‘Irrational’ fears

What are they?  Where do they come from?  Is there anything we can do about them?

This blog has come about because of Dax, one of the horses who lives with us.  I’d noticed that he wasn’t himself during this last week, not rushing in for his food as he normally does and seeming to be distracted by something in the distance.

He was still eating and seemed to be well in himself, but something was obviously bothering him.  At first, I couldn’t work out what it was.  I couldn’t see or hear anything myself, so I couldn’t understand what was holding his attention to such a degree.  Then yesterday morning I followed his gaze and saw that there are some new neighbours in a nearby field.  The farmer has put some cattle in a field that joins onto one of ours.  The cows have a large area in which to wander so they are not always visible from our land, but Dax was clearly acutely aware of their presence.  His owner had told me that he isn’t comfortable around cows and now I was seeing just what effect they have on him.

This got me thinking about fears, specifically the ones that seem to trigger us into ‘excessive’ behaviours.  These could be severe, ‘phobia’ type responses, or simply going out of our way to avoid whatever is unsettling us.  Common triggers can be spiders, heights or enclosed spaces and these can be easy for others to understand, however sometimes the cause of our fears can be simple everyday objects such as buttons, beards or cats.

So where do these fears come from, and why do they affect our behaviour in ways that sometimes seem to be out of our control?

I believe that these fears have come from some form of ‘trauma’.  This can be ‘Big T’, or ‘little t’ trauma, and will be very subjective, but it will have been sufficient to have appeared to cause some form of threat to the person’s safety.  Remember, though, that many of our ‘irrational’ fears have been held for a long time and are very deep seated.  We might even feel that they’ve always been there.  This probably means that they were created when we were very young, further back than our conscious memory.  The perceived threat would therefore have to be understood from the viewpoint of that younger self.  Rationally, it might be hard to understand why someone is scared of spiders as an adult – after all they’re so much smaller than we are and, in the UK at least, they’re unlikely to cause us serious harm – however, from a child’s perspective they could look quite scary.

We can also inherit fears from others; for example a parent who hates spiders, or who has experienced a dog attack, might pass on their fears to their children.

Another important point to be aware of is that when we experience a trauma, our brain takes a snapshot of the moment, in an attempt to avoid any similar situations in the future.  The downside of this is that the snapshot captures all the details of that instant, even the ones that weren’t part of the trauma.  This is why we can develop phobias about innocent objects such as buttons, and why animals can react to very specific things such as people wearing a red coat.

Triggers can bring on huge anxiety, resulting in ‘fight or flight’ type responses, ie adrenaline, fast heart rate, sweating palms, dry mouth, shaking, a need to run away or even burst into tears.  Rational thought can be lost and our ‘survival instinct’ takes over.  When someone is in this state it can be difficult, or even impossible, for them to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘get a grip’ on their feelings.  If you find yourself in this situation – or you’re supporting someone who is feeling this way – find a way to help yourself (or them) to feel safe again.  This might mean moving away from the situation, if possible.  Take some slow, deep breaths, and focus on feeling the air going in and out, perhaps counting along with each breath, for example: breathe in 1-2-3-4, breathe out 1-2-3-4.  Bring your awareness back into your body – you can try focusing on your feet, becoming aware of them on the floor; or of your body sitting in the chair; or of the feel of your clothes against your skin.  This will also help to bring you into the present moment and away from any racing, fearful thoughts and images in your head.

This practice can help you in the moment.  If you would also like to explore more long-term ways to support yourself you could try:

  • mindfulness and meditation – these allow you to explore your feelings and to regularly practice relaxation so that it becomes a part of your muscle memory and is therefore easier to recreate, even in moments of stress
  • journaling – this is a great way of exploring feelings and the thoughts that underlie them. It often brings deeper understanding which is a great way of developing self-compassion and insight into our deeper needs and how to provide for these
  • EFT (emotional freedom techniques or ‘tapping) – this is a very effective way of releasing traumas and deep-seated fears that are no longer serving us. EFT is easy to learn, in order to practice on yourself and is something that you can use any time, anywhere.  It’s good to start off working with a practitioner until you are familiar with the technique, and for some issues it can be best to work with someone subjective and experienced.
  • Reiki – again this is something that you can learn to practice on yourself, or you can book a session with a practitioner. It helps to rebalance your energy, grounding you and enabling you to release long-held tensions.
  • Hypnotherapy – another great therapeutic tool for helping us to deal with issues that can be buried deep in our subconscious.
  • Trauma release exercises (TRE) – when we hold a trauma over a long period of time it actually becomes ingrained into our muscle memory. One of the main muscles for holding emotional memories is the psoas, however it is deep within our body and often cannot be released with simple massage.  These exercises allow the psoas, and other muscles, to let go of tension which in turn helps us to release trauma.

If you would like to know more on any of the above, please contact me.  I offer sessions which draw on some of these techniques and can refer you to some wonderful colleagues for the areas that I don’t cover myself.

As a first step, you might like to take a look at this article on Mindfulness.

I’d love to hear from you.  Please post any comments or questions below.

 

 

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A Perfect Storm

perfect storm is an event in which a rare combination of circumstances drastically aggravates the event. The term is used by analogy to an unusually severe storm that results from a rare combination of meteorological phenomena. (Wikipedia)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where one thing after another seems to be going against you?  It can really zap your energy and optimism!

Recently it’s felt a bit like that here.  When we moved to this beautiful part of the world, we knew that there would be some work to do on the outbuildings, and managing the land, but we thought that the house was sound and all we needed to do was move in and we could do any necessary repairs, etc, at our own pace.

However, this has turned out not to be the case.  Of course, this summer was one of the driest on record – even here in Wales.  But the day we moved we had storm Callum, and then in this last week we had storm Diana.  All that wind and rain tested the solidity of the buildings and revealed leaks that weren’t apparent on our earlier visits.  We’ve found that water is coming in, in several places – through roof, doors and walls.  All of this of course means extra expense, which is scary when you’ve just moved house!  There are also leaks in several outbuildings, and the roof on the cabin was threatening to lift off.  We lost a panel off the side of one of the storage buildings and several items were blown into the stream.

The winds also turned poo picking into quite an adventure!  One afternoon I lost my hat, barrow, rake and poo skip – all blown away from me.  The horses were rather spooked by the waving branches and the sound of the wind in the trees and hedges.  Dax quickly settled once he got some hay, but Rika was more uncertain.  She seemed to gain confidence, though, when I stood next to her and reassured her.  She pushed in a couple of times for a scratch and it was lovely to think that my presence put her more at ease.  Thankfully both have still been keeping warm, despite the weather.

Added to this is the fact that we still haven’t been connected to the internet and phone.  TV is also part of the package that we’ve ordered, so we don’t have that either.  This has been a big challenge in many ways and my husband is finding it particularly frustrating.  I was managing reasonably well, using WiFi in a local café as and when I could, but when hubby was away with work for the night of the storm, the sense of isolation from a lack of contact with the outside world, hubby’s frustrations and the fact that he is very unhappy that we’ve moved here, concerns about the effect of the weather on the horses and financial worries, all piled up, and I suddenly felt hopeless and just wanted to rage at the world!

This made me think about what I could do to support myself, when I felt I had run out of energy and resilience.  These were my tips to myself:

  1. Remember to breathe! A simple thing, and it might seem small and insignificant in the face of the storm, but it helps you to be more grounded, to find balance and perspective when the storm is threatening to blow you away.  Also it can be heartening to know that you are still holding on.  When you look back and see what you’ve managed to come through, it can build your confidence and awareness of your inner strength.
  2. Take one step at a time. When you’re in a ‘perfect storm’, everything seems overwhelming.  Each issue appears to be too huge to manage.  We can feel lost and uncertain of where we’re going or what the future might hold.  But keeping moving, even at the slowest pace, means that we’re taking action rather than getting stuck.  And again, we can discover an inner strength and resources we were unaware of, which is a great boost to our confidence and esteem, and contrasts against the things that seem to be knocking us down.
  3. Don’t make any big decisions. When you’re struggling, feeling lost and out of your depth, it’s not a good place from which to make important decisions.  If others are pressing you for an answer, it’s ok to say that you need some time.  You need to be able to restore your sense of balance, perspective and hope, reconnecting again with your inner sense of who you are and what matters to you – your inner compass – before you can hope to make a choice that will serve you.
  4. Spend time with those who lift you up. When you’re struggling to find anything positive or hopeful inside of yourself it can be good to spend time in the company of people, music or books that soothe and encourage us.  I’m very fortunate to have some wonderful friends to call on.  I rang one the night that my ‘perfect storm’ hit, and she immediately suggested getting together.  We’ve arranged to meet up tomorrow and having this to look forward to, I suddenly felt a little better, almost as if I was drowning and had found a rock to rest on allowing me to catch my breath and have the space to regather myself.  It’s said that we become like the 5 people we spend most of our time with, so pay attention to the people – and the energy – that you hang out with.  Are they uplifting?  Encouraging?  Supportive?  Reassuring? Optimistic?  Do they build you up?  Encourage you?  Believe in you?  Reignite your passion?
  5. Take time to rest and reflect, and be gentle with yourself. When everything seems to be yelling for your attention, it’s important to take some time out for yourself. Peace and quiet are invaluable for helping us to recharge and think about where we would like to be once the storm has passed.  For me I noticed that getting outside into the woods, or into the fields with the horses, helped me to put some distance between myself and most of the things that were stressing me.  It helped to restore my balance and sense of positivity.
    Also, don’t be too hard on yourself for being in this situation.  Life can throw us curve-balls.  Finding yourself in the middle of an emotional storm is not a poor reflection on who you are.  It’s our responses to our situation that show our true character.
  6. Take good care of yourself. In the midst of the storm, everything seems to be demanding your time and attention, leaving no time for yourself.  But this can lead to draining your batteries, leaving you exhausted and even ill.  At times like this it’s important to eat healthily – including lots of fresh, preferably organic, produce, including fruit and veg of a wide variety of colours to boost your vitamin and mineral intake – and to get as much sleep as you can.
  7. Hang in there and remember that even the worst storm passes. Suddenly something will shift, or it can be a slow and gradual change that you don’t even notice at first, but then, one morning, you look up and there’s a glimpse of sunshine poking through the dark clouds.  For me, I arrived home yesterday to find a strange car in the driveway.  When I went into the house, I found hubby talking to a lovely bloke who turned out to be, in my husband’s description, “a jack of all trades, and master of all of them”!  In short, it appears that we might have found the guy to help us put our place in shape and get us through the winter intact.  Of course, it’s going to cost money, but those financial concerns seemed to fade into the background when presented with this solution to our other worries.  Also, the fact that hubby was now in a much better mood lifted my spirits immensely!

So, what about you?  What are your tips for dealing with a ‘perfect storm’?  I’d love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you ever feel like the ‘perfect storm’ is building, and you need a break away to think, take stock and recover your balance, you are very welcome to book a session here at Equenergy.  I offer Reiki, Emotional Freedom Techniques (‘tapping’), mindfulness through reconnection with Nature, and workshops on rediscovering that sense of ‘Flow’ in your life.  Please contact me for further information:

Or you can see more on my website:

 

 

When plans change…

How are you at coping with change?  If you’re like me, change is fine in theory – it can mean something new and exciting, right? – but in practice it always seems to come when I’m not ready!  I’m kinda like: ‘I’m happy to be spontaneous, as long as you give me some advance warning…’

So, up until yesterday, we’d been thinking that we might be moving to our new home next Friday… but there have been some issues with the sale and it’s been delayed.  Also our removal firm no longer has any availability on that date.  As a result we have a new proposed moving date of 5 October.

When I heard that we couldn’t move yet I was so disappointed!  Gutted even…  It felt like a punch in the gut that left me winded.  I had got so attached to sticking to all our dates and to being in our new house by the beginning of October.  Now I would have to tell everyone that our date had changed!  This would impact on Dax’s accommodation as I’d given notice to move out at the end of this month, and would have implications for work bookings too.  All I could see were the negatives and the upset it brought to my plans…

But I soon realised that this was not going to help the situation.  No amount of stamping my feet and tantrum throwing (metaphorically speaking!) was going to bring us back to our original move date.

From my practice, I also know that clinging to my upset, rather than processing it and letting it go, could potentially make me ill.  From my META-Health work I know that my perception of this situation, if it remains unprocessed and held in my body, will push my body into stress, where it will make adaptations that could later result in dis-ease.  (And looking at my vocabulary around the situation – ‘gutted’, ‘punched in the gut’ – I didn’t much fancy what the consequences would be…)

So I set about making a shift in my perception.  I started looking for some positives in the situation, rather than all the negatives – the silver lining within the cloud.

I’m a firm believer in the benefits of a practice of gratitude and I know that I have so much to be thankful for in this process.  Counting my blessings, rather than being grumpy about everything that was going ‘wrong’, really helped me to feel better.  I’ve also noticed that, many times in the past, when things have gone ‘pear shaped’ and totally off plan, it has opened up amazing new opportunities that I might never otherwise have had.

So, thanks to this change of plan:

  • we now have more time to pack
  • we have a bit more breathing space
  • we’re less rushed (so hopefully we’ll be able to dot all the ‘i’s and cross all the ‘t’s, with nothing missed)
  • we have more time to say goodbye to everyone
  • we’ve been blessed with lots of support from wonderful friends and family.

I appreciate that writing about this process can make it seem overly simple – but then, it is simple, it’s just not always easy.  It can be a real challenge to let go of things that we might have hoped for and dreamed of for a long time, or that hold great significance and importance for us.  When we get a bit stuck we can sometimes benefit from a helping hand, or a tool, to get us moving forward again.  The practice of gratitude is a great first step and I often recommend keeping a gratitude diary and writing in it daily.  Another technique that I personally find very helpful, and regularly use with myself and clients, is EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) or ‘tapping’.  It’s really a matter of finding the things that work for you.

If you’d like to have a chat about any of the points I’ve made here, please get in touch:

robyn@equenergy.com

www.equenergy.com

07980 669303

6 further tips for when life feels a bit crazy!

Last week I started sharing some of the things that I’ve found helpful when I start to slip into stress and overwhelm.

Below are some further thoughts on this:

  1. Having trained in a range of energy therapies I am very fortunate to be able to draw on these when I feel triggered and emotionally raw.  Two of these techniques are:
    Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT / Tapping) which helps to lower the intensity of my feelings, again helping to keep me from slipping into overwhelm and allowing me to keep a better sense of perspective.
    Reiki which helps to restore balance and to bring my body back into ‘rest and repair’.  This supports me in several ways:
    • breathing, digestion and circulation function more effectively so that my body is able to stay healthy
    • I sleep better, meaning that I feel less tired and can think more clearly
    • I feel more grounded
    • it supports other therapies, such as the EFT mentioned above, meaning that they are then even more effective
  1. Using these therapies on myself is obviously good, but sometimes, when I’m tired, my resources are at a low ebb and I’m feeling overwhelmed and loosing the ability to be objective, I need to turn to others for help.  This is ok!  It’s not a sign of ‘weakness’ or ‘failure’, but rather a sign of strength and the wisdom of recognising that we can’t do everything on our own – nor are we expected to.  This help can come from friends and family, and also from professionals.  There are many wonderful therapists out there, offering a wide range of approaches.  It’s good to ask for recommendations and to have an initial chat to see if you feel they would be a good fit for you.  Remember that this is about you.  It’s ok to put yourself first and to be ‘fussy’ on who you choose to work with.  Don’t worry about hurting the therapist’s feelings if you decide not to work with them.  They too will want you to find the person and the therapy that is going to be the most effective for you.

  2. Through my healing journey, learning and practice, I have realised that we really are all doing the best that we can do with the resources that we have access to.  Also, that our perception is a very subjective thing which is deeply coloured by our past experiences.  This has given me a greater capacity for compassion, both for those around me, and for myself.
  3. I’ve also learnt the importance of having a sense of humour!  The ability to not take myself too seriously has been of such an enormous benefit to my wellbeing.  That’s not to say that I can always laugh at things, but generally I can catch myself and gently remind myself that everything will be ok and that things are not nearly as serious as my fears would have me believe.
  4. Another important lesson, which might seem to be almost the opposite of the one above, is that’s it’s ok to be ok with not being ok.  In other words, it’s ok to feel sad / angry / guilty / anxious / depressed / etc, I just need to remember that these are only ‘e-motions’.  That is, they are energy-in-motion.  They bring me valuable information about my needs in a situation and when I tune in and listen I can address these needs, allowing the feeling to process and be released.  It’s when I suppress my emotions, holding on to them or resisting them, that they cause me the most pain, and can even lead to illness.
  5. I’ve also needed to pay attention to my self talk.  We can tend to be our own worst critic and when we’re triggered into stress, it brings out the most negative inner voices.  Often these are voices from people who have been significant in our lives, such as parents, teachers and peers.  When our confidence levels are low it’s all too easy to accept – and continue – this critical voice, but it doesn’t serve us.  There is a saying: ‘Take the thought to court!’  Look at the evidence.  Is your inner voice telling you the truth?  We can probably find evidence to both support and contradict the voice, so why, then, is it so much easier to listen and believe, rather than to laugh it off?  There will be several reasons for this:
    • we’ve been listening for so long that our neural pathways around this are very strong.
    • we are evolutionarily geared to look for the negatives (see Our Brain’s Negative Bias)
    • we trusted the people whose voices we’re repeating

So what can we do?

    • we can choose to remember to look for the evidence that proves that we are actually thoughtful, competent, skilled, caring, intelligent, capable, beautiful etc
    • we can choose to believe this evidence and to hold it up every time our inner critic raises its head
    • we can recognise the fact of our negative bias and understand that this is just our ego’s way of protecting us.  We can then thank the ego, and let it know that: ‘It’s ok, I’ve got this covered!’
    • We can use techniques (such as EFT and other energy work) which help to support the breaking of old habits – by releasing the beliefs and emotions behind them – and the creation of more helpful ones.

Remember to be gentle with yourself.  Old habits have taken time to form, and will take time to change, but each step along the way will bring greater insight and move you closer to greater balance and wellbeing.  Also, even small changes can have a huge impact on how you feel.  The important thing is to approach this with an open mind, with curiosity, lightness and a sense of humour!

6 practices for when life feels like a roller coaster!

Last week I talked about some of the challenges that I’ve been facing after taking on the care of ‘Dakota Horse’.  If you’ve read some of my other recent posts you might remember that we’re currently also in the middle of selling up and moving house!  This is not only about our home, but also about my business and my vision of how it might develop in the future – so no pressure there then!!  All of this has meant that life is feeling a bit crazy at the moment.

At times like this it’s all too easy to slip into old patterns of overwhelm and the consequent unhelpful behaviours and thought cycles.  I am therefore doing my best to remember to practice good self-care.  I’m far from perfect, and still very much a work-in-progress, but they say that practice-makes-perfect, and it’s certainly giving me insight and a lot of food for thought.

I promised to share some of the things that I’ve found helpful in the hope that it will be of use to others to:

  1. The first and most important thing is remembering to breathe!  Yes, perhaps a rather obvious one, but when I feel stressed I know that my muscles tighten and my breathing becomes more shallow.  This means that my body feels more tense, and gets less oxygen, which becomes a negative spiral, feeding my anxiety.  On the other hand, when I remember to pay attention to my breath, and to breathing deeply and evenly, it helps me to relax.
    To help with this I recommend doing a body scan several times throughout the day.  This enables you to spot areas of tension in the body, and to see when breathing is shallow, allowing you to then breathe into the tight areas, inviting them to release and relax.
  2. This in turn helps me to take a step back and to have better objectivity, which allows me to see more clearly and rationally.  It helps me to keep a greater sense of proportion and not to spiral into overwhelm and feeling out of control.
  3. Breathing properly and being objective also help me in evaluating the reality of the situation and carefully considering my options.  If I slip into panic this is much more difficult to do – if not impossible.  It’s known as ‘blind panic’ for good reason!  Being able to think things through like this, usually allows me to see that there are lots of things I can try, and people I can ask for advice and / or support.
  4. Another thing that helps me in this is to get moving.  Going for a walk helps to break the sensation of being ‘stuck’ and powerless and helps my brain to function more effectively.
  5. I also find being outside in Nature very soothing.  I love the energy of being surrounded by trees and wildlife and find it very grounding.  It helps to restore my sense of perspective too.

  6. Mindfulness, meditation and journaling have helped me to develop more emotional intelligence and self-awareness.  This has allowed me to let go of some of the things that were no longer serving me, and to reconnect with my inner stillness, allowing me to relax more effectively.  This is so important for moving out of ‘fight or flight’ and into ‘rest and repair’ which is essential for our wellbeing.

 

Next week I’ll share some further techniques and insights that I’ve learnt along my journey.

Holistic Fundraser Event in February

On Saturday 10 February this year I will be taking part in this fundraiser event in the Guildhall, Bath.

For further information please go to the event website:

Holistic Horse Welfare Fundraiser

 

To visit the HorseWorld website and learn more about the amazing work they do with rescued and retired horses, click here.

 

Even therapists need to look after their Mental Heath and Wellbeing – part 2 of 2

Last week I shared the start of my journey from feeling overwhelmed and powerless to creating greater balance and wellbeing.  Having explored the inner wisdom behind what I was feeling I started to work on the underlying emotions and beliefs using EFT.

I also picked out some power cards to see what insight and support they might offer.  For me, this was another way of ‘getting out of my head’, in that I wasn’t rationalising or over-analysing things, which I can tend to do.  Instead the cards, and any wisdom they might bring, would draw on my intuition, something that I wanted to reconnect with.  These are the cards that I drew:

The colour cards were:

  • Bronze – strengthening
  • Purple – for developing mental clarity
  • Pink – encouraging me to let love in
  • Ruby – rejuvenation for the body

The White Lion cards were:

  • creativity
  • trust
  • renew

I found the overlap between the 2 sets very interesting.  It seems that my intuition is telling me to relax, trust and allow love in to renew and strengthen me.  This will then support my mental clarity, allowing my creativity to guide me.

Through these exercises I also became more aware of my need to take the time to rest and reconnect so I used some Reiki, energy exercises and visualisation (using the images from the cards above).  Another important thing for me was to spend time outdoors in Nature, enjoying the energy of the sun and the trees and other plants around me.

these were actually taken on the same day, as part of a mindfulness walk during this process

As a result of working through this process, I felt as if a huge dark cloud was lifting and I had more clarity and determination going forward.  Yet again I was amazed that such ‘simple’ steps could help to start turning things around.  I recognise that the steps aren’t always easy though, and for some of my issues I will need to work with another therapist, rather than trying to deal with them on my own.

Also, I need to remember that, while I feel so much better, this is not an overnight fix!  It took time to get to that low point – a series of small, and not-so-small, things building up to a critical point – so it will also take time to work through them; but I’ve made a start, and I know that this journey will be a learning adventure.

I’m also a believer that things happen when we’re ready, and in the right frame of mind, for them.  Having made this small initial shift, I got a supportive phonecall out of the blue and connected with some wonderful new people.  A couple of days previously I was questioning my ability to carry on with some of the threads of my life and now I’m feeling recharged, excited and grateful again.  I know that I am so blessed to do what I do and I’m looking forward to how things will develop from here.  We really never know what’s just around the corner, or what help or support might suddenly appear, ‘as if by magic’.  As long as we can hold on to Hope then there are still endless possibilities.

If your life is not currently making you happy, you can create a path that works for you.  It’s about finding your balance and not pushing too hard.  Allow your feelings and intuition to guide you while also keeping a clear head to best discern the next step.  And if you feel like you could do with some help at any point, then reach out.  It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

As so many wise teachers have said, it is up to us as individuals to consider What we want and Why we want it and to put our energy into these things in order to create the future that we desire, but the How is not for us to worry about.

If you too have been struggling recently, please remember that you are not alone.  There is a lot going on at the moment, and at a fast pace, which is affecting the energy around us.  Please remember to look after your self.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, look at what needs are not being met and then explore what you can do to support yourself.  This is not being self-centred and selfish in a negative way, it’s self-care which then allows you to be there for others too.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Connecting with others can in itself be very healing.  And if anything here resonates for you, or you have questions about anything that I’ve shared, then please feel free to get in touch:

            email:              robyn@equenergy.com

           mobile:           07980 669303

           website:           www.equenergy.com

 

(You can read the full text of this article here)