Personal Development

Inner Guidance

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Sometimes I wonder what our inner guidance system would operate like if it was a GPS system and what kind of warnings it might give out when you were steering onto the wrong course. Would it say things “stop immediately”? Or would it say “A better decision can be found to your left” or even “reconsider current trajectory” or in the most desperate of cases “abort mission” I suspect if you’ve gone this far there isn’t much hope of finding a safe and effective exit route.

I often override what my inner guidance and then I wonder did I really? Hindsight is a wonderful thing and even when we have live clues it can often be hard to decipher what the next best step is. We’ve all be there, I’m sure, in that situation where someone says or does something that lets us know that we are not on the same path, have the same shared values. There are no mistakes and no matter where we are heading you better be sure that your GPS system is working overtime to get you there. When we ignore what we believe were tell tale signs of trouble ahead isn’t it just our own way of saying life is an adventure.

In the last few decades the rise in adventure sports of even excursions have been supposedly been the best way to get out of a comfort zones as we all try escape desk jobs and boring routines. The things is even with the life jackets and the bungee cords there is never any guarantee that we really will be safe, that we will get home safe and dry after a harmless flirtation with exhilaration.

When we override our inner guidance system it’s just our spiritual way of saying “I’ve got this”, come what may. That actually we have a belief in ourselves beyond what is explicable or even sane. After all what sane person would actually through themselves off a structure with noting but a rope tied to their ankles? As a kiwi friend once said to me “New Zealand the nation that invented bungee jumping. A nation in some serious need of entertainment”.

Recently when I am thinking about my own personal growth journey the book “The Four Agreements” has been coming up for me a lot. I find it very reassuring to look at them and use them as a tick list to see how well I have served my self in the process of life.

  • Be impeccable with your word.
  • Don’t take anything personally.
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Always Do Your Best

If I read these four agreements and I know that I have applied to the best of my ability. Then my inner guidance system is totally in tact. No matter the outcome.

 

 

Reaching Out

IMG-9382Today as in today I’m not feeling so great and I’m wondering what I can write that will best serve you. I want to work on something that will be mutually beneficial as a navigate a some lingering emotional turmoil and wonder what is the next best step? If speaking our truth is really powerful, and what really serves us, and grants other people the right to be themselves; is it my job to tell you what going on with me? Or is it my job to pretend that everything’s ok and not to bother you with my business? When the business of healing  and therefore healing myself is the business I’m in. It’s a question I keep asking myself. I like to belief that in holding space for myself I am holding space for you. That maybe, in my unorthodox approach you find some light relief from your own shit.

Reaching out for help is often one of the bravest things that we can do for ourselves. Talking about our shit, coming right out and saying it is often as little or as much as we need to say about a situation, our emotions or our thoughts. To remove the taboo. We can’t always be sure of how any one person will receive what we have to say. The truth of the matter is that we have the right to freedom of expression. It’s something that we often forget. That instead or being nice, kind or generous that we have the right to be honest. Honesty can serve us. Keeping up a facade hides us from what we want most. It stops us from being who we really are even if that might be perceived as ugly, inconsiderate or thoughtless. Other peoples feelings are not our responsibility. This is something that I often need to remind myself of as I pick away at the great puzzle of my life. That often I choose to be nice, kind or generous and betray myself in the process. That I don’t get what I want as a result and people don’t see me for who I really am. It makes me wonder if I am failing at being me and why I feel the need to protect someone from me. Aren’t all thoughts, feelings, emotions valid? I say all these things in safe spaces. Why not here? Why not now? Then I see that I am protecting myself as much as I am protecting the other person. That I want people to be kind to me, cause in some moments that is all I want to handle. That the person opposite me has their own struggles and challenges and we are all just doing the best we can as we work this deeply collaborative process called life.

Holding Space

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Holding space has become a bit of a buzz term in recent years. Buzz strangely being the antithesis of holding space. I think many of us wonder what holding space really means?

For me It’s all about creating space for another person. What does that mean? Creating space is having the ability to literally invite someone into your life with the objective of sharing it. Many of us, that are on a go getting mission to live life to it’s fullest, are out there consuming people like they are products, we want cool friends, fun times and endless experiences. The truth is that very few humans are permanently on, and ready to party any time any where.

Creating space asks what we are able to give to another person simply by making time. That acknowledging another person’s humaness and need for connection is as much as anybody might need to heal. So when we create space it’s making time for those one-to-one chats. Turning off your phone and minimising interruptions, can be key to spending quality time with someone, whether it’s a friend, spouse or colleague.

Beyond the initial stage of creating space,  holding space for someone is the ability to be fully present and connect on their deepest level. Crucially when we hold space for someone, we are expectation free. We drop our agendas and we simply allow someone to be human. We create a safe space by dropping judgement and simply being. It’s kind of like a collaborative meditation. Where the other persona is allowed to say whatever they want and we sieve our soul for the kindest most generous way to respond.

Holding space for other people can be beneficial to your own personal journey of growth or self-discovery, you may find it very informative and insightful. Often from listening to other people, their pains and their challenges, we can develop our own personal insight. We can manage to catch what we think before we say it and realise that often that our internal dialogues are highly demanding, unfair and often unreasonable. So there is a lot to be gained personally from holding space.

Holding space is at the core of what I do. It’s one of the main reasons I am a Life Doula and not a coach. I believe that when people are experiencing serious growth that they deserve to be witnessed by another human. I often liken the human growth process the the human birth process. We don’t leave a mother alone and vulnerable to tough it out. We hold space for her and we understand that we are there to fulfill the roles that she is unable fulfill for herself. We also understand there is no time limit to this. Labour takes as long as it takes and postpartum support, is too, part of that process. Crucially when we are holding space we don’t need validation or approval. We are there because we want to be. We put our own needs aside and place another person at the very center of our focus. We are not attached to an outcome. That does not mean to say that we can’t take a boundaried approach to our gift of presence, it’s more a matter of providing powerfully with the time that we have. Holding space, sounds, looks and feels very different to different people. Creating space isn’t just about creating silence, it’s opening up to another persons possibilities. Finding out what it is that we want to share. As humans we all have so many complex multi-facted frames of reference it’s absurd that to think that we might have all the answers to somebody else’s problems. The best we can do is be there.

 

 

 

Pain Threshold

IMG-9349I’ve been deep in a mid-winter dirge. It feels like a lot of things have been ruminating and maybe it about time to start letting go.  It’s all good and well talking about healing the emotional wounds of our pasts without addressing that some people are so caught up in their emotional landscapes, that it dominates our physical futures. A lot of people might think that mindset and a wellness are not related to each other. That I might pose this as a concept, is a to put it mildly, a bit suspect to many minds. I believe that humans can and are able to heal from anything if we are willing to do the work, to liberate ourselves from the beliefs that we have been born to.

Our beliefs can be very hard to unpack. Even as someone who has spent a serious a mount  of time in therapy as well as on a long course of self examination it startles me sometimes about how little I know about my own psyche. The healing work that I do on myself alone is a lot to do with leveling up. I think I’ve got it all sorted, that I’m hitting the kerb. There might even be only one single heart beat between me and Elysium and then suddenly I’ve been knocked out into a cold mud coated street, from nowhere. There is literally shit going on in my being I have no awareness of. Or alternatively I do have awareness of and that I grossly underestimate the power of. If something, no matter how trivial is getting your goat, troubling you, drawing your attention then you better believe that it has power over you in ways you can’t begin to imagine.

Yes you can unpack it, yes you can let it go, yes you can scratch it pick at, worry over it and even talk about but only you know when you have begun to fully understand it. No one can tell you other wise and no one can navigate it for you only you know. Maybe it a loosening of your shoulder, a relaxing in your gut, a stretch in your legs. Only you know how when or where you got free of it.

When you are in these moments of pain, deep resentment, anger, discomfort, frustration and even growth, it’s easy to reach for a bottle or a book to ease the irk. It’s also easy to dive into someone else’s pain and prescribe a cure all action. You need to let go of it. When are you going to give this up? Why are you still holding on to this? Don’t give your power away? Why do you give a fuck what they think? Even the more positives of “Live you life” “Free yourself” “Don’t let anybody dull your sparkle”. I mean for fuck sake there are reasons why people sign up to be nuns and monks or even  run of to an ashram in India, or find themselves on a pilgrimage, or lose themselves in an iowaksa retreat.

The fucked up thing is, that no matter what it is and no matter how far you run  you will always have to face it. You might be lucky enough to design the circumstances under which you do but you always will. Look to your pain whether it be emotional or physical  and you will find beliefs and all the ways that they limit you. If you can push through the pain threshold it’s possible to find freedom.

Self-Sabotage

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First of all Self-Sabotage doesn’t fucking exist. If you’ve been running round with a self-sabotage dialogue in your head? I am here to release you completely from that idea, mantra or path. It’s not true, it doesn’t exist and the idea and concept of self-sabotage actually doesn’t serve you as an idea or in any other way. The idea of self-sabotage, may be, one, of the most toxic, damaging concepts that you have about yourself. It’s like a snake eating  it’s tail. You don’t understand, I just can’t make a million, I just can’t hold down a job, I just can’t have a loving relationship……..the list goes on. I always manage to fuck it up. Everything is there all lined up and then at the last minute I just do something completely inexplicable, like I forget my happy life passport.

There is also the possibility that you have absolutely no idea what it is that ailes you. That you behaviours are fueled by some mystical energy force that seems to come from outside of you. Though you may be able to identify it’s features you have no idea of it’s origin or meaning. It’s OK.

The truth is, and this is the absolute truth, which is even more painful than the idea that you self-sabotage; is that you value something more than money, a steady income or even a loving relationship. There is something deep within you that you refuse to acknowledge, actively ignore, repress, deny and are deeply ashamed of. Yes all of that. You keep it in a deep dark dungeon, you never talk about it and quite frankly it disgusts you.

When you even consider it probably feels like a stabbing sensation in your chest, makes you want to vomit and the mere idea of it probably make you unsettled, agitated, anxious, possibly panicked and nauseous. Contemplate what makes you uncomfortable. Then hold it and stay there. We can’t release pain fully until we understand the cause. Believe me it can be surprising.

Really? I’m not sure you quite understand? I’m caught in a loop of self-destructive behaviour that is far from savoury and you think it’s ok? Yes I do. Growth is far more painful than stagnation. Personal growth is all about diving deep cutting out the distractions and finding new ways to feel that take you to different territory. We need to move past numbing, self-medicating and the beautiful anxiety of stagnation. We have to be brave enough to dare to grow. Growth is painful. So the thing is what ever is going on for you, is protecting you from the pain of growth and you have to decide if you want to keep your hand in the fire. The worst thing that you ever experience can often be the best thing. It’s like trial by fire. Failing is the way through pain….

Mind Overtime?

IMG-9234For the last few months my sleep has been disturbed. Having gone through a major life change my wee brain has been on overtime to align. Unpacking what I thought should have happened, what actually happened and what is. Even God can’t change the past (Not that I necessarily believe in an omnipresent super being that has the ability to fix everything).

Our mind is a problem solving tool, that desperately wants to fix things. It’s like a massive computer crunching data so that we don’t make the same mistakes, so we can avoid pain and make new choices. In the self-development sector there is a tendency to demonise the mind as the enemy of the soul and a barrier to enlightenment. Like any other part of the human body it has a purpose, which is to protect us. It provides us with memory and allows us to access some kind of logic to avoid pain and even death. Yet when it runs on overtime like it has done for me for that last few weeks the mind can become an unsettling place to own, given that it can be all consuming. Its a difficult thing to deal with and face sitting fully with a painful thought process, especially when we know there is another way of being. Which includes allowing and accepting. Far easier said than done. Conversations are good, they provide insight. We know we need to let go. However often we need a secret piece of information to let go. That is what our mind is doing it’s running the numbers to find the glitch in the system. We have to keep the conversation going.

Having worked on myself for many years and largely operating from the space of the quiet mind it can be alarming to find yourself in a spot you thought you had half mastered. These are only thoughts, these are only images, these are not real, this does not define me. In every pain there is a gift. As we know and understand that life is supposed to be fun. When our body is in pain whether it be our mind, our leg or even out heart our physical being is working very hard to tell us something in order to grow. As humans we must listen, it can be laborious painful, excruciating even. We must sit with it and slowly is will unpick itself. The puss will ooze out and we can see the messy programing and mutated thinking that we have designed to attack ourselves. We keep on getting presented with the lesson until the lesson is learned.

Now that my brain has run every single potential out come and finally realised that everything is in divine order and also manged to unpick some deep and damaging programming. Its time to repair. How do I know? It’s ready to sleep. To slumber and bask in another world of consciousness. It’s just decoded a massive information stream and it is now willing to let go of the work. It’s handed over the project and looking a clean desk and waiting for the next pile of paperwork. Or mind can be an incredible tool and as I deepen my skill set and witnessed the brain going haywire, from an objective point of view I now know that it is working to my benefit.

 

Expand Your Circle

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Beyond drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. If there was one thing that I would recommend for a good life it is friends. Now first of all this might seem obvious. Second of all it wasn’t to me. I have spent much of my life chasing good friendships. If you really want to get to grips with what is going on for you in your life, friendships will act as a mirror to your challenges as much as any romantic relationship that you might have.

The impact that your close knit support can have on you can be profound, to the point that they may very well deny your basic needs, from a glass of water to unbroken sleep. It’s true and many of us humans are in deep denial about the impact that dysfunctional relationships can have on our basic survival even as adults. If you are indeed in a situation where none of your basic needs are met, where you don’t feel supported, then as challenging as it might be it’s time to leave.

Everyone is deserving of support. Everyone is entitled to a glass of water, a safe place to sleep and to feel connected and held by the people who surround them. Often time depending on how we have been raised we can believe that just because people are there that and that they have not chosen to abandon us that they are our friends. This is not always true. Often people try to hold on to us in there lives in order to feel powerful. They get power out of demeaning us, undermining our own thought and ideas, or belittling and berating what brings us joy or purpose. You may suspect that people don’t want what is best for you. As you feel that they corrode your self-worth.

You are in control of how you feel about yourself. You are always able to love yourself and as you take steps towards self-nurturance you will soon understand that although it is nice to have people in your life. You can choose who those people are and how you want to feel. The next time that you are in someones company, what I would encourage you to do is to become aware of how you feel. If someone backs you feel special than that is the person you want to be round, if someone makes you feel a little knarly round the edges, maybe it’s time to examine what going on there.

Like relationships, no friendship is perfect. You are in a friendship to give too. We have to accept another persons humaness and do our best to not make our humaness another persons burden.

If you genuinely have no friends, feel isolated, and have no support network it’s time to get out there and find your tribe. The exist and they are just as flawsome as you. The only way that you are really going to find the friends that your deserve is by being  yourself. Only then can you attract people that are the right sort of weird to your irresistible flame. What you might also like to do is to make sure is that you are clear about what kind of friend that you want to be. Do I call people back? Do I keep in touch when someone is having a tough time? Do I remember peoples birthdays? Be the friend that you want to be and a beautiful human is sure to turn up with the right kind of food for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Vulnerability

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It’s a cliche, “You should talk to someone about that”. “About what? About how fucked up my life is? That it’s always been fucked up? My family could open a step by step guide of how to be dysfunctional if they’d only stop fighting.”

It isn’t what happens to us that necessarily matters to the people that surround us. It’s the way that we respond to the circumstances that surround us. So if we pretend that everything is ok and nobody ever gets a whiff of the problem, then it might be easy to imagine that that problem doesn’t exist. Especially when it comes to work turn up perform and nobody cares. Meantime you’re drinking yourself into oblivion. Setting fire to your anger with each cigarette. Rising above it all with each  joint. You could even be so obsessed with your perceived rate of productivity as a human machine, that you might be denying yourself a much better quality of life.

Much of what we do masks our vulnerability, right down to the way we look. Few people enjoy being vulnerable. From women desperately dying there hair to conceal their aging  to hiding tears about the death of a relative. Open emotion can be shaming for many of us. The visible demonstration of emotions are viewed as weakness, a character flaw, an inability to cope. Emotions highlight our vulnerabilities. Not all of us are ready to face them. That we love. That we care. That our humaness can often be uncomfortable and at times even painful.

In recent years and with the advent of Social Media more and more we are witnessing a change in dialogue about emotions, that seem to centre around mental health. More than this in my daily life I have discussions with people and sometimes clients who declare that they are getting depressed, or that they are suffering from anxiety.  The truth is that maybe we went from summer to winter and there more likely having some seasonal blues…or maybe they had a fight with a friend that is getting them down. Or they are anxious due to a big project they are working on. These are normal human responses to everyday human situations. Yet we seem to believe that if we aren’t firmly grounded in the perceived “positive” human emotions spectrum, that it almost directly translated to a mental health issue. That all of a sudden we need to suit up, get medicated and fight a diagnosis. We’d rather fight our vulnerabilities rather than embrace them. We will do anything to protect ourselves from feeling.

The real answer is that we have to be open to our vulnerabilities and that our emotions have the ability to teach us as much as our physical sensations. When something feels wrong it often is. If we engage in our emotions they can teach us far more about the human experience than we ever imagined. That without a rich tapestry of all the emotions it’s hard to understand, our deepest purpose and where we belong. Sharing our vulnerabilities is one of truest ways we can show up in our lives and inspire others. By being ourselves and being honest about our personal challenges we give other people permission to admit and work through the same stuff.  We find out flawsome.

 

 

 

Authenticity v Positivity

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From where I’m sitting within the self-development community Authenticity and Positivity seem to be the two pillars of personal growth.  Through my own journey I am witnessing my responses to these two bath and found that I have a very interesting inner battle going on. In my role as a life doula I really dig deep to engage with people. Us self-help types, I promise you are interesting and diverse bunch, largely because there are so many different ways to heal. From laughing yoga to detoxing your yoni, there really is something for everyone.

Quite often I come across super smiley types who I can’t easily be mistake for cuddly fluff balls they might want to be mistaken as. I find them unsettling and I think my f-bombs might flatten a few of them. Consciousness asks us to be aware of our thoughts, our words, our vibration and what it is that we are actually manifesting.

Positivity is for me very much about trying to alter your inner dialogues. Changing the way you think, banishing the bad and focusing on the good. It’s a great idea in principle however for many of us it can sap a lot of energy trying to uphold a representation of yourself that isn’t exactly you. Unless of course it is. For twenty years I’ve been observing my dialogues and wondering how much the words and thoughts that appear in my head influence my feelings and how they impact others. There is a lot that can be tweaked. From gratitude diaries, to saying thank you rather than sorry (Which is a mini form of gratitude). Or even switching your words round…. I hate Mondays, to I love Fridays. I don’t like coffee to I prefer tea. What ever we say or do it is a reflection of our inner world including a grimaced smile.

I do believe that there is a huge amount to be gained from having a positive and loving outlook towards ourselves and the world at large. However the positivity trap seems to be adverse to the reality of the world that we live in. There is day and night and we have broad vocabularies so that we can identify a multitude of thoughts, feelings,  ideas, theories, or even objects. No object is inherently negative, not even a weapon. It’s the ways in which we use or label our language, dialogues, thoughts, feelings, ideas, theories and objects that can be either supportive or chastening.

Positivity is a lot different from authenticity. Authenticity is where I am at.

Authenticity is about taking the good with the bad and not having any judgement about it. As far as I am concerned emotions are the magic thread that takes us to our deeper truth. The subtleties of how our emotions connect is a language that has it’s very own personal code and only you know what it is.

I, like anybody, have my dialogues. As I work this process I find it’s more like ironing, some of those creases just come right out and then there are the folds that are stuck right on in there, like they are part of the sheet itself.  We can twist it anyway we like, we can silver line it, re-frame it look for the gifts and it still sucks. What we want is a pristine flat white sheet. The fold in the sheet has absolutely nothing to do with the sheet’s purpose or it’s ability to fulfill it’s role of protecting our bodies. We even get disgruntled at the experience of a sheet protecting our bodies. That it ends up with stains or holes as the result of protecting out bodies. We deny a white sheet it’s very being. Instead we have projected ideas of cleanliness, purity and our own moral value and even work ethic in the appearance of a white sheet. When actually it acts as a beautiful canvas of our lives. When really there just ain’t no way round all those creases and stains other than to accept them and love through the process. That’s true.

It’s the same for us. We deny ourselves the right to be human. We can’t even get the sheets dirty even though we have orifices that leak fluid and we have to sleep 8 hours a day. I’m more interested in being able to shit myself accidentally in public without shame, than forcing myself to view it as a positive experience. In truth all experiences that force growth in the end have a positive up-spiral. Those experiences can  still embarrassing, painful and traumatic. We can own that.

I’m happy to cry in public and say thank you to the people holding space for me. I’ll also happily lose my shit in a particularly pressing moment and again be grateful to those who continue to hold space for me.  There it is again though in the quest for the authentic how many of you out there are willing to hold space for sadness yet not tolerate anger?

We all play dress up with our emotions and appearance. Where do we draw the line between real and make-believe.

Self-Nurturance

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If you go to my home page of this website you will find that I emphasis the importance of basic self-care. The importance of breathing, sleeping, hydration, eating and safety. I mean the absolute basics. One thing that has truly revolutionised my life was drinking water I spent years feeling exhausted and it was only once I truly committed to drinking 500ml of water first thing in the morning that I really noticed a peak in my energy levels. When before I might have rolled right over and forgotten that there was a schedule to keep. Instead I went to bed with a full water bottle next to me and when I woke up it was the first thing I reached for. I slowly began to realise that if I drank the water and continued to stay in bed by the time I really needed to get up I was refreshed, energised with a clear head. It was like finding the secret on switch to my body.  I was far less lethargic and getting up in the morning turned to a joy rather than a slog.

Almost all of us are capable of self-care unless we already suffer from chronic or acute illness. Self-care is simply the process of keeping ourselves alive, which can be a lot more challenging than you might think, dependent on our physical environment, access to basic resources,  family circumstances, access to education or healthcare.

The current westernised system attempts to propagate the idea of exponential growth, where monetary profits are more important than the human condition or even that of our fellow earthlings.  Where the colour of money comes shining through, depriving many of us humans the ability to breath clean air, drink clean water or eat fresh and nutritious food. Much of the above is far out of a person’s reach. Safe housing is for many quite simply a luxury. Instead the majority of humans are eating poison, masked as food, that will take many of us to an early grave and where life expectancy in modern countries looks like it might start to drop rather than increase. Now when we look to these circumstances, especially when you live in a city like Cape Town, we have to dig deeper for an understanding of where we are heading as a human race. Survival is self-care at it’s most basic level. If we want to push through that and step out on the path for of personal growth it’s time to take a step towards self-nurturance.

Self-nurturance lies somewhere between self-care and self-love and for me is based in the idea, that we alone, hold the key to our prosperity. It’s about gently raising our vibrations so that we no longer experience the world as a hostile place and see the potential of love. Some of us have never felt this strange fluffy thing that is largely represented by a bouquet a thorny flowers.