Climbing Out of the Abyss – Part 22

June 29, 2017

Meeting Your Unmet Needs

By Paula O’Sullivan

Needs

Photo courtesy of http://www.pexels.com

‘We’re only as needy, as our unmet needs’ –John Bowlby (Quote)

Identifying the difference between our needs and our wants, can be the beginning of a very beautiful friendship, with ourselves and others.

Most of us have some very basic common needs, including the need to be loved, accepted, respected, touched, seen, connected, and heard, to feel safe and to feel special.

What happens to us if these basic needs have not been met, either in our early childhood experiences or later on as life progresses?

Well, we’ll go looking to get them met. Everyone you meet, is trying to get their needs met, in some way, shape or form. Knowing this can help us to understand others better. But what about ourselves?

If we don’t know exactly what our needs are, then we might get addicted to something, or find ourselves repeatedly experiencing relationships or situations that cause us deeper pain, in an attempt to cover up our distress or unease. We’ll feel we need to have ‘something’ in our lives to compensate for the loss we feel inside, at not getting our needs met. This can also trigger a deep depression, disconnection and feelings of abandonment and un-worthiness.

And there’s no guarantee that even if you can identify your needs, that someone or something else will actually satisfy that for you. It’s a huge burden to put on someone to expect them to meet all your needs. And even with alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography etc. You’ll still feel the void after the bottle is empty, the high has subsided, the sex is over, the movies or pictures cease to stimulate you. You’ll have to constantly ‘Chase the Dragon, as they say, for your next high. And in between those highs, it can get very low indeed.

If you don’t find out what you really want, and learn to ask for it in a healthy way, you’ll end up attracting others who also share some similar unmet needs. Yes I know, you’re probably thinking, now wouldn’t that be nice, but I can tell you, it can get real dysfunctional!

What’s the difference between a need and a want then?

A ‘Need’ is something you feel you have to have (or you’ll die)

A ‘Want’ is something you would like to have (you won’t die if you don’t get it)

Psychologically, not feeling loved, can make us die a little inside. In some cases where babies weren’t touched or stroked in the early days, they actually died. Those that didn’t die, grew up pre- disposed to depression, anxiety, violence, addictions etc. and were averse to feeling love or being touched. (Psychology experts will tell you that if you didn’t bond with someone in childhood, that you won’t be able to bond with anyone later on, but you can change this, it wasn’t easy, but I did!) So in a way these things are needs for our healthy functioning, and for our soul too.

But what if, in all the searching, what if in all the wrong relationships, you still didn’t meet anyone who really loved you, cared for you, heard you etc.? What then?

Like I said, most people find ways to cope, to compensate, and that’s ok, we’re all doing the best we can to keep surviving, but if all this is causing you mental and emotional pain, I’d like to tell you, it doesn’t have to be that way.

We cannot change anything until we become aware of it. So we need to ask ourselves what do we want, and what do we need, for to create a healthy balance in our lives? And then we need to find the courage to begin asking for that.

More importantly though, because as I said you may not get what you ask for, is to learn how to meet some of your own needs.

No this isn’t an easy task, there’s no quick fix, it’s a process, which needs to be practiced and tested out over periods of time.

You may have to explore issues like your Self Esteem (part 7) or your Core Beliefs (part 13) or being Addicted (part 19) among others.

In my early childhood, I didn’t feel loved, accepted, respected, heard, touched, seen or connected. I had very low self- esteem and a general feeling of unworthiness. This affected my whole life up until I was 44! It affected my career choices and my relationships.

The need to be loved kept me tied to many mental, emotional and physically abusive situations. I survived them, but my soul suffered from all of this. I never found love in those relationships. I found sex, which I thought was love, but it wasn’t, and it certainly wasn’t a good enough reason for me to stay so long with those experiences, but hey, that’s what expecting others to meet your unmet needs can do for you.

When I was 44, I began an amazing journey into meeting my own needs, and that has changed everything for me.

It began with learning to actually LOVE MYSELF. That meant dealing with the negative Self Talk (part 5). It began with recognizing that I just wanted people to be nice to me, because I’m actually a nice person, and more importantly, I needed ME to be nice to ME!

Once this process started, I began to ask myself better questions.

  • If I loved myself, what would be different? How would I talk to myself if I loved myself? What kind of friends or relationships would I tolerate if I loved myself? (I’ve distanced myself from people who are just plain unaware, if they’re not honouring and respecting themselves, they are not going to be able to honour and respect me. If they are destroying themselves, they’re not going to be in a position to celebrate my blossoming, now are they?)
  • What way would I treat my body if I loved myself? (I stopped drinking alcohol, I chose my foods more carefully, I rest when I need to rest, I meditate and exercise daily) If no one wanted to listen to me, how could I get my voice or thoughts heard? (I started to journal, then blog, then that turned into a book, now I’ve several books in the making, there’s always someone out there who might be interested in what you’ve learnt)
  • How could I meet my own sexual needs in a safe way? (Ha, ha, use your imagination for that one!) How could I experience touch? (I got massages and Reiki and began to feel more comfortable with hugging, free hug anyone?)
  • How could I feel more connected? (Spiritual practices of meditation, mindfulness (part 6) and reading inspirational books, helped me see that I am already connected to everything, it was only my thoughts and feelings that made me think otherwise)
  • How could I feel seen? (I started making videos! I started to put myself out there to help people also)
  • How could I feel respected? (Once I started to respect myself, I found I attracted more people who did respect me, and could easily distance myself from those who don’t, what they think of me doesn’t matter, I know my worth now !)
  • How could I feel safe? (By not allowing my needs to override my wants and get me into potentially dangerous situations, which they did in the past!)

This began the most loving relationship I’ve ever had! I’m 100% there for me. I buy myself flowers and gifts. I don’t criticize myself anymore, I know I’m doing the best I can in any moment. I do review my performance at the end of each day, I do seek to improve myself as I deem necessary. I’m in the process of honouring my higher ideals. I love, accept and respect myself, enough to walk away from anyone or anything that is not honouring my higher ideals. This hasn’t been easy, because I’m human, and I keep getting tested, I’m not fully there yet, I’m not even sure there is a ‘there’ to get to, but hey I’m in a process ! I’ve identified my essential needs, and I’ve also divided some of those into wants. I’m not needy now. I won’t accept any old kind of relationship anymore. I might want intimacy, and companionship but I’m happy with myself, I don’t need it, there’s a difference, I can be more choosy now. There’s great freedom in that!

Part 23 – Divided Mind – Taming the Ego

Paula is an Author / Hypnotherapist / Reiki Healer / Life Coach / Artist / Photographer, in Blessington Co. Wicklow. www.i-want-a-better-life.ie / paulaosullivan1@gmail.com / Phone 086 0848398 All her articles to date are on her blog www.paulaosullivan@wordpress.com

 


Climbing Out of the Abyss – Part 21

April 16, 2017

Self Mastery image

Photo Courtesy of http://www.pexels.com

Mastering the Self

By Paula O’Sullivan

‘Self-Mastery and the consistent care of one’s mind, body and soul, are essential to finding one’s higher self, and living the life of one’s dreams’ – Robin Sharma Quote

As within, so without, to thine own self be true. Self- Mastery means learning self-control. It means learning how to control our thoughts and our emotions. (See Emotional Intelligence Part 9) It means being the same in all situations and having a core of stability within. We are only as strong as our greatest weakness, don’t worry, life will test you on this!

Most of us are like chameleons, we are constantly changing in response to what is happening to us, without consistency. When we’re in the process of achieving self-mastery we begin to realize that ‘Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose his reaction’- (Victor Frankl)

Self-mastery gives us a choice, it helps us to be more in control of ourselves.  And no it doesn’t give us a licence to control others. Ask yourself this: If I’m not in control of my thoughts and emotions, then who is? You don’t have to be a victim, you can choose to be a survivor instead.

Most of us have been conditioned to focus on altering the externals in our lives. We wait for everyone else and everything to change first. This makes for a very frustrating life journey!

When we change, we will find that things change around us. We’ll either accept it, change something, or we’ll detach either physically or mentally from it. Check out Eckhart Tolle’s work on this. ‘Nothing happens until something moves’ (Einstein)

You’re probably asking the question ‘Well why do I have to be the first to make a move or change?’ I’ll answer you with this question. ‘Well how’s that going for you so far?’ If you’re happy with your results, carry on as you are.

Well for me anyway it didn’t bring me to anywhere worth going. It was with beginning the process of learning self-mastery that my life began to change in many happier ways. I’m not saying I’m there yet. Life has many lessons and challenges for me that always keep me on my toes. I’m a work in progress, I’m further on than I was, and I’m getting there, as they say.

Ok so how do you begin this process?

Awareness

Start observing yourself in various situations. Are you doing or saying what you want to do and say, or is there some kind of an agenda to be met? Are you looking for approval? Is it meeting an unmet need? Are you doing and saying things to just fit in with the general crowd, or are you being true to yourself? Watch your reactions. Watch any self-talk. Read my article on Self- Talk Part 5. Also see Part 1. Coping With Depression, where I highlight the two main ways of thinking and how they affect us. As we master ourselves, we begin to notice all these things, and with the observation comes the choice in how we really want to be. See my article on Mindfulness Part 6.

Identify your needs versus your wants

This is really important. Most of us are on auto pilot (not fully aware) we all have basic needs, including security, sex, love and belonging, financial, freedom, fun etc. True needs take into account the higher greater good and serve our soul. Our wants can override this and serve our ego or lower selves, they can lead us into selfishness and a desire to satisfy our own personal interests without concern for how it affects others. There’s an element of developing integrity with self-mastery.

Delay Gratification

Start practicing to strengthen your will by testing yourself in small ways. Delay gratification in some area of your life regularly. Watch your wants, watch the impulses, they can be so strong. For example: I want that biscuit, the drug, the high, the sexual release, the escape etc. but I’m consciously deciding that I’m not going to have that right now. I may wait until later, or I may defer it until tomorrow, or some other time, but now in this moment, when I’m aware, I can choose to delay, if I want to. Observe your thoughts and feelings when you do this. Or another example:  I want to say this to this person, but I’m going stay quiet instead. I’m choosing to be fully present with this person, without being compelled to make the snide remark, or say the things that could destroy the relationship, the trust etc. And yes sometimes we do have to speak up, but play with this to strengthen you will. You may decide to speak up in another moment instead. Practice also doing things you’d rather not do right now, like take out the bins, do the dishes, laundry, paperwork etc. I use a mental symbol of a foot kicking me in the ass, and saying Just Do It! I always have my sense of humour with me, it comes in handy! Notice how much energy we take up in resisting doing things. Your ego will protest, and cause a fuss, but observe it. Practice with little things, and you’ll see where you can be free of external control.

Keep your promises

Do what you say you will do. How many times have you said you’d do something and didn’t? How did you feel? Say what you mean and mean what you say. You will learn to trust yourself, and others will learn to trust you also. Practice keeping your promises to yourself and others. It starts with the little things.

Practice being consistent

I mentioned earlier that we are like chameleons, we are not the same people all the time. If someone is mean to us, we are mean to them, or if we’re afraid, we’ll be mean behind their backs instead. If life throws us a curve ball, we disintegrate, however momentarily. We’re like boats without oars, constantly being driven this way and that by relentless waves. Our self-esteem plays a huge part in this too, and the more you develop a balanced self-esteem, the more you can be consistent with anything that happens. It gives you a strong core of stability that helps you to trust yourself, and be trusted. You will be the same you in all situations. Check out my article on Self-esteem Part 7.

Part 22 – Meeting Your Unmet Needs

Paula is an Author / Hypnotherapist / Reiki Healer / Artist / Photographer, in Blessington Co. Wicklow.  paulaosullivan1@gmail.com / Phone 086 0848398 All her articles to date are on her blog www.paulaosullivan@wordpress.com

 


Climbing Out of the Abyss – Part 9

January 5, 2015

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence

‘Nobody can hurt you without your permission’

– Mahatma Gandhi quote

 

I’m going to add to this quote and say, that nobody nor any situation can hurt you without your permission. It is only your thoughts about things that can do that. Change the way you think about it and you’ll change the way you feel. This is something I learned as I developed emotional intelligence.

So what is Emotional Intelligence and how can it help us? It is the ability to recognize, understand and manage our emotions in a positive way, which can affect our behaviour and our interactions with ourselves and others. We can learn how to bring our emotions into a state of balance, so that we’re not being tossed back and forth in a sea of uncertainty.

Developing our emotional intelligence can help us to communicate more effectively, become more emphatic, find positive ways to cope, overcome challenges, relieve stress, create healthier relationships, and minimize conflicts, which can lead to a more fulfilling life.

Becoming aware of our emotions, in each moment, can help us to remain calm and focused in unsettling situations and can help us to see how they influence our thoughts and actions.

Most of us are on auto pilot, reacting to present situations, based on experiences we had in the past (see Mindfulness Part 6) if we centre ourselves with our breath, (see Managing Stress & Anxiety Part 8) we can come into the present moment and ask ourselves if this is the appropriate reaction right now, or are we just replaying a script we have been using all our lives.

Say for example you send a text message, and the person doesn’t reply. You might think they are ignoring you. By the end of the day if they don’t get in touch, you might not be in the best of moods. This could end up in a conflict. You’ve allowed an unanswered text to affect your mood and possibly hurt you.

From an emotional intelligence perspective, you notice that the text hasn’t been answered and you consider what might be the reason, a) maybe they are too busy right now, and don’t have enough time to text properly, b) maybe they don’t have credit, c) maybe they are upset with you, but just need some space to think etc…You breathe slowly and ask yourself why you feel ignored, you consider all the options and wait until you hear from them before jumping to conclusions. You distract yourself with something else.

  • Calm down, take time out regularly to breathe slowly and practice observing how you feel in each situation, so that you can respond in a conscious manner based on this moment rather than your experience from the past.
  • Learn to trust your emotions and how you feel, be true to yourself, and you’ll suffer less.
  • Notice your behaviour at different times, and take full responsibility for how you choose to feel and respond, no one can make you angry, that’s a choice you make.
  • Be proactive instead of reactive. Try and see a few different possible perspectives to any situation.
  • Ask questions: What is important now? What am I learning from this? Do I need to set healthier boundaries? Are my needs being met? What are the consequences if I say or do this?

Part 10 Entrainment

Paula is an Author/ Hypnotherapist / Reiki Healer / Artist in Blessington Co. Wicklow. www.i-want-a-better-life.ie / paulaosullivan1@gmail.com / Phone 086 0848398 All her articles to date are on her blog www.paulaosullivan@wordpress.com


Climbing Out of the Abyss – Part 6

November 1, 2014

Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Previously we’ve discussed how thoughts, visualization, foods, disassociation and self-talk can help lead us out of depression. Now let’s explore mindfulness.

The word ‘Mindful’, means taking heed, or care, being conscious. And the word ‘Conscious’, means being aware and awake.

Most of us are not really aware or awake, we think we are, but we are really running on auto pilot, continuously being in a state of ‘Reaction’ or ‘Resistance’. Mindfulness means paying attention on purpose. Being here and now with our present experiences in a non-judgemental way. Nothing is perceived to be either good or bad. Situations can be thought about in many ways.

‘Reaction’

We are like a boat without oars, being pushed this and that way, as life throws stuff at us. Our reactions are based on thoughts about past experiences, or fearful thoughts of the future. We are rarely present in the now moment, yet that is the only time we have some control.

 ‘Resistance’

Something happens that we don’t like or want, and we set up resistance in our mind to it. When we resist something, our body and mind perceives this as a threat to the natural balance of things. We trigger the stress response and we stop our minds from finding solutions.

 

Tips for being mindful

 

  • When your thoughts go to the past or future, gently bring them into the present moment. Take a few slow deep breaths in and out. Notice your surroundings. Be kind and patient with yourself. Say ‘I’m ok now in this moment’
  • Develop a sense of gratitude. Say ‘I have more than enough’.
  • If you’re feeling angry, sad etc. do not judge the feeling, say ‘Oh here’s comes anger, what brought that on?’ In that mindful moment you have a chance to reflect or react in a different way than you did previously. You will no longer be reacting on auto pilot.
  • Do one thing at a time and be fully present with it. If you’re drinking or eating, taste, smell, notice texture etc. When washing the dishes, feel the suds, see the rainbow colours. In the rain, look at the droplets on a branch, there’s a tiny world reflected there. If walking, notice your feet connecting with the ground, feel the sun, or wind, warmth of your clothes, look at the sky. If with someone, listen carefully to what they say, really look at them, hear them. Be present.
  • If ill, in pain, depressed etc. Listen to your body, what’s it trying to tell you? If you’ve got a headache, ask yourself what was happening in your life prior to that? If you have pain, what is paining you in your life? What emotional conflicts have you not dealt with? What thoughts or emotions do you hold onto that might create pain for you. If you are getting frequent colds etc. your immune system has been weakened by stress, not nurturing yourself etc. Ignore it and other things may happen to draw your attention to where your body feels out of balance. If you’re depressed or feeling low, what are you resisting? What can you not accept? What can you not forgive?

With mindfulness, we can become aware and rest before our body makes us. We can create new meaning in our lives and improve the relationship with ourselves and others.

Part 7 Self- Esteem

Paula is an Author/ Hypnotherapist / Reiki Healer / Artist in Blessington Co. Wicklow. www.i-want-a-better-life.ie / paulaosullivan1@gmail.com / Phone 086 0848398 All her articles to date are on her blog www.paulaosullivan@wordpress.com


Stress Therapy

May 7, 2012

 

My son bought me a brilliant poster. It is called Stress Therapy and it has three circles on it. In the middle on the red section is written ‘Bang Head Here’ for Maximum stress and then on the white area for High Stress and on the blue area for Medium stress. I put it on the back of my door, and I can’t say I haven’t been tempted to use it, but so far so good! It makes me laugh when I see it!

Like most of you reading this, I’ve gone through many stressful occasions, I’ve been through marital separation, and lost my house through that, got it back,  been struggling to pay the mortgage, I’ve experienced unemployment, self employment, illness etc. etc .yes, .I’ve been there, done that, worn the t- shirt, yep !

And yes I too have had my dark days in the past when I just didn’t want to get out of bed and face all the hassles and dramas, and yes I too have had the odd suicidal thought, where the illusion that it would be just better to check out now, entered my head….And I just want to say to you reading this… it doesn’t have to be that way!

What I want to share with you is how I coped and how I am still coping, how you can keep the dark thoughts at bay, how you can become calm in the face of adversity, how you can perhaps even stop those low thoughts at the start before they spiral out of control and cause some form of depression. What I’m going to share with you is a tool box of techniques that I now use with my clients for Stress & Anxiety management and prevention.

So let’s begin, firstly let me explain .Stress is actually our reaction to events. When something happens that we don’t want to happen, we create resistance in our body and mind to it. Our body perceives it as a threat. This triggers a stress response in the body called  Fight or Flight. I like to think of it humorously as if there were a load of workmen and workwomen in our bodies having a tea break and then something happens and then it’s all systems go. Oxygen gets pumped from the brain; it goes into the heart and lungs, to help supply more blood to the muscles in our arms and legs so that we may flee if necessary. Then adrenalin and cortisol gets pumped in excessive quantities to help improve muscle function, so if we need to fight then we have the strength to do so. But most situations aren’t like that, we’re not in a fight or flight scenario, so what happens? We feel sick, our breathing becomes shallower; our heart rate speeds up, we can’t think straight, we may get weakness in the legs, nausea, stomach upsets, some people think they are going to die on the spot, they may even develop a panic attack and so on.

Now that’s a once off situation I’ve mentioned. If you are constantly stressed though, what happens? Well the cortisol and adrenalin are still being pumped into your body in excess, these are natural and necessary substances that the body produces but they become harmful over a period of time when we are stressed continuously. They lower our immune system. Now I’ve done a lot of research on causes of illness as I was developing a Wellness Programme for my clients, and I have cone to believe that the causes of all illness and cancers begin in our bodies when our immune system is weakened.

How do you boost your immune system? There are many things you can do, including improving diet, nutrition, exercise, releasing negative emotions and well…stop getting stressed out! ‘Oh yeah right’ I can hear you say, ‘How?’ Well as I mentioned earlier, stress is our response to things, it’s our reactions. Life is always going to keep happening to you, don’t think that you can reduce the stressful things coming at you, you won’t. You might mange to deal with one and then find another comes at ya, that’s life! What you can do is take on board a few of my suggestions, incorporate them into your daily routine and in a relatively short  time, you will find that you feel less stressed,  you will be better able to think more clearly, make better decisions, plan better and generally feel calmer and healthier over time. I even noticed that I started getting less and less colds etc. and that by tuning into what my body was trying to tell me, that even if the symptoms of a cold were starting, that by making time to rest and relax and nourish myself, that the colds wouldn’t happen. When we are stressed we feel that the world won’t go on without us, yet when we then become ill we find that is has to! Look after yourself! The world can wait!

Anxiety Breathing Technique

I use this everyday, whether the kids are killing each other, or I’m stuck in traffic, or the bank has overdrawn and I discover I’ve no money for food again, or I’m stuck in a long queue, or life is not giving me what I want etc…I use this technique religiously, I use it before I get up in the morning, before I go to sleep, throughout the day etc. and it works. I  had a car accident a few weeks back, a guy crashed into my car, I saw him coming, did my best to avoid the collision, but he hit me anyway. I got out of the car, calm, smiling and pleasant, could think very clearly etc. The witnesses I heard afterwards, all commented on how amazingly strong and calm I was.

Sit, stand, or lay down.  Initially close your eyes, but as you get good at this you will be able to do this with eyes open. Slowly breathe in, imagine that you are breathing in from the tips of your fingers all the way up your arms to your head and chest, approx two seconds at the start, as you practice you will be able to take longer breaths in. Then slowly exhale, imagine that you are pushing the breath out down through your legs, feet and out your toes, and that you are surrounding yourself with a feeling of calmness. About two seconds at the beginning and again as you practice, this can be longer until you actually feel calm. Do it a few times. Say to yourself, I am calm, I can handle anything. What this technique does, is to tell the workpeople in your body to take a tea break! It signals your brain to keep the oxygen where it is needed, helping you to think straight, to concentrate more, make better decisions etc, it stops the fight or flight reaction from triggering, and over time it improves your immune system and your health. You can use this technique for anyone having a panic attack also.

Affirmations / Self Hypnosis

I discovered the usefulness of affirmations a few years ago when I developed a stress related illness, through the use of them, and the other techniques I’m sharing, I got better. I discovered that they are a form of self hypnosis and I went on to train as a Hypnotherapist. I use these with my clients as they are very effective. Basically, we have a conscious mind, this is the one we worry and stress about things with, and this part of us can only focus on seven plus or minus two things at any time. Our Subconscious minds can focus on over 20,000 things at once and are responsible for our automatic breathing, digestion etc, but they are also responsible for creating our reality. So in relation to stress, if you begin by telling yourself that you are calm in the face of adversity, that you can handle anything as opposed to saying to yourself I can’t handle this, or I’m stressed out etc… then your mind will help it to become true for you. Of course if you’re in the height of it and trying to say you’re calm, that won’t work. Use the breathing technique and reinforce it with the words I am calm, then your Subconscious mind will be in alignment with your body and then you will see results. Our emotions play a huge part in all of this too, so practice feeling calm. Think about how you do want to be in future situations, and put mental pictures in your mind of yourself coping in the best way you can.

Attitude

Are you a victim or a victor? Are you better or bitter? Depending on the type of attitude you adopt to what is happening in your life you can be a sufferer or a survivor. I found that by adopting a strong survivor attitude that my mind suddenly started finding solutions for me. I started to think about what was the best way for me to cope, rather than feeling powerless and being picked on and having the attitude of a victim, poor me, life is happening to me and what can I do except complain, I changed all of this bit by bit, and saw that I could start happening to life instead, and although I couldn’t control everything, there were still a few things I could do to improve things, no matter how small, it all added up. Survivors cope, sufferers complain, one gets things done, one doesn’t, it’s your choice.

Mindfulness

I embraced the concept of Mindfulness and of being present in this moment now. Our conscious minds are always only focused on the past or the future. Both of these can create fear and uncertainty. We look at the past and fear it may happen again. We focus on the future and because we don’t know what will happen, we fear the worst. Because we don’t know what will happen, we don’t know what we will do to cope, so we have to make up the worst scenarios in our heads, this leads to worry and anxiety. Because if we actually knew what was going to happen, we could then decide on a plan of action, but we can’t  because we don’t know what will happen This would drive you nearly insane with the cycle of thoughts involved. Breaking the cycle takes a bit of time and practice. When you find yourself worrying, bring yourself back to this moment and become present in it. Are you alright now in this moment? Don’t think of the past or the future, are you alright now, just now.

As you are reading this you have a choice in this NOW moment to focus on what you actually do want to happen and you can claim back your mind from worries and fears by only focusing on the best possible outcomes from now on. Seeing that, no, you may not have the perfect life, but in this fraction of a moment you are ok. Mindfulness also means becoming aware of all you do have in your life, and practicing gratitude etc. It is powerfully life changing. I am constantly bringing myself back into the present moment, being present more often when eating, walking, breathing, talking with people etc. A few years ago, my mind used to be always racing onto the next thing to do, the next person to see etc, so that I was never really there, never really present for anyone or anything. I also found that my mind was constantly focused on worries or fears and this made me impatient and irritable if anyone tried to interrupt those thoughts, I was caught up in the cycle of it. I discovered that when you start focusing on best possible outcomes, your mind starts finding solutions for you. No more worries or fears! Stay present in the Now! As now is the only time we can ever change anything.

Perspective

‘We can’t solve problems with the same kind of thinking we used when we created them’ –Einstein and ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’ –Henry Ford. These are two of my favourite quotes. Perspective is everything. What I believe is leading some people into depression and suicide is a limited perspective, and this is a very broad statement, please everyone don’t take offence, I don’t mean this personally there are many different situations out there.

But what can happen is that we lose our jobs, our homes, our partner etc. and we’ve associated this person or thing with who we are. I know I initially felt like a failure when I separated, lost my home and job, my status was affected. I didn’t feel good enough and I thought that I was viewed as a lesser being to people who knew me. In this crazy society where your worth is viewed as your possessions by many, I had identified with those things as if they were actually me. I was too concerned with  what I thought others thought of me, I have since learned that it is more important to know what I think about myself than to even contemplate what others might be thinking, that no longer concerns me now, and I don’t give it any thought.

It has taken me a long time to see that I am not my job, I am not my home etc, so if I lose them, I still have a sense of self, of who I am without them. I won’t tell you that it is easy to arrive at this inner peace, it’s going to take time and work on yourself, but if you can find a sense of self that isn’t your job, home, possessions etc, it will be work well done. Why do you think some of the greatest spiritual leaders freed themselves from attachment to worldly goods? Because there is no permanent joy in those things, they can be taken from you. Happiness is actually found within yourself. If you seek for others to make you happy, what will you do when they are gone? If you are only happy when you have a job, money, possessions etc, what will you do when they are gone? This is just something for you to think about.

Thoughts

I started observing my thoughts and becoming more aware of them. What kind of things was I saying to myself? Was I being kind or critical, supportive or unsupportive? Sometimes the things we say to ourselves we wouldn’t dream of saying to another. I’ll ask you this, if you’re not for yourself then how do you expect others to be? I started being on my side for a change, I started saying nice things to myself, encouraging things. I read a great book called ‘You can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. It helped me realize that I am not my thoughts, but that I can change the type of thoughts that I think at any time. So with my thoughts I could think the ones that made me feel good instead of thinking thoughts that made me feel bad, sad, depressed. With practice I was even able to change feelings I was having with my thoughts. If I was feeling low, I could check in with myself and see what I was feeling, and what kind of thoughts I was thinking at that time, and I would say to myself, ’Well Paula, are those thoughts making you feel good or bad ? And sometimes I would allow myself to have an hour of bad feelings and thoughts, and then I would say to myself, do you feel better now? And if I didn’t I’d say well that didn’t work, now try thinking better thoughts and feeling better feelings. And with practice this helped lift my moods.

Other things I did and am still doing are:

Daily Walk – Rain or shine I go for my walk, exercise gets the circulation going. Daytime walks are good as you get 90% of Vitamin D through sunlight on your skin, yes even if it’s cloudy.

Meditation – I do this often. Even when I am walking I am meditating, focusing on my breath, my feet touching the ground, or focusing on the birds, or the trees etc. it doesn’t always have to mean sitting on the floor sayingOM! I meditate briefly every evening, nothing fancy, about a quarter of an hour before I sleep I focus on my breath and think about all the things I am grateful for, I do the same before I get up in the morning. It sets me right for the day.

Smiling – Have you noticed how few people smile, and that if you do smile, everyone wants to know why? When I started smiling, I had a pain in my face, because I wasn’t used to it. Now it’s the other way around. Smiling actually releases serotonin and natural endorphins, these are feel good chemicals. Your mood actually lifts when you smile. It helps your blood pressure too. Try it!

Make time for yourself – no matter whether you’re working or not working, a busy mum or dad, a student or retired, you need to put aside some time for yourself, a bit of ‘ME’ time. A time when you won’t be disturbed, where you can read a book, listen to music, go for a walk, have a bath in peace etc. Life is just too short, so find some special moments for yourself regularly and you’ll find this lifts your spirits and helps you to recharge your batteries. We all need this.

Well I hope you find some of these suggestions helpful, if they aren’t you can paint three circles on your door, instructions at the beginning of this article! Smile!  comments and feedback are always welcomed.


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