We have all had one of those nights. A long, dark night which reaches out endlessly until the morning and your only companion is your thoughts. Dark, scary thoughts which torture and keep you from rest until the necessity of the next day dawns. I had one of those nights at the end of last year.
The next day I went to see my GP; one of my nipples had doubled in size and was showing red pimples. After examining me, he told me that if my symptoms hadn’t reduced or improved within a week I needed to undergo further investigation to eliminate the possibility of cancer…
Back home I was filled with an intense panic. I was in floods of tears, I couldn’t organise my thoughts. During the previous night before seeing the doctor, I concluded that I was OK about the possibility dying but now it was a real possibility, the idea I would leave my 16-year-old daughter behind without a mum was terrifying me. I repeatedly heard a voice in my head telling me “she wasn’t ready – she still needed me”!!
I brought up my daughter without any support from family who all live in France and without much support from her dad as he moved away soon after the divorce. All the school runs, exam anxiety, high temperatures and sleepless nights had just been us two, sticking together – trying to make it through, a little team. The fear of Ashlie not being strong enough to emotionally deal with my loss was tearing me apart.
I did what I often do, I prayed. Prayers have always been my refuge, one of my coping mechanisms. They are for me, like airbags, protecting me in the middle of a collision.
Something happened to me recently that reminded me of the importance of the 5 Languages of Love – and it got me thinking about how a lack of the right kind of love manifests itself and what you can do about it. Let me explain….
Since starting up my business, I have wanted to be featured in Muddy Stilettos (muddystilettos.co.uk), a brilliant local guide that started as a fantastic blog covering Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, and that has now grown into a multi-territory UK franchise. When Hero, the editor, agreed to have a treatment with me to then write a review of my services, I should have been elated.
But I was terrified. What if she wrote something negative? What if a negative review destroyed my business in the local area? What if my services just weren’t her thing?
I felt so anxious about it that I nearly cancelled the appointment. But I thought about what an opportunity I’d be passing up if I cancelled, so I took a deep breath and went ahead. On the day I was incredibly nervous, determined not to say or do the wrong thing. But as we settled into our counselling work, I forgot that Hero was here to review my services. She simply became another client with whom I connected on a deep level. After our Reiki work, we even had a mini life planning session on the doorstep as we said our goodbyes. All my nerves had faded away. I could just be me.
A few months later, her review appeared. It was brilliant and I could not have been happier. When I read her kind words, it felt like it was my wedding day. I was buzzing! I hadn’t realised how much I needed someone to tell me that I was doing a good job. That’s when it hit me: my love tank needed topping up.
Feeling stuck in a rut is overwhelming, confusing, draining and extremely stressful. Sometimes its hard to imagine how we will ever get out of it.
The human ‘hierarchy of needs’ is a useful, simple and highly effective tool to help us understand why we are stuck, and how to move on. The diagram below shows our needs in order of priority (with our essential requirements shown at the bottom of the pyramid).
Unless those most basic of needs are met, we simply cannot reach the higher levels of self-fulfilment. And once we have reached a level, we may not always remain there.
MOVING THROUGH THE LEVELS: We can find ourselves moving down to the lower levels at certain times in our lives, as our minds may unconsciously abandon the level we are on in order to meet the lower needs.
For example, a major life event such as a redundancy, or a divorce may mean we have to refocus on our financial affairs and find a new home. A feeling of financial and domestic security are the essential building blocks of the pyramid.
The human race has evolved over the centuries, living in tribes and to this day, we still need the sense of safety we get from our ‘tribe’ of friends or family. We fear rejection and can find it difficult to cope with being alone.
It is so important not to underestimate this profound human need. Ultimately a feeling of ‘not-belonging’ can lead to a sense of loneliness or inferiority, which in turn can have a direct impact on our self-esteem. At one point or another we’ve all experienced a desire to fit in and be accepted by others. It helps us see value in life and cope better with life’s many hurdles.
Some of us meet this need by joining a church, taking up a social hobby, or spending time with family and friends. Social media can also help us feel connected with others (but digital interactions can never replace human ones). However, many of us experience emotional and physical loneliness throughout our struggles to discover our sense of belonging.
We may even end up trying to mould ourselves to suit someone else’s expectations, and consequently lose our own sense of who we really are. We need to accept that ‘belonging' is about having the courage to join in with others, whilst staying true ourselves. We should not have to adapt our behaviour to constantly try and please others.MY STORY
I want to share my own personal ‘belonging’ story with you. I grew up in France but moved to England over 22 years ago and in order to fit in, I had to work very hard indeed to learn English and build a new life here.
Do you find yourself in a cycle of eating and soon thereafter, feeling hungry again? Are you gaining weight or know you need to lose weight but can’t stop feeling hungry? Here’s probably why:
Despite our food portions getting bigger, the nutritional value our food gives us is declining. Fast food, ready meals, diet sandwiches, sugary snacks, processed and refined foods – all of these are so poor in vitamins, minerals and healthy proteins that we are starving on a cellular level.
Your body is made from water and living cells that have to be fed vitamins and minerals in order to survive. Our skin replaces itself every 35 days, our liver once a month. Our body makes these new cells from the foods we eat.
When we eat foods that stop hunger but don’t give us the nutrients our bodies need to regenerate these cells, our bodies stay hungry and send signals to our brains to eat more. This constant eating adds to weight gain without giving our body what it needs.
We all know that the ideal would be to fill our plates with fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and lean proteins, but with the best of intentions, our busy lives often get in the way of this food ideal. Even when we try diets, old habits kick in and temptation takes over. When we don’t see results fast, we give up.
As our children approach the ‘exam’ time of year, it is crucial to keep an eye on their anxiety levels. Anxiety can lead to poor academic performance and under-achievement, even in the most capable of students.
When children get stressed and worried, their sleep can be disturbed, which leads to irritability and an inability to focus. This in turn can cause panic and has been known to lead to depression in some cases.
It is important to remember that this stressful period WON’T last for ever, and that once the exams are over, the stress will ease. It’s also worth highlighting that a moderate degree of stress gives us a rush of adrenaline which boosts our ability to get things done. However, it is all about finding the right balance and learning to manage stress effectively so that it doesn’t take over and have a negative effect.
We must also be mindful of our own stress levels and managing these for the sake of our own health, whether we have children going through exams or not.
Here are my top tips for helping to manage stress levels in both ourselves and our children. If you have children undergoing exams, please consider printing these tips and letting them read them for themselves, as this will be far more effective than trying to tell them what to do!
When we focus on something, we attract the subject of our focus into our lives. Focusing on the positive brings us great things, but focusing on all things negative attracts exactly those negatives into our lives.
I have experienced both sides of this particular coin, both personally and also with my clients. There is no escaping from the fact that the way we feel will ultimately affect the way we behave. Some of us have become ‘hard-wired’ to focus on the negatives.
The good news is that we can easily learn the skills we need to change our ways of thinking:
1. TURN NEGATIVE ENERGY INTO POSITIVE ENERGY. Find as many things as possible to be grateful for. Think about the things in your life that you like - both big and small. This could be your house, your bed, sofa, car, hair, nails, eye colour, how smooth your skin is, your children, partner, or even your dog….
Focus on your own personal list of positives, use your mindfulness skills and notice your breathing slowing down and your body letting go of all tension. After a bit of practice you will find your mind is more peaceful.
Do you ever think about past mistakes; worry about current stresses and how these could negatively impact the future? Do you over analyse other peoples' comments? Do you read into things that aren't actually there?
The thing is, the more we worry about the things that could go wrong, the more anxious we feel in the present. If you recognize yourself in the above, you are what psychologists call a ruminator (an over-thinker). Ruminating on stress and disappointments can be harmful to your health and relationships.
When we find ourselves in this state of mind, we often push away those that we are worrying about or seeking love from. We become anxious, negative, depressed and not very pleasant to be around.
This is not something that we can turn on or off, but skills that we have to learn, memorise and reproduce again and again. It requires perseverance and work to let go of old behaviours, no longer useful and replace them with new ones.
This is where NLP and mindfulness become useful tools to prevent over-thinking and find peace in the present moment.
Maybe you decided not to make any this year, or perhaps you made a few that may have already started to slip by the wayside. If so, you’re definitely not alone!
But why do we tend to lose motivation so quickly? The answer’s in the question…Why? I’ll explain.
As we emerge from the hectic whirl of Christmas, before we know it we are suddenly expected to publicly declare what we want from the year ahead and to have it all planned out! So we dash off a list of goals, without giving them due consideration.
In fact, this quieter second week in January is a much better time to be gently considering the year ahead. Now that the hectic holidays are over, it's an opportunity take a moment to properly consider why we want to change, and how we are going to make that change, rather than just the end goals.
Its not what we do that counts. It is the why and the how that are important. Its called ‘goal mapping’ and it's something that the corporate world invests heavily in because it reaps rewards.
Our critical inner voice can have a devastating effect on us, leading to low self-esteem and a debilitated self-image.
It’s important to take a moment to reflect on how strong a critical inner voice we have. Are we permanently berating ourselves for our guilt, our shame, our wrongdoings - and how does this make us feel?
A critical inner voice is a bit like poison ivy, invading us on the sly and then attacking, blaming, comparing and criticising. It can be abusive and judgemental, leaving us with the overwhelming feeling that we are not good enough. We may listen to it for so long that we come to believe that we are fat, stupid, selfish, unlovable, ugly (or whatever it maybe telling us). We may even start to think that this is how others perceive us too!
Listening to this voice could be the only way we know to try and become ‘A Better Us’, or perhaps it's learnt behaviour from our childhood. Either way, we can become so accustomed to the negative things it tell us that our mind may believe what we are hearing.
Enough is enough! Now is the time to stop inflicting this pain upon ourselves, and to replace this old destructive habit with a useful new one. But how…?
We all have dreams. Some of us dream big, and others dream small. Either way, dreams and goals are a very important part of all of our lives.
We often link our happiness to achieving these goals, and they have a significant impact on our self-esteem.
For example, the day we feel like giving up, and then pull ourselves together and carry on, is the day we develop a strength we didn't know we had within us. This strength never leaves us, and we build on it day after day and week after week. It is this journey towards our goals which so often help us to develop into a better person.So whatever our dreams may be, the journey will be worth it.
Whether we aim to lose a few pounds, start a new career or travel the world…with a small leap of faith we can start our journey today and start working towards our goals.
And when we get there…then what? That's the time to take a while to enjoy our accomplishment, to live in the moment and to enjoy the benefits. It’s so important to recognise our own progress, to look back at our journey and see just how far we've travelled.
Well believe it or not both my daughter and I became addicted to taking one straight after waking up. It is now part of our little routine. I used to wake up earlier and prepare them but after 4 weeks away from home, she missed them so much, she surprised me by getting them prepared before I even got out of bed.
They are warming to the body, something you will experience first-hand when kicking back 2 oz of this nutritional gem. Before going any further believe it or not they are alcohol FREE! In fact they are massively packed with nutrients. They’ll provide you with a mega boast of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Perfect remedy if you feel a cold coming on, run-down or just want a surplus of energy.
It’s ever so simple to make (timed it: 8 minutes incl. cleaning my juicer). All you need to do is juice one apple with approx. one inch of ginger.
Many of my posts will be about loving ourselves because no one is ever going to love you more than you love yourself.
So how do we do it? The answer is by taking one step at a time, by re-programming your mind differently, by helping you understand the connection between the vocabulary you use, your feelings and ultimately, the way you behave. Together we’ll try to make sense of it.
It’s time for us to take a leap of faith and to learn to listen to our own inner voice again/instinct.
As a baby or a child we trusted our own instincts implicitly. We knew exactly what we did or didn't want. When something didn’t feel quite right, we simply moved on to a different game, or played with other friends.
We still have this powerful instinct within us but we’ve become experts at ignoring it! We need to tune back into it again and listen to what it is telling us, trusting it to guide us to what is right for us.
I grew up in France and came to the UK in 1993.
During my early career, I experienced the pressures and stresses of the commercial world, so I have a real understanding of the impact these can have on you, your relationships, your self-image and confidence.
I am a Life Coach and Counsellor. I am a fully trained and qualified Clinical-Hypnotherapist, trained in Person Centred Counselling and Transactional Analysis and I am also a qualified Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner.
I am registered with the General Hypnotherapy Standards Council (GHSC) and General Hypnotherapy Register (GHR), who are the UK’s largest and most prominent organisations within the field of Hypnotherapy. I am bound by the codes of ethics of these organisations. I have an enhanced CRB check and am a qualified hypnotherapist.
Client confidentiality is assured.