Posts made in July, 2014

Cultivating Self-Compassion

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Blog Posts | Comments Off on Cultivating Self-Compassion

Cultivating self-compassion The cultivation of self-compassion isn’t something that most of my clients are focussed on when they step through the door for their first session.  Most people come (understandably) with the desperate hope that I will rid them of the anxiety or panic that has been plaguing them.  Whilst relief from the anxious state is at the top of the priority list, it’s also important to realise that when we are stuck in states that we don’t like or that make us feel bad, we are often really mean to ourselves.  Those of you, who have already worked with me, will know that there is an added and welcome by-product to using the NPR treatment approach to recovering from anxiety.  During the process of recovery, you also develop a healthy and loving connection with your previously abandoned self.  This isn’t some touchy feely self help claim, it really is a natural function of coming to understand that no matter how anxious you are, your body and your mind are not your enemy. All living creatures are designed to move away from what is uncomfortable or painful, so when people find it impossible to move away from the anxious state being created by their survival brain and body, they often begin to feel angry, critical and frustrated with themselves.  The consequence is that on top of already feeling distressed and anxious, people begin to feel useless, helpless and worthless, due to the unkind way they respond to their thoughts, their bodies, in fact their whole selves.  It doesn’t help that other people respond to the anxious state with disbelief, frustration and impatience, confirming to the sufferer that they are doing something wrong and are disapproved of.  All of this can lead to depression, and isolation. Realising that we have a choice about how we respond to and treat ourselves comes as a revelation to most people.  But once we realise that we can turn towards ourselves, even the bits we don’t like or enjoy about ourselves and our experience, and offer ourselves the kindness and patience we would show a dear friend, something begins to change.  Recovering from anxiety and retraining the brain is undoubtedly an inevitable consequence of using the NPR process.  Becoming your own best friend is just one of the added bonuses....

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States and Phases

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Blog Posts | Comments Off on States and Phases

Phases or States The physicist Andrea Sella points out that in physics and chemistry there is a tendency to use the word phase rather than state, which is to distinguish the possibility that there are structurally different arrangements of matter, such as in a solid, there will be orderly arranged atoms, in liquids there is more mobility and in gas the particles are further apart.  The different phases take place as a result of the varying conditions of energy and it’s interactions with the matter itself, such as with water, the conditions dictate the temperature of the water, through a whole range of states, from ice, to liquid, to steam, not ignoring all the subtle differences in between.  This theory of matter always being in a different phase dependent on the environment seems really relevant to me with regard to the function of anxiety. I realised as I was listening to the physicist talk, that describing anxiety as a ‘state’, although preferable to an illness or disorder, seems too solid a description. What I have observed is the fluidity of the experience of anxiety, as it ebbs and flows, quickens and slows, softens and intensifies, based on what we are encountering or thinking.  The word state might imply something more ‘fixed’ rather than a responsive and active process going through many different phases on a moment to moment, reactive basis. When I work with people they sit in front of me and before my eyes they experience shifts and changes, which are not fixed and solid.  Depending on how they, think, perceive and react to their experience, the set of physiological and emotional sensations that make up the phenomena that we call ‘anxiety’ is in constant flux.  This helps us to realise that the anxious experience itself is not something we need to be stuck in, it’s an experience to which we can bring about shifts and changes, as we learn to interact in ways that allow the solidity of the sensations to soften and dissipate, just as ice melts into water and then dissipates into steam as we alter the conditions that we impose upon it.   What conditions are you imposing upon the anxious experience right now?  Try bringing warmth, allowance, acceptance, just for a moment, and observe without judgement any shifts that may be beginning to take place now. ...

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