Decision Making

Mindfulness: Aligning our head with our heart

The heart break and confusion that happens in relationships signifies just how important it is cultivate a strong head/heart alignment. We can feel tortured between the pull of our compassion and the mistrust and judgement of our minds. We are all doing it! Judging our partners, our children, our parents, our friends or siblings and tearing ourselves apart at the heart.

Using meditation to avoid emotional pain

Many people practice meditation in times of stress and distress in an attempt to cope with their emotional pain. However, this can go two ways. When we meditate, the end result is often to open our heart. However if our heart is in pain we can actually intensify that pain and create a heightened desire to cling to destructive relationships just to sooth the pain. Alternatively, we can overcome the pain from negative dynamics in relationships through meditation, and accidentally fall into a delusional open heart space that loves without discernment. Either way, the heart opening meditations can be more destructive than helpful in times of tension.

Heart opening meditations such as sound meditation, guided visualization, crystal bowls meditations, mantras, chakra dances and the like are all beautiful endeavors when our lives are generally in a state of balance. Problems only arise when we participate in these types of meditations without grounding ourselves or when we are in a state of acute loss or trauma. When we are emotionally overwhelmed and vulnerable we are at risk of making destructive choices to ease our pain which can be heightened by compassion orientated meditations. Only when we are grounded in our mind and our resolution can these heart opening meditations then be conducive.

Mindfulness meditation and psychotherapy

Here is where a combination of mindfulness meditations and psychotherapy can really help. When we are in emotional pain, we need to make sense of our situations and ourselves. Psychotherapy supports the development of personal insight and tangible coping skills. Mindfulness helps attune our conscious awareness either away from our pain or into our pain, based on whichever is most helpful at the time. Both of these approaches cultivate discernment of our minds and wisdom which is what is really needed in times of distress.

Navigating through emotional overwhelm, loss and grief, or trauma takes mindful and wise guidance. It is important not to simply try to avoid our pain using meditation, but rather face our inner demon’s using mindfulness and psychotherapy. When we are beyond the intensity of the feelings and our lives have re-balanced and are safe and secure again, then the compassion meditations can be a wonderful practice.

 

Click here to find the event on Facebook

Click here to find the event on Facebook

Join us on Friday afternoons at 1pm for an hour of mindfulness based training and psycho-therapeutic insights. “Embrace What Is” is an on-going relaxed group that will support your mindfulness practice and help you to integrate this practice into your everyday life.

Call Vanessa on 0424 507 101 to book your place in this exciting and innovative group

Bookings are essential, as places are limited

 

Why controlling our thoughts does not work

Mindfulness shows us a better way

Last week we looked at why controlling our emotions does not work. In a nut shell, controlling our emotions is futile because they will manifest in one way or another, and usually when we least want them to. Emotions can help us to navigate through life when we learn how to remain present with them and to understand them. Mindfulness, rather than control, is far more effective in managing emotions. This week we will re-focus away from emotion to look at why controlling our thoughts also does not work.

How thoughts blind us

Thoughts, like emotions, tend to arise without conscious intention. They seem to pop into our mind and can take on a life of their own. One minute we can be happily looking at the ocean and the next minute we can be lost in a bombardment of thought. While thoughts are frequently triggered by emotional reactions, thoughts themselves are separate from our emotions. Thoughts are beliefs, attitudes, reasoning and the like. Collectively, they become stories that our mind tells us.

Often when we are triggered by an event in the world, the emotional reaction will activate a story in our mind that is an attempt to work out what is happening. Our cognitive mind is geared to reason and forms beliefs and attitudes that figure out how things work. The reasoning human mind is ingénues. It is why we can create tools, houses, cars and televisions. What other creature on this planet has adapted so well due to their ability to think through problems and work out solutions?

However, our rational mind is a double edge sword, particularly when our emotions are heightened. Our mind can scramble for explanations that are not only incorrect, but are also detrimental to our well-being. We often try to simplify things to get our heads around them. We do this by creating judgments, mis-guided opinions, and false beliefs. These thoughts may satisfy our minds and our emotional reactions, however they often do not help in our relationships and do not reflect the truth of the situation. The key is to train our minds to tune out unhelpful thoughts.

We cannot stop thoughts

An important point is that while we can re-train our minds to focus on different aspects of ourselves and our surroundings, we cannot actually stop thoughts. I have seen people increase their fear and anxiety because they believe that if they cannot stop certain thoughts then bad things will happen to them. Other people may be concerned because out-of-control distressing thoughts that haunt or plague their minds following trauma or adversity. Yet other people are simply fed up with certain ways their minds think. However, stopping thought is not actually possible, it is like not thinking of while elephants. If someone says “don’t think about white elephants”, it is pretty difficult to not think about them.

So the trick is not about stopping our thoughts but rather becoming more mindful of our thoughts. Mindfulness is about increasing awareness of what is happening in the present moment, and making a choice where to focus our attention. It does not stop thought but it does determine what types of thinking we feed and what type of thinking we starve. The art of mindfulness is to learn how not to practice certain stories or particular thought processes.

The gift of mindfulness

If we are to really hone our mind to accurately appreciate and understand anything, then perhaps the best place to start is ourselves. Through mindfulness practice we can begin to increase our awareness of thought patterns and what stories we are creating. Only when we do this can we begin to master the mind rather than allow it to take us astray. By watching our thought and simply being present with it, we empower ourselves to start to see the thought for what it is… thought! We take a step back and cease mindlessly believing our thoughts that pop into our heads. We create space in our mind to sense our truth rather than being caught in the incessant stories. If we relax enough in our mind, we can gain clarity and insight. This is the gift of mindfulness, to come out of unconscious automatic brain function that we have been programmed with as children, and increase awareness of ourselves, other people and our environment.

 

Click here to find the event on Facebook

Click here to find the event on Facebook

Join us on Friday afternoons at 1pm for an hour of mindfulness based training and psycho-therapeutic insights. “Embrace What Is” is an on-going relaxed group that will support your mindfulness practice and help you to integrate this practice into your everyday life.

Call Vanessa on 0424 507 101 to book your place in this exciting and innovative group

Bookings are essential, as places are limited

 

Haunted by Emotional Memories?

Emotional memories of the past can haunt our unconscious and sometimes conscious mind for a life time, if we do not heal our relationship with those memories. If the memories are traumatic such as child abuse, the loss of a parent, or a traumatic event, then the energy attached to these memories can be debilitating. How we work with the emotions that are attached to those memories is vital to overcoming the pain. The experience of distress, overwhelm and loss is captured in Julie’s story, as is her journey towards healing the emotional wound.

Julie’s Story

Julie accessed counselling because her relationship with her teenage daughter was rapidly deteriorating. She was concerned for her daughter Sarah, but felt she could not even talk to her, no matter about help her from her self-destructive behaviour. Sarah was 14 years old and had adopted a new group of friends who were drinking alcohol and partying. Julie was beside herself. Her anxiety, frustration, hurt and anger were consuming her throughout the day and night. She could not focus at work and her memory was failing her. She would walk into rooms and completely forget what she had intended to do.As we explored Julie’s situation further it became apparent that while Sarah was causing some real concern, Julie’s reaction was more intense than it needed to be. Her anxiety was severe and was stopping her from thinking straight or appropriately responding to the current situation with Sarah. So we looked a little deeper.

The distress that Julie was trying to cope with was familiar to her. I asked her to feel into her emotional distress and remember the earliest time she could remember feeling that way. She soon found a time when she was 14 years old herself, where her grandmother died. She remembered her Grandma, but she was not particularly close to her. Her mum, on the other hand was incredibly close to her own mum. Julie remembered becoming very nervous and frustrated around that time. She remembers that her thoughts and dreams became very dark and she withdrew from friends and social activities. Julie did not remember too much more about that time, but she decided she would talk to her own mum about what happened back then.

The Truth Revealed

The next session, Julie emerged appearing sombre and quiet. After a short while she began to talk. She talked about her discussion with her mother. Her mum had spoken to her for the first time about becoming deeply depressed at that time, and while her mum and dad had hidden it from her conscious mind, Julie unconsciously had picked up something was happening that was very distressing. For a period of time, her mum had suicidal thoughts and had attempted suicide several times. Because Julie did not consciously know what was happening, but she could pick it up unconsciously, she had never processed it or made sense of it. So the emotional memory simply lay hidden until her own daughter hit that age, unconsciously perpetuating a new dynamic between her and her daughter based on anxiety of self destructive behaviour.

Julie’s Healing

As Julie discovered more about that time and what she was feeling, she realised that her emotional reactions were more proportional to the time when she was 14 years old herself. No longer did she feel like she was going mad! Her inner-emotional landscape had a reality that made sense of her emotional reactions. Julie began to become more conscious of what was then and what is now. She learnt how to step back from her projections onto her daughter and respond to the current situation with appropriate healthy boundaries rather than distress, angry outbursts and anxiety. Over time she felt more calm and in control over her life. Her emotions made more sense to her which eventually gave her sense of mastering her reactions to situations with her daughter.

Mastering Our EmotionsLearning to understand our emotional reactions rather than remain controlled by them opens the door to taking our power back from the emotional intensity, and make effective decisions in our life. Without seeing where her emotions really stemmed from, Julie would not have been able to respond to Sarah’s needs as well as she did. Processing the emotions rather than suppressing or avoiding them is essential to learning to work with them. This takes adopting some new practices such as mindfulness and self-awareness, however the results are definitely worth it.

“Surfing the Waves of Emotion” workshop will be held on the 7th July 2012 in Coolum Beach. Don’t miss out on learning how to distinguish between adaptive emotions and emotional memories, work with your emotions, and a whole lot more!!!

Have you ever experienced emotions that were disproportional to a current event only to discover the emotional reaction was really from your past?

 

[Note. All stories used in this blog are fictional characters based on the wisdom I gain from working with clients. No character in this blog is an actual person or a client]

Reflections on Conscious Relationships, Two

Conscious relationship means different things to different people. Some people think it refers to open sexual relationships, while other people think it is about spiritual awakening in relationship. Yet others may see it as understanding inner demons, rather than taking them out on our partner. For me, however the essence of conscious relationship is all about self-responsibility and choice!

Making Real Choices

How many times have you found yourself reacting to your partner’s words or actions, only to later wonder why you reacted in the way you did? How often have you found yourself on the receiving end of your partner’s judgements or projections and wondered “where did that come from”? Conscious relationship is a practice of mindfully bringing awareness into our own thoughts, feelings and actions when caught in relationship dynamics. Only through this type of process can we see our own projections that we put on our partner and make a choice… “Do I believe this projection and react out of my unconscious patterns or do I chose to “turn the magnifying glass around” from my partner to myself” (as Susan Jeffers would say!).

Conscious Relationship & Self-Responsibility

Self-responsibility is simply the ABILITY to RESPOND! If we are driven by unconscious patterns, then we tend to REACT. These reactions may involve lashing out verbally or even physically, or they may  involve withdrawing into ourselves and becoming evasive or avoidant. The way we can tell if it is a reaction, rather than a response, is if the emotion seems to possess us and take on a life of its own. The other way we can tell that it is a reaction is if it becomes a repetitive way of acting towards our partner. Patterns are automatic habits of thoughts, feelings and action. They are often instant and tend to lack conscious thought or awareness, as well as lacking understanding for self and other and compassion.

There are no choices without conscious awareness… not real choices anyway. We may believe we are making choices when we are really driven by unconscious patterns however, this is an illusion. After all, how can we make choices in how we are acting towards our partner if a) we do not understand them or where they are coming from, and b) we do not even see or understand our own patterns? The answer is simply that we cannot!

The Challenge of Conscious Relationship

This process of self-responsibility and choice sounds simple and it is in principle. However, in practice it can be challenging. Blaming and projecting our realties onto our partner is very common and can be powerfully convincing. So many people in couple relationships do not simply connect on an intimate level where they allow themselves to see their partner as simply human. A lot of people do not stop and simply listen (and I mean REALLY listen) to their partners. Many miss the person and their inner struggle within their partner because all they can see is their own inner child struggling with mum or dad, or another significant childhood role-model. The beliefs themselves, and our emotional attachments those perceptions and beliefs, are strong. Most of the time we do not know our perceived reality in intimate relationship IS ACTUALLY a projection!!!

An example of patterns and projections harming an intimate relationship is the pattern of rejection. For example, we may genuinely think that our partner is rejecting us and feel crushed and betrayed. Yet the partner’s reality may be that they are overwhelmed at work or that their partner is not listening to them and therefore not available to them anyway. Ironically, the person feeling rejected may desperately want connection, however they do not know how to connect with their partner, often due to communication differences. So this pattern leaves both people isolated, hurt and confused. Neither one wanted this. Nor are either to blame. Either one could pick up the sword of clarity and self-responsibility and look at their 50% of the relationship dance to help resolve the misunderstanding. It is even more powerful if BOTH choose to work through their respective 50% of the relationship dynamic and fully resolve the conflict.

This is just one of many challenging patterns and projections that can happen in intimate relationships. The core essential point is that taking self-responsibility and making conscious choices to co-create an intimate relationship, where both people grow into better people and better partners, is a desirable goal.

 

What ways do you consciously choose to take self-responsibility in your intimate relationship?

 

Women Honouring Our Own Emotion

As women, we often feel hurt or angry towards men for their lack of understanding our emotionally orientated perspectives. Women who have a feminine essence tend to operate from their emotions. The masculine on the other hand, tends to operate from the physical and mental. To make things even more complicated, it is not unusual for masculine men to attract feminine women (and vice versa) in intimate relationships. So the dance of the feminine and masculine continues to move in mutually confusing directions and entanglements.

The trick for women is not to educate the masculine in understanding our emotionally orientated views, although they are welcome to do so if they want. But rather it is to educate ourselves in the forever moving emotional landscape of our own bodies and minds. Learning to “surf the waves of emotion” is the key to us mastering ourselves as women and taking our power back from the sometimes intensely painful and confusing emotions that can arise from within us. We also need to communicate to men about how we would like to be treated when we are caught in the grip of our emotion. However this is not possible without our own understanding of ourselves first.

Emotions Hold Valuable Information

As a woman in our feminine essence, emotions tell us about the connection or lack thereof in relationships. This is a gift when we realise its potential. However, all too often we are caught in “emotional reaction” rather than recognising the wisdom within the emotion and responding to the events around us. For example, Sally was caught in emotional reactivity towards her husband, Shaun even though her rational mind argued with her emotions. She felt like a dill, however her resentment and anger towards him kept overflowing into heated arguments and cold shoulders. It was not that he was doing anything particularly bad to her. He was working hard, providing for her and the family and he was largely caring and co-operative. And yet she found herself angry at him.

Sally discussed her feelings with a close friend who was at a loss as to why she would feel this way. Then bit by bit, it came out that Shaun was thinking of investing their money in a managed share portfolio and Sally’s father had lost the family money through bad investments. Her father’s decisions lead to huge fights between her parents and financial instability in their lives. Her emotional memory being triggered by Shaun’s desire to invest was her fear of a lack of security which she had longed for and needed as a child. So unconsciously her emotional response was trying to alert her to a perceived threat in her security and her relationship.

The outcome of whether Sally and Shaun should invests or not is a matter of financial education, rational decision making and negotiation between the two of them. However, without Sally understanding the meaning behind her own emotional reactions, she would not be able to communicate her concerns to Shaun. Without Shaun understanding what was really affecting Sally, he is likely to try to make investing decisions without her, either thinking she is too emotional or that she is simply against him or not trusting his decisions. Allowed to continue, this dynamic could eventually tear their relationship apart. The key is in the process.

These two need to negotiate these decisions together and Sally needs to be an active decision making for this investment to work. If the investment does go bad, it is likely that Sally resentment would shut Shaun out of her heart and eventually her life. This is not because Sally is a bad person nor is it that she is materialistic. Rather, with the emotional memory of material insecurity in her childhood, safety and security are important to her. It is not unusual for women to value security, which is understandable given that we bear children and need security to bring them up properly. It is however important that Sally recognizes the meaning behind her emotional reaction and finds new, more constructive ways of communicating them to Shaun. Likewise, both Shaun and Sally need to share their values and priorities in their relationship and their financial future together before they can really come together to make the decisions in front of them.

Honouring Emotions & the Feminine Perspective

Emotionally based thought is often viewed as less important or valid as rational or logical thought. However this is not true. Our emotions are there for a reason! It is the feminine which tends to think in terms of emotions (which could be either men or women in their feminine). As women, we have often developed our masculine minds in a world where the rational thought is privileged. However, the basis of thought is still often emotional for a lot of women (and some feminine men) in intimate relationships.

The problem is not with the lack of wisdom in the emotion, but rather the lack of effective education about how to work with our emotion and understand the meaning behind it. Emotional reaction is the action of misunderstood emotions and a lack of understanding how to honour emotion. The trick is not to get rid of the emotion through suppression or medication, but rather to increase self-awareness of emotion and the wisdom behind it.

Interested in finding out more about surfing emotions?

Click here for the “Surfing the Waves of Emotions Workshop” held for women on the 7th of July 2012

 

How Can I Trust Again?

The Aftermath of Loss & Betrayal

Trust is an essential ingredient in our lives as it lays the inner foundation for taking risks, trying new things, meeting new people and generally being open to new life experiences. Without trust we close our hearts and our minds and crawl into a hole, hoping to avoid any more pain. However trust is easily broken on many levels, and when major breaches of trust occur, we not only learn not to trust other people, but also ourselves and life. Rebuilding trust is a healing process, whether it is within an intimate relationship, a family or after a series of harrowing life experiences.

When we lose trust in life or in significant relationships, we lose trust in ourselves. In significant relationships such as couple’s relationships or family relationships, this can happen following sexual, physical and emotional abuse, personal violations, abandonment, or prolonged destructive patterns. In terms of general life events, loss of trust can follow trauma such as a plane crash, a serious car crash or natural disasters. These all lead to a loss of trust in our ability to protect ourselves and ensure safety and security. A loss of trust in ourselves and life is disorientating and feeds anxiety and depression. If the loss of trust is pervasive in life then we can start to heal by learning to trust ourselves.

Re-Building Trust in Perceptions & Emotions

The healing process to re-build trust in ourselves involves learning to reconnect to adaptive emotions, as part of the loss of trust is in our emotional guidance mechanism. Generally, after experiencing emotionally painful circumstances that rock our world and faith in life, our emotions become distorted. We can become very distressed and susceptible to depression and anxiety. Extreme circumstances lead to extreme emotions, which can mislead us if we do not understand the nature of emotions. Relearning to accurately listen to our emotions can result in re-engaging in self-trust.

When we do not trust our emotions, it is disorientating, confusing and impairs decision making. We do not believe that we will know how to cope with new situations. This is especially hard if the lack of trust of emotions resulted from childhood abuse, as there was never trust in emotions. If the abuse has been severe, it may be the case that the person also needs to learn to trust their own thoughts and perceptions as well as emotions. So learning to read emotions and distinguish between what are adaptive emotions as opposed to trauma emotions is vital to learning to trust ourselves.

Learning Boundaries

Another important aspect of learning to trust ourselves is knowing how to establish and maintain healthy boundaries. Interpersonal boundaries are our ability to let in good, healthy experiences and keep out the destructive and painful experiences. Boundaries are about or ability to say “yes” and “no”.

When there have been interpersonal breaches of trust, abuse or personal violations, then trust can be difficult to maintain. We often question ourselves, such as “could /I have seen it in advance”, “why did they do this to me”, “what was so bad about me that they could have done this to me” etc. However, if someone has broken another person’s trust deliberately then they are responsible for their actions. Our only say in the situation is to stay or leave, and if the choice is to stay, then under what circumstances. For example, the criteria that may be put to a person who has abused the other that they seek therapy and that the relationship can only continue under safe circumstances. So establishing and maintaining safe and secure boundaries leads to increased trust in ourselves.

Trusting in Life

The final important aspect of re-building trust in ourselves that I will mention today is re-building trust in life. This can be very difficult after prolonged and severe abusive circumstances or a natural disaster. A counsellor once said to me “most of us live life under the illusion of safety” … of course, until it is devastated by traumatic experiences. The hard thing is that without trust there is a general foreshortened sense of future, disconnection with happiness and increased stress and anxiety. This is some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. So re-building trust under these circumstances is about creating new meaning of safety, security or purpose in life or even death.

It is interesting that one population that is particularly resilient to post-traumatic stress disorder is the Buddhist monks. Psychologist found that even after the atrocities that the Chinese Government inflicted on the Buddhist monk population in Tibet, which included torture and murder, most monks who survived were not traumatised.

When we look at the reasons behind the monk’s resilience, we find that their meaning of life and death is quite unique. Death is something they work towards their whole lives. A deep practice in meditation and mindfulness combined with a lifelong goal of reaching enlightenment buffers them from fearing death. Therefore they have a deep trust in life and death that many of us struggle with. Their trust is also not associated with physical safety and security. Rather they learn to detach from desire, including the desire to stay alive. In their detachment from the desire to live, they also lose their attachment to the emotions anxiety or fear that are usually associated with dying. Finally, with a loss of anxiety related to dying and powerful meanings about death that are positive, they also would not experience a loss of control in their lives or a sense of not coping. They are likely to experience some emotions, however they would not be consumed in the emotion nor would they hold on to the emotion in their bodies. So the Buddhist monks give us some interesting insights into trusting life, even in the face of trauma or adversity.

So whether rebuilding trust is following natural disaster or inflicted by other people, learning to trust ourselves again is vital to embracing life again. This could be done through reconnecting with ourselves and learning to trust our own thoughts, feelings and actions, or it may be through learning to establish healthy boundaries in interpersonal relationships. Finally, the meanings we make of life and death and the practice of mindfulness and meditation all contribute to establishing trust in life.

When has your trust been tested?

How did you overcome the challenge and re-build trust again?

 

 

The Advantages & Dis-advantages of Fear

 

Fear, like all other emotions, has both an adaptive and non-adaptive form. In its adaptive form, fear is our friend. It is there to tell us something important. It tells us that there is danger ahead and becomes the fight/flight response. Fear is fantastic if we are standing at the edge of a steep cliff. It will tell us to back off so we do not fall over and die. Fear is also great if there is an immediate dangerous threat such as a vicious bear that is about to attack. Fear will increase our adrenals, pump our blood out to our hands and feet (where we need them) and it will increase the rate of our thoughts to try to get us out of danger. This type of fear response is perfectly normal and adaptive!

 

When Fear Becomes Distorted: Anxiety

When fear becomes non-adaptive or distorted, then we begin to have problems. Anxiety is what occurs when fear becomes distorted. Anxiety is like losing the off button. The fear response stays on all the time. Some reasons why anxiety is unhealthy include:

  • Physiologically, our bodies are not designed to withstand prolonged stress and anxiety without developing physical conditions
  • It is a great deal more difficult to distinguish between real threats and perceived threats
  • It leads to impaired memory, decision-making and concentration

Anxiety is felt in epidemic proportions in Western culture and can result in a great deal of harm to ourselves and others. One of many examples is when the US Navy accidentally blew up a civilian aircraft over the Middle East in the 90’s. This accident was partly due to technological inadequacies but when the investigation occurred, it was found that the major cause was miscalculation on behalf of Navy personnel due to fear -based expectations.

Anxiety harms our bodies, our minds, our interpersonal relationships, our communities, and our souls. Anxiety holds us back from being all we can be and reaching our potential. Anxiety smothers and destroys love and connection. When we react out of distorted fear, we are far more likely to mis-judge situations and destroy what is most dear to our hearts. So while on one hand, fear can save us, it can have the opposite effect when it becomes distorted.

Danielle’s Story: Overcoming Anxiety

Danielle discovered just how unhealthy her anxiety was when she found herself in hospital. She had what she thought was a heart attack. Her heart was racing, she became dizzy and disoriented, and could hardly breathe. She thought she was going to die. But after a few hours in the emergency ward the doctor said it was a panic attack and she was being released to go home. Dazed, stressed and worried, Danielle was not sure what to make of the news.

After visiting her general doctor, she got a referral to see a psychologist. She did not want to take mediation so she opted for therapy. In therapy, she explored her family background and what may have contributed to her anxiety. She always thought she just had a nervous personality and was not particularly intelligent. In therapy she learnt that anxiety decreases cognitive skills and could have affected her academic performance as a child. She further learnt that people can learn anxiety. There were no traumas in her childhood and her relationship with her parents was loving. But as she explored her family, it became obvious that her mum was a survivor of World War II in London and had high anxiety herself. Her mum’s anxiety was not treated, and even though her mum was a small child in the war, the effects of war trauma were still playing out in Daniele’s life.

Bit by bit, Danielle learnt how to reduce her anxiety by reality checking her catastrophising thoughts, and through practicing mediation and mindfulness. Systematically, her inner demons dissolved and she was able to do things that she never previously thought she could.

Danielle’s story shows us how we can overcome anxiety and learn to empower ourselves.

What experiences have you had where you overcame your fears and succeeded at things you did not think were possible?

 

 

[Note. All stories used in this blog are fictional characters based on the wisdom I gain from working with clients. No character in this blog is an actual person or a client]

The Nature of Unconscious Attraction Patterns

How Does the Law of Attraction Work?

If it is Unconscious… What Can I do About That?

The fourth point in the “Law of Attraction… Are My Beliefs Ruining MY Life?” is that the unconscious holds beliefs that work its own kind of magic that we are not conscious of! Our conscious mind may desire a whole lot of material good and types of relationships. However the process of unconscious Attraction does not really work that way.

Through previous blogs we see that the unconscious and awakening spiritual awareness involves a lot more than what we might consciously want. I personally believe alignment between our conscious mind and the unconscious can attract experiences to us. I belief in certain states of mind we are attracted towards certain types of relationships and synchronous events that can lead to successful outcomes. However, I also believe that there are certain themes that we are put on this Earth to learn from. We could call it “soul lessons”, “sacred contracts”, fate or God’s Will. Whatever you call it, this is where certain themes or issues play out and are being resolved through our life experience.

Psychospiritual Themes and Psychological Patterns

Even if we step away from a spiritual understanding and adopt a purely psychological perspective, these themes show up throughout a person’s life. Whether we focus on a person’s presenting issue in therapy stemming from their current interpersonal problems or whether we focus on the inner child or family generational issues, the themes are generally the same. For those who work in alternative or esoteric fields and embrace past lives, again the themes are generally the same. So it is the themes and the psychological patterns connected to those themes that are important here.

Psychological themes have a core belief or issue that the pattern is attached to. Like a spider’s web, everything is built around a core point or a few key issues. These themes differ for all of us. They could be about self-value or worth, they could be about narcissism, control, abandonment, judgement, public humiliation, success, self-efficacy, over or under responsibility, lovability, just to name a few. Patterns are made up of the thoughts, feelings and actions that are the manifestation of the core belief. These patterns could be self-sabotage patterns, addictions, avoidance patterns, or self-destructive patterns. The pattern and the core issues can be identified either through observing a repetitive theme in a person’s life or by the disproportion of the emotional reaction to a current event. These themes may show up in the area of intimate relationship, employment, housing, finances, family, substance abuse or a range of other areas in a person’s life.

So through the last few paragraphs I have worked my way from the unconscious/spiritual dimension of core beliefs and patterns through to the material/practical arena of how they may be manifested.

Responsibility and the Unconscious

As a rule of thumb, in my clinical experience and what is understood in Eastern traditions and alternative therapies, is that generally the outer world and behaviour reflects the inner world, even if the person is not consciously aware of why. This is not the fault of the person, it is normal. Until we do a lot of deep exploration, no one has a clue of what is really happening inside them! So I like to steer clear of saying it is their responsibility or choice to “attract in experiences” and would rather say it is their choice whether they heal or not. Even then there needs to be a readiness and it may not be now. This too is not a bad thing. I have complete faith that people do heal when they are consciously and unconsciously ready to do so. This readiness is essential to increasing awareness and releasing old patterns. But I do want to emphasise if they are not ready it is because they are legitimately not ready…a healthy respect for the safety mechanism in the mind and the unconscious forces in life, is important I belief.

A Combination of Modalities Works Best

Working to release patterns and core beliefs may take a while. They tend to have a circular nature, they are layered as they say in Gestalt therapy… like layers of an onion. Through each layer we understand a little more. The wisdom of that theme becomes deeper. Eventually we see it so clearly we do not need to play it out anymore. We see it for what it is! I love the practice of mindfulness in combination with energy healing modalities for releasing patterns. As a psychotherapist/ psychologist, I enjoy working with people who are working through the conscious with me and are accessing either kinesiology, spiritual healing, acupuncture, a chiropractor or similar fields for the unconscious energy shifts.

The journey is as important as the end result. Life does not stop and we are suddenly perfectly healed. Rather, we wake up every now and then and realise how far we have come.

My Personal Spiritual Healing Journey

For me personally, I realise that I forgot that I used to wake up dreading the day because now when I wake up, I embrace it. I feel excited about meeting new people and seeing where this journey in life leads me. Before I was full of fear, when now I am excited. Before things were heavy, where now they are light. I still feel the full spectrum of emotion and I witness my thoughts as they sometimes replay old patterns, but now I simply witness them without acting out of them. Where that point was when I woke up happy, I do not know. I ventured in and out of the darkness for years while accessing healing modalities, until I integrated the awareness of happiness, outside the patterns that created suffering.

Through this healing process I also became aware of synchronicities that flow through my life. The Law of Attraction seems to work its magic when I am happy and light. It happens when I’m in the right emotional space… the flow… the zone! But I did not get there by sitting around thinking about it. I got there by pro-actively healing myself through counselling, energy clearings, massage, hypnosis, and spiritual healings. I slowly became conscious of that which I was previously unconscious. As one of my beautiful spiritual healers (Barbara Van DeBrug) said… I was pea soup and now I am clear! That took seven years of kinesiology, Barbara’s chakra balances, Miriam Schafer’s Hara healings and counselling! Before I saw Barbara and another healer, (Leonie in Canberra) before her, I’m sure I was black tar!!! I feel blessed for all their help!

Based on accumulated wisdom and guidance, I learnt to make better choices (by “better” I mean more life enhancing rather than destructive). My conscious mind gained clarity and I learnt new ways of being, which yes, involve new ways of “doing”.

So the unconscious mind has its own agenda that our conscious mind may be completely unaware of, or in conflict with. However, as we work to heal and balance ourselves, we learn how to align the conscious with the unconscious. And if we allow it… life’s magic can unfold in ways that do amaze us!

Have your say on the Law of Attraction and contribute to the greater consciousnesses of humanity …

 

 

 

The Law of Attraction … Are My Beliefs Ruining My Life?

 

Since my first blog on the Law of Attraction, I have experienced a series of interesting events. First, I received some fantastic comments in response to my first blog on the Law of Attraction from people I admire and look up to. Second, I attended a regular network meeting, unaware that the guest speaker was presenting on guess what… Yes, the Law of Attraction! Thirdly, I was pointed in the direction of Kayley Grace who has just made a video on the result of having given up everything over the last seven years based on beliefs espoused by people advocating the Law of Attraction.

So in this blog I am attempting to make sense of the Law of Attraction in a far more grounded and reasonable way than some of the popular messages thrown around out there. I would like to give a special thanks and appreciation to all of the people who have commented on my Law of Attraction blogs, Judi Mason for her talk on the Law of Attraction in our Coolum Health Practitioner Network meeting and Kayley Grace for her inspirational videos on the Law of Attraction.

My Personal Story of the Law of Attraction

When I attended the Coolum Health Practitioners Breaky last Thursday on that beautiful December morning in front of the ocean, I was reminded of my first conscious experience with the Law of Attraction. It was seven years ago when I was living in Canberra and was facing some emotionally difficult experiences. As a last ditch hope, I accessed a spiritual healer. I had experienced a series of traumas throughout my life and was carrying some heavy energy which back then was “my normal”. I simply could not move forward in my life while carrying it.

So after three months of intensive spiritual healing, I resigned from my public service job, sold my house, put my furniture in storage and said to my girls, “we are going north on a holiday that we are never coming back from.” I did not know much about the Law of Attraction back then. All I knew was I felt so light and free after the heavy burdens and darkness were removed. It was complete liberation! Everything shone brightly and life worked like magic! I was sky high, and it was not drug induced.

So I drove up the Eastern coast of Australia from Canberra with my two girls, Jessi and Tashie, over the next month. I maintained my daily meditation practice and clearing my chakras and repeating my spiritual mantra given to me from my spiritual healer. We stayed at a grungy little old pub in Bellingen and had a wonderful seafood basket that fed all three of us. I loved the character of the Bellingen Hotel but Jessi, my oldest daughter was convinced that we should stay in a luxury resort after our last stay. So we found a brochure in a café on the way to Byron Bay and she got to choose the next place we stayed. She chose the Oasis Resort.

It was an Easter weekend in Byron Bay and the Blues Festival was on. So I called from my mobile phone and the receptionist said she could give us a room for the two nights… for half price! My happy high vibe continued as we entered Byron Bay. Over the next two days we got parking spots near the beach every time. It worked beautifully! I played like a child and openly laughed with my girls for the first time I could remember. It was amazing! I couldn’t believe how easy it was.

So then we kept going north! First the Gold Coast and then the Sunshine Coast. The energy of Coolum Beach spoke to me and it only took two days before I found our cheap little rustic beach house to rent. The little house was in walking distance to the beach… perfect!

It was nine months later and it was time to move. I wanted to buy a house but I had no job and only a deposit from selling my house in Canberra. I remember the energies shifting and could feel that magical space within. One morning I looked down from the balcony and saw dozens of birds of different species all flying in a figure eight… It was freaky! So I began to look for a house.

I was drawn to Mount Coolum and I sat in front of the mountain and asked with openness and humility for a house in this area that I could afford that was adequate for me and my little family. House prices were already high in the Sunshine Coast so I wondered if it were possible. But I “put it out there” anyway, with love in my heart.

As I got into my car I looked at my Refadex and noticed a little street called Gypsy Close. I thought “wouldn’t that be cool to live in that street!” When I arrived home I noticed a real-estate brochure on my door step and low and behold… there was a three bedroom pole home in the bush that I could possibly afford in guess where? Gypsy Close, Mount Coolum!!! I had to go and see it. So I got in my car and looked at it from the outside but decided it looked a bit strange. Over the next week it played in my mind so I eventually went to see the inside. I was sold! It was great for us. My girls and I have lived in our little tree house for the next seven years but this is not where the story ends.

My “powers of manifestation” faltered when it came to men and finances. Over the time since I bought the house I have had an ex-boyfriend threaten to kill me over three months and another ex-boyfriend who exploited us until I nearly lost the house. I became very sick. I think my adrenal system finally gave up and I put on dress sizes of weight overnight. I could not function at “normal work places” without becoming intensely drained of energy and yet had a mortgage and two children to support. So I decided to take another leap of faith and set up my own business on nothing but a line of credit and stubborn streak to land on my feet. I took on the Law of Attraction philosophy and got started….

After a year or two of setting up my business, I realized that the “doing’ was as important as the “being”. I struggled for years between illusions, false beliefs, stomach ulcers, social reality and spiritual emergence… all the time getting further and further into debt. I became confused, lost all sense inner truth and self-trust, and was wide open to exploitation.

Somehow something half way sensible emerged from inside me and I moved away from the spiritual to re-ground myself in the tangible world. I stepped away from anyone who drained me or confused me and began to re-claim the long and narrow path towards sanity. I reconnected with my voice of reason and took a stand to my magical and wishful thinking that was leading me down the garden path.

So What I Learnt About the Law of Attraction!

My bitter-sweet story of the Law of Attraction gave me some powerful and important learnings about the spiritual path! But before I share what I learnt, I would love you to watch this video made by Kayley Grace called “If I’m so infinite then where the fuck is my stuff?”

 

 

 

Wow!!! Thank you Kayley Grace!

Kayley and I are far from the only two who have been affected by false messages about the Law of Attraction. I have heard many stories of people dangerously lead astray by these sorts of beliefs.

 

So here are some of what I have learnt about the Law of Attraction and the spiritual path….

 

 

I will explore each of these point in greater depth in seven blogs over the next seven days, in my blog series on Psychospiritual Reflections. However, for now I want to make the simple point that it is vital to hold onto your voice of reason when embarking on a “spiritual journey:” The tangible, financial and physical world does exist and we do live in it! We are a part of it. As Kayley generously pointed out in her video… WE ARE HUMAN and WE HAVE REAL TANGIBLE HUMAN NEEDS!!! It is important to remember this when we take on and identify with beliefs associated with the Law of Attraction!

 

Have your say on the Law of Attraction and contribute to the greater consciousnesses of humanity ….

 

 

 

Psychology in Business Series 2011: Involving Staff in Decision Making

Involving Staff in Decision Making in Business Change

In the last article we focused on how to introduce change into businesses and organisations. One important aspect of introducing change was to appropriately involve staff form all levels of the business in decision making processing. In this article we will take a closer look at this process and open discussion on what best works, what does not work and why.

Generally speaking, when we allow people to participate in decision making in any sort of group, we encourage group ownership, positive participation and openness to receiving, embracing and promoting change. Involving staff can significantly increase the business readiness to accept even difficult changes within the business.

However, there is a fine line between creating opportunities for staff participation in decision making and appropriately guiding changes within the business that will work. So the forums for staff input need to be structured with realistic boundaries and clear about the scope of how their information will be used in the business or organisation. For example, let’s say a hypothetical business wants to increase its use of social media and internet technology into its daily functions. The initiative for that change and its desired goal has already been decided on before staff involvement. These goals are not up for negotiation! Rather, it is how these goals will best work within this business that is up for discussion and negotiation. For the purpose of this consultation, staff may be invited to participate in focus groups top brainstorm and discuss which positions in this business are best suited to take these roles and what are realistic and achievable parameters for these changes.

The focus group in this example has two purposes. Firstly, there is valuable expertise that these staff hold that can guide this

initiative successfully within the context of this particular business. Secondly, if staff have been given authentic opportunity to input into these decisions, they will be far more likely to co-operate and take these new roles and duties seriously.

What tends to not work well is when change is forced on staff in a top down approach. This is especially true if the staffare professionally trained and have ideas of their own about what works well and what does not. No body likes to be told what to do. Processes such as focus groups can embrace respect for staff as well as capitalize on staff expertise. After all, staff members do have a pretty good idea what is realistic and achievable and what are potential barriers to implementing change within their own workplace.

Another important point in this example is to be clear from the beginning of the focus group why they are participating, how their information will be used and what will be done with it after the change has been implemented. It is OK to keep this information for 10 years in the business and used to inform future changes, but it just needs to be said upfront to the staff members involved.

Finally, being accountable, transparent and real to the staff members involved to the consultations is vital for successful change to be implemented into a business or organisation. If staff open up and give management information about their experience on their positions, it is important for management to inform them how their information was used. Some organisations have run “token” focus groups that just built up member’s expectations of positive change without delivering the goals or following up to feed back to the members of those focus groups. Staff and consumer groups know when this happen and it does nothing for morale or productivity. Being “real” is important as it gives staff a clear message that they are valuable in the business they work for.

Focus groups are just one method of including staff in decision making. Other methods include surveys, one on one interviews, and adding questions into reviews or reports. However staff are asked, the same principles apply. Be up front about why they are being asked and about the scope and use of their information. Be transparent and accountable to them about how their input has influenced changes within the business. And use their information respectfully and appropriately.

Stay tuned for our last article on psychology in business when we look at responsiveness to staff well-being. After all, a business’ mental health is only as good the mental health of its staff!