by Ros Kitson
I've been asked on occasions in my life whether I'd rather be right or happy and so I now ask this of you. Would you prefer your world to make sense according to your beliefs even if those beliefs will lead to sadness and disharmony? Many people would, although they might not recognise this fact. These patterns run under the surface and are rarely completely conscious.
Or would you prefer to be happy even if this meant challenging the view you've created of the world? Although it seems the obvious choice on paper, sometimes it can take real courage to accept this choice.
For example, imagine that you've been brought up to believe in the sanctity of marriage over everything else and yours is breaking down. Do you stay in order to be a "good" person; responsible, reliable, someone who knows the meaning of a promise? Or do you make the decision to go because it will give you and your spouse a better chance of finding happiness in the future in a way you'd never manage together?
There's no right or wrong choice here. I'm just asking people to be aware of what they are choosing between.
We generally invest a lot of ourselves in our belief of how the world is. The things we believe in strongly literally become our world. These beliefs keep us feeling safe. They keep a certain amount of order in a chaotic world.
When I was younger, I believed that in order to be cool, you had to have some kind of vice. So when I initially decided to stop smoking, I had a massive contradiction going on. I'd already stopped drinking alcohol, so smoking was my last "naughty" habit. I believed that by becoming sensible, I would become boring. Luckily my desire for better health was stronger than this belief and I turned it around. I changed my beliefs and I now feel my life is far more interesting than it was back then.
Some people believe they'll never get over an event that they experienced. They may or may not be right but, by believing that and needing to be right, they are removing the possibility of any healing in that area. I expect we all know someone who carries around the pain from a past event and we often wish on their behalf that they could let it go. Carrying around pain like this weighs us down and can cloud our whole life.
On the other side, there have been instances where people's belief in their healing has helped them in getting over pain. Sometimes our belief systems can work for us.
The key is to know when our beliefs are helping us be happy and when they are working against happiness.
Some it can be seen as a virtue to hold beliefs firm and never waver them. However I'd like to put a contradictory view that it is often healthy to adjust our viewpoint as new information becomes available.
So, if you are the kind of person whose beliefs cause you to be weighed down, please ask yourself the question, "would you prefer to be right or happy?"
by Ros Kitson
Boundaries are an interesting subject. Some people hold their boundaries very tightly and others are too loose with theirs. I believe the best way is to hold them firmly but with some flexibility. If boundaries are too tight or too loose, then we can end up with health problems. Imagine your boundaries are too loose. You let anyone take advantage of your good nature. You find it hard to say no to people. You allow people to turn up at your house unannounced whenever they feel like it. You get cornered at parties by people you don’t really want an extended conversation with. You put up with unreasonable behaviour from people because you don’t want to risk conflict. I could find many other examples. Now imagine your boundaries are too tight. You don’t do anything if it hasn't been in the diary at least a week. You don’t let anyone in emotionally. You are rigid about not giving anything away for fear of being taken advantage of. You find it hard to form relationships with people and can appear withdrawn or aloof. Boundaries can be physical, emotional or behavioural. And your boundaries might not be the same strength in each of these areas. For example, you may be very friendly but hate hugging someone. Or you might be emotionally withdrawn, but will offer to help people to the extent that you have no time left for yourself. Now, we are usually born with no boundaries. We have yet to learn about them and so as a baby, we will generally be quite happy being passed around from person to person for a hug. Babies are generally very trusting, hence why they rely on responsible adults to keep them safe. As we get older, we develop boundaries through experience and learning. Our parents will teach us not to talk to strangers. They may well tell us not to give away everything we own because they're not going to buy us a whole lot of new stuff. However, we also develop boundaries from our own life experiences. We may find that we are taken advantage of for being too generous. We may find that we get hurt if we're too open. We may find that we feel uncomfortable when strangers give us a hug. And so we start to bring our boundaries in to such a level as to keep us feeling safe. This is an important part of development and necessary for our wellbeing. However we also learn from our friends and from society as a whole. Some of these things may be helpful, for example, our friends feel loved when we give them a hug. But some of them may be more destructive, for example if we think we need to be promiscuous to be cool. What's healthy is different for different people, but usually it consists of only giving as much as you freely want to with no conditions. Now, if we are giving too much, ie our boundaries are too loose, then our energy is likely to become depleted. The end result of this is chronic fatigue. I've worked with people who have lost their spark, they've lost their enthusiasm for life and they don't have motivation for even the fun stuff. However, if we wall ourselves off from the world, only letting people in with a signed invitation in triplicate, then our hearts become closed and this will not only cause us to become isolated, but can also eventually lead to health problems. We are naturally sociable beings, so if we're closing up and going against our nature, there is probably some kind of trauma or stress underlying it. It's hard to change our level of boundaries. We may feel guilty about tightening up boundaries that were too loose. We may feel that we're becoming a bad person for not giving as much of ourselves as we did before and this might be difficult to adjust to. However, as long as you are firm about where you stand, people will usually respect you for being clear about things. The trouble comes when people who are used to the "old" you, struggle with adapting to the "new" you. But this is their problem. The important ones will work it out. It's also quite hard to open up and loosen tight boundaries. This can feel quite vulnerable and can feel quite risky. However, no-one is suggesting you have to open up in one go. It might be easier to take little steps and test the response you get at each stage. And it may be that it's not appropriate to open up the same amount with everyone. Again, as with many of my other blogs, I will say that it's perfectly possible to do this adjustment by yourself, but if you're finding it difficult, then a therapist can often be of help. It's not necessary in today's society to struggle alone. So I hope this gives you some food for thought about boundaries and the effect of not setting them at a healthy level.
This blog post is featured on Ruby McGuire's Linky Party.
I went to a funeral last Friday. Fortunately for me, it wasn't someone I was close to, but it touched me deeply and I was acutely aware of how much the family and close friends must be suffering to lose someone they loved in such a tragic way. The woman, who wasn't much older than myself, committed suicide after a battle with bi-polar disorder. As I said, I didn't know her well, and therefore wouldn't presume to talk about her case and her suffering, but it does raise the issue in general about how people suffer with these conditions and how often they, sadly, don't find the help they need to deal with them and embrace their lives again. As well as the sadness and grief I felt today, I also felt anger. I felt the tragedy that, in today's society, people still aren't aware enough of these issues to be able to help those that suffer. But I realise that a part of the problem with mental illness is that it's very difficult to understand what someone is going through unless you've gone through a similar situation yourself. How can you know how someone can reach the point where they wish to take their own life if you've never felt that low? How can you understand the bleakness that overtakes everything? How can you even begin to imagine how someone who is well loved would think that their family would be better off without them? How can you believe that every bit of hope has gone from them, that they don't believe things will ever get better? Luckily for me in my story, I never lost hope, even if at times it was only a small glimmer. The vicar at the funeral today read out a quote from Anne Frank -"Where there's hope, there's life". And I truly believe that hope is what keeps people alive when they are in the depths of their suffering. But as well as hope there needs to be professional support. I know that the help I provide isn't mainstream, and I would never profess to be able to cure people of anything. However myself and other such health professionals can provide help to ease the emotional suffering people go through. Kinesiology and homeopathy helped me when I was going through my depression and I wouldn't be where I am today without them. I have no issue with people who prefer to go down the mainstream route of medication but, please know that if whatever you are doing isn't working, whether mainstream or alternative, there are other options. There are many therapies and treatments out there. If one therapist isn't helping, try another one. If one modality doesn't resonate with you, please try a different one. If what was helping, stops helping, it may be time to change to something else. Whatever happens, please don't suffer alone and please don't ever lose hope. I know what I went through with my own depression. I know the emotional pain I suffered. I remember countless times when I phoned my homeopath in hysteria, not knowing what to do with myself. I remember the times I’d lie in my bed in unbearable emotional agony, not being able to find any relief. Back then, I didn't feel I could talk about any of this. At the time I felt that I was probably over-reacting, or I was being weak and crap. Because I never received a proper diagnosis of my condition, I often questioned whether I actually had one. So I did the opposite, I tried to hide it. I tried to present a positive, together front for the world. I tried to be OK. And because I lived alone and I was OK for a lot of the time, it worked pretty well. I expect very few people, know what I went through. I still find it hard to talk about this now, but this isn't about me. I’m sure many people have gone through what I went through and suffered alone too. This is about encouraging people to get help. This is about encouraging people not to give up when things seem so bleak you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is about trying to prevent the suffering people go through when one person feels they have no alternative but to give up. So please, if you or anyone you know is suffering from emotional pain of any kind, please seek help and know that you don't have to go through this alone.