5 Truths In Life
- The soul feels joy, warmth, and peace when in the service of helping others.
I have spent my entire career in the helping professions from Social Work, to Family Mediation to Psychotherapy. It all began in my childhood when I was the mediator and helper in my own family. I then became the helper and supporter among my school friends and found my way through to studying a degree in Social Work and years later in Counseling. After graduating I worked across many roles and each one fulfilled a purpose in life for me. I wanted to help struggling families and safeguard abused children so I worked on the front line in child protection teams. I went on to supporting juvenile offenders offering them opportunities to turn their lives around by believing in them when many others wouldn’t.
I worked with broken families who had lost the ability to love each other and communicate effectively. Couple’s who were being toxic and abusive towards one another and using children as pawns in their battles to win arguments. I have worked with foster families who have struggled with caring for challenging children in care, who are so difficult to manage because of their behaviors due to their trauma histories. Then worked with asylum seekers who have experienced unspeakable horrors in their home countries and ended up in a broken care system here with limited language, support and experience.
I have worked with disabled children and their families all of whom have had varying degrees of anxiety, depression and pain. Despite the challenges of each role I have undertaken thus far the joy of helping, supporting and sharing my energy with others has remained a constant source of soul food. A source of ongoing personal development and life long learning for me. All of these experiences have taught me the art of gratitude, patience and appreciating the blessings in life.
Just as we need food and water for our physical bodies so too do we need to acknowledge and quench our spiritual thirst. Holistic living as a whole human being means taking into account our physical, intellectual, social, emotional, psychological and spiritual states. Each part of us needs attention. However we do not always take good care of our whole selves, only parts. Therein lies the issue. We are not one dimensional beings, we are all by our very nature quite complex and unique. Everything we say, do and think is influenced by our own life experiences and stored in our soul.
The soul knows when it has done good just as it does when it has erred there’s an accompanying feeling of warmth and goodness, or heavy heartedness to the deeds we do and the things we say to ourselves and others. In keeping with the spiritual awareness of the soul our bodies play a part in recognizing truths. Gut instincts are just our years of lived experience indicating to us what we know to be good or bad for us. Sometimes our gut indicates this to us via our inner dialogue and sometimes in our physical bodies when we react to things a certain way. Sometimes it’s a combination of hearts and minds that alerts us to the fact something isn’t quite right about a situation. None of this is possible without mindful human consciousness.
We need to reflect on our lives so far and see how far we have come, what we have achieved, and how we can continue to learn and grow as individuals. If we approach our lives as an ongoing tapestry then we continue learning and growing from the cradle to the grave. A constant journey of the soul discovering its changing reality over time. Nothing stays the same, change is constant, as are our thoughts and feelings.
To date every person I have encountered in life has taught me something. I take these lessons and allow them to impact my life as positively as possible even the criticisms. Everything has its place. We all influence each other and can use our life experiences to support one another. See how helpful you can be -but remember you cannot serve from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first and then others -reap the rewards of that good feeling in your soul. Even a smile is a form of charity. Random acts of kindness can have such a positive impact. I have written an article on this topic (https://medium.com/change-your-mind/random-acts-of-kindness-330c0aea5747?source=friends_link&sk=2d3cbce04c5b633414a3f81cdb6f58f2)
2. We need more honesty
I cannot stress this point enough. Honesty is something of a rarity in this day and age because we are too afraid to show up as ourselves. Too worried about what others might think of us, afraid to speak up for fear of being ridiculed. We subdue ourselves or wear masks to hide who we really are whilst portraying our best moments on camera for all to see. Using social media to show off our happiest moments and faking the reality we actually live in. Snap shots in time are not lasting. Moments change, people change and life is ever changing. Nobody is happy all of the time, we are meant to feel the highs and the lows. What we appear to be struggling with is managing these emotions in a healthy way. We turn to vices like drink, drugs, food etc to numb the pain but its still there afterwards. Facing reality is tough. It hurts. Life is not fair but still we live on and through things.
The saddest part about all of this for me is how many people I see in therapy that are not even honest with themselves about who they are. Where do you go with that? Denying the reality of your true self can create inner conflict, anxiety, depression and lead to a crisis of identity. First and foremost we need to become more honest with ourselves and then with others. To begin with we need to have more compassion for ourselves and be less worried about what others think. Overcoming the fear of judgement involves having courage and being brave. Allowing ourselves to be seen as we truly are and not a manufactured version. Its exhausting to keep up appearances and juggle all these masks. Relax, breath, everybody has their own vulnerabilities.
People are often far more worried about how they come across than to be judging you. Everyone is preoccupied with their own thoughts and feelings, the minute you realize this you can let yourself off the hook. There is no universal ‘normal’ or ‘perfect’ only what suits you. That is the beauty of being honest. In a world where you can be anybody have the courage to be you. Be authentic in the interactions you have with yourself internally and with others. Speak kindly, offer understanding and empathy. Try to see things from others perspectives not just from your own frame of reference. All of this will help you to build your mental health toolkit for emotional intelligence and personal development. Being honest is not about being blunt or rude its about being real, and taking into account the reality and sensitivities of your audience.
3. Have a good sense of humor
Life is tough and can get pretty heavy at times with the amount of issues we all face in our daily lives. We need to be able to access laughter and use humor in appropriate ways to alleviate the weight of seriousness. Every now and then its good to be able to laugh at ourselves and share with others moments of fun. In my line of work its essential to maintain a sense of humor not just for myself but also to support my clients. There is often a funny side to things if you allow yourself to see them. Appropriate humor can diffuse difficult situations and help lighten the mood when things get too heavy.
4. Nurture your inner child
Each one of us carries within us our child selves and its important to acknowledge this part so that we can take care of ourselves better. In our daily lives we behave as adults because we are expected to fulfill certain roles at work and home. However, the childhood that we lived and experienced still lives inside us in the form of memories. For some of us, these memories are lovely, for some they are not so nice.
How we have spent our childhood often dictates how our inner child is left feeling, even after many years if there are unresolved trauma’s we may regress to our child state when faced with distress. Depending on how happy or challenging our childhoods were the child inside us may be joyful, sad, excitable, shy, withdrawn, courageous, frightened, extrovert or introvert.
The inner child is often described as the innocent and loving, playful part of us, the creative, curious and expressive part who is imaginative and a dreamer. So why does this inner child still live inside us even after we have grown up and why does it still need attention? Well there could be a number of reasons. Maybe its because childhood was snatched away by an abuser at an early age, or role reversal parenting occurred where the child had to look after their parents due to substance misuse or mental health issues.
Some children have had to grow up very fast due to dysfunctional family life and never got enough time to be ‘carefree’. They never got to be the child that they wanted to be. This meant that any sadness, worry, grief, fear or hurt was never healed. Being responsible and accountable at such a young age meant they developed faster than their peers having to deal with adult themes before they were ready. This was burdensome. A child’s shoulders are not meant to carry the weight of parental mistakes.
If the inner child is not healed properly, we often suffer the consequences. We may take life too seriously. This negatively impacts on mental health and things like play, fun and laughter may feel uncomfortable. It could inhibit the relationship with others in particular our children, not being able to connect or have fun together. Everything can feel like a chore. Often times our adult behavior reflects that of our inner child. Think about the last time you were challenged emotionally did you regress to child like behaviors? If so there is healing work to be done. It is possible to heal and re-parent yourself. Be present for the child inside if they have felt failed by others. Healing the inner child is important work.
How to connect with your inner child:
- Get to know your younger self — Form an internal dialogue.
- Write a letter to your younger self offering words of advice, support, love and care.
- Look at photos of yourself as a child and remember how much you have lived through to get where you are now. Tell yourself what you need to hear in a compassionate and loving way. Thank your younger self for being so resilient and apologize for not being present with them sooner. Befriend them and check in with them regularly.
- If you need professional help to overcome childhood trauma then prioritize finding a suitable therapist to support you in this.
- Don’t just focus on the bad stuff there were good times as well. Think about what you loved doing when you were younger.
5. Own your life story without allowing ‘it’ to own you
Every single person on earth has lived through some sort of tragedy, pain or loss. All of this trauma can add up and cause us immense challenges in regulating our emotions, overcoming past events and moving forwards in meaningful way free of regret or resentment. In order to leave the past where it belongs sometimes we have to revisit and process out the pain that was left frozen in time. To systematically peel away and release the layers of trapped emotions and the residual echoes of the past. This can be difficult to achieve on your own and help from a trained therapist can make a huge difference.
The thing to remember is that every experience you have lived through to date has influenced and shaped who you are today. Owning your life story means accepting the good, the bad and the ugly. Not in a defeatist apathetic way but radically accepting that these things happened to you, and accepting that you cannot go back in time to change them. Along with that acceptance to honor your way of coping and the effort and energy it took to get you where you are today. Celebrate your strengths as well.
Look at the adversity you have overcome, the resilience you have shown. Be aware of what you do have control over and what you don’t. Forgive your past self for not knowing what to do, or how to do it. You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. Turn your pain into power and help yourself to live life according to you, not anyone else. Empower and liberate yourself with self acceptance, self compassion and love. Become the person that you needed when you were younger and give yourself the validation you have sought from others.
There is so much learning, and reflecting to do, also discovering healthier ways of coping will aid progress. Try forming new habits and taking up hobbies that you are passionate about.
Outside of therapy there are some things you can try to help yourself.
- Free association journal writing choose any experience and write about it.
- Writing up a timeline of your life to date with the highs and lows and appreciate the lessons of your journey so far.
- Draw or paint what is important to you.
- Listen to your music that holds memories for you and transports you to a time you want to remember.
- Visit places of meaning from your past if it helps. Reflect on how you feel when you are there.
- Create new memories that live in the present
- Use your loved ones to reminisce about times that you want to focus on.
- Keep a mental health toolkit consisting of items that will help soothe you in moments of distress. A collection of items to ease each of your senses, something you can see(photo of loved one, pet or favorite place) , smell (favorite perfume or essential oils) hear (favorite soundtrack, meditation or voice recording of a loved one) taste (favorite sweet, or food) touch (fidget spinner, stress ball, fluffy blankets or smooth pebbles and textured things).
- Engage in meditation and creative visualization. Yoga is good for the mind and body as well.
Get to know yourself better and enjoy your own company. After all you are stuck with yourself so the sooner you make friends with yourself the better.
I hope my insights have been of use to you. I offer some final words for you to ponder on in the quote below.