One of the reasons we are more prone to anxiety these days, is that we are constantly on an emotional roller coaster – stimulated by movies, social media, television and books with emotive stories. On one hand each one of these activities can give us some “time out” at the end of the day, on the other hand, it is important to note that our over-stimulated mind and emotions absorb it all and the constant input actually "adds" to the overall stress.
For example: if you watch a movie about a predator and you are involved in the story, your body cannot differentiate between the pretend story and real life. If you feel frightened whilst watching the movie, or your hair goes up on the back of your neck, you feel cold, sweaty or upset; then your emotional system is on! This means your adrenal glands are pumping the hormones that make the body to go into fight and flight mode. (Check out my deep breathing practice to reverse the affects of adrenal gland hormones)
Likewise if you see or read something that is really sad (I get triggered and cry every time I watch the movie Whale Rider), and you feel like crying, you are also having an emotional reaction which is affecting the chemistry in your body.
All this is fine if you are not over-anxious, but it is not okay if your system is already in overdrive. Our thinking and emotions are affected by the chemicals in our body: food, drugs, our own hormones, and toxins in the environment all have an affect on our mental and emotional health. For example, when I had my son, I did not sleep well (as is usual if you have babies!) and also had a lot of financial stress as my husband was made redundant. Eventually this lead to the break down of my health and I became fatigued. It was when I changed my diet, learnt how to relax and sleep, rebalance the chemistry in my body that I started to emotionally/mentally feel better again..
So, take some time out from movies,social media, books and TV. You could:
Please note that these blogs are from a lay person and not a counsellor, psychologist or medical professional. If you think you have severe anxiety or depression, you should consult with a professional.
Letting go of the past is not easy, especially if the past holds something unresolved.
Questions haunt us and they take a lot of energy....
WHAT did I do wrong?
WHAT could I have done differently?
Pondering on these questions can drive us crazy. These questions can form a loop in our minds and take up a lot of "free to air space"! Often there are no answers to these types of questions. Even if the person concerned could give you an answer, it could be emotionally loaded or distorted.
The good news is that with a bit of effort on your part, there is a way to make them lose their grip and stop their obsessing.
Step 1. Every time you go back to an old thought (which may include he WHY or WHAT questions), write it down in a notebook. When it repeats again, give it a tick and have this conversation with yourself:
"Yep, got that thanks. I can’t change this and at this stage there is no answer to it. Maybe one day in the future I will know the answer, maybe I will never know the answer to it. I do know that the question has already been asked, and if I am meant to know the answer it will come to me in its own good time. Thinking about this question is not helpful to me right now. In fact, I think it so much it is becoming boring”.
This kind of self-conversation can be quite helpful as it helps the mind change its focus.
Step 2 is CHANGE THE RECORD. By this I mean:
Step 3. Every time you get a repeat thought do Steps 1 and 2 again. Before long it will begin to change. The periods of obsessive thinking will get less, and the “I am feeling okay” time will get longer.
Many years ago a friendship ended suddenly. There were lots of “whys” floating around in my head, I kept thinking about the person, even though I didn’t see them any more. So I found a photo of that person, said all that I wanted to say to them and thanked them for the lesson. I told them I wanted to be free now. I then said “I let you go” and asked for them to be surrounded in love. I didn't have to love them myself, but I knew that there is some kind of benevolent love out there which could go to them. I then changed the record in my head by saying affirmations, getting involved in an absorbing activity or giving thanks for what I have.
Whenever this person came back into my mind I did the same process again. In fact, the first day I did it a lot of times – such was my habit of thinking about them. I was very strict with myself and stuck with the programme. The second day it was less, and by the third day it was considerably less. It was such a relief to stop thinking about that person. I felt free!
In time some answers did come to me - often unsolicited and out of the blue! I realised it wasn't all their fault and that I had a part to play in it too. By releasing my grip on the situation things began to open up and come clear.
If you have trouble letting go and would like some help, please contact me.
Learning to forgive your self is not an easy task – it’s a process which takes place over a period of time. There are many ways to arrive at the point of forgiveness. Each step brings a subtle shift towards inner peace and acceptance. I recently watched this video on forgiveness and it inspired me to write this blog. Here is my personal story of forgiveness.
I think we often do or say things that harm ourselves or others when our needs are not being met. This could come from an early childhood experience where we feel we are not “good enough” or “not accepted”. There are many reactions to feeling not good enough – trying to be better than someone else, feeling we have to prove ourselves, trying to obtain as much attention as we can from other people at any cost, treating other people like they are not good enough, being selfish, being invisible… the list goes on.
For much of my life I was blind to how I was behaving – I was doing the best that I could with what I knew. It was only through many years of experiences (sometimes difficult ones), personal reflection, asking questions, reading and learning that I realised how much “not good enough” was affecting my life – and hurting others.
I remember at one point writing my story in two different versions. Firstly, as the victim(poor me) with all the things that went wrong, blaming everyone else and taking no responsibility. Secondly, as the heroine, the person who learnt and adapted from each experience, who was helped by others and was willing to change. A person who became a better one over a period of time. Writing these two stories was quite a challenge for me. As the stories unfolded I started to see the effect of my actions – and the impact it had had on people close to me. Upon this realisation I wept with sadness: I felt ashamed and guilty.
This guilt stayed with me for a long time. I remember trying to appease a past relationship through a new one. Somehow I felt if I could “make things up” with the new partner, I would get be forgiven and get off the guilt hook. Of course this didn’t work! My new partner refused to accept my attempts to make things better, and I felt desperate and frustrated. I had no way of healing this situation with the original people. I had definitely learnt my lesson and wanted to do things differently (restorative justice) but how could I be free of this guilt? I was in a no-win situation – lesson learnt but I was stuck in prison with guilt. The guilt made me feel so bad. It fed back into my “you are not good enough” conditioning.
In the end I realised that the only way forward was to stop punishing myself and let myself out of jail. Ohhh it was hard. Had I punished myself long enough? I had certainly been flogging myself with remorse, regret and recriminations for a very long time.
And yet, I could not really stand strong in the lesson, if I didn’t free myself of the guilt. I had two choices:
Option 2 seemed the only alternative. So I tentatively stepped out into forgiveness. I let myself off the hook. I decided I would forgive myself once and for all. To do this I created an imaginary process where I talked to all the people concerned. I talked about my needs and how I had wanted them met, and how I acted to try and get them met. I stepped in their shoes to see things from their point of view. I was fair to myself, I accepted that it was a two way interaction and I wasn’t totally at fault. I was gentle with myself. I wasn’t born with the manual on how to live life – and sometimes mistakes are made. I told them what I had learnt and how I choose to behave now. I explained what I could have done differently, and what my new standards are now, based on this knowledge.
I asked them to forgive me. And then I FORGAVE MYSELF. I said goodbye to the guilt and walked out of the prison I had made for myself. I then celebrated that it was all over and thanked them for the experience.
Over the following months I watched my mind for the old punishing thoughts that wanted to return. Each time they came, I reminded myself that I am forgiven, and that it’s over now. I have learnt the lesson and live differently. I give love to myself, I accept what happened and that I cannot change it. I let myself feel inner peace.
Forgiving myself has brought inner peace to me. I am still learning and growing. I expect I will do many forgiveness processes in my lifetime – for mistakes in life are common. However it is wonderful to be free and shining my light once again.
Please do not think this is a magic formula for forgiveness. It isn’t. Many people have helped me along the way: friends, family, counsellors, authors, healers. We all have our own way of getting to inner peace. It’s just a matter of conscious choice. Do we want our heart to be hurt and closed all our lives? Or do we want to have it open, trusting, wise and free?
I recently watched the movie “Mr Holmes” – it is a wonderful story of forgiveness and healing for an old man and the people around him. Life is such a mystery and one of the greatest miracles is that of getting to a place of forgiveness.
Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling low?
Are you always struggling with your mind to get into a positive state?
Our minds can be pretty funky places at times.... And it if occurs often enough (we feel flat every day), it can become a habit. When we feel low, everything feels bad. Our body tends to have more pain and tension, our diet deteriorates, the day at work seems harder, the verbal dialogue goes around and round, we beat ourselves up and stop being fun to be around.
The trick to changing this is to change our thinking. (After all it is the one thing we do have control over).
We all get a bit flat at times, and I am no exception. One morning I got the idea to rev up through using affirmations (this has always worked for me in the past), so I took a look on internet to find some fresh ideas. I came across a talk by Abraham Hicks on called "The Easiest Way to Start Positive Momentum". It was a great talk, and I want to summarise it for you in this blog.
Esther Hicks and Louise Hay both say that using affirmations help shift our mental state and reality, but unless we get into a positive feeling state, affirmations do not work. Let me give you an example. You own a heater. You know it gives you warmth. But it only works when you turn the power on. Likewise with affirmations, they only work when we have a strong positive emotional feeling behind them. The emotional power literally turns the affirmations on.
So if you wake up and invest emotional energy into self talk about how flat you feel, that is what you will get - a bad day. If you wake up and invest your energy is a "rev up" pep talk with positive emotional energy behind it, then your day will be much better.
The easiest way to do this is to make yourself a recording of your affirmations when you are in a good mood and play it to yourself first thing in the morning. Leave enough space between each affirmation to repeat it, and remember to get into the feeling - like you already have it. BE excited!
I have one below which you can download.
Abraham Hicks says best way to start your 'rev up talk" is with something general.
What do you appreciate right now? Think of all the things that are easy to appreciate.
Think generally: your body, your home, your comfy warm bed, food in your cupboards, a hot shower...
Then go out into the community: people at the bank, your friends, the library service, the supermarket...
Then globally: the electricity to your house, the roads...
Take a moment to appreciate the wellbeing of the people around you. People who inspire you.
You could compare yourself with all the people who live in other places, and appreciate where you live and what you are accomplishing right now
GOOD VIBES ATTRACT GOOD VIBES
When you can put a good, excited, happy, uplifting feeling into your words/appreciation, this puts power into them. Often we let our good feeling go, and slump back down to apathy. So set an alarm in your phone a couple of times a day to remind you to lift your vibe again.
Abraham Hicks says the next step is to receive what comes your way. Allow yourself to go with the flow. Let your positive vibes carry you along throughout your day. We all know how good it is to be around someone who has these vibes. You can be like that too. People sense this - they will want to help and support you.
It takes commitment to keep picking yourself up and getting into a positive vibe. But ask yourself: which mouth do you want to feed? The happy one or the sad one?
One day is not enough to break a habit, but one week can start showing you some positive results. It takes about 28 days to change a habit, and probably 3 months to have it embedded into your system Practice pays off!
If you are a woman, dealing with moods are part of your life.
Our hormonal cycle, health of our organs, stress levels, past experiences and
state of mind all have an impact upon our moods. Being able to experience the highs and lows of life can be quite a ride. Emotions are part of being human and make up the tapestry of life. There are times when it is appropriate to be angry, it moves us towards making positive change in our lives. Other times its okay to be sad - grief is a natural process of letting go. But sometimes we get stuck, and this "stuckness" can stay with us for years. Unresolved issues of the past
takes away our enjoyment of the present moment.
Prolonged moods, such as depression, anxiety, fear or anger can affect the chemistry of our body. Once our chemistry is out of balance it then feeds into accentuating our moods. Likewise, if our chemistry is out of balance through poor diet, alcohol and drug use, then our emotions will be affected.
What helps our moods:-
Firstly we need to balance the chemistry in our bodies. A healthy diet (avoid alcohol), along with herbs which calm our emotions, tone the organs and balance the hormones. Very often if we experience prolonged stress our adrenal glands become exhausted. Licorice tea acts as an adrenal gland tonic (not to be used with high blood pressure).Calm the mind. This could be through meditating, using visualisations, deep breathing practice, or doing an ascetic activity that requires your concentration i.e. gardening, painting, sewing or dancing.
Deal with the issues. If you have problems or work, suffer from long term grief or anxiety, feel constant fear - get help. Sometimes all we need is a trained listening ear to unravel how we feel and some new skills for dealing with feelings when they
Learn Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). We are always going to have issues and feelings coming up. So why not learn a tool which you can use whenever you want to deal with them? This is a marvellous skill which can shift negative feelings very quickly.
Love yourself. Often our health and well-being is out of balance just because we beat ourselves up with our words and thoughts! Imagine if you were an employee doing the best job you could and your employer said you were no good. How would you feel? Crushed...Deflated....Discouraged. Now imagine if that employer said you were "awesome". Would you feel Excited...Enthusiastic...Keen....Proud? In chi kung we use a practice called The Inner Smile where we send loving thoughts to our inner self and develop self love. Its simple and easy to do.
Learn how to breathe. Put a hand on your chest and one on your tummy and take a breath. How do you breathe? In the upper chest or tummy? Do you breathe shallow or deep? Rapid shallow upper chest breathing causes anxiety. Slow deep tummy breathing causes relaxation. Our breath is related to our nervous system.
Transform your emotions. There is an ancient practice I use called the Six Healing Sounds. It uses movement, sound and colour to transform negative emotions into positive ones. Let us say our body is like a garden in which plants grow. The
weeds are like negative emotions and the vegetables are like the positive ones (virtues). Like weeds, negative emotions contain energy and nutrients, and if we compost them in the garden, then the energy and nutrients from the weeds can be used to enable the vegetables to grow. Likewise when we use the Six Healing Sounds, a composting of emotions happens and good feelings/virtues are able to develop.
Depression has a way of sneaking up on us. It comes out of situations which create emotions within us which we don’t know how to express. Over a period of years experiences like the loss of a loved one, a trauma, an accident, an unfulfilling relationship or job accumulate. Over time these deep feelings and start to build up. There may be occasional emotional outbursts but if we are not well supported in expressing ourselves and change does not occur we switch off to how we feel – neatly tucking our feelings away in the recesses of our mind/body. Eventually we become emotionally numb: this is depression.
Emotional imbalances may show up physically through inflammatory conditions known as the “itis” such as rhinitis (colds), conjunctivitis (styes), gastritis (tummy bug), psoriasis (skin conditions) and bronchitis. The skin, fasciae, lungs and large intestine all relate to the autumn so look out for conditions relating to these organs.
The autumn season has its own particular qualities and affects on our bodies and psyche. As the weather cools down and summer changes to winter we start to look inward. Positive emotions connected with the autumn are courage to experience our feelings, integrity and ability to speak our truth. They naturally arise within us at this time of the year and its the perfect time to work with our emotions. Feelings of sadness due to climate changes and the effects on the environment (like falling autumn leaves) begin to naturally arise. Unresolved grief may also turn up. If we have the courage and honesty to express sadness when it turns up our personality becomes more refined.
Depression is experienced as lost enthusiasm for life. It is very debilitating. A common coping mechanism for depression is keeping ourselves busy, so we can pretend we are doing just fine. Yet deep within there is a nagging ache of unhappiness. Workaholism, the constant need for activity or entertainment can be a sign that we are covering something up. This need can lead to a person becoming involved with activities that are unfulfilling instead of what satisfies them. Louise Hay in her book You can Heal your Life says that colds are “too much going on at once. Mental confusion, disorder. Small hurts”.
Underneath depression is a myriad of other unexpressed feelings, anger, resentment, frustration, unfairness, worry which all take a lot of energy to suppress. We literally “put a lid on it” to depress all these strong feelings from arising – they can be quite frightening and we can feel unsure how to express them safely. For many of us, its better to keep them locked away inside of us. Unfortunately they just don’t go away, we can’t “think them out” or “explain them away”, the only way they will change is if we can feel them. It takes alot of energy to keep all this powerful emotion in, so its not surprising that exhaustion, tiredness, loss of libido and distancing from people comes along with depression.
Our inner message is that we are not enjoying life and don’t deserve to live. To rekindle our spirit we need to feel and validate our unexpressed emotions and also find our passion in life.
Here are some helpful tips ....
When you feel a bit low find a sad movie and be prepared for a good cry. If you can’t cry but have a lump in your throat, spit into a tissue instead. It sounds strange, but its better to get something out then swallow it back down. Do this as often as you like and the feelings will begin to change. This is a great way to move through sadness at a pace you can manage.
Find a counsellor for when you feel really low. Don’t burden your friends with your troubles all the time. They are not trained in how to help you and it becomes a burden for them. Work with someone skilled who can explain your patterns and give you the support and techniques appropriate for you.
If angry feelings arise taking walks uphill, using a punch bag or using shaking chi gong whilst thinking about the anger helps you to move the feelings through your body. Its invigorating and releasing at the same time.
Support your “inner work” with things that nurture you. Good food, hugs, massage, being around kind people, spending time with animals and walks in nature. Deepen your relationships. Enjoy the nurturing and be grateful. These moments give you time out from your sadness and a fresh perspective.
Sometimes chemical imbalance within the body adds to the depression. Herbs and a good diet can change your inner chemistry and affect the way you feel.
There are also flower essences, homeopathic remedies and essential oils which all have positive affects upon our emotions.
Cultivate your spirit with things that uplift you... singing, dancing, music, humor, laughter, theatre, uplifting movies and books, non-competitive sport that’s fun – pay attention to what lights up your enthusiasm for life and go for it!
There are a number of wonderful meditations which convert negative emotions into positive ones. In the Taoist practice we have the Inner Smile mediation, Earth Chi Kung, the Six Healing Sounds and the Inner Beauty meditation. It is a longer process than counselling and you have to be committed to the practice. However it is very effective and feelings start to change all by themselves. These practices have additional benefits to your health as well and are an alternative to “talking therapies”.
A clear perspective on life develops when we can recognise and express our feelings. Gradually we are able to become completely honest with ourselves and others, and grow from our feelings and find our passion in life.
Gilles Marin “Five Elements, Six Conditions” A Taoist Approach to Emotional Healing, Psychology, and Internal Alchemy
Louise Hay “You Can Heal Your Life”.
Elayne Lane is an instructor of the Universal Healing Tao. She has been teaching and doing bodywork in excess of 25 years and hypnosis over the past 5 years.