Mind-Body Counselling Services - Carole Fawcett - helping you find the answers - www.amindfulconnection.com

Our Interesting Journey
© 2012 Carole Fawcett

The journey to get to where we want to be can be, frought with challenge so enormous that it may seem to be almost impossible. We sometimes really believe that we will not achieve what we hope to achieve. That thought has the power to stop us in our tracks. Everything begins in the mind and our thoughts have incredible power. We believe and subsequently achieve what we think.

Sometimes our own minds are sabotaging us, due to the power of what we perceive to be real. This perception has been coloured by our life experience.

Perhaps we have learned at the knee of a well intentioned parent who looked at life with skepticism; or perhaps we have had a run of negativity in the things that have or have not happened to us; or perhaps we unknowingly (subliminally) buy into the negative media that surrounds us.

But there is a key to stopping those thoughts, brushing them aside and moving forward. Know that everything is temporary. We can influence the time that we have right now, in this moment but have no control over the future, so it is futile to worry ahead of when things will happen.

'Temporary' can be defined by our own personal measurement of time. Do you notice that when things are going well in your life, time seems to speed up? Then, when we are being challenged and are feeling stuck, time seems to drag like never before?

A busy challenged brain moves forward with purpose, while a not so busy (and perhaps depressed) brain focuses on "what isn't" and this adds to the frustration and "grows" the issue that can keep us stuck on the ol' gerbil wheel of our mind.

There will always be issues in our lives that we have no control over, but the one thing that we do have control over is ourselves and how we choose to respond and think about situations and events. Happiness and satisfaction come with having goals that keep life moving along in a positive direction. Whether our goal is to walk for 15 minutes daily, or to help someone else, or to stop snacking at 7:00 pm every evening, or to finally get to a project we have been procrastinating about, the payoff is the feeling of accomplishment when the goal has been achieved.

It is important to have an achievable realistic goal every day if you feel yourself floundering about emotionally. Personal goals can assist us in sending positive messages to our brain putting us in the drivers seat of our thoughts. This will help us to stay focused on resolution, and keep us moving ahead with some positivity and purpose.

Winston Churchill once said, "If you are going through hell, keep going". He knew that by keeping focused on the end result (the goal) we would eventually come out the other end. Challenges in life are temporary - depending on how we think about them.

If you feel there is a cloud hanging over you every step of the way, know that it is a temporary part of your life's interesting journey.

The great Churchill also said, "Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up".

Self Esteem and You
© 2012 Carole Fawcett

I have been reminded recently that we are all more alike than we are different. We start out in life as somebody's child, then grow up to be somebody's partner and perhaps become somebody's parent and on it goes. The family tree grows taller and the branches spread out wider.

The common denominator in any relationship is the need for love and acceptance. We all need to feel accepted for who we are and subsequently feel loved because of this.

From the moment we are born, we are searching for the love that nurtures us physically, emotionally and psychologically.

But it isn't always smooth sailing. There can be unresolved issues that have been passed on generationally that create roadblocks to that elusive feeling of happiness, or get in the way of feeling satisfied with ourselves and our lives.

The inability of a family member to show love usually stems from the lack of love shown to them. It's one of those cycle things. Round and round it goes.

It affects us on all levels. One of the most important areas and the one that can negatively impact our lives is self esteem. If you have low self esteem and you become involved with someone who has low self esteem, or work for someone who has low self esteem, the result will be partners or staff or family members who constantly walk around feeling unworthy.

The domino effect of low self esteem can be powerfully pervasive.

Decisions made in this state of mind will frequently be inappropriate or reactive as low self esteem breeds personalization of everything. Your thoughts become unbalanced and you take everything personally.

If you think this might be you, remember that when someone says something unkind, or treats you as though you are 'less than', you do have choice.

You can understand that this person is mirroring to you, how they feel about themselves, or you can reframe it for yourself by focusing on something special and wonderful about you. (easier said than done, but still do-able if you are mindful of these situations).

I believe that the biggest impact we can have on humankind is a very basic one. If we were to treat everyone the way we would like to be treated (and yes, I know this isn't an original thought, but obviously one we need to hear as often as possible), it would change our experience on this earth.

We would become tolerant, kinder and more understanding of one another. We would focus on our shared experience and not on our differences. Everyone's self esteem would improve, making for even more appreciation and validation of each other.

Does your self esteem need to be tweeked? Start with applying the same understanding and kindness to yourself as you would like to receive from others.

Perhaps make it a goal to start feeling better about being you. You'll find it to be contagious as you start on the journey toward healthy self esteem.

Stress and The Amygdala Hijack
© 2012 Carole Fawcett

Don't you just hate it when something happens in your life and you react, wishing moments later that your brain had kicked in faster? You might feel foolish, or embarrassed or even annoyed with yourself. You know the feeling - open up mouth, place in foot.

You are not alone. In fact, it's possible that your emotions may take over your actions. When this happens, it is referred to as "The Amygdala Hijack". The Amygdala is that part of the brain that controls our responses, unless we choose otherwise.

When the amygdala gets triggered due to stress, anger or other emotions, it can create a response that's inappropriate and that you might later regret.

Of course, if you feel happy about your life (generally speaking), it may mean that the bumps that occur will be less dramatic or annoying as will your reactions. It will also depend upon how you look at what happens to you in your life.

If you are a "the glass is half full" kind of person, then unplanned or disappointing events may seem less upsetting to you. But if your glass is "half empty", then you might feel the full force of disappointment, perceived failure, anger or other emotions that can get you into trouble.

Of course, if you have any unfinished business or unresolved emotional issues in your life, then you may be more susceptible to being triggered by specific situations that relate to your personal issues.

Worry, doubt and fear can fuel an over-reaction. So, by becoming mindful of situations you may over-react to, you might be able to control how you respond.

The good news is you can fool your amygdala, by using two parts of your brain at the same time. (both thinking and responding) According to Joshua Freedman (an educator, writer and emotional intelligence guru), we can control our response by using what he calls "the six second pause."

Stop, take in a big breath and divert your mind by naming six of the 10 Provinces. It's kind of like the old notion of counting-to-ten-before-you-say-or-do-something-you-regret thing.

Not always the easiest thing to do, particularly if you are wired to react, more than you are wired to reason, but it is achievable and you can learn to change how your reactions affect your life at work, home and socially.

My personal favourite is laughter. Laughter changes negative thought process. If you need to be stimulated to laugh, think of a funny situation or your favourite joke; if you have learned how to simulate laughter, start laughing.

You'll find that your original negative feelings and subsequent potential response have vanished long enough for you to stop and think about the situation.

Take control of your amygdala, do not allow it to be hijacked and you might discover that your journey can be more relaxed and enjoyable. At the very least, it may help to prevent "foot in mouth" disease.

The Laughing Buddha
© 2012 Carole Fawcett

A tiny figurine of the Laughing Buddha sits on my kitchen window sill. It was a gift from someone who made me laugh. We could laugh for hours together because we both shared the outlook that there isn't too much in life that laughter can't ease or soften. With this person, I proved that laughter does indeed beget laughter. The more we laughed - well, the more we laughed. It was absolutely wonderful. The Laughing Buddha got his beginnings from a mix in Buddhist, Taoist, and Shinto religions. It is said the jolly monk symbolizes good luck and abundance.

According to the Wikopedia Encyclopedia (on the internet) "The image of Hotei (Laughing Buddha) is almost always seen carrying a cloth or linen sack (that which never empties) which is filled with many precious items, including rice plants (indicating wealth), candy for children, food, or the woes of the world. Sometimes it can be filled with children as they are seen as some of those precious items of this world. His duty is patron of the weak, the poor and children."

I love anything that symbolizes happiness and is expressed with laughter. Combined with the right attitude and outlook on life, joyfulness helps to make positive change in our lives. I know - I've said this before, but it can't be said often enough, laughter is good for your soul. I really do believe it helps to cleanse our bodies and releases the negatives in our lives.

Dr. Rupert Sheldrake - an acclaimed biologist discovered "morphogenetic fields". In other words, Dr. Sheldrake has proven that we live in fields of energy, despite the fact that the human eye cannot actually "see" this.

His book, "Seven Experiments That Could Change The World" tells how a cell can be removed from someone's body in one City (we'll use Vancouver) , preserved in a Petri dish and flown to another City (we'll use Toronto). When the owner of the cells gets excited in Vancouver, the cell in Toronto vibrates in the Petri dish. Our cells, no matter where they are respond to our emotions.

Dr. Sheldrake applies this theory to animals as well. For some time now, my Mom has been telling me that my dog Huey knows when I am coming home. (Mom is Huey's doggy daycare) She says that no matter where he has been in the house or the patio, his behaviour changes and sometimes he will sit on the mat in front of the door waiting for me to walk in.

Well, guess what - Dr. Sheldrake has written an entire book about this - "Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home". Some animals are connected to the energy of their owners. But then, we have heard of animals that can "predict" storms or illness or death. They sense the energy change in a person.

So, if we are made up of energy, we now know that positive energy (laughter, happy thoughts, feelings of satisfaction, kindness, caring for others) will make a huge difference on a cellular level, in our personal lives and the lives of those we come in contact with.

Obviously, our energy field is more important than we realized. Perhaps one day we will be able to use our own energy field and heal ourselves of disease. This appears to be an untapped resource in our own body.

If you want to keep your cells vibrating with happiness and work toward lessening the negative emotions and feelings in your life, pick up your own little Laughing Buddha to help remind you to stay on the sunny side of life.

Perhaps the Laughing Buddha knew something we didn't, all those years ago. For more positive reinforcement, visit my website at www.amindfulconnection.com

Your Unseen Emotions
© 2012 Carole Fawcett

What unseen emotions, feelings or thoughts walk alongside you daily, impacting on your sense of self worth? Can you identify them?

Did you get the message as a child that you should be seen, but not heard? Were you abused in any way? Perhaps given messages that you were not important in the grand scheme of your family? Was your upbringing very rigid or lacking in love?

Was what other people thought more important that what you thought? Did you have a happy childhood, or do you have segments that you have "forgotten" (or stuffed down so deep that you no longer have to acknowledge them by remembering?)

Likely some of this applies to everyone who is reading these words. Your unseen emotion may have taken you by the hand and led you through life on a journey that may have been difficult. But, it's never too late to make the changes that will help to enhance your life.

"The walls we build around us to keep sadness out, also keep out joy." Jim Rohn, was the motivational speaker who made this statement (1930 - 2009)

Sometimes we unconsciously nurture our negativities. They have become so real to us that we fan the flames of the negative way of thinking about ourselves - no longer requiring anyone else to do it for us.

Simplistically speaking, we may fall into different categories. The Worrier excels at "what-iffing" thereby promoting anxiety in their lives. The Critic (shoulda - woulda - coulda), attacks their self esteem. The Victim (why me? It's always me!) can turn into depression. Then there's the Perfectionist (It's never good enough...) promotes chronic stress, because we can never meet our own unrealistic expectations.

It seems easier to grab the negativity and hang on to it, particularly when we see it, hear it and feel it almost daily. It's harder to find the positive when the world is in turmoil, as it creates turmoil in our personal well-being.

We worry about what has happened, along with what has not happened. It then seems natural to make predictions about what "might" happen and this insidiously takes over our thoughts.

The negativities in our lives may manifest with eating too much, smoking, drinking too much, as we sit sloth-like on the couch watching violent television shows that desensitize us to the real violence in our world.

We shut off from others by thinking we have "friends" on a computer web-site, but we don't actually do face to face 'friend' things, like see one another over a meal, or go for a walk. We may work for abusive bosses, or in extremely stressful jobs then go home and isolate ourselves.

Things like fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, chronic fatigure, anxiety, psoriasis, arthritis, depression, sore backs, headaches, neck tension and more start to appear in our bodies. As Author Caroline Myss states "Your biography is your biology".

Interestingly, (and annoyingly) the emotions we've stuffed for decades can pop up when we are in our 50th decade. Everyone's life experience is different, so with some it may be in their 60's before they feel the need to examine what they have stuffed.

We may keep bumping into the same type of relationship problem, health problem, or feel we are self sabotaging ourselves with our thoughts. We don't need to carry the burdens of our past with us. Is it time to unpack your baggage and cleanse your emotional soul?

Think about it.

Are You Cocooning
© 2010 Carole Fawcett

The politics of any work environment can be a challenge from time to time. Most of it is due to stress in the workplace. The higher the stress, the higher the incidence of stress related behaviours or illnesses.

We work in environments where expectations and rules change at an alarming rate. Technology has apparently brought progress, but at what price? A financial institution in British Columbia requires their employees to take distance ed courses at night, after a long day at work - on their own time. Some of these employees, having been with the company for decades, are now in their late 50's, but are expected to add to their days work and to their stress level. They are required to take several of these courses in the next four years, despite the fact that the courses may not have anything to do with the job they are currently doing. If they don't take the courses, which could take up to 4 months to complete, they could lose their jobs. It boggles the mind.

Have you looked for work recently? Even for the lowest paying job the interview process can be quite involved. At a well known coffee chain they do two or even three interviews with one person. For some bizarre reason resume formats keep changing and there are people with four year degrees, hired by the Government teaching the most basic skill of resume writing. We have things that used to be straight forward and we have made them complicated.

Another phenomenon is occurring. People are so geared to working alone at their computers, that we are losing the ability to communicate effectively with one another. We are not only working in our own headspace, but in our own physical space as well. I believe the term is cocooning.

There is a new phrase out there these days. It is called "self care". We never used to consciously think about this. It just happened naturally as we came home from work. We would visit with our family, maybe play some games with the kids, walk the family dog, take a short nap or read a book. It was called relaxation and it was assumed we could all do this. Now, with computers and televisions we have this isolating technology in our own homes. So, we not only cocoon at work, we come home and continue to do so for the evening as well.

We don't laugh as much now as we did in the 1950's. We used to laugh for 18 minutes each day and now we are lucky to squeeze in 6 minutes of daily joy. In our quest for success and at the expense of our happiness, we have foolishly changed attitudes and become extremely serious in all aspects of our lives. Simply put, we have forgotten how to play and have fun. Despite this, our minds and our bodies are wise beyond our comprehension and this fact is now being proven on a scientific level. If we choose to laugh more and be more joyful, our body's response is immediate as blood vessels open up, blood pressure drops, pain lessens and we feel better.

Amazingly and quite wonderfully, we are still in control of how we choose to work and to play. Help yourself and make smart choices for your life. Laugh, smile at everyone you come in contact with and inject some play into every day. It will make a huge difference in your quality of life and will help to alleviate the effects of stress. That's a promise.

Dancing Neurons
© 2010 Carole Fawcett

"We live in a fear-based society" has almost become a cliché. It's no wonder. Have you noticed the language some television media have chosen to use when they have been covering the H1N1 virus?

Listen carefully the next time there is some major event and hear the words the media chooses. They are frequently inflammatory words that promote fear.

We have become more aware of what is wrong with our world rather than what is right about it. Our motivation becomes the fear of 'something' and it builds on the internal negativity that a lot of us carry around.

Here's an example taken from a News Web Page..........."A Vancouver man was found gunned down early Wednesday morning..." Now if the word "shot" had been used instead of "gunned down", it wouldn't be as dramatic.

Here's another example, "Seventh severed human foot found washed up on B.C. shore". Does the word "severed" need to be in the sentence? Isn't it obvious that the foot had been severed because it washed up onto the shore all by itself, minus the rest of the body? But "severed" adds drama and an element of fear to the sentence.

The downside of increased instant communication is a tendency to exaggerate or overstate something, particularly when it is played over and over and over again. New ways of telling the story have to be created and after you've told the story twenty times or more, the choice of words used in the telling can become limited.

There is a difference between passing on information from other parts of our world as opposed to repetitively and almost obsessively reporting it non stop. I realize the choice is ours as to whether or not we watch and we can hit the 'off' button at any time. How many of us do this?

Our little neurons dance with unabashed glee at the thought of processing something exciting and we get 'hooked'. We get an adrenalin fix sitting on the couch, voyeuristically peering at others through the lens we call television or computer screens - our personal windows on the world.

Sometimes we do the same thing with our own issues in our mind. After all, much like Pavlov's dogs, we have been conditioned by the very thing we view as entertainment. We unknowingly indulge in rumination, which means that like the gerbil, our same thoughts play around and around in our personal head-wheel.

We can get stuck there and our issue feels insurmountable and almost paralyzes our ability to problem-solve for ourselves. We self-sabotage with our private thoughts and are sucked down into a vortex of negativity.

We attach feelings to these thoughts and the wheel goes faster making it challenging to get off. Here are some suggestions to help you stop your wheel.

Talk to a good friend. Sometimes talking about it helps you feel better and helps you to see things with more clarity. Become mindful of your thoughts and change the way you are thinking.
Look for the positive in the problem and try to focus on that.
Keep a journal and write down 5 positive things about yourself every single day. Watch sitcoms or comedy. Laugh as often as you can.
Watch the news only once a week if you like to keep in touch with what is happening in our world. (as opposed to nightly)

Consciously choose to make the changes you know you need to make.
It can provide a wonderful opportunity to find the peace or the joy that is lacking in your life. See a counselor if you feel your issues are entrenched and you feel stuck.

Remember, you are worth the effort.

The Value of Friendship
© 2010 Carole Fawcett

True friends are one of the gifts we receive as we go through life. They listen, they care, they call or visit when no one else will and they accept us for who we are, warts and all.

I have a dear friend whom I have known since the age of 6. I know that when I speak to her I can count on her to listen and to care. She knows me like not many other people do, because she walked beside me for a number of years in school. She came from a family of 5 children while I was an only child. I was amazed by the noise and the interactions between the brothers and sisters. We loved going to each other's houses because of the fact it was so very different from our own.

We remember each other's birthday, we call every now and then to make sure the other is doing okay (we live in different cities). It's nice to know that someone out there, aside from family, who know the real me.

It is a known fact that having and being a good friend is very important in life. Most challenges and stressful situations can be overcome if someone is there to soften the fall, help you get up, listen and assure you that you are not going crazy, tell you that you are valuable, compliment you on being you and generally be kind and gentle toward you. Their words and actions can help you to feel worthwhile as a human being.

Friendship is a self-esteem builder and can be a stress reliever as well. As Henry Ford once said, "My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me."

In todays seemingly speeded up world, we don't seem to have as much time to nurture friendships. We are all rushing from one place to another and not taking the time to notice our fellow human being. No wonder we feel stressed, we are missing an important ingredient. Human interaction.

That wonderful and very valuable time where we stop using our working brain and switch to our "hey, how ya doin?" brain.........and allow ourselves to wind down and just connect with others.

Have you got a friend you haven't connected with for a while? Stop what you're doing. Put the paper down and call them. It's important. I've got a few on my list that I'm about to call.

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