As we get closer to Christmas, in the forefront of the minds of many is “how am I going to get through Christmas with… my brother, my sister, my mother, my mother-in-law, etc”. It would be close to impossible to find a family in which there is sweet harmony among all and everyone gets along all the time. It is possible however to survive the holidays amongst even your biggest enemies and not allow them steal away with any of the joy of the Christmas season -- if you keep the following in mind:
You can’t change another person’s behaviour, but you can change your own.
If you find the behaviour of a family member or acquaintance irritating, annoying, or even disrespectful to you, choose to be the better person. In most cases the people in our lives that we find annoying are already aware of our feelings towards them, so there is no point in re-iterating our disapproval. To be the better person, you could try and be understanding of why this individual chooses to behave as they do (perhaps in an effort to hide their own insecurities or maybe to gain attention they otherwise are lacking in life) or you may decide rather to socialize in another room, or perhaps immerse yourself in a mesmerizing game in order to change your focus. To confront the person could be upsetting not only to you, but also to others present as well. Please do not misunderstand me, I do not agree with individuals being disrespectful in any way and I do believe in standing up for oneself, but once you have voiced your disapproval, there is little you can do to stop the re-occurrence of the behaviour.
If one particular individual often invites you to spar with him/her whenever you find yourselves together, changing your behaviour often throws them off guard. In time, they will change as well, as there is no fun on annoying someone if there is no reward of a reaction.
No matter what other choose to say about you, YOU know the truth.
You have no control over what others say about you. People will talk regardless of whom you are. Some of it might be true, some of it might be false, but in the end it really doesn’t matter. If you are secure in who you are as an individual and your intentions are always good, then this is all you have to concern yourself with. Let the rest go!
Nobody can MAKE you feel a specific way!
Your emotions are the result of your thoughts and they are under your control. You choose the thought and the consequential emotion will follow. No matter how much you believe another individual has wronged you, you are adding fuel to the fire if you choose to dwell on the past. Remember the saying, it is not the snakes bite that will kill you, it is the after effects of its venom!
Lastly, be the person that you wish others to be.
Note that in the case of abusive relationships or possible violence, the above advice would not be accurate. In such cases, absolute avoidance should be practiced.
Do you have the need to constantly compare yourself to others? Do you feel better or worse about yourself depending on whom you compare yourself to? Is there always some reason you don’t measure up? If these are habits you find yourself repeating on a regular basis, you are not owning who YOU truly are. Instead you are constantly trying to fit into someone else’s “shoes” and as hard as you try, they will never fit nor will they take you down the path that was meant for you.
In the belief that your shoes are inherently flawed, you persist in trying on shoes of different sizes, colours, and styles, but never actually claim your own! You hobble around in ill-fitting shoes, disregarding the discomfort, believing that it will just take time and they will fit like a glove! You might even begin to feel that they really are your shoes; however they will inevitably cause pain, possibly even desperate despair.
If the messages we receive in our life cause us to believe that our own metaphorical shoes are defective in some way, the result will be that we constantly attempt to claim another’s. Perhaps our shoes are brown, and yellow was considered more beautiful. Perhaps our shoes have a chunky heel and we were told that slim linear heels are much more attractive. Maybe our shoes were vinyl and we were told they are not as strong and vibrant as leather. From all the messages received at different points in our lives, the decision is often made that our shoes do not measure up and therefore must be replaced.
Many of the blindly accepted “truths” that we hold are beyond our immediate awareness. It is usually not until we reach the point of great discomfort or despair that we start to question the metaphorical shoes we have been to trying to fit into. For many, our closet becomes filled with many ill-fitting shoes before the pain and discomfort forces us to search for our very own custom-made shoes. Is what you are trying so hard to make your own, really your own and if it isn’t, is it of any use to you?
Each and every one of us has a specific purpose in this world, and when we accept this we can understand why we need to wear our own shoes to follow our path. If you were given brown shoes with chunky heals, they were given to you for a reason. Possibly the work you need to do in this lifetime requires a steady gait, where a slim linear heel would most surely break on the terrain of your intended path. Your purpose is one that absolutely no one else can fulfill. If you decide not to proceed in your own shoes, there will always be discomfort, possibly feelings that “there should be something more” or that “something is missing", and in some instances complete despair.
No one purpose is any less important than another and everyone is given his or her own unique gifts to fulfill their own life purpose. By accepting and loving your unique gifts instead of comparing yours to others, you will take the first steps towards a meaningful and fulfilling life. When you begin to accept and express who you are as an individual, there is peace and contentment instead of jealousy and self-judgment. The most difficult thing to do in this lifetime is to be ourselves, but it is also the most rewarding!
Search out your custom-made shoes and walk in peace and comfort on the path that was set before you.
Many individuals who have been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have been suffering for years. The debilitating symptoms slowly infiltrate every part of a person’s life until they feel they are only existing, instead of living!
Traditional therapies such as talk therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are well utilized in the treatment of PTSD. CBT has the best track record of success; however, using it on its own usually requires an extended period of time, often years, to achieve measurable results. For many, recalling a traumatizing experience during talk therapy can re-traumatize them, thereby discouraging them from remaining in therapy. In contrast, the utilization of energy psychology techniques such as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) has produced dramatic improvements in as little as a few days, as evidenced by several scientific studies.
In my last blog, I explained the psychophysiological effects involved in the development of PTSD. I will now illuminate why the application of energy psychology is immensely beneficial in its treatment. It would be useful to review the previous blog before continuing.
As noted in my last blog, one of the physiological responses to trauma for those afflicted with PTSD is the inability of their body to return to a state of homeostasis after a traumatizing experience has passed – the individual remains in a state of high alert. This heightened state of alert prevents the complete neural processing of the event, resulting in the traumatic event remaining as a part of the present rather than the brain storing it as a past event as it should. The reliving of the event as part of present day experiences causes considerable suffering and feelings of vulnerability.
One of the goals in treating PTSD with energy psychology is to assist individuals in fully processing their trauma such that it can be relegated to the past. This is accomplished through the initiation of specific eye movements, in concert with other techniques, allowing individuals to feel completely safe and calm in the moment. Although neuroscientists are aware that visual abnormalities appear in individuals recalling disturbing or traumatic events, the exact association between the two is not yet fully understood. It is believed the eye movements may be linked to how the brain processes information. With the use of energy psychology, the event can be transferred from a present to a past experience. This results in a lowering of the persistent high state of arousal. Although this does not take place all at once, it is one of the goals of the successful treatment of PTSD.
A state of hyper-arousal is exhausting for the body to perpetually support and thereby can explain the so-called “short fuse” of many traumatized individuals. The slightest upset can throw them into a complete state of panic, overwhelm, or anger. As mentioned, through the implementation of the EFT and other energy techniques as needed, a calming response can be elicited, relieving the immediate state of panic. The techniques are taught to individuals so that they can become their own therapist between sessions until their trauma therapy is complete. Dealing with immediate panic however will only calm the individual in the moment. To completely address PTSD, memories underlying and triggering the state of panic and overwhelm must also be addressed.
As discussed in my previous blog, the unconscious memory is where many of the memories triggering a state of stress and panic are stored. Many memories of traumatic events that cannot be consciously recalled are stored through the sensory channels of the body, sight, smell, taste, etc. These unconscious memories can be triggered by either external or internal stimuli. Often they cannot be put into any context; so instead of recalling a specific past memory or specific life event, only fragmented memories, images, sounds, or sights are processed. This can trigger states of panic for seemingly unknown reasons.
Given that most of the memories linked to a traumatic event are unconscious memories, it now easy to see why traditional talk therapy could take years to resolve the symptoms associated with PTSD. Energy psychology on the other hand can address these specific sensations and emotions of the body without having to address the cause. The uncomfortable sensations felt during therapy inadvertently address the unconscious memory since the two are linked. Often when addressing specific body sensations, memories that are the basis of the current felt state are revealed. The memories that are conscious can then be dealt with directly.
Of utmost importance in the treatment of PTSD is keeping clients calm and present during therapy. In utilizing energy psychology, several techniques are used to address the trauma without putting the individual back into a state of hyper-arousal or panic. Exposure through body sensations or actual memories of the traumatic event, while simultaneously eliciting a calming response in the emotional centre of the brain, allows the trauma to be recalled without the stress response. The memory then exists in the past with a neutral emotional attachment.
If you would like to learn more about the treatment of PTSD or trauma using energy psychology, please contact me and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
People are often confused about the terms “trauma” and “post traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD). What are they? Are they the same thing? Who is affected? How does it develop? Is there any help?
I will try to answer all of the above questions for you so that you may have a better understanding of trauma and the development of PTSD. Our psychophysiological response to trauma is complex, but through an understanding of this response and the new healing modalities available, those living with PTSD can have hope of being healed.
Although the two terms trauma and PTSD are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Trauma is the subjective experience of feeling that your life was endangered in some way or that you were in a situation in which you felt helpless. PTSD is feeling traumatized to such an extent that, among other symptoms, your body remains in a state of hyper-arousal, even after a traumatic incident has ended. The more threatened or helpless an individual feels in a situation, the higher the likelihood that they will develop symptoms of PTSD after the event has ended. An individual does not always have to be a part of the traumatic incident to feel they have been traumatized. Witnessing or even just hearing about violence inflicted upon others can also result in one feeling traumatized. No one situation is experienced in the same way by any two individuals, therefore subjective perception of a traumatic event is a key determinant in the development of PTSD.
PTSD is the outcome of an interaction between trauma intensity and personal vulnerability. Several variables beyond our control can determine whether or not an individual will be susceptible to the development of PTSD after experiencing a traumatizing event or events. If an incident is severe enough, it is likely that all those involved would develop the disorder.
Variables influencing vulnerability to PTSD include:
Now that you have an understanding of the key differences between trauma and PTSD, as well as the mediating factors that influence an individual's vulnerability to developing PTSD, I will touch upon the physiological aspects that are key to its development.
It is commonly known that the initial reaction to a stressful event is the fight, flight or freeze response. The body alarms us that we are not safe, that there is a threat in our environment. Once the threat has passed, the body returns to a state of balance. What is different in individuals that develop PTSD is that their alarm response continues even after the threat has passed. After being exposed to what is perceived as an extreme stressor initiating the fight, flight or freeze response, the body remains in a chronic state of arousal instead of returning to a state of balance. The continued flood of stress hormones to the body then results in the hippocampus (the part of the brain that helps us put our continual flow of life events into storage) going offline. With the hippocampus virtually dormant, traumatic incidents are not anchored to the events of the past, as they should be. Instead these incidents continue to present as if they were still part of the present. Events therefore continue to be perceived as if in the present without ending or one feeling they have survived the trauma.
In addition to the hippocampus going offline during traumatic events, the area of the brain known as Broca’s area (responsible for speech production) is also suppressed. At the same time speech production is suppressed, the area of the brain responsible for storing emotional information is activated. The degree of suppression of the hippocampus along with the activation of emotional memory increases with the level of stress. The highly charged emotions around the trauma are readily stored for later retrieval, while the ability to put the trauma into words to fully process the event is limited. Individuals exposed to a traumatic event therefore may be highly emotional in their recall of the event, but unable to fully process the experience as a result of the suppression of both the hippocampus and Broca’s area.
Lastly, human beings have two types of memory systems. For the sake of simplicity, I will only refer to them as unconscious and conscious memory. The conscious memory system partially relies on the hippocampus, which as mentioned earlier, goes offline. In addition, conscious memory also relies on oral or written language, which is also suppressed; therefore conscious memory of a traumatic event is often sketchy at best. The unconscious memory plays the biggest role in memory storage from a traumatic event. Aspects of the trauma that have been stored in the unconscious memory are beyond recall, often causing excessive distress and confusion. A certain smell, colour or other form of sensory input may trigger a distressing unconscious memory. The difficulty arises in not being able to put that distress into context. For example, if the memory of a man in a blue shirt seen during the time of the traumatic incident was stored in the unconscious memory, just seeing a blue shirt hanging in a store window may cause distress; however, since there is no conscious memory of the blue shirt from the traumatic incident, the distress seems to have no grounds, which is distressing in itself. As the number of triggers that arise without context increase, the level of individual distress and anxiety increase as well. Flashbacks often experienced by those suffering from PTSD, occur as a result of a traumatic incident not being stored in memory as a past event.
It is my hope that with this deeper understanding of why and how PTSD develops, you will also understand the difficulty in healing from PTSD and lastly, have a better understanding of the many symptoms experienced by those suffering with PTSD. Although PTSD has been treated successfully in the past with many different therapeutic interventions, it often takes years. The introduction of energy psychology has changed that. Its use to treat PTSD has been proven to be highly successful and in a much shorter period of time. One of the biggest populations suffering from PTSD is that of our war veterans. Those who were willing to be treated using energy psychology experienced a greater than 80% recovery rate from the life-limiting symptoms of PTSD, in as little as six weeks! These are highly successful statistics worth taking note of!
In my next blog, I will explain why energy psychology is proving to be extremely effective in the treatment of PTSD and what it can accomplish that talk therapy cannot.
A common saying I hear from time to time is Feel the Fear, but do it anyway! Although I do believe wholeheartedly that we need to get past our fears in order to realize our biggest dreams, I am not an advocate of just pushing through. For someone experiencing high levels of anxiety “pushing through” is not an option or likely even a consideration. The mere thought of feeling the fear is more than they can bear. To attempt to push through an existing fear with heightened levels of anxiety often just leads to exhaustion, self-deprecation and a further loss of self-efficacy.
It is possible though to feel the fear but not get overwhelmed by it. By integrating a few simple techniques from energy psychology, you can achieve your desired goals without relying on the hopes of just pushing through.
By rubbing the sore spot before speaking to that woman or man you have long admired from a distance, you become calm and centered instead of clammy and panicked. By crossing over before you have that important meeting with your boss to ask for an increase, you can become clear and focused instead of scattered and stuttering.
There are many different methods in energy psychology to help individuals deal with overwhelming anxiety in their day-to-day life. Discovering and using these techniques can make the difference between staying stuck, unhappy and lost in life or feeling hope, gratitude and joy.
Depending on your level of anxiety, one or more energy techniques can be regularly incorporated into your life to reduce your levels of anxiety to the point where you can accomplish goals you once thought were impossible. When you incorporate them on a daily basis, you will begin to wonder how you ever functioned without them. Energy psychology is a proven science that is changing lives and I hope you choose to make it a part of your life-changing journey.
Universally you hear of individuals searching for happiness. Countless times each of us has heard the statement, “I just want to be happy”. When asked what happiness means however, quite often only quizzical stares are returned. Most people know that they want happiness, yet never really ask themselves what that really means. I believe that what we are really looking for is meaning and when we start to find it, an unintended side effect of joy starts to simmer and over time grows to a full boil - a joy that nothing outside of us can take away. As stated by Vikor E. Frankl, “life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
If I hear from someone, they want a certain type of car or a specific type of house or once they get that promotion, THEN they will be happy, I know they are on the wrong road to lasting happiness. This is what I call conditional happiness based on false meaning and is why they have not found the happiness they are looking for; TRUE MEANING IS THE PATH TO HAPPINESS.
"Why am I not content with all that is for me today" is the question that needs to be answered. When the question of happiness is examined in this manner, most people find that what they are looking for “out there in the universe” is what they need to establish within themselves. As an example, that promotion will "prove to the world that I am worthy", that "I am intelligent", that "I demand respect"; however, that promotion will never bring about those gifts until those gifts are provided to the self first. It will only be false meaning with limited happiness. Happiness is not a destination, it is a result.
So what are the questions that we should be asking in order to achieve TRUE MEANING in our lives? Let me start by asking what this Viktor E. Frank quote means to you: “those who have a why to live, can bear with almost any how”?
So what is your answer to this? Why are you living? What is your purpose? Because if you are living, you have a purpose and a purpose that is beyond yourself.
If you are not getting the results you have been hoping for, your thoughts are quite likely holding you back. So how do you know?
Awareness is key. The average adult has 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day – some powerful programing is going on outside of your awareness! That very programming is likely sabotaging your goals.
There are five main brain wave frequencies, all of which represent different levels of awareness. They are: Gamma, which is involved in higher processing tasks; Beta, which is awake and alert; Alpha, which is very relaxed or meditating; Theta, which is like a light sleep or equivalent to hypnosis; and lastly Delta, which is deep sleep. During the first seven years of our lives, our brains function predominantly in the Theta state, which as noted is equivalent to hypnosis. Why is this significant? It is because the bulk of our learning which takes place during this time is learned from those closest to us such as parents and siblings. Like a sponge, we absorb all the attitudes, beliefs and ways of being in the world of those closest to us. During our early years, the cognitive abilities of higher order thinking, such as comparison, evaluation, and problem solving, have not developed therefore, whatever is learned is accepted at face value. This learning forms a template, which is the basis for how we make sense of people and the world.
A common example is children raised in a home in which financial success was frowned upon. Children hear: "money changes people for the worst", "money is the root of all evil", "You can't be rich and spiritual" etc. Children adopt this mindset, and as adults find themselves struggling with the same issues with money that their parents did. A core belief and accompanying emotion has been developed in the subconscious that is guiding behaviour. Through the years it is repeatedly reinforced.
Most of our core beliefs remain hidden unless we look for them. This is where AWARENESS comes in. Whatever part of your life that you would like to instigate change in, start LISTENING carefully to your thoughts. Are they supporting and affirming what you are working towards or are they in opposition. Is there a discrepancy between the two. Using the example of money, do you affirm to yourself that you can double your income but when you listen to your self talk what you hear is: "money is the root of all evil". Powerful subconscious programming from our youth is often what highjacks attainment of our true desires, sending us on the same dead end pathway? Only through awareness can you begin to change your way of being in the world.
Once there is awareness, the core beliefs that are not serving you can be altered in order to support your goals in life. Clinical EFT has been proven to be one of the quickest and most effective methods to alter these powerful subconscious programs.