The Power in the way we Think

Posts tagged ‘automatic thinking’

Heal a fragile self-esteem through Spirit

Our next post in our focus month on Self-esteem is from Sal Jade, a clairvoyant and spiritual healer who teaches clients to develop their psychic ability. She works with her spirit guides to support clients and today she shares her wisdom on how you can work with your guides to enhance your self-esteem. It takes a little practice to hear and interpret the directions they impart, but if you quiet your mind and listen, you’ll be sure to hear the answers to your questions. Check out Sal’s post below. Have you had any empowering experiences with your guides? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

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When I was 19, I went to a psychic who told me I needed to learn to love myself.

Over the past 20 years the journey to self- love has been fraught with difficulty.

Sometimes I ignore it, and focus on material goals and relationship problems.

But, when I can give some love to myself- all of those goals and problems fade into manageable chunks that I can navigate.

When I tune into the energy of most of my clients, I clairvoyantly see splinters and sometimes even ice over their hearts because they are protecting themselves from painful trauma from their childhoods, or unresolved wounds from past relationships.

And I always tell them the same thing that psychic told me- you need to learn to love yourself.

Unfortunately, telling someone with a shattered self-esteem they just need to love themselves can make them think- ‘oh great, yet something else I do wrong! Something else I have failed at!’

 I am a huge fan of the Law of Attraction and positive thinking, but these ideas can be limiting if you already experience a low self-esteem.

I’ve seen clients try to think positively and when nothing happens- they think ‘oh I can’t even get that right! – or ‘well it worked for all those other people, why isn’t it working for me!’

Because everyone’s journey is different.

If you are someone who experiences low self-esteem because you were physically abused as a child, you will have a very different journey with positive thinking than someone who has a low self- esteem because their father was absent during your childhood.

You will need to undergo different levels of soul healing. You may even have different past life issues that are affecting your ability to experience a positive self-worth.

One powerful step I teach my clients to heal their soul of any trauma that is preventing them from loving themselves is calling in their angels for help.

spirit guides know what you needYour angels love you unconditionally. They don’t judge you or criticise you. They are in awe of how brave you are because they know you are doing the best you can with the journey you’ve been given.

Whenever I have made a mistake, instead of letting my inner critic attack me, I call my angels in. I ask for the strength and courage to forgive myself, and I pray for the guidance I need to learn from this error without beating myself up.

Even if you are not religious, or find it hard to believe there are angels, you can still ask for help.

Angelic energy is soft and soothing and angels can help you take deep breaths and release old painful habits.

I have seen clients go from critising themselves for not being good to experiencing peace about their life journey- knowing the angels are blessing them and watching over them, ready to offer spiritual guidance.

When I first started working with angels, the knowledge that I wasn’t alone, and someone loved me unconditionally was enough to heal my childhood traumas, and allowed me to eventually grow to love and accept myself.

I started to like myself more. I started laughing at my mistakes. I even embraced my dark side and personality flaws because they were part of me.

I have seen clients burst into tears when they start calling in the angels because their soul opens up and they realise how cruel they have been to themselves by constantly criticising themselves.

And asking them for help is easy. Find a quiet spot, take a breath, close your eyes and just ask for help. Ask for faith that they can help you.

Even taking this small step will open up a world of possibilities.

Small signs will start to show up in your life. You might be drawn to a book or a course that will change your life. People will enter your life that will help you on your journey, opportunities will suddenly appear.

Most importantly, you start to feel more empowered because you will feel like you are in the driver’s seat, instead of being knocked around by your journey.

So the next time you start to criticise yourself for not being good enough ask the angels to help you learn to love yourself more.

And watch the miracles unfold!

Blessings and Love,
Sal Jade

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Sal Jade Angel HuggerSal Jade is a Clairvoyant Healer who loves to assist her clients in healing blockages to happiness. She teaches psychic development and healing workshops and delights in empowering her students to tap into their psychic abilities and discover their own magic so they can learn to heal themselves.

For free angel courses and inspirational tips to heal your life sign up for Sal’s AngelHugger blog.

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What does it mean to have self-esteem?

Hi everyone! I’d like to introduce you all to Sharon, who is an interior designer and Life Coach. She has had some pretty intense experiences in her life and her self-esteem has been impacted as a result. She has made big changes in her life and now she does what she loves in a beautiful part of the country she now calls home.

Sometimes the biggest, most traumatic events can affect your life for a long time. And it’s often a series of small, seemingly insignificant events that can help you turn things into a completely different life.

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It’s a tricky question to answer as the answers will be as individual as people themselves.  For me, having self-esteem means that I live to my own set of values and not those imposed upon me by others – by religion, by the government, by my family or friends.  It means that I am confident enough in my own skin to know that my opinions count, that my voice deserves to be heard and that I am worthy of happiness, just as I am.  Yes I could be 10 (okay 20) kilos lighter, I could exercise more and eat more healthily.  I could spend more quality time with my children and husband and less time on Facebook.  I could read more educational books and less young adult fiction.  BUT, would any of those things make me happier?  Maybe, but maybe not and if I did any or all of these things, for whom would I be doing them?  For myself or for the acceptance of others? 

Blog Chicks sharon chisolmFor many years, as the result of a violent upbringing, I felt like a fraud as a child, feelings that continued as I grew into adulthood and even after I had children.   I had spent years growing up trying to hide the truth about who I was – a scared young girl who felt isolated and worthless and a big part of who I was as an adult was still led by that scared young girl.  I sought attention in the wrong places and from the wrong people and it took me roughly twenty years to realise that it didn’t matter how highly anyone else thought of me, I still felt worthless.  

Back in 2010 I won a coaching award from a prestigious organisation – Best Newcomer Coach of the Year – the judges were all renowned Life Coaches in Australia and New Zealand.  However, for a long time I felt as though I had cheated somehow and persuaded the judges that I was far better than I actually was.  I thought that perhaps they had given me the award out of pity or because they had no-one else to give it to.  I didn’t put my award up on my wall because I felt as though I didn’t deserve the recognition.  It didn’t matter how many people told me that I had helped them because I thought they were just being nice. 

A year or so later I had a big “a-ha” moment and realised that most of my feelings of self-worth, or lack of it, stemmed from my childhood.  I realised that I had grown up feeling like a fraud and fearing people finding out the truth about who I was and what my life was like.  In that moment I realised that I had had no power as a child – it was not my fault that my upbringing was the way that it was and that I did not need to feel shame or guilt because of it.  I was able to let go of those feelings and know in my heart that I had done what I needed to, to protect myself.  So I started to be real about who I was, about my feelings, about my depression following the birth of my children.  I started to speak out honestly about what I had been through and it was incredibly liberating.  I discovered that my voice deserves to be heard and that by sharing my experiences, I am able to help others to free themselves of their own limiting beliefs and feelings of worthlessness. 

sharon chisolm robin williams

Understanding why we behave and think the way that we do is, in my opinion, the first step to gaining control of those feelings of self-doubt and self-loathing.  If we are able to understand why that little voice inside us speaks to us the way that it does, then we can manage those thoughts and find our path to self worth and greater self-esteem.  Having high self-esteem does not mean that you are arrogant or narcissistic, it does not mean that you think you are better than everyone else, it simply means that you recognise the value you bring to the world and to the lives of those around you.  It means that you understand you deserve to be treated with respect  and love and that you have abilities and gifts that can impact the world in a positive way. 

I now display my award with pride on my office wall, because I know that I do make a difference to the lives of others – fellow business people, my clients, my friends and family and most importantly, to myself. 

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Sharon Chisholm The Restful Nest Profile Photo (1)Sharon Chisholm is the founder of The Restful Nest, an Interior Design business and The Organisation Coach, a Professional Organising business specialising in working with women business owners.  An award winning Life Coach, Sharon’s passion is assisting women to achieve business success through effective time management and organised living.  Sharon moved to Australia in 2002 from the UK and now lives on the mid-north coast of NSW with her husband and two children.

Sharon’s business and blog can be found at www.therestfulnest.com.au, which focuses on Interior Design and Professional Organising. Her Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/therestfulnest.

She has recently begun another page called The Organisation Coach https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Organisation-Coach/372596746224720?ref=hl.  This new page is a focus for women business owners who struggle with organising their homes, businesses and lives, and tackles self-esteem issues around these things.

I’m sure Sharon would love it if you took some time to visit her pages and sent her some love.

Love your body

So often we are bombarded by images and words about ugliness. We are lead to believe that we are inadequate and unworthy because of our appearance. We got (or get) bullied at school for wearing glasses or for having a few extra folds of skin and fat, or for having a birthmark on our face or for stuttering or for having stretch marks or … for a whole range of other things. We get bombarded by messages that say we MUST buy certain things in order to change who we are to be acceptable. Skin-care and makeup and surgery and clothing and accessories and whatever else you can think of.

We learn to hide ourselves from others and to fear being who we truly are. We become afraid of being judged and work hard to prevent it by buying into the messages we hear. We buy all the things we can to cover and mask ourselves. We cover up the small scar above our eye that told the story of when we fell off our bike at the age of 9. We get liposuction to rid ourselves of the fat that remains on thighs that have carried us through the hardest moments in our lives. We get our tummies tucked. Tummies that have carried precious children inside and allowed them to grow and to be nourished. Or tummies that tell the stories of how we have overcome years of abuse to be the healthiest we have ever been in our lives. We buy gym memberships to punish our bodies for being 5 kg larger than the person next to us. We buy gym memberships and hire personal trainers to smash us into the ground to rid our bodies of those extra 5kg. 5kg that protected us from the bullies or 5 kg that protected our babies or 5kg that enjoyed a little extra cake as we celebrated a major milestone in the lives of the people we love the most. Or 5kg that marks the journey of us mourning the loss of the person most important to us.

We do these things over and over and over again for years and expect to feel better about ourselves and the person we are becoming. We disconnect ourselves from the world. We disconnect ourselves from ourselves. Our mind becomes separated from our bodies and they operate independently. While we are busy cleaning or walking or whatever, our mind is busy thinking about how ugly we are or how inadequate we are or how we need the next best thing to repair the hole that was created 20 or more years ago.

The hole that nothing can repair. It seems that no matter what we try to do, no matter what we buy, no matter which gimmick we get sucked into, it doesn’t work.

You’re right. It won’t work. Because you don’t need a gimmick.

You cannot repair a hole, a disconnection between mind and body, with the next quick fix. You’re looking for a solution full of hate. A solution that is, in itself, flawed.

The idea of a quick fix (marketed to keep you buying products and designed to keep you feeling inadequate) repairing an emotional injury is ludicrous.

An injury of hate and inadequacy and unworthiness requires a solution of love, worth, and meaning. You need to feed the injury the emotions that it is missing.

There are no quick fixes that will ever work.

The only way to repair a disconnection is to reconnect. To get your mind and body talking to each other. To get them doing the same thing at the same time. Here are some key things I have learned about reconnection in my life.

  • Acknowledge the story. Each “inadequacy” on your body tells a story about who you are. Those 5kg (or 10 or even 70kg) served a purposestory to tell at one point in your life. They may have protected your heart from the impact of abuse or they may have nourished and helped your children grow. Or maybe they supported you through years of grief. Your scars tell a story. Whether physical or emotional, the stories behind those scars have made you the person you are today. They got you through. They strengthened you. They supported you. To deny them is to minimize your spirit. To deny them is to say they mean nothing. And that is the furthest thing from the truth, when without them, you wouldn’t be who you are. So acknowledge the scars, whatever they look like. Send them love and gratitude for helping you get to today.
  • Years of disconnect, abuse and hating yourself cannot be undone overnight. It takes patience and practice to reprogram your mind with messages of love, self-respect and support. So be patient with you. You deserve it.
  • Surround yourself with a support team of people who believe in and practice unconditional acceptance. You deserve it. Include a team of professionals you can trust, to help you heal from the hurts. It’s worth it.
  • Wean yourself (at your pace) from the quick fixes.
  • Let go of any guilt you may have about needing the quick fixes. Even they serve their purpose. Sometimes they start you on your path back to connection and self-love. Mine have, and I am grateful that I had those tools at the time I needed them. It’s ok to need them; it’s ok to use them. When you no longer need them you’ll begin looking for new tools that will serve you moving forward.
  • Send love to your body. Spend time regularly exploring it. Get to know it. The bumps, the bruises, the cellulite, the scars, the stretch marks, the bony bits. Run your fingers over your skin, observing the imperfections. Try to remain mindful of the experience. Remember the stories behind each imperfection. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Pamper yourself. You deserve it.
  • Use physical exercise to help you reconnect. When you’re walking, observe and feel the way your legs move. Feel the aches of being on your feet. Feel your arms swinging by your side. Observe the things around you. Notice the ground under your feet. Notice the path. Notice the flowers or the grass or the water or whatever it is you see. Observe your body as it navigates the terrain.
  • Learn to listen to your body and what it needs. Learn the difference between the signals that say “I need to rest” and “I know you want to stop but that is your mind giving you false signals. Your body can do more and you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment if you can learn that you can do more than your mind thinks it can”.

One thing is certain in all this. You, and your body, are worthy. Worthy without conditions. You deserve unconditional love and acceptance, simply because you were born.

This video by Mary Lambert sums up this core message nicely.

Self Comparisons

I’ve had this song on my iphone for a while but rarely listen to it as I am generally too busy. Today I was playing some music and it came on. I’ve always loved it so I searched for it on youtube and when I watched the lyrics cross the screen they got me thinking …

For a long time I’ve been one to compare myself to other people. Their appearance, their accomplishments, their size, their friends. Their everything really.

I’d make judgements and usually it would be me that came up short. I’d always be lacking in some way. Worse. Not good enough. And I’d consequently feel bad about myself and who I was.

The thing is, I knew that everyone was different. People told me again and again. We all looked different. We all had different personalities. We all had different likes and dislikes, we all thought differently.

But I still made comparisons between them and myself. Continuously. With everything, especially the things I found difficult. Academic work, sports, cooking, cleaning, and so on.

In more recent years as my self-esteem has improved those comparisons happen less often. I don’t feel the need to compare myself with others because I feel much more content and in control of who I am. I know I am worthy and I don’t need to compete with others in my head to prove it.

With the education I now have in psychology I understand that we are all programed with a neurological need for self-esteem. It’s a survival mechanism that goes back to the origin of human life. By nature we are a social species and we depended on others for protection against things like attacks from animals and other tribes who wanted our resources. We needed our tribe to survive and if we didn’t have skills in specific areas we were at risk of being banished, which opened us up to a higher likelihood of death. So, this neurological program compared ourselves to other tribe members to enable us to continually adjust our behaviour and improve our skills so that we were acceptable to the tribe.

These days in reality we generally no longer need to justify ourselves and our existence. In our modern society we aren’t threatened by packs of animals in the same way we were so long ago, so we don’t need to rely on our tribe for our physical existence. But our brains haven’t yet caught up and the neurological programs are still there. So we continue the pattern of comparing our worth to that of others.

And this can bring on some seriously destructive patterns of thinking and behaviour that keep our self-esteem low and us wondering why we aren’t “as good as” other people. The more we compare ourselves, the more likely it is that we feel badly about the person we are.

self comparisons

Understand this …

  • Our tendency to compare comes from neurological programming that has been inside the human brain for many many years, which means that we do it naturally and usually without any conscious thought.
  • Every person has a unique journey. We all have a unique mind, body and spirit. We all have unique neurological programming that is wired in a unique way. At each moment in time we are each in a different place. We think differently, we have had different experiences. We have different beliefs. Our brains are wired differently. So when you compare yourself to someone else, you are comparing a vacuum cleaner to potatoes. Each is a different beast. You use them for different purposes. You may prefer one over the other, or you may love (or hate) them both. But comparing them to each other is pointless and serves no purpose other than to mess with your head.
  • The best thing you can do to support the development of your self-esteem is to compare yourself with yourself. Examine where you are in your own life and journey, and if you aren’t satisfied with what you see, consider making some changes. Seek new information and support. Do things differently. Learn new ways to change the way your brain is wired.

hero own story

It IS possible. I know, because I’ve done it. And my future has completely opened up as a result.

Quieting the Mind

Have you ever experienced the sensation where your mind races so fast that you cannot capture your thoughts and it feels really chaotic and messy inside your head? I know I have. It happens almost every day, often as I am getting ready for work or when I am trying to get some sleep. Sometimes adequate rest is elusive and I end up laying awake until early in the morning. Which means I feel (and probably look) like a zombie the following day! Can you relate?

However, I have discovered something that generally helps me to quiet my mind so that I can get some shut-eye. And I find that when I am able to quiet my mind I end up getting the best, most creative ideas.

I thought I’d share a simple activity that you can all try to quiet your own minds. If you’re not used to practicing mindfulness you may find it challenging. Your mind may wonder away from what you’re trying to do. Over and over. This is perfectly normal. Our brains are designed to do this (the why’s and how’s of this is for another post!).

The following photos are taken from a set of cards I have at work. Each of them includes a simple meditation that you can practice at your convenience. If you already practice similar activities feel free to do it to your heart’s content. But if you’re not, try starting small. Aim for just a few minutes at a time. Be prepared for your mind to take your attention away from the card but remember that this is supposed to happen. Be kind with yourself and gently bring your attention back to what you are focusing on.

Once you feel like you can concentrate and pay attention for a few minutes, add a few more minutes and build it up slowly until you reach about 30 minutes a day.

I’d love to hear how you get on with them, so please feel free to leave a reply below!

focus flame meditation card

 

happy memories meditation card

 

abundance meditation card

 

Meditation card 1

 

Take Care of You!

You are worthy. Simply because you exist.

By definition, the fact that you are alive, that you breathe the air, that you walk this earth, is enough reason to justify your worthiness.

There are no conditions on this.

No “I can only be worthy if everyone likes me”

No “I can only be worthy if I please everyone in my life”

No “I can only be worthy if I work myself to the bone”

No “I can only be worthy if I take care of as many people as I can”

No “I can only be worthy if I do favours for other people”

No “I can only be worthy if …..” (insert any other idea your brain gives you)

When we put conditions on the way we love ourselves, we restrict so many things in our lives. You end up doing everything you can to please other people or working so many hours you never get time to yourself. Or taking care of everyone except yourself. Or doing things for other people to the extent that you never get time to do the things you enjoy. (Insert any other condition your brain conveniently provides).

Those conditions come about for a variety of reasons. Most of the time we receive certain messages and our beliefs about ourselves are formed by listening to them. They can be subtle or they can be said outright. We hear and interpret the words and we learn to say them to ourselves. We believe them.

Here are a couple of facts:

Those messages are always untrue. The words we use sound true. The emotions attached to the words feel true. However, they always lie. Always.

There is no justification.

The truth is indisputable.

You are worthy of being taken care of.

Simply because you are alive. Simply because you were born.

take care of you mindseteffect

30 Things to do to Yourself

The other day I came across an article that listed 30 things that people needed to stop doing to themselves in order to feel happy and fulfilled. It proclaimed, “when you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you”. You can see the full article here if you’re interested.

The thing is, the language used in this post is worded in the negative. Don’t do this, don’t do that. When I read things phrased in this way I often end up wondering what I CAN do if not the things listed. The brain cannot tell the difference between them. If I told you to NOT, under any circumstances, think about a red car, I’m willing to bet that the first thing that comes to mind is a red car.

So, when we tell ourselves NOT to do something, our brains literally block out the “NOT”. Have you ever tried to tell a child not to run on wet concrete? I bet they run faster! Have you tried telling a child not to eat the chocolate bar in the fridge? I bed the next time you walk by, the chocolate bar will have disappeared and you can see smears across his or her mouth. If you want a child to follow your instructions, you need to tell him/her what TO do, rather than what NOT to do. Walk along the concrete. Eat the grapes (and put the chocolate bar out of sight).

So, I decided to rewrite it. And rephrase it. Let me know what you think:

  1. Spend time with happy people who support you – spending time with people who drain you is tiring! Find some silent presencepeople will stand by you when you’re at your worst.
  2. Face your problems – Yes, it’s hard work. Every person on the planet finds it challenging to face difficult situations. We are built to flounder. To feel emotions such as sadness or hurt. To stumble. Learning and adapting helps mold us into the person we are meant to be.
  3. Be truthful with yourself – it really does help you make those adjustments and to step up when you face difficulties.
  4. Put your own needs first – you are special too, and you deserve to be taken care of. Allow yourself to follow your passion and do something that matters to you.
  5. Be your true self – allow yourself to be who you really are and you will naturally attract the right people who love you.
  6. Allow yourself to move forward and take new opportunities.
  7. Make friends with failure – you learn so much more from getting things wrong than getting them right. Every success has a series of failures behind it. Every time you fail, you get closer to success.
  8. Let go of past mistakes – mistakes help us find the things and the people who are right for us. Every error teaches you something and prepares you for the things that are right for you. Right here, right now, you have the power to shape your future.
  9. Allow happiness to find you – the things that satisfy us are totally free. Take note of the little things and allow them to fill your heart with joy.
  10. Look for happiness within yourself – looking to others for your happiness is fraught with danger and opens you up to being controlled by the other person’s moods. Create your own stability and own your own power for happiness. It starts with what is on the inside.
  11. Be prepared to go after what you want – you can’t make it to your goal unless you take the first step. Take some risks. Make decisions and take decisive action on what you want.
  12. Allow yourself to grab opportunities outside your comfort zone – it’s common to feel uncomfortable when
    found on art.com

    found on art.com

    opportunities present themselves. You may not feel ready, but you don’t have to be. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

  13. Fall in love for the right reasons – there is no need to rush. Allow it to happen when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
  14. Be open to new relationships – even when old ones didn’t work. There is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some are to teach you what you don’t need in your life.
  15. Run your own race – when you compete with others you do yourself a disservice. Competing takes you away from being your true self.
  16. Count your blessings – you always have something that is worth feeling blessed for. Why would you bother keeping track of someone else’s blessings when you have your own?
  17. Be prepared to get back up when you fall down – life is full of challenges and falling down is inevitable. When you reflect back on those moments you’ll often find they led you to a better place or situation.
  18. Let go of grudges – allow love to fill your heart and let the hate go. When you hold onto grudges you end up hurting yourself more than the person it’s directed toward.
  19. Raise your standards – if you keep your standards above those of the people around you, your heart will always be full.
  20. Give yourself permission to make your own decisions – if you listen to your heart you will always know what to do. There is no need to justify or explain yourself to others.
  21. restTake a break – especially when you feel like you don’t have time for one. The perfect time to take some breaths is when you feel the most stressed.
  22. Find the beauty in the small moments – the best parts of your days will be the small moments. Enjoy them.
  23. Enjoy the imperfections – nothing is ever perfect. It doesn’t exist.
  24. Embrace challenges – some things are not easy. Especially the things that mean the most to you. Embrace the challenge and work for what you want.
  25. Allow yourself to cry – it’s ok to fall apart sometimes, you don’t have to suck it up all the time. You don’t need to have things going well all the time. Crying is cathartic and healing. It gets rid of toxins in your system and cleanses your emotions.
  26. Take responsibility for your life – and your decisions. When you blame others you allow them to control you. Own your power by owning your decisions and actions.
  27. Choose what you do wisely – trying to be everything to everyone will very quickly drain you of your energy and burn you out. Make your choices based on the things that are most important to you.
  28. Let go of your worries – at least some of them. Ask yourself if this situation will matter in one year. What about in three years? Or five? If the answer is no, let it go.
  29. Focus on what you want to happen – rather than on what you don’t want to happen. By doing this you train your brain to look for the opportunities and the blessings.
  30. Be grateful – find 5 things each day that you are grateful for. You’ll soon find yourself inundated with the beautiful blessings in life rather than the missing links.

gratitude breathe it in

Fake It Until You Make It

The language we use can be very powerful. It can mean the difference between getting what we want and being disappointed, over and over again. It can be the difference between experiencing joy and gratitude, or sadness and despair. We can wonder why things never go the way we want them to, or we can do something about it by taking small steps each day that lead us closer to our goal. Our chosen path is very dependent upon our mindset; the words we have in our heads, the things we tell ourselves. 

Cassandra Webb is an author. Tomorrow she will be appearing at an event on the Gold Coast, signing copies of her very first book. It took her a lot of effort, grit and determination to get to this point. She didn’t always believe she could do it, but by taking small steps each day, she has created her dream and made it happen. She has used the power of language to support her. This is the story of how she made it happen. 

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Life is all about attitude and mindset right? Confidence and self-esteem. What about for a writer, sitting alone in their little (in my case messy) office? Not long ago I came across the saying, ‘Fake It Until You Make it’ and I’ve been trying to live by it ever since. This is how.

If writing was my ‘job’ I’d have a start time, a finish time, and a certain standard of work in order to not get fired. At present writing doesn’t pay enough of the bills for my husband to allow me to call it my ‘job’. But I have a “three thousand words a day” goal. I sit down and work my butt off to achieve this goal every day. I sacrifice meals and T.V., sleep and evenings out to get the job done. Because one day I will make it, and writing will be my ‘job’, until then I’m just going to fake it.

A professional [insert your desired field] has a certain way of presenting themselves. Even an amateur soccer player still runs onto the field in all the right gear. So even though I’m not a ‘professional’ writer, time and consideration is still required before I sit behind my little stall at the markets. Yes, I’m ‘faking it’, but I’m not going to sell any copies of my book sitting at the markets in my swimwear unless my book involves swimming. The same goes for a job interview with a law firm. If you turn up looking like a mechanic fresh from under a car you’re chances of success are pretty low.

‘Faking it’ means trying to be the best you can, even when you think the limits are beyond you at the moment. It doesn’t mean slipping into a mindset that allows you to believe you are already the best there is. It’s a hard distinction that involves being your own best friend and worst critic at the same time.

If you could peep through my window when I’m editing you’d probably think I’m insane. According to me I’ve written a masterpiece, but everyone gets rejection letters and I’ll be crying and laughing and patting myself on the back whilst I hack up my beautiful literary baby and try to make the masterpiece worthy of a publisher. You can’t ‘fake’ good writing, but the professional attitude of someone who can improve through criticism? Yes you can fake that.

I signed up for my first big event this year. It’s called Indie Authors Down Under and it will be held at the Gold Coast on the 22nd of March. http://www.indieauthorsdownunder.com/

When I put my name down and secured my little stall three months ago I didn’t even have a book in print. The printed version was available through Amazon, but I didn’t have any copies to physically sell myself! I was drowning just in the idea of have to talk to so many people and try to ‘sell’ them something.

There was nothing for it. I could have let the opportunity pass or I could ‘fake it’. With the help of my local writers group we got together and held a market stall over the Christmas period. I needed to do a test or dry run. The same way some couples do a pre-birth rush to the hospital to check they know the way and how long it will take etc. I was nervous, and for those of you who don’t know me I suffer from anxiety so nervous is an understatement. I had muscle spasms running across my back, and an ache from the tension in my jaw, my hands were noticeably shaking and all I wanted to do was get out of there.

There was only one thing for it; I had to ‘fake it’.

I squared my shoulders, mentally told myself to smile, and began shaking hands. It wasn’t easy, but it also didn’t kill me and amazingly two fantastic locals purchased my book.

We all have a different idea of what exactly ‘making it’ means. Some successful writers have million dollar bank balances, others have the luxury of a household name or movie deals. And maybe all of the above would be nice, but even those writers who have ‘made it’ still feel like lounging around the house in their old socks with their hair undone some days and on those day’s even they have to fake it.

I’ll be ‘faking it’ on the Gold Coast on the 22nd of March, and if you happen to come along to the Indie Authors Down Under event I’d love to see you.

This is the event: http://www.indieauthorsdownunder.com/

And this is me: http://www.cassandrawebb.com/

 

Emma’s experience with OCD

I’d like to introduce you to Emma. She does her best to parent her beautiful children while living with OCD. She copes with constant obsessions and compulsions every day. Hopefully her experiences will resonate with some of you. Please remember that if you are dealing with similar situations you may benefit from some support from a mental health professional. If anything in Emma’s experiences triggers you, please consider calling Lifeline for a chat on 13 1114.

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When my psychiatrist first suggested I might have OCD, I laughed. Of course not! “People with OCD don’t know the things they do are crazy, that’s why they do them,” I told him. “I’m fully aware that these things I do are crazy, I’m just not sure why I can’t stop doing them.”

In my mind, OCD was Adrian Monk, obsessed with hand-washing and germs and totally oblivious to the fact that he’s completely batshit crazy.

And me? I just have a bit of a thing for even numbers and I’m fussy about how I hang the laundry. Eccentricities. Quirks. Not a disorder.OCD Emma profile1

It wasn’t until the psychiatrist pointed out just how much time these little ‘quirks’  (or as he called them ‘rituals’) take out of my day, and how much of the in-between time I spend feeling anxious about them, that I began to concede that he might be right. In fact, OCD is by definition egodystonic – sufferers are well aware that their actions are irrational and that awareness is the basis for a lot of the anxiety that comes with it. The hand-washing and obsessive cleanliness? A common symptom but not definitive.

When my OCD it was at its worst, I spent most of my waking hours either performing rituals (that’s the compulsive part), or thinking about performing them (that’s the obsessive part). I couldn’t have the volume on my television or radio set to an odd number. I couldn’t take my baby out of the bath unless the digital clock above the bench where I bathed her read an even number. If I arrived home and the clock in the car was on an odd number, I’d pull over to the side of the road just outside my driveway and wait for them to tick over to an even number. When I did the groceries, I had to buy two loaves of bread or four, not three, although I rationalised in my head that one wasn’t technically an odd number because it’s just one. See, totally irrational!

Why did I do all these things? Because in my mind, I believed that if I didn’t do them, bad things would happen. The bad things were rarely directly related to the rituals themselves; I think the rituals were more just a way of keeping my hands and mind busy and in doing so, keeping the churning anxiety at bay.

Perhaps even more distressing than the obsessions and the compulsions however were the intrusive thoughts – thoughts which had no basis in reality but which came crashing into my conscious mind in the most upsetting manner. Perhaps most vivid is the night I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep when I suddenly thought, ‘I’ve never wanted to harm myself because I couldn’t stand the thought of someone else raising my children. But if I kill myself and the children I don’t have to worry about that’.

OCD Emma 3

 

I’d never, not once in my entire life, ever consciously thought about hurting myself. And the idea that such a thought had even occurred in my mind, regardless of how completely ridiculous it was, made me so desperately upset that I lay awake for the rest of the night, terrified to go to sleep lest I wake up to find those crazy intrusive thoughts had invaded my reality.

That was my tipping point, the point where I realised that the OCD was controlling me and not the other way around. I started on medication, and while I was skeptical about whether it would work – in my mind, I still saw the compulsions as behavioural and I couldn’t see how altering the chemicals in my brain could fix that – it did. After about three days, I suddenly found my anxiety levels dropping. That in itself was disconcerting. I’d worn the anxiety for so long like an old familiar coat that living without it took some adjustment. At a fundamental level, I still believed that I needed the anxiety in order to provoke the rituals which prevented the bad things from happening.

In addition to the medication, I also started regular CBT sessions with a psychologist who specialised in OCD. These sessions taught me techniques for living my new, medicated life without the anxiety cloak. I don’t know that medication or the therapy would have worked as standalone treatments, but the combination of the two was incredibly effective.

OCD Emma 2It’s been nearly seven years since I was diagnosed with OCD, and while it’s still there affecting my life in little ways, the medication and therapy combo continues to help me keep it somewhat under control. I’ve also learned some creative ways to avoid the compulsions – for example, I have a lot of rituals around hanging the laundry on the line. The washing must come out of the machine and into the basket in a certain order. It must then be hung on the line in a certain order, the pegs must all match and certain items require specific combinations of pegs. It can take up to an hour to hang a single load, and with five small children, there’s simply too much laundry and not enough time, so instead of battling with my head to try to combat the rituals, I avoid them altogether by drying all the washing in the clothes dryer. Yes, it’s an expensive exercise, and no, it’s not great for the environment, but if there’s one thing that living with OCD has taught me it’s to save my energy for the big stuff and not sweat the small stuff.

I’m open with my friends and family about what it’s like to live with OCD, and it’s even been the source of some amusement – my husband regularly tells people that he got ripped off because I don’t have the obsessive cleanliness thing going on. He reckons that if he has to live with the darker side of the condition, the least he deserves is the perk of a clean house!

I’m also realistic about the fact that I’ll probably need to keep taking medication for the rest of my life. I’ve had a few breaks from it over the years and they’ve generally not gone so well. Without the medication, the anxiety is simply too overwhelming for the CBT techniques to touch. Do I love the idea of pumping my brain full of drugs? Of course not! But it keeps the playing field level, it gives me the upper hand over my OCD and that makes it worth it.

I own my OCD, I will not let it own me. 

OCD Emma 1

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OCD Emma profileOne-time high-flying journo turned SAHM, Emma blogs at Five Degrees of Chaos about parenting on the edge of sanity – navigating her own personal mental health minefield while raising five girls, one of whom lives with chronic illness. You can find her blog here.

 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

We all have our little idiosyncrasies. Those behavioural quirks that to most people seem weird. Perhaps it’s that the pegs need to be OCD alphabeticalcolour coded when you hang the washing on the line. Or maybe it’s that you need to line up your pens in a certain order. Or even the toilet roll being in the “over” position.

To most people these habits are simply that; habits. Habits that we chuckle at affectionately.

For some people these habits, and many more like them, can be a problem. Hand washing, cleaning, locking doors, sorting/hanging clothes, quoting specific sayings (whether aloud or silently), collecting things, counting floor tiles or cracks in the footpath, going in and out of doorways. All of these, and more, have been noted as common in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

OCD is an anxiety disorder. The person with OCD will experience severe anxiety. They will become obsessed with specific thoughts (e.g., my house will burn down) and to relieve the anxiety the thoughts produce, will carry out certain compulsions (behaviours), such as checking and re-checking that they have turned off the stove and any other appliance that may catch alight. So, the person will become obsessed with the idea of their house burning down, anxious about the possibility and feel the compulsion to check and re-check the stove and other appliances to prevent it.

One of the main characteristics of OCD is that the person with the disorder will recognise that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational. They are aimed at reducing the anxiety or preventing some dreaded event (e.g., house burning down). The thoughts or habits must interfere with daily life and must last for long periods of time (an hour or more per day).

OCD cycle

How do you think you’d feel if you were plagued with thoughts that your baby girl is at risk if you don’t check and re-check that you’ve locked the front door? You check it at least 50 times before you can relax. And then you start thinking about all the other dangers she could get into. Maybe it’s combing the sandpit repeatedly to make sure there is nothing that could cut her fragile skin. Or maybe it’s the germs she could pick up if she crawled around on the floor, so you wash and re-wash everything in sight before you let her down to play. And then you follow her around so she doesn’t pick anything up to suck on it.

Can you imagine it?

OCD battle

You know that the thoughts are silly and not based in reality. And yet you can’t seem to control it. How would you feel? Hopefully some of the recent posts we have shared from a few of our readers will give you an inkling. If you experience similar obsessions or compulsions that interfere with your life, please consider seeking professional support from a psychologist or counsellor. Tomorrow we will share the experiences of someone who lives with OCD. In the meantime, if you would like more, technical information please try these sites. They cover definitions, symptoms and common treatments.

http://psychcentral.com/disorders/ocd/

http://eqip.psychology.org.au/conditions/OCD/

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