Friday, June 15, 2018

Acknowledge

I don’t think we realise just how important and transformative acknowledging how we feel is. We don’t have to like what we’re feeling. We don’t even have to like our self for feeling what we’re feeling. We just need to acknowledge the feeling is there for whatever reason and tapping can help us enormously with this.

There is something really powerful about admitting exactly how you feel and tapping on it. One of the biggest core beliefs that blocks the feeling of so-called negative emotions is feeling like we’re a bad person for feeling a certain way.


Typically, this will be anger for women and fear for men. But remember, you can tap on anything, for example:

Even though I’m feeling angry at … and it makes me feel like a bad person/disloyal/guilty/ashamed, I deeply and completely accept myself anyway.
Even though I feel jealous of … and I shouldn’t feel this way because … I completely accept how I feel about this and myself
Even though I’m afraid of … and I’m weak for feeling this way because … I completely accept myself anyway

You’ll find you’ll start to shift in your attitude towards “negative” emotions and how you feel about yourself when you tap. You could also ask yourself where you picked up these messages about certain emotions and tap on that too.

There really is no such thing as a negative emotion, just emotions that are difficult to feel. Once you start to acknowledge how you feel and allow yourself to feel it, the emotion will have done its job and won’t get stuck in your body or mind as dis-ease. What we don’t feel, we act out or in. Feeling is one of the most important things we can do to improve our life and health.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Healing presence

Unresolved trauma dysregulates your nervous system. Every organ in your body is affected by your nervous system, therefore a dysregulated nervous system can cause dis-ease in any part of your body, including your brain.

As the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE) shows, unresolved trauma, especially early or developmental trauma, can cause many chronic health issues later on in life, both mental and physical. This is the reason why psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk says that unresolved trauma is one of the biggest public health problems in the world. Just look around you to see the evidence of that statement.



The key word here is: unresolved. We humans have lost touch with the many ways we have resolved trauma in our past. We would never have survived or evolved to this point, had we not been able to resolve most of our traumas.


Everyone is different, there isn’t any one technique, exercise or tool that works on its own, it’s a unique combination of what works for you at different times. There is one thing that is non negotiable though, and that is the support/connection/love/presence of our self and others. It is the one ingredient that is transformative.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The value of rest

In the last year I’ve come to know and appreciate the value of resting. I used to have a pattern of pushing through things, as so many of us do, getting my value from what I did, rather than who I was. If I didn’t feel I did enough during the day, it got to the point where I felt I didn’t deserve a good night’s sleep.

As Gabor Mat√© says in When the Body Says No, when we don’t learn to say No, our body will do it for us. Self care is not optional, it’s essential. We can only pour from a full cup. What’s in the cup is for us and what overflows is for others as Iyanla Vanzant says.

Something that I have found very helpful for helping me to rest deeply are yoga nidra meditations. I’m listening to Daring to Rest by Karen Brody at the moment and it’s really good. We need to take some time out every day where we can have some silence and down time. It can really help soothe our frazzled nerves in the hectic, information overload world that we live in. Tapping can also help, but we can often slide into ‘getting rid of’ it mode and we end up trying too hard/struggling/pushing through to fix/heal ourself. Try resting alongside whatever methods work for you and don’t forget to practice being human, give yourself a rest from doing.


Try tapping on:

Even though I need to struggle because … I completely accept how I feel

Even though I don’t know how to stop … I accept myself anyway

Even though my self worth is wrapped up in what I do, achieve, and others, that’s ok, I’m doing the best I can

Top of the head: Maybe I can contemplate doing a little less
Eyebrow: How does that feel?
Side of eye: It feels …
Under the eye: It’s exhausting doing, doing, doing
Under the nose: I can’t keep this pace up
Under the chin: I need to rest
Collar bone: How does that feel?
Under the arm: It feels …

Top of the head: Pushing through things has become a pattern
Eyebrow: Keeping busy helps me …
Side of eye: If I sat still I’d feel …
Under the eye: And that makes me feel …
Under the nose: Maybe I can contemplate resting more
Under the chin: The benefits would be enormous
Collar bone: I need this
Under the arm: And I want to rest more

Keep tapping on whatever feels right for you.

I'd like to mention a book that has also helped me which is The Way of Rest by Jeff Foster.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Repeal the 8th

Most of the time, I have no problem finding a subject to write about, in fact, it can be overwhelming, as sometimes I’ve too much to write about and I don’t feel I pay the subject as much attention as it deserves. This Friday, Ireland will vote on whether to repeal the 8th amendment and I’ve been wanting to write something on it as it is a subject very close to my heart, but it seemed too daunting. But I’m going to scribble something down anyway, as it’s too important not to.

Unlike what many are saying, Friday’s referendum is not an abortion referendum, even though abortion will be permitted in certain situations if the 8th is repealed. The 8th amendment affects all pregnant people, a point that is being missed by many, particularly the no side who want to keep the emotive subject of abortion at the forefront in order to divide and conquer.

As the Association for the Improvement in Maternity Services (AIMSI) have stated, the 8th affects women who are 40 weeks pregnant many more times than a woman who is 12 weeks pregnant. Just ask Mother B, aka Geraldine Williams, who the HSE took to the high court in 2016 for forced sedation and caesarean when she was 40 weeks pregnant. All she wanted was a trial of labour on her fourth child, but she wasn’t allowed to exercise that choice because of the 8th. You can hear the spine chilling details of that high court order here (starts at 6:50).


No pregnant woman can legally exercise choice, it is only random luck and a reasonable health care provider that many more women aren’t taken to court for forced procedures. But many are threatened with courts, the garda√≠ and social services because of the 8th, when/if they don’t comply with, or question medical advice. And who wouldn’t comply with such threats at such a vulnerable time? Mother A was also taken to court in 2013 for forced sedation and surgery, but before the judge could rule, she agreed to a caesarean. I’m sure under the most extreme duress and stress. When anyone is threatened in this manner, they will go into fight/flight/freeze. When it happens to a pregnant woman, her baby is also affected by the cascade of stress hormones flooding through her body. So much for the “love them both” group’s claims huh?

As it is, many women undergo procedures, not only without their informed consent, but without their knowledge as in the case of Ciara Hamilton.

My personal experience is that if you question anything, you are deemed a trouble maker and the attitude is, who the hell do you think you are? I was actually told I was “famous” in the hospital by one midwife towards the end of my pregnancy, so much for privacy and confidentiality huh? Have we replaced the church with doctors in Ireland? It seems so, in many cases. I didn’t realise doctors were gods that couldn’t be questioned. But the fact is, a doctor secure in their own knowledge and expertise, will actually welcome questions and won’t be phased by them. We need more doctors like that.

We have a put up and shut up culture here in Ireland and nowhere is that more true when it comes to women. There is also a very strong culture of bullying, in fact it’s endemic. Pregnant women are bullied all the time when they ask questions, want to know more, do their own research and when they want to take an active part in their care. It seems the powers that be would much rather we were passive, it makes their job much easier. Unfortunately and disgracefully, the 8th allows for some health care providers to abuse it by bullying women into submission and obedience.

If the 8th is repealed, our human right to bodily autonomy, which is stripped from us the moment we become pregnant, will be returned.

We will then be able to exercise free will and choice, something we can’t currently do under the 8th.

We will have the legal right to informed consent and/or refusal returned to us, another thing that the 8th took away.

We will also have the right to unrestricted abortions up to 12 weeks gestation. After 12 weeks, abortion is only permitted in certain circumstances such as fatal foetal abnormality and/or serious risk to life and health, so the claims that a foetus can be aborted at 6 months is a downright lie that the no side is propagating. You can find out more about the facts here.

Needless to say, I will be voting with the biggest yes of my life this Friday for every woman that was affected, is affected and could be affected by the 8th amendment in whatever manner. And for every woman who has ever suffered at the hands of the Irish state and church because of their misogyny.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Just like a wild animal

When a wild animal survives being chased and caught by a predator, and then manages to escape being eaten, they will discharge the energy that their nervous system produced to enable them to flee, fight or freeze, by shaking violently for as long as necessary. If the animal doesn’t discharge this energy, they will become hyper vigilant and see threat and danger everywhere, even when none exists. This hypervigilance exhausts their systems and they will not survive for long if this continues.

The same thing happens to humans after experiencing something traumatic. However we’ve forgotten and been socialised away from our wilder nature, deriding it as primitive, savage, reptilian. Have you ever started to shake or tremble when something traumatic happened, but either you or someone else stopped it? Maybe you were even frightened that it was happening? But once upon a time we did shake and know how to discharge trauma, or we wouldn’t have survived as a species.

When humans are faced with threat, our nervous system gears up to flee or fight, if these defences aren’t possible, we freeze (this is called ’tonic immobility’ in the literature). We can freeze psychologically and/or physically, I believe both are types of dissociation that act as protective analgesics.

When we freeze physically, our muscles will stiffen so as to enable us to remain as still as possible, we might not be able to use our voice, even if we want to. Immobilisation comes from our autonomic (automatic) nervous system and is not under our conscious control. It is crucial to understand this so we don’t later blame ourselves for “not putting up a fight”. We also need society to be more trauma informed about immobilisation, especially in cases of rape and incest. Too often freezing is seen as acquiescence which has profound implications for the victim being more prone to developing PTSD and being retraumatised and the perpetrator not being brought to justice.
When we freeze psychologically, we mentally leave our bodies and can watch what is happening to us as if from afar or above. It helps distance what is unbearable or indigestible in the moment so we can process it at a later date. But as we know, this rarely happens, we become afraid of the many experiences that we’ve dissociated from and we develop strategies to contain them as best we can. Until, they start spilling and leaking into our lives and we can’t ignore them anymore. This is when we might be diagnosed with things like; anxiety, depression, PTSD, fibromyalgia and so on.

It is crucial that we get back in touch with our minds and bodies, slowly and gently so they become safe places for us to inhabit.

The interview that the quote above is taken from can be found at: http://www.dailygood.org/story/1901/trauma-in-the-body-an-interview-with-dr-bessel-van-der-kolk-elissa-melaragno/

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fearing fear

Being afraid of fear can be really incapacitating. The capacity to handle any difficult emotion starts when we’re babies. If we’re soothed when we cry and get lots of hugs, kisses and are held close as much as possible, our capacity to feel all of our emotions, without being overwhelmed, grows along with us. Our container or window of tolerance grows, or doesn’t grow, in proportion to the amount of support and love we receive, or don’t receive, throughout our life.

What happens when our caregivers can’t help us build a container within our self, is that we’ll create one for ourselves as best we can. We’ll try and contain any chaos in our environment and ourselves so as not to feel like life is falling down around us. We’ll stuff emotions down into our too small containers so we don’t upset others.


Fear, like all emotions, has its unique sensations in the body. When these sensations feel awful, we have the ability to push them away, for a while, this blocks the energy of that emotion flowing through our bodies and this is where problems start. We’re not talking about pushing emotions away once or twice, we’re talking about dissociating becoming a life time habit and coping strategy.

We all have a tipping point, when our containers become full, they start overflowing. This is when we notice symptoms like depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, unexplained infertility along with many other chronic issues which always have an emotional contributor or cause. Building our capacity or window of tolerance in order to be able to feel painful and difficult emotions cannot be overstated. It is a life changer.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Stop questioning your self

The willingness to look inside and self reflect is not the same as constantly questioning your motives, behaviour and worth. One is taking responsibility, the other is self punishing. Why do you feel you need to be punished?

When you haven’t been able to trust from the start, and haven’t been trusted in turn, you question everything and everyone, but mostly your self. You are unsure of who you are, and as a result you feel ungrounded and scattered. There’s nothing more exhausting than second guessing your self all the time, it creates chaos in your life and in your relationships.

I think the first step in trusting our self is being able to metabolise difficult experiences and people. We can’t metabolise anything that we can’t feel; that we dissociate from; that we can’t accept or that we don’t trust (our feelings for example).


And that takes time and resources. The first step is to learn to trust yourself. Feelings aren’t 100% right 100% of the time, but you know what, in my opinion, mostly they are. So take a risk, if you make a mistake, apologise, either to your self or someone else if you get it wrong.

It is only by using your muscle of trust that you can learn to trust and trust your trusting. You then begin to realise what belongs to you and what doesn’t. This has the effect of lifting burdens that aren’t yours to carry. Natural boundaries form around you because you trust your self and act accordingly.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Relentlessly trying to fix yourself

Are you trying to fix yourself all the time? It’s one thing to want to feel better and another to think/believe that you’re broken, damaged, bad, good for nothing or a waste of space.

Who are we trying to fix ourself for? What do we think will happen once we’re ‘fixed’? Why can’t these things happen now, warts and all?

It’s amazing the different ways perfectionism can show up. I believe perfectionism is born from not being accepted and loved for who we are, just because we exist, so we set out on a journey to ‘prove’ we’re lovable and acceptable. Except that rarely happens, what does happen most of the time is that we end up sick and exhausted.


How does the need to be perfect show up for you? You might not even realise that perfectionism is an issue for you, but if you hate to be criticised, feel inadequate in some way, often feel shame when others disagree with you or don’t like you, the need to be perfect might be behind it.

Try tapping on the following phrases and repeat whatever feels right for you on the tapping points.

Even though I have /need to be perfect (because … for … etc), I accept this need to be perfect

Even though I’m trying to fix myself because … and that feels … I accept how I feel at this moment in time

Even though there is a drive in me to be/do better (how much of the time?), what would happen if I relaxed that drive a bit?

Even though it’s not safe to stop trying to be perfect because … I accept that’s one of the ways I’ve protected myself up until now

Even though … could happen if I don’t do things perfectly, how would I feel if that did happen? And what might it remind me of?