Category Archives: resilience

How can you dig deeper today?

extragrounded

The more grounded we are, the higher we can reach. If you’re feeling stuck, in any area of your life or work, rather than trying to rush through the feelings, what might happen if you allow yourself to really pay attention to what’s going on for you?

I love when things make sense in hindsight (Oh, THAT was what my body was trying to tell me when I was in pain with that…) but find the deciphering phase more frustrating. Even so, with practice, I think I’ve become a bit better at it. Even if it simply means trusting the process more. Allowing the ickiness before we can see beyond our feet and instead glimpse the sun through the trees above us.

The more we bend our knees, the closer we get to the ground, the higher we can jump.

What helps you feel most grounded?

What do you resist the most when you know getting grounded would really help you?

Right now, I’ve been resisting cleaning my bathroom – something I do automatically each week but which this week feels like something I don’t want to do. Typing this and recognising that cleaning  – like cooking, gardening, getting organised, going for a walk and so many other everyday things – is grounding means I’ll do it now… That feels much better.

Some people talk about needing to wash up before they can get down to writing. Rather than beating yourself up for procrastinating, recognising it as part of your process means you can enjoy it (as much as anyone can enjoy cleaning etc).

For some, it’s scrubbing potatoes. Others, organising closets. Digging… Any kind of exercise or movement.

Maybe it’s a more metaphorical digging you need and some time journaling can help you.

What helps you ground. What do you notice afterwards? 

Next time you’re reaching high for something, when it feels like maybe you can’t quite reach, before grabbing a metaphorical ladder to climb even higher, come back to the earth. See what more you can accomplish from a more solid, strong and grounded foundation.

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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Sending love to the world (again)

Image by the fantabulous Caroline Chappell
Image by the fantabulous Caroline Chappell

Trite and hippyish as it may sound, sending love / loving kindness / metta etc isn’t easy.

Sometimes, it can be hard enough to wish ourselves well let alone people we see as ‘other’ or worse. It can be really challenging to see people we disagree with and attempting to send compassion and loving kindness rather than judgment.

I mean, who does that (be it ploughing into innocent people crossing a bridge and stabbing a policeman or boiling a prisoner alive… I could go on with horrors from just this week but won’t)?

And then, of course, there’s the judgment about how we ‘should’ all react. As if we could legislate our feelings even if we wanted to.

Over the years, I’ve learned that allowing myself to feel whatever I’m feeling is the best way through it. Judging myself for crying more over London than Mosul (I was born there, lived there for years, am in every week and passed through on Wednesday) wouldn’t have helped anyone.

Far more lives were lost in Mosul this week and I consciously feel guiltier as ‘our side’ is responsible yet, I can’t control what I cry over. Similarly, my tears for London  were different to my (more intense) sobbing over the murder (and lack of his murderers being charged) of Darren Rainey in Florida  and Timothy Caughman in New York.

I feel compelled to state, aloud, that (I hope!) most people who look white DON’T think like the awful white supremacist who killed him. I also feel rage at the injustice that as a white looking woman, I’m not expected to have to speak out against that in the way that, for example, peace loving Muslims are expected to denounce attacks that extremists undertake.

I feel hopeless when I think about terrorists but I don’t feel as afraid of them (nothing – that I know of –  I can do to control or even influence their actions) as I do about a certain English woman who is passing off her hate speech on US telly as the norm for (diverse! Inclusive!) London.

However we feel, whatever our reactions – to global or more personal tragedies – we have a right to our feelings.

The more we give ourselves a bit of time and space to process and grieve and heal, the less likely we are to mess things up even more badly by lashing out at people we disagree with.

This is something simple, though not easy, that we can all do (should we want to) to contribute a teeny bit towards creating a safer, more peaceful world for all of us.

What might you do to be extra kind to yourself today?

Feel free to share below.

love,

Eve

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The importance of self-care when dealing with people impacted by narcissitic wounding

Parts of this post may be triggering and upsetting but I’m taking that risk because I hope it will be helpful.

Gaslight

Seasoned White House reporters have been shocked* after being told that what they’ve seen with their own eyes is not true at Sean Spicer’s first press statement yesterday.

I work with a lot of adult survivors of narcissistically** wounded parents. As babies and infants (throughout our lives but especially then), we need to be seen. To be loved and accepted and cherished for who we are. To be allowed to feel however we feel. Even when we’re furious.

When we’ve been seen as we are (often through therapy as an adult) and have learned to integrate our own feelings and know it’s OK to feel however we feel, we’re in a much better position to empathise with others. To, as Obama said in an interview with Oprah long before he ran for President, ‘Disagree without being disagreeable.’

Yet, to varying degrees, we’ve grown up having certain aspects of our personalities celebrated while others have been punished or ignored. The recent pink/blue merchandising (cutting out a most of the rainbow and attempting to force boys and girls to conform to gender stereotypes) is an element of this. Black and white. Boy or girl. Good or bad. Republican or Democrat. Brexit or Remain.

When a parent (or President) has a high level of narcissistic wounding, his or her needs always come much higher than the children’s (or population’s). Ultimately, many of these adult survivors, as a result of systematically having their needs denied and suppressed, often believe they don’t have a right to exist.

When certain parts of our personality*** are celebrated and others denied, it can lead to us (naturally) feeling unseen in our wholeness. In varying degrees, this can lead to narcissistic wounding. If we weren’t seen and allowed to be as we were, we’re incapable of seeing others as they are.

Watching a powerful press corp being treated like naughty children who need to be disciplined can be triggering. Trump’s team, with his ‘running war with the media’ is attempting to tell the press they don’t have a right to exist.

I regularly recommend Elan Golomb’s book, Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists in their Struggle for Self, as she explains (using many personal examples) how the residual effects (including self-loathing),  can be overcome. No matter how grandiose a person struggling with narcissistic wounding might appear, there’s a very fragile core which doesn’t feel good enough.

The new President of the United States of America is a self-confessed sexual predator.

We saw the tape (apologies for the language but this is the President’s own language) where he said:

Pussygate

His ‘stalking’ of Hillary Clinton, literally following her around the stage like he was going to do something during one of the DEBATES was chilling to watch (although she took it in her stride and handled it with grace).

We’ve seen the tape where he mocked the disabled reporter and all of his denials that he did this even thought we’ve seen the tape.

We’ve heard his outrageous allegations about people from various ethnic groups and his endorsements by the KKK. He’s said he’s not racist then appointed an Alt-Right (neo Nazi rebranded) publisher as his Chief of Staff.

Just as the narcissistic parent blames the child for the abuse because s/he made him/her do it, the President, while campaigning, blamed the government for not having tighter tax laws that would stop him exploiting a loop hole and not paying taxes for years.

And I’m not even mentioning all the evidence of hacking and electoral interference by a foreign government. Again, his tactic has been to deny it.

 As an adult (with an online ‘echo chamber’ although I attempt to be open to as many opinions as possible, just not tolerating hate speech of any kind), this is crazymaking: It was termed ‘gaslighting’ after the films (Diana Wynard in the 1940 original and Ingrid Bergman – pictured above – in the better known 1944 remake) about the abusive husband who slowly (with the help of some of his staff) convinces his wife she’s going mad.

For a child, it can be horrific to experience that sense of being ‘crazy’, ‘insane’, ‘stupid’ or ‘wrong’ because the adult you’re supposed to trust to raise you is telling you something you know isn’t right. It’s abusive.

Even adults who’ve had (as if there’s such a thing) ‘normal’ upbringings can be affected when, say, a partner uses such tactics and they lose their sense of self.

Many adults are being triggered by the news on a regular basis, straight back into that suddenly not knowing if the sky’s up or down.

Brene Brown’s amazing work around shame and vulnerability, and the need to embrace them – however uncomfortable – if we want to live wholeheartedly, can help.

We can watch some of the inspiring speeches from yesterday’s marches. (You might want to get started with Gloria Steinem, Ashley Judd, Alicia Keys, Scarlett Johanson, America Ferrera, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Madonna).

We can connect with people, discerning safe people to share our vulnerabilities with so we can support each other rather than feel exploited by sharing with people who’ll use them against us.

As we connect and support each other, we can then reach out (as Obama advised) and attempt to talk to people who feel differently – not to dismiss their feelings but to attempt to hear and understand. I’m not talking about condoning hate speech and worse but attempting to connect with the best in people even when we’re flummoxed by certain decisions.

As always, you know what’s best for you. 

I really hope that enough of these reporters can stay grounded enough to keep calling out the lies, investigating properly, fact checking and not giving up.

What helps you stay grounded and in your truth no matter what someone else (who may, or may not have a high level of narcissistic wounding) is trying to convince you of?

Feel free to share below.

love,

Eve

*again – it seems, for them and for us at home, as if we all keep thinking we’ve seen it all and then something else happens and we’re knocked for six again

**Psychosynthesis, a transpersonal psychology, is very much about looking at what – no matter how challenging the issue – might be trying to emerge at a soul level. We’re all on a spectrum in terms of narcissitic wounding

***There was a scene in the documentary about Trump’s background where he introduced his then toddler son as ‘smart’, ‘vicious’ and ‘violent’ as if the latter two were good things. Melania and others at the Hollywood Star of Fame ceremony being filmed all laughed like it wasn’t something to worry about. I really hope he has people in his life who seem him for all of who he is and who will nurture and support him as he grows up in this enormous spotlight

**** While I’m quite outspoken about my politics, I respect others’ choices as long as they’re not hurting anyone. In those cases, I feel I have a duty to attempt to speak up (as compassionately as possible). I hope that yesterday was just a warm up and that we’ll all (the marches were led by women but all genders were welcome) do what we can to support each other and fight to prevent the progress that’s been made being undone

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From mental health day to cat day

duvetday

I know how scary burnout can be. Even though it’s 13 years since I was signed off for a few weeks for depression and anxiety, I remember feeling like I’d never be OK.

I remember when crying at work each day turned into crying at my desk each day and then, openly sobbing walking through the open plan office. Consciously, all I could think of was the fact that my taxes were being used to fund the horrors of more war in Afghanistan and Iraq (but obviously, I was projecting a lot of stuff myself).

When I eventually spoke to my boss and friend and said ‘I think I might need to see my GP,’ rather than encouraging me to struggle on, she looked relieved and told me to go immediately.

I had already qualified (training during long weekends for years) as a complementary therapist and life coach but this experience of feeling incapable of doing anything other than crying was one I wanted to avoid.

Years and years and years of training and work as a counsellor and many other complementary therapies mean I’ve become far more comfortable with crying. I still probably cry most days but not in the same way. It’s usually fleeting, when something touches my soul. And I know it just means that my emotional landscape has got bigger – I feel more joy and other positive emotions now as a result, too.

My emotions rarely scare me and I welcome the whole spectrum, from rage to gratitude, peace to sadness, hope to despair. (Obviously, I welcome some more than others.)

That experience 13 years ago led to my becoming my own boss and working initially as a coach and freelance journalist, adding additional therapies as I qualified.

I love my work. I so value being able to support clients and students in taking better care of themselves and helping them work through challenging feelings and getting closer to a life they love living. And making part of my living through writing is something I didn’t dare even dream about when I was younger.

Ultimately, my writing and client work is all about self-care. This is why it always makes me laugh when I (belatedly but much more quickly than I used to) notice that I’ve been neglecting my own.

Noticing the warning signs last night, I decided to reschedule everything for today and take a Duvet Day / Mental Health Day. Almost as soon as I’d given myself permission to be a human being, I remembered preferring the more invincible stages of my cycle but trusted, like everything else, it would pass.

With Imbolc approaching, it’s a natural time to be looking inward and wondering what is trying to emerge. Almost immediately, I felt better. There was a feeling of stopping the world and allowing myself to step off, momentarily. [Wheeeeeeee – sound of falling off the planet.]

What I’m describing here is mild – I’ve been working with self-care for 13 years and still struggle when I get caught up in feeling more vulnerable, less productive, lonely… not despair (I still have faith in us humans to turn things around) but it’s hard to ignore what’s happening tomorrow.

By the time I woke up (lovely lie in!) this morning, I decided I already felt better so renamed my Mental Health Day a Cat Day. At a spa day for my birthday last year, I told a friend I felt like a cat. Not that cats would enjoy a spa day but they have that sense of being in tune with what they need in any given moment (movement, sleep, food, company etc) and don’t appear to beat themselves up for it.

I didn’t rush my meditation, enjoyed some gentle yoga and imagined myself prioritising self-care all day and emerging recharged and a little smug.

It’s not been plain sailing (crisps for breakfast and dark chocolate digestives for lunch with a kale, cucumber, banana and blueberry smoothie) but I’m looking forward to a healthier meal now.

When I imagined all the lovely films I’d watch, the long bubble bath, a long (at least an hour) River Walk, reading something completely unrelated to work and so on, I didn’t expect to be so low in energy that I’d appreciate the 90 minutes it takes the water to heat up to psyche myself up for a relaxing bath.

That I’d (so far) not manage a single film, just a couple of episodes of Black-ish. Or that it would get to 4pm and I’d have to talk myself into a walk (bike ride felt too High Speed Travel for today).

Within 5 minutes of my 35 minute walk around the block (down the hill, along the river and back up and home), I felt better. I’d met a few lovely dogs, picked up a lucky penny and was taking lots of pictures of the beautiful winter trees and River Brain (more of a stream but I love its name).

riverbrain

My reason for posting is I know I’m not alone re my mood being affected by tomorrow. But politics aside, we all feel a range of emotions. Learning to take better care of ourselves contributes to the state of the world. We’re more likely to listen to others with compassion and understanding, to empathise with people who are different and so on.

I’m also posting this to illustrate how easy it is to get sucked into feeling bleaugh. I have So Much to be grateful for (and as I walked, I started making a little mental list, but if I’d tried to rush this and force myself to feel gratitude, it would have possibly been more detrimental than helpful) and my work is all about this stuff.

I’m not at all suggesting that a single day is enough when issues run deeper (go see your GP, work with a therapist, open up to loved ones, do whatever it takes to heal – you wouldn’t think twice about getting yourself the help you need for a physical issue).

But I am hoping that it might encourage you to pause and check in with what might help you in this moment. To schedule in regular breaks. To do whatever you need. Everyone around you will benefit.

What helps you feel better?

What happens when you stop trying to force yourself to feel better and instead allow yourself to feel however you actually feel (burned out, in need of a break etc)?

Again, I realise it’s much easier for me (yet still a challenge) than for parents and people with dependents but there’s always something we can do.

And while I’m about to log back off and get back to my day of indulgence now, I’m also back to looking forward to work tomorrow.

Feel free to post your favourite Mental Health Day / Cat Day fixes below.

love,

Eve

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Are you letting strangers tell you you *should* be feeling blue?

 BlueMonday
Apparently, Monday’s ‘blue Monday’. Maybe, if you’re already feeling blue, knowing you’re not alone helps? Perhaps you’re bewildered as you’re having a brilliant 2017?
Today, Monday and everyday, let yourself feel however you actually feel. Amazing or really low, it’ll pass.
If you’re feeling a bit fragile, be extra kind to yourself. This means different things for all of us – ask yourself what might help you most right now.
If you want to lift your mood, notice how you want to move. If you enjoy yoga, gentle backbends can help us feel happier. You might want to play with these: Click here for Restorative Fish,  here for Bow and here for Camel.
Ultimately, every day of the year (of your life) you know yourself best. Tune into what you need instead of being swayed by others’ perceptions – especially when they’re worse than how you might actually be feeling.
Do you buy into Blue Monday?
When do you notice low mood?
What helps YOU?
How might you do more of those things?
Feel free to post below.
love,
Eve
(PS – I’ve tried editing this several times but can’t correct the formatting)
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What’s your vision for a better 2017?

VisionBoardblog

 

Happy New Year!

I’ve written so much about vision boards over the years, I’ve decided to keep this Really Simple (but, as with everything, YOU know yourself best so adapt accordingly):

  1. Spend some time gathering images and words that you feel drawn to. No need to judge or censor at this point, simply gather them together
  2. Ponder some of your goals and hopes for the year ahead. You may want to think about different areas of your life such as work, relationships, health, fitness, home, money, the world at large, your communities, travel, long held (or new) dreams, what your spirit needs – whatever crops up for you
  3. Stick the images and words down in a way that pleases you. I use a big canvas and glue. You might prefer cardboard and tape.
  4. Play with your design. The most important part of this whole endeavor is that it inspires YOU
  5. As you can see from my censored version of my latest above, apart from apparently wanting to become an elephant, I’ve written down each as if it were already the case. I like the affirmation starter ‘I am so happy and grateful that…’ so pop that on a bigger note near the top
  6. I scatter the other goals around the board, sometimes near images or words I’ve cut out that feel relevant
  7. On another larger note near the bottom, ‘Thanks for all this or something better’
  8. Play with it until you’re happy with it. Know nothing’s set in stone and it will evolve as you do
  9. Steve Harvey says he’s had words from his embroidered on clothes he sees each day. The more we can remind ourselves of our aims, the more likely we are to take practical steps towards them. I have a picture of mine on my laptop as well as the original hanging on the wall in World HQ (my teeny home office)

Have you created a vision board before?

What did you learn from it?

Have you done one for this year?

Feel free to share pics of yours in the comments below.

Wishing you a wondrous 2017 filled with all good things!

love,

Eve

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One giant teachable moment? ‘If all this is painful for us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children?’

MichelleObama

I’ve been doing my best to stay informed without sinking into despair. Am thinking of all the possible teachable moments coming from the depressing news about a certain Presidential candidate (who, taking a leaf from Michelle Obama’s spectacular playbook, I’m no longer going to name) and a footballer from these shores.

Obama describes the pain she feels hearing Hillary’s opponent’s misogyny: ‘If all this is painful for us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children?’

You can see her full speech by scrolling down here.

Good men – including professional athletes who know locker room talk – are speaking up, too. And women and girls are coming forward after being silent and afraid for decades and saying, ‘Enough.’

You can read Peggy Orenstein’s* New York Times piece on How to Be  a Man in the Age of Trump by clicking here. It made me think of Dr Christiane Northrup’s praise for righteous anger.

Dr Northrup talks about feel good nitric oxide being produced by our bodies, boosting immunity and overall wellbeing, when we experience positive emotions including righteous anger.

Just as the men and boys in Orenstein’s article who go along with alleged ‘locker room talk’ and worse without stepping in and stopping abuse feel awful themselves, we know from WWII that it’s up to all of us to protect the more vulnerable.

When we let powerful groups or men (or women) exploit and abuse others, whether it’s because they’re a vulnerable young girl or an immigrant or person from a minority religion, we ALL suffer.

As Pastor Martin Niemöller described the rise of the Nazi’s:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

When we’re frightened and afraid ourselves, someone stronger (in that moment) can lend us the strength we need. When we see someone else in need, we can step in and let perpetrators know any kind of abuse is unacceptable.

Today, a Facebook story about an A&E nurse called into her daughter’s school sounded like a glorious way for women and girls (and boys and men) to stop internalising the shame of everyday abuse.

Although it looks like it’s possibly not a true case, it will hopefully inspire girls, women, boys and men to stand up for themselves and support others in doing the same.

In a nutshell, an A&E nurse was called into her daughter’s Catholic school because her 15 year old daughter had hit a boy. He had repeatedly pinged her bra strap after she’d not only asked him to stop but been told by the teacher she reported it to to ‘just ignore it’.

The mother (fictional or real – my new hero) said, ‘Ahh, so you want to know if I’m going to press charges against the boy for sexual assault and the school for not stopping it?’ The school had been more concerned with the damage to the boy.

The mother’s reaction takes the shame and places it firmly back where it belongs by pointing out the girl’s punch was self-defense (against a much larger boy).

We can all do this in our own ways. Instead of worrying so much about hurting the feelings of powerful people abusing their power, we can use our power. We don’t need to apologise for setting healthy boundaries.

The girl in the story (or real life case?) saw that no one was going to protect her (in her classroom!) so punched the boy who was messing with her underwear.

And the mother backed her up.

As a white looking woman, I can’t know (although I can imagine) how it feels to be targetted for my religion but this piece (click here) offers some insight by showing a couple of researchers who literally walked several miles in the shoes of more visible Muslims to experience Islamaphobia.

There are so many ways in which we can be different and potentially targetted – age, gender, sexuality, physical differences, nationality, language, religion, class… –  but by standing together, bullies can’t get away with it.

Surely compassion and kindness make ANY nation ‘great’?

What has helped you speak up for yourself and for others?

How can you support yourself in noticing and helping people (including yourself) in this very strange time we’re living in?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

*author of the glorious Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture

 

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My work/life balance tips in for Huffington Post (published 5/9/16)

HuffPoWorkLifeBalance5916

Thanks Mary Common for including some of my work/balance tips in this piece and Veronica Amarelle for letting me know it’s out.

You can read the whole piece here.

How do you keep a good enough* work/life balance?

What signs let you know you need to prioritise one or the other for a while?

Feel free to share in the comments below.

love,

Eve

*perfection can feel like pressure as well as being impossible

 

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‘Do you!’ – best response to Twitter attacks ever?

AliciaKeysmakeup

I’ve been a big fan of Ms Keys since her Songs in A Minor.  Always grounded, multitalented, socially conscious and inspirational.

Yet her choice* to attend the VMAs without makeup seems to have generated more headlines than Colombia’s historic ceasefire after 52 years of war this week.

Her typically grounded response was to encourage her critics, ‘Do you!’.

Why do we spend so much time obsessing over other people’s choices and actions rather than staying in our own lanes and doing the best we can do?

When are you most prone to worrying about your own life choices (Even those as seemingly innocuous as makeup)? 

When do you give the teeniest imaginable hoots no matter what kind of criticism comes your way?

How might you ‘do you’ with more confidence?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

*yes, make up, for women as well as men, is  still a choice not a duty. We are allowed to show our faces to the world without our ‘faces’ on. In fact, seeing how radical a choice it appears to be, it’s something I plan to do more often

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‘They tried to bury us. They did not know we were seeds’

seeds

Thanks Lisa Lister (Love Your Lady Landscape, Hay House, 2016) for reminding me of this gorgeous proverb.

When have you felt buried by life?

What do you notice when you ponder your inner seed, right now? That part of you that’s healthy and whole and ready to flourish?

Do any ideas for how you might grow and flourish in spite of what you’re facing spring to mind?

If you’ve already flourished in spite of the thing that sprang to mind, what helped you do so?

How can you remember your resourcefulness and resilience more easily in the future?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

 

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