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Neelam Tewar: ” Healthy personal boundaries”

1. Self-care: Meditation, journaling, and exercising are habits I practice daily to embrace self-love, compassion, and optimal mental health. Once every few days, I also try to be in nature. 2. Travel: I was raised on four continents, so travel is something I tend to actively build into my schedule — even if it’s a short trip away […]


1. Self-care: Meditation, journaling, and exercising are habits I practice daily to embrace self-love, compassion, and optimal mental health. Once every few days, I also try to be in nature.

2. Travel: I was raised on four continents, so travel is something I tend to actively build into my schedule — even if it’s a short trip away for the weekend to cut away from work; spending time in different places enhances tolerance and has helped my creativity.

3. Vipassana: I recently did my first-ever vipassana retreat (10-day silent meditation) and have incorporated it in my daily self-care practice twice daily. I will be doing at least one more retreat this year and it’s given me clarity, energy, and focus.

4. Family time: My schedule can be unpredictable, so I do my best to stay in touch with family and close friends around the world whether it’s via Facetime or being with them in person. It gives me a sense of grounding and knowing that I’m not losing sight of what’s truly important.

5. Healthy personal boundaries: The demands of my time can often be high. I communicate my bandwidth and have been super fortunate that everyone in my life understands I might not be able to honor certain social commitments. I set healthy boundaries, it’s been a game-changer for me and my relationships.


As a part of my series about “Connecting With Yourself To Live With Better Relationships” I had the pleasure to interview Neelam Tewar. Neelam an entrepreneur and a two times TEDx speaker — she mentors experts, authors, consultants, and coaches to help them amplify their income, influence, and impact with story, strategy, and spirituality. She travels the world to give talks on conscious entrepreneurship, evolved leadership, creativity, and functional spirituality; and was recently invited to speak at a UNESCO World Heritage event. Neelam will be in South Korea, Japan, India, United States, and Singapore to host talks/workshops with educational institutions and corporate houses in 2019.


Thank you so much for joining us! Let’s Get Intimate! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

I worked for over a decade in the advertising business in New York City. It was clear about 4 years ago this wasn’t the right career path for me. I was unhappy and depressed living a life that did not fulfill me because I knew I had more to contribute to others than I was settling for. I wanted to work for myself while I traveled the world so, in June of 2016, I bid adieu to the advertising world, my life in NYC and moved to Austin where I wrote my first book of poetry. I was raised across four continents so wanderlust is second nature to me. I bought a one-way ticket to India to explore the country and what followed is nothing short of magic, in that I now work out of Asia while serving my clients internationally.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

I’m always working on something, hah! I am helping authors, coaches and entrepreneurs step into creating bigger influence, impact and income with their message, story, and truth. Healing is the foundational block in all my work, and as my clients work through their lives and how they want to be in support of humanity, it deepens their understanding of themselves. I live by inside-out thinking and find that every time we focus on our inner world, our outer experiences including how we interact with our community, country and with one another is bound to shift.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self-acceptance?

One overarching theme that has painted my deepest understanding of self-love or self-acceptance is rejection. I was a precocious child, curious, creative and fairly rebellious in my thinking; not a formidable combination for a woman. Over the years, I learned to edit myself depending on who I was surrounded by and it eroded my ability to see my own gifts and unique qualities. When I was laid off about 7 years ago, I went through an existential crisis that triggered asking the bigger questions. I had a complete lifestyle shift which started with quitting alcohol and then, meat to embracing yoga, not just of the body but the mind too. I learned to accept myself and fall in love with the process of self-discovery including contextualizing my experiences with a healthy, unbiased and detached approach. I can put my hand on my heart and confirm that though that this phase of my life was dark, it did plant the seed of entrepreneurship, contribution and embracing myself as I am…which is how I get to do the work I do today.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

We can all agree beauty standards for men and women are different. The entire beauty industry plays off insecurities of women which is a result of a multitude of factors such as toxic masculinity, misogyny, violence, and decads of treating women as the weaker sex. Our perception of beauty is superficial and distorted. It affected self-esteem, confidence, and self-worth in women however I do think that is changing gradually. The 2015 Dove “Real Beauty” campaign was one of the first to take on a stance that most brands or companies wouldn’t. We are seeing shifts but I think each of us has the responsibility to let our differences bring us together, not tear us apart. Especially women, we need to be kinder to each other; we are sisters after all.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

Loving yourself is not just important, it’s a non-negotiable. We live in the digital age where information, messages, and even propaganda can reach us within moments. We are being sold to every moment we are on our digital devices — — both directly and indirectly by smart marketers who are playing on our emotions with their product or philosophy.

I believe we are what we consume and that doesn’t just mean food, it also means the information being shoved in our faces and minds, often without our consent. I’m militant about several things to make sure I’m consuming “healthy”, for example, I don’t watch TV and my social media newsfeed is highly curated.

How we think affects how we view ourselves in the large context of how we are valued and perceived in the world around us.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

The painful truth is because that’s the relationship they have with themselves. Once we change how we interact with ourselves, we can be more courageous about our relationships. Our outer experiences are reflective of how we handle, and integrate our inner world; and this includes how we speak to ourselves, how strong our boundaries are and how much kindness, the compassion we shower on ourselves.

What I’ve found most helpful is being honest with myself no matter what and then taking the next step that feels right, judgment-free and real to me. Inner work first, and then the conversations to grow, move or part ways in a relationship that isn’t optimal.

When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but for our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

I worked in corporate Americaand I knew it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I was depressed and couldn’t hold down a job. I’d been feeling disconnected with myself and knew something had to change. The three questions I had that brought me into my current way of looking at life are:
 
 1. If right now was my last day on the planet, what would I be happy with the legacy I created?

2. Is ego or fear standing in my way of serving for the greater good of those I am meant to help?

3. What am I willing to add, remove or transform in my current self-care and self-love routine?

As thinking individuals, we can justify almost any action or inaction. These questions help me zero in on what’s really going within to take an empowered decision forward.

So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

How true. I have a friend who won’t go out to dinner or go to the movies by himself. I found that strange at best. Alone time, being by myself to process my world or what I want to do with my business or art is critical to my well-being and how I create.

When can we learn to be alone, we can process not just how we are feeling but also, how we want to show up for the things, people and projects that matter to us. Self-enquiry comes from alone time and is critical for entrepreneurs, creatives and anyone on a big mission.

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

The biggest shift for me has been that it’s helped me become more compassionate with others and I can’t be more grateful for it.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

I wouldn’t rely on anything external, to begin with. I think people and society can have their own agendas and the work should always be at the individual level.

If we are comfortable with who we are and persistent about staying true to our values, it is my belief that society will find a way to adjust. If not, just know that the people, places, and experiences meant for you will find you….because you’ve had the courage to be yourself, fully and unapologetically.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

1. Self-care: Meditation, journaling, and exercising are habits I practice daily to embrace self-love, compassion, and optimal mental health. Once every few days, I also try to be in nature.

2. Travel: I was raised on four continents, so travel is something I tend to actively build into my schedule — even if it’s a short trip away for the weekend to cut away from work; spending time in different places enhances tolerance and has helped my creativity.

3. Vipassana: I recently did my first-ever vipassana retreat (10-day silent meditation) and have incorporated it in my daily self-care practice twice daily. I will be doing at least one more retreat this year and it’s given me clarity, energy, and focus.

4. Family time: My schedule can be unpredictable, so I do my best to stay in touch with family and close friends around the world whether it’s via Facetime or being with them in person. It gives me a sense of grounding and knowing that I’m not losing sight of what’s truly important.

5. Healthy personal boundaries: The demands of my time can often be high. I communicate my bandwidth and have been super fortunate that everyone in my life understands I might not be able to honor certain social commitments. I set healthy boundaries, it’s been a game-changer for me and my relationships.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?

Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl: His book is focused on his time in Nazi concentration camps and how he survived it even though his family didn’t make it. This book gives me hope and has taught me about what to focus on in life when faced with adversities.

Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke: This book has an exchange between one of my favourite poets’ and a fan who writes asking Rilke to critique his work, to which he replies “Nobody can advise you and help you, nobody. There is only one way. Go into yourself.” I couldn’t agree more. All answers lie within.

The Bhagavad Gita: The teachings in this book are timeless and its core teaching is detaching from the fruits of our action. I read it once a year and it re-orients me to ensure I am consciously removing myself from any attachments to the result instead, focussing and falling in love with the process.

And Still I Rise, Maya Angelou: Her writing isboth real and motivating. This collection has a message for everyone who needs to bolster their faith and trust that triumph is possible with faith and fighting for what is right.

I listen to the Tim Ferris podcast (by the same name) pretty regularly because he invites some very interesting guests with diverse backgrounds; I always get to learn something new with every listen.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

If you look at every decision in terms of legacy, you will make a masterpiece of your life and your finite time here. What you do, doesn’t have to be a version of what someone wants for you. And you don’t know yet what you were born to, it’s okay … be curious, ask questions, dig deeper within yourself and be courageous for when the time comes to fly, it won’t come with a warning.

I hope you rise and shine — — and live out loud your legacy.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

During the turning point of my life which was marked with leaving NYC and pursuing my dreams, my dad told me something I’d never forget when things don’t go our way or when the people we love don’t love us back, or when deep sadness finds us — he said, “a no is not a rejection, it’s simply re-direction to move you closer to all that is worthy of you.”

It reminds me there is a gift in everything that happens to us. We sort of just have to be open to finding what it is.

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