Giving Birth to A New Year

I just had a birthday, one of those that are supposed to be a big deal. I had a truly wonderful get-away with family and some of my closest friends, yet this transition into a new decade of my life did not unfold completely smoothly. This had me contemplating the mix of emotions which can come up prior to a birthday.

I have always felt a certain heaviness and sensitivity around the time of my birthday, and this year even more so. And had you asked me why, I would have told you that I wasn’t quite sure, couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Each year, I wondered if it was the fall and the upcoming winter that felt sad, or the hopes and expectations for the day itself which felt heavy. I knew it had nothing to do with getting older per se. I do believe that with each passing year we become wiser and that each new decade of our life brings new adventures and gifts. Yet, the emotions around this time of year always felt a bit like grief.

alone-depressed-grieving

This year, my wise friend Dhebi DeWitz said something that really resonated with me. She reassured me, that “it is not uncommon with the week or two weeks leading up to a birthday to feel the heaviness of the old birth year ending and the energies die off that go with it. Just ride it through and know that it is a cycle coming to an end. Then things start fresh energetically with the birth of your new year.”

Her words prompted me to start an internet search. I was amazed how many articles I came across on the topic of “birthday blues”, “birthday depression” or “birthday sadness”. I had no idea this was such a wide spread phenomenon. We all know what birthdays are supposed to be like. They are supposed to be joyous occasions, a time of celebration, a time when friends remember friends and families get together. It suddenly dawned on me that just like Christmas, Mother’s Day or other holidays which are overloaded with expectations, birthdays can also be challenging for several different reasons.

  1. As Dhebi pointed out, something old ends and something new begins. We might need to experience some feelings of grief and of letting the old go as we open up to the new year, or even new decade of our life. There is an energetic shift. That energetic shift can be exhilarating, but may also come with apprehension about the unknown. A birthday can be bitter sweet and that is alright.
  2. 2. Unless you are like my uncle—who literally hopes everybody will forget his birthday—we often have a need for this day to be more significant than other days. Some of our essential needs are the need for appreciation, love and celebration. It is natural that we are hoping for the day to be out of the ordinary and to feel significant or special, celebrated and appreciated.

celebration 2

What we have to be aware of, however, is the tendency to measure people’s love for us by how they respond to our birthday. Everybody has a different love language, and while some people are very good at giving gifts or words of affection, others are better at showing their affection through spending quality time with us or by doing something for us (acts of service). It also all depends on how much value others attribute to birthdays in general. It is easy to misinterpret somebody’s action or non-action in regards to our birthday and make it mean something it does not mean at all.

  1. Just like the end of a calendar year and the beginning of a new one, a birthday can also mark a point where we are contemplating our goals and where we are at in life. Suddenly, a certain goal we have not achieved stands out more, or a particular milestone has not been accomplished. When we are struggling with work, relationships or fertility issues, certain birthdays can be a trigger for sadness or depression. We might have hoped to be at a certain point in our career, or to own a house, or to be married / in a long term relationship at a certain age, or we might feel we are running out of time in regards to having children. We are experiencing grief in regards to our dreams, yet, we are expected to be happy on this special day of ours. Whether a birthday is depressing or joyful largely depends on those artificial deadlines we have set for ourselves.

dreams-house-marriage-children

As humans, we are capable of organizing our life into past, present and future. We have a certain life expectancy and particular birthdays can be more emotional because the number represents something to us. At 20 we are not a teen anymore, at 21 we are considered to be even more of an adult, 25 is the completion of a quarter of a century, 30, 40, 50, 60 and so on mark the beginning of a new decade, 50 is half a century, at 65 we are considered senior citizens, perhaps when we turn 76 or 83 or 87, we wonder how much longer we have because one or both of our parents died at that age, and so on.

  1. Another factor that influences how satisfied we are around our birthday is conscious or unconscious childhood memories of happy or unhappy birthdays. Perhaps, we mourn the long-gone magic of a childhood birthday. Or perhaps, we have had disappointing experiences and we have learned limiting beliefs about ourselves, about deserving and about celebrations. That experienced disappointment might literally be stuck in our body and energy field and can easily be triggered again, unless we release the emotion.

boy-crying

  1. We might not be fortunate enough to have someone in our life who organizes a party or other birthday celebration, and there is work and stress involved in planning the event. That stress is magnified when we feel grief about having to plan and prepare ourselves. How much that sadness hits us depends again on our beliefs, our unfulfilled needs and longings and what meaning we attribute to a particular birthday.

If you are experiencing confusing emotions or heaviness around your birthday, know you are not alone and just ride it through, as Dhebi recommended. You are allowed to laugh and cry, to feel happy and sad, to celebrate and mourn, and to embrace the wide range of your emotions fully, no matter what day it is.

I embrace all my emotions

To release stuck emotions, discover more about your needs and how to meet them, or change subconscious beliefs, using PSYCH-K®, Shadow Energetics or L.E.E.P. (Life Enhancing Energy Processes created by Dhebi DeWitz) please contact

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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I love you! I love you! I love you!

Energy follows attention. What you focus on, is what you get. That universal law applies to our relationships as it applies to anything else.

In the past, there was a theory that it is good to get your negative feelings out. Unfortunately, venting at our partner leaves him or her with bad memories. Over time, our brain responds with apprehension to high energy interactions. In fact, our brain starts to associate our partner with negative situations and with danger instead of with feelings of safety. Our brain goes on alert because we remember the hurt and emotional pain. Instead of triggering endorphins (feel good chemicals), the stress hormone cortisol is triggered. Our main job in our relationship is to be a source of safety for our partner, instead of another source of stress.

Our brain has, as Rick Hansen calls it, “a negativity bias”. We remember negative events more easily than positive ones. For our ancestors that negativity bias was important for survival. Drs. John and Julie Gottman state that five positive exchanges or comments are required to override one negative one. If we hear more critical comments than affirmations or appreciations, we are often left feeling defensive and uneasy with our partner.

Another reason why venting is not beneficial is that whatever you express, you also experience. Whatever you do to others, you do to yourself. When you yell at your partner, it is as if you are yelling at yourself. Your brain reacts to your own negative yelling in the same way your partner reacts. It triggers danger cues and the release of cortisol.

What would happen if we flooded each other with positive emotions and we were able to connect intensity with positive exchanges? Hendrix and Hunt suggest the following couple’s exercise.

3 Minute Exercise That Re-Patterns Our Brain

In preparation for the exercise, make a list of

  1. your partner’s physical characteristics which you like
  2. their personality traits which you admire
  3. some of their recent behaviours you appreciate, and
  4. come up with a global affirmation, e.g. they are terrific, thoughtful, fantastic, amazing, wonderful etc.

positive flooding

One partner sits in a chair and the other one circles him or her and floods the partner with positive adjectives. The first minute is focused on the physical characteristics. The circling partner identifies and appreciates all of the physical features of their partner in a normal tone or volume, e.g. I love your smile. I really like your silky hair. I love your soft hands.

During the second minute, the circling partner focuses on appreciating traits in a more excited tone, while raising the volume of their voice, e.g. I appreciate your warmth. I appreciate your kindness. I appreciate your intelligence.

During the last minute, the circling partner values and affirms behaviours the partner has displayed. This time they are raising their voice even more, e.g. I appreciate that you picked the kids up from school yesterday. I am thankful for your advice in regards to my boss. I am so grateful for you sending Aunt Edna a gift.

At the end, the circling partner comes around and stands in front of the sitting partner. He or she yells, “I can’t believe I am in a relationship with (married to) a person as amazing as you. I love you! I love you! I love you! You are wonderful/amazing/fantastic” etc.

Then both partners stand and give each other a full minute long hug to calm down.

 

The rationales behind this exercise are

  1. This interaction exercises, first, the sympathetic nervous system, and during the hug at the end, the parasympathetic nervous system. It activates the bonding hormone oxitocin.
  2. It creates new safe memories of our partner. Intensity is now connected to positive memories.
  3. It also takes us out of the resentful part of our brain where we have kept a list of the things our partner has done to frustrate or hurt us. It moves us into the part of the brain that wakes us up to how wonderful our partner is. Our perpetual issues or relationship problems have, of course, not disappeared. However, the shift into our prefrontal neo-cortex opens up the option to deal with them in a more civilized and calm manner than our primitive brain is capable of. From that part of our brain, we can be more curious about why our partner is the way they are, instead of being judgmental with each other.

 

If you are hesitant to try this dynamic exercise, consider cutting out negativity and shifting into appreciation with a different ritual. Drs. Gottman for example suggest a weekly “State of the Union Meeting”. The couple sets aside one hour a week to reconnect. The State of the Union meeting begins with giving each other affirmations and appreciations. Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt propose to end each day by sharing three things we appreciate about our partner and vice versa. This conscious practice of appreciation requires us to pay attention to what we enjoy about each other.

positive flooding - joy

Re-patterning our brain, as well as other activities of shifting into appreciation, give us the opportunity to revive the love we have for each other. Gratitude and appreciation foster a secure bond and allow us to continually build a sound relationship house.

Contact

Belief Change and Relationship Coach Angelika,

905-286-9466,

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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How a Heart Coherent State Helps Your Relationships

thorns-have-roses

This beautiful quote reminds us that we can appreciate the roses with the thorns. What exactly happens to our physical, emotional and mental state and within our relationships when we are able to shift from the nasty thorns to the beauty of the roses, from dissatisfaction and negativity to appreciation?

John M. Gottman, the author of “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”, uses different markers to predict whether a marriage has longevity or not. Arguing itself is not the problem, but rather how couples argue. If we have built a strong loving friendship, of mutual trust and appreciation, we can disagree respectfully and with good humour and we are less likely to experience stress. However, certain kinds of interactions with each other are so lethal that Gottman calls them the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse”: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling.

four-horsemen

Criticism

When our needs aren’t met in the relationship, we need to speak up, express our feelings and complaints, and request a particular change. A complaint focuses on a specific behaviour or event. Criticism, on the other hand, is global and expresses negative feelings or opinions about the other person’s character or personality. Criticism is understood as blame. It for example sounds like this: ”Why do you never help me? I am always alone with the kids. You just don’t care. You are lazy and selfish.”

A complaint on the other hand, could sound like this: “I would like to talk about putting the kids to bed. I am tired at the end of the day and frustrated because I feel alone with this task. I understand that it’s harder for you to put them to bed because they are more used to me, so can we please talk about how you can help me? Could you give them their bath and I read the good-night story?”

 

Contempt

The second horseman originates from a sense of superiority over the partner. When my partner triggers me into contempt and judgment, it is helpful to ask what shadows are showing up for me. What energy is the other person showing up with and what is my relationship with that particular energy? Feeling superior over our partner and expressing it by eye rolling or contemptuous remarks, especially when sarcasm, mockery or hostile humour are used is a form of disrespect.

It is sometimes challenging not to respond to a certain trigger in our partner with frustration, but contempt is poisonous for any relationship. When we notice it, we need to reign ourselves in and focus on everything our partner is good at and capable of. Rather than seeing them as defective, we need to keep their behaviour apart from who they are. We can instead concentrate on everything that we like and love about them.

 

Defensiveness

Defensiveness is an understandable response to criticism, but unfortunately not a productive one. It is a way of blaming our partner. If we insist on being the “innocent victim” or on being right, we have already lost the game. There are no winners in the game of right and wrong. Defensiveness, whether in the form of whining, explaining, or getting angry, just escalates the conflict. The only way to win is by taking responsibility for our words and actions.

four-horsemen-and-their-antidotes

Stonewalling

Criticism, contempt and defensiveness can lead to one partner tuning out and disengaging. In a typical conversation between two people, the listener gives cues that he is paying attention, for example eye contact, nodding of the head, other facial expressions, short noises to indicate they are listening. The stonewaller tends to look away without a sound, like an impassive stone wall. To the talker, it seems like the stonewaller doesn’t care.

The person stonewalling, however, might respond to feeling flooded with overwhelming emotions of feeling shell shocked or defenseless. Unfortunately, trying to avoid a fight by not responding is also a way of avoiding the relationship issues. 85% of the time, stonewalling is a male behaviour. The reason lies in our evolutionary heritage.

In prehistoric times, the females were nurturing the children and the males were responsible for hunting and protection. Females biologically needed to be able to calm and soothe themselves quicker to be able to produce enough milk to nurse the young children. For the early hunters however, vigilance was a key survival skill. They were more likely to survive when their adrenaline was high and remained high.

Biologically, men have a harder time to soothe and calm themselves when there is a conflict. Their heart rate and blood pressure stay accelerated for longer. Based on these evolutionary differences, it is not all that surprising that men are less likely to initiate a talk which could lead to a confrontation than women and more likely to become defensive and stonewall to avoid it. Frequently feeling flooded leads to emotional distancing and to feeling lonely.

In a love relationship, we are in each others care. It does not matter why our partner is in distress, or whether we agree with the stress or not; it is our job to relieve the stress for our partner and to take turns doing this for each other.

Emotions like fear, anxiety, impatience, frustration and anger are energetically depleting emotions. The same applies to emotions like despair, grief, depression, sadness and loneliness. Renewing emotions, on the other hand, boost our resilience to stress, improve problem solving skills and increase our intuition and creativity. We are then able to have productive talks with our partner.

Joy, appreciation, gratitude, peace, forgiveness, compassion and love are all renewing emotions. These emotions positively affect our heart rate, lower our cortisol level and increase the hormone DHEA, which is linked to different anti-aging benefits like less inflammation, improvement of bone density and muscle mass, less depression and mood swings, better cognitive functions, weight loss, heart health, balanced blood sugar and increased sexual functions.

heart-coherence

A daily practice of going into a heart coherent state helps us to relieve our stress greatly and to quickly re-balance our mind, our emotions and our physical body. The results are that we are less reactive, able to think more clearly and able to solve problems from the more advanced parts of our brain.

Heart coherence is achieved through heart focused breathing. Just imagine you are breathing in and out through the centre of your chest for 5 seconds on the inhale, 5 seconds on the exhale. Breathe at least three breath cycles in and out through your heart centre. Continue to breathe this way and bring up heart-felt feelings in the centre of your chest. Connect with a memory which is full of love, laughter, joy, peace, appreciation or gratitude. Relive the memory, feel it. Stay in this coherent heart state for at least ten minutes. You can practice this with your eyes open and in different situations in life, for example when you are walking down the street or driving in traffic. It is important to be in coherence in every day life, not just when we are going into meditation or are in solitude. Next time you have a difference of opinion with your partner, it will be easier to drop into your heart. You can then speak and listen from that loving heart place.

 

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Relationship and Belief Change Coaching

Angelika Baum

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

Two Words

There are two words in the English language which have an almost magical power. They make us feel appreciated and valued, they bring a smile to people’s faces and they can completely change the energy between two people.

We can use them with our family; we can use them with our friends; we can use them with complete strangers and make somebody’s day. These words are already effective when said lightly in the passing. But when we put the entire energy of our feelings behind what we are saying, they are like a key which can open anybody’s heart. The more coherent our body language and verbal communication is, the more powerful their effect. “Thank you” goes a very long way. “Thank you” connects and builds bridges. “Thank you” brings out the best in all of us.

Sometimes we get stuck in feeling so unappreciated by others that we forget to thank them or feel stubborn about thanking them. However, these words open up the doors for greater appreciation on both sides. What if we said thank you to our parents and step-parents and to our children, to our siblings and even to our ex-partners? Let’s not stop at saying thank you to those people who we already find so easy to love. Let’s say thank you to those people we feel judged by or unloved by. Perhaps one reason why they are angry at us is that they feel unappreciated.

Many of my relationships are strong due to love and appreciation. My children use every celebration or other opportunity to say thank you for all I have done for them. Their words come straight from their heart. That acknowledgment makes me want to do more for them, give them all I possibly can. I know that they appreciate the quality time we spend together and the financial expenses that come hand-in-hand with raising them. My ex-husband and I are thankful for the mutual flexibility and good communication we extend toward each other. It has taken work to arrive at this point. Knowing that we appreciate the other greatly as a co-parent makes us want to be even better co-parents.

Yet, I have one extended family member who I haven’t said thank you to in a long time. I have been stuck in judgment for this person, only aware of what I don’t like about her. Of course, I know that what I judge about her is exactly something she mirrors for me; it’s an energy which exists in my shadow, and therefore an energy I need to work with and embrace.

It is time to stop my judgments and feelings of dislike and reach out with a simple thank you for all she has done, whether I liked how she has done it or not. I will need to sit down and really put myself in her shoes to appreciate all her efforts and how difficult things have been for her. We all have our own interpretation, our own story about ourselves, the people around us, and the situations we find ourselves in. I am sure she has hers. I certainly have mine, and I don’t doubt that our stories vary greatly. Saying thank you means going beyond these stories of right and wrong.

When did you last say thank you to the parent or step-parent you have judged your entire life long, but who has done his or her best? When did you last tell the partner who we so easily take for granted that you are grateful for their support, which they show in so many different ways? When did you last let your sister or brother know that you appreciate them and their role in the family?

Do you find it hard to do this in-person? Then write a letter or an e-mail simply saying thanks. Don’t expect anything in return. Do it just because. Do it because this world needs more appreciation and gratitude from all of us.

Thank You in Diff Languages

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Relationship Coaching, Shadow Work, Belief Change Coaching

905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca