HOW TO DO LIFE powerful pointers for powerful living PERRY AKASHA LONSDALE EP BOOKS Wiltshire В© Copyright 2004 Perry Akasha Lonsdale The right of Perry Akasha Lonsdale to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with Section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act, 1988. She asserts and gives notice of her moral right under this Act. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means (electronic or mechanical, through reprography, digital transmission, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher. PAPERBACK ISBN: 0-9546908-0-X Published by: EP Books, Sunnycroft, Mile Elm, Calne, Wiltshire, SN11 ONE www.empoweringpartnership.com A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library. Printed by Antony Rowe Ltd., Chippenham, Wiltshire. CONTENTS PAGE Dedication Acknowledgements About this book CHAPTER 1 COMMUNICATION 1 Communication is a minefield 1 Awareness вЂ“ the key to change! 2 Perception: вЂњthe world according to usвЂќ 2 A model of communication: 4 ! AdultвЂ¦. 5 ! Parent: Nurturing and Critical 5 ! Child: 3 Suits of Armour: Rebel, Compliant, Withdrawn 8 ! Rebel 10 ! Compliant 10 ! Withdrawn 11 Indirect Communication 12 ! Humour 13 ! Put Downs/Cheap Shots 14 ! Sarcasm 14 ! Cynicism 14 ! Resentment and Bitterness 14 ! Irritability and Nagging 15 ! Sulking 15 ! Sabotage 16 ! With-holds 16 The way forward 17 CHAPTER 2 SELF-AWARENESS 19 Emotional Intelligence 19 Body awareness 20 Feelings awareness 21 Mind awareness 23 Breathing 23 The blame game 26 Change your language 27 Choice vs knee-jerks 29 Avoid the drama, stay in the audience 33 Know thyself! 34 CHAPTER 3 THE MIND 37 Worry is pointless 37 Minimising worry 38 Break the cycle of desire 39 Stay in the NOW 40 Elbow the ego 43 Stop self criticism 45 Give up mind reading 45 Silence is golden 46 Still the mind 47 Learn meditation 48 Visualisation 50 Dare to dream 52 Set goals 53 Transcend fear 53 ! Fear = Contraction 53 ! Welcome your problems 54 ! Abound with abundance 55 ! Love your bills 55 ! Count your blessings 56 ! Take a risk 56 Stretch your mind 58 Improve your memory 59 CHAPTER 4 RELATIONSHIPS 62 Dismantle the fortress 63 Open your heart doors 64 Find your candle flame 67 Integrate your shadow 69 Develop empathy 70 Court compassion 72 Look for the Jewel 72 Actively listen 75 Communicate authentically 76 Assert yourself 77 Learn to say вЂњNoвЂќ 80 Praise others 83 Accept a compliment 84 Abandon the relationship killers 84 ! Need 84 ! Expectation 85 ! Jealousy 87 ! Guilt 89 Release attachments 90 CHAPTER 5 ENHANCING YOUR LIFE 92 Embrace the positive 92 ! Love/Hate 92 ! Leg it from the negative 94 ! Keep good company 94 ! Develop gratitude 95 ! Cultivate joy 95 ! Create an inner smile 96 ! Give yourself a hug 97 ! Give someone else a hug! 98 Boost self-esteem 98 ! Accept yourself 99 ! Like yourself 100 ! Talk yourself up 100 ! Honour your body 102 ! Maximise your appearance 103 Heal Yourself 104 ! Bin bitterness 104 ! Stop resenting 104 ! Forgive 105 ! Anger release 105 ! Laugh 108 Explore your potential 109 ! Develop creativity 111 ! Follow your intuition 112 ! Trust your knowingness 113 Flow with the river of life 114 CHAPTER 6 MAXIMISING HEALTH AND WELL-BEING The physiology of stress 117 ! The good news 120 Getting through the day 121 ! Morning kickstart 121 ! Travelling to work by car 121 ! Travelling to work by train 121 ! Walking to work 122 ! Working at home 122 ! Taking breaks 122 ! End of day donвЂ™ts an doвЂ™s 123 Time management 124 ! Energy log 124 ! Action Planning 126 ! Meetings 127 Relaxation 128 вЂњMe timeвЂќ 128 Diet 129 ! Liquids 129 ! Vitamins 131 ! What vitamins do what? 132 Exercise 133 Concluding thoughts 138 FinallyвЂ¦.a little something more 139 Some signs and symptoms of inner peace 139 Guidelines for being human 140 How ToвЂ™s at a glance 141 Recommended reading and useful addresses 142 About the author 147 Dedicated to: World Peace, Tolerance and The Wisdom of the Heart ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS My heartfelt thanks go to: My husband John, who has not only been a constant and willing support but has offered helpful thoughts and ideas from a readerвЂ™s perspective. As an avid reader of varied literature, I have really valued his input. All of those friends who so willingly agreed to read the book in its infancy. Their comments helped shape the finished product. Ruth Katz and Tim & Tricia Tucker who gave me a quiet place to work in the early stages of creativity. Julie Chimes, who as a busy fellow author, gave generously of her time, wisdom and encouragement. Higgi Cox, a special friend who is always so willing to help and if she canвЂ™t вЂ¦. always knows someone who can. Jamie Campbell for his technical expertise and endless patience. The various professionals involved in the production of this book, especially to Paul Litherland at Antony Rowe Ltd., who never flinched or sighed, no matter how many questions I asked and to Philippa Harrison of White House Publishing, who with the know how of Sheena May, created exactly the book cover I envisaged. All my clients without whom I would not have had such rich material. ABOUT THIS BOOK As with certain of the animal kingdom, we humans are reliant on our families/carers to show us the ropes and give the appropriate guidelines for getting through life. Often, though, those same people didnвЂ™t have great training either, so right from the start what they pass on or what you take on board might be setting you up for problems. So life becomes a journey of survival, existence and mistakes, rather than one of wholeness, love and fulfilment. We вЂњmake doвЂќ, вЂњget byвЂќ and hope we wonвЂ™t mess up too often. Even seemingly successful people who appear to have it all often carry deep doubts, and of course it is in our relationships, after the honeymoon period, where we really get to play out our unresolved вЂњstuffвЂќ. In fact, we often marry it with the end result being heartache or resignation or separation or divorce or all four. Not great outcomes for what started as love. My experience over the past 30 years, firstly in the business world and then as a psychotherapist and workshop leader/facilitator, has shown that nearly all adult issues are linked to poor communication. By вЂњpoorвЂќ I donвЂ™t mean the inability to string a sentence together - indeed articulate people can use their ability to control and demean others - but the ability to express oneself clearly and authentically. People often know what they want to say, but not how to say it. They might hold back because they are afraid of rejection or that they will вЂњhurtвЂќ another. All of this goes back to our upbringing and what we made the world mean to us when we were very young. So this book is a journey that starts with Chapter 1 exploring the Communication minefield and how it came to be that way. With the insights gained, in Chapter 2 on Self-awareness, you can turn the spotlight around to see not only how this gets in the way of your life today, but what you can do to change it. The next step of the journey is the Mind вЂ“ which can be a great friend and support or an enemy and ultimate destroyer. We often let our minds вЂњrun away with usвЂќ and Chapter 3 will show you how to stop that happening. In Chapter 4 we move into the area of Relationships вЂ“ not just the love links but all our interactions with others. It explores more of what gets in the way of effective relationships but more importantly, what you can do to change it. Chapter 5 extends beyond just relationships to embrace the wider areas in Life, those of positivity, self-esteem, self-healing and potential. Finally, Chapter 6, deals with Maximising Health & Well-being. Besides what it costs industry, stress costs us even more in health and happiness. So this chapter not only provides practical input on what you can do to get through the day but gives comprehensive guidance on the other influences of relaxation, exercise, diet and nutrition. Throughout the journey there are plenty of ! TIPS !, along with easy and effective HOW TOвЂ™s that enable you to deepen your awareness by stepping into the more experiential aspect, and end of chapter "PAUSE POINTS allow time for reflection if you choose. However if you donвЂ™t, it doesnвЂ™t matter as there is more than enough to raise your awareness and stimulate your thinking. Even though I recommend you read Chapter 1 first as it helps to set the scene, you donвЂ™t have to read the whole book cover to cover as I have designed it in bite-sized pointers so that you can dip in and out. ! TIP ! Try opening it at random and see which pointer you get for the day. Ultimately though my wish is for you to enjoy reading this culmination and distillation of, not only my own journey, but that of the thousands of wonderful people I have had the privilege to work with over the past 30 years. Their pain, insights, love, wisdom, laughter and generosity have been a true gift for me, in the way that I desire this book to be a gift for you. ENJOY and rememberвЂ¦.. there are only 2 certainties in life 1) you were born and 2) you will die SO MAKE YOUR JOURNEY COUNT!! CHAPTER 1 COMMUNICATION Easy. For those who can see, hear and talkвЂ¦..no problem. Open mouth, speak words, other person hears, understands and responds. Simple. I donвЂ™t think so! Open mouth, speak words, other person hears, misunderstands, misinterprets and then reactsвЂ¦..often inappropriately. вЂњExcuse me, could I get to the bar pleaseвЂќ вЂњWho do you think youвЂ™re pushingвЂќвЂ¦ end result: conflict. Communication is a minefield! In my 20 years as therapist and trainer I would say that, without doubt, most issues are down to peopleвЂ™s inability to communicate in a clear, direct, open and honest manner and that ineffective communication is usually blamed on others. вЂњItвЂ™s what they sayвЂќ вЂњItвЂ™s how they say itвЂќ вЂњThey wind me upвЂќ вЂњItвЂ™s what they donвЂ™t sayвЂќ вЂњItвЂ™s the way they look when they say itвЂќ etc etc. However, whilst other people can be a contributing factor to our sense of irritation and frustration, we need to become aware of our part in the dynamics of communication, why we chose that part and how we go about changing it. 2 HOW TO DO LIFE Awareness вЂ“ the key to change! If you donвЂ™t know what you do and why you do it, how can you change? Think of people as buildings where, if the underpinning and foundations are not laid correctly at the start, cracks appear, the structure gets weaker and eventually the building could collapse. Determining what shape our building is in today involves understanding the earliest development of our own underpinning and foundations and knowing how we interpreted those experiences. That interpretation (perception) is what governs all areas of our lives and becoming aware of it is the key to change. Perception: вЂњthe world according to usвЂќ Just like sponges, babies and young children absorb their surroundings. They soak it all in and then begin the process of giving it their own unique meaning. The old proverb вЂњOne manвЂ™s meat is another manвЂ™s poisonвЂќ reflects the essence of perception which is that how we view life, people and relationships as adults is greatly influenced by how our inner world assembled early experiences. In fact, the вЂњworld according to usвЂќ is pretty much in place by the age of 7 and as eminent 20th century psychologist Alfred Adler said, "Show me the child before 7 and I'll show you the man". In adult life, our perceptions manifest in many ways and one example could be to imagine the possible impact of being bitten by a dog at a young age. The result might be that you develop a lifelong fear of dogs, and yet someone who wasnвЂ™t bitten and loves them to bits might not understand this. вЂњOh, donвЂ™t worry, he/she wonвЂ™t hurt youвЂ¦..they wouldnвЂ™t hurt a flyвЂќ. In fact they might even feel a bit irritated or hurt that despite their assurances you feel nervous around their precious pooch. Or the situation might be more subtle than that. Perhaps as a child you were frequently called вЂњstupidвЂќ or вЂњsillyвЂќ, so that even now, with whatever qualifications and life experience you have, you COMMUNICATION 3 still find that certain people have a way of saying things that result in you feeling like that again. People often pre-empt this possibility by saying вЂњI know this sounds silly butвЂ¦вЂ¦.,вЂќ which they hope will stop someone commenting negatively. In my own case, as a young child, I was good at вЂњsumsвЂќ but after changing schools I seemed to lose the plot, and because teachers raised their eyebrows despairingly and were impatient, I wrote myself off as being вЂњno good at MathsвЂќ. This became tricky when I reached a senior HR position responsible for large budgets and had no instant computer checks available. Before a board meeting, I would check, double check, re-check and then check again just in case a calculation was wrong. By then I knew that I was ok with figures but the childhood doubt still lurked in the shadows and if someone questioned something in the budget my first thought was usually вЂњWhat have I got wrong?вЂќ Invariably there were no calculation mistakes, just reasonable questions, but if I had not been so aware of my belief my immediate reaction might have been defensive justification which would not only have been a waste of energy but probably resulted in my getting a reputation for being prickly! During my coaching work, Chief Executives have said вЂњI donвЂ™t know what IвЂ™m doing here, theyвЂ™ll find me out one dayвЂќ. Not because they lied their way to the top or were no good at their jobs, but because somewhere inside they still occasionally listened to a deeply ingrained but out of date belief formed from their early interpretations of situations and experiences. Often it can be very difficult understanding and accepting that feelings and behaviours today are still influenced by early childhood. вЂњHow on earth can what happened before I was 7 matter now?!вЂќ, but itвЂ™s amazing what drives us from the murky depths of a packed data base otherwise known as the unconscious mind. A recent illustration of this came from a friend of mine. She told me that a month ago her partner was about to clinch a really good deal that would mean a much needed and sizeable increase in cash flow. In her head she started planning home improvementsвЂ¦.a 4 HOW TO DO LIFE pool, landscaped garden, a holiday, upgrade of car etc. A week later the deal didnвЂ™t happen and she plummeted into upset вЂњall my dreams had come to nothingвЂќ. However, being pretty self-aware she stopped and asked herself вЂњWhat has changed?вЂќ Nothing! The whole journey from start to finish had been вЂ¦вЂ¦..in her mind. When she reflected on the episode, she realised that the upset she had felt was driven by her need for security вЂ“ a need shared by her father whose constant message to them as children had been вЂњMoney means security; make sure you always have plentyвЂќ. Whilst a definition of security for one person might be shedloads of money, for another itвЂ™s to wake up breathing every day. ItвЂ™s all down to perception. So to demonstrate the strong link between perception and communication, let me put this into a framework with a model taken from Transactional Analysis which presents the idea that within all of us there are three competing aspects: Parent, Adult and Child with subparts for the Parent and Child. I use this model because everyone identifies with it straight away. A model of communication NURTURING PARENT FREE CHILD ADULT REBEL CRITICAL WITHDRAWN COMPLIANT Firstly, before I describe any of the above, I want to be clear that we are never exclusively one part and not another. They are all constantly shifting depending on who and what we are dealing with at any given time. COMMUNICATION 5 ! Adult Ideally, adult communication is founded on reason, logic, analysis, enquiry, courtesy, knowledge, respect, consideration and a desire for a Win/Win outcome. So letвЂ™s assume that the following is a reasonable example of adult to adult interaction. Adult A: вЂњHow is the report we discussed yesterday progressing?вЂќ Adult B: вЂњVery well, it should be ready tomorrow.вЂќ or Adult A: вЂњWould you be able to look after the children on Thursday evening, IвЂ™d like to see a friend.вЂќ Adult B: вЂњYes, thatвЂ™s fine. Let me know what time and IвЂ™ll make sure IвЂ™m home.вЂќ No problems here thenвЂ¦..but does it always go like that?. No. What often seems to happen is that another influence seems to creep in that resembles either a Parent or a Child speaking. This isnвЂ™t always negative but when it is the problems start. So, to get clearer, letвЂ™s look at those different influences. ! Parent The parent exists in three ways: (or two if you donвЂ™t have children) Parenting children Parenting other people Parenting yourself and each of these are either Nurturing or Critical. 6 HOW TO DO LIFE ! Parenting children Hopefully most of the time you will be nurturing. With youngsters if they fall and hurt themselves youвЂ™ll pick them up, dust them down, tell them itвЂ™s ok, give them a cuddleвЂ¦etc and when they get older youвЂ™ll listen to their problems and help whenever you can. However, recognise any of these? вЂњHow many times have I told you to tidy upвЂќ вЂњYou treat this place like a hotelвЂќ вЂњYouвЂ™ll never get anywhere if you donвЂ™t do your homeworkвЂќ вЂњDonвЂ™t just sit there watching TV, do something usefulвЂќ etcвЂ¦ IвЂ™m sure you get the picture. Now IвЂ™m not talking here about the important boundaries that children need but those вЂњover the top momentsвЂќ where we are effectively wagging a finger in their face and giving them grief just because we had a bad day. Those moments are when we lose sight of the fact that we are meant to be the adult! Of course afterwards we might feel horribly guilty and do some extra nurturing to compensate, which some children exploit only too well!! ! Parenting other people If you have a friend going through a rough patch, no doubt you want to help in some way. You might suggest the pub and a pint, a meal out or a bottle of wine and a good old chat. Perhaps you spot someone in the office looking a bit low. You might take them aside, ask whatвЂ™s wrong and whether you can help. When you respond this way it is the equivalent of an arm around the shoulder, offering support and is very much Nurturing Parent. So if we now put both the Critical and Nurturing Parent into the earlier adult example, you can see how their influence changes the interaction. COMMUNICATION 7 Adult A (as adult): вЂњHow is the report we discussed yesterday progressing?вЂќ Adult B (as critical parent): вЂњWell it would be a lot better if I didnвЂ™t keep getting interrupted!вЂќ Adult A (as nurturing parent): вЂњYou seem a bit stressed, is there anything I can help with?вЂќ Adult B (as critical parent): вЂњWell, just letting me get on would help.вЂќ Now this is where it can get interesting. If Adult A stays in adult mode and says вЂњOK, I didnвЂ™t mean to interrupt, IвЂ™ll see you tomorrowвЂќ there is unlikely to be a problem. However, if Adult AвЂ™s critical parent wakes up it will push the adult aside and might react with вЂњAlright, no need to snap my head off!вЂќ So the downward spiral starts with two defensive Critical Parents battling for supremacy over the other and despite ultimately both parties feeling they won the end result is actually lose/lose. The goal of the critical parent is вЂњto be rightвЂќ rather than go for a mutual win/win outcome. ! Parenting yourself Let me ask you a question. If you get something wrong or you believe you got it wrong, do you give yourself a hard time? вЂњHow could I be so stupidвЂќ, вЂњI should have known thatвЂќ, вЂњI must try harder next timeвЂќ. Is that a вЂњYes?вЂќ If so, this is your own internalised critical parent, always watching for you to slip up so that it can wag its finger at you. Perhaps your parents or carers did that and you have learnt to be the same, or it could be that based on what you experienced in your upbringing you decided that the safest survival strategy was always to get it right. No matter the reason, your inner driver will be the same: Try Harder and Be Perfect. Look at it this way. Imagine you have a bag of sticks strapped to your back. Every time you criticise yourself, itвЂ™s like taking one of those sticks and beating yourself up. Do it enough times in a day and you will soon be very bruised. One thing is for sure though, the harder you are on yourself the harder you will be on others because 8 HOW TO DO LIFE the internal standards you have set yourself, will be what you expect from others вЂ¦вЂ¦.and you could be a hard act to follow. " TIP " Watch out for the 3 Critical Parent words: SHOULD, MUST, OUGHT & WHY Listen to how often you and other people use them and youвЂ™ll almost be able to see the wagging finger and the sticks at work! Unfortunately, if you are very self critical, itвЂ™s unlikely you will be very nurturing of yourself, by which I mean taking account of your own needs which might be time to read, be with friends, or perhaps pursue something you really enjoy and that makes you feel good. YouвЂ™ll probably be too busy вЂњtrying to do betterвЂќ at something. Try some nurturing instead. It doesnвЂ™t have to be time consuming, expensive or wildly self-indulgent. It can be something quite simpleвЂ¦.. just as long as you feel better for it. ! Child The child exists in four ways: Free Rebel Compliant Withdrawn ! Free Child This is the magical, playful, fun child. The part of us that wakes up full of enthusiasm on a lovely sunny morning. вЂњOh, what a great day, letвЂ™s go out and do somethingвЂќ. ItвЂ™s our free child who gets all excited about holidays вЂњPlaytime!вЂќ, and who still wants to kick leaves in the woods and jump in puddles, especially if like me you COMMUNICATION 9 didnвЂ™t get to do it as a child. Perhaps you think that itвЂ™s only acceptable to be childish if you have children around to act as an excuse. Perhaps your own childhood didnвЂ™t contain much play and therefore itвЂ™s something you have to learn. Not always easy, but spontaneity is a sure sign youвЂ™re getting there. Too often though the spontaneous side of us gets lost in the daily humdrum of life. Then play and enthusiasm, which keep us young, seem a million miles away. " TIP " ItвЂ™s never too late to have a happy childhood! The 3 suits of armour: Rebel, Compliant, Withdrawn I call these вЂњsuits of armourвЂќ because each is a different survival strategy to take you forward in life. Your experiences and interpretation will determine which choice you make. At 7 years old you have already lived a lifetime with whatever traumas and dramas have occurred around birth, feeding, crawling, tottering, toilet training, walking, talking, meeting other small beings, watching bigger ones and engaging in the education process. However, as I said before, you have been like a sponge until now just soaking it up without making any rational sense of it. For example, a young child exposed to arguing parents doesnвЂ™t tend to think вЂњOh dear, they arenвЂ™t getting on againвЂ¦..all those financial worries are getting them downвЂќ. He/she is far more likely to experience a range of emotions from fear to wanting to please and make it all better. So a decision might be: вЂњIf I make enough noise instead perhaps theyвЂ™ll stop shouting at each otherвЂќ вЂњIf IвЂ™m good, theyвЂ™ll like me moreвЂќ вЂњIf I keep my head down, I wonвЂ™t get into troubleвЂќ 10 HOW TO DO LIFE вЂњIt must be my faultвЂќ Often our decisions are based on what we witnessed happening to a sibling. If their rebellious behaviour got an unfavourable parental response, you might have decided that a different survival strategy would be safer. As you read the descriptions, IвЂ™m sure you will recognise your choice. ! Rebel: Suit 1 We usually recognise rebels because they like to be seen as different. They may be anti-establishment, dress differently or be part of a вЂњtribeвЂќ culture. Punk Rock and the 60вЂ™s Hippies are a good example. However, they are as likely to be in the workplace, the supermarket, schools, the church etc. They are usually louder with aggressively strong views and will often take a contrary view just for the sake of it. вЂњItвЂ™s whiteвЂќвЂ¦.. вЂњNo, itвЂ™s BlackвЂќ. With their motto: вЂњthe best form of defence is attackвЂќ, they seem to thrive on being adversarial. If thatвЂ™s your stand in life, you will probably be wearing a Rebel suit, sword at the ready with a goal of вЂњI win, you loseвЂќ. Not that all rebelling is bad. Many worthy causes are driven by rebels wanting to make a difference in the face of injustice. However, if someone seems unable to listen and to be heavily invested in their being right and you being wrong, this isnвЂ™t very productive and definitely not very adult. ! Compliant: Suit 2 Compliant people are вЂњYesвЂќ people. Whatever you ask of them, generally the answer is вЂњyesвЂќ. No matter how much they have to do, they always seem willing to take on more. вЂњNo problem, IвЂ™ll do that for youвЂќ. вЂњNo, donвЂ™t worry itвЂ™s only my right leg thatвЂ™s broken, the left is fineвЂќвЂ¦etc. All this is usually tinged with an air of martyrdom. The wistful sigh, the slightly pained smile. Unlike the rebel, the goal of the compliant person is to be liked but unfortunately in the pursuit of this goal, they allow themselves to be exploited with an outcome of вЂњI lose, You WinвЂќ. COMMUNICATION 11 They are also likely to be what is called passive/aggressive because underneath the obliging exterior is deep festering resentment which one day will suddenly explode for apparently no good reason and all the grudges theyвЂ™ve been harbouring come tirading out at a shocked recipient who thinks вЂњWhat did I do?вЂќвЂ¦ вЂњAll I said wasвЂ¦вЂ¦вЂќ. Being around compliant people can be like walking on eggshells вЂ“ the face is smiling but their eyes tell a different story. There is a sense of never really knowing where they are coming from. ! Withdrawn: Suit 3 People choosing this suit of armour just want to keep their heads beneath the parapet and get on with life quietly. Their early experience may have been that if they spoke up, they got shot down. Perhaps they witnessed this happening to a rebel sibling and so lying low became preferable and safer. Job wise they are likely to choose a career which doesnвЂ™t require too much interaction with others. A lot of technical people I have worked with wear this suit. They are not really bothered whether people like them or not. They just prefer to be left to their own devices. Their goal is the quiet life. In fact rebellious people will probably stress them out, especially if they have to deal with them! As I said at the start of this section, we never behave in just one way; all the descriptions are interchangeable. A classic example would be that of the вЂњHenpeckedвЂќ partner who at home could be heard saying, вЂњyes, of course IвЂ™ll do that for you dearвЂќ but at work is the вЂњDictatorвЂќ barking, вЂњdo as I say and do it nowвЂќ. IвЂ™m sure you can think of others. Be assured that where we humans are concerned nothing is ever black or white and if we listen carefully we can often hear the changing armour in someoneвЂ™s tone of voice. ItвЂ™s as though if you shut your eyes you would almost hear what is being said silently. вЂњShanвЂ™tвЂќ вЂњDonвЂ™t want toвЂќ 12 HOW TO DO LIFE вЂњWhy didnвЂ™t youвЂ¦..вЂќ вЂњItвЂ™s all your faultвЂќ вЂњIf only you hadвЂ¦.вЂќ вЂњPlease be nice to meвЂќ вЂњIвЂ™m sorryвЂќ вЂњIвЂ™m a nice person reallyвЂќ вЂњI hate youвЂќ Remember this though. No matter what suit you see, the underlying needs of each one are exactly the same: for love, respect and acknowledgement. Scratch the surface of a rebel and a lost little soul is usually visible. In the same way too, a cornered bully often reveals a frightened child. So I hope this model provides a much clearer picture of the way interactions can seemingly so quickly degenerate from that of adult dialogue to parental superiority to schoolyard scrapping and how they are based on вЂњwhat we have made the world meanвЂќ. As you read this book, please remember that 80% of the time we can aim to be a healthy mix of Adult, Nurturing Parent and Free Child whilst recognising that when we are tired, unwell or under pressure, we will almost certainly revert to our predominant style: the remaining 20%. Sometimes, it can feel like youвЂ™ve used up your 20% before 8amвЂ¦.every day!! Over time though, what this 20% margin means is that you donвЂ™t overtax yourself by aiming for the unlikely goal of perfection which, not having been achieved, would give the Critical Parent a great excuse for an outing with the sticks. " TIP " Remember the 80/20 principle Indirect communication The next stage of the building block is understanding the power of COMMUNICATION 13 indirect communication which can be both verbal and non-verbal. As I said earlier, it can be lethal and difficult to deal with because of its unclear and rather murky nature. See if you recognise any of the following as ways you might use to get at someone with whom you are upset or angry? Even if you donвЂ™t relate to them, IвЂ™m sure you can think of people who do! Humour Cynicism Sarcasm Cheap Shots Irritability Anger/ Upset Put Downs Sabotage Sulking Resentment Nagging Bitterness WITH-HOLDS Forgetting Delaying Mistakes ! Humour I once heard humour described as вЂњan invitation to dance or an invitation to crippleвЂќ. Too often in my experience itвЂ™s вЂњan invitation to crippleвЂќ, otherwise recognised as вЂњhumour at anotherвЂ™s expenseвЂќ. We know when someone is getting at us using the disguise of humour. We feel it like an arrow in our guts, which is really the only gauge we haveвЂ¦вЂ¦because it is often so subtle. If you do challenge it, the joker is likely to sayвЂ¦. вЂњCome on, canвЂ™t you take a jokeвЂќ вЂњWhereвЂ™s your sense of humour goneвЂќ вЂњJust joking, I didnвЂ™t mean itвЂќ, etc. If other people are around, which they usually are, a sweeping look is designed to enrol them into the joke too and it takes a very strong resolve to keep challenging what you know is actually a dig at you. 14 HOW TO DO LIFE ! Put Downs/Cheap Shots These are the вЂњasidesвЂќ that people chuck out. вЂњOh, donвЂ™t be sillyвЂќ, вЂњYouвЂ™re too sensitiveвЂќ. They are not as clear as the overt humour and may feel more like a little dart than an arrow, but they are still designed to wound. ! Sarcasm Now this is something I know all about first hand. My mother had a PhD in sarcasm. People would say вЂњPeggy, sarcasm is the lowest form of witвЂќвЂ¦to which my mother would reply вЂњOnly to those who donвЂ™t have the mentality to understand itвЂќ!! OuchвЂ¦I could see them visibly recoil. Some would say she was right because sarcasm does often show up alongside intellect. Oscar Wilde comes to mind. For many years I followed in her footsteps and still occasionally I feel a wittily sarcastic retort hovering вЂ¦вЂ¦but now I let it go because it would be at another personвЂ™s expense. ! Cynicism Cynical people generally donвЂ™t have much good to say about anything. If you make a positive statement: вЂњWhat a lovely sunny dayвЂќ, invariably theyвЂ™ll come back with a negative: вЂњNo doubt it will be raining again soonвЂќ.. or вЂњIsnвЂ™t life greatвЂќ, вЂњNo, lifeвЂ™s a bitch, then you dieвЂќ. A friend of mine suggested that a combination of humour and cynicism can become a means of binding everyone together, especially in a difficult situation, and that anyone breaking the rules by being positive might find themselves under attack. I could see her point but I feel itвЂ™s healthier long term to have the cup half full rather than half empty. Brimming over is even better!! ! Resentment and bitterness These two are usually outcomes for people who never say how they really feel. They link quite well with those who appear compliant. As I said beforeвЂ¦.under the surface of compliance is resentment and COMMUNICATION 15 after a lifetime of repression, if they live that long, they become the type of old person that no-one wants to visit. They always seem to have a complaint of some kind and the feeling is that itвЂ™s probably your fault. Sometimes, their true feelings are reflected in their wills where, instead of leaving you their worldly goods, a charity inherits the lot. An indirect two fingers from the grave leaving you with absolutely no chance to respond! A more positive outcome might be that they left you a ВЈ1million as compensation. It might boost the bank balance but can still leave a lingering sense of unfinished business. ! Irritability A lot of people wouldnвЂ™t class this as indirect communication but it is. It still means that someone isnвЂ™t saying something they really want to say and it is niggling away at them. They may be more the Rebel type but for various reasons it might not be in their interest to lose their temper so they literally swallow it down, but like indigestion back it comes as irritability or snappiness. When I have asked irritable people what they really want to do or sayвЂ¦вЂ¦.it would usually result in a police visit or a large insurance claim for damage. Another form of irritability is Nagging, which according to men seems to be regarded as a female characteristic. There is a difference though between asking that something be done and nagging. The difference is usually in the tone of voice! ! Sulking This is seriously indirect. You know there is something wrong but what, is anyoneвЂ™s guess. And thatвЂ™s just what you normally have to doвЂ¦guess! вЂњIs there something wrong?вЂќ вЂњNoвЂќ вЂњAre you sure?вЂќ 16 HOW TO DO LIFE вЂњYesвЂќ вЂњIвЂ™m sure thereвЂ™s something wrongвЂќ вЂњWell, if you canвЂ™t guess, then IвЂ™m not going to tell youвЂќ !! ThatвЂ™s if you actually get a response! Often itвЂ™s the silence thatвЂ™s deafening and it can go on for days. Sulking also seems to be attributed more to women but I have met quite a few men in my time who were very good at it. ! Sabotage In business this can cost big money. IT and production companies are at particular risk. An employee with a grievance can do a lot of damage in a short space of time. In these industries, companies often require that employees who have resigned leave immediately and are escorted to clear their desk and leave the building. Announcements of redundancies are often carefully timed so as to minimise the risk. Imagine too the potential chaos possible in the Hotel and Catering worldвЂ¦.especially the Food Hygiene and Health and Safety areas. Not to mention a waiter with a grievance towards a customer. I have heard some real horror storiesвЂ¦ but I donвЂ™t want to give you ideas. ! With-holds вЂњNot tonight, IвЂ™ve got a headacheвЂќ, might be genuineвЂ¦вЂ¦but in relationships, sex is just one in a long list of with-holds that can include love, affection, money, attention and co-operation. In other areas we can display an amazing ability to вЂњforgetвЂќ to do something, delay doing it or if we do it, make a mistake вЂњOh, IвЂ™m so sorry, I didnвЂ™t hear you say that was really urgentвЂќ. Forgetting, delaying and mistakes are all a mix of with-holds and sabotage. I remember a client telling me that she hadnвЂ™t finished completing and posting an urgent form for her husband. When he confronted her she said she had forgotten, but when he persisted she came out with a list of grievances against him that went back 10 years!! COMMUNICATION 17 The way forward So having set the scene with how perceptions drive our lives and frequently cause communication problems, we now move towards the process of changing the underlying structure to replace it gradually with a stronger foundation on which to build life and create more effective relationships. Throughout the book there are practical TIPS and HOW TOвЂ™s, and rather like an actual journey, there are PAUSE POINTS at the end of each chapter so that you can reflect on what you have been reading and perhaps make notes on how it relates to you before moving on. 18 пЂ®пЂ # PAUSE POINT HOW TO DO LIFE CHAPTER 2 SELF-AWARENESS I referred earlier to awareness as the key to change but selfawareness is the most important. Millions of people seem to go through life with no idea of the impact their behaviour has on others. However, in many cases people are all too aware and just donвЂ™t care whilst others know what they do but not how to change it. Emotional Intelligence For centuries, emphasis has been placed on academic learning, qualifications and how intelligent a person was, ie: their IQ. Anything emotional was encouraged to stay hidden behind the вЂњstiff upper lipвЂќ rather than being acknowledged and expressed. Attending вЂњthe school of hard knocksвЂќ was character forming. When employee training was introduced in the business world, the programmes focused on areas relating to reason and logic вЂ“ anything to do with interpersonal relationships was wishy-washy and classed as soft skills. However all this is changing and not before time. The advances in neuroscience and brain imaging techniques have enabled scientists to confirm what we all suspected вЂ“ that when we are confronted by situations that are life threatening or that we вЂњperceiveвЂќ are so, reason and logic fly out the window and what emerges is a primitive, ready-to-fight Neanderthal in modern day attire. The section of the 20 HOW TO DO LIFE brain responsible for this instant bypass is the amygdala, hence the new term вЂњthe amygdala hijackвЂќ. So for the first time, the importance of emotions has been acknowledged. What we need to ensure is that they are appropriate to the circumstances. We need to develop emotional intelligence, which researchers now consider to be far more important than traditional IQ. Take, for example, a group of senior managers applying for a top position. They might all have MBAs but who will make the most successful leader? The answer: the person with the highest level of EI вЂ“ the person able to create resonance with others, to display empathy and be an inspiring leader without being a traditional autocrat. Much of the groundbreaking work with EI has been championed by Daniel Goleman and I thoroughly recommend any of his books for further reading on this inspiring area. One of the keys to emotional intelligence is self-awareness and appropriate management of emotions depends on you being able to identify what is going on within you at any given moment. This means at all levels: body, mind and feelings. Body awareness Most of the time our bodies are good barometers of what we feel and they often вЂњspeak our mindsвЂќ. We use body terms all the time: вЂњI was guttedвЂќ вЂњHeвЂ™s a pain in the neckвЂќ вЂњMy back is killing meвЂќ вЂњI canвЂ™t stomach thatвЂќ вЂњI canвЂ™t get my head round thatвЂќ вЂњIt makes me feel sick to think of itвЂќ вЂњIt was good to get it off my chestвЂќ вЂњI felt dis-heartenedвЂќ etc etc. but how frequently do we tune in and listen to what the body is SELF-AWARENESS 21 saying? Try a body scan and see what you notice. HOW TO BODY SCAN Sit upright. Close your eyes. Take your awareness to your breathing. Notice the in and out rhythm of your breath. Settle into that rhythm and then slowly scan your body from the top of your head, through your face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, back, stomach, hips, pelvis, upper thighs, knees, lower legs, calf muscles, ankles, feet and finally the tips of your toes. What did you register? Perhaps you noticed you were wearing your shoulders like ear-rings or you were so slumped you could hardly breathe at all. Was there any sensation in your stomach area вЂ“ perhaps it felt knotted or churning? Did your back ache at all? Were your fingers or toes twitching? It doesnвЂ™t matter how small or subtle it was, in fact subtle is good because it means your awareness was fine tuned enough to pick it up. Feelings awareness The first step is to notice the physical level, ie: the knotted stomach, the second is being able to identify the feeling associated with it. For example: Anxiety Tension Upset Agitation Irritation Fear Many people just categorise feelings under broad headings such as anger, happiness or sadness but in order to know how to handle them more effectively, itвЂ™s important to narrow them down. For example, you might say you feel angry when really you mean irritated. If you 22 HOW TO DO LIFE imagined the difference by creating an anger feelings scale, it might look like this. Content Irritated 0 ! Angry ! Really Angry ! Fuming ! 3+ 4+ 7+ 8+ White Rage 10 whilst a sadness scale could look like this: Content Bit low Fed up Sad Unhappy 0 ! ! ! ! Depressed ! 3+ 4+ 5+ 7+ 8+ Suicidal 10 and a happiness scale like this: Content 0 Cheerful Ecstatic Blissful ! Playful ! Happy ! Joyful ! ! 10 3+ 4+ 5+ 7+ 8+ The purpose of naming how you feel is that once you have clarity, you stand a better chance of dealing with it appropriately. If irritation with a colleague was the feeling, then being aware of it early enough would hopefully stop you reacting in a manner that might create a negative outcome. If it were upset with a partner, perhaps you could find a way to express yourself clearly and avoid a drama. Alternatively, if it was at the top end of the first two scales, you would need to look at why and perhaps attend an anger management programme or get some professional input to unravel the reasons. If itвЂ™s anywhere on the happiness scale, just keep doing what youвЂ™re doing! SELF-AWARENESS 23 Mind awareness As the whole area to do with the mind and thoughts is so vast, it is fully addressed in Chapter 3. "пЂ TIP " At least once a day take a few moments to do the body scan and really begin getting acquainted with your physical sensations and naming your emotional stateвЂ¦вЂ¦.. the following will help. Breathing This is something most people just take for granted. Breathing = Alive; Stop breathing = Dead. Simple. Not really, because itвЂ™s the quality of your breathing thatвЂ™s important. And by quality, I mean how effectively it fuels your body and mind. Most people donвЂ™t ever stop and consider how they breathe, they just do it. In my workshops, when people focus on their breathing, they usually notice that it is all in the upper chest area and therefore quite shallow. However, when I ask the best way to breathe, they nearly all say вЂњlower down into the stomachвЂќ. So how come we know it but donвЂ™t do it and does it matter anyway? Firstly, yes it does matter because as soon as we get stressed, anxious or uptight our breathing is affected and is likely to get even shallower with an end result of hyperventilation, fainting or panic attacks. Just at the moment we need to be responding to our bodyвЂ™s request to take on board more oxygen, we take in less. So learning to breathe properly and fully into the body is actually one of the best stress and selfmanagement techniques you can ever learn. Interestingly itвЂ™s actually a re-learning of what we did early on in life and often still do when weвЂ™re asleep and our bodies are more relaxed. All babies and young children вЂњbelly breatheвЂќ until a moment occurs when they get startled, take a sharp breath in and forget to breathe it out fully once the moment has passed. Shallow breathing is born! 24 HOW TO DO LIFE The brain is also affected by an insufficient oxygen supply and in extreme injury a prolonged lack of oxygen can result in severe damage. In day to day terms, if we donвЂ™t get enough oxygen to the brain because of shallow breathing, we might find it more difficult to concentrate and focus clearly. Add a bit of stress and you could lose it completely. However, if you start belly breathing at this point, balance and focus will return quite quickly. HOW HOW TO TO BREATHE CORRECTLY Sit in an upright posture, feet flat on the floor. Just for a moment become aware of your normal breathing pattern. Then take a deep breath and what you will probably notice is that your stomach pulls in, chest goes out and shoulders go up. As you breathe out, the reverse occurs with a downward slump. Now imagine that your belly is a flat balloon. The вЂњin breathвЂќ is going to blow the balloon up and out and the вЂњout breathвЂќ will return the balloon to being flat. Next, place one hand flat over your chest area and the other hand flat over your belly. The hand over your chest is to keep it as still as possible when you breathe down into your belly. So now take in a long, steady breath and let it travel downwards to inflate the balloon. Note that as you do this you may feel some stiffness in your midriff. This is because your diaphragm, a strong muscle separating upper and lower body, doesnвЂ™t get much exercise normally but like any muscle, the more exercise, the more flexible it becomes. SELF-AWARENESS 25 Once the balloon is inflated, gently breathe out to flatten the balloon. Repeat until you feel this new way of breathing becoming steadier and more natural. When you first do this it might be like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. If you feel a little light-headed to start with, this is good news because it means that for the first time in ages, your brain actually has the right level of oxygen reaching it and will soon adjust to the new intake. It can take quite a bit of getting used to because it is so much the opposite of how we have been breathing for a long time and generally only those who are actors, singers, dancers and public speakers do it automatically. Keep trying though, it really is worth it. A great place to use it is when you are driving or stuck in traffic. Try it if you are working on something complicated or if the kids are driving you mad. We often say вЂњstand back, take a deep breath and count to 10вЂќ. Very good adviceвЂ¦вЂ¦ but donвЂ™t forget: make it a вЂњbelly breathвЂќ. Years later people tell me that learning this breathing technique was one of the most beneficial things they ever did, so stick with itвЂ¦..it really works. Benefits of the Breathing Technique #вЂњSwitch offвЂќ mechanism #Enhances clear thinking #Induces state of calm #Encourages blood return to the heart " TIP " Imagine that to the left of your belly you have an anxiety switch (like a light switch). When you are anxious and shallow breathing, itвЂ™s off. However, as soon as you belly breathe, the switch flicks on and immediately a message goes to your brain saying вЂњpanic over, return to normalвЂќ. You instantly feel calmer and more balanced. 26 HOW TO DO LIFE So having become more aware of the inner processes, letвЂ™s see how that frequently impacts the way we relate to others. The blame game вЂњNo, honest, the lamp post movedвЂќ вЂњI donвЂ™t know why that happenedвЂќ вЂњItвЂ™s not my faultвЂќ вЂњI didnвЂ™t get the information on timeвЂќ вЂњItвЂ™s nothing to do with meвЂќ вЂњNo Sir, not me SirвЂќвЂ¦вЂ¦otherwise known as вЂњPassing the BuckвЂќ. It seems we will do anything rather than admit we might have been wrong or made a mistake. The Blame Game appears to be played everywhereвЂ¦ between work colleagues, families, friends, politicians and countries. What this implies though is that we are victims, mere вЂњpuppets on a stringвЂќ with the strings pulled by everyone else as they choose. We become the people who are always вЂњdone toвЂќ and never the cause or a part of what is happening. Can this be true? No, of course not. We have to learn to take responsibility for our lives and how we live them, we have to take some ownership. This is a much used business term now and I like to split the word into Own and Ship. Put вЂњCaptainвЂќ in front and what you become is вЂњCaptain of your Own Ship in charge of your destinyвЂќ. Too often I hear вЂњHe made meвЂ¦.вЂќ, вЂњShe made meвЂ¦.вЂќ, вЂњThey made meвЂ¦.вЂќ вЂњIf he/she didnвЂ™t вЂ¦вЂ¦вЂ¦ IвЂ™d be alrightвЂќ. We attribute the whole range of our emotions that we looked at earlier; anger, sadness and happiness, to others. People in new relationships often say вЂњHe/she makes me feel so good, theyвЂ™ve given me back my confidence.вЂќ Where was it, in a box? No-one makes us do or feel anything. вЂњYes, but he/she made me angryвЂќ. Wrong. вЂњXвЂќ situation happened, which generated a feeling in us that we then labelled вЂњangerвЂќ and attributed to the other person. If someone is rude to you, this might well push your buttons and without thinking you say вЂњDonвЂ™t talk to me like thatвЂќ. Next SELF-AWARENESS 27 thing, you are engaged in a heated argument (parental superiority or schoolyard scrapping) and later when you tell your friends what happenedвЂ¦..it was the other persons faultвЂ¦.because вЂњthey made youвЂќ. This is not the case. Our emotions are just thatвЂ¦.ours. The only real exception to this might be after a physical attack, rather than just verbal, you could justifiably say вЂњhe/she hurt meвЂќ. None of this means that we canвЂ™t have or express feelings but whatвЂ™s important is owning them and using language that reflects that ownership. Change your language The language of Blame is вЂњYOUвЂќ The language of Ownership is вЂњIвЂќ Have you ever noticed how most people, when talking about themselves and/or their experiences, use the word вЂњyouвЂќ. вЂњWhen you reached the mountain top, you were exhilaratedвЂќ вЂњYou feel so happy when xxxxxx happensвЂќ вЂњFirst you went here and then you went thereвЂќ вЂњYou just have to get on with itвЂќ These brief examples make it sound as though the speakers are talking about you, the listener. In fact they are talking about their own experiencesвЂ¦. so why not just say вЂњIвЂќ? вЂњWhen I reached the mountain top, I was exhilaratedвЂќ вЂњI feel so happy when xxxxxx happensвЂќ вЂњFirst I went here and then I went thereвЂќ вЂњI just have to get on with itвЂќ Here are 2 reasons. 1. вЂњYouвЂќ puts an experience/issue outside of yourself at some distance. The вЂњdisassociationвЂќ means you are in some way 28 HOW TO DO LIFE removed from it. If thatвЂ™s due to a painful life experience, itвЂ™s understandable, although as a therapist, I find the real healing starts with the shift from вЂњyouвЂќ to вЂњIвЂќ. Most times though it is just general conversation and everyday events. Listen to people talking or being interviewed on chat showsвЂ¦.itвЂ™s constant. 2. We donвЂ™t like вЂњIвЂќ because it smacks of big headed. We associate it with вЂњThe big I amвЂќвЂ¦ вЂњI,I,IвЂќ, вЂњMe, Me, MeвЂќ. We hate it. We relate it to having a big ego and selfishness вЂњall you ever think of is yourselfвЂќ, вЂњalways blowing your own trumpetвЂќ. Young children who havenвЂ™t learnt the вЂњrulesвЂќ yet always say вЂњIвЂќ usually followed by вЂњwantвЂќ, which often gets the adult response of вЂњI want, doesnвЂ™t getвЂќ. ItвЂ™s a real Victorian leftover. Royalty and private education use вЂњweвЂќ and вЂњoneвЂќ, it being considered vulgar to say вЂњIвЂќ! For heavens sake letвЂ™s get real here and look at some positive вЂњIвЂ™sвЂќ. How about the following: I like I value I appreciate I acknowledge I respect I love I understand I admire I feel I prefer Nothing wrong with these except they donвЂ™t get used very much! The key point here is that if you use вЂњyouвЂќ about yourself in general conversation, it becomes a natural extension to use it at others in the Blame Game. For example, in an argument we might say: вЂњYouвЂ™ve hurt meвЂќ вЂњYouвЂ™re upsetting meвЂќ вЂњYou make me so angryвЂќ Confronted by the attack of вЂњyouвЂќ the other person will start preparing their counter attack and wonвЂ™t really hear what you say at SELF-AWARENESS 29 all. Next thing itвЂ™s full scale war. However, replace the вЂњyouвЂќ with вЂњIвЂќ, вЂњI felt hurt when you..вЂќ вЂњIвЂ™m feeling upsetвЂќ вЂњI am so angryвЂќ and itвЂ™s unlikely youвЂ™d feel so defensive on hearing this. YouвЂ™d still be dealing with your feelings but if you spoke them in ownership, youвЂ™d probably get closer to a win/win outcome. " TIP " Think of it like this. Imagine that between you and the other person is a table. Using вЂњyouвЂќ is equivalent to leaping over the table into their space and verbally bashing them over the head. Using вЂњIвЂќ, however, places the issue on the table where the other person can look at it, consider whatвЂ™s there and then put their response alongside it for your considerationвЂ¦.and so on. Much less threatening and antagonistic. Choice vs knee-jerks The underpinning belief of ownership is that вЂњI am responsible for my own life and feelingsвЂќ. It means stopping to think about a situation, making a choice and then taking appropriate conscious action. We make choices based on the information or situation at hand. Do we always have a choice? Yes. As long as we are still conscious and not in a life-threatening situation, we have complete choice over our thoughts, words and actions, moment by moment. Do we always act as though this is true? No. What tends to occur is often reaction not response. 30 HOW TO DO LIFE Reaction means that the presenting situation has probably tapped into a past, buried experience and we deal with it in the same out-ofdate and no doubt inappropriate way we did years ago вЂ“ we вЂњre-actвЂќ. If, say, as a youngster you aggressively defended yourself against criticism (real or perceived) you are likely to react the same way now despite the circumstances. Very unproductive if your boss is trying to give you some constructive feedback and guidance. I also call reaction вЂњThe Knee JerkвЂќ. Just like our knees involuntarily jerk when the doctor taps them to check our reflexes, we do the same. Questioned by the police after a road rage incident the aggressor said вЂњBut I didnвЂ™t have a choice, he wound me upвЂќ. More blame game and not true. How many times have you been driving along only to find that the car behind you is quite clearly willing you to go faster and particularly if you are on the motorway, maybe gesturing for you to get out of their way? How do you deal with it? Do you: a) b) c) d) e) stick 2 fingers up? slow right down? slam your brakes on? move over and then chase the driver? or take a breath, move over and get on with your journey? As you may have guessed, the last one is the best. It will also get you in a lot less trouble and youвЂ™ll probably live longer too. Responding means considering what has been said, seen, heard, etc.. and then deciding how you feel about it and what the best way forward is. In the scenario above, even though you might feel irritated at the behaviour displayed, you notice your irritation but immediately decide that the best response is to move over because life is short enough already. Responsibility means вЂњour ability to respondвЂќ and is about exerting choice. SELF-AWARENESS 31 " TIP " Watch out for THE POST MORTEM EFFECT. If you catch yourself saying or thinking вЂњI shouldnвЂ™t have said thatвЂќ, вЂњWhy did I do thatвЂќ, вЂњI wasnвЂ™t thinkingвЂќ, вЂњI wish I hadnвЂ™tвЂќ or вЂњI wish I hadвЂќвЂ¦вЂ¦then you know you have reacted rather than responded. Choice applies to all every day situations. Someone in a bad marriage will often say вЂњIвЂ™d love to leave but I have no choiceвЂќ. The same might be said about a job. The reality: there is a choice. They could leave the marriage or the job. The reply to such a suggestion is usually met with вЂњOh, I have to stay for the childrenвЂќ or вЂњI wouldnвЂ™t be able to get such a well-paid job and weвЂ™d have to moveвЂќ. I remember one woman telling me that she couldnвЂ™t possibly leave her marriage because sheвЂ™d lose her precious Gold Card!!вЂќ All these examples show that actually choice was being exercised - the choice to stay. We might not always like the choice available but most times we still do have one. What we choose will often be based on the payoff involvedвЂ¦вЂ¦bad marriage vs Gold Card! " TIP " If you catch yourself saying вЂњI donвЂ™t have a choiceвЂќ, stop for a moment and really look at the situation. Write down all the options available even if you donвЂ™t like them muchвЂ¦..that way you wonвЂ™t feel so much вЂњat the mercy ofвЂ¦вЂ¦.вЂќ and you might even reach a better solution. We can also choose what goes on between our ears but how often do you stop and notice what you are thinking about? It can seem like our minds have their own lives. A thought can take us from stomach ache to the grave in around 10 seconds flat unless we get a grip and check it. A request from the boss for a meeting is likely to find our minds already in the dole office. вЂњA train of thoughtвЂќ is often more of the supersonic, non-stop variety and we 32 HOW TO DO LIFE create all manner of stories in our heads about how people are or how a situation will turn out. I always think the following story illustrates this really well. The Man with the Spanner On a dark night about 8pm in a remote location, Mr. XвЂ™s car began to slow down and finally ground to a halt. Under the bonnet he detected the problem but hadnвЂ™t got the right spanner in his toolbox to fix it. Looking around he spotted a light in a house a short distance away. He decided to go and see if they could lend him the right spanner. As he started walking he thought вЂњKnowing my luck, theyвЂ™ll be outвЂќ. He got to the gate вЂњTheyвЂ™ve probably got a huge dog thatвЂ™s going to rush out and attack meвЂќ. Nothing happened, he carried on up the path вЂњIf theyвЂ™ve got that sort of dog, theyвЂ™re probably horrible people who wouldnвЂ™t lend me the spanner anywayвЂќ. He knocks on the front door. The door opens вЂњCan I help youвЂќ. вЂњThanks for nothing and you can stick your spanner where the sun donвЂ™t shineвЂќ. We вЂњset ourselves upвЂќ for вЂњupsetвЂќ in our heads all the time. I was walking behind a man carrying 3 cake boxes. Suddenly he dropped one and cursed вЂњI knew I was going to do thatвЂќ. They say that вЂњthought is creativeвЂќвЂ¦ think it and it happens. ItвЂ™s called the Self-fulfilling Prophecy. I am always very careful to hang onto my car keys if I have parked near a grate. In fact I actively tell myself вЂњI am not going to drop these keysвЂќ. So far, so good. SELF-AWARENESS 33 " TIP " #Check where your вЂњmind trainвЂќ is heading and at what speed #Stop at a station occasionally for a review #Think before you speak or act #Step back, breathe, consider вЂ¦..then respond Avoid the drama, stay in the audience Other peopleвЂ™s bad moods and bad days are just thatвЂ¦.theirs. Leave it that way. I call it вЂњbeing on itвЂќ so if someone you encounter is вЂњon itвЂќ, you donвЂ™t have to get on it with them. They might want you to on the basis of вЂњI feel bad, why shouldnвЂ™t youвЂќ but вЂ¦.donвЂ™t go there. Imagine theyвЂ™re out with a fishing line looking for a catchвЂ¦.and youвЂ™re it. They dangle their bait again and again until you bite, вЂњgotchaвЂќ. Then they feel better, put the line down and walk away leaving you now bouncing up and down on the line. Some people take great delight in hooking others then walking awayвЂ¦ вЂњwhatвЂ™s your problemвЂќ. Call Centres are great testing grounds. Automated systems and long waits very frequently result in the caller being totally frustrated by the time they get a real person on the other end. All that frustration is likely to be directed at the operator and not only is the blame game rife but itвЂ™s probably interspersed with accusations of incompetence. All the customer training in the world doesnвЂ™t work in those moments, with the resultant вЂњif you are going to talk to me like that, I shall have to terminate this callвЂќ. More fuel to the fire. This really is a very good example of the operator needing to stay focused and not get hooked. One of the best examples I witnessed of not engaging in other peopleвЂ™s drama was the reception area of a major US airline. The flight was delayed by 6 hours and people were reaching near hysteria trying to get alternative arrangements, call family, get meal vouchers and demand refunds. 34 HOW TO DO LIFE At one stage there was only one attendant on duty dealing with a potential lynch mob. Over the period of the one and a half hours I was near the desk, he was constantly polite, clear, calm, helpful, considerate and empathic. A rare quality in such taxing circumstances and a true display of emotional intelligence at work. However, the closer we are to someone the harder it can be not to get involved in their issues. We want to help, sort it out, shut them up or have a go back. Not a great idea. Over the years my husband and I have juggled with it all but now most of the time, allowing for the 80/20 principle, if one of us is having a drama the other might offer a tentative вЂњanything I can doвЂќ but when itвЂ™s clear the answer is вЂњNoвЂќвЂ¦..we get on with other things until the moment passes. Much safer and a recipe for a longer lasting marriage! " TIP " When you see someone вЂњon itвЂќ imagine they are on a theatre stage and you are in the audience watching the drama unfold. Be the observer, weigh and consider how youвЂ™ll deal with it but stay in your seatвЂ¦ because if you join them on the stage, youвЂ™ve lost it. Know thyself These were the words above the temple of the Oracle in Delphi. They are as true now as then. Knowing yourself is crucial if you want to have a more inspired, centred, fulfilling and enjoyable life. Getting through the armour we put in place can take time and of course, more self-awareness can bring intensity of all kinds. Some people say вЂњIвЂ™d rather be simple and happyвЂќ. I havenвЂ™t met many simply happy people. These days nearly everyone seems to be angst ridden for one reason or another. The simplest people I know are those who have taken time getting to know themselves because simple doesnвЂ™t mean stupid вЂ¦it SELF-AWARENESS 35 means Simplicity. Life can be quite simple when you know how to do it and that starts with вЂњknowing thyselfвЂќ. 36 пЂ®пЂ % PAUSE POINT HOW TO DO LIFE CHAPTER 3 THE MIND The mind doesnвЂ™t know the difference between fact or fiction, which means that it can be our greatest friend or our greatest enemy. The outcome of our thoughts is related to the input. You may recall how in Chapter 2, I mentioned being very careful to think вЂњI am not going to drop these keys down that grateвЂќ, because of being very aware that thinking the opposite would probably create it happening, just like the man with the cake boxes who knew he was going to drop them. So this chapter explores how you can make your mind work with you rather than against you. Worry is pointless I always liked the West Indian song вЂњDonвЂ™t worry, Be happyвЂќ. Great philosophy, but how many people really live it? It seems everyone is always worried about something вЂњWill I lose my job?вЂќ, вЂњWill she like me?вЂќ, вЂњDoes my bum look big in this?вЂќ, Will I have enough money?вЂќ вЂњWill my flight be delayed?вЂќ, вЂњWill my meeting get cancelled?вЂќвЂ¦etcвЂ¦.etcвЂ¦.add yours to the list. The key question is: Does worry change anything? No, it doesnвЂ™t. Worry is just the mind running wild. ItвЂ™s an addiction and a very hard one to cure. In the past I have watched self-employed friends worry about the cycle of money and work. If work got cancelled, they immediately started to worry and even if they recognised what they were doing, they struggled to stop. However, interestingly, as soon as they said вЂњWhatever happens, it will be okвЂќ, in came the work. But it never 38 HOW TO DO LIFE happened whilst they were stuck in the middle of the worry cycleвЂ¦only when they stopped!! So worry is pointless, itвЂ™s all вЂњmightвЂ™s, maybeвЂ™s and what ifвЂ™sвЂќ. The only time it has value is if it prompts you to take action. DonвЂ™t sit around worrying, do something. If your health isnвЂ™t good, worry wonвЂ™t change it, go and see someone and find out what the problem isвЂ¦..and donвЂ™t forget the suggestion that вЂњthought is creativeвЂќ, with the danger being that if you worry about something for long enough it might happen. Now thereвЂ™s something to worry about!! HOW TO STOP WORRYING !Remember: until it happens, it hasnвЂ™t happened !Notice your train of thought and say STOP very loudly inside your head. This interrupts the journey !Do this as often as you need to !Think of something pleasant or positive instead Minimising worry Just in case you canвЂ™t stop worrying completely, here are some pointers for minimising it. Actions to take вЂў вЂў вЂў Talk it out вЂ“ share it with someone else. Others will welcome your trust Write it out вЂ“ it is easier to see it in perspective when it is put on paper Shrug it off вЂ“ raise your shoulders, then drop them. Relax your body THE MIND вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў 39 Breathe it away вЂ“ inhale deeply and exhale heavily a few times. Calm your thoughts Sort it out вЂ“ list practical options, weigh, decide, then act Delay it вЂ“ put aside 15 minutes for a worry session вЂ“ leave it until then Work it off вЂ“ do something physical. Clear your head, divert your energy Reverse it вЂ“ consider taking an opposite approach, explore alternatives Attitudes to adopt вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў Laugh it off вЂ“ lighten it with humour. Be generous with smiles Distance it вЂ“ imagine a few years from now. How much will it matter then? Balance it вЂ“ consider the good consequences and feel glad about them Cancel it вЂ“ think positively and donвЂ™t let the negative pull you down Exaggerate it вЂ“ picture the worst possible outcome вЂ“ is it likely? Win through it вЂ“ imagine yourself being successful and feel good about it Hold it вЂ“ say вЂњStopвЂќ. Pause and think. Now take a fresh look вЂў Escape it вЂ“ look around and notice something pleasant. Get into the present! Break the cycle of desire This is a totally futile cycle leading to frustration, resentment and disillusionment. It is all about wanting, rather than acceptance and giving. 40 HOW TO DO LIFE More, bigger, better So much focus is put on what we have, how big it is, how much it costs and when you'll get the next improved model. With technology advancing at its current rate, equipment is out of date in the blink of an eye. It's materialism gone mad and is the reason a lot of people have huge debts. Nobody saves anymore because they must have what they want, when they want it. Thousands of people are living with the thought that if they had different lives, all their prayers would be answered and their dreams would come true. "When I....... move house, get a new job, get a pay rise, meet a wonderful partner, leave my marriage, change my car, lose weight then I'll be happy.вЂќ "If only... ....I could win the lottery, meet Mr. or Mrs. Right, have a holiday, have children, not have children, be 21 again, have more friends, then I'd be happy.вЂќ Another example is the lottery. For some winners, life does change for the better but not for all. For those winners who have lived their lives from the victim stance of "When I" and "If only", increased wealth creates more anxiety.... will people just want them for their money, will they be inundated with begging letters, will the children get kidnapped, will they be accepted by neighbours in their new, upgraded area? Eventually, they'll end up as before, pursuing more needs and wants to make their life complete. So how can you change it? Stay in the NOW It starts with focusing on the present and not some fantasy of how tomorrow could be. For me, and I am sure many others, September 11 was a wake-up call and a key reminder of the importance to live now. None of us can ever know what the next moment might bringвЂ¦.we havenвЂ™t got there yet. What matters is making this moment count. If there is something you want to say to someone, do it nowвЂ¦you canвЂ™t guarantee that the opportunity will be there THE MIND 41 another time. Most peopleвЂ™s minds are so focused on the past or the future, they forget all about the present. Of course it can be great to remember the past, as well as have plans and visions for the future вЂ¦.but not if today gets put on hold because of it. Patients awaiting a major operation often want to say things to loved ones in case they donвЂ™t make it through. Anxious relatives and friends who donвЂ™t want to think about a negative outcome, say вЂњOh donвЂ™t be silly, youвЂ™ll be fine, we can talk when you get backвЂќ. They mean well but in this instance it would actually be appropriate to think realistically about possible consequences. Instead they are actually thinking about themselves and not acknowledging that maybe the other person needs to say what could be their final words. Then, if the patient doesnвЂ™t make it, the devastation felt is not just loss but regret, which plays on the mind and is much harder to come to terms with in the long run. So many people in life are filled with regrets of one kind or another. DonвЂ™t be one of them. DonвЂ™t get to your death bed at whatever age and when you look back at your life be thinking вЂњI wish I hadвЂ¦.вЂќ and вЂњif onlyвЂ¦вЂќ. By then the вЂњWhen I вЂ¦вЂќ will be too late. Life circumstances may have meant that some things were not possible but even then whatвЂ™s important is the acceptance of a situation rather than harbouring a sadness or resentment that it couldnвЂ™t happen. Those become thoughts to drive you mad. Be like the song, вЂњRegrets, IвЂ™ve had a few, but then again too few to mentionвЂќ. # TIP # DO IT NOW HOW TO STAY IN THE NOW Be Spontaneous DonвЂ™t let moments pass 42 HOW TO DO LIFE Pick up the phone and call Write a note Send a text Buy some flowers Tell someone how you feel Jump for joy Smile at someone for no good reason (who cares what they think) I really like the following, written by 85-year old Nadine Stair. If I had to live my life over again, IвЂ™d dare to make more mistakes IвЂ™d relax I would limber up I would be sillier than I have been this trip I would take fewer things seriously I would take more chances I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers I would eat more ice creams and less beans I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but IвЂ™d have fewer imaginary ones You see, IвЂ™m one of those people who live seriously and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, IвЂ™ve had my momentsвЂ¦..and if I had it to live over again, IвЂ™d have more of them. In fact, IвЂ™d try to have nothing else, just momentsвЂ¦..one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. IвЂ™ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot THE MIND 43 water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had it to do again, I would travel lighter than I have If I had to live my life over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances I would ride more merry-go-rounds I would pick more daisies Elbow the ego Aldous Huxley called it вЂњthe sweaty little egoвЂќ. I think this is a good description because it gets all hot and bothered about all sorts of things that donвЂ™t actually matter. вЂњAre they looking at me?вЂќ, вЂњAre my clothes right?вЂќ, вЂњI wonder what theyвЂ™ll think of meвЂќ, вЂњWill they like me?вЂќ, вЂњWhat if I make a mistake?вЂќ, вЂњDid I say the wrong thing?вЂќ etc.etc. Although there are varying definitions of the ego, I see it as a very close ally of the Critical Parent. The two of them get together for a good old scrutiny of what youвЂ™re up to so they can beat you up for not getting it вЂњrightвЂќ. The ego loves вЂњrightвЂќ. Most people think of the ego in relation to boasting. Like a peacock with his tail feathers arrayed to impress the ladies, the egoic person thinks they are better than everyone else and therefore, by default, are right. Of course what usually drives this behaviour is an underlying inferiority complex covered by an exterior вЂњmaskвЂќ of superiorityвЂ¦вЂ¦.the big вЂњI amвЂќ. However, what surprises most people is that the вЂњever so humbleвЂќ approach like that of the Dickens character Uriah Heap, is also egoic. вЂњItвЂ™s not for me to sayвЂќ, вЂњIвЂ™m no good at thatвЂќ, вЂњI never get anything rightвЂќ, вЂњIвЂ™m useless when it comes toвЂ¦.вЂќ. The main driver here is usually a strong desire to be liked and not upset anyone. If you donвЂ™t express an opinion or try anything, you canвЂ™t get 44 HOW TO DO LIFE it wrong. However, unlike the mask of superiority mentioned above, their sense of inferiority is on full display. The key point here is that you donвЂ™t serve yourself or others by thinking youвЂ™re either big or small. WhatвЂ™s important is to know your capabilities, strengths and areas to improveвЂ¦warts and all. Marianne Williamson said it very well with the following: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: вЂњWho am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?вЂќ Actually who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesnвЂ™t serve the world. ThereвЂ™s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people wonвЂ™t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. ItвЂ™s not just in some of us; itвЂ™s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As weвЂ™re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. # TIP # Set up an inner вЂњego watchвЂќ and listen to what you are thinking and saying to yourself - about yourself THE MIND 45 Stop self-criticism As I said before, we often donвЂ™t stop and notice what we are thinking about but if it isnвЂ™t worry of some kind, it may well be self-criticism where the critical parent is getting to work with the sticks. It does nothing for our self-esteem and our inner child just feels miserable. Most of what gets said isnвЂ™t true either. We tell ourselves weвЂ™re stupid, weвЂ™re inadequate, we couldnвЂ™t find our way out of a paper bag etcвЂ¦ Self-criticism usually consists of sweeping generalisms like вЂњI never get anything rightвЂќ, вЂњEveryone thinks IвЂ™m stupidвЂќ. We really need to stop the beatings and throw the sticks away. HOW TO THE 3 CвЂ™s Catch it Firstly notice what is going on in your head Challenge it Ask yourself вЂњDo I need to think this about myself?вЂќ, вЂњIs that completely true?вЂќ, вЂњAm I really that stupid?вЂќ (be careful to notice any comeback and challenge that too!) Change it Tell yourself something different and preferably positive. Change the generalisms to realisms вЂњSometimes I do get things wrong, but I also get a lot of things rightвЂќ. Give up mind reading A lot of our problems come when we try and second guess what someone else is thinking. We make a вЂњlookвЂќ mean all sorts and if we 46 HOW TO DO LIFE are not very confident the meaning will be that the person looking is thinking negatively about us. You might wonder whether someone really likes you or not. If they say theyвЂ™ll call but donвЂ™t, we run a huge dialogue as to why and then usually, without even asking, behave in an offhand manner when they do call. If you see someone looking at you, donвЂ™t automatically assume the worst. They might be thinking you have a great smile or вЂњI like what theyвЂ™re wearingвЂќ. Of course those wearing a rebel suit might jump in defensively with вЂњwhat are you looking atвЂќ when the person might not even have seen them. All this smells of egoвЂ¦why should you be the centre of their universe. IвЂ™m sure theyвЂ™ve got better things to be focusing onвЂ¦.and even if they are looking at you, so what! If you feel alright about yourself, it doesnвЂ™t matter. Not everyone is going to like you but equally not everyone will dislike you either. When itвЂ™s appropriate and you want to know how someone feels or what they are thinkingвЂ¦.open mouth, speak wordsвЂ¦ask them. It might be a bit risky but it will save an awful lot of wasted brain power and possible misunderstandings. Silence is golden You wouldnвЂ™t think so! Modern day living doesnвЂ™t encourage silence at all. Noise is everywhere вЂ“ tvs, cars, computers, supersonic music systems, piped music in restaurants and shopping malls. Even libraries donвЂ™t seem to impose the same level of silence. Youngsters do their homework whilst watching tv and often listening to music at the same time. The only place I can think of thatвЂ™s quiet and peaceful is a Church and the graveyard. We donвЂ™t like silence. If thereвЂ™s a gap in a conversation, we jump to fill it or start shifting nervously. We talk about вЂњpregnant pausesвЂќ as if they are to be avoided at all costs. Why donвЂ™t we like silence? My mother always had a radio on in the background, вЂњItвЂ™s so I donвЂ™t have to thinkвЂќ. I believe it was more to stop her thinking about things sheвЂ™d rather forget. Many of her generation who lived through war are the same. However, itвЂ™s even more prevalent in THE MIND 47 todayвЂ™s world where tvs are left on all the time вЂњas companyвЂќ. Why canвЂ™t we be our own company? WhatвЂ™s so awful that we donвЂ™t want to spend time with ourselves? It really seems we fear that in silence weвЂ™d be swamped with all the upsets, disappointments, frustrations and past experiences that we work so hard to avoid. And yet for this very reason, the mind needs to rest so that we have better mental and life balance. Whilst sleep rests the mind, an overactive mind at bedtime will result in insomnia and as the mind gets more tired, we get more fractious and less able to be clear and focused. ItвЂ™s a slippery slope to stress and depression. Still the mind This is a silencing technique I use on my workshops. The first try will probably show very clearly just how busy your mind is and how strange being silent is. The second try usually has a different outcome where the mind gets a little quieter. Each time gets a bit easier and people report that they feel more refreshed as a result. HOW TO STILL THE MIND You will need to do this process twice. Find a way to time yourself for 2 minutes. Then sit comfortably and close your eyes for the 2 minutes. When you open them, complete the following First time: How easy or hard was it to achieve a still mind during the 2 minutes? What did you notice going on in your mind? 48 HOW TO DO LIFE Did it feel like two minutes (or more)? Second time: How easy or hard was it to achieve a still mind during the 2 minutes? What did you notice going on in your mind? Did the 2 minutes seem longer or shorter? With practice this gets easier and even a few moments a day in silence really helps the mind in all ways. Learn meditation Put aside everything youвЂ™ve heard about meditation and think of it as a form of relaxation. The benefits are enormous. I have a video showing a volunteer wired up with a very unappealing headcap so as to show the brain image before and during relaxation. At the start the left side of the brain, the busy thinking side, is bright blue. The right side, the emotional intuitive side, is pale blue. After approximately 10-15 minutes, the imaging changes and after 20 minutes, both sides of the brain image are an equal colour. Balance between the right and left brain has been achieved. This means more harmony between thinking and intuition, which is good news all round. What also happens is that our breathing becomes steadier and our heart rate levels out which makes this a great stress management technique too. When most people think of meditation they equate it with Eastern philosophies and worry they might have to sit cross-legged on the floor for hours chanting the mantra вЂњOmвЂќ. This is certainly an optionвЂ¦..but you might find a chair more comfortable. The purpose THE MIND 49 of repeating a вЂњmantraвЂќ is that it encourages the mind away from thinking and вЂ¦it bores the ego to death. Of course there are much deeper aspects to meditation but my interest here is to get you started with a technique that will really help you. вЂњOmвЂќ is a good mantra but you can use вЂњHovisвЂќ if you preferвЂ¦.anything to get the mind away from its eternal chatter. Start with 5 вЂ“ 10 minutes and as you get more used to it, try and make it 20 minutes - the optimum time for maximum benefit. вЂњWhere am I going to find 5 minutes a day, let alone 20?вЂќ, I hear you ask. All I can tell you is that if you do find the time, you will end up with more time. Reason: youвЂ™ll have more energy and be more focused. HOW TO MEDITATE Sit upright on a comfortable chair, although not too comfortable. Have your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting loosely on your lap. Gently touch the index finger and thumb together. This is to contain the energy you generate within the body. Then close your eyes and using the breathing technique, take your awareness to the gentle rhythm of your breathing. Just notice the steady in and out of your breath. If you notice lots of thoughtsвЂ¦donвЂ™t worry. Just let them be part of the process. Think of them as fluffy white clouds moving across a blue sky. Keep breathing and become a witness of your thoughts as you watch them move across your mind and out the other side. 50 HOW TO DO LIFE As you continue to breathe steadily, introduce your mantra. You donвЂ™t have to time it with the breath, just repeat it to suit your own rhythm. What a lot of people report when they start meditating is вЂњthe shopping listвЂќ effect. The mind thinks of all the things you still need to attend to. If it helps, keep a pad and pen by you in case you recall something really important. That way you can just open your eyes, write it down and return to the meditation. Equally, meditation can also be a time of inspiration and creativity because the busy mind quietens and creates space for ideas to come through. This is definitely a time to stop and write things down as otherwise, rather like dreams, you might forget them by the end. The key is to know the difference between general thoughts that you want to calm and those that are coming as gifts from a creative source. This distinction comes with practice. It has been said that вЂњmeditation happens when you sit with the intention to meditateвЂќ, so donвЂ™t get hung up on the egoвЂ™s right and wrong ways to do itвЂ¦just follow the above and let it happen over time. Visualisation вЂњVisions become realitiesвЂќ and a great time to start visioning is at the end of your meditation when you are relaxed and both sides of the brain are in balance. Remember вЂњthe mind doesnвЂ™t know the difference between fact or fictionвЂќвЂ¦so whatever you are going to picture, itвЂ™s as if for real. Visualisation has long been popular in the sports world. I remember Steve Backley, the 3 times world record javelin thrower describing how much of his practice was done in his head because to throw a javelin real time puts tremendous strain on the body. So he goes to the sauna, puts his headphones on, listens to soothing music and throws the javelin repeatedly. ItвЂ™s the вЂњmental dress rehearsalвЂќ so that when the real event occurs itвЂ™s much more likely to have the rehearsed outcome. THE MIND 51 I used this technique to overcome my public speaking nerves. With my eyes closed, IвЂ™d imagine how the day would go. IвЂ™d see people participating and at the end, together with the sense that all had gone well, IвЂ™d see people smiling and hear them saying how theyвЂ™d enjoyed the session. When the actual day arrived, I would stand up, use the breathing technique to centre myself and off IвЂ™d goвЂ¦usually just as I had created it in my head. Visualisation has also been used with some success in illness. вЂњSee the good cells fighting the bad cells and the good cells winningвЂќ is a very simplistic illustration but itвЂ™s the same principle. I used it to disappear some вЂњpolypsвЂќ that were discovered during an examination. I was asked to return for more tests a few weeks later and because I didnвЂ™t like the idea of where that might lead, I found a picture of polyps in a medical book and daily visualised them shrinking to nothing. All I can tell you is that when I went back вЂ¦no polyps. Even a double check by a colleague of the radiographer showed the same result. Maybe they got it wrong the first time, who knows!! DonвЂ™t worry if you think you canвЂ™t visualiseвЂ¦you can. Some people see very clear images like photos, others see nothing but get a sense of it. IвЂ™m the latter. Years ago, as part of my training, we were asked to visualise walking through a field of yellow flowers. Colleagues enthusiastically described the whole scene in graphic detail. I kept quiet because I couldnвЂ™t picture it at all. Eventually I spoke up and said that whilst I hadnвЂ™t seen anything, I had a very strong sense of the scene and knew that there were trees etc. I was told this was every bit as valid and that it didnвЂ™t have to be crystal clear. The following is a very good trial run using a familiar setting. HOW TO VISUALISE 52 HOW TO DO LIFE Get comfortable and close your eyes. Imagine you need to describe the inside of your home to someone who hasnвЂ™t seen it. Start from the front door and take them through room by room. If you only have one room, describe the layout. Dare to dream Goethe said вЂњWhatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.вЂќ Do you have a dream or a goal? Is there something you would love to attempt but feel you couldnвЂ™t achieve? Did you let childhood dreams die? If you had 6 months to live, what would you change in your life? What you like to be remembered for? Imagine that IвЂ™m your Fairy Godmother ready to wave her wand and grant your dream. What would it be? вЂњTo win the lotteryвЂќ is a popular response. Too broadвЂ¦..you need to break it down into what that would allow you to do. вЂњGive me freedomвЂќ. Too broadвЂ¦freedom to do what? вЂњStart a businessвЂќ, вЂњTravel moreвЂќ, вЂњWrite a bookвЂќ etc. вЂњBe happyвЂќ. Too generalвЂ¦.be specific, what would happy look like in your world because happiness is very individual. Now you might feel that your chances of realising a dream are as slim as those of winning the lottery. Not true. Think outside the box. Even if you couldnвЂ™t realise your dream totally, you could probably realise its essence вЂ“ if you want it enough. My dream was always to write a book and when I was 10 I submitted my first childrenвЂ™s story to a publisher. They said it wasnвЂ™t long enough and to keep trying. Then life happened and I put the dream in the cupboard. I remembered it was there and determined it would come out again one day вЂњwhen I had enough timeвЂќ. As 40 years passed by, I realised I was probably never going to have enough time, I had to вЂњmake timeвЂќ and вЂњmake it happenвЂќ. THE MIND 53 Set goals As goals create a structure for manifesting the dream I set some. I knew that making time would mean leaner living for a while. I set a 2 year deadline for writing and publishing. Then I regularly visualised my book in the bookshops and I pictured people reading it. If you are one of those people, youвЂ™ll know that my vision became a reality. So can yours. # TIP # Have an overall goal ie: вЂњI am going to write a book and have it published in 2 yearsвЂќ. Then break it down into bite sized chunks which is psychologically easier to manage ie: Between January and March вЂ“ write two chapters Between April and June вЂ“ write two chaptersвЂ¦etc.. As very few people have the luxury of pursuing their dream independently of everyday life and family, build that time into the goals otherwise it becomes a distraction and a reason to procrastinate with the likely end result of resentment and frustration, вЂњwhatвЂ™s the point, IвЂ™ll never get it doneвЂќ. Focused determination and a clear vision is key. Transcend fear Fear hangs like a heavy mist. We know there is something on the other side and if only we could see what it was, we could move forward but what ifвЂ¦.. itвЂ™s the edge of a cliff?! ! Fear = Contraction We call it вЂњcrippling fearвЂќ and for good reason. The term вЂњemotional crippleвЂќ is used to describe someone who is frightened of their own shadow or totally unable to share of themselves for fear of rejection. 54 HOW TO DO LIFE Whatever the reason, it is a seriously contracted place. When we are frightened, everything shrivels up, including our heartsвЂ¦literally and metaphorically. Our blood doesnвЂ™t flow as easily and nor does life. The fear range is enormous from shopping to phobias to spontaneous human combustion. It paralyses life. Generally though, unless you are engaging in life threatening activities вЂњthere is nothing to fear, except fear itselfвЂќ. Most fear is in our heads which is why managing our minds is so crucial. When fear gets together with its close friend worry, there become a thousand reasons not to do something. вЂњWhat ifвЂ™sвЂќ abound. End result: No action = no outcome. Susan JeffersвЂ™ book вЂњFeel the Fear and Do It AnywayвЂќ is well titled because if we donвЂ™t do just that, weвЂ™ll be back to the death bed scenario with its accompanying regrets and missed chances. ! Welcome your problems вЂњEvery problem has a gift for you in its handsвЂќ. Not always easy to see the gift when you are in the middle of the problem but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Many people who have experienced life changing events from divorce through redundancy and bereavement have subsequently reported the positives that resulted. Over the years I have worked with hundreds of people who at their lowest points had no belief that life would get better, but it did. Of course if we only ever approach problems from the victim stance of вЂњwhy me, poor meвЂќ, then we donвЂ™t give ourselves the opportunity to grow. IвЂ™m not suggesting that itвЂ™s inappropriate to feel sorry for yourself when something bad or sad happens, as long as you donвЂ™t get stuck in the groove and keep going round in circles. This encourages fear to move in, energy to contract and stagnation to start. I think itвЂ™s interesting that the Chinese symbols for вЂњProblemвЂќ and вЂњOpportunityвЂќ are the sameвЂ¦.makes total sense, because thatвЂ™s what problems are: Opportunities. THE MIND 55 # TIP # Whilst you might not be whooping with joy next time thereвЂ™s a problem, I would invite you to at least consider what the learning from it could be. ! Abound with abundance The reason why abundance is here within the fear section is that money is also energy and belief in a lack is likely to lead to the reality. The belief becomes fear, everything contracts and the flow dries up. People with money hold onto it in case it runs out and some unkindly say they have money because вЂњthey never spend itвЂќ. Even though finances were one of the reasons I kept delaying writing this book and times have been leaner, it has been incredible how I have always had just enough to meet my needs from one source or another. The tightest times have been those where I started to worry about it, but as soon as I stepped back into believing that everything would be fine, it was. It works every time. Open up = money in. Shut down = money stops. Simple. # TIP # Keep an вЂњabundance bookвЂќ and write down all the ways it comes to you. That way in your moment of doubts, you can look back and feel reassured. ! Love your bills No, I havenвЂ™t lost the plot. Paying your bills graciously lets the energy flow out freely and makes room for it to come back the same way. 56 HOW TO DO LIFE # TIP # Draw a " or a on the back of your cheques. At the least it will make someone smile. Alternatively, you could just write вЂњthank youвЂќ. ! Count your blessings My grandmother used this proverb a lot but how often do we actually stop and think of all the good things we have in our life. Abundance isnвЂ™t just about money and materialism. ItвЂ™s about health, sight, fresh food, clean water, clothing, heat, a roof over our heads, friends, freedom of speech and fresh airвЂ¦all things that many people donвЂ™t have. We are very rich indeed if we have them all. # TIP # Occasionally make a list of the blessings in your life and spare a thought or even some practical support for those less blessed. Keep a charity box and put small change in at the end of the day вЂ“ it soon adds up. ! Take a risk вЂњNothing ventured, nothing gainedвЂќ. Another wise proverb. DonвЂ™t be immobilised with fears about rejectionвЂ¦ask her out. Tell him you love him. Apply for that new job. So what she might say no, he might not tell you back and you might not get the job. At least you did something. No action = no result. You either have an outcome or your reasons for not having it. Which is better? I think the following says it all. THE MIND 57 # TIP # See which line jumps out at youвЂ¦.that will be the one most relevant for you to reflect on. RISKS To laugh is to risk being a fool To weep is to risk appearing sentimental To reach out for another is to risk involvement To show feelings is to risk showing yourself. To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss To love is to risk not being loved in return To live is to risk dying To hope is to risk despair To try is to risk failure But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing Those who risk nothing, do nothing, have nothing and are nothing They may avoid suffering and sorrow But they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live Chained by their certainties, they are slaves They have forfeited their freedom, Only a person who risksвЂ¦вЂ¦вЂ¦вЂ¦..is truly free 58 HOW TO DO LIFE Stretch your mind The brain like the rest of our body benefits from a good workout. It used to be thought that as we got older our brains withered away as we slid towards a state of inertia. However, recent advances in brain imaging techniques show that this doesnвЂ™t have to be the case at all. The more we use the capacity of the brain and work the areas responsible for different functions the more responsive and flexible it gets, just like our body muscles. However, as we get older we can get stuck in the rut of just knowing what we know and not being interested to learn anything new. So our brains start slowing down and if we donвЂ™t continue to use certain functions, the part responsible for learning could shut down. So we need to stretch our minds and a good way to do that is to expand the scope of your life and learn something new. HOW TO STRETCH YOUR MIND Dancing of any kind Painting Exploring Flying Theatre groups Book Group Languages Do a degree Do a Masters Pottery Cooking Poetry Discussion groups Add numbers without a calculator (as you shop is good) THE MIND 59 Other than illness or disease, there is no reason why you shouldnвЂ™t stay mentally active and alert until you take your last breath. Improve your memory A poor memory can be an indication that we are very busy and need to focus more. Often though itвЂ™s because we donвЂ™t use the memory part of our brain enough. Everything we need these days is usually available at the touch of a button, so who needs to memorise numbers, names etc. Our brain gets lazy. # TIP # for remembering names If you are introduced to a number of people at the same time, look directly at them and repeat their name back to them. This helps you anchor their name and allows them to correct any errors of pronunciation. Some people find that linking an aspect of the personвЂ™s appearance with the name is a good memory aid. HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY Learn a poem over a short period of time. Learn a few lines at a time until you know the whole poem and then recite it out loud to yourself or someone else. Learn a new language Join a Drama group When you are travelling to a familiar location, instead of going on automatic pilot, see what landmarks you notice along the way and then imagine giving someone directions, using those landmarks . 60 HOW TO DO LIFE Write a shopping list or action list and then see how much you can remember without looking at the list. Try and visualise what was on there. There is nothing wrong with writing things down so as to remember, itвЂ™s just that some of the suggestions above give the brain a better workout and keep it sharper for longer. Remember: Like physical exercise вЂњIf you donвЂ™t use it, you lose itвЂќ. THE MIND пЂ®пЂ $ PAUSE POINT 61 CHAPTER 4 RELATIONSHIPS Relationship means any and all relationships; marriage, partners, family, work colleagues, friends and strangers. Unless we are hermits, we are relating and interacting with others constantly and relationships are much easier and more fulfilling when we are openhearted. Simply exchanging a pleasantry with a stranger at the supermarket checkout or a waiter in a restaurant can make a difference to them and us. However, many people find this really difficult and can appear offhand and unpleasant. Are they really like that underneath? Probably not. Equally the reverse can be true in that people presenting a veneer of charm and sociability may be described as вЂњcold fishвЂќ by those who try and get closer. The veneer is just that, a superficial exterior behind which is suspicion and a lack of trust. These are the people who have built a wall or a fortress around themselves which others find impenetrable and behind which they are lonely prisoners. The rebel will be busy defending the fortress, the compliant person will seem to be inviting you in but definitely keeping you out, whilst the withdrawn personality will barely be visible. The foundations of the wall or fortress, built in childhood and added to over the years were built for good reasonsвЂ¦.to protect our hearts and stop more hurt. The driver behind the project would have been the fear that if we are open and vulnerable we will be exploited in some way, but as we explored in the last chapter fear is a RELATIONSHIPS 63 contracted place and not a healthy way to live. Open-heartedness and fear are opposites. Dismantle the fortress Easier said than done. If it was built as a result of small hurts and perceptions, it will be easier than if it was the result of heavy abuse, by which I mean physical, emotional, verbal, mental, or sexual, in which case it will probably take more than my suggestions to make a real difference and might actually need professional support. However, try this process and see how you get on. As I said in the visualisation section, you donвЂ™t have to get a clear photo image, just a sense will do. HOW TO DISMANTLE THE FORTRESS Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take your awareness to your breathing and notice the rhythm of your in/out breath. Then have a sense of what is in front of you and around you. Does it feel as though you are outside in the fresh open air or enclosed in some way? If it feels enclosed, what is creating that? Is it a wall, a fortress, fencing? What substance is it made ofвЂ¦brick, concrete, plastic, metal? Begin to consider whether itвЂ™s possible to dismantle the structure and what equipment you might need to do it. Would it be an easy or hard task? You might want to blast it away in one go or it might need to be carefully taken down piece by piece. See if you can find a way to make it smaller right nowвЂ¦.even if itвЂ™s only a fraction. How does that feel? You can put it straight back if it feels too much, too 64 HOW TO DO LIFE soon. If it feels alright though, you might decide to try another bit. Notice how your body feels as you do this. Are you registering any discomfort or anxiety? If so, notice it and use the breathing technique to manage it. Stop at any time if it gets too much. Remember, you can return to this whenever you like and continue the dismantling process, you donвЂ™t have to do it all at once but bit by bit youвЂ™ll notice the difference. Of course, you may find that the barrier isnвЂ™t that high or that thick after all, in which case it might be much quicker. Open your heart doors As the dismantling progresses, it becomes much easier to find your heart doors and open them. It might just be a crack at first but itвЂ™s a start. Our hearts and feelings work together. We have more verbal expressions about the heart than any other body part. Open-hearted, hard-hearted, black-hearted, faint-hearted, lion-hearted, brokenhearted. It is the focus of love, hate, joy, sorrow, pain, fear, anguish, longing, ecstasy and bliss. It has been written about constantly through the centuries by great sages and poets. So it would seem we are very aware of our hearts but this is definitely not the case and many people are totally out of touch with their feelings. So this next exercise is designed to raise your awareness of what your heart is feeling and how those feelings are changing all the time dependent on where you are and who youвЂ™re with. Have a pen and paper nearby. HOW TO OPEN YOUR HEART DOORS Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Turn your awareness inwards and notice the gentle rhythm of RELATIONSHIPS 65 your breathing. When you feel settled inside, take your awareness to your physical heart area and rest your attention in the centre of your chest. Now imagine that you can chart your feelings on the heart scale below. Heart closed 0 ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Fully open 10 Instinctively, allocate a number for how it feels right nowвЂ¦just trust whatever number comes to mind. Jot it on your paper. Close your eyes and return your awareness to your heart centre and breathing. Now bring in the image of someone or something you really have strong loving feelings about. It may be a child, a partner, a parent, a friend or an animal. Have a sense that they are standing before youвЂ¦вЂ¦.and see what number comes up for your heart scale now. Before you write it down, really notice how it feels. Does your heart feel more open? Do you have a warm, glowing feeling? Does it bring a tear to your eye? Do you feel overwhelmed by a sense of love? It may only feel marginally different than before but different is what weвЂ™re looking for. Note it on your paper. Close your eyes again, let the loving image go and return your awareness to your breathing. Now, bring to mind someone that you donвЂ™t like or relate to. Again, imagine them before you. What number registers on your heart scale now? Just trust whatever number comes but notice too what happens in your body. Do you suddenly notice tension? Where do you notice it? Just be aware of how different the experience is to the last one, then write your number down. 66 HOW TO DO LIFE Again, close your eyes, breathe away your image and return your awareness to your breathing. Notice what your heart feels like and what number is there now. Breathe againвЂ¦. and bring back the loving image from earlier and notice what happens on your heart scale. Has it returned to the same number as before or is it higher or lower? Again notice what happens in your body and then take a few deep breaths and return yourself to full alertness. Jot down the final number and any experience you want to record about that process. As IвЂ™m sure you realise, what this process does is heighten your awareness as to how your heart responds when it encounters different people and circumstances. If it didnвЂ™t change at all throughout, I would encourage you to try again until you notice a shift. I use this a lot with clients who have difficulty in consciously knowing what they are feeling. I have never yet encountered anyone, male or female, whose scale didnвЂ™t change when they thought of a loved one. Those are the moments when the heart doors are pretty wide open. If that can be developed to be between 7-8 most of the time, think how much easier and more effective relating with others would be. You might not вЂњloveвЂќ everyone and be gliding around like youвЂ™ve been on the вЂњwacky baccyвЂќ but equally you wouldnвЂ™t have to work so hard to keep people at arms length either. Find your candle flame When your heart doors are more open, it is easier to find your candle flame. It lives at the centre of your being, in the chamber of your heart. No breeze or gale can extinguish its light. It may wobble and diminish but it never goes out. This flame is your essence. So вЂњdonвЂ™t hide your light under a bushelвЂќ, find it within you and let it radiate outwards to touch others. It may be reflected in your smile or in the warmth that other people feel when theyвЂ™re around you. A sure sign of its glow is when other people start to smile at you for no reason. ThereвЂ™s something about you that they canвЂ™t quite put their RELATIONSHIPS 67 finger on but theyвЂ™d like to scratch a little off for themselves. That moment is when your candle flame is at its brightest. HOW TO FIND YOUR CANDLE FLAME Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Notice the rhythm of your breathing and then take your awareness to your heart area. Notice what it feels like. Is there any tension or is it just comfortable? Now imagine you are standing at the top of a flight of 10 steps that lead downwards. Very carefully descend the steps, one by one. At the bottom you find that you have stepped into a chamber. Have a look around. It may be glorious with diamond-studded walls or it may be simple stone. This is your heart chamber and there in the centre is the candle that never goes outвЂ¦вЂ¦your essence. Walk over to it. Look into the flame and breathe deeply. Notice how that feels. Stay there as long as you like and then when you are ready, breathe the flame into your awareness and letting it fill every part of your physical body, return to the steps. With each step up, feel yourself getting nearer to a full, alert state. As you reach the 10th step, take an extra deep breath and open your eyes. Notice how you feel and maybe write it down. 68 HOW TO DO LIFE Integrate your shadow Now before your light becomes bright enough to steer ships away from rocks, letвЂ™s explore the darker sideвЂ¦..the shadow. All of us have parts we would rather other people didnвЂ™t see or didnвЂ™t know about. Partners can be only too willing to share those details just when we are busy presenting our best sides. What is really important is that we know our shadow sides so that we can accept and integrate them into the вЂњwarts and allвЂќ package that вЂњweвЂќ consist of. A very good way to identify your shadow side is to think of someone you really donвЂ™t like and then name their unlikeable qualities. If you canвЂ™t think of someone you know, think of someone in public life or just qualities you donвЂ™t like. If for example you said вЂњI canвЂ™t stand people who are loud and aggressiveвЂќ, I would ask вЂњand is there a part of you that can also be like that sometimes?вЂќ Usually on reflection the answer is вЂњYesвЂќ. It might not be to the same degree but it can be present on occasions. Equally, if we really have a thing about people being untrustworthy perhaps we need to have a look and make sure weвЂ™re ok in that department. We might not like the shadow, but as I said we need to know and accept all parts of ourselves. That way we can choose the parts we want to have mostly upfront and those that can go into semi and hopefully permanent retirement. Earlier, in Chapter 2, I referred to the part of me that could be sarcastic because I had learnt it well from my mother. I say вЂњcouldвЂќ because it isnвЂ™t an aspect I choose to have present as my way of interacting with others. However, IвЂ™m well aware itвЂ™s there together with my Banshee/Witch. In my younger years, she had a lot of air time and could be very destructive. I didnвЂ™t like that part of me very much at all and probably only those closest to me would have even suspected she was there. Gradually though I got to know her and understand how she had come into being. I realised that in many ways she had served me well as a protector of sorts - вЂњDonвЂ™t cross me or elseвЂќ. As I learnt to like myself more and acknowledge all my RELATIONSHIPS 69 positive attributes, she was able to take a back seat and now sheвЂ™s slumbering in the background and only comes out very occasionallyвЂ¦.but yes, she does still come out. Remember: 80/20. So, there is always more to us than meets the eye and we are much more than just the parent, adult, child. The following exercise gives you the opportunity to look at both the negative and positive aspects of yourself in a way that results in ownership rather than denial. Of course it may be that you deny all the good parts of yourselfвЂ¦.lots of people do if they have very strong inner critics. You will need to set aside about 30-45 minutes for this. You will also need: вЂў вЂў HOW TO 20 вЂ“ 30 pieces of paper just large enough to write a word or two on and either two different coloured pens or a pen and a pencil. INTEGRATE YOUR SHADOW As the pieces of paper are going to contain words that reflect parts of yourself that you like and donвЂ™t like, decide what colour or pen/pencil you will use for which. Now start to think of qualities you like about yourself and put one or two words per piece of paper. Here are some possible examples: Loving, kind, generous, good friend, reliable, honest, fun, clever, considerate, caring, thoughtfulвЂ¦вЂ¦..you get the idea. If you get stuck, think what a friend might say about youвЂ¦and if you get really stuck, take a risk and ask your friends! You might be pleasantly surprised. Write each quality and put the piece of paper aside to create a small pile. 70 HOW TO DO LIFE The second part is to write down the qualities you donвЂ™t like about yourself. Here are some possible examples: irritable, bad tempered, moody, grumpy, suspicious, bossy, manipulative, controlling, inconsiderate, loud, aggressive etc etc. Again if you get stuck, you could ask your friends or a partner. Of course if youвЂ™re really awful, you might not have anyвЂ¦..but then you probably wouldnвЂ™t be reading this book either. Make a separate pile. Now take your two piles, mix them together randomly and then lay them all out in front of you. Sit back and have a good look вЂ¦.at the вЂњwholeвЂќ you. That way nothing is left in shadow. All is before you and from that place you can start to make choices. If you think of more at this stage or later on, just add them. This process is equivalent to shining a large torch into the attic or basement, and then bringing everything out for a good old sort. The difference is you donвЂ™t want to be putting anything back, you want it all somewhere accessible and not in the dark. What I like about this exercise is that people are usually pleasantly surprised when they see how many good qualities they have to outweigh the others. It requires honesty to acknowledge our negative sides as well as put aside the вЂњever so humbleвЂќ aspect of the ego to acknowledge the positives, but until you can identify all parts of yourself, it is very difficult to develop this next quality which is crucial for good relationships of all kinds. Develop empathy вЂњStanding in another personвЂ™s shoes and seeing, or trying to see the world as they see itвЂќ. This is empathy and lack of it leads to arguments, accusations, judgements, condemnations, arrogance, superiority, dictatorship, war and death. Insensitivity to anotherвЂ™s situation or feelings displays a lack of empathy. RELATIONSHIPS 71 It could be in the workplace with a colleague trying to explain a situation to you, but because itвЂ™s not an experience youвЂ™ve had, you are at a loss to understand what on earth they are talking about and in fact feel quite irritated that they are even telling you in the first place. ThatвЂ™s the time to stop and consider what it might be like in their shoes. You might say вЂњI donвЂ™t really understand your situation, perhaps you could explain it more for meвЂќ. Even when it is clearer, it might not mean you agree with everything but at least you might not be so quick to dismiss, judge or condemn. Perhaps you have sponsored a third world child and then send them photographs of you and your family posing by the cars outside your enormous house, or so it would seem to someone in say, Africa, who has to walk 2 miles just to get water and has never seen grass. It would mean that your heart was in the right place for being a sponsor but that you didnвЂ™t put yourself in their shoes before sending the photoвЂ¦..otherwise you wouldnвЂ™t have sent it. Sometimes when we hear what sounds like a similar experience to ours we jump in with вЂњI know just how you feelвЂќ. Actually, you donвЂ™t know and it is often the worst thing you can say. Just because you lost a loved one doesnвЂ™t mean that another person will feel how you did, despite the commonality of the situation. An empathic approach would be вЂњI can only begin to imagine what you must be feelingвЂќ. Empathic people usually have good self-awareness which allows them to be tuned to what is happening with others around them. They are seen as approachable and can read and recognise signs from peopleвЂ™s tones and expressions. Unaware and emotionally unintelligent people donвЂ™t tend to do this and are usually viewed as distant and to be avoided where possible. Those who lose control of themselves in difficult situations, are pretty unlikely to be empathic with others. In brief: No awareness = no self control = no empathy 72 HOW TO DO LIFE Self-awareness = self-management relationship management. = empathy = effective # TIP # Next time you are having difficulty understanding another personвЂ™s viewpoint or situationвЂ¦.STOP and see if you can get a sense of what the world is like through their eyes. Each time you do this you are developing your awareness and your ability to empathise. Court compassion Empathy and compassion are close friends. Are you moved by stories you hear on programmes about children in need? Do they have you reaching for the phone to make donations even when you havenвЂ™t got much yourself? Do programmes about animal cruelty and documentaries about courage move you to tears? Do harsh injustices stir your blood and do acts of terrorism fill you with a deep sadness for humanity? вЂњYesвЂќ to most of these means goodвЂ¦..not much wrong with your compassion. Being able to see the world as another person sees it does not mean that the view is necessarily right but it does help us to have more insight into why people behave the way they do. If the answer is вЂњNoвЂќ to most, then you need to ask yourself вЂњwhy?вЂќ Have you been so damaged that you have no compassion for others? Again if this is the case perhaps it would be good to get some professional support so that you can learn to be more open-hearted for yourself and others because, undoubtedly, if you have no compassion for them you will have even less for yourself. Look for the jewel Some years ago as part of an intensive experiential workshop we were challenged to do something completely out of character and see RELATIONSHIPS 73 what happened. This is what one participant did. She dressed herself as a bag lady, greased her hair to make it look dirty and sat begging outside LondonвЂ™s Waterloo station for three consecutive days. Most people ignored her totally and even those who stopped to put money in her bowl, didnвЂ™t look at her. They just salved their conscience and moved on, for them she didnвЂ™t really exist. However, in the afternoon of her third and final day when she was despairing about humanity, a smartly dressed businessman stopped in front of her and just looked. She did and said nothing. Then he said вЂњYouвЂ™re not who you seem to be, are you?вЂќ. She smiled and said вЂњNoвЂќ. He invited her to go for a drink and still dressed as the bag lady they went to the station bar where he was completely unbothered by the disapproving looks of other customers. She told him what she was doing and why. He was so impressed that he enrolled for the next workshop. When he saw her again she was her usual stunning self. The key here is that he took the time to look and see beyond what was visible. Most people donвЂ™t bother. If they donвЂ™t like the look of you in the first 30 seconds, you donвЂ™t stand a chance. You will have been pigeon-holed as x, y or z and thatвЂ™s probably where youвЂ™ll stay. However, if someone does take the time to get closer, invariably youвЂ™ll hear вЂњhe/she is really nice when you get to know themвЂќ. # TIP # DonвЂ™t judge the book by the cover. Stop and look again. There might be a Prince inside the Frog or a Princess inside the Bag Lady!! 74 HOW TO DO LIFE Actively listen As you can see the above Chinese verb вЂњto listenвЂќ, contains the following components: Ears, Mouth, Eyes, Heart and Undivided Attention! Active listening is a skill that engages empathy and compassion. It requires you to be 100% present with another and whilst listening you notice body language, skin tone changes, the use of words and their content as well as the tone of voice. It means that you have listened so well that, if necessary, you could repeat what you have just heard, accurately and in sequence. Most arguments are the result of faulty listening. A lot of people think they are good listeners but most of the time when someone is speaking our minds are partially thinking about something elseвЂ¦ вЂњwhatвЂ™s for dinner tonight?вЂќ, вЂњwhat time is it?вЂќ, вЂњhow much longer will this meeting go on?вЂќвЂ¦..or just thinking up their reply to whatever is being said before they have actually heard all of it. This is really heightened when the listener doesnвЂ™t agree with a comment or viewpoint and is actually mentally preparing a defence for when the speaker stops. Have you noticed, too, how people interrupt each other or finish their sentences. Television interviewers do it all the time. They ask a question and then donвЂ™t seem to listen to the answer which is why the more assertive are likely to say вЂњIвЂ™d like to finish what I was sayingвЂќ. RELATIONSHIPS 75 If you want to find out how good a listener you are, you could try the following exercise with a friend or colleague. # TIP # For a quick answer ask your partner and if they say вЂњOh, you never listenвЂќ maybe thatвЂ™s a clue. Of course it might just be their perception! HOW TO ACTIVELY LISTEN Decide who will be A and B and who will talk first. Both of you think of a topic to talk about for 2 minutes. Holidays are often a good choice. Sit so that you can observe and listen. For example, I never take notes in my private practice because if I was looking at a pad, I might miss a vital body clue accompanying the speaking. The first speaker then talks about the chosen subject for 2 minutes. The listener does just that, listens. It is not a conversation. Even if you are dying to ask a question, donвЂ™t. You can indicate your interest nonverbally by nodding or smiling and being attentive. Looking out of the window or at your hands, shoes or watch doesnвЂ™t count as attentive! After 2 minutes of listening, you repeat back as much as you remember and as much as possible, in the order it was said. You then ask the speaker to rate you out of 10 for accuracy and the quality of your listening. Then swop roles and do it all again. 76 HOW TO DO LIFE At the end of this brief exercise you should have a much better idea of your listening ability. Active Listening demonstrates: вЂў вЂў вЂў that you have heard and understood what the other person is saying the desire to understand each other your concern for, and acceptance of, the other person This will avoid a lot of misunderstanding and misinterpretations and lead to communication that is a lot more effective and less time consuming. # TIP # вЂњListen upвЂќ by engaging ears, eyes, mouth and вЂ¦.heart. Communicate authentically The dictionary definition of вЂњauthenticвЂќ contains the words вЂњgenuine, reliable, trustworthy, accurate, true, exact, legitimate and realвЂќ. A popular street reaction to someone talking rubbish would be вЂњget realвЂќ or вЂњyeah, rightвЂќ. We just know instinctively when someone is not being genuine or real. It flashes like an invisible neon light. In Reality TV shows like вЂњBig BrotherвЂќ, the winners are invariably those who have been the most genuine вЂњwhat you see is what you getвЂќ with the least authentic usually the first to get voted out. We donвЂ™t relate well to people вЂњwho put on an actвЂќ, we have a sense of not knowing where theyвЂ™re coming from and this creates a lack of trust. Sometimes the act is down to nerves or lack of confidence, which is why it is so important to get comfortable with yourself. When you like yourself, other people will be drawn to you like the proverbial вЂњmoth to a candle flameвЂќ. So when you communicate authentically, you speak authoritatively and you are the author of your words. Put simply: you say what you mean and mean what you say. RELATIONSHIPS 77 Assert yourself Assertion has previously been a major focus of company training, often with an emphasis for women who have been considered less assertive than their male counterparts. However, comments such as: вЂњOh, you donвЂ™t need to go on a training course, youвЂ™re assertive enough alreadyвЂќ reflect that it is often confused with what is actually either an underhanded or aggressive style of communication, neither of which are assertive. So here are the distinctions. Aggressive Communication: (akin to rebel вЂњI win, you loseвЂќ) вЂў Seeking to dominate or get your own way at the expense of others This can include: вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў Overtalking: Talking loudly to drown the other person out Threatening: вЂњI want that done or elseвЂќ Rubbishing: вЂњAny fool knows you donвЂ™t do it like thatвЂќ Mocking: вЂњEven a child could do betterвЂќ Trivialising: вЂњWell, it wasnвЂ™t difficult after allвЂќ and Blaming: вЂњYou made a complete mess of thatвЂќ All of these will be accompanied by equally aggressive body postures and gestures. Non-Assertive Communication: (akin to compliant or withdrawn вЂњI lose, you winвЂќ) вЂў вЂў Denying your own wishes to satisfy someone elseвЂ™s Sacrificing your own needs to meet someone elseвЂ™s This usually means saying вЂњyesвЂќ when you mean вЂњnoвЂќ and being exploited as a result. Attempts to speak up are likely to include: 78 HOW TO DO LIFE вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў Frequent justifications: вЂњI wouldnвЂ™t normally say anything butвЂ¦вЂ¦вЂќ Apologies: вЂњIвЂ™m very sorry to bother youвЂ¦..вЂќ Qualifiers: вЂњI know this might sound stupid butвЂ¦вЂ¦вЂќ Self-putdowns: вЂњYou know me, always getting it wrongвЂќ There will be a lot of hesitancy and nervousness in the manner of a non-assertive person, even though it may be possible to determine underlying resentment in their eyes. Assertive Communication: (akin to adult вЂњWin, WinвЂќ). вЂў вЂў Expressing yourself and satisfying your own needs Feeling good about this and not hurting others in the process This means that you take account of others and their needs but not at your own expense. You work to find ideas and solutions that suit all parties. Assertion and authenticity are partners. Both are about clear, direct, open and honest communication which would include: вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂњIвЂќ statements: вЂњ I likeвЂќ, вЂњI valueвЂќ, вЂњI respectвЂќ, вЂњI acknowledgeвЂќ etc.. The distinction between fact and opinion: вЂњMy experience is differentвЂќ Constructive criticism without blame: вЂњI feel irritated when you talk over meвЂќ Seeking otherвЂ™s opinions: вЂњHow does this work with your plans?вЂќ Willingness to explore other outcomes: вЂњHow can we do this differently?вЂќ Suggestions without telling: вЂњWould it be helpful ifвЂ¦..?вЂќ, вЂњHow aboutвЂ¦..?вЂќ RELATIONSHIPS 79 Here are some more ideas to help with being more assertive. HOW TO BE ASSERTIVE Consider what has been said to you or the situation you are in and ask yourself these 3 questions: вЂњWhat do I feel?вЂќ вЂ¦вЂ¦pinpoint it (angry, upset, put upon, irritated, happy, frightened, surprised) вЂњWhat am I thinking?вЂќвЂ¦вЂ¦.check the train of thought (вЂњhow dare theyвЂќ , вЂњhow could theyвЂќ, вЂњwhat a cheekвЂќ , вЂњhow fantasticвЂќ, вЂњthatвЂ™s scaryвЂќ) вЂњWhat do I want to do or say?вЂќ вЂ¦вЂ¦. notice your gut reaction The next step is formulating your response which could contain this structure: When youвЂ¦вЂ¦вЂ¦ I wasвЂ¦вЂ¦.. and feltвЂ¦вЂ¦вЂ¦вЂ¦.. but I For example: вЂњWhen you invited me for a drink, I was very surprised and felt flattered but as IвЂ™m in a relationship, I wonвЂ™t acceptвЂќ. An aggressive response might be: вЂњHow dare you when you know IвЂ™m in a relationship, get lostвЂќ. A passive response might be: вЂњItвЂ™s really nice of you to ask and IвЂ™m ever so sorry to be difficult but I canвЂ™t because IвЂ™m in a relationship and my partner wouldnвЂ™t like itвЂќ. Another passive response might be to agree and regret it later rather than give вЂњoffenceвЂќ by saying no. 80 HOW TO DO LIFE Learn to say вЂњNOвЂќ If someone asked you to jump out of a window, hopefully you wouldnвЂ™t hesitate to say вЂњnoвЂќ. Why then does it seem so hard to apply the use of such a small word in other areas of life? It seems we will get into debt, get married, stay in dead relationships and keep on working until we drop, rather than say вЂњnoвЂќ. Some people say вЂњnoвЂќ but follow it with a heap of reasons which gives a manipulator good leverage to turn the вЂњnoвЂќ to a вЂњyesвЂќ, вЂњOh it wouldnвЂ™t take long, you go right past the doorвЂќ. Maybe we learnt in childhood that an abrupt вЂњnoвЂќ to an adult request didnвЂ™t go down well. I remember signs in shops that said вЂњPlease donвЂ™t ask for credit as a refusal often offendsвЂќ. So we end up believing the myths that вЂњnoвЂќ is selfish, rude and blunt and that others will feel upset and rejected or consider you are being petty over such a вЂњsmall requestвЂќ. I wonder how many people have eating disorders as a result of feeling it would be wrong to say вЂњnoвЂќ when confronted by вЂњgo on, just have a little more, itвЂ™s your favouriteвЂ¦.I cooked it speciallyвЂќ. HereвЂ™s what you need to remember: вЂў вЂў вЂў Saying вЂњnoвЂќ is refusing a request, not rejecting a person ItвЂ™s more likely your fear that someone will think badly of you if you say вЂњnoвЂќ, rather than a reality You have the right to say вЂњNoвЂќ without excessive apologies or excuses. HOW TO SAY вЂњNOвЂќ Get together with a friend or even better, a group of friends. Cut up some paper and each of you write down a few requests, one per piece. Some examples could be: RELATIONSHIPS 81 вЂњLend me a ВЈ100?вЂќ вЂњCould you give me a lift to work and back every day next week?вЂќ вЂњCould you do my shopping?вЂќ вЂњWould you mind taking my car to the garage?вЂќ вЂњCould you go to the meeting instead?вЂќ. Then mix them up in a bowl. The first person takes a request and takes it to each friend in turn. Their job is to say вЂњnoвЂќ. No explanations, no apology, just a good old plain вЂњnoвЂќ. See how that feels. Are you uncomfortable just thinking about it? I can assure you that it gets easier with practice. Sometimes a brief explanation can be acceptable вЂњI canвЂ™t lend you a ВЈ100 because I donвЂ™t have itвЂќ although this leaves you open for manipulation вЂњCouldnвЂ™t you put it on your credit card for me?вЂќ, вЂњCouldnвЂ™t you take it from your savings?вЂќ etc. They might of course try the real guilt trip number of вЂњIf you were a real friend, youвЂ™d help meвЂќ. Which reminds me of the old dating dialogue вЂњif you really liked me, you wouldвЂќ. If youвЂ™ve ever bought anything that you didnвЂ™t really want or couldnвЂ™t afford because you were persuaded by a very skilled, smooth talking sales person (encyclopaedias, insurance and timeshares come to mind), then the вЂњbroken record techniqueвЂќ is the one to master. As the name implies, you keep repeating limited responses no matter what is said to you. Call from a timeshare company вЂњIs that Mr/Mrs xxxxвЂќ (first mistake is to say yes instead of вЂњWho are you?вЂќ) 82 HOW TO DO LIFE вЂњIвЂ™m phoning with some excellent news, you have won a luxury holiday for two in Barbados, isnвЂ™t that wonderful?вЂќ вЂњAre you selling timeshares?вЂќ вЂњArenвЂ™t you pleased to have won this wonderful holiday?вЂќ вЂњAre you selling timeshares?вЂќ вЂњAll you have to do to claim your holiday is to come to the meeting we are holding locally where there will be a short presentation we ask you to attend without obligationвЂќ вЂњThank you, but IвЂ™m not interested in buying a timeshareвЂќ вЂњBut, arenвЂ™t you interested in claiming your luxury holiday in BarbadosвЂќ вЂњThank you, but IвЂ™m not interested in buying a timeshare, goodbyeвЂќ. Now of course you might have told them to get lost as soon as they started because youвЂ™ve come across it before but lots of people havenвЂ™t and donвЂ™tвЂ¦they get hassled into going to a meeting where high pressure sales people who trade on your dislike of saying вЂњnoвЂќ, persuade you to part with money you havenвЂ™t got or would be better investing somewhere else. вЂњI wouldnвЂ™t be that gullibleвЂќ I hear you sayвЂ¦вЂ¦.believe me, it happens. Praise others вЂњI donвЂ™t feel appreciatedвЂќ вЂњNo-one ever says thank youвЂќ вЂњThey are quick enough to complain when something goes wrongвЂќ RELATIONSHIPS 83 Sound familiar? During my workshops, these are three of the key reasons given for stress. Not lack of pay, long hours or overwork but lack of appreciation. Why is it so hard to give praise and appreciate others for the contribution they make to work or home or our lives in general? ItвЂ™s as if we still live with a blueprint from a past age when bosses were hard taskmasters and not only expected their вЂњpound of fleshвЂќ but operated from the belief that вЂњif you give them an inch theyвЂ™ll take a mileвЂќ. You might be forgiven for thinking that times had moved on and that society and management was more enlightened, but unfortunately in many cases this is still not true and yet it doesnвЂ™t take rocket science or a psychology degree to know how important acknowledgement is to our well being. Praise doesnвЂ™t have to be lavish, a simple thank you will usually do. Even when we do give praise itвЂ™s often indirect and impersonal. A throw away comment over the shoulder as you walk past вЂ¦ вЂњthat turned out wellвЂќ instead of вЂњas a result of all the hard work you put in, we got a good outcomeвЂќ or вЂњthat was a good jobвЂќ instead of вЂњyou did a good job, well doneвЂќ, вЂњthat was a nice mealвЂќ rather than вЂњyou cooked a really nice mealвЂќ, вЂњthe film was goodвЂќ instead of вЂњthanks for taking meвЂќ. In education it now seems well accepted that praise and encouragement get better results from a child than criticism and condemnation, so why canвЂ™t we do it for each other as adults. People visibly shine and grow when they are praised and acknowledged. Even if they might feel a little embarrassed, so whatвЂ¦..theyвЂ™ll go away feeling a lot better and will probably work harder too. Lack of praise can lead to resentment, with-holds, stress, depression and the divorce courts whilst in business, sabotage and high staff turnover cost billions. HOW TO PRAISE OTHERS Make eye contact and be authentic. This is the one occasion where using the prefix вЂњyouвЂќ is acceptable. 84 HOW TO DO LIFE # TIP # A thank you a day keeps disorders at bay!! Accept a compliment If giving praise is hard, receiving both praise and compliments seems even harder. People shuffle their feet, go red, mutter under their breath and generally do somersaults of discomfort. If a compliment is a verbal gift then often it is tossed straight back like a hot potato. I find women particularly bad at accepting compliments. вЂњYou look great in that outfitвЂќ is frequently met with вЂњOh, IвЂ™ve had it yearsвЂќ or вЂњIt was really cheap in the saleвЂќ. Deflected or what! Compliments are intended to nurture youвЂ¦вЂ¦so let them in. # TIP # Next time someone compliments you for whatever reason, breathe, smile, soak it up and just say вЂњthank youвЂќ. Abandon the relationship killers Giving praise, attention, acknowledgement, compliments, gifts, money or love is wonderful when it is done freely and from the heart. However the following are relationship killers. ! Need вЂњI need you to finish the report by 5pmвЂќ is a direct and assertive use of the word need. It saves time and long-winded requests like вЂњWould you mindвЂ¦..вЂќ, or вЂњI wonder ifвЂ¦вЂќ. However, this is a world away from the need that kills relationships. This is the need of вЂњneedinessвЂќ. Have you ever said RELATIONSHIPS 85 вЂњI canвЂ™t breathe when theyвЂ™re aroundвЂќ, вЂњI feel like theyвЂ™re in my face all the timeвЂќ, вЂњI canвЂ™t move without them wanting to know what IвЂ™m doingвЂќ. Needy people exude an air of desperation which makes others want to run a mile in the opposite direction. ItвЂ™s like a creeping vine that you sense will strangle the life out of you if it gets a hold. Many years ago when I moved to a new area, I was invited to a party and introduced to a number of people. I got on very well with everyone but there was one woman in particular who made me laugh loads and I thought it would be good to get to know her better over time. We agreed to be in touch again but I became aware that she seemed to expect me to ring for long chats, arrange to go out and generally devote more time to her than my family and other friends. I began to feel suffocated and eventually we drifted apart because I wasnвЂ™t meeting her expectations as a friend. In one way I felt sad because she was very good company but equally I felt a sense of relief. What I didnвЂ™t know until some time later was that, following the party, she had rung a number of people and told them I was going to be her new best friend вЂ¦.and all her energy had then been focused on that intention. Most neediness is born from an unfulfilled childhood need for love, attention, food, comfort and warmth. This deficit manifests itself on a scale from need to obsession to addiction and we can be as needy, obsessed and addicted to people as we can be to food, drugs, alcohol, work, exercise, money, gambling, sex and smoking. So the key is to build your self-esteem and confidence so that you feel more secure and self-sufficient. That way you wonвЂ™t have to try so hard to make friends or keep relationships because there will be an easier, more natural flow that will generate freedom for others to give because they want to and not because they feel pressured to do so. ! Expectation вЂњI expected better from youвЂќ вЂњI donвЂ™t expect you to speak to me like thatвЂќ вЂњI expect to be treated with respectвЂќ 86 HOW TO DO LIFE вЂњI expect you to abide by the rulesвЂќ вЂњI expect you to do that, youвЂ™re my parentвЂќ вЂњI expect to see you for Sunday lunch as usualвЂќ вЂњI expected us to get marriedвЂќ вЂњI expected them to winвЂќ вЂњI expected it to be differentвЂќ вЂњI expect co-operationвЂќ вЂњI expected to get the jobвЂќ вЂњI expected to inherit the moneyвЂќ вЂњI had higher expectationsвЂќ вЂњEngland expects every man to do his dutyвЂќ Expectations are dangerous things They smack strongly of the Critical Parent and are based around our view of how life вЂњshouldвЂќ happen. Assuming and taking things for granted are strong elements of expectation and are usually dependent on external sources doing or behaving in a way that fits our picture of life. Christmas time is a key example of heightened expectation. Everything seems to be geared to the вЂњidealised family get-togetherвЂќ where it is expected that all will be love and light in a rosy glow. Advertising supports this myth by showing an exchange of the вЂњperfect presentsвЂќ or вЂњthe perfect mealвЂќ. Now I donвЂ™t want to be a party pooper, but youвЂ™ll probably agree that this is rarely the case and when we donвЂ™t get our expected outcome, we feel let down, hurt, angry, rejected, deflated or indignant. Disappointed expectations lead to bitterness, resentment, resignation and sometimes death. However, not all expectations are bad, just the ones that carry the feeling of heavy disapproval or punishment if not met. They loom heavily overhead like an executionerвЂ™s axe and the seriously missing ingredients are communication and a willingness to acknowledge that the world is not just according to your gospel. RELATIONSHIPS 87 # TIP # DonвЂ™t expect and assume. Plan ahead and then take each moment as it comes. Above allвЂ¦.communicate so as to avoid disappointed expectations and assumptions ! Jealousy Jealousy вЂњthe green eyed monsterвЂќ; вЂњgreen with envy. Why Green? My theory is that itвЂ™s to do with the greeny/yellow substance produced by the liver and called вЂњBileвЂќ as in вЂњBilious attackвЂќ. When we generate too much of this heavily acidic substance in our system we turn a greeny/yellow colour вЂ“ we look jaundiced and thatвЂ™s what jealousy and envy create: a jaundiced view of life. We jealously guard our possessions; designers their designs; inventors their ideas and writers their scripts. We вЂњplay our cards close to our chestвЂќ. If that all sounds tight and narrow, thatвЂ™s because it is. It reflects mistrust, protection, possession and suspicion. It is about having, getting, desiring and owning rather than giving and sharing. Envy is generally seen as more acceptable than its close relative jealousy. вЂњThey are the envy of all their friendsвЂќ. вЂњIвЂ™m so envious of her figureвЂќ. You could be envious of a friendвЂ™s new car and wish you had one like it. After having a good look and asking all about it, you say вЂњgreat car, good for youвЂќ and you get on with life. In this instance you are merely admiring what someone else has and wishing them well for having it. The danger point would be if instead of leaving it at admiration or perhaps thinking вЂњIвЂ™ll buy a new car when I have more moneyвЂќ, you created this train of thought. вЂњLucky devil, I wish I had a car like that, very nice for those who can afford it. ItвЂ™s alright for him with his city job, loads of money and posh wife. What does he know about 88 HOW TO DO LIFE working hard anyway, probably got the job through some old pal somewhere. Fat chance I have of getting a car like that, no matter how hard I workвЂќ. Suddenly you have gone from admiring a new car to feeling resentful and deprived. If it got really extreme, your key might just happen to scratch it as you walked by вЂњOops, careless me!вЂќ Envy and jealousy have merged. Jealousy generally reflects low self-worth. In the above instance, you doubt your ability to get the sort of job that would generate enough money for you to fund what you want. If you are jealous of your partner and fearful they will leave you for someone else, it probably means that you feel inadequate in some way. You fear that they will be attracted to someone else who is better than you. You might want to argue that your jealousy is because they are always a bit flirtatious with others. If this is what happens then you need to communicate clearly вЂњI donвЂ™t like it when I see you flirtingвЂќ. If you have a good relationship, your partner will hear you and might modify their behaviour. If not, then you need to be clear that this is unacceptable to you and leave. I understand that this might seem simplistic but once again I want to emphasise the importance of knowing, liking and respecting yourself as well as developing your ability to communicate clearly, openly, directly and honestly. One of the 10 Commandments says: вЂњThou shalt not covet thy neighbourвЂ™s wifeвЂќ which translated means вЂњStop wishing you had someone elseвЂ™s partnerвЂќ. Quite rightвЂ¦вЂ¦go and get your own (after building your self-confidence and communication skills of course). # TIP # Next time you notice yourself feeling deprived in some way, STOP!вЂ¦ think about all the good things you have in your life and then do something nice for someone else. RELATIONSHIPS 89 ! Guilt Guilt is a very strange emotion to get a handle on. Couples often say they feel guilty about all sorts of thingsвЂ¦.not spending enough time together, not talking enough, not sharing responsibilities, not enough sexвЂ¦etc. So what does it really mean because different people feel guilty about different things. ItвЂ™s a bit like stress: what stresses one person wonвЂ™t even impact another. So itвЂ™s very personal. In which case it must go back to the early foundations of what we decided were right and wrong ways to behave. Therefore if we donвЂ™t behave appropriately, according to our internal values, we feel guilty. Having said that, I think guilt can be a good monitor. If you sleep with your partnerвЂ™s best friend, hopefully you will have an uncomfortable feeling about the situation because you have behaved inappropriatelyвЂ¦ and the label for this feeling is вЂњguiltвЂќ. A guilty conscience needs no accuser. However, we often feel guilty for no really good reason. So what, you forgot to put the rubbish out, ate a chocolate bar when you were dieting and didnвЂ™t phone your friend for a weekвЂ¦вЂ¦in the great scheme of life, does it matter? We carry guilt around like a heavy sack and we need to let it go. The bottom line driver of guilt is our feeling that we have вЂњlet someone or ourselves downвЂќ in some way. So the next time you feel guilty, try this. # TIP # Notice that you are feeling guilty and then ask yourself what about and whether you really need to feel that way. Have you behaved inappropriately, were you really rude to someone, did you intentionally forget to comply with a request? If the answer is вЂњYesвЂќ, then you need to put your hands up, own it and take whatever action is needed to amend the situation. If the answer is вЂњNoвЂќ, recognise that itвЂ™s probably the inner critic running wild againвЂ¦.. take a deep breath, relax, let go and tell yourself вЂњI am goodвЂќ. 90 HOW TO DO LIFE Release attachments Attachments come in many forms. We can be attached to our views about others and we can be attached to people, places, animals and objects. We can be attached to the idea of how something should be, what job we must have, how much money we must earn, what weight we should be, how someone should behave etc. The feeling of attachment is akin to trying to keep a hold on the reins of wild horses. All your energy is invested in holding on but there is the inevitable sense that eventually they are going to break loose and you will probably go flying backwards in the aftermath. When that happens, as it usually does, we get upset, anxious, angry and resentful. We moan that life is вЂњnot fairвЂќ and that nothing ever works out the way we wanted it to. However, when we consciously notice our attachments and adopt the approach of вЂњwhatever happens will be the best outcomeвЂќ, itвЂ™s as though we create some space to actually get what we do want. It allows flexibility to see in all directions rather than be blinkered. Having a goal or a picture of how you would like something to be is greatвЂ¦..as long as you are not so rigidly attached to it being exactly a certain way as to then miss out on other opportunities that might present themselves. Imagine if you had decided that you were going to meet the partner of your dreams when you reached your holiday destination. You could be so fixed on that thought, that you totally dismissed the delightful person you were talking to on the plane as just that вЂњa delightful personвЂќвЂ¦. and perhaps a missed opportunity. # TIP # Have your goals or ideals be a few brush strokes on a blank canvas that you keep adding to as you go along rather than as the finished, framed painting already hanging on the wall. пЂ®пЂ $ PAUSE POINT CHAPTER 5 ENHANCING YOUR LIFE In this chapter we move up a gear. Previously we have explored the self and relationships and now we will be addressing how to create positivity, boost self-esteem, heal yourself and explore your potential. All of these, combined with the journey so far, are designed to lift your life to the next level вЂ“ one of more contentment and fulfilment. Embrace the positive вЂњAlways look on the bright side of lifeвЂќ the song says. вЂњJust be positiveвЂќ, we are told. Good advice but easier said than done. However, it can be done and all of the following will help. ! Love/Hate This process is the quickest way I know to introduce you to the physical and emotional differences experienced when we are either negative or positive HOW TO NOTICE INNER DIFFERENCES Sit comfortably, take a couple of deep breaths then close your eyes and turn your attention inwards. ENHANCING YOUR LIFE 93 Now silently and steadily repeat the word HATE to yourself about 8 times and then open your eyes. Consider what you noticed as you repeated it. Did you feel comfortable? Did your heart beat a bit faster? Were you a bit fidgety? Did your chest or stomach feel a bit tighter? Now let that word go and close your eyes again. Take a few deep breaths and this time the word to repeat silently and steadily about 8 times is LOVE. What did you notice this time? Was it a pleasant sensation? Did it give you a warm glow? Did you feel more comfortable and open? Did it perhaps make you smile or maybe feel tearful? Consider the differences between your feelings about each word. What these different feelings represent are the changes that occur regularly depending on whether we are being negative or positive. If you wake up every day saying вЂњOh no, not another dayвЂќ your inner reactions will be similar to repeating the word hate. If everything from that point on continues to be negative just think how contracted you are going to feel at the end of the day, week, month etc. Perhaps this is how every day is for you but it doesnвЂ™t have to beвЂ¦.remember; you are in charge of your mind. However, if you put some of the following in place, your reactions can become far more akin to the expanded experience of repeating the word love. " TIP " Remember: LOVE = EXPANSION HATE = CONTRACTION 94 HOW TO DO LIFE ! Leg it from the negative ItвЂ™s very difficult to remain positive if you are constantly drawn into the negativity of others. People seem to enjoy moaning. Frequent targets are weather, transport, the government, the boss, employees, the company, family, friends and partners. Moan, moan, moan. Ask yourself this though. How do you feel if you are constantly around people who do nothing but moan and complain? What does it do to your energy levels? Most people begin to feel exhausted after a while and just want to get away from the source. A friend of mine says there are two types of people: radiators or drains. Radiators leave you feeling enthused and alive whilst of course time spent with a drain leaves you feeling exhausted and the chances are, that having dumped their negativity at your doorstep, the moaner will feel loads better! We all need to let off steam occasionallyвЂ¦..as long as itвЂ™s not a constant way of life. " TIP " Allocate moan time If you have something to get off your chest, give it a time limit. Allow a maximum of 5 minutes and in that time, really go for it. Moan and complain as if your life depended on it. At the end of 5 minutes, stop, take a breath and change the subject. The same applies when you get home from work. It can be very beneficial to offload, so have a mutual agreement with your partner or housemate вЂ“ perhaps allocate a maximum of 10 minutes each, otherwise your whole evening could be eaten up with negativity that youвЂ™ll carry through to bedtime and the next day. Life is too short. ! Keep good company What I mean by this is to keep company with those who share your values, attitudes and approach to life. Diversity is great but it can ENHANCING YOUR LIFE 95 also be very tiring. Being around people who are always questioning what you are about, asking you to justify your beliefs or judging your opinions can be intellectually challenging and stimulating for a while, but over time itвЂ™s not good for your morale or your soul. You will probably find like-minded people more nurturing and supportive. ! Develop gratitude Gratitude is another form of counting your blessings. The saying of grace before a meal was to give thanks for having food in the first place which many people didnвЂ™t and in parts of the world, still donвЂ™t. If you are grateful for something done for you, say so or show it in some way. If we get really good service in a restaurant, we leave a tip as an extra вЂњthank youвЂќ. Or you could go one further and do what author Dan Millman does, which is to write a thank you comment on a sticky label and leave it with the tip. It all adds up to you feeling good and someone else feeling appreciated. As Anthony Robbins says вЂњLive every day with an attitude of gratitudeвЂќ. Even if you think it sounds a little trite, itвЂ™s great advice. ! Cultivate joy Joy is something that lifts your spirits. It makes you smile, gladdens your heart and generates a feel-good factor. How many times in a day do you register something joyful? What was the last thing that brought joy to your day? StrugglingвЂ¦? For most people just getting through the day is enough вЂњwhatвЂ™s to be joyful about?!!вЂќ Well, lots of things actually and the simpler the better. Personally, I get a lot of joy from natureвЂ¦.a blackbird or thrush singing, a sunny day, a beautiful sunset to name a few. It could just be a smile from someone, a call from a friend, a piece of music, a meal out, the company of friends, watching children playing or doing something for someone else. It doesnвЂ™t have to cost money, you just have to be open to the moments as they occur. 96 HOW TO DO LIFE " TIP 1 " When you experience moments of joy, notice how it feels in your body and remember it for the future. " TIP 2 " Keep a вЂњjoyвЂќ diary. Have a small notebook either with you or somewhere to hand and every time you experience joy, write down what and when it was. ItвЂ™s amazing how quickly the book can fill up and then when you have down moments where you feel nothing ever goes right, you can look at it to remind yourself that itвЂ™s not true. " TIP 3 " Have a combined Joy/Abundance diary. Write joy from front to back and abundance back to front. Joy creates joy. The more attuned to joy you become, the more joy you experience. Why have a vicious circle when you can have a joyful one instead? ! Create an inner smile Feeling joyful creates an inner smile but you can create it at other times too. HOW TO CREATE AN INNER SMILE Sit comfortably, take a few deep breaths and close your eyes. Take your awareness to the area of your heart and notice how it feels. Breathe into your heart a little until it feels a bit softer. Then imagine your heart as a face. Have a look and see what the expression is. Then think of something pleasant and imagine that your heart face is smiling. Notice how that feels and ENHANCING YOUR LIFE 97 expand the inner smile. Tuck that memory inside so that you can call on it again when you need to. ! Give yourself a hug This is a bit like giving yourself a вЂњpat on the backвЂќ but nicer. We all need physical hugs from other people but this is about you hugging your inner child to create a sense of warmth and comfort for you both when you need it. Our inner child often gets forgotten about so this is a great way to make contact. HOW TO GIVE YOURSELF A HUG Sit comfortably, take a few breaths and close your eyes. Think of how you looked as a young child at maybe 4 or 5 years old or think of a photo you have seen of yourself at that age and if you canвЂ™t do either, have a sense of what it was like to be that age. Then imagine you as the child standing in front of you a short distance away. What is the expression on his/her face? Maybe you want to hug them because they look so happy or because they look a bit lost and you want to give them comfort. Now, take another breath and imagine that flowing from your heart to theirs is a golden silk thread. You can see it clearly between you. Then reach out your arms, put them around the child and gradually draw them to you until the point where your hearts have merged into one but are still linked together by the thread through which you can send love whenever itвЂ™s needed. Breathe in how that feels and bring the feeling back with you when you open your eyes. 98 HOW TO DO LIFE " TIP " Another way to keep contact with the inner child is to buy a soft toy and keep it somewhere visible. ! Give someone else a hug!! As I mentioned, physical contact is essential to survival. It is well known that if young babies and children are not cuddled, they become very withdrawn and may actually die. I remember the heartbreaking pictures of Romanian orphans whose eyes looked almost dead. Hugging is essential for physical and emotional well being. Do you hug friends and family when you see them or are you from a more formal background where that kind of thing is considered soppy or a bit alternative, вЂњyouвЂ™ll have me hugging trees nextвЂќ kind of attitude? If so, then you have to learn to hug people and let them hug you. However, hugging does need to be done with respect and sensitivity for the other person. If you are the huggy kind, donвЂ™t assume that everyone else is. Instead of just hugging them because thatвЂ™s what you normally do, ask permission first вЂњCan I hug you?вЂќ or вЂњWould you like a hug?вЂќ Equally you can ask a friend or partner for a hug. Once you start youвЂ™ll warm to itвЂ¦..itвЂ™s all part of giving and receiving. (PS. trees are good too) Boost self-esteem Low self-esteem or low self-worth is life limiting. If you have a negative opinion of yourself you will feel less motivated to have a career, a relationship, a family, fun, friends, holidays etc. Your inner critic will constantly be judging you and finding faultвЂ¦.. вЂњYou canвЂ™t do thatвЂќ, вЂњWho would want youвЂќ, вЂњYouвЂ™re not clever enoughвЂќ. Your self-image will be distorted like those crazy mirrors at fairgrounds where we all look too tall, too short, too fat, too thin and generally unappealing. So the mirrors need to go. ENHANCING YOUR LIFE 99 ! Accept yourself This means the вЂњwarts and allвЂќ package that I referred to earlier in вЂњintegrate your shadowвЂќ. Everyone has aspects of themselves they donвЂ™t like but in most people the good far outweighs the negative, itвЂ™s usually only us that doesnвЂ™t see it because we are too busy listening to, and believing the inner critic. The way to change it is to listen to what it says and if itвЂ™s negative, practice reframing what you hear. HOW REFRAME TO REFRAME вЂњIвЂ™m so stupidвЂќ reframe вЂњSometimes I make mistakesвЂќ вЂњI never get it rightвЂќ reframe вЂњI get it wrong sometimesвЂќ вЂњNothing ever works for meвЂќ reframe вЂњLife is full of ups and downsвЂќ вЂњIвЂ™m useless at everythingвЂќ reframe вЂњIвЂ™m better at some things than othersвЂќ You will see from these reframing examples that they are designed to move you away from the вЂњall or nothingвЂќ type statements and more into middle ground expression. Once we accept ourselves more, we stop making ourselves right or wrong. We suspend judgement and just notice how we are and what we do. From that base we can work to change what doesnвЂ™t work for us and develop what does. Reframing neutralises the extremes of our language and exposes the 100 HOW TO DO LIFE вЂњmake you feel badвЂќ game of the critic. Once we are doing this on a regular basis the criticвЂ™s control is gradually disarmed, and whilst it will always try and catch you out on a down moment it becomes more and more redundant. Acceptance prayer Let me accept what I canвЂ™t change, change what I can and have the wisdom to know the difference. ! Like yourself This flows from acceptance. Once you stop beating yourself up by reframing to neutral, the next step is to think вЂњMaybe IвЂ™m ok after allвЂќ. You could then start to think again about your likeable qualities and focus on them. Imagine storing them one by one in a вЂњPositiveвЂќ cupboard, so that if the critic does creep back in, you can go straight to the cupboard, open the door and take one off the shelf. However, you need to work to build your reserves otherwise as you fumble in the cupboard, the critic will smile cynically and rub its hands with glee. " TIP " Write all the things you like about yourself on pieces of paper and put them somewhere handy. Then when the critic comes to visit, go and pick one at random as a reminder of your good qualities. You might still have them from the earlier вЂњshadowвЂќ process in Chapter 4. ! Talk yourself up Let me restate: the mind doesnвЂ™t know the difference between fact or fiction. So if you tell yourself вЂњI am a useless, stupid moronвЂќ the ego ENHANCING YOUR LIFE 101 and inner critic have a triumphant party but the mind just says вЂњokвЂќ. So, wouldnвЂ™t it be better to make positive statements to yourself, devised from the qualities in your вЂњpositiveвЂќ cupboard. The most famous example used was вЂњEvery day in every way, I am getting better and betterвЂќ and was part of an experiment conducted by French psychiatrist Emile Coue with seriously depressed patients. Whilst one group remained on medication alone, the second group also repeated the positive statement every day. The result: the second group showed increased improvement. So the same can be true for you. Something that makes these statements even more powerful is to place them in the now. So the above example would become вЂњEvery day in every way, I am better and betterвЂќ instead of вЂњgetting better and betterвЂќ which assumes a goal to be reached in the future. Instead, speak вЂњas ifвЂќ it is already true. Here are some possibilities: вЂњI am confident and capableвЂќ вЂњEvery day I am more confident in my relationships with other peopleвЂќ вЂњI am perfect just as I amвЂќ вЂњI accept myself just as I amвЂќ вЂњI love and accept myself exactly as I amвЂќ When I suggest some of these to my clients, they look at me in disbelief. вЂњYeah right, IвЂ™m perfect just as I amвЂ¦..I donвЂ™t think soвЂќ. And thatвЂ™s just the problem, too much thinking and listening to the critic. So I ask them to suspend their disbelief and do it anyway for a period of 30 days. I also point out that around day 12-15, the critic will really up the anti because it feels threatened. ThatвЂ™s the point when people forget to do it or think вЂњwhatвЂ™s the point, it wonвЂ™t workвЂќ. If they push through that mid-point to the end of the 30 days, they generally feel somewhat better. In this instance of course, the affirmation is supporting other work we are doing, but you donвЂ™t need to be in therapy or counselling to use positive affirmations. 102 HOW TO DO LIFE " TIP 1 " To really increase their impact, say them to yourself in the mirror вЂњeye to eyeвЂќ. That can be really hard as the вЂњeyes are the windows of the soulвЂќ and itвЂ™s like a laser piercing straight through to all the negative beliefs being closely guarded by the critic. " TIP 2 " However, think of it like this. The negative beliefs are sitting inside you like a solid meteorite and the positive вЂњlaserвЂќ affirmation strikes the target every time and starts to diminish it. Eventually, after about day 15, the critic has to run for cover and you start to feel the benefit. ! Honour your body Huge numbers of men and women have negative feelings about their bodies. They want to be taller, shorter, thinner, fatter, more hair, less hair, straight hair, curly hair etc. Billions of pounds are spent annually on cosmetic surgery and body building to make us something вЂњbetterвЂќ. Sometimes it works but usually only if we already feel pretty alright about ourselves and just want a minor adjustment. So many times I have heard people say that the hopedfor transformation in their lives still didnвЂ™t happen and they feel the same way now as they did before, even if they look fantastic. In his book вЂњPsycho-cyberneticsвЂќ, Maxwell Maltz, a cosmetic surgeon, writes of just this situation with a stunning model who wanted her face improved. He couldnвЂ™t believe it and tried to dissuade her but she went ahead anyway. Afterwards, despite being even more breathtakingly beautiful, she still thought she was no great shakes!! It really is an inner process not an outer one. So we need to honour our bodies just as they are. After all, they work pretty hard for us. How often do we stop and think about how great our feet and legs are for supporting our upper bodies and how hard our arms work, lifting and carrying? I often find that disabled people are much more appreciative than the able-bodied. It seems ENHANCING YOUR LIFE 103 that the only time we notice what weвЂ™ve got, is when itвЂ™s either gone or temporarily out of use. A broken wrist or leg can seriously restrict movement and only then do people comment about how they just didnвЂ™t appreciate their mobility before. Our bodies respond well to care and praise. They like to be pampered. Our skin glows from a massage or good workout. Body brushing is also great for the skin and really good for the lymphatic system which carries toxins for disposal. " TIP 1 " With body brushing, always brush upwards towards the heart: hand to top of arm, ankle to top of thigh etc. " TIP 2 " When you have time, use a good body moisturiser and really appreciate the different parts of your body as you apply it. Enjoy the sensuality of touch. " TIP 3 " For male readers who might not like the idea of body cream, try a light body oil like sesame as, instead of a greasy residue, it leaves a lustrous shine. ItвЂ™s great for mutual massage too! ! Maximise your appearance When I first met my husband he wore grey suits to work which, with his silver grey hair, gave an overall image of grey and made him look ill. Once he switched colours to dark charcoals and dark navy, he was positively transformed and people kept commenting on how well he looked. Conversely, if I wear navy or black, people ask if IвЂ™m ill because it drains all the colour from my face. So having had my colour image assessed, I now only wear clothes within a smaller but bright colour range, which also saves a fortune on shopping because I вЂњmix and matchвЂќ a lot more. 104 HOW TO DO LIFE Colour and style matter and particularly in business it can make a real difference. Not that IвЂ™m suggesting you wonвЂ™t get promotion or the job if you are not wearing the right colour, but if there are a number of candidates all equally qualified, it is likely that the one who looks the best will be selected. Whilst at the ego level too much emphasis on appearance is to be avoided, it is however important to maximise your appearance and feel good about yourself. Heal Yourself Sorting unresolved issues is really important so that you get the most out of life. Too many people are run by their pasts and lose out in the present. Unfinished business needs to be finished so that we move on and donвЂ™t keep dragging excess baggage around. ! Bin Bitterness Apart from anything else, bitterness hastens the ageing process. Bitter people create small tight lines above their upper lip because they have held their mouths as if sucking lemons! The appearance is that of being вЂњtight lippedвЂќ, which might be said to match another part of their anatomy too. Inside they are holding onto all the grievances, wrong doings, slights and upsets they believe have come their way from others. They have not spoken up throughout life and consequently swallowed вЂњa bitter pillвЂќ. DonвЂ™t go that way. " TIP " Say what you need to say, when you need to say it and in the most effective, win-win way possible. ! Stop resenting Resentment is a prison of our own making. We вЂњharbourвЂќ resentments. They sit inside and fester like a disease eating from the ENHANCING YOUR LIFE 105 inside out and like bitterness it just leads us down a road of hopelessness, disappointment and a miserable old age. Families donвЂ™t talk to each other for years, friends fall out and lawyers make big money. We resent others for having more than us, being more intelligent than us, being better looking than us вЂ“ all manner of reasons. Resentment and envy are first cousins. Stop resenting, count your blessings and set yourself free! How? Read on. ! Forgive Forgiveness can seem hard especially when abuse of any kind is a core issue. However, it is essential to our survival and way forward. The more we hang onto what happened to us, how bad it was and how awful life is as a result, the more shrivelled we become. We lose the capacity to love. Lack of forgiveness keeps us firmly stuck in the victim groove. We go round and round the same blame cycle. We all have wounds from the past but constantly licking them stops them healing. In fact they get infected and we become poisonous to ourselves and others. So what does forgiveness mean? I have always thought it a strange word that people seemed to use freely without subsequently displaying much evidence that anything had changed. вЂњI forgive youвЂќ means nothing if you continue to behave in a way that is punishing and full of resentment. The dictionary defines it as вЂњcease to feel angry or resentful towardsвЂ¦вЂ¦вЂќ. Then some years ago I heard this definition which immediately resonated: Forgiveness is a) fully letting go of resentment and b) giving up your right to punish Bingo! Easy! Not really, but itвЂ™s a starting point. So how to proceed from here? ! Anger release Before we look at the approach to forgiveness, I want to say something about anger. The first point is that anger is a visible 106 HOW TO DO LIFE defence mechanism and actually covers the real hurt inside. The more anger you feel, the bigger the hurt waiting to be released. If, as you are following the forgiveness process below, you feel so angry you either want to scream or hit something, then I suggest you stop and do just thatвЂ¦.but read how first. HOW TO RELEASE ANGER SAFELY problems Either scream into a pillow or out loud if no-one is likely to call the police. Hitting something does not mean yourself, someone else, the door or the wall. You need to make sure that you are safe. Bashing the bed is good because itвЂ™s usually pretty solid and can take the impact. A rolling pin or a foam baseball bat works well. If you donвЂ™t have either, then clasp your hands together (but donвЂ™t interlock your fingersвЂ¦they might break!) Caution: DonвЂ™t try this if you have back or neck problems Kneel upright by the bed and put a support under your knees if you need to. Then grip the pin or bat firmly in both hands. Hold your arms straight up above your head and whack down on the bed in a single stroke. Repeat this and use your voice as well if you can. Either vocalise your thoughts or make a soundвЂ¦..anything to release the energy that you have been holding onto for too long. When you feel a natural sense of exhaustion or releaseвЂ¦..stop and lie on the bed or floor on your left side, to drain released toxins away from your heart. By then you might find you are crying from the release, so have some tissues nearby. When you have recovered, if you still feel angry do it all again. ENHANCING YOUR LIFE 107 Keep coming back to it until you feel the process is complete but also really work on forgiveness as it is the ultimate freedom from the hurt inside. HOW TO FORGIVE The following format allows you to get clear who you want to forgive, the cause of your hurt/anger and the % of feeling up to 100% that you have about the person/issue before you start. Once you have written the letter, record how you feel and then again after you have burnt the letter. The whole process can be done all in one go or it might take you weeks or months to do it. Just go with what feels right for you. Name of person(s) to forgive Cause of feeling % up to 100% now Letter written (date) % of feeling now Letter Burnt (date) % of feeling now Xxxxxxxxxx The above is probably self-explanatory but to confirm: 1. Write down the name of the person you feel bitter/resentful/hateful towards 2. Then the reason for that feeling 3. Out of 100%, allocate the % of feeling right now 4. Next, write them a letter. This letter is not to be posted so you are free to write anything and everything you want to say 108 HOW TO DO LIFE to them. Use as many profanities as you likeвЂ¦.only you will read it. Note: What you may find as you write is that your mood and feelings change from anger to hurt to sadness and perhaps back to anger. Sometimes maybe even happy or reflective. Go with what comes to you. DonвЂ™t censor or edit. Just write. It may take you several days or weeks or just minutes and it can be anything from half a page to novel size. Let your instinct guide you rather than your mind and ego. 5. When you have finished, consider what % you feel now and write it on the chart. You may never want to re-read the letter, having written it might be enough. It doesnвЂ™t matter whether you do or donвЂ™t. 6. When you feel ready to let go, choose a safe place outdoors to burn the letter. Fire is ritualistic and a symbol of purification so burning brings a sense of release and is much more powerful than just tearing it up and putting it in the bin. Like the вЂњphoenix from the ashesвЂќ we can feel a new sense of being alive and free. 7. As you watch it burn say вЂњI forgive you and I am reclaiming my lifeвЂќ. Really immerse yourself in the ceremony of forgiveness. Afterwards, I recommend that you wish the best for the person you have just forgiven as itвЂ™s powerfully healing both for you and them at some level. 8. Complete the last % on your listвЂ¦вЂ¦and get on with life, maybe even have some fun. ! Laugh Speaking of fun, when was the last time you had a really good laughвЂ¦.one of those side-splitting, belly laughs that leaves you aching and collapsed in a heap of relaxed exhaustion? CanвЂ™t rememberвЂ¦..pity, because as Robert Holden writes in his book of the same name вЂњlaughter is the best medicineвЂќ. ItвЂ™s a great healer ENHANCING YOUR LIFE 109 because it works the respiratory system, various muscle groups and releases вЂњfeel goodвЂќ endorphins to the brain. We like to be around people who make us laugh, itвЂ™s a heart-opening experience and is infectious. I remember a workshop where, after a lot of painful emotions had been released and people were lying down recovering, the assistants would gently start to laugh. First one person, then another. Gradually, the laughter got louder until the participants started to join in. Eventually, everyoneвЂ¦.no matter how intense the previous experience of pain had been, started to laugh. It could go on for hours and eventually when it subsided everyone felt so much better and in many cases even saw some humour in their dramatic experiences. Humour can be a lifesaver in many respects from actual physical illness to everyday life and I have clients whose saving grace is definitely their ability to see вЂњthe funny sideвЂќ. " TIPS " To ensure regular bouts of laughing: Hire or buy copies of your favourite comedies. Go to the library and find books that make you laugh Track down a copy of the very old song вЂњThe Laughing PolicemanвЂќ. I defy anyone not to get caught up in the laughter at some point Remember; вЂњLaughter is the shortest distance between two peopleвЂќ. (Victor Borge). Explore your potential Many people have a sense of wasted potential. вЂњIвЂ™m not making the best use of my talents, skills, brain, abilities etc.вЂќ The overall feeling is of not making the most of life. DonвЂ™t be one of them. If you think you are in the wrong job but donвЂ™t know what would suit you best or are seeking a job for the first time, invest in consulting a career analyst. After you have completed a series of questionnaires to test a 110 HOW TO DO LIFE range of abilities, they will feed back where your strengths lie. They wonвЂ™t give you a list of jobs you could do, but the results provide a good framework within which you can look. It can also save a lot of time otherwise spent pursuing an inappropriate route for your abilities. вЂњThinking outside the boxвЂќ is another way to explore what else you might be capable of. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut of familiar comfort even though we have an uncomfortable feeling inside. We limit ourselves by thinking we canвЂ™t, or we donвЂ™t have what it takes. If you have a passion, allow yourself to think how you could pursue it. Using an arrowgram as shown below, sketch out all the possibilities, no matter how impractical and outlandish and then start to seriously consider them. Maybe you need to undertake some additional training, so get the information you need and see what you can do to make it happen. It may be to do with leisure, not work, but the same principles apply. Have some friends round too and enlist their helpвЂ¦вЂ¦.many minds etc! Have another read too of the section on Dare to dream and Set your goals. HOW TO CREATE AN ARROWGRAM PASSION The idea of the arrowgram is to free flow with ideas relating to your passion. Put down anything and everything you can think of, no matter how seemingly impossible or unattainable. That way you begin to get a sense of what you might need to move forward and gradually you can narrow it down to what is realistic ENHANCING YOUR LIFE 111 and attainable вЂ“ which might be more than you would have thought. ! Develop creativity It used to be felt that creativity rather exclusively belonged to those who worked in вЂњartsвЂќ or вЂњcraftsвЂќ of one sort or another. For example we donвЂ™t often think of scientific research as creative because it appears to engage the more left brain functions of reason, logic and analysis and yet there is a lot of creativity within it. In fact it is often in the moments when the left brain is relaxing, that the greatest scientific breakthroughs occur. So what is creativity and is everyone creative? I believe the answer is yes. Most people are operating creatively a lot of the time without realising it. There is even a suggested structure for it: Preparation Incubation Illumination Verification Take for example the process of writing a report or a presentation. Firstly, you need to know the subject you are writing about and to jot down ideas on the areas that you want to cover and their sequence (preparation)вЂ¦.you could use the arrowgram for this. Unless you are filled with creative flow at that moment, the next thing to do is to put it aside and do something different. The mind will still be working on it at some level (incubation). At some point what you need to write will become clear to you the вЂњahaвЂќ moment (illumination) and you then return to the report and write it with relative ease. The final part of course is checking it over to make sure that the information presented is correct (verification). It took me years to realise that this was the process I needed to follow. On many occasions I sat staring at a blank piece of paper waiting for inspiration that didnвЂ™t come. However, I began to notice that once I gave up and did something else, suddenly there would be 112 HOW TO DO LIFE a вЂњeurekaвЂќ moment and the flow would start. Since I realised that, it has saved hours of angst and wasted time. ItвЂ™s a bit like trying to remember someoneвЂ™s name, itвЂ™s only when you give up that it comes back to you!! My feeling is that people with a natural creative talent are more right-brained, ie working more from the emotional side of the brain. So the key to developing creativity if you believe you are not вЂњnaturally creativeвЂќ is to make sure that you work with both sides of the brain. If you do tend to be more on the analytical side, itвЂ™s important to take time to doodle and daydream otherwise you could end up with a severe case of analysis paralysis as well as a headache. Part of my recommendation to a scientific research team was to take time out for daydreaming. As you might imagine it caused much hilarity, as gazing out of the window doing nothing is generally not encouraged (remember school days!). However, they took it on board and combined with team building and think tanks (free flow of ideasвЂ¦.a bit like the arrowgram) there was a noticeable increase of ideas. ! Follow your intuition Sometimes called вЂњa hunchвЂќ, вЂњa notionвЂќ, вЂњa sixth senseвЂќ, вЂњa sneaking suspicionвЂќ, вЂњan instinctвЂќ, вЂњa gut responseвЂќ or вЂњa funny feelingвЂќ, intuition is our вЂњtuition from withinвЂќвЂ¦..our own вЂњinternal expertвЂќ. That part of us that knows everything we need to know and do to fulfil our highest potential. Yet do we listen rapturously to its wisdom? Not enough. How often have you ignored a hunch and afterwards said вЂњI knew it was x, y or zвЂќ. Driving and directions come to mind. Intuition is a subtle felt sense. When we meet people for the first time we often get a sense about them. We canвЂ™t really explain it, itвЂ™s just there. That sense can be good or bad. Many of my clients have told me that when they first met their future, and now expartners, they had a sense that it wasnвЂ™t right but as the saying goes вЂњlove is blindвЂќ and they bypassed the inner expertвЂ™s opinion вЂ“ often at their peril. ENHANCING YOUR LIFE 113 We will also know intuitively if we are in possible danger of some sort. If you stray into an area thatвЂ™s not safe, the hackles on the back of your neck will feel like they are standing on end - thatвЂ™s intuition in its heightened form and we need to take heed of it. " TIP " Practise listening to your intuition especially when you are making decisions. HOW TO LISTEN TO YOUR INTUITION Sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths. Let your mind wander a bit and then ask yourself clearly вЂњwhat would be the best decision on this occasion, would it be a)вЂ¦вЂ¦вЂ¦вЂ¦ or b)вЂ¦вЂ¦вЂ¦вЂ¦.? Almost immediately you will get a response. Make sure you listen to the very first thing you hear. Any time lapse and your mind will take over; it needs to be instant. Remember too, that you might not hear it as a voice, it may just be a strongly felt sense. This next idea might seem really trivial but maybe youвЂ™ve done it too. Sometimes, if I just canвЂ™t make up my mind about what dessert to choose, IвЂ™ll toss a coin. If I have allocated вЂњheadsвЂќ to the chocolate and вЂњtailsвЂќ to the lemon and it falls on вЂњtailsвЂќ, I know instantly if I really wanted the chocolate all along! It can be applied to all manner of things involving choice. So as I said before, we know everything we need to know if we just listen. ! Trust your knowingness I put вЂњknowingnessвЂќ at a level above intuition. Sometimes we just 114 HOW TO DO LIFE know what seems beyond knowledge. It somehow just has a resonance of truth that canвЂ™t be ignoredвЂ¦.so donвЂ™t ignore it. Trust. Flow with the River of Life You might have seen the pictures of salmon making huge leaps upstream once a year so as to mate. They use all their huge strength to battle against the tides of water torrenting towards them. They eventually arrive at their destination exhausted. Some recover and reach their goal of furthering the salmon population, but others die from their efforts. Humans remind me of salmon. We spend a lot of time pushing against the natural flow of life, struggling to get uphill. Often itвЂ™s fear driven, the sense of вЂњif it doesnвЂ™t happen now, it might never happenвЂќвЂ¦.the eternal вЂњwhat ifвЂ™sвЂќ. Or we build large wooden dams across the river as barriers against whatever our fear is, and whilst the river will still flow, the more dams, the more chance of just a trickle at the end. I always recommend flowing with the river. If I am trying to achieve something, contact someone, get somewhere and it isnвЂ™t working out, I recognise that in that moment, I am вЂњpushing water uphillвЂќ and immediately stop. That way I donвЂ™t get frustrated and irritable. I just trust that itвЂ™s not the right moment for whatever reason and try another time when interestingly it usually works straight away! " TIP " DonвЂ™t waste your precious life energy вЂњpushing water uphillвЂќ. If вЂњXвЂќ isnвЂ™t working out, stop and try later. ENHANCING YOUR LIFE пЂ®пЂ # PAUSE POINT 115 CHAPTER 6 MAXIMISING HEALTH & WELL-BEING In many ways the whole of this book so far has been to do with maximising health and well-being. Previously the emphasis has been more on the mind and emotions than the body. However, because living a healthy and fulfilled life requires a holistic balance between all three, this chapter combines comprehensive guidance on the influences of stress, relaxation, exercise, diet and nutrition with practical input on getting through your day. An important place to start seems to be with understanding how the physical symptoms of stress are usually driven by mental and emotional pressures. The crucial point here is the link straight back to what you have already been reading which is that the mind doesnвЂ™t know the difference between fact or fiction. What this means in terms of stress is that we have far more control over our health and well-being than is usually suggested. What frequently happens is that just the symptoms are treated, rather than the cause and the general advice is often no more than to вЂњtake it easy and relaxвЂќ. So my aim is to bring clarity to this confusing subject, because even though we are told that it now costs industry ВЈ340m a year in absence, litigation and health bills, for most people the links between stress, illness, heart disease, depression and death, still seem very unclear. MAXIMISING HEALTH & WELL-BEING 117 The physiology of stress When we are confronted by a real or potentially life threatening situation, our bodies prepare us for what is called fight or flight ie: we are supposed to be presented with the option to either stand and fight or run like the wind. The external physical symptoms we experience at this point are likely to be some or all of the following: Racing heart Rapid Breathing Sweating Feeling Sick Need for the toilet Palpitations Dizziness Shaking The reason for these is that internally a sophisticated warning system has been activated leading to the immediate release of a вЂњchemical cocktailвЂќ containing adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol, with each performing a different function within the body to enhance the speed of our reactions to danger, and determine our choice of fight or flight. The following gives an indication of what is happeningвЂ¦. Blood thickens Liver releases: -sugar, cholesterol + fatty acids into blood for increased energy supply Heartbeat races Increased air supply Digestive tract Immune responses decrease Pain killing facility produced Digestive tract shuts down ie: - bladder - bowel - stomach - intestines Thyroid hormone speeds metabolism to burn energy 118 HOW TO DO LIFE and the following chart shows you which cocktail component controls which function and how, although these reactions are beneficial in a real life threatening situation, they are not great on a daily basis. Life Threatening Day in/day out Blood thickens Less likely to bleed to death in the event of injury Constantly thickened blood could lead to an increased risk of heart problems and thrombosis Racing heartbeat Very good to speed the bodyвЂ™s responses to deal with danger Dependent on the regularity of an increase, this could lead to heart problems. Increased air supply Helps the blood flow more efficiently around the body When we are stressed we tend to shallow breathe and therefore are doing the opposite of what our body requires. End result can be hyperventilation, over breathing and panic attacks. Immune responses decrease Energy is needed for other areas so no problem for immune system to go on hold in the short term We need our immune system to defend us from illness. If our systems are constantly вЂњon holdвЂќ they get depleted and we donвЂ™t have resources when needed. ADRENALIN MAXIMISING HEALTH & WELL-BEING 119 Life Threatening Day in/day out A morphine like effect that stops us feeling a high degree of pain in the event of injury. Linked with the experience called вЂњRunners HighвЂќвЂ¦.the elated feeling of breaking through a pain barrier. Also the вЂњbuzzвЂќ element of exercise and workaholics. Long term it reduces the effectiveness of our senses which need to be heightened when we are faced with danger Tells the liver to release sugar, cholesterol and fatty acids into the blood for intense energy supply. This is when super human feats can occur, like women lifting cars from children. The body is at its most powerful at this point. Day in/day out this process is still occurring to some degree or another. Combined with the sugar, cholesterol and fatty acids we ingest through food, we literally end up вЂњstewing in our own juicesвЂќ with possible end results of clogged arteries, diabetes, heart problems, obesity and death. NORADRENALIN Pain killing facility CORTISOL Heavy duty steroid Now, as IвЂ™ll repeat again, the mind doesnвЂ™t know the difference between fact or fiction, so if your вЂњlife threatening situation is the 120 HOW TO DO LIFE stress of work overload, domestic problems or financial worries, your inner responses will be exactly the same. For example, imagine that you can chart your responses on the following scale where 0 means you are relaxed and calm whilst 10 means climbing the walls. Relaxed 0 Severe Stress ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Where you are on that scale will depend on what you make situations mean. If, for example you are not bothered having a huge amount of work and then being asked to take on more, your rating would probably be 0-2. If however you already felt stretched to breaking point, this would probably take you close to 10. ! The good news I said earlier that we can have a lot more control over our health and well-being than is often suggested and the following explains why. As you might suspect, the mind plays a part. LetвЂ™s use the example of a pending holiday. Even though you may be overloaded and having to work longer hours to clear work before you go away, you do so willingly because you know that at the end you can relax. You might feel exhausted but itвЂ™s a healthy exhausted accompanied by a sense of achievement. In effect what you did was have a word with yourself to say that you needed to get everything done in time and your body responded by letting you keep going until you had finished. This is known as a self generated response and is what happens when we feel we are in control of a situation. On the other hand, an imposed response is what happens when we feel swamped by a situation, donвЂ™t know how to handle it and therefore feel out of control. We become burdened by the вЂњI have toвЂ™sвЂќ or вЂњI canвЂ™t escape fromвЂќ. Effectively our emotions take over MAXIMISING HEALTH & WELL-BEING 121 and we experience the amygdala hijack I mentioned right at the start of the book. The effect of that hijack is the production of less adrenalin and more cortisol ie: sugar, cholesterol and fatty acids, with the long term increased risk of heart problems. With the self generated response we produce more adrenalin and less cortisol. So the solution is learning to manage your emotions, handle your pressures and communicate effectively by utilising many or all of what you have read so far and combining it with the following practical tips for getting through your day. That way your cup stands a better chance of being half full instead of half empty. Getting through the day ! Morning kickstart (possibilities) вЂў ExerciseвЂ¦вЂ¦.. wakes the body up вЂў MeditationвЂ¦вЂ¦..calms and focuses the mind ! Travelling to work by car вЂў Breathe! вЂў If you like to listen to the news, this is the time to do it. вЂў Listen to upbeat music (preferably not rock or heavy metal as itвЂ™s linked to creating aggressive feelings) вЂў Listen to motivational cassettes/CDвЂ™s (in the car or at home as you prepare for your day) вЂў Listen to talking books on cassettes or CDвЂ™s. вЂў If you like a gentle start to the day, listen to more peaceful music вЂў If you drive to work through lovely countryside, notice it for a change вЂў If you like to think ahead to your day, have silence ! Travelling to work by train 122 HOW TO DO LIFE вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў вЂў Breathe! Meditate (see Chapter 3) Look out of the window Plan your day Read a book/paper Listen to motivational cassettes/CDвЂ™s, books, upbeat music, peaceful music ! Walking to work вЂў Breathe! (not too deeply if there is heavy traffic) вЂў Listen to motivational cassettes/CDвЂ™s, books, upbeat music, peaceful music вЂў If you have pleasant surroundings, walk in silence and enjoy them вЂў Plan your day in your head or use a dictaphone ! Working at home вЂў Breathe! If you have young children, none of the above will be particularly helpful. If you donвЂ™t, any number of them could be. Taking breaks At some point in the day, get out and have a breath of fresh air even if itвЂ™s only 5 minutes. Meditation is also good if you can find a quiet place. When I worked in an office, I used to go and sit in my car for 10-15 minutes and felt much more refreshed afterwards. Have a light lunch, and then if youвЂ™re hungry by mid-afternoon and donвЂ™t have a nut allergy, snack on almonds or walnuts, peanuts are too acidic. If you do have a nut allergy, try a banana. MAXIMISING HEALTH & WELL-BEING 123 The same format can apply if you work from home but again it will be a lot more difficult, if not impossible with young children, unless you are fortunate enough to have some home help. ! End of Day ! Some DonвЂ™ts: вЂў DonвЂ™t listen to the news on the way home from work or at the end of the day. It over stimulates what is probably already a tired mind and if it is negative news, which most of it is, you carry that into your evening. вЂў DonвЂ™t watch violent programmes too close to bedtime as you take the images into your sleep state вЂў DonвЂ™t work on the computer (even playing games) too close to bedtime; it over stimulates the mind вЂў DonвЂ™t eat too late in the evening if you can avoid it as there will be insufficient time to digest the food before sleep вЂў DonвЂ™t drink too much alcohol; youвЂ™ll feel rubbish in the morning вЂў DonвЂ™t go to sleep on an argument, row or upset ! Some DoвЂ™s вЂў Do any office work you might have brought home, after a short break and before you eat, because afterwards, when your body is digesting the food, you will become more sluggish. вЂў Do talk to your partner if you have one вЂў Do spend some time with your children if you have them вЂў Do drink some water during the evening but not too close to bedtime for obvious reasons вЂў Do have a relaxing bath if you have time. A few drops of Lavender oil will help you sleep better 124 HOW TO DO LIFE вЂў Do try and relax before you go to sleep HOW TO RELAX BEFORE SLEEP Work through all the areas of your body from your head to toes, stretching and releasing. With each area; neck, shoulders, arms, legs etc, do the following 1 Maximum stretch, hold and let go 2 Medium stretch, hold and let go 3 Minimum stretch, hold and let go. I recommend stretching and releasing rather than tensing and releasing because it is much harder to release fully from tensing than it is from stretching, especially if you have a fairly high level of tension held in your body to start with. Another option: If you have a partner: make love. If not, try self-love! Time management Try these. ! Energy log Are you a Lark or an Owl? Is your peak energy first thing in the morning or in the evening? We all have different highs and lows of energy throughout the day and recognising yours can make a real difference. For example, if you are a Lark with pretty high energy first thing in the day, do the work that requires brain power. More men than women tend to be Larks and often start work very early for that reason. It will usually be men who suggest a 7am breakfast meeting rather than a woman who might suggest lunch. I am definitely an Owl and often do my MAXIMISING HEALTH & WELL-BEING 125 best work from 10pm onwards when my husband, who was вЂњup with the larkвЂќ is falling asleep. Begin to notice when the regular dips occur. Traditionally, itвЂ™s often been around mid-morning and midafternoon which is how вЂњelevensesвЂќ and afternoon tea came into being. However, with the increase in flexible working and shift hours this may not be true for you. At some point in the day, most people have a noticeable downturn in energy. This is a good time to tackle the more mundane things of your day. HOW TO LOG YOUR ENERGY Mon Tues Wed Thurs Friday Saturday Sunday Early am Mid am Lunch Mid pm Evening Late evening Night time "" = very good " = good ! = low and !! = very low. You could also jot down the times of the double ticks and crosses so as to pinpoint it even more. ! Action Planning Action planning is essential for an ordered and less stressful life and this applies whether you are in an office or at home because if you 126 HOW TO DO LIFE donвЂ™t know what you are doing and when you are going to do it, chances are that youвЂ™ll end up with severe overload and confusion. Make your plan during a peak energy time so that you can remember everything necessary. HOW TO ACTION PLAN Create a Master Plan This is your вЂњumbrellaвЂќ plan and contains everything you can think of that needs doing in the long and short term. $ TIP $ Write this in blocks of 10. That way even though it might be long, it wonвЂ™t feel as psychologically insurmountable. Monthly Plan Break the master plan into a monthly plan and again donвЂ™t put more than 10 items per block. Weekly Plan Same as monthly Daily Plan With the daily plan, write it in no more than blocks of 6 items MAXIMISING HEALTH & WELL-BEING 127 $ TIP 1 $ End each block with a reminder to breathe, smile, take a break personally, I like smiley faces and hearts! $ TIP 2 $ Plan ahead for deadlines and prioritise accordingly $ TIP 3 $ Allow some time for interruptions but donвЂ™t always be available $ TIP 4 $ Occasionally put the phone on voicemail, but allow time to return calls $ TIP 5 $ However long you think something is going to take, double it $ TIP 6 $ Cross out each item when complete, itвЂ™s a visible sign of achievement $ TIP 7 $ Carry forward unactioned points to the next day and put them at the top of the list ! Meetings More time is wasted in meetings than anywhere else but it doesnвЂ™t have to be. $ TIP $ If someone requests a meeting with you, ask them how long they want to schedule and ask to receive an agenda for the items to be discussed at least 2-3 hours before the meeting is due. That will focus their minds and help you to decide what you need and how much time to allow for pre-meeting preparation. 128 HOW TO DO LIFE $ TIP $ Mentally schedule an extra fifteen minutes вЂњjust in caseвЂќ but keep it to yourself. $ TIP $ When the person(s) arrives for the meeting, restate how much time has been scheduled, then take off your watch and place it on the table. This last tip might seem a little aggressive but again itвЂ™s a great mind focuser and people will become used to your way of operating. If you have to go into your вЂњmental 15 minutesвЂќ, remind people that time is up and suggest rescheduling for another occasion, otherwise all your good efforts will be wasted and people wonвЂ™t take it seriously. We need to вЂњsay what we do and do what we sayвЂќвЂ¦вЂ¦вЂ¦set and keep boundaries. Relaxation вЂњAll work and no play makes us dullвЂќ. So create time to relax and play. Relaxation doesnвЂ™t have to be passive, it means doing whatever makes you feel better which can range from playing with your kids, doing a regular sport, meeting up with friends, spending quality time with your partner, going clubbing, eating outвЂ¦.etc. YouвЂ™ll know what it is, you just have to make time to do it. Think outside the box occasionally too and do something different, after all вЂњvariety is the spice of lifeвЂќ and вЂњnothing ventured, nothing gainedвЂќ. вЂњMe timeвЂќ Anyone in a relationship will know how important it is to get some time for themselves. Where there is more than just a partner to consider, itвЂ™s even more important to negotiate this otherwise, if you just take the time anyway, resentment will build. Both parties must MAXIMISING HEALTH & WELL-BEING 129 have some time to do what they want, even if itвЂ™s only for an hour a week. $ TIP $ If one partner looks after the children all day, there will usually be a strong desire to hand them over as soon as the other partner walks through the door. This is actually not good strategy either way as the incoming partner needs to adjust and if they take over the minute they arrive, they may be there in body but not in mind or spirit. If you are the incoming partner, negotiate for a 10-15 minute breather. Take that time to be by yourself and collect your thoughts. At the end, you can then do whatever is needed with a more willing heart, which will ultimately benefit all of you. Diet My motto: A little of what you fancy does you good and all things in moderation. So a Gin every evening is fine as long as itвЂ™s not the bottle! There has been a mass of health promotion work over the past decade and I believe that most people have a good idea of what is healthy and what isnвЂ™t. Whilst I could virtually write another book about nutrition, IвЂ™m going to limit myself to a few key pointers that I hope you will find useful. ! Liquids Coffee/Tea: Coffee is a stimulant. If we feel tired, a coffee injection may indeed wake up for a while when the sudden rush of adrenalin kicks in. However, very quickly, we will dip again and feel more tired than before. The recommended daily intake for caffeine (WHO*) is not more than 600 mgs which wonвЂ™t mean much until you know the caffeine levels of different drinks. Here is a guideline: 130 HOW TO DO LIFE Fresh brew coffee: 125 вЂ“150 mgs (cup) so max: 4-6 cups daily Instant: 75- 85 mgs (cup) so max 6-8 cups daily Tea: as for instant coffee Note: The caffeine from one cup of coffee stays in your system for 6 hours, so the more you drink, the more of a knock-on effect youвЂ™ll experience. One outcome could well be poor sleep because your body is still swimming in caffeine! Note: You could switch to decaffeinated but again use moderation as some of the processes used to remove the caffeine involve chemicals used for paint stripping and dry cleaning. $ TIP $ If you drink well in excess of the above recommendations and want to cut downвЂ¦..do just thatвЂ¦.cut down, gradually. DO NOT just stop drinking coffee as the withdrawal effects are pretty unpleasant and can include severe headaches, shaking, sweating, nausea, dizziness and heightened irritability. Alternatives: Herb or Fruit Teas, diluted low sugar fruit juice. Plain waterвЂ¦.preferably still and not too cold. Chocolate: Chocolate is another energy booster but like coffee, itвЂ™s a short term fix. Whilst the chemical вЂњphenylethylamineвЂќ might make you feel good (thatвЂ™s why chocolate is linked with love and comfort), it is usually very high in sugar and generally not good for your body, heart etc. The purest chocolate is that which has over 80% cocoa. Alternative: A banana, provides slow release energy, which is why itвЂ™s a favourite with long distance runners. It also contains MAXIMISING HEALTH & WELL-BEING 131 potassium which aids clear thinking and assists in reducing blood pressure. Fizzy drinks: Again not great as they are usually very high in sugar. I have read that one well-known brand is used to clean car engines and blood from roads after car accidentsвЂ¦..so I donвЂ™t imagine it would be great for our bodies. Alternative: as for coffee etc Water: Boring for some, essential for all of us. Daily recommendations are 6 вЂ“ 8 large glasses or between 1 ВЅ - 2 litres. It sounds a lot and you might think youвЂ™ll spend most of your time in the loo. You might initially, but the body is amazingly adaptable and your kidneys will quickly adjust. Note: Lack of water is the No.1 trigger for daytime fatigue and even mild dehydration will slow the metabolism as much as 3%. Key Note: 8 вЂ“ 10 glasses of water a day could ease back and joint pain. WHY? вЂ“ because when the body is dehydrated, it scans internally to see where it can get liquid from and one place is the fluid between the vertebrae of the spine and our joints!! ! Vitamins There are varying views about the need for supplements. One view is that if you eat a healthy balance of food, you donвЂ™t need additional vitamins. The other, which I subscribe to, is that so much food is tampered with in the manufacturing process, that it doesnвЂ™t contain adequate nutrition. Also, busy lifestyles often mean that we eat on the run and therefore donвЂ™t always achieve the right balance. If you consider buying supplements a good combination would probably be: вЂў вЂў An all round multivitamin and mineral (timed release) Additional Vitamin C (1000mg) 132 HOW TO DO LIFE вЂў Omega 3 Oil Capsules Or alternatively, if you feel you are very stressed and tired out: вЂў вЂў вЂў An all round multivitamin and mineral (timed release) B Complex with added Vitamin C Omega 3 Oil Capsules ! What vitamins do what? Vitamin C. Needed for our immune system which gets depleted with stress $ TIP $ If you feel a cold coming on take between 3000 вЂ“ 4000 mgs. which will give the immune system a boost and might help deter the cold from taking hold. CAUTION: If you suffer from indigestion or an acid stomach, avoid Vitamin C other than through fruit/vegetables, because Vitamin C is ascorbic acid and will irritate your condition. B Vitamins The вЂњBвЂќ Group vitamins (B complex) are a particularly important link in stress management as they are needed to support our red blood cells and our central nervous system. B6 is reported to help with pre-menstrual syndrome and B12 gives additional support for vegetarians. NOTE 1: DonвЂ™t take B Vitamins at night as they could keep you awake NOTE 2: DonвЂ™t be concerned that your urine will probably be bright yellow MAXIMISING HEALTH & WELL-BEING Omega 3 Oil Capsules 133 If you eat an oily fish 2-3 times a week (sardines, fresh tuna (canned can contain mercury), salmon and mackerel) you wonвЂ™t need a supplement. If not, it could be beneficial as omega-3 fatty acids help prevent heart disease and assist brain cells to communicate. Just like a piece of machinery, we need to keep ours вЂњwell oiledвЂќ. $ TIP $ If you buy supplements check that they are naturally compressed as opposed to synthetic which will lack the same impact. $ TIP $ Avoid vitamins with a glossy coating as it means they have been baked at more than 100 degrees C. and again will lack impact So those are a few key vitamins but if you want to know more, there is recommended reading at the end of the book. Exercise Only do what you enjoy. The recommendations are 3 вЂ“ 5 times weekly to achieve mild sweating and breathlessness. The aim is to build strength, stamina and suppleness for which the best exercise is swimming. Whichever exercise you decide on particularly if itвЂ™s cardiovascular (raises your heart rate), you need to know the safe working range for your heart which varies and changes according to your age and fitness level. So start by taking your pulse. HOW TO TAKE YOUR PULSE 134 HOW TO DO LIFE The best way to get an accurate pulse is to count the beats for 10 seconds and multiply the result by 6 which gives you the beats per minute (bpm). The two key pulse areas are a) across the inside of the wrist just above the wrist joint and b) the carotid artery (located on your neck slightly to the right of your upper jaw. DonвЂ™t press too hard as it will block the blood flow and you wonвЂ™t feel the pulse). Now you know your pulse, you need to know your heart rate range which will be dependent on a) your age and b) whether you exercise regularly or irregularly. It is very important to make sure you know these ranges before you start any exercise routine. HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR HEART RANGE For beginners or those who take irregular exercise Lower heart rate range ( LHRR ) Lowest ! Calculation for the lowest level of this range: 200 minus your age, minus 40 = ! !!Highest Calculation for the highest level of this range: 200 minus your age, minus 20 = !! Example: If you are 35 your LHRR will be 125 вЂ“ 145 beats per minute. MAXIMISING HEALTH & WELL-BEING 135 For regular exercisers ie: several times a week Upper heart rate range ( UHRR ) Lowest ! !! Highest Calculation for the lowest level of this range: 200 minus your age, minus 20 = ! Calculation for the highest level of this range: 200 minus your age= ! Example: If you are 35 your UHRR will be 145 вЂ“ 165 beats per minute. The final safety stage before you start your exercise programme is to test your cardio-vascular abilities. This can be done at a gym but you can do it yourself. HOW TO TEST CARDIO-VASCULAR ABILITY Have your LHRR details and a timer to hand. 1 Start by gently jogging on the spot until you feel slightly breathless 2 Take your pulse and check that you are within your LHRR range NOTE: If you have exceeded the maximum levelвЂ¦вЂ¦.be very careful. Do not sit down unless you feel dizzy, just keep gently walking on the spot for several minutes. Then stop and check that your pulse is now 30-40 beats lower than your maximum level. If 136 HOW TO DO LIFE it isnвЂ™t, keep walking on the spot and re-checking until it is. I would then suggest that you check with your doctor before you undertake more exercise, just to be on the safe side. 3 Keep walking on the spot for one minute and then check your pulse again. A good recovery rate is indicated if, within one minute of your first check after stopping jogging, your pulse is between 30-40 beats lower. If so, then you can repeat the process. However, if it is higher, keep moving slowly and rechecking until it reaches the 30-40 beats per minute lower before starting again. Once you have done this a number of times you will then be ready to undertake whatever workout system you have decided on. DonвЂ™t forget to check again from time to time so as not to overtax your heart and remember that with every birthday, you will need to recalculate your ranges. The following summarises what are considered to be the key components of a successful stress management package. Breathing Mental relaxation Physical exercise Social interests Work/life balance Diet Time Management Assertion Self-awareness Positive mental attitude All these areas are of course contained in this book so as to provide a comprehensive and balanced set of guidelines on вЂњhow to do lifeвЂќ. MAXIMISING HEALTH & WELL-BEING % пЂ®пЂ PAUSE POINT 137 138 HOW TO DO LIFE Concluding thoughts I referred to this book as a journey and as it draws to an end, I want to say that everything I have written in this book really works because not only do I вЂњwalk my talkвЂќ but it has been shared and tested by huge numbers of the wonderful people I have worked with over the past 30 years. However, like anything worth having in life it usually requires some input and commitment by us, but with the world the way it is, I passionately believe that an emphasis on personal responsibility is not only essential вЂ“ it is the only way forward. Blame and intolerance between people, cultures and nations is the root cause of problems everywhere and the inability to communicate effectively is a prime cause of global conflict. That conflict could be avoided or dealt with if people were more willing to open their hearts and minds to others and see that those whom we believe to be wrong are often just mirrors of the shadow inside us that weвЂ™d rather not look at. We want them to see the light when we are not willing to look at our own darkness. Ultimately, at another level we are all just different aspects of the same whole and this is witnessed during those times when we transcend the smallness of everyday life and give to others in the most amazingly generous and compassionate ways. These are often times of crisis when the world pulls together and for a short while sets aside its differences and prejudices. If what you have read in this book makes sense and you take on board just one aspect that makes a difference to you, then you will make a difference to someone else вЂ“ and the knock-on effect of that is to make a difference to the world because вЂњthe whole is greater than the sum of its partsвЂќ. However, it starts with us. We all need to look within, see what we do and why we do it. Only then can we take the necessary steps to be more emotionally intelligent and create effective, positive, fulfilling and harmonious relationships in all areas of life, be that with partners, families, friends, in the workplace or between nations because inner peace = world peace. MAXIMISING HEALTH & WELL-BEING 139 Finally вЂ¦вЂ¦.a little something more The following might be a useful check to see how you are doing from time to time. Some signs and symptoms of Inner Peace A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experience An unmistakeable ability to enjoy each moment A loss of interest in judging other people A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others A loss of interest in conflict A loss of the ability to worry (This is a very serious symptom!) Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature Frequent attacks of smiling An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to love them back andвЂ¦.I also thought that these could be a useful reminder for quick reference. Guidelines for Being Human 140 HOW TO DO LIFE 1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it is yours for the entire time you are here so itвЂ™s best if you love it. 2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full time informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant or stupid. 3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error and experimentation. The вЂњfailedвЂќ experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately вЂњworksвЂќ. 4. A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learnt it. When you have learnt it you can then on to the next lesson. 5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive there are lessons to be learned. 6. There is no better place than вЂњhereвЂќ. When your вЂњthereвЂќ has become вЂњhereвЂќ you will simply obtain another вЂњthereвЂќ that will, again, look better than вЂњhereвЂќ. 7. Others are reflections of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself. 8. What you make of your life is entirely up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is, and always has been, yours. 9. Your answers lie inside you. The answers to all lifeвЂ™s questions lie inside you. You already know all the answers. All you need to do is to look, listen (really listen), and trust. 10. You will forget all this. (Anonymous) HOW TO DO LIFE 141 HOW TOвЂ™s AT A GLANCE BODY SCAN BREATHE CORRECTLY STOP WORRYING STAY IN THE NOW THE 3 CвЂ™s STILL THE MIND MEDITATE VISUALISE STRETCH YOUR MIND IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY DISMANTLE THE FORTRESS OPEN YOUR HEART DOORS FIND YOUR CANDLE FLAME INTEGRATE YOUR SHADOW ACTIVELY LISTEN BE ASSERTIVE SAY NO PRAISE OTHERS NOTICE INNER DIFFERENCES CREATE AN INNER SMILE GIVE YOURSELF A HUG REFRAME RELEASE ANGER SAFELY FORGIVE CREATE AN ARROWGRAM LISTEN TO YOUR INTUITION RELAX BEFORE SLEEP LOG YOUR ENERGY ACTION PLAN TAKE YOUR PULSE CALCULATE YOUR HEART RATE RANGE TEST CARDIO-VASCULAR ABILITY 21 24 38 41 45 47 49 51 58 59 63 64 67 69 75 79 80 83 92 96 97 99 106 107 110 113 124 125 126 133 134 135 142 HOW TO DO LIFE RECOMMENDED READING AND USEFUL ADDRESSES: Chapter 1 Communication The Transactional Manager Working it out at work He says, she says Men are from Mars, women are from Venus When your kids push your buttons Parenting Teenagers How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk Enlightened management Abe Wagner Julie Hay Dr. Lilian Glass John Gray Bonnie Harris Bob Myers Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish Gerald Swanson & Robert Oats Dealing with people you canвЂ™t stand Brinkman & Kirschner The influential manager Lee Bryce The one minute manager Ken Blanchard Body language Allan Pease The individual psychology of Alfred Adler H & R. Ansbacher Chapter 2 Self-awareness Emotional Intelligence The New Leaders Emotional Smarts Awakening the leader within Leadership from the inside out Your body speaks your mind The body-mind workbook Daniel Goleman Daniel Goleman June Donaldson Kevin Cashman Kevin Cashman Debbie Shapiro Debbie Shapiro Chapter 3 The Mind The Power of Now The Stillness of Now WhatвЂ™s on my mind? Positive thinking Eckhart Tolle Eckhart Tolle Swami Anantananda Vera Peiffer HOW TO DO LIFE How to stop worrying and start living All in the mind Use your head Creative Visualisation Creative meditation The heart of meditation Mind over matter The power of creative intelligence Speed reading Harnessing the para-brain 143 Dale Carnegie Bran Roet Tony Buzan Shakti Gawain Richard Peterson Swami Durgananda Ranulph Fiennes Tony Buzan Tony Buzan Tony Buzan Chapter 4 Relationships The essential Mars & Venus Embracing ourselves Embracing each other Beginning to heal When I say no, I feel guilty Toxic parents Obsessive love Assertiveness at work Developing Assertiveness Assert yourself A woman in your own right Dare to Connect John Gray Stone & Winkelman Stone & Winkelman Ellen Bass and Laura Davis Manuel J.Smith Dr. Susan Forward Dr. Susan Forward Ken and Kate Back Anni Townend Gael Lindenfield Anne Dickinson Susan Jeffers Chapter 5 Enhancing your life Everyday Grace The intuition handbook Boundless Love How to mind map Making Friends Being Happy End the struggle and dance with life Marianne Williamson Judy Hall Miranda Holden Tony Buzan Andrew Matthews Andrew Matthews Susan Jeffers 144 HOW TO DO LIFE You can heal your life Anatomy of an illness Anatomy of the spirit Psycho-Cybernetics The Camino The Celestine Prophecy The work you were born to do Laughter вЂ“ the best medicine Radical forgiveness Practical aromatherapy Take yourself to the top Take charge of your life Unlimited power The way of the peaceful warrior Silent power Confidence works The Path of Transformation Louise L. Hay Norman Cousins Caroline Myss Maxwell Maltz Shirley Maclaine James Redfield Nick Williams Robert Holden Colin Tipping Shirley Price Laura Berman Fortgang Louis Proto Anthony Robbins Dan Millman Stuart Wilde Gladeana McMahon Shakti Gawain Chapter 6 Maximising health and well-being Your bodyвЂ™s many cries for water Optimum Nutrition for the mind Total stress relief Managing stress Coping The book of stress survival The joy of stress How to live longer and feel better Simply brilliant Vitamin vitality The Ultimate ACE Diet The vitamin bible Dr. F.Batmanghelidj Patrick Holford Vera Peiffer Ursula Markham Tom Crabtree Alix Kirsta Dr. Peter Hanson Linus Pauling Fergus OвЂ™Connell Patrick Holford Janette Marshall Earl Mindell For Men Fire in the belly Sam Keen HOW TO DO LIFE Angry men, passive men Iron John The secret life of men 145 Marvin Allan & Joe Robinson Robert Bly Steve Biddulph For Women Opening our hearts to men Women who run with the wolves Men who hate them and the women who love them 10 Stupid things that women do to mess up their lives Susan Jeffers Clarissa Pinkola Estes Dr. Susan Forward Laura Schlessinger A few of my personal favourites A stranger in paradise The way of the peaceful warrior Living in the light The wheel of life Life lessons Love, medicine and miracles Simple abundance ManвЂ™s search for meaning Full catastrophe living Useful addresses: House of Colour (Image Consultants), 0800 318 526 or 01923 211 188 www.houseofcolour.co.uk Amazon Books, www.amazon.co.uk Julie Chimes Dan Millman Shakti Gawain E. Kubler-Ross E. Kubler-Ross Bernie Siegel Sarah Ban Breathnach Victor E. Frankl John Kabat-Zinn 146 HOW TO DO LIFE Cygnus Books, Tel: 0845 456 1577 www.cygnus-books.co.uk Institute of Optimum Nutrition, Tel: 020 8877 9993 www.ion.ac.uk The National Register of Hypnotherapists and Psychotherapists, Tel: 01282 716839 www.nrhp.co.uk The British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy, Tel: 0870 443 5252 www.counselling.co.uk Professional Speakers Association, Tel: 0870 330 0504 www.professionalspeakers.org The International Stress Management Association, Tel: 07000 780430 www.isma.org.uk The Samaritans, Tel: 08457 90 90 90 www.samaritans.org.uk Siddha Yoga Bookstore, SYDA Foundation UK: 020 7278 0035 www.syduk.org USA: 001 845 434 2000 www.syda.org HOW TO DO LIFE 147 ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ever since childhood, I have had a thirst for knowledge and an interest in people and what makes them tick. At school I seemed to be the one that other children would share their concerns with and throughout my life virtual strangers seem compelled to tell me their life story. Combine that with my own upbringing which was a mix of drama, violence and emotional turmoil and itвЂ™s probably no real surprise that my two main career choices have been human resources and psychotherapy. My own healing and development journey has been through therapy, body work, workshops and inspirational books and every year I participate in some form of personal growth as well as regularly practising Siddha Yoga meditation. All of these assist my journey and at the same time, help others on theirs. So everything in this book is an offering from my own experience and that of my clients вЂ“ which is why I know it works. There are no hollow words or shallow sentiments вЂ“ just a heartfelt desire to contribute to othersвЂ™ growth and well-being. If only one person reads this book and it makes a positive difference to them in some way, then my vision is attained. Perry has two grown up stepsons and lives with her husband, John GlosterSmith in Wiltshire. Together they are partners in The Empowering Partnership which offers a range of services to business and individuals. They regularly facilitate a number of psycho-spiritual self-development workshops throughout the UK and Europe. Perry has also recorded a relaxation CD to replace the cassette previously available. Full details of all their work are available on their website: www.empoweringpartnership.com Perry is a member of the National Register of Hypnotherapists and Psychotherapists; the International Stress Management Association (UK); the Professional Speakers Association and as an individual member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy she is bound by its ethical framework for good practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy and subject to the professional conduct procedure therein.