Wednesday, 30 January 2013

It's not always about you...but it nearly is!

I often hear myself repeating to clients the importance of paying attention to their own needs, I explain how health promoting it is to speak up honestly and constructively about what those needs are.  There is a background fear, a belief commonly held by many of my clients that by asking for what they want they are therefore selfish, self absorbed, heartlessly showing no concern or care for the needs of others.
Changing those beliefs can be tricky, though not impossible! I encourage anyone who can recognise themselves as being "people pleasers" to stop before giving the standard, "Yes! I'll do it!" answer.  Explain you need time to decide if you can or indeed want to do what is being asked of you, and you will let them know in a couple of days.
Now, sit in a peaceful place and imagine yourself doing the task being asked of you.  What feelings come up?  Do you feel light or heavy?  Does it fill you with dread or a sense of fulfilment? Remember your body is the truth teller.  Pay close attention to what it's telling you.  If you decline the request that has been put to you by saying, "No, but thanks for asking me.  I simply can't take that on at this time." The lovely thing to remember is that the sun will continue to rise, the sea will ebb and flow and all will be well.
By being kinder to yourself and whenever possible taking on roles you want you will be healthier and therefore more able to be there for others in their time of need.
On that note...when we have been stretching ourselves too thinly and taking on too much we can often miss really important opportunities to be there for people we care about.  We get stuck in our heads saying all sorts of things like, "Oh they'll be fine - they have other folk with them just now."  "I'm too busy at the moment,  I'll call them later, they'll know I'm thinking of them."  "I think I'd be uncomfortable around them , I wouldn't know what to say." All headmind excuses which ultimately leave the person feeling regretful and sad they didn't give love and attention to a person, or people they care about.  Don't let the headmind sabotage your ability to give love, kindness and support when it matters.  Be at peace with being your complete and authentic self.
"No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each part is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main." - John Donne
"It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness." - Charles H. Spurgeon

Sunday, 13 January 2013

First impressions

At 5 years old, back in 1973 I found myself in the sick children's ward of Dundee Royal Infirmary.  This was long before someone realised that kids could really do with having their parents with them in hospital, so it was a pretty scary place to be.  I had osteomyelitis in my knee so I was on bed rest, and getting pumped full of anti-biotics which left me feeling quite sick.  As I lay in my bed I could see kids going into the play room pulling toys out, squabbling over who had rights over which toy.  I was quite shy back then and as a result I didn't feel I was missing out on getting into the playroom - I reckon that even if I'd had permission to move around I'd have stayed in bed away from the others.
There was one nurse with jet black hair, a lady who would come over to my bed carrying a range of cuddly toys, Lego figures and dolls.  I'd see her coming and I'd pull the sheet over my head and try to turn myself onto my tummy, but with my knee being so painful that wasn't easy.  As I lay there awkwardly she'd sneak one of the toys under the sheet and start speaking saying, "Hello!  My name's Dolly and I just wanted to play with you.."  Initially I would turn my face away, but I also remember holding the sheet tightly over my head, hoping the nurse wouldn't notice that I was in fact turning round to see the doll's face.  The kind nurse was persistent, and over a 6 week period, whenever she was on duty at some point of her shift she would go through the same procedure with the toys.  Then the breakthrough day came - I'm not sure how it happened but I saw her coming and decided to just stay propped up in bed and not dive under the sheet.  Children are very observant and at 5 years old I was no exception.  I remember strange details about that kind bringer of toys.  She had quite dry skin on her hands, her whole face smiled and beamed at me constantly, and when she turned her head her hair moved like a ballerina's skirt.  I remember getting a feeling in my tummy that said, "I like you."
To this day I think about Nurse Thankappan (yes, I even remember her name!) and wonder why she never gave up on me.
That experience also taught me to be persistent and not always believe the behaviour someone displays on the first meeting as being the truth about them.   When someone is scared, in pain, unsure, alone or frightened they often don't trust that it's okay to give someone else the chance to help or support them.  They can seem grumpy, demanding or challenging - but fear can present itself in many guises.  Take time to really get to know the person.  You never know, you might get the reward of a breakthrough day just as Nurse Thankappan did back in 1973.
"Don't be over self-confident with your first impression of people." - Chinese proverb.
"A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence." - Jim Watkins.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Getting used to the inevitable

Yesterday after work I went to collect my son Charlie from my Dad's. They were watching old video's from the early 1990's.  In one clip showing my middle child Tina's Christening 4 of the 8 people in the video have since died.  It was quite hard to watch actually.  My Mum was there being loud and silly, just as if she was here right now - my Grandma was there loving her great grand children, an Uncle cracking jokes with Dad, the minister who was a friend of the family listening and laughing at Dad's speech - all gone now.  That old expression of there only being two definite things in life - taxes and death - leapt to mind.   You'd think that because it's a certainty we'd get used to it.  We'd toughen up about losing loved ones, but we don't do we? What's that all about?  I think it might simply be because we don't know if our paths will ever cross again - even those with faith must have moments of wondering if they are going to be with the ones they've laughed, cried and made memories with ever again.  Never, ever again is a tough thought.
I looked quite grumpy at times in the video. In another clip Mum and I were watching my girls throwing snowballs at Grandad in the garden, it was funny seeing my then 54 year old Dad running away from his 3 and 4 year old grand daughters.  How much I wished I could be catapulted back to that moment and stop myself being a moody madam, weighed down by working and looking after 2 little people looked like it was taking it's toll - but that moment has passed and what loss has taught me is that I owe it to myself and those I love to be aware of the preciousness of the time we have with each other.  Life is so incredibly transient, pay attention to those that matter, and enjoy every opportunity to make memories that will stay with you long after those you love have left this life.
"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love." - Marcus Aurelius

Saturday, 5 January 2013

The worrier

I wonder if it is possible to remove the "worrying" trait.  Is it inherent in all of us?  It's certainly something I battle with on a near daily basis.  I do know people who are incredibly good at keeping their concerns and worries within reasonable limits, not allowing their heads to catastrophise - and I do sort of envy them that ability.
I don't believe we're born worriers, just as I don't believe anyone is born evil.  Early experiences leave their mark.  A faint bruise, a blemish on the surface of the skin begins to fade, then something else happens and the bruise goes deeper, stays longer marking our skin a deep purple.  As bad or sad things happen to us it's as if there is a permanent "mark" left - immovable, stuck fast.  This mark becomes our basis for a belief that leaves us "knowing" worrying about tomorrow is the only way!
The fact is, bad things do happen. What we can do though is reality check the facts related to a situation that may be unfolding before us.  Keeping our feet on the ground we can focus on what is happening NOW!  Not what might happen tomorrow...I for one need to remind myself of this over and over again as my head has a tendency to think the worst.  So, I say STOP!  Shift my awareness to my feet on the ground and stay rooted in this moment - after all NOW is the only thing that is real , the rest is being made up in my head!
"Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen.  Keep in the sunlight." - Benjamin Franklin.
"Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy." - Leo Buscaglia.