Category Archives: anxiety

Learning to trust what arises

Let’s be honest, if we had the choice, we’d all want to be happy most, if not all of the time; we’re only human after all. In reality, life is a little trickier than that.

The trouble with feeling low, sad or anxious is that they don’t feel like very friendly emotions! They feel, if anything, like some form of punishment for something we’ve done wrong. We judge the emotion, and we judge ourselves for feeling it, which in turn only makes us feel worse.

I’ve read before about diving into every moment in life, trusting that it is our friend and not our foe. Spiritual writers seem particularly keen for us to ‘trust what arises’, no matter how bad we may feel at times. If I happen to be in a difficult place when I come across these messages, my reaction is usually not a positive one!! “If only they knew how bad I feel and how hard I’ve been trying to stop feeling this way, they wouldn’t be encouraging me to dive in deep and accept what is!”

My go-to response to feeling a difficult emotion is often to look for the escape button, in whatever form that may take. Now please don’t misunderstand me here – I’m not in the least suggesting that you stop yourself from looking for support, guidance or comfort in your moments of darkness. I don’t know about you, but I’m becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I’m not in this life alone, and whereas I absolutely must take responsibility for my own emotions, that does not mean that I have to do it alone. In fact, seeking support and guidance isn’t hitting the escape button – it’s a way of making what you’re feeling manageable and ensuring that you feel heard, understand and held. This is ALL GOOD and extremely important. Hitting the escape button, on the other hand, may include something that will temporarily numb the pain, but in the process prevent you from really experiencing what it is that is wanting to be seen. Think along the lines of a glass or two of wine, asking for reassurance instead of trusting that you can handle whatever life throws your way, or reaching out to someone you know gives you that rush of acceptance and approval, when what you really need is to accept and approve of yourself.

As I write this, I’m aware of how very hard it is to dive into the negative emotions that arise, and how much I still find myself wanting to fast-track my way to the good side of life. In fact, I’m writing this as an important reminder to myself, because it takes courage to sit with the ‘bad’ and trust that the ‘good’ will return. This stuff is hard guys! Like, super hard and gritty and painful and messy… It sucks, and I know it sucks, so please don’t think that I’m of the impression that any of this is easy.

It seems to me that there are a few key things to remember when it comes to navigating the darker side of life, and most of them have to do with trust… So get ready to learn how to trust, let go and allow life to unfold. It may seem scary, but it’s actually extremely empowering, and will help you to feel more connected with yourself and your fellow human beings. (Remember: no matter how alone you may feel, we are all in this together, and you are connected with every other living thing on the planet. The less ‘true’ this feels, the more you have to trust that it is).

  • Your life is not meaningless and random – it is VERY meaningful and everything is always exactly as it should be.
  • In every moment there are opportunities to trust more, let go of the need to control, and allow things to just ‘be’, knowing that life is always cheering you on and encouraging you to reach for joy.
  • Trust that you are worthy of joy and happiness. Often, when we feel particularly bad, joy can seem like it’s a very long way from us indeed. What I’ve come to realise is that joy is always present within us; it’s our ability to tap into it and get past our mental and emotional blocks that matters. If joy seems far from your reach, consider that it may actually be closer to you than you could ever have imagined, just waiting for you to give yourself a break, learn to love yourself or let go of the past…
  • Trust the journey that you are on. You know who you are, what phase of your life you are in, and what it is that you need to do to connect with that deep well of joy that exists inside you at all times. Don’t let the demons fool you into thinking that they know you better than you know yourself!! If anything, recognise that your fears are a natural part of being human, thank them for their concern, but ultimately remind them that they don’t get to call the shots. (NB: for more on living a more full and creative life in spite of the fear that arises for all of us, read ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert – you won’t regret it!)
  • All of the above will help you to relax and breathe, anchoring you in the present moment, which ultimately is all that we ever have.
  • Remember that breathing through the pain doesn’t mean accepting that this is how you will always feel. It is absolutely possible for you to accept pain and anguish, whilst dreaming of and trusting in a joyful future 🙂
  • Remember that you are ALWAYS loved. If you need a little encouragement with this one, please listen to ‘In Dreams’ by Jai-Jagdeesh. It’s a beautiful song to play just before bedtime.

As I move through my life, I am becoming increasingly aware that the only version of life that makes sense to me is a magical one, where we are all connected in a giant cosmic journey. The more magic I allow to be present in my life, the deeper my sense of trust and belonging. I’ve tried living in a mundane world-view, and it felt so far from the truth, and brought me so much pain, that I have no choice now but to dive in deep to the spiritual life I feel strongly is calling to me. If you too feel the call of the wild, please consider reading some of Martha Beck’s many wonderful books. She is one crazy lady, in the best and most wonderful way. There are days when just remembering that she exists brings me a sense of relief and belonging. I love you Martha!

Now go forth and allow yourself to begin trusting in yourself and your journey.

Much love,

Kath Xxx

 

Image courtesy of Terry Johnston via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

What made you happy yesterday might not make you happy today

Life is a journey, right? We are told this continuously throughout our lives, by friends and relatives hoping to provide some reassurance or insight. We too, have most likely bestowed this timeless phrase on our loved ones on many an occasion. But do we really know what this means in practice? Do we fully understand how to embrace the constant onward march of time, and the ever-changing circumstances we find ourselves faced with?

I can only speak for myself when I say that I have not yet mastered this skill. I understand the theory behind the journey of life, and letting go of the idea that I was ever in control. I’m certainly much better at accepting the light and dark that enters our lives, and recognising that maybe, just maybe, the lights have gone out so that we may discover something new about ourselves. But change I find tricky, and my skill-set in dealing with life often falls short when it comes to uncertainty and periods of transition. And there definitely is a skill-set involved, without which it’s logical that we may falter and struggle against reality.

There was a lot of change for me growing up, but this doesn’t mean that I know how to handle it. In fact, I’d say I’m less well-equipped than someone who has had a relatively stable upbringing, because our goal as a family was to run away from the problems, and wherever possible, pretend that they didn’t exist. This is perfectly understandable, given that my parents didn’t have the know-how to help us deal with what was going on. That’s not to say that they didn’t do lots of lovely things to soothe and comfort us, or that they didn’t desperately want for us to be happy and well-adjusted. Their love and adoration is not in question here. I think perhaps one of the difficulties with a highly changeable upbringing is that you find yourself always looking for something permanent; something solid to hold onto in a seemingly unfriendly world. But by doing this, you overlook the importance of letting go and of going with the flow of life. And there most definitely is a flow to life, isn’t there? We’ve all experienced that delicious feeling of being on the right path, or of just knowing somehow that life is supporting you in your endeavours.

Note: it’s been important for me to realise that life is always supporting me, even when it feels as though everything is falling apart.

One of my biggest frustrations in life is that what made me happy yesterday might not make me happy today. I can be sailing along, having a perfectly wonderful week, then suddenly everything looks very different. “But wait! I was happy and content before – what’s happened to change how I feel? Why can’t I find that feeling again by doing the same things as before?” It’s a very disheartening experience, and one that can make you feel very powerless and out of control if you let it. The only answer I have come up with so far is to let go and let happiness reveal itself to you in its own time. As tempting as it is to keep looking in the same places, perhaps you need to take a big step back and view life from a different perspective? The truth is that life may look the same as it did yesterday or last year, but we are never the same person, from one day to the next. We are older, wiser, and hopefully have a little more clarity about how we wish to spend our time on this planet. Perhaps the previous year was spent making important discoveries about yourself and/or your relationships, but now the time has come to utilise that knowledge and express more of yourself to the world? Continuing to delve into your inner-psyche might not have the same impact as before because, well, you’re in a different phase of your life, and the nature of life’s journey requires that you move on from where you were before.

This is tough, and often requires patience, support from others, and at times, huge leaps of faith that will leave you wondering what on earth just happened. These are the moments in life where we must gather as much courage as possible, and maybe take things a little less seriously. I know how serious and dark life can feel at times, as I’m sure you do. But survivors of serious illness and near-death experiences will tell you how liberating it is to live for the moment and enjoy each day for what it is, instead of getting so bogged down in worry and negativity.

And let’s not forget that we are all connected in this journey of life. We cannot do this alone, and will never have to, no matter how alone we may feel at times. Being strong and independent doesn’t mean not needing anyone else for support and guidance, and in fact it is a sign of maturity to be able to reach out to others, and recognise when we don’t have the know-how to keep moving in the right direction. Life will keep moving; it’s how we handle it that counts.

Much love,

Kath

 

p.s. I always want to apologise at the end of my blog posts: “Sorry it was so wordy and long, or that it didn’t sound intelligent enough or have enough content”. Well today I will not apologise. If you didn’t like what you read, I salute you for having your own ideas and preferences. If you did like it, well how very exciting!

Image courtesy of WILL POWER via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Shadows and stars

There are so many hidden parts of me, just waiting to get out. I see now, after so many years of anxiety and sadness, that I have been living in the shadows, unaware of what was waiting for me in the light. Like a long dark tunnel, it is necessary to keep moving forwards in order to reach the light. It’s terrifying – truly terrifying. But oh… once you’ve glimpsed the light which lies beyond that dark and confined space, you will know in your heart that there is no turning back.

It’s a strange thing to awaken to your true self. The truth of who I am has always been there, but I have been so very oblivious to it I can hardly believe it. I have been afraid, but I see now that I am brave – courageous beyond my wildest dreams. Where once I felt ashamed, I am beginning to feel a joy in letting it all hang-out. This is me, and there won’t ever be another one of me. Similar, yes. Kindred spirits – definitely. But an exact copy? Nope. I am a part of the universe that has never existed before, and will never exist again. And the same is true for you, whoever you are. A friend of mine called me a ‘star’ the other day, and I liked how it reminded me that I am a part of a much bigger picture. As Gill Edwards put it: “We are all pieces in a giant cosmic jigsaw” (I’m paraphrasing as I don’t remember the exact quote). Needless to say that when I first encountered this quote in Gill’s writings, I felt a sense of belonging and of family that I have spent my life searching for.

I realise that this post makes it sound like I’m close to having all the answers, which is far from the truth. I believe I have a lot more to learn about myself, and I hope many more adventures to go on. But for the first time in my 35 years on this planet, the longing to be my true self is greater than any anxiety about what people may think of me.

So much life to be lived. So many parts of myself to explore and express. So many lovely people to connect and share experiences with.

I still have days where I struggle to feel connected to myself and others, but I know now to let these days pass me by, trusting that they will give way to something more joyful and more true. My disconnected state isn’t my true self, but rather a state of being that masks my true self. This is different to the concept of light and dark existing alongside one another; there will always be good and bad times in our lives, just like the sky can’t always be filled with sunshine. But our true selves remain constant, even if they are hidden away, and even if it’s grey outside and everything in our lives seems to be falling to pieces.

So, I put this to you, my lovely readers. You are a star, shining brightly in an ever-unfolding universe. You are part of something wonderful, but you yourself are wonderful, just as you are. So make like those cheesy slogans we see all over mugs and tote bags, and shine bright for all the world to see.

And one last thing: if you’re only just entering the dark tunnel of your life, be kind and patient with yourself. Keep moving forwards, bit by bit, and when you least expect it, a small amount of light will begin to appear at the other side. Whatever you do, don’t look back.

Love,

Kath

Don’t judge me, I’m only human.

Please don’t judge me – you know nothing of what I’ve been through.

You may think you know, just as I may think that I understand you.

But how can we? How can we really understand what it’s like to walk in each other’s shoes?

I see the way you look at me – constantly assessing my character.

You’ve been doing it since the day we first met, and even now, after all these years, you can’t seem to just let me be.

I know you love me, as I love you.

I try not to judge you, and to let you be. But I do judge your judgement of me.

I have felt judged my whole life, and the last thing I need is to feel that I am under your scrutiny.

You don’t mean to, I know, but I always feel so belittled, so inferior under your watchful gaze.

You can’t know that this is the story of my life – feeling that I’m constantly falling short.

Never belonging

Never fitting in

How could you know? You have never asked, and I have never told you.

In any case, I know how you’d react.

You’d be full of judgements and opinions on that too:

“Oh there’s no point holding onto the past! You’ve got to let these things go like I have”

“You’re too much of a worrier, that’s your problem”

“Stop procrastinating and live for the moment! Enjoy life – it’s wonderful!”

But I see how much the past troubles you

You mention it all the time

You protest too loudly for me to believe you when you say that you have moved on

And as for my worrying… well, there was plenty to worry about growing up, and no one who could really help me to get a handle on life; to manage my emotions and feel safe in the world.

Under these circumstances, most people would become prone to anxiety and worry.

So don’t judge me or make me feel that I’ve somehow got it all wrong. I’ve judged and chastised myself enough over the years.

What I need now is love and acceptance

To feel deep down inside my bones that I belong and that I am connected to the world around me

Your judgements do not serve me, but your love means the world.

 

Image courtesy of Johnny Lai via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution licence

Is it any wonder?

Is it any wonder that I failed to speak my truth growing up?

So much to say, but no one to hear me – including myself.

I learnt to be silent

I learnt to value the opinions of others above my own

I never learnt how to be an ‘I’

No sense of self

No space to freely explore and express who I am

And oh so much fear

Insecurity reigned, like an evil queen.

Always too scared to discover what’s on the inside

Too frightened to let anyone in

Have I ever truly let someone in?

And felt that true connection with someone I love?

There have definitely been moments: tiny sparks that burned bright but fizzled out all too soon.

But that inner-wiring exists nonetheless

I am hardwired for connection; we all are.

But first I must connect with myself, daring to lift the lid and see what’s inside.

I’m sure that what I see won’t all be good or perfect

But who wants to be good and perfect anyway?!

I will see – have seen – kindness, that’s for sure.

Oh yes, there is a giant heart beating inside my chest.

A heart that so desperately wants to reach out and touch the hearts of others

But first I must heal my relationship with my self

Then I will have much to share with the world

Then I will feel peace and joy

Then I will know that I have found my way home

 

Image courtesy of Ghost of Kuji via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution Licence

The Woodland Den

Have you heard of the Woodland Den? No? Let me tell you about it then, for it is my greatest wish that as many people as possible may know of and benefit from this magical place… I first stumbled upon the den as a young girl, and since then have visited almost every day. It is my home, my sanctuary and my friend. I love this place dearly, but it is now time that I shared it with others.

The path that leads to the den is narrow and winding, and trees line the way up the hill and away from the village. This woodland is the most beautiful I have ever seen, with many different varieties of trees and other plant life. No matter the weather, the woods always feel peaceful and safe. In the autumn and winter months, the smell of wood smoke penetrates the landscape, reminding me of warm cosy evenings in front of the fire, perhaps with a steaming mug of hot chocolate and a gingerbread man. In truth, I have never lived in a house with an open fire, but this is a place of imagination and dreams, and anything is possible. When you are almost at the den, the path becomes very steep indeed, and suddenly you find that you are at the top of a hill, looking into a clearing in the trees and foliage. The clearing is round, and the entrance is marked by a large boulder which bears the words ‘Woodland Den’. This is it – you have arrived! And what a treat you are in store for…

As you enter the den, you notice that the atmosphere becomes still and serene, no matter how bad the weather rages outside, or down below in the village. Dried leaves line the floor like a crunchy, autumnal carpet, and fairly lights hang from the trees at the edges of the clearing. An outdoor wood burning stove is already lit, so if you arrive at the den feeling a little cold, please go ahead and warm yourself in front of the fire.

After some time, you will most likely begin to notice that there are many animals on the perimeter of the den, looking in on you with curiosity. Rather than feeling that you have intruded on their space, you feel a deep sense of belonging, and you know instinctively that you are very welcome here. This place belongs to you, and you to it. You are one and the same, and the feeling of safety you experience in this magical place is like nothing you’ve experienced before.

I can see you standing there, my friend, smiling, breathing in the crisp, woody air, and noticing the sounds of the woodland all around you. My first visit to this place was such a wonderful surprise: I will never forget the sensation of being completely held, and completely safe. In this place, I need be nothing more than I already am, and there is nothing at all to do other than what feels most joyful and comforting. This place exists inside of me, but it is as real as you and I. I can visit it at any time, and experience a calm serenity that day-to-day life often leads me to forget.

Now that I have introduced you to the Woodland Den, I would like to encourage you to visit as often as you like, and experience its ambience like a loving embrace. Although, I have to say that seeing you standing there in the den has made me wonder… What if it doesn’t quite suit your needs? Perhaps I have omitted something that you would find reassuring or entertaining in some way? I’m afraid there is no television, and now I’m beginning to wonder if this might be something you would enjoy. Do you enjoy to curl up in front of a good film with a hot drink and a close friend? If you’re going to bring guests, I suppose I really ought to furnish the place accordingly, with a sofa and some blankets. Oh dear, I appear not to have thought this through at all. Unless… unless you would like to make some alterations? Believe me when I say that the sky is the limit. All you need do is imagine what you desire, and poof! It will appear in front of you – or behind you, depending on your preferred layout. Feel free to sweep away the leaves and add a plush carpet for added warmth and luxuriousness, but be warned that the creatures that live in the woods may come to join you if you make it very cosy and comfortable. The foxes and badgers in particular have been known to visit me when I’ve snuggled up under a large blanket.

So my friend, I think I have told you all I need to about the Woodland Den. I hope that with time, it reminds you of something you already know: we are all worthy of joy and love, and there is always a place inside of us where we can experience safety and serenity.

 

 

Image courtesy of Richard Walker via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Healing from the past

How many of you out there have something (or several things) from your past which you would like to heal from, so that you can be the person you truly are underneath all the stress and worry, and step into your best life?

I know I do, that’s for sure. And it’s taken me a while to even reach this point. Before you can heal from something you must first realise that you are injured in some way, and then come to terms with the idea of letting it go. Sometimes it can feel so much easier to hold on to the things that keep us from being our true selves, because we feel safe and secure in our pain and suffering. It sounds strange doesn’t it?! Who in their right mind would want to suffer? Someone who feels it is a safer option than showing up in the world and letting others see them for who they really are, that’s who. And oh how natural and normal it is to feel this way. There ain’t nothing wrong with it, and it’s only when we’re good and ready to start working on these things that we can expect to do so. It’s a gradual process of learning to feel safe in the world as who you are, and not who others expect you to be. It’s a gradual process of looking in the mirror and learning to love what you see. It’s a gradual process of trusting your inner guidance, which is always loving, and always there for you if you choose to listen.

So now I’m ready to heal from my past. I’m ready to move on, and I’m scared to death. Why is something I want to do so flipping scary??? This is something I’ve chosen, of my own volition, and it’s something I feel has been calling to me for a while now. I want to do it, the universe wants me to do it, my cat wants me to do it (she didn’t actually tell me this, but I’m pretty sure she left a coded message in her food bowl the other day, so…)

Anyway, I have a few theories I’d like to share about why it’s so hard, if you’d care to keep reading 🙂

  • It’s hard because of course it’s hard! I mean, come on. I’m only human. I’m stretching my comfort zone and facing my fears, and that’s never going to be easy. The fact that it’s hard tells me that I’m doing something right. I’m not playing it safe; I’m beginning to take small risks and change my perception of myself and the world.
  • It’s hard because sometimes, the hard stuff is where the good stuff is hiding. Make sense? Probably not. I just mean that if you can process whatever you’re feeling (sadness, anger etc.), you’re likely to open doors to personal joy that you didn’t even know were closed. Any difficult period in your life is always an opportunity to grow.
  • OK, so it turns out I have fewer theories than I thought I had, so I hope the two above will do for now!

As usual, I’m writing this because I feel the need to remind myself of these key bits of wisdom I’ve gained in recent years, and because I know by now that I am far from alone in my human experience.

I’ve already gown and expanded my comfort zone. What I’m going through tells me that it’s time to continue that journey and begin to dip my toes into the life that is calling to me. Or maybe I need to dive in head first? I don’t know. Baby steps will do for now, and being here, writing this blog post, is one of those baby steps. It doesn’t always feel easy sharing this stuff, but I know I have to. It calls to me, and the fact that it scares me tells me I’m onto a winner.

Just one more thing before I sign off: I sometimes find that when a big life change is coming my way, there is a natural grieving process, where all my emotions rise to the surface and I can feel new pathways being forged in how I see myself. Letting this be what it is and not questioning it or judging it in any way is so important. You may find it useful when going through this process of death and rebirth (sort of like shedding your old skin) to de-clutter your home, rearrange the furniture or buy some new clothes. Clearing out old memories and energy from you life makes room for something new.

I hope you lovely bunch of human beings are having a good week. Always remember not to take life too seriously, and to laugh as often as you possibly can. Apparently our brains can’t distinguish between genuine and fake laughter, which just goes to show that humans aren’t as smart as we sometimes think we are!

Peace and love,

Kath

Not everyone is ready for your (or my) advice

If you are like me, you frequently find yourself offering advice and personal wisdom to those around you. From close friends and family members to perfect strangers, if I can offer even the tiniest nugget of useful information or emotional support, I feel something light up inside me and I feel somehow more complete as a person. I’d love it if someone walked up to me in the street with a pen and paper and said: “So, in your opinion, what is the key to worrying less what others think and getting on with living life on your own terms?” My reply would be something along the lines of: “I’m so glad you asked! I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, and I have rather a lot of ideas on the subject. Shall we go find a coffee shop and get to work?”

It’s not that I want people to think I’m intellectually superior in some way, or that I like the sound of my own voice. On the contrary, talking about this stuff reveals an intense vulnerability inside of me, because it requires me to delve into the depths of my own personal experience, and to admit that I have spent the majority of my life in a state of terror, hiding behind as much social armour as I could possibly get my hands on (think university degrees, defence mechanisms, attempts to blend in with my outward appearance…) You know the sort of thing, I’m sure. I also find talking to people quite exhausting at times, because my brain is constantly trying to tailor what I say so that the other person in the conversation gets what they need in that moment in time. This may sound virtuous, but it’s exhausting, and I often end the day depleted of my personal store of energy.

But to be asked what I think about this most fascinating and wonderful of topics – one that is so personally relevant to me and which I have spent thousands of hours pondering. Well, that would just be an honour.

The trouble is that no one ever does ask – at least not in an obvious or forthright sort of way. And if they do, they are only able to hear what I have to say according to their own personal reference point, and that might mean ignoring things they aren’t ready to hear, or feeling offended by a simple universal truth about human nature which simply hasn’t found its way into their consciousness yet.

And yet I have this unbelievable desire inside of me to help others to worry less and to feel more freedom in their lives. Writing is one way to achieve that, and I hope that this blog goes some way to brightening a few people’s days or enabling them to see the world through new eyes. If you are here, reading this post, it is because you are ready and open to the ideas I am discussing. I am extremely grateful for that, and honoured that you are taking the time to work your way through my ramblings and find something of personal relevance in them.

Perhaps writing is the answer to my desire to help others – more so than I currently give credit to it for. Maybe I need to start to trust that there are people out there who have asked me to give my thoughts and ideas, just not in the obvious way I’m waiting around for. It certainly feels like I’m being called towards something, and saying no to that calling is not bringing me any inner peace whatsoever. Who’d have thought it?!

I think what a lot of this comes down to is feeling like a small insignificant speck in a giant universe. Our view of the world is so much more expansive now than it ever has been, and the opportunity for us to feel unworthy, invisible or insignificant is so much greater. But in my world, I am everything – as you are in yours. I don’t believe that life is meaningless or that we don’t all have something unique to contribute to the world. And if I was to take my own advice, I’d choose myself, and stop waiting for others to do it for me.

So until someone does walk up to me in the street and ask for my thoughts on how to overcome feelings of worry and inadequacy, I’m just going to keep writing and trusting that there are plenty of people out there who are in exactly the right place in their lives to begin absorbing my ideas and insights.

Finally, let’s all try not to get too offended when someone isn’t willing or able to hear the advice we have to offer. There was a time when we weren’t ready for it either.

Love always,

Kath

I’m just a teenage dirtbag

So, one of my biggest obstacles for moving forward in life and doing what I want to do (as opposed to what I suspect others want me to do) is that I have an angry, scared and confused teenage version of myself who feels stuck and controlled. I woke up this morning feeling just this – controlled and powerless – and began to have a gentle conversation with myself about it, whilst trying not to judge myself for how I’m feeling at this moment in time.

This concept of different selves has slowly emerged for me over the last few years, and I’ve become increasingly aware that my teenage years were a particularly dark phase in my life. These are the years when I decided that the only way to survive and feel safe was to work incredibly hard to get the very best grades, and to decipher what other people deemed acceptable in every interaction I had with another human being. This is a tricky and pointless endeavour, I must warn you, since everyone you meet will have a different idea of what’s ‘right’ or ‘good’.

So yeah, teenage me is terrified. She doesn’t believe me when I tell her that she is loved and that it’s safe to follow her heart and do what feels right for her. She’s definitely more on board with my adult view of the world than she was previously, but when a big change comes along, she tends to get really angry and try her best to control the situation.

I can’t encourage this kind of personal insight enough; getting to know your many ‘selves’ can be an incredibly important and useful tool for addressing any hang-ups you might have and living the most balanced and joyful life you possibly can.

I used to see this teenage version of myself as a problem. I didn’t like her very much because she seemed so angry, and as a person who struggles to express ‘negative’ emotions, I found it difficult to accept this part of myself. Expressing anger is a dangerous business, and absolutely makes me a terrible person – or at least that’s what I’ve believed for most of my life. It’s taken me until now to realise that all emotions are acceptable, and that to not express or acknowledge huge chunks of your personal/inner experience is a recipe for misery.

Slowly but surely, I’m beginning to value and even treasure this angry adolescent version of myself, because she is only ever trying to do what she feels is the best. She’s using the tools she has at her disposal to try to keep me safe, and if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. It’s through her experience of the world that I’ve learnt to worry less about what others think, and to place a much higher value on my own inner journey. It’s thanks to her that I’m now pursuing my dreams. And if I really wish to make the leap and live the life I suspect I’m supposed to be living, she needs to come along for the ride – both as a navigational aid, and so that she can continue her journey towards healing and learn to express the parts of herself that she’s long suspected are bad and unworthy.

I realise now that I’m almost at the end of this blog post that I haven’t explained the reason for the title: ‘I’m just a teenage dirtbag’. Well, when I was feeling all angsty and mixed up this morning, I went to turn on the radio and sent an intention out into the universe that whatever song came on would somehow give me an insight into what I was feeling. Hilarious, thanks universe.

I must go now. Me and my teenage dirtbag self have some work to do.

Sending much love and encouragement to all of you.

Bye for now x

Know you are loved

All my life, I have worried that I wasn’t loved, or lovable. I wasn’t really aware of this deep-seated concern of mine. I knew – in theory – that my family loved me. I was so sure of this fact that it never occurred to me to ask myself if I really felt loved. To know something in theory is very different to knowing it in your heart and soul, and when I look back, so many of my problems (if not all of them) stem from a feeling of unworthiness. I suppose another way of describing this is to say that I felt I was only worthy or lovable or acceptable etc… if I met other people’s expectations, which are such a flimsy and changeable thing to try to grasp onto. You might finally decide you’ve cracked it and know how to please a particular relative of yours – let’s say your mum – only to discover that her mood and opinions the next day seem completely different. You realise with horror that all your sister/dad/son really want is to have the final say or to express the loudest opinion. I have certainly experienced the frustration of echoing someone’s ideas in the faint hopes of pleasing them, only to discover that they would rather contradict themselves than agree with you on anything. Other people’s behaviour will always be their own responsibility, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t find a sense of peace by altering ourselves to please them. On the contrary, this will always take us further and further away from a sense of love, since we are moving away from our true selves.

So if you can learn to feel how loved you are – not with your head, but with your heart – and to accept that you can’t ever please everyone all of the time, you can reach a place in your life where you can enter a room without fear of not being good enough. The best version of yourself will always be the truest one, and that can and will involve upsetting a few people on occasion.

But how can we know that we are loved, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel that way? Well, ask yourself this: do you love your family, even though they aren’t perfect and sometimes/often upset you? Do you love your cat even though it’s scratched a new piece of furniture? Do you love your husband/wife even though they constantly forget to take the rubbish bins out? Yes, of course you do! And in fact, as much as certain people may get on your nerves, would you really want them to be any different? Well, to be fair, it would be nice if your mum was less judgemental or your dad didn’t still treat you like a child, but at the end of the day, that’s part of who they are, and that’s OK. If you resist these aspects of your family and loved ones, you are placing conditions on your love in the same way they do when they call into question some aspect of your being. So yes, you are loved. Very much so, in fact. And if you are open to the idea of a benevolent universe that knows each of us in great detail (as Gill Edwards describes in her book ‘Life is a Gift’), then you should know that your worthiness has never been in question. It is only our false beliefs about ourselves and the world that make us feel that we are less than we should be.

All of this isn’t easy. It takes time to warm up to the idea that we are all loved and worthy in our own right, and that we are free to be who we are regardless of whose feathers we might ruffle. And the next time your get hurt, you will probably feel tempted to retreat back into a sense of loneliness and fear. And if you do – that’s fine! You’re only human after all. Take your time and practice feeling loved and loving others in return. Entering a room knowing that you are loved – whether by the people in front of you or the universe at large – is completely different to walking into a room already fearing that you’ve fallen short in some way.

OK, this has been quite a whimsical post, but I’m in kind of a whimsical mood! I think it’s Christmas and spending so much time with family and friends. It isn’t always the easiest time of the year, but knowing we are loved can make all those social gatherings a lot more bearable – or maybe it will give you the courage you need to say no to something when you’d rather be somewhere else.

I hope you’ve all had a warm and cosy Christmas.

Bye for now!

Kath

p.s. Image courtesy of riccardo f.m. via Flickr Creative Commons: https://tinyurl.com/ybp3b2jw