It's not cool not to cope
I hear of so many people struggling with really challenging situations, often having to deal with more than one crisis at the time and not knowing what steps to take next. They feel overwhelmed, despondent and exhausted by what they are going through. In addition, many of us are hard wired to push through these challenges, wear a smile and automatically answer "I'm good" even though we are having a lousy day. So what is it that makes us feel we can't ask for help or share the worries we have? For me, the conditioning was to be tough and suck it up! When I was younger that wasn't a problem as I was full of energy, felt invincible and somehow managed to forge through an endless job list and my fair share of personal challenges. I found however that pushing things down got harder as the years went by and led me to ask whether there was something wrong with me or if there was something I was missing.
What I found out was rather startling as I didn't realise that every stressful experience or event I had ever lived through, still lived in me. Somehow I thought (or didn't think) that my head and body were separate and that the emotions triggered during these events stayed in my head or magically dissipated. I should be so lucky! Briefly, we normally experience an emotion when something outside of ourselves has a fairly high positive or negative effect, which stems from either a potential threat or an opportunity. When an emotion is evoked, the brain works out how to create a quick response so that we can act without thinking. When we have ‘an experience’, all our senses are activated and instantaneously feed back to the brain. The brain then organises the information, which in turn promotes the release of chemicals, sometimes causing an emotional response and/or feeling. An ‘event’ may start off with you being unaware of the emotional experience – for example, if you are being verbally abused, it may take a while for you to register what is happening. As you become aware, you are able to identify and name the emotion, then choose how you will respond to your current situation. This also sets you up for future reactions to the same stimulus. ‘Each emotion activates a distinct set of body parts’, says neuroscientist Antonio Damasio (2010). Feelings are felt in our body and are evoked by ‘the story’, while at the same time those feelings are inscribed into our memory together with the meaning we attach to them. The memories of past events, as well as the emotions linked to them, are stored in our memory cells, which are situated not only in our brain but in other parts of our body, such as the heart. Discovering this was good news in that I was no longer left thinking I should have all the answers and then it became about looking forward to freeing myself from the heavy feelings and associated memories I carried. I was eager to get going and set about discovering just how I could achieve this. I buried myself in studies, research and experimented with different options. While it initially took me a while to put together an effective process I then trialled and tweaked my discoveries until a process evolved that successfully shifted me and many others over time out of pain (emotional). It then became a simple task of recognising when I was triggered and getting into the habit of using one of the processes or tools to help me let go of all the old stuff. Since then it has been an exciting journey with ups and downs as I learned to free myself from the heavy baggage I had inadvertently been carrying around day in and day out. If you find yourself in a similar place and are ready to let go of your “stuff“, you can download and complete the Freedom Worksheet from the site (www.karenpattie.com) to experience the wonderful shift it brings. Otherwise simply talking to someone and emptying out is a good place to start and can make a big difference to how you feel. It is also encouraging to know that there are people that can guide you through the tough times and help you to make sense of it all. It's no longer a case of having to suck it up and smile anymore!