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.
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.
This is a term I use to explain what we do when we make connections that end up limiting us in our lives. Often these connections come from a stressful situation. Eg if someone harshly takes the piss out of me when I tell a joke, then I might learn that it is never safe to tell jokes. Whereas there might be times when it isn't safe, or a good idea to tell them, it's hardly true that it is never safe. Hence the title of this blog 2+2=5. We over connect and come up with conclusions that aren't really true. We would normally know that these things aren't linked. However when we are either very young, or we encounter a situation that stresses us, we react from a different part of our brain and we can easily make these links. We do this to protect ourselves. It comes from the flight or fight response. If, back in stone age times, we saw someone attacked by a wild animal, then when we see that type of animal again, we run before it gets near us. We learn that the wild animal will harm us and that knowledge keeps us safe. Nowadays, we don't usually encounter dangers of this type, but we've retained the mechanism for making connections. I often treat clients who seem to think they shouldn't have made these connections, as it somehow means they weren't being very smart, but actually the opposite is true. The more intelligent we are, the better we are at making connections, and the more likely we are to make these kind of connections when under extreme stress. The good news is that all these connections can be taken apart at a any stage when they are no longer serving us - either with the help of a therapist, or just with good self-awareness.
I went to see a film - The Dalai Lama Awakening - at The Wellbeing Centre yesterday evening. I have to admit I was partially drawn to it because there would be interviews with the Dalai Lama himself and I am a massive admirer. However, it was much more than that. It was a documentary about a journey of transformation of 40 of the "big thinkers" of the world as they met with the Dalai Lama to try and solve some of the world's problems. They came together, as you may expect, with a process, which they hoped would help them produce a plan. There were many different types of people, each with their own ideas and inevitably the process broke down. But what came out of the trip for each of them was a personal transformation - an opening of their hearts and a calming of the ego. The message that came out of the film was "change the world by changing yourself". This resonates with me because this is what I've been working on with myself on my journey. "Be the change you want to see in the world" is how I remember it (originally said by Ghandi), but it all starts with ourselves. In my sessions with clients, I talk to people about how we can't change those around us, only ourselves. However, this will still make a difference as when we change, those around us change towards us. The other key thing I learnt is the value and implication of compassion. Now, I realise the value of it already, but not always the implication of practising it. The film briefly touched on the Tibet issue and someone suggested imposing sanctions on China. However after consideration, the Dalai Lama voiced concerns over how that would affect the people of China, most of whom are not guilty of oppressing anyone, and hence how compassionate it would be. I will try to be more aware of the greater effect of my decisions. I have to say it was an inspiring evening and a real pleasure to meet the director who's touring with the film at the moment. If you get the chance to see it, I'd recommend going.
I've been talking recently to people who have been having "problems" with a partner or someone close to them and I've been asked what they can do about this. So I thought I'd address this here. Now, firstly, we can't change another person, we can only change ourselves. It is often very easy to see blocks in someone else or to see their potential. However, none of us knows someone else's path in life. Often the thing we feel ought to be changed is not the highest priority for the other person. I believe we are all the highest authority for our own paths. If we can become more accepting of their differences, and if we can stop trying to control them and let them be themselves, we will find a sense of freedom and peace in our relationships. So I would suggest we work on our own development rather than trying to change the other person. Secondly, I've found that other people usually don't respond well to being told they ought to change. If someone (particularly a loved one) is regularly telling you to change, what does that say about how they feel about you as you actually are. Not a lot, I'd say. Would you change for someone who doesn't seem to be like who you are? Instead, I'd suggest we focus on the positive in the person. You can always find it if you look, but if you always focus on the negative, you will only see that. Try commenting on the things you like and ignoring the things you don't. That way, they will hear positive things from you and their general perception of your feelings for them will be much higher. Also, you may well start to feel better towards them too. The funny thing is, that people often change when they feel safe and accepted, so you may find they then manifest some of the changes you've wanted them too. However that will only happen if they are the changes they wish to make. Thirdly, we sometimes grow apart from people. If one person changes and the other one chooses not to, those two people may find they don't have enough in common any more to spend lots of time together. It's one of the most difficult things, as feelings for the person may well be strong, but frustrations with the differences have arisen. If you do feel that you need to move away, try and be honest enough to talk to them and explain how your feeling. It might not be easy if they are a partner or someone close, but it may be that they're feeling this too. If you agree to part, let each other go with love. Partings don't have to be hateful. Those that are respectful and amicable and much more pleasant. So before you aim your frustration at another person, try these three steps first.
I was thinking the other day about the pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect. It was triggered by 2 friends who are taking on new voluntary roles. The first was apologising in advance for possibly messing up. I don't think anyone who knows him thinks he'll mess up, but that was quite a big concern of his. I then was thinking, in contrast, of another friend who reminds us that she is still learning her role and will not be perfect yet. And then she does the best that she can. I used to be a perfectionist. I hold my hands up to this. I'd be proud of the quality of my work. I'd love to hear compliments about it. However, the flip-side was that I'd take ages to get anything finished and I'd often procrastinate if I wasn't sure it would be perfect enough, so sometimes the task wouldn't get done at all. And I'd carry around this ever growing list of things to do, which put extra stress on me. Now I'm not advocating that we don't do our best, but our best will vary according to not only our ability, but also our current level of experience, how we're feeling that day, and what other pressures we have going on in our lives. There are times when perfection is relevant - if you are a surgeon or operating dangerous machinery, for example. However how I design my business cards really isn't one of them; it's more like a journey, each version can be a little bit different as I evolve my ideas and experience. It's also good to think of where we'd be if, as babies, we didn't risk failure in learning to walk and talk. How would it be if we looked at the baby next to us who was more developed in these skills and decided it wasn't worth us bothering as we couldn't do it right now. It seems a ridiculous notion, but many people do exactly this as adults. So, don't let the fear of perceived failure, put extra pressure on you, or stop you doing something. Be honest with people as to your experience and do the best you can.
A couple of days ago, I met up with a friend, who was not feeling her normal positive self. She had a couple of nerve-racking events coming up, but she seemed very flustered generally. She said she felt heavy and seemed to lack her normal confidence. So I thought I'd write a little article about why this happens and how we can get ourselves out of it. Firstly, I'd like to say that this is a pretty normal reaction to the stresses and strains of every day life. From time to time we're bound to slip off the positivity plateau that I'm sure all my readers frequent on a regular basis. Oh, you don't? Well read on... There's a big difference between falling off this plateau and staying down. The second state is one which hopefully you can avoid. Our emotional state is one which will always fluctuate. The word emotion can be broken down into e-motion. The "e" stands for energy, so emotions are energy in motion. Hence they are designed to move, ie fluctuate. There is no problem with feeling anything in life. The problems come when you get stuck there, as anything which is stuck can't move. The other point to recognise is that this movement is in a vibratory pattern. How fast or slow these emotions vibrate depends on how positive or negative they are to us. In simple terms, the closer they are to love or fear - love being the most positive and fear being the most negative. Try it out for yourself: what order would you put the following: contentment, anger, frustration, bliss? The next thing is what to do about it. Well there are a few options. The easiest and quickest is to use your self-talk to boost your emotional vibration. Your what, I hear you cry? Your self-talk - the little voice inside your head which, if you're feeling negative, is probably saying ridiculously untrue things like "I'll never do it", "I'm not good enough" and often gets worse and worse as we spiral downwards. For some reason us humans find this state quite sticky. We can very easily get immersed in such a state, but we do ourselves great harm with negative self-talk. So the obvious solution is to monitor what we're thinking and change it for the opposite. So if we find ourselves saying "I'll never do it", immediately change this to "I'll easily do it". You may not believe it straight away, but if you keep replacing the negative statements with positive ones, then you'll soon start to. You only believe the negative ones because you've repeated them so much. This works very well for sudden emotion drops, when they are a temporary state. For more long term states of low emotion, we often need to do a bit more. It's still worth replacing your self-talk, but often we find it harder, or the results come more slowly, which can discourage us. It might be worth interrogating the emotions (gently) to find out where they came from. We might recognise them as the voice of a parent or teacher from when we were younger and that might be enough for us to disown them and replace them with a new positive voice of our own. If we're still not getting the results we want, chatting to a friend can help. Remember, it's great to talk to someone who can empathise with the fact you're having a hard time, but not someone who's going to agree with you that life sucks, unless you really want to remain stuck in a low vibration. And if none of this is helping, it might be worth getting some professional help. I can help you find the root cause of the negative emotions and help you transform them in to positive ones. There's no need to stay down.
Process is a word that comes up a lot in healing circles. People talk about being in process or processing stuff, but what does it actually mean and how does it work? When something changes in our life - circumstances, or our feelings about something - we go through a period of transformation. Sometimes that's quite smooth and quick, but at other times it can be quite challenging. Take, for example, moving house. When moved from my last house to my present one, both of which I liked, there was a period where I felt uncomfortable in the new house. I hadn't yet got to the point where I felt at home there, but I'd already left the last place, so I couldn't return there either. Eventually I made the new place home and things became more comfortable, but the period of adjustment is what we know as the process. One thing that can come up during a process is uncertainty. That may be one of the reasons I found it hard to adjust my new home - it was all new and unfamiliar. However process happens with other types of change too. It might be that an organisation or group you're involved in wants to change something. The tendency is often to resist the change or take it as a personal criticism, but it might be that the change will result in something even better. We might want to resolve everything very quickly so we know where we stand, but we will probably have to go through a period of process. If a large number of people are involved then they will need to have their views heard and they may change their views during the process. The uncertainty can feel uncomfortable until a new equilibrium is found. In the same way, when we go through therapeutic healing, whether we do this by ourselves or with a professional therapist, we are also going through a change. We're changing from the person we were to the person we are becoming. Although this will be a positive change, the unknown element can make it feel a bit strange for a while. As unresolved issues come to the surface, we can feel uncomfortable. As we let go of the old, we can feel a bit empty. As we take a new step into the unknown, we can feel vulnerable. The key to all this is patience and trust. An awareness of what process is can make it easier for us. Rather than panicking that we're somehow going mad or that a decision feels wrong, we can ride it out calmly. It is also important to let others go through their own process. By recognising this, we can give them space and respect until they have found their new balance. So I wish you the best for your next process. Enjoy.