All posts by Connie-Lee

Can you meet your eye when looking in the mirror?

  • Imagine being able to admire and respect who you see.

Do you avoid looking at yourself in the mirror?  Do you purposefully look away when catching your reflection in a shopfront?

I want to commend you for reading this blog because that fact that you are here means that you are open to discovering a different part of yourself.  You are ready to uncover the true you rather than the CONDITIONED you.

Who you are is like an onion. In the middle of the onion is who you truly are, the truth of who you are.  Imagine for a moment how a young child behaves and thinks. They run around and absolutely love life. They aren’t worried about what they are wearing or what people think of them. They are just living in the moment, loving life.

As the child goes about their everyday life their parents start saying things like, “Don’t do that!” or “Be careful!” In addition to this the child starts observing what everyone around them is doing.  What happens in that moment is that they feel a feeling deep down that makes them feel that they have done something wrong, that WHO THEY ARE IS WRONG! 

“We grow up thinking that who we are IS WRONG and NOT GOOD ENOUGH”

Remember that a young child can’t process that mom is just stressed, that dad has just had a bad day at work which is why he needs time to relax or that the rest of society is just trying to fit in so that they too don’t feel out of place.  A child starts to compare themselves to the outside world and all they see is that they are different and that others are telling them that what they are doing is wrong. An example is this: dad walks in through the door and you rush up to him, delighted because of the beautiful picture you have drawn, eager to show him or you ask your father to read you a story.  All that the dad can think is that he just wants to relax after a long day spent in meetings and that he would prefer to look later. In that moment the child thinks that they have done something wrong. In addition, they ALSO think that I AM WRONG! They think that if they behaved in a different way; if they were someone else then their father may have given them more attention.  This all happens unconsciously.

The little child thinks, I don’t ever want to feel that way again. We all know that feeling.  The feeling where deep inside our stomachs or hearts you feel a sadness and pain. www-merakitherapy-com-2No one wants to feel that way. So you register a feeling in the body, you then create a thought ‘I don’t ever want to feel that way again’ so you develop a defence mechanism which becomes your first onion layer.  These defence mechanisms manifest as personality traits. Maybe you thought; if I was more creative, more supportive, and more independent than dad would have looked at my picture. If I was prettier, skinnier, bigger, stronger.

We are constantly looking at who we are, judging ourselves based on what we see outside of ourselves. This is something that happens without us even knowing it and we start to build layers. Now remember the child who was 2 years old, they create the initial thought but from that moment on they think the same thought over and over again. Your thought registers as electric impulses within the brain along the neurons and a neural pathway starts to develop.  From then on, the more you think this thought, the thicker the trace becomes within the neural pathways.  Eventually this develops into a an automatic, body reaction where you body ends up reacting before you are even aware or even know what is going on. Who you are today is a biological reactions to belief systems that you developed from earlier on.

How can you heal/change these belief systems? 

How can be ‘uncondition’ our existing thoughts?  How can we do and be from our soul, from the truth of who we are an not that which society and our parents have taught us?   I believe that this is how:

www-merakitherapy-com-1

  1.   Awareness:  What is the thought and where did it come from?
  2.  Acceptance:  Remember that your reactions are biological memories and are all part of the human experience.  Why are you feeling bad about some thing that you don’t have control over? This is the HUMAN YOU!
  3.  Release:  Now that you are in awareness of the thoughts that aren’t in alignment with your truth you can CHOOSE to release a thought (when you are consciously aware) and think a new thought.
  4.  Reprogramming:   This the most important stage.  I am currently 36.  Let’s imagine that I developed a belief system when I was 2. (There are many people who believe that you develop belief systems up until the age of 7). That means for 34 years I have been thinking the same thought over and over and over again, which means that the trace within my neural pathways is very thick.  Meaning, I’m not going to change overnight.  Which is why self love and acceptance of the human journal is paramount.

The heart of who I am, within my own life, is to live and be the NEW ME in the present moment of each day so that I can start to create the new reprogrammed me rather than reliving the old conditioned me.  I am also aware that it takes time and it takes courage.  Why don’t you walk with me on this journey as we awaken to and live our truth?

9 steps to Honour your Inner Goddess

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.” She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor (1)Do you feel devalued? Are you tired of feeling not good enough? Are you scared to express how you truly feel? Do you know how to honour what you need? Do you know what it means to be true to who you are? Do you feel that others don’t see your true self?

Each person has a quality of being within them that is unique. What would the experience of your world be like if you stopped criticising yourselves for not conforming to the standards of society? Imagine if during your journey towards embracing (honouring your inner goddess) you not only uncovered your feminine power but you began to experience, live and relish the variety of aspects of the women within you.  I have always been very judgemental of the feminine expression of myself.  Part of the human journey is uncovering all the aspects of ourselves where we put pressure on ourselves to be better.

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.” She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor (3)The lesson here to is bring into our awareness that the more we criticise ourselves, the less all the different parts of who we are want to come up and as a consequence there is an emotional build up within that manifests as a feeling of constant pressure that we aren’t good enough.

“Are you giving yourself the safe space to heal old hurts and pains?”

When we create a picture of the perfect women, a picture of what perfection looks like and what we perceive ourselves to be and this isn’t the way we want it to be, we feel anxiety.  This anxiety is a message from our soul. It is a silent whisper that asks us to accept our inner beauty and change the way we see ourselves. When we do this, we naturally create balance within.  We don’t need to put pressure on ourselves.  When we let go of this pressure and listen to the gentle flow of the soul we begin to naturally align our self with our truth and begin to experience a peace from within.

Look at people and situations as opportunities for you to seek within the ability to find the live expression of your feminine identify.  How do the experiences in your life make you feel ‘not good enough’? To experience and live our true feminine identify we need to uncover the different parts of the divine goddess within each of us.  To live in balance we need to honour all the aspects of our feminine expression.

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.” She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighborTo honour your inner goddess means to embrace each of these 9 elements of the feminine, step by step:

1. The mother of the child:  When you are hurt how do you talk to yourself? Do you criticise yourself, tell yourself to act in a way that is in accordance with how society expects you to act or do you honour that which you need? How do you speak to your inner child, with love and gentle encouragement or with self-criticism?

2. The daughter of a mother:  Do you respect that you are doing the best that you know how to? Do you respect and honour the words of your own guidance or do you question and disrespect who you are?

3. The partner that is complete:  Do you embrace the Ying and the Yang within yourself.  Do you allow other people to have control of your emotions, do you give your power over to others or do you protect yourself from the energies of others and always look within to make yourself feel complete?

4. The healer: 

“Each person has a quality of being within them that is unique.”

Are you giving yourself the safe space to heal old hurts and pains? Are you honouring your needs as they unfold? Are you putting a band aide on the problem or are you allowing yourself the space to heal on a deeper level where true healing takes place?

5. The teacher:  Are you telling yourself what to do or are you living by example?  Are you scolding yourself for not doing ‘well enough’ or are you respecting the learning process of your soul lessons?

6. The dancer:  What steps are you taking in your life? Are you listening to the music within your heart and following the rhythm of your heart beat or are you listening to the drum of society?

7. The poet and writer:  How are you creatively expressing yourself? What sets your heart on fire? What makes your heart sing?

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.” She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor (2)8. The listener:  Are you listening to yourself and others from the critical mind, the conditioned beliefs of society or are you listening from your core, your soul that knows that the only truth there is love and that all else is a perception that has been created by your beliefs.

9. The women of peace:  Do you live in the awareness that you are not what others say?  There is no insecurity.  We don’t find our security in the views of others but in the belief that we have in ourselves, it is in this space that you experience inner peace.

Have fun uncovering, discovering and living the new aspects of who you are. Relish the feeling that you don’t need the validation of others to live the magic of the source of your being. Discover how to embrace all the aspects of who you are today by connecting with Meraki Therapy personally.

Bibliography:

Personal Reading – Melissa Freemantle, Alstar Quest

 

Why fake it when you are Authentically ‘it’?

pie-chart - fake it till you become itThis month’s poll showed an exact divide of 50/50 in the opinions of people as to whether this phenomenon is actually possible. I agree with both sides, yes and no. If you are in awareness of who you Authentically are, then there is no need to fake it because that is who you are at your core.

Before you even begin to answer the question “Can you fake it till you become it?” you need to know what you are trying to fake. This means a journey within to the unconscious mind to find out what aspects of yourself you feel aren’t good enough so would have to fake them in the first place.

No, don’t be ridiculous, of course you can’t fake it till you make it

If you lack authenticity, everything is a lie and you don’t have the right things for the right people in your life.” Anonymous participant of this month’s poll

The law of attraction will say that whatever you pay attention to you attract. That which you think you draw into your reality. What most people forget is that, yes you do attract that which you think, but you also attract the unconscious intention and vibration of your thoughts. If you think one thing, but feel the opposite, you will attract that which you are feeling in the deeper levels of your soul. No matter how much faking you do you will not become it until you truly believe and feel that which you want.

Yes, any one can!

fake it till you become itAmy Cuddy did a fantastic TED talk where she talks about how if you practice something for long enough you will eventually become it. If you ‘pretend’ enough through the use of body language those around you will start to interact with you differently and believe you ‘are that which you want to be’ even if you yourself don’t.

I believe this can be a powerful way of becoming that which you want. Even if you don’t believe your initial thought in the beginning you are still thinking this thought.

If we take a step back to the moment when you first thought a limiting belief about yourself, I believe that at this stage a small trace was formed within your neural network around this thought (Trace Decay Theory, Hebb, 1949). Each time you engaged in that thinking from that moment on, the trace become thicker and stronger. This is why much later on in your life you simply just react to situations and people from these limiting beliefs because they have become programmed on a neural level. If you start to ‘fake’ it, even before you think it, you are consciously choosing to think a new thought. You are now creating a new neural pathway and no longer thinking the thoughts that once limited you. The limiting belief system neurons are weakened and the new neurons start to become those that you react from.

“Who we are is not our belief systems. Who we are is that original being who was born free of any limiting thoughts.”

Both Sidra Jafri and Louise Hay talk about affirmations on a regular bases. Sidra believes that you can reprogramme a new thought by simply writing down the affirmation you are wanting to draw into your reality 21 times each day for 21 days. Louise Hay encourages us to look into the Mirror – look into our eyes each morning – and not only say the words of the affirmation but feel them on a deeper level.

What sets your heart on fire?Who we are is not our belief systems. Our belief systems are only conditioned thoughts that we have taken on through imitation and observation of the society we were brought up in. These thoughts are not the truth of who we are. Who we are is that original being who was born free of any limiting thoughts. We are that original being who was birthed into this world with the awareness that they are good enough. They are, at the core of who they are, pure love.

My encouragement to you is this:  What would you like to become? Do some awareness exercises (contact me if you need support on this) to uncover the belief systems that you hold that make you feel not good enough, observe them as they come up, then change these belief systems to those that are in alignment with your Authentic Self.

 

Is it possible to combine Spirituality and Psychology?

Woman practicing yoga on pier
Woman practicing yoga on pier

This month’s article was inspired by the thoughts of Dr. Itai Ivtzan, a positive psychologist, in a recent Huffington Post article. Why was I inspired by this concept?

I remember teaching Psychology a few years ago and there was one model called ‘Parapsychology’. I absolutely loved it! The idea of Pseudo psychology fascinated me. It led to the most interesting class discussions as many of the concepts were quite difficult for some students to wrap their heads around, understandably so. What is a pseudo-science? It is a discipline that cannot be falsified (as well as many more specifications that I won’t go into now). One of the participants who completed this month’s poll left this quote, “Hidden or not, God is present” by Erasmus (popularized by Carl Jung). Using this idea, even if we can’t prove certain Spiritual concepts don’t they still exist?

spirituality vs psychologySubjective or not, 100% of the people who completed this month’s poll all said it was possible to combine the two. This is why I believe you can!

Who we are is not just one entity. We are made up of numerous ‘parts’ that continuously dance and flow amongst one another. One of these many parts I call the ego. The ego (the lower mind/the mind) is part of who we are. It is made up of all the belief systems that society has conditioned you to believe over your life span. These belief systems have been thought for so long that they have formed neurological traces within the synapses of your neural network. This is important to understand because a great deal of who we are is an unconscious, reaction to situations. When we are seeing or processing life through the ego we see the world through these reinforced views. This is the part of us that gravitates to Psychology. Psychology has done a wonderful job at helping us ‘understand’ how the mind works. An example is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which helps us understand how our thoughts create our behaviour. Personally, I take this idea one step further by saying your ‘conditioned’ thoughts create your behaviour.

People often hear me echo the words of Louise Hay, “It is only a thought and a thought can be changed”. Dr. Itai Ivtzan says that awareness is freedom. What an amazing idea. I share with my clients and workshop participants that awareness is always the first step. When you are aware of what your thoughts are, then you can change them.

just_married-wallpaper-1366x768Let’s go one step further still. A Course in Miracles and Louise Hay agree when they say, there are only two main emotions, love and fear. On an unconscious level every one of us has two original source thoughts for all our reactions. They are either, “I am good enough” or “I am not good enough”. These initial source thoughts, I believe, arise when we are really young. Someone says something to you or does something to you and you think, “Ah, they must have said that because who I am isn’t good enough” (as a very basic example). This then becomes your source thought. These source thoughts then lead to unconscious belief systems about yourself e.g. I am not creative enough, I am not intelligent enough, I am not heard etc. No matter what the limiting belief system is it stems from an original source thought created when you were young. This belief system then is reflected in your everyday life from then on as your many daily thoughts. All those thoughts you think every day, you are not even aware of, are affecting you. These thoughts then become emotions.

An example:

Original Source thought – I’m not good enough

belief system – I am not appreciated, I get taken advantage of

daily thought – ‘Obviously I get asked to get the coffee because they think that is the only thing I’m good at’ ‘Why can’t I produce work that is as good as my colleagues’

emotion – Fear ‘Scared of being fired, laughed at, looked down on’

i_love_you_with_all_my_heart-wallpaper-1366x768What about the realm of Spirituality? Yes, we are human and part of being human is that we have an ego. However, I believe we are a spiritual being having a human experience and not a human being have a spiritual experience. Which means that at the core of who we are we are Spirit (heart/ soul/ intuition/ Authentic Self). Your Spirit/ Authentic Self knows that who you are ‘Is good enough’. When you use this as your original source thought, the world before you is reflected very differently. Using Holistic therapy techniques helps people identify who they really are and teaches them how to start to move away from their ego and move more towards their heart.

Why has mindfulness become increasingly popular of late? Well, what it does is move you out of your head and more into your body. This is another aspect of who we are, our body. The body is used to communicate with us what thoughts we are having that are out of alignment with our truth. Once we feel a feeling (based on our original source thought), the more we feel the feeling and think the thought the more the energy of that thought starts to effect the body. Let’s look at ulcers.

Original Source thought – I’m not good enough

belief system – A strong deep fear that you are not good enough

thought – nothing is going well, I do not love myself, I do not approve of what I do, nothing is going right

emotion – Fear … the consequence of staying in this cycle is that your stomach constantly stays in a state of anxiety and starts to ‘eat away at you’ (Louise Hay)

Rev. Robert Meagher recently, after posting the quote below, asked the question, “How important is knowing yourself in spiritual pursuits and practice?”

 “Stopping or being present or practicing awareness may be considered the goal of spiritual practice; like relaxation, a desirable state. But for some the goal is more expansive and presence may be considered merely a necessary preparation. You must know yourself well enough to understand your capacity and your nature. So you can say I am a bear or a cat, a tulip or a daffodil, I am a leader or a helper. Knowing your character is vital to spiritual pursuits and practice. You understand the disguise of your nobody-ness.” (p. 171 of Dharma Sky)

After being involved with the ‘mind of Psychology’ for over 15 years, I started to listen more to my heart. I started to make decisions from my spirit rather than my mind. I opened up my Holistic Psychotherapy practice because I believed that Psychology and Spirituality can work hand in hand.

i_love_you_3-wallpaper-1366x768In my practice I follow the following four steps to healing:

Step one is awareness: Psychological and Spiritual tools are very beneficial in helping one become aware of who they are (on a soul and an ego level) and why they think the way they think.

Step two is acceptance: An essential part of the healing process is love of self. Seeing who you are as an amazing person doing the best that they can. We are human after all. I encourage my clients to always go as slow as the slowest part of them feels comfortable with.

Step three is release: Once you understand your ego and that it has an original source thought of you not being good enough, and you understand that who you are is an incredible person who is ‘perfect, whole and complete’ just the way you are, you can start choosing what you would like to let go of.

Step four is reprogramming: Having let go of the mind you are left with a blank canvas. The white canvas of the heart which knows that the only real emotion is love. Love for yourself. The original source thought of ‘you are good enough’!

Share your story with me 🙂

Bibliography:

  1. The Huffington Post. (2015). Uniting Psychology and Spirituality: Awareness Is Freedom. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-ward/uniting-psychology-and-spirituality-awareness-is-freedom_b_6981908.html [Accessed 31 May 2016].
  2. Hay, L. (1987). You can heal your life. Santa Monica, CA: Hay House.

How can you realign with your Authentic Self in Paris and thus move out of your depression?

Why do so many people experience depression when they first move to Paris (or any other foreign country)?
What were the results of my poll?
How have people moved out of their depression and some other tools to help you realign with your Authentic Self in Paris and thus move out of your depression?

pie-chartI have to admit that I am in agreement with the 80% (of people who completed this month’s poll) who said they were depressed when they first moved to Paris and the 20% who said their level of depression was at a level 5. The first day I started working in Paris, I was in the supermarket and I fainted. I remember feeling faint for hours before but fell straight into my belief system of ‘being strong’ and just carried on. I was at the counter paying, and the next thing I remember was people standing around me after I had lost consciousness. Are you thinking, “WOW! That seems a bit dramatic!” or “I totally get it!” It took me some time to try and understand exactly what was going on with me at the time and this is what I found.

Let’s start at the very beginning. I hear it is a very good place to start.

pie-chart (1)How does society create value? Often, society starts by first breaking down our initial belief we have in ourselves and then rebuilding it in accordance with what that particular society thinks is appropriate (this is the emergence of our ego).

Innately however, as a human we want to do more then what is required to keep our value whole. What is the wholeness mean to you? To me it is the acknowledgement of your true beauty (your inner worth/ Authentic Self/ soul) that makes you feel whole. When these elements are not present it feels like your world has been shattered. When this happens, one of the defence mechanisms we step into is control. We want to control everything around us to prevent the pain we have felt from our world dissipating. Order and structure become important because of the physical, emotional and cultural change you have to endure around you.

Change makes us feel pressure within about; being Ok, valuing ourselves as being enough and not feeling good enough. Change breaks us down. Our souls know that change is good for us but in reality we may not feel this and there is a conflict felt within the body. So we take this pressure into our experience. We then loose the essence of what it could be or that which it is. We may feel concern that we have accepted something that isn’t good for us but then we judge ourselves for thinking this. Can I relax into this way of life? Is it really me? Is it good enough for me? Or have I accepted it and it isn’t really? Keep in mind that these questions are in your unconscious, until they come into your awareness of course. We keep looking for things that “should be” more and more and more and when this is your question, what the universe does is show you everything that doesn’t make you feel whole. In truth, a lot is an illusion, it is not real. We have to go deeper, into the truth of what it means to be whole and not just the illusion of the mind (the conditioned beliefs that society has told us it means to be whole/ perfect).

Do you believe that your soul chooses lessons to learn? Changing your external world is a choice our souls sometimes choose to learn the lesson that who we are is “good enough”. How do we learn this lesson on a soul level? It’s listening to, paying attention to and allowing rather than the pressure. An easy example to illustrate my point. Let’s say you are shattered (which you probably are if you are experiencing depression) and the French way of eating is to eat at 22h00.

Firstly, acknowledge what does work for you in THIS MOMENT (not tomorrow or yesterday, but this EXACT MOMENT). What may work for you in this moment is to eat at 19h00 and maybe on the week end you can have a late meal.

Secondly, adjust according to how you feel day by day. So that you are honouring rather than pushing. By pushing you are putting pressure on yourself – I have to have this, I have to feel like this, I shouldn’t feel like this. This is the external pressure, this is not real, this is the illusion of the mind has created. It’s what the judgement of the mind has decided that keeps telling you how to think, behave and do things. Bring in a different element – even if you decide – my main meal is going to be at 17h30.

The different element is the awareness that this is “MY body”. You are acknowledging what is happening inside but still celebrating and honouring where you are. Thirdly, bring in the element of creative spark rather than the disciplinarian of all the things you have to do and achieve. You are still going to get there but how you get there, could be more relaxed. It is still going to happen but you get to choose how to experience it. Choose to experience it with more of the natural element.

Imagine you are dancing! Your feet to walk/ gliding across the floor but what about the rest of your body? Look at every aspect of you so that you are whole. Don’t judge yourself from the mind that is telling your body how to think, behave and be but let it be from the other way around. Shifting it.

I was born in Africa and as a consequence it will always be a part of my consciousness (my rhythm, my bas, my heart beat), a part of me and thus is an element that contributes to my experiencing my world as a whole. I have this in me and if I follow that part of me I don’t have to fit in and be how the French are, I just need to be my own rhythm.

Who is that? What are all the elements of who you are? Are you the ‘presence’ of being pearls/ silk dresses/ colourful scarves? Who are you? How do you express your rhythm? When you feel comfortable with that, that is true beauty and that is what people see. Your shape fits into this expression and this is what vibrates – your rhythm. When you have got in touch with that rhythm you are not just telling yourself what it is going to be, you ARE IT. Feel the sense of experiencing all the different parts of you, feeling who they are? Is your true expression; African, Indian, American, Spanish? What is your authentic soul’s voice? What is calling out from within and how do you express this? When you are intimate, speaking, cooking or simply just being – this is what comes out. All the elements of the truth of who you are.

IMG_0412Depression, I believe, is when you are depressing who you really are by fitting into a structure rather than thinking, “This is a structure and I’m living in it but I’m LIVING all the elements of who I am” within in it. What is the living part of you actually about? The structure shouldn’t change who you are. Yes we respect the ways and traditions of the country we are in but we are still who we are. Your spirit would die if you say you can’t be that. It needs to be that expression, where ever you are in the world. You NEED to express that part of your being. This is the true beauty.

Lastly, is the understanding that you have the ability to do this today. What would a world look like where you constantly are in in a state of celebration of who you are? Ask yourself, “What is it for me that is working?” and then choosing to value that, allow that, live that, speak that. A beautiful affirmation you could use could be; “I’m surrendering into the new parts of me that are coming alive and I honour all those that I bring with me from my past”. What is the French element bringing out in you? Allow that, but remember that you bring with you every other aspect that you have every awoken to. All the different parts to you.

How did you express yourself as a little child? Bring them out as an adult. You don’t have to control/ suppress that part of you, it’s a part of who you are. All of them are beautiful. As an adult you carry all these memories. The adult within you needs to feel that he/she can express this otherwise the result is depressed. When you feel alone, it’s because you mind is putting pressure on you by telling you how to think and behave. The pressure is you feeling like you have to speak French, you have to dress like the French, be like the French.

In truth you don’t have to, it’s being in a far less critical way with yourself in these experiences. Doing it in a simple way, not a complicated way. Allow the sense of wholeness to carry you. You are learning, you are going as slow as the slowest part of you feels comfortable with and it is ok that you are in learning. You haven’t perfected that part. We experience so much pressure from the external world and it is this pressure that cause us to feel depressed and experience life in a dull way, where everything is being taken out rather than were life is being put in.

Do things in simple contexts. Do something that is joyful. What inspires you? What makes your heart sing? Notice the small things! Look up at the beauty in the buildings, notice the colours and look at the detail in flowers. Keep a note book in your bag and write down every time you feel and/or see something that makes you feel happy?

pie-chart (2)Healing is a gradual process, go with your natural flow. 20% of the people who completed my poll said that it took them longer than TWO years to move out of their depression. Do you feel less alone now?

Have you figure out why I fainted yet? I’m sure you guessed that it was because I ws allowing so much pressure from the outside in, rather than from the inside out. I now choose to, whenever I am aware, to listen to the rhythm of my true worth and in that heart beat I make decisions.  Would you like to connect to the rhythm of your heart?

Share your story with me 🙂

Hay, L. (1987). You can heal your life. Santa Monica, CA: Hay House.
Personal Reading. (undated). [Recording] South Africa: Melissa Freemantle Life Coach & Healer

Are your relationships in your HEAD or your HEART?

 

If you were to imagine for a moment what has made you who you are today, you would conjure up an insurmountable number of events, situations, places, culture, values etc. that have contributed to who you are today. There is no way that we can be reductionist when we discuss human behaviour and who we are. No one other than you can truly understand what goes on in your head. Relationships are complicated and unique yet this creates the foil of what they are, relationships are exciting, scary but amazing because of their complexities. The aim of this article is by no means to put any one in a box but simply just to open your eyes to some explanations as to why we are the way we are. This understanding will help you understand who you and your partner are and ultimately create a more truthful and open relationship.

A reminder that we are all ego, soul, body and energy circles. In every situation all four of these aspects of ourselves are delicately dancing to find their centre. Remember that the truth of who you are is always your soul but we are still human and it is to allow the human aspects of ourselves to be listened to, this is honouring the fullness of who you are.

How do relationships form?

 

First encounters are important when it comes to encouraging the formation of a relationship. Let’s also put first dates under the same analogy. The sun is shining, you’re swimming in the sea, sipping a fantastic cocktail and all of a sudden you meet a gorgeous stranger. You fall in love, or so you think. The Reward/need Satisfaction Model (Bryne and Clore, 1970) talks about how relationships are formed not because of the person themselves but because of the association you make between the person and the pleasant situation (stimulus) explained by the principles of classical conditioning. You are in a good mood when you meet the person, you are relaxed, you are in a good ‘headspace’. You associate the feeling you are feeling with the person. Using this idea, here is a great tip for a first date. Take you partner to an event where they will feel good, roller coasters, jazz etc. that way they will associate you with the good feeling. Equally, it may not all be in your control. If they are in a bad mood when they go on their date, they may associate you with their bad mood. Oh! Oh!

Operant conditioning explains that relationships form when people are positively reinforced for being with the person e.g. increase in social status, finance, the other person makes them feel good etc. You start going out with a person because of the rewards (happiness, a family, companionship, security, sex) that you get from that relationship. One could also enter into a situation to avoid an unpleasant situation (stimulus) e.g. we all know people who don’t like being alone so enter into relationships to protect themselves from feeling loneliness.

‘They are way out of your league’. I’ve never heard this saying in person, only in movies but according to Walster’s Matching Hypotheis (1966) we unconsciously choose a partner who we perceive to be of the same social status as we are.   Our initial attraction to someone is determined by how they compare to what we perceive our social desirability score is. Thus we are influenced by what we think our ‘chances’ with the other person.

Shavel et al. (1988) talks about how the attachment system of your earlier years helps you form an internal working model (an idea if you wish) of how relationships should be and as a consequence you unconsciously act out (model) this working model based on what they have seen in future relationships. The primary care giver is key what type of internal working model is established. If your primary care giver was distant, this becomes the ‘norm’ and so forth. At the heart of all of us we all want love. A child who didn’t get love as

How are relationships maintained?

 

What is the cost benefit ratio of your current relationship? If the rewards out way the costs then the relationship is likely to be maintained. The Social Exchange Theory (Rusbult, 1983) says relationships are maintained based on a comparison level. The more rewards, the more positive the relationship will be and visa versa. What is interesting to me is that we change, our needs change, what we want changes which is a potential reason why the equilibrium in relationships often change.

In order for a relationship to be successful one has to be satisfied with the balance of costs vs rewards. Secondly, the quality of any alternatives has to be minimal. The moment we spot a better alternative, the balance is tipped. However, one may still decide to stay in this unbalanced relationship because of the amount of perceived investment e.g. time, finance, friends that they believe they will lose if the relationship ends. This is a tricky one to balance out but I believe that this model does outline how important it is for us to be honest about what we perceive we are putting in and getting out of the relationship.

According to the Centeredness Model (Bennett 2014), in order for a relationship to be maintained knowing who you are and then remaining in one’s centre is vital. Every person has their own centre. This is when a person acts and talks from a place within their true centre, who they really are. All too often in relationships partners want to either bring their partners over to their centre or they go into the other person’s centre (space). This is where communication is important. One has to be honest with their partner about how they feel and what they want. Secondly, their partner has to understand that it is not a personal attack but just the other expressing how they feel. Once this exchange takes place, the two partners should meet in the middle. When no compromise can be found for whatever reason, it is often at this point that partners decide to walk different paths. 

The wine bottle analogy (Bennett, 2014)… If we sit on opposite sides of a table and look at a wine bottle for example and I say to you, “There is a bar code here”. The person on the other side of the table is likely to say ‘No’ because they genuinely cannot see it. Relationships breakdown when people are more focused on their own side than their partners. Yes, there is definitely a bar code. We cannot deny that. Your feelings are real and should be honoured. However, so should the feelings of your partner. Just because they can’t see and understand your side doesn’t mean that it is not valid. They key is to honour your partners feeling by letting them explain how they feel. Even if you don’t understand them, you should honour that to them, they are real.

How do relationships breakdown?

 

Ollie and Duck’s model of breakdown (1999) explains why relationships break down by stages:

Stage one: An increase in dissatisfaction within the relationship starts. If this escalates, we move to the next level.

Stage two: Internally we begin to focus on our partner’s fault. The moment we start seeing faults within our partner we unconsciously start to compare them to other people. It is likely that we become resentful and become socially withdrawn, from others but more so from our partners.

Stage three: At this stage a conversation is had. If it is constructive the issues can become resolved, if it is destructive, the relationship may come to an end.

I feel that a ‘Water Bottle Analogy’ conversation should be had even before it reaches stage three. Although as humans we fall into the trap of ‘I should….’. The moment you hear yourself say ‘I should…’ you are denying how you really feel. If something bothers you, talk about it. It is ok to feel and then express emotions. You will find that on most occasions the simply expression of these emotions allows the energy to naturally release itself. (Louise Hay) 

Ladies, believe me, at the heart of each man is also an insecure boy. According to the evolutionary explanation of relationship breakdown, they too can feel threatened and whenever we feel threatened, it is ‘Fight or Flight’. Fight to men looks like anger and rage, flight means breaking up.   If a man feels threatened he may increase his emotional commitment to his partner. ‘Marry me or else’.   A women thinks that the more a male shares his resources (finances/ gifts) with her, the more emotionally committed he is.   Is this why men buy flowers and gifts to ‘make up’ after a fight? Alternatively, if they feel threatened they are likely to become promiscuous so that they may have a replacement mate quickly after.

Another evolutionary explanation says that men are women are hardwired differently in that men need to feel respected and women secure. And it is almost like they are in constant conflict with the flight or fight instinct of the other to feel worthy. A man sits in front of the TV to have some down time (It is important for a man to centre himself in his ‘cave’ on his own). A women comes to talk to him because she wants to share her day. The man is tired and asks her to leave. She feels rejected and doesn’t feel very secure. A man tells a story and naturally doesn’t remember as many details as a women, the moment a women corrects him he feels disrespected and not good enough. That which comes naturally to the other sex almost seems to conflict with the other. Could this be the same with sex? A man needs to have sex to feel connected and a women needs to feel connected to their partner in order to have sex. Could we be designed any more differently?

Let’s talk about sex?

 

Love at first sight? Physically attractive? Why? Could it be that through evolution our ancestors have evolved such that our brains and neural adaptations now see physical attractiveness based on their ability to offer better genetic qualities for our offspring?

Why does a women pay hard to get? Is it because they know that if a man ‘fights’ for her they can protect them because they are determined and strong? Why do we find men with muscles so attractive? Men who generally have masculine features e.g. prominent cheekbones, large muscles, large jawline etc. generally have a higher level of testosterone, which is a hormone that helps with strength and protection. Why are men attracted to large eyes and breasts, generally these show the youthfulness and fertility of a female. Is it love at first sight or just our evolutionary programming to choose someone who will offer us the best chance of producing offspring and their ultimate survival?

Along the same lines, this could explain why men are also more promiscuous. The more females they impregnate the more chance they having a high reproductive success rate.

A lot of these theories are ‘head’ theories. They are great to think about because remember we are still human. We need to feel that we understand ourselves and there are reasons for why we act the way that we do. My encouragement to you today though is to start identifying when you are relating to those around you from your head (chaos, uncertainty) or your heart. Divine guidance is always peaceful, still, repetitive and to the point. Be gentle with your human side. You are doing the best that you can with what you have been given. Listening to the heart takes time and patience.   You are perfect, whole and complete just the way you are… and so is your partner.

Share your story with me 🙂

Helpful tip from Eat, Pray, Love

eat-pray-love-movie“True wisdom gives the only possible answer at any given moment, and that night going back to bed was the only possible answer. Go back to bed, said this omniscient interior voice, because you don’t need to find the final answer right now, at three o’clock in the morning on a Thursday in November.  Go back to bed, because I love you. Go back to bed, because the only thing you need to know tight now is get sine rest and take good care of yourself until you do know the answer.”

If you are like me, when you ask god/the universe a question or for an answer that you really need to hear right this moment and if the answer isn’t what you expect or not an answer at all you beat yourself up for not ‘hearing god’s voice or your inner guidance’.  Elizabeth Gilbert puts it so nicely when she writes that some times the only thing we need is to go back to bed.  Some times the only thing we need to do is just sit and be until we are sure what the answer is.

The universe has lots to do once you have asked your question. It has to whisper in peoples’ ears to make things happen and if they aren’t listening you may have to be patient a little longer.

For me the realisation wasn’t that the universe has to put a puzzle together to make my perfect picture. I trust the universe.  The realisation for me was that some times it was ok to just do nothing and wait for the inner voice to be louder.

Trust that when the time is right, you will hear what your inner god/dess is telling you what to do.

Find some more great quotes from Eat, Pray, Love Quotes by Elizabeth Gilbert

Why is it important to spend time realigning yourself every day?

You know those moments when you feel completely overwhelmed? When you feel like you are being pulled in numerous directions or that you just don’t seem to be yourself as your emotions feel like they want to burst out of you?

In essence, Abraham Hicks would call this type of feeling, emotion and/or situation, swimming upstream.   When things just aren’t going right in your life, subtly or blatantly. One of the reasons we are here is to learn how to swim downstream. Meaning to realign ourselves with who we really are. When this alignment takes place we feel like we are swimming upstream, we feel like we are walking to the beat of our hearts and our true calling.

How do we learn how to swim downstream? There are many ways, one of which is meditation in which ever form resonates with you. I like to sit and be still with my journal, go for a run, a ride in the countryside or even just sit and do one of Louise Hay’s exercises in just checking in on where my body is physically at, how it is doing. On a very basic form, simply just breathing in your higher self and breathing out that which isn’t in alignment with your true worth.   This is a great quick breathing exercise when you are out and about in town.

On a deeper level what is going on when we spend time realigning ourselves every day? There are many parts/energies to who we are as human beings in the spiritual worlds. The most important energy to me at the moment is my soul energy. This is the energy that I want to spend time with every day so that it can become stronger and I can learn to start living through and from this energy within myself. As I start to learn more about and focus on this energy I believe it starts to move more freely through, up, down and out of me thus allowing me to grow from these flows. Another energy is the heart chakra. It is the consciousness of your heart that invites all experiences into your life that bless and teach you. It is within these experiences that our reality exists.

Thus by spending time with ourselves every day we allow a new ‘identity’/a new birth to be activated that is not from the ego (the conscious mind influenced by society). It is this mind that is activated when we are feeling overwhelmed and caught up in emotions and every day challenges. One of the ways to quieten this voice and awaken your soul’s voice is to spend time with yourself every day feeling the soul’s energy. Our heart chakra carries the memories from our past experiences and it knows what we need to learn and experience is this life which is why it calls certain experiences to us (this is different to the principles of the law of attraction). When these experience are present within our reality, we have the opportunity to listen to either our soul’s voice or that of our ego.

This is a remarkable blessing to be able to know that this emergence of our true selves is ahead of us. This is what gives us the confidence to know that all is well, that even if we don’t understand what is going on in the deeper levels of ourselves, our daily meditations will give us the opportunity to let this be. We give ourselves the opportunity to flow in the downstream in the rivers of our unique, beautiful souls. We give ourselves the opportunity to practice listening to our soul’s voice and objectively hear our ego but not act on it but simply just to let it go with gratitude.

Why does he never understand me?

A question we have asked on more than one occasion about more than one person is, ‘Why do we see things so differently?’  There are many explanations for this.

I found the explanation by Prager University in their video ‘Understanding Men and Women; Why They See Things Differently’ to be really interesting.  As a psychotherapist I believe that there is always more to each situation then meets the eye.  We see life through our own lenses and nothing the other person can say changes how we react to a situation.  This reaction is often because of years of belief system creation.

So according to Alison Armstrong, by understanding the differences between men and women we can relate to them differently which will bring out the best in them.  In other words, once we have reacted we can try and see the situation through the eyes of our partner.  By slowly starting to see situations through other’s eyes we may begin to change some unconscious patterns of though.

Helpful Tip:  Why don’t you and your partner watch this video clip together.  That way you are not directly discussing the issue but the discussion is slightly more objective as the energy of the concentration is based around what the other person ‘thinks about the video’ rather than what ‘you said or didn’t say’.

Let me know how your discussion goes?

Gender:  Nature or Nurture?

Foetal Gonad Development
Foetal Gonad Development

What is the definition of sex and gender? How do they compare?

What is the definition of nature and nurture? How do they compare?

Why would Kaitlin Jenner decide now, after years of marriage to become transgender?

Transgender operations are extremely painful. Why would someone undergo that amount of pain?

What determines gender? 

What would you do if at age 14, your parents told you that you were actually born the opposite sex but raised as the other (gender)?

Why do some quite masculine males who are clearly not at that extreme end of the feminine scale – tall, strong, aggressive and excelling in fields like engineering or the military – seek to undergo genital surgery and change their sex roles?

Why do some extremely feminine men and masculine women not seek to make the change?

 

 

Let’s talk about sex! Sex is a biological term. It refers to the physical differences between men and women and their reproductive abilities. You are born either a male or female based on chromosomes, genes and hormones. If you believe that your gender identity is caused by nature, you believe you are predisposed to certain traits based on genetics.

Let’s talk about gender! Gender is a psychological term for defining masculine and feminine qualities. Your gender is determined by biological (your awareness of what your sex is and how you react to this), psychological and social influences. The way you act is because of the external influences you have had on your life.

Let’s look at two stories: The first is a sad one about David Reimer who committed suicide after sever ongoing depression, a troubled marriage and financial issues.

After experiencing suicidal thoughts and never truly feeling like a girl, whilst out having an ice-cream Brenda was told by her father that she was actually born a boy Bruce… 14 years earlier, Brenda was born in Canade with a twin brother, Brain. At 6 months of age Bruce’s penis was burned beyond surgical repair after an unconventional circumcision went wrong. After returning home, his parents were lost for what to do. One night they were watching TV and happened to see Dr Money on the TV talking about his theory of gender neutrality. He was a pioneer in the field of gender identity and sexual development. As a reputable psychologist, Bruce’s parents went to see Dr Money. Dr John Money convinced them that it would be possible to raise Bruce as a girl and Brenda was ‘born’. He was dressed like a girl, treated like a girl and even had his testes removed and an artificial ‘flap’ constructed. During his teenage years he was even given oestrogen to induce breast development.

As you could imagine however, after being told he underwent gender reassignment reassuming a masculine identity calling himself David. David later spoke about how he always felt like he didn’t belong, with either the boys or girls. Even though he played with dolls he preferred playing with his brother’s toys and was reported to have been the more aggressive of the twins.

Would you say this story is evidence of nature or nurture influencing our gender identity?

Let’s briefly look at genetics. We are all born with 23 pairs of chromosomes, one of which is responsible for our sex assignment. By default all babies will become girls unless they are born with the Y chromosomes. The Y chromosome is key as it contains the SRY gene. At 6 weeks of age this gene causes the foetal gonads (who are gender neutral until this point) to develop into testes. The testes then produces androgens such as testosterone and MIS (Mullerian (Female internal reproductive ducts) Inhibiting Substance). MIS prevents the male from developing oviducts and the uterus etc. and the other hormones cause the penis to grow. In addition, testosterone has been shown to show that males are more unilateral on the right hemisphere which is responsible for visuo-spatial ability and creativity. At puberty males release more testosterone to develop secondary sexual characteristics e.g. breaking of the voice, muscles, pubic hair etc.

Females do not have the SRY gene which is why they by default develop into a female. The foetal gonads become ovaries and they produces hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone. They do not release testosterone to such a high level as they only produce it in the pituitary gland which is why they are said to be bi-lateral and can use both parts of their brain.

Imagine however you were born with Klinterfelter syndrome were you were born with XXY as a ‘chromosome pair’. You would still have masculine primary sexual organs but they wouldn’t be as developed as someone with only a Y chromosome and you would be more femine because of the presence of the second X chromosome.

Imagine you were born with only one X chromosome, X0. You would still have female primary and secondary sexual develop, however it would be substantially less than a female who developes ‘normally’.

The second story is one that many say is one of courage. “You wonder if you are making all the right decisions,” “I wish I were kind of normal. It would be so much more simple”. “I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live.”  Bruce Jenner

After the breakup of his marriage of 23 years he thought he could finally live freely as a women because up till now he had only done a few gender assignment procedures like electrolysis and was wearing pantyhose and bras under his suits. However, this was not enough for him to feel his true identity. Tracheal shave, taking hormones, hair on body removed, facial-feminization surgery (where they make a hairline correction, recontour the forehead, jaw and chin, augment breasts. Yet undergoing excruciating pain still went along with his gender reassignment after living as a man for 65 years.

“If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life,’ ” Kaitlin Jenner told a reporter at a Vanity Fair interview. “ ‘You never dealt with yourself,’ and I don’t want that to happen.”

Dick Swaab in his book called “We are our brains” talks about how males who are happy being male have a different size to the tip of their lateral ventricle (the bed nucleus of stria terminalis) then men who want to be female and equally so to women who are happy being women and women who want to be male.

Is it something more than nature that determines our identity other than nurture? Or could we say that it is just nature or nurture?

 Bibliography

 

  1. Brain, C. and Collis, D. (2008). Edexcel AS psychology. Harlow: Pearson Education.
  2. Oocities.org, (2015). Transsexual Analysis: 11. Overview and summary. [online] Available at: http://www.oocities.org/transsexual_analysis/transsexual11.html [Accessed 25 Sep. 2015]. Bissinger, B., Leibovitz, A. and Diehl, J. (2015). Caitlyn Jenner: The Full Story. [online] Vanity Fair. Available at: http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/06/caitlyn-jenner-bruce-cover-annie-leibovitz [Accessed 25 Sep. 2015].
  3. Swaab, D. (2014). WE ARE OUR BRAINS : A NEUROBIOGRAPHY OF THE BRAIN, FROM THE WOMB TO ALZHEIMER’S; TRANS. BY JANE HEDL. NEW YORK: SPIEGEL & GRAU.