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Inspiration Null

adult1

I simply have not had any inspiration to blog.

Hmm.  Just reading that sentence back: I know that’s not even slightly true. I think perhaps I’ve had way too much inspiration… and maybe simply not the energy to use it. Ever feel that way?

I felt that way A LOT when I was “awakening”- my term (and others’) for disengaging the auto-pilot switch powering perceptions of what life was suppose to be. Until my 30’s, school, jobs, money, relationships were programmed as “what life is”, not as I see them now: optional tools for me to explore the expansive and textured facets and depths of life – a wholly more fulfilling existence!! As I awoke to a consciousness that how I was living my life did not match my instinctual feelings both about the intent of life and the gifts I was here to offer, well… it was simultaneously excruciating and intriguing; confusing… and CRYSTAL clear.

My “revival” was infectiously stimulating; I found books, I found teachers, I found my intuition: inspiration, inspiration, inspiration! And then I found: overwhelming exhaustion. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually. Physically. Tons of inspiration… and no energy to use it.

be-you-role6It’s a lifelong process, growing your YOU-ness. A zillion things contribute to each of our journeys… no right, no wrong: just real life requiring a series of “course-corrections” (as life-coach Nancy Levin so validatingly puts it). Gratefully, as I began to connect with my “self” during those highly transformative third-life years, I naturally gravitated towards people, perspectives and activities that literally fueled my spirit. And though it took some blind faith as I navigated a whole lot of new folks, the more time I spent in “like-mindedness”, the more the scales of endurance and joie-de-vivre balanced. I found the key to perpetual energy: my ME-ness.

So today, as I take a hard look at my I’d-rather-have-dental-surgery feelings re: “inspiration” and the many failed attempts at writing this blog, I finally hear the proverbial bell clang way, WAY loud, and the bell tolls for thee… er, me… oh whatever:

Could I be further awakening??

Ahhh…(ding ding ding) me thinks so!!!For Whom The Bell Tolls

Tired: check  
 Profound yet equal frustration with life and intrigue for life: check 
Feelings of confusion… but a sense of absolute clarity: check and check.

Yup. More awakening.

As mentioned in past posts, it’s now well over a year since my Mom passed. I had no idea how that experience would play out in my life.  You can read more here, but in brief: emotionally and spiritually, the passing of one of the people I love most dearly in this life was… light– if not actually: fulfilling! WHEW, eh?!  As time goes on, it’s been more clear that instead of the classic “pain” of loss (a pain which I absolutely have experienced in the past and so have good reference for), with Mom’s passing, I felt more of an energy drain. Listless… flat: limited highs and lows… and NO time at all for drama and bullshit.

Which… actually makes perfect sense, when you think about it: Mom’s love, hugs and love-yourself-core-3chats were a consistent, reliable fuel for my spirit since inception- and unconditional love fills you up.  Now, in the transition period since her loss, the needle drops below full: just enough to choke my energy lines and threaten a stall. Re-sourcing said fuel, after decades of simply satiating in the ever-present Mom-flow, requires a new and deeper awakening. Core deep. And though “deep” is a word often conjuring weighty feelings of seriousness or complication, here: it feels far-and-away more simple… and more peaceful. Because now, what I know from my life journey so far is that, as my AUXILIARY (and much valued) love-fuel lines fluctuate, my INHERENT ones are primed to do the job they could… should… and actually were doing all along – had I stilled more often and truly took awareness and ownership of my own power:
Drive life from the depth of my soul- beyond the clutter of reactionary, inauthentic “expectation”.
Own it.
Show it.
Live it.
And to no surprise, this totally fits my life’s overall experiential pattern:
the more depth i.e. ME-ness I concede, the simpler life is.

Ahhhh…. and the SIMPLICITY of life is INSPIRING beyond words! I suppose to really make that point, I should stop writing here. 

 

choice-consequenceBut I need to connect a few dots. There are life experiences whose only job is to get us to stop and check in with our values, priorities and actions. What are you here for… what do you want – how do you want to do it?? Death is a pretty overt pivotal experience for folks, but really, the impetus could present much more covertly: yelling at baristas, clutter, Candy-Crush marathons, keeping money you just found in the mall, resenting friends’ holiday pics or new homes, dreading Monday mornings – not to mention health flags like chronic backache, IBS… some think even cancers. […Or pain, anger, disillusionment in humanity from an election??*]

You are responsible for you.
READ ON:
 Could being pissed at a botched Starbucks order really be a CRITICAL life “pivot-point?
 And what’s TRULY the culprit for my lethargic ” lack of inspiration”…

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Fifty Shades of HSP

Too sensitive?

Are you feeling just a wee bit of empathy for that sad, lonely little pin? If so, chances are you’re HSP… and/or a marketer’s dream!!! Come on folks: it’s a PIN!  But if you’re like me: I had an immediate physical ‘sensory’ reaction.

[……. spawning an emotional backstory involving other pin-people that are greatly affecting Pokey’s life… and not for the better: he definitely needs a mentor!!]

And I’ll call my shrink: HE??!
Well, I can’t help it – and neither can you if this pic triggers your emotions in any way.

So many of you resonated with the posts on HSPs (highly sensitive person) and how it is biologically driven moreso than conditioning. Without a mainstream understanding of this, many of you – us – have felt “different”: flawed, lacking; confused by our heightened sensories; painfully suppressing emotions; labelled introverted, shy, weak, wimpy or the incredibly condescending: OH, YOU’RE JUST TOO SENSITIVE!!! You just might be über sensitive, but that’s your calling-card: part of your identity to develop and use to your greatest life.

What’s really interesting, both from blog comments and conversations I have in general, is the number of folks that need their self-image and life to fit into a perfectly defined BOX with the duly assigned bow. Case in point, this comment in an email “Kelly2.0” wrote me:

“I thought I was right-brain, based on the criteria,  
but I’m definitely a list-maker and a planner– so I guess I’m not.”

And my client, let’s call him “Jack”, a very social, life-of-the-party type of guy, was puzzled – almost offended, when I suggested he may want to read a bit about ‘introvert’ tendencies, snickering disdainfully…

Me. Introvert. I don’t think so”.

Rather, Jack was convinced he had depression: because he regularly locked himself in his room for dark, quiet solace- often for days. Both of these folks had clearly misinformed ideas, and were looking at “definitions” far too linearly.

I'm with stupidI want to make it perfectly clear: all of these human “labels” such as introvert, extrovert, HSP, left-brain, right-brain ARE ALL JUST GUIDANCE – clues if you will, to help us understand ourselves a little better; to know that most of our tendencies are normal, and that there are other folks out there (like: MILLIONS!) with idiosyncrasies just as “crazy” as yours and mine! Naming characteristics and behaviours and “grouping” them simply makes it easier to communicate; and greatly benefits professionals to make some relative sense as they’re doing their jobs.  Just like rules: these “categorizations” too, are meant to be broken.

HUMAN BEINGS are on a gray-scale pretty much in every single thing about us: you might have more of something, less of something else; fit clearly into one group description, or fall flatly in the middle of two. I might be a “woman”, but I do not have the same DNA as any other woman on the planet Unique blends(if my parents can be trusted!). You haven’t the foggiest if I was born with a uterus; and my nether parts may biologically include a penis: am I still a woman? My assertiveness is chronically attributed to being a ‘fiery redhead’: there must be something pretty potent in Feria #74 – I’m a brunette! I have categorically green eyes, but their custom tones reflect colours from hazel to blue, depending on my shirt. (Sigh, my bio-family has called me blue-eyed my whole life!). I’m right-handed: but waterski and snowboard “goofy”*. I have 7,499,488,203 freckles. It’s summer: that could change.  My chromosomes put me in the general category of “female”, but as any other “female”: my own customized version. “Sensory” and sensitivity falls equally in the ingredients list of “being human”: how it functions and manifests for each of us will be on a gray-scale too.

As with everything in life, the golden ticket (as stated in the last HSP blog) is simply: AWARENESS. The more you know yourself, identify and respect your different shades, the better you can choose and navigate your path. Knowing you’ll never exceed 5’1″ will most likely save time when considering an NBA career (…and heartache… and your knees).  Knowing you feel pain and empathy for a pin, will most likely save time when considering a nursing** career (…and anxiety… and pharmaceuticals).  Having an understanding of what might be biological, what might be learned, and how to manage and monopolize on both gives tremendous personal power.

50+ Shades of You

READ ON: Kelly2.0 and “Jack’s” – AND MY
misunderstandings about “sensitivities”

 

Speaking of monopolizing on sensitivity…
Check out Ariana Page Russell and her “Skin Art”:
Use your sensitivities!!“My skin is very sensitive and I blush easily. I have dermatographia, a condition in which one’s immune system releases excessive amounts of histamine, causing capillaries to dilate and welts to appear (lasting about thirty minutes) when the hypersensitive skin’s surface is lightly scratched. This allows me to painlessly draw on my skin with just enough time to photograph the results. Even though I can direct this ephemeral response by drawing on it, the reaction is involuntary, much like the uncontrollable nature of a blush.”
Sensitivity at its most literal… but uniquely Ariana’s to use!

Sister Act II

life plotIn my reinterpretation of Sister Act (last post), I began a tale of how nature and nurture are so intricately co-dependent that without a secure understanding that you are free to both style your own destiny and to create a supporting tribe, a life-story can transition from fairytale to horror flick with or without the assistance of scary monsters.  A life can go off the reel simply by being uninspired: no need for tragedies or down-and-out tales.

I have to admit, it was difficult writing the Sister Act post – not because of vulnerability, but because I could have written a BOOK with all that I have to say about cultural conditioning, the squelching of authenticity societally, and the impact both of these had on my own life. I’ve pared things down in these Sister Act posts and they’re really just overviews of my experiences, and because of that, they don’t go quite to the level of vulnerability that I believe is crucial to shift the fear of folks just being their unmasked selves. Really, there shouldn’t even be a need to attach a concept such as “vulnerability” when sharing life experiences: being me as me, being you as you is NORMAL. Unfortunately though, we are still buying into the crap that we should conform to a predictable sameness: a boring, colourless, inspirationless, stifling, robotic sameness rather than innate, primal, compelling, exhilarating, gratified uniqueness. Being “vulnerable” i.e. the real me with you, is one way I can personally contribute to the fabulous ripple-effect that my encouragement of you to be you will naturally bring. I commit to share as intimately as need be in future posts as I break my personal movie out into smaller soundbites.

Sister Act 2I don’t know exactly what genre Sister Act II falls into: in the 20 year span from the point where I thought I had an absolutely sure vision of where my life was going, to the point of WTF and surrendering to my spirit rather than trying to direct it, my bio-pic runs the gamut of themes: family film, chick-flick, mystery, horror… yikes, crime too; I’ve lived more than one medical drama, a war (with myself) story, definitely some comedy, and lots of educational content. While more than a few of those twenty years felt completely fictitious- often even animated (like a representation of me but not me), I think I’ll summarize this particular story arc as “action-adventure”: though oftentimes in the moment, I really didn’t appreciate the adventure. (I sure hope it is a period-piece.)

What those 20 years basically brought to light is…  that when you are not consciously living-  living with that kid-in-your-heart, live-it-out-loud authenticity, with a truly supporting tribal-cast, the universe defaults to become your primary tribesman, offering up whatever scheme it needs to get you to check in with yourself. Act One of my universal butt-kicks was during that period referred to in the last post at age 16, when, ultra-bored, I began lobbying my parents to change schools: sensing inherently that I needed a new tribe. Having elicited no concern from my parents, I abandoned any further action. SMASH!!! The universe brought me action…. in the form of a semi-serious car accident, which in complete sarcasm, could have wiped out half of my ill-fitting tribe: my then girl-posse was in the car with me… I was driving. It was a strange night: the girlfriends and I were unusually quiet, not much traffic, I turned left, we were broadsided at 50km/hr., spinning into a merciless pole.  Whew that my broken nose was the only visible casualty (besides my temporary insanity: “maybe Mom won’t notice the dent” I told my first-on-the-scene big bro!) My posse got trips to Hawaii via the insurance money; I got a decades-long limiting belief. My parents never spoke of the accident to me past that night: apparently my 4th-child, sibling-induced pattern of being so competent and not needing much direction led each of my parents to interpret my quiet calm as “handling things well”: no need to rock the boat. You okay?In reality I was in a state of shock, feeling 3-yr-old-little-girl-fear, desperately needing someone to come hold me and give me words to understand the startling randomness of life and the perceived personal failure that the accident provoked; and, just to have someplace safe to cry. Reminiscent of my actual age three when my Mom “disappeared”, and, with no conversation around it everyone just got on with things (per last post, she was in hospital for an extended period due to a car crash), this incident simply reinforced my belief that when life is confusing: you just figure things out by yourself… and get on with it.

Act Two… I continued on my conveyor-belt life: college… first job… up the ladder to second job… next rung third job. I had new players in my life but they were typecast per the uninspiring others, so trusty old universe stepped in again:

Read More: Stalkers, FBI… say whaat???  And  “Why Your Life Sucks!” (page 2)

Can I Be More Thoughtless?

Just when I’m ready to take a break from my series of thought-full blogs, here comes Mr. Dyer again with a whopper…

dyer kaleid
“You might think that you have no control over the thoughts that keep popping in your head, but consider this radical idea:

Your thoughts are not located in your head.”
-Wayne Dyer

 

Say whaaa??? Take a minute and let this one resonate. Your thoughts are not located in your head.

I gotta say: immediately that idea made it easier to identify with the concept that “you are not your thoughts”; it reinforces thoughts as being external to “me” – thus not me. Personally, I’m doing pretty good putting this whole thought thing into a perspective that enhances my life:

  • I believe thoughts are made up, not reality
  • I believe I can control and manage thoughts
  • I believe that what I think about puts focus and attention on the subject of those thoughts thus narrowing what I see/feel, and bringing more of what supports my thoughts – positive or negative, into my realm (i.e. thoughts create reality)
  • I believe the quality of my thoughts create my future – can’t fix a problem with the same old thoughts that created it!
  • I KNOW of the existence and power of subconscious thought: through first-hand experience… and believe it can both manipulate us and us it!! (p.s. Mr. Dyer calls it “habitual thought” – might be easier to comprehend!)
  • I meditate, so I know I can stop thought and have a voiceless, empty head  (I can hear my brothers going: duh!!!) 

I follow a lot of neuroscience and have great insight into the theories and science-based realities of mind/thought/brain connection… but I gotta say, I’ve never really contemplated that if thought is not located in my head, then… where’s it hangin’??

I went back to Wayne Dyer to elaborate on this statement, and this is what followed, excerpted from his book Excuses Begone*:

“Thought is an energy system that isn’t found anywhere in the physical world.
The universe itself and everything in it is both mental and spiritual in nature.”

soul energy

Now this statement, relative to Wayne’s work and other current research in the quantum physics world, is actually a fairly simple, science-not-religious based concept.  But if you’re not up on his work or haven’t explored the world of spirituality and/or consciousness much, it can easily be lost and abstract: “huh what… energy system… mental/spiritual in nature, ya, whatever!!”
As per previous posts, I love how all of the old “woo-woo” concepts of the past are being validated by the new science, and therefore, I encourage you to take the time to read some of Wayne’s books. (I don’t even think they are close to woo-woo… however some ideas can seem a little heady based on the narrow-minded education, religion stereotypes/biases, and societal fear of “philosophy” that most of us westerners have been raised with!). Maybe supplement it with a scan of Bruce Lipton’s Biology of Belief, or Rick Hanson’s Buddha’s Brain, if you want a quick dive into the new neuro/consciousness research that helps to put it in perspective: “you” vs. your thoughts vs. your brain. (A-ha, seeit’s not all your fault – it’s YOU’s fault!!).

In the meantime, just lay down, tune into your body and really get a feel for your thoughts and the concept that they are not simply a nattering” mini-me” in your head, but rather, may be outside of you altogether: part of a much bigger picture.

Okay. Cool. I think that’s wrapped up some final insight on “thought”: I feel good to stop this blog series here.  So… what subject to tackle in my next blog?? I turn on my fave place for inspiration: Hayhouse Radio. Awesome!… it’s Joe Dispenza on the air – love me some Joe Dispenza! Dr. Joe is a chiropractor who diversified into neurology and wellness; most recognized from being featured in the award-winning film What the BLEEP Do We Know!? Dr. Joe is driven by the conviction that each one of us has the potential for greatness, and unlimited abilities; he always offers up some cool new perspective every time I hear him talk. Let’s take a listen to which of his many titillating interests Dr. Joe’s on about today:  meditation… corporate coaching… nurturing creativity?? Oh, you gotta be kidding me: PLACEBO effects i.e. the power of THOUGHT!! Now, it’s not really so far-fetched a topic for Dr. Joe, given his extensive research on brain mapping, holistic/integrative medicine and epigentics: it’s just… ironic!

And sorry… but now I’ve gotta go here: Dr. Joe  has just released his book You Are the Placebo, which “explores the history, the science, and the practical applications of the so-called placebo effect”¹.  (So-called, because other cultures and progressive scientists, thinkers and doctors have known for DECADES that thoughts can change and heal a life, yet mainstream folks most often think of “placebo effect” as flushing out hypochondriacs and annoying Pollyannas.)  The book might sound a little predictable – BUT IT’S NOT!! There is a whole new, juicy meal of fresh ideas around thought – in a perspective I’ve never heard before.  Dr. Joe speaks and writes for the common-man, and this book might give you a whole new insight on just WHY you can’t seem to master and change your thoughts (even though you’ve had all of this great information on OtherWise to provoke you!!).master-thought Interesting to me in particular, is the identification of thought patterns as an “addictive” behaviour: we get use to and crave the neurotransmitters that we have created through our thought patterns – good or bad. That’s some major insight, if you parallel it to a smoker or cocaine addict trying to stop! Not only that, but our trek down the same brain path over and over and over with a repetitive thought (60,000 thoughts a day, 90% of them repeat!)² carves a little river (figuratively), perfectly formed to our comfort zone — and a complete bugger to dam up! New behaviours need to stack up enough momentum to divert the flow of our comfy dysfunction and forge healthy new tributaries: thought by thought by de-toxing thought!!

Oh… where we could go with all of this!!  But alas, I will move on to a new topic next blog.  It wouldn’t be very thoughtful of me to leave you without a link to Dr. Joe’s Hayhouse interview with Diane Ray re: the above referred-to placebo book; Diane represents newbies to the subject, so it’s an easy interview to follow! There’s an interesting comment challenging:  we are not our thoughts…; and also, if thoughts don’t live in our head, then too: where do feelings live???  Here’s a bonus link to a lecture by Dr. Joe… and here’s one final article specifically on thought – for now! Fear not: thought will traverse through a lot of future topics: it’s a nucleus to a contented life!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* see Quotes Archive 2014 for a list of the most common excuses!!
¹quoted from www.drjoedispenza.com
²According to the research of Dr. Fred Luskin of Stanford University.

worry chairFour Tips to Reduce Worry and Rumination

How to break the “habit” of unhelpful worry and rumination
by Edward R. Watkins

Rumination and worry– repeated dwelling on feelings, problems, and difficulties – has been found to be a significant “process” causing and maintaining depression. Many people with depression report that they brood repetitively on their symptoms of depression (e.g. “Why can’t I get better?”), on their perceived inadequacies (e.g. “Why can’t I do this?” “Why do I always get things wrong?”), and on past upsetting events and losses. We know from long-term follow-ups and from experimental studies that rumination exacerbates negative mood and predicts increases in depression.

Next: How To Stop Ruminating (page 2)

Depression Cafe

Embrace change.Life, please…
with a side order of dysthymia…

This week’s post outlined a typical path for learning about what happens when you have a diagnosis of depression.  As way of subsidy, here is a menu of TYPES of depression diagnoses; ranging from sneakily disruptive to life-threatening, diagnosing and dealing is your quickest and best route to living your best life.
Following is an edited snippet that proved to be quite thorough and user-friendly (based on the DSM IV, the “bible” of mental health diagnostics) from one of the hundreds of good sites available to explore this issue.

This post and links are for general information only; your mental health practitioner has the latest “official” diagnostic info relative to your interests. 

3 Common Types of Depression
and 3 Less Common

Here is a quick list of the 6 different types of depression:

  1. Major depressive disorder
  2. Manic depression (bipolar disorder)
  3. Dysthymic depression
  4. Endogenous depression
  5. Situational depression
  6. Psychotic depression

The three less common different types of depression (4-6) only differ slightly from the general category of major depressive disorder:

Endogenous depression is referred to on many sites, thus it’s inclusion here, but has actually become a defunct category, formerly interpreted as stemming from purely inherent biological causes (in DNA). Current research in neuropsychology can now link biochemistry with the influence of “thought”, connecting it more closely with situational depression. Biochemical changes are inherent in all depression diagnoses: some need management long-term including drug therapy; some short-term where talk therapy may suffice and perhaps adding limited drug therapy.
Situational depression, often called adjustment disorder, is a short-term condition that occurs when a person is unable to cope with, or adjust to, a particular source of stress, such as a major life change, loss, or event.
Psychotic depression is an extreme form of depression in which the low mood states are often accompanied by delusions or even complete hallucinations. Delusions can include the sufferer feeling guilty for something which they are not really responsible for.
Continue Reading→ 3 Most Common Depressions (page 2)

Diagnosis: Depression. Huh?

I don't understand.Following up on Harley’s personal story in last week’s post “Depression: The Immaculate Conception“, some of you have inquired about diagnosing depression. There are many approaches to this discussion, but if you suspect a mood disorder in yourself or a loved one, the best step is to seek the opinion of a professional: HUMAN BEING!! Specifically, your family physician or a mental health authority are the most common routes to start. Research all you want, but the earlier a diagnosis, the less stress in wondering about it and the quicker you can find an action plan. Please beware, not all GP’s have more than the limited med school education in mental health treatments, and while they certainly have adequate experience to get you started, they may not be the best resource for your entire journey. You can only trust your guts on what practitioner works for you, but rule of thumb: if at any point you are looking to abandon your actions to move forward, you should most likely check out a new professional partner… and keep looking until you find someone who feels like they are on your team!

Following is the classic information on diagnosing depression from a local mental health association: CMHA British Columbia division:

Dealing with a Depression Diagnosis

Whaaa...depressed?No one wants to feel unwell. Talking to your doctor or other health professional about problems with your mood is an important first step. But if you’re diagnosed with depression (or major depressive disorder, the medical term for clinical depression), you may end up with more questions than answers.

Being diagnosed with anything can be hard, but a mental health diagnosis can be particularly hard to deal with. You might wonder why this has happened to you and how a diagnosis will affect your life. But no matter what, it’s important to remember that you are not your diagnosis—you are a person that happens to be dealing with depression.

The medical system may not be the only way to deal with depression. You don’t have to adopt a strictly medical point of view—some people find it helpful, but others don’t. But you will likely have to work with people in the medical systems, such as doctors and mental health professionals, to access treatme
nts and other forms of support. This system is based on the process of looking at your signs, symptoms and test results to find answers. The first step is generally to clarify the diagnosis—what may appear to be a mental disorder may instead be an unexpected medical condition. The diagnosis is how health professionals organize the problem you experience. It’s the start of a process to get you feeling better.
Continue Reading: Why Me?…What the Heck IS It??? (page 2)

Depression: An Immaculate Conception

Thoughts create reality.

My last post featuring an article by Dr. Lissa Rankin featuring functional medicine, raised awareness on the mind-body connection, and how once we start to see a connection in our own lives, it becomes like…DUH!!!!… of course there’s a connection! Your relationship with both your body and your GP will be forever changed.

In my personal journey, and that of many clients whom I mentor through clinical depression, it’s pretty clear when the fog lifts that the majority of the experience was in fact within our ability to control outside of the GP’s office. Depression manifests significantly by churning the same thoughts and old limiting beliefs over and over and over. Seriously: a very small number of defeating thoughts percolate incognito hundreds of times throughout the day (and sleep!) with no interruption or reality-check; so of course the party line is, that this is simply the predictable course that depression will take.  Not even close: take comfort.  New mind-body medicine is proving to have outstanding success rate in innumerable health challenges and is being prescribed more and more as the healthcare industry gets up to speed on the research and protocols. Less medication, more meditation.  Like I say on my home page, if I had had experienced mentors to guide me when I was struggling with change and depression, I very likely would have been on a healthy path much, MUCH sooner.  Would life have been better? Doesn’t matter.  My growth from that chapter brought awareness of what I needed to learn: our bodies are made to take care of themselves- so take care of them; our minds drive a great part of our bodies’ decisions- so take care of them; and great support in the form of both self-care and community (preferably as a wellness plan not just a sickness response!) can handle a lot of our life woes (or perceptions thereof!).

That’s not to say that there doesn’t need to be the utmost respect and partnership between evolving perspectives and traditional medicine. Fortunately, BC, where I am based, is beginning to offer more user-friendly information on integrative and functional healing, and the mental health area in particular is really making an effort.  The Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division is one
such progressive resource, and the following is a very personal story of one BC resident who’s journey took just such a walk through varying perspectives of managing his health and life.Sigh.

Continued: Read Harley’s very forthcoming story (page 2)

Why Worry Is a Choice

-By Deepak Chopra

conflict10

The demands you put on yourself can create more pressure than you know how to handle. Deepak Chopra has a series of articles and strategies to help you break the cycle of anxiety by changing the way you respond to stress, this included:

Anxiety is like a shortcut. When faced with uncertainty, the normal response is to stop, consider what might happen, and make a decision based on the best prediction you can make.

But the anxious person doesn’t go through this process; they jump right towards feeling afraid.

No one enjoys uncertainty. There is always a tinge of anxiousness when you don’t know what the future holds. But going straight into fear is the worst way to handle the situation because fear is almost never a good advisor. It blocks clear decision-making, and exaggerates the risks and dangers that might lie ahead.

If you are an anxious person, you need to stop making the leap into fear. But how do you do that? It requires a new way of approaching uncertainty.

Life is always uncertain, and until you can embrace this fact, you will imagine risks, dangers, and threats that never materialize.

Yet, suffering in your imagination is just as painful—perhaps more painful—since dealing with a crisis is always easier than waiting for one in a state of dread.

The Anxious Self

There are many sides to me.

Many spiritual traditions speak of separation as the real cause of human misery. Depending on your school of belief, separation can mean being apart from God, your soul, or the higher self/consciousness. But the terminology isn’t important; even the word “spiritual” isn’t crucial. What is crucial is that people are divided inside. One part of the self opposes another part. With guilt, the good fights against the bad. With anxiety, the strong part of the self is at war with the weak part.

When a situation arises that can be handled well, the strong part feels confident, competent, in charge and in control. When uncertainty crops up, the weak part feels afraid, helpless, and hopeless. Anxious people never settle this inner conflict. They are so divided that when they feel afraid, the weak part is “the real me.” When they are not afraid, the strong part is “the real me.” In fact, neither is the real self. The real self is beyond conflict; it is whole and at peace. So the long-term approach to anxiety is to rise above the inner war to find a self that is more whole.

What self-judgment really sounds like

When the self is divided and in conflict, there is always a hidden aspect of judgment against the self. Anxious people judge against themselves so much that they usually seek a stronger person to handle the uncertainties and difficulties that seem so overwhelming. It can certainly mask the problem for a while to marry a strong spouse or rely on a powerful parent. But finding a substitute isn’t the same as finding yourself. Anxious people are blocked from finding themselves because they quickly run into self-judgment, and this makes them even more insecure. Self-judgment is the voice inside that says:

STOP. You are good enough.

“You can’t handle it. Remember the last time you fell apart?
This time will be the same.”

“You’re too weak. Inside you’re still a helpless child. Other people stand on their own, but not you.”

“You aren’t smart enough. Other people can find the right solution, but not you. You just stand there looking blank.”

“You aren’t good enough. All these fearful things are a punishment. You deserve what you get.”

As you can see, to live with a divided self is misery and anxious people dread themselves more than their imaginary dangers. The main thing they dread is anxiety, of course, but anxiety is more than a bad sensation. It is rooted in the weak self that quickly jumps to conclusions. The first part of healing is to realize what is going on. The second part is to identify with the real you; then the war inside will be irrelevant.

Your real self is always present, but it’s masked by the trappings of everyday existence. Whether you recognize it or not, everyone lives in a state of separation, which means the divided self is the one you identify with. People with anxiety have a tougher time than others, but even the healthiest and most secure person is divided. If you weren’t, you would be in contact with God, the soul, or the higher self twenty-four hours a day. I mention this only to emphasize that moving out of the divided state doesn’t happen overnight. Any anxious person needs to learn how to deal with fear and panic on a day-to-day basis while at the same time never losing sight of the long-range goal: finding the real self.

How to Move Towards Healing

Escapism is healthy - sometimes

You can’t find something if you are looking in the wrong place. This holds especially true for the real self, because we all look for solutions from our divided self, and then we trust its answers. For anxious people, fear is actually a kind of solution. It provides a shortcut. It keeps the person vigilant. It gives the feeling of being concerned, engaged, and busy. And since fear is unwelcome, it drives people into all kinds of escapist activities. Every distraction from alcohol and drugs to television and movies is constantly available. It’s no surprise that millions of people would rather accommodate their lives to being afraid rather than seeking authentic healing.

Yet real healing does exist. Because anxious people are insecure, they need to pursue a path to healing that reinforces itself.

Outside help is valuable, of course, but anxious people tend to use stronger people as crutches; that’s where impartial mentors and counsellors can be extremely useful.

The trick here, though,  is to accept that self-healing is the only way. Once you can accept this truth, which is quite painful to anyone in a state of insecurity and fear, the next part is to keep reinforcing the process. Every day needs to be seen objectively as a step in the right direction.

The daily checklist to end anxiety

One method is to keep a simple daily log to track the positive things you did to abate your anxiety. For the sake of being realistic, it’s also good to record the negative things, but avoid the urge to become discouraging or self-pitying. Rather than keeping a full-fledged journal, which most people can’t find the time to sustain after a few weeks or months, make your log a simple check list, ticking off what went right and what went wrong. You can insert comments if you like at the bottom of the page.

Affirmations WORK!

POSITIVES

I stood up for myself, I spoke my mind.

I felt strong.

I had a moment of being real with someone.

I dealt with a panicky moment.

I started to feel anxious but it didn’t progress.

I felt optimistic about myself.

I had hope for the future.

I felt some peace and calm.

I survived a difficult situation.

I appreciated myself; I congratulated myself.

I felt worthy; my esteem was high.

I didn’t fall into my usual reaction.

I had a bright idea.

The world seemed like a safe place to be.

I felt accepted.

I didn’t cling to anyone or use them as a crutch.

I faced a difficult choice.

There is hope.

NEGATIVES

I didn’t stand up for myself; I wanted to speak my mind but didn’t.

I felt weakness.

I didn’t get real with anyone.

I suffered through one or more panic attacks.

I had a lot of low-level anxiety that didn’t go away.

I felt pessimistic about myself.

The future looked hopeless.

I felt no peace and calm.

I caved in to a difficult situation.

I criticized myself and fell into self-judgment.

I felt unworthy; my esteem was low.

I related to people who made me feel bad about myself.

I gave in to someone else’s negative views.

I didn’t feel safe.

I felt rejected.

I was clingy.

I procrastinated and put off a difficult choice.

I wanted someone to rescue me.

I kept wishing that things would get better on their own.

The key to breaking the cycle of anxiety

If you decide to include the negative roster, be sure to note if the items you have checked Take time for yourself.off are improving. Negatives can be useful if they show you what you are moving away from, but they’re not useful if you use them to fuel your self-judgment, since self-judgment is the root of the problem.

It’s key to have more positive events than negative ones. Happiness is built up by having good days, not by reaching for an unattainable ideal in the future. The same is true for being non-anxious. You must find it today, as best you can. By paying attention to your anxiety one day at a time, the hidden healing processes in your mind and your body can begin to work, because you are giving them a real opening here and now.

In the end, however, the best healer is the real self.

It is found by walking your own path: call it the path to self-awareness, God, or higher consciousness – whatever appellation works for you.

The methods for discovery have been outlined in all the world’s wisdom traditions. First and foremost, you need to make a real connection with the level of peace, silence, and security that lies beneath the turbulence of daily stress and strain. The most reliable method is meditation. If that seems unworkable, then sit for fifteen minutes twice a day in a quiet place, close your eyes and breathe. Place your attention on your heart and simply be. If you notice that your thoughts have distracted you, breathe again and once more place your attention on your heart.

This technique will accustom you to being with yourself. Anxious people misjudge being alone. They identify it with fear, loneliness, and insecurity. That’s perfectly understandable given their history of fear. But being alone is your ground state, the basis of your existence. It’s not your enemy. It’s not a danger zone. So take some time to undo the mistaken judgment that alone and lonely are the same. They aren’t. The doorway to a lifetime of safety, security, and self-worth lies at the level of the real self, and you were born to open it.

adapted from:
Oprah.com   |   December 31, 2010

Highly Sensitive People: Not Your Grandmother’s Introvert!

sensitive & A-OK!

Samsara HSP Blog

In her national bestseller, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, author Elaine Aron defines a distinct personality trait that affects as many as one out of every five people.

According to Dr. Aron’s definition, the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.

Additionally, she says, the success of The Highly Sensitive Person is cause for celebration: “We’ve done it ourselves. And not surprisingly, since we are 15 to 20 percent of the population – that’s fifty million in the United States. Highly sensitive people are real, we exist, and we’ve proven it. That alone is something to celebrate.”

Another cause for Aron and her fellow HSPs to celebrate is the acceptance into mainstream psychology of the HSP personality trait. After numerous in-depth interviews, as well as surveys of over one thousand people, Dr. Aron’s findings have been published in Counseling Today, Counseling and Human Development, and the prestigious Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Elaine Aron has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology and a thriving psychotherapy practice. She is the first therapist to tell HSPs how to identify their trait and make the most of it in everyday situations.

Highly Sensitive People have an
uncommonly sensitive nervous system…

– a normal occurrence, according to Aron. “About 15 to 20 percent of the population have this trait. It means you are aware of subtleties in your surroundings, a great advantage in many situations. It also means you are more easily overwhelmed when you have been out in a highly stimulating environment for too long, bombarded by sights and sounds until you are exhausted.” An HSP herself, Aron reassures other Highly Sensitives that they are quite normal. Their trait is not a flaw or a syndrome, nor is it a reason to brag. It is an asset they can learn to use and protect.

In defining the Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Aron provides examples of characteristic behaviors, and these are reflected in the questions she typically asks patients or interview subjects:

  • Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  • Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  • Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  • Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?

Dr. Aron explains that in the past

HSPs have been called “shy,” “timid,” “inhibited,” or “introverted,” but these labels completely miss the nature of the trait.

Thirty percent of HSPs are actually extroverts. HSPs only appear inhibited because they are so aware of all the possibilities in a situation. They pause before acting, reflecting on their past experiences. If these were mostly bad experiences, then yes, they will be truly shy. But in a culture that prefers confident, “bold” extroverts, it is harmful as well as mistaken to stigmatize all HSPs as shy when many are not. In the Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Aron reframes these stereotyping words and their common application to the HSP in a more positive light and helps HSPs use and view these aspects of their personality as strengths rather than weaknesses.

Sensitivity is anything but a flaw.

Many HSPs are often unusually creative and productive workers, attentive and thoughtful partners, and intellectually gifted individuals. According to Dr. Aron, HSPs could contribute much more to society if they received the right kind of attention – and her national bestseller proves that this 15 to 20 percent of the population is eager to get off on the right foot in asserting their unique personality trait.

Read more:  There are many websites from both the medical and personal perspectives on HSP (including http://livingsamsara.com/)  and of course Dr. Aron’s book is a classic.

Read Me

THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D
http://www.hsperson.com/

BONUS VIDEO! from Marie Forleo, renowned life & business coach… well in her own words:
“I often say if Tony Robbins, Richard Branson, Oprah and Jay-Z had a love child, it would be me.  That’s because I’m part business strategist, part marketing maven and part spiritual ass-kicker with a side of hip-hop swagger.”
Marie is highly entertaining – and SMART!

Read/see more from Marie on YouTube, or:  http://www.marieforleo.com/archives/

Counselling: Who Gets It? For What? Who Doesn’t? Why Not?

Here’s one perspective:

Trends and barriers to getting folks
the counselling they need.

adapted from Psychology Today, April 2013
Susan  Heitler, Ph.D. with Linda McKinzie

Reach Out. Just Do It.For what do folks seek help?

The pie chart above shows what kinds of emotional problems led over 1500 folks last year (2012) to seek help from Denver’s Maria Droste Counseling Center’s 30 or more counsellors.

Maria Droste’s analysis indicated that anxiety and depression together accounted for the primary troubles of almost 40% of people who sought help.  What triggered their anxious, stressed and depressed feelings?  The something going wrong in their lives, MDCC’s staff believes, has often included long-term or chronic unemployment.

When people face a life problem, which usually is about the work or the love aspects of their lives, they typically first feel anxious.  Looking ahead they feel uncertain about what if anything they can do about the problem.

After a period of anxiety, which they may refer to as stress, people become at increasing risk for feeling angry, blaming others for their dilemma, for depression with hopelessness about finding solutions, or for self-injurious habits like drinking and smoking, and for relationship problems.

Note that the two biggest reasons people seek help are depression and relationship troubles.  That should be a heads up that internalizing our thoughts and feelings is a societally widespread problem, desperately requiring more life-skills training earlier in life, and a perspective shift regarding the freedom to be ourselves and speak our truths without fear of judgement.

It’s probably a bad sign that there’s twice as many folks seeking help for depression as for anxiety.   Depression suggests that folks are giving up on finding a fix.  This disproportion could indicate that people wait out their difficulties while they are anxious rather than seeking help in response to this initial distressed feeling.

“Depression is the leading source of disability in Canada at a rate slightly higher than the world average.”
~ Bill Wilkerson, Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health

For many folks, it’s only when they have fallen into a dark hole of hopelessness that they finally feel so bad that they reach out  for professional mental health services.  Better late than never, and yet that’s sad because often it’s easier for folks to find solutions to their problems when they are still feeling anxious than after they’ve given up.

Intake workers at Maria Droste noted another unexpected factor when they looked at these statistics for the past year’s intake records.  They noticed an increase in calls about relationship issues.

Claudia Gray, Maria Droste Intake Manager, said, “This year in particular, we had a lot of people requesting couples and family therapy for a variety of reasons.”

“Mental health disorders represent the greatest business and public health challenge of the 21st century. We must understand that. And in a hurry.”
~ Bob Lord, Chairman of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants

One of those reasons Gray speculates, has been the country’s economic downturn. “If couples are already struggling with insufficient communication skills for talking over their difficulties cooperatively and productively, and then you add the stress and struggle of economic and financial worries, weaknesses in communication become more pronounced.  Couples seek out counseling to help them find better ways to communicate with each other.”

Sue Kamler, Director of Maria Droste’s intake services, added that the calls coming in last year also seemed to be more complex. “For example, when someone called in saying they were experiencing depression and anxiety, during the assessment process we often discovered a history of childhood abuse or domestic violence. The depression and anxiety needed treatment, and at the same time it was important also to address their earlier issues of loss or abuse.”

Employees experiencing high work/life conflict have absenteeism rates three times those of employees with low work/life conflict.
~ Duxbury, Higgings: “Work-Life Balance in the New Millennium: Where Are We? Where Do We Need to Go?”, 2001

A recent study by compensation consultant Watson Wyatt Worldwide found the estimated direct cost of absenteeism to business is 7.1 per cent of the payroll, up from 5.6 per cent in 1997. Again, stress-related disorders accounted for the lion’s share. In 2000, the only year studied, there was an additional 10 per cent indirect cost for overtime, replacement personnel and loss of productivity.
~ The Globe and Mail, July 15, 2002

 Why don’t more folks reach out
for the help they need?

“Mental health is talked about more now than ever before.  With the high profile media coverage and analysis of incidents such as the Sandy Hook shootings, public forums such as Dr. Phil and Oprah, and corporate involvement to bring mental health issues to a more commonly recognized part of life (such as Bell Let’s Talk Day), it is now the subject of discussions at national through to community through to dinner table levels.

Yet only a small proportion of the people who would benefit from counselling actually seek it out.  Why??

Ms. McKinzie offers the following explanations for why many people delay seeking support:

“One major reason that many people, especially men, do not seek support and therefore needlessly suffer for long periods of time from emotional pain, anxiety, excessive anger, old resentments and depression, is their perceived stigma associated with receiving mental health care. They regard getting help as embarrassing, something others do but not themselves.  Better to grin and bear it than to admit that they need help.

“Another concern is expense.  Only one of the costs of meeting with a counsellor is paying for the sessions, which health insurance or extended benefits may or may not help to cover.  In addition, missing time at work for weekly daytime therapy sessions can be costly in terms of not getting work done, docked pay, and supervisor disapproval.  Evening and weekend sessions may require payment for babysitters.

“Finally, there is a documented shortage of affordable mental health care in most communities. If everyone who genuinely needs mental health help were to seek it, there would be far too few resources to meet the challenge. And, there needs to be more options for talk therapy readily acknowledged to meet both a person’s comfort level and financial level, such as community programs, clergy, and mentors.

“Mental health is fundamental to physical health as well as to experiencing life’s most positive blessings such as happiness, gratitude and supportive loving relationships.”

This was one of the key messages in the first-ever Surgeon General’s report on the topic of mental health and mental illness released way back in 1999. Now, 15 years later, we still have far to go in terms of getting mental/emotional/spiritual health support to all who need it.

What can give us hope?

Fortunately, there are more options being recognized for folks who are feeling that they just have to grin and bear it:  don’t know where to turn, think they can’t afford help, or fear the stigma of being labelled with an “inferior mind” or weak.  One of the most exciting new trends in our internet age has been the offering of SKYPE, phone and web-based mental health services in any form, from anywhere in the world.

The bottom line

Services are available far more broadly and less expensively than many might think.  If you are feeling down and out, mad or stressed, do consider giving mental health services a try!

When is talk-therapy useful?  Any time you:

Need someone on your side — someone who is knowledgeable

Are stuck and need help resolving a particular problem

Need coaching support to meet a specific goal, such as career, relationship or social

Have concerns about your relationship and want expert help to improve it, or to make decisions about the direction the relationship should take

Have a need for strict confidentiality in regard to your concern

Need a fresh look at your life and where it’s going

Are feeling depressed or stressed by specific events

Are sad, lonely, or anxious and don’t see a way out

Susan Heitler, Ph.D., is the author of many books, including From Conflict to Resolution and The Power of Two. She is a graduate of Harvard University and New York University.
Co-author Linda McKinzie, is executive director of Denver’s  Maria Droste Counseling Center.

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