How Relationships Can Help With Anxiety and Depression

I remember how I looked with complete lack of compassion at my mother when I was a young adult in my twenties. I couldn’t understand why she felt to hopeless, helpless and unhappy because I was young and had my entire life still in front of me. In her generation, there wasn’t much to accomplish anymore once your children were grown up. All a woman without a career had to look forward to was the arrival of her grandchildren. And when her first grandchild came, her oldest daughter (me) even lived far away in a different country on a different continent. Looking back now, I realize how once she was over 60, she desperately tried to find meaning as a homemaker with grown-up kids, even though she didn’t take any pride in any of the housewifely activities. She was the happiest when she could go out, connect with people and exercise.

When interacting with her, she usually seemed needy and clingy to me because I wasn’t in touch with my own neediness. I judged her for self-medicating with alcohol and over-exercising because I didn’t understand how we all use STERBS (Short Term Energy Relieving Behaviours) to distract ourselves from our pain. She had depression and anxiety, even though it wasn’t called anxiety back then. I just perceived her as ridiculously worried about things and unnecessarily afraid. My dad, a typical male of his generation, was overidentified with the rational mind and ridiculed her emotions and fears. And my sister and I kept her at arms length when she started getting too anxious. She had nobody to turn to who made her feel a bit safer, a bit more loved. Not until many years later when I was an adult myself with two daughters did that understanding and compassion for how hard it must have been to be her slowly set in.

Today depression and anxiety have become an epidemic. Some experts, for example the Cognitive Behaviour Therapists, suggest depression and anxiety need to be managed by interventions at the level of thought; other experts suggest there is a problem with our emotions. I believe we need to address both, our thoughts and the underlying beliefs as well as our emotions. The changes we make and the techniques we can learn need to consider both. But how do our relationships play into our thoughts and emotions?

From an attachment standpoint, part of the reason for anxiety and depression is a lack of connection. We are mammals who need to bond and connect with others in their lives. My mom was reaching out to a husband who did not know what to do with emotions and to two daughters who didn’t know that she was mirroring certain traits for us that we had disowned inside ourselves. The relationships in our life either help us to manage the depression and anxiety or they trigger it even further.

Partners who are not securely attached to one another, are typically highly anxious and/or depressed. We relive our childhood fears and experiences with our partner. Our partner is a proxy for all the other relationships we have ever had, going all the way back to our first attachment figures, our mother and father.

When we want to address depression and anxiety, we need to grow resources within ourselves, but relationships themselves can also become a resource and a safe heaven to find release. According to attachment theorist John Bowlby, people who feel depressed are experiencing an inner narrative about feeling lonely and not seeing themselves as important to other people. Sue Johnson points out that in our primary relationship, this plays out as the experience of not being seen, not mattering and not being needed. The emotions triggered are those of feeling unlovable and unworthy, of not being good enough in relation to other people.

So from the view of an attachment theory based clinician like Sue Johnson or Stan Tatkin, the cure for depression and anxiety lies in healing the loss of connection that was experienced in earlier relationships, which is being mirrored in our present relationships. Tatkin points out the effectiveness of face-to-face and eye-to-eye contact between partners. That connection through the eyes is stimulating and can upregulate the partner who feels depressed or anxious. It also focuses the depressed person outwards, instead of in their own head. It is like an outside meditation, keeping the focus on the present moment instead of the painful past or the worries about the future that are playing out in a depressed or anxious mind.

The importance of the eye-to-eye connection has been studied on mothers and infants. The more the mother makes contact face to face, giving the baby reassuring facial cues and being attentive, the more secure and happy the baby feels. The still face experiments with babies (for example conducted by Dr. Edward Tronick) on the other hand have shown that a still face in the mother and a lack of connection through visual and auditory responses create a response of fear and anxiety in the child.

The same still applies to adults. We are social mammals. There is a tremendous power when two people allow themselves to be truly present in and dedicated to a relationship. All our past relationships come out through the present-day love relationship to be completed and healed. Initially, the anxiety and depression might be intensified in the interactions, but partners can learn how to help co-regulate each other’s emotional states. According to Tatkin, the partner can become the best antidepressant and anxiolytic.

Tatkin points out the importance of “landing together at night and launching together in the morning”. Ideally, we start the day with our partner and we end it again in the evening by sharing about the day and connecting. He states that co-sleeping creates an important connection, even though that requires that issues like intense snoring, sleep apnea and restless-leg syndrome are being treated successfully.

In order to hold each other and down-regulate together, it is useful to have a tool to rate and communicate the emotion(s) that come up. Jayson Gaddis’ NESTR ritual would be one such tool. The N stands for the Number of activation. 1 is not triggered at all and 10 would be extremely activated, for example feeling high anxiety. The E is to pinpoint the Emotion that we are experiencing. The S calls to find the sensation in the body which comes with this emotion. And T is for becoming aware of the Thoughts or the inner narrative that goes hand in hand with the emotion. R is a reminder for Resources that the individual can connect with to either regulate themselves or regulate together with the partner.

There is a lot of advice out there on the internet on how to love someone with depression and how to love someone with anxiety. There are of course many different degrees of depression and anxiety disorder, and differing responses are required. Often both issues come hand in hand. The numbness of depression can be a protective mechanism so that we do not need to feel more frightening emotions.

A few things you can do for your partner or another person close to you to deal with mild anxiety or mild depression are to truly listen, acknowledge, empathize and normalize. Your partner needs to know that you care and that what they are experiencing is understandable and normal. Do your best to be patient. Fears may be illogical but they are still very real to the person. Encourage your partner and lift them up. Tell them why they matter to you. Whatever you say or do, keep in mind that your only goal is to make them feel safer and more loved. Arguing about right or wrong makes no sense when fears are involved.

When your partner finds the courage to express an emotion, validate it with your words, your tone of voice and with simple actions. You can ask if they want a hug or if they want to be held. If something you do makes them feel anxious, adapt. If you are, for example, triggering an anxious response in your partner because you drive faster than they do, respond by saying, “I am sorry, honey” and slow down. This is not about you and if you are a good driver, this is about an irrational fear that your partner is experiencing. You can either choose to get defensive and be right or you can be a partner they feel safe with.

Or if your partner has a hard time getting out of bed and finding meaning in life, don’t judge or ridicule, don’t preach about how good their life is or become a fixer or pusher. Gently encourage. Small steps of doing something different are huge leaps forward when dealing with depression. Imagine your partner just had surgery. You wouldn’t push them to leave the hospital and be fully recovered the day after. Just slowly walking down the hallway on your arm would be a huge accomplishment for them. It is the same when recovering from depression. Small changes every day are progress. Provide companionship as your partner establishes healthy habits and rituals of movement.

For both anxiety as well as depression, be present and be in your heart. If you feel judgment like I used to feel for my mother, it’s because your own shadows are triggered and that is where the work needs to be done.

Contact me for more information on either couple’s coaching or individual sessions. We can work on your own triggers and patterns in individual sessions or on your interactions with each other, so you can be a relief to each other when anxiety or depression show up.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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Do not ask me not to feel!

Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing one of my daughters on stage as Marianne Dashwood in the play “Sense and Sensibility”, based on Jane Austin’s novel. It was an amazing performance, drawing you in with laughter and tears, and transporting you back to England in 1792.

The confining atmosphere of society gossip and the desperation of many of the female characters to need to make a good match leaves you with an eerie feeling. The necessity of marrying well is one of the central themes of the story. In Austen’s era, a woman’s survival depended on her ability to acquire a husband, if possible, an affluent one. The more manipulative and cunning women were often the ones who ended up winning this game for the wealthy spouses. Yet, the two main female characters, Elinor and Marianne, end up finding true love and happiness without manipulation.

Sense and Sensibility, sisters and beaus

Performance and photography by Cawthra Park Secondary School

I could muse on the Universal theme of being rejected in love, or the patriarchal society and how patriarchal beliefs still affect us at a subconscious level today. However, what fascinates me most is the relationship of the two eldest Dashwood sisters. In the development of the story, the friendships of the sisters and what they learn from each other is at least as important as their relationships with their love interests.

Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are complete opposites. Every female reader or audience member can identify with either the older one or the younger one. They are a perfect example for how siblings carry each others shadow traits. Elinor is all “sense” and reason, while Marianne represents “sensibility” and feelings. Elinor makes cautious decisions based on rational considerations, on what is prudent and proper, while Marianne lives life impulsively and on an emotional roller coaster of extreme highs and lows, being guided by her feelings alone.

Sense and Sensibility, Elinor

Neither one of them is “whole”, as they have disowned the opposite energy represented by their sister. Just as Marianne needs to learn to adopt some of Elinor’s restraint and not to wear all her feelings on her sleeve, Elinor can learn to express her deeper emotions, warmth and spontaneity more.

We all have different primary personality parts and other more disowned parts or sub-personalities. As we witness Marianne’s impulsiveness which throws all caution or restraint to the wind, we recognize that part in all of us. We might anticipate and fear disaster for her as the story unfolds. We feel disappointment and sorrow when her love relationship with John Willoughby does not unfold as she anticipated.

Sense and Sensibility, Marianne

Marianne’s sorrow is frightening to Elinor, who just wants her sister to stop sobbing and to compose herself. But Marianne cannot help but live life from her primary self of passion. She exclaims, “Leave me, hate me, forget me, but do not ask me not to feel!” After almost dying from a serious fever and her “broken heart”, Marianne eventually learns to appreciate the value of a quieter and less glamorous admirer in the older Colonel Brandon. She begins to embrace the more level-headed energy which Elinor has been mirroring for her. She also has to forgive John Willoughby for breaking her heart and let go of the past to move forward with the Colonel, the better man.

Sense and Sensibility, Marianne sick

The story invites us to examine where in our lives we are out of balance between our rational and emotional sides, between caution and impulsiveness, between wearing a mask of civility and being our spontaneous and honest self. The plot calls us to consider how we show up in our relationships: passive or active, reluctant or forward-moving, polite or authentic. We are also encouraged to examine if we are stuck in the past and if we need to forgive somebody and let go, in order to move forward in our relationships.

We all grow up identifying with certain traits or parts in us and rejecting others. Jane Austin’s tale invites us to discover what we have disowned which might be useful to us. Accepting the ambivalence and moving beyond dualistic thinking of right and wrong, black and white, involves re-conceptualizing who we think we are and opening up to greater wholeness of our deeper selves.

What traits do you identify with and which opposite traits or shadows have you perhaps disowned? Do you feel judgment towards people who display what you have rejected for yourself? How does this affect you in your life or hold you back in your relationships?

Shadow work is one of the techniques I use as a Life Coach. If you are curious to find out more, contact me for a FREE phone consultation.

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

You can also check the “Upcoming Workshops” schedule for the next four-day Shadow Energetics training or contact me for individual sessions.

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Sitting on the Anger Iceberg With You

angry screaming child

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

The door slams shut with a loud BANG. Marcia feels the frustration and anger rising in her. Here we go again! She can hear her 11-year-old daughter slam drawers and scream at her sister to get out of her room. “That is really taking it to too far”, she thinks. “How dare she behave this way? If I had ever acted like this, I would have been grounded for life!”

Marcia has different voices in her. The outraged voice is one of them. Then there is the sad voice that feels frustrated and helpless to guide her daughter through this time in her life. Then there is the voice which says she has failed as a mother; she somewhere must have gone wrong in raising her children.

Marcia has not failed. Most of us have just never been given the tools to cope with anger in a healthy way. We learn it is wrong to be angry and that showing anger or even rage is inappropriate. Yet, this response is literally evolutionarily ingrained into our brains for protection. The sub-cortical areas of our brain are wired for fight or flight. Stan Tatkin calls those more instinctive parts of our brain our “primitives”. When we feel overwhelmed, stressed, threatened or unsafe in some way, anger instinctively kicks in for us to be able to fight and keep ourselves safe.

Gottman Anger Iceberg

In November, The Gottman Institute posted an interesting article about anger by Kyle Benson. He uses the analogy of an iceberg to describe how anger is only the tip of that iceberg. More important than the anger visible above the surface is what is underneath the water. Anger is a secondary emotion. Anger is our protection from more vulnerable feelings, like helplessness, sadness, grief, loneliness and shame, just to name a few.

Anger is our internal GPS and guidance system that we are somehow off track in regards to our needs. When we accept anger as a feedback mechanism rather than a problem, which needs to be fixed or suppressed, we can investigate why it is there. It’s easy to see your partner’s or child’s anger but it can be more difficult to see the underlying feelings the anger is protecting. We need to listen closely to what is going on at a deeper level. Underneath anger there is a longing for something else. Marcia will need to sit on the anger iceberg with her daughter to help her figure out what she is really feeling.

Your partner or child’s anger is not a personal attack. It’s about their underlying primary feelings and unmet needs. Rather than judging her daughter’s outburst as wrong or taking it personally, Marcia needs to become curious as to why she is angry. Is her daughter perceiving something as unfair, is she sad about a recent loss, is she confused, is she experiencing helplessness, is she feeling like a disappointment, is she carrying responsibility too heavy for her age and therefore feeling overwhelmed, are her human needs met, and so on?

Dhebi Essential Human Needs

As Dhebi DeWitz’s chart from her book “The Messenger Within” illustrates, our needs can be grouped into physical nurturance, autonomy, interdependence, celebration/play, integrity and spiritual communication. As a child transitioning from childhood to adolescence, Marcia’s daughter, for example, wants and needs to feel physically safe and taken care of, loved and accepted, able to play and laugh, able to experience a sense of achievement and independence while being reassured she can reach out to others, develop a sense of purpose as well as beliefs of a benevolent universe.

Anger often lives in our shadow. We have learned to disown our own anger as “bad” or “wrong”. The more Marcia has embraced her own anger, the easier it will be not to be triggered by other people’s anger. She can then let her daughter know that it’s okay to feel angry. She can invite her to connect with the more vulnerable emotions and the possibly unfulfilled needs that the anger or rage is protecting. When her daughter feels heard and accepted with all her emotions, pleasant and unpleasant ones, her primary emotions can rise to the surface and steps can be taken to address the underlying needs.

Join Dhebi DeWitz and myself for our next bi-monthly FREE webinar. Our topic on Tuesday, May 7 is “Are Your Essential Needs Being Met?”. How to discover your essential human needs that are not being met in your life and to honour them. Click here to receive the link to join us life from 8:00-9:00 p.m. EST or 5:00-6:00 PST. The webinar will also be posted here for you to access it at any time.

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

Like a Beaver Dam

Samantha is really frustrated. “I have been doing my healing work for years. I have tried many different techniques and they all helped, some more than others, but why am I still at this point in my life? Why have I not reached all my goals of abundance, health and the perfect relationship, yet? Why do I have to do more work? I want to finally be done.”

Samantha is not the only client sitting in front of me who express frustration with the fact that their inner work is still not complete. Their Inner Critic tells them that they should be clear and enlightened with no issues or struggles whatsoever because, after all, they have already worked on themselves, their fears, their beliefs, their emotions and their relationships.

At that point, I usually share with them my latest piece of personal work. And they typically say something along the lines of, “But you have been in this field for fourteen years! You should be done!” I also tell them that in my experience, the work never ends. Why is that? Doing our personal work is like peeling away the layers of an onion. Each layer allows us to go deeper. Life unfolds and we are nudged to peel away yet another layer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sometimes it is like working away on a beaver dam that blocks the flow of the river of our consciousness. This dam represents all our obstructions and blocks due to our limiting beliefs, fears, emotions and shadows. With each piece of debris we pull out, the river can flow better and we become more whole. With each stick, we broaden our conscious awareness of ourselves and the world.

When we do deeper work, it is also quite normal that resistance comes up. Our subconscious has many useful programs in place, in fact programs that help us to function and survive. If it was easy to change all those programs, our survival might be in danger. Changing subconscious programs requires engaging this resistance in just the right way and using techniques to access the subconscious mind. Dhebi DeWitz’s L.E.E.P.s are such Life Enhancing Energy Processes that can assist us with our inner work.

The past week held two bigger pieces of work and learning for myself. What came up for me was a shadow trait I needed to integrate and an emotional interference pattern I needed to release. An individual had been mirroring the shadow of being argumentative and opinionated to me. Being opinionated and in some way closed and inflexible is often a trait which is looked upon as difficult. I am the first to admit that at times I can be opinionated and I am sure others find that difficult or discouraging. Many topics I just let go of, because I frankly don’t care enough about the subject at hand to argue with anyone. Yet, when it comes to work-related topics where I have a certain expertise I can certainly come across as having a strong opinion and expressing it clearly.

I usually minimize time with people who want to argue but this particular person had asked repeatedly to spend an extensive period of time with me and my initial judgmental approach was, “oh, no, I can’t take this arguing”. It was time for me to shift how I feel about being opinionated. In fact, I should have done this personal work much earlier when I first noticed a desire to avoid this energy.

jung-quotes

I used a process which I apply with my clients and also teach in my workshops: a Shadow Integration Process. For this method, another person stands in for the shadow part that is the trigger. We take note of what the initial relationship between the person and the part to be integrated is like. Usually, people report dislike, judgment, anger, fear or a feeling of disconnect from this part. We then use a meditative and intuitive process to befriend this shadow and to understand the gifts of this energy. Afterwards, the person gets to meet their now integrated part again and observe completely different feelings towards this energy. Disconnect, anger, or fear have made way for understanding, tolerance, acceptance or even friendship towards this part of us. We are able to love ourselves with this trait and are able to tolerate and accept others with it.

The second piece of work I had to do this week went deeper, as it touched a core wound that required some more healing. All of us have experienced negative or unhealthy emotional extremes at some point. When those emotions feel overwhelming, they can lodge themselves in our body-mind-energy field. They send out a continuous interfering resonance that can cause health issues but also hijack our peace of mind. We perceive our reality through our emotional pain.

Dhebi quote Some of our greatest hinderances

With an open heart, I had made an offer to somebody about a week ago who I don’t know that well but always quite appreciated. This financial discount offer was well-thought through and even muscle tested. I felt good about being giving. I was stunned and shocked when I received a reply in which this individual indicated she felt unfairly treated by me.

When I checked in with myself later that day, I realized that in response to her feeling unfairly treated, I had flipped into the same emotion of being unappreciated and feeling this was unfair towards me. “Our emotionally driven subconscious mind has the uncanny ability of bringing people and situations into our lives that force us to face, and feel, whatever we have previously resisted, denied, or suppressed because that is what it has stored there.” (Dhebi DeWitz, The Messenger Within) My emotional interference pattern from long ago had, despite all good intentions, drawn the same emotional issue into my field.

So whose work was this to do? Mine, of course. This emotion showed up in my reality and it vibrated something much older in me, a core wound, in fact. What needed to be done was not so much to explain and make her understand my position, but to release the emotional interference pattern from within my body and field. The Emotional Release Process, often used with my clients and also taught in the Shadow Energetics Workshop, turned out to be the right tool to resolve the emotional pattern.

When we resolve the interference pattern, the vibration brought to us by the other person does not resonate anymore with our own emotions and we can let the matter go with our heart at peace. Once I had released the emotion, I was also able to see things from the other person’s view. I was able to hear the overwhelm she was experiencing and able to relate to it, free of needing to be defensive. A non-judgmental and loving communication could unfold at that point, which she responded to in kind. After all, we are usually more alike than we can see when we are lost in hurt or emotional pain.

Do you want to embrace a shadow and be less triggered by others, release an emotion you feel stuck in or learn these processes and more in a workshop? You can either contact me for an individual session or join me for this four day workshop:

April 1/2 & 8/9, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

For more information please click here:

Upcoming Workshops

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

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

 

 

Huge Waves

A couple of days ago, when I got to the swimming pool for my morning workout, there was a lady in the change room I had never met before. She commented, “You just missed thunder guy!” I was puzzled, “Who or what is thunder guy?” “There is this guy who sounds like thunder when he swims.” she replied. Then she continued. “But Rachel (name changed) is still in the pool. You can enjoy all the waves she makes. She has been told by several of us but she still makes huge waves.” Then the lady continued to grumble about having to go out into the cold and snow.

A little confused about the “wave problem” I entered the pool area. There were two men and two women in the pool. I wondered which was Rachel as I could not see that either one of the ladies was creating an unreasonable amount of waves. One of them I had seen many times before. She always ambitiously swims laps for 30-40 minutes. Was that supposed to be her?

I eyed her waves. It had never before occurred to me to feel disturbed by her swimming style. Admittedly, her crawl wasn’t the smoothest but I wish I had her stamina. As I was suspiciously focusing on the waviness of the water, it suddenly dawned on me. I had almost fallen for one of these “naysayers”, one of those people who seem to be unhappy, dissatisfied, or even angry most of the time and cast gloom and disharmony over every situation.

people-who-always-seem-angry

It is easy to walk away when the negative person is a stranger at the pool or even a friend. We can minimize the contact or choose no contact at all. It is so much more challenging when the discontent or angry person is a family member. We might not be able to completely walk out on them; yet, we need to manage our energy around them carefully.

Anger is an interesting vibration; it is—under certain conditions—catching, like any other energy. A person’s big and happy laugh can be catching, so is anger. It all depends on our own frequency at a given time. It’s like two tuning forks. If an A tuning fork, vibrating at 440 Hz, comes close to another A tuning fork, the second A tuning fork begins to vibrate with it. If the A tuning fork comes close to another tuning fork which is tuned to a different frequency, nothing happens.

When someone comes into our field and vibrates at the level of anger, and we have some anger in us as well, we tend to respond like the A tuning fork. We either get angry at the person or angry with the person.

In general it feels much better to be angry with somebody instead of having somebody be angry at us, or us be angry at them. That’s how angry people manage to get others all riled up and on their side. Anger unites two or more people while it destroys the relationship with an outsider who has become the black sheep everybody is angry at. Knowing this, we have a third choice. We can choose to let go of our anger and not participate any longer in someone’s angry behaviour.

you-may-not-be-able-to-control

I have certainly had different moments of frustration in my life that made me feel angry. The more primitive parts of our brain, which have the function to keep us safe and which respond faster than the more advanced parts of our brain, sense danger—or in other words feel attacked—and we instinctively and instantly responded with anger.

Usually, there is something else underneath the anger, for example feeling unappreciated, sad, afraid or vulnerable. Our initial response is automatic. However, if we continue to feel angry beyond that initial response, we have made a choice; the choice to stay in this low vibration. We can get out of that vibration by examining what is really going on for us, making amends and apologizing to others who took the brunt of our anger, but most importantly by ensuring our needs are met in the future and our more vulnerable emotions are taken care of.

The same applies when the anger is brought to us. If we choose to listen to the angry person who is trying to get us to feel as angry as they are, the waves in the pool begin to seem huge. The world suddenly is filled with Thunder Guys and Rude Rachels. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather focus on how fortunate I am to even be swimming in the pool rather than how big the waves are and how rude the rest of the world seems to be.

 

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

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Oranges and Tobogganing

Did you know that December is one of the busiest times in hospitals? Not only do more health issues occur due to overeating, or injuries as a result of shoveling snow or slipping on ice, but many of the health issues are connected to stress and family dramas. The emotions are flying high: overwhelm, anger, sadness and grief, just to mention a few, are triggered, and our emotional state affects our physical health. Sadly, one of the stress factors is gift giving itself. It can be stressful to run around getting gifts for several people and to juggle the financial expenses which can put us over budget or even into debt.

On December 13, my friend Dhebi DeWitz and I offered a free webinar to address the emotions which are triggered at this time of the year. One of the questions that came in during the holiday webinar was how to handle receiving gifts from people and having to reciprocate when your budget is limited. That was such an excellent question!

Is it possible that we have forgotten what our holiday celebrations are about? Do our children really need a pile of toys? Or do they need family members who are present, who listen well and connect from the heart? And as far as gift giving is concerned, ask yourself for a moment what the best gift is that you have ever received. For me, a few homemade and personal gifts come to mind which really stood out: a well written and thoughtful card which told me how much I meant to somebody, or something self-made.

knitting-socks

There is a whole long list of things we could come up with to create meaningful gifts: baking, knitting, crocheting, stitching, sewing, jewellery making, drawing, painting, making soaps, and so on. I received a wonderful mix of bath salts for tired feet beautifully put together in a jar from a friend this year and I know there will be more self-made presents under the tree.

Gifts neither need to be expensive, nor complicated to make. It just needs to come from the heart. One of my daughters just gave her Christmas gift to her boyfriend. It’s a jar full of Hershey kisses; to each chocolate kiss she attached a note which tells him what’s wonderful about him.

One of my clients, a beautiful and conscious young woman who was born in Russia, shared with me how they had very little back home. The grown-ups felt grateful when they had the ingredients to bake a cake and to bring oranges home. She remembers going tobogganing with her siblings and friends. Winter holidays still mean oranges and tobogganing to her.

children_on_their_sleds_in_central_park_in_new_york_city

Have we perhaps fallen prey to the idea that our holiday celebrations need to be grand and extravagant? Have we forgotten what the magic of Christmas truly means?

Three years ago, a friend of mine, who is the amazing mom of a little son, posted on Facebook about her decision not to lie to her son that Santa exists. She was struggling with the concept of tricking children into believing a mystical figure is real, basically lying to our children when we are trying to teach them to be honest. She also had trouble—and I can empathize—with the concept of calling somebody “good” or “bad”, when really there is just an undesirable behaviour the child might display. Telling the truth—and not to potentially jeopardize a trusting relationship with her son—was more important to her than to fully join in the Santa tradition. She caused an avalanche of replies, some quite heated as everybody had an opinion on this.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asking my friend how she has handled this fine balance between not lying to her son while allowing for the magic of Christmas. She shared how their experience is different: her son does not make a long list of material things he wants. There is also no threatening him to behave well, or have presents taken away. Christmas feels fun and easy to her while other parents with young kids that she knows are more stressed about struggling to get what their child asked for to keep up the Santa myth. This year, she is planning to have one gift under the tree with no name on it to make it a fun mystery for her son who the present is from.

x-mas-gifts

So what exactly causes this magical holiday feeling and where does it come from? Is that feeling of hope and belief in goodness tied to Santa and extravagant gifts? Or is it the belief that everything is possible? The exciting feeling that there is magic? The unwavering conviction that life is a fantastic adventure full of amazing surprises? The deep trust that there is Love all around?

I grew up—and with me a whole nation of Germans—never believing in Santa. Christmas was still magical and exciting. It was a time of joy and surprises, a time for family and being present with each other. I remember my parents most of the time feeling pressure to be productive—my father at work, my mother as a homemaker—except for occasions like Christmas, when they actually sat down with us. We had a big winter scene puzzle with 200 pieces we would do many years in a row, or we would play one of the two family board games we had. I still remember how good it felt to do these activities together. On December 24, the Christmas tree was finally put up—with real candles on it, no less—and there was magic alone in the lit tree.

mandarines

Germans celebrate Nikolaus Day on December 6th which goes back to the same historical figure as Santa Claus: Nikolaus von Myra, who lived at the beginning of the 4th century. On the night of December 5th, children put their polished shoes out in front of the door. The next morning they are filled with treats, with oranges, nuts and chocolates, brought by “Nikolaus”. People might jokingly say that “baby Jesus brings the presents” on December 24 but even children know this is just an expression.

My older daughter, who was five when we came to North America, never believed in Santa. She played along for the other children her age, but actually felt proud to know the truth and to be treated like an adult. Growing up in a multicultural environment made it easier to not be a Santa believer. However, she certainly completely gets what the spirit of Christmas is all about. She is one of the most giving, caring and non-materialistic people I know.

Santa is a mythical representation of a spirit we want to encourage: generous giving and love. At Christmas we can open up to feeling that Love is all around. And life IS a fantastic adventure full of amazing surprises. We can experience that excitement at any age. We are not slaves to our feelings. At any given time, we can change our perspective and decide to feel and live the magic of Christmas, simply with oranges and tobogganing, or our own personal versions thereof.

happy-holidays

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Angelika, Belief Change Coach & Workshop Facilitator

905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Recovering From Our Losses

Meet Tracy. She is an attractive woman with a warm smile. Her life is busy; she works; she has two children and an elderly father. She has learned to be strong for others, to keep busy and that time will heal all wounds. At night when the kids are in bed, she has a glass of wine or two and a bag of chips while watching Netflix. The alcohol, food and TV help her to relax and to not have to feel. Lately, she finds it harder and harder to get up in the morning and to keep going. Whenever she is not busy, a deep sadness is taking hold of her. This sadness is quite familiar.

She doesn’t know when she first started to have the lack of energy and these depressive thoughts and feelings. Perhaps, it was fourteen months ago, when her mother passed after a long fight with cancer. Or perhaps when she had two miscarriages and life just went on as if nothing happened. Or perhaps it was when her first marriage ended due to her husband’s infidelity. Or perhaps it was when her own parents divorced when she was fifteen. Or perhaps it all began when her beloved dog died when she was eight. Or perhaps this grief is as old as when she moved to Canada at the age of five not speaking a word of English, and having to leave her grandparents behind.

Grief is accumulative and it is accumulative negative. Our bodies become the storage tanks for all our losses and painful emotions because we were never given the tools to appropriately process our loss experiences. Our body speaks our mind through pains or other physical issues to let us know that the storage tank is over-flowing.

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Instead of listening to those physical symptoms, we have all learned to use some Short-Term Energy Relieving Behaviours (STERBS) like drinking alcohol, smoking, eating, watching TV, playing computer games, sleeping, taking meds, shopping, cleaning, exercising, working and so on to distract ourselves from the painful feelings associated with our losses. It is time to become aware of our STERBS and to address our buried emotions to gain greater happiness and health.

The grief recovery work is for losses we have experienced through death, divorce and 40+ other life changing events. Some examples are the loss of a love relationship or friendship, infidelity and the loss of trust, the death of a pet, a job loss, a move, an accident or illness, resulting perhaps in the loss of health or mobility, a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion, physical, emotional or sexual abuse, and other life altering occurrences. Even positive life changes like graduation, marriage, or the birth of a child can be an experience of loss.

We are all faced with incomplete relationships and situations. We are all grievers in some form or other at different points in our life. In fact, grief spares nobody. The training to become a grief specialist involved deep personal healing work. After all, we can only take our clients to where we ourselves have been willing to go. As my workshop partner and I were sharing our loss history graphs, we were amazed how many similar patterns we found, despite the fact that he was 12 years younger, at a different stage in his life, of a somewhat different cultural background and of a different gender. The conclusion can only be that as humans, we all experience the same patterns of grief due to death, divorce and other losses.

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Grief is our normal and natural reaction to such a life changing event or loss. Grief occurs due to the conflicting feelings caused by the end or change of something familiar. It can masquerade as a powerful emotional state like deep sadness, depression or anger. Unresolved grief is almost always about us wishing things had been different, better, or more. We might have undelivered emotional communications with others. We also carry unrealized hopes, dreams or expectations. In case of the end of a good relationship, we might have had plans that never happened. In negative relationships, the end of the relationship robs us of the possibility to repair and make amends.

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The grief recovery work helps to complete our relationship to the pain caused by a significant emotional loss. It helps us to take responsibility for our actions, forgive others for theirs, and to deliver significant emotional statements. It is the opportunity to say goodbye to any pain or unmet hopes and dreams. We can then feel complete, live fully in the present and focus on any existing fond memories. The grief recovery work gives us freedom and newfound joy. It opens the door to health and happiness.

Angelika

Certified Grief Specialist, Belief Change Coach and Workshop Facilitator

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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Influences of a Distant Past

In 2004, I was walking down the stairs in our house with my youngest daughter Tia who was just three years old at the time. All our family photos were hung up chronologically on the wall by the stairs. Suddenly, the little one stopped with a faraway look on her face. Absentmindedly but very seriously, she said to me, “I had to come to this family, you know.”

Intrigued, I softly asked, “Why?” After a short pause, she replied, “Because I had to be with Cara again.” My curiosity was piqued. Excitedly, I prompted her to tell me more, but just as this strange altered state had come over her, it disappeared instantly. The next moment, she was a regular little three-year-old once again, happily bouncing down the stairs.

Cara & Tia montage

Cara is Tia’s 5½ year older sister. The two girls have the closest and most loving and supportive relationship I have ever seen in siblings. They are opposites in many ways, yet best friends who always have each others back. They would make an adorable couple, but in this life, they have chosen to be siblings.

Around that time that my youngest told me so matter of factly that she had to come to this family, I was just about to start my hypnosis training. One of the ways to access past life memories in your subconscious mind is through hypnosis. The past life regression is a two hour session in which the client is guided back to two childhood memories from this life and—if everything goes by the book—to two previous lives. This somewhat time intensive method is best for clients who are very visual. Seeing and feeling firsthand what occurred in the past is step one of understanding and healing.

After many years of offering these past life regressions in hypnosis, I feel that muscle testing is a faster way of accessing the information about what interference patterns have been carried over from a past life. Even though our physical body dies with each incarnation, consciousness itself is continuous and the energy of unprocessed traumatic experiences remains in our energy field. Instead of spending a two hour session on entering into a hypnotic state and accessing the memories mostly in a visual way, we can, within a very short time, muscle test the information necessary.

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We can muscle test the time period, gender, age, social and financial status and whether the interference pattern was created on your own or in relationship to others. We can figure out what chakra was affected and what the cause of the conflict was. When we have a basic understanding of what happened, we can focus on healing the interference pattern. I find that often forgiveness work will help to bring closure to the past life and clear out the hold that the distant past still has over the person. Other times, an emotion needs to be released or beliefs learned in that life need to be changed.

Interference patterns from past lives are not the only way we are affected by experiences prior to our birth. Epigenetics has shown how the cellular memory or DNA affects the next generations to come. Energy is never lost and is still contained within the consciousness of one family.

Dhebi DeWitz explains: “Our ancestor’s experiences, beliefs, and emotions leave an impression, a molecular scar or adhesion, on our DNA and in our lives. Those adhesions that permanently attach to the DNA can be replicated right along with it through the next generations. If someone in your ancestral lineage experienced hardships, tremendous trauma, world disaster, Holocaust, famine, injustice, a scalping, or suffering of some kind, the chemistry from that stressful experience, to some degree, becomes imprinted on your DNA.” (DeWitz, “The Messenger Within”)

These DNA imprints can affect our perceptions, behaviours and life experiences and with it our relationships, our prosperity, our health, and our overall level of fear versus trust.

Influences of a distant past - familytree1

One of my clients had an ancestral line in which all the women on her mother’s side, right back to her great-grandmother or even further, endured great hardships, experiencing wars, deaths, raising their children on their own and having to be really strong and self-sufficient. She herself had grown up hearing that she also was a strong woman. With that ancestral lineage, it can be challenging to embrace our softer side. My client was also concerned about continuing this family pattern. Rather than being a strong woman coping alone, she would like to manifest an equal partnership of mutually supporting each other.

When I guided her through the ancestral healing process, she had the vision of the men in her family coming together to join the women. They had been there all along. She had the insight that the women were strong yet supported by the men in the background. For herself and her female ancestors, the healing opens up a future of not having to continue the pattern of struggling alone.

Dhebi describes a case in her book of a female client in her mid-50s who had been struggling in her business. During the process, the client noticed a cloud of dark, heavy energy along her father’s side of her linage. Her grandfather had lost a fortune during the Great Depression. After clearing out this pattern, the client reported back that her business was flowing without difficulty now, everything lining up and falling into place.

When we make the choice to heal our ancestral lineage on both our father’s and on our mother’s side, we bring a higher level of consciousness into our lineage line which affects us as well as our children and grandchildren positively.

To do some past life or ancestral healing work contact

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

To facilitate your own healing work I highly recommend “The Messenger Within” by Dhebi DeWitz. One of the downloadable resources is a guided shamanic process to energetically clear both lines of generational imprints. The guided process will also be available on the Heart and Soul Academy website as an audio version.

If you enjoyed my post, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen. A related blog you might be interested in is Children Remembering Past Life Memories

 

“You are mad-sad”

 movie Home 1

Have you ever been mad-sad? Then you are a typical human being as the alien character “Oh” discovers when he makes friends with the human girl, Tip, in the animated movie “Home”.

What is mad-sad? Mad-sad is when you get angry but deep underneath you are sad. Tip is sad that her mother was relocated and separated from her by the aliens when they invaded the planet earth. She is ready to fight the world. Her angry part has stepped forward to protect her vulnerability. When Oh discovers what is underneath her anger, he says with surprise, “You are mad-sad”. What appears to be anger is really sadness and grief for her loss.

 movie Home 2

Sometimes we are mad-sad, other times we are mad-scared. A parent might be mad-scared because their child is failing in school and they are worried about their future, or because their teenager has made a decision which has put them in danger. We might get mad scared when we are in the passenger’s seat of a vehicle and the driver has a different driving style which makes us feel unsafe. How much more successful would our communication be if we could express our fear rather than our anger? Yet, anger is an automatic response triggered by fear. It takes practice to communicate differently.

When we feel overwhelmed, we also sometimes snap faster and respond with anger. Have you ever felt really bogged down by everything you had to do and as you were busy focussing on getting some work done, another person needed something and you replied with impatience or even anger? That could be called mad-stressed.

In all these cases of mad-sad, mad-scared or mad-stressed, the anger serves the purpose to protect the vulnerable part of us deep inside. Anger is a driving force. In Tip’s case, it drives her to search for her mom. Anger also feels better than helplessness and is an intuitive response when we feel unsafe or afraid for somebody else.

 Movie Home Gorg

The evil character of the movie from another alien race, called the Gorg, turns out to be mad-sad, mad-scared and most likely also mad-stressed. Without being aware, Oh’s alien race has stolen his babies, the entire next generation, which means extinction for the Gorg. When Oh is brave enough to face the Gorg, he realizes that this intimidating monster is really deeply vulnerable and just trying to save and protect himself and his family.

Have you heard of people who get “hangry”? When they are hungry they become grouchy or angry. To stay with our pattern, that would be called mad-hungry. There also is mad-tired. Have you ever been so tired and found that your protective defences were coming up when others are interacting with you in this state. My daughter, who works mainly overnight shifts, is not a happy camper when approached in a tired state. She gets mad-tired. Everybody in our family knows she has just reached her limit and her irritation is a feedback for us.

Next time you or somebody else shows up as angry, remember that there is usually some other emotion underneath the anger. That deeper emotion or need has to be addressed. Just as we know we need to feed ourselves when we are hangry, we also need to feed the other emotions or needs.

When we feel angry the question usually is, what exactly is underneath the anger? It might be Sadness? Loneliness? Fear or insecurity? Frustration? Overwhelm?

  • Sadness gives us the feedback that we perceive the loss of a person, an experience or a feeling. What needs to be done to make up for that loss, to replace the experience we have lost?
  • Loneliness gives us the message that we have a healthy longing for companionship and love. How can we enjoy our own company more, love ourselves more and also draw in other people as companions?
  • Fear or insecurity means that our subconscious is convinced something is not safe, and/or that we are not good enough in some way. What beliefs can be changed to alter how we see ourselves and the world?
  • Frustration gives us the feedback that something that we have been doing is not working. What do we need to do differently, so that the frustration does not tip over into depression?
  • Overwhelm is a signal to do a reality check, to limit, to organize, to prioritize, to say “no” and to delegate.

Anger also sometimes gives us the feedback that we perceive something as unfair. The first question is: Is or was it really unfair? If not, change your perspective. If the answer is yes, find a way to make fair if the event is in the present, or let go and forgive if you are angry at something which lies in the past.

movie Home 4

All feelings are good! Our emotions are our guidance system. All feelings and emotions give us feedback on what is going on. They are a call to action. Anger is good. It is like an indicator light that something needs to be looked at, but it also serves as a driving force to make changes.

Angelika

Belief Change Coaching, Forgiveness Work, Shadow Work

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 Wearing Angela's T-shirt

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