a fog clearing clarity of attention

the beauty of silence

Sometimes we can use words to say nothing at all, and silence to explain everything.

adapted from Raine Cooper

The fog of words, a cloak of noise, distracting, attention seeking, truth masking. Sometimes said for our benefit, not the listener’s. Sometimes said to distort, excuse, replay well-worn stories.

The purity of silence, a state of being, wordless knowing, inviting connection and togetherness, honest communication, total attention, a deeper knowing.

 

unselfishly selfish gifting

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Last minute Christmas. It’s that time.

The rush, on the last few days, to find a gift for someone. Maybe you forgot. Maybe you have been busy. Maybe you couldn’t find your first choice gift. Maybe you didn’t think they would buy, but somewhat frustratingly they have, and it’s beautifully wrapped. Maybe you have been given something unexpectedly and feel the need to respond now. Maybe what you bought isn’t suitable. Not enough. Not right.

Christmas is a time for giving, so the saying goes. But is it? Really?

Are we perhaps really being our most selfish at this time? Is it more about our need? Our need to buy a gift that shows we know the person? Or that we care? Or that we didn’t forget? Do we, in point of fact, really give gifts for us? To make us feel good? To satisfy a value or need we have? Maybe we see ourselves as kind, thoughtful, loving, friendly. Perhaps. Or maybe it’s our need to be a friend, to be loved, thought of, our need to belong, to be treated kindly? Perhaps the act of giving makes us feel good in some other way?

Many years ago, when I began coaching, I considered working pro bono or for free. I had received coaching, seen the benefits, and wanted to coach selflessly, for free, so that other human beings might reap the rewards of coaching, enjoying life more, being more themselves, happier, more fulfilled, at peace.

I spoke with my own coach. He pointed out that actually I was doing this because it made me feel good. An act of giving that could literally change people’s lives, was in fact all about me. Selfish. My desire to free people to be at their best, really all about my needs.

He was right of course. It was a key realisation for me.

I wonder now, how much of our behaviour, our decisions, our choices are in fact for us. Even if they are ones of support or giving towards others?

Christmas seems to be a convenient opportunity for us to fulfil this selfish selflessness.

Have a joyous Christmas. Wherever you are, whomever you are with. By all means exchange gifts. The exchange is a bilateral selfish selflessness. Human. Healthy.

The best gift you can receive though, is increased awareness of your self. So reflect. Look inward. Understand and accept your true motivations. Give yourself something special this Christmas.

image by Gretchen Rubin

 

 

the space to be

fix-what-you-think-fix-what-you-do

The next time you have a thought… let it go

Ron White

We can become slave to our heads.

We ping pong between the past and the future. What has happened and what might happen. What we need to do. What we did or didn’t do. Experiences we have had. Opportunities to come. Lists of things to do. Things we did, or should have done.

Our thoughts begin to run us.

I must do this…
If only I hadn’t…
What if…?
Don’t forget…
What did I say…?
Should I…?
Why…?
When can I…?

Find instead a place where the mind is quiet. The body is present.

The space to be.

here’s the answer, now what is the question?

the-wrong-question

I listened to the Minister for Sport this morning, Tracey Crouch.  She was describing the new government strategy for sport.

She did something it is both easy to admire and easy to despise in a politician – avoidance of the question.  She did it very well.

Essentially she was asked three points – will there be more money? How does this square with school sports field sell-off? and then, somewhat tangentially,  her view on a certain boxer and being a sports role model.

Tracey very adeptly avoided answering any of these questions whilst sounding authoritative, clear, engaging and positive.

At first I judged her.

Then on reflection it struck me that as human beings we all do that too, all the time.  We do it to ourselves. In our heads.

We give ourselves reasons why. We answer the question we have been telling ourselves is the question. Maybe we have told ourselves that for a very long time that’s the question.  We have probably been telling ourselves that’s the answer too, for just as long.  Maybe it’s a new rationale, but the same erroneous question?  The comfortable question. The familiar question. The safe answer.

But in reality we are often avoiding the real question.

Just like Tracey we spin ourselves a compelling story.

Maybe we should ask ourselves, ‘What’s the real question here?’ ‘What am I avoiding as I listen to my familiar internal dialogue?’

Let’s remove the politician in us all.

what is your relationship to space?

space freedom
I’m on a train. If possible, when on a train I sit in the aisle seat.

This typically requires another passenger to ask me to move if they seek to occupy the window seat. I notice I encourage this need to ask.

Now, I’m not a selfish person. I like other people and I will often go a long way in support of their needs.  I will always move to allow seat access and only last week I moved completely to allow four ladies to sit together around a table booth on the train.

Still, I like the space of the aisle seat. I don’t like being trapped by the window. Dependent on another moving for me to move.

This afternoon I’m reflecting on the clearly higher priority I place on space and freedom, and possibly control, over compassion and kind nature towards fellow humans.

It appears to be my truth though.

I like space to think too. Space around me when I’m coaching. Physical space at work and at home. I like walking in open spaces. But beyond this I don’t like to be constrained by others. Physically, mentally, emotionally, creatively. Pretty much any dimension actually. Never ask me to do something and then prescribe how I should do it. For me, this is another manifestation of constraint or removal of space and freedom.

What is your relationship to space?
To freedom?
To being unconstrained?

And how does this manifest for you? How do you experience this relationship with space?

 

is it time to change the baubles?

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Christmas approaches.

You probably have decorations up. At home. In the office. Maybe your house is lit up from top to bottom, with trailing flashing lights, illuminated elves and a ho-ho-ho-ing Father Christmas? Maybe not.

Decorations are a tradition at this time of year. As is the tree. So too Brussels sprouts, parsnips, Christmas pudding, mince pies, giving gifts, time off work, parties, over eating, old films on the television…

Traditions connect us to the past.

As individuals we have traditions too. Ways of being, behaviours, things we say or do. We learned them a long time ago, but they stay with us in the present.

Traditions can be thought of as the passing of customs, behaviours or beliefs from one generation to the next, usually within a specific group. Often they reflect a special significance, a meaning defined by our ancestors, long ago.

So too with our own traditions of custom, belief or behaviour. Except with our own traditions of being, we created the meaning and the significance ourselves. And we passed them down, from our childhood, through our teenage formative years, into our early adulthood, our mid-life (crisis optional) and on into our old age. At an early stage of our lives we decided something had to be so. Probably for good reason. Now we continue to live it. It has become our own personal tradition.

Sometimes we would do well to unpack these. To review them. To notice them. To see if they still serve us well.

Traditions can be good. Reminders of our past. Connections to where we come from. But sometimes they can become unhelpful, inappropriate or even a burden.

Reviewing our traditions is probably something we should all do, at this traditional time of year.

Keep what serves you. Change what doesn’t.

 

 

do you choose awesome?

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I saw a diary on someone’s desk today.

I know, a paper diary … no doubt some of you will be shocked and some of the younger readers confused at this somewhat outdated concept. But I looked past this tokenism of a bygone paper age, because what was displayed on the front cover caught my attention.

It simply said…

Wake up
Be awesome
Repeat x 365

Lovely philosophy.

taking for granted what we take for granted

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When I was a teenager, telephone boxes were how you communicated when outside the home. They were on every street corner. Red, glass and steel boxes that served as communication portals to friends, family, emergency services and, most importantly, they served to secure you a lift back home after a night out. Now of course they are almost non existent. Back then, I took them for granted. I couldn’t conceive of the telephone box being in my pocket.

All of us take things for granted.

Things that just are. Things we have known to be so, for so long, we simply don’t question them.

And the challenge  with noticing the things we take for granted is… well, we take them for granted.

In a sense they become invisible to us.

Looking back in time can provide clues as to things we once all took for granted. One hundred years ago, 25% of us would have been servants. Many would have taken that for granted. Telling the time required a pocket watch, subsequently a wrist watch. We carried the time with us. That was just how it was. Now, the time is everywhere in our digital world, and fewer kids wear watches. Fires were how we kept warm, now we have central heating, under floor heating.

Just 15 years ago, access to the Internet would only have been possible in certain locations with specific equipment. Now we take for granted we can access it anywhere anytime, on many devices. And when we can’t, we become frustrated. We almost take it for granted now. Soon we will.

Just living day to day, many of us take things for granted. Having a roof over our heads. Food to eat. Sleeping. Clothes. Cars. Roads. Water. Toilets. Power. The sun coming up. Language. Medicines. Microwaves. Refrigerators. Government. Peace.

Of course, taking some of these things for granted is fine, for the most part.

The question is, what do you currently take for granted that closes your mind to possibility?

What can you not see, because something you take for granted, just is? It’s there obstructing your ability to see things differently.

Don’t take for granted what you take for granted.

 

unspecific waftings

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I find myself sometimes making unintentionally sweeping statements.

You know the kind of thing. You may recognise their nature. Typically something occurs to us and we respond with a vague generalisation, wafted out into the world as if by setting our disappointment, frustration, anger, bewilderment free, we make it better. Earlier today, having been obstructed by several people whilst trying to push a shopping laden trolley across a precinct to a car park, I uttered…

“People are annoying aren’t they?”

This sentence of course, excludes detail as to specifically which people, in what specific circumstances, by which specific actions. It also suggests these unnamed people are causing annoyance in me. Of course they can’t, only I can create that in me, through interpretation of their actions.

We postulate generalisation such as this all the time though.

“Sometimes I wonder about this business!”
“Why me?”
“What are the parents doing?”
“I can’t abide stuff like that”
“I’ve got so much to do”
“Middle lane drivers!”

Each misses out specifics about who, what, when, where and how.

Maybe we would benefit from recovering the specifics, so that our response can be more attributable, more actionable, more accountable?

But maybe that’s why we do it, so we don’t have to act, or own it?