I’ve been thinking about my blog for some time now, I have been letting the drive of perfection let me get in the way and therefore, I have not been writing consistently! I wrote Nourishing & Healing the Body & Brain: Part 1 but not part 2 yet. I even talk about acceptance of imperfection in that post! It’s not easy to let go of perfection, I can attest to that!
I now realize, this article should have been Part 1. And the other one, Part 2. But that’s okay. I’m not perfect, right? My intention is to help you heal in a way that you don’t go through a downward spiral like I did. In a way that doesn’t paralyze you. Healing is hard but you don’t need to be perfect about it.
I’m perfectly imperfect, just like you!
As I discuss in my previous article but the subject deserves reiterating over and over again, the drive for perfection is insane. It’s a great recipe for feeling shame – which, as I discussed previously, and according to one of my very favorite authors, Brene’ Brown, shame is lethal. It tears us down bit by bit and I’ve had enough of it!
Shame at not being the perfect parent is something that was my undoing at one point in my life, which I talk about a bit in that last post referenced above: Nourishing & Healing the Body & Brain: Part 1; in two interviews: Finding Balance While Feeding Your Family Well: An Interview on Women’s Wellness Radio & on Kink.fm, a Portland Radio station where, Journalist & Author, Sheila Hamilton Interviews Me about Nutrition & Mental Health, and again, when I share about Sheila Hamilton’s powerful and important book, All the Thing We Never Knew.
As Brene’ Brown emphasizes, the fact is, we are all doing the best we can we can. That might be really hard to swallow but when you really truly think about it, every person is using all their experiences in life to the best of their abilities at any given moment. Most of the time we never really know what is behind someone’s eyes and in their heart and spirit. We don’t really know what traumas may have shaped them. What they bury deep inside, afraid to confront.
What most of us don’t realize is that all these traumatic or shameful experiences in our lives, if not addressed and resolved within ourselves, can wreak havoc to our mind, body, and spirit. Which means, we don’t full show up in our lives. We don’t live to our fullest potential and likely we become sick in our hearts and our bodies. By heart, I mean spirit and soul.
Stress and shame are probably two of the most destructive issues we face to our whole self. When we are stressed we are in fight or flight mode, we are in a state of keeping ourselves alive OR we roll over and act dead. Shame is probably the biggest emotional stressor. But grief is pretty freaking powerful as well. And grief can mean different things to different people. It can mean death of a loved one, a miscarriage, an abortion, or the absence of something that you deeply love that is out of your grasp and may always be. Another stress whopper is being a caregiver, especially when the person you are caring for is a loved one facing their own challenges.
As I’ve looked into my deep buried emotions about past events that I feel shame about, and I consider who I was and what my experiences were at the time I made those decisions or the situation I was in that I could not control, I’ve had to learn to not only forgive others, but myself too. To be clear, it doesn’t justify or make those past decisions or events okay but in most cases, in no way should a being have to suffer all their lives for past wrong doings.
I’m not talking about very complicated issues such as war criminals, mass murderers, and the like – that’s a subject I have no expertise on. I’m talking about everyday people. Of course everyone needs to be and should be held accountable for their actions, as Brene’ Brown says, and there are those that remain very sick in their minds and need to be helped but that is a whole other topic.
For many years in my youth I felt something was not right. I felt a deep emotional pain and emptiness I could not put my finger on. I was obsessed with self help books and did a lot of church shopping – which, in a lot of ways, added to my pain. It took a compassionate Priest to give me hope and some inspiration, but even then, I still felt a pain that I couldn’t figure out.
I know now that it’s because I was looking outside myself for acceptance and love. Not from within. Where God actually lives. When I say God, I refer to the same God we all have. The creative force that is the reason we are in this universe. The same God that every religion refers to. And, the same God, I was mad at for a lot of years. I realize now, it was because I was looking outward. I never considered forgiving myself, even though I was praying for forgiveness.
Being part of a religious community for some years, I never knew why but I always felt like an imposter, a black sheep. Like, I didn’t belong. The straw that broke the camel’s back with my relationship to this so called God, is when one of my children was being constantly bullied in a religious institution to the point where we left. I felt confused and abandoned. Especially when another child was having some very significant life altering challenges. How was that fair? I prayed to hard! I resolved that I was being punished for not being a perfect person and that it was my fault that my children suffered.
This shame took a significant toll on my overall whole self and of course, my family. Yes, shame is very destructive.
What I didn’t realize, is that slowly but surely, many of my prayers were actually being answered in ways I never really understood or recognized until very recently! My prayers were being answered by me taking action. It was NOT an easy path, I had tough lessons to learn. I still do. The living and learning never ends.
When we pulled our youngest child from a school environment that was crushing his spirit and love of learning, we joined a local homeschool co-op which offered amazing classes and opportunities, even for adults. There is where I learned Reiki, a complementary form of healing medicine, which I believe is part of what saved my life. I used Reiki as guided meditation. (My husband’s intervention later also has a lot to do with my healing but the Reiki was powerful and still is.)
I had a ton of wacky health issues going on that could not be explained by tests. The stress was immense regarding that and my son’s challenges at the time. Reiki opened up a door of alternative thinking which put me a step closer to healing. It wasn’t the complete answer for sure, but it was a step in the right direction.
Although I was an athlete, a former personal trainer at a gym, as well as a certified Racewalk instructor, my exercise had come close to a halt. I intellectually knew I needed to exercise but I had zero will. This is when my husband took the initiative (his intervention) to make me exercise with him daily during a 90-day program. I hated it at first but slowly, I began to feel better (after getting Shingles in the beginning!) and when I began to seek what I was going to do next with my life (my son was doing much better and was enrolled in a small local magnet school), I stumbled upon nutritional protocol I thought I would try. I had purchased, The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, and he had been blogging about his Slow Carb Diet, which he later released in The 4-Hour Body.
Implementing The 4-Hour Body slow carb diet (which removes all white refined foods, including milk, flour, & sugar) is when my mental health and physical health turned around pretty dramatically. I went on to tweak the nutritional template with my family to be more Paleo since the slow carb legumes were no longer working well for us and the changes to the rest of the family were remarkable and life changing for my youngest son especially. Much of this nutritional template is covered in this post: Nourishing & Healing the Body & Brain: Part 1.
This transformation inspired me to return to school to study nutritional therapy. My enthusiasm prompted me to post what I was learning and experiencing often and as a result, I was in the best selling author, blogger, and award winning podcaster, Diane Sanfilippo’s radar when she needed someone to review an accounting program for nutritionists. I was approached to review it and my review landed me a job before I even graduated (I actually started the day after returning from graduation). This job provided me with a constant flow of clients so that my experience as a new practitioner became significant in a short time.
Interestingly, although my mind, my health, and my physical body was much better. I still had work to do. I still felt a bit of something was missing. My spirit and soul still needed nurturing. My health was not 100% yet.
I learned about Heart Math, another modality to help with getting your body into a meditative state (I actually learned about this before starting school). I used it on and off for a few years but now I use it nearly every day. It’s a really great tool for those of you that enjoy feedback with data that shows your progress. You can even earn awards and badges. I believe the device help me immensely (and still does).
In fact, the reason Reiki, meditation, and the like are so instrumental in healing, is that they help get your body OUT of the state of fight or flight. This is called the parasympathetic mode. For optimal digestion, immune function, detoxification, and metabolism, your body needs to be in a parasympathetic mode.
So, I want to try to bring all this together. As a nutritional therapy practitioner, the more I help myself and others heal completely (mind, body, spirit, and soul), the more I see the connection of illness or lack of healing to past unresolved emotional pain. But, as I am emphasizing throughout this post, there is hope to get past those. You don’t need to nor should you hold on to past pain, shame, fear, etc.
The science is exploding in this area and I see that this step (emotional healing) as well as self-acceptance, as either equally or more important than food, lifestyle, and environmental changes. I resonate with the work of Lissa Rankin (Mind Over Medicine), Dr. Bruce Lipton (The Biology of Belief), Brene’ Brown (Rising Strong), Dr. Mario Martinez (The Mind Body Code) – thanks to suggestion of the remarkable, Dr. Christiane Northrup, the Heart Math Institute, and the work that Jessica and Nick Horner (The Tapping Solution) with the Emotional Freedom Technique. Nick Horner is the author of The Tapping Solution book. It’s probably one of the most powerful, fast acting, self-healing modalities that I have encountered. It’s easy, free and gets results. In fact, you can even get results if you are not ready to revisit old traumas.
There are many paths to healing. I’m going to share some of the very basics steps that I found have worked for me and my clients. I hope you find something that works for you! There is hope. Once you remove the stressors and learn how to manage stress, is when healing can truly begin. Many people find that their problems go away and they don’t even need to take additional steps such as a gut healing protocol.
Learning to get your body into a parasympathetic mode is the foundation for healing and continued health of your mind, body, and spirit. As I move forward with my clients, it’s what we will work on the most. If you cannot get your body into the parasympathetic mode, you cannot heal. You cannot digest even the best food optimally, your immune system is not fully functioning, and the same goes with your metabolism. I learned from 8th Annual Tapping Solution World Summit, that we are not even our adult selves when we are in a state of fight or flight mode. So, even though we know intellectually what we SHOULD do, we don’t. This is probably one of the biggest contributors to poor decision making.
So, let’s get healing!
Basic Tools for Healing 101
1. Get your body into a “rest and digest” or parasympathetic state as many times during the day as possible, and ALWAYS before eating. Here are some ways:
a. Before eating, make sure you are sitting to eat. Take a deep breath and say grace or have gratitude for your food. Even better, light a candle and if you are sharing a meal with others, especially your family, ask everyone to name one thing they are grateful for (no judging).
b. Walk – especially in nature (barefoot is even better!)
d. Listen to relaxing, soothing music
e. Deep breathing – this can help you get into a parasympathetic state any time you need to. In fact, unless you have some other methods in place, I recommend setting an alarm on the hour, take a break, and for 5 minutes, practice deep breathing using the 4-square approach. Referencing a Rising Strong talk given by Brene’ Brown, this Huffington Post article by Miriam Ava of Colors of Gratitude shares the technique as Brene’ describes it:
“Just pay attention.” The key to recognizing your emotions is breathing. Yes, even in the military they’re breathing. It’s called tactical breathing. “It’s all about breath, Ma’am.” So here’s your primer to box breathing (just imagine the outline of a simple box; inhale, hold, exhale, hold for 4 breaths each)
f. Apply the essential oil, Parasympathetic by Vibrant Blue Oils before meals and when you are stressed. (I’ve testing this on myself and clients with pretty remarkable results.) Vibrant Blue Oils has a data sheet on proper usage – please refer to it if you use it.
g. Heart Math Inner Balance device for a smart phone or the EmWave device for a computer. It’s a biofeedback system that works remarkably well. I especially recommend it for those that can’t get into meditation now matter how much they try.
h. Meditation (Oprah & Deepak Chopra host a free monthly 28-Day Guided Meditation) – there are many forms of meditation so don’t give up on one, keep trying and start with 5 minutes and increase your time perhaps weekly, for example, week 1 meditate for 5 minutes, week 2, for 10 minutes, week 3 for 15, and make of goal of 20 minutes a day.
i. Reiki – either learn to do it or experience it with a reputable practitioner. Check out holistic, functional, and integrative clinics in your area. I use it on myself for guided meditation. I offer Reiki to in-person clients as well. If you are interested in exploring distance Reiki, let me know. I am experimenting with this right now.
j. Take a yoga or Tai Chi class or rent/buy a DVD to guide you.
k. Do Emotional Freedom Technique (or Tapping) – there are scripts you can learn about from The Tapping Solution Book by Nick Ortner or there are many free videos on Youtube (this one is by Nick Ortner).
l. Buy and listen to the audiobook, The Mind Body Code by Mario Martinez and do his guided exercises.
m. For more about mind/body, self-acceptance, and removing toxic thoughts: Mind Over Medicine by Lissa Rankin and Rising Strong by Brene’ Brown.
n. Sit with and pet an animal – your cat, your dog, your horse (in that case you can sit ON your pet ;))
2. Eat Real Food – as close to nature as possible, food that your great great grandparents would recognize as real food. Get to know your farmers and local food crafters. Avoid refined packaged/processed food and food that has chemical additives. Limit sugar and engineered sweeteners. Avoid pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified foods, any food that has added antibiotics and hormones, and animals that have been factory farmed, raised in confinement, or inhumanely treated. Don’t be afraid of nature’s fat such as olive oil, tallow, lard, and butter from grass-fed pastured raised animals and coconut oil. Learn about what seafood is sustainable and safe to eat – a great resource is The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch website and APP: http://www.seafoodwatch.org/. A great way to get started is using the book, Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.
3. Drink filtered water.
4. Avoid body care products with toxic chemicals. You should be able to ingest your body care products without harmful effects. Not that you want to. But, your skin is your biggest organ. Many body care products contain endocrine disruptors. See my article about this here: Hormone disruptors in your personal care products? I use The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep APP to help me decide. My favorite skin care is: Primal Life Organics.
5. Eliminate toxic chemicals from your home (including laundry soap). I recommend the using The Environmental Working Group to see how your favorite products score. Consider your mattress, where you spend 8 or more hours every night! I love our toxin free and affordable Mulligan’s Mattress.
6. Make time for yourself, really. Moms don’t do this – it’s foundational to being a whole person for those that you love.
7. Make dates with your significant other if you have one. Just make it a priority. Make it happen. My husband and I did not go on dates for so long and it was not good. Life was so much better when we did this!
8. Make time for friends.
9. SLEEP – Get 8 hours of sleep, see my article here: Got Sleep? 11 Ways to Make It Better (I suffered TERRIBLY with sleep for many years and was on a few medications for it).
10. Get outside and in the sun but be responsible about appropriate exposure. Walk barefoot when you can.
11. Have fun – find ways to laugh (with friends, pets, family, movies, comedians, books, etc.)
12. Have gratitude. What is right in your life? Be thankful for that.
13. Love your hot mess of an imperfect self fully and completely.
14. Treat yourself like you want others to treat you.
15. Ask for what you want and take action to get it.
There you go! I’m sure there are a lot more but I think 15 ways is a pretty darn good start!
Did this article help you? Please let me know! Drop me an email or please comment! Also, please share!
You are Beautiful!
[Originally published in February 2016, this article is timely with the recent challenges in this world.]
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not to be construed as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any medical condition. These statements made have not be approved by the FDA, nor should they be taken as a substitute for medical advice from a licensed physician.
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