therapy journey

My journey to better mental & spiritual health

Tag: NLP

I am filled with gratitude for the love that I am here to create.

Monday 3rd November 2014

On the same day I attended TJ Woodward’s Authenticity Group, I went to a meditation and conversation group run by Claudia on trusting your intuition in order to improve your outcomes. I have written about my previous block in this area. In contrast, the new me has promised to trust myself. There were long stretches in my life when I truly believed I was less than human. I heard so many positive messages around me and I didn’t miss out on the one about trusting yourself, but I thought it didn’t apply to me because I was ‘different’, a cosmic mistake somehow. I sought direction and validation from other sources, everywhere but within.

I feel very relaxed when I attend these groups. Even though typically I don’t know anyone else there, because I am trying a lot of things for the first time, I feel more filled with confidence than if I were alone. I speak, I share, and I really get in touch with my deep spiritual self. I receive great responses from people which make both my ego and my soul sing. I connect. I write down avowals like ‘I so want to be true to myself’ and ‘I so want to leave behind the spiritually vacuous’.

In this Intuition group, we sat on a comfy sofa in a homely environment. I was 45 minutes late because I had overslept and so was late for my lift, but even so I felt instantly welcomed. Claudia speaks so fluently and with deep conviction. She said that we are God and we are created in his image. The body is part of who we are but we are so much more than that. It allows the God within us to exist on this plane. As the only vehicle we have, the first gift back to God is to give our body temples our ultimate love. She gives us the gift of life so we give her the gift of health. Today I promised to look after my body.

The guided meditation was beautiful and peaceful. To trust our intuitions and call into being greater things, we seek oneness with our higher selves. Of course, without negative emotions we wouldn’t have access to the doorway that leads to oneness. Without ego we would not exist. But when seeking the God within us, the way is silence. It’s a straight and very simple line between me and God. We love and respect our ego but we sometimes we turn it down, tune it out and listen to the higher self. Organised religion is created by man and isn’t pure. In fact it’s pretty filthy and most them are as far removed from spirituality as it’s possible to be.

Claudia calls the meditative state one of being in-between. I now see the benefits in and of itself. Three minutes every day is enough, though one member of the group meditates for three to four hours each day. When you practise, Claudia reckons, what comes will be greater than our imaginations. I believe this. Trust, faith and belief are what comes. Don’t let doubt creep in. One technique she used was visualising white light flowing into the crown chakra or through the third eye. It’s very powerful imagery that helps when entering the in-between state.

This is just so beautiful, isn’t it? Living a life of giving to receive automatically. Being a conduit for whatever energy is waiting to be expressed. I felt it when I meditated there. This was a day that I realised how powerful energy is. I knew for the first time that I am made from the same spirit as the universe.

We were created in the image of God to thrive, not just survive. The reality of making a living is illusory and the result of indoctrination. We are all already hypnotised. We multitask by driving, talking on the phone, listening to the radio and drinking coffee all at the same time. The unconscious does all the work! Harmony comes when the lower and higher selves work together.  Ask your higher self whether something is real or not and you will know.

During one of the meditations Claudia used a well-known NLP technique (called anchoring or the power button as I like to say) in which we learn to associate a happy memory with bodily sensations of happiness. Coming back to the memory using the accompanying bodily trigger creates a neural pathway which supposedly allows us to relive the happy time. It’s never really worked for me, but one thing at a time.

The experience was wonderful. It is lovely to speak openly, to meditate together, to learn so much, to feel connected and to meet others. I feel very calm after these events. I know I have used my energy to improve my entire life.

always the sun

Therapy is no magic wand.

The therapy is continuing in lots of different ways. I’m growing and learning in ways I never thought possible and reading lots though mostly from other blogs nowadays rather than books. What I’ve learned in relation to the traditional model of therapy is that it’s only useful when I’ve believed it to be useful. That is, I, the patient, determine the usefulness of the therapy. It works if I say so.

I adopt a multi-pronged approach, and have become something of a therapy junkie throughout my journey. I have been asked by various friends and other therapists recently whether therapy is “working”. I really don’t know what to say. It clearly isn’t, because all the hours I’ve spent talking to therapists haven’t changed my behaviour in certain situations.

It took me months to find the therapist, G, that has helped me the most – by that I mean the one who I feel most comfortable with, I respect as an individual, and whose advice, analysis and agenda I most value. What I am basically saying is that I like her as a person. We get on well. We can hold a conversation.

In this way I find solace in a relationship that society says can cure me of my psychological ailments; my mental and behavioural stumbling blocks. We have preordained roles and sometimes resort to stock phrases. Like doomed lovers conducting an illicit affair, there is no preamble and no outro to our encounters, it’s straight to business. The validity of the therapeutic transaction is confirmed by the exchange of money – an amount that isn’t to be sniffed at. Afterwards I am left confused, traumatised, enraged sometimes, comforted that someone understands other times… but there is never any question that this therapy is an  unequivocally Good Thing.

I wouldn’t say I have any doubts about the therapeutic process, even if the intervention is nothing more than offloading to a nice person who understands and challenges me. I worry that surely therapy is the end of the road. If it doesn’t “work” then what else is there to try? Happy pills? Joining a cult? Self-flagellation? Going back to my bad old ways?

Where my doubts lie are in myself. I embrace therapy and I know I’m doing it right because it’s painful afterwards, the psychological equivalent of being punched in the stomach. It’s a similar feeling actually, like the wind’s been taken right out of me. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and so far I have not turned into a very tasty dish. I’m still bitter in just about every way imaginable. I’m still angry, it’s right there, bubbling beneath the surface like lava in a volcano.

Yes, deep psychotherapy has helped me understand the causes of my upsets, and makes me very sad in fact as I come to terms with a wasted childhood. But as far as its ability to make me a better person – the person I was always meant to be, before being consumed by negativity – the progress is patchy. I continually mess up, and have recently reverted to appalling behaviours that I thought were behind me.

More recently though, there has been a glimmer of hope. I have been the shining beacon that is going to help myself out of the darkness. I am in the process of making myself more resilient, empathetic, grateful, humble, forgiving and loving. It is in my power alone.

I’ve been told by someone in the blogosphere to relax and observe whether I’m resisting or allowing each moment. Go general. Find soothing, relaxing thoughts. Be easy on myself. Have fun. Take deep breaths. find things to appreciate. Don’t resist the present moment & don’t resist life.

I would like to do all of these things and keep doing them until they become second nature, regardless of the setbacks and endless barrage of feelings I contend with. I would like to experience enough constant faith in myself that even a rough patch with my partner doesn’t derail it. At the moment my entire happiness seems to be dependent on our relationship. J’s also very sensitive (though sometimes seems incredibly insensitive as a coping mechanism), so everything rubs off on him and is exacerbated ten times. That is how we got ourselves worked up into such a lather before.

Learning self-belief and acceptance are so important to individual happiness. I’m doing very well with my previous resolutions – calmness, sobriety, my own interests, not using the language of blame, and sitting above the situation in hand – and over the weekend notched up gold stars on each. I stood up for myself in a very calm and inclusive way, and realised as I spoke what is important for me as regards my life goals.

I’ve got more therapy tonight with G – my last session before I leave the country for up to 8 months. I am looking forward to discussing my issues but I hope this is the end to some of my more unproductive introspection which I acknowledge can lead to unhappiness and resentment of the status quo.

There is no magic wand, there is only belief.

May Resolutions. Being more boring.

Enough time has passed for me to accept and try to move on from the weekend’s poisonous events. Knowing that I can’t unf**k the goat, I can at least do everything I can to prevent my pattern of idiocy to perpetuate any longer.

I have done this coming to terms largely away from J, on my own and with other people, as it’s the only way I can right now. I don’t want to talk to him about any of our issues for fear of causing an upset. I believe that if I can get things sorted in my own mind, my behaviour will be nice which in turn will lead him to be nice. Then maybe we can talk but only when we’re really strong again.

I have come to realise a few things in general. Call them resolutions. Firstly, I must be calm. There is a long, painful recovery period from my abusive behaviour for both of us. I am so shell-shocked I could have behaved like I did that I get into beating-myself-up mode, which means my already battered self-worth goes through the floor. I go into a sort of denial where I expect sympathy because I see myself as the victim. It’s strangely f***ed up.

Secondly, I must stay off booze. It doesn’t agree with me. It makes me aggressive. And seeing as I don’t start feeling that I have had too many after two or four or five, it’s safer to avoid it altogether. I have recently been made aware of alarming incidents that happened years ago that I genuinely could not recall. And it wasn’t just once or twice, it was every time. My friends dreaded being out with me. I did not know that…

Next, I must retain my own interests in order to boost my sense of self. In an intense relationship, it’s all too tempting to dissolve yourself into the other, seeking validation from just one source. It seems absurd even, to devote time to friends, new experiences and hobbies that take you away from the relationship you’re trying so hard to fix. The relationship becomes a full time occupation and everything else is just a distraction. This isn’t healthy.

Number four, when a situation progresses into a conflict, I should explain how the matter in hand affects me. I can explain how this is against my values or I don’t appreciate being spoken to like that, instead of nitpicking, criticising or attacking. Sentences should start with “Right now I feel” rather than “You always… You’re such a….”

The fifth point is to do with my boyfriend in particular. He has been known to twist the knife and to wait for a reaction. He’s a great one for picking fights and winding people up, particularly girlfriends. He likes the drama of conflict (I am exactly the same!). I guess we both like it for the same reason: it reminds you that you’re not dead. I actually want to be more boring! Maybe that means staying in more, watching TV, cleaning, reading, sewing. Maybe that means agreeing with him instead of rising to the bait. Maybe that means taking a step back and observing a situation rather than being tangled up in it and powerless to see what’s actually going on. So that’s a tricky one to summarise so I’ll just say I hope to be boring, agreeable and somewhat detached.

I cannot ask my boyfriend, or anyone else for that matter, to change. I can only work on changing my perceptions and behaviour. I can change how I let the outside world affect my inner state.

To this end I attended by first CBT session on the NHS last night. I had been waiting for three months, but I realise my problems have not changed a jot. I only have time for one session before I leave the country and will therefore have to wait six months or so until I am back to arrange a course of sessions. However it was still useful. The therapist drew three bubbles, the emotion I felt during the incident, the thoughts that were going through my head as a result of that emotion, and the behaviour that is manifested by the thoughts. The chain that we seek to break in the CBT process is between (irrational) thoughts and behaviour. I was challenged, which is very important to my recovery.

I was given two online resources I can use while away. They are Moodgym and the Centre for Clinical Interventions.

When I return here in a few months, I hope to continue with the CBT which deals very much with the here and now, and concurrently to take the NLP/ Biodynamic/ Integrative Arts psychotherapy approach in which I can address childhood issues. I’d like to think of recent events as minor speedbumps, not proof that I am beyond help.

Getting to know and tame my rebellious inner child.

So, I came back from what I call my hardcore therapy session yesterday evening fragile and quite sad. I think this the real and emotional response that I’ve tried so hard to deny and suppress, even on this difficult personal journey. The therapy in question was provided by the proper NLP-based, Integrative Arts psychotherapist that I refer to as G. I hadn’t seen her for over three weeks. I realise for sure now that I have found the right person to help me. The fact that it isn’t easy – that it’s quite uncomfortable at times and very close to the bone – helps me to appreciate that this is the right route for me.

I was taken back to childhood again, which I always find quite upsetting because I realise how lonely I felt, how I never got the memo that it’s imperative to express yourself and find out who you are, how I felt unworthy and not valid compared to others. I spent a lot of my time wishing I was someone or something else. Frustration, jealousy, selfishness and self-hatred were amongst my earliest feelings. I somehow got the wrong messages growing up. My parents never did anything wrong, like scald me harshly, or beat me, or make me feel I was worthless. On the contrary, they provided enough materially, sent me to an expensive school, encouraged me to perform well academically, provided religious guidance, and generally made my life as risk-free as possible. In short they gave me all the assurances and comforts that their parents couldn’t give to them.

What it lacked I think was being truly heard and listened to, which is something that today I desperately feel I need. I get very angry when I feel I’m not being understood, perhaps that might be because I can’t express myself clearly. I also missed having the support of a parent, someone that tells you that your dreams are valid and you should go and do the things that make your heart sing. Again today, I make totally unreasonable demands on my partner to support me unconditionally, which of course no human being alive is entitled to expect. And finally, I lacked the coping mechanism when things don’t go as I planned them. My parents made everything cushy, there were no real challenges to deal with. The voice that says ‘I want it my way’ ends up being my saboteur.

Behaviour roleplay

There are four types of behaviour that orbit the satellite of the Adult. The Adult is centred, rational, mature and grounded. There are other sides to this Adult however. There is the Nurturing Parent who shows kindness to the child and supports all of his needs. There is the Critical Parent who judges, attacks, criticises and might as a result make the child feel worthless. There is the Rebellious Child who simply wants things his own way and doesn’t listen to reason. There is lastly the Adapted Part that wants to please the parent, and whose behaviour shifts according to what is expected of him.

Using a painfully recent disagreement as an example to illustrate where I fit into all this, it is quite clear that my behaviour is that of the rebellious child (with a smattering of critical parent). In the example, I didn’t get things my way, so rather than deal with it calmly and adhere to an alternative plan, I became irate, irrational, throwing blame around like it was going out of fashion, calling the other person stupid, and finally refusing to go through with any sort of plan when the other person begged me to. It took me hours to regain anything resembling composure and even then my seeming amicability didn’t last, and there have been more upsets since then.

What the rebellious child wants is to get his way, to be listened to, and for unconditional love. What the child wants is for the other to be untrue to himself. The rebellious child demands total submission. It’s disgusting and terrifying and I don’t really know how I got to be like this. It’s terrifying. I still have this awful concern that I am not going to change and all these little love affairs with spirituality or therapy or whatever’s flavour of the month will be over as quickly as they began, cast aside like a used whore.

The subject of my reliance on thinking/writing also came up. G came to the conclusion I use my strongly developed mind instead of my feelings. I justify and rationalise all kinds of things, that then have an effect on my behaviour. And once poisoned thought becomes feeling then action, all hell breaks loose. G asked me to consider how I feel once I’ve written 900 words that perfectly sum up my mood. I said I felt satisfied, like after eating a big dinner. I’ve put something into a tidy little box, with a title and tags and correct diction and punctuation. It’s all so neat and snug. I can draw a line under it once I hit Save or Publish. But does all this thinking actually perpetuate the problems of an overactive mind?

Body language. Both feet on the ground.

I attended an enlivening talk today about body language by Carole Railton who has published numerous books on the subject and comes from an NLP, life coaching and behaviourism background. She used to be something big in the business world and is the founder of an organisation called Life After Branding which is ‘dedicated to supporting behavioural change in individuals for commercial results’. This gives a very interesting perspective, though not unique of course, combining the business and personal spheres to bring the best out of people and the corporations they work for.

The first thing we use after our first breath is body language. When we are babies we communicate with our eyes (and a few screams). We become articulate and use language as we get older. We start to believe this is the way forward. I wanted to ask the question about how eye movement and NLP relate, but despite the relatively small group and informal setting, I couldn’t quite muster up the confidence to put my hand up and ask a semi-formed question about how to read people from an NLP perspective and whether they are accessing for example remembered imagery or constructed sounds depending what direction they are looking in. I am also quite interested in the new psychotherapeutic field of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and how that relates. This theory developed by Francine Shapiro holds that certain eye movements decrease the intensity of disturbing thought in PTSD sufferers.

50% of the information we take in when we meet someone is visual. Body language is a communication skill and we don’t even have to do too much to read body language. We must be authentic to ourselves. That’s the bottom line.

The exercises were very revealing The most potentially life-changing one is so simple. We were asked to think about the worst case scenario in relation to something that is currently on our minds. It could be something we are dreading or frustrated by today. We looked down with head tilted down, eyeline towards the floor. We worked on increasing the intensity of the negativity. Then we looked up towards the ceiling, tilting the head back far, with eyes closed and mouth slightly open, and tried to summon up the same dreadful worst-case feelings. It was the most incredible thing. Carole didn’t put any expectations in our heads, but one by one, people came to the same conclusion. What bad thought? It’s gone. I can’t put my finger on it anymore. I actually lost track of mine.

The talk was tailored to high-fliers and contained some advice for taking part in video conferencing and how to influence with authority. Some of this stuff was really fascinating. A little tip she had for coming across ‘authentically’ on VC, was to hold a small postage stamp-sized piece of paper between thumb and forefinger of both hands and keep your hands in your lap. Holding on to that little bit of paper, out of sight, avoids excessive gesticulation and releases any nervous energy. Another tip was to blink in an exaggerated and repeated way, as VC cameras don’t pick up normal blinking, meaning participants can look as though they are staring. Blinking is important as it shows sincerity.

It’s important to have both feet on the ground in situations when you want to be truly present such as an important meeting. Apparently we take in 30% more information with our feet squarely on the ground compared with legs crossed. It appears authentic and grounded whether sitting or standing. What you’re doing with your feet is something the police are trained to look for. People easily pick up nervousness or lack of commitment in what you’re saying when you’re not rooted.

A great tip for meetings was to keep your hands open with the palms facing up if you want to learn more. And with the palms down on your thighs if you want to take control of a meeting or situation. We give with our right hand and receive with our left. If you angle yourself correctly you can maximise your capacity to give or receive depending on desired outcomes. Carole said that in her previous career on the frontline of global account management, you can influence a potential sale by simply being positioned on the left so that your right side is the active one!

Body positioning is clearly a tool for influencing once you start to understand even a little about it. One other technique I’ll touch on briefly is breathing mirroring. You can use breath to calm the body. Once you recognise your own breathing pattern you can get into other people’s. This can work particularly well in the case of calming someone down, particularly a hyperventilating child, gradually decreasing the pace of their breath as you slow yours right down. Carole says this works every time… and if it doesn’t, you aren’t doing it right!

The higher up the person is on the rungs of power, the less they move. The CEO makes fewer movements than the messenger boy. In fact women make fewer movements than men. Carole doesn’t get people to move less than they normally do, because that would be inauthentic, but to move more deliberately and more regally. A fascinating exercise we did was to stand up and close our eyes and imagine we had a heavy crown on our heads. Sure enough, people began to move around slower and more thoughtfully with their heads still, chests out and backs straight.

I tried this exercise on my colleagues when I got back to the office, and they were most amused! It felt good to share what I learned. At the class I also ran into someone that is in the healing trade, that I keep bumping into. She runs the alternative remedies centre where I got my Migun massage and EFT treatments. Incidental connections are as much as part of the learning as what was spoken about, I think.

So it’s important to keep your feet firmly on the ground. (No wonder I never liked bar stools.) But occasionally look to the clouds and things don’t seem so bad.

Flicking the energy bean. Confidence anchors.

I tried out some of the exercises from a book I’m reading, NLP, Bullet Guide by Mo Shapiro. I tried them out with a friend who I think could also benefit from learning some of these techniques. The one that really stuck with her (she has used it since last night, and will continue to, as will I) was creating a confidence anchor.

You think of a time when you were at your most confident. See what you saw, hear what you heard and feel what you felt. Once you have reached a strong memory of the experience and the sensory stimulation you received at the time, make it more powerful. Keep raising the intensity and squeeze you thumb and forefinger together. Keep squeezing while the intensity builds more and more. Develop the feeling into its most confident state and then release the squeeze.

The idea is that any time you need to build up feelings of confidence and control, you simply use your anchor to unlock those positive past states. I think of it as an energy button, which in order to be continually effective, must not only be utilised on a regular basis but must also be stacked with further intense confident emotions. It hasn’t worked for me yet.

It takes a lot to stay focussed on these ideas, and to remember to practice the various different exercises regularly. Especially when there is so much going on in my life and absolutely no aspect of it feels settled. I know that sounds like an excuse but that’s how I feel. I feel as if I need a mantra or a motto, something that I can summon up in times of need. When I call it to mind, all of the positive thoughts that I need to reach at that moment will be instantly accessible. A power button is all very well but I would like to create something with more emotional weight to it. Words tend to mean a lot to me, sometimes too much. I would like my power button to be a verbal one that straight away upon reciting it in my head or under my breath, I can access a concept about happiness or self-acceptance. The words should encapsulate some meaningful truth that I have uncovered on the journey so far. Something to do with being humble, accepting who I am, being aware of the present moment, getting on better with people that matter, and feeling more confident.

Do the basics. The rest will follow. Meeting with F.

There is a bit of me, the bit that’s not on the journey, that wonders whether I am making any progress at all. The principles of NLP are all very admirable but I’m starting to think that you need to be a saint to live your life by them. Trying to follow such high ideals inevitably sets you up for failure when you have setbacks. Although NLP says ‘there is no failure, only feedback’, it is hard to feel like I’m on track for mental wellbeing, spiritual growth, behavioural amenity, examplary rapport skills and mastery over my mind. I guess that is part of the challenge.

The weekend held yet more conflict and turmoil and has left me feeling confused and alone. I did battle with the voices in my head that tell me to pick, poke, nag – and lost. I need so much validation when I spend a long time upsetting the balance, then I wonder why. The reason why I feel like all this might be in vain is because I know what I’m meant to be thinking and saying, I’m meant to be focussing on what I’m trying to achieve, which is rapport, behavioural flexibility and sensory awareness. I’m meant to be nurturing my mind with great thoughts! Instead I’m allowing myself to feel distressed when conflict arises and to demand resolution, which is counter-productive and was inappropriate given the circumstances.

I had an insight during my first session with a brand new therapist today. It’s a thought I’ve had before but worth reiterating. Why have my relationships comprised high levels of conflict? Surely there must be something in common with my relationships.The answer is of course, me! Conflict arises because of my sabotaging a happy status quo. My pattern is to believe that I am not worthy of the relationship I find myself in. I have low self-esteem and a shaky sense of self-worth. I think that my partner deserves better – someone more attractive, happier, more intelligent, more interesting or whatever – and to show him that I am not as great as he delusionally thinks I am, I show him my worst possible traits. I dare my partner to see me at my absolute worst. I push the boundaries of a relationship again and again until they break. Either that or I am afraid to show that I care, afraid of coming across weak and needy.

Why do I say really mean things to my partner? That’s what I’d like to find out. My new therapist, F, would like to understand what’s going on in my mind when I have the compulsion to be vicious. I know I am doing it, so why do I carry on effectuating thought into word/action? This has established itself as a pattern in my programming and it needs to be unwritten. Though F’s approach isn’t to delve deep into the past (which suits me as I don’t need to be psychoanalysed), the roots of my behaviour probably stretch back to early childhood.

The new therapist F’s approach veers away from the prescriptive medical model and he was keen to point out that there are no guarantees, and he isn’t a miracle worker after all. That was a good disclaimer to put in, as I turned up there guns blazing with my list of desired outcomes and my first blog post printed out, both of which I read to him. He said that was very good, clear and brave. I also am of the mind that if you are in a position to be clear about what you need, then you will probably get a better result.

I feel very positive about my meeting with F and hope that our rapport builds over time, as this is a key factor in determining which therapist ‘feels’ right. What drew me to him specifically is that he’s a member of at least five counselling and psychotherapy organisations, is a Master Practitioner in NLP, experienced hypnotherapist, and also an expert in conflict resolution and mediation. So that gives me great hope and reassurance – others may not feel that it’s so important to do a lot of reading up on the person you’re potentially baring your soul to – but I do!

During the initial sessions I think there’s nothing wrong with asking the practitioner for their immediate reaction to your issues. Ask specific questions about their approach, and don’t be afraid to ask whether they think they can help, or not. Their reaction to these on the spot questions can be quite telling! I guess it’s always a challenge for them to meet with a potential new client and to be looked upon to provide solutions, so view the experience as a two-way exchange.

Ultimately for me, whether my mindset and behaviour actually change is a matter yet to be seen. With all the best will in the world from both the practitioner and myself, nothing will change unless I am ready and willing to accept it.

1 step forward, 20 steps back.

This weekend has been an absolute hell of my own making. I had huge problems in my relationship with my boyfriend which set me back hugely and makes me think I am rotten all the way to the core and not able to change, ever. I started out on this journey believing fundamentally (it took me all my life thus far) somehow that I had the capacity to effect real change and I believed it fully until this weekend.

I wasn’t in control of my feelings at all. All those things I have learned about and tried to live by in NLP, was it all for nothing? It must have been a waste of time, because I can’t take any of it in and apply it to my life which is ending every second that goes by.

It took me too long to recover from all the hurts, which continued all weekend. By Sunday morning J told me he didn’t want to be in a relationship with me anymore. He told me to get out and wished me a happy life. He said that I had made him see that we’re not right for each other because of my doubts (which he calls ‘threats’). He said I am evil. He said that it’s all bollocks this therapy stuff I am doing and it obviously isn’t working. I don’t know what else there is I can do but basically I have to concentrate on just one counselling approach, preferably NLP, and leave the spiritual claptrap until I have actually proved that I’m a changed person. Knowing that I don’t have his support leaves me a shell of a person.

I tried to put into practice what I had learned at Friday’s EFT session but it was all for nothing. I upset him by trying to voice my opinion, attempting to express myself about something that matters to me. Apparently there is never the right time for such matters, especially when they involve a criticism or a request, and I am in the wrong yet again, again and again. I carried on in a negative vibe for the entire weekend. I felt as though I could not get to the good thoughts. I thought about NLP the whole time and how I have the capacity to control my thoughts and that’s what I should be doing – turning a bad situation into a good one – but it was just out of my reach, pathetic as that sounds.

My need at times like this when I am at my lowest is to turn inward. I feel so much that I need to be on my own. J didn’t let me walk out yesterday, despite asking me to f* off repeatedly and as good as ending our relationship. He was angry but never apologised. He thinks he is immune to blame. As it turns out, we are still trying together but recent events have proved such a setback, not just for us as a couple but for my personal journey.

Breath, chakras, energy, NLP.

Something I was reading about in ‘Change Your Life With NLP’ really made me think. It’s such a simple idea, about breath. “Our energy comes from our breath. What’s the difference between someone who is alive and someone who has just died? The person who has just died will no longer be breathing. Breath carries life and energy through the body.”

I know that I don’t utilise the fullness of my lungs and find that I tend to take relatively fast, shallow breaths so I dread to think what this is doing to my energy flow. Quite often when I pause I realise I’m holding my breath! My heart beats fast normally too, like a startled fieldmouse. I’ve only very recently been introduced to the breathing techniques of meditation and it makes a lot of sense to me. Just listening to your breath, being aware of it and deepening it, can bring a certain peace. It’s also a part of the mindfulness teaching as we learn to slow down and take in all that is around us and within us, without judgment.

A technique I read about (but haven’t tried yet) is to bring your attention to the sensation of breathing, focussing the mind on a spot where breathing is easy to notice. This could be the chest, the abdomen, the nose, the belly etc. You are then meant to notice how that spot feels as the breath is drawn in, fills the lungs, then is expelled slowly. The mind will wander, more so at first. If it wanders, bring it back each time and eventually it will listen to you. Then you focus on other areas of the body and relax any tightness as you go there with your mind.

It’s easy to overlook, but the breath is always there though we choose not to hear and feel it with our conscious minds. What a wonderful thing it is.

Now, while not strictly part of NLP teaching, there is a link between energy, chakras (our seven energy centres) and NLP. Taking control of our energy gives us an opportunity to take control of our mood. The chakras are like valves that open or close depend on how we choose to respond to situations in life. The chakras are aspects of consciousness, and are as follows: crown, brow, throat, heart, solar plexus/power, sexual and root. I would like to explore this in more detail in the future.

Energy is therefore something that can be focussed, and like our thoughts, can be channelled into whatever we choose to turn our attentions to. I struggle with this slightly, as in a general sense this may be true, but there are so many other mysterious physiological aspects that may contribute to one’s energy levels, despite best (and positive) intentions.

I say this because yesterday after having had a very busy and tiring day… I was tired! I had trouble communicating and didn’t really want to. Even watching TV with my boyfriend seemed like too much of a chore, too much brain processing power which I didn’t feel I had available. Times like this it’s possible to slip into a bad mood or get snappy, but the point is, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that and I must stop berating myself over stuff like that. I cut the day short and had an early night which is sometimes all you need to do.

NLP. Master your thoughts and the rest will follow.

I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘Change Your Life with NLP’ by Lindsey Agness, as NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) was one of the pathways that I thought initially might be a good way forward in my therapy journey.

So far I am loving its positivity and am finding this in so many of the techniques that I’m immersing myself in. The philosophy is very goal-oriented and asserts that changing your programming by having control of your thoughts and therefore your behaviour leads to success in achieving those goals. Another important facet of NLP is the need to know yourself and to work with what you’ve got.

“For most people things happen and they react. NLP offers a better way. It gives you tools to reach differently by choice, to be more aware of your thoughts, feelings and behaviour.” It brings together awareness of what we think, coupled with what we say, in order to achieve desired outcomes in what is it we do – our programming.

Too often, we make assumptions and judgments that keep us in our unhappy ruts, because these beliefs come from generalisations that are simply not true. These generalisations come from those who influenced us in early life, or from other conditioned responses. Our senses, the very means by which we perceive reality, are not objective by any means. Reality is processed by filters which delete, distort and generalise every bit of data they receive.

Understanding that it’s our thoughts which determine our view of our lives seems very obvious but is worth pointing out. We literally make our own reality. I look back and think of all the times I blamed someone else, or circumstances beyond my control, for my own bad behaviour or depressed feelings. I paid lip service to the idea that only you can change your lot in life, but really I think I was hoping for a miracle cure. I was hoping that I’d just grow up one day and everything would be dandy. Either that or feel comforted by the misery that I was wallowing in. Never again.

One very good tip I read about with regard to achieving goals is that when you set a goal, have a very specific internal representation of it with pictures, sounds, tastes, smells and sensations etc in your conscious mind. The subconscious latches on to these sensations as if they are real, helping you to achieve your goal. The mind cannot process a negative. Tell a person not to think of a blue house and what do they think of? If you focus on the wrong thing, you will get the wrong thing. It’s the law of attraction all over again.

When you think of what you don’t want and you focus on it intently, your reticular activating system – part of the unconscious mind – will give you exactly what you want every time. When you focus on something, no matter what it happens to be, you are really calling it into existence.  Focussing on anger, depression, negativity, emotional pain etc brings it sharply to the fore. Now I am finally in a peaceful situation, relatively free of that baggage in my day to day life, I choose to surround myself with positive thoughts and energy.

I was thinking a lot about what my GP said yesterday. You have no control over your desired outcomes. Only the way that you act. “If we could effect outcomes, we would be gods!” He also said that when you hurt someone, you impinge on their right not to be hurt. And also he said that it’s not an excuse to say “he’s just an angry person” or “she’s aggressive by nature”. We have control of our thoughts, and by implication, the way that we act.  A lot of people might not realise this until it’s spelt out. I certainly didn’t. It is freeing when you realise for the first time that you are not a slave to your thoughts.

From the NLP book: “Nothing has any power over you other than that which you give it through your daily thoughts.”