The Mind Body Connection

I am exited to introduce you to my new affiliate Andy Schmalz at Awakening Heath in Burlington. Andy Schmalz is an osteopathic manual practitioner and certified athletic therapist with 15 years of clinical experience. He is extremely skilled and heart-centred. He treats each client with compassion, wisdom and respect. He synthesizes concepts in energy medicine, nutrition, and environmental influences with traditional therapeutic concepts to provide a thorough rehabilitation to fit each person’s unique needs. I would like to present him to you by sharing one of his articles.

Over the last few years, I have repeatedly written about the mind body connection and how a physical issue has messages for us in regards to our emotional and mental well-being. Some typical examples are headaches, indigestion or physical pain in different areas of our body, or even a simple cold. Andy’s article is filled with excellent examples of how treatment has to address the whole human being.

Read Andy Schmalz’ article below

and/or join us for a 30 minute podcast episode about

the interconnection of physical issues with emotional and mental ones.

 

The Mind Body Connection

BY ANDY SCHMALZ, DO(MP), CAT(C)

We are often taught that the different issues in our body are the result of physical, emotional, or mental stresses. For physical injuries we look to some sort of therapist that focuses on stretching and strengthening to bring the physical structure back into a balance. Mental and emotional issues are treated with a therapist that has been trained in talk therapy and various rehabilitation techniques to help heal the initial trauma. The compartmentalization of these conditions has created a roadblock to healing for many individuals.

Instead of thinking of physical, emotional and mental health as being separate, they should be viewed as interrelated aspects along the same continuum. This can be thought of as similar to colours on the spectrum. Red, blue, yellow, or any other colour are not individual spectrums on their own colour palate, they are part of the same spectrum that transitions through all colours. In the same way that the inclusion of all colours combined produces white light, the total combination of physical, emotional, and mental spheres is required to produce holistic health.

To introduce this concept, let’s look at a simple injury like a sprained ankle. Imagine you’re a high school athlete competing for your school’s basketball team in the playoffs. You accidentally land on someone’s foot when descending from a jump and roll your ankle. You feel a couple of pops, a lot of pain right away and know it’s not good. You later discover that you will have to miss 4-6 weeks in rehabilitation if everything goes according to plan.

This is a very mechanical issue, right? There was no emotional stress that caused you to hurt your ankle so it should be a straight forward rehabilitation – manage the inflammation, begin range of motion exercise, slowly re-build the strength and continue from there. 4-6 weeks, right on schedule. But let’s take a look a little more closely at the whole scenario.

No injury is ever purely physical or purely emotional. They are opposite ends of the same spectrum. When you rolled your ankle, what were your feeling before and after the injury? You’re one of the better players on the team and there’s likely a feeling of letting your friends down, or possibly frustration because you had prepared hard for this year and now you’re going to miss the end of a short season. Maybe your coach isn’t supportive of the situation. Instead of reacting with empathy he/she responds with frustration that they have now lost one of their starters and the team’s chances of winning the championship have taken a hit. You will be able to feel that pressure during your healing process. And these thoughts don’t even include what might be happening at home – maybe your parents have been fighting lately and it has begun to create a lot of stress in your life. Maybe you’re having relationship issues with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Maybe there’s a loved one like a grandparent whose health is deteriorating.

The point is that ALL of these different stresses and emotions come into play during your healing process. Once again, the physical and emotional domains are opposite ends of the spectrum, and it’s important to have a rough idea where this injury falls within the spectrum to determine what type of treatment is required. This is not to say that every injury you experience needs to be assessed by a trained psychotherapist. Having a rough idea where an individual is in the spectrum helps to identify any barriers to healing as well as guide treatment. In this simple example of an ankle sprain it’s likely that the injury is much closer to the physical end of the spectrum with a small emotional component:

PHYSICAL___X_________________________EMOTIONAL

But if there are significant stressors at home or school, the spectrum would adjust:

PHYSICAL______________X______________EMOTIONAL

The difference between the two spectrums dictates what needs to be addressed in treatment. The physical rehabilitation of the injury does not change – control inflammation, then increase strength and range of motion as appropriate. But it’s possible the athlete in this scenario is carrying some stress that can slow the healing of the ankle. It may still heal on its own but the process will be more complete – and the care for the injured individual much more comprehensive – if the emotional stresses are identified and addressed. While this example is hypothetical, it’s well within the realm of possibility. Let’s look at a couple examples from clinic.

Example 1

A pre-teen girl (age 11) comes into clinic complaining of neck pain and headaches. Upon assessment the typical issues leading to neck pain are present – tension in the deep muscles of the neck, a change in breathing pattern (chest breathing), increased tension in the connective tissues of the abdomen, and weakness in the muscles of the mid back. The simple formula is to reverse these findings and the headaches should alleviate. However, in conversation during treatment the patient reveals that she has been experiencing difficulty all year long with a bully on the school bus that has been progressively getting worse. Her parents are aware of the issue but have not been fully informed about the severity and the young girl has not been forthcoming about the impact it is having on her. This simple disclosure has a significant impact on the healing process. The stress of worrying about a bully on a daily basis will create the tension in the abdomen (see effects of inflammation), change breathing patterns, and likely create the tension in the muscles of the neck as well. The approach to treatment at this point needs to change. The physical symptoms will resolve with the treatment of physical restrictions, but will return if the initial root issue is not addressed. The impact of the stress on the patient needs to be brought to his parent’s attention so they can address the issue appropriately – or the time and energy spent on neck rehabilitation will likely be redundant.

Example 2

Many of us carry low-level stress on a constant basis. We have simply been doing it for so long that we do not realize that it is actually affecting us. But the physiological effects of inflammation and the blood flow changes associated with stress can take a significant toll on us that we do not realize until there is a breakdown in the physical body. In this example you are a parent working full time with a couple of kids. You try to take care of your body but your responsibilities to your children take up much of your time. You are so tired at the end of each day that you can barely make it up to bed. Instead, you pass out on the couch most nights. You do get out for walks with the kids and eat the best you can, but the busy-ness of young children consumes most of your life…soccer practices, music lessons, birthdays, family commitments, etc. Sound familiar?

Life flies by, work gets busier and responsibilities increase. The kids are older but there are some minor troubles at school that worry you. Your parents have started to experience some health difficulties and need some help at home. Each of these commitments has also placed a strain on your marriage that simply wasn’t there 10 years ago.

Then one day you pick up your daughter after a particularly bad day at work – the same way you do every day when you get home from work. She’s only 45 pounds and you have lifted her many times before. But this time your back spasms and you experience extreme pain that brings you to your knees. You immediately know you’ve “blown out your back” and are able to see your doctor the next day. You’re told it’s a muscle strain and that you didn’t lift properly and that’s why you’ve hurt your back. NO WAY!!

Let’s take a close look at what has actually happened. Years of wear and tear and progressive increase in stress have decreased the mobility of your body. The lack of flexibility has finally reached a point where your spine cannot accommodate the things you’ve always been able to do, like pick up your daughter. The bad day at work is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. Your system was at a point where it could no longer accommodate any more change. The small change in blood flow to the muscles due to the cumulative stresses combined with one more stress lead to the muscle spasms.

What does this mean for your treatment? The back will likely heal no matter where you do your rehabilitation. If it’s really bad you might need to try a couple different practitioners before you feel back to normal. Stretch the muscles of the low back, release the tight connective tissues on the abdomen, strengthen the core, and things should resolve in a typical fashion. But here’s the problem – you have done nothing to address the root causes of the back injury. You have approached your rehabilitation as a purely physical phenomenon and therefore you have not completed your rehabilitation. Unfortunately, you will likely injure your back again in time.

What else could you do to completely heal your injured back? You can’t necessarily control the events in life that cause your stress, but you can manage how you react to stress using appropriate techniques. Managing stress is a multifactorial approach (view Andy Schmalz’ article “Managing Your Stress”) that should be part of our everyday lives. If there is a significant strain on you personally because of your parent’s health or relationship you may benefit from talking to a trained psychotherapist that would compliment the physical side of your rehabilitation. Meditation, breathing techniques, regular physical exercise, yoga/flexibility work and potential modifications to your diet all come into play when trying to heal something fully instead of simply managing symptoms for another couple of years.

Example 3

It is important to remember that the physical and emotional connection is a two-way street. The first two examples showed how emotional stresses can either create an injury or slow it’s healing. But issues that seem to be purely emotional can also create a physical imprint. Anxiety is a perfect example. Anxiety is like a little breeze that can quickly turn into a tornado that takes over your brain and body. The emotion is often created by a perception based on a root fear that leads to worry and distress. And like many things in the brain, the more it is experienced the easier it seems to become to trigger an anxiety attack. But what we forget is that there is a physical imprint left in the body that seems to form a physical pattern – and once that pattern is established it feeds into the continued development of anxiety. In essence the physical imprint helps to perpetuate and lower the body’s threshold for anxiety.

When we experience anxiety, breathing patterns change – the breath becomes shorter and we no longer activate the thoracic diaphragm to breathe properly. Instead we use the upper chest muscles and neck muscles attaching to the upper ribs to lift the ribcage and create the breath. This results in increased tension in the thoracic diaphragm, neck and upper back that may affect nerve and blood supply to the head potentially creating headaches. There also seems to be a consistent pattern of tension in the centre of the upper abdomen just below the ribs that can lead to abdominal discomfort. It may be the inflammation in the body from the anxiety or some sort of other pathway but some of the stress from anxiety collects in this solar plexus area that seems to make the emotion of anxiety easier to experience.

As these physical changes culminate, they restrict proper breathing and seem to feed into the development of subsequent attacks. Releasing the physical imprints of the anxiety attacks seems to help the body manage anxiety. It is important to note that this is in no way a substitution for counseling. Instead it is approaching the body from a holistic point of view. Treating only the brain for anxiety will help to decrease the anxiety attacks one may experience, but it will not reverse the physical effects the attacks have.

As you can see in these examples, a physical injury is never just a physical injury. Conversely, an emotional issue will always have a physical imprint. To heal the body, mind and spirit a multi-faceted approach is required. It is up to you to determine the right formula for your healing, as you are the one responsible for your own health. At Awakening Health, our goal is provide you with the information and tools available to achieve the balance in life that we are all seeking.

 

For an Osteopathic appointment go to Awakening Health.

To work on the Emotional and Mental side of a physical issue contact

Belief Change and Relationship Coach Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you enjoy my articles, please subscribe to receive an e-mail notification when I post a new blog. Just enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

What is PSYCH-K® and Shadow Energetics©?

Listen to the blog article as an extended interview version on my podcast, or read it below.

When people look at my list of services, I often get the question, “What is this psyche thing you do?” Even though PSYCH-K®, originated by Rob Williams in early 1989, has been around for 30 years now, it is still is a bit of an “insider tip” when you want to change your subconscious mind.

Bruce Lipton calls PSYCH-K “an energy-based psychological treatment system” (The Biology of Belief) and recommend it as one way of changing your belief system. In fact both PSYCH-K® and Shadow Energetics, developed by my friend Darryl Gurney, are energy psychology techniques which allow us to effectively shift our beliefs at a subconscious level.

When I first learned PSYCH-K® in the spring of 2006, my background at that point was hypnosis to help my coaching clients reach their conscious goals. I hypnotized them, and taught them self-hypnosis in addition, to be able to continue certain suggestions at home, but wondered, what if there was a faster and more efficient way of changing our beliefs and seeing the results right away? There is! PSYCH-K® and Shadow Energetics both allow us to change a particular belief in just a few minutes.

“PSYCH” stands for “Psyche” and the “K” for Kinesiology. Applied Kinesiology, also referred to as “muscle testing” or “energy testing”, allows us, whether we use PSYCH-K® or the belief change process from Shadow Energetics, to communicate with our Subconscious Mind and our Higher Self (called the Superconscious Mind by Rob Williams).

We cannot say something that our subconscious believes to be a lie without experiencing a weaker muscle response—compared to when we are expressing something our subconscious deems to be true. That is extremely fortunate for us, because it allows us to determine what our subconscious really agrees with. Once we have detected that a certain beneficial belief is not held at a subconscious level, we can ask permission (through the muscle testing) to make a change and to program or establish this more supportive belief. Both, PSYCH-K® and Shadow Energetics have strict permission protocols. We always check if it is in the “highest wisdom and benefit” (Shadow Energetics) or “safe and appropriate” (PSYCH-K®) to make a shift at a given point in time.

In addition to giving us a technique to change our beliefs at a subconscious level, Shadow Energetics recognizes the importance of muscle testing emotional charges in our body and releasing them, as these stuck emotions causes interference patterns. Just like our limiting beliefs, our emotions also create our experience of reality below our level of conscious awareness. 90% of physical issues have an emotional root. Emotions are normal; in fact, all feelings and emotions are good. They provide us with feedback that we need to address something. However, some emotions do not resolve themselves completely; they can cause an obstruction in the physical body, sending out a continuous interference resonance. As a result, we perceive and respond to reality from our emotional pain.

The key piece of the Shadow Energetics system is the integration of our shadows with the goal of becoming whole and more heart-centred, by being able to accept ourselves and others unconditionally.

The term “shadow”, coined by Carl Jung and made popular by the late Debbie Ford, refers to the fact that other people mirror to us what we had to disown growing up. As we develop our personality, we learn to identify with certain personality traits, usually those which were deemed good by others and brought us attention and love in our environment. Yet, all energy outside in the world exists inside of us. Because we have learned to disown certain ways of being, we can only perceive the unwanted traits in projection in others. We carry them inside of us as “shadows”.

A shadow can either be a “dark shadow” or “light shadow”. Dark shadows, contrary to what I occasionally hear, have absolutely nothing to do with evil or with an Ego that we need to get rid off, but simply with the fact that we are human and flawed. That which we do not like or that which we hate about ourselves—and think that we are not—is a dark shadow. We also all carry light shadows, which are the qualities we admire in others, but again, which we think we are not. The truth is, we are everything: Good and bad.

Debbie Ford compares our traits, the ones we like and the ones we don’t like, to a pack of wolves. Her quote from her book “Why Good People Do Bad Things” says it best:

“Truth be told, there is a whole pack of wolves running around inside us – the loving wolf, the kind-hearted wolf, the smart wolf, the sensitive wolf, the strong wolf, the selfless wolf, the open-hearted wolf, and the creative wolf. Along with these positive aspects exists the dissatisfied wolf, the ungrateful wolf, the entitled wolf, the nasty wolf, the selfish wolf, the shameful wolf, the lying wolf, and the destructive wolf. Each day we have the opportunity to acknowledge all of these wolves. All these parts of ourselves, and we get to choose how we will relate to each of them. Will we stand in judgement on some and pretend some don’t exist or are we going to take ownership of the entire pack?” (Debbie Ford, Why Good People Do Bad Things)

Should we only feed the white wolves and ignore the black ones? If we only feed what we were told is “good”, and try to starve the other impulses and energies inside of us, the latter will wait for an opportunity to attack when we least expect it. ALL energy USED WITH CONSCIOUSNESS is good, beneficial or useful in some way. However, the key is that we are consciously aware of our shadows and have learned to love ourselves with them. Loving ourselves including our darkness allows us to truly love and accept others with all their imperfections and flaws as well.

Join us for the next SHADOW ENERGETICS WORKSHOP at the end of May. You will learn all the processes to do your own healing work and/or to use them with your clients. To find out more about what is included in this four day training please click here or read testimonials of past students.

If you would like to read more on the topic of beliefs and shadows, or watch Debbie Ford’s movie, the following products are available on amazon by clicking the image links.

(DVD)

 

Contact me for

individual coaching sessions or couples’ sessions.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

A.R.E. you there for me?

Daniel is dating Kelsey. He is incredibly attracted to her beautiful body, he loves to touch and kiss her, and cannot wait to make love to her. She has told him that she is not quite ready yet to be physically intimate with him, but that she will let him know. She has shared with him that a year prior, another man took advantage of her when she was drunk. They are in her room, where they have been studying together for the next exam, and the young couple ends up in a passionate embrace. Daniel is excited and can feel that Kelsey is getting more comfortable with him as well. He could push on and coax her into moving into the next step. He decides to do what is so much harder, which is to honour her request and go for delayed gratification. He leaves. Without fully realizing it, he has laid the basis for a trusting relationship with her.

Christina is five months pregnant with their first child. The midwife has examined her and has recommended to go for an ultrasound. She is concerned that the baby might not be putting on enough weight, especially as Christina is of what is looked at as “advanced maternal age”, at 39 years old. Christina calls her husband, Daniel. He is stressed due to an important deadline at work, but he knows that Christina has experienced three miscarriages in her first marriage and wasn’t supported by her ex-husband. He can hear the fear in her voice. He always does his best to ensure that he is accessible by phone. Despite his work deadline, he agrees to come to the hospital with her because she needs him as her anchor. Doing this, he has reassured her that he will—unlike her ex-husband—put her first when she needs his emotional support, no matter how busy he is.

John just turned 75. He wakes up in the middle of the night from a nightmare, which leaves him not feeling well. He had a heart attack ten years ago and since then, he has been secretly worried about his health. He has trouble breathing. He wonders whether he should reach over and wake Betty. What if she is annoyed with him for being such a baby? He decides to take the chance. Betty responds with understanding and care. She holds him, talks to him and soothes him. They fall asleep again together, arm in arm. She was accessible, responsive and willing to engage with him, despite it being 2:30 a.m. She was willing to be his emotional anchor.

These examples are of three couples of different ages and at different points in their lives and their relationships. Yet, in each case, one of them is asking in one way or another, “Are you there for me? Do I matter? Do my feelings and needs matter to you? Will you honour my requests, fears and needs? Can you be my anchor when I am afraid?” And the other one responds by being mindful of the partner’s requests and needs, by being accessible, responsive and willing to be present and engaged.

We as humans crave nothing more than deep intimate connections with at least one other person, yet, we are at the same time deeply afraid of reaching out to that other person and entrusting them with our fears and needs. The longing to be truly seen for who we are is strong, yet often the fear of rejection is stronger.

In the age of speed-dating, Tinder, and many sites for sexual encounters, we more or less live in and experience a hook-up culture. It has never been so easy to find somebody for a one-night stand, for sexting or for other erotic experiences. Those interactions often leave us temporarily distracted from our inner pain, but ultimately feeling more alone and empty inside.

We receive our wounding in relationships and we also heal in relationships. Our partner becomes a substitute for our parents or caretakers and therefore, our partner triggers our childhood wounds. As painful as this is, there is also the beautiful opportunity to heal these wounds and shift those memories, experiences and beliefs from our childhood, within the “container” of our present-day partnership.

Our partner also heals the wounds we have experienced through previous partners. If a past partner has hurt, disappointed or betrayed the person you are with, you have the honour to be their healer. That is an incredible gift you are being given. It’s a call to show up with awareness, gentleness, understanding and most of all, integrity. Ask yourself what it means to be truly intimate, available, reliable and safe.

Or as Sue Johnson phrases it: “The key question in love is not, ‘How many orgasms can I have with you?’ It is, ‘A.R.E. you there for me?’, where A.R.E. stands for emotionally Accessible, Responsive and Engaged.”

Our deepest healing happens within the boundaries of a safe, exclusive, committed and intimate relationship. In order to heal, we need to acknowledge that we all have wounds, some might be due to bigger traumas, others due to smaller traumas. We need to be ready to let go of the past and expect the best now from our current partner. And as the partner, we need a compassionate attitude and the willingness to be patient; to affirm and re-affirm, to assure and reassure.

The more you A.R.E there for your partner and your partner for you, the deeper your connection will be and the more you will be rewarded in all areas of your relationship. Emotional intimacy translates into physical intimacy and vice versa.

“This quality of emotional connectedness also seems to translate into the bedroom and erotic connection. Securely bonded lovers report more and better sex. They are more confident in bed and can deal with sexual disconnects and problems together. When you are safely connected, you can relax, let go, and give in to sensation. You can take risks and reach for erotic adventure. You can share and respond to each other’s deepest needs and desires.” (Sue Johnson)

What would it be like if, next time your partner reaches out to you, you would be Accessible, Responsive and Engaged? And what would it be like if you gathered all your courage to be vulnerable and reach out to your partner, trusting him or her to be Accessible, Responsive and Engaged?

Image by Skitterphoto on Pixabay

 

Contact me for

individual coaching sessions or couples’ sessions.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

Attracting the Flu

My friend Barbara Ptak just share in a newsletter that she “created the flu for herself”. I had to say “ditto”, so did I. Some of you might think, “WHAT? How is that possible. You get the flu because of a flu virus and your immune system not fighting it off.” Right. And why does your immune system sometimes fight off the “bugs”, and other times it does not? You might say, “not enough sleep, not enough vitamins, unhealthy lifestyle”, maybe you will even say “too much stress”.

So, let’s examine that for a moment. What does too much stress mean? I experienced serious cold symptoms for the second time in five weeks. The first cold turned into a sinus infection, which I attracted ten days before Christmas, and it had to do with what sinus infections are often related to: hurt and anger. Another grief piece surfaced for me around the anniversary of a betrayal. There was something else to process, to forgive and to let go of. 2019 rolled around and I was full of zest again to create a fabulous new year. Two weeks later, I attracted another cold that knocked me out for three days. What was going on this time?

Remember “A Cold Means Your Body Speaks Your Mind”. As Louise Hay taught us, upper respiratory illnesses are related to “too much going on at once, mental confusion, disorder, small hurts” (L. Hay, Heal Your Body, 25). A question Deb Shapiro has us ask is: Do you need some time to yourself to adjust to something? (Shapiro, Your Body Speaks Your Mind, 184) Louise Bourbeau looks at all physical symptoms as a protective function and suggests to inquire: What is this cold preventing me from doing or having? What is it allowing me to do or have? (Bourbeau, Your Body’s Telling You: Love Yourself, 149)

I definitely had too much going on and a lot to digest. Some surprises that required me to revaluate my business and the near future surfaced ten days into the new year. Some parts of me were excited that these unforeseen events brought new opportunities and required me to be more creative in my manifestations in 2019. Some parts were optimistic and would tell me “it will all work out”. Other parts in me were scared by the upcoming changes and the unknown aspects all change inevitably brings with it. Hence, an inner conflict manifested in respiratory symptoms. Ultimately, the cold allowed me three days to take good care of myself.

Since the beginning of 2019, I had put myself on a strict regime of getting up at 6:00 a.m., journaling, doing my inner work, exercising, and then working on my book. I even felt I had to get up at 6:00 a.m. on Sundays. We all have different parts inside of us. The parts in me which love being productive and get a kick out of getting things done were totally on board with this regime. Other parts in me who felt there should be more time for rest and for play were not heard. And voilà, the flu which required me to sleep for two days non-stop, gave those parts the so longed for rest and permission to do absolutely nothing.

If you have a cold or even the flu right now and you feel up to exploring the emotional and mental side of these physical symptoms, you might want to ask yourself

  1. What was going on just before it started?
  2. What stress were you experiencing?
  3. What was going on in your life that was perhaps “too much”, “overwhelming”, “confusing”, “chaotic” or “hurtful”?

Once you have a sense of how parts of you are trying to help you with this break, you can clear out the stress. If you are familiar with tapping, you could tap. Or you could communicate with the parts of you that feel overwhelmed, in the tradition of IFS. If you know how to do an emotional release process, you could release the emotions you are stuck in. You can also use affirmations in the tradition of Louise Hay, or even turn these affirmations into belief statements to change at a subconscious level. PSYCH-K® and Shadow Energetics both provide ways of changing beliefs in the subconscious mind.

Possible Affirmations or Belief Statements:

  1. I allow myself to relax and let go of all stress.
  2. I let go of all mental confusion / disorder / hurt / disappointment etc.
  3. I allow my mind to relax and be at peace.
  4. Clarity and harmony are within and around me.
  5. All is well and I am well.

Are you curious to find out what your body is telling you through your physical issues and how you can respond to those messages? Do you want to learn how to release emotional charges you feel stuck in or change beliefs behind physical symptoms? Book a session with

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

Why Do I Feel Stuck?

Listen to the blog article as an extended version on my podcast, or read it below!

Helen got the opportunity to do a creative video project to market her business. She was excited. Yet, instead of starting to work on it, she cleaned up the entire house first. Then she started cooking a meal. Then she thought she should return some phone calls. She realized she was procrastinating. Does this sound familiar? She didn’t understand why, because a part of her really wanted to do this video and that part could see the benefits of it.

When she started going inside to explore, she found she had a protective voice, another part inside of her, that was trying to keep her from doing the project because it was afraid what would happen if she did. She called this protector the “Busy Housewife Part” because it kept her busy with other tasks. It had a fear that if it allowed her to do this project, she would end up being embarrassed.

When she explored this further, she discovered that there was yet another part which was a younger child part that was holding embarrassment and shame. As a child, she had a couple of experiences where she made herself visible and was ridiculed and embarrassed by the other kids and teacher. The busy part was protecting the “Embarrassed Child” part in her. Realistically, it wasn’t likely that Helen would embarrass herself and be laughed at for making the video, but our parts are stuck in the past. They interpret current life situations based on what happened in childhood and act accordingly.

 

from Self-Therapy workbook by Bonnie J. Weiss

Helen used Internal Family Systems Therapy or in short IFS to explore this issue of procrastination and to shift out of it. IFS works with parts or subpersonalities. They are called parts in this model because that’s the word we naturally use. We say for example, “There is a part of me that wants to lose weight but there is another part in me that really wants me to eat pizza and chocolate cake tonight.” Or we might say, “A part of me wants to find a new job that’s less boring but another part of me feels it’s better to stick to what is familiar and safe.” Or, “A part of me wants to commit to this relationship but another part of me is afraid I’ll get hurt”.

Illustration by Karen Donnelly

We all have many different parts. Some of the famous ones are the Inner Child, the Inner Critic, the Perfectionist, the Pleaser, the Pusher/Driver and the Controlling Part, but there are many more. Each part has its own perspective, its own feelings, even its own memories and especially its own goals and motivations for us.

In IFS, there are two main categories of parts: protectors and exiles.

Protectors

Our protectors have two roles. One is to handle the world, or rather to influence the way we handle the world, for example the way we interact with people. Their goal is to protect us from painful experiences. Protectors also directly try to keep us from feeling the sadness, grief, shame or pain that we are already carrying inside from past experiences.

Illustration by Karen Donnelly

Those protective parts are dedicated to safety and homeostasis. Unfortunately, protectors also attract what they are trying to avoid. If I, for example, have a fearful protector, or a mistrustful protector, or an angry protector which are trying to help me to avoid situations that could hurt me, their behaviour often is part of creating the anticipated hurtful situation. However, in order to give up their role and transform into a more beneficial role, they need to be honoured, respected, reassured, appreciated and understood. They need to learn to trust us when we are in Self, a concept I will elaborate on more below.

Managers

Mangers are proactive protectors. They try to keep us in control to prevent feelings of hurt or rejection. There motto is “never again”, based on a painful experience in the past which they are trying to avoid from happening again.

Examples for these proactive protectors are a Controlling Part, a Planner, an Analyzer, a Judgemental Part, a Pessimist, a Caretaker, a Pleaser, a Worrier, a Perfectionist, a Rational Mind, a Responsible Self or our Inner Pusher or Driver.

from Self-Therapy Workbook by Bonnie J. Weiss

 

Firefighters

Firefighters are responsive protectors. They instinctively react when our vulnerability is triggered. Just like real firefighters, they are focused on stopping the “fire” a.k.a. the problem or pain. They don’t care about consequences.

Examples for firefighters are an Angry Part, an Attacker, a Vengeful Part, but also parts that retreat, hide or stone-wall in response to what another person does or says. The third type of firefighters are distractive parts that convince us to engage in an addictive behaviour.

These firefighting parts often feel lonely, rejected, isolated and shamed because nobody likes them. Nobody in the world likes to see them come out, but also internally they are judged. The other parts don’t usually like the firefighters either.

Exiles

The second main category of parts are call “exiles” in IFS. Exiles are usually young wounded inner child parts that carry pain, occasionally from adulthood, but mostly from childhood. They might feel inadequate, ashamed, afraid, lonely, sad, scared and so on. Or they carry limiting beliefs, for example that they are not good enough or that people are dangerous and so on.

Helen’s exile, which she ended up calling the “Embarrassed Child”, felt ashamed. Helen wasn’t aware of this most of the time because her protectors kept her wounded child shut away or “in exile”, so that she didn’t have to feel the pain that it was carrying around, in this case, shame.

Illustration by Karen Donnelly

 

A third and really important concept in IFS is the concept of the Self.

The Self

The Self is your Aware Ego, your true self, it’s your spiritual centre, your essential self, your core self or your soul. It is who you really are when you are not taken over by your parts. If you are not overidentified with an exile or a protector in a given moment in time, then you are in Self. The Self is the healing entity you already hold inside. It is meant to be the wise leader of the inner system of parts. The Self is eternal, knows all and is not affected by any trauma. The Self energy connects us to all there is in the world. It is characterized by the 8 C’s of Self-Leadership: calmness, curiosity, clarity, compassion, confidence, creativity, courage, and connectedness. It manifests as being present, heart-open and consciously aware.

“A person who is leading with the Self is easy to identify. To rephrase a joke, you get the impression that ‘the lights are on and someone is home.’ Others describe such a person as open, confident, and accepting—as having presence. You feel immediately at ease in a Self-led person’s company, sensing that it is safe to relax and release your own Self.” (Richard C Schwartz, Internal Family Systems Model)

Richard Schwartz, the founder of IFS, who is one of the most authentic and unpretentious people I have ever met, points out that very few people are “constantly and fully Self-led” (Schwartz) and he modestly includes himself in that statement. We all carry to a varying degree burdens of feeling rejected, abandoned, humiliated, shamed or traumatized. Naturally we put on masks to protect these inner wounds.

IFS is a path towards moving into increased Self-leadership by degrees. The more we access our Self and heal our inner pain, the more we can relate differently to our own parts and also to the people in our life. When we understand and practice that we are more than our parts, that we are Self, our relationships become more harmonious, we are less reactive in crisis and less overwhelmed by emotional situations. We are able to let our protective masks come down and give others permission to do the same.

 

If you are curious about finding out more about working with your parts contact me for a free phone consultation.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

Join me on Sunday, August 12 for a workshop in Mississauga from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. You will learn how to work with your parts, especially the critical inner voices and transform them, how to parent your inner child parts and heal them, and how to acquire the ability to lead more and more from Self. For more information or to register, please call me.

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

 

Learning Addictive Patterns

Listen to this blog as a podcast here, or read it below!

I was curious to know which topics you might want me to speak about in my next podcasts. My poll on Facebook resulted in different requests. One of your requests was anxiety. Another one was addictions.

The latter one is a much more complex topic. I might need to preface, that I am not an addiction councillor. One way in which I can speak to the topic of addiction is in how far it has touched me personally. Another way is to share my understanding of the origin of addictive behaviour. I grew up with a close family member who was an alcoholic and thus have experienced how destructive and challenging an addiction is for the entire family. I was also at one point in my life in a relationship with a man who had an alcohol problem, until I realized that we cannot help somebody who is not ready to change. I had to make the self-loving choice to get out of that relationship.

I believe it is important not to downplay addiction, no matter how socially acceptable the substance or activity somebody engages with in an addictive way is. I believe that as parents, grandparents and educators we can make a huge difference for the next generation if we understand how addictions begin. Making sure that children do not learn addictive patterns of behaviour is as important as teaching them their ABC’s or math skills. What can we do to address addictions? Let’s explore why addictive energy shows up.

We need to begin with a definition of addiction. Recognizing addiction can be quite intuitive and you might feel that you will recognize an addiction when you see it, but in order to discus the topic we need to come to an agreement as to what qualifies as an addiction. An addiction can be defined as “something to which we have a strong predilection for and have little control over our actions in relation to the desire” (Dr. Alexandra Katehakis). We may find that a lot of our time is spent either engaging in the addictive behaviour itself, or in preparation for the experience of it. Unlike other things which we enjoy a lot, an addiction can have a certain component of secrecy and also shame connected to it. This is especially true when the behaviour we are engaging in is at odds with our own personal value system. Denial might also be part of the addiction.

Most people think of drinking or taking drugs when they hear the term addiction. However, there is a long list of addictive behaviours we engage in. Just a few examples of those behaviours are addictive eating, depending on alcohol, smoking cigarettes or marijuana, taking drugs or medications, addiction to sex or pornography, engaging in workaholic behaviour, addictive exercising or working out, gambling, compulsive shopping and overspending, addictive consummation of TV, video games or other electronics, obsessive engagement in social media and much more.

Why do we interact in an addictive way with certain substances or activities? What is going on with these behaviours?

These are all short-term coping mechanisms to distract ourselves from unpleasant emotional states. We have been conditioned to respond to emotional pain, sadness, overwhelm, stress and other uncomfortable emotions by eating, drinking, smoking, or distracting ourselves with any of the other above mentioned activities. Even nervous habits like nail biting, lip biting or twirling hair are subconscious attempts to deal with unpleasant emotions. They have become our pacifiers.

Short-term, these activities might feel like they give us some relief, calm or comfort us, but we have not addressed the real problems by engaging in these behaviours. We have taken our emotions and pushed them down with food, alcohol, drugs and we have distracted ourselves from acknowledging and feeling them.

Every emotion gives us feedback about unmet needs or another situation which needs to be addressed. When we are, for example, experiencing sadness or grief, it’s because we are feeling a loss. We need to process that loss. If we are feeling anxiety or fear, we need to take action steps to explore this and achieve greater safety. If we are feeling that something is unfair, it is a call to “make fair” or forgive and let go. If we are feeling anger, we need to investigate what more vulnerable feelings are underneath anger and need to be addressed.

Instead, we ignore the messenger. We are doing what we have learned as children when we were comforted with a pacifier or with food. Our caregivers didn’t know that the soother to make us stop crying, or the cookie to sweeten the disappointment, or the tub of ice cream for the heartache, or the bag of chips to stuff the anger down would become our automatic go-to and our basis for any addictive behaviour.

When I was teaching elementary school, we had an interesting unit one year, an extension to the regular curriculum, which was proposed by an older colleague of mine. The unit, which we taught in the grade 3 classrooms, was around recognizing unpleasant emotions and developing different action strategies. The idea was for the students to learn that soothing with food, TV or electronic activities only led to the emotions temporarily going away, while seeking human contact and talking to a person of trust was soothing, but also helpful in regards to changing the emotional state or addressing the underlying need that wasn’t met.

Addictive behaviour is often established in early childhood. Human beings need other human beings for regulation. It is the job of the primary caregiver to be present as a secure anchor for the child and as an interactive regulator who soothes, comforts and supports in a gentle and loving manner so that a state of high sympathetic arousal (fight or flight) or parasympathetic responses (freeze response or dissociation) can be turned into feeling safe and secure. What happens instead, due to the fact that parents themselves have not learned to rely on human interaction but to rely on outside stimulants, is that they model addictive behaviour when they are emotionally aroused.

Only 54% of people in our society today have experienced and learned a secure attachment style. Parents can only do the best based on what they know and understand. Children who do not have conscious and emotionally present caregivers inevitably find strategies in order to survive and often carry these energy-relieving patterns into adulthood. The result of these childhood experiences is a dependency on external soothing often combined with distrust that others are willing and capable to meet their needs.

Does or did your toddler have a pacifier? Once they are two and a half or three years old, you will probably be advised that it is time to take this soother away. Be aware that with this common habit they have already made the first experience of an object to go to for comfort. Make sure you let your child make the decision of how and when to give the soother away. I heard a lovely story the other day of a mother explaining to her daughter that she is so big now and doesn’t need the soother anymore but that her younger cousin now needs it. She is allowing the daughter to decide without pressure when it is time to wrap the soother up as a gift and pass it on.

At the same time, the mother of course also needs to offer her presence, and the presence of the grandmother who looks after her daughter a lot, as human alternatives to the soother. When we expect our toddlers to get rid of their pacifiers when they are not securely attached, they will inevitably develop other habits of soothing. They need to learn that they can count on their caregivers. We might not personally be able to be there for them all the time but we can direct them to trustworthy and conscious adults who will support us. That way we can provide that secure anchor for them and teach them how to soothe through human contact rather than addictive substances or activities.

The particular addictive substance somebody is abusing is only the secondary problem. The primary underlying problem is that we learn addictive behaviour. Rather than judging others for their addictive behaviour, let’s take an honest look in the mirror and examine in which ways we also tend to reach for outside stimulants. In which ways are we comforting or distracting ourselves instead of facing challenging emotions and addressing our unmet needs? The best thing we can do to change the problem of addiction is to start with how we handle our own emotions. Let’s throw out our adult pacifiers, so that we can teach the next generation a healthier approach to handling our emotional states. After all, our emotions are like a friend who never lies to us.

 

If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field on the left side of the bar. Thank you for your support!

Angelika
905-286-9466
greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Indigestion – Your Body Speaks Your Mind

Listen to this blog as a podcast here, or read it below!

Our body communicates to us through physical symptoms. Sometimes the message is in the symptom itself, or the effect it has, or the changes we have to make due to it. In previous articles, I have highlighted the meaning of colds and of pain, especially of headaches. Today, I would like to take a closer look at indigestion, stomach issues in particular.

Eating is not just about absorbing nutrition for our physical body. It is also about swallowing and assimilating our experiences. Digestion is about absorbing everything that is happening to us along with our feelings, and eliminating that which we do not want. Our digestive system can be a good mirror of our emotional state. When we feel safe and happy, our digestion tends to be reasonably maintenance free. If we are experiencing conflicts, stress, or emotional turmoil, that often shows up in indigestion.

Indigestion - Louise Hay 1

Often food and love are also connected, or even become interchangeable depending on what beliefs we have learned and how food was used when we grew up. Many of us have been rewarded or soothed with food. Food can become a substitute for love, attention and comfort. We might have learned to use food as a STERB (Short Term Energy Relieving Behaviour) to distract ourselves from uncomfortable emotions like sadness, anger or fear. That unconscious way of using food often increases the indigestion.

Indigestion is without doubt caused by the “wrong” foods, but also just as much by worry and stress. Feelings of “worry” and “fear” are held in our stomach. When we can’t “stomach” what is happening in our life, when the reality is too scary, bitter or sour to digest, or is proving too much to bear, indigestion and heartburn could be the result. According to Deb Shapiro, a helpful question to ask when you are experiencing acid reflux is, “What issues or feelings are you swallowing that are bitter, sour or upsetting?”

Indigestion - Louise Hay 2

For Inna Segal, acid reflux is also a sign of experiencing difficulties in regards to digesting life. Our body is letting us know that we are feeling uncomfortable with what we are seeing, feeling, hearing, and experiencing. We might feel irritated, frustrated and out of control. We are resisting life in some way.

Lise Bourbeau reminds us of letting go and allowing things to unfold instead of worrying or trying to control something. She also notes that the stomach sits in close proximity to our heart. A loving, accepting and peaceful heart has a calming influence on our stomach. On the other hand, thoughts such as “this is not fair”, “this is wrong”, “why do I have to take this”, or “this is not what I wanted” block the flow of energy. The more tolerant we can be and the more we can go with the flow, the easier life is to digest.

Indigestion - Louise Hay 3

Just as Deb Shapiro and Lise Bourbeau provide useful questions to investigate our symptoms of indigestion, Dethlefsen and Dahlke also suggest to listen to our inner feelings and to consciously come to grips with inner conflicts and incoming impressions. We need to ask ourselves what we are unable or unwilling to “swallow”, what we are feeling sour or angry about or what is eating away inside of us. The ability to digest life with ease requires openness and surrender.

Indigestion - Louise Hay 4

Meditation, affirmations and of course subconscious belief changes help to address the symptoms of indigestion. One meditation mantra I suggest is “Let It Be”. If you are interested in investigating your symptoms more, to clear out fears and to change limiting beliefs at a subconscious level, using PSYCH-K®, L.E.E.P.’s (Life Enhancing Energy Processes) or Shadow Energetics, please contact

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field on the left side of the bar. Thank you for your support!

Further RESOURCES in regards to the body-mind connection:

  • Lise Bourbeau, Your Body’s Telling You: Love Yourself!
  • Thorwald Dethlefsen & Ruediger Dahlke, The Healing Power of Illness
  • Louise Hay, Heal Your Body
  • Narayan-Singh, Messages From Your Body
  • Inna Segal, The Secret Language of Your Body
  • Deb Shapiro, Your Body Speaks Your Mind

A Cold – Your Body Speaks Your Mind

cold remedies

We are taught that colds are caused by viruses and that you will catch a cold when your immune system is not strong. The classic recommendation to boost your immune system is vitamin C. Yet, why is our immune system sometimes strong enough, other times not, despite following all the rules of getting enough sleep and maintaining healthy nutrition to keep up our immune system? Every physical issue has an emotional and mental component which has been left out of the equation in the explanation above.

It is not a coincidence when you get sick with a cold. The common cold is linked to a conflict in our life, a situation of overwhelm or stress. Your mind might literally be speaking through your body by saying “This situation stinks! I’ve had enough!” A cold can tell us that we are stressed out and need time off, or it can be connected to emotional issues.

Louise Hay points out that upper respiratory illnesses are related to “too much going on at once, mental confusion, disorder, small hurts” (L. Hay, Heal Your Body, 25). Sinus problems are an “irritation to one person, someone close” (L. Hay, Heal Your Body, 63). When I have a sinus problem I am usually annoyed with or angry at somebody else – or at myself. I need to acknowledge my anger and release it. A sore throat can be connected to “Holding in angry words, feeling unable to express the self” (L. Hay, Heal Your Body, 64).

Deb Shapiro explains that “colds, runny nose, and tears are all related—mucus and tears are both ways of releasing repressed or pent-up emotions. You may feel the same helplessness and despair, the same need for comfort. So, if you have a bad cold, you may want to see if there is some crying or grieving you are repressing, some deep feeling that has been pushed aside.” (Shapiro, Your Body Speaks Your Mind, 184) Some questions she suggests to ask yourself are: Do you need some time to yourself to adjust to something? Is this a cry for attention because everyone seems to be taking you for granted? Do you need to get ill in order to be taken care of?

Louise Bourbeau clarifies that “a cold will often manifest as a result of congestion on a mental level, especially when there’s so much going on in your head that you don’t know which way to turn.” (Bourbeau, Your Body’s Telling You: Love Yourself, 149) Our body can be quite literal. When we are “stuffed up” our emotional “stuff” is coming up. Key questions to explore the situation further are: What is this cold preventing me from doing or having? What is it allowing me to do or have? What am I experiencing and how do I feel about it?

cold - scrabble board 2b

The phase of the cold when we have the symptoms is already the healing phase. Preceding that phase in which we are sneezing and coughing is the conflict phase. This conflict can be an event in our life. Sometimes it is a major event like losing our job, the break-up of a relationship or our pet dying, sometimes an event like a fight with our partner or being stressed about a situation at work. During this conflict we are in fight or flight mode.

After the conflict is resolved, our body goes into recovery mode. The body needs to heal and the symptoms of the healing are a runny nose, a headache, a sore throat, a cough etc. If the conflict does not get resolved, we might find ourselves in phase two having the cold symptoms as well because we get so exhausted from the conflict that our body is forcing us to rest. However, if the original conflict is not resolved, the cycle repeats and we will get sick again soon. Repeating cycles of this kind can manifest in serious illnesses.

Another mental factor of getting a cold is our belief system regarding illnesses. Beliefs like “I always get a cold in February” or “I get three colds every winter” affect us as much as a positive belief like “My immune system is strong. I hardly ever get sick”.

Illnesses will never be completely extinguished, no matter how much scientific research we invest into finding cures because it is the natural way of our body to communicate with us. To be healthier, we need to listen to our mind speak through our body and respond to the messages. There is an amazing intelligence in this mind-body-system which has the purpose to keep us emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually well.

 

Are you curious to find out what your body is telling you through physical issues and how you can respond to those messages?

Book a session with

Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

You can buy Louise Hay’s book “Heal Your Body” from Amazon here.

Deb Shapiro’s book “Your Body Speaks Your Mind” is available from Amazon here.

Louise Bourbeau’s book “Your Body’s Telling You: Love Yourself” is available here.

If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field on the left side of the bar. Thank you for your support!