The Energy Of All Things – 11 Ways To Raise Your Energy.

When I talk to people about all things having an energy, even inanimate objects, they often look at me as though I am weird. But do you know that Albert Einstein theorised this very thing? Quantum science has now proven Einstein’s theory by using sensitive instruments to measure the energy objects give off.

Nikola Tesla, who pioneered modern electrical systems spoke of the understanding of the Universe being unlocked by measuring energy, frequency and vibrations.

Energy Vibrations

Vibrations are best defined as being states of being. As the energy given off by something or someone. Vibrations exist because the atoms that are the building blocks of all things vibrate. Different types of atoms vibrate at different speeds. Even things like wood, rocks, the ground vibrate.

This is where the trendy term “vibes” comes from. The theory of all things vibrating at different frequencies.

Often that term is misused by people who don’t understand the true meaning of vibrations or the science behind them.

We Can All Sense Energy Vibrations

It is possible for animals and people to sense vibrations. We don’t consciously do it. Vibrations are part of non verbal communication. We can detect such communication without being aware we are doing it. Of course you can consciously choose to become aware of these sensations, but in reality you pick them up anyway.

You give off vibrations all the time. You can’t not do it.

I realised this many years ago when people always seemed to pick up on the days when I had a low mood, even though I deliberately suppressed it and didn’t tell others how I was feeling.

Energy Attracts Or Repels

In life those vibrations are what often attract or repel us to/from other people. It is why you may avoid a particular person when you are feeling down because you have sensed subconsciously that their negative energy will drag you down.

If you are feeling lacking in energy, or depressed, you are likely to give off lower frequency vibrations than at times when you are feeling upbeat, happy, full of energy. If you are angry the vibrations you give off will be different again.

Energy is A Vital Part of Intuition

If you pay attention to these deep seated messages, the ones that get bundled into the term “intuition”, you will become aware of the way some people attract you and others repel you.

Interestingly researchers have devised a scale for the energy levels of different emotions. The scale ranges from zero to 1,000. This is how various feelings have been ranked:

• 20 – shame

• 100 – fear

• 200 – courage, being willing to take responsibility for your own actions and feeling and also the first level of empowerment. Interesting to know that empowerment has an energy ranking!

• 500 – love

• 700 – enlightenment

Reiki, a form of energy healing, has been found to have the capacity to raise a person’s personal vibration. This also impacts on the Reiki practitioner which explains why not only my client but I also experience higher energy after I perform a Reiki healing on my client.

All Energy Levels Are Important To Experience

As with all things in life, it is important to experience the highs and the lows. Those lower energy experiences are not pleasant, but they are the place where we are able to learn, change and grow.

As part of mindfulness practice, I teach clients to pay attention to their energy levels. What am I feeling now? What is my energy? It is possible to develop awareness of your energy levels and even work at ways to improve your energy.

Once your energy starts to lift is keeps lifting. High energy attracts more energy, whereas low energy repels energy.

11 Ways To Raise Your Energy

There are 11 ways you can bring yourself out of a low energy state and into higher vibration energy.

1.Gratitude.

Making a conscious decision to see the things to be thankful for increases your energy vibrations. Remembering that at the energy vibration of 200 you are empowered, raising that energy level will lead to you feeling more powerful. Understanding that you have that control, that life is full of things to be thankful for, increases your wisdom as well.

2.Moving Your Body

Moving your body can also raise your energy vibrations. Conversely, sitting too long will drop them.

Have you ever noticed how you resist moving when you are feeling resentful and wanting to hold on to that feeling? Once you start moving through rhythmic movement it is hard to maintain that level of energy.

Dancing, especially to music is one of the most effective ways to move your body and raise those energy vibrations. You can dance at an exercise class or dance at home on your own. Research suggests that 10 minutes of moving to your favourite music will start shifting your energy vibrations upwards.

3.Eat Nutrient Dense Foods

Food has its own energy vibration. The more nutrient dense the food is, the better the energy vibration.

Have you ever noticed how weighed down you feel after indulging in a lot of junk food? Even alcohol can reduce your energy levels.

On the flip side, you may have noticed that when you eat well you feel so much lighter.

Food has a major impact on your energy vibrations.

4.Meditation

As I have already mentioned, Mindfulness meditation trains you to be aware of your body. You can better understand your own energy vibrations and be better able to address those issues that lower your energy.

5.Touch

There has been a lot of research over the past decade or so on the benefits of touch.

The finding that premature babies do better when they are touched has led to skin to skin contact with their parents becoming common practice. This has led to better outcomes and higher survival rates among these babies.

Research has also found the negative impact of the lack of touch for the elderly living in nursing homes or isolated at home.

Simply touching someone on the arm when they are distressed is comforting. If you have ever had someone do that to you then you will probably be aware of that comforting sensation. It is soothing, sends the message you are not alone and that someone cares. In fact researchers have found that touch can be a very effective pain relief.

Massage is a form of touch that is particularly powerful. It has been shown to rebalance hormones and reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

Touch releases a powerful hormone often referred to as the love hormone. This hormone is oxytocin. It assists people to feel that sense of connection and safety. It also increases energy vibrations. Higher energy of course means you will feel better and happier.

6.Giving and Receiving

Withholding love, time or even making negative comments about others lowers your energy frequency. Conversely, being generous with your praise, love and time raises your energy. Making the effort to give to others generously increases what you receive as well. So everyone benefits.

7.Be with Positive People

When you spend time with friends who have a high energy it raises your energy as well. This is why it is sometimes better when you are feeling low to make the decision to go out and set the intention to enjoy yourself. That raises your energy so it doesn’t bring your friends down and their high energy raises yours.
If the friends you are with understand your difficulties and want to support you then you can raise your energy higher.

8.Make the Decision to Open Your Heart.

Is there someone in your life, either now or in the past, who you loved so much that even thinking about them made you feel happy and lighter?

Did thinking about them make you feel better and that your mood lifted?

Love is one of the highest energy vibration states you can experience. When you love someone your energy is always raised and you feel on top of the world.

Loving yourself is also important. When you spend time caring for you and doing nice things for you that lifts your mood as well.

A great example of that is when you get a new outfit that you feel looks great on you. Or you get a new hairstyle and you are very happy with that. You walk out feeling on top of the world. This is self love.

9.Breathing

When life is stressful you tend to take shallow, quick breaths. This sends a message to your brain that you are in danger and increases cortisol levels in your body. The more you shallow breathe the higher the cortisol levels rise.

It is important to breathe slowly and deeply when you start to feel stressed. There are various ways you can deepen your breathing and slow it down.

• One is to breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4 and wait for 4 before taking the next breath.

• Another is to breathe in, paying attention to your tummy and chest as they rise. You may like to place a hand over your chest and another over your tummy and focus on feeling them rise as you slowly breathe in. If you are breathing properly you will feel them both rise.
When you finish the in breath hold your breath for a few seconds.
Then breathe out slowly through pursed lips.
After a few breaths you can imagine you are breathing in peace as you breathe in and breathing out tension as you breathe out.
It is a good idea to do this exercise until you feel calmer.
A minimum of 10 breaths works best.

10.A Nice Warm Bath

If you like baths then you can try the old favourite of a lovely bath. Lock the door, dim the lights, light some candles and add some lovely bath oils to the water. You could even play some relaxing music.

Make sure the water is quite warm but not so hot it makes you sweat.

Water is a great energy lifter and many people find this practice relaxing and energising.

11.Be In Nature

Extensive research has shown the benefits of being in nature. Blood pressure lowers, cortisol levels lower and people feel more relaxed. Your energy levels also rise.

Even looking at pictures of nature is relaxing and energising, although no substitute for the real thing.

If you are not close to bushland then going to a park or the beach is effective.

Place your feet flat on the ground and pay attention to the feeling in the soles of your feet as you connect to the ground. Feel the energy of the earth as it enters your feet, then moves up your body. Don’t worry if you can’t feel it immediately, it can take time to learn to connect to energy.

Another thing you can do is hug or touch a tree. It is not a joke, you really can feel the energy of the tree by touching it.

Sitting listening to the sounds of the trees in the breeze, to birds, insects is calming. If you go to the beach you can stand bare foot at the ends of the water and allow the waves to gently touch your feet. Listen to the sound of the waves, the wind, and the birds.

All these things are really relaxing and energising.

If you have a garden, spending time out in the garden with your plants and the grass can also be energising.

I Practice What I Preach

I am often asked what I do to manage with the big stories and low energy of so many beautiful souls who come to see me.

Firstly I reply that it is a privilege to work with such strong survivors, battered as they are, they are determined to heal.

Second I reply that I have my own practices that keep my energy high so that I can share that energy with those who come to see me.

I do follow the 11 ways in my own life, here are some of the things I do:

• Gratitude. I have a daily practise of writing down 10 things I am grateful for at the end of each day. I also make not during the day of anything I think is wonderful and express gratitude for it. Examples of this are: a beautiful sunrise, watching the birds in my garden, seeing a dog smiling up at its owner as it is being walked, someone letting me out of the end of my street in heavy traffic, a child running around with delight and so many more.
I make my entire day an opportunity to express gratitude.
I also set the intention that I am not going to get annoyed by the things other people do. To counter annoyance I look for something good to say about that person. That quickly defuses any annoyance I may be feeling.

• Moving my body. I dance to music, walk through the bush, and never miss an opportunity to express my delight through movement.

• Eating nutrient dense food: I delight to eat as many wholefoods as I can, while avoiding foods high in sugar. I eat a lot of vegetables, which I love. I have learned to take the time to notice what I am eating and enjoy it, and by doing that needing less food. I love how good my body feels when I eat nutrient dense foods.

• Mindfulness and other meditation. I get up early every morning and start the day with meditation. Sometimes I listen to a guided meditation, sometimes I listen to music and focus on the music. Other times I focus on my breath. After I am finished I stretch my body then meditatively paint.
As a Reiki practitioner I meditate on the 5 Reiki Principles to release my investment in staying hurt and angry, to release worry and be mindful of the present moment, to be grateful and appreciate all the wonders and blessings of life, to do my work diligently, even seemingly small insignificant tasks and to show compassion for all living things.
This is a wonderful way to reset and to set the tone of the rest of the day.

• Touch. I love giving and receiving hugs. I hug my family, my dogs, my friends. I grew up in a family that never touched. Learning how to hug opened up my world in such a powerful way.
I also schedule regular massages to help settle my nervous system.

• Giving and Receiving. I give compassion and acceptance to as many people as I can. When I encounter other people I choose to consider their needs and what is happening in their lives rather than find fault or take offense with what they do.
When I am hurt by the things of life, or feeling overwhelmed I have a beautiful tribe of women I can turn to for support. I have learned to be very proactive in seeking help.

• Be with positive people. I have found in my life that being with the people I know who lift my energy is important. It helps that those people are such beautiful, caring people. I have also learned to not take on the negative energy of others.
I also have made the decision to not have contact with people who are overwhelmingly negative and sap my energy. This is about honouring my needs and my self care.

• I choose to open my heart and risk having friendships with other people. I know that if I am burned in that relationship I will hurt and need time to feel that hurt and heal from it. But I am strong enough to survive.
I will continue to risk hurt by opening myself to friendships.

• Breathing. As part of my meditative practice I focus on my breathing and on breathing deeply and slowly. Because I practice this it is easy for me to practice slowing and deepening my breathing when I am in a stressful situation.

• I do on occasion have a nice warm bath. It is a lovely way to destress.

• Be in nature. As often as I can I go out into nature. I hug trees, sit at their base, sit beside water as it runs past in creeks and cascades. I gaze at the sky, noting the clouds and the colours of the sky. I look for the moon and the different constellations of stars in the night sky. I listen for the sounds of the birds in the day and the flying foxes and owls at night. I love to walk amongst the trees and look up at their magnificence and delight in the wonder of them. Even if I can’t get out into the bush there are places near where I live where trees tower over the footpath and I can gaze up at them.
It is not hard to incorporate the 11 ways to raise your energy into your life. Why not try it yourself?

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with learning to raise your energy, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au
If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

3 Questions That May Help You With Those Thoughts That Go Around And Around In Your Head

So many people struggle with thoughts that go around and around in their heads. Not nice thoughts, but ones that bother you and destroy your enjoyment of activities during waking hours. Thoughts the keep you aware at 1am, 2am, 3am and so on.

If you are going to be thinking in circles about something then why not turn your thoughts to seeing if you can resolve the issue that is bothering.

Here are the questions to ask:

  1. Am I Aware How Long I Have Been Having This Thought?

Have you actually been thinking about this thing for a long time, or does it just feel like it. Maybe it is a thought that keeps repeating and it just seems to be going round in your head.

The next question to ask yourself is”

2. Is now a good time to be thinking about this?

If the thought is bothering you the answer is probably no.

Then you need to ask yourself the next question:

3. Is There Something I Am Avoiding?

So often something that is bothering you spins around in your mind but you don’t explore it. This is often because the thought is so overwhelming that you don’t feel you can manage what comes next.

The reality is, exploring this thought further can help you resolve it.

When those distressing thoughts revolve in your mind they are often indicators of something deeper that needs processing. This is why you ask the question.

When you ask the question be prepared to sit with the question and wait for the answer to arise.

When the answer comes to you, allow yourself to explore it further:

• Where in your body is the thought?

• How long has it been there in your body?

• What is the thought about? There is often something that you have not processed that is bugging you until you process it.

• Is now a good time to work through this thought? You might be at work, or it may be the middle of the night and you feel you can’t attend to it. If that is so then set a time to attend to it. Visualise yourself putting the thought on that time and tell yourself that is when it will be dealt with.

When Exploring A Question Doesn’t Bring Relief Try Something Else

Sometimes recurring thoughts are too difficult to resolve, and you may need help. It is unlikely you will get help immediately. In the interim you may need to put that thought aside until you can attend to it.

If this recurring thought is during the day then change what you are doing and do something that will occupy your mind.

Maybe you want to do something that requires your full attention.

Maybe you want to talk to someone.

A change of scenery can dislodge that thought. Try changing where you are working. If you can, go for a walk.

Observation using your senses can also be useful.

• Look around you.

• Name 5 things you can see.

• Now name 5 things you touch. Name what they feel like to touch.

• Now name 5 things you can smell. Name them.

• Name 5 things you can hear and describe what you are hearing.

If it is the early hours of the morning, rather than tossing and turning, unable to get back to sleep and those thoughts just going on and on then get up and do something else for a little while.

Maybe you have a good book to read. Maybe you can listen to music. Just choose something that will not wake you up too much and so that thing until you feel able to go back to sleep.

Most people find it takes half an hour or so before they have cleared their mind enough to go back to sleep. If you can’t, allow yourself to accept that and find something enjoyable and restful to do. Yes you may be tired the next morning, but you will be less stressed. Maybe you will sleep better the next night.

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your incessant thoughts or attending to the underlying issues, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

5 Steps To Calm Down When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed

It is really hard to manage life when things happen that make you feel overwhelmed.

Maybe you are running late and encountering things that slow you down. You can feel the sensation of panic rising and feel anxious. You may even start to feel angry and feel like acting out that anger.

Maybe you are in a situation where your have someone else demanding answers from you. They may also be forceful in their conversation, or angry. Or it may just be they are being forceful in what they are saying and their expectation you give an answer now.

You may find yourself in a situation where you are being yelled at and you are feeling overwhelmed and frightened.

Or you may be in any number of situations where you feel overwhelmed and unable to cope.

What Happens When You Are Overwhelmed

When you encounter a situation like one of the ones described above, your brain interprets it as a threat and your defence strategies kick in. Overwhelm is a form of fight or flight response.

You are in a situation where you feel you have to fight or flee.

When you are running late you may be feeling desperate to get to your destination on time. You have no control over the situation. If you did, you would not be running late. Everything that happens to slow you down is another thing that you have no control over. The situation feels unsafe and your brain takes you into a form of panic that is part of the fight/flight response.

When you feel you are being threatened by another person’s insistence you answer, that is an unsafe situation. You definitely want to run or fight that one. The feelings of overwhelm are enhanced by the feeling you are not safe and maybe have limited control over the situation.

It is the same with you feeling overwhelmed and frightened by someone yelling at you.

Other people may not perceive the situation as threatening. But you do and that is what your brain responds to.

It Is Okay To Feel Overwhelmed.

It is not wrong to feel threatened so be kind to yourself.

I am going to teach you a mindfulness exercise that, if practised regularly, can be helpful when used in a situation of overwhelm.

If you can get away somewhere to take a few moments to calm, then do. If not do this on the spot.

It is helpful of you practice this exercise every day so that you are able to use it to its maximum benefit when you are needing to calm yourself.

The Calming Exercise.

1. If you can go somewhere quiet, then do that. Otherwise just turn your thoughts into yourself. You need to feel safe and this is where practising this exercise daily can help you to feel safe even when in a stressful situation.

Tell yourself you are going to calm down now. This is known as setting an intention.

Take three deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. You can slightly open your lips and breathe out through your mouth without it being obvious.

Just allow the air to flow out without forcing it.

After three deep breaths breathe naturally.

  1. Now focus on your face. As you breathe, feel your forehead relax, then your eyes, your jaw, the rest of your face. Imagine that as you breathe out you are breathing out tension in your face.

    Now focus on releasing the tension in your neck, shoulders, chest and belly.
    Picture a beautiful, welcoming light pouring out of your heart. Imagine you are surrounded and protected by this light.
  2. Say to yourself the following intentions:

    a. May I be free from suffering

    b. May I find peace and joy
  3. Now picture someone you know but don’t get along very well with. Do not picture an abuser or bully who is really frightening. That is overwhelming. Just picture someone you don’t particularly get along with.

    Consider that person has their own issues and like you wants to feel safe.

    Say the following intentions for them:

    a. May you be free from suffering

    b. May you find peace and joy.
  4. Now pay attention to your breathing, your body and your thoughts. Do you feel calmer now?

The purpose of this exercise is to deepen your breathing to reset your brain to calm down. Then you consciously release tension held in your body. After that you set intentions for you that are safe and calming. Then you look outside yourself to someone else and with them well. This helps to make the situation you are in more objective so that it feels more manageable and less stressful.

As I said earlier, practise this exercise every day so that it will be second nature when you really need it and will work much better to help you calm down.

Can I Help?

If you would like to learn more about how to calm down when overwhelmed and how to release the triggers that lead to your overwhelm, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

How to Learn Not To Fear Emotions

A big problem for many people I see is unprocessed emotional pain. A large volume of unprocessed emotional pain.

It is not surprising given the belief in our society that you should just push those “bad” feelings down and ignore them.

If you didn’t grow up in a family that supported you experiencing that pain and learning how to process it, then you will be unlikely to know how to process it.

Emotional Pain Is Not Bad

Some mental health approaches pathologise the experiencing of emotional pain. As a result they teach the suppression of emotional pain.

This belief and teaching fails to understand the roots of some pain. Unprocessed emotional pain that has been with you for a long time will continue to be with you until it is processed.

You will not be able to process emotional pain until you have developed the courage, strength and skills to stay with those overwhelming emotions until they are fully processed.

Emotional Pain As The Monster Under The Bed

A lot of people tell me they fear those emotions. I can understand that. A lot of these unprocessed emotions relate to childhood.

A child needs to be taught how to process emotions. If they aren’t taught then those frightening emotions are impossible to process. The child learns to fear those emotions because they seem insurmountable.

If you add to that difficulty a family that actively encourages the suppression of emotions, even punishes family members for feeling emotions, then that fear becomes terrifying and deep seated.

The Pain Body

In his book “A New Earth” Eckhart Tolle describes the ‘pain body’. This is the “energy of old but still very-much-alive emotion that lives in almost every human being.”

The pain of old traumas is often described as energy because of the way this pain crops up again and again. The pain is actually stress or trauma that has never been processed so remains in the body. When that stress or trauma was initially experienced the nervous system became dysregulated and the emotions felt at the time became trapped in the body. Things can trigger the memories around this stress or trauma and you are again feeling the old pain.

Not Feeling Into The Body

Unprocessed pain can cause you to fear emotions and their associated feelings. To avoid experiencing what is feared you stop feeling into your body at all. The body becomes a scary place where emotional monsters lurk.

If you can’t feel into your body, you can’t release the pain and you can’t feel safe and relaxed. In order to relax you need to be able to feel your inner body. That means you have to be prepared to feel the feelings there.

Actions Are Trapped In Your Body

Many somatic therapists talk about the actions trapped in our bodies.

Peter A Levine, the developer of Somatic Experiencing and author of many books including ‘Waking the Tiger’, speaks of the experience of animals chased by predators and escaping. After the animal has escaped the predator it shakes its body to release the energy still in the body that allowed it to escape. He likens it to our need to release that excess energy after a fight/flight event. This allows the energy to be released from our bodies.

Eckhart Tolle also talks about releasing energy from stress. He tells the story of two ducks getting into a fight. After they are finished they move away from each other and flap their wings several times. Then they continue on as though nothing has happened. The ducks are also releasing the excess energy.

The Problem Of Holding On To Experiences Instead Of Releasing Them

We humans tend to hold on to these experiences. Instead of the release actions of the animal that has escaped a predator or the duck that has just finished a fight, we hold on to the fight or the escape.

Humans create narratives of events and the escape and fight get woven into our narratives. If the opportunity to process the events and release them does not happen, the events are kept alive and ongoing by continuing to tell the story, even to ourselves.

Remembering Events But Releasing The Energy

We need to remember events. This is how our brain keeps us safe by remembering dangerous situations and alerting us to similarities in situations. The problem arises when we continue to think of the events as ongoing, instead of past events.

The way forward is to learn how to regulate emotions.

Learn not to fear experiencing the emotions. That you can do this and actually those monster emotions are not massive, overwhelming giants, but mild little critters that are quite manageable.

Once you learn how to regulate and that those emotions are not as scary as you thought they were, you can then learn to be kind to your body. You can learn to be present and have confidence in your strength and ability to process painful feelings and emotions.

You can also learn that difficult emotions can be temporarily destabilising. That they may need attention to work through them. But they can be worked through and you can emerge stronger in the knowledge that you have the skills to process your emotions.

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you learn not to fear your emotions and to process them, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

Suppressing Your Thoughts And Feelings Seems Right, But It Isn’t.

In the current world there is a general belief that if an emotion is too hard you just suppress it. Force it under.

One of the main styles of therapy that is presented as “the correct way” to be and to operate tells you that these uncomfortable thoughts and emotions are faulty and wrong. You just have to work harder. You have to will harder. You can over come this.

But the truth is all the will in the world will not heal those uncomfortable thoughts and emotions.

I Failed Magic Wand Class

I see a lot of people who come to me for that style of therapy. They think it will be like a magic wand that I wave and in a few sessions they will be all fixed.

If only it were so.

The Myth Of Instant Gratification

We all want things to be achieved instantly.

Instead of working hard at following a correct diet and activity regime, we want to take a pill to lose weight.

Instead of working through those uncomfortable emotions. Instead of allowing time for those emotions to heal. Instead of allowing time for our brains to make the necessary changes to heal. Instead of doing all this we want it to be better instantly.

Having to work at something is hard and in this modern world with instant everything working at something is not what we have been taught to expect or have to do.

So maybe you come to me expecting instant results.

The Reality Of Healing

Sometimes the difficulty you are experiencing can be resolved with one or two counselling sessions.

Other times the difficulty will need longer.

Maybe your expectations have been raised by the passion for “the correct way”. You expect I will tell you what is wrong with you and you will do some homework and exercises and keep them up and you will be all better.

After all, it is so much easier to push things down and pretend they don’t exist than deal with them.

Isn’t it?

The Lure Of Running From Those Uncomfortable Feelings

So you run from those uncomfortable feelings. But they come after you.

So you run from them with alcohol, or cigarettes, or drugs or other addictions.

That works for a while, until the effects wear off. Then what do you do?

Running Is Like The Scab Over A Cut

As a former Registered Nurse, I liken the suppressing of uncomfortable thoughts and feelings to a scab that has formed over a cut.

You cut yourself, it hurts and it bleeds. Your body starts work immediately, defending from infection and commencing healing. First you will see a scab form. Ah! Its getting better.

But is it?

If all goes well, the scab forms, healing occurs underneath and the scab eventually falls off to reveal healed skin underneath.

But it doesn’t always go well.

Under that scab there is an infection. Pus forms and is trapped underneath the scab. That cut hurts. That cut is not healing as you thought it should.

The pus builds up. The cut hurts more.

I watched a colleague once remove the scab on a man’s leg. Her comment is so relevant here.

“I never trust a scab. It hides things that shouldn’t be there.”

She had noticed the signs of infection under the scab.

Scab removed, the cut was able to be cleaned and the infection cleared up. Not overnight, but over a matter of days with continued cleansing until the infection was cleared.

Counselling is like that.

Healing Requires Work and Time

If you want to resolve those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings you need to work at them.

I am not going to tell you that your thoughts are “faulty”. They aren’t.

I am not going to instruct you to not think about them. I will help you examine them to find what lies underneath them.

I may not seem to be “working” with you, but I am.

I Trust You To Be Able To Heal, Maybe With Help

I trust you as a person to have the ability to heal those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings with my assistance.

By assistance I mean that I will help you identify what is actually going on. I will tell you that what you are experiencing is a normal way for your brain to respond to your circumstances. Then I will help you work with your brain as it heals.

I will help you understand the unconscious parts of your brain that you cannot control consciously. I will help you heal those, which will often involve feeling into your body as well as allowing your brain to express itself through art, sand play, movement or other expressive methods.

I will tell you that things take time. Because your brain can’t rebuild new neural circuits overnight. Expect a few months at least.

I Don’t Use A Magic Wand

Whatever you do, don’t be like the people who come expecting me to wave my magic wand and make you all better in one session. See the start of progress, no matter how slight, as the wonderful evidence that healing has started.

And don’t tell your children they just need some “strategies” to cope with those painful thoughts and emotions when what they actually need is compassion and understanding that what is happening in their life hurts and it is okay to hurt.

Soldiering On Doesn’t Work

Wanting to be able to just “soldier on” was a wonderful marketing ploy for a drug company selling cold and flu tablets. We apply solider on to everything, including emotional pain. But there is no instant fix and even the “soldier on” message has been shown to be the worst treatment for those colds and flu.

Allow time. If you need to see a counsellor expect it to not be instant and be very wary of someone who tells you your thoughts are “faulty”.

In The Next Blog

I mentioned the pain of dealing with painful thoughts and emotions.

In the past few weeks I have seen a lot of people who have struggled with other people inadvertently causing them pain through their questions.

How are you? To the person struggling to cope with the death of their partner.

What is your job? To the person just made redundant.

What do your parents do? To the teenager who is grieving the death of their father.

These seemingly innocent comments can cause a lot of pain. So what can you do to avoid those foot in mouth blunders?

I will talk more about this in my next blog.t

Can I Help?

In the meantime, if you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with managing your thoughts and feelings, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

3 Steps To Helping Your Child Understand And Process Grief

Grief is devastating for anyone.

As an adult, you have an advantage in grieving. That advantage is your brain development.

All things being equal, by the time your brain is fully developed (around age 25) you have learned how to process grief. If you haven’t encountered grief before, hopefully you have learned to seek help in processing your grief.

Children’s Brains Struggle To Process Grief

For a child, the lack of brain development means that processing grief is very difficult.

For an undeveloped brain, comprehending death and the existential issues around it, is extremely difficult. Adults struggle with this. So children will struggle even more without the tools yet to be developed to help them.

Grief In Children Resurfaces At Each Developmental Stage.

The younger the child, the more undeveloped will be their ability to process their grief. It is now known that grief in children will resurface at different stages in their childhood and even into adult life.

It is important to be aware of these difficulties and be ready to support your child.

The developing brain is learning. That is how the brain develops. But without support, the brain cannot learn. The brain needs to learn how to process Grief.

Attending To The Trauma Of Grief

Grief is a trauma. It is dysregulating. A child experiencing grief will be thrown into a major fight/flight/freeze stress response. They will also lose their connection to others and feel very isolated and alone.

Many people think they just have to sit their child down and talk to them and that will help. But a dysregulated brain can’t learn or reason so talking to a child in this situation will not work.

The 3 Steps

There are 3 steps to reaching your child and helping them to learn how to process their grief.

The steps are as follows:

Step 1. Regulate

The first thing you need to do with your child is help them regulate their fight/flight/freeze response and become calmer.

One of the best ways to do this is to be as calm as you can. Research has shown that children cope well with traumatic events when their parents remain relatively calm and can maintain as much as possible regular routines. The main thing is that your child feels safe. They need to feel that you can still protect them. In a world that has just fallen apart with the loss of someone important, knowing you are still there is vital.

Do the best you can

Obviously, if you are grieving as well, it is going to be hard to regulate yourself. You are likely to be crying and finding it hard to focus.

This is the pain of parenting. There are times when you have to put your own needs aside to attend to the needs of your children. It is natural for you to do that, and it may be necessary. But don’t put off attending to your own needs for long. It is okay to be crying when you seek to regulate your child.

After all, your child needs to see you grieving to learn it is okay to be sad and cry, but life still goes on.

One of the best ways to regulate is to hold your child. That helps them to feel safe and also gives you a sense of safety as well.

Step 2. Relate

Holding your child is part of the next step as well.

You help your child to regulate, to feel safer and still cared for.

Now you help them by establishing a connection. Holding your child will help them feel connected to you. This will mean they feel less isolated and alone.

Being Attuned To Your Child

Relating also involved being attuned to your child and their needs. It means you will stop and seek to understand what your child is thinking and feeling. Depending on their age, this may involve (when appropriate) making a general statement such as:

“It is really sad and frightening that x has died.”

This would work best for a young child who may still be learning to understand their emotions. Acknowledging what you sense they are experiencing helps them to feel understood.

For an older child you may ask them what they are feeling. Or you may wonder if they are feeling sad because you are.

It is important to not hide your feelings and allow your child to see you are sad too but that your sadness won’t stop you caring for them.

Be Attuned For A Long Time

Remember that I earlier mentioned that grief in children takes longer and is revisited at each developmental stage.

It is important to keep that in mind. Even after the initial period of adjustment to death your child will continue to grieve.

Always make sure you seek to understand your child. This maintains a connection between the two of you and is also comforting for your child. An attuned parent is one who provides safety and security. Something all children need, but grieving children need it more.

Step 3. Reason

Once your child is regulated and secure in their relationship with you, you can then reason with them.

You can support your child to express their feelings should they want to. You can support your child according to their developmental stage to reflect, learn, remember, articulate and learn how to live with their loss.

How Do I Support My Child To Learn?

There are many aids you can use to help you support your child through their grief. These aids will help them to learn healthy ways of processing grief. This will serve them well now and in later life with other losses.

There are many age-appropriate books you can read to your child. Your local library is a good source of these. If you send your child to a counsellor many will have these resources as well. I have a range of books I use with younger children.

For teenagers, who are already exploring the more existential issues of life as part of their teen development, a more existential approach that emphasises philosophical discussions mixed with some helpful facts about grief and its impacts is really helpful.

Can I Help?

Sometimes you and/or your child/ren will need help from a grief trained counsellor. It can be very helpful to learn what is normal in grieving both for yourself and your child. If you need help, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

What Is Family Enmeshment? Is My Family Enmeshed?

The definition of family enmeshment is that family members are excessively involved in each other’s lives and find it hard, even impossible, to set boundaries. There is a strong desire to maintain close relationships, which in itself is not bad, but it has negative impacts.

It is like several lengths of wool, each representing a family member. The wool strands become tangled into masses of knots. With an enmeshed family each person in the family becomes entangled and the needs and identities of each individual get lost.

Enmeshed Families And Close Families Are Different.

This doesn’t mean that families can’t be close and healthy. There are families where family members are close. These families have strong bonds. The members of the family care for each other.

The difference between a close family and an enmeshed family is that in the close knit family there is respect of each individual and their personal space and independence. Individuals within a close family are encouraged to grow and make their own choices. There is no pressure for people to do things they don’t want to.

In the enmeshed family there is a blurring of the boundaries between individuals within the family. It becomes difficult for a member of such a family to make a decision or even have their own thoughts and feelings. Members of enmeshed families feel unable to make choices that the family won’t approve of, even when they really want to do something.

Are Enmeshed Families Codependent?

It is often believed that enmeshed families are in codependent relationship with each other. Certainly co-dependency and enmeshment are related and can happen in family relationships as well as other relationships but there is a difference.

Enmeshment is when two or more people become so involved in each other’s lives, relationships and decision making that they are unable to act autonomously. This has a negative effect on the mental health of the enmeshed people.

Codependent relationships are where two people, such as those in a romantic relationship, friends, parent and child rely on the other for emotional support, acceptance or identity.

Co-dependency may exist in an enmeshed family but then again it may not.

Cultural Impact Of Enmeshment.

In different cultures families can act differently. If the culture is one of autonomy and independence (individualistic) a healthy family will have well defined boundaries between family members. If the culture is one where being part of the group and more dependent on others is normal (collectivist culture), then a family that meets the definition of enmeshed is more likely to exist. In this setting, such a family is considered to be normal and healthy.

If the culture the family exists in is collectivist, family members will not suffer negative mental health impacts. However, if the family has emigrated to a country with a more individualistic culture, the family members may be more torn between the culture of their family and that of the society in which they are now living. This is particularly so with children.

When deciding if a family is enmeshed or not it is important to consider the culture of the family and the impact that enmeshment is having on the mental health of the family members.

In Enmeshed Families Roles Are Rigid.

Another thing seen in an enmeshed family is that family members will often have rigid roles within the family. Every family has roles for family members, but in a healthy family the roles can change over time.

Enmeshed families are often very intrusive. There is little privacy and interfering with another family member’s private thoughts and concerns is considered normal. This is because of the lack of boundaries between family members.

How To Spot Lack Of Boundaries

In such a family other signs of lack of boundaries can include:

• Over protective adults who control what children do and prevent them from anything that challenges them and allows them to grow. The adults may believe they are protecting the child but the motivation is often their own fears of something like that happening to them.

• Adults in the family system will micromanage their children and make decisions for them without any consultation.

• Manipulation is used to coerce the children to do what the adult wants. Guilt and Shame are often used to achieve this.

• Not respecting the privacy of children, often seen by going through their belongings, reading private writings, monitoring their activities and keeping tabs on what they are doing.

• Use the children for emotional support and validation.

• Set out to be the child’s “best friend” even when the child doesn’t want it.

• Not perceive the children as individuals who are growing up and striving for independence.

• Enforce family unity and prevent anything that threatens that such as something an individual may wish to do or outside relationships individuals may wish to have.

• Keep a strict cap on any conflict within the family. Individuals within an enmeshed family learn that keeping the peace is essential and there are negative consequences for disobeying that rule.

What Impact Does An Enmeshed Family Have On A Child?

Children in an enmeshed family are:

• Often very alert to their parent’s needs and emotions.

• Have trouble making decisions.

• Struggle to become independent as adults.

• If asked what their interests and values are they will always cite the family interests and values.

• Believe they must keep the family happy.

• Often are loners and don’t make friends because their emotional needs are met within the family.

• Find it hard to voice their own needs, again due to a need to maintain peace within the family.

• Become more emotional then is normal when there are family conflicts or crises

• As they grow older they often become financially and emotionally responsible for the care of their parents.

Why Does Enmeshment Occur In Some Families?

A lot of enmeshment happens because of parents being raised in enmeshed families. This is the only family structure one or both parents know. Parenting is usually based on what was learned during childhood. Unless the parent is aware their childhood family was enmeshed and was able to learn about other family models as well as learn how to set healthy boundaries, the pattern the parent will use in their family will be an enmeshed one.

Another cause could be if there were difficulties in the relationship a child had with their caregivers that resulted in what is known as an anxious attachment style. That style of attachment involves a need for excessive closeness and validation from others. If the childhood wounds are not resolved and the attachment style healed then it can result in the behaviours present in an enmeshed family.

Research has suggested that a parent who has poor mental health and is raising their children alone without healthy adult friendships is more likely to establish enmeshed relationships with her children. People in that situation often experienced their own trauma as children and consequently have a poor sense of self and have difficult regulating their emotions.

Crises in the environment, such as natural disasters and wars will increase the likelihood that the family members with look to each other for support and security. If the crisis is long term or resulted in traumatic impacts that are not healed then enmeshment can develop.

Is Enmeshment Bad?

Yes and no. members of enmeshed family value loyalty, belonging and emotionally supporting others. They also have deep interpersonal connections with other family members.

The negative is that family members, especially children raised in such a family, find it hard to set boundaries with others. They can find it hard to make decisions. They will also struggle being able to express their own needs and desires and set healthy boundaries around their needs and desires.

Another negative is that it can be difficult developing healthy relationships with others outside the family.

For adults in an enmeshed family there can be high levels of stress as they remain constantly vigilant maintaining control and closeness. Adults are also likely to struggle to maintain their own identity which impacts on their own mental health. It also impacts on their relationships with others both within and outside the family.

Conflict is another difficulty for enmeshed families. It may often lead to conflict being buried and these unresolved conflicts result in tension within the family that can become destructive. Family members, especially children, will struggle to learn healthy conflict resolution skills. This impacts mental health as well as impacting on the ability to learn healthy communication skills.

Does Enmeshment Cause Trauma?

Yes it can.

In heavily enmeshed families each family member is very involved in the emotional life of each other family member. This is difficult for children with their developing brains and developing emotional regulation skills. Being overloaded and overwhelmed by adult emotions without anyone to help the child understand what is being experienced, as well as emotionally regulate, impacts the child’s mental well being, both in childhood and later in adulthood.

Not knowing where you end and other family members start is also damaging. This impacts on the ability to form a sense of self. It impacts on the ability to set boundaries.

In a family where everyone’s business and feelings is everyone else’s it is very difficult to learn boundaries and to learn to say no or yes.

If a child doesn’t learn to set boundaries then it is very difficult to do so in adulthood.

Research shows that adults who grew up in enmeshed families and were traumatised by this, struggle with their mental health in adulthood. They may suffer depression and anxiety. They may also find it hard to form healthy, respectful relationships. They are more vulnerable to codependent relationships. They also struggle to separate their emotions and needs from those of others.

The Good News.

As with all trauma, it is possible to heal. It is not easy and it will take a long time for your brain to grow new, healthy connections, but it is possible.

The first step is recognising the enmeshment and what behaviours within the family are enmeshed behaviours and which are not problem behaviours.

• It is possible to learn who you are and learn where your boundaries are.

• It is possible to learn to assert those boundaries in a calm and healthy way.

• You can even learn to say no without feeling guilty!

• It is even possible to learn to set boundaries with your family. It may not always be possible to set boundaries without cutting off contact with your family, that will depend on how mentally healthy individual members are, but you can learn to set limits on contact so that it is healthy and you learn how to heal from this.

• You can learn what is normal family and relationship behaviour and be able to set healthy boundaries around future relationships as well as existing ones. You can also learn to recognise unhealthy relationships that may need to end.

What Other Things Can You Do To Learn Who You Are And Heal?

A competent counsellor who is trained in mindfulness can teach you mindfulness and how to use this to understand the feelings and emotions you experience.

• With this skill you can be taught how to regulate your emotions.

• With mindfulness you can start exploring the things that matter to you, what your values are, what you believe in.

• You can get to know yourself and what you are passionate about. You can recognise the things that really interest you.

• You can learn how to be curious and how to try new things.

• You can learn to connect with others in a healthy way and “find your tribe” who understand you and support you.

• You can learn to be kind to yourself.

Getting Help.

When you have been raised in the difficult environment of an enmeshed family it can be hard to learn what is normal and what is dysfunctional.

It can also be difficult to know how to learn more healthy behaviours.

This is where seeing a counsellor who is skilled in those areas can be helpful.

Can I Help?

I am trained in mindfulness and in trauma counselling. I use mindfulness always in my work with people. If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your family enmeshment, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

How To Stop Your Stories Causing You To Fail

“The stories we tell ourselves can either empower or weaken us. When we live in our heads, we don’t appreciate the current moment. Sometimes we are so busy crafting our stories that we miss the importance of what is happening right now. Take a moment to stop, take a breath, and notice everything that is happening. Appreciate what is and allow what is going to happen to enter naturally into your life.” ~ Emily Silva.

Getting Caught Up In Stories

When you are more caught up in the stories you tell yourself, you can cause yourself to fail in the things you do because you pay more attention to the stories than the present moment.
It is an easy trap to fall into. It starts when you are first exposed to traumatic events, most likely in childhood. Everyone does this to a certain extent. There are myriad ways a child can be traumatised. And there are myriad stories to manage the overwhelming and impossible to process feelings associated with those traumatic incidents.
When things are overwhelming and impossible to process, and the child does not receive any assistance resolving this issue, the child will write their own narrative to explain what happened.

Children Are Masters At Writing Negative Stories About Themselves

Sadly, children are very good at added 2 and 2 and getting 500. So often the stories the child writes are disempowering. Children are more likely to blame themselves for something, even when it is not their fault. A child lacks an adult understanding of what is happening and may not have an adult available who can help them understand. So the child will be less likely to understand the context of what happens and therefore think they are to blame for what happened.

Of course, children are often blamed for things that happened when what happened had nothing to do with them. Sadly it is the nature of intergenerational trauma that adults will often default to using the language that was used on them as children. So most of us will get some words spoken to us that are hurtful.

Affirming Stories Can Cause Distractions Too

Other words spoken to you as a child can be ones that affirm you. That tell you that you are loved, capable, good at something, able to do something well. Those words empower you.

But they can lead to stories that distract you from the task at hand, or expect you to be unrealistic about what you can achieve.

The Power Of The Narrative In Your Head To Distract You

The words that you hear become a narrative in your head. They may empower you and fill you with confidence. Or they may weaken you and fill you with anxiety and doubt.

They may fill you with the sense that you should achieve an impossibly high standard. When you don’t achieve that you can be left feeling you have failed when you have actually done very well, just not as well as you thought you should.

Your narrative may also fill you with the sense that you can’t do this so that achieving what you want becomes almost impossible.

Narratives Can Distract You

No matter what words the narrative contains, it can distract you from being in the moment and focusing on what you are doing. They can even trip you up and cause you to not be able to complete your tasks effectively. They can also stop you from enjoying and being part of what you are doing.
It is worth remembering to stop and notice what you do as you do it. Better to fill your head with awareness of the present moment, than be distracted by the narratives playing in your head.

When you stop and pay attention you are more likely to be able to evaluate how you are going and see the progress you are making than being caught up in narratives that cause you to lose sight of what you are actually doing.

Awareness of the present moment also allows you to make instant changes in what you are doing that increase your ability to succeed. You are more likely to succeed in your tasks if you are in the present moment.

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with being in the present moment and changing your negative narrative, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

Learning To Feel What Seems Unfeelable

I often write about the importance of learning to feel into your body. It is in your body that the keys to unlock the things that hold you back can be found.

I always write this knowing that it is possible to learn to do this, as I have done. But I am also aware it is not easy to reach there. It is virtually impossible without the assistance of a trauma trained counsellor.

I was reminded of this recently when I read a blog by a trauma yoga teacher.

She wrote about leading a yoga and meditation class in the mental health ward of a hospital. Her clients were people with dissociative disorders.

Feeling Into Your Body Is Something You Have To Learn To Do

Having learned, as I have, to be able to feel into her body in safety, she realised she had to allow for the difficulty these people experienced feeling into their bodies. When you have unresolved trauma from the past it is very hard to feel into your body where all those unprocessed and very scary memories are stored.

This experience forced the teacher to explore how to bring attention inside without being so frightened that you dissociate. She explored how to bring attention inside without feeling like you are floating, disconnected from your internal and external environment.

Being In The External World Is Easy, But Go Into Your Internal World And It Becomes Very Hard

We find it so easy to get angry or irritated by people in our external world, why is it so hard to turn out attention internally to situations in our past that hurt us?

Why is it that we can be courageous in the world around us, but when we come to look in side ourselves and allow us to feel what we find there, we are terrified?

Every Child Needs An Adult Who Loves Them And Can Teach Them How To Self Regulate

If you never had an adult in your childhood who was able to attune to you. Able to teach you how to make sense of what was going on in your body. Able to help you learn how to regulate your emotions so that your internal world is not terrifying. Then how could you learn?

When you lacked someone to guide and teach you then how do you navigate your internal environment?

Trauma Trained Counsellors Learn How To Do This

This is what a trauma trained counsellor knows to do. I have learned how to connect those broken pieces inside. How to piece your body, mind and heart together so that you can feel safe to look inside yourself.

I know these techniques work because I used them myself to learn.

All those trapped memories need to be processed. Until you learn the skills and have someone skilled to walk beside you and help you, you will not be able to process this trauma. And it will cripple your life.

Childhood Memories Of Trauma Are Frightening

Those memories are frightening. They hurt. They are full of a child trying to understand a very frightening world. There is a deep sense of shame, of being wrong. Of thinking that what happened was your fault and because there was something wrong with you.

There is despair at never seeming to get any better. There is rage at the unfair things being done to you. There is hurt that someone who should care for you can do this. There is disappointment that no matter what you try, nothing gets better.

All these terrifying memories are the reason you become numb. Feeling them is terrifying so blanketing them, freezing them, dulling them is the only way to survive. And because they are still there your body reacts to them in the only way it can.

How Your Body Reacts To The Pain

You get terrible fear and pain from these memories.

You get anxious, depressed, you do whatever you can to shut down the memories.

You take pills, you drink too much alcohol, you try an array of drugs, you go on spending sprees, you do any behaviour that is repetitive to drown out those horrible memories and feelings of deep shame and unworthiness.

What You Need

What you need is someone to teach you how to manage those emotions. How to release the feelings of unworthiness, exclusion and shame. How to release these harmful feelings.

You need to take it slowly. To only visit those memories when you have the skills to calm yourself.

Yes you can reach a point where you can make the choice to be who you want to be. A place where you know how to respond to calm yourself. Where you know how to respond to not put yourself in a fight/flight/freeze state. And I can help you with that learning.

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your childhood trauma, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

What is Attachment Theory?

You may have heard the term “attachment” mentioned and wondered what it meant. It started with research in the 1950s that involved putting a toddler in a “strange situation” where the mother left the room and observations were made about how the child reacted to this, to a stranger entering the room, and to the mother coming back. It was noticed that some children have a secure attachment and some do not. This basically means the securely attached child feels the caregiver is reliable and safe. The attachment depends on how the parent responds to the child. Attachment theory has developed since them to include how adults form “attachment bonds” with one another and their children and what impact the secure and insecure types of attachment have on the developing child and on the adult.

One thing that has been discovered is that insecurely attached children do not tend to do as well in school as more securely attachment children. They also struggle more in adulthood.

Attachment between a child and its primary care giver gives the child the template from which it learns to form new relationships. If the primary care giver is secure or reliable, the child learns that relationships are safe. If the primary care giver is insecure or unreliable, the child learns that relationships are not safe.

Attachment between a child and its primary care giver provides the opportunity for the child to co-regulate with the person who gives it its greatest sense of security. If the attachment is secure and the primary care giver is well tuned in to the child, then when it is distressed it is more likely to be effectively soothed by the caregiver. This is known as co-regulating. This allows the child to learn that other people are reliable sources of calming. When a child learns this, that child in later life will be more likely to seek out others for help when in need. This is a good protective skill against depression, which is often characterised by the person withdrawing from others rather than reaching out for help.

Soothing a distressed child also helps the child learn how to cope with the strong emotions it is experiencing. We are not born with the understanding of the emotions we are feeling. Emotions for a child are strong and can be frightening. A securely attached caregiver who is in tune with the child’s experience is able to help the child learn to understand those emotions. This soothing helps the child to learn how to soothe itself. This is known as learning to self-regulate.

You may have heard the term “Resilience” as well. The ability to self-regulate and co-regulate are vital aspects of resilience. Resilience is the ability to not be overwhelmed by circumstances in life. This includes knowing when to take time out to calm down, being able to regulate emotions and being able to find and use resources to deal with life circumstances.