Sunday, November 27, 2016


Fear has a valuable place in our lives. There are times when fear is absolutely necessary to alert us to danger, so we can take action. There is no way we can get rid of or release our fear forever, and why would we want to? I think the real issue here is the fear of a real threat and the fear of a perceived threat.

What happens when we’re traumatised is that an external threat becomes internalised. And the internalised threat is not the actual event that occurred, it is the experience(s) of emotions such as fear, shame, grief and difficult physical sensations such as dread, collapse and tight guts that are encoded in our bodies and brains at the time of the event. These are the threats we don’t want to feel and avoid like the plague. And, as a result, we remain in hyper or hypoaroused states without returning to homeostasis. This is why psychiatrist Ivor Browne calls trauma; unexperienced experience.
But we need to learn to face these difficult emotions and physical sensations so they lose their threatening sting. We can do it gently, safely and slowly, but do it we must in order to switch off the alert/danger button inside our bodies. If there were true danger, we’d be getting ready to act, if we could. With perceived danger or threat, we have a lot more power than we think to disarm it. I have found somatic experiencing, EFT, mindfulness, and other body based techniques that combine the latest neuroscientific research very good.

I was listening to a seminar recently on compassion fatigue by Eric Gentry and he said another name for his seminar could be “The Owner’s Manual for Regulating your Autonomic Nervous System”. Being able to regulate our nervous system, i.e. calm and soothe ourselves, is the most valuable skill that we can all learn and have. It is priceless in terms of creating good physical and mental health.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My Bill of Rights

1. I have the right to be me.

2. I have the right to put myself first.

3. I have the right to be safe.

4. I have the right to love and be loved.

5. I have the right to be treated with respect.

6. I have the right to be - NOT PERFECT.

7. I have the right to be angry and protest if I am treated unfairly or abusively by anyone.

8. I have the right to my own privacy.

9. I have the right to have my own opinions, to express them, and to be taken seriously.

10. I have the right to earn and control my own money.

11. I have the right to ask questions about anything that affects my life.

12. I have the right to make decisions that affect me.

13. I have the right to grow and change (and that includes changing my mind). 

14. I have the right to say NO.

15. I have the right to make mistakes.

16. I have the right to NOT be responsible for other adults' problems.

17 I have the right not to be liked by everyone.


Thanks to Jess Angland for giving me this. You can tap on anything that reading these rights brings up for you.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pacing yourself

It is really important to pace the rate at which we (re)connect with our body. Our body is the repository of all the experiences we’ve ever had. Many of those experiences have not been fully processed or felt because they were too overwhelming and we just weren’t, and maybe still aren’t, ready to face them. So, it takes time to wade back in, we need to go very gently so we don’t get overwhelmed.

There has been some criticism of mindfulness for this very reason. However, I don’t believe that mindfulness is the issue, the speed at which we reconnect to ourself is. Reconnection is the only viable option for us because remaining disconnected takes a huge toll on our physical and mental health. There are various tools and techniques that you can use to reconnect with yourself, it’s about finding what fits for you at any moment in time. I’ve found the work of Peter Levine to be great, his book In an Unspoken Voice has some excellent exercises for releasing traumatic stress. Tara Brach’s work is also very good and both she and Levine talk about the importance of going at a safe pace and pendulating between places that feel safe and unsafe in the body.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Inhabiting our bodies with presence

This is a really lovely talk from Tara Brach about how we dissociate, or leave the premises, as she puts it. We leave our body in all sorts of different ways and we ultimately pay a huge price, because we don't just dissociate from what's painful, but also what is joyful. We live a half life. Learning to stay in our body is crucial to our overall health.

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. 
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, 
the more joy you can contain ~ Kahlil Gibran