Tag Archives: living life from the inside out

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

Mistake or Opportunity?

Mistake or POST

‘’ No matter how many times you stumble or fall, the greatest lesson is loving yourself through it all ‘’
Barbara Streisand

Mistakes! We’ve all made them right?

We all of us make mistakes some tiny, some huge & a small percentage of which could potentially be disastrous. In times of stress or emotional overload the propensity to make mistakes increases and because we are human so does our need to apportion blame. That blame could be leveled at us or by us towards ourselves as well as others and dependent upon our interpretation of the gravity of it so the level of blame and by association guilt increases in line.

Rarely does a mistake happen without an accompanying negative reaction in response and very often it is the reaction as opposed to the action (mistake) which is the cause of most stress for those concerned. Alongside that runs the at times almost overwhelming need to right perceived wrongs, justify how/why the mistake was made (to be fair sometimes by trying to absolve ourselves of any blame) and moreover apologise profusely & repeatedly as if insistent repetition of sorrow will right any adverse effects of the said mistake.

However the single biggest error of judgement we any of us make in the above scenario is that we quite simply forget that we are indeed human and as a result of which we have the option of choice and it is this factor alone when making decisions which is responsible for mistakes being made!

We all make mistakesThink about it there surely can’t be anyone who falls into the category of having made a mistake, taking that as give, the only thing that makes each of us unique in this area is our reaction. What is it that can determine such variety & extremities of emotion in situations which are perceived as being wrong in that a mistake has occurred? It has to be purely a matter of mind-set. There are those of us who go through life apparently oblivious to the results of their actions & to be truthful probably wouldn’t care less if they did. In stark contrast there are those who rather than cause upset, inconvenience or harm albeit unintentionally would go to the ends of the earth to avoid doing so.

Speaking for myself I accept that as a human I can & do (frequently) make mistakes and to be honest as each and every one occurs my reaction is dictated purely by the circumstances surrounding it as opposed to the actual ‘’error’’. For instance my reaction is more likely to be highly emotional if any mistake I may have made should impact negatively on another. Whereas if I poured milk on a desert instead of cream I would simply laugh at my own ‘’stupidity’’. In both scenarios though I would these days definitely adopt the sentiment that ‘’a mistake is only ever a mistake if we fail to learn from it’’.

It wasn’t always the case; as a person it took me a very long time to understand that making a mistake, any mistake is not only ok it’s actually acceptable because generally speaking it’s simply an error of judgement which at the outset wasn’t meant to intentionally cause harm. That said I could, would & still do even now on occasion fret, worry & obsess that something I had done or said maybe could have caused someone else at best an inconvenience, at worst a massive issue as a result. At times when an apology and/or reparation were rightly made (& accepted) even then I would work myself into a near frenzy as I allowed myself to become convinced of the fact that the only reason my apology had been accepted was nothing more than good manners on the part of the ‘’injured’’ party and that despite their acceptance they didn’t mean it because (in my mind) I was an idiot at the very least!

This statement alone says so much more about the frailty of the human psyche than anything else I think. The fact that even having been absolved of blame I (anyone) could & did refuse to accept that whatever the transgression, in the bigger picture of things it really didn’t matter and in many instances hadn’t even registered for anyone else.

Ere go what is important to one person is often not even a consideration for the next.

So to the matter in hand;

Think About ItA mistake is nothing more, nothing less than an error of judgement which was never meant to harm, distress or ridicule any person, thing or situation.

As such it is a waste of time and effort to pay more than the minimum amount of attention to it in order ‘’to put things right’’.

Any expenditure of effort should be limited to;
• acknowledging that a mistake has been made
• taking responsibility for it (where it was your mistake to begin with)
• defining what went wrong & why
• ensuring that you have taken the opportunity to learn from the experience and avoid repeating it in future

BECAUSE as Einstein once very rightly said;

‘’The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over again yet expecting a different result’’

The need to punish ourselves or indeed others for the mistakes we/they make has become almost second nature for us a species. We are all too ready & willing to jump on the universal bandwagon of negativity because truthfully it is often the easier and more popular option.

This journey through life can at times be difficult enough without inflicting negative self-talk upon ourselves when there really is no need. As with anything that is worthwhile it takes time & effort to be mindful of the fact that we’re all of us doing the best we can day to day and whilst we may not live up to the expectations of ourselves let alone anyone else then it really, really is alright because there is not one of us on this planet who is perfect.

Whilst being kind to & taking care of ourselves be it physically or mentally should always be our priority it needs to begin with accepting that although perfectionism is a wonderful ideal, realistically it sets us up for failure & at times emotional distress especially if we look upon any mistakes we make as falling short in some way, failing if you will instead of what they really are which is nothing more than:

Opportunities to learn & grow which by definition means we are succeeding

As we go through this life of ours then, we should all of us strive to remember that when on occasion we stumble and make errors of judgement that we are human & we were not designed to be perfect. Making mistakes is part of the tapestry of life, they are little more than pointers enabling us to increase our understanding. We need to be secure in the knowledge that regardless of anything it does not mean that by making mistakes we are lacking in any way rather the opposite in fact and that is simply;

We are ENOUGH just the way we are!

Be True To Yourself

Be True To Yourself POST

”I think of life as a wonderful play that I’ve written for myself & so my purpose is to have the utmost fun playing my part.”

Shirley MacLaine

Whatever you do? Don’t ever apologize for being you!

It has taken me most of my adult life to even consider that no matter what the opinions of others are with regards to me (on any level) in actual  fact are absolutely…

None of my business! 

Now I can hear people saying ”what? of course it is!” BUT…

How dare you settle for less

 

In all honesty I can truthfully say and with conviction that it really isn’t.

Of course  whilst it’s always nice when someone takes time out of their day to compliment you in some way be it; how nice you look, congratulating you on a job well done or praising you in public and indeed will often do wonders for your self-esteem, it’s crucial to stay well grounded and realize that more than likely there will be another who would be all too willing to proffer a negative counterbalancing opinion.

For instance during a particularly difficult period some months ago I was struggling on many levels; stress, insomnia & health issues all serving to ensure that for a time I wasn’t ”at the top of my particular game.” One day I was due to meet friends for lunch and spurred on by my innate need for punctuality was as usual first to arrive. The first of my two friends followed me in & after the usual hugs & perfunctory comments about the weather et al she looked me straight in the eye and said ” my God you look awful, how long is it since you’ve been to sleep” a brief conversation ensued as to why, how long etc. When the second friend arrived just minutes later she immediately proclaimed ”wow, you look so much better than last time I saw you.” I laughingly pointed out that our mutual friend had just commented to the opposite effect.

My point here is simply that, among friends, on the same occasion and just minutes apart, even people we know & love can & do form instant opinions about us based purely on having interpreted what they saw. Now obviously this example is very safe in that both opinions although differing came from a place of love and as such didn’t serve in any way to make me feel threatened, undermined or worse still unworthy.

However if we take the basic lesson learned here –  being  that thoughts form a view or judgement about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. Then it becomes easy (at least it did for me) to de-personalize how, what, why someone, indeed anyone could or would want, to even think let alone speak or write about me in any manner even if it were complimentary (but that’s a whole new conversation about self-esteem!) because lets face it to put it in its simplest terms anything said about you is either a fact or untrue!

If someone states as fact – ”You are Italian” – there is absolutely nothing to be done except to agree. However if someone were to form say an exaggerated (hyperbole) opinion  ” You are a fat, lazy Italian because you eat too much pasta” –  which may or may not be either true and/or taken literally then you are faced with the age-old dilemma of choice. Do you become outraged, feel insulted, embarrassed or even moved to tears as you recoil from the rhetoric? Or do you choose to acknowledge that as ill-informed & potentially hurtful as it was, it was no more than the view of another and as such can have as much or as little impact on you as you allow it to.

For me the really, really liberating experience of knowing that I can control and thus either limit the negative impact or allow the positive impact to enhance my life was the pivotal moment when I truly understood that:

I am in charge of my thoughts, my emotions & my reactions especially when it comes to taking on board that I may or may not measure up to the expectations which others have of me. In short I can choose how, if at all to react. If I am indeed ” a fat, lazy Italian who eats too much pasta” (sincere apologies for the sweeping generalization used here) then I have  decisions to make.

Whatever the circumstances you have to ask yourself

‘What difference to my life and to me as a person would it make if ………..

………and would I be happy with that? You fill in the blanks to fit your own circumstances.

The thing to consider and in my experience the only thing which really matters is that when making these decisions you should always, always strive to be yourself. It may well be that like me, you have along the way actually & often by default lost sight of ”who you really are.”

In my case I became a caricature of what I thought people wanted to see. I hid behind a very carefully constructed  barrier over which I projected an image that even I began to see as the real me. Before long anything & everything I did or said reinforced what I later came to call my ”fake self image” I didn’t know it then but I was in hiding, hiding from the ”reality” of how people would react, treat, question me if they were allowed to ”see the real me”.

In truth I came to learn that Dr Suess was indeed spot on with  the statement:

”Those who matter don’t mind whereas those who mind don’t matter.”

It was a time of enormous enlightenment for me and the lessons I learned along the way will stay with me for ever. I now know that by living in denial of who we really are we are not only doing ourselves a great disservice but we also at times severely underestimate those closest to us.

So as you strive to be true to yourself  please consider the following;

Never try to hide who you really are for you are enough. 

Do what makes you happy

 

You, your past & your present in fact everything that has ever happened to you will shape your future and there were reasons for all of it. When you learn from what has gone before there can be no mistakes and therefore regret is a waste of time.

Always stand up for what you believe in because you have a right to be heard.

By all means listen to the opinions of others but unless they can prove otherwise they are always just that. The only way you will ever engender the respect of others is by showing them that above all else you respect yourself.

Most importantly, be who you want to be.

Do your thing, never apologize for being you & remember;

WHOEVER & WHATEVER YOU ARE IS ALWAYS ENOUGH IF YOU’RE

HAPPY

Because TRULY the opinions of others REALLY are NONE of YOUR business!!!

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself!

Dont be so POST

”Love yourself first and everything else falls in line”

Lucille Ball

I have long struggled to reconcile myself to the fact that practicing Self Care  as opposed to being Selfish is not only ACCEPTABLE, it’s NECESSARY! Whilst for me at least being selfish has never been an option on this journey through life, the alternative and far healthier choice of caring  positively and in a loving manner for oneself, I have for a very long time mistakenly believed to be the same thing. In fact NOTHING could be further from the truth.

Self Care;  Looking after ones self in a healthy manner be it physically, mentally or spiritually
Selfish;  lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

When you look at the definitions side by side the difference in meaning is CLEAR for all to see. Yet in my minds eye the fact that on occasion when I chose to utter the word NO in response to say a request to do something for another the guilt and anguish I experienced at my own PERCEIVED selfishness  simply because I had ”refused to help someone” in some way, knew absolutely no bounds. Unfounded guilt, coupled with  equally unfounded paranoia that they would deem my negative response to their request as me being SELFISH fueled a self perpetuating decline overtime into the unrealistic realm of me responding with a compliant YES to requests REGARDLESS of whether I needed to do something different at the time or not!

In real terms what that meant on the most basic of levels is that in the great scheme of things when asked to do……..(you fill in the blanks)….and regardless of circumstance, situation, time constraints, personal commitments I would more often than not be heard to proffer an enthusiastic YES (when actually feeling anything but!) and usually at great personal expense in terms of the impact on both my physical and mental well being. Simply put I had done an OUTSTANDING job of convincing myself that without doubt to proffer an equally firm but polite NO would mean that I was SELFISH personified!

In essence I had decided at an extremely young age that I would in no way become a SELFISH person,  A noble premise but one in which aiming to achieve, I had unwittingly applied a totally unrealistic set of principles for negotiating the minefield of life. Principles which would see me time and again put the needs of others over and above those of myself regardless of personal cost. In all honesty the cost incurred was probably an equal mix in terms physical, emotional and mental decline. The concept of SELF-CARE never having even been allowed the opportunity to be considered. In my ”quest” to become ”all things, to all people” a modern day mix of Mother Theresa & Nelson Mandela if you will, my default setting had turned me into a somewhat substandard version of Mary Poppins as I had very definitely become ”practically IMPERFECT in every way”.

The pressure I had put myself under by striving to reach the unattainable saw me buckle under my PERCEIVED FAILURE to be the person I THOUGHT others wanted me to be as opposed to the person that I ACTUALLY AM! Such was my physical and mental decline that I was the last  one to realise just exactly what my self imposed mindset had cost me.

Almost too late I realised that those who I loved and who loved me in return did so simply BECAUSE of who I AM and NOT because what I can do for them. All they wanted (had EVER wanted) was for me to be HAPPY, HEALTHY & WHOLE! Were I on occasion willing and ABLE to help them out in some way then that would be ENOUGH.

I WOULD BE ENOUGH!

So late in the day I came to understand the concept of SELF-CARE! Together with it’s implications and benefits. The outcome for me (and hopefully those of you who may also lack self awareness) is such that as a matter of priority I  now strive everyday to seek BALANCE in life: a healthy, balanced diet, quality sleep and enough of it, to spend quality time with loved ones and above all else to make time to relax and just ”be” – whether sitting, reading, meditating, essentially doing something where I show MYSELF the love I now know I DESERVE and which without forethought I make so readily available to others.

When you truly come to understand AND practice the art of SELF-CARE, see it in action for yourself AND THEN realise that life as you knew it has not only NOT ceased to exist BUT in fact IMPROVED BEYOND MEASURE then you will know without a shadow of a doubt that to;

”Love yourself first and everything else falls in line”

……..probably number amongst some of the truer words ever spoken! Never lose sight of the fact that when it comes to being loved then you are right up there at the top of the list so remember going forward

”Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself!”