Monday, 30 May 2016 19:26

Yes, But...

Be yourself is about the worst advice you can give some people.
Tom Masson

While growing up, I often remember hearing my father say, “Don't BUT me!” It would usually come after a long drawn out, “But Daaaaaaad!” from either my sister or me. We were both born with opinions on just about everything...and please note the gentle wording of that statement!

The other day I was listening to an excellent Webinar about getting things done and making the most out of 15 minutes. Towards the end, the hosts raised the very important topic of being kind to yourself. It was one of those, 'Yes, but...' moments for me. They were talking about how we have so much on our plate at the moment that we're going to mess up, it happens, we all do it, it's okay.

There's currently a worldwide trend on cultivating self compassion and being kinder to ourselves, but we need to look carefully at the context within which we do this. Kindness can become a dangerous tool when left unattended in the hands of an insatiable ego! Yes, we need to be kind and gentle with ourselves and others, but we really, really need to do it with some wisdom.

When we drop the ball because we have too much on our plate and are then kind and gentle to ourselves, we are in effect self-medicating. We are easing the symptoms without addressing the underlying 'busyness' problem. When I speak kindly to myself about having so many opinions, I miss the opportunity to face and deal with the effect being opinionated can have on people around me. Sure, I keep comfortable and safe, but is that really how I want to live my life?

We are filled with wants and desires that most of us spend our entire life working incredibly hard to fulfil. We feel exhausted because we ARE exhausted and working harder, smarter,  faster and committing more, is not necessarily the answer. When we give ourselves a break after messing up, we're feeding our addiction to doing more; resting up so we can do better next time.  

If, however, we look at our busyness as an addiction, we have a very different context to view our lives in. We discover that saying no to our desires every now and then is not self-abuse. Learning to endure the suffering of an unfulfilled desire or denying ourselves pleasures that harm us, are healthy choices.

In this topsy turvy world, we need to keep our wits about us. What is your go-to addiction? Are you ready to Put it Down?
Monday, 16 May 2016 07:04

The Loss of A Love...

It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.
John Steinbeck

If you follow Soul Sense Coaching on Facebook, you will have heard the sad news. A light went out in our lives when our very precious Jack Russell, Pebbles, died suddenly in May. One minute she was bouncing around, her usual exuberant self, and within an hour she had died from a heart aneurysm. We are heartbroken and still adjusting to a house that feels so empty without her.

Pebbles was a joy. She loved pretty much everybody, from us, to a delivery man whose lap I found her sitting on after I had gone to get a pen! She was an utterly wholeheartedly little being who took advantage of the potential for play in every possible moment. She taught us about both love and now, loss, and we miss her terribly.

Loss and grief come in many forms and from many different causes, not just death. The end of a romantic relationship, the breaking of a trusted friendship, the loss of faith after being let down, or a change in circumstances, a job or illness, are all experiences that cause grief in varying degrees.

During my involvement with Hospice, I learned there is no right or wrong when it comes to grief. Grief just is. It has to be endured. There's no way around grief, the only way past it, is through it. If we put off and avoid or try to numb the pain, it lurks in the shadows but  doesn't go away.  As much as grief hurts and we don't like it, the very process of grieving, of feeling the shattering pain, is how we heal.

Hold a gentle space while you re-align your world. Life is fragile, loss and impermanence are hard to get our heads around. It takes time. Everyone has a unique way of processing and adjusting to loss. In our house, we had a range of reactions, from tears, to illness and keeping busy. Grief is painfully personal, some people need to talk, others can't, some withdraw and shut down while others move faster. No matter how we process grief, we cannot escape the pain it brings.

There's a mindfulness teaching that encourages us to receive everything on the same terms. It's harder to put into practice than it sounds, to feel what you are feeling, without judgement, pretence, preference or comparison; to receive grief on the same terms as you would, for example, receive happiness.

There is some love that is worth having, even if only for a short time and when it's passing is going to hurt. Life is full of joys and sorrows, can we receive them all on the same terms?
Thursday, 28 April 2016 19:43

Outlaws In!

My feeling about in-laws was that they were outlaws.
Malcolm X

Over the last few months I've had conversations with various lovely, independent, dynamic women, who all struggle with mother-in-laws troubles. Interestingly enough, all these women are in stable, happy marriages, yet have mother-in-laws who dislike them for who they are. A quick Google search shows how common this problem is and, as anyone who has lived with the subtle put-downs and snubs of a family member will know, it's hurtful and destructive.

Talking to these women reminded me of a fabulous article I read, by Wayne Elsey, called, This is Why I Appreciate You... You matter! While in high school, the author was told by a teacher that he would never amount to anything. The article is about the lasting impact and hurt that comment caused him. The gist of the story is that words matter and what we say, can and does, impact the people around us. It's a lovely article, you can read it here.

Many of the coping mechanisms we use to deal with criticism and put-downs are directed at minimizing the impact of the hurtful words that have been said. Unfortunately, when we try to talk ourselves out of how we are feeling, we inadvertently tell ourselves that our feelings are unimportant, that we don't matter. This is where we go wrong, our feelings are important, and they do matter. We matter.

In Wayne Elsey's article, another teacher heard what had been said. She sat down with him and said, 'You matter to me and you can do anything you set your mind to.' Powerful words that struck home and changed the course of his life. Chances are, an unkind mother-in-law is not going to magically transform into a benevolent fairy god-mother who adores you, but that doesn't mean there is nothing you can do!

Freedom doesn't come from getting rid of either the difficult family member or our own feelings. It comes from staying who we are, despite what life throws at us. We cannot change other people. We cannot make people who truly dislike us, like us. In fact, it's not our job to.

Our job is take responsibility for our own actions and reactions. We CAN choose how to respond. It's within our power, to speak gently to ourselves when we are hurt. Words do matter, how we speak to ourselves as much as how we speak to others. It's good to remember, you are important and you do matter!
Wednesday, 13 April 2016 18:55

I'll Help You!

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands,
one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
Audrey Hepburn

Long before I studied Life Coaching, I had a brilliant Pilates instructor, Darren. He was so good that he gave me a rather nifty waistline where nature had previously failed... just saying! Amongst his many talents, he was also a superbly fit and supple professional dancer. One day, during class, he instructed us to do a Pilates Rollover. It's the one where you lie on your back and lift your legs up and over your head to touch the floor behind you.

The ensuing conversation went something like this... Me: I can't. Him: Yes, you can. Me: Noooo, I can't. Him: I'll help you! When you are floundering, the power of the words, 'I'll help you,' can be quite magical. We instantly feel less alone which gives us courage; we feel more willing to risk trying.

However, before offering help to others, it's wise to tread carefully. Receiving unsolicited advice has got to be the most universally unwelcome experience in existence! As anyone who has ever been diagnosed with a serious illness will know, the wealth of tips, dietary advice and things you simply must do, that get thrown at you, can be overwhelming. As well meaning as people are, the bombardment of other people's, often irrelevant ideas, is exhausting.

Before launching yourself into the advice giving fray, pause for a moment. Do you really know what you are talking about? It happens continuously on Facebook, we see a post about a missing child or pet and immediately share it with the best of intentions. And yet, a quick click through to the source of the link often shows the missing person found and happily back at home, sometimes months ago. Not always, but that's my point, hasty help is often not all that helpful.

In it's purest form, the essence of help is 'helping where help is needed'. Sometimes a simple question will suffice. How can I help? Is there anything I can do? Humans typically approach helping from the other direction, we assume we know what someone else needs / should do / must try, and inform them as such.

Instead, aspire to be more like the divine Darren. He stood alongside me when I was upside down, he steadied my legs and supported some of their weight until I felt stronger, but mostly, he believed in me. He believed I could do it even when I didn't believe it myself. At the end of the day, when we offer help, it should come from this place, I believe in you, I'll help you believe in yourself.
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 07:57

Poke the Bear!

If you want truly to understand something, try to change it.
Kurt Lewin

I recently did a fabulously good deed... or so I thought. Unfortunately, it turned out to be  more like poking a Bear and awakening the monster. One minute I was congratulating myself on my problem solving genius and the next I was down a rabbit hole, in the midst of a family feud of mammoth proportions, wondering how on earth I got here.

My first instinct is to loudly proclaim my innocence. I am hell-bent on proving this is SOOO not my fault. I did absolutely nothing wrong. I am completely blameless… you get the idea!

It's human nature. We often invest huge amounts of time and energy into blaming or justifying why we did, or didn't do, what we did, or didn't, do. And yet, it's this very dynamic that keeps us trapped and unhappy. When we're stuck in the blame and justification cycle,whether blaming ourselves or someone else, we remain stuck. We give away our personal power to circumstances outside our control.

Think about a situation where you blamed or justified. What was the consequence of that? Do you know someone who is currently playing the blame game? Is it working for them?

So how do we take responsibility, and what is personal responsibility all about? There are a couple of truths to keep in mind. Firstly, life doesn't always go according to plan. People don't always respond with gratitude to our best efforts to assist and sometimes we have acted hastily without clearly understanding the problem.

Secondly, our motivation is all important. What motive did we have for getting involved? Were we helping where help was needed? Or were we interfering and overstepping a line? If, on reflection, our intention was not as pure as we would like, it's up to us to take responsibility and do what's necessary to repair the damage.

If, however, our intention was good and the result was unexpected or unforeseeable, we can still take responsibility. We can decide, for ourselves, how we wish to handle the situation. What can I do right now to take responsibility in this situation? What result would I like to get?

Often the best guide for our action, is clearly knowing what result we want. Do we need to apologize? Do we need to let go? Some relationships thrive after an air-clearing blow up, others, sadly, end. However, the choice as to what we decide to do, always remains our responsibility. You have more power than you think. Use it wisely!
Monday, 14 March 2016 14:37

Epic Fail...

The phoenix must burn to emerge.
Janet Fitch

As those of you following Soul Sense Coaching on Facebook will know, in February I attempted to hike the Otter Trail. I made it to lunchtime on Day Three before taking Escape Route 5 out. As magnificently beautiful as it was, I reached a point where I simply didn't have the physical strength to continue. Months of preparation, many expectations and an 'excellent' rating on Discovery's Fitness Assessment meant little, and for all accounts and purposes, it was an epic, rather public, fail.

Or not! Although it was very disappointing that something I'd worked hard for didn't go as planned, some unexpected benefits appeared from within the ashes. One of the effects of living with an auto-immune condition is a loss of trust in my body's strength. During the hike, described as gruelling in the literature, I was amazed at how much stronger I was, than I believed. I hauled myself up and over some things I honestly didn't think it was possible to climb!

The other bonus came from respecting that I had reached my limit on Day 3. Instead of pushing through, I chose to stop and as someone who always finishes what they start, it was surprisingly empowering to do it differently.

When disappointment visits, it has a way if colouring everything with a hue of shame. Our failure shames us into self -hatred. We turn on ourselves and make an already painful situation worse. However, if we are able to meet our shame gently with kindness, instead of shutting down or hiding, it opens up into a completely different experience.

Hidden within our deepest, darkest moments of shame and disappointment, we often discover a nugget of wisdom. For this gem to be uncovered, we first have to fully feel what we are feeling. If we dodge or avoid our experience, we inadvertently feed the shame and entrench ourselves deeper in despair.

It takes courage to face disappointment and feel it as it is. I am disappointed, I failed; these are hard phrases to acknowledge. It's even more difficult to welcome them with open arms, to offer comfort and support to ourselves BECAUSE we are hurting, because we messed up.

If we can, we may discover we are more than just the painful feelings we are experiencing. We can endure the heartache. It is not the end of the story but the beginning of something new. This is the healing power of unconditional friendliness, and it's this kindness and love that makes us greater than we think we are.
Tuesday, 01 March 2016 09:17

Do or Don't?

Love is a circular emotion that surrounds you, like a hug. Or a noose.
Jarod Kintz

Shortly before Pebbles, our much loved Jack Russel, died, I read a short article stating that dogs don't like hugs. I was curious and wandered off to find her to check it out. After a brief search, I discovered her fast asleep, flat on her back, legs in the air, nestled under Kevin's arm.

The article wasn't a particularly good one, but what struck me while reading it, was the black and white thinking with which it was written. We all do it, we think in terms of definites. There is something about the human mind that just loves certainty. It's probably  the mysterious actuality of life that has us secretly wanting to know and decided as much as we can.

We work with this a lot in coaching, those statements we present as facts, I'm like this, so-and-so is like that, my job, my boss is like this etc. We've got it figured and the moment we know, or think we know, our clever, extremely competent brain fills in the dots and switches into overdrive. This is the moment that we clutch out. In the same way that driving becomes automatic with practice, beliefs and expectations dis-engage us from the present moment. We are here... just not really.

When we decide how someone or something should be, we stop relating to what is actually happening. If I believe dogs don't like being hugged, I stop being curious and engaged. When I decide my husband doesn't understand me or that I am too stupid to learn something, I stop trying. This is what we have to watch out for, the mistaken thinking that decides for us and assumes correctness.

In coaching we start to question our automatic patterns of thinking. We get curious, we experiment and explore and we stop clutching out of our life by living on automatic. Nothing is as you think and the very newness of experience is what brings us back to life.

The truth of the matter is that some dogs genuinely don’t like hugs, nor do some people. Some dogs sometimes like hugs, at the right time, and only if they are in the mood. Other dogs, like Pebbles, are happiest when leaning against the body part of another being, anyone, she's honestly not fussy.

Our job is to figure it out, in this moment, with the gorgeous being right in front of us. We are the experts in our life, but only when we stop living on automatic and get back in the driving seat. What are you waiting for? Give me a call and let's get started!
Monday, 15 February 2016 00:00


Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are listening.   
                        Lisa M. Hayes                            

Somewhere in the dark recess of every families, there lurks one. That elderly aunt or uncle, annoying in-law, or crazy cousin who start speaking and drones on so long we want to weep with boredom. There's no escape, they're family, so we man up to grin and bear it.

With life being what it is most of us have, at some stage or another, been annoyed by some tiny little thing that doesn't go our way. A disagreement here, a delay there, the opportunities for frustration are endless, but have you ever listened to your inner voice when you are upset about something?

Seriously, it does not shut up! Worse than the worst elderly aunt, on and on it goes, relentlessly 'what if-ing' and 'should-ing', keeping us awake at night, waking us up in the early hours of the morning. It's relentless. And heaven forbid we've been treated unfairly... then the gloves really come off and it can get ugly. Basically, we either turn on the person who upset us or we turn on ourself. Both options are as harmful as each other; we wind ourselves up and it's exhausting. Hoo boy!

The interesting thing about being as mad as hell about something, is noticing how easily it passes. Think about it. Sometimes all it takes is a supportive comment from a friend, a song on the radio or two words, I'm sorry, and and the whole hula hoop of agitation dissolves. Or, if the issue is not a particularly big one, after a few days we simply stop thinking about it and a few months later, we don't even remember what actually happened.

I'd like to suggest an alternative. What if we purposely give it up? What would our life be like if we decided to stop whipping ourselves into a frenzy with our own thoughts? In the same way as we are stuck with that one irritating family member, we are stuck with ourselves, in this case, 24/7. There really is no escape. So what if next time you are huffing and puffing over something that can't be changed, you give up the huffing and puffing?

Self-mastery starts here, with mastering our thoughts and how we speak to ourselves. I once heard it explained beautifully. Treat your negative emotions like an unwelcome guest,  invite them in for tea, but don't invite them to live with you. It's a liberating thought. Be the gatekeeper. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
Friday, 29 January 2016 10:05

Too Kind!

If you aren’t being treated with love and respect, check your price tag.
Maybe you’ve marked yourself down. It’s YOU who tells people what you’re worth.
Get off of the clearance rack and get behind the glass where they keep the valuables.

Eish, it's hard being a Life Coach! I am starting to suspect I suffer from Intern's Syndrome. You know that frequently reported condition where medical students perceive themselves to be experiencing symptoms of the disease they are studying? How it pans out in coaching, is that as clients uncover the deeper issues that are holding them back, I get a slightly startled, 'deer caught in the headlights' feeling that, oh boy, this is exactly what I do.

The other day a client and I were talking about the danger of being too good-hearted in business. It's when you have a strong wish to help make the world a better place and find yourself negotiating your price down before YOU HAVE BEEN ASKED TO! I cringed. I had done exactly that earlier the same week.

So when is kind, too kind? Think about it. Never mind other people, we can even be too kind to ourselves. There is a call we need to make, or an event we need to attend that scares or challenges us in some way and we tell ourselves we don't have to put ourselves through that. We deserve a treat, or an extra glass of wine because it's been such a rough day. Although we might start our with the very best of intentions, it can easily spiral out of control.

Life Coaching is about uncovering what is holding you back and it boils down to self worth. Every yes or no we say is rooted in how we feel about ourselves. It's a minefield. If we feel we have nothing to offer, we automatically lower our value. We say yes when we should say no and we discount what's important to us, often to please others. Oh what a tangled web we weave!

So how do we claw our way off the bargain rail and back into the lock-up cabinet for valuables? Firstly we have to stop comparing ourselves to others or wondering what they will think. It's a conundrum, there's no answer to that riddle and we have to stop asking the question. Then it's time to silence the inner voice of doubt and criticism. Silence it. Not negotiate, not discuss, not hear and evaluate, silence. Only then will we be able to hear the quiet whisper of what we truly want. It's hard to say no, or risk ridicule by standing your ground. Hard... but worth it!
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 13:37

Put it Down!

The truth is that judgement and fear never stop, but they don't actually do anything.
Julien Smith

There is a wonderful Zen story of two monks who are travelling together. They come to a river with strong currents and as they prepare to cross, they see a beautiful young woman who asks for help getting across. The monks have a vow not to touch women but, without a word, the older monk picks up the young woman, carries her across, places her gently on the other side and carries on his 

The younger monk is outraged and stews silently for hours until he finally blurts out, “As monks, we are not permitted to touch a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?” The older monk looks at him and replies, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”

2016 is the end of a nine year cycle in Numerology, and in honour of that, my theme for the year has been, “Put it Down!” A big ask for someone with the knack of winding herself up into a mental frenzy. It has gone failry well, so here are some of the things I have done to help  'put down' what I needed to let go of.

Firstly, it helps to understand that thinking endless about things we cannot change, especially at 3am in the morning, weakens us physically, mentally and emotionally. This is a critical issue, we have to deeply 'get' that going over and over painful situations in our mind is harmful. It hurts you. You have to stop. It's that simple.

A quote I heard recently sums it up beautifully. “The goal of meditation isn't to control your thoughts, it's to stop letting them control you.” Mindfulness is how we do that. By paying attention to our thoughts, we give ourselves the space to choose whether this train of thinking is one we actually want to ride, or not.

We are all so unique that we need a personal tool-kit, a box of tricks, if you like, to nudge our minds in a new direction and change the course of our thinking. Some of what works for me is music, writing, gratitude and appreciation, rescue remedy for when the going is really tough, talking to a friend, movies, reciting mantras and, of course, reminding myself to PUT IT DOWN!

Do something, anything that stops the train of thought you are on and purposely think about something that empowers and strengthens you. Now is the time to let go of habits that are holding you back.  If you want some help, add life coaching to your tool box and email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Skype taniapotter.
Thursday, 31 December 2015 00:00

Happy New Year!

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

Happy 2016 Peeps! I absolutely love the happy, sparkly energy of a brand new year. There is something about the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and make a fresh start that is invigorating. Although the start of a year is no quick fix, and many of the hoped for changes don't materialise, I still love riding the wave of inspiration as long as possible.  

From a Numerology point of view, 2016 is a nine year which means the nine year cycle that began in 2007 is drawing to a close. 2016 is all about endings and depending on your personal year calculation, this effect will be magnified or minimized for you. In general, though, it's a useful time to re-evaluate what's working and what isn't working in your life. It's a year to let go and leave things be; a challenging task for many of us.

Holding on too tightly, whether it's to belongings we no longer need, people we no longer  want, or have, in our lives, or even outdated beliefs we have about ourselves, is where the root of the problem lies. We often expend tremendous energy trying to force ourselves to let go without understanding that the problem is not so much what we are holding on to, but the habit we have of holding on. It's our grip we need to loosen.

Accepting that all things have a natural impermanence is a starting point. We already do this on a daily basis. The day starts and ends, summer, winter, the school year, weekends, holidays all have beginnings and endings. Even enjoying a good meal is part of that natural cycle of life, The confusion comes in those places where how we have decided things SHOULD BE, doesn't match how things ACTUALLY ARE.

Anger, guilt, frustration and depression all brew in this discrepancy between our expectations of a situation and the reality of it. In the process of letting go of these fairytale ideals, we stand the chance of discovering something surprisingly beautiful. The truth. In the midst of the heartache and helplessness of how things aren't, the truth shines out in it's magnificence. That's what endings and beginnings are truly about.

So make use of the powerful opportunity in 2016 to de-clutter your thoughts. Let go of what is making you unhappy and cultivate being happy with what is. As Byron Katie so eloquently put it, 'If you fight with reality, you will lose.' Happy New Year!
Monday, 14 December 2015 20:30

A Show of Appreciation!

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Christmas is officially around the corner and what a year it has been! While November had it's moment, the first week in December would have been enough to fell a mightier being than me. For the second time this year, both my father and brother were in hospital at the same time for surgery. A few days later our much loved elderly Staffie x Labrador, Lalley, died of natural causes. For someone like me with an hereditary capacity for worry, there was plenty of fodder to feed the fires of unhappiness. And worry I did!

In the midst of the drama, I noticed something interesting. My dad and brother were fine, in fact there was good news for both of them but in the sadness of Lalley's illness and death, I was unable to appreciate anything good. Worry became the blanket feeling underlying everything I was experiencing.

The truth is, worry has a rather dubious relationship with reality. It can and does feel like a productive problem solving exercise, but it often turns out to be a surreptitious avoidance of uncertainty. Ultimately worry is fear-based and indulging in it leaves little room for more helpful ways of approaching the difficulties we face. So I decided to do it differently. Instead of looping around endlessly circling, worried thoughts, I made a concerted effort to practise appreciation.

Worry is a tricky adversary and for my purposes, appreciation has a slightly different flavour to gratitude. Appreciation is 'of' something while gratitude is 'for' or “to'. The moment I feel grateful for something, worry has the potential to cloud it by creating doubt about  the future continuation of whatever I am grateful for. Appreciation, however, is more present moment focused. It reminds me of the goodness here and now, of the little things that matter.

Appreciation is how we acknowledge and value our experiences. Whether it's an act of kindness, a moment of awareness or an expression of a heartfelt emotion, appreciation has the power fill your spirit with joy and strengthen your resolve to keep on going.

On that note, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to you all for the support you have given me during 2015. Thank you for reading my blog posts, for taking the time to comment and connect with me by email and for those who did, thank you for signing up for Life Coaching and Numerology.

I wish you all a festive season filled with love, laughter and happiness. Please follow the link to Soul Sense Coaching's Facebook page and join me in 100 days of Appreciation.
Tuesday, 01 December 2015 00:00

Born Bad!

You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.
Marianne Williamson

My birthday this year fell on a Saturday and I made it a day of self-indulgence. I did absolutely nothing of 'value'; I lazed about, relaxed, ate exactly what I wanted and didn't feel guilty about a single thing I did, or didn't do, the entire day. It was fabulous but what struck me was the contrast to a regular day in the life of Tania Potter! Oh my word, when did I slide into a cycle of feeling bad about feeling good?  

Guilt is an emotion that rules our world, often without us even realising. As children we learn that to get our strong need for love and approval met, we need to do things that others approve of. We start to think of guilt as being good; our conscience that stops us losing control, something that keeps the lid on those pesky uncontrolled urges that are most definitely not allowed.

Sadly, as any one who has ever dieted will know, the opposite is generally the case. Guilt is not a good motivator and feeling guilty does not necessarily have a positive impact on our behaviour.  In fact, more often than not, guilt creates an inner environment of anxiety and depression that makes change even harder. If not halted, this dynamic can become a closed circuit in which no matter what you do, you feel guilty.

There are a couple of ways to approach this catch-22. We can begin by reassessing our attitude towards guilt. We need to recognize that guilt is not our friend, it's a false friend that does not bring out the best in us. Instead it makes us feel bad about who we are and how we live and drains the pleasure from our life.

We can also question whose moral code or standards we are trying to live by? We often have an internal moral code, whether it's about what we say no to, our sexual orientation or our weight, that differs from socially accepted codes of conduct. It leaves us with a terrible choice, do we honour our true self, or do we bow to the pressure of externally imposed labels?

So to really tackle guilt head on, we have to understand it for the self-worth issue it fundamentally is. Can we find the acceptance and approval we crave within ourselves? Freeing ourselves from the tyranny of guilt is a lesson in unconditional love. It's about loving the disappointing side of ourselves as much as we love the pleasant.
Thursday, 12 November 2015 12:24

No Air?

Self-sacrifice which denies common sense is not a virtue. It's a spiritual dissipation.
Margaret Deland

We've all heard the safety instructions on an aeroplane where we are advised, in an emergency, to fit our own oxygen mask first before assisting other passengers. As a client and I were discussing the other day, it's a pretty useful tip for life.

We were talking about the many faces of self-sacrifice. People often approach solving problems with the unconscious belief that causing pain to themselves or others is somehow the way to fix what's broken. Seriously? Like yelling at someone or ridiculing them is going to make them like me and do what I want? Hmm, I don't think so.

We try to shame ourselves and others into good behaviour even though most of us know that approach doesn't bring out the best in anyone. We exhaust ourselves trying to help, we take on more than we can cope with because we don't want to let anyone down and worst of all, we feel bad about what we can't do. You getting the idea? Dear ones, we are going about this all wrong!  

So what is the deeper wisdom of putting our own oxygen mask on first? Unless we have learnt to swim, we can't jump into the water to save someone who is drowning. Unless we have navigated our own emotional turmoil, we are not equipped to guide others and yet we do it. We give advice, we criticise and we judge.

We decide how something or ourselves should be and we do our best to live up to that ideal. Basically, we put a fabrication, a fantasy we've made-up in our heads, before the reality in front of us. We want to be a good person, we want to help and we do care, but we forget to include ourselves in that picture. We too need air to breathe, we need rest and wholesome food, kindness and care.

Causing pain to ourselves or others is not the way to make the world a better place. Sometimes, pain is unavoidable but the way in which we go about our lives is so very important. We have a responsibility towards our own well-being but that responsibility does not have to be at the expense of ourselves or others.

If it is, take a good, hard look at what you are trying to achieve. There is a whole other way of being that is not 'me against you', but 'us together'. Expand yourself outwards to include more. It's the healthier, more sustainable option!
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