When Grief Goes Toxic
We will all grieve at some point in our lives over losses great and small. Whether it be a death of someone close, a divorce, or a lost job, grief will come and help us process our feelings. There are stages of grief we go through and sometimes repeat. One of them is anger. Anger can be used to ignite a passion. To wage a war. To evoke change. Unfortunately when someone gets stuck in a stage of grief They become toxic. They don't use their anger for good. They don't move forward with life. They aren't driven any longer.
My first personal experience with grief was the death of my 12 year old lab. I was 15 and handled his death in dramatic fashion. Screaming and crying and grieving for what I'm sure seemed too long.
Fast forward to age 18 and I lost my Grandpa suddenly. This was painful! I remember being so absorbed in grief but yet somehow still realizing that the death of my dog had prepared me for losing my Grandfather. I knew life would go on and eventually I would stop hurting.
The next 10 years of my life saw more death, old and young, tragic and untimely, as well as sick and merciful. I had plenty more chances to learn about grief and observe how other people grieve. It also gave me a much thicker skin for death. I now truly understood death was inescapable and certain and a necessary part of life that we have to accept.
What happens when we don't? When we don't accept death we get stuck in our grief. When we get stuck in our grief it becomes toxic.
When someone loses a child there are no words to say, no foods to fix, no medications to numb that will take away their grief. Grieving is personal. We all process grief and loss in our own time and in our own way. I truly believe to survive a tragic loss you have to believe life goes on for that lost loved one. It's not here on earth with you where you want it to be. It's peaceful and perfect and better for them. Unfortunately, However much this belief has helped me this very thought process can become a personal attack to a grieving parent. How dare you say their child is in a better place. That would imply they weren't a good parent and didn't provide a good life.
This would be an example of toxic grief. When someone's coping beliefs are seen as a personal attack on you then your grief has become toxic. Grief is a selfish state of being. We mourn what we don't have anymore. We mourn what we could have had in the future. We mourn what was never really ours in the first place. Everyone grieves differently. Everyone believes differently. We can only do what's best for us.
What we can do to help when someone is in a toxic stage of grief is live. Live our lives, love our family without constant reminders of what we've lost but of how we've survived. Life does go on and we can't stop living and cause more tragedy to come from the loss of one.
We have to become selfless to stop grieving. When we grieve for too long it becomes toxic. We poison relationships. We push people away out of fear of being happy. Guilt of being whole without the one person we swore we could never live without. When grief becomes toxic it slowly kills any part of who we once were. I had some great friends help me through my grief. They ignored my constant gloom. They loved me despite my outburst of tears and consumption of grief. They talked me through my feelings of inadequacy to help in a helpless situation. Most of all, they made me laugh and enjoy the life I still had left to live. There is no shame in surviving. There is no shame in being happy. There is no shame in deciding to breathe again, live again, hope again. Life is for the living. Embrace life!
I'd like to thank my Aunt Penny for showing me that faith heals all wounds. Even a Mother who has lost her amazingly smart, handsome, and truly gifted son in a tragic accident. You are strength personified!
To Lil Bill, my heart is full of love, not grief for you.
I realized I hadn't written a blog in a while, thought about why that was and realized how much has changed in me on my journey to healing. Since I last submitted a blog post I've grown leaps and bounds. I've made some real life changing decisions to be true to myself, not live in fear, and be completely open and vulnerable. I wanted to share that progress with you so that you can recognize the signs and stay strong in the storms of life, knowing there is great opportunity for growth and transformation just on the other side.
I feel certain that the root cause of all illness is not just about your DNA but how you perceive stress and manage it.
Let me explain...
The old me used to dwell on stress, perpetuate negativity, focus on all the bad possible outcomes, and then try and control all the scenarios that could possibly make things worse so I could fix the problem. Sound familiar??? Yes, a great deal of us were raised with a doom and gloom, glass half empty mentality.
We were taught to be alarmists. You can look at social media and see all of us feeding off of the negative press and realize how prevalent that mentality is. You can also see and FEEL where that gets you - SICK and EXHAUSTED!
The new me has realized that stress is going to occur. We will not go through life without it nor would I want to. How I perceive stress has totally changed how my body responds to stress. I didn't realize this, of course, until I was well on my healing journey. When I had taken out all the unhealthy foods and toxins, had all the right supplements to support my body's insufficiencies, and still felt pain when under stress. Because I had healed in so many ways physically and mentally I was ready to receive this message loud and clear. Boy did I!
Several months ago I was going through what I refer to as a healing crisis. A place you come to on your healing journey where you have to change something so deeply ingrained in you that your body physically turns against you until you listen. For me it was finding my voice and believing in myself which manifested in a gallbladder attack.
Self esteem was never my strong suit. I grew up in a home as the youngest child in a divorced family with two older sisters. My voice was never heard. I never felt good enough or worthy of anything good. (This wasn't anyone's fault although I had to figure that out myself). I let this self esteem issue keep me from listening to my gut many times which caused confusion, chaos, and unbalance. This manifested in pain.
When we aren't heard or validated, we can be left feeling unworthy and undeserving which leads to fear. When fear drives us, the result can be fear of failure or fear of success. We can end up stuck. Stuck until we feel sick, pained, and utterly exhausted. Thats when we finally realize something has to change.
I started speaking up. My "Ah-ha" moment came. I realized I was worthy of being heard. I was capable of being the leader and steering my life's ship where I wanted it to go. No more waiting for someone or something else to tell me it was OK. No more worrying about what other people thought. Listening to my own inner voice. My own wisdom, so painfully gained, had to be put to good use. This was not easy for me. Healing never is. It's painful, scary, and just plain sucks. But once you get it and honor your truth, acknowledging who you are and what you want in life, then you are completely free to succeed. I started being heard. My validation came in ways unexpected, even from myself. I no longer needed another person to validate me. Yes, it's nice but not neccessary.
Somewhere deep inside myself I knew I was capable of so much more than what I was telling myself. I now feel free to grow. I feel empowered to evoke real change. I feel worthy of this calling to help others find their voice. Others are showing up on this journey to share their hard earned wisdom. Honoring this calling, giving into it and embracing it was so difficult. Now that I have, I am so much happier and in more balance. Onto the next lesson! There will be another healing crisis, but I will acknowledge them more quickly and get through them faster, trusting my body and listening to my instincts. I will give myself a voice without judgement.
If you want to learn how to grow in adversity please don't hesitate to write me. I love sharing my hard earned wisdom to those ready to make their healing journey begin.
The Gift of Depression
If you have ever dealt with depression you may be questioning my choice of titles and maybe even my sanity right about now. Let me explain myself. I'll start by saying I have dealt with depression my whole life. There was a time, not so may years ago, when I would not have admitted I suffered with depression, to myself and especially to a physician. I didn't want them to ignore my pain symptoms and put me on an anti depressant. I had been down that road and didn't feel it was a long term solution.
When I was a little girl I would go through stages of staying inside watching TV, eating junk food, and feeling quite lonely. One day my Great Grandmother, who was staying with us for a visit, told me to come take a walk. She talked to me about being depressed. It was the first time anyone ever noticed I was depressed and told me what I was doing to contribute to my condition. She told me she too would get depressed if she sat inside all day watching TV alone and eating junk. She said when you are sad you need to force yourself to go outside, take a walk, and think about why you are depressed. Such wisdom she imparted on me. I listened to her. I started doing exercise tapes on T.V. instead of watching soap operas. I started feeling good about myself which made me likable so I attracted positive people into my life. My depression became the reason I changed for the better, it was a gift.
This way of snapping out of depression helped propel me through times of grief and loss for many years. UNTIL, in my late 20's, early 30's I forgot the lesson. My hormones and undiagnosed thyroid issues added a whole new dimension to my depression. I was not in control of snapping out of it. I felt hopeless. Looking back now I realize my medical condition played a huge role in why I was unable to fix things myself. I needed help. It was the year of a major car accident, radical ear surgery after antibiotics and steroids followed up by a miscarriage. Not to mention self soothing with food, (Krispy cream donuts had just hit Louisiana!) I was so angry. I had the "woe is me" syndrome bad. I wanted other people to change. I wanted them to acknowledge their wrong doing. I needed to blame someone or something for my condition. The last person I thought needed to take responsibility was me.
Looking back now, I realize those "perfect storm" of events were huge hammers hitting me over the head telling me something had to change. I wasn't getting it. So many times I'd run to the Doctor to fix me when I had all the tools necessary to fix myself. I sought out answers in the form of antidepressants, anti inflammatories, pain relievers, diagnosis to warrant my condition and give me excuses. Excuses not to change my circumstances. Excuses not to snap out of it.
Had I realized then that depression was the gift telling me something in my life was out of balance and needed to be changed maybe I wouldn't have needed so many hammers to hit me over the head. The hammers kept coming. The biggest being diagnosed with MS. It didn't happen overnight. It didn't take one "ah-ha" moment. It's taken many Biofeedback sessions to get me to realize I am in charge of my pain, my depression, my happiness. I can snap out of it because now I see it as a gift that's telling me something needs to change. My food, my friends, relationships, environment, my attitude. Something is unbalanced and by being in tune with my body I can snap out of it and change my circumstances.
If you feel hopeless, depressed and can't find a way to snap out of it, let me help you learn the gift of depression. Together we can find the balance your body and mind are searching for.
We have all heard the phrase "stress kills." It is absolutely, without a doubt, something modern and holistic medicine agree upon. Yet, we all have daily and sometimes what seems impossible stressful situations in our lives. We can't always change our circumstances but what we can change is how we react to the stress.
Here are some of my favorite and free techniques to help de-stress for less:
BREATHE- Yes, my number one go to free de-stressor is to breathe. You would be surprised at how many times you catch yourself holding your breathe or shallow breathing especially when under stress. Even while I'm typing this blog I have to purposefully breathe. A daily routine I do with my asthmatic daughter is to do three cleansing breathes. Breathe in to the count of 10, hold for 3, and out for 10 through the teeth (making a snake sound that is very calming). Repeat three times. When we started this breathing exercise she could not breathe in to the count of 10. She can now do 15 in and out for 3 minutes or more. This has tremendously improved her singing voice and her oxygen levels. On a scientific level, breathing like this will release dopamine and serotonin to bring peace and calm to the stressed out brain. The key is to be mindful. Stop your brain from thinking about the stress and just focus on the breath. Here is a link where you can view my breathing exercise video.
Perception Reframing - Perceiving the stress as a benefit and motivator rather than a dead end. For instance, a certain boss or teacher is constantly belittling you or being passive aggressive. Instead of seeing this behavior as "I can't ever do anything right so why try" mentality, see it as what it most likely is, THEIR ISSUE! 9 times out of 10 a person in authority is operating under an enormous amount of stress and pressure to perform. They pass that stress on down to their students and employees to perform better to please the powers that be. When someone is berating you think about what and where this is really coming from and feel sorry for them. Feel compassion for their circumstances that lead them to this place of anger and resentment. In saying that, it also could be that you are falling short on your responsibility which will lead to stress. Be vulnerable and ask for guidance. Defensiveness is the fastest way to closing the door to growth and fulfillment. Seeing yourself as successful and in a better place will manifest that for you. Seeing yourself in a no way out situation will keep you stuck in the stress. If you are having a hard time practicing gratitude or rewriting your story, please contact me for a one on one call.
Laugh!- Watch your favorite comedian or funny videos. Give yourself a laugh hour everyday. Making this a family time will help your whole family destress and unwind. It will also help your kids see you as more than a bundle of stress.
Tapping & EFT - Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) allows you to focus on the stress and release it to feel calm. Tapping is moving stuck energy. I have released pain with tapping. It is highly effective. Watch this video to learn how to use EFT and my tapping exercise video to release your way out of stress.
Qi Gong (Chinese Yoga) - This is an amazing de-stressor. With practice, Qi gong will help you live at a slower, less hectic pace. Being mindful of your breathe and movement will become natural even when not performing the exercise. Watch the video below and learn some basic Qi gong moves to get you started on a journey to better mental and physical health. You can also use my Mindful Movements video to incorporate movements, meditation and breath work into your daily routine.
Jin Shin Jyutsu - Jin Shin Jyutsu is an ancient Japanese healing art. This simple hands-on technique releases tension in the body to alleviate pain and restore health. Modern science confirms that stored bodily tension can block the pathways that nourish cellular life and vitality, leading to pain and illness.
Below are four simple Jin Shin Jyutsu techniques, with many more readily available online:
I hope you will incorporate one or more of these de-stressors into your daily routine. I highly recommend them for all ages. I have used these methods with team sports as well as weekly classes. As always, please contact me for a one on one call for help in managing your health and your stress.
Do you know anyone who sounds like a broken record every time you speak to them? Recounting the horrible condition they are in physically or reliving the tragic event that put them there? Could you be that person? I was!
For years after a trio of unfortunate events in my life I was that person. On some level I thought that's how I was supposed to be. That being stuck in the past tragedy was what was expected of me.
I also didn't know how to change that behavior. When you are in what I call "the negative zone of thinking" it's really difficult to snap out of it and turn your perception to positive.
Along my journey to healing I came to the point that I needed perception reframing. I needed to let go of past beliefs that were keeping me stuck. Stuck in the negative zone of thinking. Stuck in the past.
I turned to Evox. A pattern perception reframing done through the Zyto scan that allowed me to start seeing things in a positive light. Bad things happen to everyone. It's the difference between how we handle them that sets us apart from being sick and well. From rising above the grief of our past or getting stuck in it.
Evox was a simple, painless and rather pleasant experience that allowed me to focus on the things I was holding onto from my past and let them go. I honestly didn't realize at the time what a huge impact Evox had on me. The facilitator did! She was amazed by what she saw on my scan. I took her word for it and went on about my life. I realized rather quickly I was subtly different. I was making positive changes in my life which lead me to be this person writing this blog. This positive person giving inspiration and hope to others struggling to make changes.
Staying stuck in the past means you aren't living in the present. You are missing out on the joy in the life around you. The people you love may be tolerating you. They may even fear telling you what they really think of you. Or worse, you may be teaching your children how to live a defeated life.
Do you want to continue to be that person? It's a lonely place to be and It's your choice to make a change. The first step is acknowledging you need to change. The second step is asking for help to change. Decide to break free from your past. Decide to live the life you were given now, in the present. Let go of the painful memories and the defeating thoughts that are keeping you from achieving greatness.
If you are ready to make these positive changes but don't know how, I will be glad to help you as I was helped through Evox. Let's turn 2015 into a truly Happy New Year!
Crisis occurs in different forms daily. Whether you are in carline and your child proclaims his backpack is still home with all of his homework OR you get diagnosed with a debilitating disease at your Dr.'s appointment. A crisis has occurred in your life.
At the moment a crisis occurs our immediate reaction tends to be negative. We pout, we scream, we cry. When do we realize that this negative reaction isn't solving our problem? It's not getting the backpack to school and it's not staving off our diagnosis. In fact, it's sucking the life out of us and anyone around us.
Energy is a precious commodity to us and everyone we come into contact with. When we spend so much of our energy being angry or stuck in grief we rob ourselves of the energy we need to pick ourselves up and move on past the crisis. We deplete the resource we need most to solve our problem.
I used to get stuck in the crisis. I spent years blaming my pain on a car accident caused by an 80 year old man who shouldn't have been driving. (That's not to say all 80 year olds are incapable of operating a vehicle!) I was so stuck on my rant of why this shouldn't have happened and my "woe is me" attitude that I never healed, and I never learned from my situation.
It wasn't until I let go of the anger and grief of my situation that I was able to move past it and start healing. I now look at that accident as a life changing opportunity that I waited a long time to acknowledge, accept, and put to good use.
The years of physical, emotional, and medical treatments that came from that accident have armed me with what I needed to face my biggest challenges in life. I am smarter, stronger, wiser and capable of turning bad situations into positive life lessons full of hope for myself and for the people in my life.
Think about your crisis. Are you giving it too much control? Is it causing you to get stuck in a revolving door of defeat? What life lessons are you not learning because you are so focussed on the negative? Shift your perception and start healing. This too shall pass, and as recently quoted by my friend battling cancer, "Every little ting is gonna be alright!" (You must sing it as Bob Marley would!)
If you need help understanding how to shift your perception please set up an appointment with me for Biofeedback. It will change your life to be what you are complaining it can't be!
I recently met with an Integrative Doctor. She told me the reason she switched her practice from internal medicine to Integrative Medicine was due to patient expectation. She said 90% of patients walking into a hospital setting to visit an Internal Medicine Dr. are expecting a quick fix - a pill and a diagnosis to give them an excuse not to change their lifestyle. They don't want to hear about nutrition and exercise. They don't realize their symptoms are screaming at them to make a change. They don't realize their symptoms are the outward sign of something going wrong on the inside. Or they let the fear of the unknown out way the fear of staying sick.
On the contrary, the patients who walk into an Integrative Dr's office already know their approach to healing is all about making lifestyle changes. So why is it that we would rather be put on diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure prescription medications instead of changing our lifestyle? Eating better, exercising and ending bad habits really is that overwhelming for those who need it the most. It's a catch 22! It's the Fear Factor!
The ones that need to change don't possess the willpower to change. They are paralyzed to take that first step. They feel it an atrocity to even suggest they change their lifestyle. Somewhere inside they know the changes need to come for them to be healthy, yet they can't imagine a life without cake or diet soda; cigarettes, alcohol or whatever their addictions may be.
The beauty of Biofeedback is seeing the subtle way it transforms you. You have less cravings. You possess a sense of accomplishment. You get rid of old, negative belief patterns and you gain willpower. You stop living in fear of change and instead embrace change.
Everybody needs a cheerleader to encourage them when they are making life changes...when they are dredging up past hurts to process them and let them go...when they are battling their codependent behaviors that are of no use to them anymore...and when they are afraid to take that step to a better life for fear of losing the people they love.
Change is scary for most of us. You don't have to face your changes alone. Be honest with yourself and take the first step. Make the appointment. Commit to change. See yourself transform to be the person you were meant to be. Then YOU can inspire others to do the same. Let's turn that 90% of the population who wants a quick fix into the 90% who wants to live a healthier, more enlightened life. Listen to that voice inside telling you it's time to take control of your health. Call or email me and let's face the change together.