Body Image Counselling London, Constant Tiredness Psychotherapy, Chronic Fatigue Therapy Central London
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How We Feel About Our Body Our body is closely linked to our self-identity and personality, yet it is not our personhood, who we are - our Self. We are born with one body and wanting to feel, look better may be important and matter to us (and we can change our bodies, appearance in multiple ways). Some of us may struggle to accept, trust, be comfortable with and value our body how it is - its condition, tone, colour, shape, size, weight, appearance, state of health, especially if we habitually compare our body or appearance with others or emotionally eat for comfort. We may yearn for young, tight flesh, yet physical beauty fades and our inner qualities live on. We may base our worth or identity focused on our body & how we look, as if this fully defines us. In a looks-dependent and media-influenced society, where people over-emphasise physical appearance, comments made about our body (even those ones made way back in childhood) can deeply affect us and we may not always like what we see in the mirror, begin to fret about our body. Yet as we grow older, through the passage of time, our body, metabolism and our looks inevitably change (see also Ageing & Maturity). We may have believed our body was a machine, and we could control it. Yet our body is also fragile and subtle, no matter what our age. Letting go of how we used to look, should look and what we'd change, embracing our body, honouring, caring for it - valuing, respecting and looking after our body, being comfortable in our own skin, feeling we are enough and using our body properly may be challenging. Our emotional experiences, inner child live in the body - our language of feeling and the way we relate with our body can be very separate, unrelated to other aspects of our self - our feelings, mind, sexuality, spirituality, as if our body is not inter-connected with these aspects of us. The counselling and psychotherapy acknowledge these aspects of us. We can choose to define our worth (our body image, purely on how we look) externally or internally (e.g. liking our self, our inner being & qualities, all of who we are - our positivity, reliability, compassion, sense of humour, kindness, creativity, sexual energy, etc.). Yet if we see beauty as only skin deep, our emphasis is only external, especially as we get older, we can become stressed and feel insecure inside. Being comfortable inside our own skin - beauty within, who we are - our personality, knowing, affirming and expressing our good qualities, skills & limitations, accepting (including our flaws), appreciating ourselves - our positive qualities, shifting our focus to the world around us may be challenging. As for attracting others, do we only want a person who cares more about how we look, than who we are? (Our inner beauty that emanates from within and when we are in touch with this, we gain confidence, esteem, self-respect.) We may have a physical feature, which we find difficult to come to terms with. Body image counselling & body image therapy can offer a space to discuss any negative body image concerns (or unhelpful messages we picked up about our body when younger), which may be linked to our source of esteem, alongside integrating our internal qualities and our own personal empowerment. And although we would like to be seen as refined human beings, we may dismiss our shadow, disease, illness, animal qualities, or ignore our senses...
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Our Senses Through our whole body - not just our head we perceive things - giving us information about our external, internal environment and reality, yet sometimes our experience of our senses and time can be different, almost as if we have a sixth sense. And through being in touch with the experience of our senses and sense-making (see also Our First Relationship - Early Connections & Bonding Patterns), we know we are alive, can feel more anchored. We pick up other people's gestures, nuances, speech, body language through our senses & perceptions. Some of us may be highly sensitive. Being in the moment, in touch with the quality and depth of our senses - listening, responding and refining them without dulling them - our sight, hearing, taste, smell & touch - opening our heart to them, alongside our emotional senses, supports us, keep us interacting with the environment (e.g. pain, pleasure). Our feelings and senses guide us, help inform our intuition, gut feelings, hunches, instinct, connected to our biology. Our senses can also support our creativity and we can choose what we want to be influenced by. For some our senses & kinaesthetic learning (through touching, doing and practising things and moving our body) can have the potential to be underused or can overstimulate, overwhelm us. Our senses have been traditionally associated with the 5 elements, which give us life, that of:
- Air (Touch) - Can we be light like air, free of fear, worry
- Fire (Sight) - Can we positively transform what we need to
- Water (Taste) - Can we flow without stagnating
- Earth (Smell) - Can we be stable when faced with challenges
- Ether (Hearing) - Can we be expansive, giving space to us & others
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Unwell, Physical Pain, Physical Illness We may be unwell, have poor physical health, be in chronic pain, or ill with associated emotional, psychological, spiritual effects, maybe through ageing. (The Royal College Of Psychiatrists state "All healthcare tries to relieve pain and to cure, but good healthcare tries to do more. Spirituality emphasises the healing of the person, not just the disease.") We may be sensitive, depressed, distressed, pressurised, frustrated, angry or in grief (not necessarily for someone who has died), struggling to find our way through our pain, affecting our whole body, mind and feelings - often negative. We may find it hard to accept what is happening, unhelpfully compare our state of health & body to what it was like before. When ill, unwell, our concept of time may change and our thoughts can tumble. We may come up against our own mortality or fear dying. Any stress or anxiety may also influence our physical feelings and this becomes circular (see also Body, Feelings, Mind Connection). We may have a medical diagnosis or be in chronic pain, which not only affects us, but others. We may wonder who, how, when & why to tell others. We may need to surround ourselves with supportive others, ask for care & support. Healing, it is said, also comes from within - that we need to heal ourselves. Alongside receiving medical care, it may also be important for us to give our body time to rest & recuperate, reserve our energy, yet also participate in the best form of exercise for our condition, do soothing things, keep calm & open-hearted to all that is happening. Re-prioritising things, empowering ourselves, taking responsibility for our wellness as best we can, facilitating our healing process, so we don't necessarily hand over all responsibility to others to heal us may also benefit us. We may not be able to avoid pain, yet can reduce its impact on us and our life quality. Accepting the condition of our body, being healthy & whole to whatever degree may assist us by re-framing health as not necessarily experiencing complete physical wellbeing. Reflecting upon our journey of healing and what we might need to learn about the context of our life, accepting, even forgiving ourselves or others (if we need to) may support us. For some our current state of health can be a wake-up call about how we treat ourselves, etc. and adapting to lifestyle changes, self-managing our care may help us, so despite our imperfections we experience adequate psychological wellbeing, general wellbeing. Being connected to how aspects of our being - our mind, our body, feelings, sexuality, spirit, interact may support us (alongside cleaning up any unhelpful behaviours). Managing pain is so individual and what helps one person, may not another e.g. stress management, relaxation training, focused breathing, mindfulness, healthy distraction techniques, affirmations, visual imagery, massage, acupuncture, physical exercise, good nutrition. (See also Our Painbody)
Valuing, Respecting & Looking After Our Body, Our Physical Sensations Our body, feelings, mind are intrinsically connected. Relaxing and allowing our body to be at ease can help relax our mind (and vice versa), give us peace of mind (see also Our Body's Interconnectedness To Our Thoughts, Emotions, Etc). Some of us take care of our body, notice, listen, value, respect, be in tune with our sensual state, physical sensations, are kind & respectful to our body and feel centred, connected, grounded, inhabiting our body, so we are not borderless, with a sense of physical wellbeing. When we are honest with ourselves, accepting and comfortable about how we feel towards our body, grateful, appreciative of the life & tactile body we have with all its strengths, stamina, flexibility, beauty - all our senses, our limbs, heart, etc. can take on more significance, boost our sense of optimism. Being in touch with what relaxes us (and touch itself) may be important. Others may ignore or neglect their body by not resting or sleeping enough, exercising in ways we enjoy, drinking enough fluids or eating nutritious food. Comfort eating may play a part. Abandoning our body, or treating it as if some sort of vehicle, we may struggle to take care of it, look after our health, nutrition, diet, appearance, sleep. Some may use physical sensations do deal with emotional problems. Neglect may also be an aspect of our relationship. We may turn to unwanted habits & addictions. Being with & in our body is a given, and (especially as our body changes) this can bring us up against existential dilemmas.
Lethargy, Tiredness & Fatigue, Exhaustion Lethargy, tiredness and fatigue affects us all at times (we can feel more irritable) especially when we are unwell, overly sensitive. Yet alongside giving ourself space to rest and recover, there may be certain considerations which promote our self healing. Tired (and tired of being tired can make us more irritable), we may have cut off from our feelings, hurt or pain. We may fear dying or death, struggle to open our heart, have a cloud of feeling hanging over us. What we tell ourselves and our self-judgements, criticisms may contribute to whether we feel energised. When we are tired, drained, with exhaustion most of the time, it may also point to unhelpful sleeping patterns, lifestyle, our personal triggers & hooks, worries, preoccupations & attitude of mind, misplaced loyalties, oaths, sacred cows. Letting go of draining thoughts, and letting in thoughts that rejuvenate, revive us, can help us be more alert. The therapy may also explore what we feed our mind with and what constitutes a healthy mind. Not taking breaks, resting, may also play a part and may compound tiredness. Making easy changes to our lifestyle and exploring what nurtures our body, mind and soul, what inspires us, may also be important. Certain habits, addictions, like technology, alcohol, overworking, may increase our tiredness. We may feel stuck, procrastinate, which saps our energy, as if waiting for change in our life. Our tiredness may also point to being caught in false beliefs, struggling to connect with truth. (See also Our Painbody)
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Our Demeanor, How We Carry Ourself - Form Ourself In Our Body The counselling and psychotherapy may explore our perceptions - how we see ourself and how this might influence how we carry ourself in our body (feelings like shame can affect us) and project, present ourselves in physical form onto the world - how our body expresses itself, our posture.
Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.Chinese Proverb
Body, Feelings, Mind Connection Not only are we on an emotional, psychological journey, but so too on a physical journey and acknowledging the distinctiveness of our body, feelings and mind yet interconnectedness may support us. Some of us can be at a distance from our body. We may want to be present in our body with our feelings - embracing them as information to learn from, compassionately accepting them rather than judging them. We may want to be more in touch with our feelings, emotions - the sensations initially felt in our body, which have the potential to be a source of inner guidance, pointing to whether our situation is safe or unsafe and whether we (or others) are being loving or unloving to ourselves. Counselling, therapy may encourage you in paying attention to what's happening in your physical feelings, senses (see also Feelings & Senses - Our Guide). We can be in good physical health and look after ourselves, yet our emotional & psychological pain (e.g. trauma, grief, heartbreak) or other emotions like our esteem plummeting, anger can feel stuck in our body, as if separate from our feelings, mind (yet changing our routines, habits can also introduce new muscle memory). Our thoughts (e.g. angry, shameful ones) produce angry, shameful emotions, producing physical feelings. In this body/feelings/mind loop, our body has physical reactions, tightness, tension, pressure or heaviness, which may carry symptoms of stress, fear, anxiety, sadness or depression, even the effects of our self-criticism, perfectionism, which can get held and expressed through our body. (How we respond to this body, feelings, mind connection may also influence our unwanted habits, addictions.) We may find it hard to release body tension. We may be overly focused in our minds & not in our body, quite disconnected from it and our feelings, relationships, sexuality or spirituality. And when these aspects of us (our general, physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, spiritual wellbeing) are interconnected, we may sense, feel a synergy. We may feel more energised when we give our mind space, nurture our mind, utilise our imagination. The body responds to what our mind thinks and our body, emotions & mind with its images are intrinsically connected with biochemical counterparts leading to corresponding changes in our body influencing our health & wellbeing, so when tension is released in one area, it affects other areas. We may want to feel more connected to our body - anchored in our own ground & fully alive, expressing our body vitality and connect with others. And when we feel fully alive, present in the moment, we have a sense of wellbeing, in touch with our own momentum, passion, aware & responding to what energises us, supports our resilience. The counselling & psychotherapy can support us in knowing how we feel, clarifying and straightening our thinking, listening to & becoming sensitive to our body, so we are able to self-regulate, have presence & fluidity between doing & being. Some may wrestle with the profound questions as to whether our soul resides in our body or whether body is central to the limitlessness of soul. (See also The Connections We Need & Make)
The cure of the part should not be attempted without treatment of the whole. No attempt should be made to cure the body without the soul. Let no one persuade you to cure the head until he has first given you his soul to be cured,Plato
for this is the great error of our day, that physicians first separate the soul from the body.
Our Painbody We all experience our painbody, though often unconsciously (as if we and others are carrying it and we and others pick it up) and are in contact with the painbody of others (again often unconsciously). The author Eckhart Tolle describes the painbody as a psychic parasite that possesses us (e.g. as if something bad is going to happen) by catastrophasising, awfulising, causing us suffering, that everyone is infected to some extent through the accumulated pain of our past living on as a negative energy field occupying our mind and body. Our painbody can be experienced as a shadow aspect of ourselves (often carrying unhelpful habitual thinking patterns, negative thoughts), an emotional part of our wounded self, which may also be connected to our early bonding patterns and influencing our relationship style now. Alongside physical pain, illness, our painbody may carry origins of fear, frustration, unexpressed anger, disappointment, depression, grief or play a central role in us turning towards unhelpful habits or addictions (for the pain itself can be additive). Our painbody may consist of our own thoughts, old emotional pain or traumas, repetition compulsion living or locked inside us - an accumulation of experiences not fully faced and accepted in the moment they arose, leaving behind an energetic form of emotional pain or hurt - an entity consisting of old emotion. Our painbody may lay dormant for some time, then awaken, deriving energy from pain (ours or others') as its source of fuel. Our painbody can be experienced as an unseen force of momentum causing us to unconsciously seek pain time and time again. (And if we are not conscious of our painbody, it can become a form of self-sabotage, especially when powerful feelings, which happened long time ago, suddenly affect us now.) Brushing our feelings under the carpet (especially our so called negative feelings, negative emotions), carrying our painbody around with us, caught unawares, it is as if the energy (maybe almost primal) of our painbody surges through us at certain times, having a separate life of its own - "Where did that come from?" may be our (or others') response on reflection (see also Early Destructive Relationship Patterns). On other occasions we are aware of the feelings, thoughts, behaviours of our painbody, almost compelled - watching ourselves doing what we are doing and we can carry this painbody part of us around with us as if proudly - martyr-like. Holding back our tears, the internal dialogue from our painbody (see also Our Body's Interconnectedness To Our Thoughts, Emotions, Etc producing Physical Feelings, Somatic Reactions, Other Reactions) may become the dominant negative voice, depleting our energy as we feel more anxious. Yet our painbody reactions may also point towards what needs healing and what's missing in our life, which can be explored in counselling and psychotherapy.
Painbody Examples, Experiences In Relationships In relationships, if inside we feel we are no good, fear rejection, abandonment, we may set this up by making ourselves rejectable (see also What We Transmit, Attract, Repel). The painbody not only feeds on our thoughts, but also feeds on other people's reactions. And it is often in close relationships that painbodies collide, feeding off each other, provoking each other, knowing exactly what will trigger a negative response, thriving on drama (often on meaningless things that have cropped up time and time again). We can sometimes recognise our painbody at the beginning of an argument, as we start to be unkind to someone, half knowing this will lead to conflict, watching this happen as the painbody runs its course. After the conflict, it is as if our painbody has fed itself and reverts back to sleep mode. When in our painbody, opening our heart to others - even when things are difficult may be our challenge. Sometimes all we can do is be present with our own painbody. In other situations it might be better to walk away instead of engaging in conflict or useless arguments, yet remain present, feeling the life that resonates from our physical body - open to our surroundings and others, trusting our innateness, groundedness, inhabiting our body, connected to our personal boundaries, alert and awake to "what is", in the moment, giving space to it, open to the energy of love.
Responding To The Energy Of Our Painbody Being in touch with our painbody, recognising this when this shifts from being frozen (old traumas may play a part), dormant to active when triggered may support us (see also Physical Feelings, Somatic Reactions, Other Reactions). Spotting the first signs as our painbody becomes triggered, giving space to it can be helpful before it takes us over, so we take responsibility for our experiences, stop its escalation, as we remain conscious of it. We may have got used to emotional pain, tension rather than believing we can heal, reduce or dissolve it, yet if we are present, observing our painbody, witnessing it, its energy can decrease. Changing our thinking and emotional patterns can help dissolve the power of our painbody. We may have bypassed our feelings. Feeling our core painful feelings without acting them out, finding our way through pain, can be challenging. The counselling can help support us with our feelings and physical responses to them, explore ways of managing, regulating our emotions, core painful feelings, what soothes us, gives us boundaries as we notice and regulate our energy, peace of mind and how we can live our life to our full potential, create a different future.
If you can't fly then run,Martin Luther King Jr.
if you can't run then walk,
if you can't walk then crawl,
but whatever you do
you have to keep moving forward.
Movement Sometimes we can feel low, frozen, stuck in life or stuck in our head and when in touch with our momentum, this can help engage our will. Moving our body (adapted to our level of fitness) through the process of walking, running, challenging ourself physically (without striving) so our blood flows a little faster can shift our perspective provide clarity, enabling us to feel our sensations, be closer to our emotions - emotion in motion and depth of feelings as we move. And talking, sharing our emotions with others can be a "moving" experience - moving our emotions.
Physical Wellbeing - Body Vitality & Breathing Many of us have familiar times of the day, when our energy levels rise and fall, affecting our focus & attention. On a continuum, at times we can feel drained, burdened, exhausted, collapsed or frozen in our body, as if we are just existing, yet other times be full of vitality, wide awake, buoyant and joyous, sexual, fully living, supported by being in elevated moods, moving our body, being in the moment, as if more a free spirit. What keeps us in good spirits, what we do with our energy, protecting & utilising our personal power, how we consistently stay energised, stepping away from routine (be in touch with what revitalises us and the naturalness of breathing - being with our breath, knowing it's safe to breathe (without holding our feelings in - numbing them), allowing our breathing to be a source of strength, energy - utilising our breathing as barometer for how we're feeling), regain & recover it after using it may be important to us, as may becoming aware of inner strength, how we sense things. (We may also feel more energised when we rid ourselves of our unhelpful habits, addictions, false beliefs, energy-sapping cynicism, sarcasm.) What we resonate with, noticing our energy, what personally makes us lighter, brighter, allowing for spontaneity, surprises, anchoring ourselves, can be explored in the therapy. We may experience our aliveness through our vulnerability (opening to our core pain, suffering of life can paradoxically enliven us), exercise, sexual union, emotional connection and sharing of interests, being in touch with supportive others (see also In Tune With Us & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness), where we don't feel drained in their company and can emotionally connect with them, share love, open our heart, be in touch with truth. This helps create our openness, aliveness, joy and life passion, alongside being in touch with our feelings and innocence of childhood. When we experience our vitality, it can be as if nothing is too much trouble, that we have time to fit things in, we are in the zone, have momentum and be more creative. For some this may be a place of transformation. Enhancing what rejuvenates us may be important. Content or carefree, our lightheartedness, laughter & sense of humour may increase, and this in turn enlightens, energises our body, spirits. Having faith in all of who we are, having an intent to love ourself and others, being creative, curious, allowing for the unknown, unpredictable, being spontaneous, surprised & surprising, seizing the day, doing what is pleasurable, simply savouring the pleasure of living can also boost our vitality, dynamism, especially if we are in touch with what inspires us and we share our interests. Being in touch with our purpose, vitality, desire, passion (which draws us into our body, not our head) can give us energy to do things, support our happiness, generosity, acceptance. Contact with nature supports our vitality. Some of us may only seem to come alive from our sexual energy (see also Energy Of Love - Being In Touch With A Real Love). How to be with and creatively respond to our sexual vitality may be challenging (see also What We Transmit, Attract, Repel). The counselling and psychotherapy can explore what deadens us, alivens us, including the impact of the conscious and unconscious self, our external environment around us, how our psychological wellbeing (which is connected to yet not be the same as our physical health) emotional experiences, inner child, teach our body and how we can create a new future imagining this and as we do so invite our body to change. (See also Body, Feelings, Mind Connection).