Category Archives: Happiness

Befriend your feelings

Feelings can make or break a situation. Things happen, events unfold, we go through processes, schedules, routines but it is the emotions we attach to ‘things’ that show their importance in our minds.

We have a birthday; we can feel happy or sad
We win a race; we feel happy
We have a baby; we feel every emotion under the sun, sometimes all at once.

Do you get what I mean?

I have been thinking about emotions for a long time and trying to figure out a way to learn to relate to them and the simplest way I thought of was to think of emotions like people and our connection with them would be like any relationship.

The kids’ movie, Inside Out does show this beautifully as each emotion is it’s on ‘person’, has it’s own traits, colour and affects us differently. Depending on which emotion, or ‘person’ is in charge, we react to situations accordingly.

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In the movie, we have Sadness, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Joy. Arguably, these are our basic emotions.

In my life and indeed when I work with clients, I try to park the emotions when trying to look at a situation logically. This is the best way to figure out how to process it and how to move forward. Then it’s a case of asking what emotions are coming up when thinking or talking about the situation.

Each emotion comes to the foreground for a reason and to find out, what the reason is, we can simply ask ourselves – or ask the emotion.

“Anger, why did you show up when I saw everyone sitting watching TV when I was struggling with the shopping?”
“Disgust, are you trying to protect me from something that will infect me and make me ill?”
“Sadness, hello again, so you’re back. What do you need me to work on this time?”
“Fear, I see you are trying to keep me from hurting myself, thank you but I’ve got this”
“Joy, the emotion I want all the time but you do need to make way for others, so I can learn about myself but so nice to see you. Yes, we are so happy when we look at all the things we are grateful for”

I see these Emotions as different parts of us, different Selves making us who we are, making us Whole.

What emotion would you add as your basic?
I might add stress, but does that come under fear, I wonder?
Disappointment? Frustration? Despair? Vulnerability? Gratitude? (is that an emotion?)
Well, I guess the movie was trying to keep it simple and it’s not easy trying to simplify something so complicated.

What emotion do you struggle with the most? What is it trying to tell you?

Don’t forget, you’re not alone. If you need support, I’m here to help you <3

Is a numb life a happy life?

Many of us seem to find life difficult and we turn to what is on offer to help us cope; drinking, smoking, eating, exercise, drugs, gambling etc. It can be easy for us to turn around and judge others for the coping tools they use but if we look closely at our own lives, what unhealthy coping tools are we using?

There is no judgement when I write this because I have been humbled and amazed at what some people go through and they use what they can to cope.

If you had a broken leg but had to move and carry on, you would do what you could to fashion a crutch and take what you needed for the pain. Like I said, no judgement here because if you need something to get through a difficult time, you need it and you are coping in the way you need to, at this moment in time.

If we do stick our heads in the sand, if we do numb ourselves to all the pain, does this mean we are happy? What does that word even mean these days?

Maybe it doesn’t give us happiness but it sure does give much needed break from whatever we are struggling with.

You are doing what you can, what you need to. Just be careful your coping strategy is not affecting your physical health and if you need help, please seek it.

You’re not alone and know that whatever you are struggling with, you will get through as “This too shall pass”.

Symptoms and Causes

I’ve been in the mental health field for a number of years now and although the majority of my work is working with people to cope with their symptoms, I am realising more and more we need to deal with the causes.

What do I mean by this?
Depression, anxiety, stress and much more are symptoms of how we live our lives. These are the result of what pace we go, how we process and react to things, where we are and who we are connected to.
Thankfully in most cases everything is good and any symptoms can be dealt with, perhaps not even noticed.

But it’s when the symptoms stop us from living, stop us from being our True Selves, we need to get support. Much of the time, this is where I come in.
And I love my job, don’t get me wrong but I have to be honest with you – I am seeing an increase in anxiety and depression and this is NOT ok.

I get frustrated at society and what we seem to focus on as a collective species, far removed from how we are meant to function and life, might I add.

I have worked with many people not wanting to go on medication for their symptoms eg depression and anxiety, so I know first hand people can get better by changing their thinking, changing things in life such as pace, connections, and focus on their needs and their very existence.

I know it can be done and I for one am campaigning that we need to start from scratch but build our lives in a way that suits us better. Let’s look at the causes and work on this rather than just the symptoms.

Maybe then we can start making some serious changes in our lives and in our greater society.

 

Instructions on how to eat an Elephant

I love this saying on how to tackle a big project! When someone said this to me, I burst out laughing, appreciating how well those simple words captured the feelings and overwhelm but also gave a simple solution.

How do you eat an Elephant? One step at a time.

For you animal lovers out there who might feel this is inappropriate, there is the other one; How do you complete a long journey? One step at a time.

I have a strategy that helps to manage my anxiety and that is planning. I know it might sound boring to many of you but it works for me, so if I can share a few things, hopefully it will help you too 🙂

I am a big fan of lists and writing things down. If you have something to do, write it down. If you  have no time, break it down into smaller chunks and allocate a day and time for it. That way if you only have 10 mins a day, you can do a little and know you are going in the right direction.

Maybe have a plan of the week displayed so everyone knows what is happening when. This was great when the kids were little and we had loads of clubs, activities, work and chores. Delegate and share the load – maybe this plan can have who is doing what on what day?

What is your priority? If you get that clear in your head and know you’re working towards that, everything else can wait or you can let go of.

If you are struggling managing your time, energies and anxiety, give me a shout. I have helped many others figure out ways to get back on top of their lives and I feel confident I can help you too. It’s not difficult, it’s simply a case of spending some time looking at the bigger picture, breaking things down so they’re achievable and remembering what is important.

‘Me’ time isn’t a myth

My clients hate it when I say this to them. When I ask them about ‘Me’ time, they look at me like I’m talking a different language or offering them something alien.

Do you remember a time when you had time for yourself? Maybe not practically but time in your mind to think, to form a sentence (something I struggle with as a mum, for sure!). And when we have some time for a break, a breather, what do we do? Rush around doing all the jobs we have to do to feel a teeny bit of satisfaction and achievement that never comes.

Let me ask you this. When you say you have ‘no time’ to take out for yourself and recharge, what are you actually saying?
There is time for work, the kids, the washing, ironing, cleaning, dusting, reorganising your sock drawer, watering the dead plants, but no time for you.
So you’re saying you come below the dead plants? That is your level of priority?

You, who holds it all together, who is CEO of the house and family. YOU.
Below the dead plants and socks?

There is no judgement here but come on!! You are so worthy and valuable but you can’t see it.  We’re taught as women to be ‘Good’ which seems to encompass looking after everyone – BUT not at the detriment of your mental and physical health. We can of course look after others, but you don’t have to do it 24/7, every second of the day. And you certainly don’t need anyone’s permission to take a break or feel guilty about it.

I’m sure many of you have heard about the plane safety procedure of putting on your own oxygen mask on before anyone else’s in case of an emergency. And how many of us panic when our phone batteries need charging and we can’t find a charger?

How can you make time for yourself though?

  • Set aside 10 minutes a day just for you. Sit and do nothing. If your mind is racing, let is race, don’t judge or react to the thoughts, let them flow past like you would if you were sitting by a river.
  • Be mindful when you do things. Instead of rushing, take your time and use all your senses; what can you hear? see? smell? feel? What are you saying to yourself? Is there anything that is so heartwarming you’d like to save to memory?
  • Set clear boundaries. If you need time, make sure others know not to disturb you. It’s ok to want privacy when you go to the bathroom you know 😉
  • Be your own best friend. You know when you are tired, so why keep pushing? Be kind to yourself and acknowledge all you’ve done, then be gentle with yourself and say what you would to a friend, ‘hey, did you want a cuppa and a five minute breather?’. It’s a start 🙂
    Why bother with all this though? Creating time for yourself will help you be clearer about your life, where you want to be and where you’re going, about YOU. It helps you feel in control, less stressed and more able to cope at what life throws at you.
    Quite a lot of value and reward for a bit of time for yourself, don’t you think?

My Way to help you live life Your Way

I know I have talked about labels before and for those of you who have been with me for a while now have seen the journey I have been on; Family portraits, Healing photography, Counselling and now, a mix of Counselling and Phototherapy and soon, Coaching. This is me trying to figure things out and be more authentic, finding what I am meant to do in this life!

I have worked with the amazing Judith, a loving, no nonsense business coach, and I was so happy to see she had written a book (JudithMorgan.com/book). This book and Judith’s invitation to join her Blogfest ( JudithMorgan.com/blog), has inspired me to write this post.

You see, being in business is not easy, not at all! You have to be the Director to the Cleaner, master marketing and also do the actual work you want to do. Then there are the personal feelings, the massive ups and downs as you try and navigate and learn everything. Really, it isn’t easy, and that is an understatement.

Reading Judith’s book, I was reminded of the core conditions based in person centred counselling; Unconditional Positive Regard, Congruence and No Judgement. These are the simple but powerful 3 things that make a great counsellor, make the relationship with client work and most importantly, help the client to be more themselves.

I feel this from Judith, and she reminded me that I need to apply these conditions to myself. Trust me, from the start of my studying, I have been trying (again, it’s not easy!) but she broke it down into the practicalities, sharing what others have been feeling and saying. In answering those questions, I didn’t feel alone and I felt inspired!

You see, when we start out in life, on a new journey, on a new project or task maybe, we are a clean slate. We start with motivation, enthusiasm and hope. But as we go on, others start judging, we start comparing, we listen to all this and lose who we are and our original mindset.

We respond to the conditions put on us and we try to conform, fitting in so we don’t stand out but the result is we move further away from our True Selves. It is only with Unconditional Positive Regard, or Love as I like to call it we can get back to our True Selves. Love in the bigger and wider sense, pure Love given to another being for simply existing; no judgement, no expectations but full of support and care and compassion.

But being our True Selves with all these conditions isn’t easy – in life or in business, or in any role. It means we have to look at ourselves with the light on, in detail and face what we fear, what we don’t like, what we can’t cope with. Feelings are tough to face, fear of failure, fear of standing out and being visible, not being a ‘Good Girl’ and being judged and criticised for doing it wrong, for not fitting in.

But the only way to move forward is to trust our instincts, we need to create strong boundaries so we can create spaces of quiet. We need to become our own best friends to really hear what we are saying to ourselves through our feelings, especially the negative ones. And worst of it, we need to to this on our own. Sure there are people out there for support – like Judith, my personal counsellor, my supervisor etc are to me, but essentially, this is a journey we do on our own. That is why it’s most important we have Us on our own side, that gentleness, that self compassion and care.

And what can we find in the quietness? Our True Selves, self worth, self belief, confidence and deep knowing of our own truth.

Sounds fab, doesn’t it? I wish it was easy for me, I wish it was easy for my clients but nope, not easy. Then again, life would be boring if it wasn’t easy, right?

The biggest thing I’ve struggled with is finding my voice. I have so many ideas but how to put it across to help others? And I live with depression, so sometimes my voice is like Eeyore, who wants to hear that?

For a while now I have been putting my self care first (especially after some personal traumas) and encompassing all that means; resting, putting my health first and meeting those needs, accepting support from others (why is this so difficult??), letting go of what is not serving me physically and mentally by decluttering and slowly fixing broken things (again, physically (yay, no more leaking shower!) and mentally).

There is a huge element of being still and quiet, finally finding the time and space to actually hear my own voice and learning to trust my own intuition, without guilt or needing permission. I have cut away so much ‘noise’ in my life, expectations, obligations, shoulds and conditions. It feels so nice to create quietness and to simply be, without judgement and with full acceptance.

I’m trying to write something every day, being self compassionate when things don’t work and being brave and putting it out there. I am learning to trust in my intuition and have learned to see that each business I focus on, each area I study in, each thing I do are all stepping stones to where I want and need to be. It will take time but I’ve got to do it my way, at my pace and learn what I need to say. After all my clients need to SEE me to be able to trust me and work with me. This is my motivation, keeping the bigger picture in mind and I keep telling myself, if I only help ONE person feel happier, then I am successful.

I have been a counsellor now in private practice for a couple of years and feel confident as one but I needed more. The counselling world feels limiting and the more I practice, the more I find Me coming through. Introducing phototherapy has been a dream I have had now for 6 years and having seen the simple but powerful results, I am so happy I took that step. I am realising there is time (as Judith says in her book!) and I will be offering coaching packages soon too. I haven’t come across other counsellors offering phototherapy so I feel very much on my own in doing this but the flip side is I can make it truly my own unique way of working, ensuring each client gets bespoke support tailored and developed just for them. Now THAT feels very congruent and energising!

There is still a long way to go, after all (as cliché as it sounds) it is a journey and by no means am I done yet. The only thing I know and have as my strength is that I have to be honest and true to myself in everything I do. It’s the only way I have found to be truly at peace and be content which puts me in the space to be able to lovingly support others.

A lesson really, that when we try to do anything, becoming a Mum, running a business, trying anything new or simply living, it’s got to start from within.

Radio interview from 4 years ago

Sorting out my folders from way back, I have come across this interview. It is amazing how I am talking about using photography to help others heal. Very much in the first stages of photo therapy!

I talk about how the question of ‘If you had 6 weeks to live, what would you do?’ My motivation to start on this path and actually start living my life.

Talking about body image and how so many women used to ask me to photo shop them to look ‘better’ but in principal, I never did. I talk about how the first steps to body confidence is to learn to like ourselves and turn all the negative talk from others to positive talk within ourselves.

I talk about gratitude practice and how it can change our perception of our lives and help with our mental health. I used to offer listening sessions but now as a qualified counsellor I feel confident in offering these sessions, knowing I have had the proper training to hold a safe space for others.

I had been offering online courses where others were being helped so much with one participant coming off her antidepressant medication from doing the photo exercises and a woman facing a midlife crisis accepting herself.

And I define what success for me is; seeing clients feel happier in themselves and knowing I have done my part and given back to the wider community at large.

This journey is not an easy one, with lots of ups and downs, learning so much about myself, changing, building my self awareness and being the truest self I can be. The first step, stopping myself standing in my own way.

And my one bit of wisdom I would tell my younger self? Trust your instincts, believe in yourself, ask yourself what your needs are and what you need to do to meet them.

Have a listen and let me know what resonates:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepathtofabulouslysuccessful/2013/09/02/jessy-paston

Celebrating at a one year old’s party

We were invited to a 1 year old’s party the other day and oh my!!! There were so many kids there (duh, it’s a party!)
 
Some where crying, some were crawling, some were toddlering around and some were running around screaming.
 
Oh goodness, the cuteness was lovely to see and certainly filled my heart with so much joy but the noise? the chaos? Wow!
 
You see, my kids are all grown up now so it has been a long while since I was in a situation like that and as much as I loved it (and was photographing it) it was an assault on all the senses.
 
And even though I spend most of my days with you mums feeling anxious, knackered and frazzled, it was so impressive seeing all the mums at this party.
 
They were smiling, struggling to have a full conversation, laughing, not eating a full plate of food in peace, trying to sit or stand with a group of people but having to run off for one thing or another. It was truly a sight. Beautiful, sad, funny, such a mix.
 
In a nutshell, this noisy, wonderful, chaotic, exhausting party summed up motherhood so well.
 
To all you Mums out there, WOW. You’re all doing an awesome job. Keep hanging in there and doing what you are doing because one day you will be where I am, with grown up kids and all this will be a crazy memory, like this crazy party.
And if you’re struggling, you know where I am for support <3

Stop living like a headless chicken

There is SO much to do isn’t here? Goodness, ALL those things to do!!! SO, so, so much to do!!!!!!!!!!
 
Do you catch yourself in this frame of mind? Unable to stop, breathe, rest and relax?
 
I saw this a lot this week and even caught myself feeling this way. You see, this is a sure sign that life is controlling you and you are reacting to all that is around you.
 
This is a place where overwhelm comes from, stress and anxiety live and breed and self worth plummets and those feelings of being a failure are reinforced.
 
You know can stop this though but I wonder what blocks are in the way? Blocks you are allowing to stay there, to keep you here.
 
Breathe. Then breathe again. And once again.
Take a break. Yes, you heard me. A BREAK. You are allowed, you have permission. Hell, you have a NEED!!!!
 
Write it ALL down. Do it in note form, a mind map, whatever. Just get it all out your head because it doesn’t all need to stay in there.
Talk to someone. You don’t have to do it all on your own.
 
This is a marathon, nay, it’s a walk.
NOT a sprint, NOT a race. You’re not a chicken without a head and your gauge isn’t set at 100 miles.
 
Breathe and enjoy life.
Much LOVE <3

Bigger Picture

Image result for future

Once you have created time and space to think and be, you can start looking at the bigger picture, asking yourself questions like:

What kind of person do I want my baby to see me as?
What kind of family do I want to have? (and not what society is telling me!!)
What are my dreams?
What do I want to achieve?

By managing your time, creating boundaries and getting time to yourself, you can start doing 1 thing every day, or every week to create the picture you want to reflect the life you want. This will take a long time and it is an on going practice.

As cliché as it sounds, it is all about the journey.

Judgements

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When my kids were little and so many of the mums I have worked with have had this same belief:

Everyone is looking at me and thinking what a bad mother I am”

We all think it but in reality, everyone else are simply trying to cope with their own emotions and their new baby.
In reality, it is us who judge ourselves the most.

So the first step is looking at what a good mother is. Write down a few words or sentences defining what being a good mother means to you:
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Now have a look at what you have written and ask yourself these questions:
Are these my beliefs or someone else’s?
Where did I learn about motherhood from?
Does what I have learned, resonate with me or do I believe this because society says so?
Am I trusting my own instincts with my own child?

Having a look at what you have learned and what is being said to you will help you decide what kind of mum you want to be.
This is maybe the first time you are a mum and I am sure you are being given great well meaning advice from everyone you know – probably even people you pass by in the street! But just like anything else in life; YOU choose how you want to be as a mum.

How do you achieve this?
If you go at YOUR pace, create space and are self compassionate, you will learn to start hearing what your needs are and most importantly, hearing your own motherly instincts coming through.

You have full permission to trust and follow these instincts.
If you want to co-sleep, then co-sleep
If you don’t want to do the controlled crying, then don’t
If you want to take them swimming, then do

Having confidence in yourself and your instincts will make you so much happier in yourself and the cherry on top?

If you know your truth, you will not feel judged. If someone is judging you, you will soon realise it is their perception, clouded by their insecurities and NOT you.
You’ve got this.

Words from Cassi Clerget

“You are enough. You are lovely and gorgeous and wonderful. You are beautiful.

You will never be perfect, but you will always be worthy.

And there is freedom in that.

Because if you don’t have to be perfect, then you only have to be yourself. And that, my dear, is a beautiful thing.

There is no other like you. You are absolutely one of a kind. The world is brighter and better because you are in it.

So never, ever look at yourself and believe you are anything less than the amazing creation you are.

Accept who you are and revel in it. Look in the mirror and know, without a doubt, that you are so worth loving.”

~ Cassi Clerget