Good Morning my sweetlings,
In the past few months I've really stepped it up a notch in my quest to expand my world view and learn techniques on how to live an amazing, passion filled, super exciting life. In fact I'd say I've stepped it up about 10 notches, I'm really going for it right now. As a holistic healer I am all about helping my clients to feel amazing from top to toe, inside out. Yesterday one of my clients said this to me:
You're such an undercover Life Coach and Mentor, that's your secret, your hidden talent!
I figure I must be doing something right because this is one of the most heart touching compliments I have ever received. Not only did it make me feel really good, but I absolutely believe in the truth of it. I may not have qualifications to say so (yet!), but one of my favorite parts of my job is definitely coaching and encouraging my clients to fall in love with themselves and change their lives. In fact I'd say that helping people to get on their chosen path is one of my main callings in life, I love doing it in person, I love doing it on this blog and I love doing it through my shop. I love helping people, and I love how much help I receive in return. When people let their walls down you get to experience the most amazing things, hear the jaw dropping stories, see all the cards. I love having that privilege to experience people baring their souls and I learn something new and invaluable from every single person I meet, both offline and online.
One of the things that I have been doing to continue improving myself and my services in the past few months is to read lots and lots of books. In particular I've been reading books on how to change your life by changing your behavior, taking the power away from negative thoughts and putting everything you've got into the positive. I've been especially focusing on techniques such as Positive Affirmations, NLP and EFT, and I'm loving what I'm learning!
The thing about these sorts of books is that they're all about helping yourself and so, logically, they come under the genre of Self-Help Books. The thing about self-help is this, people are mega judgmental about it. I know, I've been there myself. I've heard the talking and snorts of derision, seen the looks. I've given them myself! My theory behind this derision is two-fold.
First of all I think that our current culture conditions us to believe that we have to look outside ourselves for help. If we're sick we have to go to the doctor, if we're poor we have to look to banks or outside sources for money, if we're angry or offended it's because somebody did something to us, if we want love we have to get it from somebody else. We're taught that for everything, good or bad, you need to look outside yourself. The concept that you might be able to change things within yourself is a totally mindblowing concept to a lot of people, and it can make some people very angry. You see, if you can fix things from within it also means that YOU have to do the work, you have to take the responsibility and you have to change, and that is scary. It is so much easier to go outside and try to find something to fix you rather than looking within at what you're doing that has landed you in a certain situation, or change the things that are really bringing you down (how many times do you hear people say 'I can't be bothered' in that situation? Well if you can't be bothered to make things better for yourself, and to EXPECT better, then why do you think there should be some miraculous change?).
Secondly I think that the idea of helping ourselves is still seen as a huge negative in current society. We have this perpetual fear of being selfish for even one second, of putting ourselves first, of LOVING ourselves. Ask somebody if they love themselves and see how they react, the results are astonishing and saddening, but not surprising. We're just not taught to love ourselves and value ourselves, I would say that the very opposite is true. We're punished for loving ourselves and taking care of ourselves from a very young age, because if you're paying attention to yourself then it follows that you're not devoting all of your attention to everybody else, and apparently that is so not alright.
Here's what I think of that. Total crap. 100% Rubbish. I really believe that we are 100 times more selfish by not taking care of ourselves and loving ourselves then we are by giving ourselves time and love and attention. Not loving yourself gives you the perpetual feeling of needing something and often feeling that you're not getting it, and when people want things they think they can't get they complain about it. Complaining is selfish, you take your rubbish and you dump it on somebody else. You wallow in everything you hate, and you make everybody you come into contact with get into your pool and wallow with you. That sucks, and you don't have to do it.
I truly believe that when we love ourselves and set time aside just for us, with no distractions, no other commitments, we are actually much more able to help those around us. We stop putting negativity out in the world because we've already sorted the source of any negativity out from the inside, we already feel strong and confident and amazing. When you meet somebody who is excited and positive in life you can FEEL that energy coming off them, you want to be around them and you come away from spending time with them feeling totally psyched up and ready to take on the world yourself. Positive people make you feel good, negative people make you feel bad. When you help yourself to feel good you make yourself more positive, therefore you make your energy more refreshing, more zingy, more powerful, and that means you help people. Believe it, it is absolutely true!
One of the things I've noticed within myself as I've been doing my reading these past few months is this. Sometimes I really don't like what I'm reading the first time around. Reading books about changing your behavior is a total ego shock, it feels like somebody is getting all up in your face and challenging you absolutely. It can feel like somebody is ripping your shields away, like you're being forced to look into a mirror and really and truly see yourself. You lose all of your bullshit, and that doesn't feel good. We all have it, things that we keep hold of, things that we tell ourselves and others that deep down, we know is not true. We know it's a shield, but we don't want to let it go. These books are all about taking the responsibility for the things YOU are holding onto, and then helping you to let go of those things and replace them with something infinitely more enriching and awesome.
I've noticed that I'm actually starting to enjoy that feeling of not liking what I'm reading because to me it is showing me things that I am holding that I need to get rid of. It is a different feeling from reading something you don't agree with because it really strikes you, you absolutely realize that it is true for you and the dislike is coming from a resistance to change. A lot of the ideas I've been working through of late are ones I hardly even realized I had, but I sure knew it when they were challenged. As I've worked my way through the books I've gone from feeling angry to feeling cleansed and so inspired, I can feel myself changing for the better and the best part is that I'm doing the changing.
Today I want to share with you 6 of the books I've been working with the most. These books won't change your life of their own accord, but if you take them on board they will help you to change your life. You can do and be absolutely anything you dream of, I know it. We create blockages and walls, but that also means we have the power to dismantle them completely.
Amazon Review: "The timeless message of the book is that we are each responsible for our own reality and "dis-ease". Hay believes we make ourselves ill by having thoughts of self-hatred. She includes a directory of ailments and emotional causes for each with a corresponding affirmation to help overcome the illness."
Louise Hay is a name that many people are familiar with, for very good reason. Louise is a total powerhouse, the pioneer of Hay House Publishing and Hay House Radio. Her passion is in Positive Affirmations and helping people to realize and release their negative patterns, replacing them with love, joy, abundance and health by using positive affirmations. Louise believes that we create everything in our lives, all of our experiences both negative and positive. This can be a real shock to the ego when you really think about it, because we're taught (and very much like to believe) that everything that happens to us, especially everything 'bad', is out of our control. 'Bad' things are done to us, but equally we take no ownership of 'Good' things. How often do we say that we're 'just lucky', or we have no idea how something so good happened to us? Saying that you caused something good to happen for you seems to be almost as difficult as saying that you could have caused something bad to happen to or for you. In fact, sometimes owning our 'Good' is more difficult than owning our 'Bad', afterall lots of people find it very easy to berate themselves endlessly, but people who can sit down and express how much they love themselves are much fewer and farther between.
Louise puts the control in our hands, we take the wheel and we're expected to steer. We take responsibility for ourselves and for all aspects of our lives, and from there we have the power to do anything. Louise says that the more you resist letting go of something the more you need to let go of it. The more angry you are with somebody (or yourself) the more you need to forgive. It is challenging, no doubt about it, but amazing.
One of my absolute favorite parts of this book is a simple line, but it is so powerful. It goes (paraphrasing here!): "To be successful in changing all you need is the smallest belief that it is possible to change."
Many people avoid affirmations because they feel silly for saying them, or don't believe what they're saying. That's sort of the point! If you believed it already you wouldn't have to retrain your thinking, but the great thing is that if you're even willing to try it then some part of you DOES believe it, and that is all you need in order for it to work.
There is also a film version of this and I love putting it on in the background so that my mind can take it in whilst I'm doing other things. You can watch the whole film here.
Amazon Description: "Do your bad habits and lack of confidence hold you back? Do you find yourself repeating bad patterns of behavior? Fix Your Life will show you how easy it can be to rid yourself of life's irritating problems by using the latest psychological techniques of NLP. This is an ideal introduction to the subject, as the author Alicia Eaton cuts through the technical jargon that's usually associated with NLP and explains how the techniques and strategies used by some of the world's most successful people, can easily be incorporated into your daily life. As well as explaining how our minds work and why it's so easy to fall into bad patterns of behavior, the author presents the NLP techniques as 'Apps for the Mind'. So, just as you'd download an App for your phone or computer to expand its' capabilities, you'll now be able to download an 'App for your Mind' to enable you to achieve more than ever before. Client stories from the author's Harley Street practice demonstrate how to fix fears and phobias such as public-speaking or fear of flying; deal with bad habits such as shopping addiction or Facebook obsessions and even apply your very own hypnotic gastric band to combat overeating."
Before I started my Reflexology course I had absolutely no idea what NLP was. I hadn't even heard of it! It turned out my tutor and her husband are huge advocates and teachers of it, so over the course we would learn snippets about it. NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming and it is a heck of a lot simpler than it sounds! The basic premise of it is that we train our brains in certain ways, starting from when we're born, and create certain pathways between experiences which can be positive or negative, and can lead to all sorts of limiting behavior. The way in which we talk to ourselves (linguistics) reinforces our beliefs and ideas, and one of the core ideas of NLP, as with Positive Affirmations, is that a belief is just a thought and a thought can be changed.
I absolutely love this book, and I've begun working NLP into my treatments as part of my Aftercare,Take Home and DIY offerings. I love giving people things that they can do to heal themselves and to really take control, and NLP is fantastic for that. It is based on super simple exercises that get your mind involved and the results are amazing and extremely fast. One of my favourite things about NLP is that you can use it to tackle thoughts that you might not even realise you have, and you can also use it to tackle beliefs that you've had ever since you can remember. It gives you the power to take charge of everything and change anything you want.
Amazon Description: "The Work began on a February morning in 1986, when Byron Katie woke up on the floor of a halfway house, at a complete dead end in her life, and began to laugh. She had woken up without any concept of who, where, or what she was. She awoke to the fundamental, luminous state of being that is without any separation, that experiences itself as pure love. Like great spiritual masters from many traditions, she knew she had reached the end of confusion and suffering. That was the moment she burst into laughter. Determined to give people a way to discover for themselves what she had realized, Katie developed a simple method of self-enquiry that she called The Work, a life-transforming system for discarding the stories we tell ourselves, which are the source of suffering, and replacing them with the truth ("what is") and a life of total joy. She began teaching The Work wherever she was invited - at first in small, informal gatherings and eventually to packed workshops around the world. The Work consists of only four simple questions that you can apply to any problem. It is so easy and practical - but also profound in its application."
I heard about Byron Katie and The Work some time before I came across this book, most notably through the wonderful Hug Nation, and I actually ended up getting the book completely by chance when somebody dropped off lots of books at my old workplace, saying we could take anything we wanted. Loving What Is was in there, and I snapped it up! I was drawn to the book not only because I'd heard fantastic things about it, but also because I just loved the authors name. Byron Katie, it was so unusual that it just gripped me, I still love it.
As the description states, this book contains 4 simple questions for self-enquiry, and these questions can be used on any and all situations both past and present to aid in getting rid of all the rubbish, negative and self limiting beliefs we carry and making way for joy and happiness to take it's place. The questions can be found easily online, and they're deceptively simple at first glance. They are:
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it is true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
Then you turn the question around, a very clear example of how to do this is on Katie's blog here.
There are a few things that I really love about this book, and The Work. First of all Katie offers it freely to everybody through her blog, she doesn't keep it just for herself or a select few people. Everybody is entitled to experience The Work and use it, and I adore that. Secondly, Katie got to a very bad place before she began The Work and I love how open and honest she is about that. She is very open about the fact that she was a very unhappy, violent person in a bad way before she started the work, and I admire her for owning that part of her life just as much as what she is doing now.
Thirdly I love the simplicity and the complexity of The Work. On face value it looks very easy, some say too easy, but when you really start getting into it you realize just how deep you can go with it. You can get into your most complex, confusing and most stubborn thoughts using these 4 questions, and when you really examine yourself and your thoughts you easily begin to find the things you can change.
You can easily use Katie's work without her book because it is freely published online. I recommend this book if you like to have something tangible on hand to refer to, and also because it has lots of exercises that can help you alongside using the 4 Questions.
04. Soul Companions: Conversations with Contemporary Wisdom Keepers - A Collection of Encounters with Spirit by Karen Sawyer
Amazon Description: "As our world rapidly moves towards ever greater spiritual, environmental and political challenges there is an urgent need for us to listen to respected healers, seers, visionaries and shamans. For over two years, the author Karen Sawyer met and entered into profound dialogue with such remarkable Soul Companions. This outstanding and intimate collection includes conversations with renowned teachers Sandra Ingerman, The Barefoot Doctor, William Bloom, Philip Carr-Gomm and Llyn Roberts amonst others. Join the author as she also talks with Elena Avilla, the 'Curandera' or curer from Mexico - Uncle Angaangaq, an Eskimo-Kalaallit Elder from Greenland - Icelandic Druid Jormundur Ingi - Sami shaman Ailo Gaup from Norway and many, many more..."
This is another book I came across totally by chance, at a carboot sale the last time I was in Glastonbury with Steff. I'm so, so glad I picked it up because it was a completely enthralling read. It is also a book that is not actually Self-Help, but I have included it for it's sheer amount of different interviews, stories and perspectives. Reading so many stories from so many different people really helped me to stretch my mind, especially as there were stories of experiences I really loved and connected with and some I found really difficult to get on board with. It helped me to expand my acceptance and challenged my judgements, and I believe that I came away a better, more enriched person because of that.
The stories in this book are so varied and different and one of my favorite things about the interviews is that they are all just the right length. Long enough to get into but short enough that they don't drag or become boring. One of my favorite interviews is with a lady who works with technology devas, that is spirits that live in our technology. It is so different and really interesting!
Amazon Description: "Once known only by an elite who were unwilling to share their knowledge of the power, 'the secret' of obtaining anything you desire is now revealed by prominent physicists, authors and philosophers as being based in the universal Law of Attraction. And the good news is that anyone can access its power to bring themselves health, wealth and happiness. Fragments of The Secret have been found in oral traditions, literature, religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. A number of the exceptional people who discovered its power went on to become regarded as the greatest human beings who ever lived. Among them: Plato, Leonardo, Galileo and Einstein. Now 'the secret' is being shared with the world. Beautiful in its simplicity, and mind-dazzling in its ability to really work, The Secret reveals the mystery of the hidden potential within us all. By unifying leading-edge scientific thought with ancient wisdom and spirituality, the riveting, practical knowledge will lead readers to a greater understanding of how they can be the masters of their own lives."
As I'm writing this post I'm noticing a real theme emerging, because I also came to know of The Secret thanks to somebody else, namely one of my closest friends from University named Lottie. Lottie was my work partner and was so amazing and special that I actually started calling myself Lottie because of her, it is a name I had never used before in my life and ever since I've embraced it my life has gone from strength to strength.
The thing about Lottie was that I don't think she realised just how amazing she was, or just how inspirational. I loved working with her so much and I also loved going over to her house for dinner, watching music videos whilst we ate or curling up with a film. Lottie suffered from Bipolar Disorder and struggled a lot with it during our time at University, and she also struggled often with confidence and self-worth. To the outside world she appeared very confident, and we got quite a reputation in the clinic for our habit of dancing in the halls and singing (usually Disney songs)! Yet when we were together she would let her walls down and show me the things she kept so well hidden. I am eternally grateful for being allowed to see her sensitivity and through our work together we both became so much stronger and more confident. She was the first friend I told about my past, warts and all, and she absolutely accepted me when I was still very nervous about opening up.
One day Lottie came into our treatment room buzzing with excitement. She showed me a book that she was reading which was, of course, The Secret. For the whole day she told me and everybody we treated all about the book and how amazing it was. She also told us about the film and how her brother had totally changed his life after watching it. I was intrigued so I went home and watched the film, and then I bought the book. I loved it and it absolutely WAS life changing.
The Secret is all about The Law of Attraction, and it was my first glimpse into a world in which I could attract and have absolutely anything I wanted. It was mind bending, challenging to all of my previous beliefs, and incredibly inspiring.
The funny thing about this is that to me the book was exactly what it says it is, it was a secret. It was something I had never heard of before, and it was revealed to me by somebody close to me. If Lottie hadn't talked about it I would have had no idea about it, and I might not have changed as much as I have as quickly as I did. It was that much of a revelation, it is that big of a deal.
Since then The Secret has come under attack quite a few times in popular media. Usually when I hear it mentioned it comes accompanied by that derision and eye-rolling that I mentioned earlier. Like Louise Hay's belief that we create everything, The Secret is challenging because it states that we attract EVERYTHING, good and bad. It forces you to take a really good look at what is going on for you, and to own it. I think that the people who are the most critical of it often seem to be those who are the most resistant to owning up and taking real responsibility. They would rather deride it as rubbish then give it a real go. Like with Positive Affirmations I think that The Law of Attraction brings into sharp focus the things that we are most resistant to change and let go of, and they're always the things creating the biggest stumbling blocks. It hurts to be faced with things you can change that you actually don't want to take responsibility for, and it is humbling to realise that you do need to make the change. It is also incredibly empowering when you do take control, and amazing things happen as a direct consequence.
Amazon Description: "This pocket sized book was originally written for clients, which has been designed to be the perfect introduction to, and handy reference guide to Emotional Freedom Techniques. Jargon free and easy to read, with photograghs to illustrate each step."
This book is super cute and one of the best that I've bought this year. I love it because it is SO simple, it teaches you EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) quickly and simply and because it is such a short, concise and clear book it means you can read it and learn how to do EFT effectively in about half an hour. It is such a good book that I went from not understanding how to do EFT at all to being able to teach it effectively to other people within a day.
For those that might not know, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a method often referred to as 'Acupuncture Without Needles'. It was developed by Gary Craig, who released it on the internet for free so that everybody could access it. you can find it here. It involves tapping on different points of the body as you say a phrase which goes like this: "Even Though ______________, I completely love and accept myself."
You put whatever you are feeling in that gap and then you keep saying the phrase over and over as you tap the different points, which all correspond to different meridians. This helps to clear the energy from the body and gets the energy flowing freely, carrying positivity throughout your whole body. The best time to use EFT is when you are really emotional, when you're really in the feeling you want to get rid of. You say exactly what you're feeling as you tap, expletives and all (if you're thinking them, say them!) and the pure power of the emotion gives the impetus for positive change. As you tap you can change your phrase so that it stays perfectly on point, and this change often happens as we get to the root of what we are feeling, allowing you to get it out of your system completely.
I can't even begin to explain how amazing and transformational this is, and how well it works. When I first encountered EFT I loved the idea but I couldn't understand how to use it properly, so I put it off as being 'not for me'. I'm so happy that I was wrong and it turned out that all I needed was something to show me how to do it, having the pictures in this book really helped me to understand the method and to actually remember it.
Do you like to read Self-Help books? I'd love for you to share your favorites in the comments!