Pura Vida (Costa Rica 1)

“Pura Vida”, says the vendor at the beach with a smile as I leave his stall with a pair of hand painted shoes for my shoe loving—or should I say, shoe crazy—daughter. One of the sneakers I bought for her shows a sloth, the other a toucan.

Costa Ricans, who call themselves Ticos, have adopted the beautiful philosophy of “Pura Vida”. They use this term to say hello, to say goodbye, to say that they are doing well. Pura Vida is the way Ticos live. They don’t stress about things the way most of us around the world do; they are more laid back and content. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that Costa Rica rates as one of the happiest countries in the world. Ticos have a very relaxed, simple way of looking at life. They are conscious of nature, and they make family and friends their primary focus. Pura Vida is being thankful for what you have and not dwelling on lack or any misfortune.

Pura Vida also means that everything has its own time and takes usually longer than expected, especially when it comes to getting from one destination to the next. On our 12 day trip to beautiful Costa Rica, we traveled from the capital San Jose to the volcano area of Arenal, from Arenal to the coast and the National Park in Manuel Antonio, and then back again to San Jose to fly home. All unfolded in Tico time and by going with the flow. We eventually got where we needed to go, even if not as originally planned.

At the end of this trip, I am filled with appreciation, immense gratitude and countless memories. I was travelling with an amazing group of entrepreneurs, each of them brilliant in their own way, and with inspiring and heart-centered Bob Evans and his supportive crew of conscious team members helping us entrepreneurs logistically, technologically and even emotionally. Every one of us gave a 15 minute TED talk-like speech as one of our videos for becoming part of the Personal Development App (PDA).

When everything is complete, each of us 13 entrepreneurs will all also have our own App. I am excited that I can now bring educational and informative content in written, audio and visual form to you via another platform.

I also had the incredible honour of facilitating a workshop for this group of messengers, who each impressed me in so many different ways. The workshop was about working with our protective parts and our inner child, which of course loves the idea of Pura Vida. I was a bit apprehensive about being mic-ed up and video taped while teaching, but it was beautiful to see what came up for each participant, despite being on camera.

The last two weeks held so many experiences for all of us that I have decided to write a Costa Rica blog series. Personally, the trip brought me out of my comfort zone, taught me a lot about myself, filled my heart with joy, and inspired me immensely. A community outreach program was part of this trip, and one of my next blogs will be about visiting the alternative school which we were so fortunate to be invited to.

Different fellow travelers have also inspired me and I cannot wait to write about some of them or share their wisdom. I had never traveled with a group before, and for me this trip became an interesting walk between being part of the group and connecting, while at other times expressing my need for quiet and alone time. That meant staying back from some activities or get-togethers, to be able to keep my inner balance and to recharge.

Upon embarking on this journey, I had different parts inside of me who were quite polarized. On one hand, I have a part which loves travelling and was excited about going to not only a country but a continent I hadn’t been to before. I have a part which likes to experience new things. I might not be as adventurous as other people, but there is a part that certainly has a sense of adventure. I also have a Zen part which can go with the flow and trust that all will be fine. I tell you, that part came in handy when we were navigating the steep and curvy pothole-filled Costa Rican roads with two vans weighed down by luggage and eight people each.

On the other side, I had parts come up before—and during my trip—that were concerned. I have a part that does not appreciate surprises at all, and this trip was filled with surprises. In theory there was a schedule, but it was subject to last-minute changes on a daily basis, when something showed up due to the group dynamics or the weather; it was rainy season after all. And, boy, did this trip require being adaptable.

I also have a part, like many of us, that is somewhat uncomfortable with the Unknown and this trip was new for me in every way. I had different parts inside of me which were a bit concerned. A safety conscious part of me was questioning if it would it be safe to be in Costa Rica. A part of me that is rather private was wondering what it would be like to be followed by cameras every day and every step of the way. All these parts relaxed as the days went on. After a while, I barely noticed the video cameras anymore.

I also have a part, and that was probably one of the loudest “voices” in my inner system, that was concerned about being with others and all the sensory input coming at me on a continuous basis. It knows that as an introvert an HSP,  I need alone time like other people need water or air to breathe.

Sensory overload is an experience most Highly Sensitive People have. Travelling in a van for many hours with six or seven other people, where the radio was playing and two or three conversations were going on at the same time, while the scenery outside also wanted to be taken in, was extremely challenging for me.

I am so grateful to my fellow travelers and to Robert Evans for giving me space and alone time after each of those experiences and fully supporting me in taking care of myself. Their understanding and support allowed me to have a fabulous time and experience a life changing trip in full Pura Vida. I am returning home with a heart filled with joy and a mind filled with fabulous ideas and insights which I look forward to sharing with you over the next few weeks. Pura Vida is a beautiful concept to embrace and bring back with me to our busy life.

 

To download the PDA onto your phone, go to the App store and look for the following logo.

 

If you are wondering if you are an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) please read my blog post “Are You an HSP?”

If you are curious about finding out more about working with your parts (IFS Inspired Coaching) contact me for a free phone consultation. I offer sessions for individuals and couples.

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!

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

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 on the left side of the bar. Thank you for your support!

Taking Care of Our Vulnerable Feelings and Needs

 

 

Easter-bunny-family

Easter is my favourite holiday. It is a time for family get-togethers, less commercialized and overloaded with expectations than Christmas, and I truly love the feeling that spring is in the air. I loved Easter when I was a child and even more so when my children were younger and excited about the more and more elaborate Easter Egg treasure hunts I would create for them each year. Easter is one of those occasions when our own Inner Child might come out, no matter how old we are.

little-boy-hiding

Our Inner Child is that vulnerable younger part in us which carries our playfulness, our imagination and creativity, our sensitivity, our fears and needs, and last but not least, the ability to be completely in the present moment. “This child inside of us which never grows up is of the uttermost importance because it carries our psychic fingerprint, the rhythm of our essential being and it’s presence determines the level of intimacy we are able to achieve in our relationships.” (Sidra Stone, The Child Within)

In our development of our personality, our move is towards power. We move away from the vulnerable child as we develop our personality structures, our sub-personalities, that protect us in the world. Some examples for sub-personalities are our Rational Self, our Perfectionist, our Pleaser Self, our Ambitious Self, our Smart Self, our Confident Self, our Intellectual Self, our Aggressive Self and so on. Those sub-personalities make us tough and able to cope. The purpose of this development is to protect the child, make life safe for it, and ensure it is appreciated and loved by other people.

easter-bunnies

The downside of this development is that without the child, we lose intimacy in personal relationships. “You can have marvelous contacts with people, exciting, exhilarating, intellectual contacts or power contacts but there is something missing; there is always something you are yearning for and you don’t know what it is and that’s the child being a part of things.”(Sidra Stone, The Child Within)

It’s the job of our Aware Ego to be responsible for the Inner Child. The Aware Ego has the job of parenting all the different selves but with the Inner Child, it is particularly important. If the Inner Child is not cared for by the Aware Ego, that child is going to emotionally reach out and bond into another person in our environment: our partner, our friend, or one of our real children. We then expect that other person, our spouse, friend or child to take care of our emotional needs.

Easter-hidden-eggs

With nature awakening, our Inner Children love the opportunity to be outside more. They adore the playfulness of searching for hidden Easter treats. The more you are in touch with your own more vulnerable feelings and needs, your child can come out to be playful and carefree.

Here are some ways of caring for your Inner Child now at Easter and at other times:

  1. Spend Time with Your Inner Child

Visualize the little girl or little boy and feel them. Find out what his or her feelings and needs are. What type of an Easter weekend does he or she want? Does he or she, for example, really want to spend hours on the road to drive to the in-laws to sit inside all weekend and eat, or does he or she want to be outside to connect with nature? How can that need be met in conjunction with your other Easter plans?

Spring-walk-path

 

  1. Honour Your Fears

Don’t be a slave to your Inner Child’s fears no more than you would let a small child dictate to you what you are doing with your life, but honour the fears which come up and see what you can do to make allowances or lessen them. For example, you are going to meet your girlfriend’s parents for the first time on Easter and you are nervous. What can you request from your girlfriend to make this easier?

 

  1. Allow Time for Creative Activities

When you engage in creative non-demanding activities, child-like activities, like playing with clay, painting, drawing, or other craft activities, your Inner Child rejoices. It is important those activities are without the goal or aim of producing something marvelous. Also be aware that our Inner Critic likes to come in and criticize child-like activity because they don’t produce anything and are not necessarily of any kind of aesthetic value. The Inner Child part is not production oriented. The adult parts in us are. Now at Easter can you engage in some playful arts and crafts with your kids or by yourself, just for the fun of being creative?

 

  1. Learn How to Express Hurt

Learning how to take responsibility for hurt feelings and how to communicate the fact that your feelings are hurt helps the child inside. Do you remember the last time your spouse said something that hurt your feelings and you bit your tongue? How could you successfully and productively free of blame express a hurt next time?

Easter-hurt-feelings

 

  1. Learn What Hurts the Inner Child and Stay out of Toxic Situations

Ask what situations or relationships you are exposing your Inner Child to that are doing damage; and then make a conscious decision whether you want to continue those situations or relationships. There are some situations which are damaging but which—as sophisticated grown-ups—we feel we should be able to manage. That could be toxic work situations or relationships we feel we have to deal with.

For example, each time you go to a celebration or event of your partner’s children and grandchildren, your partner’s ex-wife and the mother of said children is also invited, and your partner doesn’t leave her side but serves on her and flirts with her. The proud grown-up part in you might feel you just need to handle this maturely and be fine. The revengeful part in you might feel it’s best to somehow show your partner how you feel by punishing him. Both parts are trying to protect your vulnerable feelings, but you are still exposing your child to unnecessary hurt and pain.

 

  1. Enough Food and Rest

Sometimes we forget that having enough food and rest is basic care for that child. We need to make sure we have healthy nutritious and regular meals and get enough sleep at night.

Easter-sleep

 

  1. Financial Security

Inner Children feel better when we are able to pay the bills. They don’t like debt and dependency on others. In a situation where a woman is financially totally dependent on a man, her Inner Child is never completely safe because she doesn’t have money of her own. Honour your Inner Child by planning ahead, paying bills on time, and doing what you can do to give yourself some financial security and independence.

 

  1. Allow for Some Predictability

Inner Children, like real children, like some predictability and schedules. They can be playful and spontaneous but too much unpredictability often frightens them. Make plans for the future and give your Inner Child some predictability.

 

  1. Treat Yourself

Sometimes Inner Children want particular things. We do not need to go broke over those wants but some physical objects make the Inner Child feel important and good. Does your Inner Child want something special for Easter?

Easter-table

 

  1. Be Conscious of Your Environment

The Inner Child is often sensitive to how comfortable, cozy and safe the environment feels. Is there something that needs to be changed in your home or office environment? Does your Inner Child right now maybe rejoice in Easter decoration, more plants, pleasing colours or some other elements that adds homeliness?

 

ENJOY A FABULOUS HOLIDAY!

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

Join Dhebi DeWitz and myself for our next bi-monthly FREE webinar to get in touch with the needs of your Inner Child.

WHEN: Tuesday, May 9 from 8:00-9:00 p.m. EST or 5:00-6:00 PST

TOPIC: “Are Your Essential Needs Being Met?”

DESCRIPTION: Uncommon knowledge on how to connect with your essential self and experience greater fulfillment and soul authenticity.

Click here to register and to receive the link to join us life. The webinar will also be posted on YouTube afterwards.

Finding the Nuggets

A very special woman said to me yesterday when we spoke about why she loves her holistic work, “I like to find the nuggets in people”. How beautiful is that?

She is igniting the light inside others. She is finding the talents in people that will encourage them to sparkle and shine.

This interaction with her reminded me of a quote by Michelangelo:

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free”

Everything is in us already. We are born absolutely perfect, with everything inside us to live a fulfilling life full of happiness, creativity and abundance. All we need to do is trust that the light is there and look for it. We are each other’s “nugget diggers”.

How about we set an intention for today to find the nuggets in our partner, in our children, in our parents, in our friends, in our neighbours? Look for the light in the person opposite, acknowledge it and let them know.

And when they in return find one of your “nuggets,” be open to receiving the feedback. When you feel resistance to see your own light, remember that it is just fear coming up, old belief systems of not being worthy or good enough. This frequently-used quote by Marianne Willamson illustrates that perfectly:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.”

For those of you who want help uncovering their nuggets, give me a call for a free consultation on how spiritual and life coaching, and belief change techniques such as Psych-K® can help you.

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca