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Archive for the 'Counseling' Category

How stepping away from your work can boost your mood, reduce anxiety and spark joy

Friday, October 12th, 2018

 

Workaholism is an addiction for many passionate people. Others use overwork to medicate their unhappiness in other areas of their life—most commonly dissatisfaction with their relationships.

When you work slavishly, particularly at something you love, your brain releases chemicals called opiates which create feelings of euphoria. No wonder it’s hard to step away!

Euphoria stems from the Greek word euphoría—the power of enduring easily. But consider what the state of endurance implies. Enduring implies force or strain, or gritting your teeth and bearing it at times. Force or strain with no respite leads to stress, overload, and burnout—robbing you of vital energy and depleting your millionaire mindset.

Many people find when they don’t step away from their work they suffer disillusionment, and things that once filled them with passion, including their current writing projects, no longer fills them with joy. Resentment builds and relationships with family, friends, and colleagues can also suffer.

Working addictively offers a short-term fix, but lasting happiness needs variety and nourishment. Being with family or friends, engaging in a hobby, spending time in nature, learning something new, helping others, or just being solitary will help you avoid burnout, nourish your brain, heart, and soul, improve your judgment, and restore harmony.

To be truly happy and successful, you must be able to be at peace when you are working and when you are at rest.

Leonardo da Vinci would often take breaks from his work to refresh his mind and spirit. While others claimed that he took too long to finish things, he knew the importance of replenishing his focus to maintain a clear perspective.

Here we are still talking about him over 500 years later.

“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen,” he once said.

Leonardo also valued sleep, noting in one of his journals that some of his best insights came when his mind was not working.

Even if you love the work that you do, and think your current obsession is the greatest thing since women were allowed to vote, it’s fun to get away from it and have objective-free time to unwind and reset.

One of my author friends shared recently how she was feeling totally overwhelmed and close to burnout. To sustain her life, and her career, she’s promising herself a reward for all her long hours—three-months off over winter. She’s planning to go on a retreat, somewhere warm, maybe the Bahamas or Mexico.

“The whole point of living life is to enjoy it, right?! I’m coming to grips with that mindset,” she wrote to me.

Schedule time out—and be firm with yourself. Stay away from anything that feeds your addiction.

When you return to your work, your focus will be surer, your vision refreshed, and your confidence bolder.

 

Rest

When your stress levels are high and you get depressed, angry, tense, and lethargic, or begin to experience tension headaches, it should be a very simple biofeedback signal that you need to stop, re-evaluate your choices and take some time out.

Sometimes this can be easier said than done. In our overachiever, overstimulated society, where many people spend more hours every week with their eyes riveted to their iPhone, instead of spending quality time on their own or with family and friends, the whole concept of stopping and resting to restore ourselves seems unusual. But resting to replenish is essential to well-being.

We’re pushing ourselves all day long with energy that we don’t have. The most common complaint people take to the doctor is fatigue. Research conducted by a company helping people suffering from adrenal fatigue claims that 80% of people don’t have as much energy as they’d like to have.

“It’s because we’re pushing and using caffeine, sugar and energy drinks and nicotine and stress for energy rather than running on our own energy.”

Long-term stress and long-term cortisol will literally alter a person’s hormonal profile.

Rest allows the adrenal glands to restore, enabling cortisol levels to return to normal. Long-term stress and long-term cortisol overload can lead to adrenal fatigue and burn-out, altering your hormonal profile, changing your personality, and making it more difficult to return to the real, inspired, happy and creative you.

Give yourself permission to take time every day and every week to have fun, rest your mind and rest your body.

 

Get outside

It’s hard to feel fantastic when you’re suffering from low mood. Very often a lack of outside time is the culprit. You’re like a flower—you need at least 20 minutes of sunlight every day just to make your hormones work effectively and enable you to blossom to your fullest potential.

To feel and behave normally you need to be exposed to full-spectrum daylight on a regular basis. Medical research suggests some people need as much as two hours a day of sunlight to avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Combine outside time with exercise like walking and not only will you get the light you need, but you’ll also recharge your batteries.

Walking outside can also help you gain a new perspective on a troubling situation. When you for a walk, you increase the electrical activity in your brain, and you breathe negative ions and see three-dimensionally.

All this helps you see with fresh eyes the things which are worrying you. Often you’ll find that things are not as bad as they first appear, or discover a relatively simple solution.

Monitor how much time you spend indoors. Bounce away from habits that so many people have, like spending too many hours inside in front of two-dimensional computer monitors and TV screens, and then topping off a 12-hour day at work by trying to read themselves to sleep on their Kindle. These are all two-dimensional visual activities, which seldom spark joy.

Let mother earth, the sea, and the infinite sky boost your mood. Get outside and allow the sun and outside energy to lift your spirits. Schedule regular fresh air time. Improve your breathing, and take a brisk walk to increase your oxygen levels.

My friend Jim from negativeionizers.net has recently written a detailed article on negative ion benefits for your health here https://negativeionizers.net/negative-ions-benefits. If you’d like to see what a good ionizer looks like then check this detailed review of the best 3 negative ionizers that Jim has found on Amazon for 2018.

If you are interested in reading more about how to boost your happiness, overcome obstacles, and elevate your success you may enjoy reading Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Cassandra Gaisford, available for preview or purchase heremyBook.to/Bounce.

Why passion is a powerful healing tool

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

“Passion is a lot like ‘love’.  It’s hard, if not impossible, to define precisely, but easy to see and feel when it’s present.” ~ Cassandra Gaisford

Passion is a source of unlimited energy from the soul. Herein lies its power to heal. You need to only think of the times you’ve noticed passion’s clues to be reminded of the transformative power of this transcendental tool. Here are just a few:

• A burning desire or hunger

• A feeling of inspiration

• A feeling in the pit of the stomach

• A sense of excitement

• A state of arousal

• A feeling of limitless energy

• A clarity of vision

• A feeling that nothing is too much trouble

• A sense of caring deeply

• A feeling of contentment

 

These feelings expand our lives and imbue us with a sense of tenacity, courage, and possibility—amongst other energizing things. Without passion you don’t have energy and without energy? Well, you just feel flat. Here are a few other things that passion will do for you:

 

Passion helps you lead a bigger life

Passion boosts self-esteem

Passion is an indispensable part of success

Passion helps you achieve the ‘unachievable’

Passion energizes you

Passion liberates and frees you to be truly, authentically yourself

Passion opens doors and fresh horizons

Passion is good for your health

Passion helps you live longer

Passion gives you grit, perseverance and helps you endure

Passion helps you rewrite your life story

The above list is only a drop in the shimmering ocean of passion-fuelled possibility. 

 

My friend Carla Coulson, and uber-successful photographer, shared the following once,

An indescribable passion overtook me in those early days of photography that pushed me to continue when things got tough when the fear kicked in that this life as a photographer wouldn’t be possible – it was this passion that drove me on. The reward was so great simply holding an image I had created – it was like being filled with love.

My passion and love for photography have been my driving force,  more powerful than any other talent that I may possess. It is this love and passion for photography that makes me jump out of bed in the morning with a skip in my step, dying to start the day. Your passion will take you a long way, follow your passion,” Carla encourages.

Following your passion is a great antidote to the blues. Whether you refer to the things, people and situations that fill you with happiness as sparking passion, joy, love or desire, these powerful heart-felt emotions are natural opiates for your mind, body, and soul.

Personally and professionally I have found that following my passion has led me to my life purpose, and provided me with clarity during what would otherwise have been very despondent times. Passion provides the fuel, motivation, confidence, and faith to step outside my comfort zone and follow my soul’s code and honor my soul’s purpose.

For example, having a manager threaten to ‘smash my head in,’ and working with others who were bullies and tyrants, the relentless pursuit of profit at the expense of caring for people, and numerous work restructurings, motivated me to find a job that made me happy and gain my independence.

That and getting shingles—something I write about in my first trilogy of books in my Mid-Life Career Rescue series, The Call for Change, What Makes You Happy, and Employ Yourself.

Getting shingles was definitely my body’s way of getting my attention. As was seeing my colleagues suffer heart attacks. As Neale Walsch, the author of Conversations with God, says, “Judge not about which you feel passionate. Simply notice it, then see if it serves you, given who and what you wish to be.”

Rather than become bitter or play the victim, I thought, ‘how could I use my anger constructively to bring about change?’

I decided I wanted to help people find jobs that made them happy, and I wanted to help victims of workplace bullying. That was my why and my what.

 

Stepping Stones to Success

I started a career counseling business for an established workplace counseling organization before starting my own business (www.worklifesolutions.nz) going out on my own.

Working as an employee first gave me the experience and skills and, later, the confidence to fly free. I became more motivated to leave the ‘security’ of my salaried job, when the CEO changed and the new boss began criticizing me and tried to manage me—even though I was outperforming in all key areas of success. Increasingly, the job I once loved began to frustrate me.

It lacked challenge, my salary was capped, and—this was the clincher—I was finding it increasingly difficult to balance childcare. The final push, however, came when I did the math.

I worked out my hourly rate as a full-time salaried employee, versus what they charged me out per hour, and how much business I was bringing in for them, and came to the conclusion they were buying my skills, but they weren’t paying me enough. I could work less and earn and achieve more if I employed myself. I started to feel excited!

How You Can Find Your Passion

To harness the power of passion, notice the times you feel strong emotions. These could be feelings of annoyance, irritation, and anger. Or they could be eagerness and preoccupation, excitement and animation. Sometimes the strongest passions can be a deep sense of peace and calm. I experienced this ‘clarity’ recently when somebody was yelling and raging at me. Instead of wilt, I felt a strong sense of knowing that this person’s behavior and their attempts to project guilt and blame were his own issues, not mine.

Notice when these feelings arise and consider recording them in a dedicated passion journal. Go deeper. If you are looking for career guidance, for example, you may consider asking, “How could I make a living from my passion?” or “How do others make a living from things that excite or motivate me?”

If you are in need of a relationship rescue the following questions may generate answers, “How is this person, or these events, guiding me to my highest good?”

Explore possibilities. Even a simple Google search, or generating ideas with others could get you started down the right path.

You may wish to pray for guidance. The esoteric guide, A Course in Miracles has many wonderful prayers. The following A Course in Miracles prayer reads more as an affirmation, “I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience and I decide upon the good I would achieve. And, everything that happens to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.

A Course in Miracles also teaches “An untrained mind accomplishes nothing.” One of my key spiritual practices and success factors is my glass-two thirds full mindset. Sometimes others with a more pessimistic mindset are critical of my optimism. But again, everything is energy. If you want to flourish during times of upheaval, bringing balance during times of distress, discord, disharmony is vital.

I recently wrote a book to share my exact strategy for creating a passion-driven life and business which shows you how to manifest your deepest desires—The Passion-Driven Business Planning Journal:The Effortless Path to Manifesting Your Business and Career Goals

Personally, I have found writing this book and others like, Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy to be very good healing tools and companions as I navigated some particularly torrential currents that have careered through my personal life. For example, today I turned to one of the strategies I share in Bounce and turned to my trusted oracle cards, The Mind/Body Makeover. This 70-card deck and instruction booklet was created by neuropsychiatrist and medical intuitive Dr. Mona Lisa Schulz to help rewire the emotional patterns that increase our chances of succumbing to physical illness, depression, and anxiety.

Today I drew the card, Healthy Joy. “If we don’t have a life purpose or a dream that we are working to the cell our lives can feel as if they have no meaning. To survive and thrive emotionally everyone needs a dream, a future orientated goal,” counsels Dr. Schulz.

This card speaks about the positive impact of pursuing your life purpose and warns of the dangers of overly centering your life on your partner or children—because if they leave your quality of life can suffer.

As a lightworker, holistic psychologist, counselor, and author, helping others fills me with a deep sense of purpose. I love to help people find meaning, and even joy, in even the most difficult times.

Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience and Find, and the accompanying Companion Workbook, is a particularly important work to me in this respect. I shall be leaning on more of the wisdom within this book over the next few days and weeks—and also working on several new books to teach what I still need to learn!

 

Overcoming Resistance

To leverage off the healing power of passion and find success the following things are also important:

• An overriding sense of your purpose for being here—your authentic calling

• A vision and an idea of the right direction for your work and life

• Consistent action and continually taking steps, i.e. Doing what lies before you today, tomorrow, next week…

• A willingness to show up every day with your gifts and talents, often in the face of fear and resistance

 

Begin with The End in Mind

A very powerful strategy to overcome resistance is to begin with the end in mind. Tap into the power of your heart, see your end goal as already accomplished. Allow your body to feel the exact feelings you sense you’ll feel when you have achieved your end goal. They may be, love, excitement, joy, satisfaction, or pride.

This is why I love, love, love creating a passion journal.

In my passion journal,  I often draw a timeline. You may like to try this too. For example, if you would like to quit a job you hate and employ yourself mark on it the year and date when you would like your passion-driven business to go live. Feel that goal as already achieved. Then look along that timeline and note all the steps and things you did to achieve your end goal. Note these on your timeline.

A timeline helps you see and feel the end result before you begin. It’s a powerful and simple way to free up any perceived or real fears and blockages.

I like to think of all my goals as projects, including my recent commitment to sobriety. And I always like to visualize what it will feel like when I’ve actually finished a project. I don’t want to wait until the project is finished. I want that feeling of achievement and excitement now! When I look at my visualisation and my passion journal I’m also rewarded with a big juicy dopamine hit!

 

Building the Home of Your Dreams

I applied this strategy when I visualized building a house on the back of my old villa in Wellington many years ago. At the time, everyone thought achieving my desire was an impossible dream. Even I knew it was audacious—I was a single working mother with no savings.

But I didn’t let that stop me from throwing my energy into seeing the house built. To feed my desire and overcome resistance I imagined how beautiful my home could be. I felt the evening sun on my face.

I heard the birdsong in the trees. I saw every aspect of what I wanted—the colors, the expanses of glass. I felt the lovely stone bench tops. I tasted the meals I would cook for friends. I fed my motivation to actually build a house from scratch.

To feed my desire, generate ideas, increase clarity and fuel a sense of possibility I created image boards and gathered clippings of what I wanted to manifest.

I also broke the project into manageable chunks to avoid feeling overwhelmed and also to counteract my fears around cost escalations. I sourced my team—builders, architects, and other pros. In short, I began with the end in mind and broke the project into manageable steps and drew up a project plan.

Don’t get me wrong—I am no passionate planner. I am naturally organic and spontaneous. But when the need and the desires arise we are all capable of mastering the skills we need. But first I worked to my preferences and strengths and began creatively.

I like creating projects because they make things seem more manageable. They usually have beginnings and endings, and often tangible concrete results.

Some of my projects have included things like publishing books, building websites, beginning a blog, creating companies and personal brands, generating products and services, and customers.

As you start to surround yourself with tangible evidence of possibilities and to chart your progress, inspiration, desire, and love build. Suddenly your dreams are no longer dreams but living realities.

Be sure to include completion deadlines—these can flex if need be, but have a date to work to. Reward yourself each time you complete a milestone; much like builders do when they have the roof shout.

Share your completion deadlines with a supportive cheerleader or nag buddy. This is the reason so many entrepreneurs use business coaches and mentors. Being accountable is motivating.

Unless you start taking action toward living with more passion and purpose, unless you’re closer to achieving it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow, your resistance will bury you.

Khalil Gibran said this poignantly when he wrote: “Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning to the funeral.”

Cast off from those safe, but dull shores. Break free of the comfort rut and embrace the most comfortable feeling of all. Passionate purpose!

 

EXTRA HELP

Find Your Passion and Purpose: Four Easy Steps to Discover A Job You Want And Live the Life You Love by Cassandra Gaisford. To purchase your copy click here to go to your online bookshop.

Be supported with practical, inspirational, easy-to-access strategies to achieve your dreams. Follow your passion and purpose to prosperity—online course. Click here to enrol or find out more—https://the-coaching-lab.teachable.com/p/follow-your-passion-and-purpose-to-prosperity

 

You might like:

 Why Being Inspired Matters: The Spontaneous Fulfillment and Healing Power of Joy

Four Good Reason for Starting a Passion Journal

Why Pursuing Your Passion Not Your Pension is The Ultimate Mid-Life Career Change Strategy

6 Things Successful People Do To Become & Stay Motivated & Happy

Why sobriety is cool, sophisticated, and savvy

How to unlock your destiny, heal the past, manifest a wonderful future

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

What really inspires me is feeling like there is something you IMPROVE ON. I’m a rare mix of 50 % rational, cognitive and 50% intuitive, empath. Devoted to finding my soul purpose from an early age, I’ve spent many hours and invested a significant amount of time and money finding ways to transcend difficult situations and emerge stronger and more empowered. I’ve found personally and professionally the best solutions are positive, holistic, inspirational and practical ones.

2017 was a deeply transformational year for me. I completed my Reiki Master Teacher– Master Level of the Usui-Tibetan System of Natural Healing on the 5th of September, 2017, Balian Beach, near Tabanan, Bali with renown Reiki teacher, Alison Eaton.
And I also was gifted with the incredible opportunity to receive my Akashic Records Soul History Level 2  training in healing, transformation and manifestation using the quantum energy of the Akashic Records, one-to-one with Chris Wilson, author The Magic of the Akashic Records: Understanding Our Soul History.
I first discovered the Akashic records while researching my historical novel Mona Lisa’s Secret. I know personally and professionally how powerful it is and I am excited to be sharing this truly transformational and life-changing experience with you.

What are the Akashic Records?

The Akashic Records are a spiritual tool that contains the soul history record of your life on earth. They are the gateway to your soul and provide an energetic blueprint of your unique and authentic highest self. Some people describe the Akashic Records as, ‘energetic connective tissue’. It is a powerful transformational energy which, when channeled effectively, yields rapid transformational results.

Your unique soul reading will help you to discover who you truly and who you are destined to be at this point in your life. Your mastersteachers, guides and loved ones in Spirit are waiting to answer all of your questions and help you shift anything that is out of alignment with your true self and highest potential.

If you have any worries, questions or concerns or there is a situation in your life that you are ready to unblock and shift, the answers are waiting for you in your Akashic records. Finding these answers is simple and effortless. An opening prayer will open the Akashic space, and then we can move directly into answering, shifting, and healing the elements most important to you.

The Akashic Records are a space of pure love, non-judgment, non-fear, and non-resistance. It is a completely beautiful, open and safe place to shift anything that is coming up for you. Your unique soul reading will help you to discover who you truly and who you are destined to be at this point in your life. Your mastersteachers, guides and loved ones in Spirit can heal wounds and traumas, take the darkness and turn it into pure light, Confusion willl be turned into clarity, uncertainty into confidence, anger, into acceptance, purpose, and peace, hatred into love.

Accessing your Akashic records will reveal hidden strengths and treasures and make sense of past hurts so that you are able to come to your fullest potential.

How will an Akashic Records Soul Reading reading help you?

  • Your Soul Reading will help move stagnant energy and transform situations in your life that are stuck
  • Discover, and clear energy blocks preventing you from achieving your highest potential
  • Confirm areas of passion and prosperity
  • Provide added confidence and clarity to guide you in the right direction
  • Accelerate your ability to achieve your soul’s purpose
  • Enable you to claim and stand in your power
  • Access and discover your soul’s path
  • Easily step into your authentic self and move into your true life purpose.
  • Live a life of happiness and joy
  • Take your life from ordinary to extraordinary…..amongst many other wonderful things

Healing through the Akashic Records

The Akashic records are a profoundly powerful way to gain healing in your life and connect directly with your soul. They provide transformation at the deepest level

Family and Ancestral Patterns

We all have patterns, habits, belief systems that have been passed down for generations. They say we hold onto the karma of our ancestors seven generations back. Opening your Akashic Records can help you heal and release these old patterns.

Energetically removing these belief systems and ancestral wounds from your consciousness, understanding and making peace with them will free you to achieve your highest potential

Past Lives

Whether you believe it or not we have all had past lives. You may have heard it said, that we are spiritual beings having a human experience on this earth. Our souls reincarnate to help shift and release old patterns. Accessing and understanding what past lives you have experienced, and which ones are affecting you NOW in this lifetime will help you makes sense of so many aspects impacting you in the here and now and guide you toward a happier, more inspired future.

Relationships

Healing relationships with yourself and with others,  whether through self-acceptance or forgiveness of others, will help you find freedom in and joy in your life.  You will open up to new awareness and release fears and resistance you once held in your relationships. You will discover and find truth in your current situation and move into acceptance and love.

Careers

An Akashic Soul Reading will help you discover your true soul purpose – the reason you have incarnated in this life, and provide meaning and purpose to situations that may have previously held you back.  Any negative experiences will be transcended with renewed passion, so you can fulfill your soul’s potential. You will open up to new confidence, belief, and determination to do the work you were born to do.

How Clients Have Benefited 

“While I had a tiny bit of knowledge about Akashic readings I was unaware of how deep this experience would be and how accurate the information would be. The whole reading was profoundly comforting as I felt during it, and have continued to feel, a sense of ‘coming home’ to myself. It makes sense of so many aspects about myself in the here and now and explains so much about me and my past 60 years. I woke this morning with a feeling of wholeness not experienced before and I am looking at my life with a whole new awareness. A wonderful experience, thank you so much.”

~ Catherine S.

 

“I have been buzzing the whole time after my Soul Reading, mostly I feel so different, I wake up thinking differently, I find myself just ‘being’ with people and finding my reactions so different. I have so much more energy. I am excited to be in the world.”

~ Eileen S.

“It was the first day at work today and I loved it! So good to be back in the industry I read my husband out my Akashic Soul Reading reading, he didn’t say much—just what did I think of it. I told him I thought on the mark! It’s been a pretty crazy period in my life. It’s nice having time out from overthinking to be actually doing. As a result of the reading, I’ve experienced a movement of energy and am inspired again, finally!”

~ Terri D.

“Thanks so much for the reading.   I found it very interesting.   One of the things I thought after I sent you my questions was “aaargh”, I should have asked about my real passion: property and what I can look forward to there” but it seems I didn’t need to ask as you hit on to that straight away.”

~ Lisa V.

Experience the magic and alchemy of the Akashic records for yourself. Schedule your Akashic Soul Reading Today.

If you would love to understand your past and unlock your future, schedule your personalized reading here

Learn more about my approach from reading Testimonials to my work.

 

Enjoy that article? Here are three more things you might like:

Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews

on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.

Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.

Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.

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Does talk therapy actually work?

Monday, August 6th, 2018

 

One of my clients Romana drew the image above. The title ‘naval gazer’ accurately sums up what can happen when too much time is spent dwelling on problems, suppressing pain, and not enough time healing, actively evaluating options and challenging any unhelpful assumptions. In a state of paralysis, many people get bogged down.

Sometimes, a simple but effective way to get unstuck is to explore a range of different thinking styles – ideally, ones that challenge crippled thinking, open up possibilities and move you into a state of inspired, solutions-focused action. This is where working with a therapist can help. However, many people resist going to see a counselor or therapist because they assume that all they will achieve from the session is ruminating on their problems and more navel-gazing.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. A skilled counselor can not only provide much-needed support but also act as an objective, independent sounding board who can help you get to the root of your issues, add a liberal dose of much-needed empathy and understanding and support you to make the changes necessary to empower your life. As one of my clients told me, “It wasn’t until someone listened to me, really listened, that I knew what I really thought.”

All too often, no one gives us the space to think or express our emotions. Well-meaning family members, work colleague, friends and even strangers may dispense advice—not all of it is helpful. Take the example of Simon whose wife of thirty-years had recently died. “You just need to suck it up and get on with it,” a friend told him. Working through his grief in therapy proved to be a much more helpful and healing approach.

“I thought I should be able to handle it. I told myself I wouldn’t get upset, ” he told me.

“Who told you that when you lose someone you love very, very much that you shouldn’t feel something?” I asked. He shrugged.

We both agreed it was natural to cry. I suggested that if he didn’t feel anything – if he didn’t feel loss, or grief, sadness or pain, he would be inhuman. Cognitively we can often fool our minds, but the heart is often our greatest, and most honest, teachers.

In our Western culture, so many people, particularly men, bottle up their feelings. Some experts say that these repressed feelings are contributing factors behind the escalating rates of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse and suicide. Tom, whose sister took her own life when he was in his earlier 20’s recalls his parents praising him for showing a lack of emotion, “Good boy for not crying,” they told him. Bottling trauma is neither helpful nor good.

Now in his fifties, Tom suffers from mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Rather than seek help releasing these feelings, including anger toward his parents, he abuses alcohol in an attempt to anesthetize dark feelings. And he’s not alone. As I share in my book, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol and Love Life More, A great many people drink alcohol to mask or numb the symptoms of their wounds.

No one escapes walking in this world without some degree of hurt. But for many people, this hurt is profoundly deep. The first cuts, experts (and songwriters) say are the deepest—very often these wounds are inflicted during childhood. Tragically, what should be a happy time of innocence is one of incalculable pain. Incest, rape, physical abuse, emotional neglect—and many more horrid things happen to people growing up.

Many wounded souls never receive therapy. Reasons vary. For some, it appears too costly, for others they think that talking to a therapist make them weak. Tony Soprano, one of the thoughest characters to storm across our TV screens in the award-winning show, The Sopranos, sought therapy to deal with repressed emotions which contributed to his anxiety attacks.

In 2017 movie superstar Brad Pitt revealed he had a shocking drinking problem that wrecked his marriage and tore his young family apart. “I feel retarded when it comes to expressing my emotions,” he said as he opened up about his battle with alcohol. To help him kick the alcohol habit he opted to face his demons and learn how to express and handle emotions by seeking the services of a qualified and skilled counselor.

Asking for help, whether this is addiction counseling, relationship therapy, coaching to deal with stress at work, or something else, isn’t easy for many successful people. However, it’s often what you need to gain a fresh perspective, overcome obstacles, heal wounds and expand your life. You may like to check out this interesting series discussing why men struggle to express theiir feelings.

As a qualified counselor and psychologist, I know that very often integrative talk-therapy which draws on an eclectic range of techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) and other modalities, including creative and art-based techniques can be extremely effective, and therapy needn’t be gloomy. A lot of healthy healing can be achieved using playfulness and fun. Personally and professionally I believe in magic and the power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to transform peoples’ lives.

Creativity in its various guises is a natural antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression, which explains why art therapy is such a potent and popular tool. Art therapy is a form of experiential therapy, an approach to recovery and healing that addresses emotional and spiritual needs through creative or physical activity. People don’t need to have a background in the arts or any artistic talent to participate.  They need only to be open to experiencing and engaging actively to benefit.

I have trained in a technique called Interactive Drawing Therapy and have found it to be an incredible tool in my own life and in my sessions with others. The simplest of drawings, a line, a color, a scrawled phrase or word can powerfully access parts of the psyche we often repress, bringing unhelp subconscious belief to light. In an alchemical process, wounds are spun into gold.

When I first trained in Interactive Drawing Therapy the teacher asked for a volunteer. No hands were raised so he picked me. What harm could it do, I thought, being as skilled as I was at keeping a lid firmly on my feelings.

“Draw an animal,” he said.

Sure, I thought. Great. Harmless. I drew a giraffe.

“Put some color on the page,” the teacher gently guided.

My giraffe became pink with green, purple and yellow spots. What fun I thought.

“Where is she?” the teacher asked. “Draw this on the page.”

I drew large grey and black rectangles, symbolizing office blocks, cars belching smoke, and a road, not unlike Lambton Quay, in Wellington, New Zealand where I went to work in a job I hated every weekday.

“Put some words on the page,” the teacher whispered.

“She doesn’t want to stand out.”

And then it dawned on me, just as the words slipped onto the page. That giraffe was me. And the fact was I did stand out—naturally. I had always been different. And I had struggled unsuccessfully to belong.

“She can’t help but stand out,” my tutor affirmed. “It’s who she is.”

For me, this awareness was so new, so potent, so transformative, that I knew instantly there was work to do. I began to understand the deep social anxiety I had felt as a child and carried with me through adolescence—and with it the drinking and reckless behavior I had adopted to belong, to bolster the confidence I never felt, to hide the discomfort of living in my own skin.

When I completed my counseling training many years ago I was also introduced to Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). REBT originated in the mid-1950’s as Ellis became increasingly aware and frustrated by the ineffectiveness of traditional psychoanalysis to produce a change in his patients.

The REBT worldview is that people often make themselves emotional victims by their own distorted, unrealistic, and irrational thinking patterns. Ellis takes an essentially optimistic view of people but criticizes some humanistic approaches as being too soft at times and failing to address the fact that people can virtually “self-destruct” through irrational and muddled thinking.

According to Ellis and the REBT worldview, all people are born with self-defeating tendencies. When something goes against your goals, your values or desires, feelings of failure, rejection, etc., can set in; but you have a choice.

You have a choice of feeling terrified, panicky, depressed, self-pitying, self-doubting, etc.—and succumbing to these emotions.

But these feelings can prevent you from making positive changes—and may drive you to drink, for example.

Which emotion you choose, according to REBT practitioners, is thought to mainly depend on your belief system—not your goals and values, but what you tell yourself when your goals and values are thwarted or blocked.

We all have a rational set of beliefs called “preferences.” In this context, “rational” means self-helping beliefs, such as, “I don’t like what is going on.” “I wish it weren’t so.” “How annoying?” “Let’s see what I can do about it.”

Many people very frequently pick irrational beliefs, referred to as “demands,” such as, “Because I don’t like what is going on, it absolutely should not be allowed.” “It can’t happen.” “I can’t stand it.” “Everyone should love me–if they don’t, I am worthless.” “It’s horrible, I think I’ll give up” (or, when taken to the extreme, “I’ll kill myself”).

Ellis’ therapeutic approach is not to challenge the clients’ goals and values, but instead attack their absolute demands about achieving these values. The emphasis of the therapy is on changing the way the client thinks about the behavior or the upsetting event, rather than on changing the behavior itself.

This is a critical point—it is not the actual event but our view of the event that is critical.

The task of the REBT therapist is to help clients’ challenge and self-correct thought patterns and minimize irrational ideas, while simultaneously helping them to change their dysfunctional feelings and behaviors. Challenging the irrational statement is key to changing an entire philosophy of life.

The ABCDEF Method

Perhaps Ellis’s most important concrete methodological contribution is his A-B-C–D-E-F theory, which can be summarized as follows:

A – the “objective” facts, events, behaviors that an individual encounters. (I call this, ‘the activating event’).

B – the person’s beliefs about ‘A’

C – the emotional consequences, or how a person feels and acts about ‘A’

D – disputing ‘B’ irrational beliefs

E – the effect that disputation has on the client

F – new feelings and behaviors

 

Example:

I helped a friend apply the ABCDE method following a Boxing Day alcohol-fuelled drama which impacted his son. The following is an edited extract (I have changed names to protect people’s privacy):

A – the activating event and “objective” facts, events, behaviors encountered.

Following Boxing Day, Tim, who is nineteen, rang and told his father, Simon about an alleged assault between him and his mother’s new boyfriend. Tim says both his mom and her boyfriend were drunk.

 

B – the beliefs about ‘A’

Simon is waiting to speak to the ‘old-one’ (his ex) to determine the facts but believes his son’s account of what happens.  The ‘old one’ is not returning his call.

He believes the reason she is not returning his call is because she is at fault, and that an assault did occur.

 

C – the emotional consequences, or how Simon feels and acts about ‘A’

Simon’s emotions are heightened. He’s feeling frustrated, powerless, angry, resentful and fearful for his son’s safety. Yet, aspects of his son’s version of what happened concern him. He feels confused as to what really occurred.

Simon drinks 3 bottles of beer and goes to the bottle store to buy more.

Simon believes alcohol relaxes him, minimizes stress, and helps him stay calmer and in control while he waits.

Over the course of the evening (3 hours), he drinks five 500ml bottles of beer (11 standard drinks.) Feeling stressed, I join him—minimizing my drinking by consuming small quantities in six crystal glasses (in total 500 ml, or 2.2 standard drinks.)

After speaking to ‘the old one’ and his son on a three-way call, and resolving all misunderstandings, I asked how he feels now that he knows his son is not at risk. He shuts me down and says, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

He doesn’t speak to me again that evening.

 

D – disputing ‘B’ irrational beliefs

Rather than work myself into a state, I challenged my belief that by drinking with Simon we would both be relaxed. Alcohol is a depressant, it depletes your energy, and increases symptoms of stress already triggered by external events, I reminded myself.

It increases anxiety, melancholy, gloom, and aggression, which is why Tim’s mom and her partner argued, and why Tim ‘lunged’ at this stepfather when he told him to mind his business.

I counsel myself, “Alcohol is ethanol, a flammable, colorless chemical compound—it’s poison, also used to fuel cars, masquerading as a happy drink.”

 

E – effect that disputation has

The episode strengthened my resolve never to drink during times of stress, and my conviction that I don’t want to ingest poisons.

Simon’s knowledge that his ex is an alcoholic causes him to question his own dependency on alcohol during times of stress.

This change in thinking affects Simon by making him more committed to controlling his drinking and being a role model to his son.

 

F – new feelings and behaviors

Simon and I felt calmer and more optimistic about the benefits of not drinking.

Simon felt more empowered and in control now that he has discovered the truth about his ex’s drinking and how her relationship with a man who drinks excessively affects his son.

He decides to take control by helping Tim find a way to gain his independence and leave home, knowing that despite urging his ex to seek help for her drinking that, as with other times, this may have fallen on deaf ears.

Tim successfully finds work that he loves which means he is seldom at home and tells his father that alcohol has no place in his own life. Tim is happier sober!

 

As a holistic practitioner and life coach I also know there is a wide range of alternative healing approaches that yield remarkable, extremely quick results. It concerns me, and a lot of other health professionals that too often people turn to antidepressant medication, Despite research that cites the lower effectiveness, for many people this still appears to be the solution of choice prescribed by many medical professions.

“Pills are cheap,” my doctor told me when I asked her why counseling wasn’t recommended to more people. It may be cheap, but worrying it is not always effective and the side-effects can also do more harm than healing. Rather than offer short-term help very often people come to rely on medical prescriptions for decades. In an extract from his book, Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected SolutionsJohann Hari, who took antidepressants for 13 years, says masking the pain does not offer long-term relief and calls for a new approach.

“I was a teenager when I swallowed my first antidepressant. I was standing in the weak English sunshine, outside a pharmacy in a shopping centre in London. The tablet was white and small, and as I swallowed, it felt like a chemical kiss. That morning I had gone to see my doctor and I had told him – crouched, embarrassed – that pain was leaking out of me uncontrollably, like a bad smell, and I had felt this way for several years. In reply, he told me a story. There is a chemical called serotonin that makes people feel good, he said, and some people are naturally lacking it in their brains. You are clearly one of those people. There are now, thankfully, new drugs that will restore your serotonin level to that of a normal person. Take them, and you will be well. At last, I understood what had been happening to me, and why.

However, a few months into my drugging, something odd happened. The pain started to seep through again. Before long, I felt as bad as I had at the start. I went back to my doctor, and he told me that I was clearly on too low a dose. And so, 20 milligrams became 30 milligrams; the white pill became blue. I felt better for several months. And then the pain came back through once more. My dose kept being jacked up, until I was on 80mg, where it stayed for many years, with only a few short breaks. And still the pain broke back through.”

You can read a summary of his views, including his claims of an over-riding profit motive by pharmaceutical companies, in his interview with The Guardian. ‘Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?”

A good therapist will often share strategies that can help you rebalance the hormones in your brain, or refer you to other health professionals like nutritionists and dietitians. There are a great many ways to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs, including meditation, exercise, sunlight, vitamins and other low-cost approaches. Many will save you money, boost your health, help you reduce weight and improve your relationships—here I’m talking about eliminating or cutting back alcohol consumption.

Alcohol has been found to significantly reduce serotonin 45 minutes after drinking. As this article in SpiritScience claims, there is also a clear link between alcohol consumption and violence or other types of aggressive behavior. Aggression is also heavily linked to low serotonin levels and may be due to alcohol’s disrupting effects on serotonin metabolism.

In an article which appears in  Psychology Today, F. Diane Barth, a psychotherapist, and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City, cites research confirming the ineffectiveness of antidepressant medication compared with other therapies, including talk therapy. In the November 2010 issue of Scientific American Mind: “Getting to Know Me: Psychodynamic therapy has been caricatured as navel-gazing, but studies show powerful benefits,” claims Jonathan Shedler. Shedler, is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and director of psychology at the University of Colorado Hospital Outpatient Psychiatry Service. As Barth notes, Shelder ‘combines anecdotes from clients and therapists with fascinating research to explain something that those of us who have practiced “insight” therapy (sometimes also called “talk” therapy) have known for a long time: psychodynamic psychotherapy works. It helps clients find solutions not only to specific symptoms but also to difficulties at work, in their social lives, and with self-esteem.

For example, Shedler writes, “One major study found an ‘effect size’-a measure of treatment benefit – of 0.97” for psychodynamic psychotherapy. “For CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), 0.68 is a typical effect size. For antidepressant medication, the average effect size is 0.31.”

Barth describes seven features that researchers have found contribute to the power and effectiveness of psychodynamic psychotherapy: “exploring emotions, examining avoidances, identifying recurring patterns, discussing past experience, focusing on relationships, and examining the patient/therapist relationship.”

As a result of counselling, many people choose to connect or reconnect with lapsed spiritual or religious rituals. I love integrating spiritual approaches into my ‘talk therapy.’ Many people have lost their union with God because of the hypocritical dogma which has polluted many faith systems. However, prayer, for example, comes in many shapes, colors, and textures.

Many recovering alcoholics, prosperous creatives and successful business people, including Deepak Chopra, Julia Cameron, Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay, refer to prayer in several forms, including describing it as the voice of God, intuition, higher self, inner goddess, or their Sacred Divine. In her book Illuminata: A Return to Prayer, Marianne Williamson, who also shares her early dysfunctional relationship with her mother, speaks of prayer as a way of “focusing our eyes,” dramatically transforming our orientation, releasing us “from the snares of lower energies,” and aligning “our internal energies with truth”.

Prayer, or invoking a higher power, is revered by many for its power to help them reclaim their strength, find their inner power and overcome tragedy. You may enjoy reading my earlier post on spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction—http://www.cassandragaisford.com/spiritual-approaches-to-the-treatment-of-alcohol-addiction/

 

Whether you elect to seek the services of a therapist, put your faith in God, divine wisdom, spirituality or something else, the truth is very often that safety, guidance, and strength comes from a place within. The right therapist can act as a much needed and much-valued guide who supports you to find solutions to your problems and develop strategies you can apply yourself to regularly to stay well.

 

 

Cassandra is a holistic psychologist, integrative counselor, life coach, and author. To book an appointment or learn more about her wellness-therapies, including how QTC can help you achieve rapid, lasting, transformational change click here >>

Learn more about Cassandra from reading Testimonials to her work.

 

You might like:

Quantum Transformational Coaching—all your questions answered

Savvy Sobriety: The new happiness trend you need to know

Spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction

 Why Being Inspired Matters: The Spontaneous Fulfillment and Healing Power of Joy

Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life: Justin Raj’s Journey to Joyful Sobriety

Life transformed by faith in the stars

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