I Find it interesting how those in leadership whether it be state or church think 2016 was one of the most negative years they have experienced. However, what 2016 was about was massive change and with it an opportunity for growth. Change is inevitable and when you try to hold on to the status quo because you have built your self identity and life around it, it becomes a struggle. Any reality you have built is temporary. As you change and grow out of the comfort zone you have created, the concept of who you are changes and gets challenged. That's why when someone in the family for example comes out with a radical or different plan which will challenge the status quo, others feel uncomfortable and try to stop them through teasing or undermining them. It's fear based. Change is fine with all of us if we are in control of it! If not it can become scary and make us feel uneasy. Change is however uncomfortable as it is unknown. We are stepping in to new territory when our very identity will change. What we need to do is face change with curiosity and stand back from it to see what happens before we react, even for a few moments. That way we can make decisions from a place of calm not chaos. It isn't easy however but always worth a try! That's where mindfulness can help when you are going through changes as it gives you breathing space.
What does success mean to you? I was thinking about this recently after reading an article and doing a quiz on it in the magazine. For me success means making a difference and also having fun living a fulfilling life. The idea of success in our society is often seen as how much you have rather than the quality of your life experience. I believe you can have a simple and clutter free life and be happy. For others having things may temporarily at least fulfill their needs. In the long term, does having more and more things actually make you happy or simply tied to a lifestyle? Success is measured differently for us all but the important thing is to set your own standards of what that is to you and not what others deem the mark of it. I remember meeting a lady from New Zealand who thought work was to fund her travel adventures rather than just an end in itself. A recent article in a paper suggested that those who work from home and commute less are happiest. It cannot after all be fun to spend hours commuting to work! So what is your life mix looking like comparing what you enjoy doing and work? It's that old work/life balance again but very necessary for our well being. Think about it anyway!
We all have a shadow self which we often disown and pretend isn't there. What we do instead is project our shadow on to other people making them out to be "bad" simply because they are different or challenge our beliefs. We are seeing a great deal of this recently in the west between religions, cultures, lifestyles, dress, ethnicity. This isn't new but has happened throughout history. It causes at the least tension but can be an excuse for war. Valuing difference and being able to accept that in our lives is the first step to reconciliation within families, relationships and communities. What we do matters. We can cause hurt, upset and undermine people's sense of well being by not being tolerant of difference. If life didn't have differences and people were all the same it would be a very boring planet to live on!
Many of us question from time to time if we are in the right career or job especially when things don't go as we want them to. What I'm proposing here is that you can happily have a career or job which isn't what I will say is your calling. A calling I define as something you agreed to do in this lifetime such as being a healer or carer for example. This, however, may not be the career or job that pays your bills but something you do in your spare time. Some of us do make a career out of being a healer or carer but this isn't necessarily everyone who is drawn to this. In this case what we need to find is meaning in our paid work, a belief that we make a difference. You spend a long time at work even if part-time and to have no meaningful focus within it is frustrating and can effect our health and well being. Asking yourself what you really want to do to earn money to keep you solvent and happy is important. Your calling whatever it is will naturally come to you as it was meant to be. If you are happy in your work this increases your energy and draws more good things to you. You manifest successfully from a place of calm and joy not frustration and resentment. Take time to question what job you would like to do to earn a living. Think of your career as a portfolio with several strands to it. One can be your calling whether or not you earn money from it. You don't have to do one thing for work and limit yourself.
Being who you are with family and friends is important. If we don't do that but put on an act, it's not only tiring, it's also dishonest. We are building relationships on a false self. However, we are often afraid at times to show who we are, warts and all, to even those we care for. Yet during my lifetime the people I've found the most compelling and attractive are those who were just being themselves. I've also felt very comfortable with them. Living an authentic life does mean we need to embrace and accept who we are and acknowledge it will change. If we are able to do this then we can move forward with more confidence in life as we are not pretending to anyone. This doesn't mean we are tactless towards others but say yes and no when we mean it. for example It also means if we really don't like something then we say so in a gentle but honest way. If people react to that remember all situations are neutral and it's the way we see them that gives them a positive or negative spin! This goes for other people as well. None of us can control other people in reality and nor should we try to as it's merely manipulation! I've had some scary conversations in my life with bosses and friends! When I look back the "monster" of a person was just as vulnerable as I was and most of it can be put down to my projection of who I thought they were and how I imagined they would react to my request! My grandfather used to say if you don't ask you don't get! It's something to bear in mind!
I always find it interesting how we all at some time or another blame our situations on other people, places or even things. It's as though we have no control at all on what we decide and how we live our lives or see them. It's also convenient to blame others whether it is countries, communities or our families, for things that happen to us rather than through us. It means we can stay in the "poor me" place and not take any responsibility at all. We don't have to own our own power.
I believe we only see outside ourselves what's within. That means we project our version of reality on to other people and groups. We can also project our reality on to other countries. Our reality was shaped by our upbringing, schooling, life experiences and some would say cell memory from our past lives. That means everyone is different. That's how it's meant to be. I do believe however there are collective experiences that happen to teach humanity. These may be about compassion or love and service to others. They may be agreed upon before birth and are usually huge lessons. We still have control on the way we see them. We can act rather than react, observe rather than try to change it. We can stand back and listen and not judge. We can then do what is possible if we want to or to walk away if that feels right. Often if we just listen to others rather than judge we will find that the things we saw are not accurate for them and what is needed is respect for difference.
We all have a family of origin, the one we were born in to. However, we all have places and people who provide a feeling of belonging for us. This can be our local community, our clubs, our friends, our partner's family and friends and places we feel at home in that we visit. If we have no family of origin anymore because they have passed over perhaps, then families of choice become more essential for our well-being. The things you regularly go to, the places you visit and the people you interact with become more important in your life. This can mean we need to be discerning who and what we do as it's based on choice. It can mean we may have to make decisions to move on when a situation becomes unhealthy for us or doesn't support our happiness and life path. We can, nevertheless, get rich rewards from reaching out to embrace more situations and people in our life outwith a family of origin. This can promote growth and learning as more people and situations give us opportunities.
Home is where the heart is so it is said. What do we mean by home however? Is it the trappings of physical life, our goods the things we accumulate along the way from our travels through life? We all need stability in life and somewhere to just be that is safe for us to let go and completely be ourselves. We all need some form of anchor to come back to as human beings even if we are restless and like to travel. I've always liked to travel and I remember a conversation in a cafe in Cyprus on home. What was said is travel is great and it's fun to explore but you take back what you learn and experience to your life at home. This nourishes and revitalizes us and those around. Simplistic maybe but it holds true for me. If we don't experience different things in life even if it's just ringing the changes in our home environment ,we get stale and this impacts on our lives and those of others. We start to expect all our needs to be met by the small group of people around us instead of gaining a wider perspective on life. Home is also within us, our soul self connected as it is to a greater power and purpose. We are never disconnected from this home source even if we sometimes feel fragmented. This in itself is comforting. Having somewhere to come back to within that is eternal and also a home in our physical reality keeps us grounded and focused. We can then face life challenges with more perspective and calm. If we are well grounded in our internal and external homes we can also make more balanced decisions. This helps us move with flow of life rather than fight it. It gives us more peace.
My grandmother had what was called a hand span waistline of 20 inches. That was the fashion then. She was healthy and lived to be 98 years of age.
As a child it never occurred to me to comment on anybody's size. It was considered rude in fact. Their size didn't define them but their actions did.
In our modern society there seems to be an obsession with size. You never seem to be good enough or reach what is basically an illusion of what the media see as perfection. The result is often a poor body image and low self-esteem. Whatever size you are isn't really the issue. Good health matters most. Your happiness too is important.The basics of eating a real food rather than a processed food diet, exercise, building high self-esteem and confidence is a more balanced way no matter what your size. If you are not happy with your shape and size and it's causing health problems then perhaps you need to consider a change. This really is up to you! No one can do it for you. Your body type will dictate to a certain extent your basic shape. A pear will always be a pear but can be well toned with exercise. You can make the best of how you are rather than long for impossible airbrushed illusions! Then you will find once you accept that changes happen naturally. When you change you may find other people are not so supportive especially if you achieve what they want to do but don't! Your health and happiness are more important than opinions however.
With our busy lives we often forget to listen to ourselves and to others. We are too busy doing things rather than being who we are. When we listen to how we feel we gain insights in to what we need to do, we go with the flow of life.We also understand if we are merely doing something out of habit or obligation rather than because we actually want to. Really listening to others can also release us from second guessing what they meant as we can ask them at the time. This can save a lot of misunderstandings that spoil relationships. Listening involves taking time with the person, reflecting and giving feedback on what you think you heard to confirm if it's correct. At times we may hear one thing but in fact it wasn't meant that way at all. We all hear through our own filter of reality which the other person may not share. We all have our version of events in life which are true for us as they have been shaped by what has happened to us from birth to the present time. Life is a tapestry of events and people. The beauty is in the differences as we learn so much from them. Listening helps us to understand these differences, accept them and move on.
Ankhra Laan-Ra. Glasgow based Well-being and Fitness Coach.