Category Archives: Personal development

I Am

She kneels then gazes at me. “See through your eyes and feel with your heart,” she instructs.

Nervousness churns in my stomach. I want to do it right.

“You’re in your mind,” she observes. “You don’t have to be perfect.”

“I know I’m trying too hard and I’m feeling anxious,” I admit.

“How long have you felt like this,” she asks.

“All day,” I respond. Then, “All my life.”

She prods me in the chest and says, “Think with the heart.”

I start to cry. It catches my breath.

I snot up and I’ve no tissues. Definitely not perfect now.

We continue gazing into each other’s eyes. It feels like something drops inside of me.

It takes me by surprise. I sit in calm for the rest of the workshop.

On the drive home, I experience chest pains. I know what it must be – a cracking open.

The following morning, I give myself time to feel my feelings. I let it all in and in doing so, I let it all out. I sob.

That evening, I write again for the first time in ten months.

The workshop was called Opening the Flow of Love with healer Elena Lisnic. As soon as I reach my house afterwards, I send Elena a message and book a session with her for a couple of days’ time.

This afternoon, I attend (partly to see how she works as a fellow practitioner and partly for my own healing). We talk.

I fill her on a current dilemma. She gets me to do some visualisation.

Again, she observes how active my mind is. I recognise the ego in this particular situation.

One option I could give my energy to feels exciting. But I’m also anxious, dreaming and lacking presence.

The other option is easy, relaxed and feels like love. Unless I begin thinking again.

Elena tells me to listen to my heart. The heart speaks softly, gently and it speaks the truth.

Any situation that brings anxiety and constriction is not for my highest good. Hard for someone who’s lived with fear for so long to recognise which is an egoic fear keeping me separate and stuck and which is a genuine guidance system illuminating the right path.

I guess practice listening to the heart and distinguishing between the two will build my self-trust.

Elena reminds me that I don’t need to go seeking outside of myself. I have everything within.

It’s so simple. Not enough drama for the ego.

However, when I’m living in the flow of love, everything is awe-inspiringly beautiful. The world and the spaces between are pregnant with energy. And I am full and whole.

Elena asks me who I am then hands me a blank page. I hesitate then put pen to paper:

Sharon, who are you?

I am.

I am brilliance. Shining light.

Love. Connection. Peace. Presence. Infinity.

God is in me.

Flow. Open heart. Abundance. Joy. Laughter.

Hugs. Flowers. The ocean.

Immersion. Space. Expansion. Floating. Flying.

Electricity. Energy.

Nothing as everything.

I am.

Image: lovethispic.com

Anon

I’ve been shaken up. The way I’m relating to the world has shifted. I’m excited and I’m resisting.

I’m almost half-way through a Non-Duality course with Mark Molumby and I’m doing lots of research on the subject as well as exploring the topics of psychology, spirituality and psychedelics.

As we debate in class, a nervousness bubbles. My identity and attachments are challenged. The ego mutters Uh-oh!

During a class meditation, I go from living in a head of rapid-fire thoughts, predictions and analysis to a melting relaxation to energy whooshing up the front and down the back of the body to a vision of a spiral then a single eye.

As is customary for me, I go from experiencing to thinking about the experience, wanting to describe it and squeeze out meaning. But I’m noticing this habit so my direct experiences are becoming more intense.

I’m having terrifying and wonderfully vivid dreams- a terror of falling backwards from an extreme height then deciding to do a skydive to face the fear and be reborn; a river of colours flanked by ancient trees; and communicating with my boyfriend without words.

I’ve lost interest in Netflix and Love Island, novels and too-sweet biscuits. The humdrum of dramas and complaining seems redundant.

I don’t need to switch off anymore. I’m turned on.

I’m hungry for more- more newness in a return home. I crave sitting in stillness.

For too many years, I struggled to cope with the norms of growing up- exams, holding down a job, finding someone to love me, earning enough money, getting a “normal”, pensionable career, and buying a house (I still haven’t done some of the above, probably never will).

Every so often, I believed myself to be such a failure that I thought I’d be better off dead.

So I worked on myself- I went for counselling, inhaled self-help books, and chanted. I sucked on homeopathic remedies, exercised daily, and ate healthily.

I completed several courses, set up a well-being business, and created Mindfulness, meditation and Positive Living classes, which I myself benefit from immensely.

I’m seeing that we all struggle. And in that struggle, we grow, we redirect and we connect.

Over four years ago, I entered into a relationship with a man who, without years of trying and deconditioning, is naturally in the flow of giving and receiving love. I watched and I learned.

In the process of feeling vulnerable, loving him and accepting his adoration, I slowly started to accept myself.

In the early days, I admitted to a Life Coach that losing Luis would be the worst thing that could happen to me. I now trust myself (and life) enough to see that I am enough.

A possible separation is just an experience. An imagination. An illusion. I don’t have to make it who I am.

I’ve also come to realise that, instead of rejecting myself by judging my feelings, I can feel my feelings and be okay. Better than okay.

I can allow my emotions to split me open in a tear-soaked surrender. An abandon. A scream: “Fuck it, I’m ready!” then “Please help me!”

And in the aftermath of the cracking and the softening, everything feels like it’s inside me- the passionate singer, the rain-streaked wind, a mug of tea, a warm embrace, my body moving, embers of laughter.

I’m energised and enthused. The world is throbbing with beauty and adventure.

My mind still questions, wants to understand the meaning of all of this- the universe and why we are here, how it all began.

But I’m willing to let go of the need to know and control everything. I can’t control anything anyway. What a relief and a blessed reclamation of energy.

Maybe there’s nothing to figure out after all. It simply is. I am. So enjoy the ride.

Now I’m detaching from all that I think I know, from my judgments, conditioning and expectations, from my loved ones, and from what I believe myself to be. And in the detaching, I set myself free. I set everyone free.

And that’s a scary place too. I worry about the ripple effects on my relationship.

But that’s me jumping back into the head. So I stay present to the present, to my feelings, to what life is offering me.

I open my heart and come alive.

In my honest reflections, I’ve observed a desire to cling to Mark and all that he can offer. I could do so many things with him, learn so much, become different, feel better, and travel to fascinating places.

But nobody can take me anywhere. It’s all within me. I have the power to take myself there. And there is nowhere to go.

So I unhook an attachment to Mark also. I’m floating solo yet more connected than ever.

Images: Google & Tinybuddha.com

Rising

This morning, I rise at 5am. I do some breathing and get dressed in the half-light.

I shut the front door quietly and slip past blindfolded houses. I feel like I’m playing a trick on society, the only one awake.

Cars are wrapped in ice. The air is cold. I feel strong, resilient.

I walk up an empty street, flanked by glowing green traffic lights. Birdsong surrounds.

Salt and pepper clouds are bunched up in a corner of the sky. This is it, I smile excitedly.

I pass through a shuttered town then turn up a country road. Sheep graze. I wonder how long they’ve been up.

I point my camera at a lamb posing by a gate. It bolts. Good for you, I think.

Hefty cows lie across frosty fields. A blackbird balances on the branch of a tree. My gaze gives it flight.

Half-way through the walk, I realise that I don’t have much time to get ready for work. I run-walk-run-walk the rest of the way. An unintentional High Intensity Interval Training session. My chest sparks.

As I near home, the sun comes up behind me. It’s a beautiful day.

This could be where the story ends. All positivity and motivation.

But what about the other parts the writer or social-media sharer omits?

How deciding to set my alarm so early made me anxious. How I feared that not enough sleep would mess with my mood.

How I worried that I’d be attacked while solo strutting along deserted streets. How I hoped I wouldn’t injure myself when running.

The first part of the story is still true. I did marvel at the mystery of the early morning. And I was present for a lot of it.

The other part of the story can be summed up as follows: I had concerns but I didn’t let them dominate me.

I’ve been cohabiting with a scare-mongering, self-critical voice for as long as I can remember and its lyrics can convince and connive.

But there’s a flame inside me that’s growing too bright to ignore. It wants a better life and it finally believes that it’s possible.

I’ve gone from being paralysed by fear to moving forwards even as my limbs tremble.

So I walk-run-walk-run and my breath deepens. And as I fade in and out of fear and presence, the sun rises and shadows shift.

Images: Author’s own

The Demon

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. I considered posting on social media about my own mental health journey. But I decided against it. What if my housemates/family/extended family read it? 

Revealing my deepest darkest demons could work against me, I feared. So I kept silent, ashamed of what I’ve been through.

But today, a sadness overwhelms me. So many gorgeous, creative, fun people come to the conclusion that the only solution is to die.

I pause in remembrance of these people and all they had to offer the world. And this blog post starts bubbling up inside me. And when that happens, I have to stop everything and write.

I was a sensitive child, one who thought and felt deeply. I still do. I grew up to be extremely insecure- lacking confidence and filled with fear.

I had my good times of course, periods when I felt and looked good. When I excelled at school and college and when I was prolific in my writing. When I enjoyed hanging out and partying with friends, flirting with men, holidaying on Greek islands and adventuring across continents.

But the demon was always lurking, only a scratch beneath the surface. Ready to remind me that I wasn’t good enough, that I’d fail, that there was something wrong with me. That I’d never be fixed.

Brainwashed by this beast, I hated myself and wished I were different. I’d try to be normal but my version of normal was an unattainable, unsustainable perfection. I’d push and compare and question myself so much that I’d eventually be spent, both physically and mentally.

Devoid of energy, I’d withdraw. Afraid to show my face. Feeling as ugly on the outside as the inner voices that belittled me and held me back.

In my teens, I developed an eating disorder and in my late teens, I was put on antidepressants. I stayed on medication for years, hoping to feel better, do better, be better.

But my low self-esteem brought me to people and situations that reinforced my opinion of myself. I gave up hobbies, left jobs, dropped out of college and went on the dole. I didn’t believe myself capable of anything more.

depression

At 22 years of age, I met the man who would become my husband. He begged me to stop smoking and drinking alcohol. He asked me to dress differently and not have male friends. He convinced me to start practising Islam. He wanted me to change my name and wear a headscarf.

I knew I couldn’t succeed at my own life so why not take on a new identity? Losing myself in baggy robes was a relief. Maybe I could be saved.

The relationship was tumultuous. He wanted a completely different wife. Here was yet another example of my inadequacy.

After we got married, I hit a really low point. I was so agitated, I wanted to bounce my head off the walls.

I took a few days off work and when I admitted to my boss that I suffered from depression, she fired me on the spot. I didn’t contest it. I wasn’t able for anything. I wasn’t able for life.

Family and friends marvelled at how I wasn’t fulfilling my potential. I was academically clever and I won awards for my writing. I was attractive, articulate and athletic. Yet I consistently doubted myself and gave in to the negative self-talk.

Time and time again, I’d make a decent stab at living in the real world. But before long, I’d wear myself out, self-sabotage then crawl into a hole for another while. I simply couldn’t handle grappling with the monster in my mind AND being a functioning member of society.

In those moments, I honestly believed that I’d be better off dead. I felt lost, alone and so broken that nobody could get through to me. Nobody could love me out of the chasm.

It’s taken me many years of highs and lows, hard work and self-care to get to where I am now. I’m proud to say that I’m doing well.

I’m living on purpose and helping others to do the same by sharing what I’ve learned. I’m showing people that they’re not alone, that we all go through hard times and that there is a way (there are many ways) out of the demon’s stranglehold.

The monster is still only a scratch beneath the surface. When I don’t practice self-care, when I’m not true to myself or when I have a few too many drinks, I tunnel under to where he’s waiting for me. And then, despite all the personal development I’ve undertaken, I can still be hypnotised.

Thankfully, I always catch a glimmer of light and I pull myself back out again. Then I shine that light on the monster and ask him what he wants. I understand where he’s come from and I listen to what he tells me. He’s not as scary as I once believed.

The purpose of this blog post is to tell you that I know how it feels – I’ve experienced the craziness and the desperation to make it stop.

What I’m trying to say is that you’re not alone. How you’re feeling right now won’t last. Nothing does. You will feel better. You’re worth fighting for. Look for the light because it is there.

hand-reaching-up-to-light

Images: Google

Fulfilled

I’ve made a pleasing decision to treat myself to (at least) one thing per month that will make me feel good. I never question handing over large sums for rent, insurance and petrol, so why not do the same with things that will uplift me?

Investing in myself will increase my value, both to myself and to the world, because it will make me relaxed, energised, creative, motivated and inspired.

Examples of things I’m now unafraid to pay for are:

  • Attending interesting workshops and courses
  • Enjoying delicious yoga classes
  • Receiving massages, facials and manicures
  • Buying tickets for concerts, festivals and trips away.

At first, I considered cutting down on my monthly Life Coaching sessions. I could replace them with some of the other activities I mentioned.

But these sessions are benefiting me hugely. I’m delving deeper and shedding baggage that I no longer need or desire. Ditching them would be done out of a scarcity mentality. If I spend on this, I won’t have enough for that.

So in addition to my regular Life Coaching, I shall courageously shower myself with even more wonderful experiences that will promote learning, spiritual growth, personal development, fun, dancing, travel, stretching and beautifying.

And I’m ready and willing to pay for these pleasures. Why? Because I’m worth it. I deserve it.

AND because I believe that you need to give in order to receive. And that abundance is all around. I just need to trust and it will be revealed to me.

A few days ago, I worried that I hadn’t enough money to get me through the month. I was also doubting my career choices and wondering if I should succumb to a more traditional approach to employment.

JUST for financial reasons. Or more accurately, out of fear and lack of self-belief.

I tested out the scenario by visualising myself in one such job (a technique I learned from Steve Pavlina). I could see myself walking along a corridor in a pencil skirt, tights and low-heeled black shoes.

I felt constricted and had a knowing that if I was an employee in a place like this, I would have to work doubly hard on maintaining a balanced, happy life. I’d survive but I’d be wasting my time because I wouldn’t be living on purpose.

After that experiment, I acknowledged that I am on the right path. I finally agreed to own who I am and what I have to offer. Having come to terms with this, I needed to bargain with the Universe.

Hey Universe, if you want me to live the lifestyle I really wish to live, if you think I should shine my light and empower others to do the same, you’re gonna have to help me out!

I couldn’t imagine how I’d manage to pay the bills but I had a knowing that money would come to me in an unexpected way.

Yesterday, my boss (from a part-time job) contacted me to inform me that I’m due holiday pay. AND I received a belated birthday card (three months late) with money stuffed inside and scratch cards, upon which I won two euro.

This week, I was charged less than I’d anticipated for a bill, gained a few new clients, earned more money than I’d figured I would, and got shouted lunch twice!

I’m seeing (and appreciating) abundance in all its forms – financially, gifts, compliments and encouragement, great conversations, friendships, love, affection and insights.

I’m lapping up an abundance of talent, passion, zest and ideas in other people. And I’m lucky enough to be experiencing an abundance of time so that I can work, meet loved ones, read, write, do yoga, meditate and dance around my bedroom.

I’ve realised that I haven’t been trusting the Universe and that mistrust made me (unconsciously) retreat and shield myself from all the bad things that were likely to happen while I stayed stuck in that mindset.

Now however, my intention is to trust that I’m being looked after and that everything I need is already provided. I believe that everything that’s occurring is for my benefit, for my growth, so that I can be the hero in MY story.

Today, I got my nails done. I rarely allow myself such “unnecessary luxuries”. Yet gazing at my sparkly purple fingernails is filling me up.

This trip to the beautician is sending an important message to me and to the Universe (or is it one and the same?) The message reads as follows:

I am beautiful. I believe in my worthiness. I trust that there’s a well of abundance that I can dip into whenever I choose.

And the more I fill myself with things that light me up, the more I replenish the well of abundance, and the more others benefit too.

I turn on my light and the the rays, they stretch up and beyond…

self-love lamp

Image: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/self-love-common-mistakes/

You’re Making a Scene

Do you ever question why you feel bad? The majority of the time I feel bad is as a result of a thought I’ve just entertained.

Without the thought, I’d feel perfectly fine. I’d be in the moment.

However when I live in my head, thoughts of shoulds and shouldn’ts, worst-case scenarios, overwhelming to-do lists and doomed-to-fail expectations flood me with feelings of annoyance, panic, disappointment and exhaustion.

The thought of what needs to be done teleports me into a bad mood. The thought of the consequences of breaking out of my comfort zone keeps me barricaded inside it. The thought of the negatives eclipses the positives.

Thoughts can cause energy leaks, destroy special moments and meddle with my relationships. Living in my thoughts dishonours what is. It’s right there and I’m missing it.

Armed with this realisation, whenever I feel bad, I ask: Is this feeling a product of a thought I’ve attached to?

If it is, I acknowledge it and let it go. If it isn’t just a thought, if it really is my feeling, I allow myself to fully feel it so that it can transform and so that I can heal and grow.

The average brain thinks about 50,000 thoughts per day. There’s no use trying to resist them. Simply observe them and let them float on by like clouds in the sky.

The danger is when you identify with your thoughts. If it looks like your ego’s making a scene, disentangle yourself from it. Pause. Breathe. Release.

Get out of your head and come back into your body. Stop thinking. Feel your way through.

I still catch myself holidaying in my head. It’s like a booze-fuelled break from reality. It’s certainly not boring up there but it’s seriously unhealthy and leaves me feeling drained and full of fear.

When I notice that my thought-inspired dramas are spilling into my reality, I make the decision to STOP THINKING. I have to make that decision on a fairly regular basis.

I remember to count my blessings, breathe and be present. I swap my critical, fear-based, lack-based self-talk to a more loving, gentle, encouraging pep-talk.

Thoughts will come and they will go. One minute they’ll tell you one thing, the next minute they’ll swear it’s the opposite. Why would you believe such an unreliable storyteller?

The truth is in this moment. Not in your thoughts about this moment. But in this beautiful, unadorned present moment.

This is your reality. Right now. Look at it. Listen to it. Give gratitude for it. Breathe into it. Now.

Mindfulness-Movement

Superstar You Are

Feeling upset about something. Nothing in particular and everything at the same time. Unable to articulate, communicate or even know why.

I decide to meditate. Sit with the feeling. Then I start to speak, hesitantly, as though telling a loved one what’s wrong.

The tears flow. And then I hear the underlying mantra: “Not good enough.”

So I tap on this revelation: Not good enough. (Emotional Freedom Technique – tapping on acupressure points around the body while voicing what I’m feeling, thereby unblocking and releasing.)

Good enough to be an acupuncturist, a teacher, blogger, girlfriend. But not good enough to be a successful entrepreneur, bestselling author, an international speaker, a wife, mother, or even a live-in partner.

I understand that there’s more to these sweeping statements. am holding myself back. I’m not prepared to put in the effort if it’s not going to lead to anything. I worry that I’ve nothing unique to offer. Yet I’m still judging myself for not working harder.

On the other hand, one thing I have worked unceasingly upon is my own personal development. I have to congratulate myself for that.

And I know that I’m “The One” in one amazing person’s eyes. We love each other and have a wonderful relationship. However, the circumstances are not conducive for us to live together and neither one of us is sure about marriage or kids. Plus, it’s healthy to have our own lives. Despite getting the logic, I’m still left feeling undervalued and not wanted enough. Again with the mantra: “Not enough.”

I realise that I’m looking to external factors for validation – other people, labels, milestones, money. What I’m really suffering from is what I’m thinking about myself.

In a flash of inspiration, I see that I need to become my very own superstar. I need to place value on my time, gifts, heart and spirit. I need to celebrate myself and see myself through loving eyes.

I will listen to my intuition, be kind to myself, and love and accept myself more. I must cheerlead further advancement, breakthroughs and prosperity.

I shall become my own captive audience, first-rate life coach, dream-granting fairy godmother and adoring life partner. And I have to be willing and open to LET LIFE LOVE ME.

I get up from my meditation cushion, walk to the mirror, gaze into my eyes and replace the once unconscious mantra of “Not good enough” with a very conscious affirmation: “Life loves me”.

I repeat this statement through self-judgment, cynicism, sadness and fear until a flicker of belief lights a flame of hope within. Let the miracles begin…

Image: gointothestory.blcklst.com

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