I was fired by my first therapist / How I learned emotional fluency

I was fired by my first therapist / How I learned emotional fluency

I was fired by my first therapist / How I learned emotional fluency

 

“I think that’s the end of our time together.” She said peering over her nose at me as she closed her notebook. I was 19. In the third session with my therapist. “Is she firing me?” I thought, incredulous. We had not even scratched the surface.

 

“Why?” I asked. “Because you won’t open up to me. You haven’t told me anything. You’re not willing to reveal yourself to me.”

 

She was right. I wanted her to dig. To ask the right questions to unbound my heart and words. I wanted her to give voice to the frozen emotions in my throat. I wanted her to read my mind and my body and tell me what was going on. I didn’t want to have to tell her. She couldn’t bring me to speak or open up. I didn’t know how to.

 

I didn’t know. I had zero emotional literacy. I didn’t know how to drop my guard. How to be vulnerable and share. I lacked the emotional fluency and the connection to my inner world to express what I had repressed my entire life because I had learned it was not safe to do so. I needed to go to therapy to go to therapy. 

 

I grew up in a dysfunctional home environment with a troubling parent-child dynamic. My emotional needs were not met, my feelings were dismissed, and I took on adult levels of maturity to “compensate” for my parents’ behaviour. While I cultivated strengths such as self-reliance and independence along the way I had no ability or familiarity with holding space for, acknowledging and articulating my emotions or feelings.

 

A few years later, when I started studying psychology, I became self-aware of how numb I was. How I couldn’t access how I was feeling moment-to-moment the way that others could. I wanted to change.

 

How I learned emotional fluency.

 

1. Learn the language of my body. I had to teach my nervous system that it is safe to feel by constantly checking in with my body and self-soothing if things felt “off”. To begin with the only emotions I could comprehend were “happy” and “sad”. So “off” could be a myriad of things. But I noticed subtle shifts would occur in my body in response to life. Consistent patterns of bodily sensations are associated with each of the six basic emotions: anger, fear, disgust, happiness, surprise and sadness. Emotional feelings are associated with discrete yet partially overlapping bodily sensations: decreased limb sensations with sadness, increased sensations in the upper limbs with anger, sensations around the throat and the digestive system with disgust, sensations in the chest with surprise and fear, and enhanced sensations all over the body with happiness.

 

2. Name the emotions. After a while, I could start to name what feeling meant what emotion. So I would say to myself “I feel anger.” “I feel sad.” “I feel disappointed.” “I feel joyful.” “I feel hopeful.” and so on. Being emotionally literate is multifaceted. One part is to be able to name emotions really specifically: to differentiate between similar emotions, like feeling sad versus overwhelmed. And beyond that, it’s super helpful to know the profile of each emotion: to be able to define it and understand its message. Sadness is a feeling of loss of something I care about, and it helps clarify what’s important to me.

 

3. Observe without trying to fix, change or judge what I am feeling. A big part of healing and learning emotional literacy was simply holding space for my feelings as they arose. At first, they overflowed, tumbling out of me like a rushing waterfall but once all the repressed emotions had been held and acknowledged they trickled down to simple responses to the present moment. The way I did that is to name my emotion(s), and then simply let that be for a few seconds. I would let myself feel what I was feeling: be frustrated, angry, or sad. We have been socialized to think of some emotions as bad, and because of that, we tend to try to push them away as soon as we feel them. We too often get stuck in an antagonistic relationship with our emotions, thinking of them as bad and something that we should suppress. But at the end of the day, emotions, even challenging ones like anger, are data. They exist to help us.

 

4. Use my emotions as valuable information. Emotions are neurohormones that we release as a response to our perceptions about the world. They focus our attention and motivate us toward a specific course of action. What emotions are here to do is give us cues on how to live in an authentic, integral and intuitive way. Amongst many other things, they teach us where our boundaries are, what is important to us and who we feel trust and love for.

 

I hope that no one is ever sent away because of their lack of emotional literacy again. This is why this topic forms an important part of The Mentor Training program that starts in April. I will teach you the skills that I wish my first therapist had access to giving me when I was so desperate but unable to voice my feelings and emotions. Click here to learn more and join The Level 1 & 2 Mentor Training.

 

a world is ending… breathe out. let it go.

a world is ending… breathe out. let it go.

a world is ending... breathe out. let it go.

 

Some years are made for fighting shadows, some years are made for dreaming dreams, some years are made for wholly living, some years are made for falling in love, some years are made for heartbreak and some years are the dark, rich spaces in-between that tie all the other years together.

 

I read somewhere that astrologically we are in a kind of limbo: the old world has come to an end, but the new world has not begun yet & so we hang in this strange in-between liminal space not knowing quite what to do. A world is ending. The way we used to live life no longer fits. Breathe out. But we have no map for what comes next. Let it go.

 

There is a new way of life and a new world rising. But in its emergence, we are meeting the parts of us that have been broken and our old stories of pain and separation are cracking. We are simultaneously activating higher states of consciousness while surrendering the illusions of control and power as well as shedding old beliefs and feeling a sense of emptiness and directionlessness. It’s hard to know how to navigate the in-between…the limbo we are facing.

 

The answer is to commit to the frequency of your desire…The how comes as a byproduct of you being in connection with your creative life force.

 

Everything I am calling into my life, everything I want and desire the universe requires me to become a slightly different, higher version of myself to get it. I have to upgrade as a human being to meet my next level of desires. That means practical earthly things like having a more relaxed nervous system, being more in tune with my body, feeling more nourished and hydrated and flexible and strong, choosing habits that offer financial stability and comfort.

 

Practical magic to open up to a whole new set of dreams. As I come to the end of one huge chapter of my life and a new one I am getting clear on the shifts within me that the universe is going to require me to make in order to fit into the new life that I want. I have to shift the inside first to become the embodiment of what I am calling in. As I am becoming it is materialising.

 

The past few years have been the culmination and expression of so many desires I had for myself and my life, once. In the meantime, I have lived and loved them all and while living them I forgot to take the time to build new ones. I’ve partied and travelled the world, I’ve had great lovers and awful ones, I’ve built a business out of thin air that extended anything I had imagined, to begin with. I moved to the UK on an intuitive whim and then immediately lockdown happened as if conducted perfectly. I came to soothe my soul, to settle in a home for a while, I came to turn Plannher into a real thing which I seeded a solid address for.

 

The gifts that the past year+ in the UK I have been given are the opportunity to sit with myself in stillness and willingly move through the uncomfortable in ways that have emotionally matured me. I am now able to stay with hard things in ways I never have before. I used to have an addictive need to default to positivity in every circumstance and while yes, it’s valuable to be able to find the benefit in every challenge and experience, if done as a default, it creates an inability to fully support and hold space for suffering, challenges and growth. I have become more sensitive, compassionate and resilient all at the same time as a result and have developed a grounded discerning optimism at the heart of the ups and downs of life. I am really enjoying and appreciating my newly integrated levels of maturity.

 

It’s time to call in some new desires: a (more permanent) home, a conscious relationship within a masculine container that feels both safe and expansive, writing books, maybe starting a family, more nature, still travelling but perhaps in a different way, more in-person experiences, more devotion to the pleasures of life.

 

The more we lean into our body-lead desires the clearer it is where our actions, thoughts and beliefs are out of alignment with those desires. This is how we lead ourselves into the new way, a new world.

 

Your current reality is the expression of what you accept to be true for you right now. The only way to show up for the new way of life is to choose a new perspective, one that reaches towards the reality you want to be experiencing. To engage in change and create a new version of self and create a new world is to be present and witness yourself without judgement and examine what of the beliefs you hold are serving the new version of self and the world you want to experience. We want to live in integrity which means that our actions, thoughts and words are all in alignment with our dreams and visions. You show up for the new way by taking responsibility for your current belief systems and choose to change any that are out of alignment. Through repetition and practice, you create new neural pathways in the brain and the nervous system thereby creating a new reality.

 

If we all do that on an individual level, at the micro, if every single person who reads this does it, we create enormous pragmatic change, together. Of course, this process feels terrifying. It requires a shedding of old skin, old identities, old thought patterns, old worldviews, old assumptions. It can feel like a betrayal of the you that’s gotten you to this point and the grief of leaving them behind can feel overwhelming at times. Nonetheless, every part of you will meet you where you now find yourself in a newly emerged way. It takes tremendous self-trust and courage to build a new world, your new world but your desires, determination and hope will see you through.

 

morning and evening routines for inconsistent ppl (like me)

morning and evening routines for inconsistent ppl (like me)

morning and evening routines for inconsistent ppl (like me)

I grew up in an environment that was highly controlled by people who feared life. It meant that from the moment I was self-aware enough the only thing I wanted was freedom. Liberation from being told what to do by people who were living out their unresolved pain within a society that has an unnatural addiction to productivity.

 

As soon as I was able to I vehemently stood against the routines, structures and systems I was taught in favour of gentler, more intuitive and cyclical living. I believe in the intelligence of nature above the intelligence of man. I believe we all have access to that intelligence. It is body-led, not mind-led.

 

The world loves to tell us what to do. In return, we have been conditioned to look for external guidance and validation on everything we do. From the moment we enter the school system if not before, we are taught the invalidity of our own independent thoughts and feelings. So we look to others for how to do things.

 

Information at our fingertips like Google has stolen our trust in ourselves and our bodies. Or, more correctly, we have handed over our relationship with the wisdom of our bodies to the need to have everything answered and validated by an external source. This is dangerous and disempowering. It means we don’t trust the intelligence of nature to take care of us.

 

Including routines. The personal development and self-growth industry have touted morning and evening routines as the go-to practices. With good reason. I agree with the sentiment that the way we live our day-to-day reverberates throughout our lives. There are millions of articles and podcasts and books on how to have the perfect morning and evening routines.

 

Routines are consistent ways that we intentionally show up for ourselves to make life good. Routines are practised self-love. The magic lies in how we do things not what we do.

 

There is no perfect routine out there. Because different ways of showing up will serve different people at different times as we move through the chapters of our lives.

 

We all learn so much from others. The beauty of life is that, in a way, we are all raising each other, sharing what we have learned works for us, guiding one another home, over and over again. I adore this part of the human experience.

 

And… as we learn from one another there is an opportunity to refer to our own inner knowing. To, instead of requiring others to be responsible for our wellbeing and living a good life, assign our routines to be an ever-evolving reflection of our dreams, growth and desires in the world.

 

When I am asked what my morning and evening routines look like, I hesitate to answer. I don’t want to add to this noise. What I really want is to encourage the asker to explore what habits will become the sum of a life well-lived? I teach my process on how to identify this in my free course: Pause & Pivot.

 

To provide an example of what I teach and how that looks like in my own life. My highest values are freedom, beauty, creativity and peace. Each of those words can be distilled into specific expressions. For example, peace means choosing peaceful relationships, feeling at peace in my home and inhabiting a peaceful body. These expressions become practices and routines. Inhabiting a peaceful body means that my health and physical well-being are at the forefront of my priorities. Simple but important things like sleep, nourishment, movement and hydration feed into my daily routines.

 

I am, by nature, inconsistent. What I enjoy doing and in what order changes all the time. Sometimes I live a perfect day by Google’s standards. I wake early, dance around in my pants, drink lots of water, exercise (walk/run/yoga/pilates), journal, meditate. Then work, eat, socialise. And wind down by turning my phone off by 9.30 pm, read, journal, sleep. Other days I stay in bed until close to noon, thinking, writing, feeling, processing and then allow my day to flow from there.

 

In Pause & Pivot, I share how my routines are guided by my daily non-negotiables.

 

As I wrote previously here, my aim is to live my life guided by the intelligence of my body over the constructs of my mind and the only way I know to do that is to intimately feel and listen to myself. Different days call for different approaches to life.

 

coming into full bloom

coming into full bloom

coming into full bloom

 

When I was 11 years old I asked my mother when she felt like she had become a woman. She paused for a moment and replied that it had been after she had her first 3 children. “Does having children make you a woman?” I wondered aloud, mesmerised by the complexity of growing into my own womanhood. I can’t remember what she said but I like to imagine it was something along the lines of “in some ways, but not in entirety”.

 

I have been still a girl for most of my adult life, until the last few years where I find myself facing my own mortality. I turn 40 this year. It is a number that brings a smile to my lips because I believe these numbers are simply representations of the number of turns we have taking around our sun. I have lived an unconventional, whimsical kind of life, shirking much of the dogma, conditioning and expectations of traditional trajectories offering me the liberty to follow my own path on my own timeline. Guided by my personal and spiritual beliefs I am on a karmic journey that I have no control over aside from taking personal responsibility for how I show up and respond to life moment-to-moment.

 

It’s a subtle thing that creeps up in you — terrifying at first but now it has become a portal into a new way of life — one that is more precious and cherished and far more powerful. I am on my journey from girl to woman, maiden to mother, independent of my alternative choice to not-yet carry and birth a child. 

 

At this juncture, I am discovering certain changes. The corners of my eyes now fan out into lines that point towards my cheeks and the millions of times I’ve frowned in my life have left folds between my eyes that don’t fade as fast as they once used to. I am in less of a rush to get there. I used to be so impatient for my visions to unfold missing that best part: the unfolding of them. I recognise where I have had to own parts of myself that I once expected others to rescue me from. I am exploring what it means to be a fully expressed woman and find myself want to fully stand in and embrace my sensuality and sexuality.

 

No longer a little girl playing coy, I openly use what charms I have with intention. Not for attention but as a declaration of my being. I owe myself to the world. For what good am I, hidden away, and how much have I yearned to be this woman that I have tucked away for too long.

 

Yet, there are some socially constructed anxieties that arise with this.

 

This judgment that being a fully expressed woman would lure men away from their senses. That I am responsible for their disarmament if they lust after me in some way. Hide. Society tells me. Put those legs away. Shame on you for flaunting your body. It is perceived as an invitation. Yet, when I see a man with a shirt off I don’t think “Oooo, he wants to have sex with me!” Instead, I think “he must be more comfortable that way, today in this sun, as it shines in us.” Or if I discuss my sexual preferences or feelings it is seen as a cue to “wanting it” or being “loose’. And yet I’ve never had a one night stand nor philandered my sexual energy with anyone who felt unsafe or undeserving. 

 

These double standards that we have to navigate as women are curious to me. But they are just some of the teachings I have traversed in my recent growing into myself. 

 

I have discovered the need for deep discernment around whom and what I say “yes” to and allow into my life with a radical approach to boundaries that are neither black and white, nor uncertain, but rather an embracing of both “no to this, but with these adjustments in place, then yes” to make space for me to live a life with a fully open and surrendered heart in a way that feels safe and protected.

 

I have determined that as a woman there is nothing I crave more than letting go of control. There is an aliveness and eroticism in tasting the edges of existence and meeting death. I have discovered deep layers of surrender that I can access now.

 

I have learned how important it is for women to be well-resourced financially. So many poor decisions have come from seeing myself and other women not have the resources and breathing room to make the right decisions for themselves and their potential children. Women who willingly and actively empower themselves financially are independent of the systems that hold them to archaic patriarchal systems. I teach this process in my instant- access online course: Affluent.

 

There is a flowering into my fullness, a coming into full bloom happening here, and I am enjoying this new perspective of myself and the world that I am now witnessing.

 

 

Day 1! Let’s begin… 📝

Day 1! Let’s begin… 📝

Day 1! Let's begin... 📝 28 Days of Journaling with Vienda Maria
 
As the days get longer here on this side of the sphere — today we celebrate the return of the warmth and the increasing power of the Sun with Imbolc — I want to invite you to join me for my 28-day journaling challenge. We begin right now and it’s free, with a new guided journaling practice released every day for the entire month of February at 6 am GMT on YouTube:
 
28 Days of Journaling with Vienda Maria.
 
When things are unsettled and uncertain around me as they have been I always return to my daily non-negotiables. Journaling is one of them.
 
Journaling informs so much of my life. As well as my creative writing, the way I run my business, how I relate to others — everything really! But it’s not a daily tracking system. Instead, it’s a way to connect the mind, body and soul and to discover what’s really going on beneath the superficial surface layers. Journaling helps me to find clarity, create resolution and make better decisions for a sweeter, kinder, more meaningful life.
 
There have been times in my life when I couldn’t afford therapy though I really needed it. Journaling filled that space and allowed me a way to hold those necessary painful conversations in a safe space. This is where journaling came into its own for me.
 
In this 28-day journaling challenge, we will be using a psychology-based structure of enquiry known as reflective writing beginning today with the fundamentals and 3 big questions that you have 3 minutes each to answer. And on day 7 on Sunday I will guide you on how to journal using tarot cards to identify what’s really going on which is so fun and fascinating. Here’s what you can expect for the week ahead:
 
Day 1. Fundamentals of journaling.
Day 2. Peaceful morning journaling.
Day 3. Find your centre journaling.
Day 4. Gentle evening journaling.
Day 5. 7-minute menstrual cycle journaling.
Day 6. Clear and focused journaling.
Day 7. Journal with tarot.
 
A few things as we get started:

 
I can’t wait to spend every day this month with you taking you through a range of different journaling practices. Please tell me how you go with them!
 
Enjoy!
Vienda xo
 
P.S. Here’s that link for Day 1 again: https://youtu.be/b1M0ZgVRIdA 
 

Acceptance will lead us through.

Acceptance will lead us through.

Acceptance will lead us through by Vienda Maria

Our hope to circumvent heartbreak in adulthood is beautifully and ironically child-like; heartbreak is as inescapable and inevitable as breathing, a part and a parcel of every path, asking for its due in every sincere course an individual takes, it may be that there may be not only no real life without the raw revelation of heartbreak but no single path we can take within a life that will allow us to escape without having that imaginative organ we call the heart, broken by what it holds and then has to let go. David Whyte

Each person’s experience of life last year was different. For some, it went on almost as usual. For others’s life screeched to a shocking halt. Some found a comfortable balance point to navigate their way through it. Other’s deeply grieved their past life, or the loss of loved ones, and had to learn to let it all go.

I received a lot of questions asking how to accept the grief and loss that comes from letting go and how to keep moving. How to stay grounded and remember that life is beautiful and this time is just a phase.

Heartbreak and the certain grief that accompanies all types of loss are inevitable in life. Sooner or later in larger and smaller ways, we all have to face the vulnerable fragility of ourselves. Over and over again.

There are those who think they can escape it. They build impenetrable invisible walls. They opt-out of real intimacy and cautiously skim the surface of life avoiding the depth that can bring the deepest love, joy, loss and pain. But in avoiding they also miss out on living.

There is a simple answer.

Acceptance.

The very nature of life is that we do not always understand, or see why things are happening or where they are leading us. Acceptance brings us the peace to take back control. To remember that life is beautiful and this is just a phase and that we are not victims of circumstance. We have choices.

We have the choice to change our perspective to one the emboldens our courage and our willingness to feel the full spectrum of life. Without avoiding. Without running away. Without playing the victim.

As the serenity prayer aptly says:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Can we believe that this is happening for us?
Can we sit in the unknown and trust?
Can we have patience?
Can we surrender?

Can we then move forward when, and only when, life opens its doors to the next unfolding and invites us into its mystery? Then, can we say yes?

There is a reactive desire to jump ahead, past the grief, the pain, the challenges, the weirdness. We are pleasure-seeking beings after all. We want to speed through it instead of letting it sink in. We have fears that the grief will be too great to hold. That is will drown us. That we will get stuck here.

In the haste to move on quickly to the place where things feel sweeter, we look for ways to reinvent ourselves, to become new, to escape without having fully realised the gifts of our depth of feelings. Inevitably life will find a way to lead us back until we have fully surrendered to it. Until finally, in suffering, we find profound acceptance and transcend it.

Acceptance will lead us through.

One day this too shall pass. In the meantime, life is happening, hours, days, weeks, months are unfolding.

Can we live in the present and embrace the moment?

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