5 great questions to ask the universe when things aren’t going great!

Sometimes all it takes is a question to re-frame and start to see things differently. So here are 5 helpful questions to ask if things are not going great, if you are stuck in a rut or if you are just in need of a different perspective.

 

What else is possible?

What can I learn from this?

How will I look back on this with gratitude a year from now?

What is helpful about this that I’m not seeing?

What would it take to grow from this experience?

 

The questions don’t have to stop there! Questions can help us even when things are going well, so here are 5 great questions to ask the universe when things are going great!

What else is possible?

What have I learned that got me here?

What am I grateful for now (even things that seemed bad at the time)?

What would it take to keep growing?

What can I contribute?

 

‘What else is possible?’ is one of the key questions in Access Consciousness. If you are curious to find out more, you can take a look at what (the bleep) is Access Consciousness

Image credit: Pixabay

My wellbeing tapping challenge part 1

As you know if you have been following my blog, I recently set myself a personal wellbeing project and I have been using myself as a guinea-pig for some different wellbeing approaches.

So, when I saw Sonal Pandey’s free Tap Easy Challenge using the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), I signed up.

You can find a link to the challenge here: https://tap-easy.com/tapping-challenge/

At the time of writing, I am a week into this 3 week challenge and it involves tapping various points on the hand, head, face, collar bone and under the arm whilst following a script of statements.

I remember the first time I heard about EFT as a newly qualified Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and I am sad to say that I was quite dismissive about it at the time. I had been trained to value the evidence base for therapy and as far as I was aware, EFT wasn’t an evidence based treatment.

I’m glad to say that I have chilled out a bit since then!

 

The scripts

I was surprised to learn that the scripts Sonal has put together for the challenge actually have many similarities with ideas used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I had not realised there would be so much over-lap between EFT and CBT. There is also a heavy emphasis on self acceptance, which I really like.

I wondered if the scripts would feel a little disingenuous as they are not the way I would phrase things but actually most of the time I have connected with them. I think on a couple of occasions I have re-worded small parts of it so it feels like it is a better fit for me, but that has been quite easy to do.

 

And I actually really like the tapping!

I have found the tapping itself feels very calming and grounding and it has been something I have wanted to fit into my day. It has been easy to fit in and hasn’t taken too long to do.

Having said that, I have wondered if I might need to spend a little more time on certain topics than others and I can see that they will need some repetition, particularly for ‘bigger’ topics such as self acceptance.

 

So far the topics covered have been:

Day 1: Overwhelm

Day 2: Let go of the past

Day 3: Self acceptance

Day 4: Get organised

Day 5: Self sabotage

Day 6: Negative thinking

Day 7: Stop worrying

My favourites so far have been ‘overwhelm’ and ‘get organised’ and on the very first day of using the ‘overwhelm’ tapping sequence, I did find that my day progressed smoothly and I was able to get on with my tasks in a way that felt easy.

Was it just a good day?

Was it the EFT tapping?

I think some of the other topics so far may need more practice and consistency to take root but overall I am enjoying this challenge.

Watch this space for part 2…

Thanks for reading!

Are you getting in your own way?

I didn’t know it, but I have totally been getting in my own way!

Here is how I’ve started to move over…

I discovered Access Consciousness Bars a short while ago when I attended an introduction to Bars class with Jessica Summers. After my first experience of it, I was keen to take it further.

More recently, I attended an Access Consciousness Bars Practitioner course with Jessica which involved running Bars on others and also having my own Bars run. (Running Bars is the term used for touching points on the head related to bars of energy that correspond to different thoughts or points of view such as creativity, control, awareness, time and space and many more).

I’m not sure what I expected but over the following few days I started to notice points of view I had been holding that had been getting in my way without me having realised they were there.

 

A seemingly small and silly example was the point of view I had been holding that ‘I am always tired and never feel awake in the morning’.

light-506120_960_720

To all intents and purposes, this was true for me.

In fact, my experience had taught me that this was resoundingly true. After many years of disturbed and too little sleep (which came along with having two lovely children), I had come to a conclusion that tiredness was just part of life now. I would never have actively questioned or challenged this belief.

This was it for me – even though my children now sleep through the night 95% of the time.

I woke up tired.

I dragged myself through the shower.

I lived in a heavy fog of tiredness until around mid-morning almost every day.

I expected it and to a large part, I accepted it. On the occasions I didn’t feel it, I always expected it to return to get me later!

 

But here’s the thing – after having my Bars run I realised I didn’t have to feel tired if I wasn’t actually tired.

This sounds ridiculously obvious but it was a strange revelation just after getting out of bed a couple of days after the class.

I’d had enough sleep and I didn’t need to feel tired. As I realised, my vision literally sharpened up and I felt awake!

It feels important to say that the realisation did not come in the form of a ‘should’ e.g. I should feel awake/I shouldn’t feel tired. It was simply that I didn’t need to feel tired if I wasn’t actually tired!

I realised my body had been feeling tired out of habit even if I’d had good quality sleep. Coupled with my own expectation of feeling bloody knackered all the time, of course I continued to feel knackered. Why would I not?

My points of view were preventing me from feeling any other way.

 

Surely this was a fluke? Surely it wouldn’t continue?

But actually, so far it has. This is not to say that I never feel tired, but now I only feel tired when it is appropriate to feel tired and it isn’t as much of a big deal when I am. It has a different quality to it and doesn’t feel like exhaustion or like such a heavy weight.

 

What more is possible?

It may sound daft, but just this one change has been really significant for me and has opened up new possibilities. Some mornings, I’ve got out of bed and been for a run. For anyone who knows me, you know that this is unheard of!

I’m not in such a rush because I haven’t snoozed my alarm 3 times in a row.

My mornings feel so much easier!

 

Awareness is key

It has been a helpful reminder that becoming aware of our thoughts, beliefs and points of view is absolutely key if we want to get out of our own way.

I had always thought of myself as being quite self aware. I’ve been a pscyhotherapist for a long time. I’m very accustomed to spotting and exploring the beliefs of my clients and exploring the beliefs I held that were accessible to me.

But I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Now I know that there are things I don’t know.

Now I believe that it may be possible to know more.

This feels like a good place to be.

 

In fact, the tagline on my Access Consciousness Bars Practitioner certificate reads: ’empowering people to know that they know’.

IMG_0079[11844]

 

Are you getting in your own way?

So how do we gain insight and access to more awareness?

Personally, I plan to continue having my Bars run.

If you don’t fancy having your Bars run, a simple thing you can do is to ask a question.

What beliefs or points of view are you absolutely taking for granted and treating as true?

Are they really true?

What barriers have you created that don’t really need to be there?

Is something else possible?

 

Have a lovely day!

Are you really grateful?

I’ve spoken to a lot of people recently who use gratitude journals and I use a gratitude app on my phone.

I am all for gratitude – but are there times when gratitude is not really gratitude?

A short while ago, I spoke to a client who was using a gratitude diary but rather than feeling happy, connected, or content afterwards, she was left feeling worse.

When we looked closer at how she was using her gratitude journal, she was actually drawing a comparison against people who were ‘worse off’ than her.

For example (mine, not the client’s):

‘I am grateful to have food on my plate because there are people starving in the world’.

This may be true but when we compare what we have against others, we rarely feel good. (Whether we judge ourselves to be better or worse off than the people we are comparing ourselves against)

This seems to me like guilt masquerading as gratitude.

hunger-413685_960_720

Of course I am not saying we shouldn’t think about these kinds of issues, but in my opinion, a felt sense of gratitude is more likely to be experienced without drawing comparisons.

However, if we were to act in a way to help those in need, for example by donating an item of food to our local food bank, the ability to do this may be something we feel genuinely grateful for.

Contrast this against doing nothing but thinking about people who are going hungry whilst trying to feel grateful for your tea!

 

Comparisons may not be the only gratitude pitfall

There is also the potential to frame gratitude in a negative way, which may take the edge off the feeling of gratitude.

Contrast:

‘I am grateful the kids didn’t misbehave in the car’

with:

‘I am grateful for a peaceful and enjoyable car journey with the kids’

When we frame our experiences as an absence of something negative it is probably not going to feel as nice as framing our experiences in terms of gaining something positive.

 

Last of all…

If (like me) you tend to fall into a pattern of starting your gratitude journal entries with the same old ‘I feel grateful for…’, we could be missing out!

Gratitude comes in different flavours and comes along with other positive emotions too. It might be nice to recognise them all!

grateful-2940466_960_720

So maybe the next time you and I write in our journals, we could ask ourselves ‘do I feel ‘grateful’ or do I feel’:

Appreciative

Blessed

Content

Enjoyment

Fortunate

Glad

Happy

Honoured

Love

Lucky

Pleased

Priviledged

Proud

Recognised

Thankful

Understood

Validated

Or something different?

 

Thank you for reading!

Image credit: Pixabay

Get more from your breathing exercises

You would be amazed by how many people I see who think they are using deep or relaxed breathing techniques but are actually breathing in a really unhelpful way (until I show them how to do it in a more helpful way, that is)!

There are many variations of breathing exercises and techniques and for the most part, it comes down to personal preference as to which ones you use.

I personally don’t like to count or hold my breath in my breathing exercises, but whatever method you choose, it is helpful to notice where the air is going in your lungs.

When we breathe into the top part of the lungs, we are usually taking in slightly more oxygen than we actually need. We tend to breathe into the top part of the lungs without even knowing it when we are rushing around, talking and busy, and for the most part it doesn’t cause a problem.

However, if we are under stress we may breathe like this for most of the time, even when we are inactive or resting. In its extreme form, over-breathing becomes hyperventilation, which is a key component of anxiety and panic attacks.

If we are aiming for relaxation, the most helpful form of breathing is diaphragmatic or ‘deep belly’ breathing in which the air gets down to the lower part of the lungs. As the lower part of the lungs expand, this flattens out the diaphragm – which is the big sheet of muscle that sits underneath the lungs.

anatomy-31056_960_720

When breathing from the diaphragm, your belly should move more than your chest.

Here are 3 top tips to get the more out of your breathing exercises and to help promote diaphragmatic (or deep belly) breathing.

 

Tip 1: Take slow steady breaths rather than forced or exaggerated breaths.

If you are taking in a forced, sharp or exaggerated in-breath, the air is probably going into the top part of your chest, rather than down into the lower part of your lungs. This can happen even if you are using the ‘in through the nose and out through the mouth’ style of breathing.

Try it now…

See what I mean?

One way you can try getting the air down to the lower part of your lungs by lying on your back, placing a small cushion or light object onto your tummy and watching it move up and down.

 

Tip 2: Keep an open posture

If you are attempting deep belly breathing, it is helpful to have a relaxed and open posture rather than sitting or lying with crossed arms, legs or a hunched body posture.

Likewise, if you are used to holding your stomach in or wearing clothes that suck you in,  relax those stomach muscles, ditch the Spanx and let it all hang out!

 

Tip 3: Practise when you are feeling calm (particularly if you are new to using breathing exercises)

Breathing exercises are very useful to manage stress but the temptation is to use breathing exercises only in response to stress.

If you are a beginner, the best time to practise is actually when you are already feeling calm. This way, you can get into a relaxed breathing rhythm more easily and naturally and notice how it feels.

Some beginners wait until they feel stressed or anxious, try to practise then feel more stressed that they can’t get their breathing exercise to work!

Relaxed breathing can also help to maintain relaxed state and promote wellbeing, so don’t reserve your breathing exercises purely for times of stress.

 

Want to learn more?

Louise from Lemon Squeezy Wellbeing and Jen from Flourish in Mind are teaming up to deliver a new workshop at Hub 26 (off junction 26 of M62 in West Yorkshire).

At our ‘Workplace Wellbeing that Works!’ workshop you can learn what stress is, how to recognise your stress signature and learn tools to manage stress and promote wellbeing, including breathing exercises.

You can find details and tickets here: Workplace Wellbeing that Works!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Louise & Jen