The Liberating Power of “NO”

Do you sometimes find yourself in daily situations where you are expected to perform like a circus monkey? This is not meant as derogatory but merely to illustrate how we sometimes feel when faced with more work than we can manage in the time we have available to us. Yet, if you want something done ASAP, you ask a person that is swamped with work. They will plan, to their detriment of themselves. Busy people will always be available for others irrespective if they have the time or not. They are the ones that usually suffer from adrenaline fatigue.

The intention to assist is mostly human nature, but it can seriously backfire on us if we do not practice the essence of NO.

If you feel that you fall in the above category, then you are part of 90% of the population and 99% of the reason for your stress and adrenaline fatigue. We may find that the “Yes” decision is the “default choice,” the one we choose every time, however, it is not necessarily the right choice. The one answer that pleases all is “Yes, sure, no problem at all.” However, that could lead to social norms which by no means really reflect our preferences but only those of others. It is the scenario best suited to what we perceive to be less intrusive to others. When this occurs, take note that we immediately take ourselves out of the equation and it becomes all about the other person. This all sounds very grand and noble, but in simple terms, let us call it out for what it is. The factual term is “People pleasing.”

Now, “People pleasing” – Stems from the fear of rejection, non-acceptance by others, and criticism that started back in childhood. Depending on your generation, the love language is sometimes a bit twisted. If you performed very well, you were rewarded with love and acceptance. If you did not perform as expected, then love and acceptance was withheld from you. This damage gets carried throughout our lives and into every relationship. We fear that the other person might get the wrong image of who we are and withhold the approval we need to feel worthy and validated. We forget that we are already validated and that we only need the approval of people that love, care, and accept us for who we are, with no need to perform and jump through hoops.

Why is it so important that we need approval all the time? Why is it so difficult to just say NO? It is a complete sentence. Simply because the need to be accepted and loved is a basic part and need of life. We all fear rejection of self and we move around trying to please each other just so that we may belong, be accepted, and be loved. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be accepted and loved, but the price must not cost you your soul. If we are requested to do something that goes against what we believe in or which makes us uncomfortable, we have the right to say NO without any explanation.

If it does not fit into our schedule and we must flip through hoops to make it happen for the other person, then it is better to be honest and say that you are unable to assist. No explanation is needed. Oftentimes, their lack of planning will be the cause of needing your assistance to sort out their problems, especially when they have a deadline. This can become quite an abusive situation. So be careful that you do not place yourself in a situation of their saviour, as you will not be doing yourself or them a favour but will be enabling them. Do not place yourself under unnecessary stress to please anybody, only if you have the time in your day. Of course, the scenario will be different when there is an emergency.

The fear of failure stems from believing all the opinions we hear others mention about us or other people. We seldom check the facts but merely accept them more often making them our own. Opinions that usually have no basis and are not rooted in any actuality, should not matter in an individual’s life. Individuals that base their opinion of others on hearsay are not fair to themselves or to the person they pass judgment on. The important lesson here is to know that you can say NO when it does not suit you or when you do not have the capacity and please ignore the guilt feelings, as they have no place in your life.

A profile of resilience, in a world, turned upside down

The force of resilience amidst the eye of the storm. How do you continue a journey when your life is turned upside down by a sudden illness?

The illness, in the form of a “stroke”, hit unexpectedly and felt as if it had arrived with the sole intention to rob you of your life…but by the grace of God, along with the devastation, the realization that you were given a second chance. Do you take it, or do you decide that all is over for you as you know life to be?

The realization comes in waves of various emotions, from fear to flight, while everything you know that is familiar to you becomes strange and unexplainable. The next step is the enormous challenge to achieve basic movement, speech, coordination, etc. The easiest route would be to just accept your situation and try to go with the flow, however, depression sets in first as the feeling of hopelessness envelopes you.  Secondly, the fear of the unknown and how to cope emotionally, financially, and physically becomes the second wave, and often acceptance of the situation and the feeling of helplessness will escalate until your mind tells you “That it is what it is, and nothing will change the reality”.

The enormity of that thought within your mind could be debilitating as your mind can kill you long before your body decides to give up. However, that does not need to be the scenario and can have a different outcome.

Now the proof of resilience – Christophorus realized this when he was forced to re-evaluate his life and start a new journey after a stroke that brought his life to a sudden stop. As a Pilot Paraglider, he had no shortage of perseverance or resilience and has always been driven to achieve that which he put his mind to.

The stroke left him semi-paralyzed on his right side which was a terrible blow as he paints with his right hand. Mentally, Christophorus prepared himself with the knowledge that life goes on. His instinct to survive set about a whole new stream of events. Fortunately, Christophorus has a strong support system in the form of his partner Charmaine and many friends. A friend Jacques helped him to adjust the easel so that he can sit in his wheelchair and paint and started a Backabuddy fund for him to assist with the financial challenges.

The challenge to paint with the left hand became a reality.   It was quite difficult to paint with his left hand in the beginning, however, it was only for a short while as his determination and drive to achieve propelled him forward and he completed his first painting. His second painting soon followed and was sold as soon as it was completed. The journey of resilience paid off and his love of art was unscathed. Christophorus agreed to tell his story with the hope that it can inspire people to always look at ways and means to adjust and adapt to their circumstances instead of just giving up.

Who is Christophorus?

Christophorus is a well-known artist living on the West Coast of South Africa, who eventually settled in Jacobsbaai when he fell in love with the simplistic lifestyle of the West Coast.  From an early age, he had a love for drawing, and this talent was soon discovered by friends and family.  He reached many people through his love of portraiture. From his early twenties, he painted mostly in oils and continued to do so for the next 30 years.  His early works featured scenes of the bush veld, landscapes, seascapes, wildlife, still life, and portraits.

In 2001 Christo relocated from Roodepoort to the West Coast to become a full-time artist.  He opened his art gallery in Langebaan which he then sold to move to St Helena bay a scenic harbour town in the heart of the fishing industry. The daily activities of the fishermen at the harbour made a deep impression on him which one can see in the reflection in his paintings. The small and ever-popular village Paternoster, with its fisherman activities and their traditional way of living, becomes a favourite theme to be expressed in his art.

The name Christophorus, today is synonymous with scenes from the West Coast and is very popular with visitors and art-loving tourists. Along with his art, he is a talented musician and a keen sportsman who loves to paraglide. With his determination, it could be no surprise that he attempts to enjoy the sport again. His friends urge him along while also telling him to remember to take it one step at a time.

In 2008 Christophorus changed his art medium to acrylic paint and has used this medium ever since.  The vibrancy of the colours suited the artist’s unique style and brought the subjects to life.

The bright and happy colours in his paintings reflect his passion for the West Coast lifestyle in a unique and very appreciative manner that has now become recognizable internationally. His murals are to be seen in St Helena, Jacobsbaai, and Paternoster where he also has an Art Gallery in the Art Shed.

Over the past 41 years, he has sold numerous paintings and was a select member of the West Rand art society in Johannesburg while in residence there. Later, he also served on the West Coast art Guild as chairperson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCARS REMIND US THAT OUR BATTLES ARE REAL

The journey of self-recovery.

“Through suffering emerged the strongest souls who all bear witness to a battle won”. 

Our life is a journey on which each of us embarks without choice in the matter. We did not ask to be born, we did not choose our parents, we had to deal with the deck of cards as it was dealt. Depending on what we believe in, we very seldom have all the answers. So, life will throw you some punches and we either learn to swing with the punches or we don’t. When we learn to swing with the punches, we use the resources at our disposal to develop coping skills which help us on the journey of self-discovery. However, sometimes the opposite occurs, and we are unable to cope any longer. The ability to swing with the punches has stopped and we are overwhelmed by it all and ready to throw in the towel – which might then just seem to be the easiest option. That is when we should realize that we are on a very rocky, slippery road and that we need help fast. 

What is it about this journey that allows us to accept certain things that cause emotional trauma, and be OK with it? The reality is the ability to understand and experience how emotional trauma affects each of us differently. The process of working through trauma and recovery differs from one person to the next. It is necessary to consciously acknowledge that we have experienced the trauma and face it than to deny the occurrence and pretend that everything is just fine. All we will achieve is that we will inadvertently prolong the process which could lead to our recovery. The damage to the psyche of each person occurs over time while trauma becomes like a plaque build-up within the arteries. It manifests into illness as your body needs to purge the hurt and the anger. The other name for grief is anger, so all the hurt that causes us grief has its roots in anger.

In recognizing the trauma and dealing with it through professional help, we set ourselves free to continue our journey in life. This does not guarantee a life free of memories of the trauma, as the scars will always remain. However, the scars will always remind us that we have dealt with the trauma.

 

“Some wounds never show, not even in the mirror, until we see them in the expressions on the faces of people we love.” – Cameron Jace

NOTE

If you relate to this article and recognize that you need help, please feel free to reach out.

WHAT CONSUMES YOU WILL CONTROL YOU

Why would you want to give away your power? 

Why would you choose to let the people that hurt you, control you for the rest of your life? I am sure if you knew the damage it can do to you, you will no longer allow it. It is okay to lick your wounds, but be careful that you do not wallow in the hurt and become stuck there. None of us has the gift to see into the future, so we need to be kind to ourselves. If you have made a wrong choice or a wrong decision, do not allow the decision to validate you.

Lives that interweave are bound to lead to some stage of disappointment. We are all fallible. By bad business deals where we lose everything in the form of material things. Wrong partnerships, a lost relationship where we trusted the wrong people. It may be a myriad of reasons. However, our reaction to the incidents is where the problem occurs. We allow these incidents to consume our minds and allow the person to control our thoughts, our actions and most probably our trust in our next relationships or business deals without them lifting a finger. 

We then decide to break all ties, but we carry the angry thoughts of the person or incident with us all the time. We coddle the hurt and resentment. If we see them, we recall the incident and all the emotions come flooding back. The other person does not even give it a thought as they have moved on long ago, but we have held onto the hurt or humiliation and allowed them to control our lives through no further action on their part but purely by our own choice not to let go. We have allowed them to weigh us down to a point where we allow our grudges and revengeful thoughts to control and consume us, and we often never realize the negative impact it has on our lives. We suffer from emotional distress, which leads to anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, and eventually maybe a life-threatening disease that will in turn impact the people we love. 

Really? We need to ask ourselves whether this is a winning situation and in whose favour?

NO… This is unbelievably bad for your mind, soul, and overall, your physical well-being. So, what is the best way to manage it so that we turn the situation around and become the victors instead of the victims?

Simple, you let it GO and walk away. I can hear you all say, NO, SORRY, NOT POSSIBLE, but you have forgotten to look at the impact of your choice concerning the incident. 

This is easier said than done, but if you know why you need to do it, it becomes a no-brainer and easy to understand. You will embrace the change as you will experience the freedom of letting go. 

Anger is like a festering boil that grows like a monkey on your back and takes over your whole persona and eventually controls your life. It steals your joy and makes you miserable all the time. It also makes you ill as it affects your blood sugar levels, your blood pressure, your heart, your organs and can grow like cancer as it eats you alive. ALL THIS FOR SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT EVEN CARE WHETHER YOU EXIST OR NOT.

If you learn to deal with the anger and set it aside, you will free yourself and no longer be controlled by the people who hurt you. Underneath the tip of the anger (that most people are unaware of) lies a wealth of negative emotions with negative side effects. It is bound together like iron balls on a chain and grows heavier as it accumulates and as you drag it along. It weighs you down and destroys you eventually as it consumes your whole life and takes over your personality. This in turn will eventually alienate you from the people that mean the most to you.

Conclusion  

Now, do you still believe that you are at the winning end by holding on to all this negativity?

Is this how you want to live for the rest of your life?

Controlled? 

 

In Aid of Couples Counselling – A Different Kind of Lover.

Today we face a real threat in our relationships. I am unable to portray it better than through a poem written by Gerri Di Somma and placed with his permission:

How can we live together, and yet be so far apart,
How did it all go so wrong, it wasn’t like this at the start.
When did we lose interest and drift from each other,
I can’t keep up this charade, it is such a bother.

I find myself competing with Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat,
then there is Instagram and don’t forget WhatsApp.
Each day I sit and play a game they called Solitaire
Which pretty much is my life, as you look at my vacant stare.

This is a different kind of leaving, how did it all go wrong,
I can’t live this lie, I need to find where I belong
This is a different kind of loving, and it’s killing me inside
I want to get back to where our love collides.

I hear you laugh and talk to your phone,
While driving you read your emails, Gmail, on your own.
Music has become the comfort of my heart,
We live together but are so far apart,
Songs played loud to drown out the strife,
when did you stop being my wife?

Leaving is not an option but the sadness is just so great,
We say we love each other, how did we get to this place,
So we find a way, to escape out on our own,
I suppose I am to blame as I drifted out on my own.

So let’s put down our smartphone, iPhone or any other.
And get back the sparkle in our lives that first made us lovers.
I am jealous of Facebook, Snapchat and all the others,
I cannot compete, they are a different kind of lover.

Author: Gerri Di Somma

WHERE DOES PAIN IN YOUR BODY ORIGINATE FROM?

Living with chronic pain presents daily challenges and may cause an individual to feel a lack of personal control. Art therapy addresses this issue by using interventions that promote opportunities for problem-solving, decision-making, and personal empowerment. Therapy without the art is just as effective and will assist where a person is on the path of medical exploration regarding the symptoms of an illness.

Pain is the first sign in our bodies that we are out of sync with nature and ourselves. The body will manifest that which the brain experiences in the form of emotional trauma and turn it into physical pain. To use an example – if you have a sore throat and your jaw aches, you are experiencing inner stress and are not addressing the issues because you are not voicing it, the body will manifest this into a physical ailment to get relief. The natural route is to get something to ease the sore throat, and it will assist with some of the symptoms for a short while, but it will return again and again. This will occur until the real issue is addressed. Every time we are subject to any trauma or any form of abuse to our mind and body, we experience it on a far deeper level than we can comprehend. It is literally as if the brain has a checklist and with every traumatic experience, it makes a tick for future reference. 

It is proven that most illnesses stem from unresolved issues and if people can tap into the right information, they will be able to heal or halt the illness before it manifests. However, we must address the root of the symptoms. Most illnesses stem from trauma and mental toxins. These mental toxins are issues not dealt with through various traumatic experiences that we have gone through, whether it was as a child or recently as an adult. Inner child wounds and natural trauma that the body has experienced through time would shape the adult and any trauma that goes unresolved will become deep-seated issues that will fester, and the body will react to it through illness. 

When a person starts to experience pain or get diagnosed with an illness such as MS, Cancer, Diabetes or any auto-immune disease, the first course of action is to place the person on medication or treatment to control the symptoms. Although this is necessary and the normal plan of action, it is merely crisis management. We have been programmed to accept medication as the norm. Dr Terry Wahls is living proof of the fact that medication is not always the only answer. She has addressed issues and changed her whole lifestyle to the point where she managed to turn her illness from debilitating, where she was wheelchair-bound, to being able to cycle and regain her life. You can read her story here

Investigating the source of any illness or addiction should be one of the first courses of action. Addiction is also an illness that has a root cause, morphing into various symptoms.   

Let us help you explore the source of your illness before or while you explore the general symptoms and receive medical help or medication.

How to create a mindset that will help you accomplish the impossible

How great are the consequences of living by the truth of your thoughts, have you ever thought about that? If you have, you would have realized that the consequences of your thoughts are so great that they create your reality.

We have been programmed to live by a set of memorized behaviours, so for us to overcome our body we need to continuously look at how we unconsciously absorb and project our thoughts. What are the emotional reactions to the things that happen to us? We need to be fully aware of that phase in our reaction as it is the difference between a healthy mind or an unhealthy mind which ultimately affects our physical body.
Today we are programmed by external factors to think in the negative. We are bombarded by the worst of humanity through gossip, fake news, real news, and no good news. Our thoughts run like computer programs behind the scenes of our conscious awareness and get stuck in a feeling of despair and hopelessness.

It is not enough to “think positive,” as most of us reside subconsciously in that negative space and find comfort in the negativity. We become in tune with it and that becomes all we accept, and we are okay with that. However, the damage to our physical body through our negative mindset is huge and all we do is “pop-a-pill” or “stick-the-Band-Aid” while subconsciously allowing the festering of emotional toxins to erode the soul and our whole being.

Stop the cycle of destruction in your life, as only YOU can.

We have the liberty to not have to settle for our present reality, but to create a new one in the positive whenever we choose to. It is within our collective ability. We all have that ability, because for better or worse, whether we even want to entertain the thought or not, our thought process is a most definite influence on our lives – sometimes to the pit of despair.

Please do not accept anything but the best for your life. Stop the mind erosion, and get help.

Now then – Are you up for the challenge to change your inner core and to live a life that is joyful and fulfilling?

THE EXTREMITY OF LOSS AND GRIEF

Loss has many faces, and they all leave you with variable depth of despair.

· Loss of a loved one
· Loss of your job through retrenchments
· Loss of a close relationship or friendship that can never be regained
· Loss of your business and/or home
· Loss of your functionality through illness or accident
· Loss of a partner through divorce/separation

No matter the loss, the devastation is something you need to deal with before it makes you physically ill. The covid-19 pandemic has left many families and individuals reeling from the loss of a loved one. No matter the cause of losing a loved one, the reality and the process of emotions are dire and devastating. When you hear the news of the loss of a loved one, the shock mostly hits like a full-on fist of fury in your solar plexus and momentarily catches you off guard, just before the nausea hits. Your body reacts to the shock at the core of your body before your brain slots in and acknowledges the enormity of the news.

It is at that moment when you need to start telling yourself constantly to breathe… just breathe… just breathe… as the shock is so huge that you forget to breathe. Once you can stop the enormity of the emotion and start to focus on the enormity of the loss your brain will take over and practicality sets in. There are things to do, and your mind starts to focus on them. This is a form of disassociating from the news, and you will find yourself operating on a level of denial, this is like a switch that enables you to cope momentarily. It helps you to get through the overwhelming depth of your emotions. Then the strange feeling of hurt, anger, loss, betrayal, fear, anxiety starts coming in waves and engulfs you. You stand helpless in the onslaught of emotions without knowing how to deal with it. Then having to deal with the clichés of people who would love to take away your pain, and somehow actually make it worse.

Sadly, no other person can deal with the devastation of your pain and loss, nor are they able to fathom the depth of your despair. Only you can. There is a perception in society that loss is something you deal with as quickly as possible and then move on.
Unfortunately, this comes from ignorance and their inability to help you deal with this loss. People are mostly quite unaware as to how to respond to your pain and mental agony, hence the safe “Sorry for your loss” phrase.

One cannot turn off your emotion like a tap. I think most people are familiar with the 5 stages of grief, i.e.:
· denial
· anger
· bargaining
· depression
· acceptance

However, there are two more steps that most people leave out:
· Reconstruction of your life, through emotional help and dealing with the process of regaining your life
· The quiet acceptance that the person is not going to return, and the slow process will start where you dare to hope for the future

Allow us to help you through your loss. You are not on your own. Be kind to yourself and PLEASE remember that grief has no time limit.

How do we know we have an addiction problem?

There are various forms of addictions and most of them cause mind-altering illnesses. They are the forerunners of “guilt and shame” in the addicted person. Addictions can cut you off from friends and family and cause isolation which in turn can lead to depression and affect your quality of life.

Various forms of addictions:

  • Substance abuse: various drugs and opioids, alcohol, smoking, food, glue-sniffing, cough syrup, Methylated spirits, etc.
  • Behavioural addictions: spending, hoarding, shopping, shoplifting, gambling, excess exercising, etc.
  • Sex-related addictions: pornography, voyeurism, erotica, masturbation, flirting, etc. 
  • Gadget addictions: internet, social media, cell phones, gaming etc. 

When the subject of addictions is broached, there is immediate silence. We live in stressful and uncertain times and most people are in emotional turmoil daily. Addictions occur for many reasons and the root cause varies. However, most people will go in denial about the sensitive subject and will rather ignore the problem, especially if they think they might have a problem and they have not yet discussed it with someone. To seek help when one is in turmoil seems to be the last thing to do, as we fear the stigma attached to mental health. Yet this is the exact time to address it before it becomes too large to handle. 

Most people think it is an embarrassment to have to admit that they need help in any area. However, it is the brave people that do seek help. If a substance or a habit controls your life, it is too dangerous a subject to ignore. 

What is classed as an addiction? 

If the behaviour controls you, then you have already formed the addiction and allowed it to take over your life. Your impulse tells you that you need the “fix” when your anxieties and fears take centre stage over your better judgment or reasoned decisions. If you need to first have that doughnut before facing a stressful situation, that glass of wine, tablet, or cigarette before your meeting, then you might be struggling with an addiction. 

Getting to the root of the addiction is the key to bringing a person lasting and genuine freedom. The root of most additions lies captured in childhood trauma and can be cured.

When there is a need for people to use some form of substance to either sleep or cope properly, then they should be aware that the red lights are flashing.

Please know that there is help available that can bring you freedom from the addiction and the guilt and shame that accompanies it. ♡

The story of HOPE

Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality – Jonas Salk.

Hope is a powerful force that can be the difference between giving up or just looking to see if there is one more avenue that you have not yet investigated. When times are difficult and we are unable to see the wood from the trees, think of HOPE as your most powerful weapon and one that will propel you forward and get you out of the sack of despair. Fear sometimes overwhelms us and tries hard to overshadow hope, however, that is the time that you need to see HOPE for what it is. Hope has the power to make you do the impossible which you never thought you were capable of. 

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. 

– Dale Carnegie