Monthly Archives: May 2017

Opening the door to connectivity

I have spent the vast majority of my life fearing people, and seeing any interaction as an opportunity for me to fail or reveal myself for the good-for-nothing I really am. (I’m sure some of you reading this can identify with that deep-seated fear that sits inside your belly and tells you that you’re a bad person, and that if people only knew the real you they wouldn’t want to be your friend anymore).

I feared judgement, whilst unknowingly being judgemental myself; because finding fault in others was the only way I could feel good about myself. I say ‘unknowingly’ because I genuinely didn’t realise this trait in myself until recent years.

So this idea of connecting with and enjoying the company and companionship of my fellow human beings is a fairly recent discovery for me. And forgive me – I seem to remember that I wrote on this topic not that long ago. But it’s something I continue to ponder, especially as I start to feel more connected with the world around me (my joy is all the greater for having lived in the dark for so many years). We all have days when we feel closed off and don’t especially want to talk to anyone, but on the whole I feel less like I have something to prove and more like a valid piece in the enormous jigsaw puzzle that is our universe.

Connection isn’t something we can learn, but rather something we must learn to feel. Connection exists and is there for us to tap into in almost every moment. Like it or not, we are all connected as part of the shared human experience, and we are all worthy in our own right. I know from personal experience how hard it can be to believe this last point. And if you’re in a place in your life where you doubt your worthiness, then that is absolutely fine. It’s where you’re at right now, and it means that the joy of discovering your place in the world lies ahead, waiting patiently for the time that you feel ready to embrace all that you are.

So, from one piece of a giant jigsaw to another, thanks for being here to read this blog post and I’ll speak to you again soon.

Bye for now x

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Is it OK to feel bad?

I’m going to level with you – I feel pretty bad right now. Really emotional, and like I don’t know what I’m moving towards (or whether I’ll be able to complete the journey as I’d hoped I would be able to). I feel lonely, even though I am surrounded by people who love and cherish me.

I am a hugely fortunate person. I have good health, a loving family, a modest but beautiful roof over my head, a wonderful beyond all measure little black cat, whom myself and my husband love like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve had many wonderful life experiences and opportunities, and many more ahead of me. And believe it or not, this is one of them. This moment of feeling like total sh*t is a great big opportunity, staring me in the face and waiting for me to put all the pieces together and make something wonderful out of it.

How do I know this? Well, partly because I’ve read a few wishy-washy looking self-help books which reassure me that to feel bad is an opportunity to discover what actually makes me feel good. But mainly it’s because I’ve experienced it. I’ve experienced real joy in my life, of the variety that I suspect many people never get to experience. I’ve felt the joy of being who I am, and knowing that that’s OK. I’ve felt the exquisite relief of feeling like a valid part of the universe, rather than a small, insignificant dot trying to prove myself worthy at every possible opportunity. I’ve felt beautiful, not because I’m necessarily all that beautiful, but because I’ve recognised a beauty in myself that we’re all born with, regardless of what we look like or how others perceive us. I’ve felt purposeful and motivated and enthusiastic and loved. OK, so I haven’t felt like this for years on end, and I don’t feel like it right now, but I have felt it, and do you want to know how I got there? I reached a point in my life where I couldn’t ignore myself anymore. I could no longer put my own needs to one side in favour of my usual people-pleasing routine. I had to listen to my deepest longings, and to what my emotions were telling me. I’ve known people on countless occasions say that when you feel bad, there’s often no logical reason for it, and after a few years of personal experience, I have to say that this is not at all true. If we are feeling sad or anxious or angry or worthless or small, it is absolutely 100% a valid human experience and 100% worth listening to. By this I don’t mean that we should all wallow in our feelings and see how long we can drag them out for. But rather that we should accept the emotions for what they are, and use them as our subconscious minds wish for us to use them – to figure something out about ourselves, our relationships or our current life circumstances. And please don’t mistake all of this for a ‘lesson’ that life has conjured up so that we can do things better next time. Life isn’t about lessons, it’s about opportunities to become more and more of who we are. Or at least that’s how I’m coming to perceive the world.

When we judge others, and fear their judgement of us, there is an insight to be gained about how we view ourselves and the world around us. Two people living exactly the same lives will have completely different experiences because their ideas, perceptions and upbringings are different. Life isn’t what we make of it – it’s how we choose to see it (and ourselves).  The people who have caused me the most pain and upset in my life have been the ones that challenge how I perceive myself, and that is always the root of everything when it comes to worrying what others think. Usually these people mirror an aspect of myself, so when I rally against them, I am actually fighting against myself. Making peace with who we are, and coming to the reassuring realisation that there is absolutely nothing wrong with us, is the only way to deal with the fear we encounter when we believe someone sees something unworthy or unlikable in us.

So, can I trust this current moment of contrast in my life? Yes. Does it feel good? Absolutely not, but there is a deep sense of inner peace when I finally come to a place where I can accept how I feel and not judge it as a bad thing. The trouble is, no one (including yourself!) wants to see you down or upset or crying, so we grow up with the belief that it’s not OK to feel this way. It’s good to feel good, and bad to feel bad, and that’s the end of it. Or is it? Do we need to think again and begin to value and treasure all of our experiences? Seeing them for what they are, and taking as much goodness from them as we possibly can. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes we’re just in a good old-fashioned bad mood and don’t want to see the blessings in anything! And that’s OK too. We all need to have a good moan from time to time, and to feel downright sorry for ourselves. But once the initial storm has passed, that’s when we need to start looking beyond the dark clouds to where the light is.

Hmph. Life really isn’t easy sometimes, and the human experience certainly seems to be a more complicated one than say a well looked after cat or dog. But we are human, and there’s not much we can do about that except to navigate it with as much compassion and patience as we can muster up.

I know, I’ve gone all philosophical on you. Sorry about that – feeling low always makes me into a deep thinker! And it helps for me to come here and say what I need to say. So thank you for being there for me.

Peace out guys. See you soon! x

No offence but I don’t care what job you do

Well actually I do care. I care if it makes you happy, I care if you have the financial stability you crave, and I care if you are stressed out due to looming redundancies. But in terms of what you do actually meaning anything in the grand scheme of life? Well it just doesn’t. Of course it may have personal and emotional significance to you and/or your friends and family, in which case it is hugely meaningful. What I’m driving at here is that it doesn’t mean anything about you as a person. It doesn’t make you better or worse than any other human being, and it in no way defines who you are. We all have a certain sense of snobbery about us. Even as I write this I am aware of moments in my life where I have been a snob. Having worked at a university and earned a professional wage, I recently did a stint of cleaning work in my local neighborhood. I’d quit my job, was looking for something less stressful for a while AND I happen to genuinely love cleaning. So why not do some cleaning work? My parents were obviously a little disturbed by this sudden change in direction – and social status! They used to enjoy telling people I worked for a local university, and they were very proud of me. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I was proud of myself, in fact. But do you know what I was even more proud of? My decision to quit a job that in the end was making me miserable and do something completely different. It took guts to do that, and it was much more of a personal achievement than any successful job applications I’d ever made. But despite this, and despite really enjoying the work, I still had moments of shame about it. Intense shame whereby I didn’t like to admit what I was doing, especially to former colleagues and other academically successful friends of mine. It was OK in certain situations, but mostly I felt it made me unworthy and I was too embarrassed to chat openly to anyone about it.

It’s a shame really, don’t you think? A huge, colossal sized shame really. Because deep down we all know we’re born equal and die equal. That someone may be cleverer or more beautiful than us, but that it doesn’t make them a more worthy individual. How could it possibly mean that? In a world where people are born into different social and cultural environments and have different experiences and opportunities?  It just isn’t a thing. I often think that if aliens were to land, and we explained about the varying perception of two people because one works in a posh deli in a quaint little village, and the other in a cafe selling fried food in a busy town centre, they’d be frankly a little baffled.

Have you ever noticed how obsessed we are as a society about what we do to make money? If you go on a gameshow you give your name, age and occupation. As far as I’m concerned two of those things are irrelevant, unless the contestant is especially proud to have just celebrated a milestone birthday, or they’ve just got a new job that they want to share with the world. But otherwise, what difference does it make if you’re a retired police officer or a part-time bin man?!!!!

The question: “and what do you do?” always baffles me too. I always want to answer with a list of daily hobbies and activities, ending with: “and right this moment I’m stood here talking to you”. That’d surely make them wish they’d never asked.

And what’s with paid work carrying more kudos than the equivalent role but in a voluntary capacity? It’s all work.

Before I get too ranty about the whole thing, I’m going to sign off here and leave you to ponder what a great big bunch of snobs the human race can be.

Peace!

Living in shades of grey

So, I made an eBay purchase the other week. I was so excited. It was exactly what I’d been looking for at a price that I could afford. I was devastated when I missed the postman/woman and had to wait until the next working day to collect the parcel from my local delivery office. Imagine, then, my disappointment when I finally collect my new pair of Birkenstock sandals, only to find that they weren’t ‘as new’, as the description had suggested. The leather straps were worn in ways that just didn’t show up in the pictures, and the sandals had clearly been worn for a fairly muddy outing – a music festival maybe? In which case, perhaps by ‘worn only once’ the seller actually meant ‘worn for only one 4 day long music festival where I camped in a field and endured some pretty harsh conditions’. Anyway, I emailed the seller straight away to let her know how disappointed I was, but was very polite and offered for her to send me a partial refund (an amount we could agree between us), but that if she didn’t want to do that I would be returning the shoes under eBay’s money back guarantee for items that aren’t as described or different to the photos provided.

Where am I going with this, I here you ask? Well, the seller was quite annoyed with my message, and said that they absolutely were worn only once etc. You get the picture. We didn’t agree on the situation, and despite me being as nice as I could manage (whilst still getting my point across) the seller was rude and called me a ‘time waster’. She said she would dispute my return request, to which I said ‘that’s fine, I’ll request the return, you decline it and at that point I can get eBay involved to resolve the dispute for us’. I was happy with that. I didn’t mind eBay having to step in. I was confident from the photos I’d uploaded that eBay would agree the shoes were clearly not ‘as new’, but even if they didn’t, it’s not the end of the world. At least I’m not completely broke and that was my last £20 to my name. At least I’d end up with a pair of shoes that I could wear, even if they weren’t as nice as I was expecting etc. etc. I was basically being one of those annoying sunny side up people who sees only the blessings (gross, right?!).

‘Oh just send them back, I can’t be doing with time wasters’, was the response to my last message. I was soooooo tempted to reply and say something like ‘thank you for your excellent customer service skills, I will make sure to recommend your eBay shop to my friends’ or ‘maybe you should get some new glasses before re-listing the shoes on eBay’. But I didn’t. I took my husband’s advice and just left it alone. I said I didn’t want to leave her a rubbish review, and I have stuck to that because I don’t agree with posting angry reviews in the heat of the moment. I took the moral high ground, basically, which gave me no immediate sense of satisfaction, but in the long run has left me feeling quite pleased with myself.

‘We still don’t know why you’re telling us about the shoes you bought on eBay’, I hear you cry! Well, I guess the whole thing just got me thinking. It seems fairly clear-cut at first, that I’m the good guy and she’s the nasty piece of work eBay seller with a bad attitude and zero people skills. But I’m becoming increasingly aware of my tendency to think about myself and the world in black and white, rather than in shades of grey. In black and white thinking, one person is clearly ‘wrong’ and the other ‘right’, but in shades of grey, we are two human beings coming at the same situation from different angles and with different life experiences. Maybe I could have viewed the photos on a bigger screen and scrutinised them more closely, rather than trusting the description she had provided. Maybe she has had a miserable year and is feeling angry with the world in general. And there definitely isn’t anything wrong with feeling angry – although perhaps taking it out on your eBay customers isn’t the best outlet.

Do you see what I’m getting at here? I am not 100% a nice person or 100% right, but neither is she 100% nasty or 100% wrong. The truth always lies somewhere in between, and it always feels like such a breath of fresh air to acknowledge this and not force people or situations into boxes labelled ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

So yes, grey may be a bit of a dismal and depressing colour, but actually there is a lot of joy to be found in it. It’s the road to less stress and tension, and greater acceptance of life and the people we encounter on a day-to-day basis. It means that we can see each other as fellow humans, rather than friend or enemy. We don’t need to make these distinctions, even if there are people we’d rather not buy from on eBay ever again. From their own point of view, everyone is right, and we can never know what it’s like to be another person until we’ve walked in their shoes. So give yourself a break, and give them a break whilst you’re at it.

I hope you’re all doing well out there in the world, whoever you are. But remember, if things aren’t so good right now, that’s OK too. There are no prizes for the human being with the least amount of baggage or issues to sift through. We’re all doing just fine 🙂

Peace out x