A client came to see me wanting to stop eating sugar. She said she had sugar cravings, mainly late at night. After dinner, she’d put the kids to bed and sit down for a cup of tea and a sugary treat. But instead of just having one treat, she’d have 3 or 4 and it felt like it was getting out of hand. She also admitted that she used to have wine for her treat time, but had cut that down. In the first session we looked at the issue and the work took us back to a time in her life when she partied hard as a reward for working all week. Fun for her at that time was letting go without considering her boundaries. So we worked on being able to have fun while still holding her boundaries firm. By the second session, her pattern of eating sugary snacks had changed slightly. She would now sneak a snack while putting the kids to bed, but once they were in bed, she would stop snacking. She was also holding her boundaries better in other areas of her life. This time we went back to time in her childhood where she was aware of her mum’s behaviour. She told me her mum never took a break and it seemed that she had learnt behaviour from her mum that she was trying to take on – namely that being a mother means you are always busy doing something. We discussed a different way of being, maybe taking a break during the day, before the evening rush of dinner and bedtimes, so she didn’t feel the need for a sugar fix to get her through this. By the third session, the pattern had changed again. This time, she was craving a sugary treat after a savoury meal and feeling that she “should” be allowed to have one. However she really wanted to be able to have sweet foods and it not become a habit. The boundary issue was also coming up again in her life so we also worked on that. This time we went back to a time in her childhood where she had to do something she really didn’t want to do and she was bought sweets as a treat to cheer her up. So there was the connection between “sugar” and “treat”. This client only came for 3 sessions. When I spoke to her a while later she said that she felt much more in control of eating sugar. It was no longer controlling her.
by Ros Kitson
I've spoken to people who, when their lives take a turn for the better after a period of stress, suddenly find they start to struggle rather than finding that things become easier. I'm talking about fears, barriers that come up, unpleasant feelings, all happening when things start to improve.
So, why does this happen and what is going on?
Well, when we've been struggling with whatever challenge we've been facing, whether it caused stress or made you feel unsafe, we start to put up our barriers. If we feel we need protection, we will do this to the exclusion of everything else. Issues that we faced along the way may not have been processed, but instead filed away until we were in a better place emotionally to deal with them.
When things start to go right in our lives, we relax. We no longer need to be on red alert all the time. We finally feel safer and we start to open up.
And guess what? All that stuff we buried when we weren't feeling so great comes up. As human beings, we have an innate draw towards healing ourselves, so as soon as it's safe to do so, this instinct takes over.
However, because we're often not versed in the ways of emotional healing, we can find this a bit overwhelming. When unresolved issues come up, they don't have a flag attached saying "emotional residue from that time when I felt hurt by my ex" or similar. Oh no. We just get an unpleasant feeling. We may feel upset, we may feel angry, or any other emotion might come up.
The most logical assumption is that the present situation is causing you to feel that emotion. This will either cause internal conflict as you try to work out why you're crying when your current situation is so great or you will find problems in your current situation to match the emotions, where there really aren't any.
The good news is that these things have come up because we're feeling safe enough to deal with them. So, if you are experiencing this, life is probably going well for you and you are in a place where you feel supported.
It is, however, important to process these issues and let them go in order to move forwards with our lives. We don't need to understand them, but often a memory of where they came from will also surface which might give us some clarity we need. Then once we've let them go, we're free to carry on enjoying the good times that life has brought us.
Grief is probably something that most of us have had to experience at some point in our lives. The most common and well-know reason is the death of a loved one, but we grieve to some extent for other reasons as well. We grieve for any kind of loss, be it the end of a relationship, the loss of a friendship or even a change in situation.
Some of these events may only require a small amount of grieving; others may need a grieving process that lasts years. I grieved for the sale of my old car - a classic mini that I'd got myself far too emotionally attached to for my own good. I grieved for about an hour after the buyer took her away, and then I was able to move on with no regrets. However when I grieved for my aunt, who died when I was 19, the whole process lasted about 10 years.
There's no procedure for grieving and there's no formula to follow. No-one can tell you how long it will take, or what form it will take. It's not linear and it's not rational. However it is very necessary.
Grief is the process that takes you from the painful state you find yourself in at the point of loss, to acceptance of the situation and an ability to let go and move on. I think the most useful thing to know about grief is that it comes in cycles. You think you're coping really well and then something comes along to knock you sideways - again.
Often we fall straight into the grieving process. If our sorrow is strong and we are comfortable with our emotions, we will naturally start to go through the stages. However, often we block it and this is where we get stuck.
I've heard many people say they just can't cry. Sometimes we can't connect with our emotions as they are too painful so we block them away. Other times, there is a fear that if we break down, we'll never stop crying, so we prevent ourselves from even starting. Maybe we think we need to be strong for someone else - a child or a partner. This might be a necessary protection for the initial intensity of the emotion, but if we don't go back and address it, then we can't let go.
Letting go doesn't mean we are forgetting. Sometimes we don't want to grieve because we don't want to let the memory of a loved one go. But if we have such a highly charged emotional response to them that we can't even think about them, then are we really remembering them in a way they or we'd want.
Going back to my aunt, who was the first person I had to grieve for, I went through a lot of emotions. For years, I believed I could have done something to prevent it, which was hugely unlikely and probably quite arrogant about my influence as a teenager. For years I blamed those around her for not being able to help her. But that is also unfair. Eventually I came to accept that it was just a tragedy and a belief formed that she is probably happier now she's in the spirit world.
The thing that shows I've reached acceptance, is that I can remember the good times we had with happiness and joy. I can remember what she was like with love. I can remember my relationship with her without regrets.
The process was far from straight forwards. After the initial shock of losing her, my days ran pretty normally. Sometimes I'd think about things when my mind was quiet, but because I didn't see her day to day, my routines weren't affected. What I noticed was that every so often waves of emotion would come up and hit me and I'd find myself crying again. Over the 10 years after her death, these happened less frequently and less intensely. Each time they happened my thoughts and feelings processed a bit more and I began to make some sense of my loss.
If we don't grieve for whatever reason, we become stuck emotionally at the point the person died. We have to keep carrying the pain around with us and this can cause us to close up to prevent the emotions accidentally spilling out. Often people may "expect" us to have gotten over the loss by a certain point, so then we can feel it's even more necessary to hide the unresolved grief away. Grief can include many emotions, such as anger, regret, self-pity and others. If we don't complete the grief process, we won't have resolved all the individual emotions.
As you probably already realise from reading my other blog posts, if we have unresolved emotions, then we will likely be reacting to present events rather than making conscious choices. Imagine if you still had unresolved anger within you, you could well find it bursts out when you least expect it. If you are living with unresolved regret, you may find that you are living in the past a lot.
There are many ways to resolve these emotions, but the main one is to intend to grieve. Intention is a great starting point and often just allowing process to follow is enough. We may find we attract supportive people who we can talk to, or maybe we meet someone else who's gone through a similar experience. Even if there is no-one around who we feel understands us, a supportive hug can still help us along our journey. Nothing anyone says or does will make the pain disappear overnight, but it's important to keep the process moving forwards.
So, if you know there is a person or event you haven't grieved for, please consider going through this process to set yourself free and allow yourself to remember the positive memories without pain.