New Life Resolutions

By now most of you guys will have started and stopped your New Year Resolutions.  Never fear; that’s perfectly normal!

January is a time for reflection.  March and September are the time for new resolutions.

But I was thinking after seeing a funny YouTube video, getting a bit down about the state of the world, and after a team meeting at Espiritu, what 3 resolutions would make the biggest difference to this world of ours or more importantly mine 😉

So I thought I’d chat about it with the ‘Gorgeous Danny Smith’ on his Drivetime show on Radio Verulam this month.  (You can listen again for a week here – monday 5.30-6pm)

 

Step 1: If you can’t say something kind, useful or positive, then don’t bother

This is my new mantra at home with the kids.  What’s the point in wasting energy saying something something mean or teasing or sarcastic?  It’s not funny.  It’s pointed and if I’m going to get all ‘tree huggy’ about it, you can literally feel the energetic stabs at people.

I’m busy.  I’m tired.  I have not got the energy to purposely irritate someone – whereas Curly Headed Boy when in ‘stinky boy’ mode, loves to wind up his sister – WHY for the love of God?

I know that I’m a soft Bristolian, but seriously if what you are going to say picks on people’s insecurities, then it’s really not necessary.  And you might not be meaning to be mean, but are you really sure that the person you are talking to is as secure as you think?

I LOVE Michael Mcyntyre because he manages to be funny without being horrible about people.  Check out this hysterical video about leaving the house as a parent ….

 

Why on Facebook do people comment on something, expressing their opinions when they weren’t asked for?  Go and become more busy!  Even if they asked your opinion, is it really worth arguing about?

Work has been tough for me recently, rebuilding a business.  I need facts yes, and they aren’t always happy facts.  But what I need is people who are focussing on the facts and being positive and helpful.  But some people love a drama and being negative about stuff.  I get that this is the natural balance of life – in fact people who are very obtuse can be helpful.  But most of the time it’s just draining and ugh!

 

Step 2: Treat each other with respect, as you would wish to be treated, and give them the benefit of the doubt.

KArma

It’s pretty easy really – but actually in our busy modern lives we often don’t do this.  We jump to conclusions, and tend to think the worst of people.  We seem to have lost some of the traditional ‘British’ politeness, and whilst we probably needed to loosen up, I rather like the old kinds of values.

So …

If you don’t want your sister to snatch a toy from you, then don’t do it to them!

If you want the kids to talk politely to you, then be respectful towards them.

If you don’t want someone to judge you, then don’t be a cow to them.

If you don’t want your other half jumping down your throat, then don’t jump to conclusions with them.

If you’d like someone to be nice to you when you are old, grey and lonely, then maybe be thoughtful of that old neighbour or relative now.

This obviously goes wrong if one person likes being kicked and the other person doesn’t.  Sometimes the other people don’t change their behaviour.  But generally speaking it works well.

There’s a woman called Byron Katie who has written an interesting book called ‘Loving What Is’ which suggests that due to the ‘Law of reflection’ (i.e. we just see ourselves in other people constantly), if you are upset with someone for doing or not doing something, it’s because it’s reminding you of you.

Other people think of it as the ‘Law of Karma’ i.e. what comes around goes around.  Curly Headed Boy has a tendency to wind up Little Dimples into doing things that he knows will be annoying for me.  The other day it backfired when it became annoying for him, so he pleaded with me to stop her.  At which point I was REALLY mean and suggested that I would step in when he mended his ways in teaching her more annoying stuff.  This has proved more difficult for him than you would think; so she is still annoying him mwahahah!

(p.s. I don’t believe that Karma is a judgemental thing as some do – more that it’s an ‘experience both sides of the story’ thing – plus it’s really complicated, so I only use it for more light hearted issues, not ‘why am I disabled’ etc).

Plus, there’s the whole ‘she/he did it first’.  To which my answer is ‘I can’t remember which one of you first wound up the other after Little Dimples was born, so who has done it today really doesn’t matter, as we don’t know who actually did it first’!

Imagine if countries thought this way, instead of Tit for Tat or Eye for an eye?  Imagine if they said ‘enoughs enough, lets call it a day’.

At least if we are kind to each other we won’t be exasperating an already horrid situation.  There are so many cases that we are dealing with now, where the people involved had something horrible happen to them not so long ago.  It could have a real impact if we all decided to treat each other with respect and compassion.

 

Step 3: Speak Your Truth

Rant with Megaphone

However, I’m not saying that you should become a mouse who lets everyone walk over you!

Or that you aren’t allowed to be angry.

Or that you aren’t allowed to expect fair justice.

Or that you aren’t allowed to stand up for yourself or protect yourself.

 

It’s really important to always say how you feel.  Saying how you feel means you aren’t attacking the person with insults e.g. instead of saying ‘You are always horrible to me and so stuck up’ you could say ‘I feel that you don’t listen to me or treat my ideas with respect, and it makes me feel unappreciated and angry’.

Saying how you feel stops resentment from taking over and you from then acting out that resentment.

I’ve written a whole blog post on ‘Teaching people how to treat you‘ – it’s definitely worth having a read if you want to know more about this.

It’s also really bad for your health to let that stuff fester inside of you.  If you find it’s just not practical to say how you feel (i.e. you might get hit or lose your job), then you can write it all down and burn the letter or imagine telling the person what you think in a meditation.  It can be amazingly cathartic and nearly as good as the real thing.

 

OK, so I know I’m being a bit fluffy and naive.  However, the fact is, if I smile at someone, a huge percentage will smile back at me.  If I scowl back at them, pretty much all of the people will glare back at me.  I can’t change the world, but I can insist that my kids learn some rules, that my workplace is a lovely place to work for my team, and that I follow these rules as much as is humanely possible.  At least I might make my little corner of the world a nicer place to be.

 

 

Stress

Where to go for help with stress: A summary of different therapies

Stress
Stress

So, you are stressed, unhappy, discontented, dis-satisfied, miserable, unhappy, overwhelmed, down, depressed; and it’s been a while.

Your body is now rebelling and you are getting problems with your sleep, stomach, memory, exhaustion and aches and pains.

You’ve read all my stuff about what stress is with some hints and tips on what to do.

You’ve checked out my favourite books for when you feel overwhelmed or depressed, including mine.

But you need some outside help from a professional, so where to go?

I’m going to give a brief introduction to some of the therapies that might help.  They are all my views, based upon my experiences, so some people may disagree!  However, the idea is to have a look and see which ones jump out to you as suiting you.

 

Counselling

Who are you ?
Who are you ?

Available free from NHS if you can wait, or private.

Tends to be pretty cheap e.g. £40 per session.

Face to face.

But takes a long time.

Basically the idea is that you talk about stuff, so that you can dig down to find out ‘why’ you feel the way that you do.  It is really useful if you aren’t sure why, and for some people just understanding can shift the problem.

The downside is that for others, they just get stuck deeper in the story of their lives and become more of a victim.

 

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Available free from the NHS if you can wait, or private.

Tends to be pretty cheap e.g. £40 per session.

Face to face or over the phone/skype.

I love CBT, it’s what got me interested in personal development in the first place over 20yrs ago.  It helps you to tackle the thoughts that are running around in your head and look at life a different way.  The idea is that by behaving differently we will get a different outcome from situations.

I think it is quicker, but maybe less deep and therefore if you don’t understand much about your thought processes/past it will be difficult to use it to get over bigger problems.  Plus, behaving differently doesn’t always make people react differently.

 

Coaching

Tends to be private and ranges from cheap to very expensive.

Face to face or over the phone/skype.

A coach is more focussed on the present and giving you goals that you can aim for and less about trauma’s from your past.

Be careful and thoroughly check their training and experience, as currently there aren’t any laws about who can and can’t call themselves a coach.

Some people use NLP (neurolinguistic programming) in the coaching, to help you.  Simply put they look at how your language affects your mind and therefore your behaviour.  I personally find it a little too orientated towards the mind.  I prefer a more intuitive approach with a more feeling/heart centered objective.  It can feel very manipulative, but it is’t without merit.

 

Hypnotherapy

Normally private.  Starting to get more expensive probably £60 or more.

But quicker.

You MUST get a well trained, well experienced hypnotherapist.  But if you get one, this can be a quick method of going into the past and working out what is causing your pain and then dealing with it.  Make sure that if they ‘remove’ a negative habit that they replace it with a positive alternative.

 

tapping points
Picture from Nick Ortner

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)

Private.  But can be cheap and you can learn it yourself.  Probably £60.

I suspect the usefulness of it depends on the experience and intuition of the practitioner and how comfortable you feel with them.

EFT has been around for a while, but I didn’t become interested until recently.  I think that it has settled down now and is a very well established option.  The idea is that by discussing our problems whilst tapping on certain meridian points (energy points in the body), it reduces how upset we are about it, then we will be able to see things differently and find a new way of seeing our life or tackling the problem.  It can be very light e.g. just looking at a headache, or go deeper into why.

The great thing is that you can learn it yourself and therefore also use it at home for smaller issues.  I really recommend Nick Ortner’s book ‘The Tapping Solution’.

 

Kinesiology Based Therapies

Private.  Much more expensive.  But much quicker.

I learned a form of kinesiology 10yrs ago (Resonance Repatterning) which is very quick at dealing with people’s problems (I used to specialise in serious mental health issues).  The body has a muscular on/off reaction which you can use to check what beliefs and problems you have.  It’s great because it bi-passes your opinions and the potential biases of the practitioner, to make sure that you actually get to the ‘real’ truth really quickly.  Then a healing technique will be used to ‘shift’ the problem and replace it with a more positive option.

There are several different options, some more structured than others.  It can be a bit wacky, but very effective.

Nutritionist/Naturopath

Supplements
Supplements

Normally private (dieticians might be free).  Mid-priced around £60

It’s amazing what physical problems and some emotional ones can be resolved with the help of a nutritionist (better than a dietician in my opinion) or naturopath.  The naturopath training is longer and more rigorous, but they are also more likely to suggest bigger changes to your patterns and they can suggestion supplements and herbs to help you out as well.

Never under estimate the power of a simple supplement, mineral, vitamin or herb.  In fact if you start to take a few, I would recommend checking in with a professional to make sure that the combination you are taking is OK.

 

 

Herbalist/Homeopath

Private.  Often after a long initial session, they can help you quickly and you only pay a small amount.

I’m a big fan of homeopathy, but it hasn’t worked well for me so far.  You get a little sugar pill that is meant to redress the balance in the body and can help with emotional, mental or physical problems.

Herbalism has helped me a lot and is of course where modern medicine started.

 

Reiki

Reiki
Reiki

Private.  But normally cheap and you can learn it yourself.  Probably £60.

Reiki is a lovely form of hands on healing where the practitioner gently touches or hovers their hands just above the body.  It can help physical, mental and emotional problems.  I became a ‘Reiki Master’ 13 yrs ago – it’s not that clever actually, it basically means ‘teacher’.  I LOVE Reiki for it’s simplicity.  But be warned, some of the people who do Reiki are mad as a box of frogs (in the nicest way!) and although it has improved, there is no standard teaching, so some people mix in other alternative therapies e.g. crystal healing and all sorts.

Please don’t jump to learn it straight away – take some time out for yourself first.  If you do learn it, remember to focus on just yourself and your family first.  Don’t run off to heal the world!

There are also other forms of healing.  Some people are just ‘natural’ healers, i.e. they are born with or got the ability to give healing to people.  Others are ‘spiritual healers’, which means that they believe they get help from other spiritual beings.

 

Physical therapies

Private.  Can be cheap if you find someone local, but expensive in salons.

E.g. Massage, Reflexology, Shiatsu Massage, Bowen Technique, Chiropractor, Osteopath

You could easily get a lovely therapist to give you a massage or reflexology session, talk through your worries and get a lovely relaxing treatment at the same time.  This is a very viable alternative and helps support the body while you are stressed.

 

More

Demartini Method – this was the final therapy that I learned (I’m a senior certified facilitator).  It tends to be more expensive, but very transformative and is based upon the healing power of gratitude.

Meta Medicine – a great method for discovering hidden reasons or potential events that had a hand to play in physical illnesses.

The Work of Byron Katie – A very simple method with just 4 questions, that you can also read about and use in your own life.  I find that one of the questions reduces about 80% of my stress levels.

 

Overall

My advice is that we ALL need OUTSIDE help from time to time and sometimes our friends and family are not the right people to help us.

However, it would be unwise to ALWAYS rely on outside help as that doesn’t help to improve our self-esteem and sense of independence and self-sufficiency.

When picking someone to work with, they need to be strong enough to challenge you a little, otherwise you won’t be able to break out of your patterns.  However, you need to have a good rapport with them and feel very safe and certain of them – that is probably the most important thing.

You are also looking for someone you appears to be pretty sorted, or at least more sorted than you are in the particular area of life that you are struggling with.  It’s fine if they have experienced the problem, it’s just that you want them to be past it!

Another ‘rule’ is not to ‘overwork’ yourself.  So don’t have a massage in the same week as a therapy session etc.  Always leave time for you to adjust after a session.

I hope that this gives you an nice easy introduction to some of the options, therapies and alternative treatments that are available.  You are very welcome to tweet/facebook me for more information or if you hear of a therapy I haven’t mentioned.

Have you used any of these?

Did you find them useful?

 

Great books for mums

Books That Can Help When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Are Depressed

Great books for mums dealing with depressionCan a book help you if you are stressed or overwhelmed or depressed?

Yes, it totally can.  BUT it’s always sensible to mix being self-reliant with a bit of involvement from other people; so reading a great book doesn’t mean that sometimes we might need someone else’s help as well; wether that’s a chat with a mate, or a session with a professional.

There are some amazing books out there based on both solid theory and practical testing, which really work when dealing with emotional or mental health.

There are also some shockingly awful ones, that might sound impressive, but should be avoided with a barge pole.

 

What to avoid

Anything that mentions the word ‘Happy‘ – it’s not possible to be happy all the time, you will drive yourself crazy.

Anything that mentions becoming more ‘Positive‘ – although balancing ‘negative’ thinking with some ‘positive’ is wise, you can’t be positive all the time

Anyone offering world peace – yep, that’s not going to happen either.  Philosophically speaking, true spirituality/religion will match science; and we will always have a duality in this world of ours.

Anyone mentioning the ‘Law of Attraction‘ – at least 90% of these people don’t understand the full law and think that by focussing on what you want you will only attract those positive things into your life.

Anyone suggesting they can quickly or completely fix you and that you’ll never have to do anything about it again – yep, that’s just not the way the world works; they are probably actually very well meaning, but naive.

Books that really helped me

I have a HUGE bookshelf full of books on health, personal development, therapy and spirituality even after several massive culls.  However, a small number of books have been crucial to my life.  I’m listing them in order of reading, rather than priority:

Dr Phil Mcgraw

Life Strategies – He might not suit everyone, but this short, pragmatic, straight talking book was a real help to me a long time ago and I think his ‘rules’ help us ‘romantics’ to get a firmer grip on reality and how life actually is.

Byron Katie

‘Loving What Is’ – Byron created a method called ‘The Work’ which is 4 simple questions and brilliant at dealing with some of the stresses about how people behave in our lives.  I find it particularly useful from a Mum’s perspective and having only read the book (I haven’t had sessions from practitioners of ‘The work’) I can apply what she calls the ‘turn around’ to probably 80% of irritations.

Dr John F Demartini

Many books – this guy is my mentor, and I’ve studied with him for 10yrs now.  He has studied more than anyone else in this field and created a great methodology for resolving stress and trauma.  The most important part of his philosophy is the power of gratitude.  The only problem with his work practically speaking is that if you are a busy mum juggling many things, his books might be a little too complex and challenging to start off with.  They are definitely a good place to end up though.  If you are into what makes people tick, then I would go for ‘The Heart of Love’.  For an introduction into gratitude ‘The Gratitude Effect’ is great.  For a full on introduction to his methodology go for ‘The Breakthrough Experience’ (but expect to find it challenging).

Rhonda Byrne

The Secret – I watched the DVD, which I think is better than the book.  I would add a HUGE health warning to it as it has loads of all the things that I said you should avoid.  However, it was a brilliant pick-me-up at a time when I really needed one, and being a DVD it really gets the message across that there is a lot we can control about how we think about life.

William Whitecloud

The Magicians Way – I love the simplicity of this book and the way that it is woven into a story, which makes it subtle and recommended to re-read.

Julia Cameron

The Artists Way – I’ve only just started doing this, but one aspect that she recommends I’d funnily enough also recommended in my book (she calls it the ‘morning pages’, whereas I had a section about writing our problems down).  It’s a 3 month course you do yourself and is both therapeutic and also great for anyone who wants to improve the creativity in their lives.  Personally I would do it in a group or with a mate and not on your own.  A friend of mine who studied counselling for years said that she got more from this course than everything she had done previously, which is a huge testimonial.

 

Can Depression Really Go Away?

When I say ‘help’, what do I mean?  Do I mean, ‘improve’, ‘change’ or ‘fix’?

I was involved in an interesting talk about this on a Facebook group the other day (which inspired me to at last write this post).  It’s an interesting quandary; to give depression enough importance for it to be tackled and dealt with effectively, without giving it too much power and suggesting that it has to rule our lives forever.  Remember that the stats suggest that 1 in 4 of us will at some point struggle with our emotional and mental health, but there is a huge range a difference in the types.

The difficultly is that the symptoms of depression make it tough for sufferers to have the energy to get help.  Then they have to find enough energy to get the right kind of help.  It does often feel like a lottery as to who does and doesn’t get good help and can be a hard slog.  It can be a lot quicker to get help privately than via the NHS, but it can be a minefield to find a good therapist privately and understand all the different options.

So can depression ever really go away?  Or is that only possible if you have a lighter form of it?

From my experience both personally in my life and having specialised for a many years with helping people with serious mental health issues I would say the answer is neither ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

For some people the depression might be a fleeting thing caused by life events, which once they have received some help, will recede probably never to return.

For others of us who succumb more frequently due to habits in the way that we think and see life, we might have to have considerable help in the beginning, but over the years become more and more capable of managing ourselves and the blips; therefore only having to touch in with external help every now and again.  So it’s more that we learn to make sure we stay above the red line and know the warning signs of trouble coming so can get help more quickly.

For those were it extends to chemical imbalances, it is still possible to get it under control, but practically speaking there is more work to be done, and I’m not sure that standard treatment for mental health will really get people as far as some alternative therapies, which of course have the downside of being private.

So yes, I think at the very least it can be managed and improved, it might even appear to ‘go away’.  But I for me it doesn’t feel as though I could now go off and forget to drink water, eat healthily, exercise, and manage my life and thoughts carefully.  I don’t mind having to do those things as they have other benefits to the quality of my life, but I couldn’t stop.  Maybe in another 10yrs it will be different; I hardly ever remember that I smoked for 10yrs having been ‘clean’ for over 15yrs now.  Perhaps I will gain greater trust in my system to maintain itself as the years go by.

Whatever your particular situation, just remember that you are not alone, there’s nothing to feel guilty for, look after yourself physically as much as you can, get some help and don’t put up with sub-standard help or prejudiced attitudes.

If you have a favourite book that has helped you, I’d love it if you would post it below, or a blog post about books that you enjoyed.

Or if you try any of these books, please do let me know and if you have any questions about them I’m always here.