Being connected to our values helps to set up healthy boundaries. Values connect us with how we want to behave and the qualities we want to bring to our behaviour, such as kindness, connection, honesty, integrity etc.
However our values can get confused when they are overshadowed by emotions created by our conditioned rules, or brules (bullcrap rules), as I prefer to call them. Here are some examples of brules that we pick up from the likes of parents, society, culture, religion and educational training throughout our lives.
When we can stay connected with our values then the brules tend to fall to the wayside. We are better able to make good choices and communicate our needs and desires, without any undue anxiety.
Easier said than done? Sure is! But if we can become more aware of and connected with our values, aligning our actions with them gets easier overtime. And the added bonus of this is that we get to live life more authentically and with more integrity.
My own personal values were a confusion to me for many years. I had been taught to 'toughen up and get over it' so when my body hurt, I ignored it. I believe that this, in part, contributed to a major health crisis that hit me in my late twenties.
But after battling with my health year upon year it became clear I needed to change. And my health became, out of necessity, my number one priority. With my focus now rightfully on supporting the body to heal I naturally aligned my actions to make this happen.
So when I was asked to do things I couldn't during those years here are some of the ways I learnt to say 'no'.....
'I am not up to doing that yet but please don't stop inviting me. And thanks for thinking of me.'
'I am unavailable on those days. Best wishes with finding someone who can.'
'Thanks for inviting me but I have something else scheduled'
'Thanks for the compliment. It's a big job and not one I want to be involved in so the answer is no'
If we have been a 'yes to everyone' person we need to practice these scripts so that they fluently roll off our tongue every time we are requested to do something we can't or do not want to do....
And remember any guilt that accompanies your 'no' is 'false guilt'. If we can stay connected with the why driving our no, we can more easily recognise it as 'false guilt'.
And if people make us feel sad or bad for saying no, we need to remind ourselves that their response is NOT our responsibility. We are responsible for ourselves and they are responsible for themselves.
So get aligned with your values. Write them down on a piece of paper. Eyeball them on a regular basis and set yourself up to consistently bring healthy boundaries into your life because we can only give from a cup that overfloweth.
I give thanks to the wonderful Liz Garbutt who taught me everything I know about boundary setting and was a key player in helping me to reintegrate back into the world without hurting myself after many years of un-wellness. Thank you Lovely Liz.
Ph. 021 027 18127
To turn the field of genetics completely on its head, a groundbreaking area of scientific inquiry called Epigenetics, has revealed that gene expression can actually be altered by the way we perceive our environment.
Instead of regarding genetics as eternal and unchangeable, as in ‘I have the alcoholic gene so I am destined to be an alcoholic’, we have recognized that our genes, like our neural pathways, are in a constantly evolving process of change through the interplay with everything in our lives. Which means we can literally switch on and off our genetic coding for better or for worse :)
In other words, our genes load the gun but it’s our perception of our environment that pulls the trigger.
EVERYTHING in our lives is impacting and influencing our DNA moment by moment from the nutrition we ingest, the air we breath, the environments we spend time in, the activities we engage in, the people we mix with to the way we approach ourselves, others and the world around us.
Epigenetics declares that we actually have power and control to some degree over our gene expression. It puts the responsibility of our health and happiness back on us, restoring a healthy balance to a historical over-reliance on the medical profession to perform miracles with a little white pill.
With the onus returning to us to some extent we need to start to do the things that we know work, to treat the body in a way that supports our health and wellbeing, to live our lives engaging in things that make us feel uplifted, to nurture the dreams and hopes that we deeply desire, and to back ourselves 100% and trust that WE KNOW what is true and right for us.
As we start to understand that our genes are engaged in this magical dance between what’s happening 'inside' of us and what’s happening 'outside' of us, we recognize that we have the power to talk to every cell in our body, determining the trajectory of our lives.
In my own personal experience of being limited to a darkened room for 3 years, with my mobility reduced to crawling between my bedroom and the toilet some days, this was one of the most profound learnings I was to gain from my wellness journey. It wasn’t until I seriously looked at the way I was living my life, at various levels of my life, that I began the very slow yet incremental journey towards wellness, today now having full flexibility in my body again and thankfully discovering it is possible to live a quality and meaningful life, one that is a true and right fit for me. I know now that the way I had been leading my life prior to becoming chronically ill switched ON the cellular coding for the many complex chronic health conditions I suffered from for years. As I changed my life to accommodate the healing process, I was able to literally switch off this cellular coding and reclaim a quality, meaningful and joy-filled life slowly over time.
And when I say slowly, I mean at a glacially slow pace as oftentimes it would feel like there was no progress of all. Change in our well-being takes time and our job is to create a foundation for our body to self-heal. This requires an in-depth understanding of ourselves at every level our life and committing to making the necessary needlepoint changes in our day to day lives in the spirit of willingness and self-compassion along the way.
And even if it feels like there is sometimes no progress, we need to keep going.
So here are some important questions for those of us who may feel challenged by life in some way...
The power of our questions determine the quality of our answers so today give yourself the gift of a few silent moments to take a breath, be present and reflect on what is working in your life and what is not, and begin to take some micro steps to support the process of change that will ultimately help your body, mind and spirit to heal from the inside out.
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Is it possible that unwanted symptoms, emotions and habits could be faithful messengers batting for our higher growth and enhanced health and wellbeing?
What we tend to do in the West is push the uncomfortable bits of ourselves to the side, pretending they are not there, ignoring and denying them, or medicating them away.
But what if these uncomfortable bits of ourselves were actually saying to us is ‘wake up’ ‘listen’ ‘I need your help’.
As contemporary science and commonsense tell us, our body’s ability to be healthy relies on the harmonious balance of the all facets in our lives. Our symptoms, for example, could be directly related to a toxic relationship or environment, without any conscious awareness on our part. Hence, the importance of awareness.
If we can create a safe space to be with our uncomfortable bits, whether that space be with a trusted confidente, a professional, by journaling, or just learning to sit with and observe ourselves from the stance of a curious objective onlooker, we create an opportunity to connect with and understand ourselves at a deeper level. This opens the door to discover what we may need to course correct in our lives and begins the real journey of health and wholeness in every area of our lives; mind heart body and spirit.
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I invite you to close your eyes for minute and connect with your breath and your body. Allow yourself to drop from you head into your body. Become aware of any sensations and feelings without judgment, instead holding a kind and compassionate space for ALL of who you are in this moment.
Now very gently allow a picture of yourself to come into your minds eye, amidst a typical daily routine..... how you operate from the morning until evening..….Just allow yourself to see yourself in action….…..
Notice how you are feeling as you do what you do throughout your day. Are you happy, light and carefree?….. or are you feeling stressed, overwhelmed and pressured? What is it like to be you?
Notice and take a mental note of how you are feeling on a daily basis, connecting it to the lifestyle that you live, without judgment. And gently yet curiously ask yourself, 'is the way I am living my life sustainable and balanced for me? Does my current lifestyle give me a sense of joy, purpose, connection and contentment?'
As you reflect upon this ask yourself 'do I have enough things in my day that uplift my spirit and energise my body?'
If not, what’s a small change you could make today that could make a difference to your overall sense of wellbeing…...just something seemingly insignificant that could have the potential to create a powerful health-promoting, joy-enhancing ripple effect overtime if done regularly?
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Your life loves movement – physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, creatively and spiritually. Just as our body doesn’t like to feel stuck, nor does our psyche.
We need a sense of hope and purpose, especially in the more difficult times. Regaining our equilibrium when we come up against challenges, requires us to lean into the hard stuff and start to become more consciously aware of why the challenge has arrived. And once we turn the light on, we then need to gently carry out what we know to be true and right for us moving forward.
If you are feeling stuck, get curious, recruit support, and start the process of moving towards greater levels of health and wholeness in the spirit of self-love. Be open to this journey of being fully human in every which way. Don’t shy away from the uncomfortable bits for they are your teachers. Get engaged and immersed in the one and only life you have been assigned which is an enormous yet exciting mystery busting to unfold your potential every moment of everyday simply through the conscious choices you make moment by moment.
And trust that it’s actually those uncomfortable grueling bits in our lives that tend to break us open to possibilities and our potential.
If it feels a bit too scary to lean in, remember love melts fear. Bring your warmth and kindness to any area of your life that scares you and let it melt and dissolve the fear away. What may appear scary on the surface will likely hold the key to improved health and wholeness.
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I was largely unaware of the importance of my emotional self until I got really unwell a decade ago. It wasn’t until I came face to face with myself in a darkened room for many years that I had to get curious about what had pushed my body so far out of balance! And suppression of emotions, I discovered, was one of the contributing factors!
Growing up I had been taught to disconnect from my body and my emotions. So learning to understand my emotional self was an integral part of my wellness journey. And I continue to use these learned skills in my current everyday experience to keep my physical vessel healthy and well :-)
It became clear to me through my healing journey that healthy navigation through our emotional landscape keeps our physical vessel clear and healthy.
Healthy expression of our emotions clears and releases the old, allowing space for the new to come in. Sometimes that process (such as the process of grief, loss and trauma) can take time so please be patient and kind with yourself if you know you are dealing with some sort of loss or trauma in your life.
One interesting thing I learned from my own emotions is that in my case ‘anger is often sad’s bodyguard’. If I feel anger, I ensure I take time to process at my next convenient moment.
If I don't process the anger, I can sense a discomfort simmering in the background affecting my perception, mood, behaviour, choices and physical symptoms.
As I express my anger through journaling (my preferred creative expression) I often begin to feel sadness over an injustice, wrongdoing, a violation of my standards or perhaps even someone trespassing my boundaries. My surface emotion of anger has led me to my deeper emotion of sadness giving me clear messages that I would have otherwise missed.
Anger leads me to blame others but sadness healthily leads me to actions to take care of myself moving forward. You can feel a tangible physical healing shift in yourself as you make sense of why you feel as you do and what to do next.
Processing emotions is not an intellectual pursuit but more of a matter of the heart. Many of us are not taught to express our emotions healthily, let alone understand that they could hold the very wisdom we need to lead us to our next steps in life :-)
So instead of shying away from scary or uncomfortable emotions, I encourage you to get curious about what messages your emotions may hold for you.
We all have our individual preferences in how we process our emotions and our preferred creative outlet can be a excellent way to support emotional expression. Creativity is a brilliant vessel for allowing the energy of our emotions to flow, release and transform. We can connect with our feelings through our breath, slowing down and connecting with our body, creating, meditating, mindfulness practices, writing, drawing, or talking it out with a safe person. Just the simple act of taking space everyday to check in with yourself can be the first step in acknowledging this very important side of yourself.
By the way, no emotion is negative. Emotions can be instead regarded to be 'action signals' to our next steps and the sooner we can acknowledge and allow them their expression, the clearer we become as a whole person, mind, heart, body and soul.
If your emotions are on-goingly overwhelming and difficult to cope with, please do not hesitate to reach out for professional support. Professional support offers you the opportunity to learn skills to interpret and manage your emotions so you are able to healthily navigate yourself moving forward.
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The word “trauma” originates from the Greek word traumatica, which means wound. And that is exactly what it is – it is a wound; unseen, invisible, yet painful to touch. Even when we feel like it has healed over we can be retriggered, taking our physical body straight back to that traumatic moment of time, feeling powerless and helpless all over again.
Feeling the echoes of past trauma feels like a raw pure overwhelming full-blown stress response in the body as opposed to being more of a head-driven anxiety. When retriggered, it bypasses the thinking part of the brain, and the body re-experiences the trauma as though it is happening all over again in the here and now. It can leave us feeling dazed and confused as to why we are feeling this way, almost like we are lost in a forest with no beaten path to follow, no guidelines to find our way through and out to the other side.
It is scary but what is scary needs to be faced. It is only then that we can truly start to heal our wounds.
The power of trauma is far-reaching. Its narrows our awareness, squews our perception of events and people, and if not properly treated strangulates the natural evolutionary growth of our potential as a human being. What gets repressed becomes stress, hence the very clear correlation in research between childhood trauma and health issues in later life.
To course correct the trauma trance we need to have awareness; an understanding that overwhelming raw pure unruly uncontrollable emotions arriving out of nowhere are there for a reason.
Its like the circuitry in our human organism is shattered and fragmented. And only WE can help this circuitry to rewire in a strong and healthy way.
Remembering that trauma is an ailment based in isolation, it naturally draws us into a disconnective process due to shame and overwhelm. The antidote therefore is to connect with a professional and good support systems to help see ourselves back onto solid ground.
Engage in activities that help you to feel grounded and safe, making space for and acknowledging your feelings as they come up; letting feelings flow through you rather than fighting, resisting or ignoring them. Take exceptionally good care of your health – diet, movement, relaxation and sleep. These factors will all contribute to a strong and healthy rewiring of the affected circuitry in your body.
Our mind and body are like our guardians. They are here to protect us. When we have been heartbroken for example they take on the role of guardsmen at the gateway of our hearts, checking rigorously the intentions and motives of any future potential suitors. When we make a normal mistake in the process of learning, mind and body ensure you never do it again by drilling you on the consequences. And when we experience trauma in our life, these guardians can transport us outside of our body, relocating us to what it believes to be a safe place away from the pain, the hurt and the betrayal.
Our mind does not forget, nor does the body. It contracts when it is hurt and just when it starts to soften and unfurl, if it is reminded of a past hurt, it tightens again and withdraws, becoming numb or lashing out. This signifies the importance of processing trauma.
Your body deserves to heard, your experience deserves to be heard, you deserve to be heard.
Through the healing proces, and with the help of caring support, you will be able to safely express and unpack the heavy load carried in your heart. What seems impossibly scary and foreboding, what you regard to be your weakness, your raw spot and your shame, can transform from what feels like a prison cell to a liberation of your senses as you emerge stronger, healthier, energized and radiant, sharing your beauty and gifts with all those who wish to behold them.
We are cradled in the West by a ‘pill for the ill’ mentality. We expect that a prescription from the experts will be the cure-all remedy. For those of us dealing with ongoing health and life challenges, who have already trod the offices of dozens of practitioners and constantly searching and striving to find the magic pill, we tend to find ourselves on a treadmill of perpetual disappointment.
If this commonplace approach is failing us perhaps we are being beckoned to take a different approach?
Perhaps we are being invited to delve deeper into a more expansive mode of inquiry whereby we learn to let go, and occupy and navigate the unfamiliar territory of what we call the unconscious, the birthplace of our innate wisdom.
To orient you with this territory I invite you to drop your shoulders, slow your breath, and gently unfurl your mind, heart and spirit.
Because due to our conditioning we tend to contract, force and push to find the solutions to our problems.
When we have spent our life conditioned by culture, receiving the marching orders from our unquestioned beliefs and conditioning, could it be possible that our life issues may in fact be slowing us down to reflect, ponder, wonder, let go, explore, think possibilities, and trust what we inherently know to be true and right for us beyond the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘shouldn’ts’ of our conditioning.
Even the late great physicist and mathematician, Albert Einstein, relied heavily on what he referred to as intuition as he felt his way to new ideas and insights. He states that he never made any one of his great discoveries through the process of rational thinking but instead ‘a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will and the solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why’.
This indicates a different way of approaching our challenges. It suggests that by releasing control we may in fact be preparing the turf for a creative response from our whole self: mind, heart, body and spirit.
There is enormous untapped potential that lies within each and everyone of us. Health and life issues, which we have no obvious practical solutions for, invite us to knock on the door of possibilities that lie beneath the black and white, rational thinking processes. Instead of focusing intently on a question to find the answer, what if we lived the question and became the answer, taking those small steps that we know in our heart of hearts to be the right action for us in the here and now?
When we can finally let go of what we think we should be doing, and lean into our current experience, without judgment or fight, fully embracing all of who we are in this moment, connecting with our body, our breath and our experience of life in the here and now, what is it that we feel called to do next? What 'next step' would help heal in this moment which will ultimately nourish the direction of our future?
Let your mind wander, don’t force, push, contract or narrow your perception down but instead expand, get curious, and be open to the realm of remarkable wisdom that lies within you.
Your life is calling you to become all of who you were meant to be;
our body, the messenger;
our life, the canvas;
our connections, our lifeline.
Trust your life. Your life is your medicine.
Ph. 021 027 18127
Kira Follas is a qualified counsellor and works as Wellness Practitioner and Group Facilitator in New Zealand. She is also a survivor and thriver of multiple physical and mental-emotional adversities and is a Mum to two awesome teenage lads :)