Grief at the passing of a loved one, a pet, or even the loss of a life circumstance, can be devastating at the best of times. Grief can even surround an event that happens to someone else where you have an emotional, ethical or values connection with that event. Such trauma brings with it a range of emotions from fear and depression to anger and resistance. Sometimes it is easier just to ignore the loss and try to get on with life – but such action is not wise.
Theories about the cause of grief and the best way to deal with it abound. Some will say that it is best left to take its own course. Others say that you should seek counseling from family or friends. Yet others will tell you to seek a professional counselor. In reality we are all individuals, unique in our own reactions to death and grief, and so we need to approach our recovery in our own way.
Grief occurs because it leaves us feeling vulnerable, afraid and sometimes empty. Suddenly we are faced with a change in the way we must deal with the world. We are faced with our own mortality, perhaps for the first time. We are faced with being left in this world without the self affirming contact with a soul we have become connected with. We are sometimes faced with the fear of having to do something on a daily basis we may never have had to think about before because that person did it for us. We are sometimes overcome by guilt because we perhaps did not say or do something we should have before they departed.
All of these reactions are normal. Even the wave of anger that sweeps across us from time to time is our minds way of dealing with the perceived desertion and disruption to our lives as a consequence of the loss.
The way we react, and the strength of the emotions is related to a number of factors in our lives. Death is stressful for most of us. There is no disputing that. I have worked with the dying and the bereaved for years and even that work is stressful at times, seeing the deep emotional trauma it creates. But even all that experience did not prepare me for the death of my father and seeing a body without life for the first time. So I can appreciate why death is so traumatic for most. But the stress involved in the death of a loved one can be made worse when there are underlying anxieties, especially when high daily stress levels have been in place for a long time. It is under these situations I would recommend that you seek professional assistance and guidance.
Grief can take a number of levels of seriousness:
- Normal grief will resolve itself over time. Those awful feelings of fear, desertion, emptiness and anger will slowly be replaced by new relationships and friendships, new methods of dealing with the days and nights. How long should it take? It will take as long as it takes, but even six to twelve months can be normal. It often depends on the degree of support you have from family and friends, and whether you can bring yourself to talk about it, and of course, allow yourself to cry.
- If the images of your loved one stay in your mind all the time with the raw emotions exposed for extended periods of time, perhaps you should now seek help. Elevated stress levels over long periods begin to take their toll on the body and mind and should be dealt with. It does not mean you are weak or defective. It just means your mind has certain values and ways of dealing with grief that it has not been given alternatives for.
It may seem strange to say this, but your unconscious mind thinks it is helping by doing these things for you. It does not understand it is doing you harm. And not wanting to let go because you think it is dishonoring your love for your loved one is a common reaction. But your mind must understand that your memories of that person can be kept clear and joyful, celebrating the life rather than filling them with pain.
You should also be aware here that sometimes grief is simply the “straw that broke the camels back” when it comes to producing emotional and physical symptoms. People who have been under stress for long periods of time before a bereavement often have a highly emotion charges memory system underlying the loss. This can cause biochemical imbalances that make depression worse and can cause massive mood swings. With the added load a bereavement can place on you, the effects can be very worrying, even to the point you think you are loosing your mind. If this is your situation get in touch with a stress management specialist immediately.
- A third level of grief sometimes occurs when a death is sudden and unexpected. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is something that often happens with people who are involved in or witness violence and death. It first became noticed with the return of soldiers from war zones where it still affects nearly 30% of people who are actually involved in combat.
The same occurs with serious accidents, terrorism or even natural disasters. It happens because our natural values and belief systems are assaulted so strongly that our mind does not know how to handle it and it generates huge emotional swings coupled with physiological effects. Its power can vary, and some people get through it over time just like normal grieving. But others struggle, sometimes for decades or a lifetime. This level of grief MUST be treated.
And so the story of grief is much too big for this short article. I can only suggest here that if you have lost a loved one, stay close to family and friends for a while, and don’t be afraid to show your grief and pain. Tears will help, as will reviewing the life that you loved so dearly.
If however you find yourself in a highly anxious state or the depression becomes unbearable, or you just don’t know how to handle the new day to day tasks that may have to be dealt with, seek out someone who understands your plight. Grief counselors and therapists can help. If your mind starts to play tricks on you or you start to have health problems see a health professional, preferable someone who specializes in stress and anxiety related issues.
There is always help and always someone you can talk to. If you think you would like to talk to our staff feel free to contact us.
And always remember that wonderful Irish saying, “May the sun always shine on your face, and the wind blow at your back!”
The sources of STRESS
See also Grief – Cause and Effect
Almost anything can cause stress levels to increase and to cause anxieties about the future, but the trigger events must be in memory before the mind can produce a negative outcome.
Let me explain. We can only create anxiety if we are comparing a current situation with a past event or knowledge. You cannot get anxious about your job unless there is a past belief system already in existence at deep subconscious level to say that then A, B or C occur then the result will be X, Y, or Z.
If you are aware that you are not performing as well as you should and it worries you then you’re relying on a number of pre-existing beliefs to create that worry. The first is that you should be performing in a certain way. That can only come from a comparison with past knowledge or expectations. The second belief which would cause the worry is that people who do not perform get fired. Again this can only come from past experience or knowledge that this is so. So if you don’t have the original belief system to say something is wrong then you don’t get the anxiety reaction!
Our structured belief systems stem from the information we are given or events that we see or become aware of when we are very young, usually during the first five to seven years. This is the period defined by the sociologist, Maurice Massey, as the “imprinting period”. During this time of our lives we are in a state of waking hypnosis, absorbing everything that comes our way like a sponge – uncritical and all believing. This is especially so with people who we regard as being in authority over us like parents, grand-parents and teachers. Close friends of the family also often fit into this category.
Such learnings can sometimes be traumatic. Traumatic from the point of view of being emotionally disturbing or frightening. Later in life these events and beliefs, with their emotional content may continue to be presented to consciousness to have the negative emotional content dealt with in a way which will diffuse the trauma. Another way that early learnings can later cause problems and stress is when later belief systems, developed whilst in contact with new friends, come into conflict with the earlier imprinted beliefs of parents.
A common occurrence of this type of conflict that appears in therapeutic practice is in sexual self identity. Most of us become aware at a very early age of certain limits to sexual activity and expression. This awareness is often generated from “non specific” input – being aware of how parents act or of their discussions, and sometimes from an awareness that certain subjects are not discussed! The input from very religious families, often lays the basic groundwork for a guilt ridden sexual self identity. This input doesn’t become a problem until later in life when you begin to realise, through greater awareness, that those original beliefs may not be all they are cracked up to be! But by then the original beliefs and values, often at a subconscious level are powerful indeed and the conflict produced can plague you for the rest of your life, affecting your self image and relationships.
The most common source of stress in our lives is our self image created when we are very young and always based on our awareness of what others think and say about us. As a source of anxiety this probably is the most damaging to the outcomes we produce in our lives and often the cause has nothing to do with anything that we have even been involved in!
When we use Age Regression or Time Line Therapy to determine the root cause of emotional or physical trauma it is not uncommon for the original sensitising event to be fiction. A client came to me because he could not make money. He wanted to consciously. He had the resources to do so mentally and the knowledge, and he had a burning desire to create a certain dream that he had. Yet with all this going for him he still found it difficult to make money, and when he did he lost it quickly. The original root cause event produced an awareness of being in his mothers womb, before birth, and hearing two people argue about money. His mind had installed a decision in this memory never to be in the situation of having to argue about money.
So it was his subconscious mind that had made that decision based on a conversation it had over heard and the subconscious mind had proceeded to use all its resources to ensure that he never made money! But the exciting thing about this story is that we were able to show the mind how it had made a mistake. I asked my client to allow himself to float up out of the womb to checkout what was actually happening. He was startled to find that his mother was in a picture theatre watch a film and that the argument was between two people in the film. His entire life had been restricted and had caused untold stress because of his minds reaction to a fictional film plot!
Because of this virtually any belief system which is in conflict with another belief system formed at another time will cause elevated levels of anxiety and consequently produce emotional and physical dis-ease. If this is allowed to continue it will produce physical disease.
If the circumstances of your life have induced thoughts relating to higher levels of anxiety about the future, then higher levels of adrenalin are produced everywhere in the body at the same time creating a number of responses as the body tries to cope with the “abnormal” biochemical imbalance.
In normal circumstances the stimulus for the anxiety would dissipate quickly and thus the physical reaction. But when you place yourself in an environment which induces continuous anxiety, perhaps about your future or your family, then the body must modify the way it handled that anxiety. In doing so it will change the way it uses energy, chemicals from food, how it manufactures essential components of the hormones and neurotransmitters and the kind of food that you need to cope. If you have been under stress inducing circumstances for some time then you are now likely to be aware of some of these physiological reactions beginning to appear, and perhaps getting worse. Symptoms include the following.
Stress Symptoms resulting from long term high anxiety levels
- Lack of energy – lethargy. Do you find it difficult to get
- out of bed in the morning and/or are you always tired?
- Poor balance or episodes of dizziness. Do you sometimes
- feel unstable on your feet?
- Poor concentration – do you sometimes feel you are trying
- to “think through a fog”?
- Poor memory – and probably getting worse!
- Poor perceptions – visual and/or auditory distortions. Having
- trouble reading or do shapes seem to change for you? Does the world
- seem to get brighter or darker at times without reason?
- High anxiety levels – panic attacks
- Large swings in moods – depression is common
- Cravings for sweet foods – often resulting in feeling better
- for a while, followed by a headache or depression.
Such symptoms in themselves tend to increase anxiety levels because you notice them and think that something “may be wrong”, or if they are bad enough, that you are going mad. Sometimes suicidal ideation surfaces and creates more worry, and of course, the higher the anxiety the more symptoms are produced. The anxiety cycle has begun, locking you into an emotional and physical downward spiral. Fortunately it is relatively easy to correct, even after twenty or thirty years with these high levels of anxiety.
As an example of this imagine in your mind that a forty feet long timber plank is lying on the ground in front of you. The plank is only one foot wide but you would easily be able to walk from end to end without stepping off. Now suspend the same plank across the gap between two buildings a hundred feet in the air, and try the same feat. Do you think you would get to the other side? With most people, except for trapeze artists, the immediate image that comes to mind is one of falling one hundred feet to the ground. The unconscious mind will accept that image as an instruction and will begin to create that outcome unless you are able to communicate with it to give it different instructions! Yet your conscious mind does not want that outcome – the imagination will always win.
A vast amount of documented work is being compiled on the effect of conditioning on our conscious awareness and in the physical body. The cutting edge of science, especially physics, is showing us that we are not really solid as we have believed for hundreds of thousands of years. Everything we perceive is variations in the energy of a “unified field”. That field appears to be intelligent as is every part of it including the parts of it we regard as being ourselves. And when we look at the parts of us we regard as organs, bones and cells, the latest physiological research is indicating that each part of us is intelligent and “thinks for itself”!
If a stimulus comes to the awareness from outside our mind we react to that stimulus by producing emotions or activity. We use to think that the brain had to process this information before the body could react, but now it does not appear that this is so. The brain transmits signals from one part to another via “neurotransmitters” which are chemical messengers which migrate across the minute gaps between cells. We use to think they only occurred in the brain as we BELIEVED that this was the only part of the body that is able to “think”. We now know that every cell in the body has the capacity to manufacture these neurotransmitter molecules and they do as appropriate to produce a particular reaction. But they don’t wait for a command from the brain. Every appropriate area of the body reacts simultaneously to thoughts to produce the relevant transmitter and hormones that allow the physical body to function correctly, or incorrectly if the beliefs you have allow it to.
Success in any area of life demands that the tools and vehicle that has to be used must be in good shape. Tired, worn out parts will not be conducive to the maintenance of on going success and the kind of lifestyle you would like to live.
You need to understand how your body can cause limitations and ill health so that you can get it into top working order. For thousands of years man has been dedicated to investigating how the body functions. What makes it survive in a seemingly aggressive environment? How do the organs work and what stops them working? How does each cell maintain itself and why do they die? At the same time the investigation of the mind and thought has been on- going.
But the two groups of investigators have, for the most part, kept their investigations separate, believing that the mind had little or no role in the health of the body except in extreme circumstances. The medical model has at last begun to recognise that whatever affects the body affects the mind, and more importantly, whatever is created in the mind will eventually show itself outwardly in the physical body.
Masses of evidence and research over the past twenty years are finally being recognised as important in the understanding of how the mind- body interaction takes place. The mechanism and result of emotional and physical stress is beginning to be understood in a highly refined way. We know that the original event that sustains the abnormal levels of stress often occurs before the age of 5 years. Such “original sensitising events” are often suppressed from conscious memory.
As a result, we may find that we are experiencing anxieties and emotions that appear to have no bearing on our current experience. Memories are bound together by their emotional content, creating large groups of memories, all with the same kind of information or emotional experience. When sufficient memories of a similar nature are bound together in a belief, value or attitude toward a specific life circumstance, a similar event of a significant nature may well trigger serious emotional and physiological outcomes. We become aware of these outcomes as symptoms of stress, anxiety and emotional dis-ease. The dis-ease may then be converted to disease in the physical body.
Just being in a certain environment that has negative connections to past memory is often sufficient to create quite serious reactions at a conscious level. This is often the case with the work environment when you do not enjoy your work or when someone at work is giving you a “hard time”. Over a period of time just the sight of the building in which you work becomes a trigger for the symptoms of anxiety, the tightening of stomach muscles, sweaty palms, rapid breathing.
Some interesting work in the United States on the incidence of heart attack came to some startling conclusions which demonstrate the effectiveness of these ‘mental connections”. More heart attacks occur in our society on one particular day of the week. What day do you think that might be? If you said Monday you’re right! And at what time do you think more heart attacks occurred on that day? That’s right, 9.00am. The emotional thought/feeling reaction of showing up at work when the existing experience of the work place was negative was enough to create the physical changes necessary to create a heart attack!
Now you might think that by doing this the mind is trying to do you harm, but if fact it thinks it is helping you and protecting you. It is doing what you actually want it to do – stop you from having to work and suffer from the anxieties and dramas of that particular part of your life. It may not be what you want at a conscious level but your beliefs at a deeper unconscious level allow for this kind of activity even if it does seem to be destructive.
It is in fact conforming to the prime directive of the unconscious part of the mind, protection of the ego. Emile Coue’, in his classic “Self Mastery through Autosuggestion” explains this phenomenon well. “When the will (consciousness) comes into conflict with imagination (unconscious) then the imagination will always win”.
The Neuro-Com Program, The Book
Hi all. The book is in final stages of proof and will be available for sale before Christmas!
What a great Christmas present. Make someone you care about very happy, AND give a gift that will keep on giving for the rest of their life in some amazingly positive ways.
Leave a comment below and I’ll make sure you are notified as soon as it is available, and where you can get it from.
It will be available through most on-line book stores or directly from this site. Will update a full list as soon as I can.