As we wrap up 2017, I wanted to share some words of wisdom that came from my daughter, Erin. I sometimes feel like she has the ability to take the lessons I want to share, but put them in a very fun, succinct and snappy way.
I hope you all enjoy this!
2017 was a really tough year for our country, our Earth and for many of us as individuals. Here are a few things I had to remind myself of constantly, but man alive were they important for me!
Kindness: Offering another human kindness is the greatest gift we can ever give. No matter how perfect someone’s life may appear on the outside, we all have challenges, we all have demons and we all face struggles. Being kind and offering empathy, instead of rushing to judgment, allows us to be more connected with each other in the world and the people we treat that way feel it and are more likely to reciprocate it back to us and others.
Love! Love! Love! Love! Love:
We human beings get so caught up in the politics of love that are fueled by insecurity. How much love should we show? Should we make our love for someone else known? Should we take the love away if we feel rejected? Short answer: No! Loving with an open and full heart makes us better people and being vulnerable with another human being makes us braver and strong!
But this brings me to…
Boundaries: We are never the victim of someone else’s treatment. We are always responsible for how we allow others to treat us, be it lovers, friends, family members or random strangers. If we don’t like the way someone is treating us, it is important to communicate our boundaries kindly and then remove ourselves from the situation. More important than blindly loving others is making sure that we take time to love ourselves!
Tell the Truth: This year, I opted for honesty in many situations where I might have felt awkward in years past. Instead of running away or hiding, or ignoring things that made me uncomfortable, or brought up questions for me, I asked those questions and I told those truths. I opted for open communication with friends, romantic partners, family members and colleagues, and something really wonderful happened. Once that insecurity of being open passed, I felt empowered by the knowledge I received and I was able to take it and learn and grow.
Listen: Speaking our minds is so important but equally important is allowing others to do the same. Listening with the intent to learn was something I heard in a TED talk this year and I've been working on it ever since. We can never come together as a nation or world if we don't hear each other and keep open minds and open hearts. Here’s to continued growth in 2018!
Erin is a singer and writer based in Los Angeles. You can learn more about her by visiting her website.
It’s been a rough few months for human beings lately, and here in the U.S. and in our territories in the Caribbean, we’ve seen many people’s worlds rocked to their core. We’ve experienced the winds and rains of hurricanes, the destructive furnace of fires, and on top of that a terrifying hailstorm of bullets rained down on innocent music lovers in Las Vegas.
Women all over the country have been coming forward about their experiences with sexual assault and harassment and many are reliving painful feelings of guilt and shame as they share their stories.
Everywhere I look I see grievers…a nation of grievers. Anyone who suffers loss is a griever. Whether your loss resulted from a hurricane, an earthquake, a massacre or a sexual assault, the end-result is the same…you are a griever. You have either lost trust, dreams, circumstances, a living being, a place, or a thing, that you valued.
Grief isn’t an emotion. It’s actually a cluster of emotions that result when you suffer loss. Sometimes grief shows up as devastating sadness but it can also manifest as horror, depression, anxiety, fears, phobias, confusion, disbelief, overwhelm, hopelessness and paralyzing despair. These are just some of the ways that humans express the emotions that we collectively call grief.
Most people really suffer when they are grieving and often wonder if the pain will ever end or if they will ever get their lives back. But there is more to the grief picture than the sobbing and the wailing that initially takes place. There is a subterranean aspect of grief that slips up on you like a Ninja in the night. It is the fearful, limiting beliefs that develop in your subconscious mind. These beliefs impact your behavior and attract negative outcome that affirms their validity.
I can exemplify this best with the story of one of the women who came forward in the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse investigation. She shared that after he forced himself on her and after futile attempts to make him stop, she ended up having nonconsensual sexual activity with him.
Afterward, she hated herself and thought she was horrible for not fighting harder. This grew into an inability to enjoy sex and resulted in an eating disorder. This demonstrates this most important point, when grief is unresolved and unhealed, it very often leads to destructive, self-sabotaging behavior.
Most people have a limited capacity for handling emotional pain, so they must find some form of relief. Once they find a substance or an activity that eases the pain, the brain will drive them back to it time and again.
This can be a very positive thing if the relief they found comes from peaceful and positive activities such as, prayer, meditation, exercise or gratitude. But all too often the relief comes in the form of a substance or a behavior that in excess, leads to addiction or destructive habits.
This powerful connection the brain develops with the pleasurable activity is what makes treating and healing addictive behaviors so difficult. The pleasure center of the brain only cares about survival, not, healthy, productive living, so it can be very difficult to shift these behaviors.
In the next piece we will look at ways to unhook from unhealthy brain-driven activities. Life is in session and this nation of grievers needs relief from the emotional pain created by natural, political and psychological upheaval. Fortunately, there are positive ways to get that relief, but first we must interrupt the pattern of obsession with behavior that is not beneficial.
*photo credit: The Telegraph
It’s spring and of course the first thing that comes to mind is CLEANING! It’s time to throw back the sashes and let in the fresh air of new growth. I have found myself really into it this year. It’s the fault of my daughter who cleaned out and organized a cupboard while I was at work one day and the delight that I felt every time I looked at that drawer, spread like the plague and became a kind of magnificent obsession. Away I went, cleaning drawers, closets and anything else that caught my now, obsessed eye.
Somewhere in a quiet moment after 10 bags of stuff had gone home with the cleaning lady, I realized that there was another area of my life that needed de-cluttering. It was my heart.
You see I had perfected being attracted to Likeable, Narcissistic Men, which offered little in the way of great treatment and feeling cherished.
Hang on, before you judge or condemn me, let’s remember that this was all happening on a subconscious level. My conscious mind was sure that I was ready for Mr. Right and couldn’t understand why I kept attracting Mr. Right Now.
Haven’t you ever asked yourself, “Why do I keep experiencing the same situations over and over again. The same guy, the same work problems, the same money issues? Why? Why? Why?
Here’s the answer. We keep creating the same problems over and over again because the subconscious mind is holding beliefs that are attracting experiences that validate those beliefs.
For example: if you are holding a belief that you have no worth or that you just aren’t good enough, or like in my case, “A man’s needs matter more than mine.” Guess what? You attract a likeable narcissist who proves you’re right. I perfected it.
We have to remember that the subconscious is literal, specific, precise, and it loves to be right. It’s also 95% of our mind functioning…so don’t feel badly if you’re in the same camp I was. If we can’t identify and release those limiting beliefs, they will run the show no matter how much your conscious mind wants something else.
Fortunately for me, I had the tools to identify and release those sabotaging beliefs. I do this with clients every day. We aren’t doomed to keep living the same Ground Hog Day existence if we get the skilled help we need. Just remember that your conscious mind doesn’t hold the answers. It’s only 5% of your mind functioning. It’s a flea compared to the elephant that is the subconscious, weighing in at 95%.
If we want real change, we need to identify and release those sabotaging beliefs. That’s how we create the reality we desire, instead of the one dictated by a misinformed elephant.
Paula Shaw is a Life Transition Coach helping people to Navigate Change and Challenge. (626) 864-0756. www.paulashaw.com
It’s February and we all know what that means…
Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap. Ask most people how they feel about it and they’ll groan and say they hate it, or that it’s a let down, or it’s a Hallmark holiday designed to manipulate the consumer.
Yet in spite of this, most couples celebrate Valentine’s Day each year. Any many women still fantasize about their men giving them the picture perfect, movie-worthy evening. So instead of bashing Valentines Day, let’s just operate under the notion that most of you are going to indeed be celebrating it this year.
The question then becomes how can you turn it from a nuisance into a special day of connection for you and your loved one? What is the formula for a happy partner? How do we get it right?
It seems like a given that this holiday is geared toward women. I do realize that there are a few men who are self-proclaimed romantics and live to surprise their sweeties with unexpected flowers, dinners, hot bubble baths and breakfast in bed. But not every guy has that natural Romeo instinct to make his woman swoon with a single rose and a wink.
What I too often see in my practice, is that as of February 1st the women start experiencing PTSD symptoms in fear that, “he’s going to blow it again.” While the guys have to fight the urge to say “this is a crock of st*t” and instead, opt for making dinner reservations somewhere expensive so they won’t be in the proverbial dog house.
I do believe there is a better way however, to create a more satisfying and ultimately meaningful Valentine’s Day that might take your relationship to the next level.
Consider taking the advice of Psychologist Gary Chapman who wrote the 5 Love Languages. He says that every person has a primary way they experience love and a secondary one. Some of us may have a couple Primary Love lanagues. Chapman says you either feel loved by receiving, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Gifts or Words of Affirmation.
So here’s my recipe for a great Valentine’s Day. Spend some time figuring out what your primary and secondary love languages are and also what your partner’s are. Then, and here’s the important part - do something for your beloved that is in alignment with what speaks LOVE to them.
For example, if your gal or guy’s primary love language is Gifts, then cooking dinner or taking a romantic picnic isn’t going to light them up. Better to opt for a Cashmere scarf or a diamond necklace. But if their primary love language is Acts of Service, you will hit a home run when you clean the house and cook them their favorite meal. Nothing says I love you like scrubbing a toilet for your partner who prizes Acts of Service above all else. If your partner prizes Quality Time and Words of Affirmation, maybe write them a love letter and reiterate all the ways that they light you up inside. Or if physical touch is their love language, set some time aside to snuggle and kiss, make lots of eye contact, and remind them that you love them. Above all else, just remember that the most important aspect of this approach is to do what would feel like a statement of love for them…not what speaks love to you. We are all different and experience love in different ways.
While it’s always important that we prioritize our needs and our partners needs equally in our day to day live, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to put that person 100% first and show them you love them.
In the words of author H. Jackson Brown Jr, “Love is when the other person's happiness is more important than your own.” Make that your Valentine’s Day goal and I guarantee you that it will be the best one ever.
I’ve really been doing a lot of thinking about the concept of a New Year’s Reset. I think it is a brilliant idea with a lot more potential for success than New Year’s Resolutions.
You know how when your computer or your phone starts behaving in a really wonky manner, you just turn it off, or click the restart button? That concept of pausing and resetting everything is brilliant!
Let’s explore this idea.
Isn’t it cool to think that when we reach a point where we have become frazzled, overwhelmed and minimally functional, we can just hit the restart button and reset everything? It’s like a course correction when sailing… no guilt, no wrongdoing…just a better, improved idea.
Life only happens one day at a time, so how can we know on January 1 what will be right for each day of the rest of the year? We haven’t lived into these days. We haven’t yet navigated the balance between effort and surrender, dedication and flexibility. And this balance is key. For everything, there is a season. That’s an ancient truth, which should be one of our guiding thoughts as we traverse the year ahead.
As we step into the year, I love the idea that we have a plan, a general direction for each day but are always open to a reset; a course correction if a better idea presents itself. We need to be clear and powerful about what we desire but always open to the better option or goal that might emerge. This reset might be a change in our eating plan, our exercise regime, the way we are engaging in our careers or relationships. It could be many things.
The important points are these:
So, down with resolutions that imply a prior screw-up and usually set you up for another failure. Up with living in the moment and being open to allowing a Reset whenever appropriate. Let’s do this and make it a truly Happy New Year.
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…or so they say. I must admit that for years, I was one of those Christmas Elf types who spent days decorating the house, weeks buying just the right gifts and then wrapping them into the night after everyone else had settled in for a long winter’s nap. I spent hours in the kitchen cooking everybody’s favorite holiday goodies and even found time to write out a zillion Holiday cards. In one year’s burst of insanity I created handmade, themed wreaths for my own family, my mother, sister and sister in law! Of course I was a few years younger then and perhaps shy a few critical brain cells. But through it all, like everyone else, I would declare, “It’s my favorite time of the year!” I think that could more accurately have been said, “It’s my favorite temporary insanity.”
Let’s face it, the holidays do offer the opportunity for joyous family time but they are also exhausting and fraught with gatherings that offer fertile soil for the resurgence of family feuds, eating all the wrong foods, drinking too much alcohol and not getting enough sleep. And heaven help you if you have suffered some kind of loss and you are in emotional pain.
For many people, the first or second holiday season after a major loss, is painful, dark and lonely. Whether the person in question has lost a relative to death, a spouse to divorce, their health or mobility, or even a job to retirement, the pain of loss is never more evident than when everyone around you, seems to be filled with joy and cheer. In truth, many holiday grievers put on a happy face to appear joyful and excited at holiday time, because it’s easier than telling people they’re in pain. These masked grievers might exist within your own family, or you might be one of them and the truth is there’s no reason to be a victim to the Holiday Blues. There is help available for you and in my upcoming posts I will be sharing many ideas with you as to how you can turn your Holiday Blues into Holiday Bliss.
Let’s remember that grief is a genre, not an emotion. Grief can encompass fear, sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, confusion, sleeplessness and so many other manifestations. So what do we do when we are feeling these not so cheery emotions and it’s the Holidays?
It’s important to experience the painful feelings connected with our grief. It’s part of the healing process. Even if it looks to you like everyone else is happy and bright, it’s only their outsides you are seeing. Don’t get caught up in comparing your insides to other people’s outsides.
Remember that feelings were made to be experienced and passed through us, in order to make room for other feelings. If we don’t express our feelings their energy gets stuck inside us and that never works out in a pretty way. Emotions wreak havoc when we stuff them down, they don’t behave politely, so cry those tears, pound those pillows and release your pain and shock. The only way out is through. However, the pain and depleted, saddened state, should not become a way of life. In addition to addiction to the brain chemicals released when we experience emotions, people can become addicted to the attention that comes with being in a victim state. It’s not positive attention but it is still attention and for those who feel unloved or invisible…that attention can become very seductive.
Bottom line: experience your pain with safe people, feel it and let it move through and out of you. Do not become a monument to despair!
In the meantime let me offer you immediate help in the form of a FREE digital copy of my best selling book, Grief…When Will This Pain Ever End? Just go to Paulashawbook.com and get your book. It’s chock full of helpful info and processes that work and you can cull through them without having to read the entire book because I know you’re busy and distracted these days. Give it a go. It’s FREE…So you have nothing to lose but your Holiday Blues!
When did Thanksgiving become a brief layover on the trip to Christmas? I'm not sure if you have, but I have noticed in recent years that Thanksgiving has been given short shrift because it isn’t as commercially lucrative as Christmas.
This year, a few days after Halloween, the Christmas decor was going up. Not even an honorable mention to Thanksgiving! Well, not on my watch. I have a few things to say in praise of Thanksgiving.
So here’s to THANKSGIVING. LONG MAY YOU REIGN! I hope you will all join me on Thursday in Gratitude that we have this wonderful holiday that reminds us all to focus on what is really important…Love of others and Gratitude.
We are all aware of the tragic incident that happened last week in Nice, France when 75 people were killed by a truck hurling through a crowd on Bastille Day. We also know that Baton Rouge, Dallas and many other cities in our country, have been plagued with acts of violence. These kinds of incidents not only engender our sorrow and empathy, they exacerbate our fears. As a collective consciousness the human community is very focused on fear and violence right now and energetically this creates a real problem. Remember, that whatever you feed energy to will grow and right now we are feeding a lot of energy to the very things we don’t want. This doesn’t just happen during times of violence and terrorism; most of us are doing this in our own lives, all the time.
So what do we do to change what is happening in the collective consciousness? First of all, actively work on focusing your thoughts on the positive aspects of your life and world events. If you find yourself starting to obsess on the fearful, negative elements of life, consciously pull your thoughts back to things that are actually happening in the peaceful, loving way that we all desire. This will strengthen the positive and weaken the fear and negativity.
We have all heard the idea echoed by Gandhi to be the change you wish to see in the world. I want to take that one step further and say think the thoughts you want to manifest and expand in the world. This really will matter and will really help to shift this fear consciousness.
While it is important to be informed about what is going on in the world, the key is not to overdo the consumption. One of the first things people need to do, after an act of terrorism has been reported, is get the facts, and then turn off the news. I know that sounds bizarre. Don’t they need to get the current information that will keep them safe? If only that were the case… but the truth is that modern cable news is consciously designed to create fear so that people will feel compelled to turn it on again to find out what is happening. Unfortunately, rather than feeling safe, the fear is usually intensified and the cycle is further perpetuated, rather than ended.
We all believe on a core level, that if we are looking out for “the Boogie Man,” he won’t be able to get us. We don’t realize that by looking out for him we are focused on him, thereby feeding energy to him and anything we feed energy to expands and grows. That is why after 9/11, the obsession with watching the plane hit the Twin Towers over and over again, became intensified, and expanded our fear, each time we experienced it.
How do we stop this powerful, destructive obsession? We have to stop the dysfunctional cycle and replace it with something life enhancing and powerful. For example, instead of watching the endless coverage on the news of an act of terrorism, turn off the news and meditate, go for a run, focus on playing a game with your family or read something uplifting. There are various other techniques I would use with clients that can also be useful, such as Meridian Tapping, breathing techniques, visualization and meditation. All of these activities will take one’s energy to a higher level allowing one to live fully, rather than perpetuating fear and negative, obsessive behavior.
In short, it's like the Native American story that says that within all of us live two wolves…the wolf of fear and the wolf of love and joy. Only one can survive. Which one will that be…the one that we feed.
The theme of my radio show this week was all about the plight of our military men.
Their living conditions are shockingly challenging due to low pay and mental/emotional/physical issues that develop during their service.
These are the heroes that have stepped forward to protect us and what they have to deal with is appalling. They get very low pay in the first five grades and for many who have children it is impossible to survive unless the spouse has a good paying job.
I very naively thought that the government took care of all their needs and that is just not the case. Many of them are trying to exist on $25,000 a year.
What makes matters much worse, is that those who get deployed to a war zone often come back with debilitating conditions like PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injuries and physical disabilities. It is impossible for them to function normally under these conditions, so it becomes even more difficult to hold down a job and have a stable emotional life.
We interviewed Laura Mckinnon who worked for a non-profit called STEP, which helps enlisted personal with financial difficulties.
Also on the show was my father, Jack Gutman, who is WWII vet. He dealt with PTSD in silence for 66 years and recently wrote a memoir about his experience.
We discussed a lot of things that I believe are very important for every one of us to know. Please make time to listen to the show.
One other exciting bit of news…KCBQ, our radio station at 1170AM The Answer, has decided to have a special airing of our original show with my dad discussing the Normandy Invasion on D-Day. It will air at 11:00 a.m. on Memorial Day! We are very excited and proud that the station chose our show for this special airing.
For those of you who would like to hear the show but are not in the San Diego area, you can find it on my media page.
This Memorial Day, open your hearts to our veterans and enlisted men in some way. Donate to a foundation or group that is helping them, invite one to dinner, give food, clothing or other needed items to enlisted people in need. This year let’s all do something more concrete than saying, “Thank you for your service.”
Before writing my current book, Grief…When Will This Pain Ever End? I wrote a book about the human energy system called, Chakras, the Magnificent Seven.
The book is a compendium of information about this system and how we can work with it to create health and healing on mental, physical, emotional and spiritual levels.
My Seven Chakras recently contacted me about speaking with them in a live interview. Their organization is determined to change people's lives physically, mentally and spiritually by providing tips, advice and insights into alternative healing.
Attracting over 35,000 people a month, it is a phenomena on a growth spurt. The head of the organization was my interviewer Aditya Jaykumar. He is not only delightful, he is brilliant and amazing at synthesizing information and restating it in a clear, insightful manner. It is a fun, interesting interview, chalk full of information about the chakras.
If you have some time as you are driving your car or cleaning your house, feel free to give it a listen.
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PAULA SHAW, CADC, DCEP is an author, Energy Psychology specialist, therapist, speaker, Reiki Master and Grief Counselor. For more than 20 years, Paula has been passionate about empowering people who are dealing with profound loss, so they can reap something truly beautiful from their pain. She also helps clients who are going through major life transitions or seeking freedom from self-destructive addictions. She has degrees in Education and Communications from Long Beach State University, as well as graduate counseling credentials from Loyola Marymount University. She is one of the founding members of the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology and currently serves on its board of directors. Paula is the author of Chakras, the Magnificent Seven (2002), as well as "Grief...When Will This Pain Ever End?" Finding Your Way out of the Pit of Despair After Profound Loss.
Former Blog Archive
Thank you for reading Paula's Blog. Because our site moved in June, we were unable to transfer all of our blog posts over. You can however, read the rest of them by visiting our old blog site. HERE