Every year World Mental Health Day is observed on the 10th of October. This year 2020, it was on a Saturday and the focus was kindness.
I chose that instead of working or being involved online I would show myself some kindness. I did an online art class, walked the dogs, chilled on the terrace and watched some NetFlix.
In my chilled moments I did reflect on some of my mental health issues and how I overcame them.
The thing with mental health is that there are often no obvious signs that someone is suffering until their body complains, they are overcome with emotions like fear and then it can feel like it is too late.
For some, it has become too late.
Anxiety and depression can affect anyone.
When I was in the corporate world mental health was rarely discussed, but as a senior manager, I was very aware when people around me were not coping. Many a private conversation, a cuppa and a walk in the fresh air have provided someone with the space to be heard and to be empowered to take some other action towards better choices.
This is not always the case when you work alone or you are living with others whose needs come first.
Over ten ago, I found myself in front of the doctor complaining that despite the many miles I trudged every day with my dog, I couldn’t breathe. He asked me some questions and suddenly there was a space to be heard.
We talked about who I was living with, what the relationship was like, work and general health. I explained that for the previous two years I’d struggled with sleep and had tried everything I could think of. I remember him laughing at the comprehensive list I handed over. He glanced over it and said quietly ‘you have anxiety and it is no wonder.’
“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.” ― John Green
Walking away with a prescription for Prozac felt like the end of the world. I felt a failure. I felt ashamed. But before long I was sleeping and a calm descended.
Despite feeling ashamed of giving in and although I didn’t want anyone to know, I found myself sharing with two friends.
Then I had an exit strategy. Changing my diet and writing in my journal became an essential part of my healing.
I was a bit silly with my diet and cut out practically everything that could possibly be an allergen to anyone, ever. Losing vast quantities of weight did nothing for my skin and my skinny legs looked more matches like every day. I didn’t love me so I couldn’t and didn’t look in the mirror.
By the Christmas of that same year, I stopped taking them. Then the then husbands mother came to live. She had dementia and he was a bully, I felt trapped and alone so I went back on the pills. It was the only way I could cope.
I poured my heart into my journal and I recall one night when lying awake staring at the ceiling I knew it was time for me to die. While everyone slept I Googled ways of dying. They all looked painful. Instead, I screamed silently into the slumbering beams.
Held by the most fragile gossamer, I realised I wasn’t meant to die but I was dead inside.
Shortly after his mother’s death, I weaned myself off Prozac (again) and tried to get back to some normality.
As luck would have it, I discovered that this person had been living a double life. That was the catalyst I needed to get the hell out of dodge.
The dogs and I hightailed it out of town and onto a new country.
That was enough to send anyone into a spin. I used to stuffing my emotions down decided to let them all out and through journaling and writing books found a way to love myself.
The trouble was because I had stuffed my emotions down for many years my body was taking the toll.
In January 2018 several years after I left the bully, my spine fractured and so it seems did my life.
I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. It didn’t surprise me to learn that there is a link between this and depression.
I was scared. But also determined. Somewhere under my thick woolly jumper was a brave soul who was not going backwards into a slump.
The specialist doctor simply handed me a prescription and told me to go to the gym. I was in immense pain. The fear escalated like nothing before.
The prescription went in the bin, out came a brand new journal and before long I was researching and writing.
The fear took it’s time to abate. Feel the fear always reminds me of a book called Feel the fear and do it anyway. However, the last thing I wanted was to feel the fear, or do it, whatever ‘it’ was, I wanted answers. I wanted information and knowledge so that I could work through the fear in my way.
How could I take action, if I didn’t know what I was up against? Sure I knew that the medical system that I had just encountered would not support me, but I had to know what this thing was and how you reverse it. Knowledge is power, and without it you are helpless.
In my journal, I asked what was going to come at me next? In some way, I needed to know that I could press a cancel button and this would all go away. It didn’t. At least not straight away.
Some people tell us that the opposite of living in or with fear is to live fearlessly, but these words don’t resonate with me either. I don’t like it because the fear word is part of it. Although I like the idea of being fear-less so that there is less fear.
It’s more how you reframe it – I think. This is where lots of other things like faith, trust and courage come into play. These are the friends of fear.
I kept wondering why if the bodies prime objective is to keep you safe, why did I hurt so much? This was both physical and emotional pain. I certainly did not feel safe.
Fear is another emotion, like anger, sadness, joy, and love. In this case, the fear was triggered by a perceived threat. I felt threatened by osteoporosis and the system. I knew enough about osteoporosis as my mum has lived with it for years and that scared me too.
Triggers can come at you from anywhere, and this was certainly happening. Think for a moment outside of fear, what might trigger you to become angry or to have a gorgeous belly laugh.
The trouble was that I am visual and I could see all kinds of devastation coming at me from different angles. Which was crazy. Right at the point of hearing my bad news, I knew that my mind would go into temporary insanity. And that’s ok, I figured that’s normal, and I can deal with it. I kept saying over and over again I can deal with this, I can do it, I can…
I used to teach assertiveness skills, so I knew intellectually that in relation to fear, there were several ways that we typically respond. One is to fight and another is to run away. This is known as the fight or flight response.
When we sense danger, our bodies release hormones to an area of the brain called the amygdala. Depending on your response to the danger you may experience a number of things. For example, you may get a racing heart or a bad tummy. What’s important is that you recognise your typical response.
This response is due to cortisol and adrenaline being released into the body. They, in turn, signal the adrenals (on top of your kidneys) to release hormones. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, blood pressure and the amount of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream.
Cortisol also releases increased amounts of glucose into the bloodstream, which your brain needs to deal with the perceived threat. Glucose is food for the brain. The brain with an increased supply of food can do its work. When the fear response diminishes everything goes back to normal.
Problems arise when we constantly live in fear. You may have heard people who are newly diagnosed with something saying that they are constantly tired. That’s possibly because unconsciously they are fearful and the adrenals are taking a pounding. Not only was I in pain, but I was also immensely tired. My body was certainly responding to all of the triggers.
The other thing you may do is panic. What the ‘beep’ am I going to do? Panic is normal, and it’s usually our first response. Think for a moment when as you are driving away from home to go on holiday and you ask, did I turn the iron off? What happens? Yes, panic.
Then you calm down as you go through those final steps of closing up the house and you can see yourself doing what you always do, and the iron is off. Of course, you can ring a friend and ask them to pop in to check so that you feel reassured.
Fear will attach itself to the memory of the event, and you will code and remember this memory as a time of potential unpleasantness. Then what we often do is future pace our fear, and this becomes anxiety. You start to worry about things that may never happen.
Sometimes this endless worrying does bring about the event, something which is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have through constant mithering have given your body permission to bring you the thing that you fear the most.
Then there is the interference we mentioned earlier. Once you feel fear, it starts to interfere with your rational and conscious thought. The knock-on effect if you let fear take control it can have a longer-term negative impact on your health.
So if you have something like osteoporosis you are sending more signals to your body which will impact your healing. All of these chemicals while having a place in keeping us safe are now contributing and feeding the condition we want to reverse.
So here we are on the playground of chaos. Before order will always be chaos. Some call osteoporosis a dis-order which to me is a system out of order. When you view your emotions and understand that you have a system that is not in order or is in chaos, it’s easier (sort of) to know that order will follow.
All will be revealed. True you cannot be certain of what is going to happen next, but the truth is old perceptions need to die. Chaos must be allowed to roam free to stir things up, so that you can start to make sense of it all
It can seem like time has ground to a halt as you process the news that will change your life. When I was at the chiropractor the day after I had my x-rays done, a few minutes after he delivered his verdict, I was in the bathroom.
My body reacted through the digestive system. It usually does. Years of preparing to go on stage to deliver a talk and needing the bathroom right up to the point of speaking is now a distant memory. I learned to breathe through this and now I actually I love presenting. So over time, I unlearned my response. Because there was nothing to fear, in fact speaking on stage is exciting.
But is it exciting to learn that you have been labelled with a potentially life-changing dis-ease? No, it’s not, but what is exciting is understanding that you can use your knowledge of this response to turning things around for the better.
Before I reached the exciting part I had to deal with the fear, but something else was eating away at me more, and that was trust and betrayal. I started to not trust my mind and was constantly thinking about how my body was betraying me. I was asking crazy questions about whether I could trust it to heal. I knew that it could, but this acid from my past was eating at my intuition and my intellect.
Some choose to see a therapist or counsellor, some open wine, I choose journaling and walking the dogs.
Before I could deal with the osteoporosis, I needed to quell the ghosts from the past. So that’s what I did. I went back and looked at every time I felt betrayed and where I had misplaced my trust, and I wrote letters to each person, burnt them and let them go. When I felt cleansed, I turned to my body and considered what is the opposite. In the case of fear, it might be courage. This helped me to put what was going on in context.
You do not need to push it away, feel into it or embrace it and you certainly do not need to feed it. Noticing fear is creating a deeper connection to the bones of who we are. We create a relationship with it as we might another human, and you learn things such as trust, and faith. You trust the trigger, and you have faith and courage to deal with it. This is not a time to apply intellectual thinking, this is a time for as I have said, faith, trust and courage.
Surrender is a journey from acceptance, to letting go and onto inner peace.
It is also a time to surrender. This is not giving up this is not about waiting for miracles or asking some higher force to step in and take over. This is asking for what is needed for your highest good to be met. I was busy trying to set outcomes such as I want to reverse osteoporosis within six months and I want my fractures to heal by April 2018. We do this don’t we, set outcomes based on business rules or others expectations and based on our fear?
When you surrender remember that the key foundational thing that we need here is self-love, compassion and kindness. Once I allowed the bile to bite into my fear and faith, I asked myself did I love myself enough to deal with this? So once again I found faith and courage through self-love (kindness and compassion) and went to work on betrayal and trust.
I could see a cycle where I was prejudging myself and others because I didn’t trust that they were doing the best for me and I would not get the outcome that I desired. This leads to fear. And around we go.
When you get into this vicious cycle, a natural reaction is to isolate yourself. This is another aspect of staying safe, but isolation does not create safety. Instead, it sends a message to your cells, and they in their wisdom follow your orders and start to not communicate with the other cells in its community. Without this vital connection, healing cannot take place.
Sense prevailed as I journaled and the more I acknowledged my hurts and opened my eyes to another lesson the grip of terror reduced. I started to view my predicament with grace, compassion, kindness and love.
But this wasn’t before I had contemplated not being here. I wanted off this planet. Knowing that my dogs would be ok, I had a will and a funeral plan, made it somehow easier for others when this useless life and body were gone.
At night I wrote furiously and in the morning when I was licked (by one of said doggies) I was pleased that the only savagery I committed was with a pen.
How about I asked if I embrace what I have learned and choose what I want instead? What if this detour was actually the route to my salvation? I understood that I was being taught about faith and trust. I considered that rather than feel fear what if I felt excitement at the prospect of turning this around and doing some more letting go of my fractured past?
Fear and excitement trigger similar responses. One can have not so great effects, and one doesn’t. They are both drivers to change. It is up to us to make conscious choices.
One thing that always works for me is this journaling exercise. I use the word fear and find another meaning. As an example
Have a go while you focus on your situation. It’s quite fascinating what comes out when you look at fear this way. It makes it easier to surrender. Surrendering, faith and trust are like muscles, like writing and journaling, it gets better and easier the more that you practice.
Take a walk once you have written. Take time to reflect. Physical activity can have a positive effect on your mental health.
If hindsight were a currency, I would be rich. If writing in a journal were a paid profession I’d be a mega-billionaire.
I have found that writing in a journal has saved my life many times. It may yours. Have a go, you just may find a safe place to find who you are and heal.
Staying with the kindness theme for 2020 here are some suggested journaling prompts.
Please look around you, one of your friends could be where I was. You might be there now.
Buy them a journal with love and be prepared to hug and listen.
Go well today and every day. With love.
Over the last few weeks, I have been feeling restricted and limited. I know why. My oldest dog – Ferdy – was getting weaker and thinner, and I knew that I would have to say goodbye soon. I had been determined he would go in his sleep because I knew that I didn’t want to take him to the vet. And I can tell you, stepping out of my little ‘perfect world’ bubble was not comfortable.
Now I am not likening losing a beloved animal with being in or out of a comfort zone, more that sometimes we have to do things that are right for all concerned – no matter how uncomfortable it can seem for us personally.
There have been many times when I have pushed myself beyond what I thought I could do. When I reflect back I can see that I am not a feel the fear and do it anyway kind of person, I am more of a let’s just get this thing done person.
Until I was, like many, in lockdown and what followed, I hadn’t really thought about how predictable life had become. Yes, I live in a remote place. No, there is not really anywhere I want to go to. Yes, I am content. No, I don’t yearn for many material things. There was one thing I wanted which was to go and visit my friends across the water for my birthday, and that is not to be. How foolish it seemed to get on a plane and have to spend the time I had available to see people in isolation – I can do that at home.
But what did come up for me was my business. Some of the things I was doing left me feeling unfulfilled, but I had been afraid to change. I knew what I was doing, and so I argued why change?
I was asked recently by my coach, what are you worst at? Starting, changing or stopping? It didn’t take me long to know the answer – stopping. I have found it hard to stop and for a multitude of reasons. I guess it’s a bit like hoarding – you just don’t want to let things go.
What about you? Do you feel like your life has become predictable? Is it unfulfilling and boring? Are you ready to pursue your purpose? Or follow a long-held passion? Is your vision calling you?
Deciding you need to make a change means you need to revise your current way of life. Perhaps do a bit of a declutter. Start in the kitchen and throw all of your out of date food away and donate what you will never eat to the food bank. This could make way for a healthier lifestyle. Er, yes I have shocked myself with what I had stuffed in my cupboards.
I looked at what I was doing in my business and drawing in a deep breath, did a massive declutter of my online courses. I updated some and some I chucked in the bin! I looked at a book I was writing and asked is this the direction I want to take this?
Mostly I thought about the things I desired from my heart and asked if I was fulfiling my purpose?
Somehow I had followed a path that said this should be what I did, rather than connect to my heart and ask for the truth.
What was wonderful in that deep discarding and searching for clues was that I did find answers that were so obvious that they were obvious.
We build layers around our comfort zone, and it becomes like a little next for us to hibernate in. I may have my moon in cancer, but that is no excuse.
What you will also now know about me now is that when I make a decision, I just get on with it. Ok, I’ll admit that there were parts of my business that I have wanted to dump for about four years. But it felt like I had decided overnight…
Whatever type of change you are making (or proposing), there are some simple things you can do to get out of your rut and begin living your purpose.
● Figure out what makes you happy. Ok – this can be easier said than done. But ask yourself, what lifts your spirits or makes your heart sing? Is it being in nature or playing sports or music? Is it reading or creating art? Maybe you love helping people. Make a list and take action on it to bring more joy into your life and start taking steps to live your life purpose. I recently discovered the joy of online art classes. Falling into my creativity on a Saturday morning is bliss. Creativity forms part of my purpose.
● Begin saying yes to the things you want to do but are afraid of. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new or challenging. Be open to new experiences that make you feel good. Saying YES is a powerful way to connect to a more abundant life. I encourage my clients to say yes more often.
● Get rid of the clutter. Too much stuff holds you back. Clutter isn’t just the junk in the kitchen cupboard. Limiting beliefs, spending mindless hours scrolling social media or watching television, and bad lifestyle habits are all forms of clutter. Only last night, I challenged my group to declutter their kitchens – this makes way for a healthy lifestyle.
● Make a list of things you want or need to stop doing. Practice saying no to what doesn’t bring you joy that you can control. Eliminate the energy-draining tasks that aren’t necessary. It’s also saying no as a complete sentence. Practice that today, just say no.
● Say No to fear. Fear stops you from taking risks. When you don’t take risks, you don’t step into living your life with purpose. Notice when you are letting fear guide you and set your foot down on it. A great thing to do with fear is to spell out the words in the moment you feel it rising. Take each letter, make a new word and then create a new story. F-fabulous, E- endearing, A-agreeable, R-reality.
Commit to taking control of your life and leaping into one that fulfils your purpose with joy.
One way to do this is to imagine that you are in a field with a perceived boundary. It appears that there is no way out. But, take a breath and look again. Picture a portal in front of you – I call this the Venus Gateway. A portal which sits in your heart and which through you can adventure.
Walk up to and step up to the portal (fans of Stargate – imagine that), there are just three steps. Take another breath, take the three steps down the other side. You are now in the field of possibilities.
Look around and let your imagination flow. There are no boundaries, no fluffy toys or cuddle blankets – just opportunities and possibilities.
What do you learn, and what can you bring back to implement?
You know that, right? It holds you back from going after what you want while enjoying the experiences of life. You miss out on the opportunities that will stretch you and give you strength. We are here in this human guise to experience life – so let’s do that.
When you want a life with purpose and meaning your comfort zone keeps you from advancing your business, career, going for your goals, and reaching for you’re the possibilities that make life worthwhile. It keeps you from pursuing what brings you joy.
Stepping out of your comfort zone can be scary. Yikes, is that what it looks like on the other side, you may be pondering? But it is where you will find the excitement and joy of the life you desire. If it’s too scary to jump completely into your purpose, take small steps – chunk it down, baby!
Staying in your comfort zone robs you of growth – even painful growth. It keeps you from changing, being and becoming who you are meant to be. It keeps you from stepping up to the stage (Thank you Wembley) and letting the world hear what you have to offer.
Living in your comfort zone robs you of new experiences that make your life worth living. It steals your right to live a fulfilling and enriching life.
“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” – Yoda
Ok, these times are odd, and we know that your comfort zone is a space you create around yourself where you feel safe. But, you can become trapped in this space and not even realize it because you have become accustomed to the way you do things and how you are living.
Staying in your comfort zone keeps you from realizing you are denying yourself of the possibility of living a fulfilling, purposeful life and playing in the field of possibilities.
1. You aren’t motivated to start any new projects or make plans for something new. Aka losing your mojo.
2. You have a fear of taking risks, missing out on good opportunities. You don’t have to take silly, big risks – try a little baby one right now… Perhaps go for the orange lipstick instead of beige – guys too 🙂
3. You’ve done things the same way for years. You have the same routine you do for everything. Today, keep taking the left instead of right or straight on – who knows where you will end up…
4. You fight against new ideas. Especially ones that don’t fit into your current routine or ideals.
5. You aren’t learning new things that will actually make a difference in your life.
What would you add to your list – given that you know yourself so well? My invitation is to take each one and to turn it into a question. E.g. You fight against new ideas, can become, who would I be if I embraced new ideas? You can then go onto do an ideas storm for where you want to go next. Perhaps this will lead to your brilliant vision?
It’s impossible to know your purpose without some level of self-reflection. To reveal your purpose, asking the right questions will help you get the results you seek. Reflect on the answers when you ask yourself these questions. Keep an open mind, and you will emerge with an open heart.
Your first step in the new chapter in the book of your life is instead of thinking about what defined you before, consider who you are now and who you want to become.
We do things because we like them until we become teenagers and social pressure with the need to impress others steers us away from what we love to do. Adulthood finds us concerned with the practicality of our choices. We just lose sight of what we want doing what others say we should…
This last question is the one that I love the most. My role is to inspire my clients to become the inspiration that they seek.
“If you want more hope for your future, go help someone else and have more hope for their future.” Germany Kent
I believe that we are at a point in humanity where we all have to step up and be good role models – to inspire others to be and become.
It’s like a set of dominos. If I can inspire you to create that thing that is dear to your heart and very existence – then you will, if you take action, inspire someone else.
All of this contemplating will hopefully move you out of your comfort zone into the field of possibilities and got you thinking, mmm, where next?
When there is purpose in your life, you have a driving need to follow certain goals, to live a specific way and to not be wandering each day aimlessly without a particular direction. Purpose keeps you motivated to continue working on your goals, even when the task is difficult, or you face obstacles. It gives your life meaning, brings more joy into everything you do and gives a brighter outlook for your future.
People who have a purpose in life tend to enjoy life (and are healthier) more than those who do not have a clear life purpose. They know what they want and go after it. They have a clear idea of what they want from life and a definite plan for how to achieve a fulfilling and joyful life.
Self-reflection and knowing your inner self are required in order to find your life purpose. Ask yourself the necessary, tough questions and listen to the answers. Listen to the whispers of your soul.
Take time to find your life purpose. It takes work and can be eye-opening. However, when you do find your purpose, you become focused on living your life to meet that purpose.
Once you have a good idea of life purpose, the next step is to determine how to incorporate the knowledge into your life. Wishes and ideas are the easy part; it’s the implementation that is challenging.
Just so you know, my purpose is to inspire others to create something of meaning so that they can become an inspiration to others.
My vision is of a world where each of us inspires someone else in some way to be who we are meant to be.
My mission is to create a community with inspiring people from all walks of life, who do one thing each day to make them feel proud.
Call me idealistic, but I believe that each of us has the capacity for great love and we have enough of this love energy to share a bit of it each day so that our fellow humans can connect in commUNITY with us to inspire others to be their best selves.
It just takes a little step outside of our rigid comforting areas into this vast expanse field of possibilities and do the things that are fulfilling, purposeful and full of meaning.
Do I always feel warm and fuzzy about life? Of course not? I have my moments when I could smack someone in the face for being a [insert swear word of your choice]. But as my dear mum says – I am only human – it’s allowed.
And as the beautiful Heather Small sings – what have you done today to make you feel proud?
Perhaps you feel inspired and ready to rock? Come and join me…
EN:VISION is a live boot camp (and online course – self-paced) which enables you to design a vision based on insight and clarity so that your living vision board delivers results not only when you create it, but for years to come.
EN:VISION has three parts which are design, create and action and seven steps:
This ensures that before you start, you are CLEAR and ready to DESIGN the life and business you desire. When you CREATE, you will have all of your keywords, images, affirmations and power statements ready. EN:VISION is all about enabling your vision. Finally, you will know how to FOCUS your energy, what aligned ACTION to take and how to use FEEDBACK.
In case you are wondering EN:VISION stands for enabling visions.