Posts Tagged ‘solitude’

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Ten Signs of Awakening

July 7, 2012

How do you do it and how will you know?

Awakening can be sudden or gradual – sometimes it happens as the result of a trauma or upheaval in our lives, other times it happens entirely spontaneously with no obvious trigger. You just know that life, the Universe and everything appear very different and that the truth about all this is perhaps not the same as the story you’ve been told by your parents, your teachers, your peers, society etc. However your awakening occurs though, you can guarantee you’re in for a bit of a bumpy ride.

But why is such a wonderful life-changing experience seemingly beset with difficulties?

It’s due to the healing and shedding of our ‘stuff’ which is a necessary part of the process, to make ourselves a clear channel for the Universal Energy (akin to what Jung termed the ‘collective consciousness’, though perhaps more amazing than even he realised) which is the most powerful – but underused – resource in the universe.

Pain is also a good indicator that something in our lives is out of balance and needs to change. Like the pain we feel in our physical selves to alert us to potential damage to our bodies, emotional and psychological pain alerts us to those areas in our lives which need healing so that we can tune into the energy of the Universe and of our own authentic soul-selves, instead of having our signal distorted by the chatter of egos – our own and those around us.

The process of awakening has a number of emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual and social implications, which are listed below (with some links for further reading if you’re interested in finding out more):

1) You see the bigger picture on a personal and global level.  And become very clear about where we’ve lost our way and what needs to be done about it. This can create feelings of anger, frustration and despair as we feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task which seems to stand before us. If you feel this way, remind yourself that you may only be one person, but you are still powerful enough to create great change – think of the ripple effect. Your efforts will reach way further than you can possibly even imagine. Just follow the path which together the Universe and your soul are leading you towards – the path of your true life purpose.

2) You feel good in your own skin and enjoy solitude and leading an authentic, uncomplicated life. And you become aware that to feel like this on a more constant basis, you need to ditch your baggage to discover and strengthen the authentic core you.

https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/time-to-de-clutter/  (There are five parts to this article)

3) You recognise that inner peace can only come from within, not without.  Once you recognise this you begin to lose your unhealthy attachments to material things and to people.

4) Due to the mindbody connection, you may also experience unusual physical symptoms. Often repressed feelings get stuffed into parts of our body. Use the ‘bodyscan’ to keep yourself in tune with your physical and emotional self. (The ‘bodyscan’ is a straightforward exercise where you simply mentally  scan through your body and verbalise what is going on in there, and why you feel it might be happening eg churning in stomach area (solar plexus chakra) due to power issues; menstrual difficulties (sacral chakra) due to relationship issues; pain in left hand side due to problems with your feminine energy or a female in your life, and so on.)

5) You begin to understand how our energy systems affect us all. The basic seven chakra system (mentioned in point 4) is a really good place to start if you want to find out more about how you and the world operate.

https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/the-chakra-system/

6) You become a clearer channel for Universal Energy. This is due to simplifying your life and digging beneath the layers to reach your authentic core so your energy is no longer blocked by your ‘stuff’. Try the ‘white light’ breathing exercise to increase your connection. (Visualise  white light (universal energy)pouring into your crown, flowing through every cell of your body and into the ground, then back up round your body and out of your crown again. Do this any time during the day to keep the connection fresh and clear.)

7) You become increasingly uncomfortable around lower vibrating energy. And therefore find it harder to be around certain people. You will feel repelled by anyone who is ‘toxic ‘ to your energy. If possible, simply choose not to be around them. If there are people you have to interact with, then at least minimise contact and try the shielding exercise to protect you during that time. (Visualise yourself protected and surrounded by a cloud of white light – again you can do this any time of day, quickly and easily, and can add to it too, by visualising drops of whilte light feeding into it. There’s no limit to how big the cloud can be so keep feeding it!)

8) You become intolerant of lower vibrating and overstimulating environments. In particular, environments you know to be embodiments of the wrong path. Because of this, you may also find yourself increasingly avoiding the media, especially certain news items.

9) You crave a more healthy, serene and compassionate lifestyle. You recognise how the mindbody connection works and begin to take care of your body as you appreciate it as your means to interact with the Universe. Bad habits fall away as your fears diminish and you may want to live and work in a different place. Increased empathy may also mean a vegetarian and more eco-friendly lifestyle too.

10) You start noticing nudges from the Universe. One of the fun aspects of waking up! As you become a clearer channel for the Universal Energy, you begin to receive messages from the Universe to nudge you in the right direction. These can take a number of forms, such as:
Synchronicities
Signs and symbols
Dreams
Telepathy
Intuition

https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/so-what-is-synchronicity/

https://empathicguidance.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/dreams

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On Being An Empath (part two)

May 30, 2012

Part Two – The Delights

Empathy: the state of identification of personalities in which one person feels into the other as temporarily to lose his or her own identity. It is in this profound and somewhat mysterious process of empathy that understanding, influence, and the other significant relations between persons take place.  – Rollo May

In part one of “On Being An Empath” we examined the difficulties of being an empath. In this second part, we’ll now explore how to take care of yourself once you’ve recognised you’re an empath, and the delights which being an empath can bring.

TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF

Now you’ve recognised that you’re an empath, the most important change you can make is to take care of yourself by minimising the number of negative influences in your life. As discussed in part one, as an empath you are susceptible to the detrimental effects of negative energy, whether it’s surrounding energy or your own.

This susceptibility affects your life in a number of ways. Firstly, you will be unable to tolerate an unhealthy relationship at any level. Some people are able to exist in such a relationship for many years, perhaps by operating as though it were simply a business arrangement, but as an empath you are unable to do this. Indeed, if you do attempt to follow this course of action, you will end up becoming physically, emotionally or mentally sick – I have know more than one empath who has become suicidal when stuck in a loveless marriage. I have also known other empaths who have ended up becoming completely numb – unable to cope with the negative energy, they simply cut themselves off from ALL energy and feel nothing at all. What a horrible (non) existence. Consequently, the aware empath would rather remain single than be in a negative relationship.

You will also be unable to tolerate work which is meaningless – what Barry Jaeger in Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person calls ‘Drudgery’. Though many people are able to tolerate a dull job purely for the money, you are not one of them and if you make such a sacrifice, you will ultimately pay for it with your emotional, spiritual and physical health. The aware empath values their time, their well-being and meaningful work far more than they value money and consumer goods. Sadly, our society revolves around the masculine principles of economics whilst the more feminine attribute of empathy is often derided and neglected. And whoever dreamt up the work ethic certainly did not have people like us in mind – and was definitely not an empath.

The empath’s preference for meaningful work means that you will find many of us working in creative fields – the writer, the musician and the artist will often have this trait to some degree. Creativity is food for the soul for the empath and I personally find it vital to my well-being to use creativity in my work. I’ve done many jobs over the years but this is the only work I’ve truly enjoyed – even the more stressful and tedious aspects are easier to cope with when your work means something more to you than just a way of paying the bills.

As an empath, you will also benefit from periods of solitude to recuperate after any energy bombardment. In part one I discussed the difficulties for the empath of being in an urban environment. As I’ve got older (and empaths often become more sensitive to energies the older they become) I find that if I spend the day in a nearby town, I can only last a few hours before I have to get the hell out of there.

I also used to have what I call ‘brain in the jar’ moments. Before I recognised my trait, I would spend too much time amongst other people and become so overwhelmed, that it literally felt as if my head would explode. I would also find myself becoming overwhelmed by stressful situations or issues in my life. Whenever I felt like this, I would comment that I wished I could ‘take my brain out of my head and put it in a jar’, as a way of giving myself a break. At some subconscious level, obviously I knew what I needed – complete and utter sensory rest.

Fortunately I eventually recognised this need so I now make sure that I regularly recharge my own energy by spending time alone, meeting my need for time to contemplate, read, write and generally take care of myself – and my ‘brain in the jar’ moments no longer occur. I also realised that, for the same reasons, empaths need more sleep than most people. If you have commitments such as work and family, this can be easier said than done, but at least try and take half an hour to nap or lie in a dark, quiet room during the course of the day to revitalise yourself.  Some empaths are so unable to cope with energy onslaughts that they become recluses or hermits, but for most of us there is no need to go to this extreme, although time spent in retreat for a few days can be a positive thing now and again. This can be particularly useful for urban empaths, as time out in a tranquil rural environment can really give you a boost as well as indulge your passion for nature, which occurs naturally for many empaths.

Finding a pastime which absorbs you is also a good way of giving yourself a break. My personal favourite used to be jigsaws – you’ll find that  ‘geeky’ pastimes like model-making or stamp collecting are particularly good for this, as are creative pursuits such as gardening, painting, sculpting, or cookery. So long as it takes you out of your conscious mind for a while to give you time to balance your energy, any pastime you choose will do.

Basically then, the rule is to be your own best friend – take care of yourself, eat and sleep well and give yourself little treats now and again. Time spent relaxing with a good book in a local friendly coffee shop is my idea of bliss and is a really cheap and simple way to give yourself a lift and recharge your batteries. And remember to talk kindly to yourself – empaths tend to analyse everything and can end up being hypercritical of themselves. Whenever you catch yourself judging yourself harshly, ask yourself ‘Would I speak like this to my best friend? Would I tolerate my best friend saying this stuff to me?’ If not, then perhaps you need to reconsider.

Ultimately, self care is crucial. The more you nurture yourself, the more you will be open to the following benefits of being an empath.

 UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE – TELEPATHY, SYNCHRONICITIES AND DREAMS

Because of your high level of resonance, you will probably be tuned into the ‘universal energies’ or what Jung called the collective unconscious. This gives you a deep sense of knowing – you just ‘know’ things despite there being no rational explanation as to how you know – as well as a strong feeling of connection, which can lead to the spiritual belief that separation is an illusion and ‘we are all one’. This connection and knowing also opens us up to the ‘universal guidance’ which is contained within these energies, which is why many empaths are natural problem solvers, able to resolve any issue which they put their hearts, souls and minds into.

I mentioned in part one how my daughter and I are so close that as soon as we’re in each others energy range, I start to feel her physical symptoms. This energetic connection with others, often referred to as telepathy, is one of the fun aspects of being an empath. As well as those little tricks which many of us do such as thinking about someone just as they call you, or bumping into someone you haven’t seen in years the day after you thought about them, you may also find yourself connecting energetically with people in other less obvious ways. I find that I often tune into people I’m close to through my dreams, perhaps because my mind is more relaxed and therefore more receptive. For instance, if my daughter wakes before me in the morning and reads a book, I often have a dream which reflects the contents of that book in some way. A recent example was a dream I had about Glastonbury music festival one morning shortly before I woke. When I asked P what she had been reading, it turned out that there was a character in her book that had the nick-name ‘Glastonbury’! Even more bizarrely, I have even on occasion had the same dream as my daughter or my partner.

I also have prophetic dreams which you can read about in my blog entry The Magical World of Dreams. Empaths are often fascinated by dreams and we are natural dream analysts, due to our ability to see the deeper meaning in things and make lateral links using subtle details. This ability also works in the waking world too and helps us to interpret signs, symbols and archtypes, as well as synchronicities. Aware empaths delight in synchronicities and as our understanding of ourselves and our connection to the universe grows, we find that the universal guidance which appears in the form of synchronicities becomes ever more fluent and clear. You can read more about synchronicities in my blog entry So What Is Synchronicity?

PEOPLE AND OTHER ANIMALS

The aware empath is often described by others as ‘a beacon of light’. You will find that people are drawn to you and babies in particular will adore you – I often notice little children staring and smiling at me from their pushchairs when I’m out and about.

A similar thing can happen with animals. Empaths have a deep connection to animals and love to be around their energies. You may even find you prefer their company to that of people, as you feel animals – and their energies – are simpler and don’t have an agenda. Perhaps those ‘crazy cat ladies’ who prefer to live alone surrounded by felines are actually misunderstood empaths.

As an empath, you will also be able to resonate with the emotions of animals and unlike most people, you will view them as sentient beings who should have the same rights as humans. Because of this, many empaths become vegetarian or vegan at some point in their lives.

As far as people go, the empath makes a great friend for life, as we are loyal, warm and, humorous as well as very loving and affectionate. We are also good listeners, who are unembarrassed by strong emotion as well as being pretty much unshockable. However a healthy empath will have no tolerance for drama queens who seek attention through emotional behaviour. Though we are highly expressive about our feelings and ourselves, with the ability to share openly and honestly, we are also natural peacemakers, so prefer calm discussions to overwrought emotional spectacles or aggressive confrontations.

If you befriend an empath, then they will probably be your greatest champion. Empaths recognise your inner potential, so are able to identify your positive attributes and will remind you of your strengths when you forget you have them. (Paradoxically though, they often find it hard to take a compliment themselves.) They may also subtly alert you to any negative patterns in your life in a helpful and non-patronising way, as your empath friend has the ability to sift through all the confusing emotions you are experiencing which may be clouding the issue, to help you achieve clarity and find the root cause of your problem. And should they ever feel angry with you, you can rest assured that they will express this without attacking you personally – empaths are not judgmental and they recognise that just because a particular behaviour is bad, it does not mean that the person is bad too.

YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND

Being an empath means you have the ability to sense the truth behind someone’s facade. You intuitively know when someone is attempting to mask a negative emotion. One theory is that when we are in the presence of an emotion we have personally experienced, we recognise it and feel it within ourselves, due to our high level of internal resonance. The empath is also able to read body language, mostly at a subconscious level – you will pick up on things like tone of voice, body movements, the words people choose when they speak, the words they avoid, the logic they use – all factors which help you to tune into others and know things about them which other people probably miss. This also makes you very difficult to lie to! Not only are you able to detect a lie, you can also tell whether the intent behind that lie is malicious and selfish, or whether it’s a white lie, told in an attempt to protect someone else.

Empaths are also highly expressive themselves. They project an incredible amount of energy releasing their emotions, with many gesticulations, and as they are so open about themselves, the empath is usually the person of whom it is said that you can ‘read them like a book’. We also delight in using our bodies in a sensual way – empaths can literally become ‘lost in music’ when they dance, their bodies becoming one with the music to create one wonderful mass of  flowing, sensual energy.

NATURAL HEALERS

As you become aware of your empathy, you will recognise more and more how sensitive this makes you to the energies around you. The fact is that as an empath, energy is literally absorbed by you far more easily than more thick-skinned folk (hence the expression) so by increasing your awareness, you will be able to be more selective about which energies you allow yourself to absorb. This also means you will be able to experience a high level of resonance with another, without being overwhelmed by a multitude of outside influences.

When you have achieved this level of balance and awareness, you will find that all your empathic qualities as discussed above – your deep inner knowing, your connection to the universal energies and so on – make you a natural healer and counsellor. Indeed, for an empath a good way of sublimating the energy we talked about in part one – which attracts the energy vampires and lame ducks – and drawing boundaries around your own propensity to give of yourself to others, is to channel it into training in a helping or healing profession.

Being counselled by an empath is an amazing and life-changing experience. After just a few hours of conversation, you will feel as if the empath knows you inside out. This is due to the afore-mentioned ability for high emotional resonance, which allows the empath to tune into your energy and emotional state, giving them an uncanny ability to pinpoint what you most need and want. They will also ask the questions others may be afraid to ask – if you’re willing to face up to some possibly uncomfortable truths about yourself and your life and recognise your negative self-destructive patterns in order to grow and be true to the real you, then working with an empath will change your life.  An empath will not shy away from talking about feelings of loss either, and will help you to gain perspective on your issue as well as heal from emotional wounds, past and present.

In addition to helping you to heal, the empath will point out strengths and abilities you perhaps never realised you had. Personal empowerment is very important to the empath so they will always respect your courage and sense of determination to survive and will trust in your ability to heal and take care of yourself. All this creates a very safe environment with a high level of trust and a strong intimacy. The relationship between an empath and their client is more than just a business transaction – an authentic and caring relationship will be formed between you as the empath helps you to be your best self and to live the truth of who that best self is.

Empaths may also find themselves being drawn to other types of healing work directly involving energy, such as Reiki. With our natural ability to tune into the universal energy, learning to channel this energy through ourselves to help others is a path which many empaths naturally gravitate towards.

I do hope this article has helped you to understand your trait a little better. If you feel that anything here resonates with you, do please leave a comment – I would love to hear from you!

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Burnout Pt.3: Prevention and Cure

December 3, 2010

In the final part of our series on burnout, we explore some of the methods you can employ if you have recognised yourself in parts one and two, and feel that you may be suffering from this syndrome.

In order to recover from burnout, it’s important for you to commit fully to healing. There is no instant cure and you need to be aware that the healing process will take some time, depending on how far down the burnout path you’ve travelled. Clearly, the sooner you are able to spot these symptoms developing, the sooner you can turn your life and your general wellbeing around.

Be selfish!

This is the first and possibly the most important message to take on board if you are suffering from burnout. A good analogy is the advice given to parents during air travel, to put the oxygen mask on themselves first in an emergency so that they are then in the best position to help their child. In the same way, it’s vital for you to realise that you will not be fit to take care of anyone unless you first take care of yourself. So until you have recovered, it’s time to put you first for a change, beginning with your physical wellbeing.

Rest

In our busy and stressful society, so many of us believe it’s acceptable to operate on five or six hours sleep. However, if you are showing early signs of burnout, then it’s important to commit to getting a minimum of eight hours sleep a night and preferably at least 10. Going to bed early may feel like a drag, but is surely preferable to the alternative of running yourself so far into the ground that you’re unable to get out of bed at all.

Relaxation

Though it’s healthy to spend some of your leisure time enjoying your hobbies and pastimes, it’s also vital that you make time to practise specific relaxation techniques, such as meditation. Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated – try this simple breathing exercise. Take long slow breaths in and out, focusing solely on your breathing and saying silently to yourself  ‘in-two-three-four’ on the in breath, and ‘out-two-three-four’ on the out breath.

You could also try this simple relaxation exercise. Work your way down your body from head to toe, focussing on each body part. Tense that part for a few seconds, then release all the tension until it is completely relaxed, before moving onto the next part. You’ll probably be surprised at how much tension you’re already holding in your body.

Complementary therapies can also be very effective – I’ve found reflexology and reiki to be particularly beneficial. Massage of any kind, be it Indian Head massage, Swedish massage or aromatherapy with oils is also a wonderful way to relax and will help release any knots in those tense muscles.

Nourishment

When we’re heading towards burnout, we often find our diet suffers as we snack on fast foods or overdo the stimulants in an attempt to boost our energy levels. However our body is crying out for nourishment, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to give in to its demands. The best nutrition you can give your body at this time is vegetables, protein and unprocessed foods, as well as fibrous foods and healthy carbohydrates such as jacket potatoes, wholemeal bread and pasta and brown rice. Warm foods such as nutritious soups and stews are ideal in the winter months and salads are great for the summer.

You can also supplement your diet with a select range of vitamins and minerals. Particularly good ones are: multivitamins, B vitamins (especially B12), vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, calcium and zinc. Omega 3, co-enzymes and amino acids such as lysine are also good and a DHEA supplement (DHEA is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands) can also be beneficial. However, if you take prescribed medication, do consult your doctor first before taking any of these supplements.

As well as considering what we do ingest, it’s also worth being more vigilant about what we don’t. Sugar, salt and fats should be limited, and it’s best to avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and recreational drugs whilst suffering from burnout.

Exercise

As mentioned in part two, too much exercise can be counterproductive, particularly if you’re already on the path to burnout. The key is gentle exercise – a short walk everyday or a few light chores would be more than adequate at this stage, beginning with maybe five minutes a day and increasing the time as your energy levels rise.

Back to nature

You can of course combine this with your daily exercise, particularly if you live in a rural area – a walk outside every day will do you the power of good. Alternatively, if you live or work in a more urban setting, a lunchtime stroll through a park can be just as effective.

Being out in the sunshine also helps, though I am aware that we don’t see much of that in the UK! However the best time of day to be outdoors in the colder months is still around midday, so that lunchtime stroll is well worth the effort.

Another positive thing you can do for yourself is to take a break in nature – perhaps an afternoon in the countryside or by the sea, relaxing in the natural world away from the hurly burly of modern life.

Time Management

Burnt out people often have way too much on their plate, so basic time management skills can really make a difference in your life. You could try: making lists to organise your time more effectively; delegating, by passing on some of your tasks to others (too many burnt out people are perfectionists who erroneously believe that no-one else can manage to do the job quite as effectively as they can); and taking regular breaks, e.g. for every hour of work, take a 10-15 minute break.

Eliminate EMFs

As mentioned in part two, and in particular for highly sensitive people, EMFS (as well as other forms of geopathic stress) can be a huge issue when it comes to burn out. If you feel these are affecting your health, try some of the following: turn off and unplug appliances when not in use; minimise computer and mobile phone usage; switch to an analogue phone (cordless ones are available); and if you live near mobile phone masts or pylons, consider moving if at all possible. (You can read more about this and about the effects of geopathic stress in the book You Can Heal Yourself: Bio-Energy and the Power of Self-Healing by Seka Nikolic.)

Find support

As we saw in part two, negative relationships of any kind can contribute to burnout. Shun those energy vampires and naysayers and spend some time with positive and supportive people who appreciate you. It can be tempting to withdraw from others when you’re burnt out, and whilst time spent alone can be beneficial (see my article on solitude), when you’re feeling low, you can easily lose perspective and become overly critical of yourself. Sharing a cuppa with a true friend can help you bring much needed clarity and levity into your life.

Dump your baggage

Whether it’s emotional, psychological, mental or physical baggage, clearing out the stuff in your life which is holding you back and dragging you down is always a positive move and extremely revitalising. For more on this, check out my articles on de-cluttering here and learn how to let go of those unwanted elements which belong firmly in the past.

Personal Development

Burning out can be the precursor to a time of positive transformation in our lives. One of the ways that we can facilitate this is by focussing on our personal development and learning new, more functional ways of being. Perhaps a lack of assertiveness has been an issue for you or maybe you’ve struggled with low self esteem. Take the time to explore who you really are and find out what you need to grow and transform yourself in a positive way. Reading through some of the entries in this blog could be a good place to start and there are many other resources similar to this which can be found across the internet and in libraries.

Learn the lesson

Finally, as I mentioned in part two, look for the lesson which your burnout is trying to teach you. Regaining your physical wellbeing, freeing yourself of your baggage, discovering your authentic self through personal development work and making the most of your supportive friends are all positive steps towards transforming your life by clearing the way for the voice of your intuition. By listening to this voice we can find out what it is our soul really needs and make our way back to our true path and our life purpose.

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Burnout Pt.1: The Symptoms

November 3, 2010

In my article ‘On Being An Empath‘, I emphasise the importance of self care. Today we’re going to look at what can happen if you fail to take care of yourself – or if life simply makes that impossible to do and overwhelms you.

In our technological, fast-moving society, with its plethora of loud noises and bright lights, toxic chemicals and preservatives, pollution and EMFs,  and its emphasis on money and material acquisition above compassion and empathy for our fellow man, it’s hardly surprising that burnout has become so prevalent. And sadly, if you are an empath or HSP, or spend much of your time healing, helping or caring, you are even more susceptible to this syndrome.

There are many symptoms of burn out, and in part one today, we’ll take a closer look at them. Though this is quite a comprehensive list, it is by no means exhaustive as burnout can affect everyone in very different ways.

Physical symptoms

* Fatigue – one of the main symptoms which is likely to affect everyone is exhaustion (emotional and mental as well as physical) which is not alleviated by sleep or rest. The outcome of this, should it continue, could be Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as ME.

* Sleep disturbances – you may find you are no longer able to drop off at bedtime like you used to, or perhaps you are waking up in the night, once or several times, and are unable to get back to sleep.

* Vivid, disturbing dreams – if you do manage to sleep, you may wake up feeling like you’ve run a marathon, after a night of overactive dreaming.

* Inability to relax – when at leisure

* Aches and pains – back pains, stiff neck, frozen shoulder, head aches and chest pains (including tightness in the chest) are all potentially symptomatic of burn out. You could also have severe joint or muscle aches, which could develop into fibromyalgia.

* Physical weakness – due to low energy and weakened muscles. Even climbing the stairs can feel like an ordeal.

* Numbness, tingling, pins and needles – particularly in your arms and legs, and hands and feet.

* Digestive problems – you could suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or other gastro-intestinal disturbances.

* Loss of appetite – resulting in extreme weight loss.

* Food cravings –  in particular sugar or carbohydrates, due to low blood sugar levels. This could result in significant weight gain, which you find impossible to shift.

* Operating on ‘low’ – like a weak battery, all your body’s systems could be running low. As well as low energy and low blood sugar, you could also be suffering from low temperature and low hormone levels, including low cortisol (stress hormone).  Low cortisol is also another cause of weight gain around the stomach area.

* Faulty thermostat – you could find yourself always feeling cold and suffering from chills and/or overheating and suffering from hot flushes.

* Lowered immune system – suffering from chronic and/or recurring low grade infections.

* Allergies – skin rashes, chemical sensitivities, respiratory difficulties and sinus problems, such as rhinitis.

* Toxic build-up in the body

* Pre-menstrual problems and period pains

* Decreased libido

* Fertility problems

* Sensitivity to loud noises and bright lights

* Tinnitus

* Sore throat

* Swollen glands

* Bladder problems

* Tremor or general feeling of shakiness

* Excessive yawning or sighing


Emotional and psychological symptoms

* Depression, despair, suicidal tendencies

* Lethargy, apathy, inertia

* Anger, irritability, resentment

* Anxiety, fear, worrying

* Guilt, shame, nervousness, apprehension

* Feeling helpless and hopeless

 

* Emotional deadness

 

* Mood swings

 

* Low self-esteem

 

* High self-criticism

 

* Overly introspective

* Compulsive and obsessive-compulsive tendencies

* Addiction – to over-stimulating substances such as drugs, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, or activities such as excessive exercise, sex, loud music or other forms of excitement, in an attempt to stimulate the adrenal glands.

* Cognitive difficulties –  Memory loss, confused thinking, inability to concentrate. One of the scariest symptoms of this kind is ‘brain fog’, when you find yourself unable to remember something which you should easily be able to recall, for example, where you live or what your home looks like, or the name of an immediate family member

* Increasing sense of being cut off from ourselves and other people – feeling trapped, distant and disillusioned.

* Negative attitudes towards others, self and life in general – losing your sense of humour

* Defensiveness, pessimism, cynicism and/or intolerance towards others.

* Loss of interest in friends and family – withdrawal from others. You may find yourself using avoidance tactics when it comes to socialising, as you prefer to engage in solitary – and not necessarily healthy – activities such as isolative substance abuse, watching too much TV or spending an inordinate amount of time on the Internet.

* Feeling that the world is an evil place and losing faith in humanity

* Where work is concerned, you may find yourself losing interest with the result being that your performance suffers, you are frequently absent or late, and you participate in negative activities such as gossiping.

* Decreasing ability to be effective at doing what we have always done, either at work or at home

* Poor attention – speeding up without increased effectiveness

* Lack of assertiveness

* Indecisiveness

Do you recognise yourself  or someone you love in any of those symptoms? If so, in part two, we’ll be exploring the possible causes of burnout.

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The Good Relationship Guide (part one)

July 16, 2009

happy relationshipLast week we looked at relationship break-ups and how to handle them in a healthy way. Many relationships break down because people are focusing on the wrong values and qualities when they initially pair up or have unrealistically high expectations of their partner whilst having low expectations of what they actually need to put into the relationship themselves.

Anyone who has lived in a negative relationship like this will know how demoralising, all-consuming and generally detrimental to your wellbeing it can be. On the other hand, a good relationship can enhance an already positive existence immeasurably. So bearing this in mind, here is a brief guide to finding, recognising and maintaining a good relationship.

1. Know – and love – yourself.

At the end of my last blog entry, I stated that ‘the better you know yourself, the more likely you are to find the person who you can truly be happy with’. I really cannot reiterate this enough, as I truly believe that for most of us, this is the one and only condition necessary for meeting ‘Mr/Ms Right’.

When I was married, I can remember looking through my wardrobe to find something to wear and realising that my clothes were in a number of radically different styles. Within this small selection of garments was the punk, the hippy, the businesswoman, the ‘wife’, to name but a few – but which outfit defined the real me? Who on earth was I? The fact was, I had no idea so was desperately trying on different identities in an attempt to find out. Of course, simply changing my external image was never going to lead to a deeper knowledge of my inner self, and it was little wonder that with such a lack of self-awareness, my marriage ultimately foundered.

If you don’t know who you are, then you will not be in touch with your inner guidance, you will not know what brings you real joy and you probably won’t like yourself very much either. Consequently, you will enter a relationship, not because you want to enjoy an intimate friendship and share a lifetime of mutual love and support, but because you are hoping that your chosen partner will fill up the empty shell which exists where your authentic self should be, or will be your escape route from something, be it physical circumstances or psychological/emotional torment. You will end up attracting someone with similar or complementary insecurities and when the initial buzz is over, you will find yourself stuck in a dysfunctional relationship with someone you probably don’t even like all that much, never mind love.

Paradoxically, the best way to guarantee a positive relationship in the future is to spend some time as a single person, getting to know and love yourself. Loving yourself means developing self-respect (treating yourself in a loving way) and self-acceptance (loving yourself, warts and all). Why would you expect anyone else to love you if you don’t think you’re lovable? So take some time out from the relationship merry-go-round and do some personal development work to heal your emotional wounds and break the unhealthy patterns which drag you back into dysfunctional relationships time and time again. It may take some time but the rewards you gain through discovering your authentic self  – namely, fulfilment, harmony and serenity  – are definitely worth it. (For more on this, check out my blog entry ‘The greatest gift you will ever give yourself’.)

2. Listen to your inner guidance

As you get to know yourself better, you will become more in tune with your inner guidance or intuition – and as you feel more at ease with yourself, you will be more inclined to listen to this wise inner voice. If you think back to previous negative relationships you may have had, you probably knew quite early on that something was amiss, but your desperate need to be in a relationship overrode your inner wisdom. I once met a man whose opening words were ‘I was never unfaithful to my ex wife or ex girlfriends’. This immediately set alarm bells ringing and I actually went home and wrote in my journal ‘Watch this one – could be a ladies’ man!’ Unfortunately I was feeling particularly vulnerable when I met this man, so ignored my intuition and ended up having a fairly miserable two year relationship with him – which ended when I caught him in the arms of another woman.

As well as helping you to avoid the rotten apples, your inner guidance will also lead you to the good ones too, if you get out of your own (or your ego’s) way and allow yourself to pay heed to it. Karen was invited to a party which she didn’t really want to attend – she was single and knew it would be mostly couples, and it was in a local pub which she didn’t really like. However the voice of her inner guidance seemed determined she should go despite her misgivings, so she arranged a babysitter for her small son and went. That night she met the man who turned out to be her soulmate. Interestingly, it transpired that he had also been reluctant to attend but felt the same inexplicable pull as Karen to turn up anyway.

And of course, it will be the voice of your inner guidance which will let you know, quietly but insistently, that you’ve finally met ‘The One’….

3. Share similar values and interests…

This does not mean that you’re into hot guys and he happens to be hot, or you’re into rich women and she happens to be rich, or any other similar superficial ‘quality’. If such things are still your main criteria for a relationship then you will never be happy and will always be on the lookout for something better – after all, there’s always the possibility that someone hotter or richer is just around the corner. And of course, just because someone is hot or rich, it does not necessarily follow that they are pleasant or compatible in any way with you.

What this actually means is that you have similar values regarding love and life. Does he or she value positive qualities such as compassion and integrity? If you’re looking for a serious commitment with this person, then you also need to be sure they’re on the same page as you in the areas which are most important to you – for example, how and where you want to live, how you feel about marriage and children, your views on work and money, political and spiritual beliefs and so on.

It also helps if you have similar interests – perhaps you both like to go walking at weekends, or share a love of live music. Enjoyable shared experiences are an important bonding tool and create a history of happy memories which can be important when you go through an inevitable rough patch.  A similar sense of humour is also essential to see you through the good times and the bad – couples who laugh together, last together. Ultimately, if you fall in love with someone who is also your best friend, you can’t go far wrong.

4. …but keep some of your life for you.

Remember Penny from the ‘dumpee’ blog? Because she had a full life in her own right, with her own friends and a variety of creative interests, her relationship with Paul was not the centre of her universe. Penny chose to be in the relationship because she enjoyed being with Paul, not because she needed to be with him. Subsequently, when he left, though she was very upset, she knew that she would get over it and didn’t feel like her life was over.

There’s nothing attractive about someone who needs to be with you constantly and appears to have no existence beyond their relationship with you. A healthy relationship is interdependent – the supportive and mutually beneficial union of two independent adults – rather than co-dependent – the desperate attachment of two needy wounded children. Time apart from your partner doing your own thing makes you a much more interesting and well-rounded person who will have so much more to bring to the relationship, and is also healthy for your own personal growth and holistic well-being, giving you the opportunity for relaxation and reflection.

5. Do unto your partner as you would have your partner do unto you.

The cornerstones of a good relationship are respect and consideration. People seem to forget that ‘love’ is a verb and therefore protestations of love are simply not enough. If someone is declaring their love for you, yet they can’t be bothered to ring when they say they will, turn up on time or talk to you in a civil way; or if they ignore you in public while flirting with other people, are unfaithful to you, or prefer to spend all their free time out drinking with their friends rather than be with you, then their actions are speaking much louder than their words.

Mutually loving partners will demonstrate this love consistently through loving behaviour. This doesn’t have to consist of big flamboyant gestures, though these are wonderful for special occasions; simple daily actions which show that you care for someone’s wellbeing as much as your own are sufficient. As well as the basic courtesies like punctuality, faithfulness, civility and so on, these actions could also include things like: running them a bath or giving them a foot rub after a hard day; surprising them with a bar of their favourite chocolate or that CD you heard them mention a few days ago; bringing them a cup of tea in bed in the morning; warming their gloves on the radiator before they go out in the winter; or a quick call or text to say ‘I love you’ during the day. Small things, perhaps, but it is little gestures like these which bring sunshine and joy into your lives and enhance your existence as a couple.

More in Part Two

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Solitude – some inspirational quotes

May 28, 2009

Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is more mature. – Albert Einstein


I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other. – Rainer Maria Rilke


Solitude is such a potential thing. We hear voices in solitude, we never hear in the hurry and turmoil of life; we receive counsels and comforts, we get under no other condition . . . – Amelia E. Barr


What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be. – Ellen Burstyn


Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your own presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement. – Alice Koller


The whole value of solitude depends upon one’s self; it may be a sanctuary or a prison, a haven of repose or a place of punishment, a heaven or a hell, as we ourselves make it. – John Lubbock


It is better to travel alone than with a bad companion. – African Proverb


Solitude is strength; to depend on the presence of the crowd is weakness. The man who needs a mob to nerve him is much more alone than he imagines. – Paul Brunton


Only in solitude do we find ourselves; and in finding ourselves, we find in ourselves all our brothers in solitude. – Miguel de Unamuno


I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.  We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. – Henry David Thoreau


We live in a very tense society.  We are pulled apart… and we all need to learn how to pull ourselves together…. I think that at least part of the answer lies in solitude. – Helen Hayes


It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts. – K.T. Jong


Only in quiet waters do thing mirror themselves undistorted.  Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world. – Hans Margolius


What a commentary on civilization, when being alone is being suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it – like a secret vice. – Anne Morrow Lindbergh


When we cannot bear to be alone, it means we do not properly value the only companion we will have from birth to death – ourselves. – Eda LeShan


No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength. – Jack Kerouac


We visit others as a matter of social obligation.  How long has it been since we have visited with ourselves? – Morris Adler


Loneliness can be conquered only by those who can bear solitude. – Paul Tillich


Solitude, though it may be silent as light, is like light, the mightiest of agencies; for solitude is essential to man. All men come into this world alone and leave it alone. – Thomas de Quincey


It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinions; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson


The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude. – Aldous Huxley


In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself. – Laurence Sterne


Alone, even doing nothing, you do not waste your time. You do, almost always, in company. No encounter with yourself can be altogether sterile: Something necessarily emerges, even if only the hope of some day meeting yourself again. – E.M.Cioran


The good and the wise lead quiet lives. – Euripides


Violent passions are formed in solitude. In the busy world no object has time to make a deep impression. – Henry Home


Shakespeare, Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Lincoln never saw a movie, heard a radio, or looked at a TV. They had loneliness and knew what to do with it. They were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in them would mark. – Carl Sa

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Embracing our ‘inner geek’

May 27, 2009

On Monday I wrote about the joys of solitude and the invaluable benefits we gain from time spent with ourselves. For people who are unfamiliar with this – and perhaps a little afraid – I suggested maybe spending just 15 minutes a day by yourself writing your thoughts in a journal. Nothing too profound – just stream of consciousness stuff to kick-start the process of getting to know yourself. In a great piece of synchronicity, an hour or so after I posted this I happened to see an episode of Scrubs in which a pastor talked about the importance of taking 20 minutes a day for yourself to reflect – and the name of the episode turned out to be ‘My Words of Wisdom’. 🙂

Anyway, today I want to expand on this concept some more by talking about getting in touch with your inner geek. What do I mean by inner geek? Well, remember when you were a kid and you had some pastime which you loved to do when you spent time alone? It could have been drawing or colouring, building miniature towns with bricks or plasticine, digging holes in the garden, collecting pine cones or pretty pebbles – but the main thing was that this pastime took you away from your conscious self for a while. Time would just disappear and you would almost be in a trance whilst lost in your own little world for what seemed like minutes but was usually hours.  Of course, then we hit adolescence and our former fun pastime became too ‘uncool’ so we ditched it in favour of getting drunk with our mates in the park, swooning over pop stars or hanging round shopping centres. Fitting in with our peers is vitally important to us as teenagers but this urge to conform is often the last nail in the coffin for our essential self.

So perhaps now it’s time for us to hark back to that intuitive wisdom of our child-selves and reconnect with that inner geek we left behind all those years ago. Spending time alone with only your inner geek for company can be just as effective as meditation (but an awful lot easier), as by focusing on our geeky pastime, we are freeing our creative subconscious to sift through and assimilate the contents of our mind without being distracted by our rational, logic-driven conscious mind. The pastime should be something which occupies you manually but is not too taxing or stressful and is not over stimulating to the brain – and definitely not a passive activity involving staring at a screen of some kind. My favourites over the last few years have been gardening, spring-cleaning, baking bread (with lots of kneading) and doing jigsaws. Jigsaw-doing is definitely top of my list though (despite the mirth it’s caused amongst my friends and family over the years). I’ve discovered, via several dozen 1000-piece jigsaws, that when the constant chatter of your conscious mind is focussed elsewhere, the voice of your inner guide has a better chance of being heard. If I have a lot of stuff whirring around in my head and it’s becoming more and more difficult to make sense of it – when I can’t seem to get out of the way of my own thoughts –  I find that spending several hours alone with a jigsaw helps me to clear my mind and put things in perspective. I’ve also come up with some of my best ideas whilst indulging in one of my geeky pastimes – what seemed to be a jumble of thoughts now has the space to become a clear and coherent whole.

I also mentioned that we often leave behind our ‘inner geek’ when we reach adolescence, a time when we learn to mask our true self for fear of not being acceptable to others. Unfortunately, it is this true self which also holds the key to our true life purpose. By re-introducing ourselves to our inner geek, we can therefore also pick up some clues as to what our life purpose might be or who our authentic self really is. Sometimes the connection is obvious – if as a child you liked nothing better than spending the day on the beach jumping waves and checking out rock pools, and you now spend the best part of your life stuck in an air-conditioned office, then your essential self is probably crying out to be exposed to the elements and get back to nature. Sometimes the connection is more esoteric – perhaps your essential self resonates with the wild, unpredictability of the sea but you’ve repressed this part of yourself in an attempt to conform or please someone other than yourself. My own choices reflect my desire to bring clarity to chaos, be it physically, emotionally or psychologically – and as I’ve learned to be true to myself, I now express this soul need in every area of my life, including my work.

So wake up that inner geek of yours who’s been slumbering inside you for all these years –  and who knows, perhaps you’ll also give your true self a long overdue alarm call.

jig1jig2Watch out, there’s an inner geek about…

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