The Power of Relationships

If there is one thing in life that can completely create imbalance in our lives, emotionally and physically – it’s troubled relationships.

Relationships between our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends, co-workers, or our boss – any relationship out of balance has the potential to create havoc in our lives.

Relationships have a huge impact on how we thrive, our health, our overall well-being and enjoyment of life.

We are genetically wired for connection and we need connection, we need relationships to survive. So when our relationships are challenged we feel enormous stress, we feel threatened and our bodies suffer –  causing anger, resentment, guilt, sadness and pumping out stress hormones causing us to be on alert, a constant fight or flight mode.

Our relationships live in the sacred space between us, which is sacred – Martin Buber

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Love as a daily supplement

I just thought this was wonderful………

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Love as a daily supplement!

Seriously, if we want to loose weight and keep it off,  we must look beyond what we put on the plate and how much we exercise. This parts are important, of course, but there is more to it than that.

A healthy bodily balance can only be kept if we also are aware of our emotions! Feelings are just as important, if not more so, than what we put on our plate and how much we exercise. And when it comes to the most difficult part: keeping the weight off – emotions, and how we feel about ourselves, is paramount. We are much more likely to make healthy choices when we listen to our body’s signals and it’s needs, and we need to include the emotional needs as well.

In my morning paper, the Danish Politiken, I found a great article that supports my thoughts! The title made me smile: “She recommends love as a daily supplement”  – I topped up my tea and sat down to enjoy the article.

Professor Berit Lillienthal Heitmann from Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen ( Center for Sygdom og Samfund ) and an honorable professor at University of Sidney, has been researching obesity for over 25 years. She is convinced that we will never find a solution to why we become overweight and obese, if we only look at the dinner plate and at how much we exercise.

Prof. Heitmann considers stress, lack of nurturing in childhood and bad sleep/sleep apnea, etc. as important factors affecting our ability to succeed in loosing weight and keeping it off.

She says that we can all loose weight by eating less and by exercising, the trick is to keep it off.

Her research has shown that a calorie is not just a calorie. In a study where she looked at nurses in Denmark, she found that those nurses who felt pressured and stressed, put on more weight than those colleagues who were not stressed, when eating  the same amount of calories.

She also did a study with a rare group – identical twins, where one of the twin was overweight and the other was not. What she found in this group was that the one twin, who was overweight had often felt neglected as a child and had missed contact with the mother.

Something points to the fact that nurturing and compassion plays an important role. Berit Lillienthal Heitmann keeps doing research in this field and I will be following her closely, because I think she is on to something really important.

Love as a daily supplement

I wholeheartedly recommend love as a daily supplement too and preferably high doses of it!

“Don’t forget to love yourself” Søren Kirkegaard (Danish philosopher, 1813 – 1855)

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Self-compassion

Self-Compassion

We are so hard on ourselves – we are raised to be kind, polite and respectful to others – but not to ourselves. Somehow, it is okay to treat ourselves disrespectful and talk to ourselves in the cruelest of  ways!

We have about 25.000 – 65.000 thoughts a day – 90 % are critical and a big part of those are turned towards ourselves!  I  am too fat! Gosh, I look dreadful! I suck at math! I totally tone-deaf so I don’t sing along! I will never be able to do that! I am a terrible cook,!I don’t deserve that job/position/credit! I will never make that kind of  money! She is much more beautiful than me! He is much better than me! He (she) doesn’t love me! I am unlovable……………etc. etc. Would we talk to others like that? No-way! But nevertheless we bombard ourselves with it every day. Then we smile and pretend everything is okay and wonder why we feel so miserable!

These kind of thoughts are stressful on our body. They effect our health. They create imbalance in the body and they make us feel miserable and depressed!

If these negative thoughts were even a bit positive or helpful, if they could motivate us and get us on the right track – then we could use them – but unfortunately – they are not!

Dr. Kristin Neff Ph.D, associate professor, Human Development and Culture, Educational Psychology Department, University of Texas at Austin is the author of the book Self-Compassion. Kristin Neff is also featured in the best-selling book and award winning documentary “The Horse Boy” – that tells the story of her family’s personal journey with autism.

I love her approach – not the usual “think positive”  approach, but rather, having compassion for who we are with everything, the good, the bad and the ugly, shortcomings and all – accepting that we are humans, that we are not perfect and that we do make mistakes. She talks about self-compassion being healthier than self esteem in this great article in Psychology today.

She uses her own story, she has humor and insight – and she is hugely inspiring!

This is a great interview with Kristin Neff in the program The High Bar with Warren Etheredge

The High Bar

Kristin Neff’s book Self-Compassion is a wonderful book that I highly recommend. Her website is full of useful information, videos, self-compassion meditations, interviews exercises and more. Kristin Neff is also the writer in Psychology Today’s blog  with articles such as “Why self compassion is healthier than self esteem” and “Self-compassion for caregivers” and “let go of self-criticism and discover self-compassion” ! She also writes for  Huffington Post’s blog with articles like “Does self-compassion mean letting yourself off the hook”? and “Treating yourself as you’d treat a good friend”

http://www.self-compassion.org/

The Horse Boy Movie

You may also want to read my post about compassion

Soul Blossom

Springtime is full of new beginnings. It is time to let the light in and and the darkness out. Its time to breathe in the fresh air and the new life and let ourselves bloom like the flowers in the garden.

But there might be things that are holding you back from the full bloom or to from spreading your leaves out.

Try to look within and see if there are any old grudges laying around, shame, fear or pain that need to come out in to the light and be embraced, loved and be set free.  In fact the things we have felt the need to suppress and store, are the things that need the most love and compassion.

Sometime we store experiences and the accompanying emotions inside in a corner of the soul, because it was too painful to deal with them at the time. But those emotions are still in there and draining us of energy and new life.

I am not telling you to forgive, forget, move on and pretend. We know it doesn’t work to suppress and pretend it robs us of health and happiness.  It is important to feel the emotions of the experiences we have had in order to truly be able to forgive and move on. In fact, forgiveness comes naturally when we have felt the emotions.

I encourage you to look in, be gentle and compassionate with what ever comes up. Is there anything that is causing you pain or regret? Write about it, talk about it, feel it, share it with someone you trust – do what ever it takes to finally set yourself free.

” And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” – Anais Nin

The truth is:

You are worth it
You are lovable
You may speak your truth
You may feel and have all emotions
You may be YOU with all there is

I love this poem by David Whyte – Questions that can make or unmake a life

SOMETIMES

Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest

breathing
like the ones
in the old stories

who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
and

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,

questions
that have patiently
waited for you,

questions
that have no right
to go away.

David Whyte

Compassion

Be positive – is something we hear often or even say to others. However it is very hard to be positive in an authentic way if there is something underneath that is bothering us or even hurting us. It is like a beach ball, if we try to hold he bugger down down under water, but it keeps coming up to the surface as soon as we let go of it. Shame, pain and worry are all signs that we need to find a place where we feel safe to talk – share how we really feel from the heart with someone who knows how to be compassionate and listen.

Quite often when we find out that we are not alone shame disappears and the pain dissolves – feelings are not dangerous. They are there to guide us.

When we suppress our needs and feelings, it creates an imbalance that we may experience in many different ways: lack of sparkle, stress, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, overeating or addictions etc. These symptoms are also the body’s way of getting our attention to the fact that something is wrong – that we have become disconnected from ourselves.

Underneath dissatisfaction, stress or low self esteem are feelings. Many of us have had to disconnect from those feelings because they were not accepted where we came from when we were little. That is totally natural and in fact very wise, we needed to survive. The problem is If we cannot feel them we will not know how to protect ourselves, set boundaries or feel what is good for us. Feel what it is that we need to do in order to feel content again. The feelings have a message for us and we need them in order to navigate in our lives. Feelings are our personal GPS they are part of our true nature and when we start to sense them again, we receive balance and harmony in return, a sense of contentedness and freedom. This is where positive and happiness comes natural and not as a thing we try to pretend we are.

Jung said: Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens

If you feel there is something underneath that stops you from feeling content and happy I recommend:

  • Meet with a trusted, supportive and compassionate friend and share
  • Consult your diary – diaries are great. Here  you can write anything and no one needs to see it. Pour your heart out on the pages
  • You may want to find a good therapist, coach or psychologist
  • Be compassionate and mild with yourself
  • Meditate, take some time to be alone

Even if we are not quite sure what is bothering us talking, sharing, writing and meditating are all ways to heal.