Tag Archives: self-destruction

Take Me Over

I decide to open up to a fellow holistic therapist about how I’m feeling. I tell her that nothing necessarily bad is happening to cause this feeling but that I sense its heaviness.

I’m choosing to carry it around and I’m not letting it go. I admit that I’m afraid, which makes me want to close down and not care in order to protect myself.

My friend instructs me to close my eyes and really get into the feeling of being scared. She tells me to allow it to grow and expand and fill my body.

I feel an energy in my chest and my stomach. It feels like fear then anger and then I relax. I open my eyes and relay this to her.

She asks if there’s any bad feeling left. I tell her there is. Sadness and grief. So I’m told to repeat the process of feeling and allowing the sadness.

I see the little girl inside of me. I feel what she’s feeling. But there’s a resistance within me. I don’t particularly want to go there now. Been there, done that.

Despite my current resistance, this year I’ve been loving myself more. When I feel bad, I remember not to reject myself. Because of this major personal breakthrough, I know that I’ll be okay.

My friend tells me that I’m repeating an old pattern. There really is nothing to be afraid of. I need to face my fear so that I can see that it’s just an illusion.

I already feel much better. This makes so much sense. I usually resist these bad feelings, fearing that they will control my life and affect how I behave, react and relate to others.

My friend reminds me that this is where my resistance lies. I don’t want these feelings. I’m trying to avoid certain behaviours. And I’m fearing the worst possible outcome.

“Stop resisting,” my friend insists.

“Allow the feeling to take you over. That will create a shift. A letting go. Which will open you up in wonderful ways.

Open your heart. Allow yourself to be hurt. And the funny thing is, you won’t be hurt. Because the real you can never be destroyed.”

She predicts that letting go of resistance and allowing the feelings to take me over will change everything. I won’t have to worry about what might happen, how I may react or the many ways I could self-destruct.

She also warns that just because I’ve now stopped pushing against the swing of resistance doesn’t mean that it will immediately cease moving.

“Once you stop pushing the swing, it will continue to move back and forth for a while. But it will be less forceful and it will gradually swing less and less,” she smiles.

I leave my friend’s house with an unfamiliar feeling in my chest. Is it pain? Discomfort?

I allow the feeling to grow and expand until I realise what it is. My heart is open. And that’s okay.

withanopenheart.org

withanopenheart.org

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Great-Great Advice

I’m going to share with you a brief but worthwhile exercise from Prof Steve Peters’ book The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness.

 Imagine you are 100 years old and on your death-bed with one minute left to live. Your great-great-grandchild asks, ‘Before you die, tell me what I should do with my life.’

Pause for a moment and try to immediately and honestly answer this question. You have just one minute.

Answering this question, according to Prof Steve Peters, will identify what is important to you. It is what life is all about for you. It is your ‘Life Force’.

Whatever your advice was for your great-great-grandchild is really the advice you need to hear. If you’re not living by this advice, which is the essence of your existence, you are living a lie.

“Don’t live a lie,” urges Prof Steve Peters because, “it will unsettle you more than anything else.”

My advice for my great-great-grandchild is to: “Be happy and really really live your life.”

So how can one be happy?

On Friday night, I watched a movie called Hector and the Search for Happiness. This uplifting film is about a psychiatrist who takes himself on a journey around the globe to research what makes people happy.

Without giving too much away, Hector discovers that happiness shouldn’t be the end-goal of the things we do. Rather, we should do the things we like to do and then happiness will emerge as a pleasant side-effect.

One of the most common barriers to happiness that Hector diagnoses is the destructive habit of making comparisons. When we believe that others are happier, more successful and better looking than us, we fail to feel content where we are. We ignore all the positives that are right there in front of us, waiting to be appreciated.

It’s simple really. Happiness is a choice. Do the things that bring you happiness, and appreciate and enjoy all that you have and all that you are.

The second part of my message to my great-great-grandchild is to really really live life. Are we not already living our lives seen as we are alive, you ask? Yes, of course we are. But there’s a difference between living and really really living. And I want to really really live my life.

Really really living means getting out there to experience, explore, learn, grow and expand. It means being present to beauty, to nature and to love.

It’s in the sharing and connecting with other human beings and with all living things. It’s in the embracing and supporting. It’s in our tears and in our laughter.

It’s when we dance, sing, hike and swim. It’s in inspiring and being inspired. This for me is really really living.

Am I following my own advice? Am I being happy and really really living? For the most part, yes. Then sometimes, I compare. I think too much. I worry. I complain.

I wish things were different and I turn my back on the abundance that’s right here right now. I shut myself into a safe, boring, compact box and forget that there’s a glimmering world out there and I can do anything. Anything.

And then somehow life reminds me that it wants to be really really lived. And I thoroughly agree.

What advice would you give your great-great grandchild? Are you practising what you preach? If not, listen to yourself. You’re a wise one!

imagesbuddy.com

imagesbuddy.com

No More Excuses

It’s all well and good having brilliant flashes of insight into our behaviour. It’s marvellous to come to some understanding as to why we might be miserable. We can have many an Aha moment as we read tonnes of self-help books and watch endless YouTube clips of Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra. But what’s the point if we never actually change? We moan:

“I’m exhausted because I push myself too hard. I’m constantly striving for perfection. Because I think I’m only worthy of love and acceptance when I’m perfect.”

What a wonderful realisation! But what can we do with it? We might take a little rest (if even) and resolve to love ourselves unconditionally, before falling right back into our old self-destructive patterns. Working too hard, exercising and dieting to excess, and denying ourselves any morsel of pleasure in life… until the next time we binge or act lazy or reconnect with a bad habit; until we fall ill or get depressed and can no longer do all those things that make us feel we deserve a space on this planet. And yet again, we punish ourselves and cry, and wonder what’s the point of life… And if we don’t break down completely or (worst case scenario) decide to take our own lives, we pick ourselves up, wipe away our tears, root out those Mooji clips and dusty Thich Nhat Hanh books and start all over again…

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this. At least we’re trying. I know I do the exact same thing, time and time again. I thought my life would never be the same after watching an inspiring movie, after being introduced to Byron Katie’s work, after reading Awareness, Mutant Message Down Under, Veronika Decides to Die, The Power of NowAnd I really believed it. Every single time. Until my next spell at rock bottom, when I was left wondering where it all went wrong.

Maya Angelou wrote, “When you know better, you do better.” So, if we know what’s to be expected from that sort of conduct, why not save time, energy and heartache and just change, once and for all?

All the motivational books and videos and quotations do help. But they can only bring us forward a certain amount. It’s not called “self-help” for nothing. Ultimately, it’s you, and only you, who can help yourself. People can give you advice, tips and recommendations, but if you’re not ready to take them on board or if you’re unwilling to change, then it’s not going to do much good, is it?

“You can’t teach anybody anything, only make them realise the answers are already inside them.” Galileo

It’s much easier telling others how to live their lives, and to spot where they’re going wrong. We can talk all we want about needing to transform our thinking, but when it comes to actually making a change, most of us chicken out. Because it’s unfamiliar and scary. It takes courage, determination and persistence to change.

I’m not going to finish this off with a persuasive video clip or a book list that’s guaranteed to change your life.

Just change. Do it.

Images: http://blamethecrane.tumblr.com/; http://stylishwebdesigner.com/50-stunning-photographs-to-refresh-your-mind/

Poor-ana

Last night’s premiere of Gráinne Seoige’s Modern Life concentrated on anorexia nervosa, a debilitating and life-threatening illness. The show brought tears to my eyes on a number of occasions. Because I’ve seen and experienced how eating disorders can ruin lives. Because the thought of what it’s doing to innocent young girls kills me.

Size zero is on the lips of every celebrity and fashion guru (about the only thing that passes their lips, I hear you say). In last night’s programme, Gráinne holds up a size zero dress and comments accurately, “This looks like something a child, not a woman, would wear.” She also gives the opinion that models resemble something other than human beings and that they definitely don’t look feminine. She adds, “I would never want to look like them.” And why would you, Ms Seoige? You’re beautiful just as you are. However, if she paid too much attention to internet discussion boards, she could easily feel pressurised to slim down (one clown on Boards.ie suggested that the gorgeous presenter needs to lose a few pounds in order to get work).

Women eye up models’ figures and decide that this is the way they should look too. And why shouldn’t they attempt to be like them? After all, the definition of a model is: “A standard or example for imitation or comparison.”* However, we forget that the reason models are skinny is simply because this body shape best allows designers to showcase their collections. But when models turn into role models and make ridiculous statements such as, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” (not even a thick line of the white stuff, Ms Moss?), our younger generation of impressionable young females is doomed to a lifetime of diets and exercise regimes, and constantly striving for, but never attaining, that elusive “perfect” look.

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It’s virtually impossible to acquire the perfect body image. Even famous folk can’t do it. Despite paying fitness trainers, nutritionists, and personal chefs to make them look good, and even though they have looming red carpet events in clingy designer dresses to motivate them, they still have fat days. And that is why magazine photographs are airbrushed in order to make celebrities  look better (which usually means skinnier). When did it become such a bloody crime to be human?

However dangerous it is to have a teenage girl flick through a glossy magazine, imagine the horrors she can find on the world-wide web? Have you ever heard of a pro-ana website? It’s a site that promotes eating disorders, giving detailed tips on how to beat hunger pangs, purge quietly and hide weight loss from friends and family. It offers support and encouragement to its participants, even motivating them to compete against each other to see who can starve themselves the longest. The images are shocking, upsetting and seriously disturbing. It truly is a scary place. The thought of young girls stumbling across a site like this is terrifying.

“You become so accustomed to that empty feeling in your stomach. You almost start to enjoy it. Because if you know you’re getting very sharp hunger pains and you know how lethargic you’re becoming and you can feel your body kind of deadening under its own weight, you know you’re being successful.” Leanne Waters

But it’s not all about striving for skinniness. One woman in the US, in her quest to achieve a curvier figure, paid a fake doctor to inject her with cement, mineral oil and flat tire sealant. Needless to say, she ended up in hospital, suffering from embarrassment, an empty bank account and a hell of a lot of pain. The grass is always greener on the other size, eh?

I’ll finish off with an amusing anecdote. It’s a perfect example of this constant striving for anything other than what we are. Last week, I was in the changing rooms of a large department store. As I tried on nine dresses (I only bought one, promise!), I overheard a conversation in the next cubicle. A woman was trying on a dress for her Christmas party.

She moaned to the sales assistant, “I’m beat into this dress!”

The shop woman reassured her, “If I had your figure, I’d wear that dress.”

“Well, I have been running five miles a day.”

“Why don’t you wear magic knickers to hold you in? Not that you need it… It’s just that the dress is so clingy,” she quickly added before changing the subject: “Once, a woman had to be cut out of her dress here!”

I snorted. The customer persisted, unperturbed: “Don’t you think this dress flattens my boobs?”

“I don’t know about that… You could buy a pair of padded panties though,” she suggested.

“I don’t need one of them, I have a bum.”

“So do I but it’s in the wrong place,” the sales assistant sighed.

I would have wet my pants but then I would have had to buy the dress (and I didn’t want it because it made my arms look big).

“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.” Sophia Loren

*http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/model

Featured Image: http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2010/010/5/4/Emo_Magazine_Collage_by_Remea.jpg

Images: http://www.healthkicker.com/730791440/pro-ana-borrows-from-healthy-dieting-practices/; http://francesballard.deviantart.com/art/Anti-pro-ana-186511611; http://amazingdata.com/beauty-or-a-beast/; http://the100.ru/en/actors/sofia-loren.html

Ex-communication: unexpected message from an ex

This blog was created out of heart-break. Things had ended badly with an ex and, though I knew deep down that it was for the best, it didn’t stop the hurt and disappointment. After a number of horrifically depressing, grief-ridden days, I couldn’t stick the pain any longer. So I took out a notepad and started to write. It was then that I decided to turn this awful experience into something positive. And so, out of hardship, and after a considerable amount of pushing, a beautiful blog was born.

And out of this blog, I’ve been granted many marvellous things. I’ve rediscovered my passion for writing. I’ve received encouragement, praise and support from friends and family, and even from wonderful strangers with whom I never would have come into contact without this blog. My life feels fuller. I’ve realised that I don’t need a man to make me whole. And I most certainly don’t need a man who’s going to use and disrespect me.

Time really is the greatest healer. I hadn’t had any contact from my ex for almost a month. I know they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder but sometimes, luckily, it just makes it wander. Even though he still has something belonging to a cousin of mine, I’d been feeling too weak and too raw to ask him to return it. I knew if we had contact, and especially if I saw him, I wouldn’t be able to resist his charms.

This guy, despite warnings from loved ones and even from the logical part of my own mind, had a huge effect on me. I enjoyed his company. He was fun and open and vivacious. He was also dangerous and damaged and destructive. But I cared about him. I adored his eyes and his infectious sense of humour. I loved his smile, the way his lips drew back and his dimples deepened. I had started to fall for him. I was always there for him. I helped him and listened to his problems. And then, just like that, he was gone.

He still visited me in my dreams. Constantly. Like I needed to process what had happened and how I was feeling because I hadn’t had the chance to do it in person. I was slowly coming to the conclusion that he just wasn’t good for me and that I was better off without him. Once I got past his dark curls and sparkling green eyes, his immaturity, insecurity and selfishness became visible. When I looked back on how he treated me, I could very clearly see that he hadn’t cared about me as much as I had cared about him. All I’d longed for was a better life for this lost boy who hadn’t grown up. And I genuinely still want that for him. But, even though I still care, I now care more about myself. I recognise that I was putting myself in harm’s way every time I allowed him back into my life. I was too attached. And each time he cut me off, it hurt that bit more.

This heart-breaking episode has shown me so much about what love is and what it definitely isn’t. Ever since I took my first step on this remarkable new journey, I’ve been shown that the most rewarding type of love is the love you give yourself. In my experience, no sooner are you taught a lesson, than you’re tested on it. If our education system is anything to go by, why else do we learn?

So, you can probably guess what happened next. A month after this beguiling and utterly confusing man disappeared from my life, I received a message from him. I opened it with dread and an irritating remnant of hope. He told me that he had noticed that I’d removed him as a friend on Facebook, which he said was “acceptable, considering my behaviour”. He wished me all the best in my future and signed off using his full name. He had always been dramatic. This was probably the fifth time he’d bestowed me with such a final sentiment. He definitely knew his way around those heart-strings! Tears crept behind my eyes, ready to leap out at any moment. I couldn’t help this initial, very physical reaction. But something within me had shifted ever so slightly. Every other time, I’d fallen for his mind-games and engaged him in conversation until he inevitably said something much like the following: I just want to say that you’re an amazing woman. You deserve the best things in life. And bam! He was back! You’d swear we were the over-the-top leading characters in the latest Nicholas Sparks’ romance! This time, however, I simply replied: “Thanks, you too. By the way, my cousin wants his Sopranos box-set back. You can drop it over to him any time.” And that is that. I’m putting all this behind me, once and for all, and I don’t even have to see him. Why torture myself unnecessarily?

Sudden contact from this exhausting ex momentarily robbed me of the serenity I’d recently been enjoying. That familiar see-saw of emotions resurfaced all too easily. I feel sad about the loss of someone I genuinely cared for. But I know now that I was never really helping him, I was merely another of his distractions. And I most definitely wasn’t helping myself. Since we’ve ended it (for the last time, honest!), I’ve had extraordinary insights into the crisscrossed highways of my mind and how I’ve been negotiating them. I recognise that it wasn’t even the loss of him that hurt so badly, it was more the belief that my life lacked something without him. I felt empty and I had nothing to distract myself from that. A surprising sense of gratitude swept over me. I now thank my ex for forcing me to wake up. Because, without him, this blog would never have come into being.

I sat with my feelings until I had a clear picture of what was going on for me. And then I smoothed on a soothing balm prepared by my loved ones in the form of a laugh-a-minute lunch with my family and numerous indignant and reassuring text messages from my closest friends. And then, as my spirits were rising, I found myself drifting towards nature.

I left the iPod at home and walked with my stillness. There was something surreal, something magical about this quiet evening. Frost spread across the grass like icing. Sheep huddled in silence. I stopped and really looked at one of these creatures. It was big and solid and woolly, with a face that reminded me of nursery rhymes. I wondered what it would feel like to hug it. Suddenly, a large flock of birds swooped overhead, dotting the pink and navy sky with black. Dark trees stood stoically against the sunset. A sense of calm washed over me. I breathed in all this beauty and peace and breathed out the heart-break.

I have finally released him.

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Click here for or a list of tips on how to survive heart-break.