Monthly Archives: September 2011
Using pain as punishment for wrongdoing? A bit of an old chestnut. Since the dawn of time people have been inflicting pain on themselves or others as a punishment for doing something wrong. Research now finds that this seems to be hardwired into our psychology.
A paper published in Psychological Science by Brock Bastian et al in January 2011 found that people asked to write about a time when they rejected another person left their hand in icy water for longer than those who just had to write about an everyday interaction. Of those who had to write about rejecting another person, they later scored much lower on a guilt questionnaire if they had put their hand in a bucket of ice than those who had put their hand in a bucket of warm water.
In other words, those who had punished themselves felt less guilty afterwards about having rejected another person!
So how’s that for a solution? You can do what you like, and then punish yourself afterwards and you don’t have to feel guilty. Hmmmm.
I prefer a different Feel-Good approach. The approach of doing one’s best.
Yup. As simple as that. If at every juncture you do your best, then what have you ever got to feel guilty about? And if you don’t feel bad about things you’ve done, or not done, then you’ll never feel psychologically obliged to punish yourself or let anyone else punish you. Instead you can feel good that you did your best.
Of course this only helps with things you do willingly and with intention. What about all the actions where you’re not sure about what to do and you take the wrong action, or you make a mistake? What about those times where whatever you do you end up doing damage in some sense? Well in those cases there’s still another option – the opportunity to say sorry and do what you can to put things right.
Punishing oneself is destructive. It may be hardwired in, but don’t you get the feeling that it’s a bit of an old-world approach to doing things? Like caning naughty children … we don’t do that kind of thing anymore. Punishment weakens you and lessens your ability to do the next thing. Whereas caring passionately enough about your world to make better decisions upstream, putting things right if they go wrong and if all else fails saying sorry and finding a way to forgive yourself allow you to continue moving forward in life. You can have a lighter, happier attitude and go forth and achieve everything you desire. Forgiving yourself and others when things go wrong allows you to cut ties with negativity and heaviness and focus on the good stuff. It allows you to start again and get it right this time.
Have a fabulously productive week – in which you forgive yourself and others!
Ps: This post was meant to self-publish on Wednesday and as you might have noticed, it didn’t … so Ive fixed it, and here it is. I certainly did my best though, so I’m not going to give myself a hard time about it – in fact I’m forgiving myself and moving on to the next thing!
Brock Bastian, Jolanda Jetten, and Fabio Fasoli
Cleansing the Soul by Hurting the Flesh: The Guilt-Reducing Effect of Pain
Psychological Science January 2011 , first published on January 18, 2011
There I am, feeling a right nincompoop, half way up a mountain somewhere in Wales, aching feet, out of breath, ridiculously heavy backpack, tearful with effort, wondering what the heck I thought I was doing when I put myself up for this. Mountain Leader Training?!! Hah. Just cos I love being in the mountains, doesn’t mean I need to volunteer to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with two ex army guys, and three hefty outdoor adventure guys, all of whom are secretly or not so secretly wishing I wasn’t there so they can go bounding over the earth like mountain goats instead of waiting for little slow coach to catch up … Character building? I’ll give you character building. You try chasing those chaps up and down rock faces … when we finally got back to the bottom, and I trailed in, an hour after the first mountain goat had arrived, they all stood up and slow clapped me. And I’ll tell you something else too … several years later when my brother went to the same training company they were still talking about me! Talk about notoriety … Ah well, at least I’ll have a story to tell my grandchildren…
Anyhow, I’m glad I went, because I learnt something. I learnt (now pay attention …) that when climbing a rock face, you never underestimate a foothold or handhold. What I mean to say is, say you see a small foothold and it’s only 10cm or so above the one your foot is on, if there’s nothing else available you take it. And something astonishing happens. Your point of view changes. And you see other footholds and handholds that you couldn’t see 10cm lower down, or that weren’t available from slightly lower down. You work out your next move from where you are at the time (though of course you keep an eye on your general direction so that you don’t climb yourself into a bush or something), and you find that there’s always a way up, even if its 10cm at a time.
I think life can be a bit like that. Sometimes it really does feel like an uphill struggle, and there are times when the only available options are less than inspiring. The thing is to pace yourself, take one step at a time, and use those little options, if they’re all you’ve got. And your point of view changes. You begin to see other options that you couldn’t see before. You gain experience. You gain a sense of mastery. You get to feel great about pushing your limits, when you discover you can go farther than you expected. You can start to take joy in the moment too – joy in just being, joy in the privilege of having got this far. Once you begin to enjoy the process, the load seems lighter, and as you relax and start to smile your muscles loosen up just a little so the climb gets easier. Then at a certain point, you notice that you’re actually quite near the top. Your step quickens, and you’re happy to push yourself even harder. You clamber over the last few bumps and … you’re there.
If you’re climbing a mountain you get to survey the view. A beautiful lake glinting in the sunshine. Maybe a few little clouds huddled round a neighbouring mountain top. The deepest blues and the most verdant greens. Waltzing grass and patient rock. A tiny lone figure in the distance. A cooling breeze caresses the smile on your face as you stand there and just be. Nothing else exists but this moment.
If it’s life that you’re scaling, you can also let yourself celebrate those wins – there’s nothing quite like putting in everything you’ve got, and getting results you only ever dreamed you could achieve. When you go for something you truly want, that’s always been a part of who you are, and you get it … don’t you just think to yourself “I could die happy right now!” I love those moments. You feel like you’re stepping more deeply into being yourself. You almost glow, and the feel-good is infectious. People around subtly get the message “If you’re willing to do what it takes, you can achieve your desires”. And so your success becomes a beacon of possibility, lighting the way for others.
In either case, all the blood sweat and tears you put in are forgiven and forgotten as you rejoice in just being … after all, what else is there?
This week live in the moment. Take little opportunities that come your way. Know that you will get there … and rejoice in the process as you move closer and closer to your next summit.
Every morning, as I brush my teeth, like a trigger the dentist’s voice rings in my ear ‘electric toothbrushes are always better than manual ones’. And every morning I say to myself ‘how do they know?’ Well ok I suppose electric toothbrushes can be better relied upon to brush more strongly, provide more brush strokes and thereby remove more plaque … but how do they know that more vigorous brushing won’t wear away your tooth enamel … or maybe the vibrations from the toothbrush might, I dunno, rattle your teeth about too much and make them fall out earlier … who knows? Yet we’re all willing to accept the dentist’s recommendation to use an electric toothbrush…
Well, as my mind was pondering this bland conundrum the other morning I followed the thought along to ‘Just think how many other things we take as fact, which are actually just theory’. That we’ll be well and healthy tomorrow, that nuclear war won’t break out, that we are actually the child of our parents (hospital mix-ups do happen you know!), our religious or spiritual standpoint, or the lack of it, that when you see something red, and somebody else sees something red that you actually both experience red in the same way … the list goes on. It’s a little unsettling when you first think about it … that a lot of what we base our lives on is theory. What if the theory is wrong? What if I get to 70 and all my teeth fall out because I’ve used an electric toothbrush for so long?
I like living on a theory though. For one thing, life is never dull and you never quite know what tomorrow will bring … but I think it’s more than gratuitous excitement. You see if you live in a world of theory, the possibilities are endless. Once you realise that pretty much everything is unstable, if you can find a way to place yourself ‘at cause’, i.e. be a force that makes things happen, or holds them as they are, or stops them happening, then you can do anything.
I think that’s a real key to life. Being comfortable in instability. A lot of people like things to remain stable and when elements of their world change unexpectedly that’s unsettling for them. Instead of being rattled by the change though, you can see it as an opportunity. To create something new, to be the most updated version of you, to understand something in a deeper way.
Embracing the possibility of instability allows you to be truly alive. If we always wait for ‘absolute facts’ before we make decisions, we delay and delay in taking action, and often those opportunities go stale and pass us by. If, on the other hand we’re willing to act on an estimate or a 70% likelihood, we get to take action more frequently, and get to live life far more on our own terms. The ride may be a little choppier, and sometimes we’ll make mistakes, but we’ll get more of what we want and boy will the process be exhilarating!
So this week embrace uncertainty, live on the edge and push the boundaries of possibility – it will be the ride of your life!
Ps: A quick shout out to my colleague Sara Jane Tepper (http://www.facebook.com/sarahjanetepper), who gives a fantastic full body massage amongst other things. If you’re living on the edge you need to take good care of yourself and this is one way! – check out Sara Jane’s website http://www.hertsholistic.com from where I copied the following:
Herts Holistic is run by Sarah-Jane Tepper and is based at Elstree Film Studios in Hertfordshire. She is ITEC and VTCT qualified and has Diplomas in Anatomy & Physiology, Massage, Indian Head Massage and Reflexology . She trained at the Central London College of Reflexology and the Middlesex School of Complementary Medicine. She is also qualified in Reiki I and II. Sarah-Jane writes Being Holistic, a column for At Home magazine online and is an independent distributor for Forever Living. She is fully insured and a member of the Association of Reflexologists and the Federation of Holistic Therapists.
I’ve got a thing for stubborn people. Sure they can drive you crazy, but you know what, they don’t stop till they get what they want, and you can’t argue with that for a skill!
As you may have heard, my colleague Ronit Gerber and I were on Salford City Radio on Monday for a show entitled ‘Harness the Power of You’. To sum up the show in a sentence the message was: When you are authentic to yourself, you attract a life that fulfills you. If you want to hear the show you’ll find links to the right of this page under Newly Added Resources. Anyhow, on that show we took questions live by email. Several listeners spoke about how they’d lost their job or relationship and found themselves looking for something new. They were looking for motivation and strength, and more than anything looking for a way to change the way they felt about life so they could move forward. And where did my mind go? Finding Nemo. You can see what I do in my ‘spare time’!
In Finding Nemo (for those readers who actually get to watch movies for grownups!!!) the lead character, a young clown fish called Nemo is captured in the Great Barrier Reef and taken to Sydney. His timid father, Marlin, then travels all the way to get his son back. Many adventures ensue (which I’m not going to recount, you might be relieved to learn!) and there’s a point where Marlin accompanied by his scatty, amnesiac friend Dory, feels like he’s never going to make it. And she starts singing “Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming …”
I love that line. Cos sometimes life is tough. Sometimes you can’t see any way forward. Sometimes every route seems to be blocked, and you don’t want to be upbeat about it! Sometimes you’re angry and sometimes it’s overwhelming and all the motivation and ‘happy happy’ cheering up in the world isn’t going to help. Let’s admit it – we’re human and we all feel like that sometimes. So in those situations I say to you ‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming …’. Sometimes it’s just a matter of keeping on, until you perceive an opportunity to change things.
That’s where stubborn people win out. They just keep on keeping on, and eventually they get what they want. We can learn something from that.
I’ve found that if you do keep going it’s as though G-d/The Universe takes notice of that. It’s almost as though a proclamation rings out “Heavens! This person is actually serious about their goals! Let’s give them a helping hand …” and then as if it was happening by itself, things start to turn around. You get the loan you need, you suddenly realise that you know exactly the person to help you or perhaps whatever was pressurizing you eases off and vanishes. Persistence pays and it seems The Universe likes those with a stubborn streak too! Just look at evolution if you need evidence for that – the most flexible, persistent life forms are the ones that survive to thrive.
So this week if there’s something getting you down or a situation that doesn’t seem to have a solution … you know what I’m going to say… JUST KEEP SWIMMING!!!
Have a great week!
Hello Dear Loyal and Lovely Readers!
Here’s a bit of excitement – My colleague Ronit Gerber and I will be appearing on Salford City Radio 94.4FM with host Sara Lou-Ann Jones tomorrow, Monday 5th September between 1-3pm UK time for a show themed ‘Harness the Power of You’ in which we discuss how finding and freeing your authentic self can bring you everything you desire in abundance. To listen online join us by clicking this link: http://www.salfordcityradio.org/listen.php. Bring a pen and paper and get ready to get your thinking cap on – we’re really excited to help you make positive changes in your life! See you then- Rivka