Are You In or Out?

Over the years I’ve slowly watched the TV series ‘Parenthood’, which is fairly intense, yet with interesting people dynamics. Max, the boy with Aspergers Syndrome, has played a challenging and challenged role in the family, but from whom we can learn a lot.

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In the latest series he (finally) starts exploring relationships and love, which for many of us is a struggle, but for someone with Aspergers even more so! For the first time he fancies a girl at school and in his calculating way, decides on a scale of affection with her. He establishes where he falls on her scale for affection, which is quite low, but takes it in his stride and logically states that his ranking can (and must) go ‘up’. That’s the way scales work. After doing everything in his power to increase his ranking on her affection level, his romantic feelings unfortunately aren’t returned. He then feels frustrated by the disappointment in his ranking system which has let him down.

The lesson he learns (through the patient explanation of his father) is that sometimes life and relationships don’t follow a linear process, we just have to throw ourselves ‘into the ring’ and see how people react. We can then play it by ear.

Life, I think, is the same.

Are you throwing yourself into the ring of life and love? Or are you skirting round the edges waiting for the illusive linear process to show you the way? You may be waiting for a long while.

Just evaluate, jump and trust.

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Exposed with Elsa

I’m a little late to the Frozen (Elsa and Anna) party as I’ve only (very) recently watched the movie. I’m also a little disappointed that I haven’t watched it earlier as it’s beautiful to watch.

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As I’m sure you’re aware, there are a lot of messages in the story, but the one I’ll explore today is Elsa’s mantra of “Conceal, don’t feel. Don’t let them know.” This mantra served in keeping her isolated from the world, including shutting her frivolous and fun sister out.

Elsa is not alone in this as I’ve experienced many clients who do this, albeit unwittingly. They do this in different aspects of life: work, relationships, parenting and/or friendships. They shut things out without exploring how they feel about it – and usually for protection from fear.

We conceal emotions because many of us have never been taught appropriate ways to express  how we feel. And ironically, expressing how we feel (with some skill) is what connects us to each other. We don’t all need to feel the same, but seeing each other for who we are deepens relationships. Relationships thrive on empathy and understanding. How can we give each other these things without feelings?

So, as Elsa realised, emotions are part and parcel of the human condition. Despite her precious gloves, she still felt things. I often ask clients to name their emotions and many struggle past the basic few. How many can you name? How aware of them are you – and what kinds of things trigger them?

It’s also important to understand that there aren’t good and bad emotions. It’s just how we learn to live with- and communicate them. Once Elsa learnt this, the kingdom and her relationships changed. With Elsa’s secret and power ‘unveiled, felt and exposed’, magic truly was possible enabling happiness and harmony.

Perhaps you can explore these simple concepts in your personal life and relationships and watch the difference?

PS. I have some emotion charts that you get you started should you wish. Contact me here.

What Would You Do If You Got What You Wanted?

Getting what you want

The dining area in our house is enveloped by glass windows looking out onto our garden, and in particular onto all our trees. Because it’s been our first winter in chilly Melbourne, it has felt inordinately long and painful. Therefore I’ve been watching the bare trees waiting for the first sign of leaves to appear. The first sign appeared a while ago and I excitedly pointed the buds out to my family. “Yay! Spring is finally be on its way.” I declared.

And since then I’ve been actively waiting for the ‘real, full’ leaves to appear. I wanted to see the greenery which would somehow be confirmation of eventual summer for me.

But, ironically, I was very disappointed yesterday when I looked out and saw the entire tree was covered in leaves. It was green! The disappointment was a result of not having seen that happen. I’d missed the transition from the buds to the full manifestation stage. I felt cheated and wondered how that could have happened. I watched every single day, didn’t I?

There’s an old saying that the watched pot never boils. It means that time feels longer when you’re waiting for something to happen. In my example that felt true, but perhaps even crazier was my frustration at having missed the miracle. In this frustrated state I completely bypassed the joy in the moment of having received what I’d been longing for.

My question to you today is what are you hoping so anxiously to happen? Is the waiting making it seem like it will never happen? What feelings does that bring up for you about yourself? Does it bring you closer to acceptance or steer you away from it?

Furthermore, what would happen if you took your beady eyes off the target allowing some space and magic to evolve? Would it be the same outcome and would you be able to embrace, let alone see the miracle and joy of getting what you want?

Fable of Unburdening

The fable of unburdening

The fable of unburdenings 

The story is of an obviously weary traveler, walking down a dusty road, with a large boulder hoisted on one shoulder, a knapsack full of bricks on his back, and a net of sturdy weeds and vines around his legs so that he can only take short, hobbling steps. As you might imagine, this human packhorse was hobbling along, uncomfortably stooped over, his progress slow and tedious, his physical struggle great.

A person sitting by the roadside called his hello and asked, “Say traveler, why do you burden yourself with that big, heavy rock on your shoulder?”

Incredibly the traveler said “Hmmm. You know I never noticed how heavy it was before and, until you mentioned it, I hadn’t given much thought to the reasons for taking it with me.” After a few moments pondering, the traveler set the boulder down, left it by the side of the road, and walked on, a bit straighter and a bit quicker.

A little further along, he encountered another bystander who queried him about the knapsack full of bricks. “Hmmm. I’m glad you made mention of it”, said the traveler, “I hadn’t paid any attention to what was in the knapsack”. He took out all the bricks, left them at the roadside, and walked on.

A little further along, a curious child playing by the road called out to him. “Hey mister, why do you have all those weeds wrapped around your legs?”

The traveler took out his pocket knife and sliced away the weeds. One by one the bystanders made the traveler aware of his needless burdens. So, one by one, he accepted the new awareness, rejected the old burdens and abandoned them by the side of the road. Finally, he was a truly free man, and walked straight and tall like such a man.

Were the problems the boulder, the bricks, the weeds? No, not at all. The problem was his lack of awareness of them.

Rules Don’t Rule!

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I was asked today for my opinion on a parenting topic which gave rise to me thinking further about “rules” and how we apply them. My answer to the question was that we’re not always able to apply a general rule across all circumstances (particularly in child-rearing). There are always extra-circumstantial situations that require revision.

One of the earliest things people mentioned to me in order to be a“good” parent is to be consistent. Yes – I can see this – and understand it, but find it hard to apply. But life is not consistent. Situations are all different, as are people. So, how does one rule fit all?

That said, I do believe it’s possible to have an overall life philosophy that we can keep consistent – but only if this philosophy is not based on rules (i.e. should, have to and must). Rules only make it hard.

If you’ve done any work with me , you’ll know my philosophy culminates with ‘love and compassion’. This philosophy merely reflects a state of being… not adding more TO DOs on a list.

What’s YOUR life philosophy? And how will it change your life?

Is Life Hard?

How hard is life?

“I just didn’t know it would be so hard.”

“Welcome to the human race, Mr Brown.”

So often we hear the words that life isn’t meant to be hard – but I disagree. Life isn’t meant to be hard all the time, but it certainly is hard at times. It’s these hardships that shape us, mould us and create us. But how – is up to us.

I’m watching the old TV series called Everwood where Dr Brown is a world-renowned neurosurgeon (of course) in New York (of course). When his wife suddenly dies tragically he is left with two children, one being a moody teenage son who he has no relationship with. He then naturally uproots his left over family to the middle of nowhere (Everwood) to ‘start over’.

He then becomes a GP, who doesn’t charge for his services. And thus his internal struggle begins – hence the conversation above with a therapist.

I wonder how much of what he’s doing to alleviate the struggle (I’m still in Season 1) is to make up for who he thinks he should have been. And also, trying to forget where he currently is. There’s almost an empty franticness to his behaviour – dancing around the real emotion he feels. And in this process he still misses out on a relationship with his son.

So, not dealing with the hardness whilst willing to change himself, he’ll merely be recreating his life the same way in a different part of the world. In other words, his hardship wouldn’t have created or moulded him into any form of a happier life. And that would be sad. For all the relationships in his life.

So, how do you start with the re-creation process?

  • Work out WHO you are which includes:
    • Your beliefs
    • Your desires
    • Your limitations
    • Your shadow self
    • Your highest self
    • Your perceptions
    • Your biology

During this unravelling process you may start to discover the WHAT you want from your life also starts to change. It will now be aligned with the new WHO you’re becoming.

Finally, once you’ve stepped into the WHAT from a new WHO – the  WHY of you life becomes apparent. And clear.

The Stormy Winds of Life

Four Seasons
One of the common things when moving to Brisbane was people telling me “The Brisbane people are so friendly!”. That proved true. When moving to Melbourne many said, “You’ll get used to the weather!”. Not quite as enticing a thought, but I was forewarned.
The weather is worth many a discussion for a variety of reasons, one of them being that it requires us to be prepared for anything.
I often teach that we aren’t able to control anything and that life can change at a whim – (certainly a reflection of the Melbourne weather!).
Getting used to the erratic weather  means we don’t stop our activity, but approach everything with options. I recently saw people cycling in the same strong winds that blew my outdoor furniture over! Brave? Committed? Or caught unawares? The bottom line is that whatever storms come your way, life will still go on. And sometimes not all dark clouds in life mean there’s a storm coming. It’s more about our preparation, approach and resilience than anything else.

Reflections On 2014

Reflections and life review

Reflections and life review

Reflections On Another Year
  1. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing is permanent and everything is transient.  These all seem to say the same thing, but with different emphasis. If you fully accept these things about everything in your life: relationships; career; love; hardship; good times and possessions – then you become more present and have more gratitude. This increases a sense of adventure and provides opportunity.
  2. Negative emotions are part of the journey. Don’t ignore them, honour them and feel what they’re communicating. It’s important to develop the skills to navigate through them
  3. You can do what you fear – which often gives you what you want. Once again, acknowledge the fears, understand what they’re trying to achieve (or hold you back from) but don’t necessarily yield to them. Tuck fear under your arm (this helps you with compassion towards others) and navigate your way THROUGH your fears.
  4. Keep it simple. Whatever drama you’re concocting, it’s probably not that bad or complicated in reality. Don’t get stuck in the story – but rather self-reflect and make necessary behaviour adjustments if necessary. Even better, getting professional help is usually a good idea as well.
  5. Self-acceptance and self expression remain key, regardless of your circumstances. These tend to fly out the window as the going gets tough, because we feel disappointed with ourselves and/or life. If you practice acceptance and self-expression in an authentic and mature way, you’ll feel the difference and challenges will feel as temporary as they are.

No Goal.. No Future? Hardly.

No goals, no future? Hardly.

I sat next to a stranger while out one evening and by the end of the evening we were chatting up a storm on things spiritual and personal development (as one does with complete strangers!)

As we chatted about our lives, she seemed incredulous and asked at one point, “So, you don’t really have a goal?”

“Nope.” I surprised myself.

She pried some more and after a while sat back and said, “Okay, so I’ve asked this question a few ways and it really seems like you’re living with no real goal. You’re the first person I’ve ever met that doesn’t have one.”

Perhaps that true. And perhaps it’s just for this short period in my life as it certainly hasn’t always been the way. But what strikes me more than any of that is that I’ve moved away from striving. I’ve moved away from living in the future. The future is too uncertain and too unpredictable anyway. Why would I want to get caught up in something I have no control over? Seems like a waste of how wonderful today is.

By no means am I sitting back and doing nothing with my life. That wouldn’t be who I am – but I’m enjoying exactly what I’m doing…. Be that playing with my toddler, sitting in a lecture theatre, coaching a client, hosting a workshop, eating a family dinner, chatting with a friend or going for a walk to buy milk. Life is good.

Yes…. I continually plan my time as my life is full and varied and I juggle multiple things at any given time. But that’s part of the fun as I know that anything I plan can (and often will) change at the drop of a hat. Nothing is permanent and attaching myself to impermanence causes anxiety which takes away from today.

Plan for the future. Live in today. Enjoy the moments.

What would a snapshot of your life look like?

Life review

Life review

Waiting for a take-away coffee, I took my mobile out of my handbag to check the time. I grinned as I scrimmaged through the eclectic clutter to find it: A dummy, a little car, some business cards, an assortment of pens, tabard, sunscreen and lipstick.
I giggled as well knowing that this is such a microscopic reflection of my life:
• A mother
• A business owner
• A writer
• A mosquito attractor of note
• A woman
I love these mini-moments of reconnecting with myself – with a warm fuzzy feeling of joy. I can do this because I know that this is merely a snapshot (albeit eclectic) and yet there is so much more to me underneath these ‘mere’ lables. These are roles that I play in life – roles that I love – but not who I am in totality.
Being more than my lables allows me to fully engage in life, be satisfied, be happy, learn, grow, love and be loved. And even better, tomorrow I may be a host of other things in new experiences, because I give myself permission to be everything.
I often talk with clients of actively participating in your life, instead of being a spectator on the sidelines. What would a snapshot of your life look like? Does this make you smile? More importantly, however, how many of these roles are you attached to? Or even clinging to for meaning? Remember you are more than just the micro-image. You are everything that you give yourself permission to be.