Friday, November 17, 2017

Making decisions.

 It’s easy to get into a muddle. Our minds are a bit of a liability. They are a bit of a responsibility. They need looking after and keeping track of. Otherwise the thoughts go round and round, and off on a tangent and back again, with nothing solved. It’s a mystery that we get any answers really. Because the mind gets hopelessly tangled up. 
When do you make your clearest decisions? For some people, the answers arise spontaneously in times of peace and calm. It might be walking in nature or relaxing in the bath. (Didn’t Albert Einstein find answers to his problems in the bath). The answers might pop up when you least expect them. Like when you have taken a break from thinking about them. Maybe when you have relaxed and had some fun. It seems that when we forget to try and make a decision that the answer just arises. From where? 
For me, I sometimes ask a question as I go to bed and the answer is clear when I wake. Or I sit at the beach and just “be”……feeling whatever is here and dropping through these feelings to the stillness that is inside, and then the answer arises. 
The thing with the mind, is that it is programmed by our up-bringing. The brain goes through massive development during the first 3 years. What we experience, especially to do with attachment to our significant carer, creates our security in ourselves, develops our ability to trust, it creates our ability to connect with people, it creates our beliefs about ourselves. And the further early years reinforce or develop these even more, depending on our experiences. 
Trust, security, connection, and beliefs will affect how we make decisions. The state of these factors will affect how you live your life and affect your ability to be true to yourself. When you were little, if the only time you received love was when you pleased others, then your adult decisions will be coloured by an unconscious desire to please. This can stop you sticking up for yourself. It can stop you from being true to you. If, when you were little, you developed a fear of arguments, disagreements and conflict, this will influence how you make decisions as an adult. You may not be consciously aware of it, but you may delay making a decision until life forces it on you. You may delay making a decision until someone else makes it for you. You may be afraid to step up and state your mind. You may not be able to make a decision that honours you. You may just follow along with other people’s decisions. 
So much of how we are in life stems from our early childhood. Can we change? Certainly. Develop awareness. Observe yourself and see the patterns. Observe how you talk and how you behave and what you avoid. Then deliberately challenge yourself in tiny little ways. Find the stillness that is inside you. Especially when you need to make a decision. Trust the stillness. Not the doubts, shoulds, should nots, wants, can’ts, don’ts. Take time to be inside you. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

What are you suffering?

Are you suffering worry? Are you suffering pain? Are you suffering trauma? Are you suffering stress? Some spiritual traditions suggest that to be human is to suffer. Well, to be human means we feel emotions and we have an active mind. And we want to be loved. And we want to be happy.
So consider this question…………If you didn’t think would you suffer? If you mind didn’t go round and round, would you suffer? If your mind didn’t come up with doubts and interpretations, would you suffer?
I am suggesting that your mind creates the suffering. If you didn’t think so much about whatever is going on or worrying you, then you wouldn’t suffer.  So you might then think: well I can control my mind with positive thinking and affirmations.
Trouble is, your willpower will only work for a while and then the other stuff will creep back in. Before changing your thinking to positive thoughts you need to face whatever is bugging you.
Recently I had something bugging me. It meant that I lost sleep for a few nights. My mind was going intensely, over and over the whole situation and the memories associated with it. A variety of emotions were being felt. And I did allow myself to feel them. I felt them in my body. Then I thought about them, and because our thoughts keep the emotion there, I felt them some more. Eventually though, I dropped through them into a place of stillness and from there clarity arose.  As in, what I needed to do. The important thing is to do what I sense is right for me. Not what someone else says to do, or what someone asks me to do, or what my mind suggests I could do, but what is right from my deepest truth.
Here’s my formula to escape suffering.
1.      1.  Let emotions be felt as they arise. If we feel them in the body without the thoughts about why they are there, then they dissolve.
2.       2. Acceptance of how you feel about the situation. Acceptance about your own feelings allows your body to relax. In this relaxing, solutions and possibilities will arise. If you are tense you close off to ways to change the situation.
3.       3. If you have past trauma, and you are aware that it’s affecting you, seek a safe helper to guide you to feel and release the internal trauma.
4.       4. Exercise self care. Think (give your mind a job to do!) about the food you eat, the exercise you do, comfort, rest, fresh air, the company you enjoy.  If you don’t value yourself enough to take care of yourself, then this is the issue that needs attending to.
5.       5. Don’t believe everything your mind tells you. Be light with your thoughts.
6.       6. Live in the moment. Feel emotions, concentrate on the task you are doing, be present to the person you are having a conversation with. If you need to plan the future, then attend to the task of planning for the future, in this moment.

Remember, inside you are a person of value. You are someone worth respecting, so respect yourself first and then others will respect you.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What trauma did you experience when you were young?

What is trauma? There are traumatic events that take place unexpectedly, and there is ongoing trauma that happens for some people. And really it is the trauma that develops inside a person that is the real trauma. This trauma is the emotions that get stuck and the negative self-beliefs that are formed from these emotions.
Young children have no skills for coping with either unexpected traumatic events or ongoing trauma. They have no resources. They are reliant on the adults that care for them, to protect them and support them to healthily deal with emotions. During the first 3 years their brains are rapidly developing. The brain is very vulnerable, especially at that time. Disrupted brain development can result in brain pathways not being formed in a functional working way leading to emotional, cognitive, behavioural and/or interpersonal deficits or disorders. And psychological research is showing that there is a link between trauma in childhood and adult health problems.
What took place for you in your early years? The results of trauma play out all through your life. It’s not so much what the trauma is, but what happened inside you. Do you become scared of people? Did you become unable to have a close relationship? Did you comply and agree and do people pleasing behaviours? Did you become a workaholic, or an alcoholic or a substance abuser to run away from it? Or are the effects more subtle, like me. When I was a baby, my older brother was ill with polio for a long time, and it seems to me that I was crying a lot and I was not heard. This led to feelings and internal beliefs of unworthiness, not being heard, the need to be “good”, not wanting to speak up for myself, not valuing myself.
If the child’s significant carer is unknowingly part of the trauma, maybe by not being available, or by providing inconsistent love, or by not meeting basic needs, or by not protecting the child, then the child is going to grow up feeling the impact every day. Those first few years are so profoundly important for a person.
When we think about how widespread trauma and its effects are, it would be easy to feel despair. How can someone overcome the internal impact of trauma which happened when so very young and vulnerable? When young there is no way for a child to develop healthy emotional responses, unless the adults around provide loving mature support.

But can it be done later? YES. There are many forms of help available. You can choose the one that feels right for you. Whether it is talking and understanding the trauma and the impact, or emotional release work, or body work, or spiritual work. Trauma can turn into empowerment. Trauma can be growth for you. Through facing your own trauma and the emotions attached, there can develop a greater compassion for yourself, and greater compassion for others. This can lead to you living a more satisfying and authentic life. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Saying sorry, apologising, asking for forgiveness.

Are these 3 the same thing?
Anyway, starting at the beginning. When children are young, parents, educators and others encourage children to say they are sorry, when they have hurt someone, or broken someone’s thing. Children are told to say sorry, before they have even understood what it means. It looks like just being taught the words for the occasion. However, most people probably also model this around the children and say they are sorry when required. An adult might even say, for example: “I’m sorry that you broke Aunty’s vase. Now she doesn’t have her vase that she has loved for years. I’m going to say sorry to Aunty. How about you do too?”
For some adults, sorry doesn’t happen. Maybe they didn’t have the teaching or the modelling when young. And there is more to it than that. Saying sorry or apologising can be downright difficult. It can feel really awkward. It’s like exposing yourself as being wrong. It’s like revealing your worst self. You just don’t want to say those words. How would you feel about asking someone to forgive you? Does that feel even stronger?
When you do say sorry, does the other person acknowledge what you have said and say thank you? What do you say when someone apologises to you? Often we tend to brush it off and say something like “That’s ok” or “No need to apologise” or “There is nothing to forgive”. We try and make things better as fast as possible to get out of that awkward situation, instead of using the opportunity for a real connection.
I have had the experience of my apology and my asking for forgiveness being treated just like that. And for me, it then feels like I’m not free of it.  When someone told me that forgiveness was not needed, I felt like I was being shut off, brushed aside, not listened too, and not valued.
Asking for forgiveness or apologising for something you have done, whether you meant to do it or not, gives you the opportunity to be honest, it gives you the chance to show kindness, it gives you the time to connect authentically. It allows you to accept what you did and to be free of the feelings associated with it. It allows you to drop it.
It could be an apology for words causing emotional hurt, or upset, even though you were unaware of doing that and had no intention of causing pain. Apologies are powerful. They can mean that you connect instead of brushing stuff aside.
Responding to an apology or request for forgiveness is a wonderful chance to really listen and understand the other side. To inquire into what was actually going on for the other person. So feel grateful for the apology and say thank you, instead of brushing it away.
And think about saying sorry to yourself. Or forgiving yourself. Give yourself some love and compassion.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hospital experience.

Recently I was at the hospital. I was sitting there watching people and thinking that I see 2 sorts of people. Those that appear strong inside themselves and those who don’t.
Those who have a strength inside them let this show. They may not even know. They may not even be aware. But something makes them different from the others. It’s like they know they will be okay, whatever happens. It’s as if they know that they will be taken care of, in a way that fits with honouring themselves. They know they are still in charge. They know they will be listened to and respected.
The others are looking down, looking closed off, being sorry for themselves, feeling worthless and just doing what they are told. And maybe attracting more despair and more of being a victim. And really, these people are only victims of their own beliefs. It is easy to drop into feeling sorry for oneself, especially when one is in pain. Or when the professionals are telling the worst case scenario, as they do. It’s easy to feel down and go further down when health issues multiple. And especially when someone believes unconsciously that they are worthless or not of value. So just know that you are of value and are worthy of respect.
We so want our bodies to work well. Except when, we have some unconscious desire for attention and care, and it seems the only acceptable way to get this is to be sick or need hospital care. Or when one believes the words spoken are the truth whereas they may be an opinion.

As I was sitting there, I was asking myself…..which sort of person am I?  (What sort of person are you?) I realised that it is possible to be both at different times. Emotions can be triggered by the words spoken by professionals. This can be compounded by another specialist’s words. It is difficult to sort out the information in one’s head to see how it fits with one’s understanding of one’s self. The key is to stay present. Lift oneself up and engage brain. You can do it. Promise yourself you will let yourself feel the overwhelm, the confusion, the worthlessness, the terror, the hopelessness later. In the meantime, focus on the person in front of you and know that inside yourself, you can sort this out. Show that you respect yourself by putting your head up and asking that question. Give that piece of information even if it is not important. Be listened to. And let yourself blob while you wait, and wait again. A bit of numbing out by watching the TV or by reading the trashy magazine can give you a rest from the thoughts. And honour yourself by acknowledging the feelings that are stirring inside you……later, let yourself feel them, because by letting yourself feel them, they give way to a developing clarity. Then you can do what’s right for you. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017


Long word…………………taking a long time to actually do something.
Do you have something that you want to do, but you keep putting off? Do you have something that you are going to do “one day”? Maybe you have several things you have put off, that other people, maybe family, have heard you say you are going to do. When?? If you put them off so long that you can’t do them, will you feel relieved or resentful? What is really in the way? What is the cost to you personally of not doing them?
You may not even know that you are putting off doing something. It might seem so natural to think that it will happen sometime. It might seem like the absolute truth that there are reasons why you haven’t done that thing. The reasons may seem very real. You may believe your thoughts about why you can’t do something just now.
With me, it feels like I wait for the right time. Sometimes it seems like the more I think about it, the more I don’t do it, and then suddenly, its right and I do it with no thinking. I have had a lot of practise waiting for the right time. Waiting. Waiting. Preparing the words. Preparing my mind. Not being confident enough, thinking that I was not good enough, worrying about other people’s feelings, feeling responsible for others feelings, not wanting to be exposed as me.
So what gets in the way for you? Apart from the reasons (really!). Our minds seem to be programmed to come up with reasons to not do stuff. Our minds are so good at producing the doubts. Underneath these reasons, we might worry about what people will think of us. It might be plain scary to be seen doing what we want to do? What if we fail? What if we succeed? We might worry about being judged. Or criticised.
You might have a dream that you want to follow but then the mind asks how are you going to do that bit, or where is the money for that, or maybe it’s not the right time. Our minds can go into overload about the detail. What if you were to just take the first step and don’t even think about the next step. Concentrate on just this step. I remember learning this lesson when walking/climbing up a mountain in India – the only thing to do was to focus on just this step. It wasn’t even one step at a time, which implies that another will follow….it was just concentrate on this step. Nothing about the next. Try it….take the step, feel how it feels and the next step will be revealed as you complete the one you are doing.

Recently I got called on my own procrastination, and realised that I was putting something off for no good reason really. So I will do it this week. Will you?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


I broke a bone in my ankle 45 years ago. Any relevance for today?
Physically, I have had issues with the hip and the knee on that side. Probably because back then, it was a case of plaster up to the knee for several weeks and no physio afterwards. Would this have affected how I walk, how I use that side of my body, where I put my weight in different positions?? Quite likely. And would these different patterns of walking and weight bearing have continued over the years meaning that some parts of the body are now being strained? Probably.
And, what about emotions and beliefs stored in the body? Well, I have faced some emotions stored in my hip and knee, and let these go.
Now it is time to revisit the memory.
This is what I remember. I had taken my flatmate to work on her motor scooter. I was returning when I went round a corner. I turned the accelerator handle bar the wrong way!! So I went faster, rather than slowing down. At that moment I froze, so I was unable to reverse the action. I sped round the corner and drove smack into a parked car on the other side of the road, which flipped me and the scooter onto our sides in the middle of the road.  Since then I have mightily blamed myself for the huge mistake that I made. Any time I have remembered it, I have felt so stupid and so bad. I made a stupid mistake. A mistake that should not have happened. It was more than a mistake…. I had actually done the complete opposite to what one should do. So not a little mistake.  In my mind it meant that I was worthless and totally stupid. Throughout my life this is how I have felt about any mistake. No matter how little.
Today I also realised that in the moment, I froze. So I was unable to correct. Which would have been simple to do. Doubly stupid. Why? Probably because as a child, I had developed this strategy. I made a mistake, I got told off, and then someone else fixed it. (because I was not clever enough to fix it) So I learned to freeze myself, to not feel, to not think, to just get through the next few moments. And then someone did it for me. This strategy had an effect on how I handled the scooter accident situation. And no one there to fix it for me. And really it need not have been like that, if I had had a different coping strategy in place.

Consider your own strategies. What do you do when you make a mistake? Do you wish you could wind the clock back and undo the mistake? Do you joke about it, in order to cover up your feelings? Consider your childhood and see what strategies you developed to cope with mistakes. Just know that whatever your way of dealing with mistakes, that these were strategies were put in place when you were young. You have more internal resources now, so take a look, and maybe change your strategies.