This is quite a controversial topic, so I'd like to start by saying that I'm in no way blaming anyone for being ill. When I talk about "pay-off", this is almost always a subconscious thing that we don't even realise we're doing. However, having said that, pay-off is something that can appear when illnesses refuse to respond to treatment. It doesn't affect everyone but, if you find you're not responding to treatment when you'd expect to, it is quite an interesting subject to explore.
by Ros Kitson
Right from when we are very small, our belief system is forming. It's a way for us to keep safe in the world and a way for us to learn how to fit in. It is, however, highly selective. Our belief system is a kind of memory, but it doesn't hold everything that ever happened - only those things it believes will be useful to us. If we've burnt ourselves, we will learn that fire or extreme heat is dangerous to us. We may or may not remember the exact details of the first time we were ever burnt, but we will remember the pain. If we had joyous birthday parties as a kid, we may learn that birthdays are fun, even if we can't recount the details of every party we had. If our birthdays were largely ignored, we might dislike them as adults. Our belief systems tend to hold the emotional memories of a situation.
This is a large topic and I can't cover everything about it in one post. But I'll make a start. Firstly, what is anger? Well, it is an emotion. It's a feeling. Next, what is is not. It is not a behaviour or action. Often when we say someone is angry, we are referring to someone raging, shouting or even being violent. These are behaviours. They might arise from anger, but they are not synonymous with anger. It is entirely possible to feel anger and not show any behaviour at all.
So says the famous song from the Disney movie, Frozen. But what does it actually mean? Letting go is something we regularly need to do. Beliefs become outdated. Baggage, we held onto once, we find we no longer need. Fears we had start to limit us. All these things are examples of where we need to let go. In the song, the character is undergoing a transformation. She has magical powers, which had caused problems in the past when she was too young to understand or control them. We all have powers, even if our powers aren't seen as magical in the Disney sense. Leadership in adults is often seen as being bossy in children. Intelligence can be defined as being a "know it all"; confidence as a show off. Extreme sensitivity can be labelled as weakness by people who don't understand the gift it can be. Many of us have learnt to hide our light under a bushel as did Elsa.
I've been talking recently with people who struggle to make a success of their passions. The confusion that comes out of this is that, if we're following our passions, then life should be plain sailing. In other words, it should be easy. I've fallen in to this trap of thought myself. For some reason, I've often found that I get an initial success when I'm following a passion. I've chosen to interpret this as "being on the right track". Therefore, I deduce, if I'm on the "right track" more successes will follow. But then they don't. So what's going on here. Am I actually on the wrong track, or is something else going on? Well, I'm not on the wrong track. I know what my passions are and even if I'm aiming for something that isn't my number one passion, that shouldn't be a reason to fail. What is far more likely is that in order to succeed in my chosen area, I have to put myself out there in a far bigger way than I have before and it scares me. We are genetically evolved to try and stay safe. Back in the times when real physical dangers lurked round every hill, it made more sense to stay close to your community. Those with a sense of adventure were rare because we have an innate instinct for survival. So when we start a new venture nowadays, we're usually stepping into unknown territory. There is unlikely to be actual physical danger in most of today's projects, but we will often be stepping outside our comfort zone. Maybe we have to use skills we're not very confident at. Maybe we have to work with new people. It might not seem very difficult but if we're not used to it, it can feel quite terrifying. So, in order to feel safe, we have to fail. We can't have it both ways. So, unconsciously, we self-sabbotage. This might mean we don't give a task all we could. Or maybe we don't take up an opportunity that presents itself. Because these behaviours are usual subconscious, we don't realise we're doing them. So we believe we're doing all we can and wonder why the results aren't coming in. The solution doesn't lie in beating ourselves up for what we're not doing; the solution lies in overcoming our natural fears of pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone. No amount of therapy will get rid of all these fears. It's a case of "feel the fear and do it anyway". However, that's not to say that we don't have other blocks too that can be helped by therapy. I've personally found that the key to pushing myself out of my comfort zone, is to take steps that are big enough to move me forwards while staying small enough to make them achievable. What some people don't realise is that outside our comfort zone is a "terror zone". Pushing ourselves too far too fast is counter-productive as too much fear will paralyse us. Finding the balance is what will enable us grow and move forwards. This balance will be different for different people. It's no good trying to copy your friend or colleague. It will come down to experimenting and good self-awareness. So if you feel like you are failing when you should be thriving, check out whether you are triggering your fears.
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?"
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.
by Ros Kitson
The relationship we have (or had, if they have passed on) with our parents is the most important and fundamental one we'll ever have. And I'm going to explain just why this is. Love them or hate them, they are the people who will have influenced us the most in our life. They are usually the first people we bond with. Or if, for whatever reason, they aren't, that is also significant. They are the people who teach us about the world. When we are born we have no frame of reference for how to survive on planet earth. We scream when our needs aren't met and we sleep - that is it. Our parents teach us values and ways of behaving which they believe will stand us in good stead as we get older and have to survive on our own. They do this with the best of intentions, but inevitably they will project their own stuff on to us. They have to do this - it's not possible to explain to a 2 year old that there are "different ways of responding according to our personal truth". Up until puberty, we tend to lap up our parents' teachings (unless there was some kind of abuse). Once we hit puberty, we start to find our own individuality and this is where we push against our parents' rules. This is necessary in order to become our own person, but it is also necessary for parents to hold the boundaries to keep us safe. As with most things, it becomes about finding a balance and renegotiating this throughout the teenage years. If this period of time goes smoothly (or as smoothly as anything can go when it's accompanied by buckets of hormones), we come out the other side as an adult and our relationship with our parents will have moved to become a more adult-adult relationship rather then the parent-child relationship or our younger years. However, often things don't work out quite like that and we're left with relationship problems with our parents. As adults, we start to see our parents' weaknesses - let's face it, none of us are perfect. We start to identify our own values and realise how much they differ from those of our parents. If we're still a teenager or only just out of those years, we can believe that we're right and they are wrong. And this can continue until we resolve it. The other thing that can happen is that we don't grow up from the parent-child relationship into the adult-adult relationship. Sometimes this is down to the parents still treating us like a child and other times it's the child still playing out the same role because they don't know how to change or it feels unsafe to change. Either way, this will have a massive impact on the way we see ourselves and how we behave in the rest of our life. Regardless of how we see our relationship with our parents, that relationship will impact the way we relate to other people. Broadly speaking, our relationship with Mum shapes our relationship with women and our relationship with Dad shapes our relationship with men. The most obvious relationships it affects are those with a romantic partner and our children, but it will have an effect on other relationships too. We tend to look for romantic partners who either have characteristics we liked in our parents or have the opposite characteristics of those we have issue with. Note, I say "have issue" rather than dislike, as often we reject something which is only the symptom of an issue. This is often what we see when young adults go out with "rebel" boyfriends or girlfriends. If they are rebelling against the rules of their parents, a romantic partner who doesn't seem to live by rules can seem very attractive, even if deep down they like stability and predictability in their lives. Then when we have children and we have to find a way to parent, out comes the first manual we have experience of - the manual of Mum and Dad. On instinct, we behave the same way unless we've consciously made a decision to do something different. The major things will be easy to change because they are the significant ones. It's the little things we tend to do the same. How often do you hear women say with a groan, "I'm turning into my Mum". I'm sure men find the same thing with their Dads. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing if we've resolved any issues in our relationships with Mum and Dad. If we can openly feel the love for our parents and appreciate them for all their good qualities, then turning into a version of them as we get older might not seem such a terrible thing. But if we haven't resolve the relationships, then this might seem an awful thing. The good news is that, like everything, our relationships can be healed. Our parents were usually doing their best, even if we feel that the best wasn't very good. Maybe they were coming from a dysfunctional relationship with their own parents, or were trying to adjust to society's rules of the time. By healing the relationships, we free us up to not only have a better relationship with Mum and Dad, but also to have better relationships with others. Our self worth will rise and we will start to attract people on a more equal basis. We will start to be more comfortable with who we are and we will present that to the world, rather than a mask of how we feel we ought to behave. And finally, we usually out-live our parents, so if you want to have a better relationship with them, start looking at healing it sooner rather than later, because once they have gone, although the relationship can still be healed, you may find you have regrets that you weren't able to share it with them.
by Ros Kitson
I have been motivated to write about this by some comments on a Facebook status. So often I find these discussions that show up really interesting food for thought. The post started off with the following picture: