girl covering her eyes

Pitfalls of personal development #2

Eating disorders, depression, failure, relationship breakups, fights, turning into a parent…the this goes on for what we tell ourselves can’t or won’t happen to us because xyz. But sometimes, it can and sometimes it’s because we’ve ignored the warning signs for far too long.

Another pitfall of personal development is the refusal to see reality as it is. We tell ourselves to look at the bright side, and we should. We don’t indulge negative thoughts and try, try, try to make our lives better every day in every way.

This is all very good, but sometimes we can unconsciously use these small tactics as bandaid solutions to a much larger beast that is rearing its head for us to address.

If ever you find yourself in a situation where it’s just not working despite all of your conscious thinking or positive actions, perhaps its time to look on a bigger scale at what needs to change.

Sometimes life knows better than us and is doing its best to show us that something is out of line and ready to go.

I saw a video doing the rounds about some type of sea creature outgrowing its shell.

When the shell becomes too small, the animal become uncomfortable until the point that it can’t take it anymore, leaves its shell and takes cover for a period of time while it grows a new shell.

Then it returns to life, but eventually it becomes uncomfortable again and has to choose to leave its shell, find a safe space and grow another one.

This part of the story I’ve heard before, but what came next is what put some new perspective on it for me.

He added that if this animal was a human that it would have been prescribed antidepressants, mood stabilisers, pain medication and anti-inflammatories to name a few if it had visited the doctor. These would have allowed it to never leave its shell, which would have created a much larger issue.

Now I’d like to say that for some people, in some cases medication is very necessary. I’m not denying that or suggesting to avoid seeking medical help if necessary. But medication is not the whole answer.

Pain is a way of showing us that it’s time reflect, make some changes and grow. It’s telling us that something isn’t right and if we listen, we can be so much more than our current selves allow.

If we hide from this pain whether it’s in our lives or selves, we’re robbing ourselves of opportunities to grow. And sometimes if it’s REALLY time to grow, we can get into tricky situations by skirting around the edges.

That is where denial comes in.

What if the sea creature had done little things to make its shell more comfortable? It could have lost weight to make it fit, or distract itself from the pain.

Eventually it would have had to face the truth and well it might be a lot harder for it to leave its shell then rather than when it first felt nature’s pull to grow.

Denial is a nasty beast that can get us into some pretty tricky situations.

It might be big, it might be small, but if you’re brave spend half an hour focusing in and have a look around your life to see if there’s something you’re denying. Let your subconscious work its magic, and something may pop into your mind.

Then watch your world change.

Much love,

C

I is for integrity

Integrity: the art of doing what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it. If you cannot, you communicate as soon as you become aware that you may not be able to follow through with your promise either at all or in the original timeframe.

I recently had my integrity questioned, or so I interpreted something to mean.

I know I act with integrity even when no one is watching, so everyone else must know that right? Wrong. And oh boy was I caught off guard when I realised this was not the case.

Of course my unconscious reactions and emotions kicked in which were to feel shock and anger, along with my fight or flight reaction telling me to remove myself and run far from the situation. ‘They didn’t deserve me anyway,’ said my emotions.

I’ll take a second to say that yes I do have automatic, negative responses sometimes. Mindfulness is not about never having negative reactions, or suppressing these emotions if they come up, but it is about acknowledging that they are present and choosing to act in spite of them steering you in a certain direction.

As I began to type an angry email reply, I looked down at my shaking hands and realised at that moment I was not in control of my emotions, nor was I being who I choose to be.

So I left the keyboard and did a few rounds of intense exercise to burn off the adrenalin that was pumping through my system. I’d been unwell so it wasn’t much, but it did the trick.

As my heart rate returned to normal after my workout so did my ability to choose conscious thinking and I could finally step back and assess the situation without any attachment.

The situation was a tricky one, and the first thing I realised was that I wasn’t actually feeling any of those original emotions. I was actually disappointed that my integrity had not been registered by someone who spends a great deal of time with me.

This was a helpful thing to realise, and I could have easily fallen into a trap here and left it at that, but I was still not being accountable. I was only looking at what others had added to the issue, and not how my actions had contributed to the outcome.

You see the main thing I’ve learned about integrity is that there is always something we can be accountable for in any situation. Even if it is small, we are rarely blameless. Please note that this obviously excludes certain situations like rape and similar horrific violations, and is also not about punishing yourself mercilessly or being a scapegoat.

So I dug deeper.

I finally realised that what I could be accountable for was not communicating more clearly what my actions had been, which would have left no room for anyone to question them. So this situation was partly caused by me and I wasn’t blameless – ouch went my ego.

In that moment my righteousness, anger and disappointment all melted away and were replaced by understanding from the other person’s point of view.

The situation we had all been involved in was a highly stressful one which meant that emotions for everyone were being stretched to their limits, and many extenuating circumstances had built tempers to almost breaking point.

I had been a bit righteous and naïve to not assess the situation better and ensure there was not an issue, understanding that stress leads to snap judgements and irrational thoughts.

With this in mind I then did what would have been unimaginable half an hour earlier – I made a plan to be accountable, apologise for my part in the situation, and take action to ensure this did not happen again.

This situation was in no way caused solely by me, but we can’t force others to be accountable if they aren’t there yet. By choosing to take the high road in a highly stressful and emotion fuelled situation I was able to bring peace to myself, as well as the main people involved, and that was a great win.

Now instead of a tidal wave, this has been a learning curve for all of us. I can sleep well knowing that I was the master of my emotions and my life recently.

Will you choose integrity?

Much love,

C

Part 2: Do you have a cold or a severe case of empathy? Mastering Empathy

So you have an inkling that you might have some of the empathetic traits I spoke about in Do you have a cold or a severe case of empathy? and you are back for more. Welcome!

It seems to me that the trick of mastering this gift of empathy, though I’m sure some days that gift isn’t the word that you use to describe it, is in knowledge.

To paraphrase a very wise natural practitioner I spoke to: if you become aware that your body is like a metal detector for emotions and energies, reflecting what is going on around you, then you also now know that what you are ‘feeling’ is simply a reflection.

When a metal detector senses metal it does not turn into metal, it just beeps away to let someone know what it has found. So in the same way, we don’t ever stop being us when we reflect an emotion or energy.

We do not stop believing what we believe or stop feeling how we originally felt, be that happy or healthy, before we picked up this particular energy or emotion…or physical ailment. We do in a way personify these however which is where it gets tricky.

The only way for us to learn to know the difference is to focus inward and ask ourselves if what we are feeling is ours. Yes you might feel silly the first few times but it works, and it will help you regain your own power.

For some, just registering that what you are feeling isn’t yours might give you the freedom to detach or let it go and bounce back to however you were feeling before. For others, or more tricky energies such as physical ailments, you might need to consider some tactics to clear negative energy. I will be posting about that very soon!

If I can leave you with one thing to empower you let it be this – ask yourself ‘is this mine?’ and if the answer is no, leave it behind!

‘I return this emotion/ailment to whoever it belongs to. Leave my body and do not return.’ I like to follow this up with some type of blessing, or healing energy if the word blessing makes you uncomfortable.

As your understanding of who you are and how you are grows; as you get more practiced at telling the difference between what is yours and what is not; as you get faster and faster at remembering to ask yourself if you are actually feeling this certain emotion or ailment or if you are simply reflecting it, you will become the master of your empathy and once again the master of your mind, body and life.

If you are still feeling sick though, you probably should go see a doctor whether it is an empathetic ailment or not.

Much love,

C.

The silent treatment

I grew up in a family where there was huge emotional strain on us from a young age. My mum was incredibly sick and my dad was mostly absent, working to support the family. This taught me some interesting lessons and created many patterns in my formative years.

My mum was one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever come across – a pure heart and soul and someone who we were all deeply terrified of losing. But for some reason we were one of those Italian families who kept everything hush hush. Only a handful of people knew that she was sick which meant that we had few people to talk to. Even among ourselves, I also have a brother, we did not speak about it or how we were coping or feeling.

This created all sorts of problems from strained relationships, to learning to suppress emotions to the point where we never felt them, to an inability to connect with others as we couldn’t share so many things about our life. It meant that even though there were four of us in the same situation, we each felt totally isolated and consumed by it. We each reacted in different ways, mine was all of the above.

It has taken many years of learning to conquer each of these things as I started from zero, and they are still deeply ingrained patterns that rear their heads when I’m not looking ie not consciously living. I’m sure in the journey of this blog I’ll write in more depth about each of these but for today my thoughts are about communication.

For me this began at base level. I had never learned to communicate. Sure I could talk but never about anything personal or important to me. To add to the situation, growing up with such a high level of emotional stress and pain I taught myself not only never to discuss these feelings, but not to feel at all.

I felt a huge level of guilt when I felt angry or sad because I had to be strong for my mum and I’d tell myself that it wasn’t her fault so I shouldn’t feel like that.

For a young child totally confused about what was happening, these emotions were totally natural but there was no one around to tell me that. Though even if I had had someone around, I wouldn’t have known how to express what I was feeling anyway.

My parents sent me to a few counsellors in my teens but I’d just sit silently, daring them with my eyes to try and get me to open up. I remember speaking to one, answering her questions, beginning to open up and feel, and then the hour was up and I was kicked out of the room feeling vulnerable and angry. I vowed never to speak to anyone about these things again and to the best of my memory I didn’t for many years.

Thankfully in my early 20s I was having some major health issues and my aunty insisted I go to her kinesiologist. I was suffering from many things but none that any specialist or doctor could properly diagnose or cure. They all simply shrugged their shoulders and told me that this was how life was going to be.

Now at the time I didn’t want a bar of any woo woo whatever natural crap – yes I was closed minded. I was angry and sick and no one seemed to be able to help, but I also knew that there was no way I was going to spend the rest of my life feeling like this. So I sucked up my pride and went along.

The kinesiologist was the most kind, gentle and knowledgeable woman I’d met at the time. She never pushed me to talk about anything and made me feel instantly comfortable.

She explained that kinesiology was all about the emotional cause of illnesses so it could help get to the root cause of issues and ailments. How? By muscle testing what was really going on in my subconscious.

Now this all sounded woo woo to me still but it seemed like my chance to get better, plus I didn’t have to talk about anything so I gave her a few goes. And to my surprise, I began to get better.

As we worked on my illnesses for the first time I realised that I had a huge amount of emotions bottled up that I wasn’t even aware of. I’d suppressed so many large emotions from such a young age that it was automatic, and I’d forgotten I did it.

I truly thought that all of the things I shrugged off constantly didn’t bother me, not realising that I was brooding and screaming deep down.

She taught me how to feel again, and eventually how to communicate these feelings. Many years later I grew even more, learning how to realise and communicate my needs and wants.

This woman changed my life and I am so grateful. There was a huge amount of work on both of our parts but I slowly learned to master feeling and then communicating.

I started at absolute zero my beautiful readers and can now feel the scariest and most overwhelming emotions without suppressing them, and express my needs even when I’m scared to. If I can learn, so can you.

Much love,

C.