Ladies and Gentlemen, in the spirit of more honest living and more honest communication (both hallmarks of the best life coaches, after all 😉 ), let me introduce you to my constant companion at present, probably the most frustrating of all the symptoms that come with Post Viral Fatigue/Chronic Fatigue: Brain Fog.
Well, it’s difficult to describe actually – probably the brain fog doesn’t help! It’s like my brain is full of treacle and every thought has to tramp through to be heard. It’s forgetting most of what you read by the time you get to the end of the page, particularly if it’s complex scientific stuff. It’s putting off organisational stuff like calling parents to say your daughter can come to the birthday party because they just seem overwhelming. It’s forgetting the names of people you have known for years. It’s frustration, because you know you should be able to comprehend a certain piece of information, but you just can’t get your head around it. It’s mental fatigue, in that sometimes you can just be too tired to think at all. Sometimes I feel like my brain exists in a constant state of blaaaaa. Please leave a message after the beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. It’s doing things on auto pilot rather than having to put your mind through the trouble of thinking about them. There are good days and bad days and on the bad days it feels like being in a perpetual haze.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture (not that you can see much of it for the fog). Now any exhausted mama will have experienced some if not all of the above – I know I have, even before all this started. When you get some sleep and a good meal, maybe even a break for a day or two if you’re lucky, it goes away and you have your brain back, ready and willing. In Chronic Fatigue/Post Viral it doesn’t seem to matter how well you eat or how much you sleep, your brain just won’t comply. Even writing my blog is much harder than it was. My mind wanders, I forget what I was talking about, I just can’t seem to get in the flow.
I feel compelled to write though, partly because it’s part of my big dream, and partly because I’m just sitting here in bed. Aside from getting my children ready for school, feeding them when they’re hungry and taking their education on cleaning up after themselves to a whole new level, because I simply can’t do it all myself, and it’s about time they learnt anyway, well aside from that, I’m not doing much. I tidy up a bit sometimes when I’ve got the energy. Nothing grand. Even sorting out a drawer seems like a major challenge. Before I conked out I was doing 2 high pressured responsibility -laden wellbeing and psychology-related jobs, as well as tutoring, as well as seeing clients if they sought me out (though thankfully I had no one current when I got sick). Most of those options are closing out on me, some have closed already, and besides I just don’t have to ability right now to pick up the reins and do what I was doing before. Actually to do much of anything, if I’m honest. Part of my brain says ‘This is ridiculous woman! Buck up! Get back on your horse, push through it like you always have. Get back to work, YOU CAN DO IT!!!!’ and the other part of my brain says ‘blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’
So I figure I will change the world through my keyboard instead. One foggy thought at a time.
Ever read ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle? Excellent book, changed my life. I learnt from Eckhart that pushing away uncomfortable feelings and refusing to admit that certain things are happening to you are a sure way to stay stuck. Often the only way out is through. The Power of Now will tell you to sit with your feelings, and validate them. Not to wallow endlessly in them, but to give them recognition – they’re there for a reason. Often once heard, the feelings disappear, and you can move on unfettered to the next thing.
Rather reminds me of something I once heard from Deepak Chopra. If you have a headache, you can sit down and allow yourself to actually feel your headache, rather than running from acceptance of it. You can talk to your headache and say things like ‘I feel you, I hear you, what do you want me to know?’ Often the headache disappears. I know this to be true. In my experience either the headache goes, or I at least get some useful information, such as that I haven’t eaten or drunk in too long of a time and that I need to take care of my body a bit, or perhaps that someone in my life is actually really sapping my energy and stressing me out and that I need to redress the balance in that relationship.
Brain fog I hear you, I see you. Well actually not much of you because it’s really foggy in here, but I know you’re there. What do you want me to know?
I’ll let you know how it works. And I’m slowly reducing, maybe cutting out wheat too. That’s meant to be good for brain fog. Read ‘Wheat Belly’ by Dr William Davis. There, that’s two book recommendations in one blog. Not bad, brain-fog babe!
I think I need to stop fighting myself and just roll with it for a bit. Some sources say you can recover from Chronic Fatigue, some sources say you never recover and some sources say you sort of recover, but you can never do all of what you used to do. Well I create my own destiny. I’m going to recover. Besides, I don’t want to do what I used to do, running from one thing to another, barely a moment to breathe, sapping all my strength and energy and getting no closer to my life goals … that wasn’t a life anyway. I’m making a new life slowly but surely, retuning myself, becoming more of myself. Come along for the ride if you like.
Have a fog-free Sunday, coupled with ever increasing awareness and acceptance in your life 🙂
The sky is suitably overcast as we meet at the graveyard. My great uncle has died, and here we all are for the funeral. People are gathered in clumps, as if being part of a group will protect them from death. I’m no different – I stick with my mother and brother. I never really know what to say on these occasions. What is there to say when the person lost is much loved, and has been there forever. Words can’t be enough. My presence will have to suffice. Though we children didn’t spend as much time as we should have with him, to me my great uncle was one of those people who was just a given. You know, someone who holds up part of the edge of your world just by being there. It’s strange that he is dead. It feels weird. One more of the old guard is gone and the rest of us move one step closer to becoming the old guard ourselves.
It feels disrespectful to walk amongst the gravestones, so I stand with some others a little back as the coffin is lowered and the prayers are said. I stand there remembering how not that many years ago despite his frailty he was part of the party that accompanied my granny, his sister to her final resting place, even though he didn’t have his coat and it was freezing. As we all watch the young lad with the digger fill in the grave, my eye roves over the nearby gravestones, and I read so many peoples’ final words to each other. I allow the words on the nearest gravestone to dissolve and envision my name there, and I ponder what I’d want my gravestone to say. Don’t you find these things make you value your life? If there’s one thing each of us can be sure of it’s that we will eventually die. I’m grateful to still be in the game.
After the funeral it’s back to the craziness of Passover preparations. Passover is really an all consuming festival. It celebrates the survival and rescue of the Jewish people from generations of slavery in ancient Egypt. The celebration involves a lot of symbolism, to help the participants feel like they too have been rescued from that same slavery. As part of the preparation involves removing even the tiniest amount of leavened grain product (bread, cake, pasta, biscuits etc) from your home, i.e. a massive and intense spring cleaning operation, by the time you get to the festival you really do feel like you’ve emerged from slavery! I’m a busy woman, being a wife and mother of three, and serving my clients too. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done, so you have to prioritise. What usually falls off the list is the domestic stuff, so when Passover comes, there’s a lot to do. My kids bless them are like three little tornados of chaos leaving a tumult of disorder in their wake. So it’s pointless trying to remove said grain products more than a week before the event. And the clean up process when it does happen has to be a deep one – you find bits of pasta in the strangest places! All of which explains why you didn’t get your blog last week. Usually if I don’t manage to sit here and write about life it’s because I’m too busy living it!
As with a lot of religious practices, Passover is all about ‘as without, so within’. I found an interesting reference to this regarding spring cleaning. Written by David Ault, one of my personal development heroes, it’s a piece suggesting that you do some internal spring cleaning whilst you spring clean your house and really that’s part of what Passover is about – removing the leavened ‘puffed up’ ego, so that you can get to the real stuff underneath. It’s about leaving behind the past so that you can embrace the present and ever renewing life.
Which brings me to my final point. Has this been happening to anyone else, or is it just me? Things that you wouldn’t usually expect to have been springing to life around me. It all started with the chow chow. If you’ve never encountered one, a chow chow is a bright green hand sized vegetable, with paler green flesh inside, and a soft white seed in the middle. As I understand it, it’s native to places like the Philippines. It’s mild and slightly sweet in flavour and great as a steamed vegetable side dish. Well I had one of these chow chows sitting on my kitchen window ledge for a while and due to the other clutter there, if I’m honest I completely forgot about it. When I did eventually remember it and decide to cook it, an astonishing thing had happened. It had sprouted a shoot and was growing a plant straight out of the vegetable itself. Little roots were patiently waiting under the shoot for such a time when they would encounter some soil. Now I’m a sucker for a sprouting plant. If it has a root, I’ll plant it. Over the years I have loved many avocado plants, cobnut trees, and bulls eye seedlings. I currently have a 4 year old jackfruit sapling growing in my office. Don’t ask me why. Being a tropical plant it will never bear fruit in this country. If it asks for soil I provide. So I planted the chow chow. It has subsequently shot up, like Jack’s beanstalk, and I have it on good authority that if I take care of it, it will provide us with chow chows all summer.
Then the dead stick on the orchid started flowering again – never seen that before. Then I found sprouting ginger in the fridge – which I have since planted. And you know what I found this morning? We have a weekend treat in this house, for those who wake up early enough. We have a ‘fruit party’, which consists of a variety of the usual and some more exotic fruit. So I was about to crack this coconut, and I took off part of the hair at the top, and the coconut had sprouted! Now this was not something that had been sitting around in my kitchen, I’d only just bought it. Of course I’m going to plant it … so it looks like we’ll be hosting a baby coconut palm too 🙂 Now all we need is sunshine!
So, what with bidding a sad and grateful farewell to a stalwart of the past, cleaning out our house and hearts of the old us to make way for the new us, and new life emerging in all directions, it seems spring is really taking hold at this end of the world.
How is spring manifesting in your life?
I’d love to hear about it!
When we got married one of the gifts I was given was a beautiful pair of crystal candlesticks. They were quite obviously valuable, and they caught the light from every angle, to produce rainbows on the table. When I received them I even polished them up and held them admiringly, imagining what they would look like each with a burning candle atop. But I’ve never used them. I use my Grandma’s candle-holder. It’s a simple metal holder, dark grey in colour, with space for three candles, so that one is usually left empty. It doesn’t shine or glow. The wax collects and catches in various bits, mostly where it isn’t meant to. And every week when I light my candles, Grandma stands over my shoulder.
Yesterday, Grandma stood with me as I made my daughters breakfast. I was making semolina pudding, something I often stood by and watched her make as a child. As I pressed the hot pudding into the bowl with my flat oiled hand, as she used to do, for a moment I saw her old weathered hands instead of mine.
Granny puts in an appearance more often. In fact it’s usually her who arrives when I’m cooking. “Stir it or it will burn” she tells me. “Put a little water … put, put, don’t be a miser!” She’s always right of course. My mind turns to Granny when I hit one of life’s little snags/opportunities and I wish I could tell her. She has a way of approaching anything with calm, wisdom and a little mischievous humour. Once when she was staying over at our house, she slept in my room and on my table was a large jar of caterpillars that I had kept since their ailing mother moth laid their eggs in my shoe box. I must have left the lid partially open, because when my mother went upstairs to give my granny a cup of tea she quickly came back down with the message “Granny says to tell you your soldiers are marching!” I got up there to find that a good quarter of the 64 caterpillars had escaped and were heading for the hills … one had even made it half way up the bookcase, and was hanging off a large file! As I gathered them back into their jar Granny watched in amusement, sitting up in bed and drinking her tea. See what I mean? Cool, calm and collected … most other grannies would have screamed the house down.
Sadly neither of my grandmothers are still alive and every now and then I miss them terribly. I miss the story telling, the humour, the person who always made you feel like they had nothing else in the world to do than to spend their time with you. I learnt a lot from them, both about the serious things in life and the fun things too.
I like to talk about visualising what you want for your future and of course we all need to focus on mindfulness and being fully alive in the present … and doesn’t it make sense sometimes to also look back and acknowledge where we came from?
Of course everybody has had bumps and lumps in their past and some of our pasts are lumpier than others! Yet no matter what brought us to where we are now, we ARE here, and have our past to be thankful to for that. Sometimes it was loving, caring and enjoyable, and sometimes it was … well, at least you could say it was educational!
Did you get to spend time with your grandmothers? If you’re lucky enough to still have one or both, why not give them a call and let them know how much you love them. Or maybe you’re a grandmother (or even a grandfather) yourself … you know your memory lives on well after you’re gone, and your voice will be heard long after you’re there to project it. Each of us has multiple opportunities to leave our mark behind us as we progress through life, wherever we go and even when we go. Whether we touch the world community or even if our sphere of influence extends purely to our immediate family, we get to leave so many gems or grenades hidden in the sand ready to be discovered. What will you leave? The cool thing is, you get to choose!
First, on the subject of last week’s blog, crumbs, what a difference a title makes! For those who didn’t read it because it was entitled ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ and you are sick of being told about recycling, me too, and it wasn’t actually very much to do with recycling at all, at least not in the physical sense. I might as well have called it ‘Read This and Get The Flu!’ If I put it out again I’d call it “Everything is good”, which is closer to what it’s actually about – so if that title is a little more tempting, then check out last week’s blog! https://rivkadavid.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/reduce-re-use-recycle-why-recycling-might-be-part-of-human-evolution/
Now a couple of weeks ago I went with my colleagues Ronit Gerber http://www.naturalgatewayclinic.com/reflexology_ronit_gerber.html and Cliff White http://www.cliffordwhite.co.uk/ to a talk by David Ault http://www.davidault.com/ (there’s a right bunch of links for you – is this the modern-day name dropping?!) The talk was entitled ‘The Grass Is Greener Here’ and was very spiritually uplifting – in fact over the last few weeks I have felt like we must have received some sort of ‘attunement’ just in being there, because I’ve been seeing things a shade or two differently since then.
Well anyhow there were a couple of things he said that have really stuck with me. One was this. He said that someone once asked him the question: “Why doesn’t happiness last?” and went on to answer “Because you don’t resist it”. Unpacking those two statements reveals the assumptions that ‘happiness doesn’t last’ and that ‘if you resist something, it lasts’. And therefore ‘if you want happiness to last, you have to fight it’. Hmmm. Not what I’d really want to do with happiness. There’s also then the hidden assumption that ‘If you don’t fight happiness, it will pass you by’. Again, hmm.
And yet there’s a certain truth to the notion that ‘what you resist persists’. Think about it. The type of person you find uncomfortable in your life keeps coming back to you in various skins. If you have no money and you fight that, boy does it keep coming back. If your children are rude and cheeky the more you fight it and try to get them to stop the cheekier they get. The more you tidy your house the messier it gets, every time you replace one bulb another one shortly blows, the more you shave the more it grows back and the more weeds you remove the more weeds you get!
Now think about the things you deal with and then release, instead of fighting. If your child is cheeking you and -once you’ve let them know the behaviour is unacceptable and if necessary (lovingly!) provided a consequence for the action- you let the whole thing drop and get on with the rest of life, they often ease off and become agreeable again. If you find a way to create a better relationship with the people you previously had difficulty with, you suddenly find they stop popping up, and if you de-clutter your house for once and for all, you don’t have to battle with mess on a daily basis, and you can have a life instead (I think I’m talking to myself here, but if the cap fits, wear it :-))
So there’s truth to the adage, that ‘what you resist persists’. Where does that leave us with happiness though, or any other good thing for that matter? Do we have to fight everything good in order to keep it? This brings me to the work of another of my favourite people. Younger readers you probably won’t know who he is …. Alan Alda who played Hawkeye Peirce in Mash. Ladies of my generation and older, I’ll give you a minute …………………………….tum tee tum ……………………………. ok now stop day dreaming and come back to me! Alan Alda wrote a book called ‘Never Have Your Dog Stuffed’ in which he told of how as a child, when his dog died he couldn’t let it go, so instead of burying him, he had him stuffed and kept him in the family room at home! But this was a bad idea. Instead of being a lovely comfortable companion, the dog now seemed to look at him accusatorily, so much so that he soon didn’t even feel comfortable walking into the room. It would appear that it isn’t always a good idea to hang on to the good things once their time has passed!
And I think that herein lies the answer. What you resist persists, both ‘good’ and ‘bad’. What you don’t fight passes … and here’s the kicker … do you think it could be possible that NOTHING, NOT EVEN HAPPINESS, IS MEANT TO LAST?
“What? Shock, Gasp, Horror! Are you telling me that I’m not entitled to lasting happiness after all????? That if I work hard, and do all the right things and be a good boy/girl that I still won’t suddenly be entitled to lifelong bliss? I’ve been working on the assumption for ages that If I put in a life of hard graft that I will at least get to spend my golden years in a stretch of one long happy time! That’s what I’ve worked for, that’s what I want! What horror is this, you’re telling me I can’t be eternally happy??!! You must be wrong. I insist that you’re wrong. You’re a life coach, you’re supposed to coach me to a life of never ending happiness … aren’t you?”
Well, um, no…… Sorry. But I can coach you towards a life of something much better, if you’re interested.
How about a life of just being? A life of animating all that you really deeply are. A life where you never hold anything in desperate fear of losing it, but instead accept everything that comes. The difficult things you deal with, grow through and release. The enjoyable things you rejoice in to the maximum and those too you release, so that you are ‘open for business’ for the next thing. Always open, always in the moment, always truly living. Always accepting and from that acceptance acting when necessary but never from desperation, always because the action is the most appropriate and most whole thing you could do. And maybe that really is happiness after all. Not ra-ra, whoopee doo happiness, but simple peace and contentment, whatever the weather.
Don’t know about you, but I won’t be stuffing any dogs (at least not intentionally). The path I commit to follow is this one – acceptance, peace and contentment, come what may. I know it isn’t always easy – that’s part of the work we’re here to do, and I think it will be worth it in the end. Bury any dead dogs and come walk with me!
I’d only popped out of the room for a minute. I returned to find my one and a half year old had climbed all the way up the full size adult ladder, and like a little mini-marvel, was crouched low to avoid the ceiling on top of my son’s cupboard, at the very edge, delightedly messing with his most highly prized belongings!
Now I’m not one of those parents who hysterically screams “Come down Harry, you’ll hurt yourself!!!!!” every time one of my children dares to climb a tree or something – I do like to let them find their feet and push their boundaries. Even so, I caught my breath and had to bite my tongue while I strode over there. I quickly climbed up behind her, and complemented her on her climbing skills. Little monkey!
So I moved the ladder, this time leaning it at the middle on an old cot full of teddies. I figured that if she did go up, she’d hopefully get off at teddy level. I was wrong. You couldn’t keep her away from the thing. Under my watchful, OK slightly proud eye, she quickly got herself to the top again and this time stood on the second to top rung, leaning on the top rung, hands free, completely chilled out, and surveying the toys on top of the nearby shelves to see what she could reach. When she actually reached out and the ladder slid a fraction of a centimeter to the right that was enough for me. I captured my little monkey, put her safely back on terra firma, and put the ladder lying down on the floor till it could be put away … you should have heard the shrieks of protest!
It was a beautiful example of fearlessness (more on her part than mine). Fear is bred into us. If you watch small children they are completely fearless. They have to be. Think about it, you come into this world, totally reliant on others for your very survival, with the world around you making very little sense. With the exception of the feel, smell, sound of your mother everything else is foreign and your senses aren’t even fully developed yet. Once your brain receives information it has very basic compartments to put things in, probably labelled something like ‘me’ and ‘not me’. So we learn about the world around us at the same time as actually developing our mind’s capacity to understand that world. Can you imagine if we approached such a job with fear? We’d be too scared to function.
So where does all this fear come from? Why as adults are so many of us afraid of so much? People say that we need to have a degree of fear in order to keep us away from doing stupid things, like walking off cliffs or sticking our hands in a fire. I don’t agree. We don’t need fear, we need awareness. If you understand that a fire is hot and will damage you if you put your hand in it, then its common sense that dictates you don’t do it, not fear.
I think fear is overrated and overused. I also think it’s a big fat slug of a thing that might take humanity a while or at least a concentrated effort to shake off. It is so bred into us to use fear as a motivator both with ourselves and others. Don’t climb the ladder or you’ll fall off, don’t try something new or you’ll fail and everybody will laugh, don’t try to drive that truck, you’ll probably crash it.
Dontcha get the feeling that humanity is on the verge of something big right now? This is a bit of a soap box topic for me, and I’ll probably blog about it sometime. Personally I believe we’re on the verge of some evolutionary leap in the way we think. There are things we need to grasp such as the idea that there is more than enough for everybody, and that you attract to you the things you feel strongest about. There are also cobwebs we need to clear. Fighting and anger don’t solve problems, they postpone or even create them. You aren’t a successful human being just because you have the most stuff, or because you’re the most outrageous thing on TV. And fear is something that might happen to you if you’re in mortal danger but it shouldn’t make an everyday appearance on the horizon of your mind, every time you’re in touch with the unexpected or the new.
Let’s instead choose acceptance. Let’s choose curiosity and let’s choose a sense of adventure. Babies at their most vulnerable are also at their bravest … by and large they survive into adulthood, so they must be doing something right.
This week if you find yourself putting the frighteners on somebody when you could just help them be aware, then experiment with awareness instead. And if you find yourself afraid of something, examine it closely, get to know it deeply and see how well you can approach it differently.
Onward, fellow adventurers!
“There are always two voices sounding in our ear: the voice of fear, and the voice of confidence. One is the clamor of the senses, the other is the whispering of the higher self.” Charles B. Newcomb
You know, being a life coach, I practice what I preach, so every year I sit down, reassess the past year, look at my lifelong goals and plan for the year ahead. The boundaries between one year and the next are a little blurry for me, as being Jewish, I also have a Jewish New Year, so in practice it tends to be a new year ‘period’ that runs from sometime in September until the end of December! So unlike many I’m already thinking about my New Year’s resolutions…
I’ve recently started to have a mantra or slogan for the year – something that’s simple yet digs deep and affects everything I do. Last year it was ‘Compassion, Not Judgement’, which I’ll probably write about at some stage. This year it’s something out of a Rhonda Byrne book …*shuffles off to go find the book and get the quote right*…
Ok, here it is…
“… with anything you don’t love, simply turn away from it without judgement and you won’t include it in your life”
Rhonda Byrne – The Power
Now I know I’m writing for an educated audience here, most of whom are aware of the Force of Attraction – that the more attention you give something the more of it you bring into your life. What I used to have a problem with was the other side of things. It’s all very well focusing on wealth, health and all the other good stuff, but what do you do when something nasty ups and smacks you in the face? Life’s not all rosy-sunny all the time is it? And if you then say to yourself ‘this thing is bad and I hate it’ you’re just giving it all the focus it needs to turn into something bigger. A lot of people will tell you – “focus on the good stuff, don’t focus on the bad stuff” but how do you ‘not focus’ on something? When you ‘not focus’, you’re actually focusing on it!
So those two words in the above sentence – ‘turn away’, really solved a problem for me. When it rains on my parade, or someone disrespects me, or the traffic just won’t move, and it’s a situation I can’t do anything about, I just turn away. Physically if I can, mentally if I’m bodily stuck there. I turn away and find something more productive and enjoyable to think about or do. You can’t fight the rain, force someone to respect you or snap your fingers and magic away the traffic, so what’s the point of resisting it?
Which brings me to another point – Acceptance. I’ve written about this in a previous blog (https://rivkadavid.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/38/ ) so I won’t delve into it here, I mention it only to point out that accepting a thing you can’t change allows you to drop your obsession over it, and get on with your life instead. So I think it’s relevant here too.
With that in mind, here’s my new 3 point plan for dealing with what appear to be adverse circumstances, and at the same time keeping a hygienic ‘Force of Attraction’:
1- If you can do something about it, in whole or part, then Take Action – every little positive action always bears fruit, if not in the situation at hand, then in the future.
2- For things you are currently powerless to change, practice Acceptance (and do please see https://rivkadavid.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/38/ so you understand what I mean here). These things happen, it isn’t personal. Heavy traffic isn’t personal, and neither is the intention of someone who disrespects you – even if they think it is! Their disrespect for you is about their journey. What you do with their disrespect is about your journey and is the only thing you’re responsible for. Actually I would say practice acceptance of the things you do change too – acceptance always comes first – once you accept something challenging, you remove the negative energy that surrounds it, leaving you free to act with a clear head.
3- Then once you have accepted and dealt with what you can, Turn Away from the rest – and Turn Towards something positive. Turn your attention to something creative and constructive. Think about the people you love, and the people who love you. Think about your favourite projects and the things you intend to materialise in your life. If you can physically move away from the challenge, go do something fun – take a walk … scare other adults by going on the swings and be sure to balance on a low brick wall on the way! Go spend some time working to bring good things into your life … make some money, send an email to a friend, take your kids out for ice cream.
Well that’s my plan anyway. Actually it reminds me of The Serenity Prayer (see here for the rest of it http://www.drnadig.com/serenity.htm )
G-d grant me
the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the Courage to change the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference;
With an action point at the end – Go Do Something Cool!
This year I shall Turn Away from all things unchangeably heavy, and so TURN TOWARDS all the beautiful, wonderful, delightful things – and there are so many your heart could positively burst into flowers at the thought of it!!!
I invite you to join me – let’s all harness the Force of Attraction together and make life even more beautiful!
You know what else? I’d love to hear YOUR mantra for the coming year – come on peeps, give it some thought – and share in the comments section below, so that everyone benefits.
Have a stupendously fantastic week 🙂
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.
What do you do with the dark times? You know, like visiting a house of mourning? Or when September the 11th comes round? Or hearing of some human tragedy – (even the ‘UK Riots’) on the news?
Well now, some people lap it all up. They love a bit of tragedy. I think in a way they kind of get high on it. They’ll be the first to call you and say “Did you hear what happened to …. isn’t it sad?” Isn’t it miserable, hard, deliciously depressing… Then you’ve got those who feign complete composure. You know, the ‘pass the salt’ types. They’ll sit there and say things like “Well it was par for the course, wasn’t it really, I mean what did you expect?” Sometimes they’ve gotten so cold in the practice of not feeling, that I think they actually don’t feel it anymore. Then you’ve got the channel switchers. You know, the people who change the channel when the ads about abused or starving children come on because they can’t bear to watch. And here I have to put my hand up and admit: That’s me. Well at least it was…
I know this one from the inside. I do watch the news, because I like to know what’s happening, but I’ll never read sad books and hate watching drama. Don’t talk to me about horror movies – even the film ‘Titanic’ kept me awake for a week, thinking about all those people dying. Funny disposition for a life coach/hypnotherapist. I get to hear about a lot of the dark things that have happened in people’s lives – sometimes things that they themselves haven’t faced up to in years. And it grabs me by the throat every time. I don’t think I’ll ever be immune to feeling it, and I don’t think I want to be. Lucky for me I’m adept at ‘turning down’ the sensitivity enough at least to help my clients get themselves out of the pit, but I feel it first. I’ve always got time to ‘feel’ along with my clients, but when I get home, you’ll never catch me chasing the misery shows – life’s serious enough!
So what do you do with it? It seems I’ve not been alone in trying to ‘protect’ myself from the dark side of life. There are plenty of people – some of them pretty big in the personal development world – who actually don’t watch the news at all because they don’t want to be brought down by the world’s misery. There are therapy techniques that have you ‘rewrite’ your past so that the dark things supposedly never happened or so that people apparently didn’t hurt you. And there is some pretty powerful evidence that ‘what you focus on, you get’, so there’s a growing industry out there to help you focus on the good things, so that you get more of them. It’s powerful stuff and I believe in a positive focus with all my heart.
But here’s the sting in the tail. In ‘trying’ to protect yourself from the darkness, what are you doing? YOU’RE FOCUSING ON IT. Think about that. I’m not talking to the misery wallowers here, you’re focusing on it and you know you are, so you’ll get plenty of it to keep focusing on, if that’s what you really want for yourself. I’m talking to all of us personal development junkies who read all the positive books, and laugh with all the funny people, and wake up and tweet “It’s a beautiful sunshiny day!!!” How many of us can’t face the darkness, and run from it? Well guess what baby, you better never look back, cos it’s right there chasing you!
What’s the answer? I’ve just read it. In a book by Gregg Braden, entitled ‘Walking between the Worlds’. I’m probably still not going to watch the tear jerkers, but I won’t be switching channels every time the sad ads come on any more. I’ve found a better way to deal with it and I’m ready to share. Here it comes: Accept the Darkness.
‘Watttt?????” You might say. “You mean I have to like the dark side??? You mean I have to want it?? Why did I just spend all those years training my brain to ignore it??? Don’t be silly, the dark side is bad, its evil, it pulls you down, it makes you sad, why would I want it???”
I didn’t say want it. I said accept it. Allow it. Maybe forgive it. Mr Braden even has us bless it.
To quote Gregg Braden:
“To live in the absence of fear and pain, you must allow for their possibility. That is it. Simply allow for their very existence. In the “allowing” for the possibility, is found the removing of the charge. Please be clear regarding this subtle yet powerful chemo-behavioural code. Allowing for the existence of something does not mean that you are choosing for something to happen. It does not mean that you condone it or like it. It does not mean that you would ever wish that something upon someone else. Allowing simply means that you acknowledge its existence and the role that the “something” plays within the overall context of life. That is all, no more and no less.”
Why allow it? Because then you can leave it behind. Once we accept that these things happened, that they exist, that they play a part in life, once we find a way to truly make peace with the dark side, the fight is over. It can’t chase you if you don’t run. It won’t suck your energy anymore every time you strive to ignore it. And then you’ll finally be free.
Once you’ve made your peace with the darkness and found a way to view it with compassion this allows you to deal with the situation compassionately and successfully, ensuring the best possible result for everyone involved. And so we see that acceptance does not mean impotence. Far from it. Once you accept, you are no longer compelled to a ‘knee-jerk reaction’. Instead, if a response is possible, you will be able to respond in a measured, appropriate and compassionate way – and you will be far more effective.
Furthermore, the power that you’ve freed up through no longer being obsessed with heavy feelings you can now put to use to accomplish everything that’s important to you. To really live a life of abundance, and blessing and brilliance. Then we can fully turn to the brighter side of things, with all our newfound vibrancy and zest and drink in deep!
Ps: I’m now starting a running collection of useful information, both on resolving our issues with the dark and of course on the all important positive focus side of things. You will find these in ‘Newly Added Resources’ to the right of this page, and in the ‘Resource Bank’ page – link at the top and to the right. Please do contribute, and here’s to all of our brilliance – go forth and shine bright!