Archive | Emotional Healing

Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness

Has someone hurt you in the past? Maybe betrayed a trust? Offered unwelcomed criticism? Placed blame unfairly?

When someone hurt you, did you have you have a hard time letting it go? Did you harbor anger, resentment, or even thoughts of revenge?

Have you found it difficult to embrace forgiveness and move forward?

Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project, or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness, or even vengeance.

I’ve harbored bitter feelings towards a couple of ‘exes’ for a long time. During a recent illness that lingered for 6 weeks I was given way too much time to process these old hurts. I did a lot of reflection on forgiveness and compassion and why these too human characteristics are so important.

Wise elders from all traditions have told us that if we don’t practice forgiveness, we might be the ones who pay most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, we’re told that we can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy.

Forgiveness can lead you down the path ofphysical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Defining forgiveness

Generally, forgiveness is coming to terms with the wisdom of letting go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. Although you might always remember the act that hurt or offended, eventually there is realization that forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, more positive parts of your life. The process of forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you. Nor does it minimize or justify the wrong. It’s possible to forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness allows you to find a place of inner peace that helps you go on with life free from the feelings of resentment and bitterness.

The importance of forgiveness

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can help you create a life with more happiness, health and peace. The Mayo Clinic claims that forgiveness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Higher self-esteem
Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?

When you’re hurt by someone you love and trust, you might become angry, sad or confused. Dwelling on these hurtful events or situations allows grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility to fester and take root. Our imagination is so powerful that rehashing these negative feelings can inflame the hurt and pain so that it crowds out positive feelings. Then you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.

Holding a grudge can harm you

If you hold onto these old grudges and resentments, the Mayo Clinic states that you might:

  • Pollute other relationships and new experiences with anger and bitterness
  • Allow the toxic memories of past wrongs to negatively impact the present
  • Become depressed or anxious
  • Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or to cause you to feel disconnected from spirit or your spiritual beliefs
  • Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others
How can you reach a state of forgiveness?

Forgiveness is decision to be honest with yourself and reflect on the situation with more compassion and a larger perspective of yourself and the other party or parties.

To begin, you might:

  • Reflect on the particulars of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how the resentment and bitterness has affected your life, health and well-being.
  • Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time.
  • Actively choose to view the other person with compassion while trying to understand them and their situation, and allow forgiveness to emerge when you are ready.
  • Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power that the offending person and situation has had on your life.

As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.

Forgiveness isn’t easy

It’s not always easy to forgive. This is especially true if the other person doesn’t want to admit wrong and/or doesn’t speak of his or her own sorrow. If you find yourself stuck:

  • Consider the situation from the other person’s point of view.
  • Ask yourself why he or she would behave in such a way. Perhaps you would have reacted similarly if you faced the same situation.
  • Reflect on times you’ve hurt others and on those who’ve forgiven you.
  • Write in a journal, pray or use guided meditation – or talk with a person you’ve found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an impartial loved one or friend.
  • Be aware that forgiveness is a process and even small hurts may need to be revisited and forgiven over and over again.
Forgiveness and reconciliation
It’s important to remember that forgiveness doesn’t always lead to reconciliation. If you’ve had a close relationship with the offending party prior to the hurt, then forgiveness might lead to reconciliation. This isn’t always the case, however. Sometimes there can be forgiveness yet the relationship never quite goes back to the way it was.

If the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate then it might not be possible to achieve reconciliation. Sometimes reconciliation might not be appropriate. Still, it’s important to remember that forgiveness is possible – even if reconciliation isn’t.

Forgiveness isn’t about getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words. Forgiveness is more about how it can change your life by helping you to find greater peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can also take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.

Forgiveness is a process that takes time

Remember, forgiveness is a process. Your ability to forgive may not happen overnight. Nor can you force someone to forgive you if, in your process, you realize that you might have to take some responsibility for what happened.

People need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever the outcome, allow yourself to move to a state of forgiveness. Forgiveness is important for your own health and well-being. Then commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was YOU!

If you are harboring bitterness, anger, and/or resentment and are having a hard time letting it go, then give Joy Reichard a call to find out how she can help you move to a state of forgiveness so you can find more peace and happiness in your life. Email Joy today or contact Joy at 415-819-8769.

Adapted from words of wisdom obtained from a Mayo Clinic article on forgiveness.


You Are Enough

The words are simple enough, but the deeper meaning is often overlooked, dismissed, trivialized, or neglected. Though the words “you are enough” are familiar, if you are anything like me, you may notice them for a moment, maybe think it’s a clever phrase, or even profound, but then you’re off to the next thing. The meaning and relevancy of “you are enough” is quickly forgotten.

It’s HARD to accept the fact that you just might be enough. It is easier to internalize the criticisms, compare yourself with others, constantly push yourself to be the best, or crumble inside thinking you will never be the best. Your perception is that “the best” is always just a little out of reach.

I struggle with “you are enough.” My father was a Methodist minister. Expectations of a PK (preacher’s kid) are always high. Burdensomely so! I just wanted to be a normal, mischievous kid. That didn’t go over too well with my authoritative preacher dad who had high expectations.

I got into the habit of self-criticism and comparing myself to others. Though I was good at a lot of things, I kept beating myself up for all those areas where I came up short. “I’m not thin enough.” “I’m not athletic enough.” “I’m not popular enough.” “I’m just plain not good enough!”

I was so down on myself that I forgot how to celebrate my successes. That doesn’t make any sense, does it? We all have things that we’re good at, and things we aren’t so good at. That’s the way the All-That-Is planned it. If we all were supposed to be rock stars and beauty queen contestants, then there would be no truck drivers, mail carriers, nurses, and cooks. Variety and diversity is what makes our world work. There is someone in every community to fill most every niche.

Though I know that believing “you are enough” is an inside job, I still want to try and save you some of the aggravation that I’ve gone through to embrace what seems like such a simple revelation. Even now there are some days when I get it! Then there are other days when I don’t. Those days when I feel down in the dumps I wonder if I will ever be enough. I’m learning, however, to remind myself of all the things I’m good at, and about the good things I’ve done. That helps me get out of my slump and back into action.

Here are some tips shared by Erin Bahadur that remind me that “I am enough.” Please read and embrace them:

  1. There is no perfection. Anyone who believes there is, or insists that you should attain that status, is not worth your time. You are enough!
  2. There is no goal that you could ever achieve that will convince you that you are enough. If you don’t already believe that before you get there, then you still won’t believe it once you do.
  3. You are an incredible person. I don’t even know you, but I can tell you without a doubt that there is something in you that sets you apart from everyone else. You need to find that thing and embrace it. Nurture it. You are special. You are enough!
  4. I know that other people’s opinions, external comparisons, and your own negative self-talk may have brought you to a place where you question your self-worth. Some days are worse than others, but realize that on every single day YOU ARE ENOUGH!
  5. As long as you know you are enough, no one can ever tell you that you’re not.
In the past I exhausted myself trying to be what I thought others, and the world, wanted me to be. We humans are social creatures and of course it’s natural to want to be liked and to belong.

It too me a while to realize, however, that the more that I spoke from the heart, and took the time to nurture the things that make me unique, the more receptive I found the world to be. In fact, I found that being my self requires far less work. This has made it possible to invest more time in developing who I am.

The world wants you to stand up and be YOU because nothing will happen if you don’t. You are enough, and your enough-ness is what makes the world a better place.

If you struggle with believing you are enough and want to find out how working with Joy can help you step into your potential and find greater happiness, then give Joy a call at 415-819-8769 or email Joy today.

10 Tips to Help You Cope with Anxiety and Fear

There has been a lot of uncertainty lately as the status quo has been called into question. People are concerned about the rights they have enjoyed for years being taken away. Benefits that many people depend on now seem to be uncertain. Blame for the state of affairs is being flung at both sides of the political arena while the government seems unstable and invested in “alternative truth.” At times it can be difficult to find something secure and stable to hang on to.

When our leaders model instability, conflict, and antagonism, it can create a mass consciousness of insecurity. This can then filter down to us on a personal level so that we, the people, begin to experience even more worry, fear, and anxiety about our day to day lives.
How can YOU cope when experiencing anxiety, worry, and fear?

Here are 10 tips to help you cope with your day-to-day fears and anxieties.

1. Take time out 

It’s impossible to think clearly when you’re flooded with fear or anxiety. The first thing to do is take time out so you can physically calm down.

Distract yourself from the worry for 15 minutes by walking around the block, making a cup of tea, reading the funnies or an engaging book, or soaking in a bath. Whatever you do – DON’T WATCH THE NEWS WHEN YOU’RE FEELING ANXIOUS!

2. Breathe through panic 

If your heart beat starts to race, or your palms start to sweat, the best thing is not to fight it.

Stay where you are and simply feel the panic without trying to distract yourself. Place the palm of your hand on your stomach and inhale deeply, hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat this breathing pattern for several minutes or until you have calmed down. The goal is to help the mind get used to coping with panic, which takes the fear of fear away.

3. Face your fears 

Avoiding fears only makes them scarier. Whatever your fear, if you face it, it should start to fade. For instance, if you panic one day getting into an elevator, it’s best to get back into an elevator the next day. This helps to desensitize you from your fear.

4. Imagine the worst 

Try imagining the worst thing that can happen – perhaps it’s panicking and having a heart attack. Then try to think yourself into having a heart attack. It’s just not possible. The fear will run away the more you chase it.

5. Look at the evidence 

It sometimes helps to challenge fearful thoughts. For example, if you’re scared of getting trapped in an elevator and suffocating, ask yourself if you have ever heard of this happening to someone. Ask yourself what you would say to a friend who had a similar fear.

Another thing you can do is ask, “What can I do about this fear?” Often times you may find that there is something you can do about it. If there is, then do it! Taking control is a great way to lessen your fears.

6. Don’t try to be perfect 

Life is full of stresses, yet many of us feel that our lives must be perfect. Bad days and setbacks will always happen, and it’s important to remember that life is messy. Just do the best you can and accept that your best is “good enough!”

7. Visualize a happy place 

Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a place of safety and calm. It could be a picture of you walking on a beautiful beach, or snuggled up in bed with the cat next to you, or a happy memory from childhood. Let the positive feelings soothe you until you feel more relaxed.

8. Talk about it 

Sharing fears takes away a lot of their scariness. Call a partner, friend or family member and share your fears with them. Sometimes just hearing yourself talk can help you process and release the fear.

If your fears aren’t going away, then talk with your doctor. Your doctor can refer you to a counselor or psychotherapist. (Hopefully they will do this before giving you a pill.) Or contact a hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapists are trained to help people cope with their anxiety and fears.

9. Go back to the basics 

Lots of people turn to alcohol or drugs in an effort to self-medicate their anxiety. This, however, only make matters worse. Simple, everyday things like a good night’s sleep, a wholesome meal, hanging out with a friend or loved one, and/or a walk are often the best cures for anxiety.

10. Reward yourself 

Finally, give yourself a treat. When you have taken that first step or have made that call you’ve been dreading, for example, reinforce your success by treating yourself to a massage, a country walk, a meal out, a book, a DVD, or whatever little gift makes you happy.

Anxiety or fear is a feeling we are having. It is not the totality of us, though sometimes it feels like that. Our bodies were actually made to process our feelings. The more we resist our fears or try to stuff them, the more they will persist – often times poking their ugly heads out at the most inconvenient times. Instead of trying to medicate or stuff your fears and anxieties, try one or more of these methods instead. You will be surprised how effective these tips can be.

If you are struggling with anxiety, worries, or fears, then you give Joy a call for a complimentary 30-minute consultations and find out how she can help you cope more effectively so you can master your fears. 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!

Adapted from NHS Choices

You Are More Than Your Brain

My father and I share a common trait – intellectual curiosity. Lately this has led us to reading books and discussing topics on the nature of the soul, self-awareness, and higher consciousness. Dad often challenges me to read a particular book. The most recent challenge is Super Brain by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph E Tanzi. Dad claims that if I want to stay mentally alert and active into old age (he’s 88, and is as sharp and alert as ever) then this book is a must-read!

Dutifully reading Super Brain for an upcoming visit with my father, I was intrigued by one subheading – “You Are Not Your Brain.” It stresses that many of us don’t realize that we are our own ‘reality makers.’ For instance, when suffering from a cold we tend to say, “I have a cold.” But when we are suffering from depression we tend to say, “I am depressed.”
“I am (whatever…)” is a powerful statement. It means you identify with whatever condition you are experiencing. In other words, your mood colors your world. So when you identify with being depressed, then the world reflects how you feel. The world can literally lose its vibrant colors and seem gray, lifeless, humorless and lacking in joy.

Yet it’s not your brain that is in charge of your identity. If this were true then it would make as much sense to say you are a yellow lemon, or a tree, or a grey rock as it would be to say you are depressed. What’s really going on has to do with brain electrical chemistry and how that is intimately connected to your emotions and perception.

Researchers have found that by applying a small electrical charge to a specific part of the motor cortex that the arm will move. When the patient is asked what happened, the response is, “My arm moved.” Yet when instructed to move their arm, the patient’s response is, “I moved my arm.”

This indicates that there is another element at play that impacts the brain. It’s the “I,” or your mind, which is linked with the brain, but is also separate from the brain. The “I” is what controls the brain, and is much more powerful than you may recognize.

Many of my clients suffer from depression, anxiety, or troubling negative thoughts. One of my goals is to help them separate the “I” from their reactive unconscious functioning. My mantra is “Your mind is a muscle. You are the one in charge.”

Most often we don’t realize that we are in charge. We let our reactive unconscious perceptions of the world control our actions. This is why we erupt in anger, act on our jealousies, give in to our greed, are obsessed with control, sink into depression, and the list goes on and on.
Super Brain lists some pointers on how you can take control of your mind, and thus your life, by transforming your perception.

  • Take responsibility for your own experience.
  • Be skeptical of fixed reactions, both yours and anyone else’s.
  • Confront old conditioning. It leads to unconscious behavior.
  • Be aware of your emotions and where they come from.
  • Examine your core beliefs. Hold them up to the light, and discard beliefs that make you stuck.
  • Ask yourself what part of reality you are rejecting. Freely consult the viewpoint of the people around you. Respect what they see in the situation.
  • Practice empathy so that you can experience the world through someone else’s eyes.
If you pursue these steps, then you can progress from unconscious behaviors to being more aware, to self-awareness. The goal is to become self-aware. This is the place of self-mastery from where you can create your reality. It is remarkable how changing your perception can transform your life!

If you feel your life is controlled by depressive or negative thoughts or anxiety please email me or call 415-819-8769 TODAY for a complimentary consultation to find out how Transformational Life Coaching with Hypnotherapy can help YOU become the maker of your reality.



Chaos in the Political Arena! Should I Worry?

With all the recent news about the current political chaos surrounding us – doesn’t matter whether you’re red/ blue or somewhere in*between – it’s difficult not to fall into the mass consciousness habit of worry. Yet worrying is the worst thing to do. Worrying keeps your mental focus on what’s not working, or what you don’t have, or what may not be working in the near future. From this place it is easy to fall into the victim role. And victims are rarely successful.

When your mind is occupied with worry, it leaves little room for creative problem solving. Negative thoughts can actually suck you into a low mood, expanding those feelings of lethargy when you feel unmotivated and unproductive. Then your subconscious mind reinforces your low mood by offering up negative thoughts and memories that compound the worry. This is how a person gets stuck in low moods, which can then spiral into depression. Health professionals have become aware of the importance of a person’s mood. It is now commonly accepted wisdom that a positive, calm and happy frame of mind promotes healing. Today, hospitals (including some on the Bay Area) make guided visualization tapes for surgery patients that include positive imagery in order to facilitate their healing and speed recovery.

Worry also creates feelings of lack, limitation, or indecisiveness, generating an inclination for greater caution. Caution can then curtail your willingness to take risks, or try something different, or even explore new or innovative possibilities. These are the very traits you need during challenging times!

In addition, individuals who are worried tend to complain more, seeming to get stuck in worry, which can cause them to be perceived by others as experiencing “hard times,” or not being able to successfully cope with challenging, even chaotic times. This is not a good image for a professional in any career or growing business. Worry, therefore, is not only a useless endeavor, it wastes your time and energy, and it can literally be dangerous to your health, happiness and success.

So how do you not worry? One way is to create a vision of what you want to achieve. In reality YOU create your environment. As a matter of fact, you are in charge of your reality. You can choose to be off-kilter and let circumstances and the chaos of life take charge, or YOU can choose to be the one at the helm.

Take time to focus on what you want to create for yourself. Do you want to be focused and on top of things? Then decide what will help you to do that. If it’s turning off the news, or deciding not to get engrossed in politics, then maybe that is your best strategy for now. Or maybe you’d like to focus on getting involved in a social action group, or signing all those petitions, or getting involved in your local politics. Or you might want to refocus on your business and career instead and put a strategic one-year action plan in place. Or you might want to focus on your own personal growth, or take up that hobby that you’ve always wanted to schedule time for.

Rather than complaining about the chaos, start focusing on what you want to create – whether it is for your community, for the nation, or for yourself. Share your vision and dreams with others and talk about what you are creating. When you start to worry, shift your thoughts to what you can do, or create, or want to improve. Find a friend who you can call to help you stay positive and creative, and don’t hesitate to call them when your thoughts start to go south.

Also, it’s important to remember that everything on earth is cyclical, and that all phases and cycles are temporary. Just like the tide, every ebb is followed by a flow. And the only constant is change! By staying positive you will find it’s possible to be even more creative and innovative than you ever imagined. And you will be more flexible and adaptive to the flow of change. These are challenging times, but you have what it takes to ride the wave and come out on top!

If current times are creating worry and frustrations that are causing you to spend more time being anxious and depressed, then give Joy a call and ask for a 30-minute complimentary consultation to find out how you can start being more positive and happy. Contact Joy today by phone 415-819-9769 or email.

Tips for Staying Centered During Turbulent Times

2f894562-4450-4785-84e5-06f22aa0ee1aDaily each of us is becoming more aware of just how polarized our country has become. Some are applauding our national leaders’ actions; others are horrified and taking a stand by signing petitions, calling State and US Representatives, or are out there protesting. There are also many of us who are just upset, angry, fearful, depressed or anxious on either side of the deep political divide that is daily becoming even more polarized.

No matter what side you are on, these intense polarized states are harmful for you, your community and our nation because polarization knocks you off your center, interfering with your ability to think clearly, stay emotionally balanced, and to act with wisdom and compassion. All of these low vibrational feelings of fear, anger, rage and hate are feeding the mass collective consciousness. It doesn’t matter what your politics are: the negative vibrations feed into the same mass collective consciousness, and this has a negative effect on everyone.

All of this has become very personal because I’m feeling all of these emotions and turmoil myself. I’m trying to stay centered, but recently it has been very hard. That’s why I was grateful when my friend and spiritual mentor, Terry Attwood, shared these following tips from Wall-of-us Weekly Actions on how to stay centered when things get difficult. I needed these tips – and I thought you might benefit from them too.

I’ve re-worked some of the following suggestions with the intention of making them accessible to both sides of the divide that’s polarizing our nation. Please read them. They were prepared by a licensed therapist. We all need a little self-care right now. While the world around us may seem unpredictable, you still have the ability to ground yourself by building predictable and safe habits.

1) Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself breaks from ruminating about the actions of our national leaders and the people’s response about what is to come. Sit on the floor with your cat. Lie on the ground and look at the clouds. Or blast some music in your home and dance your butt off. If you don’t have that kind of time, or space, give yourself a minute to think of all your favorite movies, or songs, or the best kisses you’ve ever had. (I personally like this last one. I’ve had some great kissers in my life!)

2) Air your concerns. Talk to like-minded friends about your fears or worries. Make a pact that whenever something happens on the national platform, or someone says something seemingly insane, you can be each other’s sounding boards. Make a pact to not escalate into a heated, hate-filled discussion, but to listen and empathize.

3) Get physical. Walk, run, swim, play soccer, skate, or whatever suits you. Get out of your head and into the sensations of your body. As you exert energy, see if you can expel negativity that you are carrying from the latest news.

4) Use mindfulness techniques. Sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Slowly take in a deep breath, hold it, and then exhale very slowly. Try to relax your shoulders and muscles as you do this. Close your eyes and notice the thoughts, feelings, images, and bodily sensations that emerge. If you notice that your mind wanders, name what it’s wandered to (your shopping list, to do list, etc.), then see if you can redirect your focus back to your breath. Allow any emotions (for example: joy, sadness, fear, excitement) to be present without judgment. Let the feelings move through you. Return to your breath.

5) Be grateful. Every day talk to a friend or write down something(s) for which you are grateful. Being grateful is a way of having power. No one, not even our national leaders, or parents, or friends, or colleagues, or an angry populace, can take away our genuine gratitude.

6) Pray to your higher power and to the guides and masters who are working with our national leaders. Ask that our leaders be blessed with the wisdom, discernment, compassion, and insight to make the best decisions that will serve the highest good and be of the greatest benefit and joy for our nation, the people, humanity, and our great mother, the Earth.

I wish you balance, centering, discernment, inner peace, love and compassion as you walk your journey on this earth plane during these turbulent times.

If you are having difficulty staying centered, positive, and hopeful, then call Joy for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. Learn how Joy can help you maintain balance, clarity, and a positive attitude so you can be the most effective YOU possible, even during challenging times. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!


Reclaiming Your Feminine Sensual Self

Outdated gender stereotyping is up for everyone right now. Women around our nation, with sisterhood support around the globe, stood up and took a stand on January 21, 2017 for women, women’s rights, equality, justice, and for women’s values, concerns and issues. More than one woman held signs saying women’s rights are human rights. And many enlightened husbands, brothers, sons and grandsons were out there with their women protesting right along with them. It’s time to co-create a new view of the modern woman. The old gender stereotype is being toppled by a lot of ‘nasty’, vocal women who are determined to be seen in a new way!

Gender stereotyping, unfortunately, is still occurring in our society. One of my clients, a very savvy twenty-something, shared with me that her supervisor pulled her aside and told her ‘not to be so emotional’ after giving a talk on a project she was passionate about. Not one to be easily intimidated, my client pointed out to him that he would never accuse one of her male colleagues as being ‘too emotional!’

It’s no secret that our dualistic culture assigns gender designations to certain behaviors and traits. According to the famous psychotherapist, Carl Jung, both men and women possess traits that are often assigned to the opposite gender. Jung designated them according to these terms: the inner-feminine, or anima, for men, and the inner-masculine, or the animus, for women. The inner-feminine helps men feel compassion and love, to be reflective, intuitive, and receptive. For women, their inner-masculine aids determination, active doing, courage, the willingness to face challenges, and the desire to venture out into the world. A person is in balance when they have a good relationship with both their masculine and feminine selves.

I work with many women entrepreneurs and business women who have successfully engaged their masculine active/doing sides. They are out there doing their work: supervising, selling, leading, networking, marketing, etc. Some are doing great! Others haven’t been able to find the right formula for success, or for getting that steady flow of clients. They are doing everything right… but something’s off.

For the latter, I often wonder if they are sacrificing their full sensual feminine self by sliding too far into their ‘inner- masculine’. When a woman becomes too ‘male-identified’, she can be perceived as abrasive, full-tilt assertive, and even overpowering. Too often we women think we have to be as good as a man or even better in order to be successful. This can actually be counter-productive.

Male identification, I believe, is a feminist backlash in a society which still favors masculine qualities and ways of thinking. It’s time for women to let go of the past, reclaim our full feminine self, and step into the future. This is what the Dalai Lama was talking about when he said the world would be saved by the Western woman: that we women have work to do. There’s no time to be hung up on an old paradigm that keeps women, and men, stuck in an outdated belief system of gender stereotyping.

During my own journey I came to realize that when a woman owns her inner-masculine, she has a greater chance of being successful in the business world. When a woman sacrifices her feminine self, however, it can leave her feeling disconnected from the true essence of who she is. Then a woman can come off as appearing abrasive instead of assertive, as bitchy rather than as ‘taking a stand’, as ‘being just like a woman’ when passionate, or as too ‘touchy-feely’ when showing empathy or compassion. I’ve also heard way too many tales of women being negative or demeaning to each other in the work-place, rather than being supportive and collaborative.

Part of this derogatory labeling of the female comes, I believe, from the wounding of feminine sexuality. Should we be the good wife and mother, the sensual lover, or take the lead as the seductress? Why do we have to be one or the other, instead of having the freedom to play all three when we choose? And why does the sexual female and the seductress have such a scandalous reputation? In ancient times sexuality was sacred. Women were respected, honored, and viewed as the living representatives of the Goddess on earth. Why shouldn’t women be as equally honored today?

Another reason for the denigration of women is because we have the bad rep as the “weaker sex.” In reality, and in so many ways, the feminine is the more powerful, resilient and resourceful gender. I watched my mother-in-law hold everything and everyone together when my father-in-law went through several major health crises, while her adult sons were almost paralyzed by worry, fear, and their personal grief. This strength is more common than we women are credited for. It’s the old paradigm that keeps women stuck in stereotypical roles that are both no longer relevant and are way too confining for contemporary times.

Don’t misunderstand me and think I’m placing blame on men. Men have their own challenges in our dualistic culture. In this lifetime, however, I am on a mission to help women reclaim their Full Sensual Feminine Self!

That’s why I’ve been leading the In Her Name Circle in San Mateo since 2008. (Click here for more info.)  And it is the reason why, now that I’ve moved to Fair Oaks CA, that I am starting the Circle with the Divine Feminine. (Click here for more on that.) From my years of leading women’s circles I have found how important it is for women to have a safe place to gather, share stories, learn about the Divine Feminine, and to realize that they each carry a spark of the Divine within.
If you live close to either San Mateo, CA or Fair Oaks, CA, please sign up for one of the meetups and come circle with us. We would love to welcome you into our sisterhood.

If you are struggling with insecurities or self-doubts in our highly polarized society please contact me for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. I see people by phone, video-conferencing, on in person in my Fair Oaks office. Contact me today by email or call 415-819-8769

Rehabilitate Your Inner Bully

Have you ever been on a walk on a beautiful day or sitting in your car stuck in traffic with your mind in neutral when all of a sudden you’re plagued with an unpleasant memory? The kind in which you did or said something stupid, or made a mistake, or didn’t perform as well as you should have. One minute everything was OK. The next moment you are filled with shame, guilt, regret, etc. I call these negative memories the ‘bloopers.’ We all have them – memories from our past that dredge up conflicting feelings and old hurts. These memories can be quite debilitating if we don’t know how to turn them around.

Buying into the Story
I remember one college student who was placed in a ‘learning challenged’ program in high school. I quickly realized that his real challenge was less about him being ‘learning challenged,’ but rather that he had bought into the story and, at his core, now believed he was ‘challenged.’ This label created feelings of inadequacy and of ‘not being good enough’ which progressed into states of anxiety and overwhelm whenever he was in a learning situation. This included everything from simple studying, to class participation and actual test taking. His own inner dialog was now bullying him into staying self-identified as ‘learning challenged.’

The Inner Bully
According to Webster, a bully is “a quarrelsome, overbearing person who badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.” This is exactly what our inner bullies do – they badger us into staying small. Real life bullies can be spiteful and mean. Our inner bullies just don’t know any better. No one has ever given them a larger vision of who they can become. Our inner bullies strive to keep us small because that is what is familiar and feels safe – what one of my mentors and colleague, Megan Wagner, calls our SMALL self. In reality, during our life journey upon this planet we develop lots of skills, talents and abilities that can help us grow into a much bigger version of our self -our BIG self. This larger vision of who we can become, however, can end up frightening us. Then we can become so intimidated that we end up working double time to keep us small. That part that beats us down is the Inner Bully!

We can stop this battle with our Inner Bully by rehabilitating them. Each experience in our life has the potential to be a valuable lesson. Unfortunately our Western culture is too focused on results, perfectionism and ‘doing it right.’ We don’t give enough credit to the valuable lessons that come from our mistakes. Instead they become the ‘bloopers’ that keep us cycling back into our SMALL selves.

It is time to change the story!

Rehabilitation Process
Next time one of those bloopers encroaches on your mental space – STOP and take a deep breath. Then step back and, from a larger perspective, look at that memory that has triggered your feelings of guilt, shame, regret or hurt. Ask yourself, “What did I learn from this experience?” or “What can I still learn?” View it as an opportunity to learn something valuable, as a gift of insight.

Then, once you have gleaned all you can from your reflection, send a little love and forgiveness (or ask for forgiveness) back to both yourself and whoever else might be involved. This process, though focused on the past, will help you heal in the present! It will help you stop the self-battering so you can begin appreciating yourself and your life lessons.

You may want to know what happened with my student. I taught him some anxiety reducing tools, gave him some self-esteem enhancing visualizations, and helped him understand and appreciate how his mind processed information. It took some time, but he was able to change his story and step into a larger vision of himself, ending the semester with 3 A’s and 2 B’s!

If you need help putting down your battering rod and rehabilitating your inner bully, please contact me. I offer 30-minute free consultations and would love to help you step into your BIG self. Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!


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Tips for Avoiding the Holiday Blues – Part Two

For many, the holidays bring up nostalgic memories of family fun and good cheer. For others, it can be a time of loneliness, sadness, and depression. Unfortunately, the holiday blues are a very real phenomenon.

Here are some of the risk factors of holiday depression, and how you can avoid them!

Comparing Your Insides to Someone Else’s Outsides
Both in real life and on social media, it can be difficult to avoid comparing yourself with others around Christmastime. If you have a less-than-perfect family, a past trauma from this time of year, or just a less-than-full holiday dance card, comparing your holiday experience with those of others is a recipe for increased sadness and isolation.

Often, these comparisons tend to be skewed — and they tend to make us feel bad about ourselves. That’s because a person’s basis for comparison is not based in reality. Why? Because – bottom line – most families have issues! And most people didn’t have the perfect Christmases that they would like to have had, or even remembered that they had.

Slacking on Self-Care
For many people, December is the busiest time of the year. When work pressures pile up and the calendar gets full with social obligations, the routines that normally keep us healthy and happy — yoga class, morning runs, healthy home-cooked meals, a meditation practice — are usually the first thing to fall by the wayside.

In addition to increased stress, eating poorly and drinking excessively can also exacerbate issues like stress, anxiety and depression.

Take care of yourself and don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.

Try these suggestions:
  • Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
I would like to emphasize the importance of avoiding binge drinking. Alcohol is everywhere during the holidays! If you’re struggling with feeling down, it may be wise to avoid drinking as much as possible because alcohol is known to worsen, not relieve, symptoms of anxiety and depression.

No “ME” Time
Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
Some options may include:

  • Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
  • Listening to soothing music.
  • Getting a massage.
  • Reading a book.
Experiencing Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
If you tend to start feeling down when winter approaches each year, and those negative feelings don’t go away after the holidays are over, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Many people who think they are suffering from a case of holiday blues may actually be suffering from SAD, a form of depression that’s brought on by the change of seasons. Many people miss the exposure to natural light and can sink into sadness. But SAD shouldn’t be dismissed as mere “winter blues” — talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of the disorder to find a treatment that works for you. Also you might look into full spectrum lighting. Full spectrum lighting duplicates the visible wavelengths of sunlight at noon and uses both high clarity and balanced color phosphors. It has helped many people overcome SAD.

Family Grievances and Conflict
The holidays are a great time to be tolerant and set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations.

Declare an amnesty with whichever family member or friend for whom you feel past resentments. It’s seldom helpful to tell your relative about every resentment on your laundry list of grievances, especially during the holiday celebrations. And don’t let your relative do that to you, either!

Try to be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

If you know there are going to be conflicts, prepare a neutral response, such as, “Let’s talk about that another time,” or, “I can see how you would feel that way.” Then escape to the restroom, offer to help in the kitchen, or go hang out with the kids. And it always helps to call a good friend if you need a sympathetic ear.

Post-Christmas Credit Card Bills that Put You in a Tailspin
To avoid the after Christmas sticker shock create and stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Try these alternatives:
  • Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
  • Give homemade gifts.
  • Start a family gift exchange.
I have a large extended family. Years ago we decided to have a family Christmas get-together the Saturday before Christmas with a family gift exchange. We set a price and it’s been working great ever since. It’s made my life easier, and we still enjoy the Holiday fun!

Missing the Holiday Action

Feeling like you are under-scheduled or under-planned for the holidays?

This is a great time to help others, and make some friends while doing it. Volunteer to serve holiday dinner at a homeless shelter. Work with any number of groups that help underprivileged or hospitalized children at the holidays. Sing in a choir that visits hospitals or senior residences. There are many opportunities for doing community service. No one can be depressed when they are doing community service. Helping others can be a great high, and it builds self-confidence too.

If the holidays are challenging for you, please contact me at 415-819-8769, or email for a complimentary 30-minute Consultation. Find out how Healing with Joy can help you have a merrier holiday season.


Healing Yourself with Active Imagination

Two weeks ago I wrote about shame and the many ways that adults live with deep rooted feelings of shame. I pointed out that the shame often comes from the abandonment of the child by a parent. Last week I wrote about how, when shame combines with loneliness and a need to numb the pain, it can fuel a compulsive and/or addictive lifestyle.

In efforts to psychically numb themselves, many often tend to focus on more money, more sex, or food, or booze, or drugs, or the next adrenaline rush, or entertainment, or possessions, or ecstasy so they won’t feel how lonely, hurt, mad, or sad they are. Then they bring all this stuff into their relationships – with co-workers, partners, families and children.

Underneath all this shame and addictive compulsive behavior is a wounded child that is still hurting. Many don’t realize it and are excessively hard on themselves when what is really needed is more compassion, acceptance, and reassurance.

Active Imagination to Heal Trauma
Carl Jung, a famous psychotherapist, used active imagination to help people connect with buried trauma so it could be brought to consciousness and healed. Active imagination consists of imaginary dialogs between you, the conscious part of you, and the wounded unconscious part of you that needs healing. It’s extremely helpful in releasing old trauma.

Active Imagination Process
It’s best to journal the active imagination process because you will want to review your comments later. In addition, the act of writing will help you stay focused and not drift off during the process.

The best time to work with this process is when you have been triggered by a person or a recent event. Begin by focusing on the emotion that is being re-triggered. (If you are practicing active imagination, then think of a situation in the past that has a lot of charge to it.)

Take a few deep breaths to help you relax. Then shift your focus to the person or situation that triggered you. Once you can recall the situation, focus on what you are feeling. Once you are experiencing the feeling, then you can let go of the story and just focus on the feeling. You may notice an achiness, constriction, or tightness somewhere in your body. Just notice it. Once you have “anchored” into the feeling, then remember a time in the past, possibly in your childhood, when you had a similar feeling.

By feeling the feeling, and linking it to a past memory, you will be connecting to your younger self. Notice how old your younger self is. Then begin to ascertain what was going on for your younger self that was generating that same feeling.

This is when you begin to dialog with your younger self. Say “Hello,” and begin to ask questions as to what is going on for her that is causing feelings of distress, anger, shame, sadness, fear, etc. You might ask questions like:

  • What’s happened?
  • Why are you feeling so_________________?
  • What do you need right now?
  • Can I help you?
Notice – Be observant and notice what you can about your younger self: her dress, the condition of her physical body, her appearance, the environment, her mood. These will all be clues as to the emotional, psychological, and physical state of your younger self.
Attune – Attune to your younger self. Let her share her story. Let her have her feelings. Be sure to validate them.
Understanding – Understand how and why she feels the way she does. It doesn’t matter if it seems trite or irrational – these are her feelings. She has a right to them. Try to understand the reasons for her feelings.
Connect to the present – Remember what you can about the present situation that caused you to be triggered. What in present time caused a re-triggering of past emotions?
Connect to past – What happened in the past that caused negative memories, feelings, or thoughts?
React – React to the past event with sympathy and understanding. Validate the feelings of your younger self.
Reframe – Offer a new perspective of the past event.

  • Does she need to be rescued? – Send in the SWAT Team
  • Does she need to confront someone so she can speak her truth? Then help her do so. This will help her reclaim her voice and her power.
  • Does she need comforting? Then comfort her. Or bring in someone like Mother Mary who can.
  • Does she need reassurance that everything will turn out OK? Then give her reassurance.
Concern – Show her you care and treat her with gentleness and compassion. Let her know that she is not alone anymore; explain that you are now aware of her and will come to her when she needs comforting or protection.
Close – When it’s time to bring the interactive imagination session to a close, give your younger self a big hug and let her know that you will be there for her from now on. Then bring yourself back to full consciousness.
Journal – Write down all that you remember of the experience if you were not actually writing down the dialog as it happened. Make notes of any insights or ‘Ah Ha’s’ you had. (From experience, if you don’t write it down you may lose some of the important nuggets that come up for you during the active imagination session.)

You will find active imagination sessions with your younger self to be very revealing, full of insight, and extremely healing. Enjoy the process and re-acquaint yourself with the younger YOU who is always precious and deserves your love and compassion.

If you are afflicted with feelings of shame or have an exaggerated inclination to feel guilty that is interfering with your personal life, performance, or relationships, then contact Joy for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to learn how you can let go of shame and step into your full potential. Email Joy or call 415-819-8769.