by Ros Kitson
I read an article recently detailing how stress can actually be a good thing for us because it helps us rise to challenges and improve our performances. I think the author was thinking about the kind of stress we face when we're trying to achieve a project we've chosen to do. For example, training for a marathon. I found I did agree with most of the content, but as a practitioner who works with stress with clients, I was concerned that this might be giving out a message that we should be accepting of all the stress in our lives. This I definitely disagree with. So I decided to reflect on the difference between the type of stress discussed in the article and the type of stress that, if left unresolved, can make us very ill. So, how do we differentiate between them? Well, I believe it comes down to two things: choice and power. I'll deal with each in turn, although they are intrinsically linked.
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
Well, this is the time of year when everyone talks about making new year resolutions. The changing of the calendar tends to focus the mind and brings the idea of fresh starts. This is all very well, even though the beginning of the year might not be the best date for everyone, but resolutions tend to assume we're going to make one big change and then stick to it for ... ever, whereas goals tend to be more of a process with a purposeful end. I'd like to challenge the idea that we are suddenly going to make sweeping changes just because it's January 1st. I find that making changes is often a bit more complex than that. We can find that it takes us a while to start a new plan. It can definitely take us a while to stick to a new plan. And often we have to revise the plan along the way so it suits us better. For example, if our 2014 resolution was to join a gym, we would go along, sign up, pay the money and then try and make ourselves go on a regular basis. The success rate would be dependent on many things: our time available, our energy available and how much we really wanted to be going to a gym in the first place. If we stop going, then we can feel we've failed. If, however, we set a goal to be fitter by the summer (how you determine that is up to you), then we might start off by joining a gym, but quickly realise it's not for us. We might try out a taster day instead of actually signing up. Maybe we then hear about different types of exercise and try them out until we find something that suits us. If, along the way, other things come up, we can choose how we manage them with our fitness, knowing we can pick up again when they calm down. But the main difference with goals is that until we get to the summer, we have no way of telling whether we've succeeded or failed as the process is ongoing. But with the resolutions, we can often feel failure as soon as our plans slip. So be kinder to yourselves and set goals rather then resolutions this year.
This article was prompted by a recent communication with a friend, who declared that she couldn't be happy because of various things that had happened to her. I think many of us have at some point felt the same - that happiness is an end product, a result you gain when your life is perfect, when you have enough money, when you find that perfect partner. The list goes on. However, I'd like to dispute that. Happiness is a choice we make every day. And once we've achieved happiness, then often the other things follow. The key is to take charge of our emotions, rather than letting them take charge of us. Often we feel extremely justified as to how we feel. We can explain in great detail why we feel the way we do. However, does this serve us? For example, my friend had many regrets; things she wished were different about her past, but these were things which she can't change now. And yet, she held these things responsible for her unhappiness. Now, if she could make the choice to let these thing go and decide to be happy in spite of them, she would have a better quality of life. I used to react to everything negative, but nowadays I'm far more in control of how I respond. For example, last night I got a power cut. I calmly lit my candles and finished up before going to bed, hoping it would be back in the morning. It wasn't, and I also found that my shed was damaged and needed urgent repairs to make it waterproof before I headed off to work. Now, in the past, I would have stressed and ranted and felt that the world was extremely unfair to put this kind of burden on me - and just before Christmas too. And then I would probably have worried about how long the power would stay off and the impact on the food in my fridge and freezer. These unwanted thoughts would have gone round and round my head, preventing me from doing anything else useful. Today, I've just taken it in my stride. There's absolutely nothing I can practically do to fix the power. If food goes off, then it will have to be chucked out, but luckily I'm not hosting Christmas, or I'd have rung round some friends to make other arrangements. And I've decamped to work, where I have warmth, light and broadband. I'm very happy here. So generally in life, I invite you to decide which choices you really wish to make. Do you really want to respond negatively to a situation? Do you really want to respond argumentatively to someone who's pressing your buttons? Do you really want to hold on to the wrongs done to you in the past? Or would you rather choose to be happy?
So December has arrived for its annual visit and the shops are full of festive cheer. I've heard that people have started decorating their homes, although I leave mine a bit later than this, due to the fact that my Christmas tree is so large it takes up too much space for it to be there too long. Now, I love the festive season. I love the build up, the parties, the choosing presents for my loved ones, the singing of carols, and finally spending Christmas itself with my family. But I realise from talking to other people that not everyone is so lucky. So I thought I'd address this here and offer some help. Christmas is a very significant time of the year. Whether we like it or not, we're sold a fairy tale annually by the retail community. As much as we may try to ignore it, it's very difficult not to compare your experience with this. If, for whatever reason, your past Christmases weren't brilliant, you may have a sinking feeling each year. If you are now the one responsible for "getting Christmas together", you may feel a lot of pressure to make it perfect for all your guests, which can leave you tired and time-starved before it even arrives. If you are unfortunate to have had a sad occasion happen at a previous Christmas, the arrival of each year can trigger unresolved grief. If you used to have great Christmases, but your situation has now changed and you've lost these, this annual holiday can bring up unresolved feelings of regret. And finally, if you're unfortunate to have to spend Christmas with people in whose company you wouldn't normally choose to spend time, you may end up with conflict and maybe even arguments. The good news is, that in all these situations, kinesiology can help clear the stress. It gently removes the stress around the triggering events and changes the association we have linked to Christmas. It will leave you feeling happier and less burdened and more able to enjoy the festive season in your own way. So if you'd like to create the positive Christmas experience you'd really like, please do get in touch - 01635 581682 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We've all probably been told at some point in our lives to try harder. Maybe by our parents or school teachers, or seen it written on a school report. Nowadays it's very common to hear people say "I'll try" in response to a request to do something. But what is actually going on energetically with this? To start with, the confirmation that you'll "try" suggests that you may succeed or you may fail. It therefore prepares the person you're talking to for either outcome. It also lets you off the hook if you don't achieve whatever you were setting out to do as you pre-warned that it might not happen. Now that's fine if you're referring to something that isn't very important, but not so good if it's a priority. "I'll try and get to the gym this week." If I were to hear those words from someone, I wouldn't be very sure they'd actually make it. The word "try" also suggests a lot of effort. "I'm going to try and push that car along the road." Well, I'll heave and heave and I may shift it a bit, but it's going to take all my strength to do it. Similarly, "I'll try to clean the kitchen today" suggests that this will be a mammoth job that may well take ages and leave us drained to exhaustion. That's not really likely to inspire us to get started. In fact, it creates resistance. I would suggest that firstly, we just make a decision whether or not we truly want to take action. For that, we need to dig down and find out our underlying motivations. What are our reasons for doing it? Are we just trying to placate another person when we have no intention of doing it? Is there buried fear around doing it, even if we're not sure exactly what that fear is? Then if we decide to do it, affirm that we are going to do it. "I'm going to the gym this week" has much more certainty to it. I'd be more likely to believe this. Also, if we affirm an intention to someone else, we often feel more accountable to take the action, which can help us find motivation when it's not forthcoming. By affirming rather than trying, we're going with the flow rather than fighting against the current. Affirmations help create a new reality. If we affirm that we are becoming fitter, then we are likely to attract things to help us create that, including the motivation to go to the gym. If we decide not to do something, be honest. Let the other person know why and be accountable for your choice. They may not like it, but in the long run, they'll probably respect you more for your honesty and for setting clear boundaries. So next time you hear yourself say the word "try", check out whether it is really serving you.
I love creating the titles for all my blogs, but this has got to be one of my favourite. Firstly, when I talk about rescue, I'm not referring to rescue from massive environmental disasters, or the sort of essential help we receive when we're ill. What I'm talking about is the need some of us have to rescue people from their problems - the sort of problems they go round and round in circles with - the sort of problems that can impact on our lives by the very behaviour others exhibit - the sort of problems that the other person doesn't recognise as a problem. The thing is, no-one can fix another person. Their journey is just that - their journey. As hard and as painful as it can be to see someone suffer, nagging them to change or rushing over to make everything as painless as you can is often not the best of most constructive help you can give. I'm going to focus on some of the consequences of doing this. Firstly, it can be very annoying. I remember when I was struggling with various things in my life, people would offer "helpful advice" and then get annoyed with me when I explained why it wouldn't work. The truth was that, although the advice was logically sound, I wasn't ready to make that step. I needed to sort other stuff out first and no-one else but me could possibly know what order I needed to heal areas of my life in. Secondly, it can be very dis-empowering. If you're rescuing someone who laps up the help, it can lead to reliance on the helper. Also it can lead to low self-esteem if the person feels they can't fix things his or herself and this can lead to a reluctance to even try. This something I've been taught all the way through my professional training. Do not encourage clients to become dependent on their therapist in the long term. Thirdly, we need to be aware that rescue might be fulfilling a need in ourselves to be useful, to be appreciated, to be the one who's indispensable. If these needs are left unchecked, what will happen if the person we are rescuing gets better. Will we suddenly have a gap in our lives? Does part of us need them not to on some level? Or will we transfer our rescue on to someone else? Some people have a pattern of helping good causes. This is fine if it's in balance, but it can also mask a problem of not wanting to focus on ourselves. If you find yourself in this situation, I invite you to think about the following questions. Is the help you're offering life saving? Obviously this is a no-brainer. We're not suggesting leaving a loved one to die or have serious injury, but are you the best person to be dealing with it. It might be more relevant to phone the emergency services and leave it to them if it happens repeatedly. Are your worries for the future realistic or are you considering the worst case scenario? Often our fears surpass what is likely to happen. If you're not sure, reach out to someone else for an opinion that isn't clouded by the emotion of the situation. What would you choose to do if your fear wasn't there? Did you already have plans which the rescue would interfere with. Maybe someone else go to help this time or maybe they could wait a bit until you're free to go. What kind of help do you think is expected of you? Is the person even asking for help or are they just letting you know what's happening with them? If they are wanting help, do they mean they want you to drop everything and rush over to fix their whole life or do they want something a lot smaller from you? Remember the best help is that which is given for our greatest and highest good. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. Sometimes it's in the low points that we find the courage or the reason to change. I know that I often have low points when I don't want to face something about my life, or I don't want to take some kind of action that would be beneficial. No-one is a higher authority on our journey than ourselves, so be careful not to seem to be taking that authority away from another person. The best thing we can do for another person is to support them in their journey with love, whilst focusing on our own needs.
The credit for the title of this post has to go to my friend, Reid, who wrote this phrase on a piece of paper at a recent meeting. However, I thought it was worthy of a bit more exploration in a blog article. So, I've been pondering over this for the last few days. Firstly I wondered how true it is. Certainly for many of us, we like the status quo and resist change. But then there are the adventurous among us who often head off into the unknown. I've known people who tell me change is a good thing, and they're right, but do these people also have their fears before they step off the metaphorical diving board? It's definitely true that the familiar is often seen as safe. We know where we are with the present circumstances, even if we don't like them. The new and unknown change may be better, but then it also may be worse. The trouble is that we don't ever really know until we've made the change, and then it may be too late to go back. The familiar protects us. We know how to respond and what reaction we're going to get. We know where and how we fit in. We can easily visualise the future when it's exactly the same as the present. The new is daunting and it often involves taking a leap of faith into the unknown. So what is going to make us change. Well for some of us, the thought of adventure is enough. We take a deep breath and leap with a confidence that it'll be a good experience for us. For others, change only happens when the present circumstances become too unpleasant, or when external circumstances force it. Now, we're all influenced by external circumstances to some extent. So the way in which we adapt to forced change is also significant in our lives. Do we fight against the inevitable or do we go with the flow? Does it really do us any good to fight against the inevitable? Well, for our personal stress levels, the answer is probably no. However there are may people throughout history who've managed to bring about great changes for the positive by not accepting externally enforced situations. Often we don't know what to do for the best. We oscillate between the different options available to us. Do we change or do we accept? I find the best way is to try to split the arguments into those coming from the ego and those coming from the soul. The soul has our highest good as it's focus. It only wants what will expand us and help us to grow. It will guide us to that which will fulfill us and help us use our gifts in the world. The ego focuses on that which will keep us safe and therefore encourages us to do what will enable us to fit in, what will cause the least disruption and often comes from a place of fear. The soul guidance comes from a place of love. So I invite you to tune in to these 2 voices. They both have their places in our lives, but it's good to be able to differentiate between them. And lastly, I leave you with these well-known words of wisdom because I think they sum up this subject so well.
I've wanted to write about this for a while now as it's a subject that is dear to my heart - and as I run a holistic therapy business, my bank balance. Culture is defined as a state of manners, behaviour and intellectual development at a particular time of place. So how do we behave when we're ill? How do we go about returning our bodies and minds to optimal health? Do we even actively do this? This is traditionally the season of colds and bugs. Now I know from my days of working in an office, that there was definitely a culture of not having time off as people had "too much work to do". I was never in favour of this strategy as it seemed to me that if you have time off, you can heal better and return to optimal productivity quicker. But, alas, it was difficult for me to go against the culture, so I struggled on too. We also have a culture of going to the doctor only when we can't fix our health issue ourself and when it's got so bad that we feel we won't be accused of wasting time. This is backed up by advertising campaigns directing people to a pharmacy or a phone service for "minor complaints". This is obviously a necessary strategy by an underfunded organisation, but it still creates a culture. Now along come holistic therapists. We can help prevent disease by treating blocks in a person's system before they manifest into nasty symptoms. So ideally I'd like to see clients earlier rather later. However the majority come to me when they've been suffering, for longer than they needed. We also have a culture of free healthcare, which I'm very grateful for. I'd never advocate getting rid of the NHS, but at the present time myself and similar practitioners aren't funded by the NHS, so we have no alternative than to charge our clients directly for our services. This seems to be quite a large block. I often hear people say they can't afford sessions. Whereas this may be true for some people, after all therapy isn't cheap, I believe many people are just choosing to spend their money on different things. So my question to you is what is the most important thing you could be spending your money on? My personal answer to that would be health and wellbeing. In this section, I'd include food (of the healthy variety, of course), a warm roof over our head, and healthcare support. For those who are familiar with Maslov's Heirarchy of Needs, this relates to the lower levels of the pyramid. If our base is rocky, the higher levels aren't going to be firm and reliable either. So how would it be to go on a great holiday, but spend it worrying about going back to a stressful job. How would it be to buy new clothes, but to feel ill when you wear them. How would it be to subscribe to a TV service, while wishing you had the energy to be out actually living your life. Now I'm not criticizing anyone for spending their money on these things. Everyone makes choices about what they do and where they spend money is one of such choices. However, if you have any unwanted symptoms, I would invite you to challenge our culture of healthcare and invest in your health sooner rather than later so you can lead a more enjoyable and fulfilling life.