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Willpower, or not

Willpower, or not

I realised the other day after explaining how I work with so called ‘bad’ habits, behaviours and thought patterns in a much more compassionate way than trying to exert ‘willpower’ over ourselves to a client, that much of my theories and ways of working fit in very well to the Internal Family Systems model of psychotherapy.

Since this isn’t an approach I’ve ever studied, I’m kind of astounded as to how closely it fits with my own intuitive ways of working developed from studying and working with other forms of psychotherapy and hundreds over clients over the years.

Having read up on it a bit this week, I realised I had already downloaded this podcast and it was in my queue. If you’re interested in a much kinder and gentler way of working with and learning about yourself, I highly recommend it.

If you’re interested in a more compassionate way of being with yourself, with more effective results, please also consider working with me.

An alternative to beating yourself up

An alternative to beating yourself up

We have been taught to believe that being hard on ourselves, pushing ourselves and beating ourselves up is the way to reach our potential: a way to find happiness by being someone we can be happy with, the ‘best’ version of ourselves.

Let me just repeat that logic for you: the way to love myself and be happy in the future, is to dislike and be mean to myself now.

‘Now’ is actually the only time we have. How are we going to teach ourselves to love ourselves and feel worthy and good enough in the imagined future, if our only behaviour right now is the opposite? When do we start practising this self-love we hear is quite helpful to our well being?

We think if we don’t push or punish ourselves for ‘less than’ behaviour (I should have known better), we will not learn and be destined to continue with the same mistakes. That can even work to some degree, but it doesn’t feel at all good or do anything to increase your sense of self-worth outside of any external validation or achievement you may have pushed yourself to get.

If it hasn’t worked so far, may I suggest a gentler, more compassionate alternative?

“I messed up. I should have known better and done better.”

Yup. Only the survival part of your brain for some reason felt so threatened it hijacked your system and did whatever it thought it needed to protect you.

So, it happened. Now you have some perspective. Instead of hating the part of you that thought it was saving your life, or in some way keeping you safe, try being kind and curiously asking, what did you think was so awful about the alternative that you had to protect me from it?

Maybe you put up with the awful partner because you learned it was better than being alone (because you’d learned you were unlovable).
Maybe you took the bait and started an argument you’ve had a million times before because that person said something that reminded you just how useless you are (not true but learned).

It happened. Take full responsibility for it. Be compassionate with yourself – you did the best you could. If you’d have been able to do better, do you not think you would have?! Now what? Can you offer yourself some compassion and forgive yourself so you can practice what you hope to achieve in the ‘future’?

Self-worth and self-love is ONLY available to you in the present moment. Right now.

Unconditional

Unconditional

I don’t really keep plants. I tend to ‘over love’ them and kill them. Accidentally of course, but they fair better when I purposefully ignore them. I was thrilled when my succulent dropped a couple of leaves and I managed to create whole new plants from them. Then I got excited, paid them too much attention, over watered them and now the big one looks like it might lose a few more leaves again but hopefully it’ll pull through.

That’s the great thing about people. You can’t love someone too much. You can love them just as much as you want, and they don’t have to participate in that at all. Even if you’re not speaking, you are free to love them in your heart, unconditionally, without needing or expecting anything in return.

It took me a really long time to learn how to do this, and I still slip up and notice myself getting annoyed or hurt sometimes when I let some sort of expectation creep in, but I can whole-heartedly say, it is worth the practice.

Loving someone without expectation feels SO much better than not. You get to love someone regardless of the circumstances, and heal and grow in the meantime. It’s so freeing, and allows you to feel better, without needing them to do anything.

Smaller

Smaller

I live in a smaller world than I did. My world full of travel and culture and freedom has shrunk to the same four walls and routine.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m healthy. I live with space and family and am surrounded by beauty. I am grateful that I get to work and build and live.

Yet it’s a very different sort of living to what I was doing before. I imagine it is for most people. We are resilient, and adaptable, and we will do what we need to in order to survive.

Life looks different. It’s OK to grieve the loss, to wonder about the future, and hope for a better tomorrow. It’s OK to talk, ask for support, and share love with your fellow humans. It might look different, but the love is the same, and we all need it.

I am currently fully booked, working with people who can afford to pay for a private therapist. It doesn’t go unnoticed that if I’m fully booked working with the privileged, how many others are suffering without access to that same support? Let’s look after our loved ones, and those on the edges of our circles who may be OK, and may not be. We can show our love for each other. We can laugh and joke and enjoy the fact that we are alive, together. We can bring each other closer, and lift each other up.

Lessons in love

Lessons in love

I had a spiritual counselling session yesterday. Sometimes you just need a little extra self care.

She asked me, if you were to make a prayer from this situation, what would it be?

I said, I would pray for the courage to be vulnerable and open hearted. I would pray for honesty and congruency.

We talked about how the world is our mirror, and our interactions are our teachers, and I realised I’d been triggered by someone mirroring my own lack of authenticity back to me in a particular situation.

So I got off the call, took a big grown up breath, and got courageously vulnerable with my open heart. I stopped censoring myself for the sake of someone else. I let go of the fear of being too much (again).

When you’re honest with yourself, it doesn’t matter what response you get, if any, it matters how you feel being in a place of love instead of fear. Sometimes, you even get a response that is a mirror for your open heart 😍

Set a prayer or intention for whatever situation is triggering you, and allow it to be your teacher. Ask, how can this help me be more / less / learn XYZ?

Approach life with an open heart, nothing was ever hurt by more love❣

Keeping score

What if you didn’t have to keep score?

If you’ve ever sat and thought, ‘I’m not doing it anymore. I’m not going to keep giving and giving and trying and trying when this person isn’t making half as much effort as me’, this is for you.

For a moment, entertain the possibility that you don’t have to keep score. Being the one who gives doesn’t have to mean you’re being taken advantage of, that the other person doesn’t care, or that you’re being a doormat. Those are beliefs we’ve taught ourselves to perpetuate an idea of separation and divisiveness.

What if you gave, because it felt good? What if you only gave when it felt good, when you could genuinely offer the other person love, and peace, with your gift of energy? Then, would it really matter if the score was even? If you felt good, what does it matter if you’re doing all the giving and they’re doing all the taking or not making the effort?

If it doesn’t feel good to give, stop. You have that power. That’s your choice. But don’t give, then get pissed off that you chose to give and they chose to take. Try not keeping score, see how it feels.

How can I offer you peace?

How can I offer you peace?

How can I offer you peace?

I’ve been revisiting healed relationships from A Course in Miracles recently and one of the commentaries I read suggested that the idea of forgiveness, of letting go of our expectations of others, involves choosing to offer others peace (physically or metaphorically), as well as ourselves.

I like the reminder to check in with what feels peaceful; what feels like an offering of love, without any expectation of reciprocation (again, doesn’t have to be physical, we can do all this healing work in our heads and hearts).

If we could do this with all of our relationships and interactions, just imagine how amazing the world would be!

I like the reminder to check in with what feels peaceful; what feels like an offering of love, without any expectation of reciprocation (again, doesn’t have to be physical, we can do all this healing work in our heads and hearts).

If we could do this with all of our relationships and interactions, just imagine how amazing the world would be!

Find your heart

Find your heart

Find your heart. Keep it always in your sight.

Dig into the part of you that gives you meaning. Find it and love it. Remind yourself everyday of your worth. Fill your life with people who know it. Know that this is the part of you which makes you light up. Start here.

Letting go

Letting go

Want to know what happens when you let those painful emotions out? What happens when you give in to the fight within yourself to keep them under wraps and out of sight?

The world does not end.

You do not fall apart.

You feel them, you release them, and you stop carrying them around.

*You stop carrying them around.*

I’m making it sound easy and of course when dealing with significant trauma it’s helpful to look at painful emotions with the support of a trained professional, but here is the crux of it: if the pain you’re feeling is heavy and causing you issues in your day to day life, it will be SO much easier when you’re not carrying it around with you everywhere you go.

Contrary to popular belief, feeling an emotion doesn’t make it worse. It doesn’t make it grow. It allows you to acknowledge the magnitude of the feeling, and allow it space to pass through and be honoured and released. It ends the shame cycle we feel when we try to deny and bury an emotion that clearly exists within us, that we don’t want to admit to. Denying it won’t make it go away, it makes it fester within us until it bubbles up anyway.

Let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling, without the judgement and meaning surrounding it. Give it space to be acknowledged and felt, and it will very quickly dissipate. Easier than trying to bury it, no?

Current reading inspiration: Letting Go by David R Hawkins.