Holy shit/shift, it has almost been a year since I have written a blog!?!? There was a period of time where I was good for a few blogs a week. There was a period of time where I had so much to get out of my head and so much I was working on that it almost felt like blogging was my full time job--I wish. As with many people struggling with their own mental health challenges, sometimes getting and feeling better brings about a reduction in creative and artistic output. There are always the "stories" you hear about famous artists, writers, mathematicians, etc. who would have likely been diagnosed with "something" today but that "something" allowed them to produce and create and solve the most wonderful, amazing and incredible things.
Another challenge with not having blogged in almost a year is that I feel like this need to be "good" or if nothing else helpful to someone--so I hope it is. It can be really scary to put so much out there, but it has also been a huge part of my own process. If you go back and read through my blogs, or if you have even read a few of them, you know more about me than your general "Joe" you pass by on the street. There isn't too much of I have held back. As I have mentioned time and again, writing is very cathartic to me. It is how I think, how I process and how I come out the other side of my own anxieties, challenges and struggles.
As a processor, I am the type of person that typically prefers to think before I speak. When someone comes into my office with a question I haven't yet thought about (which happens often) that poor soul often has to hear me talk for a good 1-2 minutes as I process the question out loud, before I can come even remotely close to my decision and the answer. As an introvert and an empath, there is a lot going on in that good ole' brain of mine. Add anxiety and a life-long case of the not good enoughs and a whole lot of worrying too much about what others think and and oh my god, the complexities in Patty's mind. That being said, I know I am not alone in this.
So, why now? What is it that is inspiring a blog after nearly a year-long hiatus. Well, it is a few things. First, I must have made 4 Facebook posts yesterday. Whenever I have enough to say for that many posts, I know there is a bunch I need to process and get out, so that is the first reason. The second is that I find myself in a really good place right now. Typically when I blog it is because I am not in a good place and I am trying to deal with and process my challenges. Right now, I am in a good place and I just wanted to share a bit about how I got here for anyone that may find that helpful. As I have said all along, this blog is really in an effort to not only help myself but more so, to help others. I have put a lot out there and will continue to do so, hopefully more regularly as I truly love writing.
As a quick recap for those who haven't read my blogs in the past, I have a panic disorder. Looking back on my childhood, I do think it was lifelong. I was one of those kids that used to have night terrors, was always afraid of the dark and struggled sleeping at friends' houses. If that wasn't a big enough "clue" into when this all started, I also had a "go bag" packed as a child! Go bag, you ask? Yes, I had a bag packed with all my favorite stuffed animals etc. in my closet in case of a fire. I also had an escape plan and would sleep with my windows locked even on those 90+ nights and would just lay there and sweat. Why were the windows locked, you ask? Oh, so when the killer climbed up the ladder to my window they wouldn't be able to get in? And what if they got in, you ask....well then the stuffed animals I purposely put on top of my body would stop the knife they had from penetrating my body!!!!!!!!!!!! Shocked face....so, yeah, that was me....that was kid Patty. Can we all briefly pause and send her a lot of love and many hugs....still working on loving her so much! So, yeah, that was me!
So, on top of the panic/anxiety, I also have a life long story of not being good enough. A severe case of the not good enoughs......Just this deep ingrained feeling that again, I continue to work on. I am not smart enough, I am not thin enough, I am not pretty enough, I am not a good enough writer, I am not a good enough wife, I am not a good enough mother, I am not a good enough sister, daughter, friend....the list goes on and on and on. Constantly feeling like I am bothering people and that the voice and passion I have inside of me is just not good enough or worthy. Why me?? Why should people listen to me?? Gosh, this all sounds depressing.....don't stop reading, I promise this is a happy and encouraging story.
I know that many of us suffer with this dibilitating thought and story. This story is often one written in childhood. It is hard to trace it back and hard to find when it all starts. It is amazing the power the stories we tell ourselves not only have over us and how we function and interact with the world, but how we see and perceive EVERYTHING. It is amazing how much of our life and our daily enjoyment and struggles are not even real....they are just a part of the story we tell ourselves, more on that later.
So, here we have child Patty with severe panic and a huge case of the overall not good enoughs. This all started and was just carried with me and manifested itself in different ways over the years. It would show up again and again with my family, my friends. It would interfere with how I thought my relatives and friends saw me. It would interfere in very distinct and memorable ways. I was always projecting how I felt about myself onto others. So, I didn't think anyone really wanted to spend time me with, so I would totally project that and derail relationships, friendships and interactions. To top it off as an introvert, group interactions, in general were a challenge and I would often be off to the side, just because I wasn't sure how to interact. I didn't have confidence in myself and my assumption in every interaction was that people didn't really like me so I was constantly looking for external validation. Looking for people to give feedback about how I looked, my size, my friendship, my athletic abilities, etc. I was looking for external validation from everyone.
Now, I think most young adults and teens, in general, "survive" in this external validation world. I do not think I was alone or unique in being a teen that didn't feel good enough and was constantly comparing myself to others (friends, family, celebrities, seniors at school, etc.) This is an area where I feel like there is a lot I can help with. I feel like it is hard to convince teens at the time there is another way, but I hope to someday find a way to at least try. Realizing that no amount of external validation will every be enough has made me shift my perspective on this. While I still feel the need and deep desire for external validation creeping in, I know that nothing will ever fill that never-ending void like I can fill it myself by self-loving the hell out of myself. If I constantly say I will be happy when...I will never be happy. I need to find happiness within myself and not seek to find happiness in things or people. It needs to stem from me.
As many of you also know, I am a student of Gabby Bernstein http://gabbyb.tv . I am someone that has benefited greatly from meditation, medication, acupuncture, tapping, learning about Buddhist thoughts and philosophy and metaphysics in general. As a science geek and someone that has always been fascinated by the fact that energy is never created nor destroyed, I see a lot of possibilities in the world. I believe in the power of thought, the power of so much we do not see. I believe in an overarching connective energy, like connective tissue we have in our body, that connects us all. I believe in the power of positive thought, positive energy and that our energy, much like our stories influence and impact how we perceive the world https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGK84Poeynk
This is where my stories merge. So, we have panic, not good enough Patty, and science geek, all made of start stuff, metaphysical, student of Gabby Bernstein Patty. My journey has really been over the past 7+ years, but these past six months have been life-altering. So, for anyone out there that feels like it will never get better, it will. I promise it will. Just keep at it and keep working on what works for you.
What worked for me? What was the game changer for me? It has been a few things. Now, I have been on medication, going to acupuncture and meditating for the past few years. I have been reading and learning from Gabby over the past few years. So, why with all of this hard work over the past 7+ years are things feeling so different now? It is hard to 100% know for sure, but I will give you my best guess as why things are feeling so good right now.
1) Change your thoughts, change your life: So, one of my big regrets is that I didn't learn about Dr. Wayne Dyer until after he passed away. His teachings and lessons are the energy he has left behind. Watching "The Shift" changed me. Reading his books and listening to his teachings have helped me reframe my thoughts and remind me, literally, that your thoughts make your world. So, knowing that, if you can reframe and be willing to see things differently, you can actually change your life and hence how you see the world. Much of your current "reality" is all based on that life-long story you have been telling yourself. So, if you start working on changing the story and the thoughts you have, you can actually change not only your reality but your life. I have been using mantras like crazy and they have made such a difference in my life. "I alone, am enough." "I am strong" "I am exactly where I am meant to be," "I am good enough" I have added them into my calendar and try and constantly remind myself that I always have the option to catch myself in a negative thought, or my old story, pause, and reframe that. That is not real. Take a moment and think about the stories you tell yourself every day. How much of what you tell yourself is just a story, how must that impact your life every day? The way you see the world? Your thoughts? Your interaction with life? And when I get that feeling come over me when I know my thoughts are about to derail me and or I feel overwhelmed, I always return to the breath. I find most often that when when I feel the thoughts and anxieties creeping back in, it is because I have stopped breathing. I will start breathing in slowly through my nose for 4, holding it for 7 and then cannonball breathing out my mouth for 8. I will pay attention and envision myself breathing in white shining light and happy thoughts and breathing out stress and black smoke. This helps me return to center and return to the moment, every time.
2) The energy you bring into your life will dictate your life: Along with changing your thoughts, comes changing the energy you bring into every interaction you have. If you walk into a room thinking, I am not good enough, people don't want me here, or I don't want to be here, or I hate everyone here, you are putting off that energy. You are affecting, whether or not you realize it, the entire room. As someone who is extremely sensitive to energy, especially negative energy, I basically have to "zip-up" my energy before I leave my house. NYC is a seaspool of negativity. From the subway, to walking down the street, to people suffering on the streets. If and when I don't "zip-up" I carry that energy with me all day. As soon as I started realizing that one small dose of positivity could impact and change the room and my life, I started really focusing on not only the energy I bring into EVERY interaction but also the energy I allow into my life. What do I mean by this? If you have negative people in your life, find a way to limit your access to them. If you need to be around them, zip-up and bring the best energy you can in hopes that your positivity will find a way to shift them and their perspective. If I have trouble with my energy, I will ask for help. Along with this comes the realization that you are a light in this world and you are needed right now. Don't be afraid to shine bright...shine on...shine bright...shine on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwLRQn61oUY
3) Release and send love to everyone: Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts we have as humans. Often times we find ourselves not wanting to forgive someone because they hurt us and we don't want to do that. We have to remember that forgiving does not mean forgetting. It means freeing up your energy to focus on something else. Something positive. Someone cut you off, someone didn't hold the door for you on the subway, someone at work was mean to you, a friend or family member really hurt you. This is all stuff we carry with us. This is all stuff that impacts our energy and our perceptions of the world. So, what does release, re-framing and sending love do, it frees you up. It helps you to re-frame and remember that only love is real. So, you have someone in your life you just cannot imagine ever forgiving.... Ask for help....state out loud if you have to, that you are ready and willing to forgive that person and that you are asking for help to release that person. Start sending love to them every day. Start saying that you wish for them the same level of peace, love and happiness you wish yourself. This helps you re-frame your energy, your interactions and the lens you see the world through. It is worth it, I promise! Someone pisses you off...release and send love....someone fires you...release and send love. It doesn't help you at all to carry that anger, frustration, etc. around and it negatively impacts your own energy and story. And always be willing to ask for help. Just love the hell out of everyone, regardless. Sending love and positive energy and light is one of the most powerful things you can do in this world.
4) Let go: Now the one thing I haven't talked about in this blog is that I am a HUGE control freak. I think part of this is in an effort to help control and manage my anxiety. If I feel like I am in control, I feel like I am manage what comes into my life and assist in my own panic and anxiety. One of the things I have been working on recently is letting go and realizing there is so much I cannot control and have no control over. The only way I can survive without living in panic land is by taking life day-by-day and sometimes minute by minute. I am finding myself often visualizing taking my arms and grabbing what I feel being on my shoulders and lifting it up. Saying I know I have no control over this, source, universe, God, connecting energy, please take this from me. Or, talking to that source, universe, God, connecting energy, I don't know what to do, how to handle this, etc. and trust that I am taken care of...as Gabby would say "The universe has my back."
5) Eft Tapping: Tapping has been a game changer in my life. What is Eft Tapping you ask, it is like acupuncture without the needles. Tapping on the bodies meridian points can help to move energy, move out blocks and retrain your brain and body. I first learned about it from Gabby and then got another lesson during her on-line Master Class Level I http://spiritjunkies.com over the summer/fall (also a game changer). Nick Ortner has a wonderful book "The Tapping Solution" which has really helped me, but Gabby introduced me to tapping. I tap on everything. Stress, panic, negative thoughts, forgiveness, etc. It is amazing how tapping can starting to instantly shift me. http://www.thetappingsolution.com http://www.thetappingsolution.com
6) YL Oils: When I think about these past few months and what has changed, I cannot leave out my oils. http://www.oilygurus.com/astorianycoils/. I have been working on using these along with everything else I continue to do, I am working on retraining my brain, along with those positive thoughts and working a lot on associating the smells with positivity. So much of this goes back to retraining your brain, forming those new neural pathways. Working on retraining my brain to go down a different road when I feel certain things creep back up and when I feel stress or anxiety coming on, opening up an oil and either putting it on my wrists, or putting between my palms and sniffing. It allows my brain to make a shift a shift that I am so very grateful for!
7) My spirit junkie support system: From attending Gabby lectures, to graduating from her level 1 Masterclass to finding my own personal coach and guru Heather http://spiritjunkies.com/coach/heather/ http://www.iamheatherregan.com/about/ and then her monthly group coaching class, putting in the time, and effort has made a difference. As Heather often says, in the end, you need to put in the work. You can have all the tools in the world, but it takes you using them, working on them and knowing you have them. Again, it is retraining your brain to think differently, act differently and remember that you can chose to do something else. You can chose again. It is finding that new next action that sends you down a more loving and gentle path.
These past six months have been game changers. This is all not to say that I won't have bad days--I have them. This isn't to pretend that every day is unicorns and roses--it isn't. This isn't to say that I don't struggle and cry and feel pings of anxiety and panic crawl back into my world.--I do. All this is, is showing there are other ways. There is an opportunity for you to find ways to "come back" more quickly. As I often say, the more I work on getting those brain muscles to think and feel how I want them to, like muscle memory responses to life, the quicker I can "come back" from a rough day or moment, or week. When I was in panic land daily, the neural pathways in my brain were on auto pilot and my automatic response was panic....a panic attack and general panic mode. Everything was triggering me and my body and brain's response was to go down that pathway, as it was easiest. It was the way the water was flowing and there was nothing making it go a different way. The more I worked with tapping and oils and positive talk and thoughts the more a new path was starting to slowly wear its way down. Like water cutting down a new path in a river bed. The more the water flows that way, the easier and more likely the water can start going down that path as well. You need to put the time in and you need to practice, but it is possible https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwLRQn61oUY
Taking a step back and looking at what is different in my life right now, it is the absence of fear. So much of my life has been a fearful based life. My panic and anxiety are fear-based. Fear something would go wrong, fear I was sick, fear a situation I could't control would go badly. Fear that I wasn't good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough. Fear I did something wrong, fear I wouldn't make it, fear I would disappoint people. The biggest shift all of this has caused in my world, life and thoughts has been the removal of so much fear. Now, again, this isn't to say I am not fearful at times and at moments, but what this is to say is that I finally realize that for so long I was held hostage by fear. My life was so very fearful. As I recently said on Facebook, fear freezes me, it controls me, it changes my body's homeostasis. I am so very sensitive to fear. As I find myself letting go, giving up control, and working on my tools, I have felt a huge shift and lift of that fear. I am so very grateful to be in this place and I hope that when the fear creeps back in, I remember to come back and read this blog. As there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is a way to get to the other side of panic and fear and I am grateful to be writing from this side. You can too! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRfuAukYTKg
and that's all she wrote....