We have many stresses in life that are a result of things that we cannot control – relationships, work situations, finances... the list goes on and on. On top of that, we also place a great deal of stress on ourselves that we might not even be aware of. These stresses come from old patterns going right back into our childhood – a teacher’s voice telling us that we are not good enough, a father’s repeated cry that we are lazy, or that we never finish anything we start, our mother constantly criticising how we look. It’s human nature to incorporate these voices, these old “scripts”, into our thought patterns, into the essence of who we are, because, in the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman – The bad stuff is easier to believe.
We believe it – in fact, these scripts become a core belief - where a core belief is something that we hold true above all else. Most of the time we don’t realise why we always put ourselves down, some of us don’t even know that we are doing it at all. But it is our human nature and something that people are becoming more aware of. It can be difficult finding out what these beliefs are, and understanding how they are holding us back from living at our full potential. But as we grow into adults the core beliefs become embedded into our identity and are a fundamental part of who we are. So when the “real”, external stresses come around, we are usually already at a disadvantage.
All of the above comes under the heading of Psychology. As a qualified psychotherapist I have discovered that it is not enough just to know about the way we think about ourselves, we also have to be able to do something about it. We can talk about it for years and years without changing what we do, almost as if we get closer and closer to a destination, but we never actually arrive. While I was training as a Psychotherapist I was also drawn to Shamanism. I became a Shamanic Practitioner at the same time I qualified as a Psychotherapist. Weaving both strands together, the Shamanic, Energetic aspect and the Psychological aspect has given me a new perspective on our psyche, how we are made and how quickly we can actually heal a thing if we bring all these aspects into play together.
Let’s look at stress here, as it is the biggest factor in disease at the moment. I see stress as a type of energy, with a flavour all of its own. It can creep up on you when you least expect it, it makes our hairs stand on end, our breathing shallow and quicken, and it can give us nervous knots in our stomach. And if we carry it for too long it makes us sick, disconnects us from life and from the people around us. In the worst case, it can kill us.
So with this new perspective on stress I have come up with different ways to manage it. The difference is that I see stress as an energy in our body that we need to remove, instead of something that we become caught and wrapped up in. It doesn’t change the situation that is causing the stress, but it does allow us to deal with that situation from a more grounded perspective.
The psychological part
The first thing you need to do when you are caught up in a stressful situation is to separate out what is “real” i.e. what is external, out of your control and actually happening. You can then look at what is not “real” – i.e. the old scripts, the “I’m not good enough” and “I deserve bad things to happen to me” stuff. Ideally you would take the latter and work on it during a time when the “real” stresses are not so great, so that when something happens to you, which it inevitably will, you have already become familiar with your scripts and can separate them out or catch yourself when you are piling more stress on top of something already affecting you life.
If you find that you are stressed now, without having done all that work, then just breathe. Decide that you will learn from your current situation and commit to taking a deeper look at you core beliefs when things have settled down around you.
The energetic part
You have to take the stress energy OUT of your body. By seeing it as an energy in our bodies that we do not need, we can work at getting it out of our bodies as the first priority. We will then be able to see things clearer and respond to the situation in a more capable way. Know that when we are stressed and coming from that energy space, we react rather than respond and can actually make things worse for ourselves.
Write down everything that is bothering you, from the biggest thing (such as you are about to lose you job), to the littlest thing (your jeans are uncomfortable because you just had that chocolate muffin you promised yourself you wouldn’t have.....).
Circle the biggest issue and take it to another blank page, make a list of what you can do about the problem/what you want to happen and then breathe.
~ Make space to breathe. Then put your second list into action.
~ Look at your list critically and mark off what you can control and what is out of you control.
Breathe it out. Using your breath – this is great when the stress is at its highest level. To do this, firstly you must recognise you are feeling stressed, and then with your strongest intention to not feel stressed anymore, you can use your breath to blow the stress energy out of your body. Try it – this really works.
Dance it out! Yes! Dancing and running, walking, going to the gym, most types of physical exercise can burn off the energetic stress levels that you are carrying. Then you can breathe, see a bit clearer, and perhaps make that list I just talked about, and put it into action.
There are many other things you can do, once you see stress as an energy that is in your body which you can remove from your body. Focussing on releasing stress energy is a lot better than focussing on the thoughts creating the stress. You do need to do the psychotherapy bit which puts that stress energy into context. Gaining a better self-awareness is the first step, so that when stress hits you can recognise it right away. And again, knowing your core beliefs really does help, so when you are causing yourself more stress, you can see it and stop doing it. Talking to friends, to family or working things through with a therapist is a good way to start your path towards knowing yourself. If you are spiritual you can meditate, or ask the Universe for a sign or for a dream with a message, or both.
Even when you do know yourself well, you will still be subjected to stress from external situations that you cannot control. This challenge is what gives us our life lessons, and honestly, if we were not challenged, we would not stretch and grow, and we would never learn that we do have a lot to offer, that we do have talents, we are creative and we are stronger and bigger than the people we see ourselves to be.
Abby Wynne is a shamanic psychotherapist, energy healer and published author in private practice based in Ireland. She teaches people how to connect their mind, heart and soul to access their inner wisdom, let go of fear and become more available for life. Abby has recorded guided meditations and healing sessions which are available on her website, and has published 4 books including How to Be Well and Energy Healing Basics, published by Hay House.
You can join Abby for online classes such as her twice yearly 21 day Raise Your Vibration Bootcamp, or try her pre-recorded self-paced class 5 Days to Raise your Vibration. Connect with Abby’s thriving social media community on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or check out her website here