Blog Hop: Women Writing

Posted by on Jul 28, 2014 in Healing, Writing | Comments Off

Blog Hop: Women Writing


Katie from The Cat Bed invited me to be part of this inspiring group of women sharing their writing on the internet. I met Katie when we were both training as art therapists, and we bonded over our love of writing and, of course, cats.

I started writing at a very young age. I remember winning prizes in primary school for stories, book reviews and spelling bees. I loved words, and I read just about every book in our school library as well as the local library. I especially loved fairy tales. English was my favourite subject and the one I did best in, except for the days we had to do speeches. I much preferred the written word to the spoken one, and still do.

I thought about being a journalist but ended up becoming a psychologist which, fortunately, still allows me an outlet for my writing. I’ve written articles for magazines and I started my self-development blog two years ago. It took a long time for me to be able to write freely though, and even when I did, I could never show anyone my writing. It felt like taking my clothes off in public.

I remember doing creative writing class at university and the tutor complaining that my story got to a certain point and then slammed a door shut in her face. She was right, it was the point at which I realised she’d be reading it at some stage. I tied it all up neatly and hid myself away again. I’ve done many a writing course or mentorship since then with the same result.

It wasn’t until I discovered Julia Cameron’s ‘morning pages’ that I learned how to write honestly and with heart. Three handwritten pages in my journal every morning that even I didn’t read back, that could be about anything and didn’t need to contain good grammar or punctuation. It was this process that helped me start writing my blog, and even then I contacted a favourite blogger to ask how she could be so vulnerable with her writing. She said it had taken two years of writing consistently for her true voice to reveal itself. She also said she simply deleted any negative comments.

I also learned from my students when I ran groups and workshops on creativity and body image that our stories are powerful healing tools and others need to hear them. I grew up being told my story should be kept quiet, that no-one wanted to hear it, but I began to realise that I was telling it to people who didn’t want to hear it because it meant they might have to do something about it. These days I tell aspects of my story to people who need to hear it, and that makes all the difference.

What am I working on/writing?

I have about a dozen books in my head – parables, memoirs, fictional novels – but right now I’m focusing on building my personal development business, sharing my thoughts and experiences honestly through my blog and FB business page. I want to use my voice to reach my ‘tribe’ so I can share with them the tools they need to overcome the curve balls life has thrown at them. I feel as though my mission on Earth is to help people see themselves as they truly are, through writing and other creative methods.

How does my work differ from other writers in my genre?

We all have a unique voice. but unless we learn to trust it, we end up trying to copy the voice of others. There are many writers online whose words just speak directly to my soul and I’ve tried to write exactly like them in the past, but it doesn’t work. I remember Stephen King saying he started out the same way, and that it’s ok to do that because it helps you find your own voice eventually. I’m still discovering what makes my work differ from others, but I know the answer lies in sharing my own experience as authentically as possible.

Why do I write what I do?

I write because I can’t not write. I think my head would explode without getting things down in my journals as often as possible. But I also feel it’s a valuable way of connecting with other kindred spirits and helping us all feel less alone. Sometimes the spoken word isn’t enough. People often say social media has alienated us all from each other, but I think we’re more honest in some ways when we have to write what we feel instead of speaking it directly. So I write to share my deepest lessons on this planet and hopefully to touch and maybe even heal some other like-minded souls along the way.

Next Week’s Blog Hoppers

bridaBrida Anderson is the author of “Hedge Games” (Urban Romantasy). She also writes Steampunk and blogs – when she isn’t running after her two boys (8 and 3). Until a few months ago, they lived at the edge of a big city, a few streets away from the forest, with an over-active border collie and at least one family of sock-eating gnomes. 

Last spring, Brida relocated to the Middle East with the whole family, for three years. Not exactly the perfect environment for a red-headed author with fair skin writing about elfish forests … ;-) 

You can find Brida on Facebook or talk to her on Twitter. Or visit her website where she blogs about life as an expat, a writer-mom and all things fae. 



alyssaAlyssa Marr is a copywriter for women entrepreneurs who desperately want the words on their website to both sound like their real, offline self and attract their dream clients.

She wrote her Effortless Copywriting Guide to help you clearly communicate your awesomeness across your entire website, so that your dream clients will be clear about it too + will leap at the chance to work with you. Get yours here.

Website :: | Twitter :: @alyssaink | Skype :: alyssa.martin

Introducing the new Soulful Life Sanctuary

Posted by on Jun 1, 2014 in Creativity, Healing | Comments Off

Introducing the new Soulful Life Sanctuary


Soulful Life Sanctuary


Are you ready to slow down, exhale, and reconnect with your soul?

Would you like to connect with like-minded people and support one another on your journeys?

If you’re longing to relax, share openly, and experience deep connections, I’d love to introduce you to the Soulful Life Sanctuary. It’s a space where you can be your true, authentic self, be supported, and simply BE.


The Soulful Life Sanctuary includes a loving, supportive community, a virtual classroom/retreat center, and a set of tools/resources to help you live your most radiant, authentic, soulful life.

It was created by my friend, Jodi Chapman (no we’re not related, but we pretend we’re long-lost cousins) – she’s the author of the inspirational blog, Soul Speak, and the popular Beliefnet column, Heart of the Soul. 

The Sanctuary is literally packed with TONS of goodies to help you connect with like-minded souls, reconnect with your own soul, and feel fully alive. 

The Sanctuary doors open on July 1, but you can sign up right now and receive an earlybird discount of $100 (until June 30) + over $2000 in bonus gifts (to the first 50 members)!


Soulful Life Sanctuary


Here’s a taste of what’s included:

  • Unlimited Sanctuary Access for 12 Months + Discounted Price for Life – You’ll be able to pick and choose from a huge “buffet” of soulful offerings—from e-courses and live classes to blogs and forums…and so much more! Plus, you’ll stay at the super-low earlybird price for as long as you stay a member, regardless of future price increases!
  • Sacred Spaces and Soul Guides – Over a dozen virtual “rooms” focused on soulful topics such as Spirituality, Wellness, Abundance, Soulful Parenting, Self Love and Relationships, and much more—led by 12 Soul Guides, experts in each area. Look for me in the Creativity space!
  • E-courses – You’ll have instant access to ALL of Jodi’s e-courses—including her popular “Coming Back to Life” course and many others (nine available immediately, with at least three more being added within the year)—on topics including soulful journaling, relationships, soulful business tips, gratitude, manifestation, daily spiritual practice, and much more!
  • Live and Archived Classes – You’ll get free access to online classes on a wide variety of topics—ranging from intuition and psychic readings to life coaching and nutrition. You can attend live or through an archive, which you can access at any time during your membership. You can even apply to teach your own class!
  • Private Facebook Community – As a member, you’ll have access to the sanctuary’s private Facebook community, which is a safe space for you to connect with the other members and also Jodi and the Soul Guides. 
  • Your Own Personalized Page – You’ll be able to create a personal page where you can upload photos, share about yourself, see your latest activities, and read and respond to comments that other members have left for you.
  • Soulful Blogs – As a Sanctuary member, you can share your soulful wisdom through your blog, and you can also be inspired by reading others’ blogs! It’s a great way for us to connect and learn from each other.
  • Sanctuary Shop – You’ll have access to a wide variety of discounted soulful gifts and services—all from Sanctuary members. You can also apply to have your products/services listed in the shop, where you’ll be able to reach thousands with your own soulful offerings!
  • Optional Monthly Skype Sessions and Facebook Parties – As a Sanctuary Member, you’ll also have the option to be part of the Soul Shakers’ community, which includes monthly Skype sessions (in groups of 9 or fewer), as well as a private forum where we can connect even deeper and support each other in reaching our dreams authentically and soulfully!

…and so much more, including almost $2000 in Bonus Gifts to the first 50 people to register.


Soulful Life Sanctuary


More than anything else though, the Soulful Life Sanctuary is a sacred space where you can slow down, listen to your soul’s whispers, and connect with that deepest part of yourself…and others! It’s a place where you can reconnect with that beautiful light that shines within you…and share it with the world. It’s a place where you can come home…to your true self.

Isn’t it time you allowed yourself to shine, to live fully, to slow down and listen to your soul? To be a part of a loving community?

It’s time for each of us to allow ourselves to have that. If your soul is jumping up and down saying YES, YES, YES… then, please click here to learn more and find out how you can begin your Soulful Life Sanctuary membership today!


P.S. Remember to sign up by June 30 to receive your $100 discount (and lock in that low price for as long as you stay in the Sanctuary!) + over $2000 in bonus gifts to the first 50 members. I’ll see you there!


3 Quick Ways to Get Control of Overactive Empathy

Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 in Sensitivity | Comments Off

3 Quick Ways to Get Control of Overactive Empathy

This article first appeared on on May 31 2010. Reprinted with permission of the author.

You know when you get a glimpse into someone else’s emotional experience or their pain?  You can really feel it for a moment and sometimes it might bring you to tears or motivate you to help someone.  That’s empathy.

Overactive empathy, on the other hand, is when you have that experience of opening up to someone else’s emotions and experience, but then instead of coming back to yourself afterwards and being centered in your own needs and feelings, you remain ‘out there’ – absorbed in everyone else’s ‘stuff’.  In social situations, you can sense what everyone else is feeling and thinking.  Even walking past people in the street, you can feel and sense what is going on with them.  Physical empaths can even pick up physical pains and aches that aren’t theirs.

(If you want to find out more about the symptoms of overactive empathy, read this article: Is Overactive Empathy Ruining Your Life?)


The Downside of Overactive Empathy

While your energy is ‘doing the rounds’ and picking up on what everyone else is doing and feeling, your life becomes charged with emotions and pain that aren’t even yours and it becomes difficult to maintain a state of focus or centredness.  Meanwhile, what you feel and need can go completely neglected.

Overactive empathy can lead to people-pleasing, self-sacrifice and self neglect.  It can also lead to co-dependence because when you can feel other people’s emotions to such a degree, they become yours and you want to help more than is appropriate.

This is one of the things a lot of psychic and spiritual people struggle with.

If you experience overactive empathy, you need to learn to turn it on and off at will and become more centred in your own experience.  And the good news is that it is entirely possible, and when you learn to do it, it makes your quality of life 10 times better.  I say that from experience.


In a prior article, I wrote about how to overcome overactive empathy.  In this one, I’m going to give a few practical tips. You can start doing it now just by utilizing these three tips.


1. Pay Attention to How YOU Feel

To overcome empathy, you need to tune back in to YOU. In order to get centred, you need to check in with yourself emotionally at least once a day and tune in to how you feel. Make a log before you go to bed of how you feel and why.  When people ask you to do something, before you say yes, check in with how you feel about it.  Don’t just feel their need and then respond to that.  Take time to become centered and for your feelings to come through.  Sometimes your own feelings about things take time to come through when you’re too tuned in to everyone else’s.

Meditation can also be a good centering tool if you do it regularly and imagine recalling your energy back from other people and feeling complete again. When I feel like my energy is ‘out there’ and ungrounded (especially after I’ve been working on the computer and internet all day) I often do a visualization where I see my energy coming back to me from the internet sites I’ve visited, the people I’ve talked to, the spirits I’ve spoken to and the clients I’ve worked with. A visualization like that just sets the intention to bring your energy back to you and can be very helpful.


2. Get into the habit of asking Source to take away energies that aren’t yours

When you feel overwhelmed with emotion, or like you lost yourself in interactions with other people, try taking three deep, long breaths, then saying this little prayer:

I now call on the power of Source/God and the Archangels to remove from my energy field all energies that do not belong to me.  It is done, it is done, it is done.

You can make your own little prayer or memorize the one above.  It doesn’t need to be complicated or long. As you can see, the prayer above is short and simple. Calling on source/the angels is very powerful for clearing out energies and it works.


3. Give yourself permission to enjoy yourself

Most empaths are not having fun in their interactions with other people.  They often have the attitude that they are here to help others who are suffering.  They often feel dutiful and feel responsible for other people’s feelings – they feel they are there to help others to feel better.

To remedy this, focus on having fun in your interactions with others.  In social situations, if you’re not having fun then don’t engage so much with the person you’re talking to. When you’re talking to someone who is draining your energy, intend to pull back.  Put your enjoyment first in social situations and pay less attention to other people than you would normally.  This may sound incredibly selfish but the fact is that many empaths need this change in approach.


About Anna Sayce

Anna’s interest in spiritual and intuitive development began in her teens and she ended up training as a professional healer and intuitive in her 20s. Along the way she learned that guidance from the spiritual realm is not spooky or even supernatural. It’s a natural part of life, that can be used to steer you towards fulfillment and improve your life in practical ways. All you need to do is awaken and develop it. On her website, she writes about how to do this.


Coming in June

Join the mailing list to be the first to hear about it (and get your free gift while you’re there)!

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Waking The Tiger

Posted by on Apr 1, 2014 in Healing | 16 comments

Waking The Tiger

I have always been a deep sleeper, especially when I was a teenager. Very early one morning while it was still dark, my father suddenly burst into my room waking my 16 year old self with a flood of noise and light. He flung the light switch on and yelled at me for leaving the bathroom wall heater on all night.

I shot straight up in bed, deeply shocked  by the intrusion into my space and my sleep. I am sensitive to bright lights and loud noises at any time, but particularly when wrenched from the deepest stages of sleep. Then he discovered it was my mother who left the bathroom heater on all night, not me. With that, he turned the light off, shut the door, and left me to lie in bed shaking all over until the sun came up, at which point I got up and went about my day as normal.


The Stress Response

Trauma expert Peter Levine describes animals in the wild as having a similar response as humans to perceived danger. When a predator is near, they go through a sequence of tension, preparing for either fight or flight,  followed by violent shaking and relaxation as the danger subsides.

When animals or humans respond to a threat by either fleeing or fighting, our heightened physical energy is easily released. However sometimes we neither flee nor fight. This is because either the danger passes, it isn’t appropriate (the boss humiliates you in a team meeting, the driver beside you suddenly swerves into your lane), or because we don’t have the ability to do so.

In the absence of fleeing the threat or fighting for our lives, it is the violent physical shaking that discharges our heightened energy, resetting the nervous system to its normal resting state. This is why I was able to get up after my rude awakening in the middle of the night and carry on as normal. I hadn’t distracted myself from the shock or tried to stop the shaking. Although I didn’t understand at the time, I did exactly what I needed to do – I simply lay there and shook.



Trauma is held in the body, not in the external event

In humans, when the urge to fight or flee is inappropriate or not available, the impulse to tremble or cry is often thwarted through shame, social expectations, or drugs prescribed to block the process of energy release. Instead of being released, the heightened energy becomes trapped in our nervous system, leaving us traumatised.

In this way, the nervous system remains either stuck ON in a state of readiness as evidenced by panic, irritable bowel, insomnia, attention deficits or stuck OFF in a frozen state as evidenced by depression, lethargy, chronic fatigue, low blood pressure. Trauma resides in the body, not in the external event, so Levine says the body needs to complete the natural release process in order to calm the amygdala (the brain’s alarm system) and return the nervous system to its normal state.

In light of this, it makes no sense to tell a person who has experienced trauma any of the following:

  • That was years ago, it’s time to move on
  • Everyone makes mistakes, just let it go
  • You need to forgive and put it behind you
  • Stop focusing on it and think more positively
  • It’s your choice to feel this way


Implicit Memory

bestclipartblogImagine you learned to swim as a child but hadn’t been in the water for decades. Now imagine someone suddenly pushed you in the deep end of the pool. Chances are you would still remember how to swim. The ability is stored in implicit memory – a type of memory where earlier experiences aid in the performance of a task without conscious awareness. We never forget how to tie our shoes or ride a bike or find our way to a friend’s place on the other side of the city.

Trauma is stored in the same way. A wild animal does not think its way out of a frozen state. It doesn’t forgive the predator, pretend it didn’t happen, or take medication. What the animal does is regulate its nervous system with a series of behaviours designed to discharge energy, such as trembling, heavy breathing and other physical movements.


The way in is the way out

Levine calls this ‘waking the tiger’ – activating the part of us that is faster and stronger than the event that overwhelmed us, allowing us to energetically complete the unfinished sequence and release the trauma from our bodies. Without this, movement is restricted and brain activity is disrupted – the cortex (responsible for reasoning and rational thinking) is unable to communicate with the overstimulated amygdala to shut off a false alarm.

images (13)

Somatic (mind & body) therapy approaches which encourage ‘waking the tiger’ include Guided Drawing, Clayfield Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, Somatic Psychotherapy, Sandplay, Symbol Work, Journalling, Dream Analysis, Dance Therapy, Meditation and EMDR. I have experienced some of these in my art therapy training (guided drawing and clayfield) and my earlier training in the expressive therapies (sandplay and symbols) and seen them produce powerful and profound changes in both my own life and the lives of my fellows students.


images (13)

You don’t just get over it

If you’ve experienced an event that felt life-threatening to you, or some sort of ongoing stressor that has overwhelmed you, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to ‘just get over it’ without help. If people have been making comments to you such as the ones listed above, please don’t think you’re stuck because you haven’t tried hard enough. It’s more likely that you just haven’t had the right tools to help you get unstuck.

Somatic treatments can be found in most areas and some are offered via Skype for clients in remote regions. Releasing trauma from the body takes courage. You will no longer be intellectualising your experience by sitting and talking about it, you’ll be freeing your mind and body from the past and taking back your life.


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There’s Gold In Your Shadow

Posted by on Mar 22, 2014 in Courage, Healing, Sensitivity, Shadows | 2 comments

There’s Gold In Your Shadow

Our shadow side represents the person we don’t want to be, all the aspects of ourselves we don’t want to express because of feelings of shame associated with them. We lock away the parts of ourselves we believe are unacceptable and we disown them. They lie dormant, rejected, and their absence leaves us less than whole.

A Golden Shadow

Sometimes what’s in our shadow isn’t dark at all, it’s the positive aspects of ourselves we’ve rejected because they shine too brightly for those around us, or because a calling to a noble cause overwhelms us and we aren’t sure we’re up to the task. Jung referred to this as the Golden Shadow – our beauty, knowledge and power which we reject and even project on to others instead.  As with  all shadow projections, we see these aspects in others instead of ourselves. We may idolise a famous figure for their beauty, talent or altruism, while denying our own.

We may also feel strong negative feelings towards others and criticise them or feel superior, not realising they represent denied parts of us. For example, we envy others their creativity and self-expression and criticise them for not following the rules, all the while suppressing our own creativity and denying our own outlets for self-expression. Maybe we were told as a young child that we couldn’t draw, or we made too much of a mess, and so we put our creativity aside and forgot about it.

What’s In The Shadow?

JungianShadowMy own struggles with shadow aspects began early when I learned it was ‘wrong’ to not be a morning person, and that being an introvert was something to be ‘worked on’. I tried to hide these parts of myself, feeling ashamed of them, and whenever they surfaced I felt like a failure. I also denied my competence and capability to some degree because I learned that no matter what I did, it was likely to be criticised or mocked.

It wasn’t until I found other night people, other introverts, and learned that it was nothing to hide from, that I let these parts of myself back into the light. I feel no shame around them now because I found a tribe of people who accept these parts of me and allow me to own them without fear or shame. I also began to notice evidence of my capabilities over time as I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and noticed that I didn’t fall in a useless heap.

Magic occurs in the shadows, bringing the dark into the light. Doing shadow work means bringing the unloved parts of ourselves into the world again, reclaiming and integrating them into our being so that we can be fully whole again.

Mining The Gold

Let’s stop punishing ourselves, robbing ourselves of important aspects of who we are, and mine the gold in our shadows to bring it to the surface, back into the light. The best way to do this is to look at the things you fear most. This will lead you to your shadow.

a57892fbc7ecb28f8fb9b2dfc4fda270What are your greatest fears? Challenge yourself a little by asking yourself what’s the worst thing that could happen if you were to confront these fears?

What message might these fears have for you? What parts of you need love and attention?  For instance, if you have feelings of jealousy or anger, what might there be for you to learn around this? Many clients have told me there depression came along to show them where they needed to make important changes in their lives, such as slowing down, or paying more attention to the health or relationships.

In reflecting on these prompts and even journalling about them, you may gain a new perspective on these unwanted aspects of yourself. Becoming aware of these parts will help you stop projecting them on to others, and over time you might even realise that these parts of yourself are actually treasures in disguise.


images courtesy of and


The Journey Back To Myself

Posted by on Mar 8, 2014 in Courage, Healing, Truth | 2 comments

The Journey Back To Myself

You are not who they said you were, you are who you say you are. ~ Jason Alexander 

My mother was 14 when she discovered she was pregnant with me. I was almost aborted, but instead I was adopted out at birth. My new mother was a woman who seemed to have decided early on that she didn’t want to be a mother after all. She and her husband had no further children so I was raised an only child, and I was later sent to boarding school. There was very little affection, praise or encouragement in this family, instead I was raised with criticism, scorn and punishment. I became permanently estranged from my adoptive parents in my 20s, and during this time my biological father’s wife made it very clear to me that I was not to consider myself part of their family either.


Believing the lie

Due to these repeated rejections from mother figures, I found it difficult to trust people or allow anyone to get too close to me, and as a result I have not become a mother myself. For a long time I’ve believed I was alone in the world, someone who slipped through the cracks when it came to families, ending up with none. I never believed I didn’t deserve love and affection, but I somehow came to the conclusion that I didn’t generate these things in people – I was ‘not enough’ to engender love, warmth and respect in others and this was why I was now alone.

clkerIt reminds me of a stray cat I once fed. He allowed my own cats to push him around and cuff him, then once they’d finished (or I intervened) he’d then eat the food I left out for him. It was as though he expected it and seemed to believe it was his due. In the same way, I had been allowing myself to be treated disrespectfully in many situations because I thought contempt, rather than respect, was the feeling I produced in others.


Is it really true?

Fortunately I have come across some wise and understanding people throughout my life who helped me find the courage to look into the shadows and question the stories I’d believed about myself. It was frightening and painful to step into the darkness but what I found there was life-changing. The stories I’d always believed about myself weren’t true. They were the projections of other people who had their own reasons for promoting these stories.

Once I learned this, I became very angry. I wrote letters to all the people, including flatmates and work colleagues and neighbours and store owners, I felt had treated me with disregard over the years, whom I had allowed to treat me this way. I burned all the letters and watched the smoke carry away my anger and old stories with it. Once this was done, I was left with an empty space that needed refilling. It was time to let go of the life I had built based on false stories about who I really was, and find a life that fit the real me, the one that had been hiding out in the dark.




We make the stories true

It is an act of self-compassion to confront your old stories directly and consider whether they really represent the truth about who you are. Unchallenged, these stories cause us to behave in ways that appear to confirm them. For instance, as I explored my shadows I began to realise I was never alone. I always had people I could turn to, but I didn’t because I believed they wouldn’t be there for me. So I never gave myself the chance to see that they would have been. The old story remained ‘true’ until I risked challenging it.


Discovering the truth

So I committed to spending one year exploring my essence, and finding ways to express this in all areas of my life. This journey led me to so many new aspects of myself and put me in touch with kindred spirits with whom I would never have crossed paths in my ‘old life’.

I experimented with intuitive painting, barefoot breathing, and therapeutic journalling. I rediscovered morning pages and artist dates, and I took up horse riding. This led me to begin training in the use of horses as therapeutic companions. I also started studying art therapy and became a certified Soul Art® guide.

Suddenly life was looking very different. I finally realised why I had never felt fulfilled in my old office jobs. I wasn’t meant to be there, that was someone else’s idea of success. It wasn’t because I was a failure, it was because I needed to be outdoors, or creating something, or helping others express themselves.


Your story

What beliefs do you hold about yourself? Are they real or are they someone else’s version of the truth?

In what ways are you cutting yourself off from the support you need by buying into old stories that aren’t true? In what ways are you finding evidence that makes your old beliefs seem true?

You are capable of much more than you realise. What’s one thing you can do today to starting finding your way back to the truth?


First published in Celebration U – Self-Compassion 101 - a free e-course available from the Raising Loveliness community.

Clip art courtesy of and



If you’re longing to find peace and wholeness, to reconnect with your lost dreams and intuition, and find your way back to your truth, I’d love to have you join us on March 31st when we head into the shadows to find lost treasure.


This 4 week journey will help you integrate all parts of yourself, both the dark and the light. If you’re hearing the call and this offering speaks to the heart of who you are, I hope you’ll read more and sign up to join us. 


What are you doing for YOU this Valentine’s Day?

Posted by on Feb 13, 2014 in Healing, Truth | 8 comments

What are you doing for YOU this Valentine’s Day?



“Valentine’s day, a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.” – a quote from Joel in the opening scenes of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.



I have spent so many of the Valentine’s Days when I was in relationships feeling let down or disappointed because my partner at the time didn’t believe in it, or was away with work, or took me somewhere he thought was romantic but I didn’t (watching model airplanes buzz around the sky, anyone?), or just forgot about it. I spent days sitting in my office watching bunch after bunch of couriered flowers and balloons arrive, but they were never for me, sigh.

Yet it occurs to me that I’ve had a few really enjoyable Valentine’s Days too – the ones where I was single. Yes Valentine’s Day is traditionally considered a nightmare for singles, but when I think about it, it’s the times I spent these days with my single friends that I’ve enjoyed them the most.

One year a girlfriend and I went to see Roxette live, a band I’d been wanting to see for more than 20 years. Another time a group of us got together to watch sappy rom-coms, so much fun. I remember one Valentine’s Day at work where we all left secret cards and gifts on each other’s desks so not only did we all feel loved, but we spent all day trying to hunt down our ‘secret admirer’. Again…fun and laughter.

This Valentine’s Day, whether you’re in a relationship or not, why not make it about loving YOU? What gifts do you want to stop waiting for from others and start giving to yourself? A luxury facial? Time out with a new book? Lunch with your best friend? A day in the country with your dog? That charm bracelet you’ve been wanting for years? Ok that last one is my gift to myself from several years back, I actually had to pay it off but I LOVED it from afar for so long and now it’s all MINE.

To add to the self-love, I have some great gifts for you as well. If you haven’t already seen it, go over and pick up your FREE copy of the beautiful e-book compiled by Caroline Kirk. It’s called Lessons In Self Love and it’s full of inspiration. It not only contains over 150 pages of moving personal stories, you also get oodles of free resources such as meditations, posters, and worksheets for finding ways to take excellent care of yourself. You’ll find my contribution ‘When Your Story Is Not Your Story‘, outlining how to take care of yourself when you realise everything about your life isn’t working, in chapter 4. You could also grab a free copy of Caroline’s book Self-Love Rocks while you’re there.

And that’s not all! Here’s another free resource to keep you smiling this Valentine’s Day – head over to the Blog The Love 2014 gathering at the Village Hearth. This is a full week of articles and videos on where to find joy and laughter at this time of year, along with great prizes to win, such as numerology reports and meditations.

So there is no reason for you not to be brimming with self-love with all these amazing resources on offer! I truly wish you a beautiful Valentine’s Day and blessings for the days ahead. You deserve the best.


What Are Your Gifts?

Posted by on Jan 28, 2014 in Sensitivity, Truth | 26 comments

What Are Your Gifts?

I recently read an article where a reader had commented that he was sick of people who categorise themselves as ‘empaths’ and ‘introverts’ believing they were more special than ‘normal’ people.  He commented that everyone has the capacity for empathy and compassion, and that we make a choice whether or not to demonstrate care for others. He also stated that people who demonstrate empathy for others are just doing what humans are meant to do, therefore there is nothing special about it.

I agree that having high levels of empathy doesn’t make a person more valuable than anyone else, but I don’t agree that everyone can feel empathy, or that everyone is even meant to. Empathy, like all traits, operates on a continuum. At one extreme we have empaths – those who literally take on the feelings of others as though those feelings were their own. At the other extreme we have psychopaths, those who are oblivious to the feelings of others and their experience of a situation.

Psychopaths are not necessarily the serial killers, mass murderers and dictators we tend to think of when we hear this word. They can also be CEOs of major corporations, successful business people and yes, politicians. We need people at all different points along this spectrum in order for our society to operate successfully.


Less sensitive is a gift too

If we were all empathic, the world would not progress. We’d all be too worried about hurting someone’s feelings or feeling guilty about breaking rules. It’s often the person with little regard for the feelings of others that will create profound change.

Steve Jobs changed the world with his pioneering ideas. However he was also known for his bullying behaviour. He didn’t hesitate to fire someone if they weren’t on board with his ideas, he didn’t concern himself with what would happen if he couldn’t meet deadlines, and he didn’t work within existing limits and regulations.

He rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way, taking huge risks that were considered inappropriate even within his own team, and managed to get himself fired from the company he co-founded. But in the midst of all this, his single-minded ambition changed millions of lives, revolutionising the fields of personal computers and digital music. That doesn’t excuse his behaviour, but it does highlight his ability to push the world forward where others might struggle due to the constraints of louder consciences.



In the caveman days, we needed people who could go out to hunt and fight, without being traumatised by their experiences. We also needed others who could intuitively sense danger, who could nurture and comfort others, and provide emotional support to those on the front line.  In modern society, it’s often the more sensitive among us who will highlight injustice, but put us on the frontline and we fall apart. It’s too painful to be present with so much suffering.  So it’s the less sensitive who will go out and fight injustice successfully.


Less sensitive doesn’t mean less caring.

There are many people who are caring and compassionate who are not empaths. They are the mid section of the continuum – they see suffering and they feel compassion and the need to change things, but they don’t take on the actual suffering as though it was happening to them. I remember a veterinarian telling me once that there are people who love animals, and there are people who love working with animals. As much as I would have loved a career working with animals, I would have been completely useless as a vet. I can imagine being constantly in tears or consumed with outrage, whereas he was able to work with animals in pain and distress effectively because although he cared very much, he didn’t take on the animal’s (or owner’s) distress as his own.

Being an empath or an introvert is not a trophy or a badge or honour. It does not make someone ‘special’.  These labels are simply ways to understand certain aspects of our personality and behaviour. They don’t define all of who we are, and it isn’t a competition. Being an introvert is not ‘better’ than being an extrovert or vice-versa. Introverts can exhibit extroverted tendencies in certain situations. Empaths may be sensitive but it doesn’t mean they can’t behave in self-serving or insensitive ways at times.


We all have different strengths

We all have things that come more naturally to us, that become our preferred way of processing information and interacting with others. Empaths and introverts are currently undergoing a resurgence in popularity because for years they were given a bad rap – it was not cool to be ‘quiet’ or ‘too sensitive’. There were a lot of judgments made about these behavioural characteristics and now the pendulum is swinging back in our favour, unfortunately it sometimes means judgments are thrown back in the other direction as well. Whereas extroverts were once seen as the ideal, they are now sometimes denigrated as introverts regain lost ground.

It’s true that a less empathic person will need to work harder on their relationships so they remember to consider other people’s points of view (some should probably avoid close relationships altogether!). But an empath will also need to work on not overreacting to things that have nothing to do with them. An extrovert might need to learn to make room for other people in their conversations, but an introvert also needs to learn to share their feelings rather than keeping them bottled up inside.


In the end, it’s our differences that help us work effectively together for the sake of humanity. We each bring something unique and special to the table, and if we are able to embrace our strengths rather than feeling marginalised or shamed for them, we have a much better chance of finding our true calling.

This not only improves our quality of life and allows us to reach our full potential, but it means you’re more likely to bestow your unique gifts on the world before you leave it…whatever those may be.


You might also like:

Could You Be An Empath?

An Empath’s Survival Guide

How To Be An Introvert




Step Out Of The Scapegoat Role

Posted by on Jan 15, 2014 in Communication, Courage, Healing, Sensitivity, Truth | 23 comments

Step Out Of The Scapegoat Role

Did you know the word ‘scapegoat’ came originally from a ceremonial practice where a goat was sacrificed for the sins of the people, and another goat was then loaded up symbolically with these sins and sent out into the wilderness alone to perish. The goats themselves were considered pure, and the shame and sin of the people were transferred on to these innocent creatures to carry.

huffington postThere are many innocents who carry the blame for others. It allows groups of people, families or whole nations to project their own prejudices and aggression away from themselves. It’s a very painful role to play, however family therapists believe the scapegoat is often the healthiest family member because they aren’t complicit in denying the dysfunction.

If you find yourself as the ‘black sheep’, the ‘outcast’, or the ‘bad guy’, your self-esteem is likely to be so damaged that you find yourself actually exhibiting the negative descriptions you hear about yourself. This might take the form of not living up to your potential, not reaching your true earning capacity, having unhealthy relationships with people who don’t treat you well, and not reaching for your dreams.

Some signs that you are, or have been, in this role include:

  • You are made responsible for family issues, disagreements and conflicts, even when these occur as a result of other people’s actions. 
  • Other family members have been verbally, emotionally or physically abusive towards you
  • You are disbelieved and called a liar if you try to defend yourself and explain what really happened
  • People outside the family system go along with the bullying or look the other way when you ask for help
  • You are expected to help other family members out but cannot expect the same help in return
  • You find yourself asking ‘what did I do now?’ on a regular basis
  • You notice that the person accusing you of bad behaviour is the one actually engaging in this behaviour, eg. accuses you of being rude while they are repeatedly rude to you
  • Your achievements are minimised or turned into something negative, eg. you mention you got a good grade on your last assignment and you’re told ‘you think you’re better than us’.


How did you end up in this role?

The scapegoat is carefully chosen, although probably not consciously. He or she is the one who rocks the boat in some way, either through being different (artistic when the rest of the family is intellectual, for example) or through being very sensitive and therefore unable to pretend along with everyone else that the family dysfunction is not happening.

The scapegoat builds their identity on the constant stream of information they receive about their ‘badness’.  They may know inside that they haven’t done anything to warrant this treatment, but it seems that no-one else sees this. As a result they feel insecure and unsafe, making them very vulnerable.

They may find themselves in abusive situations outside the home – at school, in the workplace, in relationships – which seems to further confirm their status as ‘bad’. Consequently they find it very difficult to trust others and may avoid closeness with others altogether as a result.

The scapegoat is often lonely, hurt, confused, and filled with feelings of inadequacy. Without sufficient encouragement, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They grow up lacking the ability to comfortably interact with others, engage in team activities and sports, etc, and this in turn leads them to avoid opportunities to move forward personally and professionally. Even when they do advance, they will tend to downplay their successes.

Although they are often very bright, not much is expected of the scapegoat and they can become under-achievers, although it’s obvious they would be highly successful if they could believe in themselves.  


How to step out of the scapegoat role

The first step to finding your true identity outside this appointed role is to recognise it is not the truth about you. The people who scapegoated you had their own agenda and they needed you in this role to help them avoid dealing with their own problems. In projecting their own defects on to you, they were able to sidestep the pain of their own challenges. The decision to scapegoat you was based on their own needs and had little to do with who you are at all.

You are not who they say you are, you are who you say you are.  Jason Alexander

Deep inside, it’s likely that there’s a part of you that knows the truth, that you are a good kind loving person and you have been cast into a role that does not reflect this or allow others to see it. Tune into this part, it will help you stand your ground and say no to further mistreatment.

Because of the projection involved in scapegoating, it’s likely that the depth of self-loathing and shame you feel are not actually yours. These feelings belong to the people who thought you were a useful dumping ground for their ‘stuff’. When these feelings come up, question their veracity – where does this feeling come from and is it based on any real evidence?

Try not to fall into magical thinking – feeling not good enough doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough. It’s like thinking that because we ‘feel fat’ everyone will look at us and see how ‘fat’ we are. It’s just a feeling, and feelings are not facts. Remind yourself of all the kind things you’ve done, the praise and support you’ve had from others, the achievements you’ve reached.

We all have both good and bad points, the focus on yours has been out of balance towards ‘all bad’ – remind yourself of all the good points too, you do have them and good friends have probably been trying to point them out to you for years!


Let go of explaining and justifying yourself to people who are invested in seeing you as ‘bad’. Trying to gain understanding from abusive family members, co-workers or ‘friends’ keeps you stuck because they are not able to give you this. This is a reflection on them, not you.

However do ask to be treated respectfully from now, keeping in mind that doing this is likely to be viewed as more evidence of your ‘badness’. Remember this is not the the truth, even if some people never apologise for their disrespectful behaviour. You are entitled to make statements along the lines of “The way you just spoke to me is not acceptable, please don’t speak to me like that again” and “If you want speak to me, please do it civilly or I won’t respond.” 


This step is made easier if you’ve already made a commitment to learn how to trust and respect yourself first. You will be less likely to back down in the face of other people’s accusations and insistence that you are out of line if you believe you deserve respect.

Stepping out of the scapegoat role can sometimes mean that unfortunately you are unable to continue a relationship with some of the people in your life. If they are determined to keep you in this role, you may need to limit or even cut contact with them. This may cause pain, but it will be less painful than continuing in this role.

Make a regular practice of treating yourself with loving kindness and self-acceptance.  It will feel unfamiliar and false, even impossible, at first but that’s because it’s a new experience. Keep going until it becomes a habit. This is your best protection against being exploited and victimised in the future. 


krishannah blogspot
You are not alone

I know about being loaded up with the shortcomings of others and sent out into the wilderness alone, about underachieving and living down to expectations. My report cards all said ‘Leanne would do well if she tried’. I was sacked from my first job and from two more later on.  I saw myself as a naive, incompetent and unattractive fool with woefully inadequate social skills. I tiptoed around trying to avoid attention and could never ask for help with anything, so I became fearful of taking on anything that I might not be able to work out by myself.

Of course looking back I see I was re-enacting the situation in my family home. The workplace was a completely different environment but I knew my role well and I transferred it to every new environment I came across. It’s a painful process and has lifelong implications, however it doesn’t have to rule your life and you can step out of this role, even while those who put you in the role continue to do so.

As a child, you had no choice, but as an adult there are choices. The best choice you can make is to decide every day that you will live according to the person you truly are inside, rather than who other people say you are or want you to be. I now know I’m capable, smart and competent. I’m important, valuable, and have a lot to offer. I’m worthy and I’m worth it. I have something to say, I make a difference, and I matter. If I meet people who don’t appreciate these things about me, I let them go. Once I would’ve seen it as evidence that I really was lacking, now I just move on. 

Recognising that other people are not my family, and that my scapegoat status is obsolete, along with acknowledging the achievements I have made even with my lack of self-confidence, has really started to turn things around for me. You will probably need support with this and it may take a long time to find your true self again, one you can love and value, but it’s worth investing in this process. Remember you are worth it.


images courtesy of Huffington Post and Krishannah.blogspot

Are You ‘Just Trying To Get Attention’?

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Communication, Healing | 18 comments

Are You ‘Just Trying To Get Attention’?

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As a therapist, I’ve often heard this phrase:

‘Oh he/she is just trying to get attention’.

I’ve heard this said about children and teenagers who are struggling with major transitions, adults who are battling depression, people who have threatened or attempted suicide, and so on.

They are just trying to get attention.

Most of these people were genuinely struggling with life situations that were proving too much for them to handle, and doing it in an under-resourced way with very little support. Illnessses such as eating disorders and depression are not something anybody would consciously choose to have. They are incredibly painful ways to live. But when our loved ones struggle to make sense of what’s happening for us, they feel helpless, and if they’re encouraged to view our behaviour as ‘just attention-seeking’ it can reduce their worry and stress to some degree.

Research shows that up to 80% of people who later went on to attempt suicide had talked about it within the month prior to doing it. There is a belief that if someone talks about hurting themselves, they won’t really do it. The truth is they’re often working up the courage, and many in this situation would dearly like someone to step in and give them an alternative solution.

But society’s tendency to view these behaviours  as ‘attention-seeking’ means we miss a crucial opportunity to genuinely understand what’s going on for a loved one, and finding an effective way to help them.


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My Attention Seeking Story

My aunt remembers the only time she saw my grandmother cry. I was 3 and we were living with my grandparents. I had my first bout of tonsillitis, yet my mother insisted I eat everything on my plate, even though it took me up to an hour because it hurt. My grandmother was one tough woman – she lived on the land, rode horses, and I still have a photo of her proudly holding up a snake she killed by herself. But my mother managed to reduce her to tears with her treatment of me.

The second time I had tonsillitis I was 8. I’ve always been a slow eater but I was getting even slower, to the point my mother took me to a doctor to prove there was nothing wrong with me. The doctor ordered me up to the hospital immediately. My tonsils were so swollen and infected they needed to come out the following morning.

I was told I would be asleep when they took them out. So when they came and gave me an injection in my bottom, I expected to go to sleep. When I didn’t, I started to worry they wouldn’t realise I was still awake, or worse, maybe they had decided not to put me to sleep while they took them out. I became more and more anxious as I waited for them to come and take me to surgery. Where was my mother? My mother, who is a nurse by profession, had gone shopping.

Of course when I got to theatre, they put the mask over me and the ether blessedly put me out. I woke up feeling like a truck had run over me. They removed my adenoids as well, so the first thing I saw was blood on the lining under my head. My mother was there, but announced that since I was obviously just going back to sleep, she was leaving because she had things to do. I begged her to stay – the blood scared me because I didn’t know why it was there, and I just felt so awful. But off she went.

The nurses were lovely to me. There was no room in the children’s ward so I stayed in the adult ward and they loved fussing over me. This was new to me, being treated as though I was special, surrounded by smiles and concern for my wellbeing. I decided I wanted to stay.

My father told me not to be ridiculous, and I went home. But for years afterwards, I became obsessed with the idea that I had appendicitis and needed to go into hospital to have my appendix removed. The doctor must have had some idea what was going on, because he gave me placebo tablets – for ‘wind in the appendix’.

It wasn’t a conscious thing at the time, but I was obviously trying to get back to the place where I felt loved. To this day I still have a perfectly healthy appendix. I recently watched as a friend posted photos and updates on Facebook as her little boy went into hospital to have his tonsils removed. She stayed with him the whole time, fretted while he was in surgery, and shared how proud she was of him afterwards. I was astounded.




What’s Your Need?

It’s easy to dismiss my fixation on my appendix as ‘just trying to get attention’. It’s true, I was. I was trying to get a need met the only way I knew how. Of course there were more effective ways to feel loved and supported but I had no experience of them, so I tried to return to the only experience I knew. Many of us are very clumsy about this, but is that a reason to dismiss somebody’s very real pain? 

If you’ve been told you’re just trying to get attention, think about what it is you really need and ask yourself the following questions:

1. If my life was exactly the way I would like it to be, what would be different to the life I have right now?

2. What are some ways I could go about bridging this gap, even a little bit?

3. Who would I need to ask for help, and how could I best go about that?

4. What other resources do I need to utilise?

Then do what you can as soon as you possibly can.  For me, it meant building a big friendship network around me. Knowing I had such great friends meant that I couldn’t be as unlovable as I felt, otherwise why would these people bother with me? I also learned to change my self-talk, and to question any negative views I had of myself. Once I did this, I forgot all about my appendix!

Reach out. It’s ok to seek attention, as long as you do it as constructively as you can. It could improve your quality of life. It might even save it.