Thought today

Head Space – how to make some.

Given how human perception works, the degree we know and understand others and the world around us is limited. We humans can only take in so much information at any given time. We have blind spots where we physically cannot see what is in front of us and our brain automatically fills in the blanks without us knowing. We have internal filters that lead us to focus on some things and discount others, which we may do to such a degree that we don’t even realise it is happening.  We also live in a society (or at least I do!) where there are a hundred and one things to think about and to do, all at the same time!

Okay, that was a slight exaggeration but you understand, I hope, my point.

We can only perceive and experience aspects of the world and the people we interact with at the best of times. So, if we are not actively paying attention, we diminish our own experience, as well that of others.

There are things we humans can do, to increase our ability to take in more of what we experience, which will enable us to engage more with our world and the people in it. Certain things have helped me to calm my active mind, so I can take in more information, without experiencing an increase in stress, as well as enabled me to feel more deeply my experience which has enhanced my understanding of myself and others. It is my intention over the next series of blogs to look at each of these. Namely:

  • Mindful walking – listening to sounds or focusing our attention on the act of walking

  • Acceptance – of my self, as I am presently and life, as it is at the moment.

  • Learning to separate observation from interpretation – an aspect of the Marshall Rosenberg Compassionate Communication model.

  • Listening to hear – not to respond.

  • Listening and speaking from the heart – another aspect of the Marshall Rosenberg Compassionate Communication model.

  • Reflective writing – journalling, free fall (stream of consciousness) writing, creative writing/poetry.

So, let’s take a look at the first of these in this blog.

Mindful walking – walking is a form of meditation for me. I could never get on with sitting in one place and focusing on one spot. I have utilised two types of mindful walking. One, where I listen and so observe the sounds I hear around me. I do not pay the sounds specific and more detailed attention, nor do I evaluate them, wonder where they are etc. I simply acknowledge the sound being there by hearing it.

This is not as easy as it might sound.

When I first tried this many years ago, my mind would move from one topic to another quite rapidly or I would actively look towards the sound to see what it was and/or where it was. From time to time my mind still does this and so, I do some mindful walking and my mind calms sooner rather than later. I hasten to add my mind is not necessarily thinking upsetting thoughts when it is busy, although this type of exercise can assist with that. I know this as I used to have upsetting thoughts quite often. I found out the hard way, that the best way to deal with upsetting thoughts is to accept them as being there, but not pay them specific and more detailed attention. Pushing thoughts away makes them stronger and whilst it is natural to wonder why we think what we do, by doing so, we inadvertently fuel the thought cycle so it comes round more.

If you want to try this mindful walking exercise, start with small chunks of time, whatever you can manage, even if it’s only a minute a day. Build on it. I found doing ten minutes each day in my lunch hour for a couple of weeks very beneficial and I was quite surprised at the change in me. I was calmer, less stressed, my awareness increased, I could take in more of what was going on around me: I heard sounds from a greater distance than I usually did. I also found I had the capacity to do more. It was quite an amazing feeling.

So to recap, all you need to do is walk, doesn’t matter where you are only that you pay attention (but not extra detailed attention) to the sounds around you. Gently notice the sounds as they drift by.  Observe them. When you notice your mind has wandered off and you are wondering about what to have for tea or something you need to do when you get back to the office, just readjust your focus back to the sounds around you.  If you are anything like me, you may need to readjust yourself frequently when you first start to do this. Eventually my mind slowed down and I could stay with the sounds longer.  Hopefully you will be able to achieve this too, although it is not a competition! Just remember to be gentle with yourself and take your time.

The other mindful walking is where I focus my attention on the act of walking itself. Starting with my feet, I bring my full attention to how my feet feel inside my shoes, I may wriggle my toes if I feel like it, I focus on how my feet feel upon the earth beneath them and focus on each step that I take.  If you are a visual person, then perhaps try to visualise your feet as you place them on the ground. The point is to focus yourself on your connection with the earth beneath you through your feet and to feel fully the support of your feet and legs as you move.  This is not a body scan exercise, you are not seeking out how you feel in each part of your body. The focus is on how it feels to walk and so the movement and the feel of your feet beneath you.

This one I play around with depending on how I feel. Sometimes I imagine my body stretching, as if a tree, up towards the sky. If you try this, just see what works for you, but ground yourself first through your feet!

I have found both of these walking meditations to be very grounding. Each enable me to get out of my head and into the physical world. Not that there is anything wrong with being in my head, don’t get me wrong. However, there is a matter of balance to be had.

If you try either of these walking meditations I hope you find them useful and you enjoy the experience. Feel free to share your experience with me if you would like to.

In the next blog I will look at Acceptance.

Until then…

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Thought today

How to not take things personally.

I was on a course recently and one of the activities we were to undertake was a ten minute Micro-Teach at the end of which we were to give feedback of the experience to the person who gave the Micro-Teach. We were discussing how we would give feedback and the group consensus was that it ought to be constructive and so helpful to the person receiving the feedback so they can learn and/or develop their skills. We also said that no one is to take anything that is said personally.

All well and good. However…,

one of my fellow students said: “Yes, but how do we not take what is said personally? How do we do that?” This got me thinking about how I learnt to receive and indeed give feedback and whether there were people out there in the big wide world struggling to understand how to approach this task. So I thought I’d share my snip-bits of wisdom in this department which you can find below. Essentially I’ve given some pointers that I used to support myself and my learning. I hope you find this of interest and/or helpful.

So, how not to take feedback/things said to us, personally

  1. Remember what is said is not all about you  even if it is specifically attached to you by the speaker. (See point 2).

  2. Remember what is said is an opinion based hopefully on some facts although mixed with an individuals own perspective which stems from their life experiences and knowledge at the time (not yours)

  3. Remember what is said, no matter how much it is stated as if it is an absolute, is not absolute – life is fluid, so too are we humans. We are constantly evolving through our experiences.

  4. Remember you do not have to agree with what is said, simply accept what is said for what it is: an invitation to consider what is being said. (No matter how authoritarian the person speaking may be).

  5. Remember that neither you or the other person has to be ‘right’ overall. We really can all coexist here on Earth together!

  6. Remember your value and worth as a human being is not being defined, or at least if it is constructive and so helpful feedback, it isn’t.

  7. Remember to allow yourself time to process and indeed reflect on what has been communicated to you.

  8. Remember you do not have to respond to the points raised, although it is always nice (or at least I think it is) if we acknowledge what is communicated to us, otherwise the other person may not feel heard and quite possibly ignored. I don’t know about you but I don’t appreciate that, so acknowledge that you’ve heard the other person, maybe even say (if it is true for you) “Right now I don’t see it but I hear what you’re saying” or even simply “I’ll think about it, thanks.” Give you and the other person/people room to breathe.

Continue reading

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Thought today

It’s been a while…

Well, I was about to say I’d fallen off the Compassionate Wagon again but that isn’t quite true. I felt like I had, but in fact I can see now, I had not.

I have experienced a deep sadness and have taken time to honour that sadness having fallen in love with someone that I cannot be with. At the same time I feel happiness for the very same reason. My love still remains and I love that this person is in my life. Hopefully that will  remain.  I would not want it any other way.

At the same time I experienced a friend I was fond of behaving in a completely different light to the one I had come to know them and the experience was unpleasant to say the least. I was accused of doing something I did not do and I was not heard or accepted when I pointed out this fact.  Being suddenly forced to see my friend as a very different person to the one I had thought they were triggered an old trauma pattern from my childhood. One where I had, as a young child, felt safe and found out the hard way that I wasn’t safe at all and to the degree that I lost myself.

Having this old trauma pattern ignited was difficult to be with. However, this time round I could see the trauma pattern and my current life experience side by side, rather than entwined or overlapping each other.  This time round I could say to myself, whilst my friend is not who I thought he was, that he isn’t as safe as I thought, he isn’t dangerous either.  That my trauma pattern was alive in me and I could make distinctions like this at the time is a real breakthrough.

I have been able to find my way through by taking the time I needed to experience the emotions, along with the trauma cycles and change gear. I did less in order to give myself time to recoup. I spoke to myself with understanding and empathy, I acknowledged what I was experiencing was tough and painful, I gave myself time to cry, sob, feel deeply sad and reminded myself of how far I had come in my process, of how much better my life is today and of my love too.  I journalled, acknowledging my experience as it was in all its rawness.

What helped me to come back to me after this?  Writing. Getting back in touch with my creativity, experiencing myself and my environment with my focus on the senses, bringing me back to the moment, back to me, back to the world I am in.

Why am I writing this?  Because when I was going through this process I felt like I wasn’t helping myself and that I wasn’t being compassionate to myself when in actual fact I was.  I can see that now I feel more centred and I can appreciate the love I have for what it is, without wanting anything else to come from it. I feel more like myself today.

What I hope I remember from this experience is that even though I may feel like I am wading through mud emotionally and that I am not changing anything or that I am not helping myself, for me not to be fooled.

Thought for the day: Keep your intent true to your heart, what you desire and feel, eventually you will find your way through whatever painful experience you are going through.  Keep being compassionate, keep being caring, nurturing and supportive to yourself no matter what.  Don’t stop.  Don’t give up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thought today

Sharing….

When it comes to sharing information, experiences, knowledge etc. especially when there is emotional content involved but not only then, it is imperative we think about the person who is receiving what we say. Imperative because words have strength and power to influence us in the way we think, feel and behave.

The motive for sharing is important to be aware of.  For example, I share my experiences, feelings, thoughts, knowledge etc. to connect with others, to generate ideas, other ways of looking at things, stir some motivation, perhaps some camaraderie, provide comfort in understanding, bring hope, enlightenment, to think, all depending on what it is I’m sharing obviously.

How we feel, how we hold ourselves in relation to how we feel and our ability to hold ourselves and our space with another person, are also important factors to be borne in mind.

In the area of mental health and emotional well-being, sharing our experiences can be beneficial but not always. Encouraging someone to speak about how they feel when they do not wish to, aren’t ready or indeed for whatever reason they are not comfortable doing so, is actually dangerous and can cause harm.  Sharing must be respectful and with mutually agreed boundaries, otherwise it runs the risk of not helping anyone but doing quite the opposite.

Sharing for the sake of sharing is not helpful or healthy.

What if the person we are talking to is unable to ‘listen’ to us? Wouldn’t it be nice if we asked first? Considering whether the other person will be able to manage what we say is appreciated by me. I try to remember to ask myself: What does the recipient need to know? How is what I say likely to impact them?  Will what I say help? If so, who; them, me or both? Asking myself these questions will, I hope, lead me to not fall into an unhealthy pattern of communication.

How we express ourselves is important.  I have a very good imagination and my mind is strongly image orientated. Once an image is in my head, whether placed there by my seeing an image, witnessing an incident or by someone talking (whether consciously using imagery or not) it can take days or several weeks and in some cases years for those images to calm down in my mind.

Being mindful of how we are expressing ourselves is important, if you want to engage in an open emotional dialogue with someone that will be beneficial for all parties.

If sharing our experiences, including how we think and feel, then own it. Use ‘I’ statements. I feel… I think… I did….and be specific.  Ground what is said in something concrete and avoid vague statements and generalisations they muddy the waters somewhat.

Speaking in a compassionate way – that’s one that has regard for you as well as other people and a regard which combines kindness, empathy and a willingness to at least try to understand – is more likely to lead to a positive experience for all parties concerned.

I’m all for sharing, in a safe and accepting environment, where each party is considered, valued and respected and nothing is done at anyone’s’ expense.

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Thought today

Holding Another…

It is incredibly hard to watch another human being crumple into despair and fall into crisis or at least it is if you have a conscience and any element of empathy and compassion about you.

But what am I talking about when I say crisis? 

Crisis being when your emotional world is upside down, you go from not knowing what you feel to becoming abruptly aware and knowing exactly and acutely what is felt, it’s so intense we can’t be off of knowing about it.

Crisis when you cannot trust your own minds contents or how your own body feels to be in and our emotional equilibrium is simply just not there, or if it is, it requires help to be there and to stay with us, otherwise we are simply in chaos unable to hold the thoughts in our head and be with the way our body feels, including when it feels numb not only when it is screaming at us.  In short, we are unable to hold ourselves.

Holding people who have ‘fallen’ in to crisis (for whatever reason) is exceptionally important. Holding that is, not necessarily physically, although that can help, touch does impact the way that we feel and being held by someone who is calm and secure in themselves can bring a sense of safety and calm to another who is in internal chaos. It certainly would have done me the world of good when I was in crisis and being inside my mind and body was a frightening place to be.  Unfortunately I didn’t get this the way I needed it but there are other ways of holding someone which can help too.

How we physically hold ourselves when in the presence of another in crisis can impact just how far the crisis in the other person goes.   Remaining calm and not becoming wrapped up in the other persons’ chaos is a good place to start as is accepting what a person says and not automatically telling them another way of viewing things. Don’t get me wrong the latter is important, but there is an element of timing to be had here.  The other person needs to feel heard and accepted first.

Being firm in our physical sense of self and where we are can help another in the process of breaking down to actually complete the break down, possibly swifter (in my personal opinion) and/or not breakdown completely but enough for a healthy release of their pain.

Note please that I say it can, not that it will.  There is no rhyme or reason to it, one day something that ‘worked’ before may not work for us on another day at all.  It’s best to be mindful of options and possibilities and play it by ear.  Bit like approaching life really.

The way we communicate ourselves will either aid the experience of the other person or hinder it.

If we accept the other person the way they are, without freaking out in response to their freak out, the crisis is likely to not be antagonised and will pass quicker and be less painful.

We all need to be able to have time and space to process our emotions and thoughts in general terms. This is needed especially when a person is in crisis, so too is an accepting, non-judgmental, compassionate heart,

a soul that is willing to stay with us, especially when we are feeling frightened and confused and

a mind that is open to hear us.

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Thought today

Letting go….

Letting go of someone we love is hard (understatement I know) but sometimes we don’t have a choice.  Whether the person we love chooses to leave us and/or our life or the choice is out of their control, we are still faced with the same situation: the person we love is no longer in our life.

I do not profess to have ‘the answer’ to how to let go. I don’t think there actually is one. I don’t think we are actually meant to let go, not completely. It’s our relationship that needs to change and with ourselves.

We are meant to feel our aching pain, distress, sadness, love, joy, anger, rage, hurt, beauty, despair and all the rest of the gauntlet of emotions we humans can experience and whilst we do this, to hold ourselves with love and compassion.  If we can’t hold ourselves then find someone to hold us physically and/or emotionally. If that means we pay someone to do that: pay them.  There is no shame in doing this. It is a fundamental human need enabling us to both survive and evolve.

Honour your love. Honour that you have it, that you shared it in the only way you could and knew how,  honour the presence of your love in your life, the way that your love caused you to feel, honour your bravery for feeling and expressing your love – whatever form that love took or indeed its expression.  Let yourself mourn the loss of your love, this is a way of honouring it.

There can be a great deal of sadness in doing all this and yes it can hurt, profoundly.  If we can channel the painful feelings from the loss or rejection of the person we love, then we can keep our love, albeit differently. It is after all our love.

If we were lucky, we had the opportunity to share our love with the person that we love and there was a connection that was reciprocated for a time.  We can change our relationship with ourselves and how we feel about the loss without having to lose our love and in a way that may well reduce the level or length of time we feel the pain of its loss: by appreciating what the love gave us (even though it may now hurt us too) and by supporting and caring for ourselves so that we do not become engulfed in our painful sorrow of loss, which can ultimately lead us to lose all sense of the wonder that our love gave us.

This is, by no stretch of the imagination, no easy feat, but it is achievable.  I for one, would rather try to do this than not.

The people I love, I love with a passion that ignites my mind, soul and body. It is difficult enough to lose the person.  I’d rather try and not lose the love and all it gave me as well. Not completely anyway.

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Thought today

Healing….emotional and psychological and indeed of the soul

Healing can take place in an environment and relationship where each individual is respected, nurtured and supported. But what do I mean by healing?

For me, healing was about learning to change my relationship with myself as well as to locate, engage and process repressed trauma and come to understand not only what had happened to me when I was a young child, but also how it had impacted me as a human being and how it was continuing to impact me as an adult. Healing was and in some ways still is about nurturing myself and my past pain. I came to understand that I was healing my past selves which led to my further understanding that I was in fact healing my younger selves who resided in my mind (and indeed psyche) split off from each other and from me.

When I say healing, in relation to myself, I mean the process of uncovering the trauma, remembering not only what happened to me but who I am as a person (I had lost huge aspects of my self – personality, memories, experiences, knowledge) and recovering and reclaiming these parts of me and my life. In time I also came to understand that my healing process was not only reclaiming my lost selves but also reclaiming my body which for years I had lived in not realising that I was in fact living in a traumatised body and that I was not feeling that body fully as a non-traumatised person would.

Healing may not be this for other people, for some it may be, but always best to ask for clarity as to what one means by the term so to avoid speaking at cross purposes with anyone.

I much prefer the term healing to that of ‘recovery’ which seems to be used as if to indicate an ‘end result’ or a point one gets to and then one can stop doing the things one has learnt to cope with whatever issues one has been dealing with.  From my point of view and indeed others I have met, this is wholly inaccurate.

Healing is a continuous process which we experience at more than just the one level and it takes, you guessed it: time.  It takes as long as it takes, there is no overall time span that one ‘should’ heal within. There is simply the time it takes for your process.

And it takes: patience with ourselves and with our process, along with heaps of compassion for ourselves, it is after all not our fault what happened to us and even if it were, we are only human we cannot get everything ‘right’ all of the time.

Acceptance of ourselves, as we are and of our life as it actually is, and that is acceptance with compassion is crucial. I found out the hard way, (that’s slow, long and painful) if you bear nothing else in mind from reading this blog PLEASE REMEMBER THIS POINT.

It is through accepting myself as I am, as in ‘now, in the moment’ to coin a popular and quite true phrase, that any sustaining change of the self could take place. From the point of genuine heartfelt acceptance of the self; an all -encompassing acceptance of the self: that means no editing, no judging, no regrets, no blame and so no finger pointing or irritability towards the self.   Being responsible for ourselves: sure. Holding others accountable for what they are responsible for (if appropriate to communicate to the other person) sure: although this is a subject that is worthy of another blog or two entirely.

This is my personal point of view from my own personal experience of healing, along with some of the things I have learnt through various studies.  I am not a qualified therapist or any other type of ‘healing’ professional but what I write about in my blogs, unless otherwise stated, are things that have helped me survive, heal and live rather than exist in life.

Tray’s top tip (if you’ll permit me to share one with you): If you can be kind, compassionate and accepting of and to yourself you will be helping yourself and whatever healing process you are undertaking profoundly.  You will be giving yourself a gift for life.

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