PUTTING OUR HURDLES TO GOOD USE
Is Mental the New Normal?
As I previously shared on my ANTIDEPRESSANTS VS. PLACEBO: And The Winner Is... article (please see under References):
“According to NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (which corresponds to 43.8 million or 18.5%) experiences mental illness in a given year; and approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. (corresponding to 10 million or 4.2%) experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities (for more numbers, please see link under References). That means a staggering amount of people with some level of mental health challenge. Considering that a whole lot of people don’t seek help and go undiagnosed, the real numbers are likely to be even scarier.
No wonder words like OCD, OCPD, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, chronic depression, etc, have become commonplace. Look around yourself. How many friends or family members display behavior that has been qualified as (or suggested to be) a mental health disorder of some kind? Or look in the mirror. When was the last time you’ve felt emotionally, mentally and physically (not to mention spiritually) healthy and balanced? Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with a mental health challenge, or do you suspect you or someone you know might have such a challenge?
One thing is certain: when a system says that a big chunk of the population has some type of mental health issue that requires medication, maybe it’s time to change a lot of things in that system. Mere common sense dictates that something is seriously wrong with that picture.”
Whichever the sources of such a dismal state are, the main question is: What do we do with this knowledge? Do we hide? Do we numb ourselves with soft and hard addictions? Do we convince ourselves that we’ll never be good enough to follow our dreams or achieve anything in life? Or do we make the decision to become comfortable with who we are in this phase of our lives, seek wholesome solutions and put our issues to good use?
What We Can Do:
- We can use mindfulness tools and holistic therapies such as Hypnotherapy.
- We can explore brain stimulation and biofeedback therapies such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or Neurofeedback (please see the articles under References).
- We can share our story and help inspire others to deal with their own mental issues.
- We can empower ourselves and choose to put our hurdles to good use! What we often consider to be our flaws or issues can be used in positive ways to help ourselves and others, by simply learning how to redirect these shadow aspects of ourselves and channel that energy towards accomplishing our goals and dreams!
What’s something about yourself that may have a negative side, but can also be used in positive ways?
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/18/23
Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash
ANTIDEPRESSANTS VS. PLACEBO: And The Winner Is...
Transcranial magnetic stimulation
Neurofeedback: A Comprehensive Review on System Design, Methodology and Clinical Applications
Are you afraid to fail, succeed or both?
These twin siblings walk together, arm in arm, and it can be really hard to separate them or even tell them apart. When we’re afraid to fail, we usually feel paralyzed and unable to take the necessary steps to achieve success. Succeeding can’t happen without failing; ergo, being afraid to fail often translates into being afraid to succeed.
What’s behind these fears? If we dig deeply enough, sooner or later we come to realize that most of our surface fears stem from three major core fears: Not being good enough; being unworthy; and being afraid of living and getting hurt in the process. If we believe we are unworthy or not good enough, and if we’re afraid to live, we end up attracting people, events, circumstances, etc, that will reinforce those fears… As we believe, so it is.
As everyone else, I’ve had my share of failing. One of the most significant failure experiences happened in 2010. As a consequence of the 2008 economic crisis, among other factors, my business partner and I had to close our graphic design and publishing business. Since I had unwisely connected my personal credit to the business, I had to declare bankruptcy and lost my home in the process. I had to start over in my 40’s, and everything I had believed in or counted on didn’t make sense any longer. I was feeling lost, confused, depressed and very angry. After a period of grieving and a short stretch working for the U.S. Census, I came to the realization that I needed to start reinventing myself.
Since 2002, I had been learning about and experimenting with different forms of holistic practices as a side activity. I really enjoyed that work, so I decided to pursue the integrative arts as a career. The research I conducted about federally accredited holistic healthcare programs led me to SWIHA - Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, AZ as the best choice for my purposes. In 2011, when I enrolled in the SWIHA AOS degree program in Holistic Health Care, I had the choice to specialize in nutrition or hypnotherapy; I chose the latter, which led me to a fulfilling career in hypno-coaching. I obtained my AOS degree in Holistic Healthcare in 2013, became certified as a Master Hypnotherapist by the ABH and as a Certified Hypnotherapist by the IMDHA, and founded The Healers Home (formerly The Ragi Center for Self-Awareness), through which I practice Clinical Hypnotherapy, Life Coaching and other holistic modalities. In addition, I teach SWIHA online classes and offer corporate workshop series and presentations about hypnotherapy for the local community. Currently, I’m co-authoring a book with my mentor and former teacher about implementing a volunteer-based guided imagery program at a hospital or health care facility.
As I often share as part of resistance coaching for the classes I teach online, failure paves the road to success. However, there's a big difference between failing and feeling like a failure. As my wise friend Judi L. once shared during an online group meeting, “failure only exists in our minds—mistakes are essential to set us in different directions and on different paths. We can't let fear of making mistakes prevent us from moving forward. When we fail or make the wrong choice, we're meant to learn from those experiences and take the next leap. Everything is pushing us to our higher purpose.”
Learning how to make mistakes and fail with humility, without beating ourselves up, is one of the most courageous, empowering and self-loving choices we can make in life.
Failing is especially good for business. As a matter of fact, the current trend is to fail fast to get that part of the process out of the way and fail mindfully to acquire the necessary knowledge and successfully apply the lessons (please check out some of the awesome videos from The Failure Institute; link under References). Also, sharing our struggles is one of the most effective ways to connect with and engage our audience.
How to Address Fear?
To help you further on your own journey of bringing fear to light, I recommend hypno-coaching to work through resistance and fears. A good script to begin with is Wall of Fear, by Linda Bennett, with focus on the fears of not being good enough and/or being unworthy. A good follow-up script would be Removing the Armor for releasing limitations, also by Linda Bennett.
In addition to hypno-coaching, there are many effective exercises and tools to help deal with fear:
- Asking yourself: “What’s the worst that can happen?” Our wild imaginations can create some far-off doomsday scenarios, making it easier to laugh at and dismiss our fears.
- Visualizing the process of making mistakes and failing as if you were watching an old black-and-white comedy-capers-style silent movie (or another funny, cartoonish story style) is another effective way to make light of our failings… and related fears.
- Self-parenting through soothing, confident-building self-talk. Be the parent that you wish you’d had!
- Repeating positive affirmations and powerful mantras.
- Doing mirror work, which also involves using affirmations and mantras.
- Writing your eulogy: What do you want to be remembered for? What does a meaningful life with no regrets mean to you?
- Testing your fears: Ask yourself powerful questions, or ask a professional therapist work with you.
- Mel Robbins shares effective tips to trick the brain into action (please see two of her videos under References). As per Becca Briley’s fitting comment about the 5 Second Rule brain trick during our live talk, "Instead of RETRACTION, we choose IN-ACTION" (please see link under References).
- Activities like rock climbing or singing karaoke can reveal your fear patterns and help you work through them. For instance, when I started indoor rock-climbing a few months ago , I noticed that, whenever I had a successful climbing session, I’d start making excuses about why I probably wouldn’t be able to do so well next time… I recognized it as a defensive mechanism through which I’d justify myself in advance for possible failures. Once I was aware of this pattern, I would catch myself every time I’d be thinking of such excuses and take action by responsibly challenging myself and learning to be ok with not-so-good climbing days.
- Asking for help and support is an important part of this process, too. No one does it alone! In addition to friends and family support (or if you can’t count on friends and family), look for other sources, such as local and online groups and orgs that support the work you do (or the work you would like to get involved in).
What other tools are you familiar with?
FINAL THOUGHT: Life can be much better if we stop constantly listening to our inner critic and being so hard on ourselves and others. Life already has enough challenges without us having to make it any harder… In short: It would behoove us to just lighten the “freak” up a little.
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 03/09/23
"Faith Over Fear" Image by Alex Shute at Unsplash
Image of me rock climbing (taken by my husband)
The Failure Institute - Videos
Mel Robbins: 5 Second Rule
How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over - Mel Robbins
SWIHA Lean Into Your Success Facebook group - March 8, 2023 Live Talk hosted by Becca Briley, with Gisele Marasca-Vargas
HOW DO YOU SELF-SOOTHE?
A Self-soothing Recipe for Nighttime Freak-Outs
Having an anxiety disorder sometimes means that I get to wake up in the middle of the night feeling high anxiety or the beginning of a panic attack. These episodes can be triggered by real or imaginary concerns and fears. One way or the other, that’s certainly not the best way to spend my time in bed at night, especially when I should be healing and recovering my energy through peaceful sleep.
One of the most effective methods I employ to trick my mind into relaxing and falling back asleep is the same technique I started using years ago to help release sciatica and osteoarthritis pain: I soothingly guide myself to sleep with positive affirmations (silently, in my mind), as a form of self-hypnosis.
Although my affirmations are customized to different circumstances, I usually start repeating something along these lines, as I take deep breaths:
“I am not my body... I am not my aches and pains or health conditions...
I am not my mind...
I am not my fears...
I am beyond my mind and physical body...
I am health... I am wellness... I am wholesomeness...
I am perfect in my imperfection...
I am loved... I am loved... I am loved...
I am love... I am love... I am love...
I AM... I AM... I AM...”
Occasionally, depending on the level of anxiety, I have to repeat this exercise more than once to achieve the desired effect. More often than not, however, I fall asleep in the middle of the first set, as I start relaxing and feeling relief from anxiety and physical pain.
This simple technique is just as effective for daytime anxiety or panic. Although it’s often recommended that hypnotic suggestions are made as affirmations, rather than stated in the negative, in this case it feels empowering to first acknowledge limiting beliefs by denying them, and then affirm that which is true.
What self-soothing techniques are effective for you?
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 04/21/22
Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash
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STEALING MOMENTS OF PEACE
How to Become a Peace Thief
The best things in live often involve stolen moments that provide priceless glimpses of peace. As I close my eyes, start deep-breathing and set the intention to recall the feeling of peaceful moments, countless of such instants easily spring to mind (and they do last but an instant in the fabric of time):
- Scuba-diving in the Florida keys on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, peacefully floating at the bottom of the ocean, barely touching the sand, admiring the sun rays refracting in the water and the colorful fish swimming around the brilliant coral reefs...
- Feeling the light Spring breeze and observing the leaves and flowers gently swaying as I sit outdoors for my daily sun meditation...
- Feeling the cool sheets in my soft, comfortable bed at night...
I could go on and on... As the saying goes, “life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans.” Stealing peaceful moments is especially helpful during periods of stress and overwhelm triggered by too many activities and not enough play time and rest. This simple practice is the perfect antidote to rushing through life on a “doing” mode; it helps you ease into a quiet “being” mode instead. Finding the space between breaths.
Become a peace thief and hoarder! Turn it into a game and challenge yourself to break your daily or weekly record. Create a “peace moment stealing” score card, invite a few buddies to join and compare “peace moment stealing” scores! Then plan a weekly or monthly celebration where the winner receives a small reward from the group.
Steal those peaceful moments whenever possible, throughout the day:
- Before getting out of bed
- When you’re getting ready to start your day
- When taking a shower or bath
- While doing house chores
- When waiting at the traffic light, school drop off/pick up line, bank drive through, etc
- Through a short meditation or prayer time
- By taking a sun meditation break (sitting outside in the sun for 15 minutes or so)
- By taking a rain meditation break (sitting by a window and watching the rain)
- On the treadmill or exercise bike
- When doing yoga, Tai Chi and other mindful practices
- At bedtime
How many peaceful moments have you been able to steal and hoard today?
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 04/12/22
Photo by Disha Sheta on Pexels
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