The Legacy of Grief

Neuroscientific advances have led to the identification of attachment neural networks in our brains. These networks create bonds with the people in your life.

Grief impacts on many aspects of brain function. From a neuroscientific perspective, grief is the action of the brain to build new networks and dismantle old ones to accommodate the loss of people in you life.

The Impact In Your Life

You recall memories of the person you have lost. So many people report the difficulties of bitter sweet memories.

You used to share information with that person and it helped you gain perspective. It enriched the experiences you shared. Many people tell me they no longer enjoy the things they used to do because the experience of doing something on their own is lacking the perspective of the person they used to do it with.

Grief can leave you feeling no longer in control of your feelings and reactions to things. You may find yourself crying uncontrollably, seemingly unable to stop. You may find yourself feeling angry at anything and unable to stop those feelings. You may find making decisions overwhelming.

Then there is pain. That pain may feel physical but your doctor can find no cause for it. But the experience of physical pain occurs in the same part of the brain as the experience of emotional pain. And your body experiences emotions in various parts of the body. Not surprising then that the strong emotions of grief can cause physical pain.

The Experience of Grief

The pain and confusion are horrible. It is not surprising if you want to run away from them. Equally, you may feel numb and want to do anything to feel something.

All this pain, confusion and numbness can only be managed by moving through it. Eventually the worst of it will over and you will learn to live with what is left.

You are walking a tightrope over the gulf of loss and everlasting memories of that person.

Losing You

Your sense of self is totally disrupted. This is not surprising because you gain your sense of self from your relationships with others. If one who deeply mattered is gone, who are you? You need a new identity.

Identity can be tied with another person in many ways.

  1. The relationship you had with them: partner, parent, child, friend.
  2. Your identity in relationship with that person. Were you a parent and now you are not? Did you care for the person before they died and now they are gong you are not a person who cares for another?
  3. How do you perceive yourself as a parent without a child, or with one less? How do you perceive yourself as a person without parents or a parent? How do you perceive yourself as single? You had a relationship with the person who has died and who you were in that relationship no longer exists.

The Only Way Out

One thing you will eventually discover is that facing grief is the way out of this time of deep grieving.

When you learn to face grief and experience it you will learn how to reorganise yourself and your life to include your grief in it.

What You Can Do

Be gentle, self compassionate and open to seeking help from other people. Don’t turn away those who want to support you. It is okay to occasionally say you need a break from people, but do allow people in when you are able to.

Be willing to learn how to cope. Draw on what you already know and learn new strategies. You may find it beneficial to see a Grief Counsellor to assist you with this.

A Wise Perspective From An Old Woman

I wanted to finish on a wonderful perspective shared with me a long time ago.

A lovely woman who saw me some years ago had experienced much grief during her life. Now in her final years she was coming to terms with the losses of close friends as many came to the end of their lives.

At the end of our sessions together, she reflected on a lifetime of grief and rejoiced that she could remember all the wonder of each relationship and the precious memories she had of those times.

She reflected that at the time each loss was so painful. She had grieved so much for each one. She thought she would never feel better. But she was able to move on with the sweetness of that loss as a precious bitter sweet memory.

Now looking back on her life, she could see how precious each person was and how the relationships had been vital parts of her life. Each relationship had given her life a richness and meaning that far outweighed the pain of losing them. For that she was grateful.

Can I Help?

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:

Grief on the Edge of the Spirit World

Grief is seen differently in different cultures. One of the most beautiful ways I have seen it described is in the Lakota culture of North America.

They believed that people who grieved were deeply holy and had a special connection with the spirit world.

They considered the person who grieved as standing on the threshold of the spirit world.

To grieve deeply is to be someone whose protective layers are torn away. You are vulnerable and, having lost what you hold most dear, have nothing left to defend.

You grieve, standing on the edge of the spirit world. Then you accept the reality of what you have lost and let go of the past and the future. You just exist in the present moment.

The Lakota refer to this as the groundless openness of sorrow.

In that place of sorrow you have a wholeness of presence and a possess a deep natural wisdom.


Having grieved the loss of many loved ones I like this description.

It is true. As I processed my grief I stood at the edge of the spirit world. The one I loved passed through into the spirit world and I was left standing there, unable to follow.

During that time of deep grieving I existed very much in the present moment.

To be able to move forward in life I had to let go of any investment in the past or the future and just exist now.


My perspective on death changed from some abstract concept I had heard about to something I was experiencing personally. I had to understand what death meant and how it impacted me.

When I first experienced the death of a loved one I was 12 and I had no one to guide me on this journey. I had to explore what death meant, in particular, what the death of this person I loved actually meant.

Death is not a concept that is easy to understand. The one you love is just no longer there. There is no massive fanfare. No great announcement. They just aren’t.

Funerals can help to mark that passage of that person.


What I have noticed over the years as more people I love have died, is that they go somewhere that I can’t follow. They become holders of some great mystery that I am not part of. It is as though they have joined an exclusive club that I can’t join. Not yet anyway.

Grief has changed my perspective on the spiritual. I totally agree that you stand on the edge of the spirit world when the one you love dies.

That experience is one you never forget.


Each time someone you love dies you stand on that edge again and learn more.

Each time someone you love dies you have to process what that death means to you.

The lost presence and the inability to follow. They are very much present as you grieve.

In time I got used to it. I found some sort of meaning in it.


I was never the same again. The new person I was now was different, but not in a negative way. In my own way I crossed a boundary and entered a club, not the one of the dead, but the one of those who grieved.

When you grieve you will never be the same again. But you will learn how to live your new life and you will never forget standing on the edge of the spirit world.


Sometimes you may need help with learning to live your new life.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief experience, 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:

When Pollyanna Makes Things Worse

In my work I often talk with people about gratitude.

The idea of gratitude is not always well received.

There are a lot of wrong ideas about gratitude.

Maybe you hold those wrong ideas too? I used to.


Do you think gratitude is all about being ultra-positive? About ignoring the bad things in life? Much like Pollyanna in the books?

Do you think expressing gratitude means you have to be thankful for the awful things that happen in life? (As if you could).

That is not what gratitude is.


Gratitude means you sit with what has happened in your day. In all the stresses and disappointments.

It means you acknowledge the bad things.

It means you acknowledge “that hurts”.

It means you honour the things that happen to you. You don’t push the bad things away. You sit with them and allow them to be. You allow yourself to feel the pain and disappointment. You allow yourself to hold and integrate the pain.


Did you know that allowing yourself to feel emotional pain. To feel the pain without fighting it. That once you feel that pain you can actually heal it.

That is not going to happen in a few seconds. It takes time for hurt to heal. As long as you are hurt, you are in pain. Allowing the hurt to take its time to heal will heal it faster. It will allow the pain to resolve sooner too.

It is possible to be hurt and learn to live with it, no longer being bound in the pain of the hurt.


You can do the same thing with things that have hurt you in the past. Those hurts you shoved down and tried to ignore. It is always possible to heal.

Hurt binds you. The pain traps you into patterns of behaviour designed to protect you. But allowing the hurt to be experienced and the pain to resolve will help.


Be curious about the hurts you feel. Don’t run from them. Don’t fight them. Give them your caring love and attention. Just as you would sit with a friend who is hurting, do the same for yourself.

As you visit those hurts, allow yourself to feel the pain. Allow yourself to be curious. Breathe into the hurt, just as you may have learned to breathe into physical pain to relieve it. Breathe calmly. Don’t turn or run away. There is nothing to fear in old hurts.


Sometimes it can be helpful to see a counsellor who can help you hold the space while you heal. You can learn to hold yourself lovingly and with compassion. You can learn to give love to the parts of you that are hurting.

When those hurts are no longer binding you into protective behaviours you make room to be the real you. To experience all the wonder and joy of life.

To feel better able to express gratitude.


And as for gratitude. Don’t ignore the bad things that happen. Maybe you ended a relationship but found a friend who comforted you. Be grateful for the friend who cared enough to offer comfort.

Maybe your car broke down, and you were running late for an appointment. But the roadside assistance came in the form of a man who acknowledged how hard this was for you. You can be grateful that he wasn’t rude and he was helpful and caring. That is something to be grateful for.

Maybe in all the stresses and worries of the day, in all the worries about finances, relationships, and work, you looked up and noticed the most spectacular clouds in the sky. And for a moment you stopped and admired their beauty. Be grateful for that.


Being grateful doesn’t mean you ignore the bad things. It is always a good idea when express gratitude to also express why. If you are stressed about life and see the clouds in the sky. You can be grateful that despite your worries there is still beauty.

If you are grateful for the caring mechanic who helped you when your car was broken down. Be grateful that in the midst of a stressful situation someone was helpful and caring.

Bad things happen and they hurt. But there is always something to be grateful for, no matter how insignificant. It is how you maintain hope in the bleakest circumstances.


If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with healing from life’s hurts and learning to express gratitude, 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:

Living Your Grief Your Way

There is a twin paradox in being human. First, no one can live your life for you – no one can face what is Yours to face or feel what is yours to feel – and no one can make it alone. Second, in living your one life, you are here to love and lose. No one knows why. It is just so, if you commit to living, you will inevitably know loss and grief.

Loss and grief is a condition of life. Your life is composed of an infinite number of changes. Each change involves a loss. Each loss must be dealt with before you move on to the next. Sometimes the losses are minor, like the tree you love swinging in falling over, or the playground equipment being removed. Your best friend may move away. You come to the end of the school year and have to say goodbye to your favourite teacher.

As time goes on you learn that change and the loss of your normal is constant. Sometimes the new normal is way better, sometimes it is worse. You learn that some losses are okay and others take time to adjust to.

Sooner or later in your life you encounter more devastating losses. A close friendship ends, your first romantic relationship ends, a much loved family pet dies, a close family member dies.


This is when you discover the pain of losses that hurt deeply.

Most of the time you learn that having relationships has a cost.

But in life you don’t necessarily learn how to grieve.


You learn how to grieve from the people around you growing up.

If your father told you to not be so stupid at being upset because your pet died you may well believe it is not okay to be upset at the death of an animal. Even though it is perfectly normal to grieve the loss of a pet.

If your mother lost the job she loved and she put on a brave face and never appeared to be upset, then you may believe it is normal to get over the loss of a job and not normal to get upset or grieve over it.

If your grandmother died and you never saw your parents cry. If they even remained dry eyed at the funeral. If they never mentioned her again and never seemed to be upset. Then you may have the idea that it is not normal to be upset and cry and want to talk about the person who has died.

If you heard the adults around you criticising someone who was crying about losing their spouse and judging them because the funeral was over and it was time they “got over it” then you would likely learn it was not okay to grieve beyond the funeral.

If you were devastated by the end of a friendship and the people around you told you to buck up and come out and enjoy yourself. If you were never allowed time to process the emotions around that friendship you would get the message that you are not supposed to grieve friendships.


During your lifetime there are myriad ways people will communicate to you that grief is unhealthy and you have to get on with things and not experience the emotions and disruption of grief.

Don’t listen to them!

I have lost count of the number of people who come to see me thinking there is something wrong with them because they lost their loved one, job, pet, moved to a new area, had their house burgled, had their car stolen and so on and they are “taking too long” to get over the event. Because they are expected to get over it in a matter of days.


The reality is, other people get bored with your grief.

Other people are uncomfortable with the emotions around your grief.

The messages you get to end the grief are about other people’s comfort, not your own.

You are born to live in relationships and the ending of those will hurt. You are born to form connections with the things you do, the things you own and the end/loss of those will hurt.

You are also born to live your own life in your own way.

So the next time you lose someone or something live your life and live your grief in the way you need to. Not in the way other people feel comfortable having you live.


If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with living your life and living your grief in the way you need to, 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:

Writing the story of your grief

I have always loved stories. As a child I read more stories than I can remember. And when I learned to write I wrote my own. When I had no pen and paper I made them up in my head. There are stories that have been with me all my life. Stories that have become old friends. I bring them out every so often and visit them.


As human beings we love stories.

We tell ourselves stories about who we are. Stories about the people in our lives. Stories about the people we love.


The closest I have come to seeing stories depart is when losing a loved one.

How do you write a story that ends? Particularly when it is someone you love?

How do you allow an ending to that story when it is all so unreal and raw?


When my mother died, I discovered that not only were the stories about her now out of place, but so were the stories about me.

So much of who we, you and me, are is tied up in the stories our parents tell about us.

What happens when the story teller dies?

How do you fashion a new story?


When a parent dies the story you need to fashion is very much about who you are. Because your parents wrote the original story.

Now you have to write your own.

How do you do that when you are caught up in the unreal confusion and jumble of thoughts and emotions that is grief?

If the person who has died is your partner, sibling, or close friend then their story included you. How do you write the story when the hero of the story is gone?

How do you do that through the confusion and tumultuous emotions?

When the person is your child you have written most of the story. How does that story end when your child is no more?

It is likely you don’t know how to conclude this story. Nor for that matter do you want to.


I am reminded of the great epic stories of my childhood. The ones set in the past with great heroes and great adventures. The stories and their outcome were so important. Reading the story was a time of joy and sorrow. There was light and there was darkness. And there was always another day, more light, more darkness, light again and so on. One thing I always loved about these heroes was their determination to complete their journey. They were invested in what they were doing. So they persevered.

Maybe your grief is like some epic saga, a journey that traverses light and dark and comes eventually to a place where life seems calmer for a while.

Maybe your grief is something to endure. You may be so fed up with people talking about journeys.


Whatever you feel. You are here. Now. You are at the start of the rest of your life.

That start may be the first step in the journey of life, or it may be just a decision you are making to do something to cope with this place you are in.

Will you come with me?

You may call it a journey or just an exploration.

I am inviting you to leave your thoughts and the rationalisations of your thinking mind and come into the rockier, deeper truth of your heart.

It may be a scary place, but it is the place to start from if you ever want to get to a place where life is more bearable.

I am going to call this exploration a story.


The hero of the story is you.

You start this story at the point of leaving. You are here, wherever that is, and life is drawing you inexorably on.

Where are you?


I am going to use the metaphor of a forest on a mountain range full of steep slopes, rocky crags and cliffs that fall away forever. There are wild mountain rivers, autumn, winter, spring and summer. You will journey long and hard but at the other side of the mountain range there are meadows where the sun shines longer than on the mountain range. Where the weather is kinder and there are bridges when you meet the placid rivers.

What are you going to write about where you are?


Are you at the edge of the forest with the glow of the life you had with your loved one still providing some light to show you the path?

Are you deep in the forest struggling to clamber up a steep slope?

Are you in the early stages of the forest in autumn with the leaves, a multitude of colours, being flung around you by a bitter wind?


That is your task for today. To start your story. It doesn’t have to be a classic piece of literature. It is your story and that makes it beautiful.

You may choose to draw a picture of where you are, or make a collage.

Just tell the story of your loss and where you are at now, using the metaphor of the forest.

If you can’t think of how to start the story then try starting with:

“This is my story about …”

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief and its story, 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:

Stop Gaslighting Yourself

It seems everyone is speaking about gaslighting.

First as a form of abuse

Then as a way to shut down victims.

Gaslighting is a common way to control people.

It is used every time you are told you are being too sensitive, or needy. Then there is the classic one “you are overreacting”. Or you are asking too much.


If this is the way you were treated as a child then you learn to be this way.

If you have been treated like this for a long period as an adult you can also learn to be this way.

You learn to gaslight yourself.


Today I want to remind you to just stop.

To stop and pay attention to the pain inside.

To stop and pay attention to the way you are speaking to yourself.

I want you to stop gaslighting yourself.


Stop and tell yourself these 4 things:

  1. You are not being too sensitive. It is more likely you don’t feel seen, heard or validated.
  2. You are not being too needy. It is more likely that you have genuine, valid needs that aren’t currently being met.
  3. You are not overreacting. It is more than likely this is a wound, a trigger or something that is deeply hurtful
  4. You are not asking too much. It is more than likely you are seeking love, consideration and respect. These are reasonable expectations in any relationship.

When Anger is Positive

We live in a society where anger is discouraged. Where anger is perceived as being bad. Where children are taught how to suppress their anger. Where anger in the form of “rage” incidents is become worryingly common.

There is a focus on controlling and preventing anger. But doing that is not always helpful.


Anger is seen as maladaptive but it is actually a perfectly normal reaction to things that happen.

There is a need for the attitudes towards anger to change.

There is a need for freedom to express anger.


Anger can be used constructively and is more likely to be used that way when it is free to be expressed. It can be channelled into calling for action and positive change.

What if, instead of labelling people as dysregulated and focusing on trying to control and repress anger we actually allow people the freedom to express their anger in a helpful way.


A child learns how to react to anger. How a child learns to react to anger depends on the adults in the child’s life and what they can teach the child. Adults who cannot process anger in a healthy way are not going to be able to teach a child to express anger healthily.

In the case of abuse, there is usually no adult available who can help the child by comforting them and teaching them how to regulate their emotions.

When bad things happen to children the result is often a feeling of shame. The child is often blamed for the bad things or takes on the blame themselves. Shame leads to anger directed at yourself. A child berating themselves for getting angry “again” is common and very unhelpful. Shames means you are less than others, somehow defective. This is a major impediment to seeking help because to acknowledge how bad a person you are is a dangerous thing for your fragile sense of self.


Research has shown that trauma in childhood causes the development of psychological defence behaviours that allow the child to survive. The problem is that in adulthood those defence behaviours that allowed you to survive become a problem.

It is natural to be angry when someone harms you. It is natural to be angry at unfair treatment, being ignored, having hurtful things said about you, being physically abused, sexually abused and so on.

Anger is a natural response to your boundaries being violated.

Anger is a natural response to losing something that is important and that matters to you. That can occur when something is taken away from you and also when your sense of self, self confidence or self esteem is taken away too.


Anger provides the energy you need to defend your boundaries, to express your feelings and to be assertive. Anger can also protect you from the feelings that underly it such as fear or sadness.

It is usual to be taught that anger is bad or unsafe.

If you were raised in an angry household with physical or verbal expressions of anger, you would have seen that anger is unsafe and leads to bad things happening.


But you may have been raised in a household where emotions were kept under tight control and any sign of emotion, especially anger, was considered bad.

Anger suppression impacts on you as an adult in different ways.

Unexpressed anger remains in the body. It leads to the body being held tight to control any expressions of anger. This can be seen in muscle tension. This is a common way for anger to be repressed. It is also associated with constipation, headaches and high blood pressure.


If you hold anger in your body as tension and are not able to express that anger it becomes chronic. Not only will that anger be held as muscle tension, it will also lead to negative thoughts and blocked feelings. This will have a negative impact on your well being both psychologically and physically.

The end result is anxiety which can also be expressed as depression and phobias.


Another negative result of suppressing anger occurs when you are unable to express it. If you believe that to express anger is to be bad then you will often avoid any form of confrontation or problem resolution. This will lead to a loss of ability to make change in your life. To a loss of agency. If you can’t stop constant boundary violations from other people you can only become resigned to it. This feeds low self esteem and hopelessness. Boundary violations can come from your partner, children, family, coworkers, employers, friends as well as strangers.

It can be difficult to express anger. I see people who have a right to be angry being viewed as dangerous or out of control when they express that anger. Even when it is expressed in a calm, assertive way people can view it as scary.

So what are your sources of anger? How do you express your anger? In our society with its repression of anger there are different ways to express anger.


There are times when the subtle, quiet anger is appropriate. This is useful when you are working to correct a wrong or dealing with a difficult other party. For example: you may be angry at a government plan to build a road through a unique woodland and join a protest group to initiate protests against this plan. Or you may be angry at an insurance company that is refusing to pay out on a legitimate claim and your anger keeps you going as you calmly and assertively fight them.

You may also need to defer anger when your child is crying, or someone has just run into your car and you need to get their details. That anger still needs to be expressed somehow later.


It is important to express anger physically. You just have to learn how to do that without causing harm to others or yourself.

Many people will go for a walk, a run, or some other form of exercise. When you allow yourself to express your anger in this way you can learn to feel it in your body. You can learn the signs that you are getting angry. You can learn how to release the anger in a healthy way and be confident you know how to do that so you do not fear it any longer.

It can also be helpful when you are on your own to say words that express what you are feeling inside. That may be “no”, “stop”. Other people find it helpful to use swear words.

Other people find it very relieving to throw things as in a game. A good example is darts. The old joke of the hated boss’s picture on a dartboard is a great example of this! Whacking a ball against a wall can be a good release too.


In my therapy room I use bean bags and will encourage you to throw them hard at the floor. I also encourage vocalising the anger. These are safe ways in a safe space to express unresolved anger.

Once you learn healthy ways to express your anger you can identify when you are holding anger in your body. It can be a surprise to become aware of the sensations of anger in your body. This is really helpful for you to recognise when you are holding anger without being aware of becoming angry. This is a great way for you to process and address things, take appropriate action and process the anger in your body.


In life bad things happen and anger is associated with them. We think and are taught that we can just push things down and not deal with them. Yet that anger still carries energy around it. That energy is not going anywhere. It needs to be released in a helpful way or it will stay in the body, usually as a form of muscle tension and a strong trigger to anything that is similar to it.

Once you learn to let go of anger and process the events around that anger you can feel more in control with new situations that arise. You can learn to express your anger constructively and feel more confident that you can do that. This will reduce the amount of anger you take on board.

You can also learn that anger is not something to be frightened of but instead is a powerful tool of change in your life.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with expressing anger, 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:

Finding the Gold in Dark Places

There is a metaphor about dark places and the gold you find there.

It is true. Mines are where precious metals and stones are found.

Mines are also dark places. They are dangerous. There is the risk of flooding, cave-ins, getting lost in the dark, falling down a shaft, being overcome by poisonous gases.

But for all the dangers there is also treasure to be found. Gold, diamonds, opals, metals like tin and copper, coal. All these treasures have a value that make working in those dark places worth it.

For the multitudes who came to Australia during the Gold Rush of the 1850s, gold was the prize they searched for in those dark places.


You can find yourself in a dark place. There is no light, no easy way to find your way out, the risk of flooding emotions, being buried under overwhelming feelings and helplessness, fear and other emotions so powerful you can barely breathe.


It is so easy to panic. To run screaming through the darkness. To run into walls, fall over obstructions you cannot see and find yourself falling deeper into those hidden shafts.

Maybe for a while you do panic.


Eventually you may find yourself lying on the floor of this dark place. You may be feeling terrified, too terrified to move anymore. You may be totally exhausted, unable to do anything, unable to get up or even think.

There may come a time when you realise no one is coming to help you. You can stay and die in this mine, or you can calmly evaluate your situation and find a way out.


So you get up and sit against a wall.


As you sit, thinking of what to do, you may notice something glowing in the darkness. As you look closer you may see the gold there. It may be a few small specks, or it may be a huge nugget.

Whatever it is, there is enough value in this gold to benefit you.

This gold is your way out of this dark place.

So you take it and leave your dark place.


You may have to clamber up piles of rocks, balance precariously along narrow bridges, cling to the wall as you edge your way along shallow ledges.

Eventually you will see the light and emerge into the day with its brightness, and sunshine, and warmth.


As you embrace this wonderful world of light and safety, you may notice the gold you found.

This is the gold that empowered you and allowed you to find your way out of the darkness.

This is the gold that has changed you.

This is the gold that has enhanced your life here and now. The gold that you will take with you into the rest of your life. The gold that has allowed you to grow.

That gold you found in the dark place is precious. It has enhanced your life. It has made the your that faces the future richer than the you that was lost in that dark place.


It is important to remember you would never have found the gold without being in that dark place. You would never have found the gold without the panic that left you running terrified into the dark. You would never have found the gold if you hadn’t stopped and waited. If you hadn’t allowed time to calm down and wait.

You may not enjoy being in the dark places. They are scary and damp and dangerous. But they are also places where you can learn beneficial things. Places where you can grow.

If you allow yourself time, you can emerge from the dark place with new treasures that will benefit you in your life.


One important thing to remember that is different from being on your own in a mine is that in life people can walk beside you. If you allow them to.

If you can’t find someone who can walk beside you and not get lost themselves then counselling is really beneficial for you. I can walk beside you. I can give you the space to sit and wait. I can help you find that gold and walk beside you as you take your gold into the open air. Then I can help you learn how to use that gold in your life.

Are you willing to get out of the mine?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with getting out of the mine, 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: