Interview with Pauline Houle, psychotherapist and author of My Beauty & my Beast, Mind, Body and PMS (and Menopause). Pauline came and spoke to my women’s circle years ago, and I found her approach to PMS fascinating. It also applies to menopause. Read on.
Musemother: Women at midlife sometimes notice increased PMS. From your work on this subject, why do you think that is?
Pauline Houle: There is one thing I have found for certain is that for some women it does, for others it disappears. If for any reason, a woman doesn’t take care of certain things, it comes back with a vengeance. Menopause doesn’t have to be a curse, but if stuff is kept under the carpet for too long, it will come out, not only as menopausal symptoms, but as cancer, or other diseases. All the newer research and my training in New German Medicine, along with all our understanding about the mind-body-spirit connection, give us ample examples of such diseases and their intimate connection with our own life.
Life brings to consciousness or awareness what we haven’t dealt with. Emotional issues are unique and different for every woman. Our limiting beliefs are not the same; it is an intimate quest, our own path, so it must be different for each woman.
M: Body guidance is an important tool for intuition – listening to the messages from the body. What is the end of menstrual cycle about for women?
PH: It’s a different kind of freedom; it’s not just that I’m aging, or that I’m going to lose my husband, my kids are gone and I have an empty nest – it doesn’t have to be like that. It is a time of changes. There is nothing on this planet that does not change. We have been so brainwashed to get rid of our natural cycles that pharmaceutical companies got the message loud and clear, hence enticing women to stop their menses. If women only knew the potential damage they are inviting in their life. We have to relearn how to accept our natural cycle.
M: What blocks women from listening to their own wisdom?
PH: We block ourselves from a very young age; we listen to medical gurus, publicity, we try to keep up with the pack. And we become victims of the environment, including all the artificial hormones we breathe in, through air, water, food. I feel human beings, not only women, have lost their souls – we’re disconnected from our health. Women are working way too much, two-three jobs – at home, on volunteer committees, at work. We try to be Superwoman, and we’ve lost ourselves.
It’s an attitude, a mental attitude. I know I have changed. I can rest much more easily now than when I was thirty. But above all, I hold myself accountable for all that happens in my life. Taking full responsibility for all that happens is a great master. It never lies.
M: What about the Inner critic: how does this hinder us at menopause?
PH: From a very young age, we internalize those voices. We hardly revise it as we get older, in some areas, but not in others – we will undertake a path that got shown to us early on, and we rarely revise what is our true essence. PMS and Menopause both serve as a wake-up call – we ask ourselves, what’s important? And take a look at the symptoms that show up nowadays – women lose concentration, their memory, the ability to multi-task – what if this were really a blessing?
M: Do women get better at self-acceptance as they age?
PH: If we look at the results of the survey to determine if PMS is a result of subconscious states linked to our personality, in my book My Beauty & My Beast, Mind, Body and PMS, the majority of women say their mental attitude will affect how they experience menstruation. From what I’ve collected, 77% of women believe our mental attitude affects how we prepare for menopause, and only 11% say it does not. “The belief that each one of us has inner power seems to be on the rise.” (MBMB) In my book, in the last few chapters I discuss menopause:
“My experience has been that medical science has rarely invited people to understand and make pertinent links between their emotions (invisible) and their physical symptoms (felt or visible). The bridge has but started to be built…If PMS can sometimes find its source in a biochemical imbalance and sometimes in the psychosomatic field then the same goes for menopause.
…body pains and symptoms are but a signal to let us know we have something to take care of, something to heal and transcend.
…I think menopause should allow all women to reorganize their lives so that they can do the necessary cleaning up of those untouched dreams that have been unattended for too long. All our limiting beliefs have infiltrated themselves into the smallest cracks. The time has come to refine and clean up.” (MBMB)
PH: In conclusion, menopause has a biochemical component, the body has to readjust, but once it has readjusted – it’s fine. But the more you want to get rid of it, the less you embrace your reality, the harder it gets. The menstrual cycle and menopause are part of our make-up as a woman. When the doctor told me I was menopausal, he was ready to write me a prescription, but I knew this was not for me (HRT). Even my husband thought I should look into it, but I said no. One month before my book came out in 2000, he said, I want you to look at this, how right you were. It was a scientific study in the JAMA journal, a study with 10,000 women showing the link between HRT and increased risk of breast cancer.
M: What can help women listen better to their own wisdom and what blocks us from doing so?
PH: Our Inner critic blocks us, the big fat lies we tell ourselves. If we never revise the recipe of our life, in any aspect or field we play in, we will keep harvesting the exact same result. Wasn’t it Einstein who said that: The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!
Well, dear Jennifer, at times we are so blinded by our routine of repeating what we know best, that we have forgotten to ask ourselves enlightening questions such as: What else can I try or explore and harvest different results? What have I not been shown or taught that could make a difference?
And then, how can I go and get it? How can I change my belief system? Because after all is said and done, we are not who we think we are, we are who we believe we are, even if we have lost track of the beliefs behind it.
M: Thank you Pauline for this enlightening conversation.
Pauline Houle is a Social Worker and psychotherapist in private practice who loves to find the truth and the hidden reasons behind the psychological and physical symptoms of her clients. Visit her website http://paulinehoule.com