At times of great change, uncertainty and crisis it easy to slide into a preoccupation with what has been lost, and what challenges may lie ahead. The mind swiftly moves into fear and seeks out potential danger; a natural and at times helpful design function of the human brain, which has helped us survive many thousands of years as a species.
Change and uncertainty are the basic principles of the universe we live in, necessitating destruction and death, for the creation and evolution of life into new forms. Without being forced towards our growth edge, many of us would remain in our comfortable routines and habits, missing out on the experience of discovering our strength, expansion and creative potential. These times in our lives, are the fertile ground for our greatest shedding, greatest growth and blossoming.
Despite all these wonderful possibilities incubating in change, change is still unsettling for many and it can be helpful to have a few guideposts for the journey ahead. Here are a few breadcrumbs to help you find your way;
Knowing the lay of the land
Unless there is an immediate risk to your health or life, in the presence of great upheaval and change it can be wise to slow down. Instinctively our urge is often to retreat or run from our fears; instead be still in your new life long enough to have the mud of your turbulent emotions settle, and take stock.
Liken this to waking up and finding you have been dropped in a desert. Running in desperation towards the horizon is hazardous; whereas grounding yourself, observing the landscape, and sensitising yourself to your new surrounds at least briefly supports a wise response in relationship to what is, rather than a rash reaction to your new found location.
“Before taking any important decision in life, it is always good to do something slowly” Paulo Coelho.
Balance your perspective
Being second nature for most people to focus on what isn’t working, it is vital that we make the choice to widen our view. News and current affair outlets are also guilty of the same charge, and feed us only a small percentage of what is really happening in the world. For every disaster and crisis there are wonderful people dedicating their time and lives to positive change. Similarly in our own lives, even though we may be experiencing hardship, there is much going well. Seek out the people, communities, organisations and even nations that are often quietly, making positive changes. Then connect, and get involved. Rather than getting dragged down into the swamp of despair, shift your focus and search for the over-hanging branch and pull yourself out onto dry solid land. On a global and personal scale, find the hard ground. Find the people who are shining a light, find what is working well in your life, and make this your new home.
Your values are your personal light house
Use your values as your travel companions to navigate the dark and unknown terrain of life’s challenges. When the survival of the ego, or even the globe are at stake, reaction, the illusion of separation and fear can take the lead. Return to yourself, and reconnect with the qualities that you wish to embody in your life. At times of change and turbulence, a connection to our values ensures we aren’t as easily swayed by the values and actions of others. Difficult decisions are made less so, by asking “which choice best serves my values?”. You may find it helpful to write your values and goals down, and keep them where you can see them, as a gentle daily reminder.
Fear and anger can serve to remind us of what we hold dear, but are also uncomfortable to experience in their entirety. Culturally, many of us have been conditioned out of connecting with the full spectrum of our emotion. Feel your emotions deeply, and let them fuel your heartfelt action. Find your heart space, connect to your values, and ground yourself and your actions in them. Your emotions are the fertile ground for heart navigated action, as scholar and environmental activist Joanna Macy explains, “Don’t apologise for the sorrow, grief, and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal”.
Trust in the self-organising and creative power of life.
Creativity gives birth to the new. It exists unknown and unexperienced, until it emerges from a process of letting go and trust; much like a baby bird throwing itself out of the nest to fly for the first time. This cycling from comfort to discomfort, to only discover a fresh and original new comfort has been the movement of the universe from its inception, as Thomas Berry so beautifully reflects;
“Two billion years ago, when the atmosphere became so filled with oxygen, all of life was deteriorating. The only way for the life of that time to survive was to burrow deep into the mud at the bottom of the oceans. The future of Earth seemed bleak. And yet, in the midst of that crisis a new kind of cell emerged, one that was not destroyed by oxygen but was in fact energised by it. Because of this miracle of creativity, life exploded with an exuberance never seen before.”
With this knowing, when reflecting on a crisis or a death of the old, whether personal or communal, we can sense the conception of a new delicate seedling, the evolution of our hearts, and the continuing expansion of our home, the universe.
You may already know that Tinnitus or ‘ringing in the ear’ has many possible causes, such as exposure to loud music or sounds, unwanted side effects to medication, or earwax blockage. For other people, there are no obvious reasons.
Although there are many possible causes, and many different types of sounds actually experienced by the individual with Tinnitus; there is a lesser known commonality. How you react to the Tinnitus can significantly influence your emotional responses, which in turn can lead the brain to interpret the sound as a threat to your wellbeing.
As with any perceived threat, a healthy brain mobilises itself and the body into a fight, flight or freeze state, creating many very real changes in the body and mind. These changes are designed to keep you alive and safe. However if this state is activated when a real threat isn’t present, it can potentially create all sorts of unpleasant feelings such as stress, anger, anxiety and depression. For some individuals, Tinnitus can initiate a cascade of mental events, leading to the activation of the fight, flight or freeze response, which in turn can increase the distress associated with Tinnitus.
It is at this point, individuals living with Tinnitus may decide to explore the benefits of Mindfulness Therapy under the guidance of a trained Psychologist. Mindfulness is currently experiencing a surge in popularity across many health sectors, and research supports the benefits reported.
Simply put, Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention, on purpose to the present moment; whilst learning how to respond with non-judgement and acceptance. Although it sounds simple, many people find the idea of acceptance and non-judgment challenging, and really benefit from partnering with a Mindfulness trained Psychologist. With this support, it is possible to learn how to respond to Tinnitus as a neutral and tolerable sound.
If you would like to learn more about Mindfulness for Tinnitus or make an appointment, please contact Natalia.
Many people seek out therapy for various challenges in life. The common thread that presents itself more often than not, is an underlying quest for self-acceptance. Learning how to come to terms with our imperfections, conflicting desires, and challenging emotions, is the journey of self-acceptance.
Acceptance as a general concept is often confused with the condoning and approving of negative or unfavourable experiences, emotions and behaviours. It is also misunderstood as being passive, and giving up. This is far from the truth of what acceptance is.
Jon Kabat Zinn, one of the founders of Mindfulness training explains it here;
“Acceptance doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, mean passive resignation. Quite the opposite. It takes a huge amount of fortitude and motivation to accept what is- especially when you don’t like it-and then work wisely and effectively as best you possibly can with the circumstances you find yourself in and with the resources at your disposal, both inner and outer, to mitigate, heal, redirect, and change what can be changed.”
When we struggle with self-acceptance, we create resistance and tension with the present moment. The voice of the inner critic can dominate our inner-world accentuating our limiting thoughts, behaviours and challenging emotions. It can deeply impact the quality of our lives, and damage self-esteem. The first step toward change is awareness, the second step is acceptance.
Self-acceptance is having an awareness of your perceived imperfections and shortcomings, whilst simultaneously knowing you are worthy, and deserving of compassion and kindness exactly as you are. When we meet our experience with acceptance, we discover the loving and wise wholeness of our true nature.
Here are a few suggestions to support the development of self-acceptance:
1. Consider the struggles and challenges that you face, as part of a shared human experience. All human beings are suffering with uncertainty, the meaning of life, wanting to feel loved and ‘good enough’, and parts of their personality or person that they wish were different. It can be very comforting to be reminded that you are not the only one.
2. Take small steps to practice being your ‘true’ self. Notice where you are making choices and living your life from a place of ‘should’. By listening to, and acting on your own internal preferences, needs and wants you strengthen your sense of self and your boundary. Although scary to start, it feels good to be who we are. Being authentic in our lives, creates opportunities to receive positive reinforcement for being ourselves, and we attract those that appreciate those qualities, which in turn helps develop self-acceptance.
3. Cease the quest for perfection, whilst continuing with your effort. If you are relying on being perfect in some way as proof of your worth, you will never get there. In which case, you will never feel worthy.
4. Savour your accomplishments and achievements – often we are too quick to jump to the next thing, which means we are never truly impacted by our efforts, never deeply acknowledge our good work, and we miss out on the positive affirmation.
5. Avoid comparison. It is impossible to embody and have all of that which we admire or appreciate in others, and it diminishes the value of the treasured qualities you have as a person. Variety is essential, and your unique self has a necessary and valued place in the tapestry of humanity.
6. Practice gratitude for the self. At the end of the day, contemplate your efforts, achievements and joyful moments. The mind, for evolutionary purposes is geared to paying attention to the negative aspects and events of our lives, whist quickly letting go of the positive. If you feel you don’t have many positive qualities, successes or experiences, it is likely to be the bias of the mind, and is an opportunity for you to train your attention towards the blessings.
If you are interested in growing your self acceptance, book in for an appointment with Natalia.