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Posts Tagged ‘mental-health’

After I commented on his blog recently, a blogging friend said this to me….

‘I’m not at all sure what I feel and think is valid.  Sometimes I hate myself for being the way I am.  I feel there is a war between two halves of me, and I dare not let either side win!’.

I said….’This is where real transformation can take place, where you discover your own truth about what is real and what is not – (for you).  The ‘war’ is the battle between our authentic self and ego.  Only we can decide which team wins!’

He said…’Ok, which is my authentic self?  The unthinking soul or the rational being? The right brain or the left?

WOW…EE >>>> Trigger for my slumbering writing mind to go into action….!

Well…as the mind and emotions are my favourite subject, and what I like to write about most,  I thought I’d write the answer in this article and explain a little about how we can resolve mental and emotional turmoil, simply by identifying with our ‘Authentic Self’.

First of all let’s talk about our thoughts…!

We have a naturally intelligent and creative mind that will automatically work to rectify conflict, according to how we’ve developed our thinking process, problem-solving skills, and how we feel emotionally about the issue and ourselves.  Our mind is wired to give us reasons for doing or not doing things, and confirmations that we, they or ‘it’ are right or wrong.

However, did you realise that every single thought that passes through your mind, has another thought attached to it? And that THAT thought also has another thought connected to it – creating a ‘chain of thoughts’?

Meaning that when you worry, you don’t just cognitively and emotionally react to one thought, but to many more!

Try it for yourself…. paying attention to your head space so you’re aware of your thoughts, think about an issue you’re dealing with, or something you want to do/not do…then wait, listen and watch your mind for what follows after that initial thought…

Or you could use this example….Say in your mind…’I am enough!’

If you kept your mind open and stayed attentive, you would notice more dialogue emerging as another thought follows the first, which when identified would generate  another, until there is a constant stream of mind-chat passing through your awareness.  The thoughts can be supportive to your ideals, against, or even both! So in the example of ‘I am enough’, your mind would offer further evidence for or against that statement, depending on how good you felt about yourself in the first place!

Also…did you realise that because you have an internal belief system that you have developed over your lifetime (your Frame of Reference I call it), you have conscious and unconscious thoughts that KNOW they are right – even if they’re not in reality correct or appropriate!  And that when we evaluate our issues, these are the type of thoughts that surface, in order to influence our decisions… which in turn stimulates any past emotional or psychological agenda (memories) we have tucked away deep inside us, that resonates in any way with those thoughts!

Now the problem seems to be that because we often remain unaware of these hidden or silent thoughts, which are generated from our unconscious mind in order to guide and help us, they remain unacknowledged and un-pacified.  So they can build-up in the background waiting for our acknowledgement of them. Thus if we’re worrying about something we find hard to resolve, loads of different negative and positive thoughts would be generated, in order to help us find the answer we need.  But which could cause us to feel overwhelmed because we don’t know how to deal with the pressure they are creating, in our mental and emotional system.

Our thoughts can be likened to decisions…I will/won’t, can/can’t etc.  So when we’re struggling with conflicting thoughts, it’s probably because we can’t make the final decision to console or justify whatever it is we’re dealing with….am I right/wrong, should I do it/not do it, is this going to help/hinder me, was it my/their fault this happened etc?  All questions that need answers, one way or another, because so many of us feel scared about leaving things alone, undone, unknown, unfinished in our way…!

Consequently,  we don’t know what to do for the best, so we stimulate our vulnerability – which has many other roots in our memory system which can then become re-activated,  perpetuating our confused thinking, emotional pressure and fear of the future…!

This is why we become so fraught when we face our dramas; where in order to console ourselves, we have to work out how make a decision that we’re unsure about, or find a safe way to exonerate ourselves or others from aspects of blame/guilt/shame/responsibility!

Conflict, namely old, bad memories, experiences, reactions and fears, runs throughout our energy system, causing energy blocks.  And when we find ourselves experiencing mental or emotional conflict dilemmas, it activates other latent conflicts; as current energy status seeks to find old like-energy, in order to unite and console itself (universal law of attraction – like attracts like).

That’s why over-thinking can send us crazy sometimes!  Because we enter a cyclical conflict process that can only be resolved by making a decision that allows us to release any emotional attachment to the problem…but that we find so hard to comfortably do, because that decision-making-process interferes with the negative, yet habitual weighing-up cognitive process we use, that can exhaust us on every level, if we allow it to!

Thus, it happens that we get pushed over the edge by something simple, and react inappropriately, not realising that what we’re really dealing with is fear that’s been brought up from the past!

So, when your mind is all over the place, pushing your stress levels through the roof because you can’t seem to stop the intrusive thoughts that scream and shout in your mind, what exactly can you do to help yourself feel better?  And how do you know which part of your mind is telling you the truth, that will help you finalise any conflict decision?

Well firstly, we have to be aware that our brain is wired up to be creative and think logically.  This is how we usually resolve everyday problems. However, when we’re caught-up in a dilemma that affects us emotionally, it’s hard to think logically because we’ve got so many other reactive thoughts being generated. Which in turn stimulates us emotionally.  Which then, to top it all, stimulates even more reactive thoughts, then feelings, then thoughts, then feelings…..I’m sure you get the picture by now!

This is the thinking process that governs our mind, emotions, responses, reactions and actions! Most of the time ‘IT’, our mind, seems to rule us. But we can regain control at anytime during the turbulent process, simply by consciously stepping into our mind, and diverting our thinking from our head to our authentic self, the God-Self that is wise and compassionate, and does not react to our fear prompts!

But how do we find the ‘Authentic’ us?  How do we know which part of us is real, true and trustworthy enough for us to  believe in it’s wisdom? And how can it reduce our conflict?

We often have dialogue within certain parts of ourself that we think are our soul or higher nature, when really it’s just another part of our ego mind trying to convince us we are right or okay! And when we have an internal conversation that is critical, damning, chastising, defensive or retaliative toward us or others – in any way, this is NOT our higher nature, but is our mind battling within itself, to find justification, permission, approval, exoneration or praise!

It’s easy to fool ourselves into believing our thoughts are true, as we’ve done so throughout our entire existence.  But whereas conscious and unconscious thoughts can stimulate our anxiety when we face conflict, soul guidance carries a different vibration – a calm, balanced feel that can support, console and calm our anxiety, because once we’ve started to listen to our inner voice and test out the information we receive, we know the words that come from this energy to be true.

Try this…next time you’re struggling with yourself, for whatever reason, become aware of the pressure in your head, caused by the see-saw of thoughts that’s trying to influence your judgement.  Where’s the pressure – the top/ middle, back/front, right/left side?  How intense is it – low, moderate, high?

Okay, now let that pressure go…just by telling yourself ‘I allow this pressure to soften and flow, soften and flow, soften and flow’…(Emotrance technique). You can place your hands on your head whilst you do this if you like, as we’ve all got healing abilities.

Initially you may not feel the energy moving, but when you’re more experienced and aware you will notice a shift in the pressure.

Take a couple of deep calming breaths – in through your nose, slowly out through your mouth…

Then, move your attention downwards, to the centre of your chest – the heart chakra centre, and look for the answers there.  Some people call this the ‘God-mind/soul/intuition/higher mind/authentic self’.  But hey, as long as it helps us sort ourselves out, what does it matter what it’s called…!

Now, seek your guidance from your heart centre – which I class as our Authentic Self – the part of us that knows all we ever need to know.  So instead of asking questions in your mind, constantly bouncing between right and left brain, you ask your heart centre to help you answer your query.

Whilst you can get answers to your questions from the heart centre, you will probably not get a direct ‘yes you should’ or ‘no you shouldn’t’ response, as you’re more likely to receive some sort of guidance that will help you make that important decision, or find the awareness you were seeking.

This heart-centre contains our voice of wisdom and can console us because it thinks outside of our fear.  When we try to rationalise our problems we often make them bigger or worse than they are.  But if we use our heart-centre authenticity to guide us, we get the benefit of wisdom that will increase our awareness of influences that inhibit our normal judgement.  Which means we start to become superior to our ego, so we become less reactive, because we’re not bound by ego prompts as much!

When we start detaching our decisions from the influences of our ego, we feel happier and more grounded in life, as we’re not being pulled and pushed by logic/illogical thoughts that try to support our negative personality traits.

Learning to become objective to our own life is a hard skill to master, as we’re such emotional and frightened beings, caused by the negative way we use our mind.  But the ‘voice’ we hear or sense from our heart centre, is never afraid.  This is the voice of LOVE, compassion, reason, wisdom and empathy, that will, if we listen to it, console our trouble mind and comfort our turbulent emotions!

Sooo, although our mind is more competent than any computer, using the heart centre as an additional guide to work out our problems ensures we have the information we need, to make more informed decisions. It is the voice of a loving friend who can offer us a different perspective on who we are, our problems and challenges.  It will also, if we pay attention to it’s guidance, help and encourage us to find the best way of living our life, because it will help us find our truth!!

Learning to… let go… of our need to control, influence, be involved in a situation, or be part of someone else’s life, is one of our hardest lessons, as it goes against what we desire, whilst our natural instincts are primed to get us what we want!

But sometimes it happens that we’ve found what we desire, but not in the place we think…! 

Mental and emotional turmoil walk together!  So if we’re unhappy emotionally, our mind will become conflicted when we use our own ego-based rules to try to sort it out.  There are times when because we feel so overwhelmed by how we feel, regardless of what our problem is, our main desire is just to be able to feel calm, and be in control of our mind and emotions.  We don’t care about ‘the problem’ any more!  We just want to feel normal again!

Having a regular dialogue with our Authentic Self, located in our heart centre, will help us achieve that desire…!

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Whilst I’m writing a series of articles under the heading ‘Inside The Mind Of A Fat Person’, I will acknowledge right now that I KNOW that not all FP are unhappy, as there are many FP/TP who have a well-rounded personality, and make the best of themselves and their lives.  So I guess the point I’m trying to make is that whilst all FP may be fat, not all FP have the same problematic issues!

However, FAT is a very explicit word, in that it can create or evoke negative images, distorted perceptions and reactions, terror, depression, and even suicidal tendencies!  FAT is a very powerful word!  FAT can kill you, ruin your life, scare you to death! FAT, just like fear, can make you do things you don’t want to do, and stop you doing the very things that would make your life happy and successful!

In many FP, FAT is all they feel, and thus all they become!  When they catch sight of their body they don’t see themselves as a loving soul – they just see FAT!  When they think about their relationships, they don’t see intimacy, togetherness and love – they see the separateness of FAT!  When they think about their future life, they don’t see opportunities for joy and happiness – they just see the problems associated to being FAT!! Where eventually, ALL they see about themselves is FAT!

The majority of FP hate being fat, so this means that once they’ve reached the ‘Totality of FAT’ they also hate themselves as much as they hate the FAT! Where life becomes a battle of survival against FAT and all that it means! There is little space in this fat, fear-filled world, to feel self-compassion.  As deep down you know you’ve only yourself to blame for what you are!  You deserve all the shit because you’ve not got what it takes to stop shovelling food into your mouth, or to exercise your huge body that makes it so difficult to breathe and move around!

You know this because that’s what the experts tell you isn’t it? They (the never-been-fat, text-book experts) say that it’s easy to lose weight if you do the right things!  Of course we all know it’s easy to lose weight – as long as there’s nothing stopping you from doing so!  Also, how many FP lose weight and keep it off permanently?  So instead of constantly bombarding FP with failure messages, because of failed diets, we should be looking to heal the fragmented personality that is hidden within the FP, so they can consciously recreate themselves and their lives! (I’ll discuss this further in later articles). And stop continually emphasising the negative aspects of being fat!

Most people have days where they look at themselves and feel unhappy about a part of themselves they deem imperfect.  This is normal!  And if it’s something like the hair, nails, colour of lipstick, clothes, superficial things which can be easily rectified, we usually feel better about ourselves once we’ve taken some remedial action.  However, overweight is something that doesn’t have an instant fix!

I feel much better about myself when I am not so heavy, where life somehow becomes easier to tolerate!   Yet even when I’m plump, rather than morbidly obese, I’ve still viewed my body in a negative way. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to completely love yourself.  What it would feel like to be uninhibited about who you are, your talents, your body, you!  How it would feel, to not be ashamed to show who you are to the world!  To not cringe when you walk into a crowded room or meet new people! To not be afraid every minute of the day, that life will never change from how it is, or that you will die an early death because you are fat….!

I imagine that if I was thinner many of my problems would dissolve very quickly! Which is why, like other FP, I yearn to reduce my overweight!

Mind you, I have to be honest and say I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who is 100% happy with who they are.  As regardless of how confident people look and sound, there’s always something that each of us feels not good enough about, whether it’s the shape of our body, the colour of our hair, the pimple on our face, or even because we lack certain skills that we perceive everyone else has.  There’s always something to feel ashamed about!

But whereas some things can remain ‘Our little secret’, where you can use avoidance techniques to stop other people realising what you lack, being fat is not one of them!

Whilst there are those who are fat but feel thin, and those who are thin but feel fat, there are of course different types of ‘fatness’.  There are those who are just a little overweight, commonly labelled ‘rounded’ or ‘plump’, ranging to the other extreme where the individual is ‘morbidly obese’ and visibly hugely overweight.  There are those who have slowly or quickly gained weight due to their lifestyle, eating habits or medication, and there are those who have been fat for all, or most of their life!

Then there are others who are normal or under weight, but still perceive themselves as being fat, because they have a psychological condition called…..BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER.

People with BDD are excessively worried about a part of their body which they perceive to be defective. For example a small mole on the face may not be that noticeable, but if that person is insecure about themselves, that mole can actually look and feel like a huge mountain to them, even though in reality it’s not! So, as focus on the mole becomes more frequent, where constant attempts are made to hide it in some way, the BDD develops and gets stronger until that person sees nothing about themselves – except the mole!

Whilst any area of the body can be involved in BDD, the face seems most common.  And regardless of how much others offer reassurance that there is no defect, people with BDD continue to believe they are faulty!  And will devise their own ways of trying to hide their defect or themselves away from the world, because they fear being ridiculed, criticised or even noticed!

BDD usually starts in adolescence when people are most insecure and sensitive about their appearance, and is common in people with a history of depression, anxiety or social phobia – because these people already have a distorted perception of themselves and life.  However, I fear that because young children are so much more aware of their physical image nowadays, as obesity issues escalate, the incidence of BDD will be seen more often in younger children. Where their lives will be filled with unnecessary problems, caused because of their conditioned belief that being fat makes you less than other people!

Because BDD often occurs with obsessive-compulsive disorder or generalised anxiety disorder, it may also exist alongside an eating disorder.  However, because FP/TP, and others who experience self-critical problems feel such a strong sense of shame about themselves anyway, they may not realise they have this disorder. Which once identified, can often be treated – just like other mental health problems!

Many FP/TP are obsessive about the way they look.  They worry, fret, anticipate the worst, misinterpret, hide, over-react,  simply because of how they perceive themselves to be.  Just like those with BDD, FP/TP do exaggerate their flaws, it’s all part of their conditioning and their condition. So it’s worth considering the aspects of BDD, and psychological treatment options that involve dealing directly with personality issues, as this may help the individual recognise that maybe they are not as fat as they thought!

**Because I don’t like fixing one problem by creating another, I personally do not advocate taking medication for anxiety/stress, when there are so many other beneficial ways of dealing with it.  Especially Emotional Freedom Technique, which anyone can learn to do, and which can change your whole outlook on life once you’ve learned how to use it for yourself! However, do not stop taking any prescribed medication without first consulting your GP.

Being fat does not mean the end of our world.  It doesn’t mean we are less than others.  It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be alive, happy, successful or well! But when we are a FP we forget this, as we judge ourselves according to what we believe others perceive us to be – unacceptable as we are! But we are wrong to think this way!  And we are also wrong to think that dieting will magically fix our life and our problems – as it doesn’t always work that way!

If you are a FP, or anyone with a self-defect that dominates your existence, this message is for you…

* Stop living your life as though you are defective – YOU ARE NOT!

* Start to treat each day as a new beginning – the day where you can take new action to get you healthier!

* Stop giving your focus, time and power to your defect – start looking for new, positive ways to improve your life and morale!

Remember that whatever we give our attention to grows! So if you constantly think about how defective you are those feelings, fear and dysfunctions will increase!

Modify your thinking to include more optimistic thoughts about life, and the support you have around you. Then acknowledge to yourself and the world that… you are more than your weight (or defect).  You are a star on this earth, so let your light shine, and allow yourself to be all of whom you are meant to be – regardless of how much you weigh!

Then, once you start feeling happier, your mind and your body may feel safe enough to let go of the need to be overweight!

 

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When I heard that emotional causes of eating disorders are being explored by experts now, in an attempt to understand how to resolve obesity problems, I felt a sense of despair as I envisaged how superficial the information gathered might be!  As whilst there may be common problematic themes within the eating disordered range, I fear the intensity of mental and emotional pain can only be felt in its entirety by the sufferer, and victim of themselves, the Fat/Thin Person. (To avoid repetition now to be referred to as FP/TP).

As often it is this intensity that remains unseen, unfelt, unattended to by experts – because the depth of shame, fear, hurt, frustration and anger can’t be expressed by the FP/TP, simply because it’s too painful for them to acknowledge! And where focus is placed by professionals on losing weight to become normal, rather than helping FP/TP become emotionally and mentally capable enough to reclaim and reconstruct their life!

I’m a FP, and have been most of my life, where as an adult I’ve ranged between 9 stone and 22 stone.  I can tell you that at 9 stone although I felt abnormal (my belief system), I was accepted because I looked ‘normal weight’ so people treated me normally.  Whereas when I reached 15 – 22 stone I looked fat/obese/abnormal, so wasn’t perceived as ‘normal’ by many people! So not only did I have my own self-condemnation to deal with, but also the critical view and spitefulness of other people, and the societal problems created from it, which negatively influenced the way I viewed myself and the world!

Having hovered between this weight parameter for many years, I recognised there is a distinct difference in attitude to how FP/TP are treated! So I get worried when I hear ‘normal-looking’ people who have never entered into the realm of extreme physical distortion, being regularly used as examples of dysfunctional eating disorders. Whilst I acknowledge the suffering they endured because of their personal issues, FP/TP have additional problems to contend with, because of the consequences of their physical appearance, which must also be considered vital to attend to, if they are to recover from their addiction!

Whilst the majority of the population manage their affairs productively, there are many who are unable to think creatively, because they constantly focus their attention on their failed, impenetrable cycle of weight control!

Many people have a poor self/body image, which increases internal stress levels, and which when coupled with feelings of insecurity, abuse, inadequacy, trauma, crisis events, can lead to emotional overload.  Where regardless of age or gender, the person experiencing this overwhelm will naturally seek to remove, disengage from, nullify or console their bad feelings, by finding a way to regain control of how they feel!  This can be through various addictive behaviours, such as using drugs, alcohol, sex, exercise, shopping or gambling, and of course eating, or not eating!

This activity is what we choose to do, based on the way we feel and think!  But it rarely works the way we hope, and as we realise this, our thoughts and emotions get progressively negative, driving us to seek more comfort or consolation. This is how all compulsive addictions, mental, physical and emotional, are created and sustained!

But how can we change the way we perceive ourselves, when we seek the perfection of simply being normal? Or when we feel not good enough on every level, and there is nothing, or no-one, who can convince us our life is worth living whilst we are as fat as we are?

Diets and food restriction used to rule my life, leading to eating disorders that made mincemeat out of my confidence and personality. I followed the dietary guidelines given then, which are totally opposite to those given now!   But now I’m terrified to go on a diet, in case I re-enter my binge-eating disorder days!  Food craving used to rule my existence – now I’m aware that when I get the urge to overeat, something is bothering me and needs to be addressed!  Most of the time I think I’m in control of me, yet I’m still fat, I still comfort eat, I still suffer depressive episodes, I’m still searching for the meaning of life!

Yet I am a trained counsellor and practitioner of eating disorders!  I have all the information, the skills, the techniques – so why am I still suffering the burden of obesity?  This, is the million dollar question. As just like millions of other FP/TP I know the answer is in my own hands.  I know it is my fault, there is no-one to blame except me!  I know no-one can lose weight for me I must do it myself.  I must eat better, take more exercise, change my way of thinking etc., so why don’t I?

BUT I HAVE!  I have changed so much from what I used to be, I am a different personality now, from back then! And although I’ve lost weight and kept it off for many years, even though I didn’t overeat, it quickly came back during the periods when I became overwhelmed emotionally and mentally!

So, if we enter my mind, being the mind of a FP, we will see why it is so hard to feel optimistic about losing the part of us that keeps us safe and protected!  Where instead of crashing when we fall, we bounce back into our self-abusive, comfort zone world of oblivion, isolation and safety!

I hate my body as it is!  I try never to look at it, but of course I do.  When I catch sight of myself in the mirror I abhor what I see.  The hangover (or apron as they call it now), the stretch marks.  The fat belly is the only thing I really see when I look at myself.  That’s because as a child, attention was always drawn to ‘her fat stomach’, where I wanted to die of embarrassment in clothes shops, doing P.E., swimming etc.  So, true to form, I’ve created the self-fulfilling prophecy where I hated my tummy so much, that’s what I I’ve become – my big fat, blobby belly!  Mind you, when I used to get regularly beaten up by a local boy when I was a child, I wished my stomach was even fatter, so I couldn’t feel the pain of his punches so much!

Because I hate my body when it is fat, which overwhelms me because my thoughts constantly bombard me with hateful comments about it, I have dissociated from it by ignoring my body as though it doesn’t exist!  And although I have normal physical sensations throughout my body, my awareness remains in my head and I ignore physical pains, etc! This lack of self-interest means that most of the time I’m guilty of self-neglect, where although I keep myself clean, I rarely visit the doctor, hairdresser.  I rarely wear my nice clothes, I rarely go anywhere special – in fact I’ve become a sort of recluse!  And yet when I’m thinner, I’m the total opposite.  I take care of my looks, my hair, myself.  I love wearing my nice clothes and take a real pride in my appearance – and I love going out to socialise with others!

In fact I love being thinner…..!

I love being able to wear a swimsuit, skimpy clothes, feeling the air on my body – wow it’s so great to look and feel nice!  I love the shape of my slimmer body, and the feel of my skin.  I love how I can move around without effort, and how energetic I feel most of the time.  How my mood is somehow lighter, I’m more friendly and people respond to me in a likeable way. I love feeling good about me!  And I envy people who are normal, who feel this way about themselves all the time!

I hate being fat!! The drudge of carrying all this weight around with me each minute of the day.  The breathlessness, the pains in my knees as I climb the stairs. The frustration I feel with and about myself!  The way I hate my body, myself, my life!  I hate the way I beat myself up constantly about not doing what I know I should be doing!  And as I get older, I hate the prospect of what the future holds for me if I’m unable to lose the excess weight! I hate feeling bad about me- I’ve felt this way for soooo long!

Because I know we feel better about ourselves when we nurture ourselves, I know that if I felt better about my fat body, and looked after myself a bit better, my esteem would increase, leading me to become more optimistic, energetic, spontaneous and carefree!  But feelings of depression linger along with the fat, weighing me down, mind, emotions, body, spirit and soul, making it really hard to motivate myself to fulfil anything other than basic survival needs a lot of the time!

The depression is a really hard challenge to master, as when I feel I’m going downhill I start to panic in case I have another breakdown.  So I have to start remedial work straight away to steady myself.  This usually works now, thank God, where I use various techniques, including EFT, to identify my main issue and release its energy from my system!

However, as all FP/TP will know, along with depression the main problem is fear and anxiety that eats away at the centre of your being, day after day, night after night!  Where however hard you try to think of tomorrow as a new day, a new start, irrationality provokes negative thoughts that ensure your heart and mind are never calm, serene, pacified, hopeful.  But simply waiting for the next surge to erupt that will dictate your next pang of guilt, shame, regret, anger, worry or despair, that needs to be attended to one way or another!  And because your mind is so tired, the body weary, your mind seems unable to identify anything new that can help, so you do what works best for you at that time – eat, sleep, go into panic etc.!

Tiredness becomes more of a problem the heavier you become.  And I’ve realised that the less you do the worse you feel, as when the body remains inactive, the mind becomes over-active! So because overcoming tiredness, depression, negative thoughts, self-loathing, fear of the future, and a deep hopelessness inside, creates a huge burden to carry that makes us want to sit and do nothing, what else can we do at these times but doubt that life will ever improve for us?  Where we believe that we don’t have what it takes to make ourselves normal, so because we’re fat we are doomed!

We have to remember that many FP/TP have lost their optimism because they don’t know how to become normal, so don’t know how to live their life.  It’s true that we need to find a way to help people conquer their fear of themselves and life.  But not by forcing them to reduce their weight, rather by helping them understand that fat or thin, they are worthy of their life.  They are entitled to breath, to live, and to be happy. They need to realise just how competent they are, as if they can survive the way they feel because they are fat and ostracised , they can survive other emotional hurdles!

I am an intelligent, wise, competent, compassionate woman.  And yet for the last few years, since I’ve regained my fat, I’ve disowned my femininity because I’ve been waiting until I got thinner.  Until I could be viewed as normal!  I’ve held myself back from progressing professionally because my thoughts were telling me….’How can you talk about obesity issues when you’re still fat – who would give you credibility?’.  So I hid myself and my opinions, and alas my guidance, away from those who might have benefited from it, because I was too scared and ashamed to show myself to the world….!

But one thing I do know.  I must not allow myself to continue doing this, because we have a nation of children who are growing up with the same problems I had when I was a child. So something has to change, otherwise they will grow up facing the same problems as myself and other FP/TP. So even though I am a fat person, I am writing about obesity issues.  Not to provide a cure, as there isn’t one – except losing weight!  But to emphasise that FP/TP put their life on hold until they get thinner – which is wrong!  This approach doesn’t work to bring correction, as so many FP/TP end up dying too early, with so many unfulfilled dreams!

Of course I advocate healthy guidelines for living. But let’s take the emphasis of being normal weight, where the guidelines are changing all the time, according to whatever expert is flavour of the month!  And when will government and health authorities accept that there is NO NORMAL anymore, and stop trying to fit us into categories that they can control?

I believe that instead of pushing people to be thinner, there needs to be encouragement for them to become more active by providing FREE gym facilities. The government needs to introduce legislation that restricts the amount of sugars that can be added to any food.  The experts need to recognise that FP/TP are not greedy, but needy!  So instead of trying to fit each and every human being into a one- size-fits-all lifestyle, which equates ‘normal’, we should encourage each other to recognise our differences, our skills, and our capabilities, instead of emphasising and condemning us for our one big fault – we are fat!

This has proven a difficult article to construct because I have so much to say on this subject and have had to be succinct.  Also, it has meant that I expose some of deepest thoughts and feelings about myself, as a FP.  Though I wonder if I’ve conveyed just how severe, desolate and catastrophic these thoughts and feelings can be for a FP/TP, when there are so many issues to deal with all at the same time!

I’m feeling more able to cope with my problems now I’ve learned how to cope with myself. But because I’ve suffered me most of my life, I feel passionate about the lack of understanding about what really helps people with eating disorders.  It’s obvious there is no simple, quick fix for eating disorders or any other addictive behaviours.  But we can try to convince FP/TP to believe that life holds miracles for them, which they are holding back from, because they are hiding themselves away behind their weight problem! We can help them find their strength and courage to allow themselves to be!  This is what I’m doing now – allowing me to be me – fat and warts and all!

If we can teach people to live an active life that contains meaning – regardless of their size, they may be able to inject real value into their life, that reduces the need to emotionally protect themselves by using food to self-abuse!

More information about eating disorders can be found in Chapter 14 of my book …

Mentality – How Changing Your Mind Can Change Your Life and the World!

by Chrissie Batten

ISBN 9780956253200 Priced £10.99

Available from Waterstone’s/Amazon/or my website http://www.chrissiebatten.com

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Meditation is a great tool for helping us relax, find peace in our mind and hearts, and transcend the physical world.  However, there are many different ways to use meditation, and many different meditative states. But how can we meditate when we feel so anxious?

If we’re just starting out it helps if we can identify how we can use meditation to meet our current needs!  So this article is for those who suffer from anxiety, and don’t know how to best use meditation therapeutically.

When we suffer from anxiety, because our fear-based mind processing controls our future, our mind can feel like it is in control of us!  The blend of anxious thoughts perpetuate anxious emotions, which can propel our fear-based fight and flight response, which activates even more fear and anxiety thoughts.  This process then becomes habitual, where it feels as though our life is lived on a roller-coaster of high/low anxiety states, that overtake our creativity, and often leaves us exhausted.

It is this exhaustion that can be most helped by using meditation to calm our thoughts.  But if you’ve never attempted meditation before, or failed to be able to use it with good results in the past, then rather than giving it up as a bad job, it may help to understand how to best work with meditation, whilst we are anxious.

Step 1 – Why Meditate?

The first step for anxiety meditation is to understand why you are doing it!  So, if you are overwhelmed by anxiety, the reason you would use meditation would be to calm your mind.  But if you’ve got loads of anxious thoughts entangled in your mind, how can you feel calm?  So you need to understand what happens when we meditate, when we are highly anxious.

Step 2 – Understanding The Process!

When we are anxious, our mind is filled with ever-increasing, provoking, reactive thoughts, that stimulate our reactive behaviour – whatever that may be. Including anything we use to make ourselves feel better, that helps our attention escape from our mind, emotions and problems.  However, if you’re sitting quietly, trying not to think anxious thoughts, the first thing that will happen is that a flood of anxious thoughts will automatically and naturally rise, and fill the empty space that has just appeared in your mind.  This is simply your mind feeding your habitual anxiety thinking, and is nothing to be alarmed about. Although distressing, it is still a process, that we can learn to manage, that will make life so much easier! We just have to learn how to become the observer of our own energy!

Step 3 – Watching The Energy Release!

So, whilst you are sitting quietly, and the anxious thoughts have started to pour into your mind, instead of catching the thoughts, thinking about and analysing them, thus feeding the habit which will increase your anxiety, there is something else you can do with them! As however distressing the thoughts may be, when you recognise that internal pressure created from the thoughts in your mind is just ENERGY, you have the power to release it, and thus feel less anxious and exhausted!

This energy release is accomplished by using the space that meditation provides, to facilitate our ability to conceptualise  energy in a tangible form, which we can consciously and deliberately manipulate to best suit our needs, by the use of visualisation.

If you doubt your ability to visualise, imagine this now… See yourself holding  a couple of red balloons on a long string.  Are they large, small? See them bounce in the breeze.  Then let them go, as you watch the balloons drift away in the sky!  Anyone can visualise – as whilst you may not actually see through your eyes, you just have to allow yourself to imagine in your mind’s eye!  You do it all the time – that’s why you get so anxious!  You believe what you think is real – so use this approach when working with energy!

There are a couple of methods I find really helpful, which involve using visualisation.  Here is one of them….

Method 1

*Whilst we can work this way with any part of our body, this example is based on the pressure in our mind.

Feel the tension in your head (or any other part of your body). Imagine the bombardment of thoughts in your mind as an energy form, say something like a grey or black cloud.

You have the intention of releasing this energy, so keep your focus on the cloud – not on the contents of your thoughts.

As you see the cloud of anxious thoughts in your mind’s eye, see it as a stream of energy that has a beginning and end, rather than a cloud shape.   Although you may be able to see the wispy beginning of the stream, you probably won’t be able to see the end yet – it will be too dense!

The beginning of this energy needs to find the nearest exit point, to be able to leave your energy system.  This can be through your mouth or through the top of your head – the crown chakra point, or other chakra points.  Identify which exit route your dark energy naturally flows toward, then mentally watch as the stream of dark energy starts to move away from your mind, through the exit point, out into the universe where it can be transmuted and healed. If you have problems identifying an exit point, simply direct the energy to the top of your head and use that one!

As you sit quietly, acknowledge the increasing anxiety thoughts that rise, keeping your focus and attention on the stream of dark energy exiting your mind, watching it flow, slowly, quickly, until the river of dark energy comes to an end. Where as the end of the river disappears from view, you know by the way you feel that the healing has been completed for that time.  If more anxious thoughts start to rise, repeat the process of anxious energy release.

How Much Time Will It Take?

You can choose to allow a specific amount of time to work with your energy, or give it as much time as it needs to be released from your system.  It can take just a few minutes to bring enormous relief, once we’ve developed the ability to focus our mind clearly and explicitly! However, when I first devised this method of working, it wasn’t uncommon for me to sit for a couple of hours, as I learned how to work with my energy, and feel the benefit of negative energy release. Until gradually, instead of using meditation for anxiety release, I was able to insert another purpose, governed by my needs at the time. Always remember though – you are in control of it!!

Warning!

Meditation practice involves allowing our mind (or consciousness) to roam free.  However, when anxious, depressed, paranoid, or in any other heightened state of emotion, it’s not a good idea to expose ourself by jumping in at the deep end this way, whilst we’re working with spiritual or universal  energy.  Maintaining focus on our intent, by using visualisation, helps keep us on track to self-healing, and keeps us safe.

To increase our protection, it’s also wise to image ourselves wrapped in white energy, whilst working with the unfamiliar aspects of universal consciousness.

Meditation is a wonderful tool, that serves so many purposes.  So when we ask ‘How Can We Meditate When We Feel So Anxious?’ if we remember to start slowly, with the purpose of releasing toxic energy from our energy system, we can gently learn how to allow ourselves to find the peace and tranquility we yearn for.

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I’ve been feeling in a quandary for a long time about my lack of ability to focus on me, my work, and earning money that would make my life a whole lot easier.  I know responsibilities I have toward vulnerable members of my family don’t take ALL my time and energy.  At least they don’t need to!  But there’s still the issue of where I put my attention when I’m alone at home!  Do I think about my stuff and what I need to do about it, or do I continue to worry about other’s problems, feelings and needs, and concentrate on how I can best help them feel better! It is usually the latter, I’m afraid to say!  But this way of living isn’t working any more for me.  Something has to change – and quickly!

Life is about ebbs and flows of intensity it seems, and this week for me has culminated in being a time of extreme emotional discomfort, as my problems magnified my emotional intensity, irritating panic, and need to find the answers that will take my life off of the ‘PAUSE’ button – at least for a time!

I am assertive and can usually ask for what I want and need!  But lately I’ve felt my internal power reducing, my confidence weakening even further!  ‘For Gods sake, how much lower have I got to go before I see what I’ve got to do, what I’ve got to change’ I cried in frustration, as I could still feel the nausea in my solar plexus, that I’d been feeling for the past four days!  ‘Why won’t I let myself sort me out?’!

I’ve been taking a remedy given to me by my friend Gary Johnson, an expert in Cellular Vibrational Therapy (http://www.garyjohnson.org.uk/gary-johnson), after I’d asked him for help a couple of weeks ago.  So I realised that as his powerful remedies always work on really deep issues, the emotional intensity I was experiencing was probably caused by the remedy, pushing the energy of those issues to the surface, to be released!  Because I like to understand what’s happening to my energetic system, I usually try to work with the remedy and identify how I’m feeling and why, and if there’s anything I need to do to help myself further!  This time was no different, so because I’ve felt so intense, I’ve dedicated this morning to me, and decided to meditate in order to intuitively find some answers!

As I meditated I was interested to see my Sister of Mercy appear.  She normally carries a very large folder containing loads of loose papers, but this time the folder was much thinner, with just a few sheets of paper remaining.  I’m always working on my progress, one way or another, not always with obvious results I would add!  Thus it became apparent that whilst I’d been feeling so frustrated, because I thought I wasn’t moving forward; on an energetic spiritual level I’d actually got rid of old baggage (represented by the reduction of the huge file).  This made me feel better immediately, as now I know I’ve not just been wasting my time!  Then she showed me a page which said simply…’Chrissie Batten – The Psychicologist’!  Strange – I’ve never heard the word ‘psycicologist’ before, but I’ll definitely give it some thought!

Feeling more relaxed I placed my attention on to why I felt so stuck.  There’s always a logical reason for everything we do, often hidden deep in our unconscious mind. So as I needed to find the internal reasoning that was ultimately blocking me from living my own life, I asked myself… why wasn’t I meeting my needs?  Why did I consider other people as priority over my life?  As my mind started to wander along recent memories of family members I’d been helping, who I worried so much about, I started to get echoes of the past, to the time of my father, who died in 1976.

It might help you understand if I provide a bit of background info!  My parents separated in 1975, after he had a ten-year on/off affair with the office secretary. The shame of this event at that time felt really bad, and my mother was filled with toxic emotion that had no-where to go, as there was no such thing as ‘counsellors’ then!  What could she do?  So when she’d had enough of the lies, deceit, being made to feel bad about herself and life, she gave him the ultimatum! They’d been married over forty years, yet he chose the other woman over her, even though he’d promised to stop the affair many times!

Anyone whose parents have split, will understand the pain and turmoil that happens to children who are caught in the middle, who get pulled emotionally in so many different directions. As regardless of how much we try to stay out of it, or protect them from it, we can’t!  I was twenty-eight at the time, married with one child.  But it still like felt my world had fallen apart!  When my own marriage failed in 1999, I was very aware that my adult children would suffer as much as I did.  And although I knew I’d made the right decision for me at the time, I deeply regretted that this had to happen to them!

Anyway, back to dad!  When affairs occur, there’s also an element of wishful thinking, such as ‘If only we could find a way to be together all of the time’ which dulls the reality of common sense! The OW had children, and also a child by my father.  So when dad moved in with the OW he spent what little money he had on replacing her washing machine, fridge, cooker, buying stuff for her and the kids (he wouldn’t spend anything on my mum).  But soon there were problems!  Who can escape them?  The husband wanted her back, started trying to woo her in various ways, and kept pressurising her to throw my dad out of their house.

Although my dad no longer had contact with my mum, he used to visit me regularly.  One day, when he was eating dinner, he started crying.  I’d only ever seen him cry once before, when I was about nine, after our pet dog had been put to sleep. So it sort of startled me, to see him sobbing in front of me.  When I asked him why he was crying, he said it was all about the split-up and the problems he was having because of the OW and her husband!  ‘But I thought it was what you wanted’ I exclaimed to him, not fully understanding, in my naivety, why he was crying about getting something he wanted!

He thought he needed money to keep the OW, but he didn’t have any – he’d already spent what he did have on her.  We’ve never been a rich family, and the truth is money has always been tight!  So I never had any spare cash I could give him!  I had £2 left in my purse, and told him he could take that.  But he said it wasn’t enough! As now he didn’t have enough work as a driving instructor to ‘buy’ her, she wanted him to leave.  He’d told her ‘The only way you’ll get me out of here is in a box!’.

He was my dad, and it hurt to see him in so much turmoil.  Him and mum had only been separated for three months, yet it felt much longer! I was also in turmoil, as I wanted to tell him to go back to mum.  She’d forgive him!  I knew she would, because although she was so angry because of what he did, she still loved him! But he’d mucked us all about for ten years, he’d made his choice, now he would have to deal with it!  I didn’t tell him this though!  I just gave him a cuddle, and said it would probably take a bit more time for it all to sort itself out!

When he rang the next week on Thursday to ask if he could come over that afternoon, I was busy with some school stuff!  So I said I’d see him the next day, Friday, when I’d cook him a nice dinner.  I asked if he was okay, he said he was!  That night, at 11.30 pm, I was on the phone to my mother. As we lived twenty miles apart, we had late night chats!  Whilst we were talking I felt worried when I heard her doorbell ring!  ‘Be careful mum’ I said to her, ‘ask who it is, before you open the door’!  I listened on the other end of the phone, tensely waiting, wondering why someone would be calling so late!  I pictured my mum opening the street door, hearing the door open.  There was the sound of low voices before I heard my mum making a sound I couldn’t make out.  She came back on the phone and said ‘I’ll call you back in a minute’, before slamming the phone down on the receiver!

Have you ever had that terrible feeling of being absolutely powerless in a crisis?  Well that’s what I felt then! I knew it must be something serious because of the late night visit.  But from whom? My mind started to race in fear. Twenty minutes later I apprehensively rang my mum, when she told me that it was the OW at the door, with the police.  ‘Tony (my dad) had taken an ‘overdose’, the OW had said.  ‘He was dead!’.

Actually, it didn’t take an overdose to kill him!  He used cyanide, where just a couple of granules is lethal!

So he’d thought about it, planned it, even spoke about it!  Yet no-one had heard him!  There was an inquest, where a letter was produced, that he had written to Marjorie Proops.  She was a famous Agony Aunt of that time, on T.V. and radio, and used to write in newspapers and magazines.  In the letter he spoke of his pain and confusion, and fear of being rejected by the OW.  But he never posted the letter – it was in his jacket pocket!  However, Marjorie Proops did get to hear of it, and replied through the media, where as she spoke of the letter and it’s contents, she wrote something like… ‘This poor man had no-one to turn to for help when he needed it most’.  Which infuriated me at the time, because he did have someone.  He had his wife and family.  He had me!  So why couldn’t I have stopped him from doing what he did?  Why didn’t he tell me how bad he felt?  Why didn’t I realise he was so depressed and desperate?

The dysfunction thinking that ‘If only…’ statements create, abounded at the time… and since…

*If only I’d seen how unhappy he was, I might have been able to talk him into going back to mum!

*If only I’d intervened somehow, and made sure he and mum stayed together!

*If only I’d know what he was planning I might have been able to get him some help!

*If only I’d had more time, and could have done more for him!

*If only I’d not said no, when he asked to visit me that day, he might still be alive!

*If only he hadn’t killed himself, I would not be feeling so bad!

So there it was…the reason why I find it so hard to refuse help to those in crisis!  My fear that I was somehow responsible for his death!  And the fear that only overwhelming emotional pain can manifest, that I was afraid I would not be able to cope with it again!

Logically I can say that I wasn’t responsible for what he did – how could I be?  But deep down I wonder whether, if he had visited me that day, he might have been able to express his intent, as a cry for the help he so desperately needed.  I also wonder whether the reason why he wanted to visit that day was to ask for help, or to say goodbye?

I was probably the last person he spoke to!  …But he died feeling unloved!  …But we all still loved him so much!!

This has been a powerful realisation for me today!  I knew I had these thoughts of regret and guilt locked away deep inside my mind and heart, and have often worked on them in the past.  He committed suicide over thirty years ago. But there were residues left, that were enough to create the preventative logic that I created as a consequence of my father’s suicide, and which goes something like this….

….‘I must stop people feeling too overwhelmed, in case they can’t cope and kill themselves, or become ill and die(other childhood issues created this)..BECAUSE…I can’t cope with this (loss) happening again!’.

Deep rooted fears can, given time, often present as a self-fulfilling prophecy! This almost did, whilst I contemplated my own demise, which I may write about another time!  But for now I have more self-healing to do, by monitoring my motivations, thoughts and ensuring I walk the right pathway for me .  And now that I understand the reasons why my personal logic was so protective toward others, in order to protect me from suffering further, I feel more able to take appropriate, corrective action, and say ‘No, I can’t do it today!’ when necessary.  But it’s not going to be easy, as even as I write this I can feel the panic rise when I make that simple statement!

Small steps in the right direction though, eh! Better get another remedy ready Gary…!!

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There’s so many people suffering with anxiety and depression at the moment, who believe they are powerless to change what’s happening to them.  Their mind and emotions fill their whole being with dread and fearful thoughts, panic, and emotional rushes of irrational terror, that appears to have a valid cause, creating even more fear thoughts and feelings.

The most obvious option, when we’re feeling overwhelmed by ourselves, is to visit our doctor.  But whilst prescribed drugs may appear to be the easy answer to ‘curing our malady’, the consequences of drug addiction and side effects paint a more disturbing picture, that can dramatically increase our suffering! And whilst we would do ANYTHING to find a way to feel better, we must remember that even though we’re not thinking straight, we can still think.  We can still make decisions, albeit with help!  We still have choices!  We still have our personal power!  We can still help ourselves! And whilst all of these things may be temporarily disabled by our dark mind, our light mind is still there, waiting to return us back to full awareness!

I have suffered with depression all of my life! YES, even as a young child!  I’ve had breakdowns, agoraphobia, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders.  Oh dear, that makes me sound so weak, sad, needy and wrong (residues of old programming).  And as I write this and say what I have, I feel the shame still sitting in my stomach.  The shame that I couldn’t cope!  The shame that I thought I was mentally insane!  The shame that I was not strong enough to cope with me!

I have battled with my mind and emotions for as long as I can remember, and I know what it’s like when you feel as though you have lost control of your mind, your life, your future!  It is ABSOLUTELY… FUCKING… TERRIFYING!!!

But, even though you feel terrified, scared, despairing, alone, futile, worthless and powerless – YOU ARE NOT going to remain this way!  All of these feelings are created because your mind is low (simple term for serotonin imbalance/ low vibration mind creations/lack of confidence).  So whilst they may be true of the moment, because that’s how it feels, there is usually SOMETHING we can do to help ourselves in some way!

There are different types and levels of depression, with different causes, which I won’t go into here.  As my point of writing is to let you know what made the biggest differences to me, during my worst times!

The whole point of depression is to create change to our lives!  It helps to understand this! But once we enter into it, we have to work our way out by doing the things we’ve been putting off prior to feeling unwell – like doing things that are good for us, make us feel happy, reduce our stress, support our physical, emotional and mental well-being!

Be aware that everything that is happening is of an energetic nature. When we’re depressed we’re caught up in negative energy vibrations, which won’t release until we deliberately introduce positive energetic elements into our life.  Positive and Negative energetic forces are as strong as each other.  What matters is where we place our energetic attention.  If we constantly focus on how bad we feel, we will attract more negativity into our lives, which means more negative thinking and feeling.  And even though it feels the hardest thing in the world to do when we are feeling so bad, refraining from keep talking about how bad we feel, and using positive thoughts as affirmations, are the easiest ways to introduce a doorway to the light into our darkened world!

You don’t have to believe affirmations when you say them initially. Just use the words to open the door to the light! Every morning and any time I felt overwhelmed I’d say ‘All is well in my world.  I am feeling healthier and better each day!’. Of course I didn’t believe this statement, as I felt so bad all the time. And to be honest, even though I know what I know about spirit, energy, life, me, I didn’t believe anything could help me to feel better! But after a while I noticed how this thought seemed to stop the fear thoughts that were trying to surface!  Eventually as I became more convinced that small improvements to my mood were appearing, and thus used the statements with intent to create a better and healthier me, I created a new neural pathway that I could use to escape the compulsive rise in terror, panic and anxiety!

Don’t believe your thoughts when feeling depressed. These type of thoughts tell us lies, unless they are positively driven to healing and aiding your recovery! Our ego-driven fear wants us to stay weak so it can stay strong! Accept that you’re not well, your thoughts are not accurate at this time, and resist the urge to get carried along on the platform of panic, that constantly tries to knock you off your feet!

When we get surges of anxiety and panic it’s better to let them rise and pass by saying ‘I allow these thoughts to rise and pass’ instead of catching them, analysing them and believing their fearful messages!  Feel the energy run downwards through your feet, or upwards through the top of your head as you make the statement! Learning to work with our own energy is very empowering on all levels of our being!

Regardless of how unmotivated you feel, aim to achieve at least one thing each day.  Setting yourself a target and reaching it encourages positive chemical reaction linked to pleasure.  And although you may not feel it at first, setting seeds this way will provide a platform for further positive focus and action!  The target need only be small.  If you’ve been laying on the couch every day for a couple of months/weeks, then taking a walk during the day is a breakthrough!  If you’ve been putting off paperwork, chores etc., choose one from the list and make sure you do it.  Keep it easy and simple to start with.  I still use this approach to keep me motivated!

We need sleep to allow our turbulent mind to rest.  But too much sleep has an adverse affect that can make us feel worse.  When we’re depressed, even though we feel exhausted, we have to make ourselves more physically and mentally active, to stimulate our Serotonin levels.  Walking, dancing, meditating, positive conversations, reading a good book – anything that moves our energy towards positivity! This is a real big challenge!

Drugs and alcohol exacerbate depression, and although they might help to act as a sticking plaster, they do not help it or us long-term, in any way!!  There are many complementary therapies that are great for rebalancing our energy, and that do not involve ingesting harmful chemicals. And although you have to pay for this type of therapy, you have the power to choose who helps, and what help suits you best!

When we are caught in depression, it can feel like our world has collapsed.  Everything appears so bleak and futile, and we wonder if our life is worth living!  And the worst thing is knowing that we are the controllers of our progress or fall!  We are the ones who determine how long we stay depressed!  No one can fix us! But all this is controlled by the thoughts we think, the actions that we take! And though the days and nights may be long and painful, there will be good thoughts and moments popping in now and again.  And as you start looking for and counting these good moments, they will turn into hours, then days.  Then eventually, there will be more good days than bad!

I now realise depressive feelings are something I’ll have to manage long-term.  I have to be aware of the signs that motivate me to take evasive action, like getting more sleep, sorting out the strife in my mind, doing something for me – just for me! Life is changing for us at the moment, causing many problems.  And whilst there may be a specific problem that has caused your reactive depression, that you feel unable to change, I want to remind you that you can and must work with your depression, as that is the priority problem now!  Working against it, resisting it or giving in to it, will only prolong your suffering!

I feel quite frustrated whilst writing because there’s so much more I want to say.  But I promised myself I would keep my articles brief, as I know I get carried away sometimes!

So my heart cries out to all of you who are suffering from depression … ’Please don’t give up!  Don’t let fear destroy your life!  Please allow other people in to help you motivate yourself into positive action!’.  As even though you are walking through the tunnel of darkness at the moment, fighting the trials that depression bestows upon us, you are so much stronger and braver than you think you are – with or without pills!

You are the hero at the centre of your storm.  You must make sure you win the battle of light and dark aspects of your personality by choosing to use the mind that wallows in love, not fear action!

You can and will win.  I know.  I’ve done it many times!!

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Over the years I’ve discovered that life moves us through various traumatic stages that have a beginning and end.  The purpose of these stages is to help us grow and learn.  Although each stage may vary in length and intensity of issues, and level of disruption to our lives, each stage contains a main theme that runs throughout.  Which is the driving force and pivotal learning point of our experience, that if recognised and adhered to, will enable us to improve our personality, life and future.

And if we look for the bigger picture of humanity, by also looking inwardly at issues of friends and family, we may recognise how our central theme of that time is theirs too.  This mirroring acts as confirmation that we are indeed a global society on a global journey of learning, that can affect us all!

I’ve always been able to identify the different stages of my life, and see the opening and closing of each stage. Recently I recognised that another traumatic stage of my life had completed.  I felt relieved as I acknowledged how hard I’d been finding life for some time, and hoped the universe would allow me a resting stage to re-gather my strength and positivity before I faced the next step. But we can’t control some aspects of our growth, only learn to attend to them as soon as we can, in order to reduce discomfort and suffering caused because of them.  So, when troublesome events started to present themselves to me – along with rising discomforts, I quickly started to search for the meaning hidden behind them.

I’d been struggling to meet obligations I’d imposed upon myself, that catered for other’s needs, and put my life on hold because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to focus on my issues. I realised this attitude meant I stayed stuck in the quagmire of frustration, anger, resentment, despondency and despair, that was hidden beneath my compassionate acts. But I’d become so embroiled in pushing myself to cope with family problems that felt overwhelming, that I’d closed my awareness off to my own needs, because I couldn’t cope with them as well as all the other things I had to do.

Self-denial and detachment crept in, but I didn’t acknowledge it because my needs were too much for me to cope with!

It was only when I received two requests for favours, one after the other from separate people, that truth finally hit me!  Initially when I refused their requests I started to beat myself up, as usual when I think I’m letting someone down.  But  once I straightened my thinking out, I allowed my indignance to guide me to what I needed to see more clearly.

I had to allow myself to stomp my feet (mentally not physically)and admit I didn’t want to commit my time and attention to helping anyone at the moment.  I had no energy left for me, as even though I did have some spare time, I wasn’t using it to replenish my energies or develop my business, because I felt so tired.  Yet even after all the self-development work I’d done, I still felt guilty about saying no! So, ‘What was this all about?’ I asked myself!

I learned about assertiveness years ago.  I understand it well, and believe me when I boldly say that I try to use my assertiveness power as and when it’s needed!  So why was this ‘NO’ issue rising again?  What was I missing?

Looking back over recent events and the predicament I felt I was in, I could see that saying ‘No’ was not just about refusing requests from others.  It was also about self-control, like saying ‘NO’ to the bars of chocolate I’d been consuming to quell my tiredness and despondency, and ‘No’ to the voices in my head that told me I deserved to have them.  It was about refusing to allow myself to beat me up any more for what I wasn’t doing, for what I had or hadn’t done!  It was about stopping myself from striving to meet my own and others unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved in limiting circumstances, and stopping to rest when I required respite.

It was about seeing how I’d taken on responsibility that I couldn’t cope with! I was trying to make things easier and better for others.  But though there were unavoidable tasks I had to perform, did I have to do SO much?  Did I have to do ‘EVERYTHING I COULD TO MAKE LIFE EASIER FOR OTHERS, AT THE EXPENSE OF MY OWN LIFE AND HEALTH?’

Why had I not seen, after all my experiences and traumatic times, that whilst I can support people in times of trouble, I cannot fix their lives – especially if I neglect my own? And why did I keep on trying so hard to protect other people from their life-changing problems?

Thus I realised how hard I’d been pushing myself.  And how much of myself I’d been denying!  No wonder I felt miserable, anxious and worried all the time! Didn’t I realise how our problems help us develop new skills.  Didn’t I know that facing our fear makes us stronger and wiser? Of course I did, I’m a counselling therapist! But did I really think I had to step in because my loved ones were so fragile, and they would die if faced with problems they felt they couldn’t handle?  Yes I did actually! A fear caused by past experiences that left their imprint upon my subconscious mind, which infiltrated my logic and distorted the reality of what is!  This is being dealt with now!

There are many who say if you reach for the stars you will touch them.  But we have to account for the fact that physical, mental and emotional needs will stop us in our track, if they are not met. And environmental and universal influences will negatively affect our energy when we are low, by making us feel more tired, listless and depressed.

If we feel overwhelmed it’s okay to ask for help! But if we don’t give ourselves what we need to survive, no-one else will. Everyone these days is trying to cope with their own stuff!  Meaning no one can help fix us, unless we take the time and make the effort to try to fix ourselves first!

‘NO’ is such a short sound.  But it has a huge meaning!  ‘No’ can save our lives and protect us, but it can also keep us confined in our stagnating comfort zone!  Saying ‘No’ means we can stand up for what we believe is right and proper.  But it can also promote our rebelliousness, that causes harm to ourselves or others!  Sometimes we say ‘No’ when we mean ‘Yes’ and vice versa, so if we want to get what we want and need, we have to ensure we say what we really mean.

I’ve decided to put my needs on par with others, for a time anyway, as I realise this is my life, with one chance to enjoy the benefits of being who I am.  Most importantly I’ve eventually accepted that it’s no good being a good Samaritan, if it kills you in the process.  Or use external substances to cope with painful emotions and life, but which destroy physical health!

So often we lose ourselves within our problems.  But regardless of how hard we try to avoid them, problems will keep rearing their ugliness at us. But if we don’t learn to say ‘No’ to things that will harm us, we will never be happy, healthy and fulfilled.

Learning to say ‘No’ means we can stand up and say …‘ I know what I need and make sure I get it’!  And even though it might take a bit of practice to get the ‘No’ in the right place at the right time, saying ‘No’ will enable us to regain our confidence, because we are aware that whilst we may not be able to escape the trials and tribulations that life throws at us, we know we always have the power to choose how we deal with situations, and our reactive, needy  self!

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