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Improving LOA with EFT for ACES / PTSD

Did you know…?

PTSD can also be caused by Adverse Childhood Experiences

Did you experience any of these precursors to PTSD while you were growing up?

1.         Recurrent physical abuse

2.         Recurrent emotional abuse

3.         Contact sexual abuse

4.         An alcohol and/or drug abuser in the household

5.         An incarcerated household member

6.         Family member who is chronically depressed, mentally ill, institutionalized, or suicidal

7.         Mother is treated violently

8.         One or no parents

9.         Physical neglect

10.       Emotional neglect

An ACE score of 4 or more indicates you may have C-PTSD

My name is Gayle Nicholson. My ACE score is 9.5.

I also have a life I absolutely LOVE living and I want the same for you!

It wasn’t always so fabulous. Suffering the effects of PTSD is no joke, whether it comes due to War Trauma or Childhood Adverse Experiences. Statistically speaking, I should be dead under an overpass. It was close, but thanks to a few well placed Angels, I’m not. In fact, today my life is AMAZING!

You might say it happened as if by magic. To an extent, that’s true. But it didn’t come without effort. It didn’t come without a passionate desire to STOP being a victim of the past.

I changed my energy.

I changed my thoughts.

I consciously chose to live a different way than the world would have expected of me.

Those three simple steps are how I created the life I have now.

Let me show you how…

It was simple, but not easy. It was challenging, and the breakthroughs were exhilarating. By trial and error and a few well placed Angels, I found a way to create beyond my preconceived limitations rather than give in to how life was automatically programming me. I want that for you. I want YOU to have the life you dream of, no matter what that looks like. I want to help you be the true, full expression of your authentic self. I want you to be as much in love with your life as I am now.

If you knew the details of my childhood; the abuse and neglect I experienced, the abandonments I suffered, you’d know it’s a miracle I’m still alive. It is a miracle, and more! I’m so excited to have the opportunity to support you in doing the same thing! During the 40-Day Reset, you’ll create your own miracles for your own life! Don’t worry, I’ll be right there to guide you through the process. Together, we’ll change your energy, change your thoughts and change the things you do in the world. Ultimately, we’ll celebrate the results you created. It’s going to be awesome!

PTSD Survivor, Gayle Nicholson, B. Msc.I’m so excited to finally announce my 40-Day Reset program! It’s specifically designed to release you from limitations set in the past, giving you freedom and tools to create a life of your own desire and design.

In the 40-Day Reset, we’ll work together to neutralize the energetic hooks of the past, and we’ll make an impact on multiple levels of life. If you have experienced them, you know: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) that result in C-PTSD (Childhood induced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) create miserable problems in the lives of those who suffer. A recent study from the Center for Disease Control revealed ACES has a direct impact on the health and well being of survivors as adults, including increased drug use, and depression leading to suicide.

Like I said. I should be dead under an overpass.

The reason I’m not are many and varied, but I’ve distilled the most important parts into a simple process that clears massive blocks and takes only a few moments a day. The 40-Day Reset is designed to deactivate networks of anxiety, guilt, and shame in your energetic mind. It quiets the chatter, provides clarity, and gives you space to create whatever you want to choose now.

As a survivor of Adverse Childhood Experiences, ( ACES ) I began noticing signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ( PTSD ) in my early twenties. There’s no need to go into detail, I only mention it to give you an idea of my starting point.

Between the trauma and the lifestyle it induced, not to mention the places it took me, I truly shouldn’t be alive. So why am I here more than 25 years later, and why am I doing so well despite my traumatic past?

A better question is: Why are you? Would you like to go even further? Enjoy it a little more? Expand…? Have a little peace inside your head? Maybe even put a stop to the drama?

You can have all of those things and more.

I have an incredible life. I want YOU to have an incredible life, too. That’s why I’m putting the program out there and sharing some of the tips, tricks and techniques I’ve used to create a life I absolutely love living. Come have some fun with me, get your power back and put your past where it belongs!

I invite you to click on this link to join my email list now. You’ll receive everything I’ve ever learned, a little at a time, and I promise I’ll never share your email with anyone else without your permission. The link will take you to an opt-in page and you’ll be able to instantly download a copy of my new e-book, “3 Steps to Making Miracles”. After that, I’ll offer you other opportunities to take advantage of my experience, as well as invitations to webinars and other events designed to increase your ability to make your own life better than you ever imagined. How does it get better than that?!

In the meantime, here’s a preview of the type of things you can expect from me:

  • Expect me to talk about what Miracles are, and how you can cause them to happen in your own life.
  • Expect me to talk about Reiki, Energy Healing and Emotional Freedom ( EFT ).
  • Expect me to periodically share the magic power of crystals, gemstones, and minerals. Your jewelry is your Secret Superpower!
  • Expect me to talk about the ups and downs of dealing with ACES, PTSD and effective strategies for making it past the depression these things leave behind.
  • Expect me to talk about Law of Attraction, how to make it work better, and how to clear yourself for better results.
  • Expect me, from time to time, to reference books like the Course in Miracles, The Bible, and Conversations with God, and the works of Marianne Williamson. Inspiration can be found anywhere.
  • Expect me to talk often about raising your vibration to harmonize and resonate with the life experiences you are trying to create.
  • Expect me to talk about Forgiveness. Letting it go, we set ourselves free.
  • And yes, you can expect me to mention Barry Manilow  every once in while. What can I say? He inspires me. I owe him a lot.
  • Most of all, expect me to want to know what kind of results the things I share with you make in your life. Connect with me on my in the comments section of my blog or on my Facebook page.

Click on this link to join my email list now.

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It’s a Matter of Grace

“Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.”

I’m not famous. I haven’t gone to any Ivy League Schools. I never even learned how to play an instument, really, and I can only sing when I’m singing Christmas carols.

But that’s not to say I haven’t done remarkable things.

My story isn’t pretty, though at the same time it’s beautiful. Sadly, I know many with far uglier pasts than mine. some who have achieved far more than I. But I am proud of how far I have gotten, knowing where I started and what challenges I faced.

“It’s a Long Way Up When You’re Coming From Nowhere”
~Barry Manilow and John Annesi, lyrics of a song of the same name.

Before I go on, I want you to understand that though the book that I’ve written is based on my experiences, I make no claim that everything within is the absolute truth. The material events I’ll share with you actually happened. How I perceived them at the time may be a perspective, wholly different than how I recall them now. I believe this is a by-product of training myself to reframe hurtful moments in the most empowering way possible. As a side effects go, I’ll take it.

What I mean to say is that I’ll give you everything as best I can, but I make no guarantees I’ll get the he said she said details right. And how I recall an event may be 180 degrees away from any one of my siblings memories of the same event. In fact, there’s no guarantee that everyone of us even remember the same moments to begin with.

It’s extremely difficult as well to write about intimate real life experiences without writing about the others who were also there. I’ve changed names where appropriate, but there is one name I just can’t change.

Grace.

There’s no better word to describe her. She was the epitome of the word. Not necessarily light on her feet at nearly 400 lbs, but Grace personified nonetheless.

She was, for me, the living breathing expression of the phrase, “there but for the Grace of God go I.” She was an angel who took me in, championed me, and made me a champion myself as well. In her own way she taught me how to fish for the successes in life.

I had many angels in my life, not all of whoom took me into their homes and hearts like Grace did. Some of them I hardly know, some I’ve never met. But there’s no denying the impact each and every one of them has made.

Not the least of which is Barry Manilow, another player in this story whose name I don’t dare replace. There’s no equivalent fictitious persona I can make up that will instantly give you all the dots to connect as well as just keeping it real. The songs, the lyrics, informed my sensibilities, my values, and my philosophy on life. The music affected the frequecy at which my soul resonates. Not only did his songs soothe and inspire me, they taught me fundamental truths. Without knowing the songs, you won’t be able to appreciate the depth of synchronicity.

The Universe is resolving every problem on a scale grander than we can fathom. Without music, you won’t grok the Miracle of it all.

~G 4/2/14

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Excavating the Cornerstone

Most of us consider a cornerstone a good, strong and most importantly, a positive thing. But what if the cornerstone in question is holding up the wall between you and success?

Many of us find ourselves working hard at removing the component bricks that make up the wall between ourselves and success. Brick by brick, stone by stone, we chip away at the mortar that holds our ineffectiveness in place, hoping that someday, one day, we’ll create a hole large enough to squirm through to the life we dream of on the other side. This may be the way we’ve been taught is the process to reaching our own version of success, but what if there is another way? What if we really can fell the wall by digging up just one foundational piece of masonry?

There is.

Instead of taking down the wall from the top, brick by brick, piece by piece, how about we look at what began building the wall in the first place?

A long, long time ago in a childhood far, far away, our sole mission in life was to gather information and make decisions based on that information that would ensure our survival into adulthood. Some decisions we made worked for us. For example, it was a good thing that I decided that jumping off the bridge over the Roaring Branch River during the spring thaw was not a great idea. Of course, seeing my ex-boyfriend Rick in a cast up to his hip helped in making that decision, but the decision itself was my own and it has served me well ever since.

However, there are other decisions that have been made in my life, mostly for the same self-preservationist reasons, and instead of contributing to a safe, happy and injury free life, they in fact became the cornerstones and bricks of the wall between us and success.

For example, one of my Godmother’s favorite sayings was, “Children should be seen and not heard!” A fine maxim for raising polite and well behaved youngsters, don’t you think? I’m sure that was her intention. After all, she made her living as an elementary school librarian.

Unfortunately, I decided that whenever I am around people who are (in my opinion) in authority, older, wiser, deserving of the pedestals I tend to put the people I idolize upon, or just plain somebody I admire, I clam up.

Not the most effective decision for someone who makes her living through communication, eh? It does tend to present its challenges.

I can hear a bunch of you now…. “Well, just speak up! You’re not a kid anymore! State your case and be done with it!”

Well, I’ve tried reminding myself to do that. Probably a couple hundred times, and still, it doesn’t make a difference. I end up just having a conversation with myself in my own head. (“Say something! NO! Go ahead, what have you got to lose? NO!” You know how those conversations go.)

So let’s look a little deeper….

If I were to really be straight about it and tell the truth about what taking my Godmother’s admonition to heart provided for me as a kid, I’d have to say that first and foremost, it helped me avoid being the target of “The Look”.

“The Look” was a way my Godmother had of staring you down that made you feel like if you even breathed wrong in the next 30 seconds, God himself was going to come kick your butt. Avoiding “The Look” was directly related to survival in my childhood.

Furthermore, if I was “good” and waited patiently (and quietly) until a grown up took notice and invited me to speak, I was rewarded with any number of things that were high on my list of desired items… a cookie, a compliment, a hug, a lap to sit on, even a favored standing within the mass of children that were my family.

So for me, waiting to be seen before I got heard was a way of both getting what I wanted and avoiding getting what I didn’t want. Powerful motivational stuff!

But not working especially well for me in the present.

As an adult, I can’t just stand on a corner and wait for someone to say, hey, here’s a nice fat check. How about you write me a few words on your opinion of whatever you want to talk about and have it ready by Friday?

Well, I could stand there and wait… but pretty soon I’d have grab a box and move in, you know what I mean?

But that would be the impact of living at effect of such a childish decision, wouldn’t it? To face facts, my business success is in the hands of a squelched three year old, trying to survive and maybe having a glimmer of hope to get a cookie along the way. Disgusting.

But that’s exactly my business results in the present.

So what can I do to make a difference here and now? How can I be different than the way I’ve always been? What would it take to make an impact on the results I now have in my life?

If I went back to the moments before I heard those words, and look at how I was being, what would I see there?

I’d see a delightful little angel, exuberant, excited about something she was just bursting at the seams to share with the world, especially with those people she knew were the most important people on the planet. I’d see a bright little point of light with ideas and perspectives to be explored adventurously like so much unknown territory. I’d see my Self, unfettered, willing to put it all out there, fully expressing myself ebulliently.

If I can take on being that ebullient three year old again, I just may have a chance of excavating that heavy cornerstone. With each unfettered conversation that I have in the face of  that voice in my head (once my Godmother’s voice, now it’s my own) that tells me, “No, don’t say a word, wait until it’s safe to talk…” the masonry that is the barrier between myself and success gets rattled. Each excited, can’t-wait-to-share-this! word falls like the blow of a sledgehammer against that cornerstone, knocking it to kingdom come, destabilizing the wall, destabilizing the many bricks laid on it from above. New experiences of who I am and who I can be lift me up over the rubble, securing my steps over the wreckage of what once was this barrier between me and success. I come to know myself to be someone different than I have experienced myself as in the past.

In no uncertain terms, I have caused a miracle.

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C4Power~Explosive Results!

 

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The Gift of a Powerful Life

Living a powerful life is a gift you give yourself when you cease giving away your personal power.

Gratitude

Cultivating a general attitude of gratitude goes a long way toward giving you power in challenging situations.

Why?

Because what we focus our attention on appreciates (grows, expands) and when we begin consciously directing our attention toward finding things to be grateful fo in any situation, no matter how challenging it may seem, the stronger we make the muscle for doing so and the more we attract experiences we enjoy experiencing.

Acknowledging your gratitude for others to them enhances our relatedness, empowers our social capital, and gerneral closeness and affinity with whom we spend most of our time.

Finally, expressing your gratitude for your Self. This is an almost unheard of concept. But really appreciating the finer points of being you and strengthening your ability to be grateful for your power to learn and change when faced with having made mistakes and poor choices is the ultimate access to personal power.

Integrity and Intentionality

Both of these are so powerful, I can’t decide which one is better, so let’s talk about both!

Integrity

Without integrity, really, nothing works. We could get into a long discussion about the finer points of integrity, and the difference between integrity and morality, but the bottom line is this: Do what you said you are going to do, when you say you will do it, doing the best job anyone can expect you to do. If you find you won’t be able to do the thing, communicate that with the people it would impact as soon as you know things have changed to create a new arrangement that works for everyone.

Intentionality

What’s the difference between the passion of the teenager in love and the mundane peck on the lips of the married couple? Nothing but Intentionality. You can bring zest to anything you do simply by being intentional about what you’re out to produce. Bringing passion, enthusiasm, and clarity to your workday can result in more reach, more profits and more joy.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the most awesome keys to having a powerful life. But let me tell you something about forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean to condone something hurtful that someone has done. In fact, I mean “to give forth”. In other words, to let go of… let go of the pain associated with that experience. Let go of the anger that does more against your own health than anyone else. Let go of repeatedly victimizing yourself in the present with traumatic memories from the past.

Refusing to forgive someone doesn’t hurt them at all. Yet unwillingness to forgive them keeps YOU stuck in a holding pattern from the past. It’s taking poison expecting your nemesis to die. Forgiveness, authentic forgiveness, breeds freedom. With that freedom comes access to your personal power in areas where you have been sacrificing your personal power for years.

Truth

There are many different forms of Truth. There’s my truth, your truth, and objective truth. There’s brutal truth, the whole truth (which is rarely that) and the Absolute Truth (which doesn’t really exist). But the most important form of truth to consider in regaining your Creative Command is Authentic Truth. Your authentic truth is the grand sum of how you were designed by your Creator in conjunction with how your experiences in life shaped you, without energetic hooks drawing chaos or repelling love around you.

Spend a little time each day honoring the GIIFT of Living a Powerful Life. cropped-dsc_00431.jpg

Gratitude * Integrity* Intention * Forgiveness * Truth

 

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Compliments

Dismissing a compliment is like smacking a gift out of someone’s hand.

It’s just rude. And thoughtless. Here’s what I think people don’t get about compliments.

In the world of energy flow, when a person gives you a compliment, it serves to lighten the energy between you and make you both feel good. We’ve been trained for years to be “modest” and deflect compliments, as some sort of show of humility, lest our ego embarrass us. But in fact deflecting the compliment deflects the amicable energy, leaving a pocket of time that usually gets filled with some diminutive statement about one thing or another. Deflecting compliments disempowers you, leaves those who just tried to give you a lift feeling rejected, and leaves an uncomfortable bubble in the space between you.

Learning how to take a compliment well is an important key to restoring not only our personal power, but is access to keeping that uplifting energy in circulation in our relationships.

Meister Eckhart
~Meister Eckhart

 

A genuine, heartfelt thank you is a good start. That’s one way to keep the flow going, by fully acknowledging the value of their opinion of you, and their attentiveness to whatever part of you pleased them. Honestly, properly done, just the two words “Thank you,” are a precious gift in return.

It’s true. All people crave being acknowledged for what they offer. Honoring that is powerful stuff in the realm of metaphysical energetics and personal power.

Really, you can leave it right there. A proper thank you is all a compliment truly requires. But we as a society have been taught that “it’s only polite” to give a compliment in return, so here are a couple of guidelines:

  • My godmother used to tell  us all the time: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” There were five of us kids; I think it was her way of keeping us quiet. But she has a point. No one needs to hear compliments that aren’t compliments. That’s just as uncomfortable in its own way. If you can’t think of a flattering response quickly, keep your mouth shut.
  • The key word in the last sentence above is “quickly”. Nothing is more insulting than enduring the silence while someone rummages around in their head for an obligatory nicety in response. Way to drop the precious china you were just given. Ouch!

 

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The Brilliance of Robin Williams

As a person who has survived Depression for the last 30 years, I’ve been watching the world react to the tragedy that is the passing of Robin Williams.

He was a brilliant man, no one can deny that. His unique brand of being is unparalleled in life as we know it on this planet at this time in history. Even Jimmy Fallon cannot imitate him properly, though he’s come closer than anyone else has ever had the balls to attempt.

He was a compassionate, kind man as well, as shared with us by celebrities and regular folk alike.

Yet in the end he was just as human as any of us, and I think that’s what scares us. Especially those of us who deal with varying degrees of depression daily. If there was a “Home Free!” from Depression, any of us would think Robin Williams was “SAFE!”

It’s nearly impossible to take on an enemy that morphs itself into a smorgasbord of pain personally designed for each individual it attacks like a demon conjured up by Stephen King. Depression is personal. It wants to take *YOU* out, the person, without regard to the fact that success means annihilation for itself as well.

Depression is a cancer of the mind.

Of course, there are ways to survive it. Even more incredible; there are ways to outlast Depression, and even to manage to thrive in spite of it. Robin Williams was a master at this. We need only to look at his charity work to see his attitude of generosity. He made the best use of his up-times he possibly could. Just look at the legacy he left for us in his prolific history in film, video and stand up, as well.

He surfed Depression. That was his brilliance.

RW2

He left us a legacy to inspire us. He set the bar astronomically high for the rest of all of humanity to aspire to as human beings. Even more so for the more than 16 million adults who have had a major depressive episode. Most incredibly, he did it with his mind tied behind his back.

In the end, I believe he made a calculated, pragmatic decision. I’ll say more on that in the future, perhaps.

For now, I’m as angry as anyone that he took away the possibility of so many more years of potential joy he could have given us. But that’s the selfish part of me, of us, speaking. As human beings, we mourn the loss of *potential* as much or more as the loss of the person. It’s natural. It’s why it hits us so much harder when children die than great-grandparents; the little ones had their whole lives ahead of them.

We, the collective public as a group, are mourning the loss of what we imagine to be the possible potential Robin Williams was expected to produce over the next 30 years that we could have reasonably expected of him to live. I’m not sure I got the grammar on that last sentence right or not, but you get my drift. Bob Hope lived to be 100. Mickey Rooney passed this year at the age of 94. People who make laughter should live longer, right? Laughter is supposed to be the best medicine, right? Right. Except when they’ve got a mental illness that makes them as awesome as they are.

Like Robin.

We all watched, we all knew there was something different about him. He was someone who completely embodied the term “No Limits”. If his brain had a transmission, its gears were stripped long ago. Robin was freestylin’ from the early days. Anything that burns that hot consumes fuel.

Sometimes that fuel comes from drugs. Robin had his battles with that but crossed the finish line clean as his wife has said publicly.

It also comes from applause.

I think it’s safe to say that Robin Williams lived to please the world. He knew the secret: Everyone is in pain. Make the world safe for another, you make it safe for yourself. Tell the truth as you see it, because no one else sees it like you, and if you get the chance make someone laugh. Because laughter truly is the best medicine. It’s the foremost treatment for keeping depression in remission. Unfortunately, it’s not 100% effective.

Let us not miss out on the lessons this man’s life has to teach us. We owe him that.

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5 Tools to Keep Depression at Bay

Every morning, the world has a new opportunity to talk about what Depression is and what can be done to keep people who have it from ending their lives.

So little is truly known about Depression. It’s a difficult, sometimes embarrassing conversation at best. Depression manifests itself in myriad ways to each individual. You may have symptoms that are different from mine, and some that are the same. Tips and tricks that are successful for me against its unending offense may not do it for you. I can’t pretend to be an expert on Depression, but after 30 years of surviving it I think I have something to say that might help someone else.

Of course, my standard disclaimer applies here: Take what fits and let the rest fly.

I affirm that you are strong and intelligent enough to be trusted to know yourself best.

My first suicide attempt happened when I was 15. I’ve arm-wrestled with that little demon in my head many other times through the years, but you never forget your first time. I got lucky when the valium I stole from my mother’s medicine chest was expired. I don’t think they even made me groggy. I think I cried myself to sleep.

After surviving the initial shock that her baby was up against more than she thought she could handle, my mother found a psychologist who worked on a sliding fee scale. I hated him. I refused to talk for the first few sessions. Eventually, I let my barriers down and consider myself blessed that I did. He gave me the one tool I have used consistently since then to keep the demon in my head in line. This one tool I can always count on to work when I use it:

  1. Writing Letters to Burn

Here’s how it works. You just write a letter. Write it to the person you’re upset with. Write it to God. Write it to anyone. Say whatever you need to say, just get the thoughts down on paper and out of your head. Say anything. Say everything. Then take the letter somewhere safe and burn it. Once you burn it, it can’t hurt anyone any more.

This technique works especially well for depression based on anger turned inward.

I came across the second technique a few years later.  When I notice I’m more bitter or grouchy than I want to be, I use this to feel better. It consistently provides good results and it’s highly adaptable. There are a number of ways to use this one, get creative.

2.  Make a Gratitude List

It’s as simple as it says. Just start writing down the things you have to be grateful for. Sometimes getting the list started is a stretch in itself, but if you can push yourself over the hump you really start to pick up steam around item 10. Make the list as long or as short as you like, and feel free to get silly. Go on a mission to hunt down the silver lining in any cloudy situation. It’ll help you feel better, I promise.

This next one is probably the hardest one for me to put into action, but I guarantee you it does work.

3.   Move!

No, I’m not talking about selling your house, packing your stuff and hitting the road. I mean, get your body in motion! Notice I didn’t say exercise. Why? Because I’m not trying to hook your issues about what you “should” and “shouldn’t” do, and it’s not about “exercise” per say. It’s about moving around. Give your eyes something else to look at, get your heart pumping, give those endorphins a tour of your circulatory system! There are tons of ways to get in motion. Go for a walk, ride a bike to the corner store, or my own personal favorite: lock the bedroom door, blast your favorite live album and perform for the bathroom mirror. Don’t worry, the cat won’t tell.

I should do this next one far more often than I do, simply because it’s a lot of fun. But to be honest, when in the grips of a depressive episode, things that are fun to do don’t often occur to me.

4.   Do something nice for someone else!

I used to bake a lot and joked with the other mom’s that baking kept me sane. I was the only one who knew it wasn’t a joke. I baked because it made me feel secure and content, and when I shared whatever I baked with others, it made me feel good.*

*This also applies to gardening and sharing tomatoes and zucchini.

There are millions of ways beyond baking and gardening to make this one work in your world. You could combine 1, 2, and 3 to do 4 if you want. In other words, Write a letter (1) to someone expressing how grateful (2) you are for their presence in your life, then walk it over to them (3) and brighten their day (4)! Simple!

My final suggestion to you is my secret weapon. I’ve been using tapping on and off for over 10 years, and I can tell you from experience it has been a blessing for so many areas of my life.

5.   Emotional Freedom Technique

EFT is a form of energy psychology that unhooks the negative emotions from our memories, freeing us from emotionally reliving trauma from the past. You can find everything you need to learn EFT for yourself with a simple Google search, but save yourself the trouble and download my video on EFT Basics here.   Emotional Freedom Technique works miracles when it comes to putting the demon to sleep. I highly recommend it.

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5 Ways to Be Grateful When Your Life is Going to Hell

sunlight Back in the early days of my recovery from my traumatic childhood, I attended a lunchtime AA meeting. In a nondescript conference room on a college campus, I sat quietly and listened while old timers went on about their years in Twelve Step and how much life had gotten better for them over that time. Then this wiry little guy, younger than me, gathers up the courage to ask a question that, quite frankly, shocked all of us.

“You talk a lot about ‘being grateful’,” he said, “but I have nothing to be grateful for. My life is sh*t right now.”

I’m sure my eyes were wide as I looked around the room. Not because of the cussing, (personally I cuss like an educated sailor) but because I was hoping to see some wise old man with hundreds of years of sobriety as eager to help this kid as they were to go on about their personal successes over the past hour.

No one spoke.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I said something. Maybe the silence in the room was more uncomfortable than I could stand. Maybe I was disappointed in my mentors and their obvious distance from the first, painful days of sobriety. Maybe, just maybe, I felt that since I was closer to those Desperation Days I might have something to offer.

“Start anywhere you can,” I told him. “If a car cuts you off and stops in front of you making you slam on your brakes, be grateful you didn’t smash into him.”

The expression on his face changed. He seemed a little less desperate, yet a little more confused so I continued.

“The point is to find SOMETHING to be grateful for, no matter how bad it gets.”

His face relaxed a little, freeing his lips up to curve an almost imperceptible smile. I smiled back at him, larger, trying to be reassuring. “It’s the most powerful tool we have.”

“Gratitude is the most valuable tool humans have to create a life we love living. No matter how far into the chasm we may have gone, gratitude is like a magical three rung ladder that allows you to rise up out of the hole by simply moving what’s at the bottom to the top.” ~Gayle Nicholson

So here are a few more ways to be grateful when your life is going to hell:

Decide that every cloud has a silver lining and you are going to see it even if you have to shove your fist down that cloud’s throat and turn it inside out! Then go do that. Be a mercenary for the discovery of the silver lining and stop at nothing until you find even the tiniest speck of something to be grateful for. You might even have some fun in the process.

Keep a journal of the good times and the bad. When you’re going through bad times now, look back for a time when it was worse and you made it through. Be grateful that you’re not still where you used to be.

Look a homeless person in the eye. And while the tears sting at yours from what you see there, be grateful you are not them.

Express gratitude without reservation. When someone tries to do something nice for you and screws it up, be grateful for their intentions, don’t focus on the results.

Remember that most of the “hell” we go through in America are #FirstWorldProblems and simply be grateful that you don’t have #ThirdWorldProblems. Do you have internet access? Running water? Enough said.