As I reflect back on Mental Health Awareness Month in May, allow me to share my thoughts to you through this video:
Life is different and things have shifted. A few people have embraced the current changes and are thriving in the new normal, while some are still in disbelief about how life has changed, or struggling to adjust to the new conditions. If you are not 100% at peace, a great starting point is to be okay with what you are feeling now. Accepting where you are at takes away judgment and allows you to move from there. If you are struggling, you are probably facing a sense of loss over what used to be; this loss may include work, your lifestyle, time to yourselves, finances, and the list could go on. With any loss, there is a grieving process, and you will go through the various stages of grief to get to the other side where you can be at peace with how things are. Here’s a quick way to identify what stage you are at and some suggestions to move forward:
Denial – Refusing to believe that the pandemic is true. This could show up as pretending that nothing has happened and trying to force the old routine on yourself and others. Or shutting yourself off from the world because you can’t face the changes. What’s needed: The ability to face the situation. You can do this by journaling all the changes that have happened and acknowledge what has changed.
Anger – Blaming people for how bad things are for you. This could be blaming your country, another country, the government, or your partner for not putting better contingency plans in place. What’s needed: Catharsis for your emotions. Acknowledge that you have anger and allow yourself to release it through breath-work or cardio exercise. It’s okay to feel and release your emotions.
Depression – Focusing on what’s not there and behaving like a victim. This can lead to feeling like the world has stopped and you are helpless and empty. What’s needed: Action and movement. If you are only focusing on what has stopped, you will feel helpless and stuck. The reverse of that is to keep moving, in any direction. If something has stopped, something else would be there in place of it, look for what is there instead. Then start taking some action to do things you like; any action will create a shift of energy.
Once you move through these stages, you would probably reach a place where you can intellectually accept the loss. And finally, after processing your intellectual understanding, you would be at a place where you can accept that what was is now over, and you are continuously moving forward.
With the recent pandemic hitting China & Hong Kong our collective focus is moving more towards wellness than before. However, are we being precautious because we are feeling fearful of getting sick, or are we feeling inspired to be well? Although it sounds subtle, our intentions make a big difference to our well-being. Hence whilst it is imperative to take action towards our health and safety, it’s even more crucial to maintain a healthy state of mind.
Please take a moment to reflect on your current state of mind and observe your thoughts towards the virus; are you fearful and negative, or are you feeling in-charge? I’m not suggesting to be in denial about the gravity of the situation, rather to acknowledge the situation and focus on moving towards health than away from sickness. Your thoughts are the primary food that you are feeding your body and are more powerful than any action you take. This means that any person who has ever gotten sick or even gotten into an accident has only been susceptible to it because their thoughts would have been stressful at the time. So even if you think are unwell because you ate something wrong or fell down the stairs, when you play your thoughts in slow-motion just before the accident you would most likely notice that you were not feeling content at the time, which made you less present and more vulnerable to falling sick.
In light of all this, I invite you all to move towards your well-being by focusing on getting what you want, rather than focusing on avoiding what you don’t want. Taking actions towards your health from a place of inspiration will naturally make you feel strong and in-charge of your body. Trust in your body’s natural ability to keep you healthy and know that you have the resources to handle what comes your way. Let’s not forget that wellness starts with the mind!
Wishing you all a healthy start to the year of the Metal Rat!
And just like that we are in the year 2020! Let’s take the New Year as an opportunity to appreciate where we are, and create a vision of where we would like to be. I invite you to take a few mindful moments to acknowledge yourself for 3 things you are proud about in 2019. Then, think about what you want 2020 to be about? If you had to give it a theme, what would that be? Here are a few tips to help you create your goals for the year:
1) Make sure your goals are 100% under your control. Setting goals that are about “making others happy” are pretty much guaranteed to fail because we cannot control anyone else’s responses. Even goals about getting a certain job or passing an interview may not be fully in your control, because it depends on others too. What you can control fully is your thoughts, choices, and actions. The more your goal is about you, the more likely you are to achieve it.
2) Schedule your actions towards it. One of the biggest reasons we don’t achieve things is simply because we haven’t made space for it! If you really want something, spend a few minutes to plan for it and schedule it in your diary. You are far more likely to do something you have planned for because it means you have already thought about it, imagined it, and created time for it, even if it’s months in advance!
3) Check-in on yourself regularly. Defining what you want doesn’t need to be a yearly activity, it could be a regular exercise. You are not the same person as you were last year, so what you want can shift as you evolve. Adding mindfulness and time for self-reflection keeps you conscious of your own evolution.
Wishing you all a beautiful start to the New Year!
If you look at 2019 through the lens of “what can I learn from my experiences this year”, you would probably find more learning and growing opportunities than ever before! We all know that staying in our comfort zone doesn’t really inspire growth. When things are fine we tend to repeat the same behaviour and live a pretty robotic life without much awareness. Instead when there is chaos, we wake up and find our inner resources and deal with it, and then we grow.
Well, this year has brought chaos to many cities, Hong Kong being one of them! Hence, 2019 has given us many opportunities to learn patience, acceptance, resilience, and a deeper level of trust (trusting that life will be okay despite what things look like). We have also seen some motivational coaches and leaders be publicly questioned for their integrity – again this is an opportunity for us to see the humanity in these beings and learn that there is no hierarchy in the human tribe. The more we compare, separate people into ‘us’ and ‘them’, and put some people on a pedestal higher than others, the more we are buying into judgment and creating divide.
2019 has provided plenty of opportunities for us to either buy into this game, or make a new choice to be free of judgment, accept what has happened and look inwards to learn. What has 2019 taught you?
If you really think about it, can a single one-off thought create a reality? It’s less likely, because the potency of energy isn’t enough for it to manifest instantly. For example, if you have one single thought about receiving a billion dollars, it’s probably not going to create your destiny. The reason that thoughts have so much influence in our lives is because we have a tendency to repeat the same thoughts over and over again, and turn them into beliefs. Hence, it’s the repeated compression of the same thought-vibration again and again that creates our reality.
Research shows that we think between 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day, 98% of these thoughts come from our beliefs which are reoccurring, and 80% of these thoughts are negative! If all it took was repetition to create these patterns, all it needs is awareness and a repeating something different to come out of it. The awareness part is to fully understand that you may not be able to control the outside, but you are in 100% charge of your thoughts. Then in order to shift the nature of those negative thoughts, you would need to cultivate a new practice of either repeating positive thoughts, or being present and maintaining thoughts that are not judgmental at all. This is how affirmations and meditation work; they change our entire vibratory state focusing on empowering/peaceful thoughts for a period of time. Again, doing it just once will probably not be enough to shift your entire reality, it’s the repetition of it which makes it a ritual, and gradually gives you a different experience of life.
Invitation for this month: Review your day and notice a time when your negative mind-chatter is at its peak. Then commit to a new 5-minute ritual to change the conversation in your head by meditating, repeating a powerful affirmation, reading an empowering book, breathing exercises, or listening to an insightful discourse. In 7 days, you will already start to see shifts in your state of mind, and within 3 months you could have shifted your reality.
We are trained for many things through our upbringing, however very few of us were taught what we are truly responsible for. Our understanding of responsibility usually comes from a bunch of judgments we have created by observing our parents and environment. As a result when we grow older, we either:
(a) Operate as a ‘Parent’ to everyone, feeling overly responsible for other people’s well-being, trying to fix things for others, and doing beyond what’s necessary.
(b) Operate as a ‘Child’ where we are not responsible for anything and rely on someone else to take care of us, fix our problems, and clean up our messes.
Interestingly these two personalities tend to find each other and often end up getting married or becoming best friends where one is constantly rescuing the other; after all they need each other to keep their role alive! Consider the distinction that operating as an ‘Adult’ means that you are fully responsible for all the choices you have ever made and the consequences of them, nothing more! You do this by taking accountability for all your choices, actions, interpretations and feelings, without judging yourself. Instead you are aware of your behaviour, and are willing to learn from it if it doesn’t work.
Invitation for this month: Think about where in your life have you taken on being accountable for other people’s actions, or avoided being accountable for your own actions? What would be different if you took complete responsibility for your own part?
With so many paths available for personal and spiritual growth, I find many people confused about which route to take and question whether they should follow Art of Living, a Guru, Hypnotherapy, Vipassana, Coaching, NLP, Buddhist chanting, or something else. My natural response to that is consciousness keeps evolving and different things will resonate with us at different points in time, so flow with what feels right at the time without rules of what you “should” do.
There are as many paths available as there are people on this planet, and our ultimate role is to get that there is no superior or correct route to enlightenment. We will all figure our own path of getting there using the wisdom from the various different workshops we’ve done, masters we’ve met, and books we’ve read as beautiful tools to add to our own personal toolbox.
If we do this, we can begin to see that we are the source of awareness that has the power to discern what tool is needed at what situation. Sometimes what’s needed is compassion, sometimes it’s understanding that we have the capacity to interpret events of our lives, and other times it’s the ability to surrender and flow. When we dissociate our identity with one specific modality, we could accept that we are aware beings with a consciousness that can differentiate between what works for us and what doesn’t, and find out own path to freedom.
Simply put, each therapeutic modality represents a certain vibratory state, there is no superior way, and our awareness can help us understand what we need most at each point in time. I invite you to embrace all the tools that you have so far, and know that you have the power to choose which vibration will serve you best as you evolve.
Whenever something happens that is not in alignment with what we want, we usually judge the situation as “there’s something wrong”, feel upsetting emotions, and then unconsciously find ways to cope with it to feel better. These coping mechanisms usually come in the form of 1) Maintaining your upset with the world and becoming aggressive (the blamers) 2) Pleasing others in the hope that you won’t feel bad or disappointed again (the pleasers) or 3) Withdrawing from the world and building a wall around you to protect yourself from feeling hurt again (the numb & detached).
In all three cases the upset hasn’t left our system and our strong defence mechanisms slowly become a part of our identity – we become known as ‘the angry one’, ‘the reserved one’, or ‘the pushover’. The issue is that none of these coping mechanisms truly work to make us feel better, because they are born out of an upset. Instead they become self-sabotaging, and keep bringing us the same upsetting situation over & over again and makes our defence even stronger! The only way out of this rat race is to acknowledge the original part of you that was upset, and allow that part of you to re-interpret the initial painful situation through the lens of acceptance instead of judgment. This subtle but powerful gives us immediate relief and can collapse our entire defence-mechanism, so we can be more present to life without the need to protect ourselves from our own mental projections!
The more I work with people, the more I am convinced that all that is required when healing any aspect of our lives is giving acceptance to those parts of us that we have judged in the past. All our issues are caused by us judging something, be it ourselves, other people, results, or situations. By judging I mean labeling something as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ (yes, judging something to be ‘good’ can also contribute to issues, because when we judge something positively, we are reinforcing that something else will need to be ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ in contrast).
In light of this, the only way to be free from any type of issue or challenge is to recognise that we have choice in how we interpret things. We can choose to keep judging things and live life by oscillating between feeling like a victim and feeling momentarily elated, or we can choose to understand that life offers us a plethora of experiences that will be both easy and challenging, and our job is to look at both through the same lens of acceptance. It sounds simple, and yet it’s a very tall order when you apply it.
I invite you to pick one thing you are challenged about right now, and begin to accept all the things you are judging about it (be it other people’s behaviour, your own behaviour or the situation). As you do this you will see that the more you accept, the lighter you will feel and you will be freeing yourself from the mental toxicity of the past.