"...In the Middle of Difficulty Lies Opportunity” -Albert Einstein
What a beautiful quote by Albert Einstein. I believe this whole heartedly and can take it a step further. If you look individually at the people who have done great things for humanity and the world itself, you will first see one who has learned how to harness pain and darkness and can then craft it into something powerfully beautiful.
To recycle darkness, one must first understand the frequency of it. To know and live extreme pain is an intensive way to recognize the powerful grip it can have; influential enough to help propel forward but equally powerful in the ability to suffocate and drown one’s soul.
Turning Tragedy into Something Beautiful
Let’s think about Oprah Winfrey. Did you know that she was sexually assaulted as a child by three different offenders and at age 14 birthed a child who died soon after? Oprah has empowered so many individuals and has outwardly explored topics that have helped many find peace, education and a new way of living. Would she be as influential without her childhood pain and the lifestyle she overcame? Who can say?
Kris Carr is a New York Times and #1 Amazon best-selling author with a strong wellness activist voice. After receiving the news of stage 4 cancer in 2003, Kris decided to radically change her diet, nutrition and lifestyle and over a decade later is empowering others to take charge of their lives and destiny.
Kris is known as one of the most prominent experts on healthy living as she has over 40,000 followers on her wellness website, not to mention the books and documentaries that have helped many find their way out of their own darkness.
Watch this video by the Imagine Dragons. If everyone learned to recycle their darkness, the world would be a place full of humanitarians and earth guardians, whose sole desire was to create something better. To leave others and the world better because of their existence and choices, but unfortunately this is not often the case. Read the lyrics of this song and let the message of this article begin to sink in deeper and deeper.
“I Love the Person I’ve Become, Because I fought to Become Her.” -Kaci Diane
I vividly remember the day I choose strength over destiny. My family has generation after generation of darkness. People who snuff out the light in others, take advantage of children and perpetuate violence. I will never forget the day I decided to sever my own destiny in the generational cycles of darkness.
I was about 15 years old, receiving a tremendous amount of criticism and shame. After years and years of suffering through darkness, I decided to not become the blackness I was in. In that moment as a young teen, I created mantras in my mind that I told myself over and over again. It was in that moment that I decided to MINDFULLY choose my paths. That when I fell, to stand up, look around and keep walking. To use darkness as a fertilizer for growth. Focusing on the necessity of the stench to produce a gorgeous crop is vital for recycling darkness into light. Focusing on the darkness itself makes the smell of the manure too overwhelming.
You Too Can Turn Your Darkness Into Light
What pain and darkness have you been experiencing? Have you been asking why instead of asking what and how? I like the Imagine Dragons “Believer” song for many reasons, but one is that it is NOT called “Pain”, but rather “Believer”.
Believe in your path and choose it every day, multiple times a day. Believe in your pain, make friends with it and use it to further your growth. The world needs more people who have a vested interest in recycling darkness into light and helping others do the same. Are you a believer?
Who is the Author?
Gabrielle Anderson, lmft is the owner of the Family Therapy Center in Ashburn as well as a Marriage and Family therapist. She is a married mother of 2 and lives in Loudoun county. Contact Gabrielle here if you would like to schedule an appointment for therapy or if you have questions about the practice.
What is Forgiveness…Real Forgiveness?
As a therapist who treats trauma and helps people at the darkest times of their lives, I experience the evils of the world through its victims. I see children raw and broken at the hands of selfish, greedy men and feel the anguish of a college student as she picks up the pieces of a shattered innocence and future lost. Helping the wounded find healing and renewed strength means I too walk through the darkness and experience the consequences of those who prey upon and hurt others.
I have to be honest. Forgiveness has been a concept that I have personally struggled with over the years. Why should he forgive? It was devastating and wrong and no one would judge him... that person doesn’t even deserve his forgiveness.
Then I took training from Janis Abrahms, Ph.D. She organized levels of forgiveness that I have adopted and further adapted to help my clients understand and realize just what type of forgiveness they are seeking. THIS I can do and this I feel comfortable sharing with my clients, because forgiveness is for the one who is hurting. Below is my interpretation and adaptation of her work and ideas.
Forgiveness as a Model With Layers
We all have choices. Each of us can choose to be the absolute best version of ourselves and can constantly strive to improve and heal or we can give up and let life occurrences choose for us. We can allow bad things and stressful events to define who we are and help us become a sponge for negativity or we can take the dark, hurtful stimuli and use it as fertilizer to help us become a better stronger version of ourselves.
Notice the choices we have in each of the forgiveness layers presented. Allow this organization of ideas to help you make mindful decisions the next time you experience pain and discomfort.
Forgiveness Layer Number 1: Let it Roll
Sometimes things happen to us that really aren’t that big of a deal. Someone cuts us off in traffic, takes our place in line, or grabs the last gallon of milk. Instances like these are irritants; annoying situations that if we let them, can help shape our reactions and make us grumpier or negatively focused.
With practice, we can learn to become reactive to these events and can allow anger and edginess to settle deep inside of our bodies OR with practice, we can do the opposite. We can let it roll. Like water on a duck’s back, we can let it roll away…far away from us. Imagine yourself taking a deep breath and exhaling the energy of that person or event far far away from you. Let it all roll off of you and watch it roll completely out of sight. This is layer number 1: Letting it roll.
Forgiveness Layer Number 2: Faux Forgiveness
Abrahms refers to this as cheap forgiveness, faux forgiveness is when an instance is larger than the ones listed above, but we treat them as though they are insignificant. We try to let it roll, but it really is too big and too painful to roll away on it’s own, so instead of looking at it, understanding and working through it, we use all of our might to push and shove it away.
Faux forgiveness is forgiving too quickly…before we really have the opportunity to heal our relationship or ourselves. Explaining what faux forgiveness is so much easier if we talk about true real forgiveness.
Forgiveness Layer Number 3: True Forgiveness
True real forgiveness is when we experience a hurt and we use it to help us grow stronger. We take that hurt to the one who hurt us and we carefully talk about it in a way that organizes and makes sense of the hurt, and then consequently soothes it.
True Forgiveness: The Role of the One Who is Hurting
“I felt really alone when you did “x” (I statement). I’m scared of losing you (getting to the deeper emotion). I know it comes out sideways…I know I just get angry (taking responsibility) but I need for you to understand what my true feelings are – to really understand where I am coming from (here is the wish…giving the offender a path)”
In true forgiveness, the hurt party has a responsibility to communicate the hurt in a way that can be heard; delivery here is important. If the receiver becomes defensive or really doesn’t understand, it becomes challenging to journey to a place of forgiveness. Thinking; how does my partner or friend need me to say this so s/he can stay engaged? Can I practice my I statements beforehand so that s/he doesn’t feel blamed?
True Forgiveness: The Role of the One Who Offended
In true forgiveness, the offender has responsibility as well. The offender’s job is to become curious about the other’s emotional experience and to strive to really understand the pain that was caused.
“I had no idea that you were feeling so lonely. I’m so sorry. I hate that you were feeling all of that and I was too busy to notice (accepting influence and taking responsibility). You mean so much to me and I want us to be ok…”
The Back and Forth of True Forgiveness
Now what if the offender really has reasons for the hurt? What if the relationship has flaws and the dynamic isn’t all that healthy? What if the offender needs forgiveness too?
In true forgiveness, the energy of forgiveness and communication flows both directions. Becoming defensive and self-righteous is NOT the same thing as seeking forgiveness in the other party and explaining how both parties arrived at pain and distance. Again, delivery and knowing why an issue is getting flushed is important. True forgiveness gets to the root or roots of an issue and can happen in one sitting or over a course of time.
Faux vs. True Forgiveness
You can see how it was easier to describe what faux forgiveness is by explaining true forgiveness. When we forgive too quickly “No worries, it wasn’t that big of a deal” when it really was, we rob the relationship of a deeper healing; a connection within pain. When we can re-wire a relationship to be able to tolerate pain and discord and to then have it experience connection within the conflict, the darkness then and only then can be used as fertilizer for new beautiful growth.
Forgiveness Layer Number 4: Acceptance
What if the offender cannot walk through the stages of forgiveness and is unable to do the back and forth of true forgiveness? What then? Is the one left behind optioned with faux forgiveness only?
Acceptance is the realization that significant hurt has been experienced and that forgiveness is well deserved, but not possible. Maybe the offender is dead, a substance abuser with no desire to change, or maybe s/he is a relative or significant other who lacks the ability to be safe. What then?
Acceptance looks at the pain openly and honestly. It forces the one who is hurt to be honest about how deep the wounds go and how the scars have been shaping their emotions, way of thinking and consequential behavior. Taking an honest look means now the hurt party has choice. Heal or stew? Become stronger or paralyzed? Grow into a strong tall tree or wither into a bitter, infected dying plant?
True acceptance means the one who is hurt does the work to heal, make sense and organize the pain. Like true forgiveness, acceptance usually takes a long time and often requires professional help. Those who experience this layer of acceptance must walk through the pain without the offender’s help, committing all the way to not let it create bitterness or resentment.
To Not Forgive is to Give the Offender What They Do NOT Deserve & Robs You of Peace
Why talk about the layers of forgiveness? Because with forgiveness and acceptance comes peace and healing. When we honestly look inward and are constantly improving ourselves, we can allow painful experiences to improve us. Without this focus, hurtful occurrences will begin to harden our hearts and will strive to dissolve the goodness inside. No experience or human deserves to rob us of our joy and life fulfillment.
Life is hard. Bad things happen. It is our job and our responsibility to decide if these occurrences are an opportunity to heal and become stronger or are an excuse to wither away and become a bitter, run down version of ourselves.
Who is the Author?
Gabrielle Anderson, lmft is the owner of the Family Therapy Center in Ashburn as well as a Marriage and Family therapist. She is a married mother of 2 and lives in Loudoun county. Contact Gabrielle here if you would like to schedule an appointment for couples counseling or individual therapy to help get you or your relationship back on the path to wellness.
Read an interesting blog by Gabrielle about forgiveness and the negative cycle in a relationship.
Read an interesting blog by Gabrielle about the balancing energy flow of relationships
To read more about the path of forgiveness from the original source, Dr. Abrahms, click here.
Two years ago, my husband experienced a trauma involving his parents and family that no one should ever have to experience. A wound so deep and penetrable, it is a wonder he continues to love as deeply and devoutly as he does. Although the stimulus is no longer a threat, his pain continues to be relevant today.
The Zyto Scanner
Yesterday I borrowed a Zyto Scan from a health coach friend. "Each ZYTO scan begins by measuring the body’s responses to 35 neutral signals. The median response to this neutral stimulus becomes the Range, or the parameter of the body's response to energetic stimulus in general. Once the range is established, the software introduces specific Virtual Stimulus Items and compares the response to the parameters set in the range"*.
I was excited to scan myself and family to see what our bodies might be lacking. I scanned for Lemon, Grapefruit and the Citrus Blend. My interpretation of this scan is my need for detoxing and chill-axing. Great information.
My 12 year old daughter, who has a history of PANDAS scanned for the Protective Blend which makes PERECT sense. We've been lax with applying this before and after school. She also scanned for Omega 3s and Sandalwood. No surprises here. All of those made good scientific sense, knowing her medical history and where her body and brain are today.
Next my 9 year old son scanned for the Calming Blend. YES! That was a perfect recommendation for getting him to stop screaming and being so spastic. I grabbed this blend in the moment and smoothed 2 drops of it down his spine. He also scanned for Omega 3s. Because I have been trying to help his little brain focus more and stay on task, this also made perfect sense to me. He also scanned for Oregano and Melaleuca. Interesting for me to get the information that his runny nose may be about to sprout into a bigger sickness. Got it. I'm on it. Get the Oregano and Melaleuca. I diluted these with fractionated coconut oil and applied them to his feet before the night was over (and again this morning).
But my husband. He was a different story. He scanned for The Cell Renewal Blend and Omega 3s. This made sense due to a chronic illness he has been battling. This was no surprise. What came as a surprise was the Helichrysum. Why on earth did he scan for Helichrysum? When I think of this essential oil, I think of the skin. I know Helichrysum is great at reduce scarring, wrinkles, age spots...these are what I think of when I look at Helichrysum. Why on earth did he scan for this?
The skeptic that my husband is (he didn't even want to be scanned to begin with), focused immediately that the scan didn't pick up that he was feeling depressed and anxious. He was right. It didn't appear to find this. Although his trauma initiated two years ago, it had just picked up momentum again within the past week. He was definitely feeling really pulled down by it all. Why didn't this show up? And what was up with the Helichrysum?!
Every Essential Oil Has an Emotional Component to It
Out of curiosity, I grabbed my Emotional Healing with Essential Oils book*. What did it have to say about Helichrysum? What I read was astonishing. My jaw dropped when I read the following "...It aids 'the walking wounded' - those with a history of difficult life circumstances, trauma, addiction, loss or abuse. These individuals need the powerful spiritual support of Helichrysum..." It went on to read that Helichrysum can help give hope and emotional strength to help the individual get back on the path to recovery.
Interesting. I know from experience that the best way to get emotional/mental health support from essential oils is by diffusing them. Diffusing essential oils allow them to be taken into the brain to bring calm to the limbic system. I decided to marry the results of my daughter's scan with my husband's needs and diffused 2 drops of Sandalwood and 2 drops of Helichrysum. Within minutes, my husband's face was smoother...less tension. After 2 rounds of diffusing, a few hours a part, he was able to talk about his emotional journey and where his path and been taking him. He noted that the essential oils helped him feel calmer and less distraught. Wow. Who would have thought.
Being Mindful in the Therapy Office. Scan? Diffuse?
I love learning new things. To think about anxiety and emotional distress through a different lens. A lens that is specific and hits the target more directly. When I think of anxiety, my go to oils are Wild Orange, Calming Blend, Grounding Blend, Vetiver etc. What I learned today was that if I am open minded and seek to understand, then I will get more answers. Better answers.
What are you Doing?
Those of you who practice, are you using your essential oils with your clients? Do you diffuse, offer helpful workshops or even offer free Zyto Scans? Our field is taking a turn. Thank goodness. We are seeing a shift happen that is making us look more towards teaching our clients to find balance, mindfulness and solutions within themselves and their nearby natural worlds. I encourage you to learn, read, be taught and teach others. Being a cutting edge therapist and teaching this knowledge to others can be a priceless gift to those who receive it. Being a cutting edge mama can provide just as much value...even MORE.
Help your body help itself. If you are experiencing a wounded heart, loss or trauma, maybe try a little bit of Helichrysum. It just may give you the extra leverage you need to finally reach the next level OR give you enough support to find good solid help.
Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils
The above blends are listed by their type of blend and not the actual name. Every company calls their blends by different catchy names. Hopefully listing them by type will help you identify what to purchase. I will caution you. Not every oil is the same. Make sure you do your research to determine that the company you choose produces therapeutic grade oils, otherwise you are buying concentrated perfume that will not help your health at all.
** Emotional Healing with Essential Oils Manual 1, 2nd Edition; Macdonald, Daniel; Enlighten Alternative Healing, llc, 2012
As a therapist, I see a lot of trauma and as a result, many with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Although therapy can be a significant piece to the healing process, what to do at home can be just as important.
Calming the body and calming the mind are a must if one is to heal from trauma. When one suffers from PTSD, the body often stays in a state of hyperarousal with stress hormones being released into the blood stream at a frequent rate. This can be unsettling and creates panic, anxiety, sleeplessness etc. Helping the body routinely get to a place of calm can be a huge piece of the healing puzzle and essential oils can help do just that.
Essential Oil Blends to Help You Feel Grounded
Anxiety, panic and fear are a well known trio in trauma. Helping the body find a place of calm and feeling rooted and grounded again is foundational. Although Vetiver is a strong smelling oil, if blended well with other oils, it can be a wonderful calming, grounding tool. Ever diffuser is different. Use the guides below to help identify a nice ratio.
In a Cool Mist Diffuser Add...
Recipe #1 ...3 drops of Lavender AND 1 drop of Vetiver
Recipe #2 ...5 drops of Wild Orange AND 1 drop Vetiver
Recipe #3 ...1 drop Roman Chamomile, 2 drops Sandalwood AND 1-2 drop of Vetiver
Much of the research suggests that breathing in through the nose with the diffuser for 15 minutes is enough to get the essential oils into the limbic system to start to calm things down. Repeat as necessary.
Try this Rollerball Recipe. Apply to the Bottom of the Foot, Including the Big Toe.
15 drops Calming Blend*
15 drops Grounding Blend*
7 drops Geranium
7 drops Vetiver
Carrier Oil (fractionated coconut oil*, grape seed, etc)
10 ml RollerBall
Add oils to a rollerball. Shake and apply to the area effected, such as the heart, throat, shoulders, stomach, etc. Applying oils to the feet is a nice way to get the oils into the bloodstream and not just to an acute area of the body. Experiment to see which avenue works best. This blend is adult strength. Dilute for children by cutting the oil amount in half or if the child is very young, cut it half again...continue to fill the bottle with carrier oil.
Essential Oil Blends to Help With Sleep
In a Cool Mist Diffuser Add...
Recipe #1 ...3 drops of Bergamot, 3 drops of Juniper Berry AND 2 drop of Roman Chamomile
This blend is great for nightmares and panic before going to bed. Many moms use Juniper Berry to stop night terrors in children. Adding it to this nighttime blend is great for those whose trauma includes bad dreams and night time fear.
Recipe #2 ...4 drops Cedarwood AND 2 drops Bergamot
This blend is great for both unwinding and sleeping. Although it may not make you feel tired, it is GREAT at shutting down the tiring, non-stop thoughts that can accompany trauma and stress. Many find this very helpful for falling asleep.
Play Around With the Recipes...Make Them Yours
Finding the blend that works for you is SO important. You know your diffuser and the size of your room. Go ahead and play around with the number of drops, remembering that less is more with essential oils. Some diffusers are better than others and some are diffusing in a small space while others in a great room. Use these recipes as a wonderful ratio guide to help you understand what oils can help you the best. Comment below if you have found other blends to help!
* Use your favorite brand of essential oils but know that many brands are NOT pure. Do your homework. Most labels carry blends...the name of each blend is not listed, but the type of blend is.
These blog entries are written by our very own clinicians. When inspiration hits, another entry will be logged.
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