Breathing Easier

Whether it’s from stress or dealing with other mess, this video has strategies to help you to breathe easier by relaxing muscles that can affect your breathing.

Expanding Horizons

This world is filled with hurt people who, in turn, inevitably hurt others. Whether it’s done consciously or not, it is contagious. Each time we can remove the barriers we have created around our emotions, we free ourselves (and others) from mental and emotional slavery; even if only by degrees. In so doing, we become more resilient and flexible instead of stoic, hard and fragile AF; individually and as a species. In expanding beyond these confines, we also help free others to do the same. Please do your part to undo the harmful teachings of emotional suppression. Everyone needs you. Everyone. Today, I review a few strategies that you can add to your arsenal!

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions,”

Brene Brown

In past posts, I’ve repeatedly described “diving into” an emotion to observe it and to alchemize it. Today’s strategy focuses on expansion, because Love is expansion where fear is a contraction; two ends of the same spectrum. To move from a state of feeling overwhelmed by our emotions to a state of freedom with the same emotions frees ourselves from the spell, allowing us to see and feel more clearly.

The technique is simple to describe and can be somewhat challenging, at first, to perform. After identifying a strong emotion, do a “search” of your body and find where the emotions “lives.” While loosely holding our inner vision on these areas, imagine expanding laterally (or in any other or in all directions). Continue to breathe, out and in (the exhale or out breath is where we release) as slowly and deeply as you are able. It may take a few breaths to feel relief or a sense of release. Do your best to stay with it for as long as possible. It may require a repeated effort if the emotional baggage is large (makes sense right, the larger the suit case the longer it can take to unpack!). It’s almost as if the emotional cloud just evaporates and we feel as we do after a torrential rain has passed.

Yes, I see where this all seems contradictory and confusing. I ask you to trust me and try it.  As any new skill can require some practice, you may find that at first you only gain traction with this technique by degrees; which is still better than the alternative: sitting there with all of the shitty feeling emotions festering within. Really, what have you got to lose? But wait, this next thing may just help you even more…

Another strategy is to imagine yourself rising above the emotions or situation as if you were in a helicopter. This helicopter technique, given to me by my Creative Life Coach, Samantha “Sam” Allen, was what lead to my discovering of the expansion process I outlined above. In that particular coaching session, I was feeling completely stuck in a contracted emotional state and the “rising above it” in a mental helicopter helped free me from my self-imprisonment almost immediately.

To break the cycle of emotional suppression, we must learn to employ varying strategies to free ourselves from the habit of contracting against our emotions; which will not kill us, in fact, emotional suppression leads to dis-ease. Who wants to live with that?! Not I!

Happy Expanding!!! I say, it’s better to expand the mind than it is the waistline!

Namaste

Sidebar: Wish I had a good reason to share for why I have not posted in 6 months. The passion to write got lost somewhere in the mix of day-to-day, I suppose. I have also been working to distill observations and breakthroughs into memes on IG (@unfilteredheart77), on a more regular basis. It is my hope to publish at least one post a month in 2020.

photo credit: pixel

In Lack of Control & The Miracles that Followed

One primary persona of mine is to walk with confidence and appear to be “calm and under control;” the emotions pour out later. In this “mode,” I can hear my father’s mantra to be “calm, cool and collected” reverberating in my cranium. Recently, that persona broke wide the eff open for me. While it’s been an ongoing process of chipping away at this persona, on this particular day I had a very significant breakthrough.

My son was having an escalating series of temper tantrums. My attempt to control the situation and de-escalate it was only causing further … escalation. Based on a recent read of the book, Dark Side of the Light Chasers, by Debbie Ford, I saw where my need to seem in control was a direct result of my feeling that I lacked control. Literally, a light went off in one of the deepest (and darkest?) recesses of my mind. Once I affirmed that I was, indeed, not in control, I surrendered to my higher power and asked for guidance. I spoke to this event in the post Learning to be Secure.

The M.O. from the Past

In trying to prove to myself and to the world that Tiffany had it under control, I hid where I was not under control. Or tried to. I have had an emotional eating addiction for … probably my whole life. This is one of the ways that I both punish myself for my feelings (eating ’til it hurts) and then hide my feelings by stuffing my emotions down, down, down…

In trying to prove to the world that I had it under control, I learned to smile and put on a good game face; well kinda. One practitioner poignantly described me as being “zippered up.” Yet the muscles of my body reveal my guarded and “under control” tendency. Even with regular massages, I have held onto a great deal of tension; more than most.

In trying to prove to the world that I had it under control, I would attempt to control myself, my environment and … even those in it. Wow! That last one is a challenge to admit. Yet, as a physical therapist I develop (and control) treatment plans everyday. What a great profession to be in for someone who secretly wants to control everything and everyone… understand, I believed it was an act of self-preservation, not mind-control.

Where & why the control most likely started

This control is not so much about power for the sake of power, it’s more about my feeling safe. As a child, I was in situations where I was abused by “trusting” adults who manipulated and controlled me. From this, I believed that my body was not safe, that I had to control others – and myself – to be safe. From this abuse, I also didn’t believe I could trust people; especially those who were meant to protect me. Further more, I felt effing powerless, and hence the cycle starts over, feeding into itself. So for me, being in control has meant that it was harder for someone else to harm me.

Back to the Breakthrough

Yet on this fateful day, I chose differently. In recognizing my lack of control and giving up control to my higher power, I received greater clarity in everyday things. This has helped me to make wiser choices. The irony! Instead of being ruled by my fear of loss of control, I’m seeing that I have little control outside of my own choices, and now my choices are more clear, thus giving me …. more control! Yet in a different way, in that the control factor is no longer based in fear.

It is my hope that in sharing, you will find a greater understanding about yourself or perhaps a “control freak” that is in your life. The more we can understand and have compassion, the less turbulence we each create in our world.

May we each find a greater sense of peace in better understanding ourselves and others. 

Namaste

Faith in Receiving

It is very easy for me to give, ’tis much harder to receive. I give of my time, patience, efforts and knowledge to others everyday. Sometimes I get paid for it and sometimes I don’t.

Religious dogma and society support giving more than receiving. “It’s better to give than to receive,” Acts 20:35 (KJV). Welfare recipients are shamed for being “needy.” Yet I wonder if there are deeper reasons…

Receptivity means having faith and surrendering. It also means being vulnerable and “accepting” what we receive. Receiving is also being, which is actively “doing nothing.” (that was triggering to state). Receiving is very much a divine feminine trait; where being feminine is often associated with being weak. Again, where religious dogma and society can play a role in how we perceive things. 

In sitting with my discomfort today around being receptive, I saw several “forces” at play. Being receptive means “getting what I deserve.” There is still part of me that wrestles with that aspect of my personality where I believe there is “an irredeemable deficiency” about myself. With that in mind, to get what I deserve could mean more discomfort for me. This belief also discounts Agape or unconditional love. 

Being receptive also means being vulnerable and feeling unprotected. In service to others, I have repeatedly “put myself out there” and have often felt used, abused, taken for granted and unappreciated. I see where I have done this to myself, to make up for my “irredeemable deficiency” where I feel I must “go above and beyond” to prove my worth… I call this trait “super size me,” where I must “give more,” to make up for my deficiencies. Which again, discounts Agape. 

Yet staying in this place of “keeping a lid” on who I am here to be, I feel as if I’m wearing a shirt several sizes too small. It restricts my movements, my breathing and keeps me from being the person I am here to be. There is great sadness in feeling my own suppression. So I’ve resolved to reach up to the stars and have faith in receiving the greatness that supports who I am here to be; this is vulnerability. 

May we each find new freedom and faith in receiving and in being vulnerable; it takes more strength to be vulnerable than it does to power through everything. May we find peace in our own vulnerability, receptivity and femininity. (sounds much like sea anemone, and with that in mind, may we also laugh at ourselves more!) 

Namaste

Healing the Sense of Brokenness

When we feel broken or incomplete, we seek external fixes from which to feel whole. Maybe we seek this “fix” from others, through our behaviors (shopping, chemical dependencies and even positive things such as working out) or we may even just outright deny there is even a problem. Maybe we lash out and and get short with the bank teller, our loved ones or another motorist; thus creating more trauma. Until we go within, these external “fixes” are merely band-aids.

When we feel broken, we rarely take the time to look at the beliefs that lead to this feeling, this perception. To heal this feeling is to give the hurt what it needs. Often it is love, sometimes it is recognition, or it may be attention or something even as simple as breathing into it. Each of these is a form of surrender.

It is in seeing our pain for what it needs and giving it just that thing which allows us to heal. Sometimes we may need to reach out and ask for help and support from our Higher Power, or from friends and family. For it is in asking for support that we also surrender. In asking for support we also allow the vulnerability of connection, helping others to identify their own needs and meet them…thus perpetuating the healing.

May we each see our wounds for what they need and then meet those needs, with or without the help others. With each wound that is freed from bondage we, as a collective, are also set free.

Namaste

Too Busy Mopping Up the Floor to Turn Off the Faucet!

How often in life do we focus on treating the symptoms instead of getting to the root problem? Please take a moment here to pause and reflect. We all do it, we’ve done it and many of us are living it; daily.

It seems that each year that passes the expectations increase: work, life, home, social media. I find myself, especially at work, multi-tasking “to the max” (showin’ my age here) and then wondering why I’m tired and then later having difficulty sleeping.

Yet, in my work I help clients find a balance between self-care and care of everyone else. Some are more receptive than others. Some resist even the most basic of changes to help themselves live better.

It took me decades to figure out how important a daily routine of quality self-care for myself was, a routine I’m still tweaking. I cannot imagine where I’d be without it.

Today, where can we begin to take the time to turn off the faucet, so that we’re not just continuously mopping the floor? Where can we create space in our over-scheduled lives to care for our own physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs? “Waiting” until the next break, vacation, holiday, day off, etc just kicks the can down the street. Be joy now. Bring it! 

Love anyone or everyone by taking care of your basic needs! The world will thank you!

Namaste

From Perfectionist to Artist: An Enneagram Journey for a 4 wing 3

This is part of a series of delving into The Enneagram System. If you would like to share your journey with understanding your Enneagram, please let me know. Two guest posts have already published and more are planned! 

Some Enneagram resources refer to the Four as “The Creative” while others use “Romantic,” and even “Tragic Romantic.” In reading through the list of famous fours, it is peppered with many very talented artists whose deaths came tragically too early. This makes sense after reading further through the description of the four’s internal landscape, as we are both driven and haunted by a sense of being different than everyone else. In the Road Back to Yourself, Ian Cron, also a four, labels this as an “irredeemable deficiency.” For me, I chose to hide this part of myself behind a perfectionist persona for most of my life. I recognize now that this blog has been one way in which I’ve worked to unmask this persona, allowing the artist within to blossom and bloom. Just acknowledging this in black & white brings a strong emotional response. 

Fours also have very strong emotions that I will add, that many of us experience physically. For example, I once described my sadness as feeling as if the River Styx was flowing through my abdomen. It was that palpable. Recognizing this as part of my personality has actually freed me to see that this is just how I am. Much like accepting that the sun is the sun and the moon is the moon. I am just an emotional being on the inside, yet I am not my emotions (that’s another post!).

A hallmark sign of 4s is that we feel unique in some way; something which can both propel us forward as well as separate us from others. Fours rarely feel they fit in with others, while we may be able to play various roles, deep down we feel misunderstood because we feel we have an “irredeemable deficiency,” a deep unidentifiable shame that we often hide. This often makes us feel separate. Through understanding the Enneagram, I now understand that this unique feeling is part of being a four. This was incredibly freeing for me.

Deadly Sin
Initially, this is a shocking title. Yet, the word sin has been misused and abused. The original definition of Sin is the action of turning away from God. The deadly sin in the Enneagram refers to the “wound” that blocks our full realization of and connection to God and others. 

Envy is the four’s deadly sin. This is something I experience often, as I find myself comparing the work and lives of others to my own. “Why didn’t I think of that?” or “Look at that happy couple, I want that in my life.” One Life Coach implored me to avoid comparing my inner life to the “News Reel” of the lives of others.

This envy then keeps me from enjoying my life. In feeling upset or slighted, I can focus on the “lack of” more than the presence of anything. This has also lead me to downplay where I “do have” in my life, as I fear the envy of others. It is almost easier for me to show my sad side than my joyous side for this reason as I already feel “an outsider,” and knowing how envy blocks me, I have feared bringing forth that envy from others.

It is a challenge for me to receive compliments, love and acceptance. I see “the wounds” and where things are lacking. It’s been hard for me to believe that someone would love me, unless I were perfect in every way as I have found it hard to receive acceptance for I had felt that sense of irredeemable deficiency; the shame that bound me to my suffering.

Strategies to Move Into Greater Health
Becoming my own best friend has been incredibly freeing. In the past, I would cut myself down and then seek solace from others (or food); something they could not provide as I was the one doing the cutting. It is also ultimately our own love which sets us free!

Self-compassion is an important part of this journey. Meditation and self-reflection have helped me to gain a different perspective, giving myself more grace. The Ho’Oponopono Prayer (I love you. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.) has also helped me in gaining more ground, as well, becoming more comfortable in my own skin. These acts of self-care help to quiet the inner critic and decrease the effects of the “deficiency.”

Gratitude and focusing on what I do have helped to quell the envy. When I feel the envy twitch its head, I acknowledge it and then begin to focus on all of the positive things in my life.

The Enneagram & Freedom
The Enneagram system has gifted me with a new level of grace and freedom for myself and has helped me to take things less personally with understanding the “deadly sins” with others. If you are unfamiliar with the system and your number, I strongly encourage you to “check it out.” The system shows us that we each have the traits of the other numbers, however, we have one prevailing type, so you will probably relate to each one in some way. Yet one will stand above the fray. For me, it was reading about the “irredeemable deficiency” that resonated the most.

May we each find more freedom in accepting ourselves as we are, allowing us to move into greater level of potential. For it is in accepting where we are now that allows us to move forward. 

Namaste

The Enthusiast! Enneagram 7 Guest Post

This is a guest post from G of bone&silver, who shares her experiences of discovering her Enneagram as a 7, which is described as the Enthusiast by the Enneagram Institute. If you would like to share your experiences with self-discovery through the Enneagram, please message me through gmail at “Tiffanybeingfree.”

Thank you, G, for sharing with us your journey as a 7!!!

Namaste 

~~

‘Do you know what Enneagram number you are?,’ I was asked. ‘Because I’m an Eight, and if you’re going to date me, you need to know what you’re dealing with, so take this book home today.’

Thus began my in-depth exploration of the Enneagram, which firstly saw me read the chapter about Eights and think ‘Phew, they’re a bit intense, I’m glad I’m not one of those.’

I skimmed through a few other numbers, got a bit bored, then asked a smart friend who used to teach Enneagram classes what he thought I was?

‘I can’t work out your number clearly G; you could be a Four, or perhaps a Two…’

I rolled my eyes, got super busy in my social life for a couple of weeks, then returned one quiet afternoon to that thick book.

Nope, not a Four (although perhaps my Mum is?). A Two? I don’t think I’m that “needy”- I’m a bit too selfish really. An Eight?? Surely not. But yes, I’m definitely self-driven and assertive/bossy.

I diligently decided to read each number, seeing facets of myself in each one, but nothing completely resonating… until I finally read about Sevens.

And then I almost heard a bell ring! There I was: easily distracted, a bit lazy, a happy social butterfly, superficial sometimes but bringing joy with me as my gift to others- it was oh so clear.

I was so impressed with the revelation that I attended a 3-day course with the Sydney Enneagram Institute, and easily recognized my fellow Sevens in the group: the ones who’d moved around a lot/changed careers more than once/not yet been long term happily married/made us all laugh/had interesting or unusual viewpoints/were a little impatient with the slow navel-gazing of some other numbers/were enthusiastic about going out for dinner afterwards/were at their best when grateful or generous.

With horror, I looked back on my 5 decades of living, and could see all the times where I’d run away, as a Seven determinedly fleeing a feeling of being ‘trapped’, including parenting, leaving deeply wounded hearts behind me.

In sadness, I reflected on my restless search for the next shiny toy, be it a lover, a new home, or even a whole new lifestyle. Variety please!

In humility, I learnt that I’m at my best when I practice gratitude for what I actually have, where I actually am, and with who I’m actually with, rather than always projecting forward into the fabulous future I am about to create, thereby missing the Now I’m truly in. That was a big revelation.

I also learnt that the bossy assertive side of my somewhat lazy nature comes from my Eight wing, which brought me back to thanking the original Eight who got me into this fascinating world in the first place.

I’ve since ‘tested’ most of my friends, using an online quiz if interstate, or my course notes if they live nearby, and am now pretty good at working out what someone’s number may be, based on how they tell some of their life story; or attitudes to events.

Knowing I’m a Seven, and that my teenage son is a Three, has smoothed many domestic clashes at home, while also providing an understanding of romantic challenges I will face if dating a Nine for example, or another Seven.

The Enneagram is fascinating; without doubt, it’s made me a better person, and given me greater compassion for the struggles and idiosyncrasies of my fellow travelers through this Life. It gave me the tools to catch myself in my patterns of reaction, whether positive or negative, and gain a little insight to allow a different choice; for this, I am profoundly thankful.

Guest Post: “The Defender” Enneagram 6 Wing 5

This is a guest post from a good friend of mine, Loreto, who showed me the power of understanding both the overall Enneagram System and my own number. He also showed me many of the tools included in the post “Understanding Personalities with The Enneagram“.

After reading the written description of my own number, I initially struggled with identifying with my Enneagram and doubted it. Needless to say, Loreto was confident and “called me out” on my Type 4, Wing 3. It was not until hearing a panel of other “fours” speak that I finally felt the connection. After this experience, I felt it best to have guest posts for each Enneagram type. Fortunately for me, Loreto was more than happy to oblige.

If you would like to share your own Enneagram experience through a guest post or a repost, please write me in the comment section!

I was introduced to the Enneagram at the start of a new relationship with a brilliant, poised woman whose self-awareness piqued my interest. While I’m typically untrusting of all things numerological, astrological, and anything that isn’t clearly backed by modern-day science, this new system was different. Personalities tests such as Myers-Briggs identify personalities as unchangeable while serving as a means to better understand oneself “as is” without change. As much as the Enneagram labels different personalities, the Enneagram also provides an outlook of what the best version of your personality can become. As a growth-oriented person, I was excited to see what my best self looked like. Enthusiastically, I took the 120 question online test and was labeled as a Type 6 wing 5, “The Defender.”

I immediately began pouring over podcasts and books trying to learn as much as possible about my newly labeled personality. A type 6 is described as a security-oriented, hardworking, skeptical yet loyal individual who is motivated by an irrational fear that their environment is inconsistent and unsafe. Sixes typically seek approval from different authorities, and struggle with trusting their own inner-guidance system. Sixes can embody the extremes of different characteristics. Sixes can easily go from courageous to fearful, from angry and sad to happy.

I could easily identify with these descriptions, and was immediately overwhelmed. I could clearly recall countless situations where I was too afraid to take action, where I was indecisive, and did everything I could to please those from whom I desperately wanted approval. If a 20-minute test was able to describe my characteristics with such clarity, what did my friends and family think of me? Did people actually respect me and enjoy my company, or was it all out of pity? Was every compliment, affirmation, or expression of love that I had received genuine, or was I too naive and needy to see that I was just being taken advantage of?

I felt a crushing pressure in my chest, and a cold-sweat dripped down my wrists. I had originally taken this test in an attempt to find a path towards enlightenment. Instead, I was left with more anxiety than I had ever experienced. After several weeks of this anxiety, I woke up one Sunday morning laughing at how ridiculous these insecurities were.

Then I sat down and folded a piece of paper into three columns. In the first column I wrote down my past successes, in the second I wrote down my decisions which were not influenced by others, and in the third I wrote down times where doubt and fear prevented me from taking action. For each item, I also noted my successes, failures, or whether I was too afraid to take any action at all.

The inaction category was the largest, followed by successes and then failures. As I went through my successes, I began discrediting my past wins by finding ways to improve.This skeptical mindset was exhausting, and I hadn’t gained much from it. Room for improvement doesn’t signify failure, and certainly doesn’t take away from success. By persistently picking things apart, I was wasting time by not taking action to see what would or would not serve me.

I finally ended this exercise and enjoyed the rest of my day. I felt care-free, laughed more than I had in months, and had fun. I went to sleep that night feeling confident, knowing everything I did that day was of my own accord. I had no doubt everyone with whom I spent time enjoyed my company, too.

As quickly as I fell into my downward spiral, I was also able to pull myself out of it by focusing on my values, and spending time in a community full of nonjudgmental, well-intentioned people.

Unfortunately, the plight of the Six is the ineffective habit of questioning the world around them. While it exposes different viewpoints, and allows for empathy in excess, it also creates an unproductive spiral of anxiety. Sixes have the potential to change the world, as long as they can drown out all of the fears and uncertainties around them.

Today, I have ended the relationship which taught me about my Enneagram number as it quickly became unhealthy and toxic. However, instead of feeling sad, I am grateful for gaining a new awareness that my skeptical, analytical, and fearful nature is also my greatest strength. With courage, I am able to create an environment which I desire; one of calmness, laughter, support and loyalty. I empathize with those who think differently from me, and care enough to find the goodness within them. For those I trust and care about, there is no doubt I am supportive, and have the potential to become their greatest champion.

Learning about my Enneagram number has also given me a sense of peace knowing my default anxiety is more of a quirk than a defect. So, while I may always wonder if the chandelier will fall in the middle of dinner, or if the careless alter server will light the entire church on fire, I can also learn to laugh at its absurdity. As for when tragedy does occur, I’ll be able to relax knowing exactly what to do, because I’ve already planned for it at least half-a-dozen times. While I may have more fear than others, it’s nothing new to me. It’s just another every day thing to adjust to.

Coming So

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