If you have been dealing with a significant unexpected life change or trauma it can directly affect your emotional well-being and your mental health. For example, you may have recently had to deal with a divorce, other relationship problems (including dealing with infidelity), redundancy or death of a loved one. Sometimes we need just some time and space to heal from these events. However, for many, regaining trust and moving on is tough and we can feel mentally scarred.
More generally, some of the signs that you may be struggling with your mental health include:
- Sometimes life can just seem too much and overwhelming
- Life loses meaning to you and you end up wondering “what’s the point” or hating life’s challenges
- You believe that no-one really understands what you are going through (and so feel isolated and lonely)
- Having excessive agitation (for no good reason) and overly blaming others
- Being regularly overly aggressive or passive (indifferent) in your life
- Suffering regularly from low self-esteem and self-worth
- Regularly demonstrating arrogance and excessive self-righteousness
- Rejection or denial of others and/or your life conditions and circumstances
- Wanting to take excessive risks to “get out” of a situation (e.g. gambling your way out of financial problems)
- Very low energy and drive
In more extreme cases we cannot get out of bed or feel we cannot leave the house without a sense of dread. We can feel that we cannot cope emotionally with any interaction with others. There are diagnosable conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD), bi-polar disorders and psychosis, which are possible in more extreme cases.
In contrast, some signs of good mental health include:
- You have a balanced approach to problems and are more accepting/tolerant of the faults of others
- You are flexible with your attitude and approach and can be strong and resilient
- You make decisions easily and can lead yourself with a healthy level self-belief
- You have a healthy interest in life and making a difference
This article is focussed on the milder (and more temporary) symptoms of poor mental health. Please seek the help of a mental health professional if you think you may be struggling with more severe symptoms (such as bi-polar or psychosis).
In this article, we suggest a visualisation process to help with dealing with a deterioration in your mental health. However, before we go into the visualisation process itself there is some preparatory work to do first.
Step 1: Getting to the real cause of your emotional states
A strong negative emotion that you find hard to let go of is an indicator that you have missed something in your perceptions about what is happening. The typical reason why people struggle to let emotions go or keep emotions blocked is through blame. You can either blame others or blame yourself for something. The blame process places responsibility for a problem outside of your circle of empowerment, which means that you are powerless to do something about it.
To help break through blame and emotional blocks you can ask one simple question: “How is that a problem for me?” So, for example, if you blame your ex-partner for a traumatic breakup ask: “How is blaming my partner and having a traumatic breakup a problem for me?” You may be surprised at the clarity of answers that emerge. If you get an answer “it makes me feel bad and makes me unsure about where my life is going” you can ask “how is feeling bad and being unsure about where my life is going a problem for me?”. If you can dig down into three or four layers of answers you are more than likely moving towards the real reason you are feeling overly emotional.
Step 2: Consider what resources you may need to let these feelings go
Logically there are big benefits to letting difficult emotions go, however sometimes we don’t feel emotionally that we can forgive a person, or have enough courage to do it so step 2 is as follows:
Ask: what resources do I think I need to let these feelings go?
For example, do I need more safety, protection, security, praise, adoration, forgiveness, self-love, self-acceptance, self-worth, empowerment, energy….the list is endless. You get to choose what resources you think you need to deal with your current emotional state. Some of these will be repeated in the visualisation exercise in Step 3.
Step 3: Emotional release guided visualisation
The final step is to work through an emotional release guided visualisation. You could record this visualisation and play it back to yourself, or alternatively take it step by step working along with the script, just close your eyes and visualise each step as described and in between coming back to the script. Read the words slowly and allow time to pause each time you see the dots.
Make sure you put aside 20-30 minutes for this exercise and find somewhere comfortable and where you won’t be disturbed. Finally, it does help to have worked through step 2 thoroughly before moving onto the visualisation.
The visualisation will take you back to two important times in your life. Firstly, you will meet your teenage-self as you were. Secondly you will meet your inner child (around age 6). The intention is to see how the emotions arising now are a mirror of some of those felt when we were younger. Allow the teenage-self and inner child to become how you were at these times. This process is effective because many of our core beliefs about others and ourselves are formed at a very young age.
Guided visualisation script – release blocked emotions after trauma or significant life change
Section 1: Meeting your teenage self
It’s time to take you on a journey….find yourself in a mysterious and beautiful forest…hear the sounds of the birds and the insects…..feel the earth and the crunching of the dead wood beneath your feet….see yourself as a teenager in the distance back in time…..ask your teenage self how you are feeling, acknowledge yourself…..ask your teenage self what is going well…..ask what (if anything) is troubling your teenager….ask what ambitions your teenager has…..ask what resources you need to be able to meet those ambitions and what resources will help you to let go of what is troubling you…..spend a few moments connecting with your teenage self and identifying what it is you need…..
Section 2: Accepting the resources your teenage self needs
Notice an animal in the distance making its way towards you high up in the trees….notice that this animal is a bird….a bird of paradise and it has a gift for you held in its beak…..allow yourself to choose the form of this gift…choose an item which is a symbol for all the resources your teenage self needs….allow the bird to come to you and deliver this gift…..it’s time for you to examine this gift in whatever form it takes for you…..allow your teenage self to accept the gift…..and finally allow your teenage self to merge together with this gift in whatever way seems appropriate.
Section 3: Meeting your inner-child
Let this image go and it’s time to take you on a journey to meet yourself as a young child (around age 6 or 7)…..imagine meeting your inner child from your past on a cloud…drifting away on a cloud….relaxed, comfortable and confident…..feel the wind as it brushes past your face…..hear your clothes flapping gently in the wind ….feel the pleasant feeling of weightlessness……it’s time to ask your inner child how it is feeling, acknowledge your inner child….ask your inner child what is going well…..ask what are your inner child’s dreams are….ask what (if anything) is troubling your inner child……ask what resources this inner child needs to help you to achieve your dreams…..and what resources your inner child needs to help let go of what is troubling you….spend a few moments connecting with your inner child and identifying what resources you need…..
Section 4: Accepting the resources your inner-child needs
It’s now time to look up and notice an angel figure floating down towards your inner child with a gift in its arms…allow your inner child to choose this gift….choose an item which contains all the resources your inner-child needs….allow the angel to come and deliver this gift…..it’s time for your inner child to examine this gift in whatever form it takes….allow your inner child to accept the gift…..and finally allow your inner child to merge together with this gift in whatever way seems appropriate.
Section 5: Filling yourself with the colour and sound of the resources
Now it’s time to rise yourself up in your mind’s eye….see the inner teenager and inner child way down below and your time line stretching out, see your inner child down below at around age six in your timeline and your teenage-self further out into the future…..ask yourself if the resources had a colour, what colour would all the resources have? If they made a sound, what sound would they make? Imagine the colour and sounds emanating from your body so you are completely immersed in the colour and sound of the resources.
Section 6: Letting go of the blocked emotions
Finally it’s time to move higher and further back in your mind’s eye and your visualisation so that your inner child and your teenage-self are way down below you and in front of you….notice they both look so tiny and insignificant way down below…..and from this new position it’s time to ask yourself out loud “where did the emotion go, did it disappear?”……allow your inner child and teenage-self to let go of the emotions that have been holding them back.
Finally, it’s time to splash forward along your whole stream of time the colour and sound of those resources so that it releases all of the emotion in your timeline and replaces it with the colour and sound of the resources. Come all the way back until now and when you are ready, open your eyes. [End of script.]
Life makeover retreats
If you find this process intriguing and helpful, you may be interested in the life makeover retreats at La Crisalida. All the retreats at La Crisalida are designed to help you get back in touch with yourself and to find balance. You will also have the opportunity to try meditation and yoga classes, together with other nurturing activities such as nature walks. To find out more about life makeover retreats at La Crisalida Retreats click here.