Gratitude does make a positive difference – if it is done properly

Times that challenge us physically, emotionally, and spiritually may make it almost impossible for us to feel grateful. Yet, we can decide to live gratefully, courageously open to life in all its fullness. ~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

In life there are good times and there are bad times. Sometimes the bad times knock you around so much it is hard to consider being grateful for anything. But gratitude is a choice.

You can choose to be grateful. To step out in courage. Because it does require courage to choose to be grateful. Gratitude allows you to live your best, most plentiful life.

Although gratitude as a therapeutic concept has been around for many years, it has become very popular lately.

I think it is a great idea. There has been much research into the impact our thoughts have on our mental well being. Filling our thoughts with the positives in our life has been shown to improve our health, our resilience and our overall mood.

It is true that the thoughts we fill our minds with have an influence on how we cope with life.


What concerns me is that there is a lack of understanding on how to practice gratitude in a helpful way.

Some people opt for the false happy statements. These ignore the understandably difficult things that happen in life and make gratitude statements that are not authentic.

The result is more pain as the ignored emotions are suppressed, only to emerge later in an amplified form.

Then there are the people who will write long statements about how miserable their life is and how badly treated they are. Then they will say they are grateful for something that has just been negated by their long sad statement.


Gratitude is finding the things in your life that you are grateful for amongst the stressful and sometimes horrible things that are happening to you.

You may be dealing with terrible grief but you are grateful for the wonderful friends you have who are willing to sit with you and care.

You may be struggling with the triggers of childhood trauma but you are grateful for the trigger today that you were able to manage.


The way I learned to express gratitude was to write down every day 10 things I am grateful for.

After I have written each gratitude point I write why I am grateful for that thing.

Once I have written the list, I go back and say out loud every gratitude and say “Thank you thank you thank you” after each one.


It helps to make a ritual out of this. If it is a ritual you pay more attention to it and take it more seriously.

Being grateful should be something you give thought to and enjoy doing.

As part of my ritual I write my list of ten gratitudes at the same time every day. Some people do it in the morning but I prefer to do it at night before I go to bed.

I also have a stone that is special to me that I hold in my hand, against my heart, as I say the gratitudes.

My stone is a piece of Ocean Jasper I bought in a crystal shop, but your stone may be one you found on the beach. It doesn’t have to cost money to have this stone.

The best stone is one small enough to hold in your hand. It should also be smooth with no rough edges to hurt you when you hold it.


There are obvious big things to be grateful for.

• I may have had a good day with something lovely happening and I felt so special.

• I may have walked on the beach and am grateful for that because the sand, water and breeze lifted my energy and left me feeling relaxed.

• I may have had a visit with a good friend and it felt to wonderful to chat and be together.

• I am grateful for my partner/children because of the love I feel for them.

There are things that I may have noticed during the day.

• The sunset was beautiful, and my spirits soared at the sight.

• I saw some birds in a tree and they were such lovely colours and I felt so happy seeing them.

• The sun was shining, and it was so lovely to sit in its warmth and feel at one with the universe.

There are the things we don’t think of to be grateful for.

• I am grateful for my feet that hold me up and get me places because it feels so great to be able to get things done.

• I am grateful that I have eyes that see the beauty around me because I feel so enriched by that beauty.

• I am grateful that my heart pumps constantly and keeps me alive because I love being alive.

• I am grateful that my stomach and intestines digest my food because then I am nourished and feel well.

Some other ideas.

• Being grateful for the opportunity to laugh at xxxx today because ….

• A good thing that happened at work that made me feel xxx because ….

• That other car letting me in when I needed to change lanes which I was so relieved at because I was getting stressed at the heavy traffic and I realised people do care after all.

The lists are endless.


It is easy to find one or two things to be grateful for. But when you need to find ten then you have to work harder and think outside the box.

This is when you start being thankful for the mundane things you take for granted.

It is when you start to realise how much about what your body does to keep you alive and functioning is something to be grateful for.

It is when you pay attention to the moments in your day looking for something to write down as a gratitude point.

When you do this, you start looking for the positives and focusing on them.

Yes there are negatives in every day, but there are also positives in every day.

Acknowledge the negatives, but don’t dwell on them. Attend to what you can change and let go of what you can’t.

Notice what is positive so that when the negatives feel overwhelming you have a long list of positives to reduce that feeling of overwhelm.


Here is a challenge.

• Start your own list of ten gratitudes every day.

• Write them in a dedicated notebook if you can. It works much better if you have somewhere dedicated to write them.

• Visit them when you need reminding of the positives in your life.

• Do them every day.

• Remember the little things you take for granted and acknowledge them too.

• Don’t forget to say “Thank you Thank you Thank you” after you have spoken every gratitude.

A Grief Reflection

Given the public holiday on the day I usually write these blogs, I thought I would post today a beautiful passage of prose from the book “How to carry what can’t be fixed” by Megan Devine.

This is a wonderful book that I highly recommend to someone struggling with grief. The book contains wonderful information and sharing on the difficulties of grief and some beautiful and helpful reflections/worksheet you may find helpful to do.

For today, here is a beautiful passage from the book.

We come to ourselves in softening, in tenderness, to become available to pain and to love. To make our hearts available. Yield, don’t fight. All is not well, and here we are with that. So we show up as tenderly as we can. Show up with tenderness for what is, softening into it. Yield.

Grief does not show you that you’ve lost your way. Grief is the way. Softening your heart is a radical act. Wanting for yourself something beautiful and gently and kind. Holding out your hands to see what comes. Holding out your heart as a place for meeting what has already come.

What is here now is love: it’s not here to make it better, not here to make grief go away, hot here to give you a reason. It’s just here.

And love sits beside you now, even when you don’t feel it, even when it seems to have disappeared from sight. Maybe love is still here with you in whatever form it can take: a love that goes beneath everything. It makes no sense. I don’t think it tries to. But there is love beneath and around and within everything.

And maybe this love knew, maybe love was there preparing you as best it could for what was to come, for what is now. maybe you have been companioned all along, through this whole life, by love in all its forms, and at all times.

As you breathe into this space, you feel a gentleness come into you now, rising up to meet you, surrounding your heart, holding your hands. Infinite love. Infinite tenderness.

Love is with you here. A love that is heartbroken for you, as much as it is heartbroken with you. Beside you, exactly here. And you breathe in all the love that’s available. All the gentleness. Meeting pain with love, we open into love.

And we come back again and again, making that choice to be present, to feel it, to receive even this – even this. All is not well, and here you are with that.

What began in love continues here along this road, on this path here.

                              May you know love.

                            May you know kindness.

                        May you be free from suffering.

And may you have hope in the continual, continuing experiment: to believe in a love that doesn’t save you, but is still your shelter and still your home.

May what you’ve found in this book help you carry what is yours to live.

Surviving the Fog and Wonky Brain of Grief

Many people suffering from loss complain about finding it hard to think.

• Do you have issues with memory?

• Do you have trouble comprehending what others are telling you, or what you are reading/watching?

• Do you have trouble with you attention span, which seems to have escaped through the window and is still absent?

These areas are the biggest area of complaint by people who see me.


The reality of grief is that it is an enormous event in your life.

You are experiencing:

• Grief

• Trauma

• Sadness

• Loneliness

• And any of a limitless list of other things you may be experiencing.


Grief is a massive load for your brain to process.

Grief can take up to 99% of the energy that is available to your brain.


That is a lot of energy and a big drain on the energy you have available to you.

Thinking activities such as remembering things, comprehending things and attending to things also require a lot of energy.


But if 99% of your available energy is taken up by grief, how much is left for everything else?


From that 1% of energy you have to organise the tasks of daily living.

You may have a job you need to attend to.

You may have other family members who rely on you to get them through the day.

You have to continue to function in a world that doesn’t stop just because you are grieving.

With so little energy available to you for the normal tasks of daily living, it is no wonder you feel you are in a constant fog where you can’t even remember when you last ate and you struggle to remember what you have done in the last few hours.


So what can you do?

• A really useful tool is to write things down. Post it notes are great because you can stick them on most surfaces. You can even write on the fridge when you last ate.

• Also, don’t fight the brain fog. Accept that it is happening and will eventually pass. You may feel unproductive during this time, but you are achieving a lot. You are grieving and that is a major work in itself.

• Make sure your need to eat, drink water, sleep and move around is the most important task for you to do.

• Congratulate yourself on the things you achieve in the day. If you ate breakfast that is a great achievement. If you drank enough water you have achieved great things.


So next time you feel you are losing your mind, don’t worry, a day will come when you will have your brain back and functioning. In the meantime, be kind to yourself and remember to congratulate yourself on everything you achieve in the day, no matter how small.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here:

Understanding your emotions

There is a belief we in western societies hold about ourselves. We believe we are cognitive driven people.

We believe that any emotions we experience are stumbled upon and quickly shut down.

Emotions are things we push down so that we can get back to our thinking selves.

That is what we are taught. It is how we are expected to behave.

But this is incorrect.


The reality is that we are emotional beings who occasionally think.


Maybe even scary.

Our behaviour and decisions are driven by our emotions.

This is not what we are taught as children.


Children are taught to listen to adults telling them what the right decision to make is. They are the ones who tell the child that they are being silly when they don’t want to go somewhere because they feel uncomfortable.

The child feels uncomfortable because their brain has observed a lot of non verbal signs and translated those into emotions to inform the child of danger. This is what we call intuition.

Then the adult is telling the child that is silly. They are telling the child to ignore their emotions. To ignore their intuition.

So we grow up believing our emotions are silly things we should run away from.

The truth is, our emotions are the driving force in our lives.


Emotions are not the baddy we are told to ignore. They are the knight in shining armour come to save us.

I was reminded of this in conversation with someone the other day. I am going to call this person Rose.

Rose was raised by a mother who expected her children to earn love by doing what she told them. A child who is not loved is a child who is in danger of being rejected. In our childhood brains rejection is death, because a child cannot survive without an adult. So to prevent rejection Rose learned to fawn, otherwise known as people pleasing.


This was a problem in that in adulthood she fawned with everyone and had trouble setting healthy boundaries.

She ignored her emotions and instead listened to her formulaic learning around what she should do. In this case what she should do was allow other people to set the agenda.


The situation Rose was in was that someone had asked her if they could prune a bush in her garden. She was so stunned by being asked this that she said yes. But deep inside she had misgivings about it. In the end she went to the other person and said no.

Rose’s behaviour was being driven by the need to earn her mother’s love.

This behaviour then became the automatic way she behaved.


Rose kept saying yes to people and then regretting it later. It was hard for her to withdraw her permission. And people treated her as though she was weird. She wanted to stop.

In our discussion we identified that Rose would often be “okay” with something and only later when she had a chance to listen to her emotions she would realise she was not okay.


The truth is you don’t have to make a decision on the spot.

Quite radical isn’t it? How often are we taught that we must give an instant response?

What most of us need is time to think. And it is absolutely okay to do that.

If you are affected like Rose maybe you would like to try what she is now doing.


When someone asks you something, tell them you can’t answer right away. You need time to think. You might want 5 minutes, an hour, a day, a week. If the other person can’t wait then the answer is no. Don’t be pushed into anything.

Take that time out to think.


The first think you will be aware of is feelings in your body. This is where we experience our emotions. They are felt in our bodies. That is why we call them feelings.

Allow yourself to explore those feelings. If you don’t yet know what they mean, allow yourself time to learn.

Your feelings will give a strong indicator about what you feel about the question.

After you have identified and explored the feelings think about what the other person has asked. What does it involve? What are your feelings telling you about the request? What does your reasoning mind tell you about the request?

Once you have given yourself time to explore your feelings and think you are then in a position to give an answer.


Remember, it is okay to say NO. If the other person doesn’t like NO don’t give in to them. Be the broken record that keeps saying NO.

Don’t forget, you don’t have to explain yourself. No is no. You do not owe the other person an explanation.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with understanding and responding to your emotions, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here:

How long does true grief last in the heart?

I get asked this a lot.

There is so much misunderstanding of grief.

Add to that the discomfort many people when in the presence of someone who is grieving and you have people being told a lot of things about how long to grieve. About what is “normal”.


The reality is grief lasts as long as it takes.

Don’t allow the discomfort of others to make you feel wrong in the way you are grieving or the length of time it is taking.

It takes as long as it takes.

Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.


Do know that you will make progress. But it will take a long time. You will have good days and you will have days when you feel no better than on the first day.

That is the experience of many other people too.


If over an extended period of time (months) you find you are still stuck in the same place you were in when your grief started then you may want to see a counsellor.


If you are supporting someone who is grieving the best approach is to ask the griever what love and support look like at this moment in time. That way you are letting them know you care and want to help. You are also letting them know the help you are prepared to give is what they want and need.

Remember our emotions are what makes us human.

Being sad is a beautiful part of being human.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here:

Henny Penny and the Great Conflict

Jasmine came to see me about her anxiety. She couldn’t identify the source of her anxiety was, she just knew she spent her time worrying about what might happen.


I often work with stories. It can be helpful sometimes. I ask if there is a fairy story/myth that you can think of that relates to your situation.

When I asked Jasmine she replied the story of Henny Penny related to her.


Jasmine wasn’t sure why, but thought it was because Henny Penny was constantly anxious about things. In this case, that the sky would fall on her head.

Henny Penny was a hen living in a barnyard. One day as she was pecking up food from the ground an acorn fell off a tree and hit her on the back of her head. She didn’t know what hit her. She jumped to the conclusion that a piece of sky had fallen on her head. She was terrified. The sky was falling!

The story continues but it was this fear of the sky falling that struck a chord with Jasmine. This was her feeling of dread. The same dread henny penny experienced at the looming danger of the sky falling.


Over time I taught Jasmine to be more aware of her feelings and to explore her anxiety when she noticed it. As she became more proficient at identifying her anxiety she identified her biggest anxiety being around work.


The biggest problem there was James. He was brash and loud and very toxic. James liked things his way. He liked to be the centre of attention. Everyone was expected to like him and he decided who was in the in crowd.

Jasmine’s manager thought James was wonderful and never offered her support or asked James to stop his behaviour despite being witness to it on a number of occasions.

James didn’t like Jasmine. She didn’t go along with his games, preferring to get on with her work. James did not like that and went out of his way to exclude her and interfere with her work.

He made noise, took things from her desk and spoke disparagingly about her sometimes within earshot.


One day Jasmine had enough. James took her last pen from her desk. She was stuck in a meeting with no pen to write notes with. So she went to James to speak about it.

Jasmine had rehearsed in session with me how to talk to James in a “win-win” conflict resolution way.


There were a few rules to adhere to:

• Decide what you want to resolve and stick to that

• Be a broken record, repeating what it is you want

• Use I language such “When xxx happened I felt xxx and I would like xxxx.

• Avoid the use of “you” which can be threatening. Of course you may have to use “you” on occasion but use it sparingly and in a non threatening way

• Don’t be led astray by “red herrings”. These are things the other person may throw in to take you off topic. Just say “We are not talking about that we are talking about …” and back to the broken record.

• If things get heated, or the other person refuses to participate in a healthy way with the conversation walk away after announcing that the conversation is getting heated/unhelpful etc. and it is a good idea for both parties to have a break.

• When you feel the conversation has reached a point where you have got your point across and the other person is still not accepting that. Reiterate what you want and walk away.


So that is what Jasmine did.

James did not like Jasmine having this discussion with him. He tried all sorts of tactics to gain control of the conversation.

“You did such and such to this other person”. We are not talking about that, we are talking about the things that are being taken from my desk.

“No-one likes you”. We are not talking about that, we are talking about the things that are being taken from my desk.

“You have never said this was a problem before”. Yes I have, I raised this on xxx occasion and you reacted by excluding me from the office team.

Whatever James threw at her Jasmine ignored it. She became the broken record that kept to task.

When she had her say she ended the conversation and walked away.

James tried to keep it going with more red herrings being hurled at her as she walked away, but she ignored it.

Jasmine also reported the incident to the HR department, in line with company policy.


When Jasmine came to see me she felt great. She wasn’t sure why but after discussions she realised that in this conversation she had been able to express herself.

Her voice was not silenced as it had been in the past. She had held on to her power.

James’s behaviour had been making her feel powerless and he continued that in this conversation, but she did not allow him to take her power this time. She held on to her power and controlled the conversation her way.

Jasmine was initially worried she would get into trouble with her boss but discovered James had said nothing to the boss.. James did not have the power she had given him.


Bullying is very common. It can occur in families, in friendship groups, among neighbours, in communities, in the work place.

There is a fear in this society about bullying and calling the bullies out.

Most people who were bullied as children will recall being gaslit when they tried to get help.

• “what did you do to start this?”

• “We must teach you to behave so that the bullies won’t target you”

• “You’re overreacting”

• “Xxx is such a nice person”

• “You just have to learn to get along”

• “In the Bible it says you must get along with people/submit to this person/honour this person”

Even adults seem paralysed when it comes to standing up to bullies, even when the bullies are children.

Most people prefer to keep their heads down and try not to get noticed. This is behaviour learned in childhood.

Few people have the courage to stand up to bullies or defend others from bullying.


Bullying is frightening and disempowering. Even if you resist and stand firm, there is always that fear of the next time they try it.

Thus starts the Henny Penny anxiety.

I see a lot of people who are being bullied. It is awful to be on the receiving end of this behaviour. It is also awful to see how others are too frightened to stand up and support you or happily join in the bullying.

If it happens to you:

• Keep a record of every incident, no matter how trivial.

• Record anything that is said.

• Take photos of any damage/vandalism.

• Seek help. Ask the police if this person is doing anything they can act on. Ask your local council if this person is doing anything they can act on.

• If the person is a neighbour and is renting, make a formal complaint to the managing agent, listing the behaviours and providing evidence you have collected.

• If the person is a family member or part of your friend group seek help within the group. You may not get help, but it is important to try. You may find others in the group share similar experiences or a prepared to support you. If need be, separate yourself from this person and any who back them. That is hard to do, and it is unfair, but you need to keep your health and people who won’t support you are not necessarily the best people to be around.

• If the bullying is in the workplace report the issue to your superiors. Workplaces are supposed to have policies around reporting of bullying. If there is no policy contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.

• Seek counselling support to help you with the trauma and hurt.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your anxiety and being bullied, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: