I'll never forget the day I befriended my inner critic. It was one of the breakthrough moments of my NLP training a few years ago.
She was a nasty piece of work. Brought me down constantly with her bitchy remarks and deeply gloomy attitude. Nothing was ever good enough for her. Especially me.
I'd been trying to shut her up for years, but she wasn't having it. I'd been doing it all wrong. I didn't realise she was just a misguided part of me who actually thought she was helping. So suppressing her just made her scream louder ...
And when I actually started listening to her, we worked it out in about 5 minutes! And when she came over to my side, I burst into racking sobs and tears of relief (hers I think) as she relaxed and kinda dissolved into me. No longer separate, frustrated and alone. She was home. And just glad to kick her shoes off, let go and rest.
Then an electric shock went through my entire body as I got back all the energy she'd been using to keep her tirade going. Feeling all this new power left me shaky and spacey for the rest of the day.
Seriously life-changing stuff!
That evening as I walked back along the seafront at Brighton, all the colours seemed brighter and the sounds around me happier. People smiled at me for no reason. I think all that positive energy was catching.
And as I climbed the stairs to the apartment where I was staying, I suddenly noticed I could see both of the walls. This was a shock. My vision was wider. Before I would not have noticed them. Now I did. My eyes had been truly opened.
Weird? Yes! But good weird.
We all have parts of us we try to suppress. But it never works. The trick is to reach out to them and make them feel safe enough to come back home. Some parts are adults. Some are children. Some come readily. Some will negotiate. Some will take a lot of time to come around.
But they all have the same thing in common. They need to feel accepted for the job they're trying to do. Because they are all trying their best for us. Just often it's not in helpful or healthy ways.
Since that day I have helped many parts to come home. To find peace. Parts of mine and parts of my clients. It's always a powerful experience. Although no one has ever reacted quite like I did that day. She was a strong one, that's for sure.
In part 2 of this post, I'll write about how I felt a part of me die inside when my Mum died 16 years ago. And how I finally recovered that part of me just this morning ...
And in the meantime, maybe you could consider what parts you might be rejecting or ignoring. Perhaps you could take a moment to chat with them. Invite them home for tea maybe. To take a load off and rest a while. Together once more.
Photo: John Hain, Pixabay
You know that thing we do, when we keep something we don't really need, just in case it comes in handy? Or when we keep too much stuff through guilt or duty or sentimentality?
And we do this over and over again. Until the attic gets full of forgotten stuff in boxes.
Maybe we'd love to convert the attic into an office or an art studio, but we don't want to go up there, because it's dark, dirty and musty. And everything's covered with cobwebs. And maybe the mice have moved in ...
So we shelve that passion. And we add more stuff in boxes, as we try to ignore the tension it creates inside.
I find physical clutter extremely stressful. And I'm not alone - here's an article about the link between clutter and stress and self-esteem.
I have to keep things very simple (and easy to clean). Just enough furniture to be comfortable and a few ornamental things. And everything must be something I love. Including my clothes. This cool article shows the simple steps I use to declutter my home (the Marie Kondo way).
It's the same for anything new I consider buying. I tune into it before I buy and if it doesn't give me a happy, relaxed feeling then it's a no.
And what about our relationships? How many do we tolerate through duty or fear of confrontation, rather than letting the relationship go or establishing better, healthier boundaries? This article has some great tips about managing our intimate relationships ...
And the ultimate stress is a cluttered mind. Maybe it's our beliefs, our limitations, our programming, our feelings ... with us 24/7. Making life so much harder than it needs to be.
So how do you know you're cluttered on the inside? Do you get a stressful thought or an uncomfortable emotion? Or something more physical? Maybe a pain, an ache or even an illness?
Mindfully tuning into that intuitive, inner voice is a skill that can come amazingly quickly with regular practice. And it's the vital first step to decluttering yourself.
You might need help to tune in at first. Because, although your subconscious is very strong, its voice can be barely a whisper. Or it may like to communicate with images or memories instead. Or there could be something blocking the transmission. Or your subconscious may have given up trying to talk altogether.
But as soon as your subconscious mind feels heard, it turns off the alarm bell. The mind clutter and pain can disappear like magic and you get a beautifully clean, roomy attic back.
Now, I wonder, what could YOU do with all that space ... ?
Image by Levelord on Pixabay
To calm down a stressed out mind, one brilliant thing I recommend to my clients is "The Tahiti Pose".
It resets the stress response and brings you back to a calm, relaxed state in just a few minutes. You can do it anytime and it really helps with sleep just before bed ...
They say blood can get "stuck" in your big leg muscles when you're stressed because your body's preparing you to run for your life. So to get a more balanced blood supply to your brain, you need to help your leg muscles let go, so more blood can drain back to your head.
All you do is lie on your back on the floor and lift up your legs to get your hips quite close to a soft chair or bed. Put a cushion or folded blanket under your hips so your upper legs are not quite straight up (keep a slight angle to ensure circulation is maximised). Then you bend your lower legs to rest on the top. So you make a sort of "step" shape. See the photo here. Experiment with putting your arms out level with your shoulders on the floor or keeping them by your side. Right now I prefer my arms out ...
Your face will probably feel tight for a while and when that tight feeling goes, you're done! Usually 15 minutes or so does the trick. Extra points for a stomach rumble which shows you've really nailed the rest/digest relaxed state.
The Tahiti pose is a simpler version of a yoga pose (photo here) where you put your legs up against a wall. if you prefer this one, remember to ensure your legs are not totally straight up by putting a cushion under your hips to lift them slightly. Or just keep your hips away slightly from the wall.
And if you don't have the opportunity to lie down, then do something more vigorous with your body - like a few star jumps or running up some stairs. This can reset your stress response and keep it calm for hours. Perfect for when you know stressful times are gonna hit soon.
Maybe you've already tried some of these? Or maybe you know a variation?
Do please share in the comments so we can all benefit ...
Image by MabelAmber-1377835, still incognito - Pixabay
Today is the UN's International Day of Happiness.
And to find out how happy you may be, based on where you live, here's the UN's 2018 report on World Happiness or a simpler overview of the happiest countries in the world here.
But wherever you live, why not make time for a smile right now? Yes. Go on. Smile.
Just for yourself. Because smiling lowers stress and simply makes us happier.
It's more comfortable to smile than frown. So give your face muscles a break.
And maybe that smile could turn into a laugh ...
Laughing tells your mind and body to relax, because you breathe out for longer than you breathe in. Remember those belly-aching laughs that make you feel you're gonna pass out until you finally gasp the air back in again? What better way to turn on your "rest and digest" hormones?
And then why not make someone else smile? Say something heart-warming or funny or simply smile at them. For no other reason than just to brighten their day ...
Smiling is contagious (see this brilliantly funny poem), so let's infect the world!
It takes patience to learn to listen to our wiser, true self.
To tune out the chatter in our heads.
But in my experience, once we've learned how to make that connection, we never lose it.
I get the strongest sense of my "self" in my gut - right in the solar plexus. I noticed in a yoga session that I could sense the whole of my body and my connection to everything from this place. Quite the awakening for this sensible scientist who can numb herself by living totally in her head!
And mindfulness helps me be even more aware of the messages my mind and body are sending and receiving.
All I need to do is stop and listen.
My work with NLP and hypnosis together with meditation has made me so mindful of that voice of "self" from my deeper, subconscious self. It started as a whisper, but comes through much more clearly nowadays.
And it's not so much a voice, really.
More of a knowing.
Very different from Ron, my husband. His subconscious shows him words on a screen in his mind. We all have our own way of tuning in.
I don't stress about a dedicated morning meditation practice. Kinda misses the point if I do! Sometimes I'm tired or I just can't be arsed ... so just a few deep breaths and a quick tune into my body will do.
I know it's good to do a 20 minute meditation at least twice a week (they say 12 minutes is the minimum for building your stress control muscle), but I also know even 5 minutes of focus has an effect. Anything's better than nothing ... but sometimes I do nothing! And that's OK too.
I find even a weekly meditation class is enough for most people to get incredible benefits - especially that moment of pause that starts to magically appear before you automatically react. Then you can decide if you need to step in and take the wheel or relax and just enjoy being on autopilot. To choose how you behave. How you feel. Self mastery in the making. And all for just a few minutes a week ...
As long as you do something regularly, it seems there's always some benefit.
And due to my practice over the years, I'm very mindful of what my head, heart and gut are saying to me throughout the day. And I'm tuned in to how relaxed I am in my body - especially my neck (where so much tension can lie for me).
And I've noticed that sometimes it's not in my gut, but a sudden, slight tension in my left calf muscle that tells me something wrong.
I look for that feeling every time I weigh up decisions or want to know what I really feel about something. I just think of the option or outcome and if my calf tenses up then it's a no! Cool huh?
It's simple, but it takes practice to tune in. To just stop for a moment. To listen and to learn.
And to earn that extra time before I react. That choice. Priceless.
I was just listening to "A Walk in the park" by The Nick Straker band on the radio.
Yeah, I know it's not the height of musical sophistication but, WOW! In a microsecond I was transported right back to the bedroom that I grew up in. I was 14, lying on my bed and taping my favourite songs on a cassette recorder from the top 40 on Radio One, as I did every Sunday night.
Just push "play" and "record". And once I had it recorded, I would write out the words so I could sing along :)
It was wonderful - I surprised myself, because I still knew the words. My mind just presented them to me, once sentence at a time, as I sang along. I didn't need to think or force it. I just sang and the words were there.
It always amazes me how our subconscious mind stores every tiny little detail of our lives. Even long before we thought our memory began. And unlocking these hidden memories are often the key to releasing our stress. To listen, learn and let them go.
A key to my stress release was to let go of some deep emotions surrounding my birth. Who knew that was in there? Consciously my first memory is at about 5 years old. Unconsciously I go way back.
Our whole life is all filed away deep in our mind. Just in case it becomes useful again.
And in there today, I discovered the words to an old favourite.
Singing along was such a simple pleasure. It's one of my most joyful ways to release stress. Singing (like humming or even gargling) activates the vagus nerve in the neck and lets our "rest and digest" hormones take over for a while.
I wonder how many other songs I've forgotten and would love to hear again? If only I knew what they were ...
I suppose I just need to keep listening, put myself out there and they will come :)
Back in July I posted about new research that found most stress we feel is not bad for us.
Yeah! Not at all!
The problem? This only works as long as we truly believe it.
It's the worrying about being stressed that actually narrows our arteries and causes our illnesses.
This is so amazing, I thought I'd mention it again and pass on this TED talk about it.
Before my training in self mastery, I found it impossible to change my stress response. And it was doubly hard to convince myself my stress wasn't bad for me. Because it FELT so bad back then.
It doesn't help either when someone tries to remind us the stress we're feeling is nothing to worry about. Calm down? Really?
Nope. Doesn't help at all.
But I know it IS possible to change. And now I choose to love the way my body prepares me to act when I think anxious thoughts.
It can be quite a revelation to watch myself when those wild stress hormones turn up.
We really shouldn't be so hard on them. They're only doing their job......
"... outstanding in the field of mindset change ..."
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