Tonight in my job as a therapist in a drug and alcohol oupatient treatment center, I facilitated my weekly Women’s Group. The topic of negative self talk came up and the ways in which it sabotagued their successes and undermined their wellbeing. Some had habitual gloom and doom thoughts, envisioning the worst possible outcome. That ‘stinkin’ thinkin’ as it is referred to in 12 step reccovery circles could be as addictive and insidious as the substances they had used that brought them to treatment. It occurred to me at that moment, that each of us has an inner bully and an inner ally. After writing those words on the white board, I asked the women to call out the attiributes of each. The words controlling, robbing self esteem, loss of respect, damaging, abusive came to mind. On the flip side, the words supportive, freeing, safety, got your back and by your side were some of what showed up on the ally tally.
In the same way that an external bully can devastate us and perhaps, in some cases, already have, so too can our overbearing (who put you in charge?) persona that can have us cowering in tears in a corner somewhere with just a raise of an eyebrow or a sarcastic comment. The sad part is that we believe the garbage that the bully spews at us, rather than challenging it and saying, hands on hips, “You’re not the boss of me,” in your best, determined to stand- your -ground voice. Remember that bullies are really pretty insecure and immature, who want to have the illusion of control when inside, they may be quivering in fear.
So how can we turn it around for ourselves and recognize the bully for what it is; the scared little kid part of ourselves that just wants to be heard and loved and is demanding attention, and is willing to receive it in negative ways? Chances are, it will go sulking back into its lair. What do your inner bully and ally look like? What do they say to you to both support and sabotague you? Whose voices come out of them? Do the messages sound familiar?
My inner bully sometimes looks and sounds like a snide, snarky know it all, garbed in a trim little black suit (not the fashion choice for this gracefully aging hippie who prefers flowing and sometimes colorful accoutrement) looking over her glasses at me, wagging her finger and demanding that I explain myself. She expects me to earn my keep, justify my existence, while encouraging me to play small, since after all, there are many more talented writers and teachers out there…hmmmmppphhh. My ally IS that gracefully aging Earth Mother hippie with the long hair of my early adulthood who in 1981, had just returned from Outward Bound with a broken pinkie, frostbite on both hands, bronchitis and a sprained ankle who never moved to Vermont as whe had once contemplated….after 10 days in the wilds of Maine and New Hampshire, she found it was too damn cold! This enthusiastic, take life by storm ,compact, fiercely independent young woman is now an integrated part of the 54 year old, more curvaceous, laugh lined, seasoned woman. Over the past 30 some years, she has invited kindred spirits to join the party, who believe in her, cheer her on, remind her who she truly is. With them at her side, that bully doesn’t stand a chance!
www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DZuzi-yH9VLo Friends- Elton John
If you are ever in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a must-see location is Tim’s Place where the motto is Breakfast, Lunch and Hugs. I recently heard of Tim Harris and his one of a kind restaurant that immediately appealed to this veteran hugger . He is, according to his family, the only person with Down Syndrome to own a restaurant in this country. I watched, with goosebumps and tears, a you tube video that shows this wonderful young man greet customers with a smile and hugs, waiting on tables and giving big time kudos to his kitchen staff, unabashedly telling them that he loves them. Now, how many cooks hear that from their bosses? If that was the case, Gordon Ramsey (host of Kitchen Nightmares) would have one less aggravation to deal with when doing his restaurant interventions. How many business owners gladly arise at the crack of dawn and do a parking lot ‘dance of magic’ each day before opening the doors? I think Tim may be unique in that regard as well.
What Tim shares in the video are these words of wisdom “The hugs are way more important than the food. Food is just food.” and waxes enthusiastically: “I am a lean, mean hugging machine. ” I have the sense though that love is a not-so-secret ingredient in the food as well, nourishing those who partake in body, mind and spirit. Tim’s family members are his most enthusiastic cheerleaders who clearly instilled in this remarkable young man, the belief that a chromosomal anomaly didn’t make for anything less than a remarkable life. Tim became a Special Olympian who states in the video that he has more medals than Michael Phelps. I don’t think he was joking. He is also an accomplished sailor. Would that every parent of a child who is different from what society might deem ‘normal’ see in them the potential that Tim’s mom and dad saw in their son who seems to embrace life with all he’s got. What a difference that person could make in the lives of so many others. Consider this…a customer walks into Tim’s Place, gets greeted at the door with a hug from Tim and then carries that contagious energy out into the world. How amazing would that be?
What inspires me the most about Tim is that he sees past what others might consider limitations. Tim affirms “We are a gift to the world.” Oh yeah!
The headline reminds me of the Who song
I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
C’mon tell me who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Oh, I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
A necessary inquiry if you want to live a full, rich life. Way too often we define ourselves by who we think others want us to be. Our family of origin has ideas and legacies that they may want us to fulfill. If the last five generations of your family were doctors, there is likely an expectation that you will choose that career path as well. What if, instead, you want to be a diplomat or artist? Imagine the pushback you may receive from your well meaning but perhaps misguided family members. Do you have the courage to take a stand for your own desires? I know people who have heard throughout their lives that their career ideas are pie in the sky and that they are living in fantasy land. Heck, I like pie (especially key lime and pumpkin) and fantasy land is one of my favorite places to hang out. My thought is that we wouldn’t have been given the idea to pursue a particular path if there wasn’t something of value awaiting us at the end of the path. I was blessed to have had parents who told me that I could do whatever I chose professionally, as long as I could support myself. I have a two page and growing resume that over the years has included divergent jobs including therapist, greeting card text writer, minister, speaker, writer, coach, social worker, radio host, massage practitioner. These don’t define me, but they do reflect my world view.
Who we are is far more than the name on our birth certificate or the words on the our resume or job app. It goes way deeper to the core of our being. What are your values? How do you treat yourself and the people around you? What do you have the courage to do every day? What fears and gremlins do you face when they roar at you? Or do you run from them? What would someone who is YOU want from life? Do you have the courage to ask for it and the willingness to embrace it when it shows up?
So many of us dance around the edges of life, rather than engaging it fully as a dance partner. Who will you chose to dance with today? I choose YOU!
What are you willing to take a stand for?
http://youtu.be/TBQnhyUq_-I Stand (by Karen Drucker) sung by Fawny Frost
I am holding this book called Transforming Pain Through Energy Medicine as a result of one those Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb trail experiences that so delight me. A few years ago, I was part of the Next Top Spiritual Author Contest, sponsored by Hampton Roads Publishing. As a result, I connected with talented writers with a message to share. One was a Washington State based Intuitive Life Coach, Consultant and Reader, Workshop Facilitator, Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Energy Healer named Candess Campbell. With both mainstream and metaphysical credentials, she is able to take what to some might seem out of their comfort zone information and translate it for an across the board audience. The catalyst was her work with a client who had both physical and emotional conditions that limited her severely and nearly ended her life. Candess was able to provide guidance that set her on her way. I would love to know how this woman is doing after using the ideas presented in this step by step tool kit. Candess is clear that this book is a self help guide and not a substitute for medical treatment.
Since it is a 12 week course, she naturally suggests starting right where you are. Evaluation of current body-mind-spirit state is the first step. As a writer, I give a thumbs up to her suggestion that readers journal their thoughts and feelings. Knowing that pain is sometimes a reflection of emotional condition AND conditioning, we are sometimes at the mercy of expectations based on family and trauma history and our bodies are barometers and repositories for such experiences. She applies Cognitive Behavioral Theory in conjuction with The Total Behavioral Map as was reprinted from Reinventing Yourself , by D. Barnes Boffey that incorporates the realms of Action, Thinking, Physiology and Feeling. In each quadrant, she asks the reader to write ideas related to specific circumstances in their lives and as they do, solutions arise. Being a Ph.D Psychologist, Candess incorporates depression and anxiety scales to assess current functioning. A thorough self evaluation also includes a tool for determing level of physical pain; utilizing The Comparative Pain Scale, created by Jack Harich.
In the second week, Candess offers the opportunity for the reader to discover what lights them up and stirs their passions and discover their innate purpose. Like many energy healers, she utilizes the chakra system and the ways in which they shape our focus.
Week three introduces the weeding out foods that may be impacting on health and stamina and incorporating that which nourishes and sustains, in part by paying attention to bodily sensation. Exercise is an important aspect of healing which may incorporate yoga, walking, cycling or gym time.
A month into the process, Candess speaks about hypnotherapy and trance states that can be self induced or with the help of a trained therapist. She encourages goal setting as part and parcel of this week’s work to reduce or relieve pain.
Assessment of beliefs comes along in week five, knowing that they shape our perception of what is so and what can be accomplished. Bruce Lipton’s classic The Biology of Belief is explored in this chapter. She encourages strenghtening of intuition and counteracting limiting beliefs that may reinforce dis-ease.
Halfway there, Candess reminds readers that Stress Comes In Many Forms, which is the name of the chapter. She uses the Holmes and Rahe scale that gives numerical significance to pivotal life events ranging from the death of a spouse (number 1) that rates 100 life change units to minor violation of the law which measures out at 11 life change units. She suggests ways of going beyond identifying stressors to creating stress reducing habits.
In the seventh week, readers are encouraged to feel whatever arises since we can’t heal what we can’t feel. She uses a tool in which she makes a statement such as ” I am unworthy.” which may be a prevailing and self fulfilling thought and then replaces it with the words “I am worthy.” Our bodies believe what we think and act as if it is true. Anger, grief and guilt can be pain inducing emotions. Setting boundaries is an important part of honoring our feelings.
Prayer and meditation are added into the mix in week eight. She lets the reader know that spirituality need not mean organized religion and prayer comes in many forms and her own connection to the Divine led her to become a minister. She shares various meditation techniques, including Transcendental Meditation (TM), chanting a mantra, breathwork, mindfulness and guided meditation.
Week nine addresses the subject of trauma, which includes PTSD, symptomology, EMDR (Rapid Eye Movement),soul retrieval and an assessment of the level and intensity of traumatic and abusive situations that may be impacting on the reader’s life now.
In the tenth week, she takes a look at the energy system that permeates the body and the ways in which being in certain environments impacts on mood and levels of pain and goes into greater depth on the chakra system as was introduced a few weeks back.
Energy medicine in week eleven suggesgts Kinesiology and muscles testing as assessment tools and acupuncture as one of several treatment modalities that also include essential oils and crystals. Now, for some, this may seem like ‘cosmic foo foo’ but there is anecdotal evidence that benefit has been achieved.
In the final week, it all comes together in the chapter called Integrate and Receive. Energetic modalities, including Reiki and Healing Touch are recommended for bringing it all together.
Transforming Pain Through Energy Medicine is a well researched tool that has something for everyone regardless of condition, lifestyle and age. Appendices in the back of the book provide a thorough compendium on the modalities she mentions throughout the book, so readers can reference and reinforce their remedy. Various websites are available to explore further. This is a tool that should be in the hands of any one with a body that experiences pain, whether it is chronic or acute who desires to give it up.