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 get asked this question a lot. In fact, it's probably the most common thing people say to me when I explain what I do. However they do not all rush to book appointments. So I was wondering why this was, if they felt they had a perceived need for my services. And the answers I came up with are here in this blog. Firstly, what do people mean when they say they're stressed all the time. Well often, they're just very busy people; sometimes they like living their lives at high speed, sometimes they don't. Sometimes there are areas of conflict in their lives; maybe they don't get along with someone they feel they have to spend time with. Sometimes people just don't like the life they've made for themselves; sometimes they believe that life has to be tough/painful/etc. Stress can take many different forms. A certain amount of stress can be useful to us. It can be the impetus that drives us forwards or protects us from harm or failure. They key is for any experience to contribute positively towards your life. So once I'd found out the nature of the stress, the next question I'd ask is, "what do you want the solution to be?" It is very important to understand our expectations. If you have conflict with someone and you want the solution to be that you are able to change that person in some way, you will be disappointed and I cannot help you. We cannot impose our will on another person with much success. Even if we do manage to control them, behaviour like that usually leads to resentment which is not an ideal situation. Far better to work on yourself and you'd be surprised what can change. You may feel stressed due to the amount you do, but you don't want to give any of it up. You like rushing around for 90% of the time. You just don't want to feel uncomfortable for the 10%. While it is possible to create more energy through better nutrition and by clearing the emotional baggage you carry around, I cannot make you super-human. Often we can get the most energy by learning when to rest. If you believe that life is meant to be hard or that in order to reach any goal, you must have pain and suffering, then that will be the life you create. Our beliefs are powerful and tend to define us. If you want to change something, it might involve changing a belief that you've been holding on to. The good news is that if you are open to making changes, then I can help you. There will always be a reason for why we are having our experiences. Even if we don't consciously know what they are, they can be revealed during a kinesiology session. Often we are carrying around unresolved baggage, for example, stuff from our past that we couldn't deal with properly at the time. Hanging onto this will determine how we react to events happening to us now. For example, if you find yourself in a situation that you hadn't wanted to be in, and it was unpleasant, you might project that similar experiences happening now will also be unpleasant and feel huge amounts of stress at the thought of having to do them. I struggled with travelling for many years, because of an unpleasant French exchange experience as a teenager. For seemingly no reason, I'd become almost paralysed at the though of having to go away anywhere. We also inherit certain beliefs which we then often hold dear. People sometimes feel that changing beliefs is a sign of weakness, but as we go through life, we learn more and it's healthy for our view of the world to change. If our beliefs were formed initially from another person, then it might be that they don't really suit us at all. For example, my father has a belief that financial security is one of the most important things in life, whereas although I have an inherited belief in financial security, it's not the most important thing for me. This is fortunate as the uncertainty of being self-employed requires me to step out into the unknown and trust. When we clear these blockages, we can make new choices and it's often surprising how easily and quickly things change. I've worked with clients who have had a totally different experience from a similar situation before and after a session. Even the way they talked about a stressor changed during a session itself. So if you'd like to make changes in your life, even if you have no idea of where the problems come from or how it will work, come along and see me - I can help you.
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.
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.
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.
On Sunday, I had a duvet day. I'd been in a show last week, so after a busy day on the Saturday and a very late night due to the after show party, I needed a rest. Now, normally, I'd probably have pushed through and tried to get on with the things piling up on my to-do list. But I thought I'd try a different tactic this time. This time, I embraced doing nothing. And it was wonderfully liberating. Now, I can hear you saying, "it's alright for you, I don't have the time to do nothing". And I realise I am in a fortunate state, that I can do this. But it does raise the issue of how important rest is. Firstly, we don't function at full par when we're over tired. Extreme tiredness is a form of stress for our bodies and stress has a negative effect on brain function. We make mistakes and things can either take longer, or be of a lower standard. Secondly, it's hard work being tired. Life is less pleasant and things we'd normally take in our stride, become difficult to cope with. We become over sensitive to things and can become emotional or irritable around others. And obviously, we need to mention that overriding desire to go back to bed. Thirdly, and less obviously, we can become hyper. Sometimes it's just adrenaline which is keeping us awake, or we can turn to caffeine and sugar. This will take its toll on our body, and if we keep this up too long it can lead to burnout. So, on Sunday, I snuggled down under the duvet, read copious amounts of Facebook and ended the day with a dose of Downton Abbey. And by Monday I was back to normal energy levels. So it paid off. Why not try it sometime?
What I'm referring to is the way that things are often at their worst just before the pressure lifts and we find calm again. I'm sure many of you can relate to a deadline, loitering in the distance, gradually approaching and finally looming up right in front of us. And if we've left the task to the last moment, we'll probably experience a large amount of stress. So we rush around, plough through the stress, and finally reach the deadline. Hopefully the task will be finished and done well, but either way, the pressure will now be off, there will be a lull after the storm of stress we've just been through. We may have lessons to learn from the experience - to be more organised in the future, that we are capable of things we didn't know we were before. But we also get to have a rest before the next "storm" brews. As with deadlines, so a similar thing happens with emotional challenges. But often with them, we don't understand it in the same way. And also as with deadlines, we tend to have a series of emotional challenges or lessons throughout our lives, as this is the way we learn and grow. So, as this is set to continue, it might be useful if we understood the process a bit better. I started noticing this when I'd have huge periods of stress or feeling very low. Sometimes things would feel at rock bottom. I'd feel down but not know why. And I'd think "here we go again". Then after it had got about as bad as it could get and I'd spent a day in tears, suddenly I'd wake up and feel normal again. And although I was hugely relieved, I'd feel rather confused. I've often thought that it would be far easier if I could just deal with my emotional challenges before they become that stressful, but somehow it doesn't seem to work like that. And I believe this is because we tend to protect our past pain - rather too well. This is quite understandable: if we were hurt badly in our past (and this could have been when we were a very small, vulnerable child) and we've hidden that pain away because it was too difficult to deal with at the time, then it's reasonable that we don't want to revisit it now. Our memories of the pain are always stronger than our memories of the event. That's our protection mechanism. So it can take a lot of discomfort before we access it and release it, which we finally do at the end of the storm. So next time you feel a storm, take consolation from the likelihood that once you've resolved the current emotional challenge, you will find calm again.
Are you a worrier? Or are you close to someone who worries about you? Are you familiar with people who have to know you're OK by asking you to check in: "Phone me when you get there". My mother was one of those. When I first left home, she'd request a check in after any long car journey I made. It always slightly confused me because I'd been living away from home for quite a while so there was a lot of stuff I'd do, which Mum wouldn't be aware of. So why this sudden need to know where I was when I got into a car? In the end, in order to become a bona fide independent adult, I managed to break this habit of hers, but it did get me thinking. Why do we worry about people in normal situations? It's not something I've really done. I assume people will be OK unless I have a good reason to feel otherwise. Those who do the worrying will tell you it's because they care and it's a loving thing to do for someone. And if someone is happy to text or call when they arrive at a situation, then so be it. But one day, I forgot to call my mother. I just got sidetracked by life, no big deal. But when I finally did call, all hell broke loose; it was out of character for me not to call, so she'd assumed the worst. I think she may have even called the police or been just about to. Now, it seems to me to be a fear based response, there's some kind of fear about the other person's safety that no amount of being careful is going to remove. And maybe there's also a lack of trust in their ability to "be OK". Recently, someone new in my life asked me to text when I got home and I had to remind him that I been successfully getting myself home for the last 20 years with a 100% success rate. So does this worrying actually do us any good? Well the incident when I forgot to phone home clearly didn't do my mother any good. She had a traumatic evening stressing over all the terrible things that might have befallen her daughter. None of it did me any good because I had to check in whenever I went anywhere, which was a real hassle before we all had mobile phones. I also felt that it was being assumed that I couldn't look after myself. So what is the alternative? Well, obviously not to worry. But that's probably like saying to a chocoholic, just don't have a choc bar. So to make it easier, try asking yourself how likely it is that the worst case scenario is going to happen. Also, consider that most of us carry mobile phones these days, so we can call for help pretty easily if something does go wrong. And finally, note that we cannot change the outcome by worrying about someone. If they're going to be OK, then it's pointless to worry, and if they're not going to be OK, it's actually equally pointless to worry. Worry itself is a thought process not an action process. And if this still doesn't help curb your worry tendencies, ask an angel to protect them and let it go.
Over the last few days, I've been feeling that something isn't right. But as often happens with me, I haven't been able to put my finger on what. Symptoms have included irratability and slight discontentment with no obvious cause. My life is going well and I'm happy, so what has been going on? As is usual for me, I've assumed there is something rather deep from my past which is "coming up" and therefore have decided this is another great opportunity to clear some past stress in order to align my life with my current wishes and purpose. In the past when this happened, I'd stress out, I'd panic, I'd beat myself up (metaphorically) and even end up depressed, but these days I'm getting more familiar with the process. Here are 3 steps which help me go through this process in a safe way. Step one - breathe. Breath is our life force and the easiest way to free up blocked life energy is to breathe. So when I feel fearful or low or uncomfortable with any emotion, I focus on it and breathe deeply and slowly until the intensity passes. Step two - identify the feelings. It's very easy to say "I feel crap" but it's much more useful to be able to say "I feel frustrated" or "I feel irritated". As the process unfurls, these emotions will change, but I've found that honoring them and accepting them without understanding why I'm feeling them seems to be really important. Step three - notice the thoughts which run through our mind. Eventually I find myself thinking something which clearly doesn't serve me or agree with my conscious awareness. Things like "I don't deserve this" or "I'm no good" are common examples. In my past, I'd go along wtih them and spiral ever more downwards, but nowadays I sit up and take note. I see them as an outdated belief and and an opportunity for change. Kinesiology is a great tool for changing belief systems and I'm lucky enough to be able to work on myself, so I sat down today and did a balance on myself. Now with greater understanding and cleared stress, I'm continuing my day. And I haven't snapped at anything since then.