Category Archives: Self Help Blogs

As the year draws closer; Reflections on 2017

JUST SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT (it might just be one or two that jump out at you): 

What have you learnt about yourself this year? 

What has been the biggest challenge for you  and how did you overcome it? 

Did you discover something new about yourself? 

Have you created new opportunities for yourself? 

How much of ‘you’ have you lived for this past year and how much for others? 

Have you done anything that pushed you outside  your comfort zone? 

How have you taken care of yourself and your health? 

Is there anything you wanted to do, but never did? Why? What held you back?

How have you coped with obstacles ? Did you face or avoid them? 

Did you follow your heart or your mind? 

How often did you respond with love in 2017?

How often did you react from anger and frustration?

How many times did you chose a price tag over a gesture?

Did you set expectations on others for your own gain?

How have you loved yourself in the past year?

Has it been hard to love yourself?

Have you felt others deserve happiness but you don’t?

How did you help others? 

Who or what has inspired you? 

What has given you joy?

Have you done anything creative? 

How often were you grateful for what you have?

What have been your best moments? 

Quite often when we enter the new year we think about new years resolutions such as to start the gym, go on a diet and so forth. I invite you to reflect on the above questions which are based on your inner experiences and that of with others.

Is there anything from those reflections you’d like to change in 2018? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Stillness

These last few weeks I have been on the move a lot, up and down the country- back and forth between the Midlands, London and Yorkshire. Trains, trams, tubes, on foot from here there everywhere. 1 night here, 2 nights there a few nights somewhere else!

Got me thinking of ‘journeys’, what we stumble accross on our way, people we meet, do we even notice the people around us? Or do we float around in our own bubble? Would you be anxious about getting lost, missing the train… being late? Or would you just go with the flow? Allow things to unfold?

These last few weeks really got me to practice finding stillness in chaos! Although I was surrounded by movement… fast movement… I felt still within myself. Travelling gives you a great chance to practice mindfulness. Look around, be present, take things in… what can you smell? What can you hear? This morning I heard bagpipes in Leeds! I noticed lit tea lights by a homeless person.

Journeys lead to destinations but when we do finally arrive at our physical destination, then another journey begins.  New people, new tasks. It’s never ending! So our destination is always actually shifting! We arrive, but we don’t stop.

Living from a suitcase can be quite stressful -Stuff everywhere. Trying the minimalist approach, only literally packing basic, what you ‘need’ stuff – then coping without the stuff you forgot…but needed. Now what you going to do?  Life goes on right? You survive!

Last week en route to London my train got cancelled, so we all got off the train to find it was no longer cancelled so we got back on it… it was now delayed a fair bit! My colleague calls to inform me that our venue (destination) has changed due to a mix up with dates so I with 10 minutes notice head to the alternative venue. On arrival, my messages start to come through on my mobile (as no signal on tubes!) and I find out the original venue was back on, but I’m at the alternative venue!  Now I’m grateful for the girl who leant me her phone charger on the train (as that’s one important thing I forgot!) – the 18% battery allowed me to use google maps as I walked 15 minutes in central London to the correct venue!

I tell myself, just go with it. Let things unfold. It doesn’t matter if you’re late. Just concentrate on what you can control. I remain calm and felt like an explorer. Focusing on the present moment, gave a great sense of connection to others around me even though I was on my own in a busy city.

Try it – when you’re out and about in a busy place, take a few moments to get out of your head  (as often we think of what we’ve done or what we need to do), instead look around, what do you notice that you’ve never noticed before? What do you smell or hear? Concentrate on your surroundings. Take it in.

Learn to connect to the stillness inside you, despite the movement around you.

 

You Time!

I remember about 10 years ago, my house mate looked confused and said ‘You always say to have time to yourself, but I don’t know what I am suppose to do!’

We get so caught up in doing things for others, or performing different roles at work and home, that we forget that the person behind all these roles needs some nurture too! Life gets so busy in the modern world that we need reminding of making an appointment with ourselves! I recommend diarising this and making it an actual event – you might only be able to spare an hour a week to begin with, but it is  better than nothing.

A date with yourself! This might feel strange at first, especially if you are a busy body,  but the more you do it the more comfortable it will get. The more comfortable you begin to feel in your own company, the more you will most probably start to crave ‘you time’ when you have been busy and stressed!

There are many ways to spend time with yourself, here are  some ideas from me  but go ahead and make suggestions of your own in the comments box below!

  • Start to read a book that has been on your To Read List
  • Have a bubble bath and make it extra special with relaxing music and candles
  • Go to a coffee shop on your own – take a book or magazine for company
  • Go for a walk, clear your head, connect with nature, observe and take in your surroundings
  • Relax and listen to your favourite tunes – Maybe some that you have not listened to in a while
  • Put some music on and have a little dance around the house
  • Do some exercise – go for a swim, a workout class etc
  • Go on youtube and find some relaxing guided meditation and unwind
  • Wrap up in a fluffy blanket and watch a movie
  • Try something different – a new recipe?

If you practice self care on a regular basis you will notice the stress in your life reduce. You can’t change things that happen around you, but by looking after yourself you can change the way you cope with them and start to live a more fulfilled life.

 

 

Simple Ways to Create More Happiness.

  • Be more mindful and practice living in the present moment. How many times have you got from A to B but can’t remember your journey? By simply becoming more  mindful of your surroundings you will begin to live in the present moment and notice beauty in everyday little things. When you notice your mind drifting off, practice bringing it back to focus on what you are doing.
  • Recognise the people who bring negativity into your life. Who makes you feel drained? Perhaps it is time to have a people ‘clear out’… once you recognise who these people are start to slowly limit your contact with them,  Some of these may feel more difficult than others and take longer to detach from, but recognising who these are is the first step.
  • Practice Gratitude – Wake up thinking about all the things you are grateful for, little simple things like the roof over your head, the water in the tap, the warmth from the central heating – when you catch yourself being negative and thinking about what is lacking in your life, remind yourself what you have in your life. For more on gratitude click  here
  • Recognise the people who bring joy into your life, who inspire you and lift your energy. Start to make time to connect to such people more. You deserve to be happy and therefore deserve to be around people you feel happy around.

  • Find solutions to your problems – Shift your thinking.  Acknowledge the issue, accept it has happened and think of a solution – what is in your control that will help to resolve this situation? What is not in your control? Let it go – why waste energy on something you can’t change? Focus on what you can influence and change.
  • Get creative – Try or learn a new skill. What did you enjoy as a child? Art, Textiles, Creative Writing? Ask the ‘Inner You’, what they would like to do! This will take you away from the mundane day to day things and you can have some fun.
  • What have you always wanted to do, but never did? Re-think this, what is holding you back? How can you make this happen? What planning is involved? Reflect on how this experience will feel if you did it? Re-kindle with your dreams.
  • Spend time outdoors – Nature is free therapy. Go for a walk or a picnic. Just being outdoors is invigorating and grounding. It has an uplifting effect.
  • Claim your boundaries – Say no when you mean no, not yes!
  • Learn to listen to and trust your inner voice – How many times have you done something when your instinct was telling you not to. By not going with your gut you are not being your true authentic self.  Start practicing this with little day to day things… it does not have to be over something big. What do you really want in this situation? What would you really like to do or say? You deserve to be you. The more you listen to yourself for the  little things the easier it will become for bigger things.
  • HAVE FUN – don’t forget to play and do things that make you giggle and laugh. 

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Take time out for yourself – diarise it if you have a busy schedule. Even if you start with 30 minutes a week only, dedicate that time just for you. Don’t know what to do with yourself? Maybe you can get some ideas here.

 

The VOID

I was talking to a friend who recently broke up with her partner about how now is a good time for her to ‘find herself’ (cliche!) and reconnect with who she is, what she likes doing in order to build that relationship up with herself, as we can lose this in a relationship. Although this can be a daunting process (as most of us are afraid to really meet ourselves) it is where healing takes place.

My friend has already signed up to dating websites.  On one hand I think that’s great, she is ‘moving on’ and being proactive – and it is good to socialise with people to lift your spirits, however is she really moving on, or just trying to quickly fill the void her ex has left her with? A quick fix solution, will only fill the cracks, but the cracks will still be there. We discussed this void within her – she acknowledged she was trying to fill the gap as did not want to be left with her own thoughts. Starting a new relationship from this state of mind can be unhealthy.

The universe never ceases to amaze me when it throws in synchronicities (meaningful coincidences) as later that day we got talking to someone randomly about meditation who shared that he’d always kept himself busy and doing ‘nothing’ use to make him feel really uncomfortable so he’d do ‘stuff’ all the time to fill the void. I feel my friend needed to hear this, as it normalised her feelings but it also gave her hope (a bit anyway…that is a start!). He said once he learnt to get past the initial ‘pain barrier’ of facing the void inside him, he started to feel much more comfortable being in his own company and things really shifted for him. Obviously this does not happen over night. Everyone at their own pace.

For us to be truly happy we need to address our voids; emptiness and loneliness. People tend to avoid such feelings as they can be painful and bring anxiety to the surface, they therefore keep the void ‘stuffed’ up by perhaps spending money; retail therapy, eating too much, smoking, drinking, working too much, keeping busy, jumping from one relationship to another etc.

Most of the time this is unconscious, we don’t even realise we are doing it. In my earlier twenties I still remember my counselling tutor saying, ‘I wonder if you’re keeping yourself busy to fill the emptiness inside you’. He was right, but I didn’t realise consciously at the time that I was feeling empty! I learnt that keeping busy had become a  defence mechanism I developed from an early age which actually can be an unconscious form of ‘avoiding’.  Becoming more self aware is bringing the unknown into the known – brining what is unconscious to you into your conscious mind. It is only then you can enable change, because if you don’t know what is underlying, how will you know you need to work on it? Counselling courses take you on a journey of self discovery and exploring your inner world – but I will save that for another blog!

If you resonate with filling a potential void inside you, then I’d encourage you to reflect on some of the following. 

What are you hiding from? What do you think you might realise if you allowed yourself space? What is the worst thing that might happen? How would you survive the worst case scenario? Because you WILL survive! A lot of people are afraid that if they allowed themselves to feel the pain, the sadness, the guilt, or whatever the feelings might be, that they won’t come through the other end. Not ‘giving in’ to these feelings suggests an internal battle, but YOU are the one fighting it! Perhaps you feel you need to ‘be strong’, but it takes more strength to face your feelings right? This can also be linked to ego, which again is another topic for another blog!

Try giving yourself time, to be with just ‘you’ for only 5 minutes a day to start of with, you can do longer if you’d like. No phone, no people… just you -simply notice how this makes you feel, both physically and emotionally. Do you have aches and pains in your body you did not notice before? What are you feeling? Strange, for doing this!?! Agitated, relaxed, sad? Do you feel like running away from yourself, or do you feel peace?  Make a note of these each time. By doing so you are acknowledging the feelings that are trying to get your attention! Acknowledging is the first step, and sometimes that is all that is needed. Just acknowledging thougths, feelings and pain can actually help them to reduce. Remember your feelings are not bigger than you. They will pass and won’t last forever.No-one can fill your void – only you can! 

‘What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be’ Quote by Ellen Burstyn

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

The Solar Eclipse and Letting Go!!!

If you are interested in astrology, you’d already know that the lunar and solar eclipses in August 2017 are considered as enormous events causing huge spiritual shifts in people and their lives. August has been highlighted as a time for transitions and transformations; an opportunity to ‘reset’ your lives, taking off your masques, shedding your ego and aligning with your true selves. A time to let go of what is no longer serving you and a time to allow in new beginnings; out with the old and in with the new! These concepts have inspired me to write a blog on ‘Letting Go’.  You don’t need to believe in astrology for this, I am just extracting the concepts and themes arising from the solar eclipse, which affect each and every one of us when when we face transitions.

Change is one thing that is inevitable in our lives, whether it be planned or unexpected – we all go through change all the time, no matter how big or small and sometimes these changes occur simultaneously with other changes, which can feel somewhat overwhelming. Maybe a new job or a new home, a loss of a relationship, a new realisation, a shift in friendship, redundancy, a bereavement, a new baby, a new way of thinking, a change in career, an illness etc.

With Change there comes loss. We can not move into change without losing something, leaving aspects of our lives and even parts of ourselves behind. On the other hand we can not move into change without gaining something either. Like the eclipse, letting the shadows pass allows room for the light. Letting go, creates space for other things to enter into your life. Often we unconsciously bring the shadows of the past into our present lives because we are still holding onto them.

Letting go can be a painful grieving process. The 5 stages of grief (in a nutshell!) suggests that you may experience the following. Denial of the events, ‘this isn’t really happening, it can’t be’;  a common initial reaction to loss which can be combined with shock and perhaps lead to isolation.  Usually anger follows the denial stage, one might be angry with God, life, other people, situations and even themselves. Anger can be a defence; the tip of an iceberg – the bit that we can see and feel, however underneath there sits a range of hidden emotions; sadness, guilt, frustration, despair, loneliness, helplessness. In order to try and gain some control  such feelings are avoided known as the bargaining stage, ‘If only I’d done this, or that…or tried harder… or noticed the signs…’, this can often be tangled up with feelings of regret.  For some this can lead to depressive symptoms; loss of interest, lack or increase in appetite, rumination (going over and over a situation with no resolution), tearfulness, loss of motivation, sleep disturbance, low energy – to name a few. Eventually (hopefully!) we come to accept our loss allowing some sense of relief and peace.

Grieving is a very unique  and natural process and people will move through the stages differently to others, sometimes experiencing all the above stages and emotions rolled into one or perhaps becoming stuck in one particular stage. Sadly not everyone reaches the acceptance stage.

Let go of what you no longer want and keep what you want more of! 

The eclipse got me thinking about helpful and practical ways of ‘letting go’ – sometimes being involved in a visual activity can really help to shift emotions.

Write down all the things, situations, feelings, relationships you want to let go off on pieces of paper and then watch them disappear in a creative way; burning the paper and watching the flames take their course, throwing the paper in flowing water, like a stream, a canal or the sea and watching the feelings float away – maybe you could put all the pieces of paper in a plastic bottle and watch that slowly move away from you. Another way is to attach the papers onto balloons and watching them drift away. These are great ways to get children involved and help them to process feelings of loss too. If you’re reading this and have done something similar I would love to hear from you, and invite you to leave a comment below to share your ideas to support others.

Following this exercise write down what do you want in your life? What do you want more of, including new things – what do you want to attract into your life like more joy, fun, like-minded people, success, good health etc

Change your intention into action!

So how are you going to attract more of what you want? Focus and create time and space for yourself. Where do you begin? Do some research and find out what is out there. How are you going to do this? Have a look at your routine, does something need to change? What do you need to do? Sign up to a new class perhaps.

Making an action plan can help as a starting point. Timescales can also be very helpful- rather than trying to focus on everything all at once, perhaps breaking it down with mini goals will make it more achievable.

Embrace your emotions. 

It’s natural to feel a range of emotions and please let them out as they arise, it is ok to have a good cry – by letting it out you are allowing yourself to heal.  By avoiding and pushing the feelings down you are denying yourself. Find ways to slowly help you to release your feelings. Keep a journal, write or draw your emotions, do some exercise, or spend time connecting to nature, do some meditation, talk to someone. Listen to music or watch movies that are likely to enhance your feelings. Being around like-minded people can also help.

It takes great courage to face difficult feelings – it is not  sign of weakness, but a sign of great strength.

Shift your thinking. 

Rather than focusing on what you have lost, think about what you have gained.

If you have been bereaved, what can you take from that person and interject into your life? How did that person help to mould you in some way or another? Is there something about their attitude to life or morals you liked?

Ok, you were made redundant from a job, so compare yourself from when you began that job – What skills and experience did you gain in that time? Think about yourself ‘before’ and ‘after’ that job – how have you grown in confidence?

Instead of directing your anger towards a previous partner, think about how that relationship helped you to grow – maybe it helped you to learn patience, or reminded you of your self worth. What lessons did you learn and how can you take these into your next relationship.

Keep on track. 

It’s easy to lose track of your intentions, so maybe reviewing where you are at every 3 months can be a useful way to bring you back on track. You may have stumbled across new people and gained new inspiration therefore you might need to revisit your action plan.

I think this quote nicely sums up the process of letting go… 

‘Keep your face always towards the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind’ Walt Whitman

I hope you enjoyed this blog. If you’d like to share any thoughts relating to this topic please add comments below – would love to hear from you

Thanks,

Sukhi

 

 

Self Care Reminder

I like to keep the conversation around ‘self care’ alive, not only with my clients but also with my colleagues and supervisees. The counselling and caring professions can suck our energy and if one does not take good care of themselves, this can become depleting overtime – It can really take it’s toll on physical and emotional well-being.

I read a quote which said ‘Self care isn’t selfish or over-indulgent. It’s not a luxury – it is essential’. It’s so true. Self care should not be something we treat ourselves with from time to time, nor should it be something we just squeeze in, it should be a part of our daily lives.

Having talked to a few people about this some feel ‘bad’ about trying to prioritise their own needs, others might feel ‘too busy’ for self care. I think people can struggle to balance work and other commitments which leaves little time and energy to focus on the ‘self’ (even though the desire to do so is there).

Sadly, if self care  is neglected over time, this can lead to a general dissatisfaction of life, and physical and emotional problems. We might begin to feel disconnected from our own very selves.  In more extreme situations this might lead to ‘burn out’ and even compassion fatigue.

Stop to reflect, is this happening to you at work or home? Back to back appointments…skipping lunch…deadlines to meet, so you’re working really hard… emergencies to deal with… little rest…?!

Think about how you can take the responsibility of your well-being. Where can you add in some time for ‘self care’. A 10 minute walk…eating lunch away from your desk…saying no when you have too much on…leaving work at work…2 minutes of mindfulness breathing in-between appointments…!

Small changes can make a big difference.

We can’t give anything to others if we have nothing left to give. We must give to ourselves first; where it all begins.