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Saturday, 19 May 2018 10:38

Willing to Heal?

Before you heal the body you must first heal the mind.
Aristotle

Human minds are Incredible! Earlier this year, while researching for a blog post, I meandered down a Google-link-clicking-rabbit-hole. I read a range of writers on a whole lot of topics but one sentence stuck with me. It’s a simple sentence that’s had a profound impact on my life.

This happened months ago and when I decided to write on the topic, I tried to trace the original article. Nada, I could not find it anywhere. Searching my history for hours turned up nothing so I gave up looking.

My magnificent brain, however, had other ideas. Like peeling back the layers of an onion, it kept reminding me of some other topic I had researched further back in time. I tried again, found nothing and re-gave up! Lol, is that even a thing? Anyway, my brain didn’t. It kept wondering and trying and one morning I woke up with it figured out. Two minutes on my computer and I found the article.

One of the foundational principles that New Insights Life Coaching is based on comes from a very simple model of change. To change, we have to be unhappy with the current situation. It’s along the lines of, ‘you can take a horse to water but you can’t make him drink’. If we don’t want to change, chances are it ain’t gonna happen.

While reading Kristen Brown’s article I had an epiphany! Healing works on the same principle. When it comes to pain-filled emotions, being willing to heal is a vital ingredient. We have to want to change.

I am willing to heal from this. Read that again and let it sink in for a moment. I am willing to heal from this. ‘This’ being anything that is causing you mental, physical, emotional or spiritual pain. How powerful it is to glimpse the healing in the reminder of our willingness, our openness, to the possibility of healing.

It’s a wonderful question to ask yourself and an important one to contemplate. Whether it’s physical illness, emotional devastation, or mental anguish, ask yourself, am I willing to heal from this? For me, the answer is a resounding yes.

In coaching this equates to step one of the change cycle. I’m unhappy with the current situation and willing to change. Step two involves thinking and deciding what to do and how to go about the transformation. Step three is to take relevant action and step four is maintaining the action until change occurs.

When it comes to physical health, healing and cure are not always the same thing. Some things, although they cannot be cured, we can still heal from them. Give your beautiful brain a chance to work on your healing in the background. Be willing to heal and allow yourself the space to figure out what that means for you. You may discover an unexpected gift in the muck!
Sunday, 29 April 2018 18:35

You Didn’t!

Love can sometimes be magic. But magic can sometimes... just be an illusion.
Javan

The latest in the emotional world is that we are not actually at the mercy of our emotions after all. You are the creator of them, well at least your brain is, according to Lisa Feldman Barrett anyway. She reckons that emotions are our brain’s best guesses according to the information they have to work with. Basically, using past experiences, your brain predicts and constructs your experience of the world. The good news is that we have more control over these guesses than we realise.   

In coaching we explore this concept under the topic of projection. Projection describes the process of how we give meaning to the information coming to us. It’s what our brains do, make meaning out of situations or hazard a guess, if you prefer that terminology. It’s a unique process not without it’s limitations.

Here’s what I mean. Someone says something to you and along the path of you receiving that information, processing that information, and making meaning out of that information, it becomes something else entirely. Sound familiar? Robert McCloskey summarized it perfectly, “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

Sometimes even when you are really, really sure someone did or said something... they actually didn’t. Or if you think they are a certain way, they’re really not. You just made it up because that’s how we humans roll!

Right so where to now? How do we start transforming our emotional life into something more along the lines of what we want. The bad news? It's not going to happen at the click of your lovely fingers.

It takes effort and awareness to change the meaning you are giving to the sensations you experience and the conclusions you draw and have been drawing since time began. It is, however, possible. If you start paying attention, even to the most obvious triggers that set  off an emotional reaction within you, the insight gained will help you start the process of drawing different conclusions.

So, if you’ve found yourself kissing way too many frogs recently, shake things up a bit. Do it differently. Get curious and see what happens. Say no where you would usually say yes, say yes, when you tend to say no. Give your brain some new information to work with and start believing that you can. It’s as good a guess as any!
Monday, 16 April 2018 08:24

Tighten Your Belt!

When we learn to live without, we discover what we're really made of.
Sarah Arthur

I was listening to a radio interview with Frank Magwegwe, Founder of ThrivenFinancial Wellness on how to survive the recent VAT increase. The cost of living in South Africa is soaring. Food, petrol and tax increases have left many of us wondering how on earth we are going to cope. The radio show host commented that we have been asked to tighten our belts for so long, he didn't think these belts of ours could get any tighter! My word, I can so relate!

Frank gave simple but useful advice on which debt to tackle first, suggestions to reduce hidden expenses, for example, unnecessary bank fees, wasted water and electricity causing higher bills than necessary, and some ideas for finding additional ways of earning income..

One thing he didn’t mention is that for many of us, to really reduce our spending, we have to talk about consumerism. Our urge to buy. Our wanting. The problem with wanting and buying is that it's like using salt water to quench your thirst. Yeah, see... it doesn’t work! Unless we reduce our wanting no amount of buying will satisfy us, at least not for long.

Wanting is addictive. Have you ever had it that you are sitting there, minding your own business, until the idea of wanting something grabs your attention? The moment that thought settles in and gets comfortable, it becomes all you can think about. Most of us go about satisfying our desires by focusing on the object of our desire, be it chocolate, a particular rather enticing person, or a job or car we want.

And so we indulge in the object of our fantasy and sometimes it’s as good as we expected but often there is a niggle of dissatisfaction. The object of our desire doesn’t quite meet our expectation. So we keep looking and trying and buying, hoping to find that perfect moment so we can relax because finally, we have everything we need.

Instead, if we take the time to get to know our desire from the inside, from the point of view of the desire, we start to recognise the addictiveness of wanting. That is what we need to stop indulging. Wanting and dissatisfaction. It is possible to be happier with less, to be satisfied with what we already have. For most of us, enough really is a lot less than we think.
Thursday, 29 March 2018 04:58

More of Less!

Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony;
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
Albert Einstein

I’ve been an absolute tosser this week! Like a new broom, I have swept through the house passing on anything and everything that is not being used or is no longer needed. One good thing about living in a humid climate is that it puts paid to any urge I might have to keep something for, you know, just in case.

While I don’t have a sentimental bone in my body when it comes to ‘dust-gathering, mildew-forming stuff’, not everyone has the same approach. For those of you reading this and thinking, hrmph, she really doesn’t understand how hard it is for me, I have a confession to make. A pro at tossing ‘things’ I might be, but when it comes to relationships, I hang on like a ship captain going down with the Titanic! Letting go of people is a concept I’m not sure I fully understand.

That said, I’ve been mulling over the whole holding on / letting go dynamic. I don’t think it matters so much WHAT we cling to, the bottom line is that most of us are clinging with all our might to something. If it’s not stuff, or a particular person, it can be our identity, reputation, job or even past hurts that we find impossible to leave be.

Most of us are familiar with the anecdote of catching a monkey where a monkey’s greed is used to trap it. A treat is placed inside a container with an opening big enough for an empty monkey hand to pass through. However, once the monkey clutches the treat, his fist can no longer pass through the opening and volia. By refusing to let go, the monkey is trapped.

So how do we coax ourselves into loosening our grip when we really, really most want to hold on? I got to tell ya, this is one place where I’m a pretty big fan of avoidance! Buy less. Consume less. The earth and your budget will thank you. And yes, it’s a lot easier to let go of something you are not holding on to in the first place. I’m just saying!  

When it comes to relationships with others and with ourselves, learning to love with an open hand takes some doing. In a recent article on letting go, Pema Khandro, points out how we keep postponing our acceptance of this moment to pursue reality as we think it should be. It is a powerful question to ask yourself in moments of uncertainty. Am I postponing acceptance of this moment to pursue reality as I think it should be?

This habit of pursuing reality as we think it should be is at the root of what traps us. As we learn to let go, it’s surprising to discover how little we actually need to be happy.
Thursday, 15 March 2018 03:12

Middle Ground!

Unless there is within us that which is above us,
we shall soon yield to that which is about us.
P. T. Forsyth

It was market day and I Kevin and I were in the midst of a difference of opinion. We sell perfumes at a local Craft Market once a month and this particular morning it was raining. Kevin reckoned it would work for him to stay home. I reckoned it would work for me if he came along. ‘What we need’, I announced snippily, ‘is a solutions that doesn’t actually work for either of us and makes neither of us happy!’  Lol, isn’t that just compromise in a nutshell!

These sorts of issues come up often for clients during coaching sessions. Whether it’s a choice they are making that will affect someone else, or someone else’s choice impacting on them, finding a middle road through these differences can be challenging. In fact, differences in general are pretty challenging.

So what elevates compromise from out the ground of concession on either side, a kind of tolerating our differences, to something loftier and more meaningful? As I recently learned during my run in with equal rights in communication,  there is a big difference between tolerating someone’s point of view and respecting it.

To really respect something we disagree with, we have to give up some ground. We have to let go of an ideal and instead meet the situation, and our needs, as best we can under less than ideal circumstances. Fortunately, as Madyson Grace reminds us, grace works best on messy people.  

One thing we often lose sight of in a stand off, is that our happiness is often a result of someone else’s happiness. When we do good, we feel good. Simply witnessing a friend's delight in a gift we have given them fills us up inside in a way that looking out for ourself doesn’t. In the same way, if what we are doing is harming someone else, it generally doesn’t sit well with our soul.

A grumpy husband hanging around with me for the whole morning? Oh my word, can you imagine! Instead, we compromised. The market is around the corner from home so Kevin helped me set up, pack up and manned the stall when I needed a leg stretch. My needs were met perfectly. He was happy because, in between helping me, he managed to get a whole lot of his chores for the weekend done. Despite my dire predictions for universal unhappiness, we ended up two happy little campers with a pretty good win/win. Nice to know it's possible!
Thursday, 01 March 2018 07:15

A Ghostly Perspective!

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.
C.S. Lewis

Without wanting to make light of something that has been right up there in terms of painful experiences of my life, I have to say, being ghosted by my bestie suits me! Abandonment is a universal fear and few, if any, of us get through life unscathed. This experience has been such a reminder of how deeply painful rejection is.

Much of the personal growth work we do in coaching explores the concept of who we are. Not from the perspective of ‘who I am’ in terms of habits of the past, but looking more at ‘who I am’ truly within myself.  An entire session is dedicated to identifying your core values. These are the inner qualities that are most important for you to cultivate in your life.

Knowing what is important to us is a crucial process. This knowledge becomes a guiding force in how we react and respond to the experiences and challenges we face. Oooo, I want more anger, despair and shame, said no one ever! This gives us a clue that happiness lies in a different direction.

For me, gentleness and kindness were Galadriel’s light in a place where it seemed all light had gone out. Gentleness, in the midst of things going horribly wrong, is awe-inspiring. The urge to shut down when we are hurt is strong. Staying true to your core values in hard times is like finding a doctor with a good bedside manner when you’re in pain. It heals your body, mind and spirit and strengthens you in unexpected ways

Another coaching tool that is helpful when dealing with rejection is to write a goodbye and thank you letter to the person who has hurt you. The idea is to focus on someone who has challenged you... and not necessarily in a good way. Relating to a difficulty from this perspective shifts the balance of power. It gives you the space to express yourself and that can help you release what you are holding on to.  

The choice to communicate or not is a basic human right. Whether you send the letter or don't is an individual choice, there is no right or wrong. Sometimes writing it is enough. This is particularly useful in situations where the unfinished business is with someone who has died. I chose to communicate, the friend ghosting me chose not to. Equal rights at it’s darndest!  

In one of the exercise DVD’s I workout to, the instructor asks a lady in the group how she is doing. ‘I’m feeling it,’ she replies. I’ve got to tell ya, I can so relate! However, as hard as it has been, there’s surprising strength coming from the peacefulness of a gentle heart and mind. When the rug is unceremoniously pulled out from underneath you, it’s very gratifying to discover a new centre of balance, one based on your personal core values. It turns out, happiness truly is an inside job.
Wednesday, 14 February 2018 12:55

Ghosted!

Courage will now be your best defence against the storm that is at hand.
J.R.R Tolkien

I got ghosted. At my age! Who knew such a thing even existed? I certainly didn’t until it happened to me. What was even more startling was discovering just how many people experience this. Seriously peeps, what on earth?  

For those of you lucky enough to not know what I’m talking about, (and I truly hope you never find out), ghosting is the act of breaking off a relationship by ceasing all communication and contact without any apparent warning or justification, as well as avoiding and/or ignoring and refusing to respond in any way to the former friend / partner’s attempts to reach out or communicate.

It’s not only in romantic relationships, it happens in friendships too. Remember the agonizing wait at school, wondering if you’d be picked for the team? Yeah, well this is worse. Having been through it, I can only say it is so, so painful. Rejection in any form is difficult, but to have someone you love and trust simply vanish from your life without warning is devastating.

Most of us are guilty of slowly withdrawing from a relationship. Life happens, it can be an argument, a breach of trust, or just plain busyness. We take longer to reply, say less and don’t engage as much. Ghosting is different. Communication simply ceases. No explanation. No warning. Like a sudden death.

Should this happen to you, hold on to your hat, it’s going to be bumpy. In fact, get your helmet on, the shock and disbelief will knock you off your feet. One of the most painful adjustments when someone we love dies, is getting used to the loss of contact; their presence, their voice, the very fact of them being ‘there’, in your life. Ghosting takes us on the same journey but with the added burden of knowing that this person is CHOOSING to ignore you.

It’s treacherous ground and all too easy to fall into the rabbit hole of ‘why?’. Why would they do this? What did I do? It’s a riddle you will not be able to solve. At least, not without the other person’s input... and you are in this mess for the very reason that you don’t have their input.

It's a Catch 22 and the road to emotional hell. Get off it! Be Gandalf facing the Balrog in Lord of the Rings. Stamp your foot and do not allow the monster of anger, blame and shame to overwhelm you. You. Shall. Not. Pass!

Not knowing why can be frightening but self-hatred and blame will only weaken you further. Do your best, it’s hard. Instead, familiarise yourself with the reality of not knowing. Sometimes we discover an unexpected peacefulness when we simply acknowledge the uncertainty of not knowing.

Now, is a time for kindness. It’s kindness you needed from the person ghosting you and it‘s kindness you need from yourself. Life is full of hard stuff, the world is filled with people doing terrible things to each other. Your task is to make sure you do not become one of those people.
Monday, 29 January 2018 18:49

Say It's So!

It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality.
Virginia Woolf

This should not be happening. It’s not fair. This can’t be. I’ve been reading about Day Zero. Cape Town is running out of water and Day Zero is the anticipated day in April when Capetonians will open their taps and nothing will come out. Every fibre of my being believes it’s simply not possible for such a thing to happen. And yet it IS happening.  
 
Never mind the news, life these days is becoming an exercise in disbelief, or is it just Facebook? This cannot be true. They can’t do that. How could he/she/they? As Eric Barker points out, we kind of know the world is not really a fair place... until something unfair happens to us. Then we experience an indignant outrage that is unable to believe what is happening.  
 
In Life Coaching, much of goal setting is based on the idea of writing a personal ‘fairytale’ for ourselves. We fabricate an ideal picture in our minds of how people, ourselves, and the world should be and we then we go get it. And why not! It’s wonderful to feel so empowered and in control. It’s nice. Reality, however, isn’t always nice.
 
The problem comes when we start relating more to our idealised version, our personal interpretation of reality, rather than to reality itself - reality being what is actually happening in the moment. It’s an interesting dynamic, one that finds us arguing with reality. A lot. We feel justifiably entitled to our happy ending and when we don’t get it, it can be a shocking and frustrating experience. Byron Katie summarises it beautifully, “When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100% of the time.”
 
There is a fine line between unrealistic fears and unrealistic hopes, and between taking responsibility and being alarmists. The truth is, there are some experiences we are not going to come through intact. Sometimes, we are not okay, things are not okay and there is no miracle coming to save us.
 
At these times, a willingness to face the situation is our best hope. We may need to assume the brace positions and prepare as best we can for what is coming. Even when we don’t know what exactly is coming.
 
If we can relax, (and this is the hardest part), into the feeling that I am not okay and that things are not going to be okay, we give up the make-believe image of an ideal self in an ideal world. Without this fabrication, we face the true situation more directly. This gives our awareness, and intelligence, the chance to step up and guide us in coping with this particular very real moment.
Monday, 15 January 2018 08:47

Welcome to the Jungle...

All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.
Mother Goose

Have you ever had one of those experiences where the rug is suddenly pulled out from under you? It happened to me over Christmas. A dear friend, whom I speak to on pretty much a daily basis, was visiting South Africa on holiday. We hoped to meet up in early January. Not only have we not met up, I have not heard a word from them for the duration of their trip. Not a word. Now, while there may be a perfectly reasonable explanation, the complete loss of communication damn near broke my heart.

This is essentially what ‘rupture’ is all about. Reality, as we know it, is disrupted and we find ourselves struggling to accept a change that has already happened. We are not given options, there is no room for negotiation and sometimes the most painful part can be this very inability to accept things that are beyond our control. Life is incredibly hard at times. Welcome to the Jungle.

Some ruptures are far more brutal than my experience over Christmas. The sudden death of someone you love, the diagnosis of a life-changing illness, a car accident or the moment  you catch your spouse cheating can tear the fabric of your existence in a way that, rather like Humpty Dumty, you never can quite be put back together again. At least not in the same way.

Coming at the end of a difficult year with far too many losses already, my life coaching hat was decidedly crumpled. While slumped in front of Facebook, feeling very sorry for myself, I came across an article by Sylvia Boorstein titled, Restoring the Mind to Kindness. Her words were a soothing balm in the midst of the bewildered disbelief I was feeling. “Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax. Take a breath. Let’s pay attention to what is happening. Then we’ll figure out what to do.”

A lot is contained within these few sentences. No matter what pain we are enduring, a warm-hearted acknowledgement of our suffering is immensely strengthening. Taking a breath helps reset the current operating system, so to speak. It reminds us that there is more to us and to our story than this raw pain. Pain is pain, but paying attention to what is causing the worst of it, makes it easier to figure out what to do about it. Sometimes the ‘doing’ is nothing more than not being mad at ourselves for feeling what we are feeling.

There is a saying from Milarepa, a famous Tibetan Yogi, “The precious pot containing my riches becomes my teacher in the very moment it breaks.” Sometimes, it’s the same with broken hearts.
Monday, 01 January 2018 12:13

#Control-Alt-Delete!

These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.
Najwa Zebian

Woo hoo, bring on the New Year! I, for one, am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to, erm, reset the current operating system! 2017 has been a very challenging year, and the thought of a brand new year is warming the cockles of my weary heart. In case you are not entirely sure what a cockle is, allow me to explain!

‘The cockles of the heart are its ventricles, named by some in Latin as "cochleae cordis", from "cochlea" (snail), alluding to their shape. The saying means to warm and gratify one's deepest feelings.’

Interestingly enough, according to Numerology, 2017 was a Nine Personal Year for me. A nine year represents the end of a cycle. It’s a time of endings and letting go of what no longer fits to make way for a new nine-year cycle.

Resetting your internal operating system requires an awful lot of letting go. Sometimes it’s our choice, but more often that not, we are forced into letting go by circumstances. No matter the reason, an internal adjustment needs to take place in the space created by what is no longer there.

This empty space can be terrifying. A lot is asked of us in the gap between who we were and who we are becoming. There is the sense that we can’t stay here, we can’t go back, but we have no idea how to move forward and it takes courage to face the vacuum head on. The process of adjustment give us the opportunity to make a fresh start; to clean up our act. In so doing, we stand a chance of breaking old patterns and planting seeds to a whole new way of being.

A bit like at the start of a New Year that is brimming with resolutions and potential, expect to fail. Habits are incredibly hard to break, particularly bad ones. For new seed to root and flourish, we need to create conditions in which these fragile seeds of growth and goodness can thrive. Failure may well be a condition, possibly a very cause for change, just don’t allow it to be the whole story.

One way of ‘putting the mountains we have been carrying down’, is to hit the #control-alt-delete button on our unhealthy habits and attempt to wipe them out in one fell swoop. Another approach is to carefully and gently place the burdens we are carrying down.
It can be one tiny boundary, one small step in a direction that nurtures and protects the fragile seeds of well being you are sowing. Either way, the trick is to just keep going. Wishing you a happy and successful 2018!
Monday, 25 December 2017 06:43

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!


Thursday, 14 December 2017 05:43

Ag Shame, Man!

Behind every beautiful thing, there's some kind of pain.”
Bob Dylan

South Africa has some slang phrases that are utterly superb. Ag, shame is one of them. It’s a term that’s useful in just about every social situation. When in doubt, add  “Shame” and your sentiments will be appreciated!  
Example:
A: “This weekend, the public holiday falls on Saturday.”
B: “Ag, shame.”
A: “My dad was in hospital for a check up.”
B: “Ag, shame, man.”

This whole year has been pretty challenging but last week? Well, that was one of one of those ‘Ag Shame’ weeks. In fact the whole of the last month has been pretty trying, I must admit. Some of my to do list included a hospital visit for my father and dealing with the fallout from the combination of Alzheimer’s and anaesthetic. And then there was Frikkie’s knee that was broken in two places when a dog attacked Kevin and the dogs while they were walking.

It turns out there is one thing harder than convincing an Alzhiemer’s patient to keep their arm in a sling for six weeks. Oh my word, keeping a Dapple Daschund with a broken leg still, for three weeks, takes the cake. It was harrowing. His opinion on being confined to a small play pen was, um... loudly voiced. But ag shame man, you should have seen the tiny cast on his little leg! And then there was the recent incident when Colt peed on a pure wool carpet during a week of heavy clouds and rain. The very expensive carpet is washed and currently locked in a room with a heater, it’s survival uncertain.

Suffering. It’s an inescapable fact of life. Some people experience physical pain, some mental and some emotional but somewhere along the line, most of us will experience some form of pain and suffering. Illness, ageing, death and a myriad of others discontents make up a large, and inescapable portion of life.

At the same time, there are successes, joys and extraordinary connections that fill our spirits and make the world a shiny, sparkly place that is a wonder to experience. It can be hard to remember that both these experiences, the good and the bad, ARE life. We live, we love, we lose, we endure. We adapt, we change, we grow.

One thing we can remind ourselves is that beauty and pain are not an either / or. We do not have to choose, sometimes in the midst of our pain, we find true beauty.
Saturday, 02 December 2017 09:39

Chicken Licken!

Being brave isn’t the absence of fear.
Being brave is having that fear but finding a way through it.
Bear Grylls

I recently gave a talk at the local Business Woman Association (BWA). For some obscure reason the perfect introduction to the talk that popped into my head was the story of Chicken Licken! Of course, I googled it to refresh my memory. Shortly afterwards, my Facebook Newsfeed was inundated with sponsored links to a Chicken Licken advert. It’s a crazy ad that’s got nothing to do with the folktale and everything to do with a local fast food outlet. Lol, now, if I can just convince Facebook they are targeting the wrong person!

Anyway, the gist of the BWA talk was that, rather like Chicken Licken with his mistaken belief that disaster was imminent, many of us are in the habit of running ourselves ragged with an erroneous conclusion as the driving force. Negative beliefs do exactly that. We mess something up once and decide we are useless at it for evermore. Instead of speaking up in a meeting we convince ourselves that we don’t know what we are talking about, that we have too poor an education or will botch it if we try, etc. etc. We decide there’s no point asking Aunt Madge to stop telling us we’re fat because she won’t stop. And so we don’t even try.

In the folktale, Chicken Licken was convinced the sky was falling in. In reality, all that happened was an acorn fell on his head. How often are you like Chicken Licken? How often do you let a mistaken belief derail the course of your life? In coaching we use a simple model to show how a belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. A negative belief creates a negative expectation which leads to self-defeating behaviour. The result? A poor outcome.

What if, instead, you could cultivate more positive beliefs? Using the same model as above, a positive belief leads to positive expectations, self-motivating behaviour and an excellent outcome? This is not about telling yourself everything will be okay when clearly it isn’t! Lying or trying to trick ourselves is not the solution. However, cultivating a sense of resourcefulness, both within and outside of yourself, is.

Knowing how to calm yourself when you are overexcited or fearful, encourage yourself when you are disheartened, or face and endure difficulties as they arise, comes from understanding that we have many resources to call on to find our way through hardship.

Reminding yourself that you’ve got this, that you can do hard things, and that life is tough but so are you, is incredibly strengthening. Do more of that.
Tuesday, 14 November 2017 06:58

Taming of the Shrew!

The energy of the mind is the essence of life.
Aristotle

One of the down sides of having a very vivid imagination, is the underlying active mind that seems to come with the territory. A bit like Frikkie, my mind also has a lot to say! The thing about having an opinion on everything, is that I pretty much have an opinion on, well, everything. Everything. Seriously, the mental chatter is a nightmare to live with.

A little while ago, I spoke about negative self talk and the impact it can have on our well-being. Whether it’s positive or negative, constant mental chatter can also be exhausting, especially when you struggle to turn it off. After spending many years searching for the elusive off button, I have come to the conclusion, there isn’t one. It seems to be more of a dimmer switch. Meditation teaches us that while it is not possible, nor necessary, to stop our minds from thinking, we certainly can quieten and settle our minds. And we can do that by choosing what we focus on.

There is a lovely folk-tale of two travellers and a farmer. A traveller came upon an old farmer and asked him what sort of people lived in the next town. The farmer replied by asking the stranger what the people were like where he had come from. The traveller said  they were a bad lot, lazy, selfish troublemakers,that could not be trusted. The farmer replied that sadly, he would find the same sort in the next town.

Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and asked what sort of people lived in the next town. Once again the farmer asked what the people were like where he came from. The traveller replied that they were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. "Fear not," said the farmer. "You'll find the same sort in the next town."

The state of our mind reflects the state of our world. If we constantly notice what’s wrong with ourselves, we’ll get more of that. There will always be things wrong. Reality seldom meets our expectations but if we make an effort to look for what is right, to search for the goodness in ourselves and others, we start to see the world more peacefully.

With practice we can learn to tune out the background noise and focus our attention more clearly on what we choose to think about. How empowering is that? I like to think of it as a kind of taming of the shrew. So yay us! Let’s be more like the second traveller and make the world a better place, from the inside out.
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