Why it’s not kind to perpetuate a myth

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK this week, and I’m lifting my head from the joys of the new data protection regulations that are coming in on May 25th (if you’re on my mailing list, stay tuned for the obligatory email from me to confirm you want to keep in touch!) to address something that’s been on my mind a bit lately.

I’ve really been noticing people all over the internet (truly with the best of intentions) trying to help others by offering “10 ways to cope with x”.  It has me disappointed for the people who are being short-changed by a well-meant gesture that doesn’t address the cause of their distress, and who are being mistakenly directed to add to their mental load with a list of more things to do to try to feel better.

Here are a couple of examples I’ve seen lately:

“10 of the best techniques for dealing with work stress”

“5 ways to cope with Mothers’ Day when you’re childless (not by choice)”

“Here’s what not to say to someone who’s experiencing anxiety”

“7 of the best techniques for overcoming your fear of public speaking”

All of these pieces of advice share one thing in common:  They all assume that we are dealing with ‘a thing’ that has the power to make us feel something.  It’s Mothers’ Day and all its trappings upsetting me.  It’s work stressing me.  It’s that person who said the wrong thing to me.  It’s public speaking that freaks me out.

It’s a Myth, in many versions, and it’s being perpetuated wherever we look.

When we don’t see how life really works, we think it’s a kindness to give people strategies to help them deal with the perceived reason for their unease, discomfort, downright unhappiness or panic.  I get that response sometimes when I point out to someone the misunderstanding in their gesture.  They tell me that until someone realises that they’re not at the mercy of their circumstances, it’s kinder to give them these strategies to cope in the meantime.  For the record, I disagree.

The way I see it, when we see how it really works, we realise it’s not kind at all – it’s reinforcing the mistaken idea that we are at the mercy of our circumstances.  It’s propping up the idea that our emotions are our enemies and to be managed.   It’s putting us in the role of victim, even if it’s a valiant attempt to do the exact opposite – to get us to control our circumstances or our reactions to our circumstances in order to feel less ‘done to’ by life.

I don’t know about you, but I want a bit more from my life than just feeling ‘a bit less done-to’.

I want the freedom that comes with knowing what’s really going on.  I want to understand more, and more deeply that life isn’t being ‘done’ to me.  That my feelings aren’t telling me about how good I am at life, or how awful or fabulous my life is – they’re just telling me that it seems that way to me at the moment (and they’ll tell me it seems different the moment I get different thinking down the line).  I want that for me, and I want that for anyone reading, watching or listening to what I put out in the world.

So you won’t find me giving you 5 of the best strategies for feeling better about your life.

That’s not where the light is.

That’s not where hope is.

That’s not where your mental health lies.

Let’s point people in that direction, shall we?

With love

Vivienne

 

 

 

What’s that baggage you’re carrying?

I read a post today talking about how to get rid of your baggage.  That is, the emotional baggage you think you’re carrying.

But what is emotional baggage?  The events of the past?  Our past hurts and the defences we’ve put in place to avoid them happening again?  The anger we’re keeping alive about past insults or injuries?  The future?

When we think it’s our past or the future that’s weighing us down, we’re headed down the rabbit-hole-of-no-exit.  When we think our defences are solid things, it’s tilting at windmills to try and breach them.

Because here’s something you may not realise.

Your baggage isn’t real.

“WHAT?  But I’ve spent hours, years and lots of money trying to get rid of it!!!”

Yes, me too.  But now I realise I don’t need to do that, because it’s not real.

It’s a bunch of thinking that you’ve been believing about yourself, others and the world – some of it repeatedly and for a long time – and when you think it again in this moment, it shapes the way you feel and act right now.

I’m not saying stuff didn’t happen to you.  By the time we’re adults, we’ve all been through things we’d rather not have been through and wouldn’t wish on anyone.  And I understand that the journey to today for some people has been hugely painful.

But the past is past.  I know you’ve heard that before, but do you really, truly realise it?  The only place it exists is in your head, in the form of thoughts.  You make it up again every time you think about it (that’s not me just philosophising – that’s scientifically what happens when we remember a past event – we literally recreate it each time – that’s why memories change).

And what are thoughts made of?  Imagination.  Energy.  Nothing you can touch or put in a suitcase, that’s for sure.  The only way it’s kept alive is by revisiting it in any moment (i.e.: thinking about it).

I once thought I had to go through my metaphorical suitcase and examine each item in order to vaporise or neutralise it.  That was inevitably a painful and never-ending process – and my childhood was pretty much idyllic!

Now I realise that re-hashing the past is entirely unnecessary and nowhere near as effective as simply understanding what it’s all made of.  My memories of the past are made of Thought, not made of the past.

I don’t need to dig into my own suitcase; all I need to see is that my reactions and behaviours now, are a reflection of my thinking now. And you don’t have to believe everything you think.

It’s amazing how quickly the suitcase empties itself when the things in it don’t look so real any more.

What would it mean for you, to know you didn’t have to delve into your past, to be free of it now?

It’s International Happiness Day – what are you waiting for?

Today, 20th March, is International Happiness Day, so I’d like to share something that’s been really helpful for me in finding more happiness, contentment and peace of mind in my life.

It’s nothing to do with stuff, or rituals, or practices.  It’s simply about noticing, and realising.

Noticing when I’ve inadvertently tied my happiness to something that has nothing to do with it, and realising that that’s not where my happiness, wellbeing, peace of mind or contentment comes from.

These moments usually come when I see I have an “I’ll be happy when…” thought running through my head.  We all do this from time to time.  For example:

  • I’ll be happy when it’s Friday
  • I’ll be happy when I get a new job
  • I’ll be happy when I feel better

And sometimes they look like “I can’t be happy unless…”.  Here are some I’ve heard from clients:

  • I can’t be happy if I don’t have children
  • I can’t be happy if my partner keeps behaving this way
  • I can’t be happy without being in a relationship

When we wake up to what’s going on, and realise that our ability to enjoy life, to feel happy, content or peaceful or just ‘fine’, has nothing to with any of those things we’ve made it conditional on, we are freed from feeling at the mercy of our circumstances.

What would it mean to you, to have your happiness and contentment now, instead of waiting til later?

What is it you’re waiting for, to be happy now?

I’d love to hear from you – send me an email or find me on my facebook page (Insideout change) to let me know.

Take care and enjoy life

Vivienne signature

28 Days of Resilience – the book – is here!

It’s here!

28 Days of Resilience – the book – has arrived.  This was a bit of a whirlwind, from idea (I’m doing an audio series – hey, why not turn it into a book?) to learning how to self-publish, including formatting the book and designing a cover, and then publishing it in paperback and e-book format.

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I enjoyed all of that, and am very pleased with the finished product!  I know from feedback that it’s already helping people, which was the whole point in the first place, so I’m looking forward to seeing it spread its wings across the globe.

If you’ve already read it, I’d love you to post a review on your Amazon store – the more reviews, the easier it is for people to find and to see if it’s something that would interest them.

If you haven’t got your copy, you can get it by searching my name on your Amazon store, or going to my author page on the following sites:

And if you’re in NZ, you can get it through the Book Depository on the UK store link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B078ZTKKL2
Enjoy!  I’d love to hear from you when you’ve read it.
Vivienne signature

 

 

Happy New Year 2018

Happy New Year!

Thanks so much for being with me over the last year, whether as a visitor to my site or listening to my 28 Days of Resilience audios.  I’m very happy to be alongside you for whatever changes may be coming your way in 2018.

It’s a new year, at least on our calendar, and that tends to bring with it the marketing assault on all the ways we ‘should’ be changing – ‘new year, new you’ in all its forms.

The thing is, a date on a calendar doesn’t have any power to deliver us a new lease of life, renewed motivation, commitment or willpower.

That’s why so many resolutions are broken before January’s even over.

So instead of making promises that seem like a good idea at the time but aren’t really built on a solid foundation, what if, instead, we just take a moment to reflect on these questions:

  • What would I love to do more of this year?
  • What would I love to create?
  • What would I choose to do, if it’s ok to fail?

You may find that as you sit with these questions, something a little more inspired than the usual ‘go to the gym’ or ‘be more assertive’ comes to mind.  I’d love to hear what you come up with!  Feel free to reply to this email and let me know.

For me, this is shaping up to be a year of writing, publishing and connecting.  I have two books nearly ready to publish: one is an adaptation of the 28 Days of Resilience audios, and one is a book that has been incubating (excuse the pun) for a long time, on being happy without children.

I’m excited to get them out of my head and into the world in the next month or so, for different reasons, but mostly so they can be out there doing their job of helping as many people as possible find a little more peace of mind and clarity in their lives.

I’m also in the process of putting together some new offerings for one-to-one coaching which I love doing – it’s one of my favourite ways of sharing the inside-out understanding.

Whatever’s on the horizon for you in 2018, either planned or unexpected, I wish you health, happiness and peace of mind as you navigate life’s path.

Take care