Dear Life Coaches: Why You Need to Remain Socially Conscious

Dear Life Coaches: Why You Need to Remain Socially Conscious

Although I have spent almost a lifetime diving deep into the world of self-development and spirituality, I am still a newbie to this business. In fact, I am only starting my business officially within the next few weeks.

So as a newbie, I humbly ask that you take into consideration a recent awakening I had around social and political consciousness and how it relates to assisting individuals.

Individuals are not disconnected from the collective, the culture and society they live in. In most cases, they can be almost fully defined by their contexts.

If we don’t understand this, we run the risk of treating our clients only partially. If we don’t take into consideration their levels of privilege, their gendered experience, how class has affected their outlook on life and so forth, we are leaving out a huge proportion of development and healing that could stem from understanding these contexts.

Challenging ourselves to understand socioeconomic realities will help us not to simply understand the client as a separate individual but to also treat them as people who have also been deeply affected by their environment.

This can lead to a more integrative form of life coaching rather than one that is simply working in coherence with a system of overly competitive individualism.

Food for Thought: Enlightened or Privileged?

Food for Thought: Enlightened or Privileged?

Has spirituality, to a certain extent, become co-opted by certain groups as a (perhaps unconscious) way to maintain undertones of far right-wing capitalistic ideology?

Using positive thinking as a cure-all shames mentally-ill and traumatised individuals. Seems similar to the way in which far right-wing advocates do not take the plights of these individuals seriously thereby not providing them with the social benefits and resources. At the very least, it does not validate the reality of their struggles.

Advertising apparent spiritual lifestyles and claiming that they are easy and cheap (ie: healthy eating, travelling, yoga, retreats) if we were only to able to open our minds and step out of the current paradigm or matrix? The universe provides for all right? Seems similar to the way in which some big businessmen claim that the lower classes simply have a lazy mindset and if they just worked a little harder they would be able to claim these riches, not taking into consideration the realities of socioeconomic disparities and the everyday struggles of the poor.

It seems that, in some cases, spirituality is used to make people feel superior about their current lifestyles whilst underhandedly shaming those who can not simply drop their working class lives and go for a retreat in a far away country. It’s as if in order to not feel guilty for accumulating such wealth, a spiritual brand or logo is stuck onto these ways of being.

What kind of spirituality ignores the real human plights of the most vulnerable in our society? What kind of spirituality invalidates the struggles of the poor, mentally and physically ill as well as the traumatised with platitudes of positive thinking and ways of being that are not immediately accessible to those who are disadvantaged?

There is nothing wrong with living your life the way you see fit and employing spiritual practices in order to grow as an individual, but why claim that all of this is easily accessible to everyone when it clearly isn’t?

These may be false comparisons to capitalistic ideology. They may not. Either way it’s clear that many individuals in the spiritual and self-development community need a wake up call to what’s happening outside of their love and light Kombucha bubbles.

I think we can do better. What do you think? 

My Personal Experience With Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

My Personal Experience With Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

This may rub some people the wrong way but the truth of the matter is, as someone who has been diagnosed with adult non-hyperactive ADHD, I do not know if it exists. Now when I say that, I am NOT saying it doesn’t exist either.

*WHAT I AM NOT HERE TO DO IS INVALIDATE ANYONE’S EXPERIENCE/STRUGGLE WITH THIS DIAGNOSIS.*

I am simply admitting to my ignorance on the subject matter. I have simply not had the time to fully delve into this subject, at least to a point where I feel like I can have a real objective view on it anyways.

That being said, to invalidate the struggles of those diagnosed with this disorder or view it as ‘lesser than’ others, I think, is a far cry from the level of empathy and humility that we should be practicing as human beings.

As far as I know, among-st young boys, ADHD is over-diagnosed, whilst, among-st young girls, especially those with high IQs and who do no employ the hyperactive component, it is under-diagnosed.

Beyond that, there are many (proven or unproven I don’t know) theories as to why it exists or, at the very least, presents itself as a disorder. The general consensus seems to be that there is a lack of certain chemicals/hormones in the brain or that these hormones/chemicals do not function the way they are supposed to. There are also some other lesser-known theories out there that claim developmental trauma is the root cause of these symptoms as well as the idea that ADHD is simply a divergent way of thinking which does not fit into the way our society functions.

I am also not an individual who simply thinks medication is the immediate answer. Yes, I am on medication myself and it has saved my life but it’s a very personal choice and journey.

At the end of the day I am not an expert on this and I can not make claims that I have not fully educated myself on.

What I do know is this:

  • Nearly one hundred percent of the time when people claim it doesn’t exist, it’s not based on any thorough research but simply an idea that they have been spoon fed via their specific political/spiritual ideology.
  • Nearly one hundred percent of the time, the people I have met within the ADHD community are not lazy or stupid. Rather, nearly one hundred percent of the time they are some of the most hard-working and smartest individuals I have ever come across.
  • Nearly one-hundred percent of the time, when you state that this diagnosis, for an absolute fact, does not exist, you discourage very vulnerable individuals, especially children, from seeking out the help they need, or from, at the very least, seeking out solutions that may vary from the usual Western medical paradigm. Furthermore, when you state that these individuals are lazy, you invalidate what is an extreme struggle, especially for those who are high on the spectrum. You could even push them to the edge, with many individuals diagnosed with this disorder also suffering from major co-morbid depression and anxiety.
  • Those who have been officially diagnosed, at least the ones I have met, really do struggle with executive function, planning, concentration and so forth. Many of them also have full blown or at least tendencies that are related to autism, OCD, GAD, depression, eating disorders and the list goes on and on. Whether the diagnosis is objective or not, the struggle still remains very real in the minds and lives of those affected.I don’t understand why it is so difficult for us to simply admit to not knowing everything, especially when it’s a topic that could really hurt other individuals in a very real way.

At the end of the day, I can not tell you what to think or say, but it does have a real influence, especially when the people affected are those really struggling, whether you want to view it as an official diagnosis or not.

Is your urge to live in the known and your ego too big for you to admit to ignorance that you would rather risk hurting vulnerable individuals?

Have your opinions and your thoughts and your debates. Freedom of speech is great and in no way do I want to take that away.

However, practicing some empathy and sensitivity down that road could save someone’s life.

It’s your choice. Words do matter. 

Walking into the unknown: How Ayahuasca prepped me for COVID-19

Walking into the unknown: How Ayahuasca prepped me for COVID-19

The last few days have been some of the strangest and most anxiety inducing of my life, as well as some of the most enlightening.

There was a definite denial, I feel, on an individual and collective level, and when the 21-day lockdown was announced in South Africa, that is when I believe the gravity of the situation really sunk into place for most people.

This feeling of existential dread – I couldn’t put my finger on it but I knew I had been in this unfamiliar emotional space before, and then it clicked – Ayahuasca.

I have been to places in my mind, in my spirit, to other galaxies, I have no words for some of the places I have travelled to whilst drinking Ayahuasca but they all came with this same exercise – a theme in all my ceremonies – facing the unknown and my eventual mortality.

Honestly, if I had not done these ceremonies before, I don’t know if I would have handled the last few days to come.

What I can say is, if my adventures into the unknown have taught me anything, is that chaos and creativity are intimately interlinked and so, in my heart, I feel a deep sense that we can build a new and better way of being if we are willing to step into the unknown with bravery, and a healthy dose of humility to go.

Healing the Narcissist Within: Tackling the Core Wound

Healing the Narcissist Within: Tackling the Core Wound

We all have a bit of Narcissus in us. However, many do not realize that sometimes this stems from a little thing called the ‘narcissistic wound’ and in my experience, we have all been wounded a little bit.

A narcissistic wound is when someone experiences something as a child that is so deeply hurtful that they can not develop through that pain; they never see themselves as good enough and so a narcissist is born; a false self that plasters this pain that the individual can’t see through.

Now I’ve had my fair share of narcissists in my life and although I have been aware of some toxic behaviors myself, I pushed the idea that I could have some kind of inherent narcissism far away from me, until, well psychotherapy.

Yes, that wonderful word that may send many in the alternative healing community running for the hills. The truth is that many of us entered into the magical world of plant medicines, reiki and sound healing because we may have not been able to find what we were looking for in run-of-the-mill psychotherapy.  Luckily for me, I was able to find a therapist that didn’t run at the mention of ‘Ayahuasca’ and so my alternative feet could stay firmly planted in that room where I would find that the combination of plant medicines and psychotherapy would lead me smack-bang into something this empath never thought she had: a deep and festering narcissistic wound.

My whole life I’ve always been a bit of a people-pleaser, an empath and an over-compensator (Although my boundaries become firmer every year) so the idea that I could have some truly narcissistic element to my personality really struck me but looking back at my life it makes sense.

You see the thing is, I was adopted. Let me say that again, I. was. adopted. A topic I’ve been leaning away from in my writings, partially because it’s incredibly vulnerable and also to protect the feelings of the ones in my life; my adoptive and biological family; all amazing and beautiful human beings that I honor and if you are reading this, please don’t take anything personally. The situation is what it is and I need to be able to speak my truth because the truth is that it hurt, it really fucking hurt and my whole life I’ve been viewing everything through the lens of an abandoned inner child.

This is why I got depressed when I was sixteen and the thoughts of suicide ran rampant in my head, this is why I entered into an abusive relationship and simultaneously pushed all of my loved ones away and this is why I am here today, learning how to love everyone unconditionally, having gone through this intensive spiritual path and feeling an immense sense of gratitude for the darkness that this core wound or narcissistic wound presented in my life.

The truth is, that I was toxic and sometimes I still am. I couldn’t see past my pain. Whenever someone tried to hold me accountable for my actions, my inner child just felt abandoned and would lash out, push people away or try to gain power and love through constant romantic relationships.

I remember one day as I was sitting in my room my inner child came through incredibly strong. She was really hurt and all she wanted was to be heard.

For the first time in a long time, I validated that pain; something I had been trying to gain through other individuals on an unconscious level- and the tears that came through were some of the most healing I have ever experienced.

Since then it has been easier for me to take more responsibility for my actions, to see the world as it is rather through a dark lens of abandonment and to allow my inner child some time to play, as I allow the adult take a hold of the steering wheel.

Your Vulnerability is a Sacred Gift Only Afforded to a Special Few

Your Vulnerability is a Sacred Gift Only Afforded to a Special Few

I take a bit of a risk with my writing. By this I mean I lay my heart and soul out there for the public to scrutinize.

This, I see as as part of an artists’ purpose and I hope it will encourage others to be more vulnerable with their lives, as I think it is a healing antidote for a highly closed up society.

That being said, in my personal life, I have had to learn that my vulnerability is sacred and that it is only a gift afforded to a sacred few.

By that I mean that until our society grows more conscious, there are very few people out there who are able to sit with others in their darkness, discomfort and vulnerability.

Although this is something I have done instinctively for a few years now, I owe my ability to verbalize it to Brené Brown.

I see Brown as a pioneer of vulnerability, global healing and a revered role model.

Brown, who advocates for living a vulnerable life, spoke about only sharing your ‘shame story’ with a special few during a Super Soul Sunday episode with Oprah Winfrey.

You can watch the video here:

If you practice vulnerability you are courageously sharing some of the most important gifts you have to offer with the world. I understand, that if you work in the arts you may see it as a part of your vocation to share you heart with many.

However, all of our hearts need a break and so, in your personal life, please remember that only those who are able to sit with you, perhaps imperfectly, but with the full intention of not judging or shaming your story, are the ones who deserve to hear it.

“Do not give that which is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before the pigs, lest they shall trample upon them with their feet, and having turned, tear you to pieces.” – Matthew 7:6

A Reawakening of the Heart: How I Found Joy Within the Depths of Grief

A Reawakening of the Heart: How I Found Joy Within the Depths of Grief

I would say I went through my first heart awakening (or perhaps manic/hypo-manic episode – still not sure) when I was fifteen years old.

One day, I woke up and my heart was as wide open as the sky. I felt connected to everything around me. I was seeing life through the eyes of love and joy.

But I was young and naive, and not only did my spiritual heart open without any grounding or mature spiritual guidance, at the first sign of distress I shut it down, completely, and fell into a hellish depression where being numb, empty and deeply disconnected were my only reality for years to come.

A slight re-opening occurred one day and bit my bit my depression began to fade away as I let go into life a little more, let my mind quiet a bit and allowed my now-guarded heart to open with much more earthly wisdom than I possessed as a teenager.

Then a few years ago, someone I love deeply, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and it was spreading, everywhere. He is gone from this earth now.

I had been crying a lot and it was a new feeling to me because although I had experienced the loss of loved ones before I couldn’t really cry or feel how much it hurt, and I mean it really hurt me as though someone had bulldozed me square in the chest.

I think it was early morning, I was lying in my bed after heaving sobs from my body, and I felt my heart wanting to close again, but, having become more in tune with myself, I consciously and gently allowed myself to keep it open, even though it hurt, and it hurt like hell.

Seemingly out of nowhere, through snot, a smudgy face, hair stuck on my cheek and puffy eyes I heard an eagle calling in the distance. This instantly filled my heart to the brim with such deep joy, a joy that is admittedly indescribable.

In that moment I realised there was some kind of beauty in my suffering. That the grief I was allowing myself to experience had become a rebirth of my heart and had deepened my capacity to love.

I felt that this place, strangely enough, is where all is encompassed, where unconditional love arises, and without fully feeling my pain, I simply realised that I wouldn’t be able to fully feel my joy either.

My heart broke open and I learned how to love again; I finally truly understood the quote by Rumi where he wrote, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”