Category Archives: Personal development

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

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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

Resources

Now What?

She plays the trumpet in her bedroom, eyes closed. He spills all his passion into his lyrics. The beat moves his body as he jumps on stage.

The motivational speaker scrunches her forehead, irises burning. The therapist does his utmost to change the trajectory of his client’s hurtling demise.

I watch. I listen. I feel a surge of emotion, a prickle upon the skin. A tingling that reminds me to really live.

It’s my duty to inhale all this beauty and passion, to embody it, and to create some of my own.

A year later, I wake up from a slumber of day-to-day and it-is-what-it-is, and I ask myself some questions. Where am I going? Why? What’s my purpose? If nothing changes in my life, how will I be?

Fear. Paralysis. Stuck. Yes, I’m much improved but shouldn’t I be doing more?

What do I actually want? Where do I want to be? Do I even know?

The motivational speaker makes me feel inadequate. So does the therapist.

Where’s my drive? My ambition? My business-savvy?

I experience an uncomfortable shaking within. Maybe I’m scared of being pushed. But I brought myself to these questions.

So despite the tremble and the choking sensation at my throat, I take a look at my life and ask myself what it is that I want. What do I need to do? And when will I do it?

I’m inspired to do more, to reach higher, to push past the layers of insecurity to a belief that I deserve an existence of abundance, passion and freedom.

And where will that take me? To more of this, here? Or to a new start in a land of sunshine and opportunity?

Will I be writing books and launching podcasts? Or will I succumb to a 9-5 with a regular salary?

What’s next? Putting myself out there? Knock-backs and tears? Or persistence and resilience?

Hitting rock bottom so the only way is up again? Again?

All the while learning to feel the feelings – depressed, scared, victorious and in love – so I can open up and enjoy an authentic relationship with myself and my life.

What should my goals be? To have children? Buy a house? Get a pension? Make a living doing what I love, helping others, and living a rich, balanced, healthy, fulfilling life?

Will my parents worry at my continual shunning of the norm? But I’m an adult. And this is my life. I have to make it my own.

Will I remain childless and regret it? Or could I have a lifetime of affection and adventure with my partner instead?

Will I lose my loved ones and go through unbearable grief? Or will I be granted many priceless years of love and happiness?

Will I keep on this road of growth, gratitude and wonderful surprises, trusting that everything works out for the best?

Who got to decide the basics for us all anyway? Five weekdays and we’ll name Saturday and Sunday the weekend. By this age, you should be starting a family. And we’ll award you a mortgage and the next 35 years of making sure you’ve enough to make the payments.

I don’t do 9-5, weekdays or weekends. And what if I never get married, buy a house, bear children or secure a pensionable job?

Does that make me a fool? Should I live my life the way it’s been drawn out for the masses?

Am I fucked or free? Do I need to tie myself down so one day, before it’s too late, I can fly?

But I still hear her blowing that trumpet. And his heart’s splayed open in that tune he sings. And the globe is pulsing with possibility. Yet my bank balance is not enough. Not enough.

So I remove my gaze from the clouds. I place my feet on the ground, my hands on my hips, and my chest to the sky. Now what?

crossroads

Artist: John Berry, Illustration Source

 

The Warrior

There is always something to think, to worry about, to get angry over. Always some drama, a problem to figure out, a decision to make.

With this realisation, I detach, let go, and travel within. The thoughts form and dissolve. The movie of my life still plays on. But I turn down the volume and focus within.

I connect with a deep sense of peace, a groundedness. I listen. I breathe.

Like a novice snorkeller in a world of underwater magic. Astonished by the beauty. Yet all I can hear is my breathing.

I could be lifted from this peace and wonder by an unconscious wandering to wherever my thoughts whimsically transport me. Or I could choose, moment by moment, to return to the present and to appreciate what’s before me, what’s part of me, what I really am.

A slice of this miracle of life presents itself to me. I come to my senses. I savour in the deliciousness of it all. I’m nourished. Whole.

No fear any more. Really. Although there’s still fear, insecurity, discomfort, dangling into the chasm of the unknown.

A lifetime of clinging and scrambling. Dictatorially and unintelligently controlling. Resisting, closing, lashing out against the emotions and the people who triggered me.

Now, I make a different choice. I lean in. Allow. Listen. And with that, comes relief. Learning. Growth. Strength.

I am a warrior in my courage to feel, to be, to connect with others, even though I could be wounded at any moment.

I shrug off my armour and lay down my shield. I no longer point my sword threateningly at the sky. I bare my heart to the heavens.

I have never seen a warrior so vulnerable. Yet she closes her eyes just to feel the sunlight on her skin.

Nature congratulates her with pink and white blossoms, yellows and purples and oranges. Trees reveal themselves to her. Birdsong replaces her soundtrack of doubt. The universe is full.

Her body now free to embrace those she loves. And that has to be everyone. Everything. Herself. Myself. My movie and my constantly altering reviews and reactions.

I drop judgment. I wince at the pain of unhooking attachments.

With loss, there’s lightness. An opening, a flow. A current of love. A deep-seated peace.

I go within and feel calm. I open so that I can live.

I feel a tingling of love wash over me. I understand. I know. I connect.

As soon as I see clearly, my goggles fog over again. For it goes beyond my limited ways of words, analysis and explanation.

It just is. As I am. And I will remember again and again.

meditation sun

Sometimes

Do you ever feel so bad about yourself that you can’t fathom that great things could happen? You don’t believe in yourself. You forget all the good that you do.

Sometimes.

You close yourself off to all the love that surrounds you. You compare yourself unfavourably to others and see everyone else as confident, successful, flourishing…

You focus on the negatives. You spot rejection, failure and disappointment in every comment, action and imagination.

Sometimes.

You push loved ones away then hate yourself more for doing so. For self-destructively banishing what you crave: love, care and affection.

They try to love you. They offer you acceptance. But deep down, you’re never going to measure up or be worthy of their naive loving of you.

You shut down the love. You silence the laughter. You dare not believe in your potential. It frightens you.

You sob. You cry. You let go. You open up. You let him in.

Sometimes.

A smile breaks through. You can’t help but laugh. He’s so good.

He sees the best in you. You want to be that person. And one day, as you sip on a coffee in the afterglow of his presence, you realise that you are.

You are that bouncing, brave, beautiful person that he admires. But you block yourself.

Sometimes.

You think thoughts and you believe them. You identify with the bad.

You stop dancing. You don’t feel the music. You forget who you are. You exist but you cease living.

Sometimes.

While the real you simmers patiently beneath. Always there. Waiting for you to shake off the shackles and rejoin the dance.

Ready to roar in perfection. And smile and love and shine. And be free.

He loves you because finally you remember that you love you. You just don’t believe it.

Sometimes.

Image: Author's Own

Image: Author’s Own