Psychiatrist George Ritchie, author of Return from Tomorrow, told the story of ‘Wild Bill’, one of the death camp survivors with whom he worked after the liberation:
“Wild Bill” was one of the inmates of the concentration camp, but obviously he hadn’t been there long: His posture was erect, his eyes bright, his energy indefatigable. Since he was fluent in English, French, German and Russian, as well as Polish, he became a kind of unofficial camp translator.
Though Wild Bill worked 15 and 16 hours a day, he showed no signs of weariness. While the rest of us were drooping with fatigue, he seemed to gain strength.
I was astonished to learn when Wild Bill’s own papers came before us one day, that he had been in Wuppertal since 1939! For six years he had lived on the same starvation diet, slept in the same airless and disease-ridden barracks as everyone else, but without the least physical or mental deterioration.
Wild Bill was our greatest asset, reasoning with the different groups, counseling forgiveness. “It’s not easy for some of them to forgive,” I commented to him one day…. “so many of them have lost members of their families.”
“We lived in the Jewish section of Warsaw,” he began slowly, the first words I had heard him speak about himself, “my wife, our two daughters, and our three little boys. When the Germans reached our street they lined everyone against a wall and opened up with machine guns. I begged to be allowed to die with my family, but because I spoke German they put me in a work group.”
“I had to decide right then,” he continued, “whether to let myself hate the soldiers who had done this. It was an easy decision, really. I was a lawyer. In my practice I had seen too often what hate could do to people’s minds and bodies. Hate had just killed the six people who mattered most to me in the world. I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life – whether it was a few days or many years – loving every person I came in contact with.” This was the power that had kept a man well in the face of ever privation.
If you want to let go of hate or anger and be able to forgive, if you want to be at peace and able to love but don’t know how, I can help. EFT creates true freedom from those negative emotions.
My mother died yesterday. I’ve known it was coming for the past two or three months so I’ve done a lot of my grieving already. The process of grieving is important. Emotions aren’t bad. Its unresolved emotions that cause problems. The best way we can resolve our current emotions is by feeling them. When people are grieving I tell them to allow themselves time to feel sad and cry. Don’t distract themselves or keep themselves busy. Often it hurts too much to think of the person we have lost so we try not to. That isn’t healthy as its pushing the emotion down, where it stays until it is eventually resolved, or is triggered by something else. Spend time each day thinking of the other person and allowing yourself to go through the painful process of grief. That way the process will be quicker and you will come out the other end restored to emotional health, within the timeframe that’s appropriate for each person. I often get people coming for sessions when they haven’t been able to come out the other side of grief. The reasons will be usually one of two things; either they didn’t grieve properly at the time, or there was some traumatic memory attached to the death. If you know someone who hasn’t come out the other side of grief (because grieving is normal, but not for an extended period of time) let them know about me and the help that is available.
Despite the historic inaccuracies and blatant consumerism in the whole concept of Christmas, it is a very useful custom to maintain. Amongst all the craziness is the reminder, for at least a few weeks of the year, that we should spread peace and goodwill amongst all men. At this time of year we tend to be even nicer to other people. I like that side of Christmas. I like that it’s traditional to get together with your family and spend time with them. For some families that is the only time they get together. If it’s a time of year that reminds us to think of God/Jesus/why we are here, then that can’t be bad either. I’m very ‘bah humbug’ about Christmas in general and don’t give cards or presents, but I like to keep the good bits of the tradition. A once a year reminder about spreading goodwill is what I like the most. Christmas to me is like it was after the Earthquakes in Christchurch (I notice how I feel the need to capitalise that word). We went out on the streets the next day and everyone in the whole city was like one big family. Everyone stopping to chat like they were your next door neighbour. It felt like Christmas that day. Not just because we got an awesome gift (we were still alive) but that we spread goodwill to all and they spread it to us.
Scientific papers have now documented the connection between stress and many diseases, including heart attacks and cancer. Emotional states such as panic, hostility, depression, and anger all contribute to heart attack risk. The link between cancer and stress is particularly interesting, and has been shown in much research. But a recent study found receptor sites on the outside of cancer cells for adrenaline, indicating a straight-line biochemical link between stress and tumours. When we’re stressed, our bodies are flooded with cortisol and adrenaline, and this study found that cancers grew 275% faster in stressed mice than in unstressed mice. The scientific consensus is that only 5% to 10% of cancers are hereditary; the rest are due to environmental factors, including stress.
(The above is from the book The Genie In Your Genes by Dr Dawson Church – highly recommended reading.)
I had a client today who had a lot of confusion and worry over the future, but her life now was good. Every problem she came up with wasn’t something that was happening now, but something she might have to deal with. When I taught her how to be in the ‘now’ and be completely present she left very happy. Taking that a step further, we can create the future to be what we want it to be. I love the teaching of Neale Donald Walsch who was today speaking about the tradition of Thanksgiving in the USA. He said “I am suggesting that we not stop to think of what we have to be grateful for from the year just passed, but to think of something new: What will we have to be grateful for in the year ahead? To be grateful in advance of something occurring creates the kind of energy that can cause it to occur.” So I challenge you today to not only focus on what’s good in this moment, but to send out happy, grateful thoughts for your wonderful tomorrows and what they contain. Create your future with your thoughts and your expectations.
Consider the top five regrets of the dying:
1. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
2. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
3. I wish I had let myself be happier.
4. I wish I’d had the courage to express my true self.
5. I wish I’d lived a life true to my dreams, instead of what others expected of me.
Interestingly enough, many of the problems I see with my clients are reflected in this list. Many work too hard and therefore aren’t happy or healthy. Because they are so busy they can’t stay in touch with friends and even if they had time to spare they are usually doing something for someone else. They don’t express their true self, and by this I mean they don’t say what they think or feel, but keep it to themselves. They behave the way they think others want them to behave and live behind a mask, which takes a lot of energy. They don’t live their own lives or do what they reallywant to do because of all the ‘shoulds’ they have. They are often trying so hard to keep other people happy that they are living the opposite of their dream. Don’t leave it until you are dying to look back and wish you had been different. Let me help you to change now.
I love reading about studies that show the power of the mind and/or emotions. I read the other day that Soviet researchers have found that athletes who spend as much as three quarters of their time on mental training do better than those who place more emphasis on physical training. Imagine Olympic athletes being told to spend three quarters of their time doing mental exercise! I was also reading about a study done in a Californian medical centre on cancer survivors. They found that most of them had the ability to enter states of mind that enabled their bodies to perform, like those of athletes, at levels beyond the ordinary. The psychologist found remarkable similarities between what the cancer survivors often did and the methods used by the Soviet and Eastern European competitors who have enjoyed such success in the Olympics during recent decades. We can change our bodies and our lives with our mind alone. EFT is the biggest tool in my toolbox but my no means the only one. Many of the tools I give my clients are mind based ones. Once learned, they can use them for the rest of their lives.
The day my mother moved into a retirement home/hospital they gave her one egg for dinner. One egg on a plate…. nothing else…. that was it! I was so angry when she told me that I was going over in my mind exactly what I was going to tell the manager the next morning. Boy was the manager going to get it! But, that’s not who I want to be. I treated myself using EFT and tapped on my anger. I know I shouldn’t be surprised because I do this for a job, but I was surprised at how quickly the anger went. It disappeared in seconds. Not only did the anger disappear but the tapping made me remember everything I teach to my clients that I’d forgotten in the moment of anger. Because I tapped on myself it meant I could go into the retirement home the next morning and make a complaint firmly and clearly, but also calmly and peacefully. I love that EFT allows me to be the person I want to be. As an update, the complaint was taken seriously and they agreed it wasn’t good enough and have taken steps to ensure it does not happen again. All is well.
I always tell my clients that stress isn’t about what is or isn’t happening to you – it’s about how you think and feel about it. No matter what you are going through, an essential part of that is attending to your emotional needs. It’s important to look after yourself when going through something stressful and that includes of course getting enough sleep, eating even more healthily than usual and getting exercise. It’s usually in the most stressful times that we don’t have time for any of those things, but the ironic thing is the body needs them even more. When you take care of your stressful thoughts and emotions you are more able to cope. When you are at peace emotionally you can cope well with the situation and you can more easily look after yourself health wise. Often during stress we put ourselves last so ask yourself “in what way can I put myself and my needs first today?” Make it your first priority to do something loving for yourself. I said FIRST priority!
P.S. there is an interesting blog here written by Elly McGuinness about keeping stress in check over the silly season. Elly is an online fitness and wellbeing trainer who can help you lead a fitter, healthier life.
More and more studies are showing that the mind controls everything, even our weight. One study done with hotel chambermaids is particularly fascinating. They were asked whether they exercised and many said that they did no exercise at all. Those who answered that way were put into two groups (one being a control). One group was informed that what they did every day all was in fact exercise. That making a bed was like working out on a specific machine at the gym. That vacuuming worked certain muscle groups etc. The control group were told nothing. At the end of the study period (during which nothing changed in the way they did their work or lived their lives) the group who now believed that they exercised actually lost weight, had a decrease in blood pressure and a change in their body mass index. The only difference was their mindset! The mind is incredibly powerful because when we believe something our body will follow. One of the things I do is change people’s mindset to change their life.