Showing posts with label Mindful. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mindful. Show all posts

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Core of Me

A time traveller from as recent as the 1980s upon landing in the almost 2020s and finding us having a non-reciprocal conversation with our phone screens would propel him to scurry back into the 80s in whatever format he arrived in. Only after I hustled him for his retro Adidas slippers, of course. Oops, capitalism sneaking in there and I haven’t even got to making that point yet. Anyway, there I was, on snapchat; surpassing my recommended daily intake advised for a healthy social media diet.
I stood there trying to justify why I wore more makeup than usual. I know how it looks when somebody, who aims (and claims) to live their life ‘authentically’, says so whilst wearing a full face of makeup.  So I’ve decided to let you in on understanding the guilt I feel as a privileged, westernised girl (I’m 29 soon, and yet I don’t feel calling myself Woman is a force I can lay upon my emotions just yet)  whose mind extends beyond the shores of the capitalist regime of well, the world. Not because I feel you should know about me, but because it may lead you to understand your own internal struggles. Unless you’re not a complex thinker as I am, to which I will say ‘I bet you’re glad’.

The Journey to the Centre

This post isn’t so much about getting you to understand me as it is for me to understand myself. So, to set the context for the journey to the centre of my mind, let me share my deep, core beliefs. Simply put, we all have ‘Core Beliefs’ which we are unconscious of.  Tell me go into therapist mode here for a minute and explain just exactly what core beliefs are, and the strength of these beliefs. In ‘Cognitive Therapy’ these core beliefs  drive our thinking, emotions and behaviours. They’re formed when we’re young and quite impressionable. They mould our perception of ourselves, people and the world. To illustrate this point further let me take you back to 1999 when I was 10 years old. I had just moved house from an estate where we were closer as a community and our dogs all ran mad around the street. Frankly, therein lay the best days of my life and the essence of my childhood. I moved to a more private estate, excuse us!. It was basically a huge change for us all, my dog included. So a couple of weeks after having moved, my daddy and I took my dog out a walk in our new surroundings. Being an absolute hallion we let our dog run loose, much to the detriment of well, the rest of my life because Tandy (the dog) ran out onto a busy road upon seeing another dog and getting hit twice. To cut a traumatic long story short, the core belief that would dictate my life formed on the very spot, in that very moment where I stood in dry shock having seen and heard my dog getting killed. I AM RESPONSIBLE!

To be clear, I didn’t consciously stir up this Core Belief, it was my unconsciousness at work because somewhere in the Mines of Moria of my mind the Balrog was stirring. (That was a Lord of the Rings reference there for you otherwise Harry Potter fans).

Nobody had told me it was my fault, nobody told me she died because she wasn’t on a leash. It was the nerve, literally, of my brain to form that conclusion.

So how do I know that my ‘Core Belief’ is “I am Responsible” if we’re meant to be unconscious of them?

Well, the formation of this core belief on that night in September 1999 led me to develop a crippling form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D) which had to be managed with C.B.T therapy. Ironically, I was training in it whilst receiving it for my newly diagnosed mental health disorder. O.C.D is a condition that there is no known cure for, so we’re roomies for the foreseeable future, it and I. It knows not to drink out of my cup or sit on my bed, but it’s a shapeshifter because when I think I see myself in the mirror it’s actually my O.C.D presenting itself as me, telling me I’m the worst thing in the world. And it’s easy to believe it, especially when it’s your own reflection telling you so. O.C.D feeds off your identity. You can never really tell when your mind is your own, or the O.C.D at play. That was a metaphor, by the way. O.C.D is a on the neurosis end of the scale, it's not psychosis. My reflection doesn't speak back to me. Just to be clear.

So I take certain tablets to break us up, to keep it somewhat restrained. It still stares at me, from across the room it is not paying rent for in my head. Sometimes, if I shift my gaze, it can attack. It tries to attack often.

So, when you have this knowledge that you’re ‘responsible’ as a result of a tragic situation where you were irresponsible would you change it? No! Because for me it drives me to behave in a way to be responsible for others when they themselves can’t be. So there’s why I work in mental health. I don’t charge what I could charge for my services. Why? I believe mental health care and support should be very cheap if not free. So I don’t want to be responsible for somebody’s ill health because they couldn’t afford therapy.

So that brings us to why I feel I have to justify my actions and behaviours. The more privileged I am the more guilt I feel for those who don’t have warmth, food, shelter, love. I feel responsible for what I have and for what they don’t have.

My View of the World

As a reluctant citizen of the Western world I’m in conflict between wanting to be successful and wanting to fulfil my obligation of being responsible, both of which are excruciatingly demanding. To have ‘effect’ in my world in mental health I have to be ‘seen’. I have to be ‘heard’, to tell people “Look, there is help”. But the modern method is seeking attention conflicts with my need to be authentic. If I don’t show that my backside is toned on Instagram, will I be ignored? How is my Ego being fuelled in all of this? Will I catch the attention I need to lead them to what I really want them to see? That real, genuine care that is overlooked if I don’t package it with a big sicker of myself on the front for the voyeurs that populates social media. My running thought is “how can I do something that attracts attention to the help I’m offering in a way that is alluring to the ‘superficial’ and ‘choreographed’  standards of social media, but authentic to me?”  Can you see how difficult it can be?  Can you begin to understand that internal conflict I, and so many others, deal with?

Because I understand certain people’s incessant need for validation from posting incessant photos of themselves, I begin to fear that if I do it then I will look just as insecure and drive my the need to inflate my ego. Let me go into therapist mode again. Whilst my main core belief is ‘I am responsible’, there are many of us whose main core belief is “I’m not good enough”, “I’m unlovable”, etc. So then, just as my behaviours are driven by the need to do things that keep me from being irresponsible, so too do the people who feel unworthy do things that stop them from feeling unworthy. So then we have those people who constantly post photos of themselves filtered to the eyeballs. They overcompensate for the ‘lack’ that they feel. Just like I feel guilt for being unable to help the people who are living third world countries. The result of my guilt is cynicism and disgust for the world I live in, just as the person’s incessant posting of themselves is a result of their feelings of unworthiness which is temporarily placated by ‘likes’. When that wears off, they post another photo and then another and another.

So to myself who feels responsible, you don’t have to be and you can’t be. You can contribute to change, but you can’t change the world by not wearing lipstick. To the person who feels unloved and unworthy, you are validated long before you take that photo and post it. You are enough without having to prove it. You are lovable in all your imperfect perfection.

The Authentic Self

My need to be ‘authentic’ doesn’t have to comply with this unrealistic demand upon myself to be responsible. My authentic self wants to wear makeup, it would be inauthentic to deny myself that. My belief of needing to be ‘responsible’ shames me into believing that wearing makeup is superficial in the bigger picture of a world full of suffering. So can you see why I felt compelled to justify my wearing of makeup on snapchat? I tread carefully. I deliberate over each photo I post, over my actions and my words. “Does it comply with my ‘authenticity’? Yes, I love makeup and it’s a photo of me wearing makeup! But are you being responsible? No, it’s superficial and there are people dying and here I am putting on makeup”. Yes, it’s exhausting.

The Destination does not Exist

Our pursuit for ‘Happiness’ is what drives our life decisions. However, our concept of ‘Happy’ is flawed, in regards to our culture which enforces it via advertising.
The Westernised concept of happiness is capitalised. It’s the new 4X4 jeep that can do your brows as you drive, or the Gucci bag made from the skin of your enemies. Happiness, in the West, is an obscure refraction of a much more simplistic and metaphysical value system.
Travel the world and you’ll find different concepts of happiness respective of cultures and religions. Our ignorant culture makes us sympathise for the “poor people in the East who can’t afford a wee Iphone”, whilst they look at us and think “poor white people have to buy an Iphone to feel happy.”

The road of life is not paved with happiness, it’s formed from ‘contentment’. Happiness is just the flowers we see on the way; not always there, but pleasant when we do come across them. The flowers cannot sustain us, it’s the hardy ground of contentment that we need more to keep us going.  Contentment is acceptance of the fact that you’re not the most beautiful, richest or smartest, but grateful that you’ve stability to keep walking through life anyway.

So there, a reflection of my mind in one sitting.
I applaud you if you’ve gotten this far.
If anything, the awareness in and of itself of how my mind and its internal conflicts are enough to keep me grounded, humble and conscious people other than myself. I could come to a destination where these conflicts no longer exist and I can make clear, constructed and conscientious decisions. But that destination doesn’t exist because it’s the very struggle of life itself that takes us from a piece of rock to a sculpture of our true selves that resides within. Life is the sculptor and we are its art.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Our Lives are in Constant Motion...

I always feel like I’m on a unicycle, trying to gain
a balance in my life; learning and studying what moves it takes to gain that balance. Yet, it’s the very process of ‘finding’ the balance that consumes our lives...

We as individuals have a diverse set of conditions by which we live. These Conditions of Worth are set by those around us and ourselves. Most of the time these conditions are not talked about or simply not consciously acknowledged, but they are palpable in every household, society, school, etc. 
For Example, I always thought that 'I will not be content and successful until I graduate and have my graduation photograph on the wall between my brother and sister’s graduation photographs.' 

However, that being said, my parent’s never once put pressure on me academically, they always told me that my best was enough. It was myself from which the pressure came.
It’s surprising how we measure ourselves against the Conditions of Worth we set ourselves because most of the time these conditions manifest from what we see others doing.

People live and work within superficial mind-frames that only focus on how they can be better than others, rather than just bettering themselves. This is because they’re trying to find that balance within themselves, even though they’re not conscious of it. 
We would benefit from thinking about what it is we want, what part of us needs fulfilling.
I find that people yearn for substance in their life, and they think that alcohol and societal status, material gain and wealth is the answer. But it’s not.
I am a girl who loves her clothes and shoes and makeup, and I love shopping, but the feeling of buying something new is short-lived and the ‘buzz’ soon wears off... I know some people can identify with this, whether they like to admit it or not.

"Stand up in the midst of the turbulent water of life and regain our balance."

What I do find fulfilling is looking inward and listening attentively to what my soul and mind needs.
It’s important to attend to your holistic health, because when you tune into your mind and body and soul you will then begin to master the art of balancing your life and you will realise what matters.
Our balance depends on our values, adhering to them so that we know where we stand in the face of adversity and trial instead of being consumed by thoughts of ‘what will I buy when I get paid?’. 
Our values affect our goals, our decisions, our beliefs and behaviours. It lets us become more self-aware, to nurture ourselves and to understand ourselves so that we can rejuvenate.

Stephen Cox, the writer of the blog Balanced Existence, writes that “the waves come in, break and recede. Then they roll on in again. Instead of fighting and being tumbled painfully ashore, feel the waves coming and ride them out.”

So let me ask you to think of something...

➜Imagine yourself standing on the shore of the ocean, faced with the constant motion of our lives (the waves), and think of the waves as the changes of life.
Some may be small and others will come and crash into us, changing our position  and setting us off balance. To regain that balance we must be strong in our mind, our soul and our body. 
Being holistically strong and aware of our values, allows us to stand up in the midst of the turbulent water of life and regain our balance.

Monday, 5 December 2016

A Trail of Glittering Experience

I have been recently discovering a lot of snails about my garden...

And, I, in my tendency to succumb to the seduction of a silent reverie, found myself wondering about snails, their purpose, and why they are the way they are. Why a shell? Why have they their houses on their back?
Then I thought ‘Snails are independent in a weird way’.
They rely on themselves for their shelter, their security; unattached 
to anything but themselves. 
They travel leaving only a trail of glittering experience of the path they’ve taken, despite how long it has taken them.

A snail didn’t choose to be a snail, it didn’t choose to be slow and burdened with its shell, but despite its wavering purpose in nature, it still carries itself and travels to a new place, independent of all that surrounds it, and irrespective of what humanity thinks of it.
With its beautifully grotesque shell, intricately designed by the hand of nature, the snail climbs up walls, unaware of what is before it, never questioning.
It goes on, until a bird comes and ends its insignificant life, fulfilling its purpose as a meal for its avian predecessor on the food-chain... and the world goes on.

And I think, perhaps I’m too like this snail. I, too, am burdened by an unreckonable force upon my back, that is, my Mental Health. With such a heavy burden I’m tempted to wait in hope of a winged figure to pluck me from the perils of my physical encasement on this Earth.
But, despite the weight, and the fear of an ominous shadow, I have become accustomed to it.

“despite its wavering purpose
in nature, it still carries itself
and travels to a new place, independent of all that surrounds it, and irrespective of what humanity thinks of it”
I, too, can keep going despite what humanity thinks of me. It’s only with my beautifully grotesque mind, my perseverance and struggle that I can leave my glittering trail of experience. 
Perhaps my purpose is to show that despite the weight of my mental illness, I can still travel to new places, explore new grounds and live, unattached to the stigma and social ‘impressions’ of what it means to have a Mental Health problem. To show, that despite all the odds, I can still live.
I have come out of my shell and accepted who I am.
My Mental Health disorder has conditioned me to be strong, to persevere through everything that life offers. I chose to turn something negative into something positive, so going to therapy, taking medication and working on myself holistically has taught me to realise that I can have control over how I feel.
I consider what I thought was a curse, as a blessing. I feel blessed because what was once a burden is now a monument that signifies my success through the toughest struggle that I’ve ever endured, and I’m leaving my glittering trail of experience.

Living with a Mental Health disorder doesn’t define who I am as a person. Having a Mental Health disorder does not make me any less a dreamer, any less a daughter, sister or girlfriend. Being a snail doesn’t mean it’s any less an insect. Having a Mental Health disorder means I just have something extra to deal with in my daily life.
There was a time when I considered myself ‘cursed’, questioning why I was inflicted with such mental torment, convincing myself that I was being punished.
How I perceived my Mental Health disorder is indicative of how society can penalise and ostracizes anything that is ‘abnormal’ or ‘taboo’. In the daylight hours society doesn’t blatantly outlaw those who have Mental Health issues; in fact, it encourages inclusion and well- being of everyone. It’s only in the dark corners of quiet moments, when the day has yawned and the tie is pulled off, that the other face of society looks warily from the corner of its eye upon us and wonders are we actually monsters, psychopaths and murderers like the people in those horror movies.

Society paints a sloppy picture using only limited colours to portray those with Mental Health issues. 
We deserve to be painted by our own experienced hands, we who have experienced the inner turmoil that Mental Health can cause. If each of us could choose to contribute to what Mental Health is like using our own artistic technique, our own stroke of the brush, our own unique colour upon the canvas of society, then perhaps the art depicting Mental Health wouldn’t be abstract art, but simply naturalism, a reflection of our minds, our struggles, beautiful dashes of colour with trails of glittering experience. 
We owe it to ourselves to keep going and to make our own purpose despite what nature has given us. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Sting

On sunny mornings I’ll usually stand in my garden and breathe in the smells of the new Spring.
This morning, following this routine, I walked out into my garden and saw a huge bumble bee sitting on the garden table. I walked on, and then stopped in my tracks, stopped by some force of nature, and returned to where the bee was.
I instantly remembered about the time I wrote an article for local magazine, Local Women, for the Valentine’s edition. In my unconventional way I didn’t write about romance or love, well love in the traditional way. I actually wrote about how St Valentine is the patron saint of Bee Keeping also.  In the article I chat about how bees are integral to the existence of mankind. No bees, no pollination, No food. 

Albert Einstein once said “If the Bee disappears off the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years to live.’’

Upon remembering this reverence for the bee, I owed St Valentine, I had a duty.
So I looked. The Bee, not moving at all, was quite possibly dead. The cause of death? A mystery.
Standing in the dewy morning in my mis-matched pyjamas, and a child-like freckly face to match my child-like curiosity, I bent down and observed the situation in my Sherlock inspired inspection pose. I suddenly remembered that I heard somewhere that bees can become exhausted and to give them sugared water to revive them. With excited anticipation to see if the theory worked (my own little scientific experiment) I went into my kitchen, got sugar and some water and put it on a teaspoon. I went back out and sat the teaspoon down right in front of the bee. No movement.
I pushed the spoon further towards the bee and poured out some of the liquid onto the table. A tensed few seconds passed under my held breath.

There it was, the movement I had been scanning for.

The Bee, faded and slow, began to soak up the sweet water with what looked like a long straw and a little tongue bobbing in and out on the end of it. 

I had never been so close to a Bee before.
The Bee sucked at the sugar particles, and at that I remembered ‘Honey, we have honey’.
I ran back into the kitchen to retrieve the honey and brought it back out, put a dollop in front of the Bee and stared in amazement at how this bee reacted to the honey as if it were a drug he was in withdrawal from.

Not five minutes after giving the bee the honey, my close observance was interrupted with the instant buzzing of the bee. He moved, stretched his legs, tested his wings, and at that he flew off…
When the bee flew off I felt a sense of happiness that I was able to help this creature revive and continue its path in the course of nature.

It also made me think of something else. It made me think of people. It made me think of the people in my life who I’ve given my help, time and love, just as I had given to this Bee. And like the bee, they leave.
We have people in our lives, some come and stay and others go. This bee today, upon leaving me could have stung me, but it didn’t. Some people, upon leaving our lives, do sting us, without us previously never knowing that they could have such a poisonous sting.
Why, if we give love, the rich sugar and water of our lives to these people, do they hurt us and leave? Why do these people, on this Earth, stop by in our lives, take of us our resources, what they need and then just unexpectedly leave?
What do we do?
People who are stung and hurt are often left feeling foolish for investing so much time and love. They feel that they are empty because they’ve no longer the sweetness or vitality that they once had, because they shared it with someone who was no longer there.
What should we learn about such circumstances?

We need to learn that it’s not a shame to have dedicated your best self to another, it’s indicative of the kind and sweet soul that you are. The shame lies in the person who stung you.

Learn that just because we are stung, it’s not necessary to sting back. It’s more necessary to stay as the person you are, the giver of the sweet life that revives.

I’ve learned that upon feeling the pain and hurt from a sting, I found myself being revived by another sweet and pure soul who invested their time in me.

I’ve learned that I could never sting a person who revived me, because I know all I need is already in front of me.
I’ve learned to stay true to myself, and the right people will come into your life to stay.
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