Acceptance is ultimately a choice we make, it can take years or it can happen in a moment; the choice is yours.
At the age of 24, I was living in the UK, trying to ignite my entrepreneurial spirit, and dating a man who was a student of Buddhism. I had great dreams; I wanted to help others to heal themselves in an empowering way, and I wanted to create supportive and holistic living spaces to support well-being and happiness. I had gained qualifications in interior design, colour healing and some basic coaching skills, but the truth is, I didn't believe that I could create my beautiful dreams. I was struggling with myself and with trying to overcome depression. I believed if I could live in a sunnier climate, if I could achieve some sign of growth towards my dreams; which meant to grow from working as a waitress to create income and giving my free time to build my dreams, to actually making money from what I loved and feeling confident in the process, that I would feel better. If I lived an outdoor existence, I would feel better. If I escaped the rate race mentality of the commuter town Iived in, and found a more spiritual path, I would feel better.
'Accept the situation' my boyfriend encouraged. I considered his suggestion, and I believed it meant giving up, and giving in to what was.
'No, I will not give up on my dreams, I have to find a way to make life better, and then I can show others the way' I argued. 'I am determined and I will fight for a better life' I affirmed.
I did not understand why giving in to what was would help me. No, I would fight for my life, for my well-being and for what mattered to me, I was not prepared to settle and I was stubborn in my plight. And so, I remained feeling low, wanting to create change, not knowing how to, wavering between hope and hopeless, afraid my dreams could never come true, afraid I would always feel depressed, afraid life would not get better. Thankfully, change did happen, life brought opportunities and I grabbed them, making brave leaps into a new and sunny world, where I began to see some of my dreams come to life. However, a change in location or situation brought only temporary relief through distraction and newness, it does change my inner world.
I didn't know it then, but I had really misunderstood the meaning of acceptance.
In “Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness” Jon Kabat-Zinn’s wrote:
“It takes a huge amount of fortitude and motivation to accept what is- especially when you don’t like it-and then work wisely and effectively as best you possibly can with the circumstances you find yourself in and with the resources at your disposal, both inner and outer, to mitigate, heal, redirect, and change what can be changed”
I began to understand acceptance during a process of therapy where I was encouraged to accept my emotions instead to trying to run away from them, or avoid them. I didn't want to know them, to experience them, to suffer in them, but, as research has shown, when we avoid and suppress emotion, it can make anxiety worse, and I believe, based on experience, suppression and avoidance only prolong the suffering of the soul and of facing the inevitable, our pain and our suffering, that is, if we truly want healing to occur and happiness to blossom.
The first time I allowed the sensations of anxiety go through me, without trying to escape, it was uncomfortable, painful, overwhelming, and then it passed. It would be a few cycles of this process before I realized the suffering passes as long as I allowed it, as long as I did not fuel it with fear, worry and negative thoughts, and as long as I did loose myself and my mind in the twittering of anxious thought. It may sound simple, but this is the work of immense strength and time and patience. I believe only because I understand the intensity of this work; the patience i have needed for myself and been gifted by my therapist, that I understand the space, acceptance, patience and love that we need to give to ourselves and to those who we support in their process.
Learning to accept certain emotions and sensations took some practice, and then I began to see the light; what could be possible if I made the choice to accept, to feel, and be strong with my mind. After some time had passed, I would feel the surge of adrenalin race through my body; the consequence of being anxious and depressed for too long before I sought help, and I would accept it, because it was the reality and fighting against what is, I learnt, was somewhat futile. When I managed to accept more emotions and sensations, I gained more strength to guide my mind to observe the sensations in my body, and place my thoughts in the present, as an observer of my experience, instead of drowning in worry, doubt and fear. As long as I guided my mind on a positive stream of thought, the suffering would pass, and I would free up space in my world to create solutions and better ways of being, because I was no longer fueling the fears, worries and doubts, I was, in that moment, enabled to begin crafting a better path where I would place footsteps to make my inner transformation, and pave my inner road to a better life.
Once I began to grow more confident in my ability to better manage anxiety, and I understood the power of acceptance, I realized the many ways in which acceptance could be brought into our lives to improve well-being, reduce fear, suffering, dis-ease and the struggles with anxiety, worry, doubt and depression. These are not the issues of a person with an anxiety 'disorder' or depression, these are real challenges we all face, and the process to better manage them apply to everyone. Mental health and psychological well-being affect us all, at all ages and stages, and there are psychological and spiritual tools we can access and apply to help each other heal, learn and grow along the inner path to a better life, regardless of whether or not we change the outer story. Indeed, it is inevitable if we change the inner world, the outer world will change. Acceptance is on the greatest facilitators of our transformation into improved well-being and a better life.
I realized acceptance could be applied to the self, emotions, situations, the past, present and future, to people and places, to noise and discomfort, to identity, limitation, body image and self-expression, and to the unknown and the uncontrollable. And I realized that had I accepted my situation at 24, it may not have changed my situation and the same outcome may have occurred, but acceptance would have allowed me to make peace with the moment, to end the repetition of my distress, unhappiness, and suffering, and to support me in a place of greater peace, as I set about making the changes I wanted: I could have enjoyed a more empowered and positive experience in my process of transformation and growth.
Today I have new dreams and goals, and many stories of success. I have pursued more studies and training and gained degrees in psychology and mental health and learnt new skills to support growth and transformation. I have greater confidence in my ability to bring dreams to life, and yet, many of the important things remain out of my control. And so, I have a choice; get angry, be afraid, worry about what may or may not be, or, I can accept what is, open myself to the wonder of what can be, choose to embrace a positive perception and take action in the direction of my dreams, for areas where I can effect change, while I invite life to participate in supporting my wishes in those areas that remain in the hands of fate, or in the subtleties of co-creation. In acceptance, I let go of so much fear and doubt and make way for new faith, strength, and trust in myself and in the great mystery. In acceptance, I remove the walls and dams I have built, and allow the river of life to flow into my world, and for me to flow along the river, allowing the currents to lead where they lead. When I accept, I not only change how i feel, I change my inner world and the world we live in for the better.
Acceptance was not born alone, it was developed with allies including appreciation, gratitude, support, love and faith.
As part of my process I made a commitment to learn to love more. Acceptance is an aspect of love. And so, because I choose to grow from love, I chose acceptance. Because I chose to grow from love, I chose to give focus to appreciation and gratitude, and to place my mind in these heart-centered places when the fears and worries haunted me. Because I chose love, I chose to put my mind on faith and trust instead of fear, because fear made me feel bad, trapped and suffocated and faith and trust lifted and liberated me. I wanted to feel better, the choice to come from love, gave me this strength. As the love grew, so did acceptance, and as love and acceptance developed, and I began to see my faith grow, and my confidence develop.
There is one great power underlying all of this, and that power is choice; my choice to place my mind where I choose, and my choice to come from love.
Healing, therapy and indeed living is an art. I do not believe there is one road, or one way, it is about building up the qualities that empower a person to love and believe in themselves and giving them the tools and strategies to support their own vision and values and challenges. Support has been essential, I could not do this alone, I have support in various forms, and I am grateful for all of them. My process has given me more than my academic studies, it has given me deep understanding, more acceptance, stronger love and more faith, a process that I perceive as on-going; we never stop growing.
Everything is a choice and we are free to make our own. When we make the choice to love and accept, like an art, it needs to be practiced, we need to convince ourselves that this is the way. There will be falls and stumbles, and these are for accepting. If we accept what is, where we are at, what has been, and what could be, if we accept ourselves, we grow our love, our power, our peace, our strength to outshine fear, and our freedom.
There are many facets to the Diamond that is love; there is romantic love, the love for a parent or child, the love of friends and your dear family pet, the love of nature, the love of french food and wine, the love of your career or vocation, the love for self, for God and for life. There is the feeling of being in love; the attachment that may be to another, there is conditional and unconditional love, and there is the sensation of expansion and light when the heart opens. And, underlying all this love, I believe the fundamental essence of love is is simply the choice to love, and that the choice to love yourself is where true love begins, because it is only when we truly love who we are, that we hold the capacity for embracing and sharing true love in our world.
What does it mean to love the self?
Answering this question came to me through a process and over time, as a result of all falling out of love with myself and then learning to love again.
The story begins in love. A child is born. Then, life happened, and over time the interaction of this child's life experiences with interpretations and beliefs formed about these experiences, initiated the child's story about who they are and how the world is. But, the truth is, the perception of the child is not the truth, it is a story life has led the child to believe about who she is and how her world is. It cannot be the truth, for the very simple reason that if you were to look through the eyes of every living being and see how they see themselves, other people and the world, you would see through a multi-million faceted diamond, and even this would not reveal the truth.
My story begins as a tale of a 4-year old child who was very shy. She was bullied at school. In her young mind, the story she told was of a cruel and nasty girl who would hurt her, because she was shy. She did not like the experience and so she tried to avoid being around this girl.
When the young girl turned 6 years of age, she moved to a new school. It happened that she was the only girl in a class full of 6 year old boys. They didn’t want to interact with her. And so the young girl told herself that: ‘six year old boys don’t like girls’ and she adapted by playing with the younger girls in her break times.
At 7, she was moved to a school with older students, and was also put in a class full of of boys. The boys were cruel. They chased her, spat at her and mostly ignored her. There were no younger girls to play with in this school and so she wandered the school ground alone, suppressing her sadness to survive.
At 8, she was moved to an all girls school. Here the girls had known each other several years and had formed their social groups. To each group she approached, she was told: ‘go find another group, we don’t want you’ . To this the girl responded to herself: ‘Nobody likes me’ and she accepted the situation, it was her normality, and she got on with enjoying her education. In time she started to make friends with the quieter girls, the nicer girls, while frequently bullied by the others, to which she suppressed and hide her sadness to survive.
At 11, this young girl began to develop into a young women, her self-confidence was growing, she was feeling good about being a good student and she was generally happy in herself. She moved on to secondary school, where she was one of a few day girls in a boarding school. Although shy, she decided she would put aside her shyness and get to know the others, and look out for the boarders who may be home-sick. When she noticed one of the boarding students being bullied. She knew the pain of bullying and didn’t want someone else to be so sad so she decided to become her friend. Then the bully and all the girls in the whole year turned in her. To this the young girl fought with all her might to suppress her sadness, and was creative in finding ways to avoid situations where she might be bullied or rejected. And she had one friend; one girl with the strength to resist the crowd. She tried to cope with the situation.
But, by the end of that year, it was just too much and she became depressed. The story in the young girls developing mind became tinged with clouds of darkness. She began to see her world through the eyes and the voices of the harsh judgments the bullies had flooded her with, she made them her own.
By the end of that year she turned inward to ask: ‘what is so wrong with me’. She could not find an answer and so she began to scrutinize,and looking for things to change so that she would become liked and accepted. She bullied herself with judgment about her fat legs, developing breasts and her silly giggles. And she responded to these dark thoughts by silencing herself, retreating into loneliness, losing weight, and judging herself with the harshness of 70 bullies.
This marks the turning point in the story, the time she this girl stopped loving herself. As a result, the quality of her life began to diminish, impacting on her social life, education, happiness, psychological well-being and mental health.
For a few years she drifted in darkness, carried only by her hope and dreams that one day she would leave school and build her dreams. At 19, she did just this, but, so after many years of depression, her mind continued to tell only stories of darkness, even when she was living the opportunity to build her dreams, and doing what she loved.
Learning to Love the Self
HOPE carried her. The beauty of hope is that you only need a flicker of a candle flame to mark an impression in darkness. Her hope was in a dream of a creative career doing what she loved. It may have been years ahead, but she had vision and direction; hope for change and a brighter future. A person who makes the choice to pursue a dream of hope still has a little love in them.
In therapy she took the next step towards learning to love herself, when she took time to understand her story. What she came to understand was that there was nothing wrong with her, that she was not a reject, a nothing, or a person what was not lovable or likeable, but that these were the stories that belonged to the other girls, to the bullies; it was their judgment, not her. So she returned their stories to the rightful owners and identified her own story; the story of a child who was shy and needed to learn how to build her self-esteem. But, as a result of the years gone by, she also needed to heal depression and damage she had done to herself.
One of the greatest tools in learning to develop self-love was mindful awareness. When she learnt that she could stand back from herself and observe her thoughts and body sensations as a silent observer, she was able to see the stories in her mind; the stories of judgment, criticism, rejection, sadness and fear, and the stories of hope that she had always kept alive. And from this place of observation, she was empowered to take command of her mind and decide which stories she would continue to listen to, and which she would return to sender or simply dissolve in the developing light of her love. Through mindfulness she became empowered to make the conscious choice to learn to start loving herself, by choosing loving thoughts and actions.
KNOW WHAT MATTERS TO YOU AND HONOUR THIS
In her early 20’s, attention was brought to her values; to what matters most. She identified that what mattered to her was living with a sense of meaning and purpose, to be able to heal herself, live in a positive environment that supported her well-being, enjoy good friends and one day, to fall in love and live in the sunshine to life her darkness into feeling better. She dreamt of becoming an inspiring writing and someone who helps others heal through therapy work. When she looked at her values, and she looked at her life, she realized there were many changes to make. It was in committing to make these changes, and slowly experiencing them become her story, that her self-esteem began to develop, because she was honouring her truth, and she was becoming successful in the maker of her dreams.
Through identification of her values, she was also invited to consider her self-worth. She began to decide what was acceptable in her mind and in her world and who and what was not. She decided to start saying: 'I have value and worth' but when she looked for supporting evidence, she could not find it.
Make Time to Heal
She continued to pursue her dreams and her meaningful purpose and she realized that she was growing the strength of her mind, but, deep inside, she was not fully integrating her knowledge into wisdom. She was haunted by the pain of her past and the years she had lost, and she did not always treat herself with love. Recognising this deeper truth, the young woman decided that she needed to deeply heal herself, to free herself from her suffering her traumas and all her suppressed pain. She embarked on a course of therapy, asking for help in reaching places that she was not able to heal by herself, and she learnt that asking for help is a choice of love, an act of courage and faith in the belief in herself and another to support a return to love.
Do What Makes You Happy
This young woman had a dream to make life better, to make a difference, and to turn her suffering into something of meaning and value that would help others in an empowering way. But she was so fixated on her need to prove herself, to be accepted, to affirm her value, and to be successful, that she gave no time to anything else that made her happy. She learnt that she believed she was not allowed to be happy, until she was successful. She was lost in her own illusion. When she gave herself permission to do things in the name of her happiness, a new light emerged from within and filled her with radiance. As a result the stories in her mind grew into stories of gratitude, appreciation, happiness, and joy and she learnt that choosing happiness, is is a choice of love.
One of the most empowering teachings was in the art of acceptance. To learn to accept what has been, what is, what may be, who she is, the emotions she had suppressed so long, and the way her world is, is a process that took time. It is indeed an art, and it required practice. The young women understood the wisdom of acceptance and she tried to embrace it. Sometimes she was successful and sometimes she failed, and in this, she also learnt to apply acceptance in her limitation, her humanity and to surrender her perfection and high expectation. As she grew in acceptance, something remarkable happened that marked a significant point in her transformation; it was as if a soft strong light developed within her, the flicker of the candle flame had ignited the energy of love growing in her heart, and she felt this light grow, and in this she felt a new connection with herself and understood that she was finally making a return to love.
It was is, by the very nature embracing acceptance, that she was carried along flowing river, naturally, into forgiveness. She was able to forgive the bullies and apply forgiveness to other aspects of her life, and she did this because she wanted to let go and move into peace. She choose forgiveness because she choose to love herself and set herself free.
Believe In Yourself
As her light and love grew brighter and she experienced her dreams developing, and her dedication to love grow stronger, she realized that the stories of failure and judgement still echoed in her mind. To this she responded by applying more love, and she did this by deciding that she would believe in herself and the power that enabled her to make the choice to believe in herself, was love. Because she choose to love, she choose to believe, because to doubt was not a choice of love.She did not know what the outcome would be; she was placing herself in a vulnerable situation, but she could choose to walk the path with light or in the shadows, and she was done walking in the shadows.
Share Your love
With growing love; through understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, the choice to love, appreciation, gratitude, compassion, the connection made with her own power, with her love, also granted her the capacity to begin to truly love others and in this, she began to find a connection she had been missing, and a depth of meaning and purpose that had evolved from a concept of mind, to become the light of her heart.
We can only truly open our hearts when we truly come from love and this takes time to grow. Learning to love yourself allows you to develop your greatest power and share your greatest gift.
If you are interested in working through an empowering process of learning to develop your self-esteem, please get in touch to schedule a time to call and explore how I can facilitate your process and journey.
Learn more at: www.antoniabehan.com
As the current year draws to a close and the new year dawns, I like to take time to reflect on the wisdom teachings gained, the transformations that have occurred, the happy memories I want to imprint in my mind, and the new intentions and visions to craft for this new year.
The theme of my year has been acceptance; to accept what was and is in my world, and within myself; who I am, how I think and feel, the emotions that flow in and out of my days, and the interactions I experience with other people and my world. One of my greatest teachers has been fear. As a focused challenge to manage, fear has served a pivotal role in teaching me to love more. This is a journey in process that I accept may well be infused in lessons of a lifetime; we simply become better at managing our fears as we mature in wisdom.
It has been in learning to manage fear and maintain fear where it belongs in my world; as a warning of what to be aware of, or of immediate and real danger, that I have been rewarded with a new gift. I have learnt that when fear is serving as a warning, based on my efficient brain triggering old fear memories that warn me that the same event and outcome could happen again, that when I take this warning sign as my reality and engage in the lived experience of fear as though it were real; a fearsome event or situation is really happening, I suffer. However, when I have taken charge of my mind with success, and reminded myself to place fear where it belongs; as a useful reminder to be mindful, but not afraid, and when I have thanked fear and my efficient brain for this reminder, and informed fear that it is no longer needed, because nothing fearful is actually happening, I have learnt that my brain is then liberated from the limitation of old patterns of thinking, so that the fear based stories of the past remain where they belong, and worries are cushioned in the reassurance of new carefully chosen thoughts and positive self-talk, which allows my mind to open to fresh inspiration, bringing new ideas, solutions, insight and possibility that was not able to infiltrate a mind absorbed in fear. in addition, these insights have often served to further dilute the fearsome thoughts, by revealing a new path, a new solution or a new way. I can allow my mind to be efficient in reminding me to be aware, or, I can guide my mind to be efficient in inspiring my life with insight and inspiration; to live in darkness, or light.
I am learning that when we manage fear, we set ourselves free. Acceptance has played a powerful role in this process, because it has been through acceptance of sensations of fear, and sitting with them, and breathing through them, that the feeling of fear has been allowed to simply pass, as it inevitably does, when it is not fed with an influx of fearsome thoughts. The choice to accept has been strengthened with the fundamental decision to live from a core place of love, over fear. Because I choose love, I choose acceptance; acceptance is an act of love. Because I choose acceptance, I make peace with myself, my thoughts and emotions, and my situation. This breeds inner peace. With a growing sense of inner peace, the conflict with fear ends because I empower myself to choose not to create thoughts of fear, but rather I allow the feeling of fear to be present when it is triggered by my efficient brain, so that in my peaceful acceptance, my mind has the energy and peace to create powerful words of love and encouragement that have the ability to dismantle fear and dissolve it in the mists of love. With no fuel to hold my mind in a state of fear, I move into the light.
Now that I understand the power of love and acceptance in the resolution of fear, I recognise that I can only become a victim to fear if I choose to. This path is a challenging path and sometimes fear takes hold with strong force. My challenge is to grow more love and acceptance and faith; faith that things will be okay, and faith that there is no need to be afraid. Anything can happen, so why choose fear when I can choose faith. Faith is a choice of love. I choose faith because I want peace, and in choosing peace, I am being loving to myself. In recognition of the choice to love, I am given power and strength to dissolve fear and to believe in my new and beautiful dreams. Fear is only as powerful as our own minds allow it to be, and at any point, we can step on the pathway towards managing fear and choosing to empower ourselves with self-management skills and our love.
Now, as I cast my vision on 2018 and the exciting intentions I am crafting, I move with appreciation and gratitude into the new year, carrying with me the blessings that fear has taught me. Indeed, fear may have given me the greatest gift of all, because in learning to manage fear, I have been initiated onto the path to love, and on this path I am learning the secrets to true peace, freedom and happiness. In crafting a new year from a place of love, I now create not only the dreams and goals I want to accomplish, but also the true wishes of my heart; to live with mind and body health, happiness and love, because from this foundation, anything I grow will be in alignment with my true heart values. This is the gift I want to give myself and share with you.
Wishing you a year of great health, happiness and love
In alignment with this day of International World Peace, I am considering what each of us can empower ourselves to do, to contribute the development of our peace. There are many pathways, visions, ideas and indeed actions already in play. To contribute to peace does not require a constant state of peace, although that would be a wonderful ideal, to contribute to peace, is to make mindful effort to grow in peace as much as we can, when we can, and many of us are already doing this, in our own unique ways, throughout most days of our lives.
Anyone who practices peace, anyone who makes the choice to accept and to forgive instead of to fight, anyone who makes a kind or compassionate choice, anyone who actively supports well-being and positive living, anyone who researches on how we can create more positive communities, anyone who chooses to heal their emotional pain and suffering, anyone who is able to love, accept and nurture a child, anyone who supports the sustainability of our planet, and the care of our animal, anyone who tolerates and accepts varied beliefs, anyone who promotes the awareness and integration of positive values, anyone who chooses to listen to their heart, anyone active in resolving conflict in positive ways, and anyone who marks this day as the initiation of a commitment to be more peaceful in thought and action is contributing to peace and there so many more people and pathways than I have touched on here.
We know that we need peace and that many of us want more peace at many levels; internally in thought and emotion, within our daily lives, and on a global political, religious and environmental scale. What I believe we need now is a vision of peace. I do not believe we need to strive for one ultimate vision because our differences in viewpoint and opinion are the colours that make our world beautiful. I believe we are at the stage of understanding what growing peace in our lives means so that we can visualize it within our own minds and that our minds will, at a deep level, align to create a a peace that we may not be able to imagine, because the sum of whole is greater than of the individual.
What does peace mean to you and me, to our family members, our students and teachers, our colleagues and community leaders, and to those we choose and trust to lead us. We need to really understand the meaning of peace, if we are to take it from an idea or ideal, form a vision and integrate peace into our daily lives.
What does peace mean to you? I am not going to tell you what your peace means, what I can do, is share with you what peace means to me and how I am finding peace, and perhaps through this, inspire in you the emergence or connection with your personal truth. When we are each clear about what peace means, we are half way to creating peace in our world.
I discovered peace after many years of working through my own fears and anxiety. I developed the mind management tools to dismantle my fears, choose positive perceptions, practice relaxation techniques, choose healthy distractions away from spiralling descents into a whirlwind of fearsome thoughts, while managing fear and doubt and uncertainty. However, although empowering, this alone did not bring me peace, but I needed to understand how to manage my fear before I had any chance of moving into peace and mind management techniques gave me this.
In time, my healing process lead me into years of learning to truly understand and integrate the art of acceptance; to accept my past and my present, to accept who I was and who I have become, to accept my limitations, to accept things I do not like about myself and my world, to accept feelings and emotions that are uncomfortable, and to accept my perfect ideals and some of my really important dreams may never be, but that certainly that I will never give up working to live them. As I integrated acceptance, through the way I would think and talk to myself, and the way I reacted to others and my environment, I witnessed an emerging sense of peace. At the same time, thoughts of gratitude and appreciation for what I had arose from within, and with this, I felt deeper sensations of peace. With more time and inner work, I encountered forgiveness, as if a natural progression from acceptance, and in forgiveness, so much could be let go, making space within me for more peace within. Then, as if a natural flow, I found myself meandering into moments of compassion, because with growing understanding, acceptance and forgiveness, gratitude and appreciation, I began to not just know, at an intellectual level, but to feel, that we are all so alike; we are connected and we influence each other every moment of our lives. To choose compassion connects you and me at the heart, and from the heart, no longer analysing or thinking, just being present in love, it seems to me to be a natural occurrence that the arising thoughts and actions we make are positive, and that my presence with myself is more at peace. My work now is to make time to connect with my heart and make this a lifetime practice, because in this, I find my peace, often inspired by natural beauty and random acts of kindness that I witness in my world. I know that we have the power to create peace in our world; we are the emerging peace and we have the choice to make it grow.
What does peace mean to you?
What is your vision of peace?
How can you grow more peace in your world
If you are interested in working with me to develop your fear and mind management techniques and grow through the process of learning to live from the heart, please feel free to get in touch. You are welcome to request a no obligation 30-minute complimentary discovery session, to experience how working together can benefit you. Contact me at: email@example.com Learn more at: www.antoniabehan.com
Embrace Your Power
It’s time to go back to school. This can mean something different for every individual. For some teenagers, this is an exciting time to re-connect with those friends whom they have not seen all summer. For others, returning to school comes with the reminders of peer pressure, worries about acceptance, fears about bullying, concerns about performance and grades, and stress about how they are going to cope.
There are many things you can do as a parent or teacher, to help prepare your teenagers for a positive new year. Coaching teenagers on how to embrace their power is one way that you can set them up with a good foundation.
What does embracing your power mean?
Essentially, embracing your power means learning to like, love, accept and believe in yourself, it means honoring your truth and values, standing up for what you believe in, and setting strong boundaries. Achieving this requires mind mastery skills and self- love.
Coach Your Teen to Develop Mind Mastery Skills:
When your teenager is feeling stressed, anxious, and afraid or worried, you can help them to embrace their power by coaching them on managing their mind. Often it is not the situation that causes feelings of stress, worry and anxiety, but what we tell ourselves about what is or might happen. By identifying thoughts and beliefs, it is possible to work through them to create a story in which your teenager develops into managing the situation, and creating supportive thoughts to help them cope.
You can try a series of questions to help you and your teenager to identify thoughts and beliefs that may be causing them to feel stressed or anxious, and guide them in finding empowering solutions.
Coach your Teen to Love Themselves More:
When your teenager is concerned about peer pressure, being accepted, or worried about being bullied, you can help them to cope by developing the love they have for themselves. This means that your teen knows they are the only one who judges them, they are the one who decides they are an acceptable and like-able and love-able person, that they stand up for their values, and they are the one who decides to believe in who they are, no matter what.
You can help your teen to grow love by:
(Learn about this here: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/03/06/390143641/pot-can-trigger-psychotic-symptoms-for-some-but-do-the-effects-last)
Talk with your teenager about what is the most important thing to them: their health and well-being, or what other people think about them. You cannot stop your child from experimenting, but you can educate them to make loving choices.
(Drug and Alcohol Resource www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/teens_brochure_2013.pdf
Sexually Transmitted Infections resource: www.cdc.gov/std/life-stages-populations/stdfact-teens.htm)
Ask your teen what he/she likes and loves about themselves; sometimes we all need a reminder, and keeping this information fresh in mind helps provide a barrier against the spiteful and negative words of others.
Teach your teen that when other people do or say things, your child can hold onto their power by deciding their truth about who they are is more accurate than any judgement made by another, for the simple reason that other students do not and cannot know your child/teenager as much as they do. When you and your teenager hold the voice of acceptance and love and self-belief, this provides a powerful shield of defense from bullies.
Teach your teenager about their mental filter. You can do this by demonstrating the gap between your words and their ears. Ask them to imagine placing an imaginary filter or shield in this gap. Then, as your words come towards them, they can decide to let them bounce of the shield/filter, because they are negative, cruel and unkind, or let them in, because they are positive, kind and loving. Other people can say negative things, but we have the power to choose if we accept their truth or let it go.
If your child is being physically hurt, they need to know that violence is never acceptable. They may be afraid to speak, in case the situation gets worse; this is a common fear. Self-esteem can be maintained if they and you do everything you can to stand up to this bully. Get the school involved and talk to the parents of the bully. The school should have a bully prevention policy. Ask to see it. A general policy may suggest that after a warning, detention and suspension, the bully should be expelled. It an extreme situation you may choose to move schools, because you have the freedom to make choices in any situation and no one can take that away. Remember, the Dalai Lama fled occupied Tibet to save his life and continue to support his people from safety in exile. From what I can see, I do not think he lost his power: his love is strong.
We may not always get the outcome we want, but if a child is supported to always maintain their self-esteem, and their power, to know their options and make their choices, with your blessing and support, they will feel this support and it will carry them through the challenges in life. If you do change schools, it can be helpful to arrange self-esteem coaching or counselling for your teenager, to help them prepare for embracing a new school from a positive and courageous state. Best case scenario, the school does supports you, the bully is managed, and your teenager recognizes that you and the school and life are on their side, and they grow in confidence as a result of seeking help and learning that they do not have to cope alone, help is out there, and things can change for the better.
It is an act of strength and an act of love to ask for help and support.
If you or your teenager would like empowered support on managing any of the issues raised here, I reserve coaching for teenagers from 16.30-18.30, to avoid missing school. Sessions available at Ocean Clinic (Gibraltar) on Wednesday’s and Atlantic Clinic (Nueva Andalucia) on Thursday’s and Friday’s. Skype sessions available for adults. Complementary discovery sessions are offered to parents wishing explore whether coaching with me is the right approach for their son/daughter for the presenting circumstances.
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Sometimes, underlying the projected judgement made about others or assumptions that can be internalized, you may find frustration, rooted in feelings of helplessness, not being valued, or feeling powerless.
Through recognising your true feelings and beliefs, opportunity is created to heal, process and transform your deeper truth into new ways of living and being with yourself and others.
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Feeling Limited? If you work for a micro-management style company, if your every move is constrained by policy, if you work for managers who are control focused rather than acting as leaders and coaches, or, if you work for people who want to knock you down instead of build you up, the first point to recognise is that you are choosing to be there. In this acceptance, you reclaim a little of your power and can then assess the limitation situation.The fact is that we cannot change people. If we don’t change then nothing will change.
Consider this: Is everyone else feeling limited, or is it just you?
This feeling of limitation is happening to you and therefore, it is about you, it is not about the company or the management. So, Ask yourself, what is not acceptable this limitation?
I was working with a client on this very topic and her response to me was something like this:
‘You know, I really want to be in the management position. I can see so many opportunities to create a really positive environment, and I have thought about how we can develop the business and increase profits. But, I feel like I don’t have any opportunities to demonstrate my skills or share my suggestions. I could work for another company, but I really know this company now and I would love to be part of the development process. I have made some good friends here and feel part of it. I want to grow.
In that final comment, the reason for her feeling of limitation was clear. Once she recognised the true nature of her own feelings, she was able to address the matter, and make plans to take action for change.
Bullied? Is there someone at work who tries to bully you with their words or behaviours? If so, you can choose to accept it or choose not to accept it, in which case, to do something about it. The chances are, the most likely obstacle to doing something about it is fear. The knock downs and bully behaviour are about them, and their insecurities, but the fear is yours. You cannot change people. You can set set boundaries and ask for change.
Ask yourself, what is this fear about?
Another client was a manager of in a medical clinic. She believed that she did her job well, and was popular with her team and the patients. However, the director would frequently highlight anything negative she could find about my client. When asked to perform certain tasks that my client carried out with great efficiency, she would later be told she had done the wrong task, and be shouted at for doing things wrong. Even though she got in the habit of double-checking and writing down everything her director asked, she would be told she had written things down wrong. Her job was frequently threatened and she was beginning to feel anxious about going to work, because no matter what she did, she knew she could not win. My client loved her job with the patients, and it was the only availability in her home town. She really wanted to stay.
So I asked her: ‘What is the fear about?’
Once we worked through the fears, my client was able to recognise that what she feared the most would most likely not happen: if her boss was going to fire her, she would have done so by now.
This was when she made a decision to confront her director. The next time she felt bullied, she told this lady that her behaviour was not acceptable, that she felt bullied and that she wanted this to stop. The director was outraged and highlighted how grateful my client should be for the job opportunity and how lucky she was to be so well paid. However, the bullying behaviour stopped, my client felt empowered and better able to manage the bullies in her life, and some of her other fears. Three months later she handed in her resignation, leaving not in fear, but with courage and determination to take action for change in developing more positive energies in her life.
Not Enough Time?
The ‘inbox’ is over flowing, the ‘to-list’ is infinite, and people keep asking you to do more. The external picture looks hectic and overwhelming. If nothing changes, people will keep asking, the list will keep growing and the inbox will keep overflowing. The influx is about the environment and other people, but the reason it is continuing to happen is about you.
Ask yourself, what is it about asking for your needs to be met that is stopping you from asking for what you need?
When I asked a client what would happen if he said ‘no’, he gave me a rather awkward look and told me that his boss is a woman. I asked what this meant to him. He said that it reminded him of not being able to say ‘no’ to his demanding mother. I asked him if he went to work as an adult professional, or as the son of his boss? He quickly realized that he was indeed acting out his child state and needed to shift his own behaviour. One recognition of this, he was able to take action to change, as a result, his boss changed the way she spoke to him. Once this relationship dynamic had shifted, my client felt more in his power and able to ask for what he needed to manage the overwhelming admin. His boss however did not see eye to eye and my client returned feeling frustrated and angry about his position.
When I asked him why he felt frustrated and angry, he said he felt unable to do anything well, and is always behind.
I asked: 'If you were the manager, what would you have done differently?'
My client put himself in the shoes of his boss, and in doing realized, it was not an easy situation to change, and that employing someone else to help may be a cost they could not afford. It also became clear that no one every complained about his lack of skill or being behind, indeed, he started to see they needed him and that he really was doing his best. He just wasn’t living up to his own unrealistic standards. Soon, he was able to accept the situation, he started to feel better about his role in making the business function, and he started going to work feeling much happier. It was okay that they was not enough time in the day, he was doing his best and that was okay, and everyone was else was in the same boat.. With this, he took action to change the way he pressured himself, and is enjoy his job more now.