Category: Life


The Mirror of Reality

At one stage in my life I found myself encountering a stubborn revenue plateau in my business.  It lasted for about two years and during this time, no matter what I threw at it – no matter what funnel or offer or agency or contractor I hired – nothing worked to shift the dial.  I didn’t realise it then I was stuck in the mirror of reality. 

It was the most frustrating thing, but now with the grace of time, I can see why it happened just so, it is so very obvious.  

You see, at that time I had been starting to feel creatively trapped by my business. I wanted a new challenge, truthfully I wanted to talk to entrepreneurs about mindset but my entire career and identity had been built around media buying and I felt like an imposter so I denied myself the exploration of this new desire.  I was afraid that if I suddenly left the business I had spent so many years growing up that I would become a failure, that I would lose it all, and that I would not be able to support myself financially. 

It seems silly to read these thoughts back now, but back then they were paralysing and they kept me stuck. 

And I grew very unhappy.  My confidence began to plummet, and the revenues shrunk.  

The more I stayed, the more fearful I became, defensive, cynical.  And the more my life started to unravel. Launches would turn into false starters, payroll was a stressful stretch each month.  Employees started to leave and I took this on as a betrayal, and the more betrayed I felt, the more a cascade of more betrayals took root.  It was just one giant shit show. 

It took for someone to tell me in passing one day that when they experienced their existential crisis, they had realised all the bad things happening were really just mirrors of themselves, for me to finally connect with this truth again. 

I had already known this to be true with attracting money.  Back in 2017 when my agency took off, it was because I began doing mindset work where I embodied wealth and success – the whole premise being that this would then be reflected back to me. And reflect back to me it did!

I realised then and there with a sinking, light bulb moment so to speak, that I had been chasing and pushing against my reality in search of creative freedom and fulfilment – and the more I did this, the more disconnected and depressed I began.  All the while, the feeling of purpose and enthusiasm was within me all along, and that if I could teach myself this state again – unconditional to what my business or role in the business was – then my actions and behaviours would also begin to reflect those of an inspired and enthusiastic individual and therefore reality would mirror this back.  

 

Mechanics of Mirroring 

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Reality as a mirror may sound far fetched a woo woo but it’s really common sense. 

Think about it this way: when you feel fulfilled and purposeful, you show up differently in your personal life, in your business and relationships than when you feel unworthy, fearful, and doubtful.  True or true?  

The entrepreneur that thinks they are doomed to fail will have far less chances of success than the one who believes that it is possible and that they will succeed.  

 The founder who believes money comes with sacrifice will be far less likely to be able to attain wealth without subscribing to a hero’s journey or burnout than the one who believes money can and should be made with ease. 

Similarly, the moment a CEO begins to question themselves or the business on a regular and ongoing basis is the moment that that business is in deep trouble. 

The mirror of reality

 

Why is this important to grasp? Well, if reality is a mirror, then to make our internal state of wellbeing conditional on outside circumstances is asking for trouble.  It also explains why we find ourselves stuck in cycles and disruptive patterns. 

 

The entrepreneur that thinks they will succeed will possess resilience, and therefore they will succeed…

 

And so, if we wish to change our realities, we MUST shift our internal compass first.  

We must develop the ability to feel worthy, abundant, successful, joyful, and well WITHOUT strings attached.  To love ourselves unconditionally of the outside world. 

 

Unconditional Love 

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When we feel tension in our state it is always because we are stopping the flow of love to ourselves, caused by a limited perspective or thought pattern.  

We have made that part of ourselves conditional on the outside and the tension is our internal compass telling us that we have veered off course from where we truly desire to be.  The tension is the awareness of the gap in perspective from where you are to where you want to be. 

What’s interesting here is that we would never do this to a loved one.  We give unconditional love to our children – they could become serial killers and we would still love them. We expect unconditional love from our partners – that they will stand by our side no matter the circumstances. 

But when it comes to ourselves, well all of a sudden, that’s not how life works.  Our love for ourselves DOES come with fine print and strings attached. 

When we heal this relationship with ourselves, AND marry this with a desire, we grow and expand in ways beyond what we could even have imagined for ourselves. 

WANT MORE – Catch this exclusive training I ran where I go into a lot more detail around this. Click here to watch

Depressed and suicidal

This is a bit of a vulnerable share, some of the stuff in here I have never openly talked about, some of it I deleted before adding back in realising that there is no shame in my story and that being brutally honest is the only way to truly help others. So here we go, be gentle on me. If the topic of being depressed and suicidal is upsetting to you, proceed with care.

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Three years ago I found myself in a difficult place in my business – financially and mentally.
Even though I had built a multi million dollar company – something I had never imagined possible for myself growing up – even though I had followers from all over the world and was well respected in my field, even though I was well connected and had amazing people around me, I was beginning to question myself and my business.
Something wasn’t clicking, the fire in the pit of my belly that I once had had diminished. The rush that had come from making so much money had flushed through my system (as it always eventually does) and I was left standing there realising that I just wasn’t that excited about what I was doing anymore. Problem was, I was just as confused about what, if anything, it was that I wanted to pursue.
Because I was making crazy sums of money and because I was getting accolades from people for the work I was doing, my mind rationalised away my doubts and concerns. Even though my entire body and soul was screaming out for change, I kept telling myself that walking away from it all would go down as the dumbest move in history. Why would I walk away when I had worked so hard for it all? When I didn’t even know what it was I wanted to do or what would fulfil me. When I was making a great salary. Why?
It just didn’t make any sense on paper.
And so I stayed.
And the longer I did, the longer I ignored these thoughts and telltale signs, the more my confidence began to plummet, the more my self worth was left in tatters, the more skeptical and cynical I became. The more the hopelessness of depression began to set in.
By this stage the business revenues had already plateaued and no matter what I threw at it, no matter how much money I invested back or who I hired, nothing worked to shift the needle.
On the surface, the declining revenues were the only signs that something rotten was happening inside of me. No one around me had any idea just how bad things were, I was a functioning depressive. Slowly the revenues continued to dive and dive and each month would be a scramble to make payroll and pay expenses.
It was an exhausting way to live. Being sad and fearful is exhausting.
I was desperate to heal and get back to the old version of myself, the one who had passion and enthusiasm and could turn anything she touched to gold.
And so I frequented therapists, escaped to self help retreats and workshops, did plant medicine, tried reiki and scientology and climbed to the tops of the Himalayas to meditate with monks. I went so far to go under the knife several times thinking this would make me love myself just a little bit more. Over one hundred thousand dollars later, still nothing worked.
Until one day I hit a wall and had a mental breakdown. I walked into my fancy inner city office and resigned as CEO. My whole team sat there with me and cried and I confessed just how bad things had gotten. I was bed bound for the next two months, barely able to feed myself or get out the door.
It was like my nervous system had decided to step in and take matters into its own hands saying ‘Look here Cat, you’re clearly not going to step away from this thing you want to step away from but are too afraid to, so we’re gonna do it for you – here’s a mental breakdown to force you to your knees so you will have no choice but to listen.’
But quitting did not solve it, it only exacerbated the decline.
I became actively suicidal and tried to end it all, I was out of hope.
It was after a failed attempt that I came to fully know rock bottom, for there is hardly anything more discouraging than not even being able to do the one thing you think you still have dominion over in a world that feels completely out of control – taking your own life.
With only the perspective that time can give, I can hand on heart say today that I am grateful for that rock bottom for it was in that moment that the penny finally dropped.
After years of searching for answers in the most exotic of locations and the sterile offices of a therapist, I finally connected the dots: That what I had done to initially attract money into my life was exactly the same work I now needed to do for my sense of self worth and fulfilment.

You see, the penny dropping was the realisation that my entire sense of wellbeing was conditional on outside circumstances.

I had never learned or developed the skill of making myself feel well irrespective of what was happening to my bank account, where I was in the world, my womb, my relationship status, the width of my thighs and other people’s behaviours.

Instead, I had been going through life chasing the dopamine hit of making a sale or of having sex, or of being up on a stage in front of people …. all of these were great, but short lasting.  I always needed more, it was never ending.

There is possibly no feeling more exhausting and terrifying then to spend your entire life chasing money or some desire that you believe will make you feel a certain way about yourself or life only to discover, upon standing on top of the conquered mountain, that there will never be enough peaks to fill the void inside.

It’s the kind of stuff that leads straight to drugs and alcohol and depression.

Unfortunately, this is how the majority of people – especially entrepreneurs – live their lives.  Thinking that making a million will unlock happiness, then, upon realising that it doesn’t, thinking ten million will do the trick, then one hundred million and on and on. Where does it end?

“When I make the money… then I will feel abundant…”

“When somebody loves me… then I will feel worthy…”

“When my clients stop being annoying… then I will feel calm and at ease…”

“When I can get through my to-do list… then I won’t feel so overwhelmed…”

“When I hire more people, then I can stop the hustle…”

And so we spend out days plotting and scheming, writing out pros and cons lists, attending conferences, hiring coaches and staff, building and launching and releasing and pushing.

We try to solve internal discomfort by changing the outside.

And we get shit-whipped by life because of it.

No matter what amount of effort or mental intellect is poured into the problem at hand, no matter what you do, who you hire, how much money you throw at it, how long or short the to-do list is – the burnout, the plateaus, the doubts, the fears remain the same.

A telltale sign that the work at hand required is an inside job and that nothing on the outside of you could ever solve for X.

I had grasped this concept six years ago when I worked to attract wealth into my life. I had practiced and developed the ability to FEEL like a millionaire without the millions and this isn turn led to an in-pour of cash beyond my wildest dreams.

As if by magic.

Unfortunately for me, when I first stepped into money, I got cocky.  I was on top of the world, the rush from the cash still strong in my veins, and I thought I had it all figured out. So I stopped doing the work, and not long after the doubts and fears and depression set in.

It took the rock bottom to steer me back to the basics: on the importance of cultivating well being unconditional and irrespective of the outside.

Positive expectation MINUS the attachments.

I can already hear what you’re thinking: ‘and how exactly is one supposed to do this?’

If you would like to hear more about the dots connecting and what I did to build this skill you can catch a replay of a call I did this week about the subject here: https://cathowell.com/reprogrammingreality/
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If you are currently going through a difficult time, rest assured there is light at the end of the tunnel. Know that you are deserving, it is possible, and you can find hope and purposefulness again.
If suicidal thoughts are crossing your mind, reach out and tell someone as soon as you can, it will do the world in relieving the load. If you don’t have anyone send me a message, your light is important and matters.
x Cat

My one year ‘mental breakdown’ Anniversary

Almost one year today marks my mental breakdown.

The day I walked into my high loft ceiling inner-city office (that was always more of an ego play than a necessity) and through puffed cheeks and eyes told my team I was resigning as CEO effective as of immediately.

I was prepared to lose my business in that moment, as difficult as the idea was to swallow, it had come to be a matter of life or death. I was on the verge of killing myself, I needed a change of skin ASAP.

With only the perspective that the gift of time can give I can now appreciate this heart wrenching and difficult stage of my life. I can hand on heart say that – were it not for the depression – I wouldn’t be where I am today, which is now the complete opposite: joyful, fulfilled excited again and purposeful.

I can also see now why I had the dark thoughts I had. That I was living in a state of fear, my soul was no longer fulfilled by what I was doing but yet my mind was rationalising everything and telling me to stay. I was depending on my external environment to validate my internal state and was getting shit whipped by life in the process. I had it all twisted. The more I ignored it the more I sped myself straight into a proverbial wall at eighty miles per hour.

And so, in a drastic move my nervous system took things into its own hands and drove me to my knees.

I was one of the lucky ones who was unsuccessful in my suicide attempts. I barely scraped by with my life.

It never had to get that far. If only I had just listened sooner.

I want to take this moment to give gratitude and thanks to the people that supported me through this difficult stage. To the team at Eight Loop and our online communities who banded together to give me the space I needed, to mama Brooke and Kirsty and Charlotte and my lil sis who took turns babysitting me on suicide watch. To Tim for being the first person I felt comfortable telling about how bad things really were. To Guy who gave me perspective. Alyssa and Sergei for the trips! My mum for the late night calls. To my two business partners Justin and Brandon – it is no coincidence that the depression began to shift the moment you came into my life in the way you did. To my ex husband who withstood the psychological abuse I threw his way.

The list goes on and on, and in many ways, helps to shine a light on the success of my recovery.

A year on, I have found my smile again and fuck does it feel good! I’m excited for what life has to bring and am almost in shock that I ever considered doing the things I once considered doing to myself.

If you are experiencing a difficult or dark time in your life, tell someone ASAP, do not martyr yourself in silence. If you don’t have anyone, reach out to me.

Know that better times will come, I can promise you this – physics demands that love and light always follows strife x

The Alchemy of Jealousy

The Alchemy of Jealousy

The science behind why we feel jealous and how to understand what it’s really trying to tell us

 

I’m ashamed to admit this but I recently had a friend come to me and share some exciting news and my first (internal) reaction was to feel a pang of jealousy.  Of course I wanted her to be happy and successful, and yet, I couldn’t help but feel envious, I hid this, of course, and fronted an excited smile instead.  The attitude of jealousy is off putting to admit to and I chastised myself for my reaction.

When I asked on my Facebook page if there was a time and place for jealousy the responses were more or less towards the sentiment that jealousy and envy were best left at the door.

The Tao Ching warns of envy and jealousy:

Tao Te Ching 3

                Not exalting the gifted prevents quarrelling. Not collecting treasures prevents stealing. Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.

                The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies, by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.

                If men lack knowledge and desire, then clever people will not try to interfere.

                If nothing is done, then all will be well.

To believe yourself deserving of what another possesses is unrealistic

 

I was pretty much of the same opinion about the emotions of jealousy and envy – that both served no purpose other than to let you know you strayed off course internally.

In a previous relationship I felt jealous of my partner.  I was so ashamed of feeling this way because in my mind all this showed was my own insecurities so I suppressed everything deep down and shamed myself for the lack in character.

I suppressed any feelings of jealousy I felt of my partner in a previous relationship I was in.  Jealousy, in my eyes was a sign of insecurity.

But then I heard Dr Robert Leahy on The Psychologist Today podcast describe a study that showed that “couples who illustrate jealousy are more likely to stay together. And that got me to thinking – it’s relatively easy for us to admit to feelings of anger towards others, even depression, but to hear someone admit of their jealousy or envy is a rare thing in this world. And yet we all experience it, even the little babies at eight months old.

So what gives with jealousy? Is there a purpose for it and if so, how can we better understand it to help us improve our own wellbeing and relationships?

 

The Difference Between Jealousy and Envy

 

While both emotions are defined as passionate and intense, they differ  in the sense that jealousy is directed at a real or imagined third party – for example, jealousy over a person that has captured your lover’s eye – and envy is towards an aspiration or desired state of being.  It is possible to experience both emotions toward friends, peers, romantically, family and the emotions are universal with jealousy being observed in babies as young as eight months old and even animals display the behaviour (dogs are the most jealous followed by horses and then cats, in case you’re curious).

The green eye, as these emotions are sometimes referred to, has been the culprit of many wars and is the leading cause of death in homicides between couples.

I can personally attest to feeling jealous from a very young age of my younger sister.  Innately I must have understood on some deep biological level that this little squirming grub of a human was competing for my parent’s attention and affection.  As I got older I was envious of her beauty and ease of nature.  Obviously, I never openly admitted these emotions to anyone.

Though tried as I might to live the Taoist way and let it sliddddeee, jealousy would nip me in the butt when I would least expect it sometimes.

In my misunderstanding of the emotion I worked shame on myself as the number one defence against it.

Soon, I found myself stuck in a sordid self perpetuating cycle where the more I felt jealous, the more shame I felt, the shittier life was and the more scenarios came into my reality to make me feel even more jealous. My environment was exacerbating the whole scenario and the more that I was allowing this to frustrate me and cause me shame the more and more it happened. At the peak of my mental hiatus I was experiencing jealousy on the daily.

What I would soon come to realise is that the emotion of jealousy is actually a beautifully giving one when we understand what it it really saying to us.

 

The Benefits of Jealousy

 

The Biological Perks

 

While it’s definitely a hard life if you’re name is Jealousy, it’s not all bad, according to a key evolutionary theory coined the ‘Parental Investment Theory’ by Robert Trivers in 1972, jealousy serves a purpose in helping to keep bonded pairs during during the gestation period of their offspring.  For the females, they want to ensure that they get the strongest male and that this male is able to provide his attention and protection to herself and her offspring, any competing females of his attention impinges on this goal. Vice versa, jealousy helps to serve the males in ensuring paternity of his offspring.

Evolution is about competition and survival, jealousy – it would appear – helps to protect the gene pool.

Of course, times have changed. We’re no longer cavemen bonking each other over the heads. One for he perks of being a human is we can rise above or biology.

So does jealousy still serve a purpose in the post-modern world?

 

Jealousy as a Bonding Mechanism

 

Here’s an interesting question, if your partner told you that you were free to sleep with and date anyone you choose and that this wouldn’t bother them in the least would this excite you or make you feel like your partner no longer cared?

Behaviourally, jealousy seems to serve the purpose of screening for ambivalence. When a partner expresses jealousy,

jealousy as a bonding mechanism between couples

 

Democracy & Jealousy

 

 

Jealousy as a Compass

 

I struggled with the cycle of negative emotions that came with feeling shame around my feelings of jealousy until I came across some teachings from a law of attraction guru Abraham Hicks. I’ve been following Abraham for a couple of years now and her work has truly transformed my life. She talks of emotions as a compass to our own relationship with source.  And that – while the point is never to not feel any of the negative or “bad” emotions ever agains as this would mean no more expansion or growth (and the end of life), but rather that these emotions don’t rule our lives.  It’s about understanding that you have a sophisticated compass within you and then interpreting what it’s trying to tell you to make meaningful changes towards the expansion you seek. To to point of jealousy, she explains that there are really two conversations to be had:

  1. what is wanted, and
  2. the lack of what is wanted

It struck a chord. I began to understand that the jealousy was signalling to me what I actually desired (whatever it was I was feeling jealous over), and that instead of self shaming myself for wanting these things I needed to acknowledge the desire.

Then there’s the lack of what is wanted, this is what hurts, this is where the suffering pit in the stomach feeling of jealousy sits.  The focus of the gap between what is desired and what is reality.

For example, if you have been trying to conceive a baby and then suddenly hear news that your friend is pregnant, it’s natural to feel a sense of envy. This further reinforces the desire that you hold.  There is nothing wrong in the desire itself, but where we go wrong is how we stack up our entire happiness on the outcomes.

So basically, jealousy is pointing out to you a desired outcomes/thing/experience/feeling that perhaps you may not have even been aware of before.  The suffering part of the jealousy is when focus is kept on the current state you are in vs desired and the gap between the two.  Somewhere in that gap is a narrative that will sound a little like “it will never happen to me,” “I won’t ever be so lucky.” etc.

And herein why jealousy and envy feel so bad when they hit.

 

How to Reframe Narratives of Jealousy or Envy

 

One of the bigger issues about jealousy is the shame and blame we throw around when the emotion is expressed by ourselves or others.

In romantic relationships, we become defensive and offended when our partners express jealousy, in dealing with moments of envy, we torment ourselves for feeling the way we feel instead of actually giving ourselves compassion in the moment we need it most.

If focus shapes behaviours and decisions then whatever is focused on can only ever amplify according to observer-based laws of quantum physics. Once you place your focus on the lack of something you are making the love to yourself conditional on some outcome or experience to occur in order to feel some type of way.  The reality is it won’t even matter what that thing is or how menial or special it may be, the material world will never satiate a spiritual thirst. If you don’t figure out how to make that love conditional, you’re going to feel pretty insecure and that’s going lead to experiencing lots more jealousy. Round and round it goes, until one day you drive yourself so deep into the ground you have no choice but to face the music.

But this is where the magic of Jealousy comes in – it’s here to prevent you from having to chase your tail and to address the bugged lines of code before you hit the wall.

 

 

The Alchemy of Jealousy – Using Sexual Gnosis for Manifestation

 

“Just add it to the wank bank!” Those are the words that came out of my mouth on a video I posted to Instagram back in 2018. What I was referring to was objects of desire, not necessarily of the sexual sorts but rather the vision board sorts. It makes me cringe to hear my shrill younger voice say those words but the concept has served me well through the years, it’s a bit weird though so bear with me.

Sexual

A “wank bank”, for those of you that are wondering, is basically an imaginary reference file used to arrange visual cues that you will use to either achieve or during states of sexual arousal.

The reality is that there is a time and place for jealousy and if you can have fun with your new desire of expansion then jealousy can be used as a powerful motivator to get you aligned with the desire.

The reason wank banks are so effective as a subconscious reprogramming tool is because when you are in a deep state of arousal or orgasm your brain is being flushed by dopamine and activations in the pre-frontal cortex allow you to more easily access altered-states of consciousness.  The wank bank is used as a fun way to store those visual cues of desire and during a state of orgasm those cues are thought about. It helps if you can visually see it, even if just printed, during the state of gnosis so for this reason masturbation often makes this more convenient.

(It may help to watch the video below to understand the concept better).

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Cat Howell (@cathowell)

 

Final Thoughts

 

Jealousy is a giving and beautiful emotion when we understand that it’s really telling us to give ourselves a bit more of our own love. When we experience it, consider it an opportunity to re-examine whatever conversation is happening in your mind at that time that may need re-framing. Don’t beat yourself up for it.  Take a deep breath and allow yourself to practice the act of changing the way you feel about the situation.

Chastising ourselves or our partners for feeling jealous will only further the insecurities. We suppress it and then feel shame.  We feel bad about feeling bad and round it round it goes.

When a partner expresses jealousy towards us our natural reaction is to admonish and shame the feeling of jealousy, well of course all this does is fuel the insecurities even more and flames the jealousy.

Instead what we need, says Robert Leahy, is more compassion and normalisation of the emotion fo jealousy and envy.

“Have compassion towards yourself when you express it.”

If all fails, add it to the wank bank.