Is Fear Holding You Back?

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all feel fear at times.

It’s human – it’s built in; it signals danger and if we listen, we move in the other direction.

But too many people are overwhelmed with fear – it has taken over their lives. Some don’t even know it. Fear often drives people to isolation, which can only lead to more fear.

Addicts, for example, suffer from exaggerated fears. The literature on alcoholics claims they suffer from ‘100 forms of fear… the very fabric of their existence is riddled through with it’. That’s an abnormal amount of fear that makes everything look like danger.

Fear is the great divider.

It stands between you and everything that is good and whole in your life.

I know a little about fear. There was a time when ‘the very fabric of my existence was riddled through with it’. I had an anxious, fearful mother and she had good reason to be. Nonetheless, she set the stage for me to become an anxious, fearful person.

For example: In my late 20s I went on a spiritual quest to find myself. I decided I was going to go to the Queen Charlotte Islands, now known as Haida Gwaii. I knew it was a spiritual place and that I would find something there. My mother was beside herself with fear at the thought of me traveling alone with nothing but a backpack. She attempted to ‘forbid’ me to go because “don’t you know that they have the largest black bears in North America on that island?“. I didn’t know that until she decided to enlighten me on it. She was terrified for my safety. I told her she was ridiculous and that I didn’t believe that my destiny was to get eaten by a black bear at this point in my life.

Fear migrates

Fear is a funny thing. It migrates – it gets inside of you, even if you believe it’s nonsense. Her fear got into me. I spent the first two full days of my trip looking over my shoulder waiting for the enormously large black bear to come racing out of the bush and eat me alive. I was a nervous wreck. I knew I was doomed if I didn’t do something soon.

I decided to have a good talking with myself on the third day. If I continued this way, I would miss the entire point of being there – to find a connection to a creative power that exists for Good.  I wasn’t there to meet my death. I needed to put aside my mother’s fears and live in my own truth. I stopped looking over my shoulder, [for the most part] and decided instead to trust that I was being guided and protected. I had an extraordinary time for the rest of the trip. I never even saw a black bear!

Are your fears real?

Some fears are inherited multi-generationally, which is true for me. My mother’s experience during WWII and the unresolved trauma and loss was passed down in many ways.  Real danger must be defended against. But how much of what we fear, constitutes a real danger and how much has been fabricated, and are keeping us stuck. Think of it this way:

F. – false
E. – evidence
A. – appearing
R. – real

Like the proverbial elephant, tied to a post and walking only in circles around the post – once released many years later, doesn’t realize she is free and stays put.

Are you tied to the post?

There are so many ways that our early years shape the landscape of our fears.  “I’m not good enough, smart enough, handsome enough, pretty enough….” The list can go on and on.  Without a secure attachment and healthy parental encouragement, we live in fear – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being alone, fear of being impoverished, or of being ‘too much’ for others to handle.

Too many of us spend majority of our lives trying to guard against fear-fear of flying, fear of strangers, fear of sickness, and fear of death!

Left unchecked, these fears begin to multiply and rent way too much space in our lives.

The Fear Inventory

I think it’s critical to a good life that we take a fear inventory from time to time.

We ask ourselves if we are growing spiritually or not – I mean ‘everyday spirituality’ which consists of being our highest selves in our relationships. It means working meaningfully to make the world a better place.

The worst fears of all are the unconscious ones because they are quietly and unknowingly guiding our every action.

Doing our best to make these conscious makes its easier to look our fear in the face and put them to a test.

Take a piece of paper and a pen and write down:

1. Three things that you fear the most – be curious; be honest; and be willing to admit your truth.It might be that financial insecurity is a leading fear. It might be a fear of rejection or not fitting in. It might be a fear of being alone.

2. Next to that write down where you learned that fear – where it came from in your history. List as many times or ways that this has manifested in your life, including influential people who may have had the same fears and modeled it for you.

3. Then describe how it has held you back from doing things or making decisions in your life that may have led to greater satisfaction or happiness.

4. Make a decision “yes” or “no” about whether you want to keep this fear or not.

5. Commit to a new level of awareness each time you feel the fear, to make an affirmation that replaces the fear.  It could be as simple as “I am safe”.  “I am loved”.  “I am secure”.  Whatever the words are, use them as a “power phrase” to bring new consciousness to dissolve the hold that this fear has had up to now.

You’ve undoubtedly heard it said, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself“.  Even though it sounds cheesy, it’s true. Once fear is gone, all problems associated with it are gone.

Moving beyond fear

If we weren’t so afraid of our fears we would free up that energy to place into the life of our dreams, our goals and the people around us.

Conscious or unconscious – both must be looked at to be uncovered, discovered and discarded. They need to be recognized for the ‘false evidence appearing real’ that they are.

Fear can be overcome. I know this from personal experience. I also know it from helping countless others face their fears and overcome them.

If that is something you think could benefit you and your life, reaching out for professional help can be one way that you might succeed at this task.

All the best,

Retreat and Refocus

Focusing on Your Aim of Life

East = Inward

A few times a year, I exit from my busy life running a therapy centre to go on meditation retreat. I’m here now studying under Kriyayoga Master, Yogi Satyam and enjoying the opportunity to look deeper within myself. The theme important to me is staying focused on my aim of life. In eastern psychology, there is a fundamental belief that we are born with innate wisdom, knowledge and all power. It is considered our true nature but it gets obscured through social conditioning. We are taught from birth to look outward to know our self and to figure out our purpose in life.

In Eastern practices, on the other hand, the focus of our attention is inward. We concentrate inside with the aim to feel the presence of the Divine energy that flows through all life. This Omnipresent Spirit is all knowing (intuition) and provides a sense of peace, all kinds of power, and bliss (ever new joy). Kriyayoga meditation is the highest form of practice to reach this aim.

West = Outward

 

So many of us in the west are overwhelmed by the constant struggles and seeming lack of meaning in life. What is the purpose of my life? What exactly am I supposed to accomplish here? If money can’t buy happiness, then what can? Is there something in the unseen realms that can help us manage the limitations of physical existence?

To cope, many of us get lost in the throes of addiction or compulsive activities, like work or exercise. Or some of us develop an unhealthy dependency on others to confirm a sense of worthiness, or to ward off loneliness. It is easy to criticize those who do so, yet it is the cultural conditioning that is at fault; that sets us all up for striving externally for a sense of contentment within.

East Meets West

In the west we value scientific discovery and “proof”. Skeptics ask, “How do we prove that this Divine wisdom underlies all of creation?” But there is proof and those who want it must be willing to do the experiment of self-realization. This experiment is the inward journey and the laboratory is your own self. And like any scientific enquiry, “If you do the experiment (of prayer & meditation), you will not be able to deny the experience”.

There is a lot of scientific data on the effects of meditation, especially for serious long-term meditators. But the benefits can be felt immediately with even a little regular practice. It leads to a more positive overall outlook on life; more peace and calm and less loneliness.

What gives life purpose? To sum up: it is being of service. It is a feeling that what you do matters in some small way and that you matter. In other words, the “spirit” moves us in our lives to stay active in meaningful ways. Often people believe service work means doing international charity work, but that’s not necessary. Being of service can be as simple as caring lovingly and responsibly for the plants, animals and people in your life.

The World is One Home 

Last night’s lecture was titled “The world is one home”.  We were asked to open our minds and be flexible enough to feel at home no matter where we are and no matter who we are with. Is it possible to let go just a little of our attachment to the concept and comfort of “mine”?

For those who are willing to take this journey, the rewards are immense. Meditation isn’t about a short period of time sitting on a cushion. Nor is faith just a blind belief in something unseen that we have no connection to. Instead, we must begin to live our Faith –  that guides us to align with our highest Self. Faith is belief in the Eternal Substance that was present before, is present now and will be in the future. In Kriyayoga meditation, we practice connecting with this Truth, resulting in greater health, ever new peace & joy and a sense of purpose in life.

Start Your Experiment in the Aim for Peace

 

These wonderful qualities, which are the antidote to our anxiety, depression and sense of overwhelm with life cannot be given to us by anything external. They cannot be given to you by another person, no matter how much they love you. No amount of money, property or prestige can provide it either.

These qualities can only come from within – from your ongoing commitment to cultivate a deep connection with the Source of all that is peace, power and knowledge.

Each of our paths is unique. You must find what works for you. Have you found your practice to more inner peace? If not, I hope you will consider the search worthwhile. I hope also that you will spend time in the next while in the experiment, so that you don’t miss the experience.

Wishing you peace & happiness,
 
Sue

7 Keys to Happiness

Could you use more happiness in your life? I’m Sue Diamond Potts and I recently learned what factors are involved in the lives of the happiest people in the world. It may surprise you to find out it’s not what most people are chasing after. If you are someone who has struggled with depression, anxiety or relationship distress, chances are you could benefit from knowing what things you can do to develop a happier life.

Happiness varies

My happiness has been all over the map throughout my life. I believe I was born pretty happy (but then I think most of us are, quite frankly). Due to circumstances beyond my control I had quite an unhappy childhood and adolescence. Like most kids in homes where there is addiction and/or violence, life events blew happiness out the door. I didn’t know much about having fun outside of high risk behaviour that shot my adrenaline way up.

I became a mother early in life so I had to grow up fast. I worried a lot as a young adult and often made bad decisions that led to more worry. ‘Anxious’ was my middle name as I fretted about making ends meet financially or about why the last relationship didn’t work out – again.

Eventually, I began my healing journey which, while long and arduous, resulted in my happiness factor increasing significantly. I dealt with my addiction to drugs and alcohol and went back to school so I could follow my passion and earn a decent income. Fast forward to today and all of these efforts mean that I now live a life full of purpose, contentment and yes, much happiness.

If I were to graph my happiness on a timeline – it would have started high, sunk very low for a time and then gradually increased to somewhere off the chart.

Positive psychology and your happiness

Recently I heard some research in the positive psychology field shared by neuroscientist Susan Pierce Thompson. This data is from studies with what are considered the happiest people in the world. It confirms that my current state of happiness is because I’m doing a lot of things right. As I studied these factors, I also saw that there were ways I could improve my life and set better goals for even more happiness.

It became clear to me that all of us can make better choices that lead us towards what some people boldly state is our purpose in life: to be happy!

Here are the 7 keys to happiness found by researchers in the positive psychology field

1.  Meditation which activates the left pre-frontal cortex (PFC) of the brain, where positive emotions live. Depressed people have over activation in the right PFC- where negative emotions live.

 

 
2.  Human Connection:  it’s the biggest lever-mover – marriage, friendships, playtime.  In fact, married people have an initial spike in their happiness and afterwards reset their baseline at a higher level of happiness.
 
 

 

 

 

3.  Touch: close intimate connection to others is the #1 predictor of wellbeing. (In a study of baby monkeys who were given the choice to have access to milk from a wire mother monkey or no milk but a furry mother monkey, they overwhelmingly forfeited their food for the comfort of a furry snuggle.) Nurturing touch soothes us to our core and helps us know we are not alone.

 
4.  Health promoting habits:  Yes, indeed, if you are eating well, getting some exercise, are sleeping enough as well as resting when needed, you are much happier.  It seems simple but many of us struggle with attending adequately to these basic physiological needs.
 
5.  Meaningful work:  This occurs in the place where your skills & talents overlap with your passion and interests. I believe the important ingredient in this formula is also the sense of being of service in what you do.  Our passion ought to make us feel like we are giving to our communities in a way that makes a positive difference, whether that’s in the field of finance, social work, or law enforcement, etc.

 

6.  Spirituality: which is not religion – in fact, it can even be, although it doesn’t have to be, the opposite of religion.  It has more to do with a feeling of being a part of the greater whole – that is both intelligent and compassionate. When you feel a part of the omniscient power that flows through all of life, then you are never completely alone – and always connected (see #2).

 

7.  Ambition:  it turns out that striving makes some people happy.  It is a personality trait called ‘achievement orientation’ and involves hobbies, intellectual growth, etc. If this applies to you then “excellence’ matters and you have a drive to continually challenge yourself.  The Latin term for this is “meliora”, which means, ‘ever-better’. 

 

 

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Your happiness strengths

As you read this list, what do you resonate with the most?  In other words, what are you already doing that is making you a happier person?  Is there a way you might increase the frequency and/or intensity of those items for greater effect? For example, I am a very ambitious person so I was thrilled to find that item on the list. It validated something important and provided permission to expand this aspect of my life, knowing it rewarded me in a very positive and fundamental way.

Your happiness deficits

There may be items on the list that you don’t do or that you used to do but don’t anymore and you can recognize the difference it makes in your life. Noticing what is missing from your life might hold the key to your next level of wellbeing?

Some of you may feel stuck in unfulfilling jobs, driven by the fear that something terrible will happen if you reach for more meaningful work. Others of you will find that your close, personal relationships need fortifying or revamping. And others of you will have learned early in life that human touch was hurtful or even dangerous and you haven’t been able to break the bondage of those experiences in order to be nurtured by others.

Whatever your missing link is, ask yourself if you are willing to risk adding one more ingredient to your daily routine in the service of greater happiness.

Focus & resilience

It turns out that people who set goals tend to be more successful in their endeavours. It’s because it requires both focus and resilience and these attributes help us in so many ways.

You have the main part to play in your own happiness. Sure, trauma and tragedy impacts us and yet, if we decide to move through it and beyond, happiness is waiting for us on the other side.

Please feel free to share your insights below  – I’d love to hear what you think of the list and what is next for you.

Blessings,

p.s. – Your happiness is important for more than one reason. You matter – we all matter. As each of us becomes the change we want to see in the world, the world becomes a brighter, better place to be. Make the commitment today to do one thing to increase your happiness.  

If you or someone you know or love is struggling with addiction, trauma or relationship problems don’t hesitate to contact us.  We are here for you.

The 4 Agreements for Peace of Mind

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Going on Retreat

At the end of August each year I attend a 2-week meditation retreat. This is an important time for me to exit from my busy life and look inward and upward for direction in my life.  There is a large group of us who congregate at these events and we generally like each other’s company a lot.  We have time to socialize in the morning over coffee (@ 5:30 am) prior to practice, and we work together during the daytime breaks, creating a sense of community and personal usefulness for being of service.

But the most important part takes place during the 3 meditation sessions each day, which can last from 2 – 5 hours in length. As we are guided by our Guru to connect more and more with the power, peace and knowledge that exists within, all sorts of insights, memories, insecurities and competencies are revealed. Studying ancient Eastern spirituality gives a refreshing perspective that can provide a rudder and a search light in life.  It allows each of us to recognize we are much more than our physical self or our so-called material or professional success. This opens up new ways of being in the world that for me, are much more meaningful.

Life comes with a healthy dose of suffering for most of us. Survival often means putting up our guards and moving on, never really resolving or making peace with the hurt and/or anger. During meditation I get an uninterrupted opportunity to pull down the zipper on my defenses and begin to embrace parts of myself that are normally drowned out by the noise of everyday life.

heart-864114_1920Taking Time to Look Within

Growing up I learned not think too highly of myself because it was considered arrogant – “full of myself”.  I learned that any real success came with a price tag – the danger of losing those who could not or would not dare to risk, like I was willing to. The benefit of looking within is the opportunity to heal old messages that can damage self esteem and cripple our significant relationships.  I had one such message surface, totally unexpectedly one day.

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-6-43-12-pmHere’s what happened.  My mind began to wander onto a presentation I was planning for my Master Mentoring group, based on something I was “proud” of.  I knew what I wanted to do and I was letting myself play with some ideas about it. Then, suddenly – like a great white shark torpedoing out of the depths of the darkness – came this immense sorrow. I was crying as I “remembered” how embarrassed I was made to feel for being “too big for my britches”.  As hard as it is to make sense of, it was not ok to be too happy, too smart or too proud of my accomplishments.  An environment where achieving 98% on a test was not enough, leaves little room for feeling good about one’s self or for building on one’s success. I know I’m not alone when I talk about the shaming I endured for wanting more from life. I’ve talked to so many others who have had similar experiences to this.

 

Transforming Pain

I embraced this ‘feeling memory’ that surfaced and created a loving acceptance that despite all the years of therapy I have done, there was still residual pain around this issue. Transforming pain begins with the conscious awareness that it exists.  Only then can we pledge to disentangle the pain of the past from the life we chose in the present.  Our present can be full of success and proud and grateful moments – only if we can allow it. We can only allow it if we are not running on old limiting beliefs about our worthiness.

The greatest gift we get from creating time and space to go inward is the ability to access the wisdom that is already there – to “know” that we really do have everything we are seeking externally, within ourselves. That’s why I love “The 4 Agreements” – that small but powerful book written by Don Miguel Ruiz.  He has summed up how to keep our focus on what matters – bringing our best qualities forward. By developing this awareness, we can live a good life based on sound principles. 

I think when Ruiz wrote his book, he was offering us a recipe for accessing the best of ourselves that is lying dormant within.

The 4 Agreements are:51mfvdolekl

  1. Be impeccable with you word.  This means to speak truthfully but also do so in a way that does not hurt others.
  2. Don’t take anything personally. This means that you begin to separate yourself out from what others say and do and recognize that it is a projection of their inner world.  As Ruiz says, “when you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
  3. Don’t make assumptions. This means that we have to develop a curiosity about others that allows us to ask good questions and get to know someone without believing that we can or should know. If you think about, the only way you would know is by ‘assuming’ the other was ‘just like you’ as you are your only point of reference.
  4. Always do your best. This means you accept that on any given day all you can and must ask of yourself is to show up and make an effort. It doesn’t mean you are always going to be “on” and in fact, the real test comes when you can allow the flow of energy within to guide you.  Some days you may have tons of energy and others very little. In the former, you get a lot done, in the latter, you learn to take time to rest. This is what it means to be your best.

 

Putting it in Practice

If this is important to you, see if you can make some time and space in your busy life to challenge yourself to apply one of the 4 agreements each day.  Put your focus on this task without being hard on yourself in any way, or setting your expectations too high. Know that if you begin to bring awareness to how you are being more of who you aspire to be; this is who you will become. Feel free to leave a comment letting us know about your success. 

Next time, I’ll send out a follow up that focuses on how we can use the 4 agreements in our relationships.

Until then, I wish all the best in you from the best in me,

sue-signature-small

Did You Know…Chronic Fatigue, Frequent Confusion and High Anxiety Can Be A Direct Result of Unresolved Trauma?

 According to healthline.com,

 ‘A traumatic event is an incident that causes physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological harm. The person experiencing the distressing event may feel threatened, anxious, or frightened as a result. In some cases, they may not know how to respond, or may be in denial about the effect such an event has had.’

When most of us hear the word trauma, we may assume it is caused by dramatic life events such as a car accident, war, sudden death, addiction, physical abuse. While most of this is true, trauma can also be caused by subtle events seeming so insignificant, we may be tempted to deny their effect on us, or we simply may not even be aware how they’ve affected us.

Regardless of what events caused it, living with unresolved trauma is not benign. Chronic trauma -wether we are aware of it or not- interferes with our automatic responses to potential threats. These reactions are most often known as the three F’s, or our fight/flight/freeze instincts.

Problems with processing the fight, flight and freeze responses is sometimes compared to a vehicle with the accelerator fully engaged, while also having the brakes fully engaged. Obviously, a vehicle would not hold up for very long under that amount stress and conflicting forces.

This is also true for the human body. Confusion and the inability to properly process traumatic situations cause extreme stress. If this continues for prolonged periods, eventually even the smallest amount of stress will become too difficult to handle. Common issues like being caught in heavy traffic or even small adjustments needed in your daily routine, will become overwhelming and the stress levels will feel severe.

How Do I Know If I Need Trauma Therapy?

You may need trauma therapy services if:

  • – You seem to repeat the same pattern of becoming involved with traumatic relationships and situations
  • – You feel exhausted and have a difficult time relaxing or getting rest
  • – You experience frequent periods of depression and have feelings of constant anxiety without any relief
  • – You use substances for self-medication and have dependency issues with alcohol, drugs, a shopping addiction, sexual addictions or other extreme behaviour
  • – You experience constant pain, chronic exhaustion, insomnia or other physical issues as a result of difficulties with processing trauma

The good news is, the brain is a very powerful organ, and possesses the ability to re-organize itself to new thoughts, patterns and neuro-pathways. With the help of trauma therapy, you can overcome trauma by learning new skills.

You can begin to feel more complete and whole by both making sense of your experience while working out the stress caught in your body memory. This will “quench” the kindled nervous system. That means you can slowly and effectively reduce the amount of stress you are carrying inside and replace it with a sense of your own resiliency (inner strength).

If you or someone you know or love is struggling with addiction, trauma or relationship problems don’t hesitate to contact us.  We are here to help you and your loved ones recover and find inner peace.

Please feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

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