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By heatherferreiracole, May 17 2014 09:07AM

When I do a Soul Healing I always see shame as thick black sticky gloop. It can hold onto someone like in the scene of Spiderman 3, when the black substance climbs into Peter Parker and takes him over from the inside out.

When I am able to see my shame, it is the part of me that wants to hide, the part of me that wants to be invisible. The part of me that chooses to shrink rather than expand, to stay safe in my box rather than to explore, the part of me that tells myself I don’t need to get out there today, I’ll do it another day. It's the part of me that creates the discord, where one part has to compensate by dreaming big in order to try and keep the balance between the one who doesn’t act and the one who so wants to get out there in the world but freezes every time the box lid flickers in the wind.

From an outsiders point of view, shame is one of the most ruinous things a person can develop within themselves, as it turns the beauty of a person and their obvious potential into doubt, fear, into I’m not worthy. You may find yourself wanting to shake them saying, “why can’t you see just how amazing you are!”.

But so often low self-esteem couples with shame and they sit together in the box keeping themselves company. And perhaps then before too long, if we allow it, depression starts knocking and asks if it can join in because it is seems to be the perfect environment.

The one thing that shame can’t handle is being openly talked about. Shame thrives on secrets, on darkness, on creating the misunderstood, and the one holding the box lid firmly closed is low self-esteem who says, “you can’t tell people that, you can’t be yourself, you can’t be an open person and say who you truly are and what you think because people will hate you and they’ll laugh at you and then you’ll really be miserable because then you definitely will know for sure that you really don’t count, that you really are the odd one out, that you don’t belong”.

So as a coping mechanism for shame we create personas. These are not who we authentically are, although they may have been built on some of our natural traits to make it an easier transition. It may even be possible that we build the persona out of parts of ourselves to trick us into thinking that yes, that is who we really are - after all some of the best lies are based around the truth.

But we do know, we definitely know, at some level, that something isn’t hitting home because something feels like it is missing. Something niggles and tells us that although we try so desperately to ignore it, that something is preventing us from feeling really seen. We feel somehow disconnected because we are, in fact, disconnecting from ourselves through our self-made personas.

Children have the miraculous ability to cut through the personas and see the real person and that is why a child slipping their hand into yours, or telling you they love you can fill you up from the inside with such joy, such love that it can bring tears to your eyes. A child sees through the personas to the authentic you and in that moment they love you so completely for who you are that it hits home. It hits a place of such longing, of such need, a place that yearns to be seen and loved in our absolute psychological and societal nakedness. A child doesn’t ask how much money you have, the title on your business card, how tidy you keep your house. A child looks at you and loves you for exactly who you are. It’s exquisitely simple.

But I wonder sometimes how shame got this amount of control over us because which would be better? Everyone loving an inauthentic version of ourselves and yet self-hatred reigning, or that we love ourselves and everybody else hates us. It’s a redundant question really because there is nothing more fascinating and appealing than meeting and being in the presence of someone who truly loves and accepts themselves - I mean truly. A person who has nothing to prove, no competitions to win, no agendas to fulfill, no advice to impart.

As within, so without.

When you love yourself, it is impossible for the Universe not to reflect that love back at you. So the next time you feel yourself shrinking, think again. It is only shame, so phone a friend and talk about those deepest, darkest fears, laugh about them and then get on with living your life the way you’ve always wanted to.

By heatherferreiracole, May 1 2014 09:42PM

I catch myself wondering sometimes what childbirth would be like if we had conscious control over it. Would we ever actually have the baby? Or would we all be wandering around constantly 8.5-9 months pregnant, frozen in fear of the pain that we might feel during labour. If we had a choice would we actually voluntarily make that call? Of course we would know that we were going to have a baby on the other side of the labour and giving birth process but between being pregnant and having that baby would potentially be some of the most physically painful moments we can experience as human beings. An unknown amount of hours of possibly feeling excruciating pain and the fear of not knowing how that process would unfold, and if it would go smoothly and safely for all the parties involved. At what point would we press the green button, or would we constantly be telling ourselves that it would be better to do it tomorrow, next month, spring is a lovely time to have a baby…or maybe summer….

Our bodies are miraculous. They can take something as minute as an egg and a sperm and make a living, breathing human being out of it. Wow. When we think about miracles isn’t it phenomenal that some of the most amazing things happen completely out of our control.

And if we alter the internals slightly we see that actually our capabilities to maintain balance within our body, mind and emotions are within us. Out of our conscious control – yes - but still within us. Our bodies tell us when we need water, they tell us when we need food. Our bodies tell us, through our emotions, that we want to laugh out loud or simply sit and cry.

But what if an event happened to us, an external event that froze our system. That shook our perception of the world until we were reeling in thoughts of insecurity, uncertainty and helplessness. Or maybe it wasn’t a sudden event, maybe it was lots of small events that happened that ended us up in the same place.

What if our body knew how to rebalance our inner world after such an event or set of events but it could only deal with that through the giving birth process. What if we needed to sit in that pain, scream, cry, rock, stare at a wall, feel numb. What if that was the process needed to get to the baby - to get us out the other side of that event or those sets of event. And what if we remained frozen at the 8.5 month stage, saying, “you know what, I’m fine really, I don’t need to face that. Yes, it is incredibly uncomfortable sitting here with these swollen ankles, not being able to sleep, needing to go to the toilet 4 times a night and all the way through the day, feeling exhausted, unable to do much, but it’s better than having to face that pain.”

I wonder how many years we could remain at full term putting off the birth. Maybe we would find ways to cope with the discomfort, to help us find it more acceptable in some ways. A drink, some distractions, a few gallons of chocolate, television, a computer game, shopping, a pill or two to help us get by so we don’t notice how bad we feel. All the time knowing that the only real, true and honest fix would be to walk through the pain and not avoid the labour any longer.

Emotional pain can be like labour in terms of its intensity. Rock bottom isn’t a phrase that was given a name for nothing. It hurts, in fact it can more than hurt, it can end lives at it’s most extreme and on a less extreme level it can be completely crippling. When you are in it, you may never think you are coming out the other side, but then with help and support, the large majority of us do come out the other side.

When the process is not stopped, but is allowed to take place, when we haven’t lost ourselves in the painkillers and sleeping tablets that keeps the swollen ankles and sleepless nights at bay. When emotions are felt with freedom, then it is just like the labour process. It hurts, it really hurts and sometimes you don’t think you’ll be able to take anymore, but you keep going, you keep allowing, you keep surrendering and you may be tested to the maximum of your endurance, to the very edge of what you can cope with, but from that well of pain emerges the hope of Pandora’s box, the inner strength. Because when we are tested to our limits we are introduced to our friend Strength. The hero/heroine in the movie practically always nearly fails at the last hurdle and why? Because she/he is connecting with her inner strength, a strength that comes from nowhere and keeps us going, keeps us pushing until at last we are there - out the other side. Reborn. Released. Freed.

It won’t or doesn’t mean that you don’t then have new challenges, but you are not stuck in the old, freezing your life, not moving on, an emotional zombie. You are into a new zone; an exciting zone of what is next. A stronger, more warrior like version of yourself has been born and you know now that your body does know what it is doing, and that you can trust in your own internal processes to do right by you.

For me personally there is a polarity. For all the emotional pain you allow yourself to feel, the more joy you can access, the lower you can go, the more intense the love and appreciation for life on the other side of that pain and that is what makes it worth while. Every time.

By heatherferreiracole, Apr 24 2014 09:45PM

The big no-no. Low self-esteem, as a subject, more often than not seems to be in-line with the ‘the other side’ - the people ‘we aren’t’, the loners, the depressives, the wanna-be’s. But there is a great deal of difference between self-esteem and confidence. People tend to think that low self-esteem is actually not being able to talk to people in social situations, being friendless - it can be, however, it usually isn’t that obvious. It is usually the self-doubt that comes the morning after – Did I say something? Do something? Did I fit? Oh, they are going to hate me…

Or it can be the times when friends surround you, family, loved ones but you still somehow feel like the spare part. To the outside you are fun loving, the life and soul but on the inside it just doesn’t quite add up.

Maybe it doesn’t hit you until you are on your own. And so you spend time watching television, phoning friends, going on Facebook, playing computer games, having a drink, anything to escape/distract or allow you to avoid having to spend time with the person you actually don’t like that much - yourself.

Maybe you think, but that’s not me, I don’t have a problem with that. But when was the last time you took some time out to be with yourself? To really just listen to that inner voice and allow it some listening time. And when you do listen, what is it saying? Is it backing you? Or is it telling you, “You could have done better, been funnier, been prettier, tried harder, achieved more…. Come on, everyone else manages it, what’s wrong with you. I hate you, you’re useless, God I wish I was someone else”. Do you ever find your inner voice treating you in a way that is worse than you would ever let anyone else treat you? That is when you need to have a word…or not as the case may be.

According to Adyashanti – a spiritual teacher - we are so much more than the thoughts in our heads. He says, “If it does not exist when you are not thinking about it, then it doesn’t exist”. So if I am such a rubbish person when my thinking is let loose am I still a rubbish person when I am on top of the world? I am the same person, the only thing that has changed in that moment is my thinking and my mood, or maybe even my physical health, which has then influenced my mood. But whether you tell yourself that you love yourself or that you could be better - you are still you. Nothing has changed. The only thing that has changed is the way you choose to talk to yourself.

I think we have a tendency to think that we are who we are and that is it, end of story. But I don’t believe that. I think we are what we have been influenced and educated to be, be that by our parents, our teachers, our siblings or anyone else who has been influential in our lives. In terms of how much awareness we have been brought up with, well we were actually molded in most cases by a generation (through no fault of their own) who were a great deal less psychologically aware than we now have the opportunity to be. Very few knew back then that by the age of 5 a child has internalized their most critical parent/caregiver. That inner voice that speaks unsupportively and unhelpfully to them for the rest of their lives - should they choose for it to be that way.

Our mental health has been neglected through denial, shame or ignorance and yet in today’s world it just doesn’t have to be that way. There are a myriad of different therapies, books, workshops, talks, You Tube videos that can increase our education of how we work. We are quite happy to learn all about nutrition and put our best into how we eat, so where is the shame in learning about how we work emotionally, mentally and maybe spiritually too in order to find a little peace from that critical inner voice.

By heatherferreiracole, Apr 9 2014 10:32AM

Eye contact is such a simple thing and yet it holds a minefield of cultural etiquette across the world, even the animal kingdom has rituals and rights with regards to eye contact. To think that we can start a fight just by staring at someone is quite insane when you think about it. And then on the other side if you were to meet someone who never made an effort to catch your eye throughout your whole conversation would that not make you feel really uneasy? So it appears to be a very fine line we tread between too much eye contact and not enough and I have come to the conclusion that it is, quite simply, one of the most intense experiences we can have with another human being.

So what is it about the eyes that hold so much intensity for us? Obviously we have all heard about the eyes being the windows to the soul, but according to Joe Navarro in his book “What every body is saying” evolution has modified muscles in and around our eyes to protect them from hazards, and it is these automatic responses that make the eyes a very honest part of our face. It has also been documented that dilated pupils apparently create such a strong natural response in us that sales in cosmetics can actually increase by 45% just by enlarging the pupil size of the models in the photographs.

In 1987 research reported that distressed couples are less likely to look into each other’s eyes than non-distressed couples. Probably quite an obvious result but how much of this are we consciously aware of, and how much of this floats under the radar of “I just haven’t noticed/given it much thought/I was just looking for something/tidying/cooking/watching television whilst you were talking”.

And part of me thinks that yes, you know, maybe we do treat other adults this way and what’s the big deal, everyone makes their choices in life but where I struggle is when we give our children the same treatment. Something I struggle with because I know I do it myself.

How many times do I try to hold a conversation with them whilst being distracted with something else (my phone) or shouting instructions at them whilst I am walking away from them? They can’t exactly pull up a chair every time they want my attention and so they resort to leg holding, skirt pulling, repeating my name over and over again. And can I blame them because if another adult treated me like that I would be saying ‘hang on a minute…either give me a device of my own so we can at least have equality in our ‘non listening abilities’ or put the **** thing down and listen to me properly!’

But it isn’t like I am not aware of the power of eye contact because I am the first to get down on my knees when they have done something ‘displeasing’ in order to make sure my eye to eye contact says, ‘This is Important Information Exchange right now and I need to know that you understand this point’. And it seems to work. But if that could be turned around in a positive sense, the message could simply be, I need you to know how important you are right now and so I am giving you my full undivided attention/my eye-contact because not only are you important to me, but the information that you want to share with me is incredibly important too, simply because you matter to me and I love you.

I read somewhere that if you can catch your child’s eye and hold their gaze when they are distressed you can sync your brain waves with theirs through eye contact and calm them down much more quickly. I can’t guarantee that is true but what I do know is that open and loving eye contact at its very foundation has huge ramifications. It gives us a feeling of being truly listened to and of being important, and that builds the foundations of trust between two human beings, it builds our self-esteem, our confidence and our willingness to express ourselves more openly – all aspects which are vital for the beautiful connection and the rewarding experience of true intimacy with another human being. A gift I would love to help give to my children.

By heatherferreiracole, Mar 22 2014 04:12PM

I’ve been pretty floored by this new cancer awareness campaign. It is simple, beautiful and healing on so many levels. The simple but incredibly strong sense of empowerment that comes from women supporting each other world over is a far cry from where we have come from.

There are many different theories about what causes cancer and I have just coincidently been reading “Anger Management” by Howard Kassinove and Raymond Chip Tafrate. It said that in 1994, Eysenck concluded that there is a cancer prone personality type, characterized by a tendency to suppress emotions such as anger and anxiety.

If this were to be true wouldn’t that make the campaign all the more poignant? For where in the world is there more anxiety than with woman and the way they look. The symbolic masking of the authentic self has become an actual real and physical mask that we put on every morning and take off every night.

So much of life and success is placed on a woman’s “external beauty” that the UK beauty industry is worth over 15bn pounds alone and globally we are talking $160 billion a year. And can we be blamed for buying into the fact that the face we were born with is just not good enough when studies have shown that attractive people are more likely to be considered intelligent, get married and are supposedly better in bed….

And yet somehow, just somehow out of the pain of watching those we love having to face the utter devastation and vulnerability of being told that they have an often ferocious life destroying disease we have made a connection to our own vulnerability in a completely different way, in a loving way, a supportive way and just maybe in a defiant and incredibly healing way.

For what better way to show love for each other as women (and to potentially reduce the amount of cancer sufferers in the future) than to accept each other and ourselves as beautiful in all our ‘nakedness’.

Then maybe this campaign will not just raise an incredible amount of awareness for cancer or even money towards research but it may well give a little more confidence to each and every one of us to remember than even when we are naked and vulnerable we are also incredibly beautiful and loved for exactly who we are by a wonderfully supportive world-wide community. A community who is less interested in how we look, what we do, where we live and more interested in how we feel, what makes us tick and how big our capacity is to love another for simply who they are.

By heatherferreiracole, Mar 20 2014 10:20PM

So I found myself pondering today if I would be able to cry in public if someone were to offer me 10 million pounds to do so…as weird as that sounds somewhere along the line crying in public became a big no go area for me and it is not even as if it is something I can help now. That access point has just switched to ‘incredibly difficult’ - unless circumstances are unbelievably dire. I don’t think I am ‘abnormal’ in any way, slightly ‘expressionally stunted’ yes, but I see myself perhaps more on a par with societies view of the average tear avoiding man.

I have spent time recently trying to reconnect my emotions to my ability to shed tears and in that time I have looked at other people and I actually feel a little envious and incredibly humbled when I watch people express themselves so openly. What would it feel like to have that much faith in the world, to be able to show that much vulnerability? But then I also thought of the countless people who have shown me the beauty of that vulnerability of crying and have then gone on to apologize for not being together, for feeling that vulnerability, for being human.

Where did we get this feeling that we need to be “perfect” all of the time. Are we really not allowed to show that sometimes life deals some tough cards - or maybe it doesn’t but you are just having a rubbish day - and that it is ok to express that – openly - without having to apologise for it afterwards.

Tears are beautiful.

I remember when I was in hospital after my cesarean, my milk was delayed in coming through and my very tiny daughter was in intensive care not able to stomach formula milk. I remember the first few drops of breast milk being raced up to the intensive care ward as if a miracle itself had manifested into physical form within that pipet.

And for every tear that is shed I get that same feeling of tears being more precious than we could even imagine.

Interestingly there was some research done on tears and it was discovered that tears come in three different types:

a) Basal tears, which keep our eyes from drying out.

b) Reflex tears protecting the eyes from smoke, strong wind, onions etc.

c)Emotional tears – The contents of these tears are different to the others in that it has been researched that they contain higher levels of certain stress hormones such as adrenocorticotropic hormone, prolactin and the painkiller leucine encephalin. They also contain more manganese than the other types of tears - manganese helps regulate mood. (Chronically depressed people often have high levels of manganese in their systems).

So it appears that chemicals build up in our bodies during times of high stress and that shedding emotional tears is the body’s way of releasing the toxins and waste products.

So in fact tears are a crucial part of our body’s healing process. So who are we to say that tears are weak? That tears are not ‘manly’… it is like saying you can eat but you can’t go to the toilet. How can we put that on ourselves? Are we not giving ourselves the most natural and precious gifts of them all by allowing our bodies to release all that does not serve us in that beautiful moment. If our bodies have the natural ability to make another human being without us having the faintest idea how to consciously make that happen, who are we to stop the simple process of expending toxins from our body in an incredibly natural and gentle way? At what point did it become offensive/weak/attention seeking/embarrassing/inconvenient to do so?

Tears are not just a beautiful example of how incredibly naturally and gently our body’s cleansing process happens but it is also one of the most beautiful gifts we have been given to support each other in that healing release.

By heatherferreiracole, Feb 20 2014 08:59PM

There is a real need to let go of the Agenda, let go of the expectation. Let go of the control. Let go of trying to make things what you want them to be or what you perceive is the best way for them to be.

It is like life has been flipped and it has gone into you feeling like you can control life when actually it is the reverse, it is not about how much control you have over life it is about how well you stand in that lack of control. How well you stand in that place of no control. That is what life is about, it is not about putting boundaries in, putting laws, rules or regulations into place, it’s about being able to sit in that flow, and allow that flow because that is Life. That is life.

There is not a single person who can control life and it is such a waste of energy and a waste of time and a waste of resources to think that it might be an option. So it really is at a point now where you need to let go. Let go of that control, allow life to live, allow life to be lived, and allow life to be want it wants to be, what it needs to be and let go.

It is like when you are on a surfboard, you don’t control the waves. The waves come and then you ride those waves with the skills that you have, but it would be crazy to think a surfer would sit there and say “ok I can control this next wave that comes” because he never can. That is the sea and the sea does what it wants to do, but what the surfer can control is how he rides that wave, and even then sometimes it can go a bit wrong but that is just the joy of learning to surf and being a surfer. Every wave is different. Every wave is going to come and going to do it’s thing and some you will ride well and some you won’t but the ones that you don’t ride well you will learn from and that will help you ride future ones better. It is all a learning process.

But it is very much not about focusing on controlling the wave because it is just futile. It is honing your skills around how you are in response to that wave. And that is the key. And that is when your energy is pointing in the right direction because sometimes these waves aren’t easy to ride. And if you are wasting your energy trying to control the waves, you are not giving yourself the opportunity to ride that wave to the best of you abilities because your focus is in the wrong place completely. And that is really important. And that is where the phrase of ‘going with the flow’ really comes from. Your heart becomes your guide and don’t underestimate how powerful the feelings of the heart can be. Because it knows what is right for you and what is not.

And there is still a real sense of panic still in the throat chakra about letting go, about losing that control. It has very much been there for a very long time and to live without it feels scary. And that is ok because it is all an adjustment. We all have to adjust our thinking at different times in our lives. And this is one of those times where we just need to tweak a few things and we just need to turn off that control switch and walk away. And that is when you walk into trust, that is when you walk into flow and that is when you are walking into 'being'. And then you are living an enriched life, you are living a fulfilled life because the right connections are there.

And those connections are there because you have switched off that control, because control at the end of the day stifles. It is like a freezer. So you have all of this wonderful energy and you pop it in the freezer and as the cold air starts coming in it just starts slowing that energy down until that energy has almost stopped and then it is frozen, and you can’t do anything with that energy because it is so frozen from the control. And so it is almost like you have got to warm it up, take it out of the freezer, warm it up. And then you watch. You just watch and you allow and you let things be. And that is it. That is the key to living, that is the key to life, the key to being who you want to be, who you really want to be.

And the frustration has gone but I still feel like there is an incy bit of resistance there of “are you completely insane? Are you completely mad? That would be an insane way to live”. And it does come across as insane, it does come across as crazy, because it is so free. And free is exciting. And free is spontaneous. And free is “I don’t know what is going to happen next, but I like it” Free is being open. Freedom.

By heatherferreiracole, Feb 20 2014 08:23PM

Inner Rhythms

I came across the subject of Rhythmic Attunement in my Psychotherapy course and how a therapist needs to be able to adjust themselves to the rhythm of the client in order for cognitive processes to be fully integrated into the system. Without respecting the client’s rhythm, therapy becomes a temporary fix rather than bringing long term change.

So as I do, I digressed from the subject and started thinking about my own Inner Rhythm. Did I have one? Have I ever noticed it, respected it, honoured it? My rhythm seems to have got cast aside as “not fast enough” in this day and age, judged for not being as efficient as others. When there is so much to fit into each day is there really time to give it any consideration?

But then I started to wonder how much anxiety we might carry as a result of not respecting our own internal rhythms. How much joy do I forego simply by not having an awareness in that area? How many times do I put my rhythm on the back burner for the sake of ‘living my life to the maximum’? Interestingly the book I was reading (Beyond Empathy by Erskine, Moursund and Trautman) says that if in therapy you notice a person shifting out of their rhythm into a higher speed then you might be touching on something that is well worth slowing down for. In other words speeding up can sometimes be an excellent means of hiding from ourselves.

It started me thinking about how much time do we really take to reflect on our daily world – as habitual as it may seem. How much time do we give ourselves to process the day from an internal standpoint? To understand how we feel? To communicate and connect with ourselves? And if we were to offer ourselves the time to communicate and connect with ourselves would we then become better at communicating and connecting with others about the way we feel, who we really are, what makes us tick?

If we were to truly respect our own rhythms (as much as we are able within society today) would we then be more patient with other people’s rhythms? Would we cuss so much at Sunday drivers, or the slow person at the check out, or the husband/wife/partner who still hadn’t done what we had asked? Would we succumb so easily to the person who was demanding answers straight away to an uneasy question?

Like many places the family is an area where you cannot choose the rhythms of the other members of the household. One of my children has a rhythm, which is slower than mine, and then my other is v.e.r.y s.l.o.w. She simply needs more time in everything she does. But do I give her that time? Unfortunately very often I don’t. And I am sad to say it is because there are two of us waiting and that means she is always put under pressure to be faster, think faster, feel faster, do faster. But then what is the answer? How do we change it to a place where all the drummers can beat out a different rhythm without the whole place collapsing around our ears?

If we look around us we see that the earth works on a multitude of different rhythms, each and every part so individual and yet also equally such an integral part of the whole. Everything flows into each other within nature; there are the big things like the seasons, spring flowing into summer, summer into autumn, autumn into winter and winter into spring again. The water flows from the mountains into streams, rivers, the sea and back up to the clouds and onto the mountains again. And it is these rhythms that nourish us, these rhythms that provide for us in abundance.

If we then bring our attention to the rhythms inside of our bodies we have the more obvious rhythms, the beating of your heart, the pulsing of your blood in your veins, the inhaling and the exhaling of our breath. And then the less obvious rhythms; the frequencies of our energetic vibrations, attracting and repelling the frequencies of those around us, maybe even stilling the frequencies of those around us that do not match our own.

But if we were to stop just one rhythm in nature we would be stopping what nature actually is: a continually moving process. Constant change. Letting go of the old and embracing the new with every minute that goes by, changing, developing, dying, growing, being different, feeling different, being seen as different, respecting the ebb and flow of the tides of time as we know it.

And maybe, just maybe, through really listening to our own rhythms we would start to appreciate our own uniqueness and we would be able to gift ourselves with that true connection of listening to the beat of our own drum. And in that connection with ourselves then discovering that another’s drum beat is potentially equally part of the beauty of the whole.