Darkness Equals Rest

In the pagan Wheel of the Year (or at least the one with which I’m familiar), we’ve just passed Samhain, the end of the old year and beginning of the new. But we’ve also entered a time of year when, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, daylight is short and harder to come by, and it’s only going to grow shorter until Yule, a/k/a the Winter Solstice.

This is a hard time of year for me every year. The lessening of daylight impacts my mental health, and the holidays I grew up celebrating at this time of year (primarily Thanksgiving and Christmas) were sources of trauma and pain for me. Things will start getting better for me after the Solstice and Christmas have passed, though the cold New England winter that will prevent me from being outside as much as I would like will continue to have an impact.

These are things of which I’m always aware, and I do know how to manage myself and keep myself as focused and positive as possible through this time. But in the past years, I’ve also often put self-care behind trying to push through doing things. Running RiverEvolutions, working other jobs, keeping my house (mostly) clean, doing things that other people ask me to do…

This is the time of year when, thanks to having to interact more with blood-and-marriage family, I’ve most often heard that yet another year had gone by without my doing anything that mattered or anything that anyone could be proud of. And so even though most of those people are no longer in my life, and I know I’ve accomplished things people told me I couldn’t, and have accomplishments I can be proud of, it’s the time of year when I get the hardest on myself for not doing “enough,” whatever “enough” is. And so I push too hard, and try to do too much, and don’t honor my own needs.

This year, I’m trying to be different about that. I mean, seriously, who am I trying to impress by pushing through the darkness to do things that sometimes I’m not even sure have a purpose? It’s a time of year when some forms of life enter hibernation, and some just settle in to keep warm until spring, and I think I–at least the business “I”–am going to follow their lead.

I’m not shutting down RiverEvolutions. I believe strongly in this business. I believe people need balance, relaxation, and clarity, and I have seen through working with clients that I can help them achieve those things. I know where I was fourteen years ago before I learned Chios Energy Healing, and I know how far I’ve come–even when voices from the past pop into my brain to tell me I haven’t come any distance at all. They’re wrong.

But I do believe there are times to work and push, and there are times to rest and recharge. There are times to plant seeds, and to harvest them, and to cover the garden with warmth and let the snow fall.

I’m still open to clients on a very limited basis for both Chios Energy Healing and channeling; very limited meaning a maximum of 2 clients per week. I’m still working with my students, and I’m really pleased to watch their progress, and honored they chose me to work with. I’m still poking at tentative plans and ideas for RiverEvolutions for the future.

For the next couple of months, though, I’m turning inward. Looking at my own healing, and seeing where the weak spots are. Relearning what I learned from my mentor 14 years ago that put me on this path in the first place. Relearning what I learned 3 years ago when I was charged with creating this practice and guiding people on their journeys.

Relearning the “me” that exists under the years of sludge and other people’s voices. Because I will be far more effective guiding others to learning who they are when I’m doing a more effective job of remembering who I am, and taking care of myself.

Speak Up, Don’t Shut Up

My mother talks a lot. I mean, a lot. I’m not saying this to be mean; it’s a statement of fact. She will start talking and continue for an hour, repeating herself several times and not stopping even when someone leaves the room. As a child, I sometimes witnessed her talking to empty chairs if she didn’t think anyone else was home, not because she believed anyone was in the chair but because she needed to talk.

The problem was, she didn’t believe other people had any reason or right to talk. If someone was speaking and she had something to say, even something completely unrelated, she would talk right over them. If someone else started speaking and didn’t finish fast enough for her tastes, she would tell them they were finished and go on with whatever she wanted to say.

And heaven help anyone who interrupted her, even unintentionally or with something as innocuous as a deep breath.

Putting words together into a form I can speak that others will understand has always been a bit of a struggle for me. So you can imagine that my need to stop and think for more than half a second to form a sentence didn’t mesh well with my mother’s need to fill any silence–any at all–with her own words. Nor did my anger at being interrupted and disrespected mesh well with her belief that she had the right to interrupt anyone, but they had no similar right.

I learned early to shut up. Whether it was with my mother, or with people who bullied me, or with other family members. If I didn’t like something, I learned, I had no right to say a word. If someone treated me badly, I was expected to just accept it. As an adult, in my marriage to my children’s father before it ended, I learned that not only did I not have the right to speak up if he said or did something hurtful or harmful, but speaking up was a dangerous thing to do. I learned not to speak for the sake of my own safety and, sometimes, my kids’.

That “put up and shut up” tendency still follows me, having become so deeply ingrained that sometimes I don’t even realize when I’m holding in something I need to express. If someone hurts me, I often keep it to myself. If I have an issue with someone or something, I don’t say a word.

Of course, that doesn’t solve anything, and often worsens a problem. If I’m feeling angry or upset about someone’s behavior and I hold it in, eventually the lid is going to blow off the pot of anger and resentment. Usually at a time when something that seems, even to me, quite small happens, so no one, including me, can figure out why I’m “overreacting.” It isn’t an overreaction; it’s a built-up reaction from weeks or months of not expressing those emotions when I needed to. And obviously that isn’t healthy or helpful.

I am better about it, thanks to a husband and a partner who both have a lot of patience and have worked to show me that it is safe for me to speak. Because they have listened when I needed to express anger, even if I didn’t do it in a particularly constructive way, I’ve learned how to express it more constructively. To ask for a moment of quiet so I can put words together. To say, calmly and respectfully, “I’m feeling this way and I need to tell you why,” instead of just going off.

Having had to hold in anger, and having been told that “good girls don’t get angry” and other such bullshit, since early childhood, learning to manage anger in a healthy way has been a difficult but vital part of my journey. And I think it’s one a lot of us struggle with when we’ve been in situations where we weren’t allowed to show anger or other negative emotions. If you’ve had to bury something, sometimes it gets away from you–and sometimes you just continue to bury it because you don’t know what else to do.
You have the right to speak up for yourself when someone has hurt or harmed you. When you feel angry. When someone’s behavior is disrespectful to you. You have the right to speak those things instead of swallowing them and pretending they don’t exist. Obviously you don’t have the right to cause hurt or harm to someone else, but you can speak your feelings without causing harm. And not speaking them may be harming you.

A Container? What’s That?

Recently, Britt Bolnick, a business coach I’ve worked with, shared information about creating a container for one’s clients. I read the transcript of the video, which she sent out to her mailing list, and thought, “I have no idea what that means.”

And then I thought about it, because “I don’t know” or I don’t understand” sometimes becomes a defense mechanism for me. Sometimes, it becomes an excuse for not putting in the work to figure it out. This sounded like something important, so I chose to put in the work.

Basically, Britt’s point is that the service one provides as a practitioner (coach, healer, etc.) is only part of what one gives the client. It’s awesome that I’m able to provide Chios Energy Healing and that my clients find it effective and beneficial, but that isn’t as useful if I’m doing it in a way that doesn’t leave my clients feeling comfortable and confident in the process.

I tend to get nervous before sessions. Not nearly as much as I used to, but still, those “what if I’m a fraud” fears do crop up occasionally. Because of that, sometimes I don’t have the space adequately prepared when my client shows up, or I’m overly focused on remembering paperwork and the questions I want to ask, so I don’t give the client a chance to speak or I plunge right into the businessy stuff without taking the time to be human first.

I’ve been doing some inner searching to try to find what I could do differently in my business. One of the biggest difficulties I have is that even when someone comes to have a Chios session with me, they usually don’t come back. And since they don’t come back, and don’t answer my emails, I can’t find out *why* they don’t come back. It isn’t necessarily, or always, entirely about me. Some people aren’t ready to do the work of healing. For some, I’m not a fit personality-wise, or Chios isn’t a fit as an effective modality.

But since I’m involved, I have responsibility somewhere, and one of the things I’ve realized is that setting a “container” is something I haven’t really been doing. Partly due to not understanding what that meant, but also, it just isn’t a thing I think of.

I grew up with parents who shut me down–or told me to shut up, though usually not quite that bluntly–if I didn’t immediately get to a point when I talked to them. They didn’t give me time to lay groundwork. As the only child of an only child, with two parents who rarely socialized with anyone, I didn’t have a chance to learn the small talk, give-and-take preambles to business work. I learned to just jump in and say what I needed to say, and do what I needed to do, and I’ve continued that pattern my entire life.

Recognizing that has been important, because I’ve realized I’m not serving my clients if all I’m doing is the service. If all I do is say, “Thanks for coming, I’m going to do this, this, and this, any questions, okay great lie down,” I’m not only not putting them at ease with the process, but I’m also not putting them at ease with *me*. I’m not giving them a means to connect with or a reason to trust me. More, I might actually be causing them to feel less comfortable than they would otherwise, because I’m coming across as rushed or abrupt.

I don’t know if that’s the reason some clients haven’t come back; as I said, I can’t ask them, because they don’t respond. But it is something I can control, and something I can work to change.

That’s where those of you reading this can help me. Just as I don’t think to set a container, I don’t always respond well when I’m having some kind of session and the practitioner spends what feels like forever doing small talk, or clearing the space, or whatever. I start feeling uncomfortable or impatient at those times. That’s also a result of how I was raised, but it means that as I try to change my process to better serve my clients, I don’t have a clear idea of what to do. I prefer the “get down to business” model as a client myself, so I’m not sure what to change or include as as practitioner.

So I would love to hear from you: If you’re having a healing session, coaching session, etc., what do you hope or expect in terms of how the practitioner greets you? What would you want to see (hear, smell, feel) in the space? What would set you at ease and give you confidence in the practitioner and the process? Feel free to comment here, or email me at kim @ riverflowhealing.com (no spaces). Thank you!

Imposter Syndrome Happens

I started learning Chios Energy Healing after the first time I had a Chios healing session, which I blogged about recently. After I’d trained a bit, it was time to start *doing* Chios sessions.

This was not as easy as I’d thought it would be.

I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my skills. I knew I was a good healer; I’d been told things since childhood that indicated it. But actually doing a session with another person, intentionally, with skills I was still learning and didn’t feel I’d mastered, was a different prospect entirely. Especially since the first person who requested a session from me was my mentor.

He was someone who had studied energy and energy healing for years. He was a Reiki master as well as a Certified Chios Master Teacher, and from my perspective in the sewer of low self-esteem, he knew more about everything than I did. How could I dare do a healing session with him?

By this point, he knew me well enough to understand my fears. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to do the healing. I had a massive case of what some people might call Imposter Syndrome. “I don’t know enough, and this person’s going to realize I’m a fraud! Or worse, I’m going to totally screw everything up!”

I didn’t screw anything up. I did the session perfectly competently, though he pointed out afterward that I had been noticeably nervous and I might want to work on that before I did sessions with anyone else. He understood the nerves, but a client who was relying on me to provide healing might not. But, he told me, I brought him a lot of benefit through that one session.

Imposter Syndrome happens, especially for someone from a background like mine. I was taught most of my life that I knew nothing, was worth nothing, and had no business “pretending” otherwise. I also was a perfectionist before I could even pronounce the word; even as a toddler, I refused to do anything unless I was sure I could do it completely right the first time around. Which meant there were an awful lot of things I never did.

I’ll be honest. I still get nervous before healing sessions. Not nearly as much as when I did that first session back in 2006, fortunately, but still, every time there’s that little niggle of “What if I don’t actually know what I’m doing? What if they think I’m a fraud?” It’s normal to have those questions. It doesn’t mean I’m not an effective healing practitioner. It means that as I help others work on their healing, I’m still working on my own, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I was angry the day I did that first healing session, because I was afraid and my mentor refused to let me back out. He was right not to let me. Fear will become an insurmountable obstacle if you let it win even once. So even though fear still follows me around and whispers in my ear, I’m thankful my mentor pushed me through it that one time, so that now, I can push through it on my own.

Non-Imaginary Friends

A man I befriended in 2005 taught me a lot of things. Chios Energy Healing was one of them, as I blogged about last week. That was a little weird for me, and I wasn’t sure it would work, but it was a lot easier to accept than channeling.

Since I was a very young child, I’ve had imaginary friends–except that when I was small, before I learned to be careful of what I said to whom, I was adamant that they were NOT imaginary. They were just invisible. I gave them names that made sense to me as a little kid; since I wasn’t necessarily good with names at age two or three, the first two were named Big John and Little John. By the time I was 8 or 9, my invisible friends numbered somewhere around 40. By then, I’d learned that they had to be imaginary–either that or I was crazy and needed to be locked up. I’d learned it upset my parents if I mentioned them, and I got bullied if any of my peers found out. (I got bullied for many other things as well, but I figured if I could cut at least one thing, maybe the bullying would decrease.)

I read parenting articles constantly as a child, because parenting me effectively and nonabusively was largely left to me. Some of those articles mentioned that imaginary friends were perfectly normal for young children, especially children like me with no siblings, few friends, and huge imaginations, and that those imaginary friends were usually outgrown well before junior high school.

I didn’t outgrow mine. That scared me; maybe I really *was* crazy. Most of them went away; by junior high, only three or four remained. But they were definitely still there, and they knew a lot more than I did. They told me things I had no way of knowing but was able to confirm were correct. They guided me through the extreme emotional lows and traumas I experienced, and at times literally kept me alive. And even though I knew it probably meant I was crazy, I continued talking to them, because most of the time I had no one else. Despite the fear that someone would find out about them and lock me up, I also found their presence comforting.

Fast-forward to 2005/early 2006, when my friend started teaching me about energy healing and channeling. Channeling, he told me, was the ability to connect to higher-vibration beings such as beings of light or spirit guides, who could offer advice and support from a broader perspective. He had a guide with whom he spoke fairly often, who helped him with his writing projects and whom he channeled verbally for others. He offered me a session.

That scared me. A lot of things about this friend scared me, to be honest. Even though he was an extremely gentle man who would never have harmed anyone intentionally, he talked about things like beings of light and channeling as though they were completely normal, which was the total opposite of what I’d been taught as a child. And somewhere inside, I knew that his skills could help me, and I was afraid to accept that help.

But I accepted the offer of a channeling session, partly because I was curious and partly at the urging of my “imaginary” friends.

During that first channeling session, I was excruciatingly uncomfortable. I was afraid to talk to my friend’s guide; I was afraid of the guide, even though I could sense that he was nothing but benevolent. I wasn’t used to benevolence. Also, his energetic vibration was far higher than mine, and higher than that of my friend (beings’ vibrations are generally higher than those of humans), and that caused some physical discomfort for me. Over the year or so after this that the friendship continued, I never became more comfortable having a channeling session, though I at least became less afraid.

But I also realized my imaginary friends were not imaginary after all, something I’d suspected all along but hadn’t dared to acknowledge once I got “too old” to have imaginary friends in the first place. I realized there were reasons they knew things I had no way of knowing, and that they’d helped me navigate my life and stay alive as long as they had.

And, as with Chios, I realized this was a skill I could learn and use to help others.

At the time of the first channeling session, I didn’t know who my primary guide (the one who helped me the most and whom I would channel) was. That being had been unable to work with me directly for a number of years because trauma, bullying, and some of my own poor choices had lowered my energetic vibration to the point that his presence would have been harmful to me. In fact, when I first met my friend, my vibration was too low for me to tolerate the presence of his guide either; although I didn’t know it, the Chios sessions I’d had, other techniques my friend had taught me, and the friendship itself, had helped me raise my vibration to a level high enough for my friend’s guide’s presence and my own guide’s presence to be safe for me.

I learned to work with my friend’s guide through our sessions, and he helped connect me with and relearn how to work with my own guide, a being of light called Shiva. And as with Chios, I began offering this to others in the hope of helping people work through and work beyond things similar to what I’d been through.

I Was Skeptical About Chios…

In 2005, I became friends with someone. We bonded over a shared love of reading and writing, but as we spent more time together, I found out he had other interests as well. Things like energy healing, which I’d never heard of or at least had heard extremely little about.

As our friendship grew, I shared things with him about my life. Traumas I’d experienced as a child and was still experiencing in my marriage at the time. Healing didn’t occur to me; I didn’t know it was a possible thing. I just knew it felt good to talk to someone who seemed to care.

After a while, he offered me a Chios Energy Healing session. Once he explained it to me, I figured maybe it wouldn’t hurt, but I didn’t expect much to come of it. To be honest, mostly I only agreed to it because I wanted to spend more time with my friend, and this would be a reason to do so. Plus I didn’t want to disappoint him or upset him; my fear, irrational though it was, was that if I didn’t let him do a healing session with me, he wouldn’t be my friend anymore. I needed the friendship; it was the only thing in my life at the time that I felt like I was doing right. (I loved my kids, and they were my heart, but I knew I was screwing up as their mother.)

The day of the healing session, I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, and my friend couldn’t tell me much because healing sessions are different for everyone. When I realized I had to lie down on a massage table, I almost gave up then and there; I was afraid to do that. But I swallowed the fear and lay down, and my friend closed the door of the room so his cats wouldn’t try to “help,” and we got started.

Fourteen years later, and without notes to refer to, I don’t remember everything about the session. I remember crying a lot, and apologizing for it, and my friend telling me to stop apologizing. Trauma memories I’d intentionally buried resurfaced, along with memories I didn’t even recall suppressing. I talked throughout the session, telling my friend what was coming up, and he gently reassured me but refused to stop the session unless I explicitly said to. Which I didn’t, because as hard as facing these things was for me, I knew it would ultimately benefit me.

Afterward, he gave me something to eat and drink. I don’t remember what it was, only that it was something I liked, and it was vegan (because everything he ate or drank was vegan). I felt exhausted and shaky, and stabilizing my emotions seemed impossible. But I also felt triumphant, because I’d allowed the session and I’d gotten through it.

For over a week afterward, as the energy filtered through my system, memories and ideas and thoughts continued to surface. My friend patiently waded through pages of emails to address my concerns and offer support as I dealt with the memories. He never once told me to get therapy (we both knew I needed it, he knew I couldn’t get it at that point because of my husband, and he knew I knew I needed it). He never told me to get over anything, or to let it go, or to stop whining, or any of the other things I’d heard from people who claimed they wanted to “help.” He simply listened–well, read, anyway–and reassured.

I kept having sessions with him, but after just that first session, I knew I needed to learn Chios. It had had such a profound impact on me, and I wanted to share that impact with others. My friend strongly recommended I have one or two more sessions myself before I started learning, which I did. He was my instructor, and I was so excited to learn it that I went through all three levels in under four months.

That friendship and those healing sessions made an incredible difference in my life, and although the friendship itself only lasted about two years, the impact has lasted ever since. And that friend is a huge part of why I do what I do.

What Will People Think?

I used to create stories constantly. Before I even learned how to write, I made up stories to tell to people, on the occasions when I could get people to listen. Then I learned how to make those funny little squiggles people call “letters” and started putting my stories on paper.

Big mistake. Kids at school saw my stories and made fun of them. One of my worst memories–which, given the amount of bullying I experienced, either means it’s really bad or I’ve blocked out the really bad stuff–is of leaving my notebook on the bleachers when I was the manager for my school’s junior varsity girls’ basketball team. The coach had asked me to go get something, so I set down my notebook and left the gym. When I returned, the entire team–including the coach–was gathered around as one of them read out loud from my notebook. All of them were laughing, and when they saw me, they started hurling insults at me.

(Remembering this does not mean I need to heal from it, by the way. Healing doesn’t mean forgetting something from the past, it means choosing not to be affected by it. I admit I still feel angry when I think about it, especially toward the coach, who as an adult should have put a stop to the bullying instead of joining in. But it’s the same anger I would feel toward anyone who bullied any child, and it didn’t cause me to stop writing.)

I used to talk to trees, believe in magic, and play massive games of let’s pretend where I was the only one pretending and the people and things my imagination created seemed more real than “real” life. Sometimes I tried to talk about those things, especially as a young child. Reactions ranged from “That’s nice, leave me alone,” to “Don’t talk about those things or people will think you’re crazy and will lock you up.”

No one ever locked me up, probably because I learned to stop talking about those things.

One of the most difficult things for me in my business has been overcoming the mental blocks against “talking about those things.” I’m a witch who practices energy healing and channeling. None of those are particularly mainstream. All are things that in certain corners can get people “locked up,” or insulted, or called crazy. Being a witch, not as much, because it is a spiritual path that’s become better known over the years, though there are still plenty of misconceptions about it. But energy healing, to a lot of people, is “weird,” and channeling is just plain not something a lot of people understand.

Those are things I do. They’re skills I learned, not just something random that happened or that I made up. It is hard for me, though, to tell people about them. When I signed on with a business coach several months ago, at first I didn’t want to admit to the other women in the coaching group that I channel. Even telling them I do energy healing wasn’t easy, though some of them do other modalities like Reiki or EFT, so it at least wasn’t quite as “out there” as it is to some people. But it was scary to admit anyway.

Even when you’ve healed from specific hurts, sometimes the fears and blocks your mind sets up to “protect” you stay in place, and you might not even realize it until you start trying to figure out why something isn’t working the way you’d like, or why you sit in a corner at a networking meeting and just kind of smile and say hello to people. You don’t understand why you’re hiding, until you intentionally and consciously start connecting the dots. Even healed wounds don’t vanish entirely; they can leave scars. And sometimes those scars are hidden so well you don’t know they’re there.

I’m getting better about talking about what I do, though I admit I’m still hesitant to mention channeling since it’s the easiest for people to misinterpret and the hardest for me to explain. But still, if I feel that someone is open to at least hearing about it, I do bring it up. It’s a learning curve and a healing process, but I’m getting there.

What are you afraid to tell people about yourself? What do you do, or dream of doing, that you believe other people might react poorly to? How would it feel to tell just one person?

Give it a try, if you can. And if you want support around it, email me at kim@riverflowhealing.com and we’ll talk about how I might be able to help.

Why I Love Channeling

I admit that one of the reasons I first started learning to channel was because it seemed like a cool thing to do. I also liked the idea of gaining an uncommon skill, because my ego likes to feel like I’m unique in some ways.

But my main reason for learning channeling was to help people, and in the years that I’ve been practicing the skill–even when I wasn’t doing so overtly–people have been helped by what Shiva and I have told them.

When I channel, Shiva and I don’t give clients a full-fledged road map for their future, or even for their present. The purpose of channeling, at least as I practice it, is to guide people to create their own road maps. Sometimes this involves nudging them toward a conclusion they may have already reached but haven’t yet acknowledged, such as asking them why they continue to view themselves more negatively than anyone else and helping them uncover the roots of those beliefs.

Clients have come to me asking about family members and have ended up confronting truths about themselves and their roles in the situations about which they’re asking. Shiva doesn’t give information about others who aren’t involved in the channeling session, because doing so would violate their free will. 

But if the client is contributing to an issue, Shiva helps them see their contribution and figure out how to change their actions and reactions in a way that might help resolve the problem. More importantly, we can help the client identify the boundaries of their own share of the situation so they aren’t taking on more blame or responsibility than is warranted–or than is healthy for them. For some clients, recognizing where their responsibility begins and ends has really been all they needed to deal with a problem.

I often work with clients who have experienced bullying or abuse in the past. The past can be a very insidious thing sometimes. Even those of us who have been through therapy and know ourselves pretty well can be tripped up by patterns and impressions placed on us by others or created in response to how others treated us.

For some those clients with whom Shiva and I have worked, hearing from an unbiased being that the past wasn’t their fault, and having guidance to see the patterns and impressions that are holding them back, has been the first step in breaking out of their pasts and creating their best life.

I’m always thankful to be able to help others with the skills I’ve learned, and to be able to work with a being like Shiva. If you’d like to find out more or experience working with us for yourself, please visit my Channeling page.

Making Changes That Stick

It can be pretty easy to say, “I want to change my life. I want to create positive new things for myself.” Actually doing it, however, isn’t so easy.

Conscious creation is one name given to the process of making changes and attracting positive things into your life. The basic gist is that we are always creating our lives through our thoughts, emotions, actions, and energy, but many of us aren’t aware that we’re creating. Because we aren’t aware of it, crappy things happen, which makes us feel like crappy things will *always* happen, which makes more crappy things happen.

A note: My personal belief is that when some people talk about conscious creation, they phrase it in a way that comes across as seriously victim-blamey. “It’s all your fault that a traumatic thing happened to you, because you created it because you weren’t creating right.” I emphatically do NOT believe that.

While our energetic vibration does impact what comes into our lives, and our thoughts, emotions, and actions impact our energetic vibration, that does NOT mean it’s your fault when traumatic or other negative experiences come into your life. The whole point of conscious creation is *learning* how to be responsible for what you create. Things you create when you don’t know you have the power to create them aren’t your fault or necessarily your responsibility.

When we aren’t conscious of our creative power, and if we have a low energetic vibration, negatives come into our lives. And those negatives reinforce to us that negative things will happen, which makes us believe things will always be negative, which further lowers our vibration and brings more negative things.

(I’ll be talking more about energetic vibration and how to change it in a couple of weeks. For now, let’s just leave it that everyone has energy, and everyone’s energy vibrates at a different frequency. The higher the frequency, the more positive that person’s life is likely to be, and the more aware they’re likely to be of their creative power.)

Even if we’re aware that we can create things in our lives, sometimes we don’t use that creative power effectively. I can create enough money flowing into my bank account to pay my bills for the month, but if I stay stuck in, “Well, I paid them this month, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be able to pay them next month, money never shows up, I’m always broke,” that’s going to lower my vibration. And it’s going to create a continued lack of money, in which either I’m only able to pay my bills at the absolute last second possible, or, eventually, I’m unable to pay them at all.

Part of learning to consciously create our lives is learning to recognize the thoughts and emotions that hold us back from creating the most positive experiences and outcomes, and changing those to positive thoughts and emotions. That isn’t easy, and I don’t mean to imply otherwise. But it is possible to start taking steps.

First, when something negative happens, pay attention to what you’re thinking. Is it something like “Oh, crap, this isn’t good, but let’s see if I can fix it,” or more like “Crappy things always happen, my life is never going to go right”?

Second, make the conscious, intentional effort to change those thoughts. For example, if you’re thinking “crappy things always happen,” you might change that to “This is just one thing. Plenty of good things happen to me too.”

Third, identify the emotion you’re feeling–and remember, you *feel* emotions. You are not the emotion, you are the person *feeling* it. So instead of “I’m angry,” try looking at it as “I *feel* angry.”

Fourth, if you’re feeling a negative emotion, think about something that causes you to laugh, like a funny TV show you watched, or a memory of a time you felt especially happy. Let that thought or memory bring that positive feeling back to you.

Learning to create your own positive reality takes a lot of work and conscious effort. And it isn’t necessarily something you master. I’ve been working with this concept for well over a decade, and I still have times of “Everything crappy happens to me” or feeling angry, stressed, or scared about circumstances in my life. But I keep working, because even when I feel out of control or fear that I can’t bring the good things, I know the truth.

And the truth is that each of us is an abundantly powerful creator. We just need to learn how to use that power.

Why Change?

Why change? Good question.

Life is a constant, ongoing process of change and growth. Unless you’re really, really determined, it’s pretty much impossible not to grow and change as you move through life. But some of that growth and change isn’t a conscious choice. It’s in response to things that occur in our lives, or simply the result of getting chronologically older and gaining more knowledge and experience. Change happens.

Conscious change, though, takes work, and to do that work, most people want a reason. That’s where getting tripped up and tangled in others’ opinions can happen. Changing solely for others doesn’t benefit anyone. For change to be effective and long-lasting, we need a self-focused reason to make it.

Sometimes we recognize something about ourselves that we think we might benefit from changing. We might not know how to start making those changes, but at least we know we want to make them. We’re consciously choosing to do something about a problematic trait or habit. We might need help figuring out how to change it, but it’s our decision, and if we do the work, it’s likely to become a permanent, positive change.

There are times when something about us is a problem and we don’t recognize it. Or we think it’s a problem that doesn’t require change when it actually does. In those cases, someone else might have to point out the issue to us so we become more aware. But even then, it’s still more effective to make the change because we see a reason to. Because we see a benefit to ourselves as well as others.

Early on after my kids and I moved in with my husband, when I was still working through some serious issues and still getting a handle on emotional regulation, sometimes I raised my voice when I was angry with my kids. I didn’t realize how much it upset my husband, or my kids, until my husband took me aside and told me it was really hard for him hearing me like that. My kids also told me they wished I would yell less.

I knew I was still working on effective emotional management. After nearly four decades of not being able to display any negative emotions for fear of what other people would do to me, I was finally in a place where I felt safe enough to stop suppressing the emotions. Unfortunately, that meant sometimes the emotion came out with an intensity that was out of proportion to whatever was going on. I knew this, but I didn’t always realize when the emotional display was out of proportion.

When my husband and kids had that conversation with me, I didn’t say or think, “I need to change for them.” They were the cause of me recognizing the need for change, but they couldn’t be the only reason for the change. I needed to change my behavior, and double down on learning better emotional regulation, for myself above all.

I chose to do the work and improve my emotional regulation because my behavior was hurting people I loved deeply and wanted to avoid hurting. Because the person I wanted to be was someone who took care of and protected those I loved. Because when I raised my voice and felt my temper rising to the boiling point, I saw in myself the people who had abused me, and I hated seeing that in myself. I wanted to build a life in which I could love myself. I wanted to create a space where my children might feel the love and safety I hadn’t had as a child or during my marriage to their father. I wanted to become the person I wanted to be.

When you identify a change you think you should make, take a moment to figure out why you want to make it. Are you doing what someone else has told you to do? Are you trying to change something about yourself that you’re okay with, but someone else isn’t okay with it and you’re trying to make them happy? If it’s a change someone else brought to your attention, do you have a self-focused reason to make it, or are you only doing it for them?

Ultimately, the one person on earth whose opinion of you matters, is you. You’re the one who has to live with who you are. You can’t “make” someone else happy, because you don’t control what anyone else feels or thinks. You can only create whether you are happy with yourself. So don’t just be the change you wish to see; be the primary reason you wish to see it.