My weird and wonderful experience of Bars and Access Consciousness

As a start to my personal wellbeing project to re-prioritise my self-care I attended an Introduction to Bars course and an Access Consciousness ‘Being Your Life’ course delivered by Jessica Summers.

Here is how it went…

 

You can find our more about Jessica Summers here: https://www.facebook.com/calmresult/

Find out more about Bars and Access Consciousness here: https://www.accessconsciousness.com/

 

The images I experienced

I thought I would share the images that came up to me when I was being gifted Bars (gifted seems to be the term used in the Bars world) and in the process of the Being Your Life course. Make of them what you will! I’m not sure what to make of them myself just yet.

The first image that came to my mind during Bars was a still sideways image of a water droplet creating ripples in a pool. It was a vivid image but it passed by quickly.

A memory that came back to me was a time when I had stood up for myself in a way that was really out of character for me (I was actually telling someone where to go and it was in quite a public place).

The images that came to me in the Being Your Life course were partially guided and we were asked to imagine a ball of energy in front of us. This is similar to an image I already use sometimes for emotional regulation but in this image the ball exploded like a supernova.

I also recalled a dream I had a number of years ago, which was very random and vivid. I hadn’t thought about this dream for years and it was one of those dreams you wake up from and wonder how the hell your brain came up with it!

The sense of it was about expansion and connecting with something bigger and to me it was visually beautiful.

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..Weird…

 

My reflections after the course

I’m not sure I can show all of my inner workings but here are 3 key reflections that I have come away with:

  • It is OK to explore and not to know all of the answers. If I follow my curiosity and interests, I can form my own path.
  • If I am ‘doing’, it is usually a means to an end. If I am ‘being’, it is an end in itself.
  • My power is in kindness.

 

I am aware that reading this back, it all sounds a little bit bonkers (particularly if you haven’t watched the video) but my idea was to share with you my experiences of different methods of self care and wellbeing and here it is!

 

What next

I plan to book in an appointment to get my Bars run and see what happens in a full session! Meanwhile, I would love to explore and experience some other forms of therapy (holistic or otherwise).

 

If you are a practitioner and you would like a review of your therapy and you are happy for me to write a blog about it, please do get in touch!

My personal wellbeing project

Prioritising wellbeing is difficult.

So far in my blog posts I have been offering tips and tools based mainly on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help you to boost your wellbeing. The tips I write in my blogs are things I have used personally and used with clients.

 

However, I have come to a realisation that even though I use these tools myself, I am not always very good at prioritising my wellbeing and sometimes it can fall off my radar. My own wellbeing can sometimes get a little patchy.

 

I am used to looking after the wellbeing of others. I am less used to looking after my own. I’m guessing that this is familiar for a lot of people reading this too. It is so easy for wellbeing to be pushed further and further down your list of priorities.

 

So, I have made a decision to embark upon a personal wellbeing project and I would like to invite you along for the ride.

 

I am purposefully going to try therapeutic approaches and methods that are different from my own to get a broader look at the things that can help us in our self care and wellbeing.

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I am going to commit to being open minded about methods and approaches that I might not have otherwise considered. (With my training in CBT, a heavy emphasis is placed upon the evidence base and clinical trials, but in my personal exploration I am going throw out my pre-conceptions about what ‘works’ and find out what works for me.)

 

I will blog (and maybe vlog) about my experiences to give you an insight into some different types of therapies and wellbeing methods. Hopefully it can give you a little more information about what is out there and help you embark upon your own wellbeing journey too.

 

As well as taking care of my own wellbeing and helping people to see a variety of different approaches to wellbeing, I hope that I can be helpful in promoting the work of other wellbeing practitioners. I would love to be able to support my fellow therapists, coaches and entrepreneurs to showcase their methods. I’d call that a win-win-win!

 

If you are reading this as a fellow wellbeing practitioner or coach and you would like a blog/vlog about your particular approach, please do get in touch!

Of course, I will be continuing to offer my usual workplace wellbeing sessions based on my training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

 

 

 

…Hesitation

Have you ever sat down to book something, to buy something or been just about ready to do something new and then hesitated?

Hesitation can strike when you are about to do something as day-to-day as getting out of bed or starting your workout. It could happen when you are making a small decision, about which film to watch or much bigger decisions about whether to change your job, sign up for a course or start a family.

 

So why do we hesitate?

I think there are a few main reasons why we hesitate:

1. To feel more certain

For example, when we ask ourselves: “Am I sure about this?”

2. To feel safe

When we hesitate we are avoiding taking an action that is outside our comfort zone.

3. To keep our options open

We are avoiding making a commitment because it feels overwhelming, frightening or too ‘final’.

 

What are the consequences of hesitation?

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1. Increased doubt

Rather than feeling more certain, taking time to think and second guess yourself may actually leave you feeling more doubtful.  Once you have allowed more thinking time and increased your feeling of doubt, it is easy to come up with a whole bunch of reasons or excuses not to act or to procrastinate.

 

2. The fight or flight response kicks in

When we take that pause before we step outside our comfort zone, the body’s fight and flight system kicks in because we have perceived a threat. This is going to cause anxiety, rather than a feeling of safety. Even though you are not yet out of your comfort zone, you feel just as scared anyway! When we feel scared, our natural behaviour is to avoid the scary thing, so this is also going to feed further avoidance or procrastination.

 

3. Our options do stay open: too open.

There is something nice about feeling like you have more than one option but without a commitment to one, it is difficult to make changes or move forward. In addition, with many potential options on the table, it is easy for a perfectionist voice to creep in and say ‘but which option is the right one?’

 

The truth is that there is more than one ‘right’ option in most situations.
There is more than one film you would enjoy watching.

There is more than one job you would be good at.

There is more than one interesting course.

There is more than one good time to start a family.

 

What is the Alternative?

Well, the opposite of hesitation would be action:

Just doing it! Go for it! Just pick one! Don’t stop to think!

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That may work fine if you are hesitating about something like getting out of bed, starting your workout, or choosing which film to watch. But when it comes to making important decisions that all sounds a little impulsive.

If we applied that ethos to everything it has the scope for some negative long term consequences of its own.

Realistically, it can serve us to stop and think before we take an action but how we stop and how we think may be what is important.

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Hesitation vs. consideration

When we hesitate through fear of leaving our comfort zone, our thinking will become biased and our actions are going to be less helpful.

If we pause to consider from a calmer starting point, it will be easier to come to a helpful conclusion and more helpful actions.

 

How to consider rather than hesitate

If you have hesitated and can feel the fear rising in your stomach and chest and you think you are on the path to avoidance:

  1. Acknowledge the feeling: notice it, notice where you feel it and label it. Is it dread? Is it apprehension? Is it doubt?
  2. Ground yourself: what can you see, hear, feel, smell or taste right now?
  3. Breathe: breathing from the diaphragm calms the fight and flight response and makes it easier to think in a more helpful way
  4. Weigh it up: what are the pros and cons of taking action? What are the pros and cons of taking no action?

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The consequences of consideration

1. More certainty

Actually weighing up the pros and cons in this way may help you to gain clarity and although we can never be 100% certain, it may help you to feel more confident in your decision.

 

2. Feeling more secure

Don’t get me wrong, committing to action is still going to be scary! It may not feel safe, but hopefully you will feel more secure in your decision.

 

3. You still have options

When you acknowledge the option to take no action, it becomes a choice rather than a default reaction to fear. Your options are still open but it may feel easier to commit to action (or to a strategic lack of action) having weighed it up in this way.

 

Wellbeing workshops and guided relaxation sessions are now available to book for your workplace in Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.

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Grounding: Emotional First Aid

Grounding is a tool I often use with patients. In CBT it is usually used to help people who have been through a traumatic experience, for example to ground someone back in the present moment if they are experiencing a flashback.

However, in my opinion, you don’t have to have been through a trauma to benefit from this simple yet powerful technique.

 

What is grounding?

Grounding is a technique that can be used immediately in the moment when you feel your emotions are at a high level to help to bring them down to a more manageable level.

The aim of grounding is to re-connect with the present moment by using your senses.

In this way, it is similar to mindfulness.

An example might be to literally stamp your feet and feel the contact of your feet on the ground.

Other examples might be:

  • Rubbing your hands quickly together and feeling the heat you can generate.
  • Deliberately spotting all the green objects you can see around you.
  • Listening for the next 5 sounds you can hear around you.
  • Smelling essential oils/your perfume/your coffee.

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When to use it

Crucially, the aim of grounding is not to get rid of emotions.

Emotions are there to help you to make sense of your situation.

However, if the emotion is very distressing, unmanageable or overwhelming, then grounding can help to bring the emotion down to a point that you can cope with it and allow it to pass.

 

Emotional first aid

I like to think of grounding as emotional first aid.

We all know that from time to time, we might cut ourselves and bleed.

If the cut is small, we don’t need to do anything. We can leave it alone and it will heal itself.

This is the same with most of our emotions.

We will all feel difficult emotions from time to time but if they are at a manageable level, they will pass by without any need for us to intervene.

At this level, we don’t need to use a grounding technique to manage our emotions but we could choose to use relaxation techniques, meditation or mindfulness practices to boost our overall wellbeing.

 

If we cut ourselves a little deeper, we may need to cover it with a plaster so that we can get on with our day.

The cut is still healing itself underneath the plaster and it wouldn’t necessarily harm us if the plaster wasn’t there.

The plaster is helpful in that it is stopping the cut from bleeding all over the place and preventing it from getting caught on things that could hurt it or slow down the healing process.

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At this point, we might think of the emotional level as being difficult or distressing but not completely unmanageable.

Grounding could be helpful at this point to help to re-group (i.e. not spill all over the place).

Just as the plaster helps to prevent a cut from getting caught on things that could hurt and slow down the healing process – grounding yourself in the present can help to reduce dwelling, worrying, and over-thinking that could exacerbate the difficult emotion.

This is where I believe many of us could benefit from grounding.

 

However, from time to time we might be unlucky enough to sustain a serious wound that needs pressure applying to it until medical attention can be sought.

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This could be the emotional equivalent of flashbacks, nightmares or ‘zoning out’  following a traumatic event.

Here, grounding can be used to manage severe distress until you can receive help from a therapist or mental health professional.

Just as you would go to A&E with a serious wound, if you are experiencing these kinds of symptoms, it is important to seek appropriate support.

Your GP or your local Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service may be a good place to start.

 

Want to know more about grounding or building your emotional resources?

You can learn more about grounding at my upcoming Emotional Resource Building Workshop. Details of workshops and events can be found on my Facebook page here: Lemon Squeezy Wellbeing Facebook Page

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Sign up below and receive an Emotional Vocabulary Cheat Sheet:


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