As part of the Life Coaching course I’m doing, I have to attend a professional Life Coach. In my most recent session, I was telling the coach about how I sometimes think unkind thoughts about myself.
He asked me to describe how I feel when I do this. I told him it was overwhelming. I moved my hands frantically in an attempt to explain. It was difficult to put into words.
He asked me where I feel it and if it has a shape. I told him that it’s in my chest, it has sharp edges and it wants to get out. He asked if it has a voice. “Yes,” I replied. “It’s saying, Let me out!”
I realised in that powerful moment that the feeling I believed to be negative is actually a part of me trying to give myself a message. It is an energy, so big and fizzing that just wants to be expressed. For as long as I can remember, I have been trying to suppress it, to abolish it. It feels so constrictive when all I want is to be free.
I sat there, full of excitement. I wanted to scream and roar and rage and beat my fists against something. I had had enough. I was like a child having been admonished by a strict parent. And this child just wanted to say Fuck off and go outside and play and sprint and front crawl through the ocean.
A recent experience came to mind. A few weekends ago, I took part in a dance workshop. As part of the day, we had to form triads. One of us took on the role of the dancer, one was the witness, while the other was the writer.
I was elected to be the dancer. The music began to play as I self-consciously walked into the centre of the room. I stood and faced my group. Then I started to move slowly. When I closed my eyes, I was able to get into the music. I could hear violins and African beats. I twirled and swayed and stamped my feet. Strong emotions moved through me and, for the first time, I understood what it was to express myself through dance.
Every so often, I’d remember that I was being watched but I was determined not to spoil my experience. I took a deep breath and gave myself the space to own this moment. I deserved it. I haven’t enjoyed something so much for a very long time.
As I relayed this story to my coach, I likened it to the times when I’ve had a few drinks. When my inhibitions relax, and I feel that lively, fun-loving spark. And right now, I was feeling a similar urgency to let go, to be free, and to embark on a wonderful new adventure.
This “bad” feeling I’ve been trying to get rid of is actually presenting me with an opportunity to transform into who I really am. It is showing me what I’m no longer willing to put up with. The feeling that once seemed anxious and overwhelming is, in fact, a taste of the magnificent burst of energy that I have been reining in with my self-criticism. This energy is full of creativity and strength and passion. And it’s there for me whenever I choose to access it.
As we finished the session, the coach suggested that the next time I think a mean thought about myself, I should tell it to “fuck off” just like the child in the image I had mentioned. I laughed and thanked him for what he had done. He told me that I had done the work, he had just been the witness. I sang the whole way home.
Posted in Personal development, Uncategorized
Tagged adventure, alcohol, anger, anxiety, breathing, constriction, creativity, dance, depression, emotion, energy, enjoyment, excitement, freedom, fun, imagery, inner child, life, life coaching, living, mindfulness, nature, negative thinking, negativity, passion, power, presence, present, self-disgust, self-expression, self-image, strength, suppression, thoughts, transformation, visualisation
Certain music raises your emotional vibration. So I suggested that my Positive Living group find a piece of music that uplifts them. And in time, they could put together an entire playlist, which they could listen to whenever they want to feel happy or energised.
Last night, I scrolled down my iPod to see what I would place on my uplifting playlist. My choices had me shimmying, singing along to the lyrics and smiling as I was flooded with lovely memories. Here’s what I came up with…
1. Happy Face – Destiny’s Child
This song helped me put on my happy face when I was going through a tough time in my early twenties.
2. You Make My Dreams Come True – Hall & Oates
If you’re a fan of the film (500) Days of Summer, you’ll remember the scene where Joseph Gordon-Levitt dances through the streets after a night of passion with one very lucky lady.
3. You’ve Got The Love – The Source feat. Candi Station
This track reminds me of being spun on the waltzers by a sexy carnival bad-boy, and later, the emotional final scene of hit series Sex and the City.
4. What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction
No explanations, no justifications. Now excuse me while I check out some of their newer music videos. For research purposes.
*17.32 minutes minutes later* Yep, feeling pretty good alright.
5. Intro – The XX
Cooler than a pair of Ray-Bans.
6. Drumming – Florence and the Machine
This music had me dancing with wild abandon in my bedroom.
7. Taro – Alt-J
And this gets me belly dancing round the flat.
8. Halcyon – Ellie Goulding
I recall feeling hopeful and alive as I raced through the rain while Miss Goulding belted out the lyrics: “It’s gonna be better!”
9. A Real Hero – College feat. Electric Youth
I couldn’t put the treadmill on a high enough speed when this song came on my I Work Out playlist. And anything Gosling-related is feel-good if you ask me.
10. Instant Crush – Daft Punk feat. Julian Casablancas
Cruising along the coast, windows down.
Bonus Track: Sweet Disposition – The Temper Trap
Another tune from (500) Days of Summer, this brings me back to sunny days lying on the grass and gazing at a clear blue sky…
I’d love to know what would appear on your uplifting playlist!
Posted in Positive Thinking, Random
Tagged 500 days of summer, a real hero, alt-j, attraction, belly dancing, bonus track, carnival, charming, coast, college feat. electric youth, daft punk feat. julian casablancas, dancing, depression, destiny's child, drive, driving, drumming, ellie goulding, emotions, energy, feel-good, feelings, film, florence and the machine, fun, funny, guilty pleasures, gym, halcyon, hall & oates, handsome, happiness, happy, happy face, instant crush, intro, ipod, jogging, joseph gordon-levitt, letting go, lyrics, memories, men, moods, movies, music, nature, ocean, one direction, ost, outdoors, passion, playlist, positive living classes, positive living group, raising vibration, raising your emotional vibration, ray-ban, running, ryan gosling, sex and the city, singing, smiling, songs, soundtrack, summer, sunbathing, sweet disposition, taro, teenager, the source ft candi station, the temper trap, the xx, thinking, thoughts, treadmill, uplifting, vibration, what makes you beautiful, workout, you make my dreams come true, you've got the love
All day, I’ve had an anxious feeling in my chest. I haven’t been able to take deep, satisfying breaths. I had a busy day so I just pushed on through, hoping it would pass.
Tonight, I was about to watch television and simply ignore how I was feeling. I realised that I didn’t want to do that. I’m an advocate of sitting with your emotions and listening to what they have to tell you. So I sat. I slumped into the armchair, feeling down, frustrated, angry and fearful all at once.
Then, like the good writer and avid list-maker that I am, I reached for a notepad and pen. I decided, rather than run from the things that were annoying me, I’d write them all down. I don’t usually give so much energy to the negatives but, this time, I felt it would be therapeutic to have a look at what had been festering.
As synchronicity would have it, I came across this quote by Jill Bolte Taylor today: “Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.”
And so I moaned and doubted, raged and self-victimised all over two sides of an A4 sheet. I tore out the page and turned to a new one. Here, I wrote how all of my grievances were making me feel. Let’s just say that I don’t know if many other negative emotions even exist because I was feeling all of them.
Although I don’t believe in focussing on the negatives in life (and who’s to say what’s “negative” anyway?), it became clear to me that this was a really beneficial exercise.
I had been feeling this way for no apparent reason. However, when I asked myself what had been upsetting me, I was able to fill two entire pages with reasons.
I also realised that some of the things that were irritating me were things that don’t usually annoy me when I’m feeling good and energised. All of the small stuff was mounting up and creating a massive lump in my chest. It was robbing me of my peace. Or rather, I was allowing it to. But how was I to know what I was allowing when I hadn’t even given any of it my attention?
As I worked my way down the list of feelings that had arisen from all of my perceived problems, I recognised that there was one thing that would set me free. Acceptance.
I could accept the situation. I could accept other people as they are. I could accept what they had done and hadn’t done. I could accept that the past is the past (even if it only happened yesterday, it’s still old news). I could accept how I’m feeling right now. And most importantly, I could accept myself exactly as I am.
Acceptance melts resistance. Acceptance and struggle cannot coexist. Neither can acceptance and anger. Or acceptance and judgement.
When you accept something, you let go of the desire for things to be different. And with that, you become truly present. With that, you can breathe again…
Posted in Personal development
Tagged acceptance, anger, annoyance, anxiety, body, breathing, busyness, courage, depression, desire, doubt, emotion, energy, exercise, fear, feelings, freedom, grievances, growth, healing, illness, irritation, issues, jill bolte taylor, judgement, labelling, learning, letting go, listening, meditation, mind, negativity, past, peace, personal development, present, problems, resistance, self-acceptance, self-discovery, stillness, stress, struggle, television, victim, writer, writing
The other day, I was complaining about how long it takes to blow-dry my hair. My mother informed me that, when she was a child, she had to towel-dry hers. I felt grateful for the invention of hair dryers. A couple of my friends then told me that they wish they had thick hair like mine. Again, I had to be grateful for what I was lucky enough to have.
This quote comes to mind: “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”
Gratitude is something I practice every single day. It instantly lifts my mood and brings enjoyment to all the little (and the big) things that I have in my wonderful life.
I would like to own my own house some day but, right now, I give gratitude for the lovely little flat I’m living in. It’s cosy and central and I have it all to myself.
Yesterday, I met a woman who has been through cancer twice. She lifted her shirt to show us the scars from her double mastectomy. A wave of gratitude and admiration for this brave woman enveloped me.
She spoke of the fun she used to have with the fellow patients in the hospital. She remembered how the nurses would bring her tea and toast at 2am if she couldn’t sleep. “They didn’t have to do that,” she added. In the face of such a huge challenge, this lady was still able to express gratitude. She is an inspiration.
If you’re experiencing dissatisfaction, envy, frustration or a feeling of lack, try replacing it with gratitude. Think of a few things that are grateful for today. What you focus upon multiplies. And soon, you’ll marvel at the sheer abundance in your life.
Posted in Health, Positive Thinking
Tagged abundance, admiration, beauty, bravery, cancer, challenges, complaints, courage, dissatisfaction, energy, envy, fear, frustration, fun, gratitude, humour, i cried because i had no shoes until i met a man who had no feet, inspiration, lack, laughter, law of attraction, life, mastectomy, mood, need, want
Listening to the Hay House World Summit at the weekend, I heard one of the speakers say: “Successful people do what they want to do, not what they feel like doing.” At the time, I didn’t really get it. The following day, it hit me.
For quite some time, I’ve been teaching myself to get quiet and listen to my body. I’ve learned how to say “No” and how to know what’s right for me at any given moment. I thought the best motto for life was to “go with the flow”.
Then, I came across an article by Noor Shawwa, who wrote about the three ways we approach life. He suggested that we can go with the flow (lean back), walk away (quit) or make the most of it (lean in). A couple of days later, I read another article, this one by Jack Canfield, telling us to “Build Momentum by Leaning into It.”
Going with the flow is a welcome relief after a lifetime of resistance and control. But upon reading these articles, I realise that there is something empowering about leaning into life. If I always sit back and do what I feel like doing, I’d skip the workout and eat lots of cake. Alternatively, if I were to do what I want to do, I’d do things that make me fit and healthy and full of energy. Yes, I might feel like watching the latest Ryan Gosling flick (and that’s okay too) but I might want to prepare an inspiring Positive Living class more.
So today, even though I don’t feel like it, I take myself out for a cycle. And boy am I tested on that, as yet, uncertain balance between going with the flow, leaning in and downright quitting!
The wind is strong. No matter which direction I go, it blows against me. I huff and puff in annoyance. I want it to stop. A plump bumblebee dives onto my head and bounces off my eyelid. As I pedal along, a dog chases me, barking incessantly. I reason with it in a sing-song voice, trying to appeal to its gentler nature. Eventually, it gives up. Just before I cycle right into a giant pothole. I am totally jarred but I remain upright. Minutes later, two tiny flies simultaneously suicide-bomb into one eye each. I pull over and rub my eyes vigorously, only burying them further into their watery graves.
I sit back on the saddle and laugh. Up until this point, I thought everything was against me. Now it feels more like nature is working with me in order to wake me up. There is nothing I can do about the weather. I have two legs that are working hard to bring me into the beautiful countryside. The wind is warm (and it’s not often you can say that in Ireland!) and it’s forcing me to get more out of my workout.
Just as I relax into it, it begins to drizzle, thus breaking the weeklong spell of glorious sunshine. I can’t change the weather, I mutter. But I can change my attitude. I understand that leaning into life still requires going with the flow. It’s just about adding momentum. So I lean into the rain and keep going. I’m like a human hearse carrying two tiny insects who have sacrificed themselves for the cause – my awareness.
Posted in Personal development, Positive Thinking, Spirituality
Tagged acceptance, attitude, awakening, awareness, balance, com, control, cycling, eating, emotions, energy, exercise, feelings, fitness, going with the flow, hay house world summit 2013, health, healthy-living, ireland, jack canfield, leaning into life, life, life lessons, listening, momentum, movies, nature, noor shawwa, outdoors, positive living classes, positive living group, positivelypositive.com, relaxation, resistance, ryan gosling, sacrifice, self-control, self-empowerment, success, summer, sunshine, synchronicity, tests, tinybuddha, weather, workout
I pick up a little book called Tuesdays with Morrie while on holidays in Spain. I saw it years ago but avoided it because the blurb on the back made me worry that it’d be a depressing read. It is about a dying professor (Morrie Schwartz) and his younger student (Mitch Albom). This time, I am ready. I devour it in two sittings. And I cry and cry and cry.
It isn’t that it’s unbearably sad. It’s just so touching, it moves me like nothing else has for a long time. I can feel Morrie’s energy with me as I finish the memoir. I love him. I can honestly say that he (and the endearingly honest Mitch) has changed my life. The gradual shift in Mitch’s attitude inspires me almost as much as Morrie’s wisdom.
Morrie allowed himself to let go, to be vulnerable, and to ask for help. He observed that, when you’re an infant, you need help from others and, when you grow old, you require their assistance also. However, what we fail to acknowledge is that we need other people in between times too.
Morrie told the tale of the little wave that witnessed other waves crashing against the shore. The wave wailed, fearfully: “Oh no, look! This is the fate that awaits us. How horrible!” Another wave reassured him: “Don’t fret, little one, for you are not a wave, you are part of the ocean.” As Rumi wrote: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.”
Morrie’s message has made me realise how closed off I’d become. I’d tell myself that “I like my own space”. I’d go home while co-workers would sit and have tea, a chat and a laugh. I’d stay alone in the flat watching episode after episode of The Good Wife. I’d spend weekends preparing classes instead of exploring the countryside with loved ones. I’d retire early rather than spend time with friends.
I still believe that there should be a balance between rest, work and play and between stillness, silence and moments of noise and interaction. But Morrie’s story has shown me that the most important thing in life is to love. To share what you have with others. To give another human being the gift of your time. Morrie said that he was always 100 per cent present with whomever he was speaking. When he was talking with Mitch, he thought only of Mitch. This resonates with me as I am often in the company of others when I’m not really there. I’m thinking of what needs to be done, or how I shouldn’t have eaten that or I might even be putting a photo through Instagram while somebody attempts to converse with me.
Morrie’s big, brave, generous heart has made me resolve to really live life, to connect with people, to appreciate nature, to question the values we’ve been brainwashed into adopting, to understand that love and peace are what’s true and priceless compared with ever-changing, unreliable material and physical possessions. One of my new goals is to do something that makes me feel alive every single day. I also promise to be present with people, as if each encounter were our last, and to ask, in the words of Robert Holden in his book Loveability: “How can I love you more?”
I have a couple of hours before I have to head for the airport. I could go for a last swim at what the locals call the “healing beach”. But it’s a bit of a walk, I mentally argue. And it’d mean packing a wet bikini. Then, I remember that I’m living life. So I set off in my flip-flops, carrying a pink towel. A line of ants and a yellow butterfly cross my path. A lone purple wildflower on this dry dirt track reduces me to tears. I offer an Hola and a smile to an old man sitting alone. He returns my smile, its corners clipped with surprise. An elderly couple stroll ahead, hand-in-hand. Yet again, my eyes mist. I beam as I spot a set of keys a stranger has carefully balanced atop a bollard.
My breasts bob and sway as my feet flap upon the sand. I feel like an ancient elephant striding across the desert. I inhale the scent of my sweat that has collected in cracks and creases. A homeless man sits on a wall behind the beach. I abandon my beach bag and strip. I don’t suck in my stomach. Not today. I duck my head into the ocean even though my hair was freshly washed this morning. I am alive.
Mitch and Morrie used to say, “We’re Tuesday people” because they usually met on Tuesdays. And I am writing this piece on a Tuesday, watching the waves surge and retreat, with tears in my eyes and a heart that’s breaking… wide open.
Image: Author’s own
Posted in Spirituality
Tagged appreciation, attitude, beauty, brainwashing, communication, compassion, death, drop, energy, family, friends, future, generosity, gift, gratitude, grief, heart, heartbreak, help, holidays, human beings, humanity, impermanence, inspiration, instagram, letting go, life, living, love, loveability, loved ones, material, mitch albom, morrie schwartz, nature, ocean, past, peace, people, photos, physical, present, robert holden, rumi, sadness, sharing, shift, silence, smartphone, society, spain, spiritual, spirituality, stillness, tears, thinking, thoughts, time, togetherness, truth, tuesdays with morrie, understanding, universe, values, vulnerability, waves, whole
Below are some simple, speedy ways to uplift yourself… instantly!
- Smile (Simply put, this will tell your brain that you are happy.)
- SIT UP STRAIGHT (When you’re depressed, you slouch. Change your posture, change your mood.)
- Get out in nature (Energetically speaking, nature has a high vibrational frequency, which will override the low frequency of a bad mood.)
- Put on your favourite tune (And dance!)
- Read an inspiring quotation or watch an encouraging video (Buy a calendar that has a daily quote or subscribe to a blog / YouTube channel / Facebook page that posts regular uplifting updates.)
- Write down five things you are grateful for
- Say (aloud) five things you love about yourself
- Light a candle
- Take a few deep breaths
- Put on a slick of lipstick and your favourite perfume / your best shirt and sexiest aftershave
- Buy yourself a bunch of flowers (You’ll smile every time you walk past them because 1. they’re beautiful and 2. they’re a reminder that you’ve done something wonderful for yourself.)
Do one of these things right now and observe the change in your mood. Then, work your way through the list. Soon, you’ll be doing these things automatically because feeling good is so natural. Enjoy!
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Posted in Health, Personal development, Random
Tagged beauty, breathing, depression, encouragement, energy, facebook, frequency, gratitude, happiness, health, inspiration, joy, light, music, nature, posture, quotations, self-love, singing, smiling, thich nhat hanh, vibration, youtube
What if I told you that you are safe? That you are perfectly supported by the Universe. What if I told you that your essence is eternal? That you and nature and everyone around you are connected. That you all come from the same source.
What if I told you that your natural state is one of peace, love and happiness? That abundance is right there for you if you would just ask for it and believe that you deserve it. What if I told you that you are perfect? That you are energy flowing from and towards and with God. What if I told you that everything is happening for a reason? For you to learn. For you to get to know your self.
Would you resist these words and choose to believe that to live means to struggle and to suffer; to feel insecure, angry, afraid and alone? Or would you realise that these are the only truths we need to know so that we can create peace, connection and total love? So that we can experience and enjoy the beauty and light and radiance of simply being.
Posted in Love, Spirituality
Tagged abundance, anger, beauty, being, belief, connection, difficulties, energy, essence, eternal, experience, fear, flow, god, happiness, knowledge, light, loneliness, love, nature, peace, soul, source, struggle, suffering, truth, universe