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 such a nasty piece of work. She 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. Because she was just a misguided part of me who actually thought she was helping. And suppressing her just made her scream louder ...
So when I actually started listening to her, we worked it out in about 5 minutes! And when she came over to my side, an electric shock went through my entire body as she gave me 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.
And I remember bursting 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.
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. Now this was a real shock. My vision was wider. Before I would not have noticed them. Now I did. It was like my eyes had been 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 feel free of the burden they are carrying. To find peace. Mine and those of my clients. I no longer need help to do this work for myself, because like many things, it's easy when you know how. When you've experienced it once, you can practice it and then eventually do it quickly and easily. The mind and body remember.
It's my mission to share this with the world and prevent the kind of suffering I lived with for decades. So I'm creating a mind training program where you'll learn how to do this kind of stuff for yourself (and much, much more!). So if you want to find a new personal freedom and energy that you'd forgotten was possible, sign up for my newsletter here and you'll get a special discount when I launch.
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. Maybe then you could welcome them. Maybe even invite them home for tea. To take a load off and rest a while.
I'm just putting the kettle on ...
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 even self-esteem. understandingcompassion.com/articles/clutter-is-a-trigger-of-stress-and-anxiety-psychologists-say/
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 mental feeling - maybe a recurring, 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
My mum used to collect four-leafed clovers. Whenever she found one, she'd press it in a book between sheets of tissue paper. She suffered with chronic illness and depression so, as a kid, I'd spend hours looking in the grass around our home, just so I could take one to her and bring a smile to her face for a moment. And I remember wondering why those leaves never seemed to work their lucky magic for her.
Some of my clients use the "luck" word. Whenever something "good" happens they say they were "lucky" and it can take some deep mindset change to realise they actually deserve the rewards for all the hard work they've put into their lives. But, of course, if something "bad" happens, then it's always their fault. Luck has done a great PR job on itself, taking all the glory and none of the blame!
I don't believe in luck. There! I said it again and nothing "bad" happened. Nor will it. Because I know I make my own luck.
Luck, like confidence, is not something I have, it's something I do.
The really meaningful stuff in my life only comes from putting in the effort and making things happen. If stuff comes too easily, it tends to leave easily too. If I get a windfall of unexpected money, then there's always an unforeseen bill to take that money away again soon after. I have to work for the stuff that stays around. The worthwhile things.
I do believe when I'm making an effort and I'm on the right road for me, then I become "lucky." Things just seem to go my way. Like all the traffic lights turning green as I approach. I'm in this amazing "flow" state where life is beside me, cheering me, helping me.
I use the feeling of everything going well as a compass ... a litmus test for whether I'm doing the "right" thing in my life.
Because whenever I stray from that road, making well-meaning effort in the wrong direction, I become "unlucky" and misfortune seems to follow me around. It's painful. And it lasts.
Of course, even when I'm on the right road, I'll go through hard times. But there's always something important I really needed to learn, when I look back. And those hard times are life's way of testing me - it's like I have to pass regular tests to stay on that road. To get what I want.
So when those testing times come, I trust they'll not last long. If they do, I listen to my intuitive inner self, because I've made a wrong turn somewhere. And I make a change to get back on track.
When I was sorting out mum's things after she died, I found that book stuffed full of beautifully preserved, four-leafed clovers. I didn't keep them - partly because I felt saddened by them and mainly because I didn't need them.
My compass is set and I'm taking a baby step forward each day ...
(Image by meineresterampe-26089, Pixabay)
Remember I posted before about how stress is actually good for us, as long as we really, truly believe it?
And that doing a strong pose like "Wonder Woman" or Superman" (possibly somewhere private!) can help us beat anxiety?
And now, this research says if we tell ourselves we're excited when stressed, rather than try to calm ourselves down, we get good stress instead of the damaging kind!
I had the opportunity to test this out earlier this week ....
I was driving the digger and we were using it to lift the (nearly 2 ton) concrete septic tank into a 2 metre deep hole we'd dug in the ground. We had one shot at this. If the lifting chains broke, the tank would smash to the ground and break. If the digger couldn't take the load, the digger would break as well.
All costly problems.
I was stressed.
So I had a chat with myself and decided to see it as an exciting challenge instead - I'd never done this before and probably would never have the chance to do it again. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event for me.
So I went for it.
And it went in like a dream. Yay! Touchdown! Never touched the sides.
AND I was able to ENJOY doing it, instead of feeling that old, crappy stomach-churning, tears-pricking-the-eyes vibe.....
Yep! Cool trick! This one's a keeper .....
I was chatting with friends last night about how we find it so hard to get a decent photo that captures the real "us" for our websites. We agreed that a great photographer would probably be helpful, but also that it's about relaxing for the shot. Properly. Because if we're the slightest bit stressed, our lips go thin and our face gets tense. And the eyes can't hide how we're feeling inside.
We decided we were obsessing a little too much about our flaws. And we needed to just be ourselves and people will approve or not. To not stress about what we can't control. So we're keeping it real and not photoshopping our photos or posting pictures from decades ago. Not yet anyway!
And it got me thinking about how we judge ourselves so harshly. And how it's worse for people whose whole identity is strongly linked to their external beauty or an image they want to project. Because this can become a huge source of stress. Trying to get that perfect photo ...
Me, I never got that obsessed with beauty. Quite the opposite. When I was young, I thought I was ugly, because no one ever complimented me on my looks. Not like they did my pretty, younger sister. They would compliment me on my brain, my grades, my achievements. So I became obsessed with achievement. And being perfect at it. Yeah, right there was the start of my stress.
I know it's not helpful to praise kids for their looks. That's not my issue. My problem was I'd decided I was ugly and so I didn't feel OK with being "me" as I grew up. I'd made a false assumption and created a severe lack of self-esteem and confidence because of it.
And now, as I look back at those old photos of little me, I can see I was actually rather cute! I just wish I'd known that. Way back when. A lot of wasted time hiding in the background, feeling ashamed of being me ...
Nowadays I'm OK. More than OK. My work with NLP has released those old, limiting beliefs and, with them, the shame and the stress.
So now I appreciate my gifts. I love my big eyes, even if they're a little more lined than before. And by being OK with me as I am has brought out this new energy. A glow that is so much more powerful that physical beauty. Getting old is still a luxury on our planet and so I plan to enjoy the journey. And love my body for getting me every step of the way.
Even if I do wonder at times who that person is who looks back at me from the mirror :)
It is what it is.
I came across a video by Dove about women and their self-perception that expands on my point perfectly. Even though we all put ourselves down about our looks, others will always see us in a better light.
A forensic artist draws a woman's face as she describes it (she's hidden behind a screen). Then a stranger describes her to the same artist, who draws a second image. The woman then gets to see both drawings side by side. The results are quite moving.
Watch the 3 min video here.
Our brains are wired to look for the negative (focusing on and amplifying the things we believe are "bad" and ignoring the "good"). So we all need to work doubly hard to be notice beauty in the world. And in ourselves.
The only answer is to accept ourselves, warts and all. Because others don't really notice our warts anyway. They're focusing on their own warts. Their own dramas.
And when people spend time with us, what they really see is the person inside. Our real beauty within. And true friends really love us for it. And reflect it back.
I also found this 2 minute video showing an alternative view, this time with men. I love the irreverent way that people take emotionally-laden stuff and just turn it on its head.
And it reminds me that I, too, can choose to take myself a little less seriously ....
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 find it amazing how when we put words in a certain order, they can become something truly beautiful and inspiring.
Here are a few that spoke to me recently:
"The soul is dyed the colour of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become."
- Heraclitus (Greek philosopher, circa 535 – 475 BC)
Nope - can't follow that......
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......
"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."
Sometimes I like to think that, one day, I'm going to change the world.
Make a great contribution somehow.
But stress loves ambition. So maybe the only thing I need to do is grow a little each day.
To become more of who I need to be, in order to serve who I need to serve.
To change the world of each client, one by one ..
And that will be enough ..
"... outstanding in the field of self-help ..."
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