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By heatherferreiracole, Oct 9 2016 02:42PM

Our relationship with others is a difficult thing, and we set up our interactions usually from quite a vulnerable and helpless spot as children. We start within the family unit in a powerless position with our parents, who in an ideal world recognise our situation and are attentive, kind, loving and demonstrative of good boundaries with us and others.

We then live together in tight proximity to our siblings, we haven't chosen them but hopefully our personalities complement each other and we are treated with loving kindness and space to be ourselves. With good fortune we make a genuine friendship with another child or two along the way which may grant us some respite, but otherwise we are generally rife for setting up unhealthy behaviours in our relationships with others in order to merely get through our day.

These behaviours may be necessary for our survival in childhood, they may allow us the skills not only to withstand our situation but to come through it and still have enough energy within us to greet the outside world. Phew. So we have arrived. We are finally in a position to choose. We can choose our friends, we can choose our partners, we can choose, to a certain extent, our surroundings.

So what happens? Why when we have the power of choice do we sprint down the same rabbit holes over and over again and how on earth do we stop that?

The adapted self is the self that was altered in order to survive, sadly we ususally have no idea that we have created a mask, a false self - whatever you want to name it.

Let's imagine you have a house with a lovely picket fence outside. It is a sweet house, full of the beauty and variety of life. But somehow along the journey your little house became 'unworthy', 'not good enough'. Maybe some children threw a few stones at it and said it was small and ugly until you started seeing it through their eyes. Maybe your parents felt that you should really be living in a bigger house, more suitable with better views, more like your siblings/neighbours/friends. Wow you really were delivered a rubbish else seems to have such big problems with their houses.

As you wander out into the world you imagine your friend, boss or partner coming round and you are ashamed. You ruminate on what they might think about your normal and boring living space and decide that they would also see the bits of the house that you hate and hate it too.

Thankfully as you look out of your window you see just past your front gate, a lovely piece of grassland. That's it! That would make your house look much bigger, luscious, and generally more appealing. Nobody seems to own it so you claim it as yours, buying into all of your own justifications of why that is a perfectly acceptable thing to do, even though something uneasy floats around in your belly. It is not your land afterall. Ignoring that voice entirely you decide to build a bigger, grander fence a little further out from your original fence with a big gleaming gate. Hmmm that looks better.

Within the new grounds you spend all your money and energy on hiring a mini circus, a fanfare, a running track, waiters and servants, you plant exotic flowers that may be hard to keep alive because of the climate, BUT with lots of effort they seem to stay alive AND they look great! Way better than 'normal and boring' daisies and daffodils that grow naturally there every year.

Phew, you are ready for your guests! They are going to love it and to your utter delight they do love it and they keep coming round all the time because they love it so much. It is so entertaining, so exotic, so easy with all the servants arounds. And as you stand on your uneven steps of your house you shout to your friends “It's lovely to see you! Thanks for coming!”. For reasons beyond your comprehension (and maybe it is because you didn't quite go through the correct channels when claiming the grassland as yours) you can't seem to stand in the grassland that they are standing on because it is not yours, you cannot fully mingle with them because they aren't actually at your house or even in your grounds, they are just outside, somewhere that you have claimed is yours but actually isn't.

You watch as they laugh and enjoy themselves, and you start to feel anxious. Your friends, your work, your partner seem to really like the circus, and the exotic flowers, they would never like the daffodils or the quietness of your real garden, and their laughter feels like proof. You imagine them coming into your real garden and their distaste for its plainness. It is better they stay out there, you decide, even if it is costing me in time, effort, money and health to keep it all going.

But as the exhaustion starts to set in, you find yourself feeling quite low, you feel like they only love you for the circus and the servants and if all that went away you would have nothing left. You feel unseen, invisible. You feel like you are an act, that you are not real in some way and maybe every now and then you find yourself getting cross at them, coming here, enjoying everything you are putting on but not actually caring about you. When was the last time they asked if you needed a servant, a fanfare, to have the time and space to go and watch a circus performance. When was the last time they really cared about you. The weeds of anxiety in your own garden slowly start making space for new weeds of depression.

During this big party occasionally a person would be curious enough to knock on the picket fence gate and ask if they could come in to your inner garden. But the thought of the disappointment on their face is unbearable, so you pretend they are not knocking at all and you tell them that they are inside already and there is nothing more to see because you are too scared, too scared to let them in, to let them see the 'normalness' of you.

You eventually tire of the circus you have created and you go into your house and you sit in the darkness, lost. You've lost your connection, you've lost your purpose, you don't get anxious anymore, you've gone past that amount of caring. Every day seems grey so you sit, getting your breakfast each morning as if in groundhog day.

The fanfare is still going on but you can't even feel it or get any joy from it like you used to and you aren't even sure if you know who is out there anymore. Does it even matter? You have somehow moved into your own personal soundproof prison. Just you. Lonely old you. You have forgotten what it even sounds like to hear a knock on the gate anymore and you don't even care if someone were to knock. You feel nothing. You have become numb.

Then one day a box miraculously falls off the shelf and a golden ball from your childhood rolls out of the box and lands at your feet. You pick up the ball and as you look into it you remember a distant feeling of who you used to be before all this started. And as if by fate you hear a knocking at the gate that very same day, you walk out into your garden noticing your bones creak with your movements, how did you suddenly get so old? How much time have you spent feeling numb? As you look up you notice for the first time that the fanfare is long gone, leaving the ghostly remnants of 'the good old days'. Even they left you tell yourself.

But standing at the gate you notice another human being asking to come in and with the thoughts of childhood curiosity and courage at the forefront of your mind you unlock the latch and let them step inside.

Something feels different with this person, when you talk it feels real. Maybe you've just matured over the years, but something is nagging you saying that it is more than that, they understand you. There is no judgement there are just two human beings talking, being real, speaking from the depths of their soul, accepting. Then one day you laugh, you truly laugh, from the depth of your being. Not a shrill, false or mean laugh, but a full bodied all encompassing laugh, they way you used to. What was that? Joy? Happiness?

But in that moment it doesn't matter what it was, you have found a key and with great courage you let the next person in who knocks at the door and with each visit you find yourself looking at your house differently. You hadn't realised how cute and yet supremely useful the broom cupboard was and how it nestled so neatly under the stairs. You feel fortunate but with a deep sense of gratitude this time, an embodied sense of gratitude for each aspect of your house. You no longer feel too ashamed to let people see your house now and as time passes you feel ready to paint it, to tidy it, to take care of your house. You have somehow arrived home at last, after all these years.

This story is an example of the adapted self. The self that wants to be loved, wants to be accepted but through the belief that they couldn't possibly be, they set up defences around them that make that love impossible. The people at the fanfare had no idea they weren't connecting to the real person, they simply thought that was the truth. The only person who was aware of the disconnect was the same person who built the fences to keep them out.

Being seen takes great courage. I wish you great courage.

By heatherferreiracole, Sep 15 2015 11:14AM

It appears that society has been cruel on parents over the years, and parents can be stuck with a great deal of shame for a child not acting the way we would like them to in certain situations. From the shy child who doesn’t want to say hello/goodbye to the important visitor, to the child who is having the most enormous tantrum in the supermarket, there seems to be a parental shame of not being able to take out into society the picture perfect family.

And the hilarity of it is that the picture perfect family simply does not exist, and yet the large majority of us voluntarily buy into that image somehow, perhaps wondering when it is going to be our turn.

How did that happen?

The media may have set up the perfect family as an ideal but it is up to us whether we choose to buy into that ideal or whether we choose to sack that off and start living and supporting each other in the reality that we are all standing in.

We need to stop collectively busting our tennis balls to try and make something that doesn’t exist into a reality. All this does is encourage us to fake it so we end up showing the world a smiling, bright, happy face that reflects very little of what we are feeling inside and this, as a side effect, wrecks havoc on our children, who are distracted into anything but the disaster of publicly showing any negative feelings at all.

We cannot ask a child to ignore the vast array of human emotions inside of them, especially when we ask more of them than we ask of ourselves on most given days. Think about how much of a difference a change of boss has on our working lives and yet each year a child has to contend with a new class teacher. A new boss – every year. Sometimes they will get lucky, sometimes their year will be awful and they will be relying on every coping mechanism they can get their hands on.

Imagine having a challenging boss, a pain in the backside colleague at work and your project has just not worked the way you wanted it to. Later that day whilst in the park you drop your i-phone and it crashes to the floor, smashing into little pieces. It is the last straw and you are feeling at the end of what you can cope with and as you look up at the people around you for support, you notice how some of them have started urging you to quickly look at the airplane in the sky or the pretty bird in the tree, others are shoving chocolate in your hands or promising you ice-cream to make you feel better and others are simply telling you “never mind (i.e. it isn’t that big a deal), stop crying now” before they start another conversation.

Then imagine that you have very little capacity to comprehend everything that is going on within you and are just left with the need to scream at the adult who isn’t realising the enormity of your “temporary life crash” and who just wants you to stop because it is inconvenient/embarrassing/not the projection of the ideal that they would like to see.

When we tell a child to stop crying inevitably in those moments like it or not we are giving them the message; “your negative feelings are not ok and I don’t want to see them.” This leads to low self-esteem, I am not worthy of love unless I show the world I am happy.

When we choose to distract our child (look at the airplane) with everything but their feelings we are teaching them “when feeling any negative feelings you can use your head to distract/disconnect you from your feelings”. Anxiety, compulsive disorders and addictions are based on this coping mechanism.

When we feed our children to make them feel better when they are feeling intense emotions we are teaching them “eating food will make you feel better when you experience uncomfortable emotions”. Unhealthy relationships with food are usually the result of this one.

People sometimes think that to allow a child to wallow in their feelings is to indulge them unnecessarily, but I see it differently. I see that we learn everything through practice and learning about our feelings is no different. As parents we are teaching our children ways to cope in life that allow them to live in reality as whole people who do not have to sacrifice the parts of them that are "socially unacceptable". We can support them, guide them and walk them through with the acceptance that sometimes life is hard but we can slow down and find a way through that accepts all of our emotions in the process.

By heatherferreiracole, Feb 21 2015 09:10AM

When I was little I went on a camping trip with my family, whilst I was there I befriended two little spiders. One particular day I was letting my new found pets run over my face (as you do) when I felt a tickle around my nose and one of the spiders disappeared. Panicking I ran to my Dad and told him that I thought a spider had gone up my nose and disappeared. My Dad, being my Dad, replied that he hoped it wasn’t a flesh-eating or brain-eating spider as they slowly eat away at you until you die...

Now you might think that that would be enough to give any child a phobia but this was my Dad and it was a standard retort to most questions. Let’s just say that if I’d got a phobia for every story he related to me like this one, I’d now be happily tucked up in an institution somewhere.

I believe that this was a moment in my life where I was ripe for the entrance of a phobia. As strange as that sounds I had reached a point where my system was maxed out with unacknowledged fears and unprocessed pain. I needed desperately to put all of these emotions somewhere, give them a name and find them an external home. So I created a basket in my subconscious called spiders and I flung everything in there that was uncomfortable, everything I was unable to look at due to emotional immaturity or simply because I was incapable of processing or dealing with it around that time. Life became infinitely easier. The basket was a safe haven for me to keep adding my fears and as the phobia had only started with a mere shudder at the sight of a spider it seemed quite a good payoff. I just had to keep away from garden sheds, cellars and lofts.

Unfortunately, the problem with creating a phobia basket like that is that

1. It is very hard to work out what went into the phobia basket in the first place, so it can be tricky to uninstall.

2.Becuase it was originally built as a temporary coping mechanism, the fear tends to get more out of control with age.

3. Nothing can be put into the subconscious without a subsequent external effect of that ilk.

So when I was 18 I went to hospital to have my wisdom teeth out. I was in the garden one-day chatting to a lady in a wheelchair and she told me a spider had bitten her and they just hadn't been able to stop the eroding flesh in time to guarantee she would ever walk again......

When I was 26 a friend of mine was in a London taxi and happened to be bitten by a spider and we watched as her flesh just slowly dissolved over a 5-week period.

I know these things happen, but what I am trying to get across is that somehow my phobia basket was leaking out into a very real external world. Why me?! When that just happened to be my phobia?! I had no idea that that was exactly the point. This was the interest payment for the loan of sanity.

My relationship with spiders was now pretty out of control, when pushed I could cry from the sheer overwhelm of the panic at being in the same room as a spider. It didn't however stop me from going travelling through Asia and to be fair the repeated exposure to enormous spiders forced me to face a lot of those fears, but 6 months to a year after coming back I was back where I started.

Alongside this external fear came the internal fear of recurring nightmares where I was stuck in a room full of large spiders. These nightmares tended only to arise during points of change or transition in my life where I was awash with unknowns.

Nowadays I consciously work on my internal world of feelings, as I believe a cleared system is a peaceful one. In my work on myself I have managed to downgrade spiders from a phobia to a preference.

So I was lying in bed the other day musing on an irrational belief I have become aware of lately and I delved down inside myself to find the root of that belief. Feelings of vulnerability, helplessness and injustice washed over me from when I was very young. And as they came up I found myself getting distracted about the thought of someone once telling me that spiders often crawl over your face at night whilst you sleep. Was there a spider in my bed? What was that moving on the wall? I started to become itchy and was in dire need to turn the light on to check the room, but knowing myself better now I recognized it as coming from my mind and instead I drifted off to sleep..........and fell into a nightmare about spiders instead.

I believe that this is my subconscious saying that I am delving into the basket and it isn’t a safe place to go. It is like a firewall that keeps my fears safely hidden, anytime I approach the basket, which is full of my unprocessed emotions (mainly from childhood), I have to face the firewall of self-created fears which is protecting my access to the true fears underneath. My subconscious doesn't know that it is now safe to face them and so it is still running the same old program I unconsciously set up many years ago.

Spiders are spiders and the irony is that it isn’t about spiders at all but actually about the firewall of my imagination created specifically to protect me from myself - which is really rather clever when you think about it. It provides me with a horrific and all consuming distraction from the real issues at hand that can take me off into a whole different direction from what I really need to be looking at. It is incredibly effective.

So next time your phobia or fears raise their head in your mind, your nightmares or in your external world, ask yourself why. What fearful feeling is your subconscious trying to steer your away from? What is so powerful in your life right now that your have banged up against the firewall?

You see when you get the hang of it, you can actually start to appreciate the presence of your fabricated fears and phobias because it means that you are on the edge of breaking down the barriers of your real and underlying limitations that keep you living a restricted life. It is, in fact, only when the phobia presents itself that you are on the precipice of really clearing the way to fulfilling your true potential.

By heatherferreiracole, Oct 8 2014 04:20PM

The world is full of strange and wonderful people, people who not only look and think differently to us, but view life differently as well. In some ways I think we often don’t appreciate how beautiful our differences are. Can you imagine walking out the door and only ever seeing sunflowers? They would certainly be pretty and we would probably still consider the world a beautiful place but imagine how much variety we would miss out on, how many colours we wouldn’t see, how many fragrances wouldn’t exist.

It can sometimes feel threatening to meet someone who holds very different views or forms of behaviour to the ones we do. The reason for that can often come down to our map of the world that we created as we were growing up. A map that holds preciously within it our feelings of self-worth, our expectations of the way life should be, our belief systems and primarily our feelings of safety and predictability within the world.

So when we meet someone who stands in front of us blatantly and recklessly showing that there is a different way of being, or living, it can feel so unstable that we instantly move into a defensive position “I don’t really like that person”, “Who do they think they are?” “Did you see the way they did that?” which is all a version of “Move away from my map! I like it and I am not going to change it!”

You see when we get too stuck in our ways, we use control to try and keep life safe, stable and as predictable as possible because it allows us to believe that we can escape unpleasant feelings such as fear or pain. But it sadly also gives us a false sense of well being because control just tends to stifle and stagnate the very heart of what life is about, constant change and movement.

So although we have our safety and our security, the very essence of life is missing, and our need for control, for order, for predictability and for the known to stay the known whatever the cost takes over us like some auto-immune system defect. Life gets narrower and narrower until change is banging on the door screaming to come in and we are backed against the wall of our self-created map terrified of what might be out there to be experienced, to be lived, because we have simply lost the courage to keep building and adjusting our map, to accept and allow the new without feeling threatened by it.

I read somewhere once that unless you are doing something – no matter how small - that stretches you every day then you are not truly embracing your potential to live. That is stretching in the sense of facing feelings of discomfort or fear that often prevent us from being brave enough to walk to the edges of our map and see where a new road might take us. Or it can even be allowing that road to exist within our map but standing in our choice not to take it but for it to be ok that it is there - It doesn’t threaten me, but I am comfortable in my choice not to live that way and I don’t need to throw venom at you in order to achieve that level of comfort.

I actually think that it is an incredible gift to be so open minded that nobody threatens you. If I were to imagine a world where everyone was in-line with everything I stood for and found important it would be such a dull world. There would be no room for creativity, expression or vitality, in any other form than in the one I appear in. Beauty would be severely limited to my imagination as would ugliness, and tragically there would be no way to learn another way of being. Nobody would disagree with me and nobody would enhance my view of the world and therefore there would be no room for expansion in that sense.

So I guess I am asking ‘Who expands you?’ What weird and wonderful person did you meet today that made your line of thinking change, even if just by a little bit. What encounter did you have or conversation that made you view the world differently, if just for a fraction of a second.

You see I don’t believe we have to be Mother Teresa to be able to look at the world’s differences without getting threatened by them. Quite simply when we are threatened we raise our defenses and that makes us closed to the world and what it has to offer us in terms of learning, variety and abundance. As a result of being closed we cannot help but react to life rather than choosing how we wish to behave in any given moment. So we are constantly in fear, walking through life on a back foot, dreading what might walk around the corner.

With openness and a sense of self that isn’t threatened by others we could in fact reach every river bend with an excitement for the new, thereby appreciating every new flower, fragrance and colour for what it is, simply a different expression of the universe that if allowed might actually enhance our world from the inside out.

By heatherferreiracole, Sep 19 2014 08:50AM

I have been finding it increasingly interesting lately how we relate to our own bodies. I don’t think I am alone in expecting my body to keep up with my decisions and my actions. The punishing routines I have put my body through - not in terms of exercise - but in terms of hangovers, caffeine overdoses, smoking, night after night of incredibly small amounts of sleep, high tension due to prolonged stressful situations and yet the first sign of illness or bodily pain and I grumble “I don’t have time for this! Not again!” Because for some reason I have this expectation that my body is there to serve me. It should be able to cope with my every beck and call.

The only time I felt that my body was calling the shots was when I was pregnant and I was literally taken over by my body’s needs. My body was in control for what felt like the first time in my life and I felt what my body potentially feels every single non-pregnant day of my life – helpless and neglected.

So my relationship with my body isn’t one of harmony. It is either/or, the extreme ends of the spectrum. It is clearly not based on respect but rather on abuse that demands compliance.

Weight issues are a can of worms in therapy as it is very rarely a matter of ‘just’ controlling your food in-take. Our body image is another way into our psyches, another way of viewing our relationship with ourselves. The main problem with excess weight is that it feels like it is visible to the whole world, you are wearing your 'problem' on the outside of yourself. It isn’t like other issues which can be hidden away, this is the one that you parade around in every day of your life, the one that makes you avoid looking in the mirror, the one that causes you to eat more because, quite frankly, what is the point? You are just never going to be that person.

And I wonder if it is enough to say that we are nutritionally ignorant or lazy in this day and age when we know the ins and outs of the workings of the latest gadgets and yet we still can’t quite reach into what makes our own bodies thrive. Can it really be that simple that we can’t be bothered? Or is it potentially masking a form of self-hatred? An underlying feeling that you weren’t worth caring about at one point in your life, which at some deep level is potentially too difficult to face in the present day.

If this feels a little too out there as a theory then maybe just experiment, stand in front of the mirror naked and then listen to the words that come to your mind. Are they kind and compassionate? Or are they critical and judgmental? You see, I wonder if we are in avoidance of the true issue and that maybe, just maybe we literally feed that self-hatred in order to keep it suppressed, to keep those feelings at bay so you can go on ‘enjoying life’. Does the simple psychological origin of lack manifest into the physically tangible opposite?

Society today appears to be obsessed with our exteriors, who looks great and how do they look great. How many creams, gels, waxes etc. can you invest in to help in that direction to making your externals all the more appealing to whoever might be watching. But if you really look at someone, very often the most beautiful part of a person lies in the kindness in their eyes or the freshness of their skin, the sound of their laughter when something really tickles them or quite simply their ability to be completely present in the moment that they are with you. If only we really saw beauty from this point of view we would then be helping each other fill the void. Unfortunately instead we tend to try and treat the inner psychology of lack with more lack through diets, control and general daily misery as we battle with our willpower over our own cries for love.

How many times do we take time out to love the body we have been living with for all of our lives, the body that is uniquely ours? And so what if we were to reverse the position and treat our bodies like we would a great friend who had just returned from a long trip away? Almost everyone has noticed how delighted babies are when they first find their hands and their feet. We don’t need to squeal every time we get out of bed, however we could spend a moment of appreciation for our muscles, our skin, our feet, our toes and see the beauty and the miracle in their existence as we walk with them through life as our closest companion, our best friends – warts and all. We could listen to our bodies and really try and hear what they are trying to tell us because each part of us plays a vital role in keeping us safe and nurtured on a daily basis. Maybe just simply stopping and taking time to be grateful for our bodies would mean we could grow to love them and therefore as an amazing by product we could then love ourselves just that little bit more.

By heatherferreiracole, Aug 21 2014 03:45PM

There is an exercise that you can do where you sit, relax and then start writing with your non-dominant hand all the characteristics that you believe you possess. At the beginning you will find that you are listing them in your head but after a few minutes it is amazing what spontaneously springs out onto the page. So I was sitting doing this exercise one day and I had started very nicely with my “kind, considerate…etc. etc.” and as I relaxed off I got into the less “positive” aspects of myself, most of which I knew, but there was one particular word which completely sidelined me, so much so that if someone else had been in the room I would have said they had surely written it because it certainly couldn’t have come from me!

The very simple and innocent word was ‘pleasing’.

Pleasing?? Pleasing?! Are you kidding me? What was I? Some kind of 1950s housewife? An Ornament? A member of a Harem?

My girl-power aspect was in uproar, my independent woman was outraged! You might as well have started banding around submissive, powerless, helpless…Grrrrr.

Pleasing, pleasing, pleasing, no matter how many times I said it, there was nothing in my world that was positive about being pleasing. A full-blown war had erupted inside myself; "Eject the pleasing aspect immediately!" A rage fueled by me - against me, yes I see the irony. But when I feel utter indignation about something I have a tendency to be temporarily less than rational about how I react! However I am aware enough to realize that to have such a reaction to a simple word usually means that maybe, just maybe, something to do with that word is way out of balance in your system and that the denial glasses are starting to defog.

There is always a reason why you originally chose to put an aspect of behaviour in place, and then there is usually a secondary reason, if you can find the secondary reason – the hidden benefits – and take responsibility for those, then you can start to release the behaviour. Usually, the behaviour will be the manipulation that you can’t see in order to get the hidden benefits you want. And usually the denial glasses will start to defog when the hidden benefits no longer outweigh the sacrifices you have to endure through actioning the behaviour of choice.

For me personally I had decided one day very early on in my life that by pleasing others I could in fact have a much simpler, pain freer life. When we are born our needs and survival are dependent solely on the person looking after us. We are not born able to feed ourselves or even move away from danger if it approaches; we are the ultimate depiction of vulnerability, unable to meet any one of our needs without the help of someone who we have absolutely no control over. It takes the human being years before we are able to fend for ourselves, we are incredibly complex beings and one of our strongest gifts in our survival of difficult situations is our mind. The problem with that is that before we can consciously choose how we live, we have already subconsciously set up a myriad of ways of relating to others that has served us in our quest for survival. The games we play can take numerous forms but my game of choice was to simply put myself on a back burner to please those “in charge”, and if I could be pleasing enough then I would not only survive but maybe thrive.

However as I looked within myself into pleasing I saw the self-hatred that sat in that aspect of myself. In order to be pleasing, how much of myself had I chosen to give up? How much self-sacrifice had I voluntarily submitted to day after day? To put myself behind everyone else, to look after them first and me – some other day that never seemed to come round, because I never made it come round. No wonder I hated myself.

When you do inner child work it can be interesting to see that you still have a part of you that is a small child that needs to be looked after. I look at my daughters who are probably around the age I imagine my inner child to be, and I look at who they are and what they fight for and if I gave them the same amount of “later, another time, that’s ok I’m sure we’ll do it another day” that I gave to myself, then the temper tantrums I would be getting back would be huge.

But the key to “anti-pleasing” isn’t about not caring what anyone thinks, because very often that can actually be coming from a place of subconsciously proving how deserving you are of rejection/abandonment/isolation or low self-esteem. The idea is to love yourself so much that you put yourself in front of the need to be seen, liked, loved or approved of and that you are ultimately willing to put yourself out in the world like that. And it is an incredibly hard thing for a person to achieve because it requires the Truth to be present in everything we do and say.

But unfortunately that is not the only step, it is not just about being brave enough not to care – or more accurately changing our perspective from focusing on other people’s happiness to focusing on our own - but it is also about stepping into taking full responsibility for our Truth and losing all our grapplings around expectations and control and letting go of the future and allowing the world to adjust accordingly. Quite simply the Truth will never be able to shine through when we are embroiled in our fear of the consequences. But the rewards for your courage in themselves are great, because when you are on the path of Truth, of living life openly, honestly and authentically, then you are walking into a self-fulfilling prophecy where you are working for you in every way and life is reflecting that right back at you.

By heatherferreiracole, Jul 27 2014 08:52AM

I’ve spent my life thinking that people should be able to read my mind/my thoughts and my feelings, and when they don’t I’ve tended to feel confused and frustrated. My belief in mind reading came from a very simple place of truly not realizing that everybody else really doesn’t experience life the same way as I do. One event can spark off a thousand reactions and thought processes that are completely unique to a person’s perspective. Therefore my view on life can be nothing less than totally unique; like the concept of the snowflake that falls and looks to the outsider like the exact replica of it’s counterparts and yet is totally unique, a pattern of it’s own, never to be repeated or found again at that moment in time.

Often people ask me how introspection is going to help and I say that changing one simple belief or thought process can alter your whole world. I’m not good enough, to I am enough, is mind-bendingly altering. Everyone hates me to I am loved is monumental.

So this particular discovery was one of those moments for me; everyone is the same as me to nobody is the same as me. Yes, it is true that some people are more on my wavelength but nobody can come from exactly the same angle as me and therefore nobody in the world is me. It is impossible. And that is what makes us all unique and all incredibly special.

When you realize how unique you are as an individual you can no longer assume that others know what you are thinking or where you are coming from or how you are feeling. You are the only person who knows that, and everyone else can say they understand or that they feel/once felt exactly the same way as you, but that is impossible. They may well be able to empathise because they know roughly the way it feels to be in that position but they will never truly know. And therefore they can never judge you or sum you up in any way shape or form, because the only way they can do that is through their own unique perspective of the world.

So the next time someone offers to tell you what they think you should do or what a person’s character is like, you can be sure that the viewpoint comes only from their unique perspective of the world and that the person they describe will not be the same person that you experience when you communicate with them through your perspective.

But this realization that you are unique also allows you to drop into a deeper level of communication with others. Because not only do you realize that nobody really knows you, you also realize that you probably don’t really know anyone either. Which means that if you really want to know a person or for a person to know you, you are going to have to communicate at a much deeper level with not only them but yourself too.

So every time you sit there feeling misunderstood, unloved and uncared for, you can know that you may well be sitting in the world of assumed mind reading. Communication, in whatever form, is the only way of connecting with another individual. It is the only way of offering out a branch to someone to get to know who you are. So if you want to up your connection to someone, you need to deepen your communication with him or her, and that means deepening your connection to yourself. You see, if you are unique and nobody is made up exactly like you are, that means that nobody can speak for you, nobody can decide for you, nobody can govern you and nobody can tell you what to do and crucially nobody can make you feel better/live a more fulfilling life/love more etc.

You are your own government, your own authority, only you can know who you truly are, and only you have the ability to communicate that knowledge out to the rest of the world. And without forgetting the absolute critical ingredients of kindness and compassion, we can all be free to be our own unique snowflake, shining our beauty and our uniqueness out to the world as we make that short journey from oneness (the cloud) through the experience of life and back to oneness again (the water).

By heatherferreiracole, Jun 30 2014 07:48PM

More often than not, when I get stuck with something it means I am coming at it from the wrong angle and I need a complete change of perspective. Take ‘Being’ for example. They say that you need to stop living in the future and stop living in the past and just ‘be’ in the moment, in the present. It sounds so easy! But wow, sometimes I find that the simplest things are by far the hardest to undertake.

But where I tend to go wrong, generally, is looking at what I need to stop rather than concentrating on what is already in my hand. In this case I had to stop thinking about the future, stop thinking about the past and then I would be in the present moment. Stop, stop, stop and then…the problem was that I ended up looking more like a frozen statue rather than anywhere remotely nearer to spiritual peace/bliss/oneness.

I realized that the reason I wasn’t ‘being’, and living in the present moment was because I was disconnected from really feeling ‘the moment’. Now, that may have been through a fear of feeling anything at all or perhaps ignorance but whatever it was I wasn’t there. There was a defense mechanism that was stopping me from being there - voluntarily chosen by myself at some point in my life, I might add, as the preferred/safest method of surviving life.

A detached form of living had it’s benefits because you somehow feel that you won’t get as hurt that way, life won’t be as painful. But that is a fallacy, instead of intense pain that passes through, you tend to sit in permanent emptiness, which is intensely painful when you allow yourself to admit that that is where you got to. You also miss out on the amazing things too, the world can be a beautiful place after all and it would be such a shame to live in the grey lands of non-feeling.

I was watching a concert last night and the musicians were phenomenal and as I watched them I was astounded at how connected they were to not only the music around them but to the music they were creating as well. The guitarists hardly moved but all their creativity was channeled into their fingers, which were working overtime to make the beautiful music I was hearing. They were fully connected in that moment.

I often feel very English when it comes to expressing myself. And it takes me to be in a room full of Brazilians to make me realize sometimes just how ‘English’ I am still. Music often really speaks to me but when I try to move my body in a way that feels good, it looks incredibly different from what I imagined it would. When I sing, I sing to my hearts content but if I were to play it back it doesn’t sound quite what it felt like when I was letting it loose. When I paint, it feels really good to squidge the colours out of the bottle, to feel the splodge as the brush meets the paint, the smoothness of the paper as the paint slides over the top of it, but does the painting ever excel beyond the capabilities of the average 5 year old? Not really. But it feels really good. Really good. But then the Englishness kicks in. Well, you shouldn’t really be trying your hand at anything because if you can’t do it perfectly then you shouldn’t be embarrassing yourself trying so publically, you should have nailed that when you were a child and if you didn’t it’s a bit late to be doing it now.

Really? That’s it? I might as well spend the rest of my life watching television cos I know I am really good at that…..

We are all built differently and one person’s expression is not the same as someone else’s. The incredible ability to channel yourself/your being into a specific outlet, be that making music, dance, drawing, cooking etc. is beautiful for the world to watch and appreciate but terribly constricting for the rest of us when we don’t allow each other to feel just because our results are not perfect.

We all have children inside us somewhere and our inner children and our creativity are so incredibly intertwined. What if we were to encourage full self-expression in whatever form that took. It makes me think of the amount of laughs you can have at “Dad dancing” but when I think about the man who sat in an office for years and years on end so I could be educated, be creative, have a beautiful life, and he gets onto the dance floor for a few minutes of creative expression and everyone laughs at him for it.

Isn’t life about expressing ourselves, allowing ourselves to be free? Who made the rule that it all had to be perfect? No wonder anti-depressants are rife, we have ripped the basic freedom of being human right out of us, through our judgment, our need to conform and our need for everyone to look and act the same. This may sound harsh but we are in fact slowly killing ourselves and each other. For every judgmental thought we have on another we are narrowing our worlds and our freedom to express ourselves. As the saying goes, "What is expressed is impressed", for every negative thought or comment we make about another human being then resides in us and eats away at ours and everybody else's health and well-being.

For every time we choose not to connect with another we are denying ourselves a moment of exploration, of furthering our understanding of who we are. We are all perfect, we are all unique. We can choose to celebrate that and help each other, rather than cutting each other down, feeding the fear that we are not good enough. We are perfect just the way we are and the sooner we start including rather than excluding we will be one step closer to health, happiness and truly living a fully human and connected existence.

By heatherferreiracole, Jun 19 2014 09:52PM

Again and again on my journey I have come across the idea that we shouldn’t take responsibility for the feelings of others. It must have been one of my blind spots because that concept meant absolutely nothing to me. Why would anyone do that anyway? How is it even possible to carry that out?

But recently, I had an ah-ha moment on what that actually might mean. First and foremost I will introduce it as a form of protectionism. There are many of us that are afraid of the feelings of others - especially if said other holds some form of safety in terms of emotional or financial attachment for us: Our parents, our partners, our children, our in-laws, our relatives, our boss, our colleagues. Each one of these people holds an investment, so why wouldn’t we want to keep the peace?

I am certainly not condoning having the world all our own way and to wherever with everyone else. But I am saying be truthful to yourself. I guess the biggest way of knowing if you are taking responsibility for others feelings are if you;

1. Are coming from a place of fear – do you avoid subjects because you are afraid the other person is going to blow up, or act out in some way and you just can’t face that reaction.

2. Do you make excuses for the other whilst clearing up their mess, or doing their jobs for them?

3. Are you the buffer between society and them? What would the world see without you there?

4. Do people come and talk to you about your partner, child, colleague, boss etc. because you might be a softer landing and they would prefer you to broach the subject with said person – cos you can handle them so well…. Do you comply?

It’s not an easy one, there are a myriad of reasons why you would choose to do the above, as it often appears to make the situation so much easier to handle when you do all the work, take all the responsibility, but are you creating a rod for your own back?

“I don’t mind”, you might respond, but know that it is possible and maybe even probable that it may set up a pattern in your life i.e. if you act this way with one person it may well seep out into your other relationships, and before you know it, you are carrying way more than just your own responsibility.

In fact, people who don’t want to look at their own stuff actually look for people like you to carry it for them. “Bingo!” they say - consciously or unconsciously – “Bingo that I have found someone who is going to do all my running for me, shield me from my responsibilities, whilst I get to live a life the way I want. They seem to be willing to put up with it so who needs to change? Certainly not me because I am living the life I want and you aren’t saying a clear no, you are just being a stick in the mud/grumpy/unreasonable/high maintenance/crazy - but that’s your issue. Happy days!”

Don’t get me wrong, there can be plenty of reasons to want to help someone, to carry them for a bit whilst they get themselves back on their feet. But this is a choice you are consciously making and it usually isn’t a lifelong commitment, or an ongoing feeling of Groundhog Day. This doesn’t have an agenda to it. An agenda looks more like this “you are not doing something I think you should do because it fits in with the way I want the world to be, so instead of saying no to you, I will try to persuade you to be who I want you to be, to do it my way, that way you won’t get upset and I will get what I want”. The water just got very muddy and manipulation just entered the ring asking where it could be of help.

Manipulation is an incredibly fascinating tool which we use to protect ourselves from the world. I say fascinating because it can be so manipulative that sometimes we don’t even see it ourselves, when we are the one doing it! That to me shows just how amazing our minds can be at protecting ourselves; we don’t even see our own protection strategies within ourselves. Amazing, but not very helpful, and that is where awareness comes in, because the only way to get to the bottom of our stuff is an awareness of what is happening in the moment.

How am I feeling right now in this conversation? What is my stuff? What is your stuff? How far am I bending to keep up/in with you? Am I speaking truthfully or am I compromising myself for the sake of an easy life/approval/love? How do I feel after we hang out, am I feeling good about myself, or angry, insecure, less than? If I am not feeling great, why not? If I am feeling great, why is that? What are you able to say or do to me that makes me question myself? How much power do I give you over my emotional happiness? How much of my headspace do I allow you to take up, when I am both with you and without you, and how am I feeling about that? When you insinuate that I am not enough, do I allow myself to believe you?

Let me finish by saying relationships (and by that I mean our connections to anyone and everyone we meet) are by far the hardest playground in the realm of self-discovery. If we could open up our minds and emotions and tap into not only our genetic history, but our personal history too and our belief systems, be those that have been implanted by others or self-grown, we would see how incredibly powerful an exchange is between two people. Libraries could be written on the ripple effect of one conversation. So what I am trying to say is that if you find yourself sometimes thinking, “what on earth is going on!” then you are not alone. Go easy on yourself, we are so much more complex than even we give ourselves credit for.

By heatherferreiracole, Jun 5 2014 09:38AM

I think for many years I misunderstood the idea of forgiveness thinking it was something that you voluntarily signed up for. ‘Today, I choose to forgive so-in-so’. A bit like ‘Today, I am going to wear a red top’.

It was a strange concept, in my world, because it never really felt internally honest or true.

Don’t get me wrong, I would certainly say I forgave someone and outwardly acted inline with what I thought that would look like, but on the inside all that seemed to happen was a build up of resentment which would then seep out of me in the form of angry outbursts, or incessant chocolate eating. It wasn’t intentional at all; it was actually much more through an absolute lack of knowledge of another way of being.

It has only really been lately that I have started to truly understand forgiveness – I think! And I now find it quite strange that the concept has actually been given a word. When I watch my daughters in full flow disagreement, forgiveness doesn’t actually play a part in their world at all.

It simply is or it isn’t.

It is ok - or it isn’t ok.

If it is ok, it isn’t pretending, it really is ok,

If it isn’t ok, then it really isn’t ok, up until it is ok again.

I can’t help but wonder as children, if we all – or maybe just me - got a bit confused around the process of ‘ouch!’, ‘say sorry’, ‘ok, sorry’, and then we all move on. Because did it ever really feel ok?

Yet, even now when I consciously realize that it wasn’t a really fulfilling experience I still find myself going through the motions with my children over an over again because, quite simply, I am yet to learn another way.

But might we be insinuating in that process that the word sorry should be enough for us to move into forgiveness, when often it doesn’t even come close?

I think as an adult I have found that really hard to accept. Why, when someone says sorry, isn’t it feeling as good as it should? Why am I not suddenly blissed out in this feeling of compassionate love for all human kind – especially the one standing in front of me?

I have worked out, on a personal level that the apology actually stands for only maybe 10% of the overall forgiveness process. The large majority of the work actually resides in the processing of the hurt. And maybe that 10% occurs purely because it might make us feel slightly more inclined to process the hurt, rather than wallow around in our own anger, bitterness and regret at the way we have been treated.

But where I think forgiveness is completely misunderstood is in that it involves another person. Yes, the action first involved another, but the resolving of the matter really has nothing to do with anyone else at all. All the work needs to be done internally. Someone may have come along and thrown a bucket of mud over your internal system and then may or may not have said sorry, but the mud is still there and will stay there until you choose when, how and with what you are going to clean it up. Nobody can reach inside and do that for us, it is physically and emotionally impossible.

I believe that when you have fully processed all of the emotions created by that event or set of events, that is when forgiveness happens. Really happens, and actually it won’t feel like forgiveness at all in that moment, it may just feel like a void of negative feelings. A space. So maybe a truer version of ‘I have forgiven’ would be to say, ‘I have released’.

So it is not something that happens to me, but actually something that I have no choice but to accept. When I release something, I also forgive with it, but not because I chose to do so, but more as a direct result of processing all the emotions involved in that event.

I found a lovely section in a book I would like to leave you with:

“When I was a small child, my grandmother used a significant, repetitive phrase with me. If I ever attempted to say anything bad about anyone, she would sit me on her lap and gently tell me, “If you look hard enough, you can always find the gold in people”. I have certainly found this to be true.

(Karly McBride – Will I Ever Be Good Enough – Page 201)