Research shows that one of the most important contributors to happiness is good relationships. Not just romantic relationships either, but close friendships and social connections at work or in other activities. Studies prove that good relationships make you happier and they are also associated with better health and living longer.
One Harvard study on adult development (considered to be the most extended study, which started in 1938, tracked the lives of 724 men for 75 years) found that good relationships are the key factors that matter the most for long-lasting happiness. Research does show however that a bad relationship is worse than being alone.
So, we know that good relationships and social connections are very important for our wellbeing. Here’s the problem though – what if you can’t make those close connections? This is the problem for many of my clients for the following main reasons:
These are just a few of the common ones. And of course, many of these blocks are in the subconscious mind, so people may not even be consciously aware of the reason they can’t make strong connections.
Then we add the Law of Attraction issue. Basically, what we think, feel, believe and expect is what we tend to attract to ourselves. So, if you don’t love or accept yourself, it is unlikely you will attract (or keep) someone who does love or accept you. We need to change how we feel about ourselves before we can have strong and valuable social connections.
If you, or anyone you know has a problem with relationships or social connections let them know about me. When you change how you feel about yourself, everything changes for the better.
Did you know that if you change your body language it can trick your brain to feel happier?
For instance, smiling (even when you don’t feel like it) creates a chemical reaction in the brain that releases certain hormones, including dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness and Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress. Its like ‘fake it till you make it’, but it works. It’s been scientifically proven that smiling tricks your brain into believing you are happy, which can then create actual feelings of happiness. The great thing is that the brain can’t tell whether you’re smiling because you’re genuinely happy, or because you’re just pretending.
Here’s something weird: A study performed at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people who could not frown due to botox injections were happier on average than those who could frown!
Here’s something else weird: If you (fake) smile at yourself in the mirror, it actually makes you (real) smile back and feel happier.
In general, happy people stand up straight with their head up and look straight ahead. There is no slumping like you see with unhappy people. You can actually trick your brain into feeling happier if you do the same. Change the body first, then the emotion follows.
Next time you don’t feel happy observe your own body language. Then correct it to what it would be if you were feeling great. Chest out, head up, a small smile on your face…. you will actually start to feel happier quite quickly. You can supercharge this by adding happy thoughts. Tell yourself things like “I’m happy”, “I’m feeling good”, “all is well in my world” etc. The happy thoughts will release the hormones and chemicals that create actual happiness.
So next time you are feeling low, adjust your body, adjust your smile and adjust your thoughts. Your brain will be successfully tricked and the happiness will become genuine.
This one tip has changed my life and I give it to clients all the time. It was told to me by someone (we will call her Sally) who was shocked to discover that her sister (a good-natured rival) had achieved something she was still working towards herself. It was to do with working with their horses, and involved a lot of work with the over many months to pass the equestrian type exam. When Sally questioned her sister as to how she could possibly have achieved this before her, the reply was “The 10 Minute Rule”.
“What the heck is the 10 Minute Rule!!!?” declared Sally, surprised and unbelieving.
Her sister explained that she committed to working for 10 minutes a day on the tasks needed to achieve the goal she was working towards. “There’s no way that you could have achieved it by going out with the horses for only 10 minutes a day” declared Sally. “It’s impossible!”
“You are right” replied her sister, “but the thing is, once you are out there and have got all the gear ready and have made a start, chances are you will keep going for longer – and I did”.
It reminded me of the old saying ‘how do you eat an elephant?’ The answer being ‘one bite at a time’. Most people of course look at the elephant and feel overwhelmed by the size of the job. They are so overwhelmed that they don’t even start, or they procrastinate and get sidetracked. I love the elephant analogy and often tell my clients “you need to focus on the toe you are working on and stop looking at the whole elephant”.
I frequently have jobs that make me feel overwhelmed and I used to put these off and find a million other things that ‘needed’ doing first. Now I just follow the 10 Minute Rule. I make a deal with myself that I only have to take one bite of the elephant. That I only have to focus for 10 minutes on the task. Sometimes I do more, sometimes I don’t. What I find, when I don’t put any more pressure on myself than 10 minutes, is that I take another bite later. One day I took three bites of the elephant, the last bite being only 5 minutes long. But I’d already taken two 10-minute bites earlier in the day, so that was fine.
On my current big task, I’m nearly there. Just an ear and a trunk to go. I got there by following the 10 Minute rule and I love it. Take short, no pressure bites at a task. Give it a try.
The question “Why do we Self-doubt and how do we overcome it?” was asked of me by a client, via email. My first thought was, that’s a huge question with a huge answer! But I do like to simplify things, so after some pondering I replied. Keep in mind that this client had done a few EFT sessions with me and I had taught her how to do EFT on herself for every-day issues, so she was well versed in using this particular tool.
Self-worth is a big and complex issue, but I’ll drastically simplify it down to two points.
How I deal with it with clients is:
Right, so I’ve simplified a complex issue into two points. I can simplify it even further into 1 simple sentence:
It’s as simple as deciding to.
Loving and accepting yourself as you are can be as simple as deciding to. Ponder that for a while…..
Ok, that may or may not help as it is a complex issue, but if you want help with it you know where to find me 😊 Love Karen
I’ve been thinking a lot about comparison lately. If someone tells me I look younger than I actually am I feel good about myself. Why? I’m comparing myself (or others are) with ‘the norm’ and finding that I either fit the norm, am less than the norm or am better than the norm. In that case I’m in the ‘better than norm’ category. If I look at the cellulite on my thighs and feel bad about myself, its only because I’m comparing my thighs to others who don’t have cellulite, or have less. That comparison puts me in the ‘less than norm’ category.
I had a client who, when asked why she couldn’t love and accept herself, answered “because there’s this box that society calls ‘acceptable’ and I’m completely outside of it”. That box could also be called ‘the norm’, and she was outside of it. She was still amazing and wonderful even though she wasn’t ‘the norm’. However, it was a fact that many people had judged her as being less-than. Therefore she judged herself as less-than.
It got me to wondering, what would she have felt about herself if there was no ‘box of acceptable’, or no ‘normal’? What would she have felt if there was no comparison? Yes, I know that’s not possible, but imagine for a second what the world would be like if comparison didn’t even exist. I think it would be pretty amazing. The poor wouldn’t know they were poor. The fat wouldn’t know they were fat. The ugly wouldn’t know they were ugly. The gay wouldn’t know they were different.
I always tell my clients that one of the ways to be happy is to always feel good about yourself, no matter what other people say or think, or how they judge you. Just don’t judge yourself. Good advice (if I do say so myself), but its actually pretty hard for some people. Especially if you’ve been judged by others your whole life. If you’ve been compared and found lacking. If you’ve been attacked for being less-than, often even physically, as was the case with my client.
Luckily the world is changing, albeit slowly. Now its illegal to discriminate against or target certain types of people e.g. gay, or more recently Muslim. It wasn’t always that way. We are starting to compare less and include more.
This was demonstrated wonderfully after the attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15th 2019. One of the first things that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said was “You are us”.
No comparison is present in those words. It means we are all in the same ‘box of acceptability’ or the same normal.
The day after the attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern received a phone call from President Donald Trump who asked what offer of support the United States could provide. Her answer was “sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.”
Wouldn’t it be great if we could think “you are us” when we look at our fellow human beings? Wouldn’t it be great if we did away with comparison entirely? It’s a big ask, but as we wait for that to happen, we can start with ourselves. We can stop comparing ourselves. Start now.
Emotions, Responses and Steps Towards Healing
On Friday March 15th 2019 there was a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. As one journalist put it, “it took just 21 minutes of mayhem to end 50 lives and changed hundreds of others forever”. But that wasn’t quite accurate. It changed far more than just ‘hundreds of people’. It changed us as people forever, not just in New Zealand but around the world, as others responded to our response.
It was the response that made this different from other similar events that have occurred in other countries. We refused to respond with indifference to the community of mostly immigrant or refugees this happened to. We refused to respond with hatred or revenge. Instead we responded with love. Great love.
One of the first things that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said was “You are us”. I feel close to tears just writing those three words – you are us. All of the great teachers in the world tell us that we are all connected. That we are all one. But how many of us actually live that truth? Since the event we New Zealanders have been living that truth.
We showed that what happened to them happened to us, because they are us. We grieved with them as if it was our families that had been affected. We bought flowers in huge numbers. We wrote messages on cards, cardboard, pavement, to tell them that we loved them, because they are us. We had vigils all over the country where tens of thousands attended so we could be together, be one, show our love and support. But we didn’t want to just say “you are us”, we wanted to live it. So we visited their mosques and prayed with them. We wore a hijab and went to work, to the supermarket, to school – to show we are the same.
The New Zealand EFT community were right there showing support for me and my colleagues in Christchurch. They showed their support for the victims and their families, with many offers to treat trauma victims free of charge. The “you are us” and we are family was strongly present and acted on within the EFT community. A colleague in Auckland organised online meetings to support the EFT practitioners who were struggling with their own emotions over the event, as well as helping them to help others more effectively. Those that were distanced by location showed love and support by doing surrogate tapping. If they couldn’t love in person, they did it energetically.
The day after the attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Adern received a phone call from President Donald Trump who asked what offer of support the United States could provide. Her answer was “sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.” Sometimes love is all you can give. Sometimes it is everything.
The talk on the news now is about how we can keep this feeling of oneness permanently and not let it drift away over the coming weeks or months. That is the real challenge.
We have felt this connection and oneness before – after the Christchurch earthquakes. Everyone became our friend, neighbour, family. There were no strangers, only “us” because we were all in it together. Maybe it was because of what we went through in the earthquakes (and there were many very destructive ones over a period of time), that our compassion, love and oneness was already quite well developed.
If the earthquakes primed us for a heightened sense of oneness, they also primed us for a heightened sense of fear. The fear from the terrorist event has bought to the surface any unresolved emotions from the earthquakes, which in turn bought to the surface any previous unresolved emotions. After the earthquakes I had many clients who presented with what seemed like earthquake trauma, but wasn’t. The earthquakes had triggered emotions from the past, particularly fear of loss (of loved ones). The terrorist attack has done the same. It’s not just the feeling of loss that has been triggered, but the feeling of being unsafe. The unsafe things came unexpectedly in both events. Emotionally that is hard to deal with because people feel they can’t protect themselves from the unexpected, so they are on heightened alert all of the time. This causes anxiety in those who don’t get emotional help, for many years to come, and is especially true for children.
A recent article, written eight years on from the Christchurch earthquake of February 22, 2011  said: Children who started school in the years following the February 2011 earthquake are “neurologically different”, according to a world-first research project by University of Canterbury associate professor Kathleen Liberty. Against all international evidence, Christchurch children did not bounce back: By the end of 2015, 52 per cent of 300 study children’s behaviour had worsened, and by 2017 four in five exhibited at least one symptom of PTSD.
I have treated children like that. Children who were too young to know anything or be affected at the time, but are showing serious anxiety now, many years later.
Our job is not done. The support we offer others cannot stop after a few weeks. The love we give or send cannot stop after a few weeks. The oneness we feel cannot stop after a few weeks. People don’t always bounce back and they don’t always realise that until years later. Time often doesn’t heal. But EFT does and love does. So, let’s keep doing both.
I recently heard about the Taoist principle of Wu Wei, which translates more or less as ‘action in non-action’. Or in other words, action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort. Wu Wei is the cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life. This going with the flow, although it may be greatly productive, is characterized by great ease, where we do the right thing effortlessly without trying.
It seems to be exactly what Abraham (Esther Hicks and the Teaching of Abraham) has to say in his analogy about paddling upstream. His analogy describes why we don’t seem to be getting where we want to be in life and why it seems so hard. He says that most people don’t go with flow in life because it seems lazy to do that. We paddle upstream because that seems virtuous, and everyone in society measures themselves against others who are paddling upstream. ‘Upstream’ represents struggle for achievement. Not the achievement itself, but the struggle. We wear our struggle like a badge and always talk about how busy we are or how stressed we are. Abraham says “Why not turn and just go with the flow of the stream. He says “Nothing that you want is upstream. Everything you want is in the direction of the flow. There is only one stream and it is downstream. Just stop paddling upstream and the stream will turn you.”
Another thing that Abraham teaches is the difference between motivation and inspiration. “Inspiration comes forth from within. It’s what the light burning within you is about, as opposed to motivation, which is doing it because if you don’t do it, there will be negative repercussions. Motivation is making myself do something that I don’t really want to do. Inspiration is having the clear picture of what I am wanting — and letting Universal forces come into play to get the outcome.”
So if it seems like you are paddling upstream in life, or are doing the opposite to the principle of Wu Wei (i.e. it seems that your effort does involve struggle or excessive effort) then I can help. Knowing there is a different way and actually being able to take it are two completely different things. I help you to make the changes you can’t make on your own, whether in your happiness, health or success.
When your spouse died did you have anger mixed in with the grief? If so, that is very normal. One of my clients told me she loved her husband and after over 30 years of marriage they still sat on the couch holding hands. But when he died she felt overwhelming anger. Anger that he had ‘left her’. Anger that she had to do it on her own now. Anger at the life/retirement she had planned and could no longer have. Anger at everything that she now had to deal with on her own. There is no doubt that she loved him and felt great grief, but the anger was even stronger than the grief. As with any emotion, if we push it away (because it feels wrong to have/feel it) it doesn’t get resolved and it stays with us. I always advise people to feel what they feel. In her case, to get his ashes out (she’d hidden them away because of her feelings towards him) and tell him off. To express her feelings. And of course we did EFT on her feelings too. It is EFT that actually allows us to let go of the feelings permanently.
The anger is something we often only share with our therapist. Imagine telling your friends that you were angry at the person they knew you loved, who had passed away. They would not get it, unless they had been in that situation.
Another client was really angry when her husband had a heart attack, even though he survived. She was angry at the prospect of him leaving in the future (having another heart attack) and felt left in the lurch in many ways, including financial), even though he hadn’t actually ‘left’ yet. That seriously affected their relationship, until she got help and dealt with her feelings.
If you are in this situation then please seek help from a professional such as myself to bring you quickly back to peace and happiness. If you are supporting a friend or family member who is grieving, allow them to feel anger as well as grief. Don’t judge them for it. Support them by telling them that you understand how they might feel that way and its okay to be angry. This might be difficult as you may be grieving for the same person, someone you loved deeply. Their anger might seem unfair to you, but try to keep your judgement out of the way. Anger is an easier emotion to deal with than grief, we may unconsciously focus on that feeling as a way of coping. It is only when the anger is allowed, felt, processed and resolved that grief can be fully expressed.
Confession time. Don’t judge me too harshly, but I love those reality shows like The Batchelor or Married at First Sight. One reason is that I get to see how people cope with their emotions, and how they react with words, in very challenging and stressful situations. They don’t always show themselves in a good light and I watch, wondering whether I would be able to be the person I want to be in a similar situation. I hope I would. Today I came across something online that really summed up how we react during stress. I loved it and hope you do too:
You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.
Why did you spill the coffee?
“Well because someone bumped into me, of course!”
You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.
Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.
*Whatever is inside the cup, is what will spill out.*
Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled.
*So we have to ask ourselves… “what’s in my cup?”
When life gets tough, what spills over?
Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?
Or anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?
Today let’s work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation; and kindness, gentleness and love for others.
P.S I help people to be who they want to be. To be full of good thoughts, beliefs and emotions, so that is what they ‘spill’ when times get rough.
On a recent trip to USA we were lying by the swimming pool of our hotel and I saw a couple of people who I initially thought might be special needs (intellectually disabled). The reason I thought that is, even though they were in the pool, they had a plastic-covered item around their neck. I thought this must be their name and contact details in case they got lost, something the intellectually disabled commonly wear. Then I saw something that made me realise I had got it completely wrong. They were in fact ordinary people, with their cellphones in a waterproof case around their necks. They were using their cellphones in the pool! I was shocked. It seems to me that using your cellphone in the pool indicates a very unhealthy connection to it. It also indicates that they can’t relax, or enjoy life without ‘doing’ something, whether with their hands or, more importantly, their mind. Constant use of a cellphone is a way of keeping our mind busy. When our mind is busy we aren’t giving ourselves time to think or feel. This is my definition of an addiction. Something that we use or do that distracts us from thoughts and feelings we don’t want to have. So many things block out those thoughts and feelings wonderfully well, such as alcohol, drugs, smoking and comfort eating. One activity people don’t often put in the addiction category is overworking or keeping busy. Constant use of a cellphone is definitely keeping busy. When we have feelings we don’t want to feel and thoughts we don’t want to think, the answer is not to distract ourselves from them or to block them out. This only pushes them down and they lie, unresolved, until something triggers their release at a later date. If you are someone who keeps busy (including mentally) I suggest giving yourself a few hours to do nothing. Nothing! Just sit, or take a gentle stroll, and allow yourself to think and feel. No reading, no talking, just ‘be’. If this thought scares you then it’s a sure sign that your emotional health could use a little work. If you need help with that contact me, it’s what I do.