Positive thinking – is it always a good thing? (part 1/4) – Repost for Mental Health Awareness Week

As #mentalhealthawarenessweek2019 draws to a close, I thought I would take this opportunity to reshare a blog that I wrote a while ago on why I think we should exercise the ‘3 C’s around #PositiveThinking :

– Caution

– Care

– Conscious consideration

Sometimes I think that the trend for advocating Positive Thinking has got a little out of balance, where people are pushing themselves to feel happy all the time and then feeling that they’ve failed when they fall short of this impossible expectation.

Equenergy

Our lives seem to be full of contradictions!  On the one hand we’re bombarded by news that is often negative and full of doom and gloom, while on the other we’re encouraged to be positive, smile and avoid negative thoughts for the sake of our health.

So what’s the answer?!

Well, first of all let’s look at why positive thinking can bring great benefits.  The cycle goes like this:

The thoughts that we think create the perspective from which we look at things.  This influences the filters through which we interpret the world around us.  This determines our experiences, which help to form our beliefs about that world.  Our beliefs are what our thoughts are based upon, and so the cycle continues…

Obviously if we think positive thoughts, and can carry this on round the cycle, then we will be happier than if we are plagued by negative thoughts, however…

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Death Awareness / Dying Matters Week

Tomorrow, 13 May, marks the start of Death Awareness / Dying Matters week. I’m passionate about this subject as I feel that many people see death, dying and grief as taboo subjects, making it difficult to talk about these painful, but important areas. This can lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety, guilt, depression and more.

Benjamin Franklin is famously reported as having said:

Everyone is faced with death at some point in their lives: for example parents, friends and eventually our own. Some of these can feel like part of a natural progression of life, for example the death of an older person, such as a grandparent. Others can feel very ‘wrong’ and deeply disturbing, for example the death of a young child, or the sudden and violent death of a close friend in an accident.

Some losses can feel very isolating because others might not understand the depth of our feelings, for example the loss of an animal. To the owner, they might have felt like family, but to those looking in from the outside, a pet might seem easy to replace.

Miscarriage, too, can be a situation where parents are expected to ‘recover’ and get on with things, whereas they might still be struggling, but also feeling that they can’t talk about it because, to everyone around them, the matter appears closed.

I would love to see a world where people are free to talk about death and dying, and that grief no longer carries any stigma.

There is a movement which aims to support this. Death Cafés are being set up in lots of towns across the country. I’ve been to a couple and, contrary to what you might think, they are fun and uplifting occasions with lots of laughter. There’s also a great sense of openness and connection as fears and concerns are shared and begin to lose their scariness in the light of day and the gentle supportive words of the others in the room.

A lovely networking colleague of mine, Jane Grayer, a Celebrant with Create Ceremonies, facilitates a Death Café in Abergavenny. She and I will be facilitating a workshop on Grief and Grieving next Saturday, 18 May, here at Equenergy. It will be a small group, allowing people to share their stories in a safe space, surrounded by Nature which can be so nurturing for those hurt parts of our being.

The workshop sold out within a couple of days, which just highlights to me the need for this kind of space and opportunity to talk about our experiences around loss. Jane and I are now collecting names to gauge interest for running a similar event(s) in the future, so if you would like your name to be added to this list, please get in touch.

Everyone’s experience of grief is highly personal and is based upon their unique perception of the situation.  Events trigger different reactions in different people and our responses to trauma and emotional shock can vary hugely.  They can also depend on our past experiences, beliefs and values.  In addition they can be influenced by the other things going on in our lives at the time, which can leave us feeling particularly vulnerable or sensitive. 

People vary widely in the way they cope with feelings, and grief affects us in many ways.  Anxiety, fear, agitation, restlessness, anger, blame, resentment, depression, shock and feeling detached are all very normal responses.  As is guilt. 

It can be a time of inner turmoil and we can begin to question our judgement and decisions. 

The phases of dealing with grief are highly individual, and some people also experience physical pain or illness.  It is important to recognise that it is a natural way of processing loss, and that we need to be kind to ourselves and allow time for these emotions to flow.  Often the depth of the pain comes as a shock and can feel completely overwhelming.

If you are struggling with grief, you do not have to do this alone. Firstly, realise that this is a natural process. You are not crazy. You’re not losing your mind, even though it can feel that you are.

Whatever you are feeling, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to experience grief. However, if your feelings are overwhelming, it’s ok to ask for help. Please don’t feel that you have to bottle things up. If you can’t talk to family or friends, there are professionals who will offer you time, support and a non-judgemental, listening ear.

Your GP might be able to help signpost you to support services or groups in your area, and if you’re struggling with sleep or other physical symptoms, they should be able to help with these too.

If you don’t want to go down the route of medication, you might prefer to try natural remedies such as homeopathy, essential oils or Bach Flowers. I would recommend approaching a qualified practitioner to ensure that you get the best remedy for you, but for some self-help options you can read my article on Bereavement and Loss.

If you know someone who is experiencing grief and you want to support them but you’re feeling anxious because you don’t know what to say, please don’t worry. The most important thing is just to be there. Be a listening ear. Offer them the opportunity to talk – and don’t be afraid if they say some things that appear strange. (Trust your gut that you will know if they need further, professional, support.) Generally it’s just the hurting parts of them struggling to process their loss. What they need most is someone who will allow them to talk openly about what they’re feeling as this helps in processing the emotions in order to adjust to their new circumstances. Also, be aware that you might need support for yourself in this situation, and again there are professionals available to offer this for you too.

It’s Healing Awareness Week!

Apologies that my blog is a little late this week.  It was a very busy week with appointments and also preparing for a bespoke 1:1 workshop yesterday on Energy Healing for animals.  It was perfect timing to be offering this as today marks the start of Healing Awareness Week!

Energy Healing is a topic that is very close to my heart as it has been a huge part of my journey, particularly over the last 10 years or so.

I had reached a stage in my life where I was feeling miserable, lost and alone.  At first, I didn’t even realise this because I had cut myself off from my feelings as a kind of coping strategy.  I suppose this worked for a while, but I soon realised that if things didn’t change, I was going to make myself ill.

I started reading and looking around for ways to make things better.  Initially I was looking for external ‘fixes’, but I quickly discovered that these weren’t really addressing the deep need within me.  I continued exploring, as if following a trail of breadcrumbs, just going from one step to the next, seeing where it would lead me.

The first course I found was Reiki Level I.  Suddenly I felt that I had found a path that resonated for me!  It gave me a renewed sense of hope and direction and also of purpose – that I could develop the tools I needed for myself, but also that I might be able to offer this to others too.

I went on to complete Level II, and from there to studying with the Healing Trust.  This training covered a wide range of wellbeing related topics, including anatomy and physiology, the energy of colour and techniques for releasing old hurts and traumas.  I completed my case studies and sat the exam and after 2 years of learning and practice I became a qualified Healer Member of the Trust.

Alongside this I was working on my personal development and exploring how I would like to use these newly developed skills.  My journey was reconnecting me with my love of Nature and animals and so I went on to study healing of animals – initially small animals and later a specialism in equine healing – with Liz Whiter of the Healing Animals Organisation.

This has been a wonder-full journey full of deep challenges, incredible experiences and amazing people and animals.  I have learnt so much and met such inspiring individuals!

I have gone on to add further tools to my kit, but working with Energy still underpins all that I do.

I would define healing as:

“regaining balance of mind, body and / or emotions.  It complements conventional medicine by treating the whole being.”

It is:

  • A completely natural form of therapy
  • Deeply relaxing
  • Non-invasive
  • Complementary to conventional treatment
  • Holistic

It stimulates the body’s own healing processes by supporting:

  • the immune system
  • cell repair
  • detoxification
  • enzyme function
  • oxygen uptake
  • absorption of nutrients
  • wound repair
  • pain relief
  • balancing
  • release of endorphins
  • a sense of wellbeing and calm

Have you ever had a session of Energy Healing?  If not, I can recommend it as a great way to relax and recharge, and to enable your body to enter its ‘Rest and Repair’ mode.

If you have any questions about Healing, or you’d just like to know a bit more, then please get in touch:

Stress Awareness Month – part 3

As this last post of Stress Awareness Month, I thought I’d look at the wisdom that we hold within ourselves.

Our bodies know how to be well, it’s just that often we have disconnected from that wisdom.  If we can find a way to reconnect and re-member that wisdom (as Neale Donald Walsch might say) then we can rediscover our balance and wellbeing.

Every cell of our being holds a blueprint of how it is designed to function and what it needs in order to operate most effectively.  When we can tune in to this and be fully open to allowing it, then the body will naturally find its way back to this pattern.

However, due to stress and the traumas that we experience in our lives (both ‘Big T’ and ‘little t’ traumas – and remember that these are very subjective and don’t always ‘make sense’ to our analytical minds) we can find ourselves not fully able to trust this process and allow our bodies to find the balance they were designed for.

We might have learnt patterns of behaviour which, originally, were put in place to help us feel safe, but over time they have become stifling and restrictive, actually stopping us from growing and becoming the happy, healthy, creative being we were designed to be.

The rules and expectations of our society can also seem to place restrictions and demands on us, limiting our choices or shaping us into a particular role, which might not actually be where our Spirit would choose to be.

So what can you do?  How can you get back to the wellbeing and ‘flow’ that you were made for?

I believe that we can do this through reconnecting to Nature – both the Nature all around us, and to our own true Nature, in all its forms and colours. 

A wonderful and wise woman once shared a song with me that had a great impact on how I saw myself and the life I was living.  Sadly, it was many years ago and I long ago lost the recording and don’t have a copy of the exact lyrics, but it was about how looking at the sunset reminds us that our life is supposed to contain all the colours.  We weren’t designed for a bland, monochrome existence, but for one that is full of bright, vivid colour.  This encompasses all the emotions, both the ‘safe’ and ‘acceptable’ ones, and also the ‘scary’ and ‘ugly’ ones.  We need to embrace them all and learn how to be a good steward of them, so that they don’t end up controlling us on some subconscious level.

I also think that it is very important to pay attention to the messages that we give ourselves, both through our words, and our body language.

One simple example, in regards to vocabulary is this:

And for body language, consider this question:

Often, we think that our body language comes from our feelings – and it does.  But it can also work the other way round. 

Our posture is part of a bio-feedback loop.

When our spine is straight and our shoulders down and back (comfortably, not forced) then our lungs have space and we can breathe more freely. Also, our heart centre is open. 

When we slump, the opposite is true, and this is telling the body that we are not at our best in some way. It can encourage feelings of tiredness, anxiety and stress.

Think of the way that many of us spend our days: slumped in front of a computer screen, or the TV, or staring at our mobile phone…

How much is this contributing to our stress levels?

This is why it’s so beneficial to take a break, stand up, move around, pay attention to your posture and breath, and if possible, spend some time outdoors in natural light. 

So, if you’re in a situation currently where you’re experiencing stress, anxiety, chronic fatigue or dis-ease, then hang in there.  You can still make the journey back to health and wellbeing.  As Anthony William, the Medical Medium, says:

“It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been sick.  You can heal. 
Always remember that and never forget it.”


Stress Awareness Month – part 2

When we’re feeling stressed, the first thing to remember is just to Breathe!

Breathing is so important! Obviously it keeps us alive… but more than that, it gives feedback to the body on how stressed or calm we are. 

When we pay attention to our breath, just observing it and noticing how deep/shallow & slow/rapid it is, this will give us information on how our body is feeling .

Also, become aware of any tension in your breathing.

Once we spot any signs of stress or tension, we can start to act on the feedback loop by choosing to take slower, deeper breaths, just as if we were feeling calm and relaxed.

This sends the signal to every cell in your body that it’s ok, we’re safe, and so it begins to let go of the tension and enter a state of greater calm.

This has many wonderful benefits for our health and wellbeing.

For a start, it gives us some space to connect with our inner selves and our needs and priorities.

Another source of stress for many people is comparing themselves to others.
But in reality there is no comparison.

You are unique.
And so are they.

When we make comparisons we are generally hard on ourselves and judge ourselves as being ‘less’ in some way.

Anyway, we don’t know the full story of the other person’s life. We can only see the surface and what they choose to show publicly. We might be unaware of their struggles and fears. 

Equally, when we label another as inferior, this often comes from an inner sense of ‘lack’ in ourselves, leaving us wanting to boost our sense of worth. But maintaining this is stressful.

What we really need to do is go within and connect with the part of us that knows we are worthy, we are valued, we are loved and loveable.

In order to do this, spending some time alone, without external noise and distractions, is important.

So, if you’re experiencing:
– stress and overwhelm 
– anxiety and depression 
– exhaustion and fatigue 
– a lack of energy 
– feelings of being lost or stuck
– chronic ill health that just won’t shift

I can help.

Together we can trace back to the root cause of the issue, in order for you to be able to address it directly. This helps to free the body’s own healing processes to work much more effectively so that you can get back to balance and wellbeing.

Call me today for a no-obligation chat to find out more about how we could work together to enable you to create the life you long for.

Stress Awareness Month – part 1

Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month?

Stress plays a huge part in our sense of inner balance and wellbeing.

Often we become accustomed to a certain level of stress and no longer notice that it’s there. It has become our ‘norm’. But it’s still having an impact on our health and can lead to burnout and chronic dis-ease.

Our e-motions are meant to be energy *in motion*. They need to be allowed to come up and then flow on. 

However, when we place expectations on ourselves or worry that we’re being judged – and found wanting – it blocks this flow, which adds to our stress levels. 

Life is not a test, so don’t take it too seriously. Remember to laugh, and don’t be afraid to feel.

Our bodies know exactly what they need in order to heal, and they know the steps to take to get to wellbeing.

Our role, then, is to provide the right resources – rest, nutrients, hydration, fresh air, exercise – and to do our best to clear the way, removing those things that hold us back and keep us stuck. 

Emotions carry valuable information about what’s going on for us. As such they can be very useful. 

However, if we don’t listen and explore ways to support ourselves and meet the needs beneath the feelings, then they can become toxic, both to ourselves and to those around us.

Opening to all that our emotions can teach us help us to develop the emotional intelligence that brings the resilience we need to deal with change and the challenges that life brings.

Next week I’ll look at some tips for dealing with stress when we feel it beginning to build.

Learning to Dance in the Rain

I initially wrote this blog early last week, but then something happened on Thursday which prompted me to write this short edit.  A friend that I deeply respect, told me that she felt I wasn’t being honest with myself about my responsibility in the situation I find myself with Dax, and that I was placing the blame on other people.  I would therefore like to print an apology for anything I’ve said that has come across in this way.  It was not my intention. 

Regarding responsibility, this has made me think of the difference between ‘taking responsibility’ (in an empowering way that leads to action) versus ‘taking the blame’ – which is what, in hindsight, I think I was actually doing, leaving me feeling overwhelmed and generally powerless.  I have recognised that this is something I need to address and so have begun to take steps in this.  This has then enabled me to look more openly and closely at what’s been happening with Dax and to take more constructive action in this too.

And now, back to my blog:

Last week I wrote about how I’ve been learning to bend so that I don’t break.  A further step in this lesson for me is to practice being able to ‘dance in the rain’ – ie, not to wish that there were no storms in life, but rather to celebrate them, knowing that they bring valuable teaching and that even when times are tough, I can still dance and make the most of every moment.  It’s also about being able to be present with whatever is happening in the moment and to be comfortable, even with being uncomfortable.

Getting to this point takes time and practice.  We rarely manage it in any sustainable way the first time!  But, like the baby learning to take its first steps, it’s a matter of getting up, dusting ourselves off and trying again.

After all, that’s what life’s really about, isn’t it – experimenting, trying, finding out what works and what doesn’t, repeating the former and discarding the latter and continually refining and adapting.

When we make decisions and choices, we might think that we’re doing so from a purely logical, rational, analytical perspective but I’ve come to realise that there’s always an emotional element on some level.  This is true for the simplest of choices, such as what we’re going to wear on a particular day, to what’s for dinner, to what car we want to buy.  It’s even more true when we consider our responses to situations.  These are determined by our thoughts and beliefs which are strongly coloured by our past experiences and our emotional state:

In every situation, when we react rather than make a conscious choice, we are doing what we think will make us feel better / safer in that situation.  However, when our perception is coloured by fearful past experiences, these decisions will not help us to move forward.  They can end up being a form of self-sabotage.

This is why, when we want to grow, we need to become curious about what is motivating our choices.  To do this, we need to develop our ‘emotional intelligence’ in order to gain a greater understanding of what’s going on inside.  It can be a real challenge to face up to the things that we don’t like about ourselves – the things that we don’t want others to see – and to be open and honest about them.  But when we can do this with self-forgiveness and self-compassion it can be a very liberating experience!  Not only that, but it enables us to support others in developing the same skills and so allow them to find that same freedom.

Just imagine how wonderful that could feel:

  • to no longer be held by fear
  • to be free to experience the fullness of love, joy and connection
  • to be fully your self, no longer needing to wear any masks
  • to feel fully alive!

Of course, life still has its ups and downs.  It still seems to throw us curve balls to keep us on our toes!  But when we can learn to bend and to dance in the rain, we are much more able to adapt, flex and flow with these ‘plot twists’.  We have greater clarity and insight on our own responses – and after all, these are the only things we have any control over.

It was very difficult for me to face the fact that we’d lost our field shelter when it was destroyed by the recent storms.  There was the financial pain – it had cost about £4,000.00 and we can’t afford to replace it – and the thought of all the wasted time and effort that my wonderful husband had put in to building it and making it – we thought – storm safe.  Not only that, but I worried about the horses: their safety when it went over and what they were now going to do for shelter.

Then I decided to look at the situation from a different angle.  Yes, we’d lost a lot of money, but everyone was safe, and no-one had been injured, which was the most important thing. 

Obviously, we had tried to stand against the force of Nature, rather than go with it, and hadn’t realised how strong the winds could get in that part of the field.  So how might we do things differently?

I looked around at the resources that we have here.  The house is situated on a lower level than the fields and between them there is an area of ‘unused’ land – rough grasses, gorse bushes and some trees.  It had always been my plan to open this up to the horses and as I looked at it with fresh eyes, I realised that there is a lot of natural shelter there, from trees and the contours of the land. 

So now I’m looking into making this area secure so that the horses can access this natural shelter.  It will also provide them with additional, interesting places to explore.

I’ve also ordered some Willow, to see if I can create a living shelter for them.  If it’s successful it will have many benefits, including roots to further stabilise the land and drink up some of the water which makes that part of the field a quagmire in the winter.  It will provide shoots that the horses can nibble on – as long as they don’t eat until there’s nothing left!  Time will tell on that one…

This is what we hope to achieve:

If you’ve ever tried to create something like this, I’d be really interested to hear from you about how it went, and any tips that you can share!

part of the slope down to the house from the fields

If any of this has resonated with you and you’d like to learn more about developing your own emotional intelligence and resilience, and how to feel your way to the choices that are right for you, you might be interested in attending one of my workshops on how to ‘Feel Your Way from Stress into Flow’.  Contact me for further details: