Depression

Why honouring emotion is central to a woman’s self-confidence and self-value

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerability is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light”

Brene Brown

We often think the problem is how we feel about the things that happen to us. We then try to avoid, suppress or medicate our emotional pain and we tend to miss the inner wisdom held within the emotion. We end up spending so long in our addictions and avoidance of how we feel, that we become disconnected from ourselves and unknowingly cultivate a deep pervading sense of shame. Then, when we feel an emotional reaction with any intensity we also feel the familiar shame and guilt associated with feeling bad about feeling. Finally, we lose confidence in ourselves and discontinue seeing value or worth in ourselves. This is a common cycle that most women experience to one degree or another. So how does it happen and what can we do about it?

The three stages of loss of confidence and self-value

The first stage of loss of confidence and self-value for women is when we are in some sort of relationship, either in our family, an intimate relationship, with a friendship group or at work, and we believe other people who dismiss or illegitimize how we feel. If we allow it, these overt or subtle messages corrode our belief in our normal emotional responses to the world. We begin to feel edgy, unsure of ourselves and insecure. We learn that our feelings are not trust worthy and that our perspectives are not important.

In the second stage our self-doubts grow stronger and we feel increasingly anxious. If we cannot trust our emotional responses to the world, we cannot gauge what is safe and what is not. We tend to automatically think it is our fault if someone has a go at us and we lose our sense of healthy boundaries. Fear becomes disproportional because it is like we are walking around a booby-trapped room with the lights out.

The third stage is where we fall into symptoms of depression, as we become stuck in anxiety, mis-trust, disconnection and isolation. The anxiety from feeling unsure of ourselves and ashamed of our emotional selves solidifies into depression because an extremely important aspect of our adaptive self has been systematically dismantled. Depression tells us that there is something very wrong with how we are operating in the world and perhaps in the relationships that surround us.

The Solution

The solution is to clearly see the mistaken belief that there is something wrong with us when we feel emotions. It is important to find a safe healthy relationship, such as a therapeutic relationship and begin to work through what our feelings are really telling us. We need to identify the psychological patterns that lead to this mistaken belief and explore our interpersonal relationships to see what is emotionally safe and what is not.

This all may sound like a journey, and it is! However, it is a journey that holds the key to rediscovering our inner confidence and self-value. Our adaptive emotions help us establish and maintain healthy boundaries and discern what is right and wrong for us. Self-confidence IS confidence in our emotional selves. It is all about trusting ourselves that we can understand our emotions and follow their inner-wisdom to create a safe and secure life.

Embracing our Inner-Woman

Join me for a fabulous weekend of learning new ways of relating to your emotional self that increases your self-confidence, acceptance, happiness and self-love.

Surfing the Waves of Emotion workshop for women

Learn more about how to work with your emotions rather than be overwhelmed them, in my new book.

Don’t Tell Me To Get Over It: A woman’s guide to navigating emotional overwhelm


Reconnecting with Emotional Wisdom

A woman’s journey of self-value

The Western world generally views emotions with negative connotations. As women, we have lost connection with our emotions that possess inner wisdom. Emotions can safely guide us through our lives when we learn how to hear them. The key to emotional wisdom is simply knowing how to listen to them. However, because we tell ourselves that unpleasant emotions are bad, we often try to supress or even medicate them rather than listen to their wisdom. Without realising it, we are not only blocking our emotional system, but also we are losing the opportunity to learn from our emotions.

Allowing ourselves to feel our emotions helps us to work out personal boundaries, likes and dislikes, values, and direction. When we suppress our emotions we lose valuable information that tells us about ourselves and the world. An example of this is when Mary felt increasingly anxious without knowing why.

 

Mary’s story

Mary was afraid of trying anything new. When faced with unfamiliar situations, her heart raced and every now and then she noticed she held her breath. Her stomach was often in knots and she worried about little things constantly. Mary had been in a relationship for ten years with her husband Fred, who often put her down. While her self-esteem was stifled, she did not realise the full impact of Fred’s put downs. Instead she figured she was an anxious person and decided to go onto anti-depressants. She was using to being put down, as her father and brothers had done the same thing when she was growing up. Her mother was also unsure of herself, and often tried to reassure Mary that things would all work out if she was simply nice to other people. Mary could not figure it out, she was nice to other people but still she felt horrible about herself.

When Mary saw her doctor, he agreed that antidepressants would decease her symptoms of anxiety and hep her to better cope in life. However, in the end it reconfirmed to Fred that Mary was the one with the emotional problems, and Mary became even more disconnected from her feelings and inner truth.

It was not until one day when Mary felt deeply disillusioned and depressed, that she finally decided to push through her fears and try something different. She enrolled in higher education where she started studying languages, a field she had always been interested in but never thought she would be good at. Fred continued to dismiss and put Mary down for her attempts at doing something she wanted to, but she was too resentful and disillusioned to listen to Fred anymore. Her self-blame eased as she made new friends and began to adapt a different perspective on her life and herself. Slowly she began to realise that the problem was not her emotions but rather the put downs, both her own self-blame and Fred’s put downs. She started to consciously challenge the self-defeating thoughts with the help of her friends and counselling, until one she confronted Fred.

This was completely new to both Mary and Fred. Neither one of them were accustomed to Mary standing up for herself. Unfortunately Fred simply became self-righteous and angry towards Mary which began to seal the fate of their relationship. Over time, the friction between them grew. No longer was Mary going to remain in a shutdown, depressed and anxious state, but Fred could not understand the changes in his wife.

Eventually Mary left the relationship and continued to build her self-confidence, studying languages and eventually traveling overseas. On her journey, she realised she had no need for antidepressants anymore. While she still sometimes felt anxious and scared, she learnt to distinguish between helpful fear and anxiety that held her back from growing. Eventually she met a new partner who was completely different from the men she knew in her past. Brad was far more respectful towards her and encouraged her to learn and travel.

The moral of the story

This story reflects a common experience where the wisdom behind the emotion is lost. Rather than listening to her fear and working through why she was feeling that way, Mary created a simple explanation that there was something wrong with her for feeling anxious. Unfortunately, by believing that she was the problem and further supressing her emotion, she temporarily lost the opportunity to learn self-value, interpersonal boundaries, and possibly help create a healthier relationship with either Fred or another more respectful man. Eventually she turned this pattern around and learnt to honour her feelings, however she spent over a decade of her adulthood feeling rotten about herself. So the moral of the story is to learn how to listen to the wisdom within our emotion rather than suppress or medicate it.

Available soon…

“Don’t Tell Me To Get Over It”

A women’s guide to navigating through emotional overwhelm

Learn how to recognise widespread emotional patterns, and how to heal them. ‘Don’t Tell Me To Get Over It’ is a self-help book that explores abandonment, people pleasing, generational grief, self-righteousness and shame. Through five women’s personal journeys, we investigate how past childhood wounds continued to impact on their lives, resulting in the formation of psychological patterns. Step by step, this book outlines how to identify the patterns, work through the emotions within the patterns and heal them. The psychological processes endorsed in this book embrace honouring our emotion and learning from our inner wisdom.

 

How do my Emotions Contribute to Weight Gain?

It is well known that people who are depressed, grieving or are simply unhappy can either put on or lose weight. The role of how we feel about ourselves and the world can be an important ingredient to losing excessive weight. How can emotions contribute to physical body weight and why does someone’s emotional landscape become reflected in their body? For those people who are physically affected by emotional ebb and flow, these questions about how emotion affects our physical body is very pertinent.

Emotion is often attached to thought, however it is often felt in our bodies. Long term emotional stress or depression can very well have a physical effect of weight gain. It is as if the heaviness of the emotion is held in the muscles and organs in the body. In Eastern medical traditions, such as in kinesiology and acupuncture, emotional anatomy is well regarded. Emotions are said to sit in body parts and do affect physical manifestations in the body. I find in my work as a psychotherapist, that many people’s physical symptoms fit perfectly with their emotional concerns. Likewise, I also see people’s physical symptomology affecting their emotional experience. It can become a self-perpetuating pattern where the physical and the emotional feed off each other to create full blown psychological and physical conditions.

Emma & Self-Loathing

Emma came to see me about her depression. She said she was feeling down, slobby and had put on so much weight in the last six months. She said she could not sleep well and that she felt lonely and angry most of the time. As we talked, it became clear that the end of her intimate relationship with Tod contributed to her mood and self-image. The relationship ended a year and a half ago, but it was only six months ago when he began a relationship with someone else. When we discussed the quality of that relationship and what it meant to her, it became apparent that Emma had built a great deal of resentment towards Tod over a long time. As she spoke, she began to realise that she had expected him to make up for his mistakes. When he finally found someone else, she realised he was not going turn around and apologise and change his ways.

What was really important however, was the meaning this had about herself. Emma realised that she had come to hate herself because on some level she believed it was her fault that he treated her poorly and never made up for his behaviour. Her self-loathing for his lack of considerate actions and choices had resulted in depression and weight gain. Of course, the physical and emotional cycle spiralled out of control as the increased body weight lead her to hate herself even more. And it stopped her from moving forward and finding a more rewarding intimate relationship.

Emma’s Way Out of Her Bind

In recognising her pattern of self-loathing, increased body weight and depression, and her interpretation of the events that underlay her pattern, Emma began to consciously turn it around. When she explored the pattern and gained clarity of herself, her beliefs and attitudes shifted. She realised that Tod’s actions were an effect of his own patterns and were not actually about her. She learnt that she could hold a sense of self that was not dependent on how others treated her. She also learnt that she could create an environment of self-love in her life and challenge the beliefs that lead her to think she was worthless or not good enough for love.

Emma’s journey in therapy was not a quick one but it was rewarding!  As she learnt healthy ways of thinking, feeling and actions that honoured herself and her body, her depression lifted over time. Likewise, her body weight decreased as she became increasingly happy about herself and her life and increased exercise and maintained a healthy diet.  The key here was that she did not try to enforce a diet and exercise regime on top of her self-loathing and depression. Rather she lovingly shifted bad eating and exercise habits with her increased self-esteem and self-efficacy from changing the ways she perceived herself in the relationship with Tod. Therefore the changes she made were more permanent life style changes that reflected and her happy sense of self.

The Emotional Dimension of Weight Gain

The emotional dimension of weight gain and lose is often underestimated. Sometimes where there are stubborn self-defeating patterns when people are trying to lose weight, the emotional landscape is an essential aspect to understand and overcome. There may also be other physical conditions attached to the intra-personal dynamic such as adrenal or thyroid problems, but the emotional aspects are still important.

Have you ever realised the emotional aspect of weight gain?

I would love to hear your experiences and questions

[Disclaimer. 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]

 

Recovery of Depression through Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness has been found to be an effective approach to help people overcome symptoms of depression. The symptoms of depression include feeling teary or flat in mood, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, loss of energy and motivation, agitation, worthlessness and a desire to escape from the depressing symptoms or circumstances. So to overcome depression using mindfulness, the trick is to learn how to witness these thoughts and feelings rather than become immersed in them.

The key ingredients in mindfulness practice that help us to break out of depression are dis-identifying from the depressing thoughts and feelings and witnessing them. As we witness these thoughts and feelings, we experience a kind of separation from the symptoms while they are still there. This is a weird sensation, because you can feel the depression, and depressed thoughts  as they come in and out of conscious awareness. However, you do not believe the thought or emotion. You know deep down that the thoughts and emotions are actually the depression talking, and are not really true!

An example of this process was when Sarah was experiencing depression. She did not know what underlay the depression. She was just aware that she had little energy, was thinking negatively towards everyone in her life. She was also constantly teary and feeling deeply worthless. Through conversation, we worked out that her depression was telling her that a childhood pattern was causing her to believe that nobody truly cared about her or valued her. As she isolated herself from more and more people, these beliefs grew stronger. She had no idea that it was her depressed “core beliefs”, which were triggered by a recent relationship breakup, that were the source of her pain and depression.

As Sarah learnt the process of mindfulness, she began to see and identify these depressed beliefs, and the attached emotional pain to these beliefs. Before mindfulness, she simply believed that no-one saw any value in her. But as she practiced mindfulness she saw it was the beliefs themselves that caused her pain. When there was enough psychological space in her mind to question the validity of these beliefs, she began to experiment and even ask people how they perceived her. Sarah discovered to her amazement that many people did actually value her in their lives, and that it was her beliefs that were actually spiralling her into depression.

Step by step, Sarah took a stand to her depressed thinking through self-awareness and mindfulness practice. Eventually she trained her mind to believe herself to be valuable and cared for, and she established healthy boundaries with those people who did not respect her.

 

You Can Learn Mindfulness Over Ten Days!!!

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Note. While characters in these blogs are inspired by my work with clients, any client information is not referenced to a particular person who has accessed this service.

 

My Passion for Transcendental Psychology

My original interest in psychology at 12 years old was in parapsychology, or ‘ghost busting’. So it is of no surprise that my passion for transcendental psychology emerged when I first discovered this area soon after completing my degree in psychology and the philosophy of consciousness in the 1990s. What attracted me to transcendental psychology was the systematic psychological exploration of spiritual practice throughout cultures across our planet.

What is Transcendental Psychology?

Transcendental psychology looks at the psychology behind spiritual practice without being influenced by religious dogma. This study enquires into what is happening for the person mentally, emotionally, physiologically and spiritually, in religious and spiritual practices. This includes the psychology of altered states of consciousness, the unconscious and states of meditation.

There was a surge of interest in transcendental psychology and investigations of altered states of consciousness in the 1960s, which included some of my favourite thinkers and writers in this area, such as Stan and Christina Grof (psychiatrists), Ken Wilber (psychologist) and John Welwood (clinical psychologist and psychotherapist). Each of these people contributed a wealth of knowledge through scientific investigation and their own psycho-spiritual practice, to Western science about Eastern and other non-Western spiritual practices and altered states of consciousness.

Therapeutic Implications of Transcendental Psychology

One aspect of transcendental psychology that is important beyond enquiry and research is the therapeutic implications of the non-Western approach of spiritual emergence, and Western concepts of mental illness. We can learn a lot about alternative ways to understand and approach mental illness from other cultures and non-Western spiritual practices. The Spiritual Emergence Network (SEN) was founded in 1980, which aimed to increase awareness about spiritual emergence and promote alternative treatment approaches to mental illness, apart from Western psychological and psychiatric practices (Stanislav & Christina Grof, Spiritual Emergence, 1989).

An interesting finding from transcendental psychological research is that spiritual emergence and a psychotic episode have very similar symptoms, however Western and a lot of non-Western outlooks are completely different in their approach. People in some non-Western cultures who are seen to be transitioning through a spiritual emergency are thought to be on a shamanic journey or “a dark night of the soul”. They are not perceived as sick, mentally ill or deficient in their community and they are supported until they emerge from ‘facing inner or outer demons’. The whole process is simply allowed to run its course without community condemnation. Ironically, it is found that there is a higher rate of people who emerge from “psychosis/spiritual emergence” in non-Western cultures than from Western mental health wards and from using psychiatric medication (Stanislav & Christina Grof, Spiritual Emergence, 1989).

So while transcendental psychology is often seen as a fringe area of psychology, its clinical implications could be profound!

Apart from psychosis, transcendental psychology could also have implications for treating depression and anxiety. Alternative therapies that are based on Eastern practices and world-views, such as acupuncture, kinesiology and chiropractic practice, all embrace an understanding of energy flow, chakras, meridian systems, pressure points and multidimensional sources of memory that affect current psychological patterns of thought, emotion and behaviour. These sources of memory include unconscious archetypal memories and past life memories. So based on Eastern medicine and world views, depression and anxiety can stem from deeply held unconscious memories that are outside the sight of the conscious mind.  Again, these types of approaches could have a far reaching and revolutionary impact on contemporary psychological theories and therapies.

The Approach Taken at Conscious Solutions

At Conscious Solutions, when working with the human mind, I recognise unconscious sources of information that could affect people’s patterns of thought, emotion and action that repeat themselves throughout people’s lives. When I work with people to decrease depression and anxiety, I help them to increase awareness of sources of memory that underlie their patterns of behaviour, so they can break free from them. Simply by holding an open mind and liberal philosophy as to sources of these patterns from contemporary psychology, allows my work with many people to flourish.

This is also why I often highly recommend that clients access alternative therapies as well as psychotherapy, to help shift stubborn and pervasive patterns. I have also seen the opposite take place, where no psychotherapeutic work was accessed, only energy work. Likewise, from what I have witnessed, the outcomes were not as successful. In my experience, the best outcomes often come from combining psychotherapy and alternative therapies when it comes to depression and anxiety.

“Western psychology has neglected the spiritual domain, to its detriment, while the contemplative paths have lacked an adequate understanding of psychological dynamics, which inevitably play a major part in the process of spiritual development. As long as these dynamics are not recognised, they affect the spiritual practitioner and the spiritual path in covert ways that can exert a distorting influence on the whole understanding. So, in certain ways, [spiritual] awakening needs psychology as much as psychology needs awakening.”

(John Welwood, Toward a Psychology of Awakening, 2002, Page xvi)

Want to read more about the psychospiritual?

Here are some more interesting links….

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

 

 

 

Anger as the Basis of Motivation and Personal Power

Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion!

Anger is a very misunderstood emotion in our culture. It is often seen as ‘strong’ or dangerous. Unfortunately the people who believe anger is strong and are prone to misusing anger through physical or verbal abuse, are often struggling with huge inner fears and are left feeling out of control and disempowered.  So in truth their anger weakens them. Those who believe anger is dangerous often believe that their feelings of anger should be avoided at all cost. Both of these positions are generally not helpful.

Anger is an emotion! This may seem obvious, but it is not. A lot of people think anger is an action, and usually a violent action. This can be heard in how people speak about anger.  It might be said, “He’s an angry person!” Well, actually he is probably a violent person with distorted beliefs about control. He would feel anger but that does not mean he has to act on it. It may also be said “my anger just got the better of me”. Again, this is also not true. An emotion does not justify an action. It could be said “she just doesn’t deal with her anger well”. Again, an emotion is being used to excuse behaviour.

Anger has never done anything! Anger is an emotion that in its adaptive form can be incredibly empowering and liberating. Anger demands that we face the truth about ourselves and our circumstances. Anger is there to protect us. Anger can be a fantastic motivating force. The key is knowing how to work with this powerful energy, and bring in reason when it comes to taking action.

The two common conditioned patterns that involve anger are either suppression or ‘the anger cycle’. I will demonstrate each of these patterns in two personal stories about anger.

Veronica and Sandy’s Stories: The Nice Pattern and the Anger Cycle

Veronica’s family always seemed nice until she learnt about the family pattern that kept her anger suppressed. She had always been a ‘nice’ other people and had learnt how important it was to put others first. This helped her to have some great friendships but when she began to date Harry, her ‘nice pattern’ became her biggest problem. Veronica did not feel anger, and when Harry started putting her down, disregarding what was important to her, not considering her needs and generally treating her like she was his slave or simply irrelevant, she began to regularly cry. At no point did she say “stop” or feel the anger necessary for self-preservation. Rather she began to believe it was all her problem and that there was something terribly wrong her. After a year, she felt deeply depressed and accessed professional help.

Sandy experienced the opposite to Veronica. She too thought there was something wrong with her because she was always angry, however she would not let anyone else know that. Sandy felt deeply frustrated because nothing ever seemed to go her way. Other people let her down constantly and when she confronted them, they would lie to her or just walk away. She was great at telling other people exactly what they were doing wrong, and how they could improve their behaviour. But she was deeply lonely and felt very alone.

Veronica and Sandy’s anger patterns are at opposite ends of the spectrum. They have different healing journeys to liberate each of them from their respective patterns.

After Veronica accessed a counselor who she felt safe with, she began to work through her ‘nice pattern’. She realised that while it is a virtue to generally be kind to other people, being too nice is when you cannot feel anger when it is appropriate to feel it, and you do not protect yourself from real harm (either emotionally or physically). Veronica had to learn how to value herself and what is important to her, to begin to feel legitimate and start to feel anger. As she began to breathe, relax and allow the feelings of anger in her body without automatically pushing them away or swallowing them, she began to learn how to safely feel and express her anger.

Sandy also sort help for her loneliness and how to cope with other people’s issues. Bit by bit Sandy learnt to challenge some of her own beliefs about right and wrong, and began to see the world was not so black and white. Slowly she began to see that her judgments of other people were pushing them away and sabotaging closeness in her relationships. Beliefs of entitlement and criticism had constantly fed her anger which kept it inflamed. After a while she also discovered that underneath the anger cycle was deep sadness, an emotion which she had not let herself feel for a very long time.

For both Veronica and Sandy, learning safe ways to express their anger was a vital part of their healing. Anger wants physical and verbal expression. So safe anger release is when we find space to be on our own and allow ourselves to express the anger. This expression also needs to be safe to ourselves. Angry writing, art, dance, exercise, drumming or music or hitting cushions or a punching bag are all fine.

Safe Anger Release & Healthy Adaptive Action

When I feel anger, I drive to a secluded look out, stop the car and put on music. I then pretend the person is sitting next to me and I let them have it. I say whatever I need to for as long as I need to.  I know most of what I say is simply anger expressing itself and is not actually true… but I need to hear it because the anger will ultimately tell me the truth. In fact anger will not let go until we hear the truth!!! I might start to yell at my partner, then my parents and then myself.. .. .. And then the anger shifts!

When I hit on the truth of why I am really angry, anger transmutes into sadness or laughter. Anger is a secondary emotion to hurt, so when I hear why I am really hurt, the anger is released. Once anger is released then I need to step back and look at what I need to do with my truth in a more rational way. I might need to strengthen my boundaries with some people, or perhaps I need to openly communicate something to someone. Maybe I need to re-evaluate a friendship. Whatever I need to do in terms of the action, I have let myself safely feel the anger and listened to its underlying message. This is the process of ‘honoring anger’ in a way that channels the emotion into motivation and personal power. Learning to safely work with our anger enhances personal power with respect to ourselves and others.

Have you become stuck in your anger?

Were you able to channel your anger in ways that protected you or empowered you?

 

 

[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 Lost Art of Working with Emotion

 

Have you ever been confused about how you feel? I have! At first I thought it was just me, but over the years of being blessed with hearing client’s life stories, I realized how wide spread this problem is. Depression and anxiety conditions are at epidemic proportions in Western society and a large causal factor is our disconnection with and our lack of understanding of emotion. As a culture we have lost the fine art of honoring our emotion and working with our inner guidance.

The Downward Cycle of Misunderstood Emotions

Emotions are one of the most misunderstood and poorly represented phenomena in Western society. We are often given destructive messages about our emotions such as “get over it” or “stop over reacting” or “you’re too emotional” and expected to cope. Unfortunately these messages only leave us feeling ashamed and empty inside. We often begin to believe there is something wrong with us and do our best to hide our true selves. This then leaves us feeling even more “emotional” and misunderstood. If we see a doctor about how we feel, our emotions are then often medicated which further leads to suppression and disconnection.

This process of inner disconnection is a downward vicious cycle that leads to aggression, low self-esteem, withdrawal and isolation. The hard thing is, if you start on this cycle it is difficult to turn it around. Many people develop addictive coping mechanisms such as self-medicating on drugs and alcohol. If the emotions are particularly intense such as when someone has experienced trauma or abuse, then the drug and alcohol cycle can be incredibly challenging to heal from. Underneath addiction is misunderstood emotion and real emotional meeds that were never met. Of course, the addiction simply further shames a person and therefore further disconnects them from the core issues and a balanced relationship with their emotional self.

Empowering Ourselves Through Honoring Emotion

Western culture has generally lost the art of being present with our emotions. The consequence of this is disconnection from ourselves, in our relationships and culture, and with our environment. The art of becoming aware of emotions and learning how to honor and listen to them and ultimately work with them, is an empowering journey back to personal re-connection, self-love and self-acceptance. This does eventually lead to personal freedom, but to embark on this journey we have to allow ourselves to feel.   Becoming aware of our emotional selves is incredibly powerful. When we learn to become present with our emotions with compassion and wisdom, we step away from compulsion and addiction. This practice is what I call “self-responsibility”. Simply put, it is the “ability to respond”, rather than react out of unconscious childhood conditioning and emotional wounds. Self-responsibility is freedom. When we practice it we begin to make real choices that honour ourselves and others. We begin to act out of self-awareness rather than unconscious drives.

As a rule of thumb, the more aware of ourselves and others, the more conscious our choices become. Also, the more we authentically feel our emotions, the more naturally we want to act in the best interest of ourselves and others.

Over the course of the following blogs, I am going to explain how to distinguish between old emotional wounds that are the result of supressed emotional pain, and “adaptive emotion” which is our natural emotional response to current world events. I am going to discuss the process of honouring our emotions and responding rather than reacting. I am going to outline some processes of working with specific emotion. And finally, I am also going to talk about emotional safety and real emotional needs that require us to meet as an act of self-love.

Surfing the Waves of Emotion Workshops for Men and Women

If you are interested in learning how to apply these processes in your life, I am facilitating workshops in 2012 called “Surfing the Waves of Emotion”. Due to gender differences in how we approach our emotions, both socially and biologically, I am presenting this group to men and women separately.  On the 17th March, Surfing the Waves of Emotion” will be held for women, while on the 21st April, this group will be for men.

Learning to honor and work with your emotions leads to self-responsibility, self-empowerment and person freedom. You can be your best friend, and break out of addictive cycles and emotional wounding for good.

Workshop Bookings

 

Spiritual Emergency: The Dark Night of the Soul!

I would like to give thanks to Stan & Christina Grof for all their wonderful information on spiritual emergency. My dedication goes to Alli Lawler who was the beautiful woman who introduced me the Spiritual Emergence Network.  And I would also like to thank Kama Frankling for her support and wisdom on spiritual emergence.


In my blog “The Law of Attraction… Are My Beliefs Ruining My Life?”, the third point that was raised was that spiritual emergence without grounded reason can lead to serious mental illness with dangerous implications. Many people are inspired towards the spiritual path because they want to be special or because they think it will bring happiness and enlightenment!!! What most people are not told is that a spiritual journey is actually the harder path. It’s not a Sunday walk in the park… Spiritual awakening is about transformation at a soul level, this sort of stuff often happens through trauma or tragedy. It can shake the core of your being. In spiritual awakening you are changing your old thought and emotional patterns on a deep level and then relearning how to interact with the world and people again. Through the process some people even experience what we term in the West, mental illness such as depression, anxiety and psychosis.

In some non-western cultures Shamans may go through a dark night of the soul before they emerge into the tribe’s Sharman. In the West we would see that person as having a mental illness and possibly a psychotic episode. In these cultures they are seen as a Sharman in training. These cultures understand the psychotic episode to be a deep transformation and spiritual emergence lead by their own inner demons (and maybe outer demons too). People can go through this type of spiritual awakening for years, supported by their communities until they come out of it. Some never come out of it. However it is interesting that there is a far higher rate of these people emerging out of a “spiritual emergence” than there is a person in the West recovering from a “psychotic episode” through the mental health system.

In Eastern practices such as Buddhism, it is also well known that a person can suffer from symptoms of mental illness through regular meditation practice and spiritual awakening. When someone begins to experience symptoms of anxiety, depression or even psychosis through their emergence, they are guided away from spiritual practice to re-ground themselves. It is the only time they can eat red meat, they work in the gardens or fields and they cease meditation practices.

It is no wonder demons and scary images are captured and portrayed in religious art, including Christian art. Spiritual awakening burns through what we want to see least about ourselves. While not all of us go through a full blown spiritual emergency (that looks much like mental illness), spiritual emergence does tend to bring us to our knees in humility. It often throws us into an egotistical state for a while SO WE CAN CLEARLY SEE THE EGO! It’s a little embarrassing, trust me!!! We go sky high and lose our grounding for a while… I was ungrounded for years. It has bouts of pristine clarity and then complete confusion and disorientation. Any underlying unconscious patterns tend to be brought up to the light of consciousness, even when we struggle to remain ignorant and try to avoid what we don’t want to see. If we don’t know what we are doing we can get lost on the spiritual path… it can be a frightening place!

In saying all of that, I do believe with the right psychospiritual guidance, the practice of balance and mindfulness, and honouring the self and others, emerging into spiritual awareness can be a rewarding and honorable journey. The more aware we become, the responsible we can be and the more we can make choices where before we were largely ignorant of ourselves and reacting out of unconscious patterns. For those who chose to walk the path… you have my blessings and be wise on your journey!!!!

 

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

 

 

 

 

Psychology in Business Series 2011:Clearly Defined Staff Roles

Clearly Defined Staff Roles Increase Business Mental Health

When we become stressed we often become more confused, anxious, tense and irritable. Stress also decrease memory concentration and decision making abilities. Quite literally, we lose our ability to relax and see things clearly.
It is the same for a business! An organisation that is stressed can become distorted in its perception and can neglect important decision making. In the confusion and desperation, the urge to get things done and save the business can overshadow clarity.

This is particularly the case when it comes to clearly defining staff positions and roles, and especially when there has been staff cut backs. Professional boundaries can become blurred and expectations on certain staff members can become unrealistic. Another common occurrence when a business is stressed is that it can neglect to act appropriately when it does become obvious that staff are struggling. Business owners and management are often very stressed and overwhelmed themselves and can mistakenly see stressed staff members as an inconsiderate burden on the company. Important staff issues and dysfunctional interpersonal systems then get brushed under the carpet.

Unfortunately when staff needs are ignored the business only becomes more stressed in the long term. A lack of clearly defined and realistic staff roles and duties is a major contributing factor to staff burnout. A struggling business is only going to find it more difficult to deal with staff sick leave, breakdowns, retraining new staff and accommodating dysfunctional staff dynamics. In fact, it is not unusual for staff to become “scapegoated” as unconsciously it is easier to see the problems as a “difficult staff member” than the decline of a whole business.

This is why it is vital to step back, breathe and LOOK when a business is feeling the pressure! When a business is stress is the perfect time to explore and define staff boundaries and clarify staff positions and roles. As a general rule, the clearer staff positions are defined, and the happier and healthier the staff are, the higher functioning business can be. Business owners and managers who look after their staff and who take responsibility for clearly defined staff roles, tend to cope better in a challenging and unpredictable economic market.

This is just one more action a stressed business can make to enhance its mental health. Next time we are going to look at how to introduce new systems and initiatives into an existing business that is stressed. The more effective changes can be made in a business, the more likely it will adapt to our constantly changing economic market.

The Psychology of Business Series 2011: The Individual in the Workplace

How Can I Remain Balanced in a Stressed Business?

Today we are going to look at how an individual person can better cope in a business that is stressed. Next time we will look at the company itself, and what strategies can help a stressed business maintain its mental health. There are three main ingredients to maintaining mental health as an individual in a stressed business. The first is to become aware of your reaction to stress. The second is to see the effects of your reaction in the business context. Thirdly, is to find more effective solutions to the stress in the business.

As an individual person surviving in the workforce, self awareness is essential because as stress increases you are likely to fall into old defense pasterns. So it is important to know how you react to stress. This includes both what ways are your coping mechanisms are helpful and in what ways are they a barrier to your success. For example, if when you are stressed do you put your head down and work harder? If so, the benefit is that you may become more productive, however the disadvantage may be that you stop listening to others and stop looking where you are going. Another example is that you may become more directive and push others harder. The advantage to this is that you may increase control over the direction of the project or the company, but the disadvantage is that your leadership style may become a dictatorship and you may loose the morale of your workers. Another possible reaction to stress may be that you become increasingly aware of others and hypertensive to the stress around you. The advantage is that you are very aware that appropriate action to the stressful environment is required, but the disadvantage is that you may become highly anxious and find it hard to speak up. In short, recognizing your reaction to stress is the first step to addressing it.

The second step is to take a step back! Here it is important to reflect on how you can address the disadvantages of your reaction to stress. This may require counselling, yoga, meditation, exercise or similar appropriate solutions to reducing the stress itself so you can get clarity of mind. Mindfulness is a very effective way of addressing this, as it can both decrease stress and increase awareness of your reactions to the stress. Mindfulness is simply the ability to detach from the thoughts, body tension and emotions and watch them with curiosity and awareness. This type of detachment is beneficial as we can see what is actually happening within ourselves. It is important to note that this process is very different from becoming aloof or suppressing thoughts or emotions. Detaching peacefully and WATCHING mindfully is all about increasing self awareness and seeing what we might otherwise not want to see. It may also mean feeling and learning to tolerate unpleasant emotions. However the benefits in the end can be freedom from stress, anxiety and depression. So, step two is to see how your reaction to stressful circumstances increases your suffering and contributes to the negative dynamics within the business itself.

Step three is to then ask, what could I think, feel or do differently that would contribute to a better outcome in this difficult situation? For example, perhaps instead of working harder, the answer is “working smarter”. Maybe getting different ideas, approaches and learning about new business initiatives will bring about more rewarding outcomes than simply doing more of what you have been doing in the past.  Another example is that it may be that a different leadership style can help staff to better cope, feel more confident in their positions and increase value and respect in the workplace. Or it maybe that speaking up in a way that helps empowers both you and the business you are working for is the answer. There are a range of different personal reactions and therefore solutions to stress. The key is to know yourself and commit to change if that is what is needed to decrease stress.

This may not be the whole answer as there are a number of things that are outside our control and are not our responsibility to change. If we aim to influence the situation positively and things do not change then perhaps the next step is to detach and come back to what you do have control over. Remaining stuck in unpleasant circumstances and believing that you are helpless to change it, can eventually lead to depression. So come back to what you can change in your own life to create a better outcome. If a stressed business cannot or will not change then perhaps looking else where can alleviate your helplessness and open up opportunities.

Ultimately, a business is only as good as its workers, and visa-verse! If you feel stressed and you are aware that the business you are working in, own or are managing is a big part of what is contributing to this stress, then seek appropriate help. If the business needed an accountant, book keeper or financial adviser, it would be a “no brainer”… access the appropriate expertise. It is the same for mental and emotional issues. In the current market, anxiety, high stress and depression is becoming more prevalent. When we look at the stress of the economic market, this is completely understandable. The trick is to access counselling earlier rather than later.

Often we belief we are more powerless than we really are in a business. Embracing your strengths and moving towards your personal potential is an asset to the business you work for. Working through old defenses and discovering new more effective ways of dealing with stress in your business, can result in you realising your potential within the business you are working in.