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Archive for the 'Counseling' Category

How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy

Monday, February 11th, 2019

 

If you suffer from generalized anxiety and panic attacks

If you suffer from stress or burnout If you lack confidence or self-esteem or fear failure……

If you’re a perfectionist or find the challenges of life overwhelming… …

then my new book, Anxiety Rescue is exactly the right book for you—because it will cheerlead, motivate and encourage you to fight for your dreams and achieve your goals.

 

Anxiety Rescue is the ultimate prescription and medication free cure. Using the timeless wisdom of other successful men and women who have suffered from anxiety, depression, and despair—and succeeded anyway,  Anxiety Rescue  reveals in six easy steps:

✓ How to define success on your own terms…

✓ How to find your truth and live an authentic life…

✓ How to set and achieve audacious goals…

✓ How to take strategic risks (rather than reckless ones)

✓ How to overcome your fear of failure, criticism, and change…

✓ How to make money, follow your passion and still pay the bills…

✓ How to beat low self-esteem…

✓ How to identify real priorities that are central to your life’s true meaning…

✓ And how to empower your business and personal life… There is not only wisdom on every page, but actionable, immediate steps you can take to make a difference in reaching your own goals and dreams.

Available in eBook for immediate download from Amazon

US—https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NKV6K9K

UK—https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NKV6K9K

or your local Amazon store.

FREE for Subscribers of Kindle Unlimited

 

I take issues I am struggling with, or new learnings that have deeply impacted me, and share them in my books

It always really touches me when I realize that what I do has an impact on people. We’ve all been through tough situations. Not many of us escape childhood unscathed. Few of us survive working life or relationships without scars. I work from that experience. If what I say, write, or do inspires people or gives them strength, courage, or hope, I’m over the moon.

Like many of my books, I write to inspire myself. I take issues I am struggling with, or new learnings that have deeply impacted me, and share them in my books.

Anxiety Rescue is one of these books. I’m tempted to say that it’s a concise guide to overcoming anxiety and making the most of your life. It is. And it isn’t.

As I wrote this book, so many factors which impact anxiety came to light. Many of them are ignored by general practitioners and doctors—the very people many of us go when we’re feeling stressed, anxious, or just plain unwell. Some, are viewed skeptically by psychologists and psychiatrists.

Yet times are changing, the old ways aren’t working. Prescription medication and pharmaceutical drugs are being consumed in exploding quantities, and still, anxiety rates and other mental illnesses are still soaring.

Increasingly science is validating what ancient wisdom has been telling us for years. You only have to consider how main-stream meditation, yoga, acupressure, and other holistic therapies have become, to witness the emergence.

Anxiety Rescue is based on clinically-proven techniques and integrates modern science with other healing modalities. Yet it also harnesses the magic of creative approaches to healing. Which is why I’ve turned to two of my greatest inspirations—Leonardo da Vinci and Coco Chanel. Anxiety Rescue summarizes their timeless wisdom and strategies to tame anxiety, quell despair, overcome obstacles and maximize health, wellbeing and success.

we can heal ourselves

From my own professional and personal experience, I know we can heal ourselves. A great deal many people don’t need pills to feel calm, happy, healthy, and inspired. Some do.

I am not against prescription drugs, but what concerns me, as it may you, is that many anxious, stressed, and depressed people are not offered a choice. Nor do they benefit from someone taking an inventory of their life and analyzing the traumatic events or stressors that may be impacting their anxiety levels.

Like Len, who, aged 42-year-old man who had suffered work-related burnout, and sought relief from his doctor. He was, quite rightly, alarmed that his doctor told him that the only cure was medication. He left his doctor’s office empty-handed.

Ten years later, a diagnosis of complex trauma, not only made sense but also provided a roadmap to lasting healing. I’ll be sharing more of his story in a book I plan to write called, Leaving Jehovah—Surviving the Cult of Toxic Control and Shame.

Or, Sarah, who’d been taking anti-depressants for years but had noticed her anxiety rates returning and no longer wanted to be on medication. Counseling and engaging in talk-therapy gave a voice to wounds she had repressed. When darkness was brought to light, and armed with new tools of self-care, including meditation and nutrition, her anxiety rates disappeared.

I’m not bagging medication. Not by any means. My purpose in writing Anxiety Rescue is to share alternative routes to healing—lasting ones that enable you to be empowered and chose the best course of action for you.

No two people are the same. We have not had the same childhoods, the same school experiences, or workplace trauma. I speak from my own experience—both what has worked for me, and what has worked for my clients.

With over twenty-five years of expertise working in therapeutic professions, most lately as a child therapist and relationship counselor, I know what works.

As you’ll read in the chapter, “My Story,” I’ve swum through a tsunami of trauma, hurts, and humiliations and drawn on a range of modalities to help me not just survive, but also thrive.

My hope is in reading this book, you will emerge stronger, happier, healthier, and more thankful too.

A large part of my healing has involved following my joy—something you’ll learn to discover for yourself in this book.

I use my passion journal to visualize, gain clarity, and create my preferred future—including my health goals. My clients find this works for them too—along with the other strategies I share in Anxiety Rescue.

In this era of anxiety and distraction, the need for simple, life-affirming, health-enhancing messages is even more important. If you are looking for inspiration and practical tips, in short, sweet sound bites, this guide is for you.

Similarly, if you are a grazer, or someone more methodical, this guide will also work for you. Pick a page at random, or work through the four pillars of health sequentially.

I encourage you to experiment, be open-minded and try new things. I promise you will achieve outstanding results.

Let experience be your guide, as it has been mine. Give your brain a well-needed break. Let go of ‘why’, and embrace how you feel, or how you want to feel. Honor the messages from your intuition and follow your path with heart.

Laura, who at one stage seemed rudderless career-wise, did just that. Workplace stress was a major source of her anxiety. Finding her passion and following her joy sparked a determination to start her own business.She felt the fear and went for it anyway, emboldened by a desire to live and work like those she looked up to. It was that simple.

As with all of my books, many of the examples I share were inspired by true events in my own life. At the time of writing, I recalled one of the first times I trusted the spiritual realm. I was a teenager when my paternal grandmother was channeled by a psychic and my disbelieving and skeptical self was asked, “Your grandmother says you don’t believe she is here. But she is holding out a flower, and she is asking, ‘Do you remember the jasmine flowers growing over the house?’

I didn’t.

But when I drove home I called into to Araby Lodge, where my grandmother used to live, and where until her death, she bred and trained her beloved horses. At the time my father lived in her house. I asked him, “What is that vine growing over the house?”

I didn’t want to tell him anything about what the psychic had said because I was still skeptical and I didn’t want to influence the answer. My father said, “Oh, that old jasmine vine? That’s been there forever.”

My heart nearly leaped out of my chest. It was at that point that I began to believe in spiritual and psychic phenomena, and in time, many years later, to awaken my own gifts. These gifts weren’t awakened without considerable anxiety—something I talk more about in the chapter, “Shadow Work.”

It’s a timely reminder of just how far following my passion and being free to be me has taken me—the shy girl who was once afraid of being seen and was terrified of her ability to channel.

As I share in many of my books I hope the following quote is as apt for you as it was for me:

“Your staying in the shadows doesn’t serve the world.”

Here’s to learning from our anxiety and transforming our lives with passion, joy, and purpose!

Broken into small, bite-sized segments—you’ll soon find yourself jotting notes down, finding someone else so you can share the insights and experience, and resources made available to keep you happy, healthy, motivated and focused. Dig into this book and let Leonardo da Vinci and Coco Chanel and other successful men and woman be your mentors, inspiration, and guides as they call forth your passions, purpose, and potential. 

Say YES to happiness NOW! It’s never too late to end anxiety and follow your joy to live a life you love.

Anxiety Rescue is available in eBook for immediate download from Amazon

US—https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NKV6K9K

UK—https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NKV6K9K

or your local Amazon store.

FREE for Subscribers of Kindle Unlimited

 

enjoy the free excerpt from Anxiety Rescue below

 

Your Body Barometer

The deeper the feeling, the greater the pain.

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

The more you truly care about something, the deeper the consequences can be when you don’t act on your desires.

When you aren’t true to yourself and you don’t do the things you aspire to do your mental, emotional and spiritual health can suffer.

Common signs of neglecting the call for success and forsaking your ambitions can include: tiredness, depression, anxiety, irritability, and strained personal relationships. In short, you’re lovesick—starved of the things that spark joy.

The body never lies, but many people soldier on ignoring the obvious warning signs. It’s easy to rationalize these feelings away, But the reality is your mind, body, and soul is screaming out for more. Have the courage to say ‘yes’ to pursuing a more liberating alternative.

 

Your Challenge

When you feel unfulfilled, bored, unchallenged and demotivated what do you notice? How does this differ from times when you feel the fear but love life passionately anyway?

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.

~ Georgia O’Keeffe, artist

 

 

THE POWER OF PASSION

If there’s no love, what then?

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Without love you don’t have energy. Without energy you have nothing.

When people are pursuing something they are passionate about their drive and determination is infinite. They become like pieces of elastic able to stretch to anything and accommodate any setback. People immobilized by fear and passivity snap like a twig. They lack resilience.

Passion gives people a reason for living and the confidence and drive to pursue their dreams. Leonardo was a man of many loves and deep obsessions. These passions imbued him with infinite energy—powering his creativity, courage, resolve, and tenacity.

As Leonardo once said, “No labor is sufficient to tire me.”

Even when he was exhausted by life, his passion sustained him.

 

Your Challenge

What will passion do for you?

The really important stuff is not in my résumé. It’s what has gone on almost unnoticed in the secret chambers of the heart.

~ Isabel Allende, author

 

 

DRESS JOYFULLY

The grand problem, the most important problem, is to rejuvenate women. To make women look young. Then their outlook changes. They feel more joyous.

~ Coco Chanel

 

Coco was a trailblazer in women’s fashion. When she arrived in trousers in Venice people were shocked, but shock quickly turned to awe. Women wanted what she had—and Coco was only too happy to sell it to them.

Her joyous color was black. She loved its simplicity and understated elegance. Perhaps it reminded her of the habits the nuns, who so tenderly cared for her, wore.

Whatever the catalyst was, Coco had the vision to turn black, the color of mourning, into the symbol of independence, freedom, and strength. She also created the now iconic little black dress!

Your joyous color may be yellow, blue, or gold. Or it may be multi-patterned and have all the colors of the rainbow. Floating dresses in the finest silk may instill you with confidence, or perhaps you prefer something more tailored.

Whatever your color, whatever you wear be sure that it makes you feel joyful.

 

Your Challenge

Act as if. Take a job or lifestyle idea you are considering, or have always wondered what it would be like, and act as if you are living that role. Dress the part.

Have your colors professionally confirmed by a trained image consultant—when you dress in the colors that suit your skin tone you’ll look younger and feel fabulous.

 

Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.

~ Coco Chanel

 

 

 

 

“Love your work”

Prior to writing this post I had sent out news of my new book to my email subscribers. Immediately I received an email from one of my readers.

“When I read the first few sentences I could immediately relate – it’s exactly how I feel at this very moment (sadly).

I feel so tired and overwhelmed just trying to get through each day, let alone any curveballs that may come my way.
It’s so debilitating and I feel like this is ‘my lot’ and no happy ending.
I will be sure to download your ebook. I have your Passion Workbook sitting next to me in the car – yet to read… Too tired (always tired).
Keep being awesome! Love your work 🙂
Her email made me happy – and sad. Happy the words spoke to her. Happy that even though she felt so low, my email sparked some energy—the energy of love. I could sense some enthusiasm…even in the darkness. I also felt sad—sad that she feels this way. I know EXACTLY how this feels. Millions and millions of people feel this way. I know that there is a cure. I know you don’t need medication, drugs, or alcohol to rescue you. I know the difference that the power of love and healthy obsessions can make—I talk more about the power of positive obsessions in my sobriety books, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety and Your Beautiful Mind.
As I wrote back to her, she also inspired me too also get moving with creating an audiobook. That way when she and others who also suffer from anxiety, fatigue, and despair, when they are driving can be fed some inspirational juice…
I also invited her to consider scheduling a coaching session with me—sometimes it’s just too hard to go it alone. If this sounds like something you could benefit from click the following link to schedule an appointment
http://www.cassandragaisford.com/schedule-an-appointment/

This is an edited extract of Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy by Cassandra Gaisford. To order a copy for less than the price of coffee and cake go to Amazon:

US—https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NKV6K9K

UK—https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NKV6K9K

or your local Amazon store.

FREE for Subscribers of Kindle Unlimited

 

Did you enjoy this article?

Sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this and be the first to know when her next book, The Anxiety Cure: Love Your Body, will be released.

 

Here’s a quick round-up of our 5 latest blog posts you may also enjoy:

 Why Being Inspired Matters: The Spontaneous Fulfillment and Healing Power of Joy

How to say no to abusive workplaces, schools, homes, and circumstances

How stepping away from your work can boost your mood, reduce anxiety and spark joy

The fastest way to go from stress to joy without being overwhelmed

The Life-Changing Benefits of Unplugging

 

Here are three more things you might like:

Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.

Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.

Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.

For personalized help schedule a session with Cassandra.

You can get more of my thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Anxiety Rescue: First Aid in a Bottle—The Surprising Joy of Essential Oils

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

The use of essential oils for emotional well-being is what we often first think of when we hear the term ‘aromatherapy.’

Although aromatherapy should not be considered a miracle cure for more serious emotional issues, the use of essential oils can assist, sometimes greatly, during times of stress and bring healing to certain emotional issues.

For example, lavender is a well-known mild analgesic, useful for healing headaches, wounds, calming the nerves, insomnia, and mild depression.

Rosemary, on the other hand, is a mild stimulant and is used to treat physical and mental fatigue, forgetfulness, and respiratory problems among other ailments.

Although many people may think of aromatherapy as part of a spa or beauty treatment, medical aromatherapy is popular in Europe. Some medicinal physicians prescribe and use the oils therapeutically as part of complementary medical care.

About 100 different essential oils are used for medical aromatherapy in Austria and other European countries, Dr. Wolfgang Steflitsch, a chest physician at Otto Wagner Hospital in Vienna, and vice president of the Austrian Association of Aromatherapy and Aroma Care, said in an article in Live Science.

Emotional and Mental Healing

Along with your skills and capabilities, it’s your state of mind and emotional health that determines how happy you will be.

There are many ways to empower both—working with essential oils is one of the most effortless. Essential oils, with their natural ability to stimulate neurotransmitters, offer a natural high—one that is validated by scientific research.

Smell plays a big role in how essential oils may affect the body: When breathed in, these oils derived from plants stimulate smell receptors in the nose that send chemical messages through nerves to the brain’s limbic system, which affects moods and emotions, and may have some physiological effects on the body, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The process of smelling is called olfaction and is incredibly complicated, taking place in several areas of the brain including the limbic system which itself has approximately 34 structures and 53 pathways.

The limbic system is linked to sensations of pleasure and pain, and emotions—both positive and negative, including fear and confidence, sadness and joy and other feelings that can either erode or boost feelings of calm, happiness, and joy.

Scientists now believe that all our emotions are the result of neurochemicals such as noradrenaline and serotonin being released into the bloodstream, and mood swings are thought to be a result of these influences, particularly when they are in the extreme.

Noradrenaline, also called norepinephrine or noradrenalin, is an organic chemical that functions in the brain and body as a hormone and neurotransmitter.

Similarly, serotonin is also a neurotransmitter—also known as the happy hormone. Serotonin plays a crucial role in means mental illnesses—and the drugs that are used to treat them.  It contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. Its biological function is complex and multifaceted, modulating cognition, learning, memory, and numerous physiological processes. Low levels of serotonin in your brain can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.

Given these facts, it’s not hard to see how essential oils can help balance and influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

“Feeling educated about essential oils is such an empowering experience because there are so many different oils you can work with,” writes Clinical Aromatherapist Andrea Butje in her book, The Heart of Aromatherapy: An Easy-to-Use Guide for Essential Oils.

“They all offer the nourishment of the plant they are distilled from in a single drop, and education helps you understand which oils to reach for at which times. Nature works holistically…and so do we.”

As I share in my book, The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life, Coco Chanel knew the alchemical potency of flowers and plants. She surrounded herself with nature’s elixir and amassed a fortune from the essential oils which helped make her perfume Chanel N°5 famous.

The transcendent alchemy of the potions that went into the Chanel N°5 formula was not left to chance. Grieving after her lover Boy Chapel’s death, Coco drew upon the essences of Neroli, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, vetiver, and other restorative scents to imbue Coco’s Chanel N°5 with hope, healing, and the sensual confidence that love lost would be found again.

Aromatherapy, using the scents of plants and flowers, is one of many ancient remedies validated by modern science today. It’s the Swiss army knife of all things healing—physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.

There are so many different essential oils that can help you. Here are a few essential oils and natural therapeutic remedies to help win the war against anxiety, ward off depression, boost happiness, and rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit:

Neroli

This is my current favorite. Derived from a flower, this oil takes its name from an Italian Princess who used it as her favorite perfume. I use Neroli this way, dabbing a few drops behind my ears, and rubbing it through my hands when I need a lift.

Neroli is valued for its ability to arouse the senses and promote feelings of euphoria. It’s especially talented in reducing states of anxiety as it soothes worries and concerns.

The seductive sweetness of this oil disperses intense emotions, brings reassurance and security during stressful times.

Some of the many conditions it helps with include: depression, emotional frigidity, anxiety, hysteria, apprehension, nervous butterflies, insomnia, menopause, nervous tension from overwork, and exhaustion.

With its effusive yellow-orange origins Neroli aids issues related to our third chakra. The third chakra, located at the solar plexus, houses organs of the digestive and endocrine systems, as well as our self-esteem, perception and intuition, intellect, and personal power.

Dysfunctions of the Third chakra may affect the stomach, liver, pancreas, adrenal glands, and the upper intestines, as well as the mid-to upper-spine. The emotional and mental effects are that you may begin to question your own intuition, to give away personal power, and to lose self-respect. You may feel an absence of will, or discouragement—making it challenging to implement self-care strategies and following your dreams.

One its own, or combined with Lavender, Neroli is an excellent anxiety rescue remedy.

Lavender

To relieve stress, which disrupts the adrenal glands, Lavender has a long history of healing. Ideal for physical and emotional support, Lavender as a whole is an ‘adaptogenic’ essence with a relationship to all Body Systems. It is called the first aid in a bottle oil.

Emotionally, Lavender helps support a calm composure and self-expression. It reduces irritability, insomnia, nightmares, apprehension, panic attacks combined with uncontrollable shaking, stress, nervous tension, hysteria and is generally balancing to the psyche, as well as the body.

Incredibly, when I suggested Lavender oil to a doctor had sought my services to counsel her through a period of stress, she hissed at me, “Take your snake oil away from me.”

The truth is not everyone is willing to believe what healers throughout time have known, and which science no longer refutes.

As one article in the US National Library of Medicine, entitled Lavender and The Nervous System, cites:

“There is growing evidence suggesting that lavender oil may be an effective medicament in the treatment of several neurological disorders. Several animal and human investigations suggest anxiolytic, mood stabilizer, sedative, analgesic, and anticonvulsive and neuroprotective properties for lavender. These studies raised the possibility of a revival of lavender therapeutic efficacy in neurological disorders.”

This same article confirms that the alleviation of anxiety and mood improvement was reported in thirty-six patients admitted to an intensive care unit, who received lavender oil (diluted to 1% concentration) aromatherapy. Further clinical investigations pointed to the antidepressive effects of lavender.

But don’t take it from me, or anyone else. If in doubt, experiment with Lavender and any of the other essential oils I suggest.

Vetiver

When feeling anxious, or depressed, two to three drops of  Vetiver applied directly to the solar plexus in a counterclockwise motion will help dissolve energetic blockages, and strengthen your sense of peace and security with yourself.

Ylang Ylang

Ylang ylang oil has a euphoric and sedative effect on the nervous system. It helps with anxiety, tension, shock, fear, and panic. I love its sweet, sultry scent.

Rosemary

Instills confidence during periods of self-doubt and keeps motivation levels high when the going gets tough. It is also said to help maintain an open mind and to make you more accepting of new ideas.

Cardamom

Stimulates a dull mind, dispels tensions and worries, and nurtures and supports the brain and nervous system. Many people find it of great support during challenging times.

Peppermint

With its refreshing scent peppermint works like a power boost for your fatigued mind, making you feel sharper and more alert.

Investigate the power of aromatherapy. What scents imbue you with confidence? Courage? Productivity? Sharpen your most potent tools—your heart and your mind. Become a perfumer—experiment with essential oils until you find a winning blend.

Create your own wellbeing blend, or have an expert create one for you. Beginning with how you want to feel is a good place to start. There are many ways to harness their power, including inhaling a few drops on a tissue; placing some essential oils in your bath; dabbing some on your wrist, soles of your feet, or another pulse point;  using a diffuser, placing some drops in massage oil.

A Word of Caution

Unlike many other essential oils used in aromatherapy, lavender oil, for example, can be applied undiluted to the skin. Along with Neroli, this is how I like to use it.

Some oils may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions, which is why you should test your sensitivity to an oil on a small patch of skin. Some citrus oils wh, when applied to the skin,n increase sun sensitivity, and some essential oils may be risky for pregnant women.

When selecting and using oils, be sure to follow all safety precautions and remember that aromatherapy is part of a holistic cure and should not be used as a substitute for proper medical treatment if symptoms are severe.

 

The Natural High

Aromatherapy has become an essential part of my anxiety rescue cure. I make a daily habit of either placing my favorite blends in a diffuser, or dabbing a few drops onto my wrist.

In my counselling and coaching sessions,  I often invite clients who have never used essential oils to experiment. I place a few drops of Neroli or Lavender onto a tissue, or pass over the bottle so they can inhale a few drops.

I’ve yet to find a client yet who didn’t gain an immediate sense of wellbeing, including children and teenagers who often ask their parents to purchase some so they can use essential oils at home.

I’ve yet to find a client yet who didn’t gain an immediate sense of wellbeing, including children and teenagers who often ask their parents to purchase some so they can use essential oils at home.

After the shock of my experience with a client who was a stressed-out doctor who virtually accused me of witchcraft, I’m always mindful of respecting peoples beliefs. However, if you’re after instant relief and a great way to pep up your peptides throughout the day.

The sense of smell is the most basic and primitive of all our senses and is of vital importance to your well-being. The simple truth is that even if you are unaware of the power of aroma, smell affects your mood. As does color—something we’ll explore in the next chapter.

 

This is an edited extract of Anxiety Rescue, due for release in February 2019

 

Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this and be the first to know when her new book, Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy, will be released.

 

You might like:

Destiny Decided: The Minute That Changed My Life—2018 in Review

The anxiety cure: How I avoid depression, get energized, find joy, and stay inspired

Does talk therapy actually work?

6 Things Successful People Do To Become & Stay Motivated & Happy

 Why Being Inspired Matters: The Spontaneous Fulfillment and Healing Power of Joy

How to say no to abusive workplaces, schools, homes, and circumstances

For personalized help schedule a session with Cassandra here >>

Destiny Decided: The Minute That Changed My Life—2018 in Review

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

One of my clients described 2018 as annus horribilis, roughly translated this means it was an absolutely horrendous year. Perhaps you can relate to that. 

And I’d have to agree. What a beastly year! I had copyright craziness, scary moments with certain industry giants, and drama galore—including narcissistic bosses and bullying builders during our home renovation process. But, as I once read, “you need chaos to give birth to a dancing star.”

Through all the mayhem I’ve emerged stronger. Where others may have given up in despair or drowned their angst in a bottle or a sea of pills, I’ve gone through it all unmedicated and sober. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression and even collapsed. But I bounced back and I’ve thrived and grown. And I have been blessed to have been both supported and able to support others.

I’ve benefitted from integrating and applying many of the strategies I share in my self-empowerment books—most importantly:

 Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life)

Stress Less. Love Life More: How to Stop Worrying, Reduce Anxiety, Eliminate Negative Thinking and Find Happiness

How To Find Your Passion And Purpose: Four Easy Steps to Discover A Job You Want and Live the Life You Love

and my Art of Success Series, inspired by Coco Chanel and my mentor Leonardo da Vinci.

A lot can happen in 60 seconds. The minute that altered my life forever.

“Nobody speaks to God these days.“Maybe its time to let the old ways die,” sings Bradley’s Cooper character in the lyrics of A Star is Born. 

I couldn’t agree more—emotional, mentally, spiritually, it’s time for a rebirth in 2019. In 2018 nearly dying physically was my wake up call. In his book, How to Know God: The Soul’s Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries, Deepak Chopra sums at beautifully how fate can come calling when god the protector intervenes.

“A miracle Ìs a display of power from beyond the fìve senses…Any miracle involves direct contact with spirit.” Level one of the seven levels of miracles that Chopra summarises is the Flight-or-Flight Response. “Miracles involve surviving great danger, impossible rescues, a sense of divine protection.”

This was my experience in late 2018.

I don’t know why but as I was driving back from Auckland after a particularly traumatic experience I fell asleep at the wheel. Miraculously, I woke up as my car careered across the road. I was 60 seconds away from driving down a steep ravine.

I didn’t panic as instinct would normally dictate I didn’t grab the wheel and swerve. I didn’t do anything. I recall an intense feeling of peace and a deep knowing that I should surrender.

I felt a presence, as though someone took the wheel and gently guided me back onto the main road to safety. I just allowed God to take the wheel and lead me back to the safety of the right side of the road.

I look back now and see the deeper meaning of staying in my own lane, of following my authentic path and my soul’s purpose.

I’ve had that experience once before when I nearly drowned after being encouraged by a friend to go free-floating down a river. Not long after I got into trouble. Serious trouble. Somehow I became entangled in a whirlpool.

I was being sucked under the water, trapped in the maelstrom of opposing currents. I was struggling to get free when I heard a voice say “relax it’s not your time.“

And even though every part of me instinctively wanted to fight because I was drowning, even though every cell in my body biologically kicked into the stress-response, I forced myself to relax.

I allowed my body to go limp, I talked to the memory cells in my body and recalled past knowledge of letting go, I surrendered. And when I let go and let God, when I put my faith in the Divine Intelligence, when I trusted that the Universe had my back, I floated to the top of the water.

Further downstream my friend, sensing something was wrong, lay await in a tree. As I sped past in the racing current, he reached in and pulled me out of the water. I put my faith in God and I put my faith in my friend.

It’s a moment I had forgotten until some 15 years later when I nearly drove to my death. So, 2018 was a game changer for me. This experience, and all the hurtful behaviors I have personally experienced, and those I witnessed as my counseling clients shared their wounds and their pain, transformed my life.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve become less enamored with the fear and the aggression directed at so many. Perhaps, like me, you’ve found it incredibly exhausting fighting a daily battle to ward off lower energies that incessantly attack all that is good.

In 2018 I made a decision to let go of the wheel. I made a commitment to stop trying to control everything and allow. This is not allowing in a victimized, passive sense. This is allowing in a spiritual sense. In some ways you may consider, as I have, loving what shows up. Because what shows up guides us back to our soul purpose—to heal our wounds and help others in return.

As I share in my soon to be released book Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy, trying to control everything is a learned behavior I have somewhat unsuccessfully employed to keep myself sane. But I have discovered that the greater power is to let go and let God.

Two months ago, in November of 2018, I reinforced this commitment to allowing the old ways to die in a session with renowned Psych-k therapist, Jane Bromley. I stated my intention, “I’m just going to allow, I’m just going to stop needing to be in control, and I’d like your help getting rid of old programs that are preventing that.”

That exact day, less than three hours after our session a contract that I thought would be mine for several years was terminated. My manager’s behavior was vindictive, malicious, and clearly designed to destroy me. I won’t go into this in too much detail here. In fact, it may well become a book on its own because I know how many of my followers and readers of my Mid-Life Career Rescue series of books suffer at the hands of narcissistic bullying bosses.

Enough is enough. 

I see it now, with the benefit of time and therapy, as divine providence. After all, hadn’t I asked for the old ways to die? I wasn’t meant to be there. I had allowed myself to be dishonored the moment she reneged on our agreed terms of employment. The people pleaser and the victim was still in residence.

I was forced to accept that which felt unacceptable.

The Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks beautifully about of the power of acceptance in The Book of Joy, co-written with The Dalai Lama. Below is an excerpt from this book:

Prayer practice involves reading quotations from the scriptures as well as quotes from the saints and spiritual masters throughout history. One of his favorites is the Christian mystic Julian of Norwich, whose Revelations of Divine Love, penned shortly after she recovered from a life-threatening illness in 1373, is believed to be the first book written by a woman in the English language. In it, she writes, . . .

“Deeds are done which appear so evil to us and people suffer such terrible evils that it does not seem as though any good will ever come of them; and we consider this, sorrowing and grieving over it so that we cannot find peace in the blessed contemplation of God as we should do; and this is why: our reasoning powers are so blind now, so humble and so simple, that we cannot know the high, marvelous wisdom, the might and the goodness of the Holy Trinity. And this is what he means where he says, “You shall see for yourself that all manner of things shall be well.”

As if he said, Pay attention to this now, faithfully and confidently, and at the end of time, you will truly see it in the fullness of joy. Acceptance—whether we believe in God or not—allows us to move into the fullness of joy. It allows us to engage with life on its own terms rather than rail against the fact that life is not as we would wish. It allows us not to struggle against the day-to-day current. The Dalai Lama had told us that stress and anxiety come from our expectations of how life should be. When we are able to accept that life is how it is, not as we think it should be, we are able to ease the ride, to go from that bumpy axle (dukkha), with all its suffering, stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction, to the smooth axle (sukha), with its greater ease, comfort, and happiness.

The experience, or rather my treatment by others was hurtful and traumatic. Healing my wounds lead me back to therapy.

I discovered the teachings of Dr. Jordan Peterson and through him rediscovered the teachings of Carl Jung. I earned about the shadow side and the importance of healing trauma, especially releasing it from the body.

I also learned about the power of community and reaching out to others and talking, just talking, and of honesty. Sharing my vulnerabilities, my wounds, and my sorrows. (You may also like my post, Does talk therapy actually work?)

I also placed value on the importance of taking responsibility. I had asked God to lead me. I had affirmed, “thy will be done.”

And I was clearly shown the door. Coincidentally I came across the below which I had written in the tiny book of wisdom I keep by my bed

I was reminded that I hadn’t trusted my intuition. From the beginning, God had told me something was wrong. I write more about  spotting narcissists and overcoming narcissistic abuse in my book, Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy

People told me to stand up. Important people came to my aid and told me they wanted to support me. Where once I had just thought I don’t need the drama or allowed myself to be victimized I decided, in spite of the intense feelings of stress that I was still working through, that I had to take a stand.

In this respect, I took strength from the teachings of Jordan Peterson who urges us all to “Grow some teeth and bite. Bite hard.” Peterson is not urging us to attack with violence, he is urging us to integrate the shadow side so many of us kinder souls may have been taught to disown. Check out his lecture here—https://youtu.be/iDQ8DiP_Y_A.

When you allow bullying you become a victim and you set yourself up to be bullied again. In a perverse twist, you effectively bully yourself into believing you are worthless and powerless, and you’re colluding in this mistruth and this abuse with the perpetrator.

I also took wisdom from the Dalai Lama, “You must not hate those who do harmful things,” he has explained. “The compassionate thing is to do what you can to stop them—for they are harming themselves as well as those who suffer from their actions.”

I put the matter to the attention of my professional ethics committee, to my local member of Parliament, and the perpetrator’s professional supervisor. It’s what my intuition guided me to do.

Again, as the Dalai Lama sagely teaches in The Book of Joy, “We stand firm against the wrong not only to protect those who are being harmed but also to protect the person who is harming others, because eventually they, too, will suffer. So it’s out of a sense of concern for their own long-term well-being that we stop their wrongdoing. This is exactly what we are doing. We do not let anger and negative feelings develop toward the Chinese hard-liners, but in the meantime, we strongly oppose their actions.”

And so rather than allow a wrong to continue I have begun the journey of seeking justice… for myself and for those who may follow.

My energy and intention is not born from vindictiveness or a desire to punish my narcissistic manager. My desire is to stand up for myself, to honor the truth and bring light to darkness.

Bullying affects self-esteem, your identity, your perception of, “am I safe in the world?” It affects how you view yourself, your skills and abilities, it cripples your growth and diminishes your ability to shine brightly in a world that needs your light.

 

Bullying and narcissistic abuse and other hateful, hurtful behaviors needn’t be a life sentence, But it does require you to show up, stand up, speak out. Something we all witnessed in 2018 as the pandemic of sexual assaults was finally called “time” in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Enough is enough. More than enough!

A similar thing happened when I received an email out of the blue accusing me of trying to leverage off another woman’s brand when I released my title Sexy Sobriety containing sobriety recipes.  The email was aggressive, intimidating… designed to strike fear.

I sought advice from my writing community. Many authors told me there were no grounds and told me this was just bullying.

“Aggressive grandstanding,“ one best-selling author wrote. “They should have trademarked the name if they wanted to lay claim to it..(I imagine they are in the process of doing that). Otherwise, you could probably fight and win this—if it was important to you.”

But the aggressive emails threatening financial penalties, keep coming. I asked them if the term, “Sexy Sobriety” was trademarked. They told me it wasn’t. Several weeks later they filed for copyright.

I decided this wasn’t important enough for me to fight. Unlike, the issues arising from the narcissistic boss.

 

Income wise, for sure, the road was rocky. With the benefit of being able to look back in review, this was understandable for several key reasons.

Firstly, our home renovation was a nightmare. The tradespeople were great, the finish fantastic, the end result, a dream come true. But the cost, both personally and professionally, fuelled by the budget blowout was beyond belief. Our troubles lay largely at the feet of the main contractor—of course, he didn’t see it that way. Another bully. Another narcissist—as others who had the misfortune of working with him also revealed. But he seemed so nice. So agreeable. Narcissists always do—until you’re screwed.

As I share in Anxiety Rescue: “Narcissistics are fear-based people. They tell a lot of lies and they put a lot of these lies onto you”, says psychotherapist Dr. Les Carter. “As you engage with a narcissist, you quickly realize that person has an agenda for you.”

Things unexpectantly took a turn for worse toward the very end of the rebuild. Thankfully we were back in the house and were in this respect back under control. We only just narrowly avoided a nasty and potentially costly litigious battle (I’ve learned, as you may have, that the only people who really win are the lawyers). We arrived at an uneasy compromise. Better uneasy peace than the stress of warfare waging on.

If only some of our world leaders would act similarly.

Needless to say, all this chaos made it nearly impossible to write and I was nowhere nearly as industrious and prolific as I was in the previous years.

Secondly, USA Today bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch summed up some of the changes which affected many authors like me.

“Amazon shook up the industry first by a shift to favoring paid advertising over organic search results, then with policy changes that led to decreased revenue

Other interesting turns included dubious trademark claims, leading to the addition of terms like Cockygate being added to every indie author’s lexicon. Some authors attempted to trademark generic cover layouts and common words to (allegedly) protect their intellectual property. In general, it was a year filled with questionable practices on the IP front.”  

Many lessons were learned, and I have attempted to adapt with the times.

However, December was my best ever month, ending the year on a high as my best year yet author-wise.

It wasn’t always like this, and like any new endeavour, there was a lot to learn. Baby steps, passion and perserverennce and a big wallop of tenacity and self-belief  (often feigned) were key.

2016, my first year as an indie author. I remember being thrilled with my first royalty payment—$136. I was so cuffed, I pasted the notifcation in my Passion Journal. I’m still proud of that result. 

2018, also heralded a greater focus on my counseling work, and it was an absolute honor and joy to have worked with so many varied and beautiful people—some as young as eight. I developed a new passion for working with trauma and child therapy, as long as the other areas of passion I have—all unified by my purpose to help create more love in this crazy world.

As you’ll discover from reading Anxiety Rescue, I believe the best solutions integrate mind, body, and soul. Whichever way you define spirituality you’ll benefit from tailored approaches that feed and nourish and empower your spirit.

As Kiri*, one of my New Zealand-based clients shared with me recently,

“In Maoridom for me, I will relate to you as a  Kaitiaki, meaning ‘guardian’. How I became to have you in my path was purely by spiritual contact—a nudge an inner tiny voice directing me to you. Cass, you don’t realize the great healing you have in the pit of your soul and you were born to spread compassion. You have those who watch over you, and mine in return, and yet they all speak the same language to us who are willing to hear and feel.  In such a long time have I never met a beautiful soul who finally understood me who went within and helped me grow from our sessions.”

 

This feedback made my heart glad—especially when I was going through such a toxic work situation.

Therapy needn’t be gloomy. A lot of healthy healing can be achieved using playfulness and fun. Personally and professionally I believe in magic and the power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to transform peoples’ lives.

Kiri, who came to see me following a period of grief and trauma, had become so unwell she could no longer work, and struggled to find meaning in her life. In just one session, where we ‘played’ with crayons in a session of Interactive Drawing Therapy, she experienced a complete transformation. In her picture, she drew vibrant threads of colorful energy and empowering words that encouraged her to seek joy.

As the sessions continued I introduced her to the healing power of meditation. And of course, we talked. Or she talked, and I listened. Very often, all we need is someone to listen to our story and help us reintegrate who we truly are.

Or, you may find, as many of my clients have, that working with a life coach, rather than a counselor is the most effective strategy.

A problem shared can lead to a problem solved. Talking with someone objective is often what you need to gain a fresh perspective, overcome obstacles, heal wounds and expand your life.

To learn more about my approach or to schedule a session I invite you to visit—http://www.cassandragaisford.com/wellness-therapies/

 

If there is only one insight you take away from my year in review, I hope it is a newfound belief in the importance of being yourself. This often requires embracing the shadowy aspects of our personality and shedding alll the layers of debri that prevent you from being authentically you. It also involves clearing away the crap that may have been thrown at you, and baring some teeth at those who try to attack you. But even more importantly it means remembering who you truly are.

The doorway to this is co-creating with spirit in the energies of passion, purpose, and love.

I can personally testify for the life-transforming effects of this philosophy.

With hard work and inspired products and services created with passion and purpose, miraculous things are possible.

Good luck in 2019.

Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this and be the first to know when her new book, Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy, will be released.

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* named changed to protect privacy.

Discover the joy of a sober Christmas: How to enjoy the festive season sober

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018


It’s amazing how many people have told me they just couldn’t do a booze-free celebration—especially at Christmas.

Like Carol who told me she wasn’t looking forward to spending time with her extended family. “As soon as we arrive my nephew hands me a joint and fills my glass of bubbles and keeps it topped up so we can all get on.”

But when I share my story of our lovely alcohol-free Christmas and booze-free alternatives some people are genuinely inspired to give it a go.

The other day, while we were walking back from the supermarket carrying a bottle of alcohol-free wine, a middle-aged man stopped us. He told us that he had been drinking since 10:30 in the morning and wished he could stop because he was tired of “waking up depressed and hung over”.

He looked genuinely enthusiastic about trying the alcohol-free wine that we recommended and went away saying, “May God bless you… you have changed my life.”

That my friends is one of the joys of sobriety… inspiring others. The photo above is a wee shot of our very simple pre-Christmas fare, along with a wonderful bottle of Edenvale, alcohol-free wine. And below a wee video I shot of my daughter and her partner celebrating alcohol-free bubbles this Christmas—further proof of the joy of sobriety.

 

 

 

Here are a few tips to help you discover the joy of a sober Christmas—or any other celebration for that matter:

 

What’s your why?

If you’re going to go to sober and want to succeed you’ll need a powerful reason why. Why would you want to do Christmas booze-free? To wake up hangover-free on boxing day and the days that follow? To feel happier, less depressed. To achieve health goals? To rebuild a drowning relationship? To be a role model to others? To feel a sense of control… or just because you’d like to experience what all these teetotallers are raving about.

Perhaps you can relate to Tania Glyde’s story which was published in an article by The Independent.

“When I was growing up, the only way to get through Christmas was to keep drinking slowly, throughout the day…One of my worst Christmases ever was at the end of 1995. I’d had an unusually difficult year, with ill health and unemployment and drugs and fair-weather friends, all of which, strangely, eclipsed the fact that I’d also had my first novel published. I’d been hanging out with a well-heeled west-London crowd, obsessed with appearances and fluffed up with cocaine. I’d been seeing the gang’s resident sociopath. It was one of those non-affairs that keeps trickling on, and all you do is rant about it to your friends, and makes you very glad when your twenties are over and you’ve grown up a bit. As the festive season approached, someone’s pal came blasting in from the past, a notorious man-grabber. I should have seen it coming and left the self-serving pair to their own devices but, alas, one tinselly night, the vodka spoke for me. I opened my big mouth, threatened god knows what, had a crying jag when I found her jacket at his flat, and the whole thing turned into “A Drama”, resulting in me being ostracised from the crowd for months. It really was the last straw.”

 

My ‘why’ is multi-faceted. As I share in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

 

My grandmother was an alcoholic, her father was too—and both their stories, like many people affected by alcohol, was one of tragedy.

In the 1930’s a drunken brawl outside the local pub in New Zealand left one man dead and my great-grandfather charged with murder.

My grandmother was four, and her brother aged six when they were taken into foster care. They never saw their mother, father, or each other again.

I’ve always wondered had it not been for the trauma Molly experienced as a child, and throughout her life, would she have sought happiness in a bottle?

The tragedy didn’t end there. Years later her brother, then in his 30s and married with three children, took his life.

Recently, at the time of writing, my mother shared how her childhood was scarred. “Mum was always drinking. We would come home and she would be in bed. I don’t recall her ever not being drunk.”

Their story, my story, your story is a far too common one.

“My step-father was an alcoholic and I lived through rough times with alcohol,” a reader shared with me as I wrote this book.

“I hope your book does help many people. I personally believe a book like this would not have helped my dad. Only complete removal of alcohol would have helped. Just my opinion that you cannot control alcohol. You must remove it,” he added. “I do hope your book does help many lives that are affected by alcohol though.”

Hope, as you read through this book, is an important element of any recovery—as is a desire for change.

 

Increasingly my ‘why’ also includes health and wellness goals. Booze barons do such a great job of disguising alcohol that many people don’t know what it really is. Alcohol is ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, and is a flammable, colorless chemical compound. It’s a poison and well-documented cause for a concerning array of cancers and diseases and mental illnesses—including anxiety and depression.

Melinda Hammond’s passion is helping people tell their stories and bringing in experts to help the listeners of her podcast, Writer on The Road, do just that. in 2018 I had the great pleasure of sharing my story behind the passion and purpose of choosing sobriety and writing books to help support and cheerlead others.

Listen to my interview with Melinda Hammond, “Name Your Poison: Writers, Alcohol & The Creative Muse, with Cassandra Gaisford. Discover the joy of sobriety” —https://writerontheroad.com/128-name-poison-writers-alcohol-creative-muse-cassandra-gaisford/.

You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy this informative and game-changing chat.

 

Sober companions

We are social animals which means that it’s a lot easier to engage in healthy and sober practices when you are surrounded by other like-minded people.

You may be surprised how many others may want to wish to join you on your sobriety challenge, or how many others are already teetotallers or wanting to reduce considerably.

An article and video published recently by the BBC says sobriety has become mainstream—it’s no longer a losers game but the winners choice for increased health, wealth, and happiness. I talk more about the benefits and life-changing magic of sobriety and provide tips to control alcohol in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

Encouragingly, bars, nightclubs, and alcohol companies are responding to the massive sobriety movement which is rapidly growing in strength around the world – motivated by choice, health, and authentic joy… and in some cases, profit. Yes, folks as I’ve said, there is wealth in health!

However, committing to sobriety doesn’t mean that you can’t be amongst other drinking people. While being surrounded by drinkers, especially drunks, doesn’t make it easier, especially in the early days, it is a good test of your conviction, will, and commitment to sobriety.

Several years ago when I first decided to stop drinking for a period I spent Christmas and the new year staying at a resort in Fiji. Both my partner and I committed to sobriety. The place was dripping with alcohol and heaving with aggressive marketing promotions of “happy” buckets of beers and other alcohol-laden beverages. These were at reduced prices – making them cheaper than fruit juices or water.

What made it easy to remain alcohol-free was, along with reminding myself why I had made the decision, noticing how drunk everyone was getting also helped.

It also made it easier because I felt fantastic and my partner and I certainly noticed a difference when it came to pay our “bar” bill. Where some people received a shock at how quickly their booze bill added up to $thousands, our cheap alcohol-free mocktails were easy on the pocket.

You don’t have to make a big drama about not drinking alcohol. Many times you can blend in quite simply by having a Coca-Cola in a short “spirit” glass, or drinking soda and lime or alcohol-free wine in a fancy wine glass, or enjoying a mocktail.

Being with family

Many people drink just to survive reunions with the family. Let’s face it, not everyone finds it easy to get along and a lot of childhood wounds can be reactivated when everyone gets together. Add alcohol and you add pure fire. So many people don’t appreciate how easily alcohol fuels aggression.

Horrifically, domestic violence crimes soars, child assault, and other crimes are highest during what is marketed as the festive season.

Get yourself in the right mindset or avoid family and Christmas altogether – as my partner and I did several years ago following a particularly stressful time. Instead, we traveled to the beautiful island of Taveuni in the tropical paradise of Fiji. Our family threatened never to speak to us again. But guess what—they did. And in many ways, we have set the tone for following Christmases which are considerably laden with guilt and resentment. Now as a family we actually choose to come together. If someone wants to do something else, with someone else that’s fine too.

No one says you have to spend Christmas together. If you’re not feeling happy about spending time together, and the only way to survive feels like numbing or buoying yourself with alcohol don’t do it. Instead make a happier, healthier choice.

If you do decide to spend time with family and you know people will be drinking, definitely avoid alcohol. During challenging times like these myself, I found it easier to sometimes retreat to a quiet room and give myself a few minutes break or longer to fortify myself, to pray for help to get through the day without getting frustrated, snappy or picked on and provoked. Sometimes, I’ve simply gone for a walk.

Affirmations and other self-soothing strategies can also help get you in the sobriety mindset mic set. Or follow a maxim of the writing world which is often dispensed by masters of creating wonderful scenes, “get in late and leave early.” Don’t overstay your welcome.

Know your triggers

Do you know why you drink? Is it because an expensive bottle of champagne is thrust upon you by a grateful client or ardent admirer. Would it feel rude or reckless to refuse? Is it because everybody else is getting plastered and you feel left out? Is it because there’s nothing else to drink other than a carton or pithy orange juice?

Forewarned is forarmed. This may include having some alcohol free alternatives on hand, meditating or indulging in other ways to relax so you’re not feeling super stressed. It may mean driving a different way to avoid your local liquor store or sending someone else into the supermarket. Or,  as I’ve already discussed, it might mean giving Christmas a miss.

Or you may, as we did this year, celebrate early when there is less pressure, or keeping it low key—as my daughter and her partner and I did this year by doing Christmas sober over whitebait fritters. No panic shopping, no overcooking, no stress.

I share more tips to help you name and avoid your triggers and remain alcohol-free in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

Make time for joy

So often people are stressing about Christmas, stressing about buying gifts are exchanging the ones that got, feeding everyone entertaining everyone and it’s really easy to fit it about making time for yourself and things that spark joy

Do something that gets yourself a natural high whether it’s body surfing on the beach, engaging in a long lost her baby, well known in a new one, joy is the perfect antidote to stress and a proven sobriety strategy.

Authentic joy, rather than drunk delirium, has phenomenal energy and incredible versatility. In The Book of Joy the Dalai Lama shares that Paul Ekman, a longtime friend, and famed emotions researcher, has written that joy is associated with feelings as varied as:

• Pleasure (of the five senses)

• Amusement (from a chuckle to a belly laugh)

• Contentment (a calmer kind of satisfaction)

• Excitement (in response to novelty or challenge)

• Relief (following upon another emotion, such as fear, anxiety, and even pleasure)

• Wonder (before something astonishing and admirable)

• Ecstasy or bliss (transporting us outside ourselves)

• Exultation (at having accomplished a difficult or daring task)

• Radiant pride (when our children earn a special honor)

• Elevation (from having witnessed an act of kindness, generosity, or compassion)

• Gratitude (the appreciation of a selfless act of which one is the beneficiary)

Buddhist scholar and former scientist Matthieu Ricard has added three other more exalted states of joy: rejoicing (in someone else’s happiness, what Buddhists call mudita), delight or enchantment (a shining kind of contentment) and spiritual radiance (a serene joy born from deep well-being and benevolence).

When you tap into your joy, you tap into an unlimited reservoir of energy and enthusiasm.

The French take it further—of course! Jouissance, literally means orgasmic joy. It’s derived from the word from jouir (“to enjoy”). Jouissance is to enjoy something a lot!

Find joy in whatever is present in your life today.

Encourage yourself, challenge any mistaken assumptions that finding joy is not possible for you, and boost your belief by collecting examples of people who followed their joy and made a rewarding career, enriched their lives and stayed sober. Collette Baron-Reid is just one of many inspiring examples…oh, and when I follow my joy I inspire myself!

 

Nurture yourself

Christmas falls at the end of the year and everybody is pretty fatigued so be sure to make plenty of time to rest, sleep and nurture yourself. Importantly, let go of the guilt. Lounge around in your bed if you feel like it, take yourself offline for a staycation at home, Or escape the routine somewhere you can be free of all your “to-do list.”

Lie in, read a book, close the door on the world, detox from social media and do whatever it takes to give yourself a break so you can emerge into the new year and relaxed and reinspired.

You’ll find more tips to help you rest and nurture yourself in my post, Sleep More, Drink Less: How to Quit or Moderate Alcohol and Cure Insomnia—http://www.cassandragaisford.com/sleep-more-drink-less-how-to-cure-insomnia/

Commit to a brand new year in 2019. This may mean embracing the joy of therapy and finally releasing yourself of all the wounds and triggers that may have driven you to drink.

As my daughter so sagely said,

“The thing that not drinking for the last 11 months has given me is the space to have nowhere to run from the shit that I was needing to work through. Now when I have a glass it feels lighter because I’m not using it for that purpose. I’m not hiding from anything.”

This year my mom also shared with me things that happened in my childhood that I had completely forgotten or rather my mind had erased as part of my survival strategy. She also shared her upbringing and childhood memories of her mother’s drinking and alcoholism and the violence in her home.

As Wayne Dyer once said, “A woman who heals herself heals her mother, heals her daughter, and heals every woman around her.”

 

Here, enjoying an alcohol-free Christmas is my daughter Hannah Joy and her beautiful partner Josh.

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life), available in print and eBook from all good bookstores, including:Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink

 

Did you enjoy this post?

 

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Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this.

could you do Christmas sober?

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

The holiday season is meant to be a time of family togetherness filled with joy and peace.

But the reality is what we see in our communities, read about in the newspapers, and witness on television is the opposite.  Many people experience a flare-up of anxiety, stress, depression, and guilt, others are victims of domestic violence, and innocent people are impacted by others booze-fuelled antics.

To make matters worse, the most common way people deal with the stress is by emotional drinking, bingeing and in many cases using alcohol and other substances just to survive.

We all know the harm excessive alcohol consumption does to families—child assault, fractured relationships, financial stress, aggression, murders of loved ones, drunk driving leading to death or disablement. ..and these are just some of the “avoidable” effects of our drunk culture. And then, of course, there’s a possible stint in prison.
 I know how stressful Christmas can be, but trust me when I say, alcohol is not the road to happiness. I hate to see you get derailed on your wellness, health and weight goals but what I hate to see even more is the guilt it can bring and the self-loathing and self-doubt that comes with it.

Could you do Christmas sober?

Would it be easier for you to control your alcohol consumption if it wasn’t so readily available? What if it wasn’t shoved in your face every time you walked down the street or went shopping for groceries? Many people say, ‘yes’ but they feel powerless to stop the spread of alcohol in their lives and communities.

“A lot of people are deeply dissatisfied by the diminishing control they have over their lives, because of the way our system of government is set up, to cater to the powerful, cater to the wealthy, cater to the corporations, and not to the individual citizen,” says activist Josh Fox.

Do you know how much money litigious alcohol lobbyists spend each year trying to convince governments and local bodies to relax attempts at alcohol restraint? Where one party is motivated by protecting people from avoidable harm and creating safer communities, the other appears to be motivated purely by sales-driven, self-serving profit.

Let me be clear, I’m not against alcohol companies per se, and I don’t believe a nice drink now and then is an abhorrent evil. What does get my back up is underhand tactics, misinformation, and self-interest at the expense of others. That, and not sticking around to mop up the harm.

According to figures published by the Center for Responsive Politics in 2017, the total lobbying expenditures in the US for Beer, Wine & Liquor was a staggering USD $22,607,510—and this is just the money that was reported.

Incentives and kickbacks to aid and abet favorable practices abound in many industries whose primary goal is to maximize profits and returns to shareholders.

The owner of our local liquor store, for example, was rewarded for selling the highest volume of 1125ml bottles of rum with an all expenses paid trip to Jamacia. That’s quite a juicy incentive to up the volume of sales.

Many booze barons and the companies they create operate similarly to banks—fair weather friends while you’re spending but less than benevolent when you’re drowning in debt or reeling under the impact of alcohol-fuelled harm.

 

Here are just a few things that alcohol lobbyists strongly oppose:

• Advertising and promotion constraints

• Alcohol control—including raising the legal age for drinking

• Increases in product-specific taxes (designed to offset harm or reduce consumption)

 

Let me give you several home-grown examples of how lobbyists can exert their influence.

In 1999 the legal purchasing age in New Zealand was lowered from 20 to 18. Despite several calls for legislation against the change, and repeated attempts to raise the drinking age again, it’s proven easier to reduce the drinking age than it has to raise it.

Lawmakers continually and overwhelmingly support the status quo and, despite the increasing scale of harm, the legal drinking age remains 18. MPs, swayed by lobbyists successfully argued “If we say to people that you can vote, you can marry, you can fight for your country and you can die, then logically you shouldn’t say to them you shouldn’t drink in a public bar.”

Compelling logic if one accepts that teenagers should go to war, and ignores the issue that alcohol is a highly addictive drug.

Phil Goff, the Labor justice spokesman at the time of the changes, vehemently argued for a tightening of the 20-year age limit, citing overseas evidence linking increased road deaths to lower ages, and also citing public opinion polls that were against a lower age.

But the research was rejected as not relevant to New Zealand.

Māori Pacific MP Tukoroirangi Morgan said he had seen on marae and hui the results of young people drinking and driving.

“It would be a tragedy if this House was to say yes we will lower the age to 18. You may as well go and shoot 75 young Maori,” he said.

Almost a decade on and the concerns of Morgan and other opponents of lowering the drinking age are well-justified. Along with alcohol-related deaths from drunk driving, domestic violence assaults resulting in death, 2012 statistics reveal 119 Māori deaths from suicide—accounting for 21.6 percent of all suicide deaths in that year. Alcohol is said to have been a contributing factor in many of these tragically avoidable deaths.

Add to these sobering statistics the appalling and imbalanced incarceration rates and you’ll quickly appreciate the escalating harm caused by alcohol. In New Zealand, Māori make up only 14.6 percent of Zealand’s population, but a staggering 51 percent of its prison population.

Prominent businessman Gareth Morgan wants to see the age limit raised. “It was lowered in 1999 to appease the alcohol lobby, and we were promised at the time that if evidence showed harm went up after the change they would reverse it,” Morgan said, in an article in Fairfax Media.

“All of the evidence, all of the reports, have pointed unambiguously to harm going up.”

Research also shows the lowering of the age had resulted in the “de facto” drinking age falling to between 14 and 17.

“The data is showing us that in secondary schools six out of ten students are drinking. Nearly half of them consume more than five drinks in each session. And one in five is saying their aim is to get drunk. That’s where the problem is,” Morgan said.

In another example, official papers published by Fairfax New Zealand revealed that in 2012, former New Zealand Justice Minister Judith Collins met liquor industry lobbyists repeatedly in the weeks before the Government’s controversial U-turn on measures to restrict sales of alcopops.

The documents, released under the Official Information Act and published in 2012, reveal the extent of the pressure exerted by the industry, including a joint letter to former National Prime Minister John Key warning him his Government was about to “make a very serious and highly public mistake”.

The industry hinted that legal action was possible if the crackdown went ahead.

In late August of 2012, the Government backed away from its plan to ban from off-licenses the sale of RTDs (ready-to-drinks) with more than 6 percent alcohol.

Not only are RTDs stronger and cheaper than other forms of alcohol, but they’re sweeter (therefore masking the task of alcohol) and easier to consume.

Instead, the Government gave the industry the right to draw up its own RTD code of conduct.

Really? The alcohol industry regulating itself to reduce harm? Until there are disincentives for them to keep increasing the volumes of alcohol consumed, such as an about-turn in public opinion, it is highly unlikely they will regulate against their own interests. Until then, what possible motivation would they have to scale back their reach?

In the following chapter, you’ll discover how alcohol companies profited from the sale of RTD’s to society’s most vulnerable—including children as young as 12.

Collins, in announcing the backdown, said, “Frankly, I think we can stop treating everyone as though they’re fools and can’t make decisions for themselves. It was a bit too much taking away people’s responsibility. About 80 percent of New Zealanders drink extremely responsibly.”

This sounds like the same ineffective logic applied to the sugar barons.

Unsurprisingly the sugar barons are also powerful lobbyists—ones not beyond using a raft of diversion tactics. For example, during the ’50s, when colas and junk food begin to gain traction, the US sugar lobby managed to divert the onus for children’s’ obesity onto dairy products, while their flunkeys invented a narrative about cholesterol and harmful fats.

By saying that people who can’t control alcohol are ‘fools’ and should be able to make informed choices, Collins may as well be saying that people should be left alone to decide whether to wear a seatbelt in a car or a safety helmet while riding a bike on the road. Statistics reveal that lives are saved, and harm reduced, when laws are introduced to help people to help themselves.

One may well ask where are the booze-barons when people are shelling out a fortune for rehab? Where are they when people are so sick they cannot work? Who picks up the tab when a beloved mother, father, son, daughter or friend dies of alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related cancer, or at the hands of a drunk driver?

Equity, Fairness, and Justice—Let’s Level The Field

Do these booze barons pay an equitable share of tax? Are the costs of social harm factored into ongoing costs to individuals, families, and communities?

Who, for example, is going to pay for the childcare costs, mortgage payments and healing of the psychological trauma inflicted on Abdul Raheem Fahad Syed’s wife and child? This innocent man, a beloved father, and husband was working to provide for his family when he was killed in a horror smash by a drunk ‘joy-riding’ teen just before Christmas in 2017.

Who will pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars of judicial and penitentiary costs when the 20-year-old drunk, driving an expensive late-model BMW is sentenced? The Government—and by default law-abiding taxpayers? Why?

And why is the driver charged with careless driving? Why not murder? We all know the dangers and risks of driving drunk.

I’m being provocative, I know. But I’m sick of feeling afraid and worried when I drive at night that I might become the next victim of a marauding drunk. And I’m sick of my tax dollars being spent so needlessly.

I’m not alone. In the following chapter, you’ll discover research conducted by the University of Western Australia in 2016, summarizing the revenues generated by excise taxes, and questioning the fair, or rather citing the unfair allocation of the burden of harm.

 

Nobody’s  Fool

Mindful or conscious drinking is not only being aware of why you drink, how much you drink, and how to regulate or control your drinking—but also becoming aware of the powerful economic forces lobbied at encouraging you to drink more, and disempowering individuals from making rational, positive choices.

Mindful drinking is also a commitment to refusing to remain blissfully ignorant and becoming aware of the horrific and escalating costs of alcohol harm, and deciding whether you want to be part of the problem—or the cure.

Is all this new knowledge enough to cause you to rethink your relationship to alcohol? I hope so. With knowledge comes wisdom.

The following excerpt from a 2013 report published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health spotlights the collaborative efforts and sharing of formidable financial resource that alcohol and tobacco companies pour into ensuring high sales and profits, manipulating governments and turning people into fools.

You may argue that pooling resources is simply smart business. Yet, it’s worth considering is it a fair or ethical practice to target:

• Minorities

• Vulnerable people, including youth

• Socio-economically deprived and those at risk?

• You?

Perhaps you don’t count yourself in any of the above brackets. But the truth is that alcohol harm is all pervasive—and expensive. Suicide, car crashes, injury, mental-health related violence, the high cost of incarceration, expenditure on addressing alcohol harm at the cost of increased spending by Governments affects us all.   

 

Your Feelings Matter

Heightened knowledge may not be the total catalyst to sobriety, but it has played a large part in mine, and also my devotion to this book and spreading the truth about alcohol.

Feelings, as you’ll discover in my books Your Beautiful Mind and Mind Your Drink, matter. They are the gateway, the portal, to transformational change.

When you feel compassion, empathy, sadness, rage, love for those who suffer needlessly, and this includes yourself, you will find freedom from alcohol. In the chapter, Get Angry, I look at how healing and cathartic channeling your anger into a higher purpose can be. You’ll also learn how the New Zealand Police were taken to court by local government (the Wellington City Council)—and the ridiculous reason why.

We’ll also explore why we are incarcerating so many people with drinking problems and the need to spend more money on offering treatment and support.

But first, let’s take a peek into the darker and fascinating side of advertising.

Specifically, we’ll look at the psychological warfare and advertising ploys that booze barons use to manipulate you to act against your best interests. Just when you thought you were in control!

My aim is not to scare you sober, but perhaps you’ll feel a sense of relief, as one person said, “It’s great to finally understand I am not to blame.”

One day, this same person may encounter, Judith Collins and say, “Hey, Judy, I say wanted to say—I am nobody’s fool.”

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life), available in print and eBook from all good bookstores, including:

Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink

 

 

what are you grateful for?

Monday, November 19th, 2018

 

Happy Thanksgiving! Where ever you are in the world it’s a fabulous time to celebrate the things we are most grateful for.

I’m really grateful to you and to all my clients who teach me so much. I love witnessing the transformation and change and I’m honored when my clients, and people who read my books, reveal their deepest longings, and all the hurts and vulnerabilities they feel stand in their way. And I’m so thankful to have people able to help people discover freedom, find happiness and change their lives.

I’m grateful that in my work as a holistic therapist I’ve been lead to become very passionate about helping others to do their shadow work—bringing to the surface those parts of ourselves we don’t like or deny.

Sometimes shadow work also involves bringing to light the gifts, talents, and deepest desires that have been shamed or forbidden throughout our lives.

Discovering the spiritual path and spiritual gift of shadow work and realizing why for so long I denied so many aspects of me (and in turn, why they often acted out and sabotaged my success) has lead me to revalue and reclaim my truest self.

Shadow work shone a healing light on the repression of my own creativity and spirituality. Even now as I prepare to more fully embrace these parts of me, I feel the flickering flame of judgment. But now that I more fully understand the source, and also the soul purpose of loving my shadows, I’m also feeling empowered, energized, and elated!

I’m thankful for how liberating and freeing it is to embrace my shadow side and my light!

I am grateful to have been guided to this work to the work of Jordan Peterson, a Canadian author, clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. Dr. Peterson has exploded onto the world-stage, shining a spotlight on what others have turned our “addiction to happiness”. Listening to his impassioned call to embrace and take responsibility for the darkest aspects of ourselves I’m reminded of Buddhist wisdom, “Life is suffering.” It’s how we react to the suffering that enables us to flourish and transcend our pain.

So many people are in denial of this aspect of our reality, running away from the shadow—self-medicating or numbing through alcohol and drugs, prescription medicines, and doing whatever it takes to run from the shadow which evokes those feelings of unworthiness, sadness, anger, guilt, shame—and regret.

But escapism provides no long-term sustainable relief. It only entrenches the shadow deeper—given depth to an aching sadness, or madness, that can’t even be alleviated truly through medical intervention.

The only true healing can come by bringing the shadow into the light and Integrating those aspects of our personalities that we have denied, or in some cases, trauma has disembodied.

I’m grateful that America celebrates a day of thanksgiving. And I’m especially grateful for all the suffering I’ve experienced—the transcending of which has enabled me to grow spiritually and emerge a kinder, more compassionate, happier person.

I’m thankful for the talent God has given me to use my gifts to help others down the path of healing, love, life, death, and the rebirth of a better version of themselves. Like John, 25 who has kicked a 10-year habit of drug abuse. Or, Callum, aged 10, who now has tools to manage his anger. Or, Hannah who has embraced her spiritual soul self and has set up a spiritual practice. And Justin Raj who posted the following feedback after reading Your Beautiful Mind—I’m so thankful he won the fight after a lengthy battle with alcohol addiction (something historically people said was incurable)

5.0 out of 5 stars.Discovering my beautiful mind!

21 May 2018

Cassandra Gaisford’s book- Your beautiful mind – is the first book I read after completing my three day counseling session at a major alcoholic rehabilitation center in Indian state of Kerala. Her straightforward way of writing hooked me and motivated me to hold on to my decision- to quit alcohol- strongly. She handled the menace of alcoholism from the level of basics to the level of an expert in a language even a layman can understand.

‘Your beautiful mind’ inspired me to think beyond my alcoholic lifestyle, which wasn’t possible before and helped to transform my mind completely. She motivated me to take up my passions- reading, writing, stock market analysis- as fruitful additions rather than following self-destructive addictions like alcohol, nicotine and drugs. Today, I can enjoy my life more and feels like I have been freed from a prison – a self-created prison of addictive behaviour. Keep inspiring and keep up your great work, Cassandra!

~ Justin Raj, journalist and investment banker

I’m grateful to my clients who are seeking my help to save their relationships and to do the inner work of healing childhood traumas that infect their sense of self today.

 

work with me!


If you’d love to transcend whatever is holding you back, work with me!

Whether your relationship needs rescuing, you need a career rejuvenation, or anxiety and depression are pushing you to despair, or perhaps addiction has you in its grip… I’d love to help.

Perhaps you just need someone to talk to—someone skilled and objective.. Schedule your personalized counseling session TODAY and enjoy a limited time offer …all sessions booked prior to 27 November will receive another session absolutely free. Saving you USD $100!

 

 

Or perhaps some of my self-empowerment books are calling you——or you feel they’d be perfect for someone you love, as this Amazon reviewer of Mind Your Drink wrote when he left his 5-star review.

I have been going through a tsunami of stress! Right now, my favorite go-to ones to help me self-soothe, include:

 

Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety

If you’d like to experiment with a period of sobriety or you need help to you moderate your drinking, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, available as a paperback and eBook will help

getbook.at/MindYourDrink

 

How to Find Your Passion and Purpose: Four Easy Steps to Discover A Job You Want and Live the Life You Love

Focus your energy and time to achieve outstanding personal and professional results. Find your point of brilliance and purpose in life. Available in print and eBook—getBook.at/Passion

The Art of Success: Leonardo da Vinci

The 8-Step Blueprint to True Success for Your Relationships, Your Bank Account, Your Body and Your Soul. Leonardo da Vinci had to overcome obstacles to succeed just like you and I. Be inspired by his blueprint for success. I know I am! Available in print and eBook—

getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess

 

Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy

Bounce features the most essential and stirring passages from my previous books, exploring topics such as meditation, mindfulness, positive health behaviours, and working with fear, depression, anxiety, and other painful emotions.

Bounce encourages a more playful approach to the seriousness of life and the ever-present stressors we all face. Through the course of this book, you will learn practical, creative and simple methods for heightening awareness and overcoming habitual patterns that block happiness and joy and hold you back.

Available in print and eBook—viewBook.at/Bounce

 

Stress Less. Love Life More: How to Stop Worrying, Reduce Anxiety, Eliminate Negative Thinking and Find Happiness

If you need more help to you manage stress my book, Stress Less, available as a paperback and Ebook will help. Navigate to here—getBook.at/StressLess

 

Mid-Life Career Rescue: The Call for Change

If your job is the stress-causing culprit you’ll find plenty of practical and helpful strategies in Mid-Life Career Rescue: The Call for Change, available as a paperback and eBook. Navigate to here—getBook.at/CareerChange.

Or you may prefer to take my online course and watch inspirational and practical videos and other strategies to help you to fulfill your potential—https://the-coaching-lab.teachable.com/p/follow-your-passion-and-purpose-to-prosperity.

 

Amazon reviewer of Mind Your Drink—getbook.at/MindYourDrink

What’s stopping your version of extraordinary?

If you’re feeling thankful for the wisdom and encouragement I’ve shared above and would like more personalized help to discover, embrace, rejoice in your shadow and live your best life, I really would love to work with you—what are you waiting for? Schedule your session now and receive an additional session for FREE. http://www.cassandragaisford.com/schedule-an-appoi…

   

The anxiety cure: How I avoid depression, get energized, find joy, and stay inspired

Monday, October 29th, 2018

 

People often compliment me for my sunny disposition and bubbly, passionate nature. So it may surprise you to learn that I don’t always feel up-beat and inspired. I’m just like you. Sometimes I feel despondent, depressed, and stressed. Like many of my clients and people who are drawn to my self-empowerment books sometimes my outlook can be intensely bleak.

These are not feelings I like to stew in, so I’ve learned a few simple strategies to help my soul and spirit soar.

It often surprises me when people say to me, “It’s easy for you, Cassandra. You’re always happy.” Or, when people criticize me, as a former colleague once did. “You know your problem? You’re too happy.”

As I read somewhere recently, “Being positive is an act of courage—it’s easier to be negative.”

Thank you, whoever you are— I found your words inspiring.

Below are just a few of my favorite ways to spark joy and become inspired—even when I felt like s**t. If you’re feeling down, flat, discouraged, fatigued or beaten up by life, I hope you find some encouragement in my words which follow.

 

Lost your mojo? Heed the early warning signs

I’m super vigilant to heed the red flags that warn me that I’m heading for a depressive or anxious state. I put preventive strategies in place, and draw on these (topping them up when I need an extra boost) during times of heavier-than-normal workload or life hassles.

I’m as guilty as anyone of having a propensity to over-work. I love what I do with such a passion it doesn’t feel like a job at all. I’d happily work weekends and nights if need be. But I know I’m not a machine. I know I need to rest. I know that lack of balance between work and play is not a smart success strategy.

Some of the things I do to look after my health include:

  • Regular massages
  • Meditating twice daily
  • Taking regular breaks
  • Working only with clients I enjoy
  • Taking time out for my passions and hobbies
  • Making time for my relationships
  • Writing morning pages
  • Writing my daily gratitudes in a journal
  • Looking at and updating my passion journal
  • Switching off from technology
  • Surrounding myself with inspirational people whenever possible
  • Reducing, and at times, eliminating alcohol
  • Eating healthily
  • Tuning into the spiritual realm
  • Spending time in nature
  • Regular silent retreats
  • Eliminating negativity
  • Exercising regularly

It may look like a long list, but in reality, most of these things only take a few minutes and many can be batched. Others, like meditating and going for massages take more time out of my day. But they replenish my energy and allow my mind and heart and spirit to work more effectively.

I’ve been meditating for over 25 years now and love it. And while it can be challenging to find time during busy or stressful periods, it really is the key to boosting creativity, harnessing intuition, building resilience, and creating a calm and happier outlook in general. These are all important factors in maintaining the energy and focus to create and sustain your well-being.

I also remind myself to follow my mantra, “If it’s not fun, I’m NOT doing it!” Sometimes this requires an attitude shift. 

Someone asked me recently what my strategy for handling job stress was. One of my winning strategies is to list all the things that are causing me stress and find a way to minimize their impact. For me – the biggest change happened when I took control of my career and planned for my future. That helped me let go of taking everything in my old job so seriously.

If you, or someone you love, is impacted by work stress I have loads more tips – instant access and all for less than the price of coffee:

Mid-Life Career Rescue (The Call For Change: How to change careers, confidently leave a job you hate, and start living a life you love, before it’s too late Take the stress out of making a change, confirm your best-fit career and move toward your preferred future. Available in print and eBook from Amazon—getBook.at/CareerChange

Work can be your greatest joy

I am continually inspired by my clients. Work is my greatest joy. They inspire me with their courage, their tenacity, their incredible resilience and tremendous ability to open themselves up to me and reveal their vulnerabilities. I love that they come to see me to free themselves of blocks and to plow through obstacles that are holding them back. So many people never seek help. Too many people go it alone or stay stuck.

Many of my clients have said they could do anything if they only knew what it was. Finding the job of your dreams and standing out from the crowd begins with an idea, a dream or a hunch about what you would love to do and why.

However, this is not the way that many of us have been conditioned to think about careers.

Traditional methods used to choose careers like checklists and assessments are being transformed by some creative thinking. If you haven’t listened to my interview on Radio New Zealand, check it out on my media page—we’re discussing this very thing.

As Nick Williams, author of The Work You Were Born To Do, shares in the foreword of my book, Mid-Life Career Rescue, “Too few of us have been bought up to believe that it is possible to make our living doing something we love, that lights our hearts up and stirs our passions. This is what I call the work we were born to do, and is our true work. To find your true work is a great blessing, one of life’s greatest blessings I believe. And to be paid for your work rather than work for pay is one of life’s greatest joys.“

Are you ready to find your greatest joy?

 

Darkness can herald great light

I once counseled a young girl who had been sexually assaulted five years earlier and who had tried to take her life the night before her family called for support.

Not fun. Not fun at all.

At first, I felt overwhelmed by the horror and enormity of what this beautiful soul had suffered. But then inspiration struck—to me inspiration is all about being in spirit. It’s source energy, it’s God essence, it’s a higher vibrational power. It’s love.

I began to think, “How could I help this child rediscover joy? How could I help her feel fun and find laughter again? I drew inspiration from the work of Viktor Frankl, best known for his inspired book, ‘Man’s Search For Meaning’, and also the teachings of Dr. Edith Eger which I discovered in her book, ‘The Choice: Embrace the Possible.’

Both therapists draw upon the life survival lessons gained in the most horrific of places. Auschwitz

In 1944, Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz. wrenched from her parents on arrival, she endured unimaginably evil experiences. When Auschwitz was finally liberated, barely alive, she was pulled from a pile of bodies.

But she refused to let the horrors of the Holocaust to break her. She refused to let evil rob her of joy. Instead, in the process of healing herself, she found her purpose.

During her healing, Dr. Eger also discovered the work of Viktor Frankl and he later became her mentor.  Slowly and with great power she learned to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience.

The Choice is her unforgettable story. It shows that hope can flower in the most unlikely places.

Rather than let her painful past destroy her, Edith chose to transform it into a powerful gift. It’s a gift she uses in her work as a therapist to help others heal and to recover from all kinds of hardship.

As Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate writes in the foreword to her book,

The Choice is a gift to humanity.  One of those rare and eternal stories that you don’t want to end and that leaves you forever changed.  Dr. Eger’s life reveals our capacity to transcend even the greatest of horrors and to use that suffering for the benefit of others.  She has found true freedom and forgiveness and shows us how we can as well.”

“Even in hell hope can flower,” her book blurb reminds us.

Dr. Eger’s experiences and those of many other great souls’ who have endured unthinkable hardship provides an empowering message for us all. I am particularly encouraged by Dr. Eger’s belief in, and driving purpose, the knowledge that the greatest wound, can with guidance, herald the greatest joy.

And it is this central message and way of working with clients that I wish to use as my guiding philosophy. For joy, not hatred, fear, vengeance, guilt or shame, is (along with love) the greatest healing power there is.

I am also inspired in my work the performer Lady Gaga who has spoken so openly of her struggles. She was sexually assaulted when she was just nineteen. Check out her emotional speech on surviving sexual assault and mental health—https://youtu.be/14KX7xOJsqE

I am also inspired and encouraged in my work as a self-empowerment author and therapist to help people find joy and purpose by Oprah, who credits her strong sense of spirit as her greatest transformational tool. “Turn your wounds into wisdom,” she says.

I have been very, very lucky not to have been sexually assaulted. But I have escaped many, many attempts—including a man exposing himself to me when I walked to school  when I was around six; a known rapist climbing in my bedroom window when I was a teenager; a stranger breaking into my bedroom; a guy trapping me in his car and masturbating; a man exposing himself to me when I sat on a beach in Wellington; and an Arab man asking me if I would like to “make love in the caves” when I had (naively) accepted his offer to take me into the desert to look at ruins.

A Māori healer and seer once told me that I had a kaitiaki, or guardian angel protecting me. Kaitiaki is a New Zealand term used for the Māori concept of guardianship, for the sky, the sea, and the land.

Following these experiences, no human helped me. Nobody offered a guiding hand. They didn’t even point me in the direction of the mental and emotional healing I so desperately needed. It wasn’t until I trained to become a counsellor in my thirties that I finally received the help I needed. I had learned to suppress these memories.

But spirit helped me. Spirit protected me.

I remember when the man trapped me in his car—I felt my soul leave my body. I shut down. But then a great power came over me and told me clearly to break out of the car and run for my life. I ran to a house, and he chased me in his car. I knocked on the door and told them what was happening to me. They shut the door in my face. I was a terrified 19-year-old. But I knew I had to survive. So I pretended the people had let me in, and I hid in the bushes instead. I only emerged when I felt ’sure’ that it would be safe enough to walk the long road back to the backpackers where I was staying with a friend.

Everyone encouraged me to go to the police. I was reluctant. I feared judgment and blamed. I wondered if anyone would they believe me. At the time of this experience a young woman, Kirsa Jensen, had also gone missing. She was abducted in broad daylight, in the same city (Napier) that this man had taken me. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/98509935/the-lost-what-happened-to-missing-girl-kirsa-jensen

I wasn’t offered any help, any emotional healing, but the Police were good to me. And I was lucky. They found the man who had exposed himself. But his version of events was very different. He told them I had encouraged him. For me, it was enough that the police knew who he was. I hoped that perhaps by spotlighting his behavior, if he was the man who had taken Kirsa Jenson, that my willingness to tell them what had happened to me might save another.

“Beckon the world to kindness,” says Lady Gaga. “Turn kindness into plutonium and change the world.” It’s a wonderful mantra. Imagine how different people’s lives would be if more people adopted this call to action.

My favourite spiritual tools to reawaken inspiration, healing and kindness

Some of my favourite tools to reawaken inspiration (and healing) lie in the realm of spirituality.

Here are just a few:

  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Morning pages
  • Gratitudes
  • Sobriety
  • Helping others
  • The Akashic Records
  • Creativity
  • Writing
  • Inspiring others

One of my favorite strategies involves oracle cards. And I’m in good company. Coco Chanel and many successful people also turned to the invisible realm for inspiration. I share more about how Coco Chanel used oracles, including Tarot cards, in my book, The Art of Success: Coco Chanel.

As I share in my book, At the time of writing this post I referred to a new deck by Collette Baron-Reid, Postcards from Spirit. It was headed, ‘Your destiny’ today’s card revealed, “Is to be present to all life’s adventures, to discover your talents and full potential through allowing inspiration to lead you, and to risk standing apart from the crowd to listen to your soul.”

These words sparked the idea for this post and to share more of my personal story. Another spark came from a negative review one of my books received on Amazon, “Her story would be more interesting,” the reviewer wrote. I have been toying with a personal memoir for some time, and now (thanks to some unexpected encouragement) I’ve made a start.

I haven’t decided on the title yet. Here are a few ideas I am considering:

Living in this world: A Rational Woman’s Quest to Spiritualize Her Life.”

The Promise: A Rational Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Spirituality.”

Like many, mid-lifers it’s taken a long time, lots of reading and more than a drop of therapy, to shed past conditioning and the stigma of anything ‘woo woo.’’

Here’s a wee draft excerpt and a mock up of a cover

Introduction

2012, the year I truly embarked on my spiritual quest – (qualifying to become a Reiki Teacher) not realizing until many years later auspiciousness of that date, given changes to the Crystalline Grid.

A spiritual journey is an act of discovery. It is not always embraced by all those who you meet on your spiritual path. As Viktor Frankl said, “Those who give light may also be burned.”

That certainly has been my case. Take some of many work experiences where I was persecuted for shedding light on injustices or for doing my job too well—spotlighting others incompetence. 

“You walk the path of jealousy,” psychics have told me. ‘You have suffered many lifetimes of loss and persecution.”

Great I think? Why me? Why do I have this karmic atomic flame that sometimes makes living in their world so painful?

Back in 2012 as I began my spiritual quest. I was tired of feeling life was a constant uphill battle. I reflected on that recent work experience and others like it.

“You have denied for so long who you are that you have forgotten who you are,” wrote Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations with God.

His words spoke to my spiritual, intuitive self. He spoke to the soul I saw when I looked at photos of myself as a child with my grandmother and cousins—me, the child with the all-seeing eyes. Sometimes I see too much. Named, Cassandra, like my namesake, given the gift of prophecy and not always believed.

Life has taken me on a long journey to reclaim my creative self. Growing up I was never nurtured, never told I was loved. As an adult the dominant message is that I am a disappointment.

“Your thoughts about yourself is that you are not good enough, not wondrous enough, not sinless enough to be part of God, in partnership with God,” wrote Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations with God.

In 2012, when I began my quest, that phase spoke to me, shouting, ‘Who am I to lay claim to being spiritual?’

“You are spiritual,” Claire, another woman on my Reiki Attunement Course, said to me. I wrote it down and tried to own it. I struggled. I struggle still. But then, I have never liked labels.

Years later, as I write this book, it’s beginning to fit. Like a dress too sizes too large, something you hope to grow into when you grow up, my confidence and self belief and trust in Spirit has expanded.

 

Journal Entry July 2012

The winds of change

The wind raises its throat to the sky and roars. The rain sinks through the clouds and pours. Nothing remains the same, nothing is still. All is impermanent, restless, moving.

Get your essence back, find yourself, stand on your own two strong feet. You may be vilified, chastised, forsaken to the streets, but take comfort, know for evermore, your heart beats. Beats with the passion that infuses your body whole. For you have risen, transformed, discovered your soul.

I awoke in the night, just before midnight to the phone ringing. I pulled it from the wall but sleep won’t come still. So as the wind roars and unleashes its impatience upon stoic trees who refuse to yield, refuse to be swayed from the place, the purpose to which they are rooted, I awake. I am reminded by the following passage from Conversations with God (which I flicked open after initially ‘rejecting’ the call to pick up the book – putting it to one side instead):

“Life will ‘take off’ for you, then, when you chose it to. You have procrastinated, prolonged, protracted, protested. Now it is time that you promulgated and produced what you have been promised. To do this you must believe the promise and live it. You must believe the promise of God…”

I flicked to the page which spoke to me when the phone that rang in the night and was reminded that I can not let the winds of change deter me from my course, I cannot ‘fight’ but must surrender, go with the flow, flex and bend as do trees, and anchor myself to the true me…

…The Buddha within.

 

 

New stuff sparks inspiration

 

If you need to awaken your inspiration, check out this video…

It’s a sneak peek into how I manifested my 2016 goals

Very often inspiration lies at the edge of what we already know. This is something Leonardo da Vinci knew very well. Da Vinci was the ultimate experimenter and he allowed a child-like curiosity to lead. Yet so often we resist embracing the realm of the unknown. Either, that, or we don’t create space in our crammed schedules, distracted instead, by habits that take us nowhere interesting or inspiring.

Recently, a young man in his twenties came to me for anger management counseling. At the heart of his issues was frustration that he hadn’t achieved what he felt he was capable of. That and a ‘time-suck’ habit of substance abuse. He told me he was always getting in his way and struggled to maintain focus.

Amongst other strategies we brain-stormed together, (including kicking his drug habit) I suggested awakening inspiration by keeping a passion journal. I suggested that by keeping clippings and ideas that inspired him it would help create a clarity of vision.

“I don’t do that cutting out kind of stuff,” he said, looking at me as if to say, ‘that sounds babyish.’

“Have you ever tried?” I asked.

“No,” he said, softening a little as realization dawned.

“So how do you know it won’t work?”

He shrugged.

“Would you be willing to experiment?”

“Okay,” he replied.

Another client, who came to me for help moving past entranced feelings of grief, leaped at the idea of creating a Joy Journal. Similarly, a teenager who was feeling fatigued created an Energy Journal. She showed me it the other day and I noticed how her face lit up when she shared with me the images of the people and things that energized her and made her happy. She also added a section with mood foods—things to eat less of and those to eat more off (including drinking more water).

Whatever you call your book of inspiration, the important thing to embrace is a spirit of play.

You’ll find more tips to help you create a passion/joy/energy journal and manifest your dreams and goals easily in my books, The Passion Journal: The Effortless Path to Manifesting Your Love, Life, and Career Goals, Available in ebook and Paperback here—getbook.at/ThePassionJournal. And, if you long to create a business or begin a side hustle, The Passion-Driven Business Planning Journal: The Effortless Path to Manifesting Your Business and Career Goals. Available in ebook and Paperback here—viewBook.at/PassionBusinessJournal.

 

Your vibe tribe

Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is always a fantastic and simple way to spark joy, minimize anxiety and boost your inspiration.

The simplest definition of your Vibe Tribe is a group of supportive people that share the same values, beliefs, and aspirations. Sometimes to flourish you need to break free of your current tribe and find one that breathes fresh air into your life, lifts you higher and brings out the best in you.

Recently, for example, I tuned into the Being Boss podcast  https://beingboss.club/podcast. I listened to an awesome interview with Modern Mystic Kelley Knight https://beingboss.club/podcast/episode-197-modern-mystic-kelley-knight±

Check out Episode #196 if you’d love to learn more about using tarot in everyday life—https://beingboss.club/podcast/episode-196-everyday-tarot-biddy-tarot. You may also like #51 Getting Witchy with Carolyn Elliott—https://beingboss.club/podcast/podcast-episode-51-getting-witchy-carolyn-elliott

As you may have noticed, I find huge inspiration from collecting inspiring quotes. I either paste these in my journal and/or keep a file in my computer of inspiring quotes in differing categories. Whenever I need an inspirational boost I turn to these sources for timely reminders.

 

Follow your inspiration

After listening to the podcast I was inspired to know more about the people that Kelley Knight mentioned in her interview and who she was inspired by, one of whom was a Kundalini Yoga teacher Guru Jagat

As a result, and following inspiration when it strikes, I purchased the book,

Invincible Living: The Power of Yoga, The Energy of Breath, and Other Tools for a Radiant Life by Guru Jagat. Guru Jagat, as the time of writing, is the youngest senior Kundalini Yoga teacher in the world and the face of the new Kundalini movement. I love, love, love book and her philosophy.

“There is energy to beauty, a frequency, and it’s inherent in your human birthright to behold it, live it, and embody it.” ~ Guru Jagat

My daughter had also told me the previous day how she had recently discovered Kundalini Yoga and was loving it. Hearing this, and then the ‘go—incidence’ of hearing how Kelley Knight was inspired by Guru Jagat’s classes on her channel, RA MA TV, awakened a desire to learn it too. Said by some to be the “Netflix” of Kundalini Yoga, as a result, I signed up for a $15 monthly subscription to access her classes anytime, anywhere.

In Kundalini Yoga, there is no “beginner’s” or “advanced” yoga set. You can tune in to any class, at any level, and have your own experience. For students looking for a step by step introduction, our Beginners Series focuses on the foundational breaths, postures, and meditations of Kundalini Yoga.”

On the Being Boss podcast, Kelley Knight described the differences between other meditation and yoga modalities how a daily practice of Kundalini Yoga expands her capacity for success.

“It’s meditation heavy. It’s not big on postures. You’ll do the same things for minutes and minutes on end. There’s also of mantras and chanting and mudras*, so it’s a very active meditation. I have a very hard time sitting in silent meditation. When I’m doing Kundalini Meditation, when I’m chanting or touching my fingers, there’s some movement, it helps me go deeper and move my energy. But the main philosophy, I would say, or the main benefit I get from Kundalini Yoga as opposed to other modalities I’ve tried is that it is focused on the aura, and it’s really focused on your electromagnetic field and that’s what makes you radiant and helps you attract success and actually lodge things and programme them in your aura as part of a manifestation practice. So it helps you, the stronger your aura gets the more you can hold and sustain success. It’s a business strategy for me.”

(*A quick search of Google tells me that a mudra is a “gesture that facilitates the flow of energy in the subtle body. Mudras help you draw yourself inward. Each is a symbolic gesture that can stimulate different areas of the brain transmitting an exact goal of channeling energy flow during meditation.”)

The first class was only 3.33 minutes long (or short!) I loved learning how, by using a mantra, it taps into the hypothalamus and boosts brain chemistry, and increases oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’ which helps us feel happy. The ‘Tune In’ exercise, the video explains, begins with the mantra Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo. This translates as, “I am the Universal totality, I am a clear teacher for myself, and for others.” It’s a nice affirmation to empower intentions for the day.

It’s the first time I have experienced this kind of mediation, but I love the fact that it uses breath work and sound (and mudras)—rather than pure silence and stillness. Fast forward to around 29 minutes into the Being Boss interview with Kelley Knight for further details about the benefits.

 

Bliss of breath

Recently, I have had the pleasure of experiencing a stunning Bliss of Breath class with Shannon Rose, Breath of Bliss, Breathwork Facilitator. And highly recommend her work—http://byshannonrose.com/. Again, it was an FTE for me (First Time Experience) and I loved it.

Here’s a testimonial from her website,

“I went to Shannon’s breathwork ceremony and the transformative experience cannot even be put into words. It was truly two hours of deep emotional release and connection that has shifted things in me that I’ve been trying to deal with for such a long time. The exercises, the music, Shannon’s guidance was all so perfect, I could not recommend her ceremony any more to absolutely everyone, it is such a beautiful way to come back to feeling like a free and happy person.”

 

Following inspiration also includes reminding myself of the magic of writing and reading and watching movies. As novelist Caroline Gordon once wrote, “A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.”

Recently I came across an excerpt of Liane Moriarty’s new book, Nine Perfect Strangers. The story takes us inside the world of health retreats. Could 10 days of wellness really change your life forever? I’m intrigued…and inspired to read more. Reading the excerpt also reminded me of my love of writing fiction Something I haven’t been doing enough of.

I’ve also just watched Bradley Coopers inspired adaption of A Star is Born, starring himself and Lady Gaga. WOW! Great storytelling with a powerful message to share.  Cooper was on Time’s list of 100 most influential people in the world in 2015, and when you see this movie, his first crack at producing, it’s not hard to see why.

 

Golden moments

Another way I become inspired is by reminding myself of my most inspired times—including places I’ve been and people I’ve met. Like the time I met Zen Buddhist Monk and renown artist Max Gimblett (

http://www.maxgimblett.com/).In 2008 I was thrilled to meet Max Gimblett while he was exhibiting at the Paige Blackie gallery in Wellington. And even more thrilled in September of that year to attend his Sumi painting workshop in Maui, Hawaii. I used the money I won when I was notified that I was the Supreme Winner Wai Art Awards, for my artwork, “Love Stain” – a mixed media triptych to study this beautiful art form with him.

I also felt super inspired and zenned out after receiving my Reiki Master Teacher attunement and having a massage on the beach—at Balian Beach, near Tabanan, Bali. I named this photo my ‘Bliss Super Smile.

 

The flames of inspiration are also ignited when I share wonderful times with those closest to me—like my mom who took me with her to Bali.

 

Other golden moments included traveling with my partner to Sicily for his 50th. and also travelling one year with 12 fabulous photographers to Puglia, Italy to learn photography tips from the uber-inspiring Carla Coulson. definitely refueled my  waning inspiration. You can see some of my photos and  the other inspiration-seeking photographers here—https://carlacoulson.com/they-had-a-dream-and-look-where-it-took-them/

Finally got my panning shot…yay…red Vespa in Bari

I love food photography! Here’s my fig shot!

 

What’s Your Inspiration Plan?

Often when people are feeling stressed they tell me they don’t have enough time to do what they know will make them feel inspired. They tell me that they feel drained, sluggish and lack energy. Rather than default to a time management plan, consider creating a maximizing energy plan.

One of my client’s, who was recovering from serious depression, chose to call hers a sustainable energy plan. Things you may wish to consider including are:

  • What times of the day do you experience your peak mental energy?
  • What time of day is your physical energy at the optimum?
  • What foods give you energy? Which deplete you or only give a short-term benefit?
  • What people and situations give you energy? Which deplete your energy?

Plan to make changes to your daily schedule so that your energy flows rather than stagnates. No excuses! All the time in the Universe won’t help you achieve your goals if you’re too run down to achieve them. Manage your energy—and your sanity!

Here’s a brief sample of my new energy plan:

  • I will totally eliminate alcohol consumption for three months and journal how I feel
  • I will stop taking on new projects before I’ve finished current ones
  • I will increase my spiritual practices, including a daily practice of meditation and Kundalini Yoga, and listening to talks by spiritual teachers, and reading their books, to both strengthen and learn new skills.
  • I will rise early and begin my day with a walking meditation
  • I will do less listening to people rant and rage, and more self-care by walking away (respecting their right to express themselves and my right to protect my energy).
  • I will stop procrastinating by releasing my unreasonable demand for perfection and enjoy instead the creative process of alllowing
  • I will do more beckoning the world to kindness and follow the inspiration set by Lady Gaga to  Turn kindness into plutonium and change the world.”
  • I will stop trying to “fix” other people or get them to see and do things our way, instead of accepting them for who they are and accepting their choices
  • I will surrender to spiritual guidance

 

Could you do Christmas sober?

I stopped drinking booze two days before Christmas in 2016. Can you imagine Christmas sober? And New Years, and then the work week, the weekends with friends?

And guess what. I DO NOT miss it one little bit? What made it easier? Getting angry. Angry at the people killed by drunk drivers, angry at the increase in domestic violence and murders, angry at normally placid young men locked in prison for alcohol-related offences—and angry at the lies the booze barons tell to feed people’s addictions and line their own wallets.

Angry, and gutted and sad when Amy Winehouse drank herself to death.

I’m not angry in a negative way, I’m angry in an empowered way. And I’m glad my stand has encouraged my daughter, now in her 20’s, to give booze a break too. Last year she went to see Adele sing in Auckland. I’m gutted she’ll never get to see Amy Winehouse. That nobody will be to see Amy Winehouse—and thousands of other people whose lives are lost to booze.

“The world often continues to allow evil because it isn’t angry enough.” ~ Bede Jarrett.

Are you angry enough to control alcohol before it controls you?

Many people struggle to control alcohol because they’re not motivated by sobriety. But being sober isn’t just about not drinking.

Sobriety is achieved by putting energy and effort toward something you really desire.

Knowing why you want something is just as important as knowing what you want.

Why do you want to control your drinking? To feel better about yourself? To achieve wellbeing goals? Because you’re afraid that your drinking it taking over your body and your life? To inspire others? Because you’re curious that what you’ve been hearing is true—life really is better sober? Or something else?

Here are just a few benefits of achieving sobriety:

• Improved mental health and wellbeing

• Better physical health

• Improved emotional health

• Elevated spiritual health

• Saves money

• Enriches your relationships

• Is an indispensable part of fulfillment

• Energizes you

• Liberates you

• Will change your life and the lives of those who matter most to you

Being sober sounds great, and it is. But the challenge is that so many of us have been brainwashed into believing it’s awesome to be drunk.

 

If you’d like to trial a period of sobriety I write about the life-changing benefits of giving up alcohol in several of my books, including, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, Your Beautiful Mind, and Mind Over Mojitos: How Moderating Your Drinking Can Change Your Life. Sobriety is a superpower—when you detox your mind and body you free your soul.

 

Resilience Is the key to thriving

The key to being inspired and attracting everything we want to is master the art of resilience. As I say in Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, resilient people are flexible, they bend with the winter gales and arc with the summer breeze. When the fury of a hurricane knocks them down, they get back up again— and it’s the getting back up that elevates your bounce.

In the absence of deflation, you become like a magnet for more greatness. This is your attracting power. When you feel good and align with inspired love, your energy radiates a signal to the Universe. Your energy vibrates the clear message that you’re aligned with joy and you’re up for more if it.

We need to be tough in a way that enables us to bounce back from setbacks, get up the next day, and start over again. Resilience is a mental, emotional and spiritual muscle—it’s one we can and must exercise regularly and make stronger.

To be resilient we must learn to set our own standards and have the confidence not to be distracted or disempowered by others who may try to set standards for us.

Resilience can be learned. There is a myriad of resources helping people create greater mental and emotional health, spiritual empowerment and personal strategies like exercise, relaxation, exorcize anger and frustrations and finding the positive.

Sometimes I’m more resilient than other times, and when the balance of power tilts in favor of the negative I amplify my resilience strategies.

It’s not easy to stay inspired, sometimes life is struggle, but a groundswell of research and personal success stories point to resilience as the key to survival.

That’s why I meditate every day, and kick off with my MAGIC mornings routine (meditation, affirmation, goals, inspiration, co-creation). As Tim Ferriss writes in his book, Tool of Titans. “When you win the morning you win the day.”

 

If you’ve lost your mojo, check out this video…

 

Reminding yourself of golden moments can rekindle a spark you thought you have lost, and remind you of things to do to get your mojo back.

Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this.

You might like:

 Why Being Inspired Matters: The Spontaneous Fulfillment and Healing Power of Joy

Four Good Reasons for Starting a Passion Journal

Why Pursuing Your Passion Not Your Pension is The Ultimate Mid-Life Career Change Strategy

6 Things Successful People Do To Become & Stay Motivated & Happy

Why Sobriety is Cool, Sophisticated, and Savvy

How stepping away from your work can boost your mood, reduce anxiety and spark joy

Friday, October 12th, 2018

 

Workaholism is an addiction for many passionate people. Others use overwork to medicate their unhappiness in other areas of their life—most commonly dissatisfaction with their relationships.

When you work slavishly, particularly at something you love, your brain releases chemicals called opiates which create feelings of euphoria. No wonder it’s hard to step away!

Euphoria stems from the Greek word euphoría—the power of enduring easily. But consider what the state of endurance implies. Enduring implies force or strain, or gritting your teeth and bearing it at times. Force or strain with no respite leads to stress, overload, and burnout—robbing you of vital energy and depleting your millionaire mindset.

Many people find when they don’t step away from their work they suffer disillusionment, and things that once filled them with passion, including their current writing projects, no longer fills them with joy. Resentment builds and relationships with family, friends, and colleagues can also suffer.

Working addictively offers a short-term fix, but lasting happiness needs variety and nourishment. Being with family or friends, engaging in a hobby, spending time in nature, learning something new, helping others, or just being solitary will help you avoid burnout, nourish your brain, heart, and soul, improve your judgment, and restore harmony.

To be truly happy and successful, you must be able to be at peace when you are working and when you are at rest.

Leonardo da Vinci would often take breaks from his work to refresh his mind and spirit. While others claimed that he took too long to finish things, he knew the importance of replenishing his focus to maintain a clear perspective.

Here we are still talking about him over 500 years later.

“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen,” he once said.

Leonardo also valued sleep, noting in one of his journals that some of his best insights came when his mind was not working.

Even if you love the work that you do, and think your current obsession is the greatest thing since women were allowed to vote, it’s fun to get away from it and have objective-free time to unwind and reset.

One of my author friends shared recently how she was feeling totally overwhelmed and close to burnout. To sustain her life, and her career, she’s promising herself a reward for all her long hours—three-months off over winter. She’s planning to go on a retreat, somewhere warm, maybe the Bahamas or Mexico.

“The whole point of living life is to enjoy it, right?! I’m coming to grips with that mindset,” she wrote to me.

Schedule time out—and be firm with yourself. Stay away from anything that feeds your addiction.

When you return to your work, your focus will be surer, your vision refreshed, and your confidence bolder.

 

Rest

When your stress levels are high and you get depressed, angry, tense, and lethargic, or begin to experience tension headaches, it should be a very simple biofeedback signal that you need to stop, re-evaluate your choices and take some time out.

Sometimes this can be easier said than done. In our overachiever, overstimulated society, where many people spend more hours every week with their eyes riveted to their iPhone, instead of spending quality time on their own or with family and friends, the whole concept of stopping and resting to restore ourselves seems unusual. But resting to replenish is essential to well-being.

We’re pushing ourselves all day long with energy that we don’t have. The most common complaint people take to the doctor is fatigue. Research conducted by a company helping people suffering from adrenal fatigue claims that 80% of people don’t have as much energy as they’d like to have.

“It’s because we’re pushing and using caffeine, sugar and energy drinks and nicotine and stress for energy rather than running on our own energy.”

Long-term stress and long-term cortisol will literally alter a person’s hormonal profile.

Rest allows the adrenal glands to restore, enabling cortisol levels to return to normal. Long-term stress and long-term cortisol overload can lead to adrenal fatigue and burn-out, altering your hormonal profile, changing your personality, and making it more difficult to return to the real, inspired, happy and creative you.

Give yourself permission to take time every day and every week to have fun, rest your mind and rest your body.

 

Get outside

It’s hard to feel fantastic when you’re suffering from low mood. Very often a lack of outside time is the culprit. You’re like a flower—you need at least 20 minutes of sunlight every day just to make your hormones work effectively and enable you to blossom to your fullest potential.

To feel and behave normally you need to be exposed to full-spectrum daylight on a regular basis. Medical research suggests some people need as much as two hours a day of sunlight to avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Combine outside time with exercise like walking and not only will you get the light you need, but you’ll also recharge your batteries.

Walking outside can also help you gain a new perspective on a troubling situation. When you for a walk, you increase the electrical activity in your brain, and you breathe negative ions and see three-dimensionally.

All this helps you see with fresh eyes the things which are worrying you. Often you’ll find that things are not as bad as they first appear, or discover a relatively simple solution.

Monitor how much time you spend indoors. Bounce away from habits that so many people have, like spending too many hours inside in front of two-dimensional computer monitors and TV screens, and then topping off a 12-hour day at work by trying to read themselves to sleep on their Kindle. These are all two-dimensional visual activities, which seldom spark joy.

Let mother earth, the sea, and the infinite sky boost your mood. Get outside and allow the sun and outside energy to lift your spirits. Schedule regular fresh air time. Improve your breathing, and take a brisk walk to increase your oxygen levels.

My friend Jim from negativeionizers.net has recently written a detailed article on negative ion benefits for your health here https://negativeionizers.net/negative-ions-benefits. If you’d like to see what a good ionizer looks like then check this detailed review of the best 3 negative ionizers that Jim has found on Amazon for 2018.

If you are interested in reading more about how to boost your happiness, overcome obstacles, and elevate your success you may enjoy reading Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Cassandra Gaisford, available for preview or purchase heremyBook.to/Bounce.

Why passion is a powerful healing tool

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

“Passion is a lot like ‘love’.  It’s hard, if not impossible, to define precisely, but easy to see and feel when it’s present.” ~ Cassandra Gaisford

Passion is a source of unlimited energy from the soul. Herein lies its power to heal. You need to only think of the times you’ve noticed passion’s clues to be reminded of the transformative power of this transcendental tool. Here are just a few:

• A burning desire or hunger

• A feeling of inspiration

• A feeling in the pit of the stomach

• A sense of excitement

• A state of arousal

• A feeling of limitless energy

• A clarity of vision

• A feeling that nothing is too much trouble

• A sense of caring deeply

• A feeling of contentment

 

These feelings expand our lives and imbue us with a sense of tenacity, courage, and possibility—amongst other energizing things. Without passion you don’t have energy and without energy? Well, you just feel flat. Here are a few other things that passion will do for you:

 

Passion helps you lead a bigger life

Passion boosts self-esteem

Passion is an indispensable part of success

Passion helps you achieve the ‘unachievable’

Passion energizes you

Passion liberates and frees you to be truly, authentically yourself

Passion opens doors and fresh horizons

Passion is good for your health

Passion helps you live longer

Passion gives you grit, perseverance and helps you endure

Passion helps you rewrite your life story

The above list is only a drop in the shimmering ocean of passion-fuelled possibility. 

 

My friend Carla Coulson, and uber-successful photographer, shared the following once,

An indescribable passion overtook me in those early days of photography that pushed me to continue when things got tough when the fear kicked in that this life as a photographer wouldn’t be possible – it was this passion that drove me on. The reward was so great simply holding an image I had created – it was like being filled with love.

My passion and love for photography have been my driving force,  more powerful than any other talent that I may possess. It is this love and passion for photography that makes me jump out of bed in the morning with a skip in my step, dying to start the day. Your passion will take you a long way, follow your passion,” Carla encourages.

Following your passion is a great antidote to the blues. Whether you refer to the things, people and situations that fill you with happiness as sparking passion, joy, love or desire, these powerful heart-felt emotions are natural opiates for your mind, body, and soul.

Personally and professionally I have found that following my passion has led me to my life purpose, and provided me with clarity during what would otherwise have been very despondent times. Passion provides the fuel, motivation, confidence, and faith to step outside my comfort zone and follow my soul’s code and honor my soul’s purpose.

For example, having a manager threaten to ‘smash my head in,’ and working with others who were bullies and tyrants, the relentless pursuit of profit at the expense of caring for people, and numerous work restructurings, motivated me to find a job that made me happy and gain my independence.

That and getting shingles—something I write about in my first trilogy of books in my Mid-Life Career Rescue series, The Call for Change, What Makes You Happy, and Employ Yourself.

Getting shingles was definitely my body’s way of getting my attention. As was seeing my colleagues suffer heart attacks. As Neale Walsch, the author of Conversations with God, says, “Judge not about which you feel passionate. Simply notice it, then see if it serves you, given who and what you wish to be.”

Rather than become bitter or play the victim, I thought, ‘how could I use my anger constructively to bring about change?’

I decided I wanted to help people find jobs that made them happy, and I wanted to help victims of workplace bullying. That was my why and my what.

 

Stepping Stones to Success

I started a career counseling business for an established workplace counseling organization before starting my own business (www.worklifesolutions.nz) going out on my own.

Working as an employee first gave me the experience and skills and, later, the confidence to fly free. I became more motivated to leave the ‘security’ of my salaried job, when the CEO changed and the new boss began criticizing me and tried to manage me—even though I was outperforming in all key areas of success. Increasingly, the job I once loved began to frustrate me.

It lacked challenge, my salary was capped, and—this was the clincher—I was finding it increasingly difficult to balance childcare. The final push, however, came when I did the math.

I worked out my hourly rate as a full-time salaried employee, versus what they charged me out per hour, and how much business I was bringing in for them, and came to the conclusion they were buying my skills, but they weren’t paying me enough. I could work less and earn and achieve more if I employed myself. I started to feel excited!

How You Can Find Your Passion

To harness the power of passion, notice the times you feel strong emotions. These could be feelings of annoyance, irritation, and anger. Or they could be eagerness and preoccupation, excitement and animation. Sometimes the strongest passions can be a deep sense of peace and calm. I experienced this ‘clarity’ recently when somebody was yelling and raging at me. Instead of wilt, I felt a strong sense of knowing that this person’s behavior and their attempts to project guilt and blame were his own issues, not mine.

Notice when these feelings arise and consider recording them in a dedicated passion journal. Go deeper. If you are looking for career guidance, for example, you may consider asking, “How could I make a living from my passion?” or “How do others make a living from things that excite or motivate me?”

If you are in need of a relationship rescue the following questions may generate answers, “How is this person, or these events, guiding me to my highest good?”

Explore possibilities. Even a simple Google search, or generating ideas with others could get you started down the right path.

You may wish to pray for guidance. The esoteric guide, A Course in Miracles has many wonderful prayers. The following A Course in Miracles prayer reads more as an affirmation, “I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience and I decide upon the good I would achieve. And, everything that happens to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.

A Course in Miracles also teaches “An untrained mind accomplishes nothing.” One of my key spiritual practices and success factors is my glass-two thirds full mindset. Sometimes others with a more pessimistic mindset are critical of my optimism. But again, everything is energy. If you want to flourish during times of upheaval, bringing balance during times of distress, discord, disharmony is vital.

I recently wrote a book to share my exact strategy for creating a passion-driven life and business which shows you how to manifest your deepest desires—The Passion-Driven Business Planning Journal:The Effortless Path to Manifesting Your Business and Career Goals

Personally, I have found writing this book and others like, Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy to be very good healing tools and companions as I navigated some particularly torrential currents that have careered through my personal life. For example, today I turned to one of the strategies I share in Bounce and turned to my trusted oracle cards, The Mind/Body Makeover. This 70-card deck and instruction booklet was created by neuropsychiatrist and medical intuitive Dr. Mona Lisa Schulz to help rewire the emotional patterns that increase our chances of succumbing to physical illness, depression, and anxiety.

Today I drew the card, Healthy Joy. “If we don’t have a life purpose or a dream that we are working to the cell our lives can feel as if they have no meaning. To survive and thrive emotionally everyone needs a dream, a future orientated goal,” counsels Dr. Schulz.

This card speaks about the positive impact of pursuing your life purpose and warns of the dangers of overly centering your life on your partner or children—because if they leave your quality of life can suffer.

As a lightworker, holistic psychologist, counselor, and author, helping others fills me with a deep sense of purpose. I love to help people find meaning, and even joy, in even the most difficult times.

Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience and Find, and the accompanying Companion Workbook, is a particularly important work to me in this respect. I shall be leaning on more of the wisdom within this book over the next few days and weeks—and also working on several new books to teach what I still need to learn!

 

Overcoming Resistance

To leverage off the healing power of passion and find success the following things are also important:

• An overriding sense of your purpose for being here—your authentic calling

• A vision and an idea of the right direction for your work and life

• Consistent action and continually taking steps, i.e. Doing what lies before you today, tomorrow, next week…

• A willingness to show up every day with your gifts and talents, often in the face of fear and resistance

 

Begin with The End in Mind

A very powerful strategy to overcome resistance is to begin with the end in mind. Tap into the power of your heart, see your end goal as already accomplished. Allow your body to feel the exact feelings you sense you’ll feel when you have achieved your end goal. They may be, love, excitement, joy, satisfaction, or pride.

This is why I love, love, love creating a passion journal.

In my passion journal,  I often draw a timeline. You may like to try this too. For example, if you would like to quit a job you hate and employ yourself mark on it the year and date when you would like your passion-driven business to go live. Feel that goal as already achieved. Then look along that timeline and note all the steps and things you did to achieve your end goal. Note these on your timeline.

A timeline helps you see and feel the end result before you begin. It’s a powerful and simple way to free up any perceived or real fears and blockages.

I like to think of all my goals as projects, including my recent commitment to sobriety. And I always like to visualize what it will feel like when I’ve actually finished a project. I don’t want to wait until the project is finished. I want that feeling of achievement and excitement now! When I look at my visualisation and my passion journal I’m also rewarded with a big juicy dopamine hit!

 

Building the Home of Your Dreams

I applied this strategy when I visualized building a house on the back of my old villa in Wellington many years ago. At the time, everyone thought achieving my desire was an impossible dream. Even I knew it was audacious—I was a single working mother with no savings.

But I didn’t let that stop me from throwing my energy into seeing the house built. To feed my desire and overcome resistance I imagined how beautiful my home could be. I felt the evening sun on my face.

I heard the birdsong in the trees. I saw every aspect of what I wanted—the colors, the expanses of glass. I felt the lovely stone bench tops. I tasted the meals I would cook for friends. I fed my motivation to actually build a house from scratch.

To feed my desire, generate ideas, increase clarity and fuel a sense of possibility I created image boards and gathered clippings of what I wanted to manifest.

I also broke the project into manageable chunks to avoid feeling overwhelmed and also to counteract my fears around cost escalations. I sourced my team—builders, architects, and other pros. In short, I began with the end in mind and broke the project into manageable steps and drew up a project plan.

Don’t get me wrong—I am no passionate planner. I am naturally organic and spontaneous. But when the need and the desires arise we are all capable of mastering the skills we need. But first I worked to my preferences and strengths and began creatively.

I like creating projects because they make things seem more manageable. They usually have beginnings and endings, and often tangible concrete results.

Some of my projects have included things like publishing books, building websites, beginning a blog, creating companies and personal brands, generating products and services, and customers.

As you start to surround yourself with tangible evidence of possibilities and to chart your progress, inspiration, desire, and love build. Suddenly your dreams are no longer dreams but living realities.

Be sure to include completion deadlines—these can flex if need be, but have a date to work to. Reward yourself each time you complete a milestone; much like builders do when they have the roof shout.

Share your completion deadlines with a supportive cheerleader or nag buddy. This is the reason so many entrepreneurs use business coaches and mentors. Being accountable is motivating.

Unless you start taking action toward living with more passion and purpose, unless you’re closer to achieving it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow, your resistance will bury you.

Khalil Gibran said this poignantly when he wrote: “Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning to the funeral.”

Cast off from those safe, but dull shores. Break free of the comfort rut and embrace the most comfortable feeling of all. Passionate purpose!

 

EXTRA HELP

Find Your Passion and Purpose: Four Easy Steps to Discover A Job You Want And Live the Life You Love by Cassandra Gaisford. To purchase your copy click here to go to your online bookshop.

Be supported with practical, inspirational, easy-to-access strategies to achieve your dreams. Follow your passion and purpose to prosperity—online course. Click here to enrol or find out more—https://the-coaching-lab.teachable.com/p/follow-your-passion-and-purpose-to-prosperity

To book an appointment or learn more about Cassandra’s wellness-therapies, including how QTC can help you achieve rapid, lasting, transformational change click here >>

Learn more about Cassandra from reading Testimonials to her work.

You might like:

 Why Being Inspired Matters: The Spontaneous Fulfillment and Healing Power of Joy

Four Good Reason for Starting a Passion Journal

Why Pursuing Your Passion Not Your Pension is The Ultimate Mid-Life Career Change Strategy

6 Things Successful People Do To Become & Stay Motivated & Happy

Why sobriety is cool, sophisticated, and savvy

How to unlock your destiny, heal the past, manifest a wonderful future

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

What really inspires me is feeling like there is something you IMPROVE ON. I’m a rare mix of 50 % rational, cognitive and 50% intuitive, empath. Devoted to finding my soul purpose from an early age, I’ve spent many hours and invested a significant amount of time and money finding ways to transcend difficult situations and emerge stronger and more empowered. I’ve found personally and professionally the best solutions are positive, holistic, inspirational and practical ones.

2017 was a deeply transformational year for me. I completed my Reiki Master Teacher– Master Level of the Usui-Tibetan System of Natural Healing on the 5th of September, 2017, Balian Beach, near Tabanan, Bali with renown Reiki teacher, Alison Eaton.
And I also was gifted with the incredible opportunity to receive my Akashic Records Soul History Level 2  training in healing, transformation and manifestation using the quantum energy of the Akashic Records, one-to-one with Chris Wilson, author The Magic of the Akashic Records: Understanding Our Soul History.
I first discovered the Akashic records while researching my historical novel Mona Lisa’s Secret. I know personally and professionally how powerful it is and I am excited to be sharing this truly transformational and life-changing experience with you.

What are the Akashic Records?

The Akashic Records are a spiritual tool that contains the soul history record of your life on earth. They are the gateway to your soul and provide an energetic blueprint of your unique and authentic highest self. Some people describe the Akashic Records as, ‘energetic connective tissue’. It is a powerful transformational energy which, when channeled effectively, yields rapid transformational results.

Your unique soul reading will help you to discover who you truly and who you are destined to be at this point in your life. Your mastersteachers, guides and loved ones in Spirit are waiting to answer all of your questions and help you shift anything that is out of alignment with your true self and highest potential.

If you have any worries, questions or concerns or there is a situation in your life that you are ready to unblock and shift, the answers are waiting for you in your Akashic records. Finding these answers is simple and effortless. An opening prayer will open the Akashic space, and then we can move directly into answering, shifting, and healing the elements most important to you.

The Akashic Records are a space of pure love, non-judgment, non-fear, and non-resistance. It is a completely beautiful, open and safe place to shift anything that is coming up for you. Your unique soul reading will help you to discover who you truly and who you are destined to be at this point in your life. Your mastersteachers, guides and loved ones in Spirit can heal wounds and traumas, take the darkness and turn it into pure light, Confusion willl be turned into clarity, uncertainty into confidence, anger, into acceptance, purpose, and peace, hatred into love.

Accessing your Akashic records will reveal hidden strengths and treasures and make sense of past hurts so that you are able to come to your fullest potential.

How will an Akashic Records Soul Reading reading help you?

  • Your Soul Reading will help move stagnant energy and transform situations in your life that are stuck
  • Discover, and clear energy blocks preventing you from achieving your highest potential
  • Confirm areas of passion and prosperity
  • Provide added confidence and clarity to guide you in the right direction
  • Accelerate your ability to achieve your soul’s purpose
  • Enable you to claim and stand in your power
  • Access and discover your soul’s path
  • Easily step into your authentic self and move into your true life purpose.
  • Live a life of happiness and joy
  • Take your life from ordinary to extraordinary…..amongst many other wonderful things

Healing through the Akashic Records

The Akashic records are a profoundly powerful way to gain healing in your life and connect directly with your soul. They provide transformation at the deepest level

Family and Ancestral Patterns

We all have patterns, habits, belief systems that have been passed down for generations. They say we hold onto the karma of our ancestors seven generations back. Opening your Akashic Records can help you heal and release these old patterns.

Energetically removing these belief systems and ancestral wounds from your consciousness, understanding and making peace with them will free you to achieve your highest potential

Past Lives

Whether you believe it or not we have all had past lives. You may have heard it said, that we are spiritual beings having a human experience on this earth. Our souls reincarnate to help shift and release old patterns. Accessing and understanding what past lives you have experienced, and which ones are affecting you NOW in this lifetime will help you makes sense of so many aspects impacting you in the here and now and guide you toward a happier, more inspired future.

Relationships

Healing relationships with yourself and with others,  whether through self-acceptance or forgiveness of others, will help you find freedom in and joy in your life.  You will open up to new awareness and release fears and resistance you once held in your relationships. You will discover and find truth in your current situation and move into acceptance and love.

Careers

An Akashic Soul Reading will help you discover your true soul purpose – the reason you have incarnated in this life, and provide meaning and purpose to situations that may have previously held you back.  Any negative experiences will be transcended with renewed passion, so you can fulfill your soul’s potential. You will open up to new confidence, belief, and determination to do the work you were born to do.

How Clients Have Benefited 

“While I had a tiny bit of knowledge about Akashic readings I was unaware of how deep this experience would be and how accurate the information would be. The whole reading was profoundly comforting as I felt during it, and have continued to feel, a sense of ‘coming home’ to myself. It makes sense of so many aspects about myself in the here and now and explains so much about me and my past 60 years. I woke this morning with a feeling of wholeness not experienced before and I am looking at my life with a whole new awareness. A wonderful experience, thank you so much.”

~ Catherine S.

 

“I have been buzzing the whole time after my Soul Reading, mostly I feel so different, I wake up thinking differently, I find myself just ‘being’ with people and finding my reactions so different. I have so much more energy. I am excited to be in the world.”

~ Eileen S.

“It was the first day at work today and I loved it! So good to be back in the industry I read my husband out my Akashic Soul Reading reading, he didn’t say much—just what did I think of it. I told him I thought on the mark! It’s been a pretty crazy period in my life. It’s nice having time out from overthinking to be actually doing. As a result of the reading, I’ve experienced a movement of energy and am inspired again, finally!”

~ Terri D.

“Thanks so much for the reading.   I found it very interesting.   One of the things I thought after I sent you my questions was “aaargh”, I should have asked about my real passion: property and what I can look forward to there” but it seems I didn’t need to ask as you hit on to that straight away.”

~ Lisa V.

Experience the magic and alchemy of the Akashic records for yourself. Schedule your Akashic Soul Reading Today.

If you would love to understand your past and unlock your future, schedule your personalized reading here

Learn more about my approach from reading Testimonials to my work.

 

Enjoy that article? Here are three more things you might like:

Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews

on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.

Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.

Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.

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Does talk therapy actually work?

Monday, August 6th, 2018

 

One of my clients Romana drew the image above. The title ‘naval gazer’ accurately sums up what can happen when too much time is spent dwelling on problems, suppressing pain, and not enough time healing, actively evaluating options and challenging any unhelpful assumptions. In a state of paralysis, many people get bogged down.

Sometimes, a simple but effective way to get unstuck is to explore a range of different thinking styles – ideally, ones that challenge crippled thinking, open up possibilities and move you into a state of inspired, solutions-focused action. This is where working with a therapist can help. However, many people resist going to see a counselor or therapist because they assume that all they will achieve from the session is ruminating on their problems and more navel-gazing.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. A skilled counselor can not only provide much-needed support but also act as an objective, independent sounding board who can help you get to the root of your issues, add a liberal dose of much-needed empathy and understanding and support you to make the changes necessary to empower your life. As one of my clients told me, “It wasn’t until someone listened to me, really listened, that I knew what I really thought.”

All too often, no one gives us the space to think or express our emotions. Well-meaning family members, work colleague, friends and even strangers may dispense advice—not all of it is helpful. Take the example of Simon whose wife of thirty-years had recently died. “You just need to suck it up and get on with it,” a friend told him. Working through his grief in therapy proved to be a much more helpful and healing approach.

“I thought I should be able to handle it. I told myself I wouldn’t get upset, ” he told me.

“Who told you that when you lose someone you love very, very much that you shouldn’t feel something?” I asked. He shrugged.

We both agreed it was natural to cry. I suggested that if he didn’t feel anything – if he didn’t feel loss, or grief, sadness or pain, he would be inhuman. Cognitively we can often fool our minds, but the heart is often our greatest, and most honest, teacher.

In our Western culture, so many people, particularly men, bottle up their feelings. So many negative emotions are stuffed down and repressed.Some experts say that these repressed feelings are contributing factors behind the escalating rates of depression, anxiety, alcohol addiction, drug abuse, and suicide.

Tom, whose sister took her own life when he was in his earlier 20’s recalls his parents praising him for showing a lack of emotion, “Good boy for not crying,” they told him. Bottling trauma is neither helpful nor good.

Now in his fifties, Tom suffers from mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Rather than seek help releasing these feelings, including anger toward his parents, he abuses alcohol in an attempt to anaesthetize dark feelings. And he’s not alone. As I share in my books, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol and Love Life More, and Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life) a great many people drink alcohol to mask or numb the symptoms of their wounds.

No one escapes walking in this world without some degree of hurt. But for many people, this hurt is profoundly deep. The first cuts, experts (and songwriters) say are the deepest—very often these wounds are inflicted during childhood. Tragically, what should be a happy time of innocence is one of incalculable pain. Incest, rape, physical abuse, emotional neglect—and many more horrid things happen to people growing up.

Many wounded souls never receive therapy. Reasons vary. For some, it appears too costly, for others they think that talking to a therapist make them weak. Tony Soprano, one of the toughest characters to storm across our TV screens in the award-winning show, The Sopranos, sought therapy to deal with repressed emotions which contributed to his anxiety attacks.

In 2017 movie superstar Brad Pitt revealed he had a shocking drinking problem that wrecked his marriage and tore his young family apart. “I feel retarded when it comes to expressing my emotions,” he said as he opened up about his battle with alcohol. To help him kick the alcohol habit he opted to face his demons and learn how to express and handle emotions by seeking the services of a qualified and skilled counselor.

Asking for help, whether this is addiction counseling, relationship therapy, coaching to deal with stress at work, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, or something else, isn’t easy for many successful people. However, it’s often what you need to gain a fresh perspective, overcome obstacles, heal wounds and expand your life. You may like to check out this interesting series discussing why men struggle to express their feelings.

As a qualified counselor and holistic therapist, I know that very often integrative talk-therapy which draws on an eclectic range of techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) and other modalities, including creative and art-based techniques can be extremely effective.

Therapy needn’t be gloomy. A lot of healthy healing can be achieved using playfulness and fun. Personally and professionally I believe in magic and the power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to transform peoples’ lives. These are also scientifically-validated tools that enhance spiritual health and aid recovery.

Creativity in its various guises is a natural antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression, which explains why art therapy is such a potent and popular tool. Art therapy is a form of experiential therapy, an approach to recovery and healing that addresses emotional and spiritual needs through creative or physical activity. People don’t need to have a background in the arts or any artistic talent to participate. They need only to be open to experiencing and engaging actively to benefit.

I have trained in a technique called Interactive Drawing Therapy and have found it to be an incredible tool in my own life and in my sessions with others. The simplest of drawings, a line, a color, a scrawled phrase or word can powerfully access parts of the psyche we often repress, bringing unhelp subconscious belief to light. In an alchemical process, wounds are spun into gold.

When I first trained in Interactive Drawing Therapy the teacher asked for a volunteer. No hands were raised so he picked me. What harm could it do, I thought, being as skilled as I was at keeping a lid firmly on my feelings.

“Draw an animal,” he said.

Sure, I thought. Great. Harmless. I drew a giraffe.

“Put some color on the page,” the teacher gently guided.

My giraffe became pink with green, purple and yellow spots. What fun I thought.

“Where is she?” the teacher asked. “Draw this on the page.”

I drew large grey and black rectangles, symbolizing office blocks, cars belching smoke, and a road, not unlike Lambton Quay, in Wellington, New Zealand where I went to work in a job I hated every weekday.

“Put some words on the page,” the teacher whispered.

“She doesn’t want to stand out.”

And then it dawned on me, just as the words slipped onto the page. That giraffe was me. And the fact was I did stand out—naturally. I had always been different. And I had struggled unsuccessfully to belong.

“She can’t help but stand out,” my tutor affirmed. “It’s who she is.”

For me, this awareness was so new, so potent, so transformative, that I knew instantly there was work to do. I began to understand the deep social anxiety I had felt as a child and carried with me through adolescence—and with it the drinking and reckless behavior I had adopted to belong, to bolster the confidence I never felt, to hide the discomfort of living in my own skin.

When I completed my counseling training many years ago I was also introduced to Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). REBT originated in the mid-1950s as Ellis became increasingly aware and frustrated by the ineffectiveness of traditional psychoanalysis to produce a change in his patients.

The REBT worldview is that people often make themselves emotional victims by their own distorted, unrealistic, and irrational thinking patterns. Ellis takes an essentially optimistic view of people but criticizes some humanistic approaches as being too soft at times and failing to address the fact that people can virtually “self-destruct” through irrational and muddled thinking.

According to Ellis and the REBT worldview, all people are born with self-defeating tendencies. When something goes against your goals, your values or desires, feelings of failure, rejection, etc., can set in; but you have a choice.

You have a choice of feeling terrified, panicky, depressed, self-pitying, self-doubting, etc.—and succumbing to these emotions.

But these feelings can prevent you from making positive changes—and may drive you to drink, for example.

Which emotion you choose, according to REBT practitioners, is thought to mainly depend on your belief system—not your goals and values, but what you tell yourself when your goals and values are thwarted or blocked.

We all have a rational set of beliefs called “preferences.” In this context, “rational” means self-helping beliefs, such as, “I don’t like what is going on.” “I wish it weren’t so.” “How annoying?” “Let’s see what I can do about it.”

Many people very frequently pick irrational beliefs, referred to as “demands,” such as, “Because I don’t like what is going on, it absolutely should not be allowed.” “It can’t happen.” “I can’t stand it.” “Everyone should love me–if they don’t, I am worthless.” “It’s horrible, I think I’ll give up” (or, when taken to the extreme, “I’ll kill myself”).

Ellis’ therapeutic approach is not to challenge the clients’ goals and values, but instead attack their absolute demands about achieving these values. The emphasis of the therapy is on changing the way the client thinks about the behavior or the upsetting event, rather than on changing the behavior itself.

This is a critical point—it is not the actual event but our view of the event that is critical.

The task of the REBT therapist is to help clients’ challenge and self-correct thought patterns and minimize irrational ideas, while simultaneously helping them to change their dysfunctional feelings and behaviors. Challenging the irrational statement is key to changing an entire philosophy of life.

The ABCDEF Method

Perhaps Ellis’s most important concrete methodological contribution is his A-B-C–D-E-F theory, which can be summarized as follows:

A – the “objective” facts, events, behaviors that an individual encounters. (I call this, ‘the activating event’).

B – the person’s beliefs about ‘A’

C – the emotional consequences, or how a person feels and acts about ‘A’

D – disputing ‘B’ irrational beliefs

E – the effect that disputation has on the client

F – new feelings and behaviors

 

Example:

I helped a friend apply the ABCDE method following a Boxing Day alcohol-fuelled drama which impacted his son. The following is an edited extract (I have changed names to protect people’s privacy):

A – the activating event and “objective” facts, events, behaviors encountered.

Following Boxing Day, Tim, who is nineteen, rang and told his father, Simon about an alleged assault between him and his mother’s new boyfriend. Tim says both his mom and her boyfriend were drunk.

 

B – the beliefs about ‘A’

Simon is waiting to speak to the ‘old-one’ (his ex) to determine the facts but believes his son’s account of what happens.  The ‘old one’ is not returning his call.

He believes the reason she is not returning his call is because she is at fault, and that an assault did occur.

 

C – the emotional consequences, or how Simon feels and acts about ‘A’

Simon’s emotions are heightened. He’s feeling frustrated, powerless, angry, resentful and fearful for his son’s safety. Yet, aspects of his son’s version of what happened concern him. He feels confused as to what really occurred.

Simon drinks 3 bottles of beer and goes to the bottle store to buy more.

Simon believes alcohol relaxes him, minimizes stress, and helps him stay calmer and in control while he waits.

Over the course of the evening (3 hours), he drinks five 500ml bottles of beer (11 standard drinks.) Feeling stressed, I join him—minimizing my drinking by consuming small quantities in six crystal glasses (in total 500 ml, or 2.2 standard drinks.)

After speaking to ‘the old one’ and his son on a three-way call, and resolving all misunderstandings, I asked how he feels now that he knows his son is not at risk. He shuts me down and says, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

He doesn’t speak to me again that evening.

 

D – disputing ‘B’ irrational beliefs

Rather than work myself into a state, I challenged my belief that by drinking with Simon we would both be relaxed. Alcohol is a depressant, it depletes your energy, and increases symptoms of stress already triggered by external events, I reminded myself.

It increases anxiety, melancholy, gloom, and aggression, which is why Tim’s mom and her partner argued, and why Tim ‘lunged’ at this stepfather when he told him to mind his business.

I counsel myself, “Alcohol is ethanol, a flammable, colorless chemical compound—it’s poison, also used to fuel cars, masquerading as a happy drink.”

 

E – effect that disputation has

The episode strengthened my resolve never to drink during times of stress, and my conviction that I don’t want to ingest poisons.

Simon’s knowledge that his ex is an alcoholic causes him to question his own dependency on alcohol during times of stress.

This change in thinking affects Simon by making him more committed to controlling his drinking and being a role model to his son.

 

F – new feelings and behaviors

Simon and I felt calmer and more optimistic about the benefits of not drinking.

Simon felt more empowered and in control now that he has discovered the truth about his ex’s drinking and how her relationship with a man who drinks excessively affects his son.

He decides to take control by helping Tim find a way to gain his independence and leave home, knowing that despite urging his ex to seek help for her drinking that, as with other times, this may have fallen on deaf ears.

Tim successfully finds work that he loves which means he is seldom at home and tells his father that alcohol has no place in his own life. Tim is happier sober!

 

As a holistic practitioner and life coach I also know there is a wide range of alternative healing approaches that yield remarkable, extremely quick results. It concerns me, and a lot of other health professionals, that too often people turn to antidepressant medication, Despite research that cites the lower effectiveness, for many people this still appears to be the solution of choice prescribed by many medical professions.

“Pills are cheap,” my doctor told me when I asked her why counseling wasn’t recommended to more people. It may be cheap, but worrying it is not always effective and the side-effects can also do more harm than healing. Rather than offer short-term help very often people come to rely on medical prescriptions for decades. In an extract from his book, Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected SolutionsJohann Hari, who took antidepressants for 13 years, says masking the pain does not offer long-term relief and calls for a new approach.

“I was a teenager when I swallowed my first antidepressant. I was standing in the weak English sunshine, outside a pharmacy in a shopping centre in London. The tablet was white and small, and as I swallowed, it felt like a chemical kiss. That morning I had gone to see my doctor and I had told him – crouched, embarrassed – that pain was leaking out of me uncontrollably, like a bad smell, and I had felt this way for several years. In reply, he told me a story. There is a chemical called serotonin that makes people feel good, he said, and some people are naturally lacking it in their brains. You are clearly one of those people. There are now, thankfully, new drugs that will restore your serotonin level to that of a normal person. Take them, and you will be well. At last, I understood what had been happening to me, and why.

However, a few months into my drugging, something odd happened. The pain started to seep through again. Before long, I felt as bad as I had at the start. I went back to my doctor, and he told me that I was clearly on too low a dose. And so, 20 milligrams became 30 milligrams; the white pill became blue. I felt better for several months. And then the pain came back through once more. My dose kept being jacked up, until I was on 80mg, where it stayed for many years, with only a few short breaks. And still the pain broke back through.”

You can read a summary of his views, including his claims of an over-riding profit motive by pharmaceutical companies, in his interview with The Guardian. ‘Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?”

A good therapist will often share strategies that can help you rebalance the hormones in your brain, or refer you to other health professionals like nutritionists and dietitians. There are a great many ways to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs, including meditation, exercise, sunlight, vitamins, and other low-cost approaches. Many will save you money, boost your health, help you reduce weight and improve your relationships—here I’m talking about eliminating or cutting back alcohol consumption.

Alcohol has been found to significantly reduce serotonin 45 minutes after drinking. As this article in SpiritScience claims, there is also a clear link between alcohol consumption and violence or other types of aggressive behavior. Aggression is also heavily linked to low serotonin levels and may be due to alcohol’s disrupting effects on serotonin metabolism.

In an article which appears in  Psychology Today, F. Diane Barth, a psychotherapist, and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City cites research confirming the ineffectiveness of antidepressant medication compared with other therapies, including talk therapy. In the November 2010 issue of Scientific American Mind: “Getting to Know Me: Psychodynamic therapy has been caricatured as navel-gazing, but studies show powerful benefits,” claims Jonathan Shedler. Shedler, is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and director of psychology at the University of Colorado Hospital Outpatient Psychiatry Service. As Barth notes, Shelder ‘combines anecdotes from clients and therapists with fascinating research to explain something that those of us who have practiced “insight” therapy (sometimes also called “talk” therapy) have known for a long time: psychodynamic psychotherapy works. It helps clients find solutions not only to specific symptoms but also to difficulties at work, in their social lives, and with self-esteem.

For example, Shedler writes, “One major study found an ‘effect size’-a measure of treatment benefit – of 0.97” for psychodynamic psychotherapy. “For CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), 0.68 is a typical effect size. For antidepressant medication, the average effect size is 0.31.”

Barth describes seven features that researchers have found contribute to the power and effectiveness of psychodynamic psychotherapy: “exploring emotions, examining avoidances, identifying recurring patterns, discussing past experience, focusing on relationships, and examining the patient/therapist relationship.”

As a result of counseling, many people choose to connect or reconnect with lapsed spiritual or religious rituals. I love integrating spiritual approaches into my ‘talk therapy.’ Many people have lost their union with God because of the hypocritical dogma which has polluted many faith systems. However, prayer, for example, comes in many shapes, colors, and textures.

Many recovering alcoholics, prosperous creatives and successful business people, including Deepak Chopra, Julia Cameron, Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay, refer to prayer in several forms, including describing it as the voice of God, intuition, higher self, inner goddess, or their Sacred Divine. In her book Illuminata: A Return to Prayer, Marianne Williamson, who also shares her early dysfunctional relationship with her mother, speaks of prayer as a way of “focusing our eyes,” dramatically transforming our orientation, releasing us “from the snares of lower energies,” and aligning “our internal energies with truth”.

Prayer, or invoking a higher power, is revered by many for its power to help them reclaim their strength, find their inner power and overcome tragedy. You may enjoy reading my earlier post on spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction—http://www.cassandragaisford.com/spiritual-approaches-to-the-treatment-of-alcohol-addiction/

 

Whether you elect to seek the services of a therapist, put your faith in God, divine wisdom, spirituality or something else, the truth is very often that safety, guidance, and strength comes from a place within. The right therapist can act as a much needed and much-valued guide who supports you to find solutions to your problems and develop strategies you can apply yourself to regularly to stay well.

 

 

Cassandra is a holistic psychologist, integrative counselor, life coach, and author. To book an appointment or learn more about her wellness-therapies, including how QTC can help you achieve rapid, lasting, transformational change click here >>

Learn more about Cassandra from reading Testimonials to her work.

 

You might like:

Quantum Transformational Coaching—all your questions answered

Savvy Sobriety: The new happiness trend you need to know

Spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction

 Why Being Inspired Matters: The Spontaneous Fulfillment and Healing Power of Joy

Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life: Justin Raj’s Journey to Joyful Sobriety

Life transformed by faith in the stars

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