How To Heal Your Pain

If I thought I could tell you how to heal your pain in one post then I would definitely need to get my head checked and retire as a life coach.  Just to clarify, when I use the word pain, I’m referring to physical, emotional, and mental pain; basically anything that causes you to suffer in your life.  If your pain causes you to suffer, then you are dealing with dirty pain and we want to get to the bottom of it and relieve your pain/suffering.  If your pain doesn’t cause you to suffer, then you are probably dealing with clean pain, or you’ve already done a lot of work on yourself and you are able to think clearer and more truthfully.  I’m going to give you an example of what exactly I mean when I say pain that causes you to suffer and pain that doesn’t cause you to suffer.

We, as humans, are excellent storytellers.  Some of us like to tell an uplifting and positive story (either through discipline or being blessed with a naturally optimistic viewpoint) while some of us like to tell our stories like we are victims of our life.  Let’s compare two women who have both gone through similar divorces.  The first woman tells herself that the divorce shouldn’t have happened, that she’ll be lonely forever, that she’ll never be loved again, and that she is worthless, while the second woman tells herself that this really is for the best, that there is no point to stay together if they don’t both love each other, that this will give her quality time to spend with herself, that she will find someone to share her life with again someday, and that she is a worthwhile person who just didn’t jive with her hubby anymore.  Now, I want to be very clear here!  Both women are still dealing with pain from the separation of a loved one, but this pain is clean.  Experiencing this clean pain is part of the healthy grieving process that everyone needs to go through when dealing with loss and major/minor catastrophic events.  The dirty pain that causes such suffering comes from the negative thoughts that the first woman has.  She is creating enormous amounts of stress in her body from the constant, spiralling negative thoughts she has about herself and her future.  Make sense?

So, if you are one of those people who are suffering from emotional, physical, or mental pain, how do you heal the pain?  How do you cure the pain?  If you’re looking for the magic pill to cure your depression, anxiety, worrisome thoughts, interstitial cystitis, back pain, fibromyalgia, unhappiness, sadness, weight issues, or any other chronic pain or uncomfortable and unwanted emotion, I’m sorry to say that you ain’t going to find it here, or anywhere else for that matter!  There is no magic pill.  No magic purple potion.  But there is definitely a way to cure your pain.  But it involves way more than choking down a horse pill.  You can heal your pain by starting on a dedicated, exhilarating, confusing, surprising, and fulfilling journey; a journey that isn’t a simple walk in the park, but a meaningful and worthwhile trek in an untamed jungle where the map is written in an obscure language.  It’s a journey of discovering who you really are and what you really want out of life.  So instead of handing you a magic potion, I can give you the magic ingredients.  I can provide you with information and useful tools for you to use over time, so slowly, you’ll get clearer and clearer and your pain will slowly disappear over time, just like how my interstitial cystitis disappeared.  Although I started my journey to relieve physical pain, my journey is now focused on following my feel good and living the life I was meant to live and serving the people I was meant to serve.  I am so thankful that I embarked on this journey, because I would definitely not be doing what lights me up if I hadn’t been blessed with a body that talked to me.

So keep on following me if you’re up for living an authentic, healthy, and life without pain…

A quote that helped me during times of pain:

“You can allow yourself to be a work of art, unique, intriguing, perhaps unusual, imperfect, not everybody’s style, but something to be treasured, always.” – Abigail Steidley

Click here to listen to Martha Beck coaches Abigail Steidley and Linda Ford talk about The Law of Attraction. It is a good example of how your thoughts cause your suffering. Enjoy!

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Me, Revealed (Pt.2)

If you haven’t already, why not read Me, Revealed (Pt.1) first?  It’ll make more sense and probably be more interesting to you as well!  🙂

It’s 2011. I remember posting on Facebook that this year was going to be one filled with excitement, new adventures, growth, and happiness. It will be my best year yet. Why, you ask? Because I’m signed up for Martha Beck’s Life Coach Training, so how could this year be anything but filled with excitement, new adventures, etc. WOW. That intention sure got lost in the universe. What actually happened in 2011 (the first half of it, at least) was the exact opposite. 2011 has been filled with panic, sadness, fear, embarrassment, anxiety, and a touch of depression. (I like to say “a touch of depression” because I don’t want to scare the bejeezus out of you too much. And it really was just “a touch of depression”.) It has been a full blown mess. An uncomfortable jumble of mess. I was wondering what the hell was happening to me. I was taking this amazing life coaching program and was surrounded with beautiful souls. Why was I all of a sudden paralyzed by anxiety? Why were these negative thoughts taking hold of my life? Why did these thoughts have so much power? Why had my trap door that let in worrisome, negative, and stressful thoughts into my mind grown so big? I’ve always had a fairly accessible trap door, but this wasn’t just your average front door anymore, it was now a 2-car garage door, and it was letting in thoughts that were taking over my life.

I should tell you that being exposed to numerous invaluable life coaching tools daily is pure awesomesauce (I’m pretty sure I stole that word from Bridgette Boudreau, but it’s a fantastic word I think everyone should use). But it can definitely bring up your “stuff”. In fact, if your “stuff” doesn’t get brought up, you should probably ask for a refund. But, you see, I had already spent two wonderful years with Master Mind-Body Coach Abigail Steidley prior to entering the world of life coach training. What was bothering me was why on earth would all of this crazy stuff be happening to me now? Why, on St. Patrick’s Day, did I start to feel a generalized sense of anxiety plague my work life? Why did my anxiety start to show up in my normal day-to-day life? Why did I start to feel so overwhelmed in social situations in which I would have never felt overwhelmed in? Why did I feel so overwhelmed so easily, period!?!? Why did I wake up every morning with a ball of anxiety stewing in my stomach? Why would my hands shake so much? Why did I not enjoy my days off anymore? Why did my fear of what people thought of me increase ten-fold? My thoughts were running ten miles per minute in my head. Being overtaken by my thoughts kept me dissociated to what was going on around me. I was so attached to my negative thoughts that I was spending an enormous amount of time in my head and not actually in the present moment with the real people that surrounded me in real time.

My days at work grew more and more stressful. I was playing the part of a dental hygienist but I was really a scared, uncomfortable girl trying to act like Meghan circa 2010 (pre-life-altering anxiety. Yes, I wished to be back in the day of my interstitial cysititis…*sigh*). My shaky hands and nervous stomach would accompany me throughout my whole day. It was like I had to give a presentation in front of hundreds of people, EVERY SINGLE DAY. I would go to work and wish that it was already 5:30pm, or that my whole day miraculously got cancelled. I would set up my room, tape my schedule to the wall, and pray that I could get through the day with maximum peace and ease and minimal embarrassment, pain, and discomfort. And if any of you know anxiety, the wishing and hoping and praying for the unwanted feelings to go away only invites them closer. I check in with my body to see how I’m doing after I say my prayer. Heart racing. Check. Tight airway making it hard to breathe. Check. Shaky hands and body. Check. Rush of heat throughout my body. Check. Alright, I was good to go get my patient and focus on cleaning off the tartar from her teeth, educate her about oral hygiene, and talk about the weather and the Canucks. Um, NOT! The only thing I wanted to do was take off my lab coat and bolt for the door. But I couldn’t, you see, I had a patient waiting for me to act as her dental hygienist who got excitement from flicking off her tartar. Repeat X 8. “I know a friend who doesn’t floss and she has excellent check-ups and not one cavity. Why do I get so many cavities when I floss everyday?” my patient asks me. “Well,” I answer, “to be perfectly honest with you, I don’t really care why you get so many cavities. All I care about is that I feel like shit and I don’t want to be here cleaning your teeth right now. Can’t you see I’m suffering here? Can’t you tell I’m one thought away from this instrument shaking out of my hands and onto your face?” Well, that is the way I wanted to respond. But the personable, responsible, and courteous me answered politely in the most un-panicked voice I could find at that moment. I wonder now if I even made sense half of the time.

When I started to wonder whether a shot of vodka would help me relax before starting my workday, I knew that something had to give. I wanted to curl in a ball with my cat and fall asleep for days. I wanted the world to pause with me and give me some time to figure my shit out. “Why, hello, depression! We’ve never met before! I’m Meghan and it’s not nice to finally meet you. I hope we don’t get too well acquainted…”

Now it’s the middle of June. My alarm sounds to tell me to wake up, paint on a happy face, and get to work. But this morning is different. I have an upset stomach and my whole body is quivering. It’s not the flu, or a cold, but I know exactly what’s going on. I’ve literally made myself sick. My body won’t take one more day of this. I panic, cry, pace, lean over the toilet, and pace some more. What do I do? I can’t go to work! I can’t go to work! I’m an anxious wreck! I keep an anxious pace going from the kitchen to the living room and back. What the F*%^ is happening to me? I wonder if I can take a combination of anti-anxiety pills to help me sit still, hold a scaler, and do my job without injuring anyone too badly. I call the Nurse’s hotline to ask. I can’t believe I’m calling the Nurse’s hotline! I’m falling apart! I’m going crazy!

I decide, with a little encouraged help, to take two weeks off of work. I spend the entire two weeks worrying about what’s going to happen after the two weeks are up. I feel miserable, confused, out of control, scared, depressed, and worthless. Ok, so now my worries of not being able to hold myself together at work are minimalized, but now the worry of not making money rears it’s shiny, green head into my life. Ugh, it really never ends.

After a confused and panicky two weeks, I decide to take the full month of July off of work to allow myself time to heal and to figure some things out. This has proved to be one of the best decisions I’ve made all year…

So, you know how I said 2011 was going to be filled with excitement, new adventures, growth, and happiness? Funnily enough, looking back on this from my hero’s perspective (the perspective that looks for the positive in things that don’t look so positive at the time), I decide that that is exactly what 2011 has been filled with. It was just wearing an unfamiliar suit and a dark and mysterious hat. It was a beautiful thing in disguise.

So please listen to me when I say this: Be careful what you wish for, because you probably will get it, but it may not show up in the same shape and colour that you asked for it to show up in.

Please tune in next week for Me, Revealed (Pt.3) where I talk about my adventure to date with more clarity than I had earlier in the year, because the fog has cleared and I can see the sun shining.

Me, Revealed (Pt. 1)

I’m dividing this post into 2 parts, because I know that when you see too much text, you hesitate to read it.  I know!  I’m the very same way.  So here’s Part 1 of “Me, Revealed” in which I tell my story.

I am 25 years old, well, I’ll be 26 in one week!!  Hurrah!  I am excited to be turning 26, and I hope to embrace each birthday with the same excitement, even when my number reads 86.  Some people have asked me if I’ve ever thought I was too young to become a life coach, or if this was a barrier to getting clients?  Hmm, I honestly never even thought about it!  And that’s not a bad thought to ponder!

Now I didn’t wake up one day, shoot out of bed, point my eureka finger in the air, and say “Eureka!  That’s it!  I’m going to be a life coach!”  Well, actually, that sort of happened, but not until I endured a few years of chronic physical pain, unhappiness, and being life coached myself.  And it happened while I was practicing Yo-Ching (Yoga and Coaching), without my eureka finger pointing in the air…

The reason I have chosen to embark on this life coaching journey is because my body told me to!  Haha!  In a very indirect, drawn-out, forceful kind of way.  It was only drawn-out and forceful because I wasn’t listening to the signals my body was sending me.  They weren’t signals telling me I had to become a life coach, they were signals telling me to slow down, love myself, stop overworking myself, stop over-achieving, stop trying to please everyone, stop trying to be, well, perfect!  *Gasp*  Not be perfect?  Isn’t that what we’re all striving to be?

I like to think it all started when I was powering through my pre-requisite courses to get into my Dental Hygiene program.  Other wise souls have told me I’ve always had “something going on”.  I had a very mild form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) when I was a child which is a sign that I was avoiding things/emotions even when I was very young.  It’s like your mind comes up with these tricks to preoccupy your mind and grab your attention so that you avoid feeling emotions and living in the present moment.  Some of my OCDs included: not being able to step on sidewalk cracks, tucking my hair behind my ears twice always, if I scratch my left knee I would have to scratch my right knee, making a pig-like motion with my nostrils, of course, twice, etc.  When one OCD went away, another one formed.  I remember wondering if this would ever go away.  I felt like the OCD had so much power over me.  And it did.

But anyhow, even though I was weird when I was little, the real signs of something being off started when I was 20.  In my school pre-requisites I scored straight A’s, and at the same time maintained an eating disorder to achieve my “perfect” body.  I didn’t even take dinner breaks from studying!  I ate my tofu stir fry as I copied out my Biology notes at my desk!  Can I get my gold star, please?  I was proud of myself for being so smart and motivated and eating so “healthy” (healthy=700-1000 calories/day).  I’ve finally learned that it was not actually smart and healthy at all!  I developed IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) from all the pressure I was putting on myself.  This pressure wasn’t only from getting good grades and looking good, it was from trying to be interested and educated in things I wasn’t interested in, it was wanting love and acceptance from everyone, it was lots of pressure!!  I experienced these symptoms every night on my way to my night classes.  I would run off the bus and make my pit stop at the loo before I went to class.  It became normal to do that.  My hair also started to thin from my lack of nutrition.  These symptoms don’t develop when you’re treating your body right, that’s for dang sure!

When I moved back home I started to eat better, and my IBS symptoms slowly went away, but they were replaced with IC (Interstitial Cystitis).  IC is basically like IBS but with your bladder.  The bladder lining is irritated and you get symptoms of urgency, frequency, and pain.  Luckily I didn’t have the pain, but I sure had the other two symptoms!  It’s kind of like having a bladder infection 24/7.  Not fun!  I was in my dental hygiene program at the time I was coping with my IC symptoms.  Now I’m kind of a worry wart, so all of my attention went to my symptoms and I would worry, worry, worry about them.  What if this never goes away?  I can’t do this, this, and this because of it!  Why me!?!?!  Of course, those thoughts don’t help, but we like to think things that make us feel worse, right?  🙂  And when we focus on and obsess about something, that something usually shows up more!  I’m sure you’ve heard of the story about the pink elephant.  When someone tells you not to think about the pink elephant, what do you do?  You think about the pink elephant!!!  Gaahhh!!!  The medical system couldn’t do anything for me either.  They prescribed me medication that did nothing but give me xerostomia (dry mouth).  It is one of those issues you just have to learn to live with, and just decrease your stress dammit!  Come see me when you’re less stressed, my urologist says.  Pfft.  Umm, ok?!

In walks amazing Mind-Body Master Life Coach Abigail Steidley.  Well, she didn’t walk in as much as I sent her a desperate e-mail telling her I needed her help, and FAST!  I actually found her advertisement when I was on an Interstitial Cystitis website searching for the magic pill to cure my bladder so I could get on with my life!  I coached with her for two years pretty regularly, and found out all this fascinating stuff about the mind and the body, and of course, myself!  My symptoms didn’t go away over night, they very slowly decreased, to the point where one day I realized that I didn’t worry about my bladder anymore.  Abigail told me I wouldn’t wake up one day, know that my bladder was “healed” and then perform daily celebrations because I was healthy!  (Although I think this would be fantastic for us to do.  Why don’t we celebrate good health every day?)  I just very slowly stopped worrying about my bladder so much, and since my attention wasn’t focused on it, I never thought to think that my IC was gone!  The mind and body are so fascinating!  So how exactly did I rid of my IC, you ask?  I learned to re-connect my mind and my body through thought work, breathing lessons, emotional awareness exercises, yoga, freewriting exercises, using my creative right brain to give my left brain a break, and much more.  I was becoming more present.  I was figuring out who I was and what I truly loved to do.  I was questioning why I did the things I did.  Why did my hand reach for the cupboards the instant I got home from school?  (Yes, I went from almost starving myself to binge eating…)  I was being curious and being a detective in my own life.  I was opening up to the experience of being human and accepting myself as I am, “flaws” and all.  I loved this life coaching thing!  I was learning so much!  I wanted Abigail to coach me forever.  I didn’t want to end my life coaching journey.  It felt like this was just the beginning of something wonderful.  And it was.  So the light bulb finally turned on when I was at a retreat and feeling clear in my head in October 2010.  I don’t have to be life coached for the rest of my life to keep this in my life, I can BECOME a life coach!  Best.  Revelation. Ever.

Tune in next week for Pt. 2 of “Me, Revealed”, because honestly, although this seems like a “happily ever after” ending, it really wasn’t.  2011 has been eventful to say the least.  There might even have to be a Part 3…