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Posted on 3 Oct, 2016 | 0 comments

Is There Ever Really A Right Or Wrong Way To Do A Thing?

Is there ever really a right and a wrong way to do a thing? I mean, at the end of the day, doesn’t it just land up being about consequences to our actions? If I choose to do this then that will happen but if I choose the other thing something else will follow. And I will learn something either way.

Yesterday I found myself in a new level of something I’ve been learning. So I was excited… for about ten seconds! Then I witnessed myself automatically switching to

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Posted on 30 May, 2016 | 5 comments

Stop Judging Your Thoughts – It Only Makes Things Harder

Untitled..

I awoke this morning feeling out of sorts. It’s amazing how one off thought can lead to the next and the next and before too long your head is filled with yukky thoughts and it seems like life sucks and everything’s hopeless.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about thinking lately. Our thoughts impact on us dramatically. Just yesterday I had a day that was partially good and partially me battling myself. The battling part was freshest in my mind when someone asked me, “How was your day?” Thankfully this was a conscious person who would really hear what my answer was. I say thankfully because when someone around you is conscious it helps us stay in an aware place too. That’s why hanging around people who are aware keeps us more aware and reading these sorts of books and blogs and websites does too.

Anyway she asked me how my day was and because she was very present, I stopped and thought of my options. What was my story going to be right now about my day? What did I want to choose for myself? I could

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Posted on 28 Mar, 2016 | 2 comments

We Don’t Need Another Hero

After my talk on using parenting for your own individual growth this weekend someone asked this question:

“What is the role of the parent / hero in the world of the child?”  

Don’t you love it when you’re dealing with something and suddenly you find the topic seems to crop up everywhere? Because as you know, I just asked in my last post if, as a psychologist, I’m allowed to admit to being a normal flawed human or if I must maintain a façade of perfection. I decided to just be flawed and see what happens. So far the results are good. But what about having someone to look up to?

It helps us in life, especially when we’re children – or regressed to child state – if we have

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Posted on 14 Mar, 2016 | 2 comments

You Will Never Be ‘Perfect’ – Thank Goodness!

Most of the time we seem to wait for conditions to be right so that we can be happy. Conditions often have something to do with being ‘perfect’. “When I get the job I long for” “When my health improves” “When my child gets better marks” “When my partner changes”… then I will be happy.

In a chat with someone yesterday about strawberries I was enlightened – yes you read me right, I did say strawberries. He was showing me this punnet of beautiful, round, juicy, red strawberries and we discussed how while they looked a little less perfect than those in another shop we know, they still did look unnaturally round and red and uniform and suddenly I realised the obvious and said, “Perfection is unnatural.”

strawberry

The implications of that obvious statement are pretty big. We are mostly walking around upset because things are not perfect the way we want them to be. But if you think about it, that is a rather bizarre thing for us to be wishing. Think about anything in nature – the most beautiful thing you can think of.

Go on – do that now.

Now ask yourself if anything about that is ‘perfect’ in the way we usually mean it. Is it symmetrical? Is it uniform? Are the colours ‘correct’? Is the layout perfect in any way? I know you’ll answer no because nature ain’t like that.

In fact, I saw an almost perfect flower in a garden a while back and I really put my eyeball right up close to it to check it out. I appreciated its symmetry and uniform colour and the spots on it that looked downright computer-designed… but I felt quite disturbed by it. Maybe this is just my own issue… but it was like coming upon an apple tree that looks like one in Bob The Builder or a Mr Men book . It was weird. It looked and felt UNNATURAL. And if all flowers looked like that it would get boring quite quickly. So why the heck are we striving to be perfect? It’s not natural and it’s not interesting.

What IS the perfect job anyway? What DO perfect children look and sound like? What is the perfect body?

Doesn’t perfect just mean ‘that which best suits YOU’? Isn’t ‘Perfect’ is just an opinion?

“Ok”, you say, “point taken. But all these imperfections are very uncomfortable. I would like things to be the way I want them to be. That would best suit me.”

Hmmm, yes…but does ‘best suits you’ always mean being comfortable? Interesting thought.

Research shows us that we need a certain level of stress to be optimally functional. Too little makes us lethargic (which Is probably why constant perfection would get boring) and too much makes us stress-bunnies. You need some – not too little and not too much. Some stress is actually good for you.

But stress isn’t comfortable. It creates movement, it elicits change… then again, that IS in your best interests because anything in nature that stands still is actually dying.

So is it possible that sometimes that which ‘best suits you’ is initially uncomfortable – like cod liver oil or leg braces or an honest conversation about racism? In those moments, what doesn’t FEEL ‘perfect’ to you, may well BE perfect for you.

Our uncomfortable situations are highlighting where we are in our life journey and what we apparently would like to get more skilled in. If your children don’t listen to you or they drive you nuts, apparently you want to get more skilled in believing in your own worth and loving yourself (read my previous posts for explanations of this connection). If you are in an abusive situation of some kind apparently you want to get more skilled in believing in your own worth and loving yourself. If you hate your job apparently you want to get more skilled in believing in your own worth and loving yourself… are you sensing a theme here?

When we believe in our own worth and truly love ourselves we do what we need to keep ourselves safe, healthy and happy. We deal better with life and with other people. Then life tends to become easier and more fun – even when difficult things come our way.

Natural things and people are not uniform and symmetrical in look or behaviour. They are messy and bump around as they grow and learn to love and let be.

‘Perfect’ doesn’t help you do that.

Give up striving for some notion of ‘perfection’. It’s very bad for your health.

 

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Posted on 28 Dec, 2015 | 0 comments

There Is No Such Thing As Failure – Part 1

We’ve all done things in our lives that didn’t turn out so well. Some of us have done it gracefully and covered it up with style and others of us have belly-flopped and farted in front of a large crowd.

Some hardy folk with solid self-esteem can simply laugh at themselves and move on unaffected.

whatever!.

Most of us though, flinch away from thinking about those times. If we have to think about them we get that cringe or shame sensation followed by feeling down-hearted about ourselves. Ironically, even though we try not to dwell on these moments – or we deny they ever happened – they actually often steer our lives in sneaky, invisible ways. That’s because we judge ourselves to have failed and our feeling of threat from that teaches our brain to prevent us from doing that again

BUT

What if there is no such thing as failure?

I’ve been exploring this deeply lately as I head out into areas that remind me of old belly-flops – at least TO MY MIND at the time they were belly-flops. I keep having to strongly nudge myself to keep going because a large chunk of me is sending out warnings that this is Failure Territory. My brain learned well.

So why am I doing it? Why not just avoid the things I ‘failed’ at before?

Well! If my life is going to be pleasant and fun – yes I said “pleasant and fun”. Otherwise WHAT is the point people? Seriously! – then shame and fear just can’t be allowed to play leading roles. Shame and fear are no fun at all! And excuse me, but threatening myself with “What if I fail?” gives them lead roles. So sorry, no. Not happening.

In my work I get to observe people’s lives. I see the reasons for their choices and I see the outcomes of

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Posted on 12 Oct, 2015 | 16 comments

Don’t Compare Your Insides To Other People’s Outsides

So I had a conversation at a party – what is it with me and conversations at parties? People are going to start avoiding talking to me…

Anyway, my lovely conversation partner mentioned she reads my blog and finds it amazing that I can share things so publicly. Things she can’t even bear to share with her husband – like if she shouted at her child that day. “It seems so easy for you”, she said self-deprecatingly, “I guess some people can just do that.”

Hoo boy.

First of all, when someone tells me they read my blog I immediately feel exposed. Aargh, they know things about me! Maybe they like what I write; maybe they think I’m a narcissistic misguided fraud… Breathe in, breathe out, reassure self, relax tensed shoulders…

To make it harder still, she reminds me that I share things that are potentially shameful and I want to run and hide.

yikes

Breathe in, breathe out, remind myself what it’s really about, open up and lean into the discomfort…

Maybe it looks easy for me. It’s not. It has been excruciating at times to expose myself in this way.

So why do I do it?

Because it’s SO darn good for me. (not to mention how much FUN I have writing and drawing…)

My main reason for writing this blog is that it helps me plough through, heal and release OLD fears and preconceptions that hold me back or keep me small. It helps me to stay conscious in my life and parenting and it is teaching me about keeping my self while I parent – what does that even mean?!

A second but important reason I write here is the healing for others. In my work I’ve been allowed the awesome privilege of hearing the truth about people’s lives. Not what they present to the world, but how they really feel inside the facades. It is a privilege I cherish deeply. And person after person comes to me and says, “Other people seem to have it sorted. Is it just me that struggles with this?”

Parents especially are a strangely isolated group. For all the chatting and play-dates, not many dare to speak about the real stuff. The shameful moments. The hidden smacks, shouts, rough grabs that we cringe to think about and prefer not to look at. It only takes one brave soul to stand in truth, dare to be vulnerable and speak out, for others to learn they are really NOT alone in their fears and struggles. That is why I choose to expose myself. I’m backed up by the

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Posted on 14 Sep, 2015 | 6 comments

Be More Gentle With Yourself

I woke up this morning feeling a little bit raw and vulnerable. There was no real reason for it that I could see and I certainly wasn’t going to make it worse by scratching around inside myself to try to figure out why. So what was my alternative?

I spent some time meditating and doing balancing energy work on myself. I monitored my thoughts and feelings more closely with the intention of deliberately lingering on the things that made me feel better and swiftly shifting off  thoughts that made me feel worse and I did nice things for myself.

I’m delighted to tell you that I didn’t push any of this or get panicked that I HAD to fix it. I just sort of experimented with what would feel better to me in every given moment. I was gentle.

But the underlying fragile feeling remained. It’s still with me right now as I write this and you know what? It’s ok. In fact I feel so very pleased with myself and cared for because at around midday I could see that this was not really budging, so I simply let go and said, “Ok, I need to be very gentle with myself today.”

It’s been a very nice day so far.

There is this thing we do in our society where we spot something that isn’t the way we think it should be and we HAMMER at it until it either dies, or changes, gives in or we are too exhausted to continue. The outcomes vary but the hammering remains the same.

hammering

Einstein is rumoured to have said that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.  If we go along with that definition we would have to conclude that most of us are insane. Maybe you’ve already concluded that for other reasons – but this really affirms it, don’t you think?

We hammer and hammer and hammer at ourselves, at each other, at our children, at our partners, at our bosses, at success, at money at EVERYTHING and then we tear at our hair and wail that we are trying so hard but it isn’t changing.

Maybe a different approach might be called for here? Whatchya think?

Now gentleness may appear to be a weak way to go but it is

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Posted on 11 May, 2015 | 2 comments

Release The Resistance

This morning I watched someone get very upset about something that, as far as I could see, wasn’t happening at all. I observed his – in my eyes – unnecessary distress and thought it really looks odd to see someone reacting so strongly to a stimulus that was clearly inside him rather than outside. I mean I felt everything was fine but he was fighting hard against something.

freak out

Then I thought, “Oh. Is that what it looks like when I do that?”

It gave me some perspective on how silly most of our troubles are, how much we create them – mostly by resisting things.

You know that expression, “What you resist persists”? Well I find that to be enormously true. Carl Jung says it thus, “You can only let something go if you first accept it.”

Take a moment if you need to wrap your mind around that.

To let something go you have to let it be there? Isn’t that an odd thing? Basically it means if you want it to go away you need to stop fighting it. As long as you fight it, you keep it there. How can it move on if you are busy with it?

Learning to release resistance is one of life’s keys to good and easy living – and if you want a good place to practice this important life skill, just sign up for parenting. Whew. How often each day do you have to adjust yourself to the way things are going when you had prepared for them to go another way?

There’s a Yiddish expression, “Man plans, God laughs.”  In parenting the joke on us begins with conception – planned or unplanned it’s all a big gamble, no control there at all – and continues non-stop through pregnancy, birth, early parenting, adolescence… and on and on. No control whatsoever. Before having children I had some sort of illusion of control. I plan something and I do it pretty much the way I planned it. Then I had kids and now I make plans almost as a joke. I’ve learned to make an approximate plan. “Right, we’ll aim to go there, at about 9 or 9.30, depending on how the morning goes and we may or may not take the tadpole nets with us, we’ll see if his cold is better. We can try to stay for a couple of hours, depending on if they get bored or are having a good time. Then we can maybe get to meet Joe and them for lunch if the kids aren’t worn out or grumpy. Ok? Great! That’s our plan!”

And that plan actually reassures me!

It’s such a gift to get to practice this letting go thing. Thank you children. Still, learning to release resistance and shift to the flexible planning technique takes a few years – and possibly a number of children – before it feels comfortable enough to not be in a constant state of panic. Remember saying this, “I WILL still

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Posted on 13 Apr, 2015 | 8 comments

Who’s Afraid Of The Dalai Mama?

“I’m so angry with myself” she tells me, her voice cracking with fury, “I should have checked it out long ago – but I had my mother’s reaction; ‘That’ll be expensive. Leave it to come right by itself’. You know how she was.

What makes me angry is that’s how I tell myself I’m not important enough to look after properly! It was bad enough when she did it but now I’m doing the same thing to myself? I should know better!”

do know how her mother was. I also know that when she was small she tried her best to be perfect, to be good enough so that maybe her mother would manage to love her better. I know she used to beat herself up for any imperfection – she still does, for example, “I should know better!”.

“So what you’re saying, “ I respond with a sad smile, “is that taking months to get the help you needed shows you believe you are not important enough and that makes you angry with yourself. The fact that you did that shows you are not good enough – not getting it right yet. That makes you feel shame, so you behave in ways that imply you’re not important enough. That makes you get angry with yourself so you shame yourself again for believing and behaving as though you are not important enough. The anger and shame make you feel not good enough so you …   are you getting me?”

cycle

 She looks at me with big eyes for a frozen moment, really seeing the perpetuating cycle and then bursts out laughing, shaking her head.

No-one learns when they are shouted at, beaten or shamed.

No-one.

When we are shouted at we feel threatened and scared so our brain helpfully shifts into ‘survival mode’. Danger sensors alert, chemicals prepare the body to fight off the danger, flee from it or freeze – like animals do in the wild. In those moments our rational brain is not really online. We are not calmly assessing what is being said and done and coming to thoughtful open-minded conclusions. No. We are nervous and jumpy and our brain is shouting, “RUN! Kill it! Just stand still, don’t move. Maybe it will go away.”

That’s why our child can’t hear or appreciate discipline in the heat of the moment. That’s why it’s best to wait until things are calm to do the disciplining. That’s why you can’t behave in the ways you’d like to when you are all het up. That’s why IT DOESN’T ACTUALLY HELP TO BEAT YOURSELF UP ABOUT IT AFTERWARDS!

It does the opposite of help.

In a volley of comments after my post  my reader Olivia and I co-created the concept of the ‘Dalai Mama’ and I just love it. Thanks Olivia!

dalai mama

This is the mama or papa we all want to be. It’s the calm, wise, compassionate, all-knowing, all-accepting being we beat ourselves viciously with a stick to try to attain.

Huh?

How weird are we? Can you imagine the Dalai Lama being trained to be who he is with beatings, threats and shame? Jon Kabbatz-Zin tells a story of how he once

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Posted on 16 Mar, 2015 | 8 comments

Stop Judging Yourself!

A while back I had a very healing experience.

group

I sat in a large group of seekers, light-beings and energy-workers. These were serious folk who are involved with and influential in many different areas of society. We did an exercise where each of us had to describe how we see our self in the present and how we’d like to see our self in the future.

Apparently doing this triggered off our paradigm of self-judgement. None of us meant to do it, but there it was; our belief that somehow the current-day us was not ‘good enough’. One by one we expressed some version of, “How I am now is not as good as how I will be later”, “When I learn more, grow more, be more of who I am – then it’ll be something really good”. In my turn I expressed my version of’ “When I’m more of what I want and less of what I don’t, want it’ll be better”.

Sigh.

Really? Still?

When I saw this pattern in almost all of us, it was a strong moment for me. I looked around a room full of some truly astounding folk who are doing beautiful work in the world, whose hearts are stretched open daily, whose courage is inspiring and whose beauty I can EASILY see – yet here they all are saying what’s ‘wrong’ with them.

What was more fascinating was that many of us talked about our future self as though it was a far-away dream when in fact each of us has already got the qualities we are striving for. I actually mean we were expressing desiring things we already have – but don’t fully acknowledge. You know what I mean? You hear people doing that every day. “I wish I had more patience” you say to your friend. “You?!” she shrieks back, “You’re the most patient person I know!”

See?

What I found so healing about having my face rubbed in this habit of minimising myself was that I could see what a truly irrelevant thing it is to do to oneself. It’s pure nonsense. So I’m giving up that habit now.

What does ‘wrong’ mean anyway?

When we see a deer, for example, we don’t really notice that one leg is a little crooked or it

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Posted on 10 Nov, 2014 | 6 comments

I Can’t Feel Love Properly

I think there’s something seriously wrong with me

What makes you say that?

I don’t feel love like I’m supposed to. I hear how other people talk about being in love or feeling about their children and I don’t have that inside me.

no love

Tell me more?

Well, I know that I do love – but it’s like I know it in my head more than I feel it. Most of the time there’s a sort of hole, a gap, an emptiness where I think the feeling of love should be. So for instance, I look at my partner and I know I love him – but I don’t really feel filled up with love. I have had times when that’s happened and that’s how I know it’s not there most of the time. I can mostly handle it. You know, we’re adults. I act lovingly and he loves me and that’s good enough. But the worst is when it comes to the children because I feel like I’m missing out on something really special and I wonder if they can sense it and if it’s messing them up.

Everyone talks about this love they feel for their children. Yesterday I heard someone say she’s very guarded about loving and being intimate with someone and I was so excited. Someone who feels the same as me! Then she said, “Except for my nephew. When he’s around I just melt. My heart opens in spite of myself. I love that boy so much!” I just wanted to cry because I don’t have that. Not even with my own children. So there must be something seriously screwed up in me.

What a painful situation… Tell me, you said you’ve felt love sometimes with your partner. Have you ever felt love with your children?

Well, you know how it took me a long time to get over the trauma of my first child’s birth. She was born a blue baby and when I saw her I thought she was dead. Part of me just checked out in that moment and it took me about a year to

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Posted on 27 Oct, 2014 | 4 comments

I’ts Ok To Not Want To Be With The Kids 24/7

Sitting with my confirmed bachelor friend and he’s complaining that the woman he’s seeing at the moment wants to spend too much time together. “I have a life too you know.” He states, “I work hard and after work I want to see my friends, or do my hobbies, or spend time alone reading (oh wow, remember that… the mouth just waters at the thought… but I digress – back to him) “If I see her two or three nights a week I don’t have time for any of that. That doesn’t work for me. I like being with her but I have other things I want to do too, other people to see.”

I listen to him and I suddenly think, “I’M NORMAL!”

Gasp, Im normal.

 

It’s OK to not want to see someone over and over every minute of your waking time. When you are single like him and get to choose how you spend your time, you don’t choose the same person over and over and over all the time. It’s OK to want to do other things, have other hobbies, spend time alone… That’s NORMAL. Oh.

In case you hadn’t cottoned on yet, I’m talking about the children, people. Why are we not allowed to say out loud that while we love them to bits, and we like them, it doesn’t mean we want to spend every minute with them. It’s not normal. (I know I’m not alone, I just saw an ad for a book called, “Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday?” Hilarious!)

There are days when I have such rich wonderful times with my gorgeous children. They are awesome. We wake, we play, we love and cuddle, we go out and explore the world together, we cook together and eat what we made, we play some more, we read, we nourish each other’s souls and worlds and at the end of the day when they are tucked into bed it’s just the sweetest thought to think of those two little humans sleeping in that room. My heart swells with the love of it all and I’ve drunk my fill.

Then the next morning they climb into my bed ready for more and I think, “What? We did all that yesterday. Today I want to do something else. Come back in a few days.”

Sometimes that makes me feel bad. Oy, the guilt. It’s like I’m some kind of fake mother. How can I

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