Monthly Archives: December 2013

Mover And Shaker Vs Helpless Victim

Today I want to write about something that has been on my mind for some time and seems to keep coming up a lot recently in conversations – Victim Thinking. Stay with me, there is a connection to Adrenal Fatigue.

Playing The Victim

Just to be clear, I am talking here about a mindset. I am not trying to blame victims of violent crimes or natural disasters. Although even with those you see some coming out the other end stronger and others who break under the “Why me?” thoughts. I can say that because I have been there. While receiving Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for my PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) I have learned that it was my “Why me?” mindset that enabled those traumatic memories to manifest into PTSD. People with victim thinking are more likely to develop such conditions. And it makes sense why.

I could have taken steps to change my situation. But I did not. Mainly because I was under shock, so you can’t blame me, right? Wrong! Well, kind of wrong. While in the situation I was paralysed with shock and horror. However, had I been more aware and changed the way I think and the way I see things earlier, it would have never gotten to that point. So the earlier you can check yourself and re-educate your mind of how to see situations and take responsibility, the more likely you are to avoid getting into bad situations or suffering from them. By not blaming others and taking responsibility, you are in charge and when you are in charge, you have the power to stand up for yourself and do something about it.

Examples Of Victim-Thinking

Sacrifice

I came across this picture on Facebook today and it was the last straw to make me decide to write about this subject, which is very close to my heart.

The picture describes all those sacrifices women make: Giving up their name, their home, their bodies. But where does it mention that women, too, are thinking humans that make their own decisions? While I agree that one should appreciate their partner and be grateful for them, women are not victims of nature, designed to make all the sacrificing. For the right partner, they may DECIDE to do certain things, but surely you cannot blame your partner for that. And appreciation and gratitude goes both ways. Being in a relationship, both parties give up their previous life, both parties compromise and sacrifice. In many relationships, it is still the man who brings home most of the money,  which seems to be taken for granted. “Oh, but I can’t work as much, because I am bringing up his children!” – Sure, but they are your children too and you both decided to have them (ideally). How about we stop rating who gave up the most and just appreciate each other for everything we do for one another? Just a thought.

I recently had a lengthy conversation about this with two girlfriends. One of them was very big on blaming guys for everything that was wrong in our lives. An ex-boyfriend of hers had “wasted her time” by staying in a relationship with her for two more years after he already knew (so she says) that it was not working. How dare he? What a horrible individual he was…! No thought was wasted on maybe he was confused? Maybe he did not know for a fact that things are not working out? Maybe he just feared that it may not? Maybe he was clinging on to a failing relationship because he loved her and did not want to accept that the relationship was just not working out?

It may seem easy to blame someone else for our pain. And maybe it is. In the short term. Long term it is very detrimental to our lives and health. When I first came to London, I did so for my ex-husband. See what I did there? I did something for him. And this is how easily it becomes his responsibility. And when things started to become bumpy, I started to despise him for making me give up my home and come all this way to a foreign country living in a city that I hated with every fibre of my being. Those feelings were eating me up from the inside and were a terrible strain on our marriage which did eventually break down. I have been divorced for almost 4 years now.

We were seeing a couple councillor to try and patch things up at the time and she was the first person who put the mirror up in front of me and challenged that thinking. She kept telling me that it was I who has made that decision, who packed up my things and moved here. I remember thinking “How bloody dare she?” and it was not until much later that what she said started to sink in. The funny thing was, once it did, once I took responsibility for my decision to move to London, the hate in my heart dissolved and I felt so much lighter and happier right away. And not only that, with the hate-cap off, I started to see London for what it was – the most amazing city in the world! I fell deeply in love and am now so happy that I did make the decision, 9 years ago, to take a leap of faith and come here. Rather than my greatest failure, moving to another country now became one of my biggest successes which left me feeling very empowered and ready to take on the world. You see how a little shift in thinking can change your perspective on life as a whole.

Society at large supports a victim mentality. One of the best examples is obesity:

  • Mannequins in shop windows should now be fat too, because it is offensive that they sport a healthier weight than the average person. Right, why should be take responsibility for our health and reduce weight when we can just fatten up our surroundings to make ourselves feel better.
  • Scientists have found a fat-gene – halleluja! It is not your fault, it is genetic. Funny then that when you look at obese families, their pet tends to be fat, too. And I am pretty sure that their dog is not actually related to them. In fact, I would even argue that most of us have the “fat gene” as part of natural selection. Think about it, those best able to store fat would have been the individuals most likely to survive during difficult times 200,000 years ago. Yet not everyone is fat today. Maybe some of us just take responsibility for their health. Now, don’t get me wrong. Weight issues are complex and often there are underlying health issues. In fact, I think there are always underlying health issues, because a healthy body does not store excess fat. Excess fat in itself is a symptom. But taking charge of your health certainly goes a long way in combating weight issues.

Typical Characteristics of Victims

There is a nice little article in the Huffington Post: Do You Have ‘Victim Mentality’? What To Do About It. In this article the author describes a few characteristics of those with victim thinking:

    • People who are victims usually don’t see that the only thing in common between all the people and situations they think they have been victimized by is themselves.
    • Victims usually are people you can’t depend on, because they deny responsibility for their actions. They are quick to blame other people and situations for anything that doesn’t work in their lives.
    • Victims don’t have resilience, which is the ability to quickly bounce back after being knocked down.
    • Victims generally are passive.
    • Victims are usually angry at the people or events they think have “done them wrong,” and underneath the feeling of anger is almost always the feeling of powerlessness.
    • Successful people are rarely victims. One might be able to be a victim and still make money and have great relationships in rare cases, but usually it would be difficult for victims to be successful. To be successful you need to learn from your mistakes and try again. Victims are, by definition, people who do not acknowledge responsibility for their actions and who blame outside forces.

If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim. (Richard Bach)

Helplessness And Adrenal Fatigue

Being in charge is important for adrenal health. In fact, researchers have found in experiments that rendering an animal trapped and helpless is one of the most rapid ways to deplete its adrenals. Being in charge does not mean that you should do everything yourself, accept and ask for help. This is not about tasks. It is about the way you think and feel.

In Dr Wilson’s book on Adrenal Fatigue (Adrenal Fatigue – The 21st Century Stress Syndrome) he says:

“The particular kind of rest you need when you have adrenal fatigue comes not so much from lying down, but from standing up for yourself, and from removing or minimizing the harmful stresses in your life. […] because a sense of powerlessness or helplessness is the most debilitating and stressinducing emotion there is.”

Self-Empowerment

Can you see yourself in anything I have written about? Do you recognise thought patterns with which you victimise yourself? I have found 3 questions to be especially useful in taking responsibility for your part and changing a “victim-memory” into one of responsibility for your own life. So when you think back and you think of a person or situation which you have blamed for unhappiness or bad things happening to you, try and ponder on these 3 questions for a little while. And do this a few times. See if they change things for you.

  1. What was your part in that situation / how did you contribute to it?
  2. How did the situation serve you?
  3. If a person was involved, why would that person deserve your forgiveness now?

I realise that for some things it will be difficult to think about how it served you. But really try and come up with something. If you really make an effort to find something, anything, that may have been beneficial about the situation for you, you will be surprised by what comes up. And how much better you will feel after. Taking responsibility and being accountable for your own life is the most empowering thing you can do for yourself – and your adrenal glands! 😉

Exercises For Adrenal Fatigue

I have been able to increase the amount of exercise that I do and as I do it, have noticed more and more beneficial effects to how I feel. This has lead me to a new theory that I need to prioritise exercise above other things. So far, I would plan my day and look at what I absolutely had to get done that day. Then, if I still had energy left, I may have spent that on a little exercise. But I now think I need to reverse those priorities. Exercise first and then see what else I still have energy for.

The few exercises I am doing have started to make me feel better. Initially they drained me, so I had to take the intensity and duration right down. Exercise should not drain you while you are nurturing your adrenal glands back to health. I mentioned how I started to swim 3 times a week for only 15 minutes at a time. That enabled me to still go about my day without “passing out on the sofa” afterwards. The good thing about reducing how much exercise you do is that it enables you to

a) make exercise a regular habit again, because you have enough energy left to do something regularly

b) make it a positive experience, because you still have a little left in you.

So far, I have used the weights in the gym, gone for a run outdoors, been swimming regularly and I recently started yoga. My verdict on all of those:

Weights At The Gym:

While I used to love bodyweight and freeweight exercises (I am not a big fan of the isolating machines in the gym), I have found that a little too intense and noticed that I am the most likely to get carried away on that one. My previous mindset of “push harder to get stronger” takes over and I shoot over my now very low limits. I will chuck in the odd session, but am very aware that this will not form my main exercise regime again any time soon. But it will again eventually.

Running Outdoors

I used to love running. It was my form of meditation before I knew about mediation. Getting out in the fresh air is fantastic. Although with Adrenal Fatigue, the colder season really is not the time to do it. When I feel like I need to clear my mind, I might go for a short run, no longer than 15 or 20 minutes. It is a high impact sport, especially if done incorrectly or you do not have the muscles in your legs to support your joints. So when it comes to running, I will not deny myself the fresh air when I really feel the urge (which has only happened once in the past month), but I will also not push this any time soon. It will form a regular part of my life again at some point though and I have just become very interested in barefoot running. Since I am pretty out of it right now, it is the best time to start this new running style before I re-enforce my previous running habits of high impact heal strikes.

Swimming

Swimming has been wonderful. And I am not even a big fan of swimming. My local gym has a nice pool and as I am not a good swimmer with no skills other than a basic breast stroke, I have found this was the easiest to start with. I had no precedence of what I am able to achieve as a swimmer, so it was easier to relax in the water, do my lengths and get out of the water after 15 minutes. I have been able to increase my time to 30 minutes now and when I am in the water, I swim continuously without break. I do find myself competing with other swimmers sometimes, but I am quickly able to focus on relaxing my mind again. I use exercise to do this, as I find it easier than sitting down for meditation. Swimming will remain a regular part of my exercise regime right now, although eventually it will be replaced by running.

Yoga

Now this has been a game changer. After my first yoga session 3 weeks ago, I have to admit I was a little exhausted. But it was not as bad as it used to be. The second time seemed to have been “energy neutral”. By that I mean that I did not have any more or less energy afterwards than I did before. And after today, for the first time in years, I feel actually energised AFTER having exercised!!! This is amazing news, which I am really excited about. In fact, I am positively ecstatic!

While I find yoga physically challenging, the focus on breathing and relaxation means that not only am I able to last the entire hour, but still have energy afterwards. After today’s yoga class I caught up on 3 weeks worth of laundry, did the grocery shopping and got a fancy dinner on as well as pre-cooking lunch for tomorrow. This may not sound like much, but it is more than I have been able to do in a day for months and that was without exercise. Just doing the shopping would be enough to send me back to bed for the rest of that day and the next.

Conclusion

If you suffer from Adrenal Fatigue, I would highly recommend that you start or continue to exercise. BUT

  • form a habit by doing it regularly (this is more important than how much you do or how long you do it for. Just do a little bit as often as possible until you can do something every day. If your fatigue is very severe, you could start by just getting dressed and walk to your local gym and back home several times a week, just to get you started.)
  • keep it light
  • keep it short
  • increase duration and intensity very slowly
  • consider things you have not done before, to avoid the “I used to be able to do this” thinking trap
  • give yoga a go.

I have really fallen in love with yoga in my very first session. With Christmas coming up and me going back home to spend it with my family, I want to ensure that I don’t get out of it and stay true to my new commitment of prioritising exercise. With the internet, I am hoping that I will be able to do 20-30 minutes every morning of yoga.

If anyone has any suggestions of a good youtube channel or similar for a newbie to yoga, please comment below. Your responses would be much appreciated.

Tomorrow morning I am booked to try out Pilates. I missed that class last week and if I go, I will let you know how it went.

A Bumpy Road To Recovery And Snowballing Back To Health

Lately, my blog has been much neglected. In fact, my last blog post went out over a week ago. A good explanation would be that I was stricken down with my Adrenal Fatigue. But actually, the news is rather good instead.

The reason for my longer than planned absence is in fact that I have been getting so much better. My increased energy has led me to do more things on a daily basis. But just because my energy levels are better than what they were a month ago, does not mean that they are back to normal. So there I am, getting up in the morning and actually feeling somewhat energetic and I get carried away. I start doing things, planning my day and before I know it, I have run out of steam and not written anything for my blog yet.

I have been doing more exercise and recently started with yoga. The first lesson was amazing and I did a lot better than I would have expected. I am hyper-mobile which helps with the contortions, although according to a chiropractor I should not be doing yoga at all. Well, what can I say? I have never been interested in yoga until I was told that I should not be doing it. And if you are hyper-mobile, I would say that yes, you can do yoga. Just be aware and do not hyper-extend your joints.

The second sessions was a lot harder, but I felt pretty tired that day anyway and went ahead regardless. I managed to get through the entire hour and managed to get some research done in the evening as well.  I can only highly recommend yoga to anyone suffering from any kind of stress or stress related illnesses. It is amazing. Two sessions and I am already a fan!

It is only about a month ago that I found out that my adrenal glands are exhausted and started to take steps towards recover. Now I can barely believe how much better I am feeling already. Some days I feel really motivated and even have some kind of drive again. I still get tired more quickly and require a lot of rest. But the times in between rest have become so much more productive and enjoyable. And with those improvements, the resting does not seem so bad any more. In fact, I have started to really enjoy my relaxation time, am getting regular Thai massages and cherish my quiet time now rather than feeling condemned to rest. I have become so much better at listening to my body and with increased energy I have increased motivation to eat and cook better, which has had its part in my recovery so far.

So the road to recovery is bumpy. And as you get more energetic and your highs get higher, your lows may seem lower even though likelihood is they are not. But as you learn what does you good and what does not, you learn to listen to your body and those bumps are no longer an obstacle. Instead, it feels more like a fun ride with ups and downs, peaks and troughs, acceleration and slowing down. There are no obstacles, no breaks. Just the flow of the process.

And it seems that getting better has an accumulative effect. As I get better I eat better which helps me to get better even faster. And the more energy I have the more I exercise which in turn gives me more energy again. So while the start off is slow, I seem to accelerate more and more as I get on, a bit like a snowball rolling down the hill that gets bigger and heavier as it gathers more snow on the way down and as a result becomes faster and rolls with more force.

And this will be me. I started off as a little snowflake, weak and tired. Now I have become a little snow ball that started rolling down the hill. My body is healing and soon I will be back to the unstoppable force of nature that I know I can be once again!

Heal your body naturally. Be Healthy! BE UNSTOPPABLE!