Mind

Resistance to Change

Quite often, people will arrange a coaching session and then just before the session, they contact me to say they need to reschedule. This can happen several times, and sometimes they end up cancelling all together and never take advantage of the opportunities that coaching offers them. Sometimes they just don’t turn up. Why does this happen when they are so filled with enthusiasm to reach for their goals or resolve an issue that’s holding them back from enjoying life to the full?

Their reasons for rescheduling or cancelling are always valid, but I’ve come to understand that some people, when faced with the reality of making a change in their life, feel a level of resistance that puts fear into even the most enthusiastic mind. The excuses, whilst valid, are rarely the true reason for bailing on the session, but fear is a powerful thing. Fear of failing or succeeding, fear of change, and fear of the unknown – these are among the biggest roadblocks people face, and taking that first step into a coaching session is a big one for a lot of people.

Its not always easy to ‘bite the bullet’ and place action behind goals to start actually working toward them. And it can be a very daunting prospect to look at issues in one’s life that are causing unhappiness, and change the emotional habits and thought processes that have been held for a long time. Moving out of the comfort zone can be hard for many people. A good coach journeys alongside their client, motivating and gently challenging them to move forward in positive and helpful ways. A good coach understands how daunting it can be for people to share their thoughts, fears and dreams with a stranger and so they will build a strong relationship with their client based on confidentiality, trust and respect.

If you’ve put off booking or attending a coaching session, know that its normal to feel a certain level of trepidation, but pushing through your resistance to get to that first session is the most empowering thing you can do for yourself and will lead to the opportunities for personal growth and success that you dream of attaining.  As I’ve heard it said, “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”

 

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Battle Cry

The recent sad loss of Robin Williams, one of the world’s most talented, kind, generous andRW01 funny souls, reminds me of how fragile so many of us are.  The deep, unrelenting loneliness, despair and hopelessness many of us feel, is not easy to explain to someone who’s never suffered from the disease of depression. But these are feelings I and millions of others live with everyday.

I’ve read some beautiful heartfelt tributes honouring Mr Williams and all he was as a wonderful and talented human being. I’ve also seen plenty of comments along the lines of “How could he do that to his family?” and “You’d think a guy with everything would be happy”.  I’ve even read one comment sprouting about how God will forgive him for his sin.  I understand that these types of comments are made by people who don’t understand depression and how it messes with the psyche.  As someone who lives with depression, I try to pass over their ignorance and rather, choose to regard them with love and acceptance.

I wrote about my depression and my suicide attempt in my book ‘The Constitution of the United States of Being’, and yes, I have considered it since.  In our darkest moments of despair, those of us living with this insidious disease seek nothing more than relief.  No matter how much you love us, or how much we love you, you can’t relieve our pain.  No one can.  Our suffering, and the pain we put our families through as they watch us suffer is, sometimes, too much to bear.  We try so hard to fight it; we use every ounce of inner strength we have, but sometimes we lose the battle.  And its a long battle.  The disease can bring us to our knees over and over again until we have nothing left inside us to fight with any more. In the end, for some of us, the only thing we can do is release ourselves from the pain.

Depression is not the same as feeling sad or a little ‘down’. We all have these feelings as part of the normal range of emotions based on the experiences we have in everyday life. Depression is different. It is a serious mental illness that forces its way into one’s psyche, making it a dark and lonely place – all the time. It sucks away at hope, joy, passion and enthusiasm, leaving only self-loathing, hopelessness and black despair in its place. The idea that victims of depression should be able to simply talk themselves out of it, or use affirmations, or take pills, or just ‘get over themselves’, is so incredibly naive and ignorant.  Yes, these things help, and many of us, including myself, use positive affirmative processes and/or medication to help manage our disease.  But though we may appear happy and content, what you see on the surface is often a far cry from what’s going on underneath.  We tend to lead ‘smoke and mirrors’ lives, wearing our ‘happy’ masks around others. Sadly, in the midst of a bout of depression, our ‘public’ mask tends to make us feel even worse underneath and we despise ourselves even more for the fraudulent life we are compelled to lead. It can be a vicious cycle.  We often try to ‘medicate’ ourselves with drugs, alcohol or food – sometimes to fill the void, sometimes to punish ourselves.

When someone has cancer, family and friends rally around and show tremendous support and concern. No one ever told a cancer victim to “pull themselves together and get over themselves”.  If someone with cancer survives, everyone is happy and relieved, and they celebrate the person’s victory over the terrible disease that threatened their life. If the cancer victim dies, it’s because the cancer killed them. No one says it was because they were selfish, inconsiderate, weak-minded or didn’t fight hard enough.

When someone has depression (and assuming they can overcome their fear of the stigma attached to their disease and tell their loved-ones), family and friends tend to rally around initially and be supportive. Depression is a life-long illness, a constant life and death battle. It often comes in ‘waves’, so after periods of wellness, when a person with depression finds themselves spiralling into the abyss once again, those around them start to approach it with dread and an “Oh great, here we go again” fed-up-with-it attitude.  Sometimes they just feel helpless.  As the depression victim survives each wave, there is no celebration that they survived the latest battle against the terrible disease that threatens their life.  And if they lose the battle, they are not honoured because they fought as hard and valiantly as they could with all the strength they had against a deadly disease.  No. They simply ‘gave up’.  They killed themselves.

Suggesting someone is selfish, inconsiderate or weak because they died due to mental illness is abhorrent. No one would say that of a cancer victim who died. Where is the compassion? People don’t suicide if they are mentally or physically healthy. People suicide because they can no longer withstand the pain of their illness (physical), or because the illness compels them to do it (mental).

People with depression are often strong of will and mind so when we fall, we fall hard, and we can be extra hard on ourselves for falling. If you know someone who is living with depression, regardless of how they appear to be handling it, please, please, please keep them close to you. We need to be reminded how much you care.  Our disease makes us feel we are all alone, even though that may not be true.  Ask how we’re doing and seek an honest answer.  Its incredibly hard for us to admit when we are not doing well but if we know we can trust your reaction, we will turn to you for help.

If we know we have gentle, loving support from people who care, it helps us maintain our balance. There are RW02some wonderful organisations like Life Line and Beyond Blue in Australia, and similar organisations around the world that support sufferers of Depression and their loved-ones, so use them when you need to.

Some of us will survive this disease and some will not, but either way, know that we fight as hard as we can. Your support and compassion make a huge difference to us as we battle those relentless waves.  It really does.

Thank you, Robin Williams, for sharing your talent and making us smile for so long even when you were hurting behind your mask. Thank you for for trying so hard and for having the courage to hold out as long as you did.  You are an inspiration.  Your battle is now over – may you rest in peace.

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Guilt Tripping: A Housewife’s Tale

Okay, I admit it. I loathe housework. I really do. For years, I have made excuses for not doing it; physical pain and lack of time have been top of the list. It’s true that as a single mother with a small business, my life can get very busy. Its also true that I have to take extra care of my back due to a prolapsed disk in my lower spine, so there are some things I can’t do and I accept that. But when I look at the real reason for making up excuses (even the valid ones), I realise that, in truth, they are my way of avoiding feelings of deep, long-held guilt.

One of my childhood memories is that of never feeling comfortable if I was sitting still when my father was doing something around the house. I felt guilty if I wasn’t ‘making myself useful’. I didn’t feel that way around my mother. Although my sister and I were expected to help her with household chores on Saturday mornings, Mum was otherwise happy for me to read, play or watch tv (do kid stuff) on the weekends, but my father would get angry if I was “sitting around doing nothing”. If he was ‘doing’, we also had to be ‘doing’. Looking back, I wonder if his father had been the same way. I don’t know, and my grandfather has long-since passed, but I do know that I’d be left feeling guilty for not ‘being useful’ and afraid of the consequences if I didn’t find something to do. My Dad was a big, burly guy with a penchant for smacking us hard for any transgression. I really wanted to please my father, though it was no easy task, and the sting of his hand and his words let me know how often I fell short of the mark.

It didn’t help that I was bullied in school as well. I became uptight, anxious and fearful. These feelings continued to build over many years but it boiled down to one central belief I had developed about myself: I wasn’t good enough. I was flawed and it was somehow my fault.

And so, I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to redeem myself in the eyes of others whilst also unconsciously making choices that would maintain my deepest belief – that I was worthless. To say I was a mess is an understatement of proportions to rival the seaman’s murmur of “Its just an iceberg.”

I wanted to be liked, accepted and useful to the people around me. Perhaps that would make me valuable and worthy. So, to cover my feelings of inadequacy, I worked very hard over the years to do and be that which I thought others wanted me to be. In the process I made choices that would haunt me for many years. I did things to keep others happy even if those actions tore me apart. I forced myself on to people using the guise of helpfulness, love, need (whatever I thought might work) and I literally gave myself over to anyone who showed me the slightest attention. I became an energy vampire, desperately trying to force from others the things I really needed to find within myself – love, security and worth. Most of all I needed to find that piece of me buried deep inside that knew the truth; I am acceptable, worthy and precious just the way I am.

What does all this have to do with my dislike of housework? My feelings of worthlessness began in that child who felt compelled to be useful around the house, and it stayed with me for years. I spent the greater part of my life feeling guilty for not being good enough and housework sort of personifies that for me. Instead of letting go of my guilt for not doing housework, I came up with excuses in order to cover up this perceived crime.

Over the past couple of years I’ve been seeking out and nurturing that child inside of me, constantly reminding her that she is indeed loved, precious and worthwhile. I have developed a deep appreciation for the person I am today and it started with forgiving my father, my school bullies, my ex-lovers and anyone who I’ve felt had hurt, judged or abandoned me. But most important of all, I had to forgive ME for being so hard on myself and others all these years. Forgiveness has allowed me to let go of my guilt. All of it.

So , if you should ever come to visit, expect dust on the bookshelf, grit on the carpet, dishes in the sink – and a smile for you that’s a mile wide. I will love you forever, but if you try to guilt me by wiping your finger along the sideboard you’ll be out on your ass and out of my life faster than you can say WTF! This is who I am and I no longer make apologies or excuses for it – though truth be told, I can’t wait for the day I can afford a housekeeper! 😉

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Who Comes First In Your Life?

I’m spending the morning at home as I try to get through some work on my desk, most of which is marketing and promotion. I’m loving all the expansion in my life – including the coaching and writing I do, and I feel blessed to be meeting some truly beautiful and loving people as I walk this path. 

Being around calm, loving and spiritually aligned beings is so refreshing and good for me. Those who know me would say that I’m a naturally effervescent and passionate person – and I find it hard to sit still at times! I would say that I can become driven, stressful, sluggish and tired. I’m a single mother, I have big dreams and goals that I work hard to achieve, and I’m compelled to help others through the work I do, but I know that if I don’t look after me first, I can’t effectively look after anyone else or do the things that are important to me.

So, over the past few months I’ve been learning a new habit. I’m learning to be still and calm within myself. It’s quite a change from my constantly busy, racing old self, but I like it very much. I still get everything done, and I’m still just as passionate about life and what I love to do, but I’m doing it at a healthy pace and allowing time for meditation, reading, resting – in short, I’m learning the art of ‘Self-Love’ and allowing myself to just ‘be’.   I love it and I highly recommend it because for me, it is incredibly rejuvenating at every level of my being. I feel physically rested, spiritually alive, emotionally peaceful and joyful – and I feel ready for anything that comes my way.

When you look at your week, is there time in it for you to stop, rest and ‘be still’? Do you give yourself the absolutely essential gift of ‘Self-Love’ or does everyone and everything else come first leaving no time for you? If this concept is new to you it may feel uncomfortable. The idea of putting yourself first may bring up feelings of guilt or selfishness, but I want you to try looking at it from a different point of view; it is essential for the wellbeing of those around you that you take care of yourself. If you feel well, at peace, happy, and filled with appreciation for the time you give yourself, you offer a great gift to everyone in your world because you are able to give them the best of who you are. Not only that, you set an example to those around you that they too, have the ability and right to care for themselves first, and that it’s okay to do so.

We all have the right to be joyful and free – in fact it is the very reason for our being here in this physical experience – and that means taking care of our emotional, physical and spiritual needs first.   I believe that we are all one, so caring for ourselves equals caring for all.  Now that’s altruism at its best!

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Honesty and Self-Love 

Its November 2012 and I’ve started eating again. For over four years I’ve managed my eating disorder really well, but over the past several months, overeating and snacking has started to creep back into my life. I’ve had an extremely challenging year, and lacking outside support, I’ve begun to fall back on this old coping mechanism.

Recognition of the return of my ‘demon’ hit me hard this week and I didn’t write any of my book. I have some leeway as I’m a chapter ahead of my schedule – still, I’ve been feeling the early signs of depression which often sends me into hiding, and that always concerns me. To combat it, I’ve been keeping connected to people via Facebook, Twitter and Skype, reading inspirational work – including the CUSB statements! – and focusing on all the wonderful aspects of my life to try and stay in a postive and appreciative frame of mind. As a result, I’m feeling a lot better today.

My instincts tell me that my eating would be completely out-of-control right now if I wasn’t writing the book. In offering my thoughts on the CUSB statements and sharing my personal life challenges and how I’ve survived them, I am, at the same time, reminding myself of all the tools I’ve used in the past that have helped me. So, although I’m forcing myself to revisit some really difficult periods of my life in order to share my triumphs over them, writing the CUSB book is helping more than I realised it would. Perhaps I should have known that would happen. The Universe is nothing if not precise in its methods of offering us ways in which to grow and learn!

In examining the CUSB so closely and frequently, I’m finding it’s becoming an established and ingrained part of my daily life. I guess its a natural process. When we live with something constantly, it must at some point become a part of who we are.

I was going to write about CUSB #14 this week:

At all times, remember to love and respect your Self.
Enjoy your Self and be excited about the life you’ve been given.

No wonder I couldn’t get started. In overeating, I’m certainly neither loving nor respecting myself! For the past several years I relied on the love and support of a very dear friend and soul mate to help get me through such challenging times without overeating. But I lost my friend earlier this year, and with no knowledge of how to emotionally support myself, I have returned to my old means of coping. Now I must make a choice. I can continue on the path I’m on (overeating and binging) which will lead me to certain early death, or I must find new ways to deal with life’s difficulties. I realised this week that I need to adopt new coping mechanisms.

I know I have the knowledge to do this. I’ve been reading (and writing and teaching) inspirational, motivational, affirmative and life-changing work for years. Now its time to not only share it with you, my reader, but willingly, consciously and conscientiously LIVE it for myself!

I’m going to pull out all stops! Its time to start implementing all the beautiful and loving advice of Louise L. Hay and Cheryl Richardson and my other favourite teachers, and find a way to learn how to REALLY LOVE MYSELF and treat myself with the respect and the dignity that I deserve. I will find a way to cope with life’s challenges in a healthy and positive way.

And, I’m going to write that chapter on CUSB statement #14 next week! 🙂

I’d really love to know your thoughts on self love too. Whether you suffer with an addiction and/or depression or not, what are some of the things you do to take care of yourself emotionally? Email me at mail@lisajbutler.com and I’ll include your thoughts (along with your first name only) here with this entry for my readers too. Try to be concise (up to 150-200 words). I’m looking forward to being inspired by your ideas!  

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How I ‘Head Butt’ Failure

Having a spiritual nature myself, it comes as quite a shock when occasionally everything in my life appears to fall apart!  This shouldn’t be the case of course (the shock, that is – not the falling apart) as I know that as part of my learning and growth, trials as well as triumphs will no doubt come my way.  In my head I know that I can survive all the things that go wrong, which of course is easy enough to say when I’m feeling logical and in control but not so easy to remember when I’m spinning around in a vortex of fear, anxiety and depression.  Why, when I’m trying so hard to do what the Universe has put me here for, is it a constant battle?  Why does it seem, that for every tiny step forward towards my lifelong goals and dreams, I get a great big slap in the face that pushes me back to almost where I started?  What am I doing wrong?

Ha!  I do make life difficult for myself don’t I?!  I examine and cross-examine the endless possibilities for my failures.  It doesn’t matter whether those failures are real or perceived; every one of them appears at the time to be a disaster.  Of course, once the swelling goes down and my ears stop ringing, I start to question what the hell is going on!  I’ve been given a special gift.  I know the Universe wants me to use it.  I try every way to get ‘there’.  I struggle.  I let go.  I try patience.  I try force.  I meditate, castigate, ruminate, retaliate.  I set forth with determination and come back with my tail between my legs.  Perhaps I was an axe murderer in a past life and the karma is catching up with me.  Could I be trying too hard, or not trying hard enough?  Is it possible that the gift is after all, not a gift?  Is it possible that I’m just not good enough?  Is the dream, after all, just a dream?

Aaahh!! (Stress is obviously a fairly significant factor here – straight jacket definitely required!)  So, how in the face of imminent insanity, do I keep going?  How do I recover from seemingly unrecoverable disasters, regardless of how big they seem or where the fault lies?

 I have my own foolproof (obviously), step-by-step survival plan.

  1. The first thing I must do is acknowledge that I am responsible for myself, my actions and my reactions.

It sounds easy but it’s not, when I’m feeling let down.  No one helped me into the hole.  I slid down all by myself.  No one else can get me out but me, because for the most part, the hole is in my head (yeah, yeah, I hear you…)

It’s not physical; it’s psychological.  The point I’m trying to make is that the event (the apparent failure or cause of failure) may be out of my control, but the way I handle it isn’t.  I may not be able to control outside influences; I can however control my impulsive reactions or at the very least acknowledge responsibility for them and try to learn something from the ‘event’.  I’m an emotional person, so I go right over the top when I react.  I am, however, learning to overcome this and I recover much more quickly with every test.  I am discovering that the more quickly I recover from a failure, the less stress I feel.  It doesn’t change the feeling of disappointment but it does shorten the duration, which leads me to the next step.

  1. It’s important for me to feel okay about the failure.

The thing with failure is that it attacks self-esteem, confidence and creative flow to the point where logic and spirit become prisoners to an overwhelming feeling of worthlessness, guilt and empty wishes.  To overcome this awful emotional paralysis, I remind myself that failure is just an unrealised expectation.  Think about it.  That’s really all it is.  The world is not going to end; I still have a roof over my head and food on the table (hey, its simple but edible – most of the time!), I still have my family and friends and no matter what, I can still write well, whether anyone cares to agree with me or not.  I still have me.  A failure does not have control over my life!  I am a worthwhile person with big dreams and a big heart and a will to succeed regardless of the challenges placed before me.  I will not feel guilty for my perceived failures but rather, pride for surviving them!

  1. Next comes the ‘pick-yourself-up-and-dust-yourself-down’ bit. I write down all my successes, no matter how small or insignificant they may appear. 

This is really hard when I don’t feel good about myself.  I have been keeping a journal for several years and I start reading from beginning to end, remembering.  I go through photo albums to help me remember people and events and achievements.  I read books that remind me of my strength, resilience and love.  I read the poetry and songs I have written over the years.  These are my creations courtesy of the Universe, my children if you like, and I remind myself that they are good.  Someday the whole world will hear them.  I write down every win, every point scored.  For every seemingly Elephantine failure there is a definite Ant(ine?) success!

So, let’s take the elephant and the ant out of it. I’m simply left with failure and success.  Equality – I love it!!  When I take away the perceived enormity of the unrealised expectation it stops being a huge, impenetrable wall with which to bang my already somewhat damaged cranium.  It becomes simply a stone on the path that causes me to stub my toe a little on the way to making my dreams a reality.

I understand that the Universe is constantly challenging and teaching me on my path to perfection and that using my gifts are a part of that learning, and in turn teaching, process.  Things won’t always go the way I plan them and I won’t always get what I want.  Failure will always be a greater teacher for me than success because through failure I strive to improve myself emotionally, physically and spiritually, which leads me to the ultimate success anyway.

Perhaps my most powerful weapon against failure is that I absolutely refuse to give up on my dreams.  They are given to me through a Higher Power just as my gifts are, and I am learning not to squander my learning time by wallowing in self-pity and defeat.  I refuse to be anything less than the best I can be.  I have an affirmation that I say to myself:

I am a powerful being,
filled with the energy of the Universe.
Everything I think, feel, say and do
is done with grace dignity, love and acceptance.

I understand that failures are like stepping-stones.  Each one is a challenge placed down in front of me to help me towards my goals, not away from them.  Each makes me stronger and more determined but also wiser and therefore, more loving and caring.  Some people have actually learned to embrace their challenges and failures because they learn so much from each of them.  I haven’t sat in on that class yet!  I think it’s called Advanced Humility Training.   No doubt I’ll learn that one soon enough!

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