5 Habits for a Clear Mind – Step 3: Nourish Your Soul

 

To be happy you need to tune into your inner wisdom and nourish your Soul.

This is the most crucial Habit, because without this step you remain unconnected to your true self, and therefore lose your capacity for that strong, unmoveable inner joy, fulfilment and alignment.   Let me say this again: connecting, nurturing and strengthening your Soul Voice is your key to happiness. So when I said in part 1 of this series that ‘happiness is all in the mind’ I was only half right. It is in your mind and body and soul, interlinked in an unperceivable and magical way. Your Soul is the essence of life, the energy that makes you you. It is what makes you the unique and amazing individual that you are.

So how do you nourish your Soul Voice?   This is the million-dollar question and the answer isn’t the same for everyone. The lucky ones among us have a natural connection to their Soul Voice that has kept them on a congruent path for most of their life, or has led them to make changes throughout the course of their life that have brought them back to what their true inner selves’ needs and desires. But because this is not what our society teaches our children, most of us don’t learn how to do it. Our education system is focused on solid measurable matters, information and statistics. It deals with concrete facts not fuzzy concepts. It doesn’t concern itself with happiness or self-actualisation because it wasn’t designed for that. State education was only established to teach our children to become workers and economic contributors to society, not to become fully expressed – and happy – human beings.

Over the last few years the tide has been slowing turning, as research is increasingly showing that happiness and self expression actually creates better workers and higher productivity. As a result there is more motivation from government and businesses to investigate the ‘softer’ side of education and self-development.

But as parents we want to be able to provide our children with all the knowledge, experience, and skills to be happy. We don’t want them just to get a secure job and have enough social skills to get through life, keep healthy and provide us with grandchildren. We want them to be happy. Deeply, joyfully happy and in love with their life. We long for them to be happier than us. We know – now we are over 30 and have experienced the (sometimes bitter) teachings of life – that meaning is important. We may not know what the meaning of life is (except after that 3rd glass of wine…) but we know that our journey towards it, attaining it, losing it again, living it is the most important journey of life.   We know that the mind-numbing mundane, following the herd, doing what everyone else is doing is the death of our Soul, and therefore the death of us.   So we long for our children to have that joy and happiness that we know is possible, but that we weren’t taught how to value or create. We know we can give them a better start than we had, simply because we’ve been lucky enough to live in an era in which learning and self-development, and self-expression is possible, and even starting to flourish.

But how do we teach them if we are still learning ourselves?   By being ourselves in all our flaws, but daring greatly and falling and getting up again and trying again. We learn what works for us, and we teach our children what we know by modelling and talking and teaching when and how we can. In our own unique way.

So back to my original question, before I got sidetracked by the meaning of life! How do you connect and nourish your inner Soul Voice?

You experiment.   You become a scientist, an artist, a child playing and measuring and experimenting with different activities and habits to work out which ones nourish your particular individually amazing soul.

Most importantly, the activities should light you up, recharge you, bring you joy or a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfilment. They are usually pleasurable, but not purely in a hedonistically way (i.e. all day, every day, lacking meaning and leaving you empty). They can be difficult and not enjoyable at the time – think struggling with the structure of a novel for days, weeks or months, and then it all coming together and working like a dream. It wasn’t all fun and happiness, but the daily pursuit of a meaningful goal can be extremely nourishing.

How do you know you are nourishing your soul? You notice when you feel peace, joy, expansiveness, connection to self & others, connection to things or causes bigger than yourself, excitement, a deep inner knowing, contentment, lightness, fulfilment.

Does nature nourish your soul?

Does nature nourish your soul?

While we are all so very different, there are still some commonalities that can help us identify activities that might nourish our Soul. Look for activities that get you into flow, into creativity, into your body, and into nature. When I first started trying to connect with and nourish my Soul I realised that many of the things that worked could be described as ‘primal’. For example: music, singing and dancing, walking, being in nature, hugging my child, quiet, stillness and meditation, connecting with others.

Personally, I’m still learning how to nourish my soul and find my inner joy. I know that writing, walking, being in nature, seeing the sea all nourish me. I know the right kind of music (I’m listening to it now, as I write) raises me up and makes my soul soar high full of love and joy and possibilities.   I know that happy, light-hearted family moments fill me with love and recharge my soul. I know when I act with integrity – especially with regard to parenting my children –  it has a strong drip, drip effect of nourishing my soul. Concentration and challenge – what is often called flow – is nourishing for our heart, mind and soul. But what creates challenge, focus and concentration for one person does not for another. Be it equations, silverwork, writing, painting, working with a patient in clinic, gardening, problem solving ….something will work for you. For me, I love writing. Sometimes it’s hard for me, and I don’t want to sit at my computer when there are so many books tempting me with their words and secrets, but when I start and I am challenged by what to write next and have to concentrate on developing a structure that will work, deciding what to include, delete and how to address my audience, I am in flow and I feel connected to myself and to the readers that may read my work. I am nourished. My soul has been at work, it has been nurtured and spoken to, and listened to. It brings a certain kind of peace.

This peace and fulfilment can last for quite a while, or it can be punctured in a second when the kids start arguing. So don’t think I float around in a cloud all day, instead understand that that deep nourishing of my Soul recharges my physical, emotional and spiritual batteries and strengthens my resilience. By nourishing my Soul I have what I call a clearer and stronger Inner Guidance System which helps me navigate through my life. Whether that is simply guiding me with wisdom on what path to take professionally or listening to my intuition when comforting an angry or sad child, I think and act more in line with my values and who I am when my Soul is nourished. I can hear it more clearly over the shouts of my Ego Voice and know that it has the answers I need.

My challenge to you is to start experimenting with nourishing your own Soul.  Do the things that bring your joy, peace and fulfilment. Prioritise them, create habits around them.  Recharge your batteries, strengthen the connections you have with your Soul, with your inner being. Listen to the inner wisdom that this deeper connection allows you to access it and follow it’s advice and guidance rather than the fearful voice of your Ego.

Please let me know in the comments what activities nourish your Soul. What lights you up and brings you joy?  Until next time,

Thea

xxxxxxx

 

There is Nothing Wrong with You!

What’s Being Said in Your Head?

5 Steps to Inner Joy


5 Habits for a Clear Mind – Step 2: What’s Being Said in Your Head?

Ego vs Soul wisdom

 

Habit 2: Notice what is going on in your head.

 

Knowledge is power.

As we discussed in Habit 1, we all have conflicting desires, thoughts, opinions and beliefs that have developed from our evolution, our upbringing, our experiences and our culture. To help understand and deal with the ebb and flow of all these influences I find it useful to divide them into two dominant identities; our Ego Voice and our Soul Voice.

Unhappiness is often simply a result of the battle between Ego vs Soul taking centre stage.

I describe the Ego Voice as our scared voice. It’s the voice that keeps us safe from the tiger, from social exclusion, from going against our parents’ belief systems, from other people’s judgement.   It’s there to protect us from the myriad of threats that it has evolved to interpret and anticipate. It does a very good job of keeping us safe from physical and social harm.   However…and you knew this was coming didn’t you…it also keeps us from being our truly authentic self. It keeps us small and hidden, afraid to be vulnerably courageous and express our brilliant selves to the world for fear of failure and judgement.

Our Soul Voice on the other hand is the grounded, wise, connected voice that comes from deep inside of us. As I write that – ‘deep inside us’ – I know that this is not a scientific statement. Science has not discovered some part of our body or brain that is designated as the space where our soul or personality or self resides.   But I know that most of you reading will understand that phrase. You know that you have an inner wisdom that you can tap into sometimes – some of us more than others. It manifests itself as that nagging feeling that something is wrong, or the conviction that a decision is right, despite it not being logically so. It’s that feeling you get as you step into the 100th house you’ve looked at and know immediately it’s the one for you. Or the unrivalled sense of peace that envelopes you on a crisp winter’s day walk. Our Soul Voice has a feeling of alignment, of connectedness, of being grounded in nature and the universe.

For most of us in our modern frantic lives, our Ego Voice is usually in charge, often completely suffocating our Soul Voice. It does this all in the name of protection and safety – as the brain is designed to do – but is unhelpful in modern life, where there are fewer physical dangers and even fewer survival threats.

Our Ego Voice is also encouraged and manipulated by the culture we live in in the western world. The pressure to be successful, to be the best, strongest, smartest, richest or thinnest tells our brains that these measures are crucial for our self worth. It defines what is (supposed to be) most important to us, and not surprisingly over time we begin to believe it too. Our Soul Voice’s desires to live a simple life, to be kind rather than competitive, to switch off social media, or to downsize to the coast are ignored and squashed because they don’t fit with the biggest, better, strongest image of success that we have been inculcated with.

I know that many of us are aware of these status, money and power driven standards in our society and we know that we can choose differently, and indeed many people do. Some of us become teachers despite the scorn and low pay, some of us parent our children with love rather than fear in the playground while tutting tongues and shaking heads are all around. Lots of us ignore the latest fashionable trends and buy the jeans that we’ve always bought, knowing they suit us and our lifestyle. Lots of us choose fresh food over pizza most days. Others save money and build a nest egg for retirement while resisting the constant calls to bring sunshine into their lives with the latest gadget, bigger house or new car. We all know that we can make decisions that live outside of our media culture’s dominant values as we do it every day.   We do this when our Soul Voice is strong enough and persistent enough to lead the way.

However, for every decision that the Soul Voice makes I would guess there are at least 10 that our Ego Voice makes – maybe more – as we go through our days on automatic pilot. You head the messages from your Ego Voice: to wear the bland, safe clothes that will make you fit in, rather than that floaty dress that you love and makes you feel like a goddess; to go against your urge to make that casserole for the friend who’s having her kitchen done, cos you don’t know her that well, and she might think you’re a bit creepy;  to not risk doing the school run without make up in case you meet someone who may judge you for looking so ‘tired’ or ‘rough’.

So Habit 2 is all about noticing what is going on in your head. Start listening to all the thoughts and urges and impulses and whispers in your head. Notice what they are saying, from what place they are saying them (peace or fear, love or hate, acceptance or resistence). Are they coming from your Ego Voice or your Soul Voice? Can you begin to build up a picture of each of these voices as they are inside you. Can you recognise their characteristics?

Notice when and how you tune into your intuition and gut feelings.

Notice what triggers your anger, your fear, your automatic responses that you perhaps regret after the event? Is there a common theme? Is there a voice from your childhood that is coming out in your Ego Voice? What fears is it feeding? Are they real fears? Are they helpful?

Get to know that negative, fear based Ego Voice that’s only trying to protect you. What is going on when you are in stressed and overwhelmed and in threat mode. Learn to see your emotions as feedback. Not good or bad – just feedback.

And get to know what makes your heart and soul sing – this is the key to connecting and strengthening your Soul Voice. We will look more at this in the next Habit.

Remember – if you are feeling ill at ease, overwhelmed, unhappy, stressed, anxious or depressed, it’s probably due to an internal battle between your Ego Vs Soul.  But if you listen hard enough you’ll learn to distinguish between the two, and start to choose more often the option that nourishes your soul rather than be a slave to your ego.

 

 


5 Habits for a Clear Mind – Step 1: There’s Nothing Wrong with You!

Happiness is all int the mind

 

Happiness is all in the mind.

This idea is controversial in some circles, but is being increasingly backed up by science, especially in neurology, positive psychology and mindfulness research . How we think – the way we use our unique and staggeringly powerful brain – determines how we act and feel, and ultimately, therefore, how happy we are.

A clear and strong (i.e. well-trained) mind is a happy mind.

In this 5 part series I will offer you 5 habits to change your thinking so that you can invite happiness into your life more frequently. It’s a journey – as they say – so every time you practice one of these habits you train your brain towards happiness and peace of mind, and away from self-doubt, overwhelm and the constant feeling that you are not, or do not have, enough.

Habit 1: Stop thinking that there is something wrong with you!

Because there isn’t. Really and truly there is nothing whatsoever wrong with you. You are a perfectly imperfect human being who has hopes and dreams, fears and talents, loves and hates. You are a multi-coloured, wonderful, creative and loving being. Give yourself a break!

Stop thinking that if only you could learn this, do this, achieve this, organise this, be better at this…..then you’ll be OK, maybe even happy. Stop thinking that if you could just control your emotions you’ll be OK. That if you were perfect you’ll be OK. That if your business and family life would just balance that little bit more, you’ll be right.

This is untrue. Really, believe me it is. Because whenever you achieve one of these goals or experiences, there will be another one to immediately take it’s place. So the striving never ends, and you never get to the end result of happiness. Be totally honest with yourself now…you know this is true don’t you?

Now, before you switch to thinking that there is something wrong with you because you can’t let go of all these ideas and goals that you think will make you whole…listen to what is really happening in your brain.

The first and most important thing to remember is that your brain is working exactly as it should – looking after you in the best way it can – at the moment. All you have been in the past, all you are today, and all you could be in the future, is the culmination of how your brain has been trained, not only in your lifetime, but during the last thousands and millions of years of evolution.

You see, that’s the thing: your brain* is running on ancient programmes, gathered from history, and whether they come from 20,000 years ago, 50 years ago or your childhood, your brain is just running the software that’s it’s been programmed with, and which it has been trained to use in different situations. And because there are a lot of legacy systems which doesn’t always synch perfectly with our newer cognative processes, our brain doesn’t get everything right.

Note the distinction: Your brain doesn’t always get it right, due to it’s programming, and that is completely different from you not getting it right. We are doing everything we can with the tools we have. And what an amazing tool our brain is. It is not broken. You are not broken. Your brain has been trained to respond in this way.

Let’s look at an example.

Someone might ask: Why am I so negative to myself and full of self doubt?

This is NOT because you are broken and need to fix yourself. This is because our brains have evolved to notice danger. Not only to notice it, but to actively look for it. We give it more importance than things that make us feel good (including sex) and our brains are constantly scanning for anything that could threaten our survival. This strategy worked when we heard a rustle behind the bushes in our cavewoman days because if we waited to work out whether it was a mouse or a tiger before taking appropriate action, we could be dead. Instead we ran, because it could be a tiger, and if it was a mouse, no harm done.

Many of the dangers we perceive these days are about our social survival but these are still perceived by our brain as a serious threat to physical survival because in cavewoman times, if we were banished from the tribe it meant almost certain death. So social cues about fitting in and being accepted and loved have a deeply evolved meaning  – they help us to stay alive with our tribe rather than alone and dead.

So the next time you shout at your children in a supermarket (or is it just me?) for being noisy and running around (i.e. just being children) and feel guilty about how you spoke to them afterwards, know that you did it because your brain has evolved to give huge importance to fitting into your society’s norms. Failure to do so might lead you to be cast outside the group and die. Of course that sounds over-dramatic when you are in Sainsbury’s but that’s what a very old part of your brain is programmed to protect you from, so it is still doing it.  So if this happens to you, thank your brain for trying to protect you, but tell it you’ve got it covered and that in this particular instance you will parent according to your own, not evolution’s, principles.

But don’t we have free will? Can’t we overwrite our programmes? Yes we can overwrite a few of them (like the urge to keep our kids quiet in public), but only slowly and only a tiny bit at a time. You see, to save energy our brains run large parts of our operating system on automatic – breathing, temperature, hormone balances, and interpreting visual cues to name a few. Changing these is usually a slow evolutionary process. Other areas of our brains deal with learned behaviours like brushing our teeth, driving, chopping an onion, or learned cognitive patterns like ‘life is meant to be hard’ or ‘I’m not creative’. Because these habitual processing loops have been ingrained in our minds over many years, it takes a special kind of training to notice what’s happening and retrain that part of our brain. But it can be done.

What can I do?

I’m glad you asked. Practice is the key to change.  And this is a simple practice.  Whenever you find yourself getting down on yourself, maybe speaking harshly or meanly to yourself, stop and say:

Stop! There is nothing wrong with me. I am a human being, not a machine. My brain is working exactly as it should; it is just trying to protect me.  Thank you amazing brain.

If you can, notice what triggers you into criticising yourself, or thinking you should be different, so that you can start learning more about what your particular brain finds most threatening.  We’ll learn more about this next week, but for now the most important thing is to realise that you are NOT broken. There is nothing wrong with you.  You have an amazing brain that’s trying to protect you and you are learning about it so you can manage it better and feel more at peace and happy.

Until next time.

Thea

*Please note that because the brain is an incredibly complex piece of kit, I have by necessity generalised and simplified some of the concepts in this article.

Please comment below and tell me what this idea has brought up for you?

Did you think part of you was broken? Are you fed up of trying to fix yourself?


Vulnerability feels like Sh*t!!

theajolly.com-2

 

Last week I had a meltdown. A perfectionist, beat-myself-up, my-life-is-doomed type of meltdown. It wasn’t pretty.  I said horrible things about myself that I’ve never ever said in front of my children. I kicked and threw things around the kitchen, slammed doors, shouted and ranted about the house like a spoilt brat.

It was triggered by a sudden, intense vulnerability hangover, and compounded by my tiredness and inability to effectively deal with the shame and anger that came with it.  Under the force of my shame-ridden ego I crumbled and allowed it to run amok through myself and my family.

You might be wondering what a vulnerability hangover is and why it can cause such a reaction?

A vulnerability hangover is Brené Brown’s term for that strong feeling of shame and fear that completely envelops you after you have been brave and vulnerable and open and honest and shown yourself to the world.

Brené Brown describes it as:

“the feeling that sweeps over us after we feel the need to connect… and we share something deeply meaningful. Minutes, hours, or days later, we begin to feel regret sweep over us like a warm wave of nausea.”

Watch Brené discuss her own vulnerability hangover here with Oprah.

In my case I had just sent out a personalised email to 15 women from my network who I admired and respected, many of them friends.  I had offered them ‘first-dibs’ on a new pilot coaching programme I am creating which is to be the first step in my (very meaningful to me) life’s mission of spreading compassion around the world – starting with helping women create a strong inner trust and confidence in themselves.

I wanted to connect with these women. I was sharing ideas that were important and incredibly meaningful to me. And due to the nature of email, I had no immediate feedback on how (or if) these women would respond.

So a few hours later the wave of nausea swept over me and fear kicked in.  My whole body was screaming: ‘What the hell have you done!?’

And my ego took over.  My poor, terrified, protective ego decided it needed to defend itself against this attack on it’s identity and existence.

But because you can’t attack shame without putting it under a very big spotlight and talking about it to others, my ego started attacking everyone within shooting distance: me and my children, and later my husband.

My ego fought as if it was fighting for it’s life – that’s the power of shame. Shame threatens to cut us off from others. It threatens disconnection. We are programmed to seek connection and belonging, so much so, it is now becoming understood that disconnection and even the fear of disconnection are the drivers of addiction and mental illness.

It is possible to practice shame resilience and get better at dealing with these vulnerability hangovers and ego hijackings.  And I was somewhat practiced myself at doing this.  However, I had recently come back from a 2 week family holiday and was still feeling jet lagged, out of my routine and generally not strong enough emotionally to deal with a massive shame attack.

So instead I succumbed.  What was I ashamed of?  Of being judged, of those wonderful women thinking that I thought they needed help from me, of asking for money, of daring to dream of a world where everyone was kind to themselves and kind to each other. Who the hell did I think I was!???

And what made it worse was the anger that came with it.  This anger, sparked by fear, crashed through our house like a storm.  It was unexpected and shocking.  It allowed all this bad stuff, these bad, cruel, vicious words to stream from my mouth with such ease, without a care for their affect on my children. Even though I had heard those words before – when previously I had felt these things – I had NEVER said them out loud.  I had never let my children hear those words of self-hatred and doom that I used to feel so often. Why did they come out now?   I don’t know exactly, but some of the reason could be that I have recently had my marina coil taken out, and have stopped taking antidepressants – so my hormones have free reign!  Ha! Is it worse to have a cocktail of chemicals running  amok inside me, or my own unique blend of hormones having a party?  Ask me in 12 months when my hormones have (hopefully) settled down whether this is the ‘real me’ or just the withdrawal symptoms of stopping chemicals that mess with my body, brain and mood.

But what I do know is that as shocking as this meltdown was, it made me realise that these occasions don’t occur with regularity anymore (and with such ferocity) because I’ve trained myself to be more mindful and conscious of my emotions and triggers.  Four or five years ago this was more common, and I used to call it Falling into my Black Hole of Doom.

Yes, I’m more hormonal now, but I was also physically and emotionally tired, and due to our holiday was out of the practice of nourishing myself so I could withstand the onslaught of these emotional attacks.

Another thing that has changed is the speed with which I recovered from this ‘episode’.

During it I alternated between resisting the anger and accepting it.  I was attached to the emotions – I totally believed that I was shit and my life was completely doomed – but also the next second was aware that if I just let the emotions pass through me everything would feel better tomorrow.  It was a new and weird feeling to me because during my previous meltdowns I was never aware of what was going on. I was completely on board with all the emotions, believing them completely. There were THE TRUTH.  This time I got glimpses that there are not the truth and so I didn’t need to resist them so strongly.  They could not harm me because they were not true.

That evening I watched 6 hours of Jane Austen.  This is how I know I was in a bad place. Jane Austen productions are my go-to escapism when I’m in my Black Hole of Doom – like Brené and her Downton Abbey marathon.

So, why am I sharing all the gory details with you?  What’s the point of this story?  Well the main thing is that although vulnerability – being brave and open – feels like shit, it is so worth it.  It is what makes us grow. Despite the fear of disconnection, vulnerability is actually what connects us deeper to others.  It is what makes us human. It signifies that we are daring greatly, prepared to take risks to follow our dreams, or to be the person we are, to be seen, to do the things that are deeply meaningful us – and that enables us to have deep meaningful connections with others, which is what we all long for.

That’s why it’s important to share this.  I don’t want you to like me (shit, yes I do, but that’s obviously not my motivation for sharing my flaws).  You might even judge me for having no self-control and shouting at myself in front of my children.  But the important thing is to be honest and talk about shame, because shame can’t survive out in the open.  We all suffer from shame, and we need to talk about it.  Shame resilience needs to be part of our vocabulary.

So, here’s one woman doing just that.  Care to join me?  If so, please comment below, or, if the vulnerability is too much email me to share how this resonated with you.  Create those connections, put the spotlight on shame so it can’t survive.

Thank you for reading.

 

p.s. Here’s a video I made after my vulnerability hangover/shame attack.

 


How Available Are You?

EFFECT OFnot setting Boundaries

 

A couple of weeks ago, on a video blogging course*, I was catching up with a good friend in a break and she said something along the lines of, ‘I’ve decided to be less available to people’.

Now, she’s a very good friend who I respect hugely and have learnt a great deal from but my first thought was ‘Woah there!  You can’t say that!’  To me the phrase felt really…well ‘icky’.  It felt selfish and arrogant and ‘just not British’.  But my friend is not the slightest bit selfish, or arrogant, and she’s definitely British – so I knew that there must be something more to this statement. We chatted some more and I asked her questions, delving deeper into what she meant, and how she practiced not being so available.

By the end of the conversation I had come up with an explanation that didn’t challenge me – i.e my ego –  so much.  It was all about boundaries.  Phew, this was a concept that I was comfortable with, and one which I had been learning about over recent months with regards to my own life.

Setting appropriate boundaries around our time, demands and relationships is an important part of maintaining a strong, resilient, efficient and compassionate self.  In other words, happiness is only possible if we set appropriate boundaries.  If we are constantly doing things for other people without limits, without doing things that recharge and nourish ourselves, then we will eventually grow drained, resentful and possibly bitter – however much we love those who are doing the demanding, or however much we love the cause that we are giving so much to.   It’s like the safety warnings on aeroplanes: always fit your own oxygen mask before helping others.  Brene Brown has a wonderful video on this.

But over the next week I kept thinking about this conversation and started getting curious as to why I had had such a strong reaction to the idea of restricting my ‘availability’ to others.  The strong reaction was a clue that my ego was involved, and if so, then there was probably something important that needed to be explored here.

What my ego was saying when my friend said  ‘I’ve decided to be less available to people’ was: ‘Eeeekk, don’t say that!  Who do you think you are, choosing to put yourself before others!? You are here to please other people because that is how you get other people to like you, and approval is what keeps you and me safe! That’s how the world works. Don’t you dare do that Thea, or we are toast!’

Luckily, I knew my friend enough to be conscious to the fact that it was my ego who was the one I wasn’t in congruence with, not her.  As usual, my ego’s strong reaction was teaching me something.  I’ve learnt to take heed when I get a reaction like this.  What was going on?

What was going on, I realised, was that I do make myself available to people, especially my family, more than is perhaps healthy for me.  I don’t put in enough boundaries that would protect my energy, allow me to recharge, and enable me to create more fulfilment in my life.

One example of this is the after school routine.  Since my eldest son is 14 next week, the after school routine goes on till around 9ish when he goes to bed. So that’s 6 hours of being completely available for my children.  I don’t do much for myself in those hours and seem to pander to their every need. If you came to my house and watched me, it wouldn’t seem that I was ‘under their thumb’ so to speak because I do have enough boundaries in place to feel like I’m in charge, or at least things are running to my agenda.  I’m not a wet blanket, I expect my children to do chores, to listen to me and do as I say.  I stand up for myself when my kids are disrespectful. I always – I mean always – prioritise kindness in their behaviour.  But then, why am I so mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted at the end of the day, most days?   It’s because the boundaries I’ve set are not working for me.

I noticed this last week that I am so much more available for them than I realised, that my boundaries are clearly not strong enough.  I drop what I’m doing for them – accompanied by an irritated ‘Wait a second!  I’m just finishing this‘. [there’s a weak boundary clue] –  and am available for them within a minute or so.  I walk from room to room when they call me.  I let them interrupt me and gain my attention whatever I’m in the middle of.  And I let them negotiate and influence my decisions all the time.  All in the name of being nice. Of keeping the peace, not threatening the fragile harmony that might exist. This is because my ego and I have learnt over the years that conflict and arguments are uncomfortable and draining for me – but what I didn’t realise was that this constant keeping the peace and being available to their every need is draining me so much more.

And after this realisation I went to bed and lay there thinking.  I tried to do a quick gratitude mediation but kept getting distracted.  What was I thinking about?  Bloody Facebook.  What that friend has shared; how that article looked interesting, would I remember to read it tomorrow; what that person who I no longer see and don’t have much in common with was saying about her life.  Totally irrelevant and superficial stuff completely unnecessary to my life, especially at bedtime when I wanted to switch off, get myself relaxed and feel grateful for my life.   Why do I choose to let all these other people’s thoughts and opinions and lives come into my life?  Why do I give them priority over what I know is more important to me?

It’s all about setting appropriate boundaries and being aware of what we are letting into our minds.  Our thoughts are the most powerful things we have and we are letting them get hijacked by everything and everyone around us regardless of what we really want.  Yes, I do want to be available for my kids, but now they are older, this dynamic needs to shift.  Yes, I do want to keep connected to friends and find inspiration on Facebook but I need to work out times when doing so works for me rather than taking my energy and attention from things that really nourish me.

So that’s what I’ll be working out over the next few weeks – what new boundaries do I need to build to support and nourish me in the next phase of my life.

I’d love to hear what boundaries work for you, or where you’ve realised that you need to set new ones. How do you feel about the phrase ‘being less available for people’.  Please comment below or get in touch.

Thea

*For my new video series, Practicing Happiness, please visit my YouTube Channel. For more information about video blogging see The Vlog Academy.

 

 

Written at home, at my husbands desk, being pestered by two curious kittens while listening to Explorers, The Globalist, The 2nd Law, by Muse. That’s me, not the kittens listening to Muse. I have my headphones on.

very cute kitten


The Secret to Inner Happiness that We Keep Ignoring

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The secret to inner happiness is very simple.  It’s such a simple concept but it’s really hard to grasp and understand with our heads and our hearts. We need to know this secret in our bones for it to work. That’s the difficult part, but the idea is simple.  Here it is:

There is Nothing Wrong with You!

Yes You!   You, the one who keeps trying to improve herself, thinking ‘If only I learnt how to do this, think this, lose this weight, earn more money, then I’ll be OK. Then I’ll be happy. Then I’ll be worthy.  Then people will approve of me. Then everything will be ok. Then I can be me.’

Please, for the love of God, let all that go!  It’s a load of shit!   None of that stuff will make any difference because the voice in your head that is telling you you are not good enough now, will still be there telling you you aren’t good enough when you’ve published your book, found your dream partner, been promoted or made a million pounds.

That voice is trying to keep you safe.  It’s not evil, but it is manipulative, cunning, sneaky and bloody determined to keep you small.  Every day you go about your day with good, kind, worthy intentions but get  bombarded with feedback which paints a picture of a You that is frustrating and disappointing.  You know it’s not the real you, because you have so many hopes and dreams. You know you are a good person, but the constant chatter telling you that you slipped up again, that you are not as thin and fit as X, and not successful as Y, and have children who behave far worse than about every other family you know, gets into your skin and bones. It begins to feel real, even when you know it isn’t.   Unfortunately feeling – because it is embedded with strong emotions – has a stronger effect on us than cognitive reason and intellectual knowing.

I can’t remember the number of times over the last few years I’ve said to people – friends, therapists, coaches – “I know it rationally but I don’t feel it. I don’t feel it in my bones*. My body doesn’t know it.”

For example I know that I am the best mum that my children could ever have.  No one else could do the job because they need ME.  I know that intellectually, rationally, even in my soul, but emotionally I keep getting pulled back to all those times the voice in my head (and perhaps other external voices) told me I wasn’t a good enough mum, and I believed that instead because the emotions make it more real. It’s like I have many emotional reference experiences of feeling like a bad mother, but not so many of emotionally celebrating and acknowledging being a fabulous, loving, perfect-for-my-children mum.

This is how our brains work. They are programmed to sense danger, to notice things that are wrong (it’s called the negativity bias in psychology circles – here’s an article about it and other things our brains have evolved to do.) so we mustn’t get annoyed with it. We just need to be aware of it, and accept that it is normal.  Then when it happens we can laugh and say: “Whoops, I’m getting all caught up in that one mistake because of the negativity bias. I’m forgetting all the good stuff that happened today, let’s focus on that instead.”

So how do we get to feel in our bones that there is nothing wrong with us?  How do we know emotionally that we are good enough already?   As I said, this isn’t an easy or prescriptive thing.

It’s taken me 5 years of mindfulness and happiness practice and courageous opening up to myself to get to the point where I could finally let go of what my ego was telling me would prove I was ok.  I got to the point where I had learnt so many things which had helped me in lots of ways, but still my ego was in charge of the feelings in my bones! What finally worked for me was to let go of all the things I was clinging onto.  I’d been desperately clinging onto the idea that having a successful coaching business would prove to me and the whole world that I was worthy and deserved a place on this earth. I had been playing rather unsuccessfully at running a business (or a few different businesses) over the previous 12 years, but always coming from this place of fear and needing to prove myself.  My business and ideas were good, but my motivation was so contaminated by fear and so chained by my fear of letting myself be truly seen that it was always bound to fail.  So I had to give up my stop/start business completely and accept myself without it before I was able to let go of that damaging fear-based ego belief once and for all.

I can honestly say, it was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life.  I felt completely naked. Just me. Just me as a mum and a wife. Just a mum. Just a wife. Shit! I’d been trying to run away from that label my whole life – even before I had children.  Scared the fuck out of me. But I did it because I knew I had to. And over the course of a couple of months I realised that nothing bad actually happened after I’d told people ‘I’m not working.’ ‘No, I have stopped my business.’ ‘I’m in transition at the moment. I need to take a break before I decide what to do.’   I was basically saying to the world:  Look at me. I’m a mum. I’m a wife. I’m me. And I’m ok with that! And I was.  I was ok with being me. Me with no bells and whistles attached proving my worth. Just me. And it felt – it feels – great. I feel liberated. I feel like my cage has gone.  I know there are other smaller cages that my ego still keeps me locked in that I will discover and free myself from as I move through life, but at the moment this has been such a shift in my whole being that I can hardly believe it.

But to be able to let go of this ego-driven goal and belief I also had to connect to my true inner self, so there would be something to take the place of my ego voice and goals. This connection to my true self has come through walking outside, listening to music, mediation and writing. Lots of writing.  I’m still learning to connect with myself – I’m a newbie – but I’m loving learning how to. And the rewards of doing so are so huge: a feeling of peace; increased flow and losing myself in what I’m doing; feeling light-hearted – less serious and heavy; and having more clarity around what I really want to do.

Now I can start my business again without the fear that if it goes wrong I will be a failure, or not worthy of love and belonging.  I feel free to be myself and express myself and try things that I would have been too scared to do beforehand.  I can now dare greatly knowing that I am still the same wonderful person whether I succeed or ‘fail’.  My flaws or failings don’t define me. They make me me.  And owning them makes me braver and ironically more able to succeed in the future. I am building my business from scratch again, but it feels so different to the striving that drove me before – and which wasn’t very successful.  I now feel more creative and expansive.  I am patient and doing this properly rather than desperately wanting everything to happen now!  I know how I want to make my difference and I know I can make it work. I know I can do it my way this time and be successful.

Wish me luck!

 

 

*Brene Brown introduced me to this phrase and I love it.

 

Written at The British Library, London while listening to Muse, Drones and The 2nd Law.

 


Why Control is Overrated

Control key isolated on white

Control doesn’t work.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to be in control.   Not like a power-crazed despot desires control to get their own way, but as a strategy to avoid the painful stuff of life.   You know, things like failure, conflict, other people’s judgements and the big bad negative emotions of anger, loneliness, rejection, despair and sadness.

My need to have control – to be certain of how things would turn out – came from the desire to protect myself from the scary unknown.  It was a coping mechanism I learnt growing up, much like the small child who puts her cars in perfect order because she have no control over anything else in her life.   Like a bouncer at a nightclub door I chose to take on the massive task of controlling (i.e. banning) the pain from my life.  Not an easy strategy to take on at such a young age.  The chances of it succeeding were pretty damn slim, but I stuck to the idea of control doggedly, convinced that I had the intelligence and capacity to make it work.  Or maybe I really knew it would never work, but the potential rewards of being certain and in control are so alluring – still – that I long for it just as I long for the wisdom one day to live a perfectly healthy life (i.e. give up sugar and alcohol and exercise every day), or just as I long for my children to be happy and confident (i.e. never get upset or angry about anything).  It’s an impossible and unreal dream.

I don’t know when it stopped working but it’s been a pretty shitty strategy for as long as I can remember. Control is impossible, and certainty is illusive, especially when people and relationships are involved – which they are in most situations in modern life.  And when children come along, certainty and control fly out of the window before the babies are even born.  All this strategy ever did for me was give me a huge amount of pain, and stop me from experiencing and a happier life.

Because if you think about it, trying to keep things the same, all controlled and certain means that we miss out on most of what is good about life.  Here’s some of what I’ve learnt since I let go of needing to be in control:

  • The failure and mistakes are what make us grow.
  • Being vulnerable is the gateway to becoming braver and stronger.
  • Vulnerability is how we make deeper connections to other human beings.
  • Being open to chance and chaos allows us to notice and take advantage of exciting opportunities.
  • Chance encounters can change your life.
  • Curiosity and adventure are basic human drives and cannot be nurtured in a controlled environment.
  • Gratitude, love and joy get squashed if you are so focussed on keeping control.
  • Negative emotions have a purpose, and learning to experience them is necessary to true happiness. (Damn it!)

So, yes, I know all about control and certainty.  It’s the perfectionist’s modus operandi. But trying to control everything is hard and denies us the joy that is an up and down life.  Learning to be OK with not knowing, with chaos, with the changing winds of growth has been very hard for me, but my goodness, it pays well.  I’ve a long way to go, but if the joy and love and growth that has happened so far continues as I develop my talent for letting go of control, then I’m very excited about my future.

xxxxx

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5 Ways to Connect to Your Inner Joy

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I am happy.

My heart is light and full of joy. Everything around me is beautiful and my life feels truly blessed. I feel deeply connected to my true self, to the people around me, to nature and to the Universe (whatever that means).

As my previous blogs show, this is not always the case.  To be brutally honest, it was not often the case over most of my life.  Yes, of course I had many happy moments, joyful days, blissful times – but rarely were they just there for no particular reason. You know, just there happening during a normal day, with nothing specific to trigger them except an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for being alive in this moment; for this life that I’m blessed with. The joyful moments usually happened because I felt I had ‘achieved’ something. This joy for nothing particular is not normal to me.

This year though, I’m experiencing this lovely, loving state much more easily.  It’s like I can take a deep breath and step into it, like stepping into a sunbeam streaming through the window.  This ‘skill’, ‘ability’, ‘gift’, ‘talent’ whatever it is, seems like it has just appeared overnight, like a present bestowed on a small child after she spent a year wishing to the stars for it.  It feels wondrous, miraculous yet also so normal and easy.   A small voice in my head is asking: ‘Why haven’t I been able to do this before?

But it didn’t just happen.  It has come from a life of striving, of searching for my own truth.  It’s something I’ve been working on for years and years and years.  My diaries when I was 13 were full of soul searching, and have been ever since. This soul searching has brought me to my knees several times when I’ve been in dark pits of despair because I knew that there was this truth out there for me to reach, but I just didn’t know how to. All this soul-searching was eventually soul-destroying.

Because when it comes down to it that’s what I’ve been searching for. My soul. My truth. Myself. Me. The ‘true’ me.

And I could never give up.  I could never settle for a ‘normal’ life, and do what was expected. I had to keep searching for my soul because it was dropping clues that I needed to live life and love life my way, that I should follow this dream forever.

However, because my ego has been in charge all of my life, I never befriended my soul.   I kept searching and longing to find it inside me, but I could never really get it to stay around long enough to recognise it. My ego would always come in threatening this new friendship and persuading that this sparkly new life was too dangerous. So although I occasionally I got to dance with my soul, my ego always put it back in a cage where it was protected by layers of armour and heavy chains.

Just in case.

Just in case it got out and people would see it.

Now, though it seems like I have found it.  We have yet to get to know each other well, but we are friends.  What have I done differently to finally be reunited with my soul?  (Wow! – it feels a bit weird to write that. A bit woo woo. But what else do you call that inner part of you that is really you, untainted by the demands of ego?)   Over the last 6 months I have done 5 things that have helped me to reconnect to my inner self.  I didn’t know at the time that these were the answer, rather I knew that it was a case of ‘I’ve tried everything else, this is really my only choice now.

Here’s what I did.

I Let Go

I finally let go of who I thought I should be. This shadow self who has been with me for as long as I can remember. I had to say goodbye and release this wonderful woman who has been almost in my grasp for over 30 years. I fought it til the end, resisting, resisting, resisting but deep inside (my soul) knew it was the right time. So I took off my armour and showed my naked self to the world.  No, I don’t have a business. No, I’m not ‘doing’ anything at the moment’ (apart from the not-so-small job of looking after 3 children), ‘No, I’m not sure what I’m going to do‘  ‘I’m a mum‘. This is me and I am proud of myself. This is me, and I’m OK.

I had to admit to the world that this was me. I am a mum and a wife. And that is all.

Sounds simple doesn’t it, but it was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  And I am very proud of myself for doing  it.  Finally. About bloody time, Thea!

 

I Started REALLY Writing.

I have been writing on and off since I was 13.   Getting things out onto paper really helps me make a sense of my world.  It’s the way I express myself.  I’m an introvert who thinks a lot and words are my love, my drug, my medicine, my enduring pleasure.

Last September on my birthday I decided to start writing everyday.   I chose to write Morning Pages, as recommended by my coach Joanna Martin and by legendary writer Julia Cameron. And boy did it open me up!  That 30-60 minutes everyday grounded me and showed me to myself as nothing has ever done before.  I felt connected to myself and the peace (though often fleeting) that came with is was manna from heaven.  Essentially it woke me up.

 

I Used my Mindfulness Skills

Did I mention that letting go of who I thought I was meant to be was hard?  Yes? It was.  Because my ego came out to play big time since this shadow self was it’s biggest weapon, and it definitely didn’t want to say goodbye to it.  Any time it felt threatened it just had to wheel out this ‘perfect Thea’ and off I’d go into self-hatred and Should Land.  So I battled my ego with awareness and kindness.  I allowed myself to be scared and imperfect and to be me, by showing myself compassion and completely leaving judgement outside the door. Judgement has been my constant companion, like, forever, so I was quite happy to see the back of him. I never judge other people, so why did I give myself such a hard time?

Being mindful of what I was feeling, and why these feelings and thoughts came up, while also being non-judgemental and compassionate is the core of mindfulness. I used these skills to get me through the resistance, vulnerability and nakedness of freeing my true self from it’s heavy armour.

 

I Got Outside in Nature with Music

I chose to be more active this year.  I stay in my house too much so I made myself go outside. I take my headphones and music and go walk outside.  It’s been nothing short of amazing for me.  It loads me up with inspiration and connects me to the world, to Mother Nature, even the Universe.   It has made me feel like I’m not alone, but instead have a gournded link to the earth through my footsteps, but also a strong link of light up into the trees, the sky and whatever energies are beyond.  This is where I feel like I can channel joy and energy and motivation. This is where I feel it.  It’s becoming like a temple for me. I haven’t been out today and I’m getting ‘itchy feet’ so to speak.

 

I Said Thank-You, Thank-You, Thank-You

I have long believed that Gratitude is the foundation of happiness, because happiness cannot be accessed without it. (I am giving it a capital G on purpose!) Writing gratitude journals is a great habit to have because it does get you in the habit of noticing what you are grateful for each day. But this year I’ve stepped things up a little.  I’ve said Thank You out loud when good things happen.  I’ve danced around the kitchen table with my arms in the air saying Thank You to what ever is ‘out there’ (if anything at all) for providing me with such wonderful things, feelings, experiences and people. I have smiled and laughed with gratitude and I have been humbled by it too, especially when it comes from my children.  I lie in bed at the end of the day saying Thank You to whoever and whatever is listening.

 

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Written: In my office in the garden with a hot water bottle warming my feet, listening to Muse: Aftermath, The Globalist, Drones and Follow Me on repeat.

 

 


This says all I need to know.

A lovely friend shared this poem on Tuesday and I felt it was written just for me.  It encapsulated all that I have going on in my head and what I could let go.  Some of which I do let go sometimes, most of which I don’t.

The fact that I related so strongly to it, means, of course, that I am not alone. Many other people also feel like this – I am not unique, we are all connected by how our minds work.  By the pain and suffering that our constant thinking creates within us.

 

She Let Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear. She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming
around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely,
without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a
book on how to let go… She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.

She didn’t analyse whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual
Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

 

How beautiful is that?

It seems that the author of this poem is disputed. A few sites list Ernest Holmes or Jennifer Eckert Bernau as the author but most credit Rev. Safire Rose.  Thank you to whoever wrote it.   It reminded me of my connectedness in this wonderful world, and the ease with which we could all be happy if only we allowed ourselves to let go.

 

Written:  After a walk in the crisp winter sunshine at Woods Mill, Sussex.

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Watch and Learn

I doze in bed, glad that I don’t have to get up just yet, but wondering whether I should get up now and make the most of this ‘extra bonus’ time, or try and drift off to sleep. We all know that successful people are always up before the dawn ‘getting on with life’.   The second option chooses me and I am woken again at 6 by my husband bringing me a cup of tea. He says his heavy and tired, too-much-on-his-shoulders goodbye, and my body automatically sucks up the responsibility for easing his pain. No thoughts, no plans, no words, just mother energy circulating inside me wishing for his relief and sticking expectation pins into my vulnerable psyche.

I sit up in the dark, enjoying the possibilities of the early morning quiet, but it doesn’t last long. Pad pad pad, my youngest son comes in rubbing his eyes and believing that he cannot possibly get back to sleep. He’s tried so many times in the minute since Dad woke him up going down the creaky stairs.

6.30 is the earliest getting up time for the kids in our house, but I shy away from insisting that he go back into his bed. Strike number one for integrity and boundary keeping. I decide that it’s ok, he can lie in Chris’ side of the bed and relax til 6.30. Bollocks does he! Of course he doesn’t; he fidgets and chats and checks the clock every minute. Soon I begin to sound like a boring, mean old witch repeating my ‘no’ phrases. ‘No I’m not playing a game, this is my time to wake up on my own.’ I do need my space in the mornings. ‘If I don’t write my diary in the mornings I’ll be a grumpy mum’ ‘No I can’t play the drawing on the back game now, the rule is 6.30. Just relax.’ I am soft and kind, I am gentle and playful, I am firm and calm, I am irritated and frustrated. I am mean mum apparently. Every time I go against his wishes he calls me mean. He is angry and rude. Despite staying calm I start to feel battered and bruised and the day has hardly started.  My energy is being sucked dry by Zach’s never-ending demands.

At 6.30, I’ve managed two pages of my diary and I relent to playing one round of ‘drawing pictures on our backs’ game.

He doesn’t ask me to play, or say please, or say it as a suggestion. It’s a demand, an expectation. I feel stupid for feeling so bullied by an 8 year old.  I ask him to rephrase it: ‘please could we play the touching back game.’

Zach: One round means two gos each.

Me: One round means one go each.

I draw a world map on his back and he struggles to guess it. I know – it was difficult and I don’t have much artistic talent, but he asked for a hard one. ‘It’s something you love‘, I say. ‘Chocolate, rugby, ice-cream, football?‘ he replies.

My turn: he draws a flag of india – and I guess it because he’s been studying Hinduism at school, and he loves flags.

He demands another round each. I can’t actually remember his exact words. Whatever I write down here doesn’t convey his absolute conviction that his needs are paramount and somehow I begin to feel that I am indeed being mean by not agreeing.

We play one more go each, then he disappears downstairs to watch TV after making absolutely sure I’m not going to change my mind and play some more.

I sit and meditate, but my mind is all over the place. I focus on Box breathing (in, pause, out, pause) and it’s easier. I manage 8 minutes. It’s better than the big fat zero I’m been achieving most of this year, so I tick it off in my new diary.

Its 6.56. I normally wake the other two at 7 and go downstairs to prepare breakfast, packed lunch etc. I could go down now and be ahead of myself. Especially because I should have eaten something before now as I recently learnt that it’s best to eat within 30-40 minutes of getting up. Or is that waking up? I don’t know – might need to check that. Don’t feel like eating yet though.  Chatter, chatter goes my mind, trying to do the right thing. Thinking that there is actually a right choice to make. Warning: Battery levels getting lower.

Instead of getting up, I pick up my ipad because I have a bugging suspicion which has been on my mind for a couple of days that I mentioned a few people in a Facebook post and missed someone out. That I’ve upset someone is unsettling me, so I go in and check. But of course I get distracted by friend requests and posts, and commenting on posts. Then I check, and it’s all ok. This person isn’t part of the closed group that I posted in. Phew. But it’s now 7.07 and I’m late.  I meet my daughter in the hallway and we have a morning hug. She seems quiet but fine. I disappear downstairs and focus on getting some food into me. I prepeared some veg last night to have in my scrabbled egg, and I smile smugly as I cook my breakfast. How lovely it feels to be in control and living with my integrity. Maybe I can rescue the day after all. I make my son’s breakfast and we sit down together to eat. Jasmine comes down, and it all goes wrong.

She has a habit of dumping her school bag on the table and so in my new spirit of setting boundaries for behaviour that drains me, I ask her lightly to put it on the floor instead. Not the right choice.  Oh no! How could I have been so inconsiderate, always preferring her brothers to her? She storms off in a cloud of pain and indignation.

There are more arguments and shouting when I go upstairs.  I don’t know how to hold the space for her, so instead I go cold and shut her out. I may be setting boundaries of behaviour but I’m doing so in a cold and unemotional way because I’m at my emotional limit for the day and it’s not even 8am. If I didn’t shut down I would get angry and emotional. When I have no headspace I can’t seem to find the middle ground.

Harvey gets up and informs me that his Volcano homework project is due in today and he hasn’t finished it. Deep breath.  I help him find some coloured card and glue and leave him to it.

By the time we are in the car, my temper is frayed to say the least. Inside I’m saying: keep calm, keep calm. Be calm, speak kindly. On the drive Jasmine hits Zach for singing, and I shout. ‘It’s ok to be angry Jasmine, but it’s not ok to hurt people’.

Jasmine: Can you stop the car, I want to walk to the bus stop.

Me: No, I’m not going to stop the car.

Can you stop the car, I want to walk to the bus stop.

Can you stop the car, I want to walk to the bus stop.

Can you stop the car, I want to walk to the bus stop.

Inside I’m thinking, I would love to stop and let her walk to the bus stop but it’s me who has to pick up the pieces and I don’t want to. She’ll miss her bus and it’ll be me having to drive her into school. Part of me wants to leave her there and make her walk home and miss a day of school, but luckily I don’t listen to it.

Can you stop the car, I want to walk to the bus stop.

Can you stop the car, I want to walk to the bus stop.

Can you stop the car, I want to walk to the bus stop.

I fight every urge in my body to shout at her, and keep my emotions in. Instead I praise Harvey for finishing his homework.

Harvey: Thanks, I’ve thought about what I could do better next time.

I nod, say great and wait for him to elaborate but he doesn’t.

Me: Maybe you could treat projects like they do in Mythbusters and do a prototype next time?’

Harvey: I can’t really because it was small enough to start with. A prototype is usually smaller. (As usual my suggestion is batted back to me.)

Me: And you don’t have a workshop full of stuff either. But it’s a suggestion, a way of looking at things.

I am forcing my voice to be light-hearted.

We get to the bus stop, and Jasmine gets out determinedly, silently. I say bye to them both

Zach immediately moves into the front of the car.

Zach: Let’s forget about it all – let’s put it behind us.

Me: But the only way we can do that is if we learn from it.

Zach: Just today, let’s just forget about it.

Me: Well (humpf) you’ll have to wait for me to calm down.

Inside my head I’m writing a post for Facebook in a closed forum I”m a member of. I want to tell them all that I just can’t do this dealing with negative energy stuff. I either ignore it, or fight it. I can’t seem to dance with it and change it into something positive.

Zach and I usually have a morning game while we are waiting for the older ones’ school bus to come. We have a 3 CD pack ‘Now that’s what I call Rock Classics’ and we guess which CD and number a particular track is.

I say I’m still calming down, but I’m not. I’m ruminating, and going over stuff in my head. A voice comes up – it’s Lynne, my coach. ‘Change your state, Thea. Remember: don’t do this stuff any more. Change your state.’ I think back to my coaching notes. Dance, music, think differently. Just STOP. But I don’t want to. Part of me wants to be in this hateful, angry, suffering place. There is a pay off somewhere, but I’m not sure what it is.

I suddenly notice that Zach has put on a differenct track. U2 – With or without you.   He knows I like it. I immediately turn to him and stroke his cheek.

Me: Did you put that on because it would make me feel better?

He nods.

Me: Thank you.  You have such a sweet heart don’t you?

He nods shyly.

Me: See, you could use your loving heart when you want people to do things for you because it works so much better than fighting with your angry heart.

He nods again, taking it in.

Then I realise.  Duh!

Me: I could do that too couldn’t I? Come from my loving heart instead of my angry heart when I’m feeling battered and attacked.

He nods – but his capacity for meaningful conversations has been reached.  It’s time to lighten it up.

Me:  Thanks, Hon,  you taught me something. Well done.

We drive to his school doing our music quiz. He’s about to go in and asks where his lunch box is. I’ve forgotten it. He had asked me where it was when we left and I said I’d bring it, but in all the craziness I forgot to pick it up. As we drove home to get it we laugh at how he had been wiser than me twice that morning.  Once about remembering his lunch box, and then about letting things go and talking with your loving heart.  We are still laughing about it when we get back to school.

Me: Any other suggestions or wise words you can offer me, Zach?

Zach: Just watch and learn, Mum. Watch and learn.

 

Written: at home, at the table in my bedroom, overlooking the garden.

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