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If you haven't read the first three parts of this series, you must! Start here.
So, we have given ourselves nutritional support in Part One. In Part Two, we learned about Flower Essences that help us transform the emotional issues that PMS presents, and introduced the concept that PMS is an opportunity. In Part Three, we laced up our shoes and went running (or at least walking). Now let's do some thought work.
Thought work. What is that?
Thought work is a practice or discipline where we look at our thoughts critically instead of letting them roll by unobserved. We pull those thoughts out of our heads and put them onto paper -- yes, paper and pen in a journal, and not typewritten -- and then work with them in some structured way so that over time, we have more self-awareness and more deliberate choice over our thoughts.
Thought work allows us to pedal toward the place of the Observer/Witness with training wheels, or like indoor rock climbing, where we know what rock to reach for next by the friendly marker of color-coded tape.
And, the repeated practice of thought work journaling is integral to the Positive Cycle and the Opportunity of PMS.
But first, let's talk about some of the things we have tried that only created small improvement.
Have you ever tried to meditate and been frustrated that you keep....f'n...THINKING! -- and thinking really ugly stuff about yourself or your life? Did you think that you had failed somehow? Or have you found that meditation feels really good while you're doing it, but you have yet to see much improvement in your circumstances? Is it impossible to meditate when you have PMS?
Or, let's say that you already have a journaling practice. Have you been frustrated that you've written down big goals and then you lose steam? Have you written page upon page but still feel frustrated with a lack of progress in areas of your life?
Have you tried everything, and wonder how any of it can change the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS that interfere with your career and your personal life?
I have answered yes to all of those above questions. And at times have been very frustrated, even angry with my body. One time when I had PMS, I was reading Byron Katie's Loving What Is and threw the book across the room. "This shit doesn't work for PMS!!!" I got a lot out of Loving What Is, but there was still a missing piece for me specific to PMS that I did not get until years later.
I began to turn the corner when I decided to revisit A Course In Miracles ("ACIM"). I had tried to read it a couple times from the beginning, but found it boring and didn't make it to the part that was the zinger for me. Then one day, I happened upon it. The piece of it that was transformational for me was Lesson 136, Sickness is a Defense Against the Truth, which opens with, "No one can heal unless [s]he understands what purpose sickness seems to serve."
As I read ACIM 136-137, for the first time, I was reading something that gave me a visceral aha, and a logical argument for the purpose of physical discomfort, and those things that we would label as symptoms or medical problems.
Before, most of what I had read struck me as new age dogma, scolding me for having "created" PMS and then shaming me for not yet creating something better for my life. "I am a new age failure" -- well now. That's a super helpful thought.
I continued to work with the concept that as long as I perceived PMS as a "sickness," I was judging it and myself as "wrong," and missing the purpose of the experience altogether. I was arguing with reality. Dammit, Byron Katie was right about reality -- "when you argue with it, you always lose." I needed ACIM 136 - 137 to make that click, however.
While I continued (and still continue) to experience my body and my emotions differently during that time, once I studied ACIM 136 - 137, I could never again go back to the place where I believed that PMS was a "problem." I continued (and still continue) to take care of myself physically with proper diet, supplements, and running, but my thoughts about the entire thing have permanently changed, and even now continue to improve, without having to con myself. Which brings us to the capstone thought work discipline that ties it all together: Brooke Castillo's Self-Coaching Model.
Brooke Castillo's Model goes like this: Circumstances are neutral. We have thoughts about them, and our thoughts cause our feelings. Our feelings drive our actions (or inaction). The actions taken (or not taken) create our results.
PMS is a neutral circumstance. PMS may be our reality, but it is neutral. It cannot make us feel bad. Our thoughts do that. And, we can choose our thoughts about PMS. Always.
I realize this may be a tough pill to swallow.
Here's how we smooth it out.
The work here is to first become aware of what you are thinking about PMS by journaling about it. This is not a one-and-done kind of thing. You may need to do this every month for the rest of your life (until you hit menopause and have something else to write about). You can look at that as a bad thing, or you can look at that as an opportunity. Every month, really look at it. If you are a loss as to where to start, start with these questions in your journal:
It's not easy. And, the answers to these questions might vary from day to day. The key thing is doing it and becoming aware. I promise you that you'll learn a lot about yourself answering those questions.
There is more to say about cultural stories about women's bodies and minds and how that influences our subjective experience of being women in women's bodies, but I will save that for future posts.
Once you have answered the questions, you have a lot of rich material to work with. What themes and challenges do you see? Where is the opportunity?
This is where the skilled selection of Flower Essences can really help. We do the proper nutritional and supplement foundation, we get the physical exercise in the form of bilateral movement (running, or at least walking), we get loving assistance from Nature in the form of Flower Essences that are specific to us, and we tie it all together and keep making forward progress through the daily thought work journaling. These strategies, working together, can truly transform your life.
If PMS has been your struggle, you are not alone. I hope this series of posts has helped you, and that you have learned several new things that get you out of the vicious cycle and into the Positive Cycle. If you desire additional support to do this, consider working with me.
To your peace of mind and health!