Mental Health affects everyone. Mental illness affects 1 in 5 Americans. Severe Mental illness affects 1 in 10 Americans. This translates to 43.8 million people a year in the USA and over 792 million people globally. Mental health is still a taboo topic. There are times where society focuses on the comfort of the collective before the health of the individual. These types of behaviours push individuals towards burnout, stress, and sometimes suicide. Many authorities have warned, ‘if we do not prioritise our health now, we are forced to manage our illness later.’
Diving a bit deeper…
What is the opposite of physical health? Injury? Broken bones? When we navigate life, we are taught to look both ways before crossing the street. We are taught to wear a helmet whilst riding a bike. We are taught to pay attention to other drivers on the road. We are taught to wear safety belts on rollercoasters (and in cars). These are all preventative measures to protect our physical health. Societal norms.
When we ignore these “rules”, we increase our risk for injury. What is the recovery process from an accident? Or how long does it take to heal a broken bone?
What is the opposite of emotional health? Broken heart? Sadness? We are taught to ‘stay away from the bad boys’. We are taught to follow a list of how to be the best partner for another human being. We are taught we are only complete once we marry. We are taught it’s more important to increase tolerance than to use our voice. We are taught to demonize our ‘heavy’ emotions or keep the ‘bad’ ones behind closed doors. We are taught to honor the highlight reel. These are all rules to follow to be a ‘strong’ person. Societal rules.
When we follow these rules, we betray ourselves and compromise our emotional wellbeing. We become susceptible to codependency and enmeshment. We dim our light to be accepted (chosen) by others. What happens when we do not have a clear concept of Self? What happens when we ignore (rather than process) ALL emotions? What happens when we are unable to reach out for support? What are the consequences of playing by societal rules?
What is the opposite of mental health? Mental Illness? Erratic behaviour? We are taught the micro picture (results rather than process to attain results). We are taught to observe words, then actions. We are taught to define ourself by the opinions of others. We are taught to silence all parts of Self that do not fit into what it means to Be a Man or Be a Woman. We are teased and made fun of if we cry (stop being a cry baby). We are conditioned to normalise (and define) health in actual unhealthy ways.
When we follow these rules, we risk a breakdown. It’s like a frog in cold water and turning up the heat. When we ignore these rules, we accomplish great things. We become the square peg in the round hole, a trailblazer.
WHY does this matter
We have a choice. We always have a choice. We can choose what is good for us. We can choose if social norms are actually healthy. We can use critical thinking as opposed to judgement. What is the difference between thinking vs judgement? ACTION. I teach my clients to reflect on everything then make necessary adjustments. Scrutinize what serves you and what does not. Just because something was useful last year does not mean it’s still useful this year. This process evaluates societal norms, personal norms, community norms. Yes, society and community norms are different. Have you heard of the mantra, ‘You cannot soar like an Eagle when surrounded by Turkeys’?
Seriously, if you notice strangers are more supportive than your friends, it’s time to evaluate (and audit) your circle. Once you start a journey of consciousness, you will quickly understand who wants to embrace the Warrior Journey and who actually does.
Are you ready to be a Warrior?
WHAT can I do?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I have invited my friends and business contacts around the world to join a month-long celebration. We will highlight strategies, share lessons, and break stigmas (social norms). We will discuss the nuances between coping and tools. Each session is delivered by Warriors (Survivors) who are Advocates, Coaches, Therapists, or Academics. Each on their own journey and each is defined as a Warrior in my world.
It brings me tremendous pleasure to invite you along. Some sessions are pre-recorded and others are LIVE. All will have an option to make a donation. If you find the session valuable and have the means, please make a financial contribution. If you don’t have the means, you are still welcomed to join. All events will be posted on Eventbrite. Please check out our featured Saturday series:Self-Compassion.
Other topics will include, depression, anxiety, burnout, bipolar, TBI, C-PTSD, trauma, resilience, and so much more.
Last week, I had the great pleasure of journeying with one of my favourite brilliant minds, Dr. Sam Vaknin. We covered quite a bit of ground. I very much admire the life’s work of Dr Sam. In addition to being extremely intelligent, he is highly decorated with certifications, awards, and is regarded an authority in psychopathy.
On a personal level, Dr. Sam’s teachings were very helpful during my recovery journey. When someone is targeted for psychological warfare, they are conditioned to betray the Self. Over time, the target becomes a shell of a person, genuinely believes everything is their fault, and becomes a people pleaser in hopes of being chosen (the ideal person/partner/child for another human being). This type of warfare is called conditioning. Targets are conditioned to act in a certain way. This process (can) take years to accomplish.
It can also take years to address and correct.
A recovery journey can be filled with many moments to question reality AND sanity. Doing The Work is not easy, glamorous, or linear. Self-care is not only bubble baths, positive thoughts, and dancing in the sun. The Journey is filled with moments to yell PLOT TWIST, cry until you can no longer see straight, sleepless nights, rabbit holes, emotional outbursts, fear of trusting the wrong person, and simply feel like a complete and utter failure.
Every single person is exposed to some sort of trauma. Sometimes trauma can break you and sometimes it can make you stronger. The art of psychological warfare is when a completely broken person decides to disrupt (or play with) others to avoid dealing with themselves. Sometimes it’s a conscious decision and other times it is unconscious. Our discussion covers all things from narcissism to mental health. Coping methods to community. Realities. Health Care and Society Systems. Sacred spaces and beyond.
Please visit Dr. Sam’s YouTube page. He posts videos on a daily basis, most topics revolve around understanding the mind of a narcissist. Considering narcissism and narcissistic abuse are on the rise, it’s always a sound idea to familiarise yourself with the topic. Knowledge is power.
We hope you gain useful insights in the discussion. Thank you for listening. Please feel free to share with someone you care about… It’s not every day a survivor of psychological warfare has the great pleasure to speak with the top authority on the subject matter. Truly a gift. I very much enjoyed this discussion.
As I sit in my apartment, I’m easing into a new space. A space I’m familiar with but have not experienced in quite some time. A space filled with light, love, and flow. A space with plants, magical moments, and combustions of giggles. A space with quiet moments to breathe, colourful sunsets to admire, and the ability to have a no pants party at any given moment. A space where all are welcomed as long as they appreciate themselves, thus appreciating me. A space where I’m able to share whatever is in my heart, pause through a moment of overwhelm, and share my thoughts (and emotions) without judgement.
A beautiful space. An intentional space. A space filled with reminders of the love within and love in the world.
What defines a home?
My home has always been a sanctuary. A place to breathe, to be present, to laugh, to think, and to create. A place where I can rest easy. My last home was in Singapore. It was absolutely divine. It was home on so many levels. Embraced and honoured by an emotionally astute housemate. A full refrigerator. Friendly neighbours. Predictability in the sunrise, the birds, and when the gardener watered the plants. Arguably the best years of my life were lived in this home. I enjoy sharing space with others.
Life in transition
When I moved back to the USA, I dealt with reverse culture shock, family violence, becoming estranged from my family, setting boundaries with childhood friends, and countless clean up efforts associated with unethical behaviour of others. The struggle was unnecessary, painful, and exhausting. It lasted a few years. On top of this, I did not have stable housing for almost 2 years. One of the two years, I rented rooms month to month. This was an adventure to check out various parts of the city whilst also being a momentary pitstop to rest. Present day, I have FINALLY arrived to my destination. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually.
Today’s sunset was special. Watching the clouds turn from white to grey to purple back to grey. Observing the sky go from light blue to fiery orange to purple. Chimney stacks still giving off consistent burps of smoke. Gentle crackling of my radiator. And the warm embrace of being able to be present in my own space without interruptions. Again, pants are optional.
Oversimplification, I went from being celebrated in Singapore to being completely and utterly misplaced in the USA to carving out my own space where I am once again celebrated. Another full circle moment. I’m surrounded by love because I am love.
Secret ingredient is LOVE
I try not to judge myself when I confuse familiar and kindred spirits. Everyone is allowed in, not everyone gets to stay. It’s important for me to assume pure intentions and then adjust if proven wrong. A dear friend was present. A moment of truth. Familiar or Kindred.
During the evening, I shared something weighing on my heart. I did my best to internally process and finally uttered, “I need to share something with you.”. Presence. Eye contact. A deep breath. Then almost immediately shame for using my voice. A moment to lean in and evaluate if my shame was remnants of my trauma or if there was anything to substantiate feeling this way in this exact moment.
I am in good company. I am loved. I was heard. I was seen. I was asked for a hug. The behaviour acknowledged and an offer to correct. My emotion was quickly converted into laughter.
What I have learned is leaning into these moments becomes easy when I do not have attachment (or expectation) to a certain outcome. It’s simply a moment to share something in my heart. If it’s acknowledged, then my tribe has expanded by one. If not acknowledged, then it’s time for the paths to diverge. Simple in theory, complex in execution. As long as I continue to love myself, these moments become increasingly easy to navigate. Internally, Loving myself gives me strength and acknowledging my love gives me courage. Externally, I’m optimistic whilst also being a seeker of truth.
WHY does this moment matter?
THIS moment is everything. It’s a feeling. It’s a mood. It’s a lifestyle. A few years ago, I put an intention into the world for my retirement goal: The Sacred Space, a bed & breakfast in Italy. On a surface level, this is a place for people to disconnect with the world to reconnect with themselves. On a deeper level, it’s a place filled with love. The chickens are named after Santa’s reindeer. The goats are named Garlic, Onions, Salt, and Pepper. Pictures on the walls will have been collected from years of travelling the world. The bathroom will have language dictionaries because why not learn a few words when sitting on the ‘throne’. The kitchen will have warm bread and a large pot of soup. Ginger & Lemon tea will be on tap. Rolling hills beyond the garden and a bee hive somewhere in between. The stairs will make music when they creak. The stars will dance across the sky. Each corner offers and opportunity to be enchanted. Love conquers all. Most people have the capacity to love themselves, they simply forgot how. Love is a basic human need. An important element on a journey back to self is LOVE. The Sacred Space will hold space for others during this journey.
More than a sunset
As I celebrate the world turning and hear sirens in the distance, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for this moment. This exact moment is an opportunity to breath life into my dream. Take one step closer to creating a space to call home. A place where as soon as you walk in, there are countless things to celebrate. Today, I breathe a breath I have not had in a few years.
The best part, pants are optional. I can take a shower, air dry, have a dance party, and put on pants on my terms. Sunsets are magical. All of these thoughts coming to life as I watch the clouds shift and the colours transform.
We are officially celebrating SISTERHOOD! There are so many instances when it’s possible to accomplish things alone but deep down, we all know it takes a COMMUNITY! And each successful women is surrounded by a Tribe of successful women, right? Yes!
For years, I didn’t know how to ask for help or receive it. I lived and breathed a sunny disposition on EVERYTHING. It wasn’t good or bad, it was what it was. I flowed through it. This approach worked until it didn’t work. I finally broke my silence about the pain in my heart. I started doing the work. I actively searched for women who inspired me… and now, on International Women’s Day. I feel as though there is so MUCH to celebrate!
I’m the luckiest woman in the world. My Tribe is successful AND HEART-CENTERED! They help me straighten my crown in private and celebrate me (with enthusiasm) in public! Leaning into my sisterhood has made all the difference in my world. To honour sisterhood, I’ve asked a handful of friends to share their life’s work.
1700-1800: (USA) Passion into Profits with Christine Mitchell
1800-1900: (USA) Healthy Hijinx & Drinks with Stacy Casson
The sharing is incredible. The love is incredible. The community is incredible. These are my people; My Tribe of empowered women. They opened their arms to you… so please feel free to join the celebrations.
Grateful to have shared a virtual stage with some of the literal smartest people in the world. In addition, one person coined the term “narc fleas”. My Recovery Journey came with a lot of plot twists. It was lonely. Heartbreaking then Enlightening. Isolating then Freeing. Everything and Nothing. It was pure Darkness then Light. Essentially, it’s shedding the role I thought I had to play to create space for the person I truly am. Check out the fangirl moment at the very end (I made a separate video expressing my joy related to narc fleas).
None of my videos are scripted. As part of my journey, I shut down my head and invite my heart to take the lead. Interestingly enough, I only shared my topic a few hours before the event. I hope this sharing brings comfort to those on their own journey. My oversimplified process is:
Accept the Challenge
Let Go (forgiveness)
Reflecting on Blessings
Breaking my silence with domestic violence was NOT easy. Being a public speaker of truth comes with so many challenges and opportunities. Each day I choose love. Love is giving people the opportunity to hurt you and trusting they will not. I give everyone an opportunity to be in my world. To stay requires kindness. Kindness to Self and kindness to others. I’m incredibly blessed to have the strength to lean in. The strength to love. The strength to take everything one day at a time.
Reflecting on Lessons
Some people are emotionally and mentally unstable. They might have good intentions but flawed execution. Perhaps their trauma prevents them from behaving in ways that are useful, productive, or kind. Sometimes trauma creates a fragmented concept of Self. Sometimes there is no Self. I struggle to accept the concept of a lack of Self. Each time I find myself more curious with others rather than curious with (my) Self, I am falling off my recovery wagon (and slipping into codependency). This conference reminded me just how far I have come. It also allowed me to lean into a new layer of compassion for those with a flawed sense of reality or a distorted concept of Self. Fundamentally, I understand multiple realities exist. I struggle with cluster b personalities. My experience is they have a higher probability to lie. Is it lying or simply a flawed sense of reality? (CONFABULATION is the word I’m leaning into).
Be gentle with yourself
Survivors of psychological warfare, the heart needs to believe people have pure intentions. However, the mind and body have experienced that not all people have pure intentions. There is a thin line between a false reality and manipulation. Most will argue the difference is intention. I will argue the difference is awareness.
If a person is aware of their behaviour and choose not to change it, they have just revealed their character. Remember 3 sayings.
An apology without changed behaviour is a manipulation.
Once is a mistake, twice is a decision.
Words are who a person wants to be. Actions are who they are.
At the end of the day, we are responsible for ourselves, not others. When our reality is flawed, it’s our responsibility to purify. When the reality of another is flawed, it’s their responsibility to purify. It’s easy to want to help others. At the same time, it’s not our business to get in the way of another person’s journey. More importantly, it’s incredibly selfish to deprive another of fully experiencing the most powerful journey of their existence.
Life is filled with big moments. The ironic part is we hardly realise they are big moments. Why? Because the big moments are actually a series of small moments. Moments we are trained to ignore. Or at least we tend to be so distracted we do not have an awareness to the small moments.
I just balanced out from a massive growth. My entire personal life was thrown into the fast lane. I consciously embraced the challenge and subconsciously resisted. Perhaps my heart was screaming “YES, why not?” whilst my head was saying, “Hold on Jess. Difficult lessons happen when we get over excited. Let’s take things a bit slower. Rome was not built in a day, take your time. Operate from HEART.”
It was turbulent. It was heartbreaking. It was fast.
What am I talking about? Navigating GRIEF.
Step 1: Shock/Denial
My blog was there for me during one of my darkest hours. When I lost the ability to know who to trust, I turned inward and then poured my heart into my blog.
Step 2: Pain/Guilt
I spent just over 2 years actively processing a destroyed trust system (family), grief that comes with the loss of my entire biological family, and I learned how to sit through some pretty big emotions. Considering most of my life decisions start with ‘WHY NOT?,’ my words were shared as me, not a pen name. Heartbreak at the deepest level without a place to hide. Through the journey, my blog allowed me to hold myself (and my perspectives) accountable. Each decision carefully articulated without a single judgement or mishap on ‘where did my post go?’
Step 3: Anger / Bargaining
Looking back, it’s clear to me I struggled to manage my emotions, 99% of the time. After 30+ years of converting emotions into accomplishments, sitting through them was extremely difficult. The tug of war was awful!
emotions are useless
emotions are messages from the Soul
what the heck is this? I do not know what this one is… it’s new
90 seconds, Jess. Just observe for 90 seconds. Breathe.
Yeah but what about the whole ‘You cannot heal what you refuse to feel?!’
Finding the balance between 1-5 almost drove me to the loony bin. My blog was there the ENTIRE TIME. 3.6 million words. Who am I to turn my back on my blog so quickly?! What’s more absurd, sharing this internal conflict or actually acting like my blog has feelings?! *facepalm*
Step 4: Depression
My stomach was not right for nearly 2 weeks. I was not sleeping well. Things that brought me joy were shades of grey. I withdrew from my regular activities into my shell. I leaned into a bare minimum disciplined lifestyle. I kept all my appointments but withdrew from making new. My heart was shattered. Most things in my world felt like they were falling apart.
Step 5: the Upward turn
Perhaps I can credit my blog as allowing me the beauty of learning how to shift from observing emotions as indicators or messages from the soul to really leaning in and sitting with some big feelings. I firmly believe one needs to feel the feels before doing the things. I also learned the difference between a feeling and an emotion. For decades, my pain towards my family was so deep, I willingly used *semi healthy* distractions to ignore feeling anything. Currently, I still experience big emotions. This time, I have the capacity to articulate both the situation and how I am feeling about it. I learned how to hold space for myself. I also learned how to stay connected with Self through emotional waves. My emotions are beautiful.
Step 6: Reconstruction
I’m making healthy decisions. I learned how to trust the right people. I am gentle with myself when I fail to tell the difference between a familiar vs a kindred soul. I also learned how to prioritise my health before the comfort of others. Most importantly, I am able to recognise when I am engaging in a coping mechanisms vs using a healthy processing tool.
Step 7: Acceptance / Hope
My blog has been converted into a website. My blog has been a beloved friend during my darkest season. My blog has also been my healing canvass and a trusted friend. On the flip side, my blog has been a playbook for narcissists/psychopaths to cause me harm. Alas, my blog is officially my website: A business generating digital calling card. A place where my classes are posted, my interviews are shared, my workshops are promoted, and clients can cruise through my content to quantify if I am competent enough to support them on their journey.
My heart is full. The catalyst for this growth was completely unexpected. It was a dear friend, a confidant, one of the most inconsistent people I have ever met. They are/were ruled by their emotions which made this moment incredibly difficult to navigate. I allowed them into my heart space which made it extremely difficult for me to stay grounded. Oftentimes, I found it impossible to discern which energy was mine vs theirs. One thing is for sure, the Universe gives you exactly what you seek. Before 2017, my intentions were to simply make money. After 2017, my intentions shifted to purpose driven work – only engage in projects/clients/programmes to make my heart feel full. At first, I thought my resistance was self-sabotage. My resistance was actually my heart needing me to hold space to properly go through the grieving process of converting my blog into a website.
When a person goes through a life changing moment, they cling onto something. That ONE thing might seem insignificant but it’s everything and nothing. It’s the friend on a dark day. It’s a comfort when the walls are caving in. It’s the safe place and also the go-to for sharing a mini victory. It’s sacred. To me, my blog was that plus more for nearly 3 years. 3.6 million words!!! And today, I am so incredibly grateful for the push into this new chapter. My blog is officially a website.
If you have not already, please feel free to jump around. I’m proud of the changes. My heart is tender. My heart is proud. I hope the catalyst reads this post and one day realises the power in slowing down. Slow is fast. Plus to honour the softness in my heart, space to breathe is essential. Grief cannot be rushed or processed without awareness. Today, we leverage the last 3 years of HARD work into “simple” ways to empower others on their journey! Thank you to ALL My readers. I LOVE YOU!
It’s FEBRUARY! Are you in need of a new Tribe? Have you already sidestepped on your resolutions? Guess what? Starting new habits can be FUN when you are surrounded by A POWERHOUSE COMMUNITY!
CELEBRITY PERSONAL TRAINER + RESILIENCE EXPERT = DREAM TEAM!
NO-NONSENSE plan of action to help you get THE. BEST. BODY. EVER! We keep it simple and forward moving! Seriously, a SINGLE topic of focus each day! By the end of the 21 days, you will have 21 new ways to approach your health! Are you ready?! See you on the INSIDE!
I’m so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share this conversation with the world. Please check out Genea Barnes. She’s a bright light on so many levels! Genea helps people Elevate their life. Most of her work focuses on addressing trauma on a subconscious level. She is fantastic at what she does!