Thoughts and such like.....
This summer we've experienced some major fluctuations in our weather, from scorching hot days to freezing cold and somewhere in between, and although we might complain about the weather we've been lucky on our Island not to have experienced the extreme wildfires that much of our Province has seen this summer. In fact wildfires seem to have been hitting many places in the World over the past few months, from Sweden to Greece, Australia to Russia not to mention the US and Indonesia. It's interesting to note that until I looked up wildfires around the World I really hadn't realized what an impact they were having - climate change affects us all and yet some of us don't see how we contribute to the problem by ignoring it.
It's a bit like when we're going through change, we tend not to see what's happening in other peoples world... or at least that's me.. I'm ridiculously bad at noticing things when I'm focused on something, I've vowed to be better, however my kids often laugh at how I missed something or someone's expression because I'm focused on whatever I'm doing, and I think I'm like that when change, whether expected or unexpected, happens. I tend not to see what's going on around me, particularly if the change is either unexpected or unwelcome. I become so focused on my world, so caught up in the 'unfairness' or sadness of what has occurred that somehow I'm oblivious to what is going on around me. It's not intentional, rather it's how I've tried to deal with it, I rarely reach out to others as I have this ridiculous tendency of having to deal with things on my own, I guess a hangover from childhood when problems were there to be solved by me, not expected to be passed onto parents or those in charge. Now, I've begun to learn that how I deal with change may not always be the best, and I'm working on changing this habit.
Change is an unavoidable part of life, and although some changes are easier to manage than others, how we respond to change is up to us! Research shows that how we deal with change can have significant impact on our emotional and physical health. Even good change can affect how we manage ourselves and our time, and we are more likely to move through change successfully if we acknowledge the challenges, explore our options and remain positive, giving ourselves time to adapt to our new reality. In other words, how we deal with change whether in life or business is important. More often when we talk of change we mean change that may affect us in a negative way, like the loss of a partner, divorce, or loss of a job, or a promotion that didn't happen, things that may not seem to be a big deal to others can affect us emotionally. Sometimes even retirement, which we may have looked at with excitement, when it becomes reality can have a negative emotional effect - we no longer have a place to go each day, the chats in the coffee room no longer include us.
When change happens we can turn to other distractions, such as drinking or acting irresponsibly, avoiding meetings that discuss the change, or pretending it's not happening and continuing on as before - however this can make things much worse. Sometimes we may need to engage professional help, but family, good friends or colleagues may also be of support. It's important to examine and manage our feelings as they arise as this can help us move forward, talking to others who have faced difficulties head-on and come out stronger can also help us reflect on new possibilities.
Three things we can do to work through change:
In the Tiny Buddha, (tinybuddha.com/blog/13-ways-to-change-when-life-changes-around-you/) Loren Hills wrote that 'Just as the seasons change, so do we. Some changes we can choose, others we do not.' She went onto suggest that we start by being present to the changes that occur everyday around us, 'natural changes that take place in everyday life'. Often we have no choice, change happens and we can continue to resist and be left behind or we can accept and move forward. Often our resistance to change comes from fear - fear of the unknown. Take time to figure out what your fears are, and try to work through them. Changing how we react to change can enable us to learn and grow.
When moving through change don't be surprised if success doesn't come immediately, working through change requires consistent and persistent action, stay present and focus on what needs to be done immediately.
Remember you only have one life to live, you are in charge of how you live it, so live it to the fullest and and embrace the change that continues to occur throughout your journey. Living the life that's left to you with gratitude, positivity, and happiness while fulfilling the dreams you have carried throughout your life!
A coach can help you navigate your way through change, if you would like help moving through change, contact me for a free discovery session.
As my friends and many of my regular blog readers know I have two sons. What I realized this weekend when my youngest came to visit was how incredibly focused they both are. As they were growing up, I ignored conventional wisdom and told them always to go for their dream, what made them happy. Both have followed that advice, sometimes hurting for it, the eldest as a musician, always broke, but going through university realizing there are many ways to work in the music industry, and find his path there. The youngest who dreams of playing professional rugby, continuing to hone his skill, working out each day, practicing, stretching, rolling and taking on MacJobs, or jobs that don't lead anywhere, just to be able to do what he dreams of.
This ability to go for our dreams is what separates many people from the rest of us - they have a belief in themselves and their ability, they work hard and go without because they believe. We admire those 'who've made it', people who've worked hard and become who they dreamed they would be, but sometimes we forget the cost, or we ignore those trying to climb the ladder. It's so much easier to give up, to say no, I won't make it or there are too many obstacles in my way. It takes courage to follow your path. There are those who despite setbacks continue to live their dream? They may never be famous or household names, they may never be rich or turn heads as they walk by, but they continue to live their dream in the life they live.
I believe it is never to late to dream - or try for your dream. There seems to be a belief that our life is already written, we can't change it - I don't believe that, our role is to grab that pen and write our own story, in all it's glorious technicolour, whether our dream is to travel the World or to stay at home - it is our story we develop and shape it as we wish! What do you dream of, and what excuse do you have for not trying? Many people don't believe in themselves 'It'll never happen, why bother?' they reason. However, if you never try, of course it will never happen - what if you tried? You have to believe in yourself, before others can believe in you! Each day is precious, don't waste it - reach, Steve Jobs said:
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.'
If you're working in a job you hate, counting the minutes until the day ends, why? You only have this one life; what will it take for you to change so that you can follow your dream? It's never too late to pursue what you love, and if there are others who will be affected by you following this dream, talk to them, they love you, they will want you to be happy and will be there for you as you work toward your goal. Clients will often say, I can't remember that far back, when I ask 'What did you dream of in your teens/twenties/thirties - I call them on it, we never forget our dreams. We may lose them in the hustle and bustle of a busy life, but we don't forget. Ask yourself, if I had five million dollars what would I be doing with my life?
Our goals and passions needn't be huge in the worlds' eye, but are huge for us, we are the ones who want to wake up invigorated each day, loving what we do... sometimes we have to take other roles to allow us time to develop our talent, and that's okay... we all need to feed ourselves. And, sometimes our own fear is the biggest hurdle we have to cross, I know, I lived in a place where I was no longer fulfilled, I had almost become numb and joyless... however more than anything I was afraid to change, afraid for myself and my family.... the good old 'what's ifs' came to visit my head and danced around, making merry, building up arguments as to why I shouldn't embark an a new adventure - the whisperings of so called sage voices telling me that I hadn't enough saved, that I was a fool to leave a secure well paid job to forge my own path and what would happen if....if.. (fill in you own blanks). I wonder has this ever happened to you?
When I did leave, eventually, the voices and naysayers in and out of my head shook their heads, oh was I in trouble. However, my kids asked 'What took you so long? and when I gave all those answers, their response 'so what.... things will work out... what if you have to sell the house - you can always buy another' was all I needed to hear. It takes time to build a business, reach a place of security, times when you're constantly questioning yourself with 'What do i think I'm doing? Who do I think I am that I could do this....? When you talk to the dying about their regrets, many say it was not following their dream when they could have/should have. The risks we don't take are those that we regret. Confront the doubt head on.
People who follow their dream often say how alive they feel, they work hard but it doesn't feel like work, they continually improve themselves to make their dream a reality. Happiness shines through them and is contagious. They like themselves more, they don't begrudge working at the weekends - they have flexible schedules. They inspire others, like you and me as we face our fears and win. Not only do they learn new things, but they enjoy the challenges they face. They inspire us all, Yes, it's risky, but all things that are worth it, are. Don't allow fear or challenge stop you from moving forward.. It's good to get out of your comfort zone, who says you can't? The only person limiting you, is you!
Remember you only have one life to live, Remember you only have one life to live, you are in charge of how you live it, so live it to the fullest and enjoy your journey. Live the life that's left to you with gratitude, positivity, and happiness fulfilling the dreams you have carried throughout your life!
Last week I had a call from a real estate sales person wondering if I had considered selling my home. I was having trouble understanding him, and had asked him to repeat himself when the phone line went dead. A few minutes later the phone rang again, this time a different sales person came on and when I mentioned I had been talking with someone else he proceeded to tell me what a poor worker his colleague was, and how much difficulty they were having with him - most peculiar, but more importantly for that firm, not the kind of discussion he should have been having with me! When speaking with customers, I don't think I'm off by saying complaints of this sort should be kept inside the organization and certainly one employee should not be criticizing another to a potential customer. I quickly ended the call and mulled it over.
The conversation got me thinking about negative people and the effect they can have on each of us, on our organizations and on our World. It's easy to get caught up in a negative conversation, we've all done it at sometime, however being around negative people is toxic for us and can slowly trickle into our life, colouring our view of the world and our place within it. When we allow negativity to direct our actions and behaviour it means that we haven't set boundaries.
Setting boundaries and our own interaction with a negative person means we set limits on our contact with them and the rub off effect on us. Keeping our interactions short and to the point, not getting caught up in their rhetoric can also help avoid getting pulled into their negativity. I read somewhere about thinking of a negative person in a similar way to someone who smokes: would you spend endless time with the smoker, inhaling the air around or would you limit your time with them?
Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage calls the negative pattern of thinking 'The Tetris Effect', and suggests it's 'a metaphor for the way our brains dictate the way we see the world around us'. He talks about getting stuck in a pattern of only seeing the negative, and missing the positives. Okay, so it's not so simple, however Achor goes onto say 'Constantly scanning the world for the negative comes with a great cost. It undercuts our creativity, raises our stress levels, and lowers our motivation and ability to accomplish goals'. I would add that hanging out with people who constantly look on the negative, also affects our ability to look at the positive side of things, for example, the next time you spend time with someone who has this type of personality, try and scan yourself once you return home - what's your mood like? how do you feel?
Achor talks of the 'positive' and negative' Tetris Effect - if we only focus on one area then that's all our brains will see. He states and research confirms that we can train our brains. So if we begin to revise our thinking and start looking for the positives, we can 'profit from three of the most important tools available to us: happiness, gratitude, and optimism. The effect of all three is to grow in positivity and happiness, a side effect of which is greater work performance and achievement of goals! So, even in times of adversity it pays to be an optimist!
Setting boundaries about how we want to be treated, is a part of self care, also establishes our identity and supports mental health. If you set boundaries, you can control chaos in your life, remember you aren't responsible for how another person feels, only for yourself. If you find that you need to set boundaries, do so clearly and succinctly and, stick to it, don't waver for anyone! This can be hard, especially if the other person is not used to them, but be persistent - this is for you and only you can do it.
If you must or have to interact with someone who's always complaining, for every negative thing they bring up, ask for a positive solution, this really does get them to stop and think - don't fall into the the habit of giving them a solution, but make them work for their own. It'll really get them to view their situation from a different angle.
Remember you only have one life to live, you are in charge of how you live it, so set those boundaries and give up living with the negativity and toxic behaviour of others. Live well, take up with new positive friends, live the life that's left to you with gratitude, positivity, and happiness!
I love working as an entrepreneur - independence, flexible hours and the ability to work anywhere, when and where I want. For example I'm writing this outside on a patio I built specially for this purpose. My house faces south and so I needed a space that was cool, and I wanted it outside. My patio sees the sun for about an hour a day, and is shaded by trees, often my only distraction are the bees coming to play on the flowers in front of me!
Many people assume that I left my well paying job to retire, they can't imagine moving on to work independently; the pressure, the financial risk, the loneliness! I see it more as reinvention, yes there is a risk however I work better when I can control the when, and as an introvert I love being on my own, working with individuals one on one. Like many women (and some men) my age, I am concerned about having sufficient money in savings to last another 30+ years, I don't have a pension, and I'm not sure I'd be very good at retirement. I also feel I still have a lot to give and so for me working in a profession I love, on my own terms suits me beautifully. I set my own hours, I'm very good at setting daily, weekly and monthly goals and I love being accountable to me. Yes, I'm still concerned about money, I knew I would have to invest in my business, but I'm less concerned than I might have been, and I'm so much happier and healthier than if I'd stayed in my previous role, waiting for retirement. Thinking about it now, I made a lot of changes in a very short time, changes that we are told can be really stressful but because they had been on my mind for a number of years I didn't find them so. I loved the idea of movement - change that inside I felt I needed not just to feel better but also changes that allowed me to live more fully in my values and place in the World.
You may not want to set out on an entrepreneurial journey, and that's okay. You may also not want to remove yourself from the working World. Think about the opportunities out there, even in your current workplace. Could you negotiate shorter hours? What about contract work? Or, maybe you feel like taking on something completely different - do what feels right to you - maybe take a break and then look at where you are in life - remember 50% of us who reach 60, have another 30+ years to live - how are you going to make the best of those years?
I've talked previously about how many of us are changing the face of the workforce in Canada. According to stats. Canada, as of June 2016, 47% of small business and 51% of medium size businesses are owned or started by those age 50-64 (www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/061.nsf/eng/h_03018.html#point1-1), and I would suggest that the number is similar in Europe. In many of our lives, once a person reaches a certain age (60+), their accomplishments are often laid aside, and each milestone they reach is greeted by a chorus of 'well done, wow that's great for your age! aren't you doing well?', meant to be encouraging, but these words can also sound patronizing. When we sit down and think about how we view a certain age as the time to down tools and go into the age abyss, it's a bit ridiculous seeing how retirement was first thought of by Von Bismarck of Prussia in the 1800's as a way to retire those who had given, it was decided, their best work, and often were lucky to reach the age they had. (www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/how-retirement-was-invented/381802/).
For me, I feel I still have my best work ahead of me, I don't want to retire, however I do want a different lifestyle, that's important to me. My brain is engaged, and I continue to learn, both from my clients and the research I do to help them, as well as continuing education for myself! Since I began, I have made new friends through Mastermind groups and other learning platforms - friends of all ages, who once we get over the age differential (yes I am surprised at how young some of my colleagues are or appear!), the exchange of ideas overtakes any residual ageism prejudice.
I often wonder what it says about a society that says 'oh, you've reached that age - no good to us anymore' how does that make anyone feel? I've had more than one person say to me how these type of comments had demoralized them, filling them with hopelessness and feelings of being no longer useful or wanted. Someone who one day is a useful member of the workforce/society, and the next day 'retired', and often looked on as no longer having a thinking brain? How strange!
The word retire, comes from the french retire', meaning to draw back (to a place of safety or seclusion), and so using that meaning we could say we're drawing back from this period in our lives and onto another. So if transition into adulthood in our 20's was going from Spring to Summer, now we're moving from Summer to Autumn, for me a beautiful time of year. Moving into a slower time, changing from the bright sunshine into the slower warm colours of Autumn, when once can almost taste the changes taking place, where some plants are at their best and others shed their brightness for a different coat of subtle browns and mustard yellows, indicating a slowing down and taking time to savour life.
Just as seasons change, so it is a time for us to look inside and shed what no longer serves us. To dig more deeply through reflection on what we want - a time to spend on us, leaving behind habits, things and people that no longer support our needs. A time to look for new adventures and what next? What excites us now? What was exciting for us in our 20's/30's/40's that perhaps we couldn't explore, but that may be possible now. A time for courage to try new things, and a time to take care of us, and our needs. We all have heard the phrase 'Life is for living', but how many of us have ever really heeded it and taken it to heart. What part of your life needs to be set free - what do you have to do to live rather than grow older?
If you feel that you are still constrained by others expectations and rules, here are a few questions to ask:
What values and thoughts do I hold that have travelled with me since childhood?
Do they still resonate? If not, why am I holding onto them?
Was there anything that I wanted to do in my teens/20's/30's that for any reason I was unable to do?
Could I try now? What, other than the voices in my head, is stopping me from trying today?
If you are having challenges thinking about what next, think about getting a coach, or take advantage of a free discovery session with me - what is there to lose, how much more could you gain?
Remember you only have one life to live, you are in charge of how you live it, so live it well, take up new adventures, and live the life that's left to you with joy and courage!
I've been told by clients and one of my coaches that I have the ability to see clarity in chaos - in other words I can see a solution when there doesn't seem to be one. As my elder son says, it's a gift we have being dyslexic, ask us the answer, just don't ask us to explain how we got there! I also live in what I would call organized chaos, I have multiple projects and multiple books I am reading, and usually confine my 'mess' to one room, where I can metaphorically (it's a loft) close the door, without having to clear up. Each project, particularly those without a deadline, will get finished, but on my time - which could be a year or longer. Too, when I'm involved in a project I like to be surrounded by all the papers/books I need to get the it done. This would drive someone else nuts, but works for me. Interestingly though, I do get impatient with the mess of others, particularly if I can't understand why - so clothes all over the place, or papers not put away after they're read... I get impatient and annoyed, particularly if that person has difficulty finding their stuff.
What I do have, is systems in place to ensure work gets done on time, that I can find my keys and I'm able to work effectively. For many people, working on their own is difficult and is made even more so if they're running from pillar to post trying to get things done. I actually love systems, and often try out new ones to see if they fit! Recently I've spent a lot of time tied to my desk and found that at the end of the day my back hurt, my head hurt and I was getting larger behind. So, researching on line I found some ideas to use in order to move more when I'm in my office for hours.. I set my clock for 50 minutes, and then when it rings, walk around, maybe lift a few weights (aids my upper body strength) or just do some stretches - the way I feel is totally different, I can sit again for another 50 or so minutes and actually get a lot accomplished. I've put a system in place to ease my aching back, help with my fitness goals and keep me focused on the projects at hand.
When a friend came over the other day, she found me knee deep in lavender and fabric, and made a comment about how could I work in that space surrounded by this seemingly messy space - this project has taken over my dining room table as my loft is too hot in the summer. I pointed out my system, and she was amazed - she had just seen the chaos, not the method behind the mess. It may look like chaos to others, it might drive them mad if it was in their house, but I'm okay with it - it meets my needs and works for me. However saying that I do have my line in the sand. Sometimes, when I don't take notice I find I am overtaken by the chaos. Recently, I've been going through cookbooks to find a particular recipe and left them out, my knitting was sitting on the table instead of the bookshelf by my seat, I've a piece on fabric on the back of the sofa, I often put fabric out so that I can get ideas on what to do with it. It felt overwhelming and so I knuckled down and cleared up. Went through everything and put it in its place, at the same time I was able to take some magazines and put them in the recycling along with some books I'll not read again. I marked the recipe in the book, so next time I'll find it without having to take a dozen others out.
It's funny, often we spend so much time thinking what others might think of us, how we look, how our homes look we forget about us and and what meets our needs. When I go to friends houses, and look at how tidy and beautiful they look, I sometimes think badly of how I keep my home, but then I remind myself of how miserable I would be living like that - a place where I would be uncomfortable making my chaos. I've come to a place in life where I'm okay with being me.... maybe a little messy, maybe looking disorganized but I understand and like where I'm at. The important stuff like my papers, files for clients etc... are neatly filed and put away, I know where to find each and everything. My computer files are in an order that works for me and I have systems in place to remind me of deadlines, meetings and whatever other goals I have set... If I'm not given a deadline by a client, I'll ask for one, this gives me a destination to work toward and makes me accountable. If I reach a place of overwhelm in my business or life, I try and figure out what is it that's out of whack? Right now, I'm looking at calendars that I can share, and which will send reminders to clients - I've reached that stage where it would seem more efficient to have this done electronically, so I'm in the research stage and have a number of tabs open on my computer so that I can go back and look at the options each time I have a question. I have my note books, each labelled with a specific topic or client. It may seem bulky or difficult to others but it works for me. Each evening (or sometimes morning) I write all the projects I am involved in, and the next step (goal for the day), I list the people I need to connect with, who I'm waiting to hear from and then the things I must do that day - to some this might seem over organized, to others repetitive but it works for me, keeping me on track - and by writing it down I feel so much more organized, don't get as distracted as I might otherwise. I give myself the deadlines, and if by chance I get it all done, then I give myself time off - works for me!
What if you didn't spend so much time worrying about what others think, and found your own comfort zone? Would that make life easier for you? Ease up on yourself (thanks Danielle LaPorte) and you'll find not only are you easier to live with, but that you're more tolerant of others. Everyone needs to find a system that works for them, to understand their threshold in certain areas, what are they willing to tolerate in their lives. I can help inform you of systems, of ideas to try, but unless it fits your lifestyle and personality they won't work for you... Life is for living, not worrying about what others think - remember you only have this one life to live, live it like each day is your last, be kind to yourself and others and hey, if you want to throw everything in the air why not! It'll get picked up sometime.
I'm late posting again this week, however it's a directly related to the topic of my blog. On my street, each summer we have a street party, where new and old neighbours meet for dinner, bringing their plate, meat/fish/beans and beverage of choice, a dish to share and a blanket or chair to sit on. Monday night was the night, not a mobile device in sight for over three hours.
When babies learn to communicate, they learn through watching and listening to their parents, siblings, other children and the World around them. They learn to communicate through the spoken word, much later they learn to read and write, but first they learn to talk. They understand both positive and negative tone, and react to both.
I find how people communicate, or how they don't, quite fascinating. As we have all seen the spoken word can be a powerful tool whether speaking of love or hate. How we phrase, what we say can be interpreted in many ways, just think back to when you said something to a friend or colleague, maybe you weren't as clear as you meant to be, and they received a totally different message than the one you were trying to convey. What chaos ensued?
I've often said to people 'listen to what you say, think about who you are speaking to, and think of what they might be hearing', particularly if your message is an important one, as this can help to ensure others have received the message you were trying to convey. Think also about how you relay messages, how you sit or stand, what your facial expression says. We all interpret things differently, based on our history, the messages we've received through our lifetime and our experience with the person we are interacting with. So for example if someone has often received negative feedback and you call them to say you have some feedback to give - their immediate response will be negative, they will expect the worst. How can you ensure that what you say not only gets heard, but also that your message gets understood? For me this is one of the reasons I prefer to meet people face to face, and if that is not possible using video platforms that allow me to watch their facial expressions and body language - I'm definitely a people watcher, as I've noted before, I love to sit and watch people often making up stories about them from what I observe.
Everyone has their own communication style, The Oxford Research Encyclopedia notes that we communicate both verbally and nonverbally, and our styles are often shaped by the styles of our family of origin, cultural values and norms, as well as our world views and our life experiences. As more and more people are relying on technology for interactions, many studies show that these devices have had a detrimental effect on face to face conversation. One small study at Elon University, North Carolina found that although students believed that technology has a 'negative effect on both the quality and quantity of face-to-face communication', 62% of students found it difficult to disengage from their devices when with others. Another study from MUI, Maynooth, Ireland showed that the use of digital devices in homes with children has 'led to a bedroom culture and a digital divide in a negative way. Instead of a digital divide being perceived as a way to bring different generations together, it increases social isolation between individuals in the household.'
When my kids were growing up, we didn't have TV, and digital devices were still in their infancy, however as they grew and were able to purchase their own devices, we developed a couple of rules that are still maintained today when they visit:
It is the way we use technology that worries and irritates me. It's addictive, and can be isolating, in a world where so many people feel alone and unsure about themselves and their abilities. It provides a space for presenting an unrealistic view of life, showing only one facet of an ordinary life, nothing messy or untidy. In a 1991 film, Truly, Madly, Deeply there's a scene at the beginning where the young women (Juliet Stevenson) is mourning the death of her boyfriend (Alan Rickman). She's beside herself with grief, and it's a truly wonderful scene, that depicts what crying often looks like, not the aesthetically artistic tears slowly rolling down cheeks, but the black running mascara, the red snotty nose, messy face with dirty tissues everywhere, and for me that's how we should show lives on social media - life in glorious imperfection! The fact is no-one has a perfect life, and each of those individuals whose instagram or twitter feeds that we follow has someone to curate their feed, to ensure that a facade is maintained - don't believe it, life's never that perfect!
So take a moment, or two, to look up from your screen, look at those people in your life, really look at them, and talk - face to face. Instigate some rules around devices, whether it's once a day or once a week. Try chatting with a neighbour, or when out put your phone on silence, better yet turn it off. You'll eventually find that you're happier for it. Remember you only have one life to live, and to live it in glorious technicolour you will need to lift your eyes up and gaze on both your surroundings and those you are with. Live it outside the imaginary world of others, spend less time documenting what a great life you have, and more time enjoying that life! Start with an hour, and grow it to a day without social media. Is it possible? Oh yes!
I am late with this weeks' blog for a number of reasons, one of which was I was struggling about what to write - I thought about boundaries, then about service - or lack of it, and finally as I was thinking about something else, and watched a person with whom I was once great friends and who, I felt had injured me and ruined our friendship, walk by, I thought about forgiveness.
Forgive for none of us are perfect
Now we've all experienced the occasion where we've felt betrayed, some of us more than once! I remember someone telling me that when they reached 40 they made a decision not to remain friends with anyone that made them feel bad about themselves, in other words negative individuals, often unhappy with who they are and who want to spread the unhappiness to others, and so take every opportunity to make you feel bad about yourself, or who spread toxicity about others. It was great advice, and I've followed it ever since. And, I believe the same advice applies to those who have either deliberately on not, caused harm to you either physically or mentally. I worked with an analyst once who noted that mental abuse can be more harmful than physical, in that it stays in the mind and can play havoc with your mental state.
There have been times in my life where I've felt saddened and betrayed by a 'friend' who for whatever reason told secrets (I wrote about secrets here: keeping-secrets.html) that I'd entrusted to them. My reaction was to close up, and not trust anyone with secrets or dreams for some time. Others have asked how I could forgive those who had, as I feel, betrayed my trust? For me it gets easier, after a while, to forgive someone, because really if I continue to live with my anger and sense of injustice, who am I really hurting in the long run, the individual who betrayed me may long have forgotten about the part they played, or don't feel they did such an bad thing, I'm the one who continues to suffer, who relives the pain of betrayal (it's sounds so dramatic, but I'm sure you've experienced a time where you've felt hurt and that monkey on your back just won't let it go), however I've found when I forgive someone, really work through my pain and hurt, and forgive them, I can move on. That's not to say I want to remain friends with them or trust them again, but the forgiveness, that's for me - to help me move forward and as woo woo as it sounds, it does work.
'Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles,
a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth.
Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life'.
So how do you go about forgiving others? For me it's about my mental health and the need to let go. The people I admire more than anyone are those who have forgiven huge injustices, such as Nelson Mandela who forgave his jailers, or more close to my home, the forgiveness given by the parents of a young girl, beaten and drowned by her peers, to one of the young people who committed the crime after they acknowledged their part in this death. There are numerous tales of the courage of other people, parents, children and siblings forgiving others of grievous harm, and yet as individuals we still have difficulty in understanding forgiveness and how it can help us move forward. Is this difficulty because we too sometimes lack the courage to admit we are wrong, or made a mistake?
Owning up to a mistake, or error takes courage and humility. It is important to own up immediately we recognize our error, both for us, and for those who we may have harmed. It's important to own up and not give excuses - I was talking to a client the other day and noted that I once worked with JETRO (Japanese External Trade Relations Organization), where one of the most important things I learned was to apologize, and not make excuses, nor blame others - I did it, I own it! If it's at work, own it as soon as you realize you've made it, take a breath, figure out a solution and let whomever needs to know, about the mistake and your solution - maybe it's so bad you lose your job, don't get angry, figure it out and as you job hunt, own the mistake and what you have learned from it - potential employers would much rather hear about your error from you than your previous employer. I always say a mistake, is not really a mistake when you have learned from it, it's an education.
Within friendship, if you make a mistake, apologize from the heart and never make excuses - own it. Remember too, that although you own it, you cannot control your friend's reaction to either the mistake or your apology. Don't expect them to react as you would want, each of us reacts to hurt in a different way, we bring our own history and how we respond to hurt and apologies; your way is not necessary theirs. Patience, is a waiting game, don't try and gloss over the mistake, or pretend it didn't happen - it did, learn from it and realize that we all process things in our own way and time. In the meanwhile, take some time yourself to examine what happened and look at whether this is an error you have made before. If it is it may be that you need to look at yourself and what it is that may cause you to repeat the same mistake. You may need to make some changes in your behaviour, and when others see you trying to change, appreciate the effort you are making and maybe be more willing to forgive you and move forward.
Key in either forgiveness or in making mistakes is that the only thing you can control is yourself and your reaction - it's important to remember that we all screw up - however if we can learn from our mistakes, and make an effort to correct how we deal with situations that truly show who we are, both to ourselves and others. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. Remember, you only have one life, you are in charge of how you live it, so don't live in anger, or fear that you will make a mistake - forgive, learn and live the life that's left in you with joy and humility.
“The first to apologize is the bravest.
The first to forgive is the strongest.
And the first to forget is the happiest.”
Today many people are talking about purpose - finding their purpose or what is their purpose. Suddenly there's a onslaught of people wanting to find their purpose (Sorry Simon Sinek, but it's not that easy). Let’s change the conversation and ask 'What are you passionate about?' or what were you passionate about growing up and were unable to follow due to circumstances, money or some other barrier that at the time you felt were insurmountable. What was it that kept you awake at night, and had you dreaming?
For me it was painting and design – there was no way I was able to follow that dream, in a new Country and with no parental support I was unable to find the finance to enter college to pursue that dream. Later, at 30 and in another new Country, I entered design school and nearly completed my studies when I became a Mom, and in order to keep my small family together I had to move cities for work, and left my studies with a couple of courses to finish. I will complete them, sometime soon. However, in the meanwhile I was able to continue my love of design by making my own and my kids clothes (until they begged me to be able to buy them like other kids!), and through painting and refurbishing furniture.
When I ask my kids why I couldn’t have a child who entered a profession that actually made a lot of money to keep me in my old age, they laugh and say, ‘it was you, you who told us to follow our passion!’. I own it, and know that they love what they do. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I believe it’s never too late to follow your passion, you have only to look back at what carried you through your teens or early twenties, for some it was old cars, others it may have been painting, or playing with clay, what was it that you loved to do, that allowed you to get lost, forget about time?
There’s a great song by Nickelback (yea Canadian!) called ‘If Today was your Last Day’. It asks the question if you knew you only had today what would you do differently, and in it, it says
‘You know it’s never too late to shoot for the stars
Regardless of who you are
So do what it takes
‘Cause you can’t rewind a moment in this life
Let nothin’ stand in your way
‘Cause the hands of time are never of your side’
(Lyrics by Chad Kroeger)
(listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=99&v=maINUv2H8A0)
So forget about finding your purpose, go with what feels great, what fills you with joy - whether it's making art or music that makes others feel good, designing websites that provides a platform on which to serve others; or enjoying your sport, through playing or coaching others. Following your passion, you will find, fulfills your purpose!
Remember only you are in charge of how you live this life, and there is plenty of life left in you to live, so why not try following your passion?
So how are you about keeping secrets? Can people trust you to keep their secrets or should they just keep quiet and pass you by when they want someone to keep confidences?
It's an interesting phenomena, that once a secret has been told, it's actually no longer a secret. We tell one person, and then they tell someone else, all the while, asking that each person told keep the secret! I have been always one to keep secrets told to me. However what puzzles me often is that I am then told by another the same secret, and wonder why I am asked to keep the information quiet! I am happy I didn't break the confidence of the people who disclosed their secret to me, but puzzled that they ask me to keep their confidence, and then told another person (or people) and still expect it to be a secret. Maybe that is why I've always held things close to my chest, and not been very good at confiding in others.
I'm interested too in what is it that makes us break confidentiality - is the excitement of knowing a secret that no one else knows, does it give us a feeling of power? Or is it the need to share and explore someone else's personality and stress (good or bad). How do you feel when someone confides in you? What is the strongest need that comes after learning a secret - is it a need to share and dissect it with others? Or is it a thought around how you can support your friend/colleague?
Since I've been coaching it has been even more important that I keep confidences and I love that my clients trust me to do so. However trust doesn't always come immediately and I must prove to my clients that they can trust me, apart from assuring them of confidentiality, trust takes time.
I have a coach(s), and attend coaching supervision. Working in supervision helps me to reflect on how I am working with my clients confidences. It helps me reflect on what is going on for me, whether some of the information I am receiving triggers reactions in me, and what those reactions can tell me about myself.
Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges for a coach is where you are hired by a company or organization to coach employees. The challenge is in developing a coaching agreement that can meet the needs of the organization, while at the same time ensuring the confidentiality of those being coached. Madeleine Homan and Linda J. Miller in their book Coaching in Organizations is a great resource for outlining expectations of information shared: www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1484801660?ie=UTF8
In my case, I look at what trends and themes can be complied to feedback to the sponsor or organization paying me to work with their employees, I ensure that both the organization and the client(s) are in agreement with these before signing off on any contract. My reputation as a coach depends on this confidentiality, and allows me to gain trust of my clients, and thus serve them better. If the task is performance coaching, I also ask that the sponsor keep me updated on performance, whether or not been it has improved and where else may I support the client in attaining the skills they need to excel. The triangle between organization, individual and coach can sometimes be hard to maintain, and certainly I, as a coach, need to be aware of the tendency to be pulled into a drama triangle (victim, rescuer and persecutor) where I try to 'rescue' my client as opposed to helping them discover the answer to their problems. Sometimes it is the feeling of being put into the situation, by the sponsor, me taking on the role of persecutor! This, for me, is where reflection and being mindful of my role and tendency to want to help my client can overcome my training as a coach. Where I must be mindful and not play the drama game, where I work with my client to create a different interpretation of the situation, one in which they can address the problem from a different angle.
There are times where we should break confidentiality, either as a coach, or friend. When someone confides in us about hurting themselves or others. Or when we are made to do so through a court of law. But these are, hopefully, not common instances. What about you? How are you about keeping secrets of friends, family or colleagues? Have you ever found yourself being pulled into the drama triangle without realizing the consequences? Or have you shared a secret only to discover that it is known to everyone? How did that affect you?
Can you keep a secret? If not, maybe it may be better to let others know that you are not good at keeping confidences, and it's better not to tell you anything that they want to keep secret!
This blog is way off the usual one, except that it is part and parcel of our lives - Love for ourselves, our families, our friends, our animals... the list goes on and on. When we read about Love it's usually around the romance with our/a partner. However the type of love I'm focusing on is that we have for our kids, and other family members, as well as the love we hold for our friends, near and far.
The topic came to mind this last weekend when my kids invited me to go with them and revisit the Island I used to take them to every Summer, so that we could create traditions and have a vacation that didn't cost an arm and a leg.
As a single parent there wasn't a lot of money for vacations and other opportunities, so I decided to find a place that worked for me and also for them, and where we could all relax and have fun. I found an Island that had a family friendly campsite that I could book annually. Now the thing about me you should know is that I hate camping, I don't like sleeping in a tent, the bugs, the dirt, not being able to shower regularly etc.. and we started when they were two and five so I had to find somewhere that I could allow them to roam, without losing them. I had never build a campfire, put up a tent on my own - that first year the beginning of the vacation was not pretty. The last time we visited was when my youngest was 18!
My kids loved going and looked forward to it each year, and we set up rituals, listening to Pooh Corner (see left window for link), and repeating the story with the reader, buying ice cream at the caravan between the islands, having hot dogs for dinner the night we arrived and ten cents for candy from the camp shop, just some of the rituals carried out year after year.
This weekend I celebrated my birthday and my boys decided to return the favour, they booked an Airbnb for a long weekend, where we could shower, enjoy the Island and yet sleep inside! I finished two books and a whole load of knitting!
This is another reminder that I did something right in bringing them up - Love is so important, doesn't matter whether you have a lot of money or none, showing up with your family in as many ways as possible, doing stuff with your kids rather than buying stuff can demonstrate in so many ways how much you love them. Being present, not only in body, but in mind and spirit. When we went on vacation, my boys would put my phone away, so that I couldn't and didn't check for messages, this was their time and my time. They recognized, even at a young age, that I needed to recharge my batteries, and so in their love for me, they insisted that I hand it over! And, I honoured them, even when they'd gone off with friends I didn't go and find the phone to catch up, just got my book, knitting and relaxed. This weekend was a blissful enactment of those vacations, without the campsite and bugs!
I also received so many birthday wishes from friends, and family, here and abroad - people I work with that I have never met in person, friends from school in another country, at another time, as well as friends I've met in my journey over the last few years. I felt loved and appreciated, accepted for who I am, important at any age!
Love means what, not ever saying you're sorry, actually it means saying sorry, but also a whole load more - it means accepting another unconditionally. I sometimes have said to my kids that I love them, but at that particular moment I didn't like them! Or rather I didn't like what they had done/said... but that it was important for them that they knew I still loved them.
So my question to you is how do you demonstrate your love for family and friends? I mean what are you doing differently, not buying, but showing in subtle, wonderful, meaningful ways how you love each individual?
Remember only you are in charge of how you live this life, isn't it better to love than not, and while there is plenty of life left in you to live, why not try loving more too!
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog