary after fourth group meeting I had a feeling that momentum was gathering at this session. I think we're really getting somewhere. I was surprised at Laura's reaction to her shortness. I always had a feeling that girls who were short accepted it and liked it for the assets it had. I always considered the problem of height to be one that was singularly attached to tall girls. Perhaps because of my height and the problem that I faced with it in my early adolescence. But Laura expressed her feeling for it very adequately and I think I can understand her. My reactions to myself were very revealing to me. On the basis of Mary's remark about hostility and admitting it to ourselves, I realized that actually I loved my mother. It is inflicted on a body or a group of bodies. Loving our bodies is how we fortify ourselves, sure, but loving each other is how we create collective body liberation. So, let's make our body positivity movement, our lives, and our culture about being, belonging, and body liberation. Let's do the healing, but rather than reducing our movement to a quest for individualist self-love, let's name being and belonging--to ourselves and each other--as one of the main aims of a collective, inclusive, transformative body liberation. That assignment may or may not align with a person's gender. It is also made with incomplete information about an individual's biological makeup.