Overwhelm? Get S.M.A.R.T

OVERWHELM POST”One step at a time. Focusing on the next step is the best way to avoid overwhelm” – Dan O’Donnell

Life can be overwhelming

Yet it’s not always a bad thing. Lately this subject has cropped several times with friends & family and honestly a couple of them have been on the back of an avalanche of good things happening to some. The overwhelm elements there being those of surprise & gratitude.

It becomes problematical when the time we have to do the things which we need/are expected to becomes……the ‘’not enough hours in a day’’ syndrome.

Obviously everyone’s different but I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t experienced this occasionally?

We reach the stage of being lost because we’re totally overwhelmed by what life throws at us; the kids, finances, work etc and we don’t have the time to deal with them.

We know then it’s time to pause, take a step back, breathe and reassess what’s happening. Because let’s face it the feeling of total, utter and complete stressed out panic that kicks in once we reach this crisis point is something we can all do without.

For me I honestly think I’d prefer a broken limb than suffer the anguish brought about by allowing myself to get to this stage, yet………Get there I have, time after relentless time until during a particularly stressful (and trust me I do stress really, really well) time not long ago I decided that was it.

ENOUGH ALREADY!

What the hell was I playing at?

Despite making enormous headway turning almost every area of my life around and allowing myself to be justifiably proud of doing so, I STILL allowed myself to dragged down by overwhelm.

Something had to change before I metaphorically managed to single handedly drown myself!

But what?

Now, I think I’m a fairly intelligent member of the human race but there are times when I astound even myself at how often I seem unable to see the wood for the trees…..the bigger picture!

Meaning?

The time available in any one day is ALWAYS finite!

I guess like most of us I’m busy everyday with family, working, chores, grocery shopping…..I hate grocery shopping…appointments etc let alone trying to factor in that all too precious chunk of ‘’me time’’ we should all make time for daily BUT which is usually the first casualty when it comes to ‘’getting things done’’…..GUILTY as charged your honor!!

So what next?

I decided to prioritize MYSELF & my time…EVERY day….and as far in advance as I could realistically manage…!

Mmmm first stumbling block – my organisational skills or rather lack of them!

BUT it’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it and I was done with being overwhelmed. This mind was well and truly set on a change for the better!

Having had ‘’stern words with myself’’ I started making plans.

During my years working in the Special Needs sector of the UK education system we used the S.M.A.R.T principle, which basically means;

Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Targets.

My ‘’ battle plan’’ began to take shape

SPECIFIC: set a goal which would improve my quality of life
MEASURABLE: it would be attainable within a given time frame
ACHIEVABLE: break it down into smaller ‘’chunks’’ to better define progress
REALISTIC: given the constraints of (in my case) available time
TARGET: successfully reach the aim of my original goal

Well that was a bit of a light bulb moment!

As I’ve said there are times when I’m slow to see the bigger picture. I spent roughly 14 years working with special needs students using this exact same technique with…if I say so myself…. amazing success YET until push came to shove in this particular area it had never entered this scrambled egg of a brain of mine to transfer that same skill set to my personal life!

What was it I said before about ‘’wood for the trees’’?.

Setting myself up to succeed

Having formed my initial plan I took time to fine tune it and came up with a solid foundation upon which to build.

Going forward I planned my time using nothing more than lists & chunking them up into definite time frames. For arguments sake we’ll say hours & days. Measuring the effectiveness or otherwise based solely on what had/hadn’t been accomplished on my list given that I had deliberately restricted the time I had to address each one. The deliberate action of restricting time meant I had no choice but to be honest as to what I hoped to achieve and as a result it became a realistic expectation that I would indeed realise my goal…hit my target if you like of actually improving my quality of life.

It’s ironic!

Speaking as someone who is quite spontaneous by nature and who rarely even used a shopping list for the dreaded grocery shop…..I morphed into someone who now has lists for everything…..I even have a list of my lists to keep track of my own best intentions! Seriously I do…..although I do have to police that particular trait as if I’m not careful it fuels my O.C.D oriented brain (a post in it’s own right).

Yet lists……nothing new, fancy or technological………literally stopped me in my tracks by making me look to that bigger picture.

A pad, a pen and Notepad on my phone gave me the visual stimulus I needed to put my house in order!

Obviously I also needed to be persistent enough to make this a habit but once it was, there was absolutely no stopping me. I no longer allow myself to try and cram more into a day than I KNOW I have a realistic chance of achieving. Each and every list is in itself prioritized…most to least important and I’ve learned to accept that the world won’t spontaneously combust if  I don’t tick everything off the blessed thing by the end of the day.

AND

The biggest lesson of all and the one which probably prevented nervous breakdown number 4 or was it 5?

No one is perfect, we all have different stresses, strains & demands on our time and at the end of each day IF we’ve done our best then that’s all anyone including us can ask…….tomorrow is another day and we can always start another list!

BOTTOM LINE IS…….WE’RE ONLY HUMAN!

Thanks for taking the time to read this, stay S.M.A.R.T!

 

Don’t Worry Be Happy

Dont worry be happy BLOG POST header”Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”

Abraham Lincoln

We tend to lose sight of just how much we have to be happy for

Many years ago someone who subsequently became a very important role model in my life  told me

” Never forget just how much we have in this life to be truly happy for”

That statement as simple and truthful as it was impacted upon me on such a deeply profound level that I never ever forgot it. It wasn’t so much the words themselves  as the context in which they were offered.

I was 20 at the time and although I had met, fallen head over heels in love with and become engaged to the man who was to become my life partner and ”long suffering” other half of some 32 years of (at the time of writing) marriage I was deeply unhappy on many levels….a strained home life, stuck in a job I loathed, never enough money to do what we wanted to do…..all the usual daily gripes which cause us to be miserable,

And yet here was ”someone” having very recently lost her husband of many years after a relatively short but very traumatic battle with cancer offering me both a shoulder to cry on and sage advice. Of the pair of us she had far more cause to be deeply unhappy than me but although she was entrenched in her grief and struggling to come to terms with her loss along with everything which that entails she still found it in her heart to reach out and connect on a level which she could see I truly needed.

It was one of the most selfless gestures by someone I have ever seen and one which I never forgot even during the times of my deepest despair…..the days when I had reached the end of my tether, when I wanted to run for the hills and never come back.

The days when I really did contemplate that this world would be better off without me.

On these days and many like them since there has always been her voice in the back of my mind prompting me to be thankful for all that I have, to count my blessings and telling me ”Don’t worry be happy”!

There have been many, many times in the intervening years when I would have given anything to be able to hear her calm, gentle, measured voice but instead I’ve used the advice she gave me all that time ago to help me look at the world as though through her eyes.

As I matured I came to realise what it was she meant and now there is rarely a day passes during which I don’t give thanks for the fact that I’m still alive, that I’m ”relatively” healthy, that my family are safe and well.

That said as I’ve gotten older this perspective has deepened somewhat and now at the beginning or end….sometimes both…of my day I make a point of acknowledging and appreciating all that has, is and will be good in my life.

The stunning colours of sunrise & sunset, the innocence of a child’s infectious laughter, woodland walks or watching nature at work as the ocean pounds the shoreline.

I now live for but am not limited by the little things, the simple pleasures…hot buttered toast, a long lie in of a Sunday et al. I thrive on and thoroughly enjoy the company of and interaction with the people most special to me and make sure I validate them everyday….Make sure you tell someone how much you love them today because the chance may never come again.

These things and so many more like them help bring about a sense of calm and a peaceful mind. They help us to better understand what this life of ours is truly about and what it means to be alive in the here and now.

Many of us live our lives ruled by the man-made invention of time. We pray for the end of the working day, for the Summer holidays to get here more quickly. We wish our lives away because we aren’t connected to the present. We don’t appreciate it or the joys it brings us daily.

We wait impatiently under the mistaken apprehension that when….it stops raining, the holidays are here, we win the lottery etc, etc…then the elusive happiness will be ours for the taking.

That’s a massive error on our part!

STOP waiting for happiness to come along because it’s here already…..you have the power to CHOOSE it……stop imitating others as they wish their lives away….our time here is finite, don’t wait until it’s too late before you realise how good your life really is!

The old adage says ”Seek & Ye Shall Find”

By becoming more self-aware we come to realise that we don’t have to look too hard or long. We can simply look to what we already have, are surrounded by and be GRATEFUL for it. Stop waiting for a better life to come along, it’s already here ESPECIALLY when we don’t measure it in terms of time, money or materialistic ideals. By doing this we free ourselves from the curse of expectation and that in itself practically guarantees that we won’t be disappointed with the result!

Well over 35 years ago I had a conversation with someone who ended it by always telling me ”Don’t worry be happy”…..

These days a very wise 4-year-old can often be heard telling me ”Nonny don’t worry be happy”

I think that’s very fitting somehow and I know that the someone from all those years ago…..the Great Grandmother of her….very wise 4-year-old Great Granddaughter would be tickled pink to know that the apple hasn’t fallen very far from the tree.

I think it’s a very sound piece of advice for all of us. So as you go about your day today REMEMBER whatever happens you have much to be GRATEFUL for so……..

”Don’t worry be HAPPY”!

Thanks for reading please feel free to leave a comment below or like & share. It would be great to hear your take on happiness…..have a nice day!

Promise Yourself………..

Promise Yourself Blog Header

”A promise to yourself is a direct reflection of the love you have for yourself”
Steve Maraboli

Promise Yourself…

I’m sure most of us have been guilty at times of making excuses to put off something we’ve promised ourselves faithfully that we’ll do?

If you’re anything like me those odd occasions will have turned slowly but surely into an extensive unfulfilled wish list, it came as a massive shock when I realized how many of these promises I had broken!

Why had I let that happen?

With time on my hands recently after a round of medical interventions. I started thinking about my life issues including that of unfinished business.

AND…….

I kept coming back to the fact that I had lost the knack of keeping the promises I had made to and for myself, I couldn’t grasp why I had allowed this to happen?? Because after all………………………….

Promises made to ourselves are just as important as those we make to others FACT!

 

When I thought about the sheer number I had made myself historically, I was stunned how many of them I hadn’t fulfilled, let slide etc then it struck me, no matter how I couched it….these were all BROKEN PROMISES! 

My inaction.  My responsibility.  My consequences.  Broken promises to me. For me,  By me.

I’d allowed my self-talk, to talk me out of not only my hopes and dreams but things which would actually have been my right to have or do. There they lay impotent, strewn across the years and I had allowed it to happen.

Promises ranging from carving out regular ”me time” to making extended trips abroad, and everything in between, the list is endless BUT…….it doesn’t matter what the promises were/are…..what matters is that I DIDN’T see them through to their conclusion.

I must have had good reason?

Initially I decided that ”I just hadn’t wanted them enough”….. Or in some instances at all!

It was a short-lived thought as I recalled how much some of these things had meant to me and how determined I’d been to have/do them, then……… I remembered long since forgotten feelings and emotions…..my passion if you will for certain things and it saddened me to recall how that same passion had diminished to the point of extinction over the years.

The fire in my belly….. which caused me to make these promises to myself, had quite simply…...GONE OUT!

WHY?

Why had I let so many things fall by the wayside? It took a while but eventually clarity struck, the simple fact was that I had kept putting the needs and wishes of others before mine to the point that somewhere along the line it became second nature.

Second nature to always put others first?

It all starts

Regardless of my own plans, feelings and commitments? The number of occasions I recalled for instance when on receiving a phone call from someone along the lines of
”Sue, are you doing anything on Saturday night?” My stock answer was always ‘No nothing important why?’ and even before they would ask I knew that my answer would be yes and any plans I had would be shelved to be rescheduled which invariably never happened.

The stark reality was that no matter the situation whether it was a favour for a friend, changing plans at the last-minute using lame reasoning and so on.

It became the norm. 

The broken promises and the reasons for not fulfilling them is staggeringly endless but the bottom line is that every single reason was without exception in actual fact an excuse.

I’d convinced myself that it wasn’t a problem but it also meant I didn’t have to confront the real issue which was I’d come to believe that;

I along with my hopes, my plans, and my dreams came a poor second in comparison to everyone else. In short…I didn’t matter.

There it was! 

My lifelong battle with Mental Ill Health not to mention my fairly ”spectacular” battle with the demon drink had without doubt robbed me of the two things we all need in life to help us function in a mentally healthy and positive manner…my senses of self-esteem & self-worth.

They’d long since been left by the wayside by a mind which had all too willingly relinquished them in the ”pecking order” of the things I’d deemed to be more important!

After almost all my adult life it hit me like a ton of bricks I actually really did believe deep down that others, their needs and wants were far more worthy of my time, my efforts and my love than…me. 

 

Well no more!

I decided that enough was enough. I needed to reclaim my right to be able to keep my promises to myself without making excuses to anyone….including me!

I realised that the first thing I had to do was reprogram my self talk.

Making progressConvincing myself that making and keeping of promises to my self was an essential part self-care rather than being selfish was something which I’d battled historically with as I tried to present myself as self-less. I’d spent years putting myself last for fear of being deemed selfish by others if I ‘’let them down’’ or God forbid put myself first for once.

Now that really would have been selfish wouldn’t it? ………..Of course not!

I now know that for sure and following my recent musings I finally gave myself permission to acknowledge and accept the following as fact.

A promise is a promise regardless of who it’s made to, including ourselves!

By not keeping a promise to myself the only person I’m letting down is ourselves!

Saying yes to keeping a promise to myself at the expense of saying no to someone else doesn’t mean that they’ll think badly of me.

By putting myself first it doesn’t mean that I ever have to justify myself to anyone especially me.

So where does all this leave me? 

Well my self-esteem and self-worth have soared in turn leading to an increase in confidence. I’m secure in that when I’ve said no to someone because I’m already doing something, they don’t love me any the less for it. However the icing on the cake is that I now have the courage of my convictions and that courage brings me ever closer to being my authentic self.

That’s to say I’m happier to be a first-rate version of myself than I ever was being a second-rate version of that which I thought others wanted me to be.

I consider myself to be a work in progress but in moving forward and making the choices that I am, I’m moving closer to being what I long ago promised myself I would be and that is…whole.

NOW THAT’S A PROMISE I FULLY INTEND TO KEEP!

Only Mortal

Only Mortal POST

”Lord what fools these mortals be”

William Shakespeare

It’s a strange feeling is facing ones own mortality!

Not unsurprisingly when it finally dawns on us that we’re only human and therefore by definition mortal it has the knack of polarising your thoughts in ways which unless we’ve  experienced it we would in all honesty struggle to fully understand and…..

If we’re unlucky we never will!!

Unlucky because unless we have just cause to question the way we live our lives. Our lifestyle choices. Our relationships. The state of our health….in fact anything that makes up the tapestry that is life! Then we may never know or even care that there could be a healthier, happier and more fulfilling alternative just a heartbeat away.

Whilst they say ignorance is bliss and hindsight a wonderful thing, the massive shame is that there are those who succumb without warning to the eventual fate shared by us all. Often on doing so they leave behind not only grieving loved ones but things left unsaid and undone which in all truthfulness could probably have made their life and those of their loved ones so very different to that which they had shared.

It’s sad but true that many of us don’t do or say the things that we should anywhere near often enough to validate ourselves or those we love because we always think that we have time or the other person knows that ??? and so on.

In fact the only guarantee of time we have is this one moment, the one we are experiencing now, anything after this is both a bonus and a blessing.

With the dual advantages of both hindsight AND experience I urge you to make sure that when you reach your final destination you do so secure in the knowledge that once the tears have subsided you leave behind memories  which are both comforting and can be cherished by those whom you loved and who loved you in return. Don’t leave anything to chance because by doing so you run the risk of leaving room for both regret and recrimination long after you’re gone.

That would be a shame, unnecessary and very definitely a waste of at least one life. DON’T let it be yours! That said;

If we’re lucky most of us will get to experience the situation just the once in our life, as for ME?

I’m just plain greedy!

Over time I’ve had several flirtations with the Grim Reaper and having survived thus far consider myself to be very definitely the latter of the two and in being so have had the CHANCE to right wrongs, validate those I love, do the things i really want to do…thereby changing the end game!

What do I mean by this?

Well, if experience has taught me anything it’s that we all of us (in part at least) can be deemed guilty of taking life for granted. However experience has caused me to take stock of my life…its past, its present and the very real possibility of it having no future on more than one occasion and has meant that I’ve been incredibly lucky on numerous levels.

I use the word lucky in the very real sense of the word and in no way mean it to be a flippant comment.

Think about it

How many of us plod along on a daily basis in a state of limited existence as opposed to grabbing life firmly by the collar and experiencing every single moment fully, as it happens, in the now?? I would hazard a guess at it being most of us and to be perfectly honest I used to be one of them.

It was only when I had cause to look back that I came to realise how much of my life up to that point had been a waste of time. Time that not only I would never get back BUT may not have much of left to come. Time in which I wouldn’t be able to either put right or redress the balance going forward in terms of making amends both to myself and others.

So yes I considered ( and still do) myself to be lucky

Lucky in that I had a second chance to reflect on my history and resolve issues appropriately. It meant that because of this and subsequent chances at life I had the motivation and determination  to be the change that was needed to better it on so many levels. I promised myself that no matter what it took to achieve it, then I would do it.

I was lucky to survive AND lucky to be able to learn, grow and move on positively from a past which had not only weighed me down for far too long but had been a contributing factor in the decline of my overall physical and mental health.

It’s been a long, hard battle getting this far and I still consider myself to be a work in progress…there isn’t a day goes by EVER that I don’t give thanks for the fact that I’m still here.  Thanks for being mindful our time here is finite and not for wasting. Thanks for the opportunities I get to tell those who matter to me I’m proud of them and how much I love them.

In all honesty the process of becoming ill, nearly dying, surviving and then recovering is a traumatic, painful process  BUT the journey that I’ve had up to this point (despite everything) and the lessons I had cause to learn because of it have made me the person I am today.

Someone who is healthier, happier and certainly more mentally whole than I have EVER been.

Someone who is SECURE in the certainty that when the time comes to defer to my fate I will do so knowing that I have left nothing undone, and nothing unsaid. There will be no cause for regret or recrimination by or because of me and my loved ones will KNOW without doubt that my love for them was and will ALWAYS be true and UNCONDITIONAL.

At that point I shall consider my life a job well done and rest easy because if it were possible to do all over again I would do so in a metaphorical heartbeat!

My wish for you going forward is that you would feel the same way

 

 

It All Starts With You

It All POST

”Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives”

Louise Hay

 Unless we believe in, respect & love ourselves how can we expect anyone else to?

When we better understand this we become ever closer to finding our authentic self but for some the road to self discovery and the realisation that not only are we worthy of our place in this world but that we do matter can at times be a long and difficult one with a price which very often we aren’t prepared to pay.

The mere thought of the consequences of our actions along the way being enough to stop us dead in our tracks, such is the fear of upsetting or even losing those we love for fear of being deemed selfish!

So what on earth causes us to lose sight of the fact that we actually DO matter?

The majority of us I’m fairly certain will have been told countless times by those close to  us; parents, spouses, friends and so on things like…….. ”Stop being so selfish” or ”The world doesn’t revolve around you, you know”. In all honesty I’m also equally certain that these things and others like them will have been said largely in a genuine effort to make us realise that there were other people to consider at that time and let’s face it……..no matter what the situation there is always a bigger picture to consider.

However subconsciously (and moreover if we’re the sort who actually do care and give a damn) when we’re hearing this type of thing historically and consistently on whatever level and regardless of either intent or source then slowly but surely the seeds of wanting to ”people please” begin to take root. We start to think before we do or say things for fear of upsetting others or God forbid being deemed selfish. We start to second guess the reactions of others if we say something we ”think” might come across as unfair.We slowly but surely and almost certainly (initially anyway) subconsciously start to convince ourselves that ”it doesn’t matter” if our opinions aren’t taken on board, if we leave what we want/need to do till another day, which almost never comes.

……..IF? IF? IF? ………..

At this point although we are completely unaware of it we have placed ourselves very firmly at the back of the metaphorical queue in our minds when it comes to our own needs, feelings or emotions because we have come to believe that they and we don’t matter when it comes down to not only looking after but actually validating ourselves in any way.

Quite simply our need to not only people please but be validated by others  becomes the yardstick by which we measure our own self-worth.

We mistakenly start to think that by being all things to all men we will be loved and appreciated all the more for our efforts. In reality what tends to happen is the exact opposite because the more we give, the more we do then the more others will not only allow us to but will come to expect from us. When on occasion we can’t for whatever reason we find ourselves unwittingly deemed lacking in some way. In essence it’s a very short step to the polar opposite of nothing we do is ever enough!

The crushing fear of being labelled ” not good enough” or ”selfish beyond belief” robs us of our sense of well-being, of our self-esteem of our sense of self-worth and of our confidence to stand up for ourself. Something inside us becomes broken and before we know it we are completely lost.

Piecing together the jigsaw that is our broken self takes courage

However without doubt it should always start with loving ourselves because we are worth it!

The power to change be it the world, our circumstances, our future or ourselves starts with us. It all starts with us because we are the architects of our own lives. We must become mindful of the fact that we are the only ones who are responsible for us if we want to see any positive changes in ways which will not only alter how we see ourselves but how others do too.

In order for any of this to happen we more often than not have to unlearn everything which we have previously come to know. We have to accept that we are a work in progress and that it is not only ok it is more than good enough. Having to reclaim that which we have inadvertently lost……the absolute right to be who or what we want to be…….is a big ask of anyone, let alone those of us who over time have seen the very fabric of who we really are eroded away to the point that we’re actually unsure who we were in the first place!

Having discounted our needs, wants, feelings and emotions for so long it has become a foreign concept to us to not only validate ourselves but to need and expect those previously unwilling or unable, to do so as well. It is at this point we have to face perhaps for the first time the fear that others will and do choose not to come along our journey with us from hereon in and we need to accept the fact that in making this choice they are saying more about themselves than they ever did about us. As upsetting as we may find this, when we remain resolute (as we should) in our intentions to validate ourselves going forward, then our journey for a while at least becomes harder.

BUT!!!

In doing what we have to do in order to get to where we want to be, we slowly, but will nevertheless come to love ourselves for who we are, we will become comfortable in our own skin and be grateful to be so.

Up to this point we have lost sight of many things, but the courage we have gained in facing up to the challenges and adversity which we have along the way and the resultant rise in our self-esteem as we rediscover our authentic self has come to help us really understand that self-love and self-care are truly very different from being selfish.

The sudden revelation that our thoughts are the most powerful ability we possess and that we not only have the power to be who and what we want to be but it be liberating in the extreme serves to further increase the sense of well-being and peace which settles over us.

On the most basic of levels then, when we accept that we cannot (nor is it practical) to be everything to everyone all the time because in being human we are not perfect then we have started to turn our negative self-talk around.

Having done this we can finally afford ourselves the love and respect which we most definitely deserve but previously we hadn’t.

In being accepting of our shortcomings and imperfections. In caring for, respecting and loving ourselves then we become increasingly touched  how much and how quickly others follow suit. We become surprised that people really do love us just the way we are.

We would do well to remember that……How things start. How they finish. Is our responsibility

When we believe in, respect and love ourselves then others will too.

So if you validate just one thing today let it be yourself because after all

It All Starts With You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness The Universal Gift

FORGIVENESS media file

Forgiveness: the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven

Forgiveness brings with it a calm, acceptance that what is done, is done and it no longer has a hold over you, the FREEDOM that it brings with it clears the path to a future filled with a renewed sense of optimism and hope.

Yet it is one of the most difficult states of mind to achieve as generally speaking we tend to hang onto past hurt or perceived wrongs against us. We hold onto feelings of angst and betrayal when we think of how we’ve suffered at the hands of others and on occasion if we’re brutally honest with ourselves we use these negative feelings and reactions to feed our sense of  wounded indignity as we succumb to being or becoming a ”victim” of the circumstances which made us feel this way in the first place.

It’s a perfectly natural reaction to assume the demeanor of an injured party when someone has ”wronged” us in some way or we’ve ”fallen foul” of a situation over which we had no control. Very often after we’ve had time to reflect and  in the cold light of day the majority of us with a little thought and maybe gentle prompting can usually come to see things more clearly and accept that at the very least there were reasons (not excuses mind) for what had gone before. Having said that the stark reality is we are all of us human and as such are realistically far more inclined to take our initial knee jerk adverse reaction and run with it allowing it to gain momentum over time and before we know it we are unable to move on, over or past this ”thing” which has wounded us so. In essence we become stuck.

In my life so far I’ve come very slowly BUT very surely to learn and more importantly to understand some very valuable lessons. Firstly everything in life is TEMPORARY….time, emotions, situations…everything. Secondly everything is as it’s MEANT to be for NOW….when we have learned the lesson which we need to from any given situation then we can and do move on and perhaps MOST importantly thirdly how other people act is THEIR RESPONSIBILITY but how we REACT is OURS!

Let’s just take a moment here to understand that VERY OFTEN before we can forgive others OR indeed expect them to forgive us….we first of all HAVE TO FORGIVE OURSELVES!!!

If then we take these three ”core lessons” and apply them to ANY situation which may be requiring of FORGIVENESS we must come to understand that;

TEMPORARY means exactly that, no matter how wounded, upset, angry or emotional we are about something it WILL subside and in time fade at the very least to a level at which we can at least consider the option that IF it was;

MEANT to be, what was the lesson we needed to learn from it and moreover how can we grow from that same lesson?

I know probably more than most how DIFFICULT this particular lesson is to take on board. I know only too well that the fear, misery and emotional turmoil brought about by not only the perceived ”wrongs” but the possibility that all the months and years of ”holding on” to those same ”wrongs” could have been so very different IF I had been open to the possibility that ”yes I was the injured party” BUT what if the reason for that was simply that I needed to learn a lesson to help me not only grow as an individual but to move on positively with my life? So then to the premise of the third lesson that of;

RESPONSIBILITY & REACTION; it is perfectly true to say that how others act is their responsibility and how we react to it is ours. I have found (admittedly late in the day) that in the short term at least NO REACTION at all is the better option, at least whilst I consider my RESPONSE which is a very different scenario altogether! If we take on board that in stressful situations, especially those where we are emotional or hurt in some way and we react in an adverse manner it could actually be this factor which becomes the catalyst for a protracted period of hurt, emotional turmoil or even estrangement from someone. Lets be clear, whilst in all likelihood our adverse reactions wouldn’t be the actual cause of any difficulties they most certainly COULD be the reason behind wasted years of frustration, upset, anxiety and alienation with the added complication of us being left ”on the outside looking in” as others close to us fail to understand why or even how we could be ”so unreasonable”. Trust me on this when I say I REALLY DO know what that feels like and having been there would urge anyone …..in the first instance….to always consider their response rather than come to regret a knee jerk reaction.

You must understand that I’m not advocating we roll over and surrender in any of this. Not at all. What I’m suggesting is that EVEN in the most trying of circumstances we should give ourselves space. Space to breath. Space to understand that what we’re feeling is temporary and will pass. Space to contemplate that what is happening is meant to be happening for a reason. Space to give ourselves time to understand that ultimately our reaction to the situation WILL play a part in determining the outcome.

Of course it can and indeed does take years for us to reach a place where we are willing to consider any of the above as possibilities and even then PRIDE will often become a stumbling block to restoring communications as we struggle with the concepts of ”having to back down” or ”why should I be the one to make the first  move”.

When find ourselves then in situations which ARE requiring of FORGIVENESS what are we supposed to do? Do we just take a deep breath and mentally forgive someone or something? Do we demand an acceptable explanation or apology before conferring forgiveness? Do we try and understand or consider the bigger picture. Do we simply do nothing at all and allow any ill feeling, estrangement or alienation to continue indefinitely? 

Or:

DO WE CONVINCE OURSELVES THAT NOTHING’S WRONG & EVEN IF IT IS, IT’S THEIR FAULT, THEIR LOSS?

For me the best advice I could possibly offer anyone would quite simply be this –  ultimately accept the situation for what it  is, release the need to understand the dynamics of it, relinquish the need for control (if you don’t apologize I won’t………??) simply let it find its own level, let it be. There’s an old adage……’‘least said soonest mended” and that is obviously a matter of personal choice but………..

In CHOOSING to forgive someone or something (including YOURSELF) do so NOT because you expect them to be grateful…chances are they won’t be because they will rarely have taken responsibility for their part in the situation.

Forgive them because in doing so you will be setting yourself FREE.

Free from the burden of being STUCK. Free from any associated GUILT you may feel for your part in it all. Free from the power which someone or something has held over you for far too long. Free from anxiety, upset and emotional turmoil and in doing so you instantly become FREE to stop looking backwards and start looking FORWARD to the future. YOUR FUTURE and one that is indeed awash with the prospect of a renewed optimism and fresh HOPE.

Secure in the knowledge that

FORGIVENESS HAS BECOME YOUR PASSPORT TO FREEDOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let It Go and We’re Not Talking Disney Here

Let It Go POST
In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past but you will find yourself
Deepak Chopra

One of the most difficult skill sets we ever have cause to learn is the art of letting things go

Now, that can be letting go of; old habits, obsessive thought patterns, the need to understand something, toxic relationships, guilt, anger in fact pretty much anything which can hold us back or cause undue worry, stress or upset in life.

As we become older and hopefully wiser we gradually come to understand that EVERY situation and/or emotion we face throughout our lives is only EVER temporary. Yet the compelling need to hang onto that which no longer serves us in anyway, rather than diminishing with age often grows ever stronger as we face the uncertainty of what will happen to us or because of us if we dare to do the unthinkable and just LET THINGS GO!

The safety net of the familiar, albeit something which habitually causes us angst and upset perversely becomes somewhat of a comfort blanket as we rail against our own self doubt questioning whether or not IF it would be the right thing to do and this in addition to the negative input from those around us – even loved ones – who would have us stay ”stuck at a point” simply because it serves their own ends for us to do so. Other people will often attempt to manipulate us into ”leaving things be” sometimes not even fully aware themselves that this is what they’re doing and yet at other times they blatantly attempt to browbeat us into submission employing tactics such as name calling, veiled threats, emotional blackmail, put downs, outright insults and so the list goes on.

However when others do try and bring their influence to bear over our intent to ”let something go” and DESPITE their assurances that ”it’s for your own good” or ”for the best” etc they are almost without exception trying to do nothing more or less than to control that which is NOT theirs to control.

YOUR LIFE! YOUR FUTURE!

It’s important to realise through all this that our own self doubt is in itself enough to prevent us from moving forward if we choose to allow it to but at least that would be OUR CHOICE.

For me the biggest shift happened when it came to ultimately deciding to let go of something which had paralyzed me emotionally for years. It was a slow but sure awakening to the absolute FACT that in doing so not only would it be a freeing experience BUT it would in no way be a betrayal of someone or even a denial about a given situation. Rather the exact opposite because by acknowledging AND taking responsibility for it I came to understand the simple truth that what had been, had happened and on occasion was still happening just didn’t have a place in my life anymore. The toll on my health had been immeasurable and furthermore I suddenly knew without doubt that I was no longer willing to carry the burden of (in my case) the limitations of the learned behaviour patterns which had chained me so very firmly both in the past and within my own mind set.

By definition the act or indeed the art of ”letting things go” is synonymous with change and this I’m sure is the major obstacle for most of us as we struggle to detach ourselves from that which is holding us back in some way.

At times in many ways.

The thing is change can be good, it can be bad and it can most certainly be a painful experience as we transition from one phase to another. However when we weigh up the pros and cons we start to realise that any pain or anguish which transpires on the back of letting go pales drastically when compared to that felt by someone (as was I)  who is stuck in a scenario they are unwilling or unable to remove themselves from and as a result of which they are unable to learn, grow and move forward. In effect that someone becomes responsible for disabling their own future as our old friend procrastination happily throws up a myriad reasons why things are best left unsaid or undone so almost subconsciously things are left unchanged because after all….”better the devil you know eh”?

Once the decision has been made to ”Let It Go” and the gamut of manipulation and emotional blackmail has been run it becomes evermore obvious to us that where we had previously thought that by holding on we were being strong, in actual fact ”letting go” takes an act of even greater strength. So as we commence our journey along our chosen path to a healthier future then, we can begin to see that the act of cutting ourselves loose from our hurt, sorrows, negativity, toxic people or situations…….BY LETTING GO.……we can and will embrace the here, the now, this moment and very definitely our future with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and hope because  we can now say with certainty that there is a world of difference between the choices of ‘‘giving up” and ”letting go”.

I can only speak for myself when I say this but having taken a long, long time to understand that when someone or something no longer has a place in my life (regardless of the reason) then I can not only choose to  let it or them go BUT I can do so safe in the knowledge that I do not have to explain, apologise OR justify either myself or my decision to anyone else.

It takes an inordinate amount of courage to ”Let Go” of the old or familiar, especially when the resulting change  has the potential to cause  you even more distress in the short term at least than that which you have liberated your mind from but the benefits to us as individuals is immense. Again speaking personally, on the back of actively choosing to ”Let Go” (especially of situations over which I had absolutely no control) I saw in me a hitherto unknown personae evolve…..granted one which I very firmly consider to be still a work in progress……I became a stronger more assertive person, one who whilst still always attempting to be fair to others would nevertheless hold firmly onto my principles. I became someone who was (to quote the blessed song..) ”For The First Time In Forever” comfortable in her own skin, someone who came to understand that;

To let go of something means simply that we can move on.

Whereas to hold onto something means that we are always looking back. Accepting that the art of ”Letting Go” will produce change in our lives is a massive ask of anyone but when we couple this with the fact that ”Letting Go” does not mean forgetting rather it means that we have learned something, be it about ourselves or something else then the positives we can take from this are beneficial on levels we hadn’t previously considered because we ARE FINALLY SECURE in the knowledge that;

Regardless of what others may or may not think about our choices in life we are GOOD enough, we are ABLE enough, we are SMART enough, we are STRONG enough to make make those same choices for ourselves WITHOUT the need for validation from others. They will no doubt continue at times to attempt to derail the progress which we have chosen to make BUT if we keep steadfast in our decision and don’t acknowledge their behaviour then we can continue to keep moving forward with OUR LIVES because we suddenly know with absolute clarity that whatever another says or does in their efforts at sabotaging your future happiness it is ALWAYS, ALWAYS a reflection on THEM not us!

Going forward then ALWAYS REMEMBER that;

YOU are the only person who you are responsible for and to, whatever you do or say along your journey in this life YOUR LIFE somebody somewhere along the way is going to be upset and/or disappointed in you BUT THAT’S OK as long as you are secure in your decisions, your actions and more importantly YOURSELF that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.

I’ve come to know with absolute certainty that LIFE IS TOO SHORT to be constantly at war with yourself OR others. Pick your battles. Be kind to yourself and others by making the practices of ACCEPTANCE & FORGIVENESS part of your daily routine LETTING GO of the trials and tribulations of yesterday is the first step towards a brighter more positive future.

TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. A NEW BEGINNING. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. EMBRACE IT AND STEP FORWARD INTO THE FUTURE

YOUR FUTURE!

 

 

 

Love Without Limits

Love Without Limits POST

’Unconditional love is our birth right, not judgement or condemnation and there’s nothing we need to do to earn it’’ Anita Moorjani

Why on earth would anyone presume otherwise?

The giving and receiving of LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY is, or at least SHOULD indeed be our birth right. The act of loving someone is the most natural of gifts one can give to another freely and without the confines of limitation.

RIGHT?

Husband to wife. Mother to son. Sister to brother. Grandmother to grandchildren. Friend to friend. The list is and SHOULD be endless for the capacity to love and be loved is an integral part of the human psyche and is actually what differentiates us from ALL other living, breathing species on the planet.

It matters not WHO or HOW we LOVE but only that we DO!

As a species when it comes to LOVE we stand alone, isolated from the millions of other living, breathing species with whom we cohabit in this world of ours and we can easily see that the concept of LOVE as we know it is an enigma to them. Whilst there are indeed many monogamous species amongst them and indeed some of whom who do display affection to each other, the reason and THE ONLY REASON that they come together ultimately is to ensure procreation to facilitate survival of the species. The females become fertile, they mate/are mated by the male in a manner so clinical and matter of fact it is actually astonishing. They know instinctively that if copulation doesn’t take place regularly and successfully then in a relatively short space of time whole species will become extinct. For them the physical act is EXACTLY that, a means to an end. LOVE as we know it isn’t even a consideration let alone one which could in principal be used to manipulate another by way of emotional blackmail. Their lives as a result (their own natural limitations not withstanding) are so very much simpler. They eat, sleep, breed and………

REPEAT!

In comparison then consider us, the HUMAN RACE for a second; the act of loving another as far as we are concerned is for the most part a mutual exchange of respect, emotion and tenderness regardless of the dynamics of a relationship. In the human world LOVE manifests itself by way of hugging, kissing, holding hands and so on. The intent to procreate occurs as a natural progression of this between consenting adults who wish to take the ultimate step and bring children into the world should they want and/or are able to. Even when unable to conceive naturally, such is the way of the world these days that there are alternative options a loving and committed couple can pursue to realise the desired creation of a family unit as the ultimate expression of their love.

Natural. Simple. Beautiful except……………………………………………

Given that this gift of LOVE is a natural phenomenon, if we begin to explore it further we can see that as with many states of our human emotions it is multifaceted and as such could be construed as either;

Strong affection arising from kinship or inter- personal ties (maternal love for a child), attraction based on sexual desire, affection and tenderness as felt by lovers or affection based on strong attraction or personal attachment between friends.

The very fact that the definition of the word LOVE alone can be so varied means it almost inevitably invites multitudinal interpretations from us which when coupled with accompanying feelings such as pride, lust, jealousy and fear to name but a few, can and indeed does bring into play the element of ‘’control’’ and this is where the Natural. Simple. Beautiful concept of LOVE becomes complex at best, disastrous at worst.

For those of us who may have been deemed ‘’unworthy’’…… (for whatever reason) to be afforded a LOVE without condition or limits, one which can and should naturally be so freely given…………….it very often takes years, if ever, before we even come to question the absolute fact that this gift should be ours to hold dear, free from restraint or condition from the moment we are born.

Indeed the gradual realisation that LOVE (of any type) should by default be ABSOLUTELY UNCONDITIONAL often comes as a major surprise when suddenly we understand that we have, without question ‘’happily’’ accepted the exact opposite to be true !!

That is to say we have totally misunderstood that LOVE in its most natural of states should always be given freely without the requirement of anything in return, without condition or limit. A love which NEVER CHANGES regardless of circumstance. For instance EVEN a mothers love for a child who goes on to commit heinous crimes should/would mean that although in all probability she despises their actions, is embarrassed, feels betrayed even, her love would remain steadfastly unchanged for it is completely NORMAL to LOVE someone whilst at the same time being unable to actually bring ourselves to like either them or their actions, often both at the same time.

It is at this pivotal moment that we perhaps for the first time ever, come to visit then the concept of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE!

Unfortunately as with all things emotional, life when it comes to the ‘’art’’ of LOVING UNCONDITIONALLY is rarely simple. When we first come to explore the hitherto unconsidered concept it quite naturally gives rise to previously unasked let alone unanswered questions and for me at least these were simply;

• Where did the complication of CONDITIONS BEGIN?
• Why do people EVER feel the NEED to RESTRICT the act of loving?

So where does the complication of condition come into play when we decide not only who or why we love someone but how?

Speaking as both a child and a parent I think I can honestly say two things which I could be secure in proclaiming as fact

It first rears its head in childhood
• It is very much a learned behavioural pattern

Upon exploring these same questions and answers it became apparent to me that even more importantly to us as individuals is the question;

If the affliction of attaching conditions to the gift of love BEGINS IN CHILDHOOD did I learn the behaviour at the hands of my parents?

OR

Was my behaviour the root cause of why my parent/s felt the need to impose condition or limit on an emotion so freely given to and by countless others?

Either way the end result is usually a person who almost regardless of reason grows up feeling insecure, unworthy, unloved and almost always ‘’not good enough’’.

Over the years……..and without wanting to sound dramatic, there were many of them……………I think I can say in all honesty it was actually the realisation that these questions not only existed and were pertinent to my individual circumstances BUT the fact that I had neither the answers NOR the tools with which to work them out that caused me more angst than either the preceding years or the psychological trauma I came to endure amongst other things as a result. For a long while I would berate myself for not; being able to ‘’lay it to rest’’, being able to ‘’understand’’, being able to ‘’move on’’ etc and in doing so perpetuated the falsely entrenched myth in my mind that ‘’ I wasn’t good enough, clever enough, brave enough, nice enough’’ and EVEN WORSE that ‘’I DIDN’T DESERVE to be’’!!!

It does not do at all to dwell on the past and the mistakes made by our parents or carers as they brought us up. They are in all honesty best left where they are – IN THE PAST. A past which has no power over us other than that we choose to give it. I can often be heard to say ‘’There are no mistakes, only lessons to be learned’’ and whilst the mistakes in our past may well have been the cause of many of our ‘’issues’’ as we grew into adulthood, they were those of our parents and over which we had no control. However if we choose not to LEARN for ourselves the lessons our parents didn’t we will for sure make those exact same mistakes again and so t would go on.

As time elapsed and I ‘’matured’’ becoming a parent in my own right along the way, the process of ‘’realisation’’ continued to unfold before me very ably abetted by both the benefits of hindsight and experience of being a child from a situation which left her with a massive inferiority complex and the ‘’on the job training’’ which comes with the scary territory of becoming a first time parent desperate to break the cycle of negative conditioning.

Although I knew absolutely zero about the practicalities of raising a child let alone successfully, I knew one thing for sure and without question;

Our child and any subsequent ones:

WOULD GROW UP SECURE IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT NO MATTER WHAT, HE/THEY WOULD NEVER. EVER EXPERIENCE A LOVE WHICH WAS ANYTHING LESS THAN UNCONDITIONAL!

In short I came to understand that the gift that is UNCONDITIONAL LOVE is truly the MOST IMPORTANT gift we will EVER bestow upon our children.

It is OUR RESPONSIBILITY as parents to lay the foundations which will allow our sons and daughters to thrive and grow SECURE IN THE KNOWLEDGE that; they ARE worthy, they ARE beautiful, they ARE clever, they ARE able, they CAN achieve whatever they want to achieve, they CAN be who they want to be, they CAN do what they want to do with THEIR lives.

Their journey is not ours to live, it is not ours to control, it is not ours to restrict in any way, shape or form. It is not ours to project our own experiences and misfortunes onto thus allowing history to repeat itself. In allowing ourselves to forgive our past, we can live in our present whilst all the time looking forward to creating a future for ourselves and our children which is full of Hope, Happiness and leaving us and them secure in the certain knowledge that the love which is both given and received is ABUNDANT and FREELY available without condition always.

It is our RESPONSIBILITY to ensure the negative cycles of the past are broken and replaced with positive guidance should we be asked/needed to, it is our RESPONSIBILITY to nurture, it is our RESPONSIBILITY to enhance positively their self image and increase their measure of their own self worth, it is our RESPONSIBILITY to help them access the life skills and coping strategies which will enable them to move forward as they reach adulthood in their own right as balanced, well-adjusted, confident individuals who can and do know from the outset that they are:

AN AMAZING HUMAN BEING!

With thanks to American singer/songwriter George Benson;

“Greatest Love Of All”

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody is searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on meI decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of allI believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to beAnd if by chance, that special place
That you’ve been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love

WE OWE IT TO OURSELVES – WE OWE TO OUR CHILDREN!

The Conundrum That is Acceptance

The Conundrum POST

”The fact that you are willing to say, ”I do not understand and that’s fine,” is the greatest understanding you could exhibit”

Wayne Dyer

” I just don’t understand”

How many times in a day, week, month do we say or hear others say just this?

For myself (until very recently) it used to be a frequent occurrence, often multiple times daily dependent upon the situations I found myself in. It took me a very long time to realise that no matter what my motivation was for the need to understand……..it was irrelevant!

Irrelevant in the sense that whether or not I understood why things were happening, why someone had said/thought  this or that about me or anything else for that matter, why, why, why, why????? It would not make any difference to the outcome of the scenario whether I understood it or not!

For many of us today the act of acceptance is firmly based on the standard definition found in the dictionary;

Acceptance is the process or fact of being received as adequate, valid, or suitable

The misnomer here is that we have come to take as a given that if something is perceived as inadequate or unsuitable in some way then it is by default deemed to be ”unacceptable” within the confines of societal norms. Whereas in actual fact what we should realistically be saying to ourselves is quite simply;

I do not like and/or understand……scenario x……….however assuming that nothing that I can say or do will effect a (in my opinion) positive change or even make a difference am I willing to consider that I do not actually NEED to understand it?

In other words rather than accepting any given situation which I may find upsetting, uncomfortable or even repulsive I need to consider the reality that the thing I need to think about is quite simply;

That my lack of understanding coupled with the fact that it’s perfectly fine not to be able to do so, is the ONLY thing I have to accept!

I HAVE TO ADMIT that even though I have finally come to understand this as FACT, I cannot take the credit for reaching the conclusion alone. My often insatiable NEED? to ”understand” which on occasion has caused me immense personal heartache has been very calmly, gently but firmly tempered by the unconditional love and support of a small number of people who partly as a result of their own journey and partly because they were able to be objective about my circumstances have been instrumental in helping me to unpick the lock to a mind which had without realising it become a prisoner of the unconscious urge to mold the actions and opinions of others in such a way that they would be acceptable to me!

WHAT? WOW!

When I thought about that rationally I couldn’t actually believe how arrogant it seemed to me, let alone others!

The mere fact that by acting the way I had it meant that not only was I trying to change something, I was trying to do so by controlling how that change would take effect…changing someones viewpoint, habits, likes, dislikes and so on. This was very closely followed by the dawning of a reality which meant that if change ”were” needed then it surely it would have to start with me?

I came to understand that it is unrealistic let alone unreasonable to assume that effecting change in someone/something who is unwilling to do so will result in a happier, more positive outcome for those concerned. More likely and especially if the circumstances are already strained in any way, it will serve only to hinder any chance of a mutually acceptable outcome. That said then the only option available is to look to oneself to determine an acceptable solution to the ”issue of acceptance”!!

Historically acceptance is often tied up with the need for control……if something we don’t understand doesn’t ”fit” our picture of life or how it should be, then often the natural impulse is to attempt to ”change it for the better”. Better being our individual take on what is acceptable in our world: and trust me this could range from the smallest everyday issues……..making sure your children eat their greens because they’re ”good” for them…… all the way up to the bigger, serious issues of say……….. altering the opinions of another on religion or racism and everything in between.

The need to control in so far as trying to make someone else conform to our way of thinking is actually the root cause of our not being able to accept the viewpoint of another or any situation caused by it. When we come to realise this and accept it as being unacceptable in itself then we become a lot closer to ”understanding” that because we enjoy freedom of choice and thus thought,  we are by definition entitled to view situations or indeed life and how we live it, differently from the next person and that is exactly how it should be.

However whilst we can often reconcile ourselves to the fact that our views on religion, racism, beliefs and lifestyle choices etc can and will differ (sometimes enormously) from others it’s often much more difficult to accept the attitudes or circumstances which impact daily on our personal situations closer to home.

Which brings me neatly back to the simple fact that the only thing I NEED to accept is that I DO NOT need to understand it! Plain. Simple.Period!!

I have come to see that in life and particularly with personal relationships for instance that the thoughts and actions of others are their responsibility and theirs alone. It is very definitely not my place to interfere, judge OR try to control either another human being or the situations they create as a result of their words and actions. However it is my place to assume RESPONSIBILITY with regards to how I respond!

Eckhart Tolle came up with a near perfect summation of the concept of ACCEPTANCE which was;

”When you are in a situation or surrounded by circumstances which are causing you to battle with either your ego or emotions then you should consider the following to help you determine how you will deal with it/them;

LEAVE IT! Can you LEAVE the situation or walk away from the person that is the cause of anger frustration? You need to weigh it up and gauge what is going to be best for YOU.

Time. Blessing or Curse?

==Time Blessing POST

‘’The trouble is you think you have time’’ – Buddha

Time, we never have enough of it, right?

It’s a common problem. An everyday occurrence. People all over this world of ours can be heard daily, sometimes several times a day bemoaning the fact that the precious commodity that is time is all too short. But when you think about it, REALLY think about it our lives are governed not so much by the harbinger of time….the clock……..but rather what we choose to do at any given point of any given day. It is our choices to do or not do something which impacts negatively on our lives and when we couple THIS with the problems we cause ourselves as a result THEN the situation caused by our inability to do or say something within a promised or expected time frame is the end result and we fall prey to the all too willing ally of time STRESS !

How we as individuals view the concept of time (our mind set) must also be taken into account when considering our stress levels together with how we can utilise this intangible commodity which holds such formidable sway over us, in a positive and user friendly manner.

As with most things in life it can only hold the amount of power over us which we are willing to surrender.

Whilst it is true to say that the world as we know it would cease to exist if time were to be abolished I’m inclined to suggest that as a species mankind would be so much better placed to return to their natural state of  well rounded and balanced beings in touch with not only themselves and their individual needs and wants but those of their loved ones too.

Before the advent of time as a commodity man was governed by the rising and setting of the sun which by definition meant that work was done according to daylight hours, food was naturally grown seasonally and so on. Life was hard for sure BUT it was simple, uncomplicated and people knew the value of the things which mattered. Things began to get very complicated when:

Every moment of every day not only could but largely HAD to be accounted for on the back of the invention of time as we know it!

Time like money is a man-made illusion, a yardstick if you will designed to keep our lives ordered & manageable.

It is both a blessing & a curse.

The blessing being that it affords us the opportunity to plan & organise life in such a way that it becomes enjoyable, fulfilling , exciting even AND we can look forward with eager anticipation to things which we know will bring happiness & pleasure thus enriching our lives. The very fact that many, many people actively seek out ‘’quality time’’ to spend with loved ones, recharge their minds and bodies and actually choose to live rather than exist bears testament to the fact that in its purest form time can be a massive bonus and spent wisely a much needed relief from the rigors of life.

The flip side however is that it can also become a curse which brings with it the burden of limitation, we become limited by the largely self-imposed time scales we set to achieve our objectives, be they in the work place or in our ‘’real’’ lives and thus the joint realities of pressure and stress rear their heads.

There are instances when all around us seems chaotic or even to be falling apart, times when everything seems to be out of control….not our power of control…. just a random feeling of free fall where nothing makes sense and the outcome not only seems uncertain but so far out of reach that you cannot even begin to imagine it and then suddenly we become all too aware that we are being manipulated by time constraints which are carrying us along as we willingly buy into the trap that is;

Forever keeping one eye on the clock for fear of falling short in some way.

The key as with everything in life has got to be balance.

My Nan could often be heard to say ‘’a little of what you fancy does you good. Everything in moderation never harmed anybody’’ – she was quite correct.

So that said, surely it should follow that we become naturally mindful of the fact that there are only 24 of the man-made illusion that are hours in any one of the given 365 illusions that are days in an equally illusionary matrix of a year and so on. As such then the ‘’time available’’ to us becomes by definition both finite & constraining in nature. Sadly we humans are not perfect and our obsession with time and so its management instead of being our blessing becomes by default the thing which becomes the master to our self-imposed slavery and thus our curse!

For instance on the odd occasion when for once we may have time to sit, be still & perhaps relax in the company of special people or in a place of natural beauty & are thankful to be doing so, the illusion of time can even then be cause for anxiety as we perhaps begin to feel the burden of guilt bring force to bear as it prompts us to remember things left unfinished or even worse not yet started way after they should have been.

As a species man has in part lost either the habit or ability (possibly both) to disconnect from the treadmill of a life, that no matter how hard we try to tame it, is largely executed as a result of the dictates of an invisible time lord and ultimately the anxiety associated with the often impossible task of meeting deadlines or keeping promises rashly made increases by default causing angst and stress, even emotional turmoil along the way.

Time related anxiety may be brought about perhaps because we have little or no control over any external factors which may be threatening to derail our efforts to either resolve problems or finish a project for instance .Thus the curse of the illusion of time brings with it a pressure which is almost unbearable as you see the keeper of time…..the clock……slowly, relentlessly but or so very surely tick by as it moves ever closer to either the conclusion of a scenario or the start of new beginnings. The metaphoric sound of every single tick, each signalling the fact that we are one step closer to that which is unfolding and know we have no choice other than to relinquish control & trust that whatever happens is how it has to be whatever the outcome; positive, negative, happy or sad.

The element of curse remains in this instance to remind us that we should always make or have made use of every single one of the ‘’man made’’ seconds in our life leaving nothing undone nor unspoken for fear that the after effects of those uncompleted acts alone will become yet another self-imposed cause for regret – that the illusion of time has been wasted. In fact it is not time which has been wasted simply because if we take it as a given that it is indeed an illusion then by definition it does not exist!

This ‘’thing’’ then that has been wasted must only be that of opportunity.

The opportunity to have acted on feelings, the opportunity to have addressed any given situation which may have been the cause of anxiety or stress or fear of the unknown. The opportunity to validate ourselves & our loved ones each & everyday is surely the essence of which is why we are all here & why we should very definitely take the curse of this man-made  illusion and turn it very firmly but positively around and neutralise its negative aspects by using the time calmly, wisely and with purpose allowing us to be safe in the knowledge that nothing has been left unspoken or undone thus limiting the impact of regret which when coupled with this perceived thing called time can, if we allow it become a self-imposed prison from which it can be almost impossible to free ourselves……. !!

If we are diligent in our efforts to offset the unwanted attention of and undue pressure from our illusionary ‘’friend’’ by being mindful of its adverse effects, then every day will see us become increasingly aware of the need to adopt an attitude which will see us address each and every situation requiring our attention and as a result we will have overcome that thief of time: procrastination. In having done this we will by definition have more of it at our disposal and will be both willing and able to effect lasting positive changes in our lives overall.

In reality living fully in 21st Century mode means we will rarely if ever come close to living as nature intended; by the sun. BUT by practicing the choice of mindfulness and taking responsibility for our actions and reactions to the demands which time consistently and persistently make upon us we can come closer than we would perhaps think.

Think about it for a second;

More quality time to spend with loved ones, more time to practice the art of Self-Care, more time to do more of the things you love or would love to be able to do. In short more time to improve the overall quality not only of your life but that of those you love.

In having chosen to react positively as opposed to negatively and claim victory with regard to LIMITING the stifling constraints of time and its unwelcome side effects then we have without even realising it enabled ourselves not only to overcome hurdles be they real or otherwise but by association, diminish the all too real impact of both stress and pressure.

It is at this point that we have given ourselves the positive and confidence boosting opportunity to

Live & Learn & Love & Grow
Which is exactly how it should be