Life is there for the taking, yet most of us are so wrapped up in our thoughts about what we need to do now, today, at the weekend, next week – or mulling over what’s just happened, who said what to who and what they meant by it, that it’s passing us by. Amid the chaos, how can you learn to live the best version of your life?
Learning happens in cycles. First we start in complete ignorance, not knowing what we don’t know; just living our life, not giving a different version of it a single thought. This progresses to a state of awareness of what we didn’t know, in this context, you become aware that alternatives exist. Then we begin to actively and consciously learn....this being the rub, as nothing different will happen without you first engaging in the thought of it, and believing it can happen. Finally we become so practiced in our new learning that it happens unconsciously, you find that you are now busily living the new life you’ve created for yourself.
What if you came into this world having chosen to be here? Let’s say there’s a part of you – your essence, your spirit, your soul, whatever you want to call it, that is eternal. Its purpose is growth, expansion, evolution, more life. Your being here in this life, in physical form, is simply the tip of the iceberg. Each life adding to the collective consciousness of all life. Imagine that. Many have, many we categorise in the genre of science fiction have been explaining these concepts for many years, we go along to the movie or watch the DVD on our couch, or read the book and say “wow, imagine if that were true”. Teachers past and present have tried too, Budda, Jesus, many more.
Many now are put off by doctrines, too much detail, too many stories, what is real and what is not? The teachers are exalted when it’s what they are teaching that matters. We have become a race run by ego, a self created version of ourselves, one that our mind concocts.
Our mind is such a powerful tool but it’s akin to the computer that thinks it’s human. It’s a self created version of itself. Think of an example in your life where you know you’ve got caught up in a ‘story’, where your mind has completely run away with itself. It happens constantly throughout our day.
Our self confidence, self worth even, has become based on how we compare ourselves with others. The computer is starting to think it’s the human. Stop. Yes it’s wonderful to have other people believe in you and to encourage you, but – please – listen to your own inner voice. Not the one your mind switches on, with all the fears and doubts, that will limit your life experience, but your inner knowing.
Ever get a ‘gut feel’? Ever feel inspired to read something, watch something? Ever think of someone and suddenly you get an email from them? We all know there is ‘something else’, an inner knowing that we all have. I heard a story today about Bronnie Ware, who worked with the dying in hospice care, she has written a book called “Top 5 regrets of the dying”. The most common regret was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.
On this journey to discover who I was born to be, the very best version of me in this life, firstly there was the illusion that I was the person that my mind defined me as – the accumulation of nature and of ‘nurture’. I frame this because of course nurture is the exact opposite of what I now understand actually happens for the most part. Instead of nurturing the real you, parents, teachers, friends and family, often - albeit well meaning - add to the confusion.
In the attempt to indoctrinate us into our many cultures- the family, the home, the school, the club, the community and so on, the small child who enters the world full of joy and self worth, slowly adopts beliefs about themselves and the world around them that starts to completely obscure the raw energy beneath, the real person who came with a purpose and an inner guidance system, their intuition, that many are taught not to trust.
Believing myself to be someone I'm not, not knowing what I didn’t know, in 2006, I started to become acutely aware of what I didn’t know – my true self. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, I just knew it wasn’t the successful corporate career I was embroiled in. So began the second stage of learning.
9 years on, having deliberately gone on a journey of active learning, to discover who Shona Keachie really is; here I am. It has not been an easy 9 years, and much of it has been involved in the difficulties in trying to have children, swiftly followed by the difficulties and blessings of having them. Being a full time working mum in a fairly senior corporate role meant any time for myself, any headspace at all, was prized and precious.
I dedicated the little I could carve out to gaining the clarity I craved. At times it was like pulling myself up by my fingernails, inching forwards, but forwards I have come. As do we all. Once you become aware of the box you are in, the one your mind creates and keeps you in, you can’t but help notice it for what it is. Even the bad experiences, the ones that crowd your day, serve to point to what you don’t want.
Once you step outside of the box, there’s no way you will want to get back in. Those moments you experience when you take a good break, when you feel relaxed and in tune with yourself, and suddenly get really clear on things you want to achieve. This is your natural state of being.
For many of us, we don’t have clarity on what a life being true to ourselves means. I know, I’ve lived my life wading through the treacle, with a vague sense of unease, unhappiness. I know, because as I’ve started to write about being who you are, many of you have responded and resonated with what I’ve written, but you just don’t know how to begin.
This article isn’t designed to cover all of that, it’s all there on my other posts to read at any time. In fact, this article marks the conclusion of one chapter and the start of another in my own learning cycle.
Here I am in the third stage of learning, sharing with you what I have come to know – that who I am, in essence, is a soul who loves – and I mean loves, thrives, feels exultant – to learn more about this life we are all living, to grow and then to teach.
Through teaching I learn more, and so the growth continues. If you meet me at a party, I’ll never be interested in small talk, I will want to get to know YOU, the real you. Because the real you will have something to teach the real me, and I crave that.
My friends know I’m the serious one, the deep one, it’s all good, I am. I am serious about being real, accepting and allowing that to happen. For each and every reader, I hope something in here that resonates with your inner knowing, I hope that you will wake up before you are at the end of this life regretting you weren’t true to yourself.
Go live the best version of your life, find out who you really are and what you, in your true essence, are really capable of. You will be amazed and we will stare in wonder at the glorious life you create for yourself.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
When we feel powerless, it doesn’t feel good, and our automatic reaction is to try and take control of something, anything, which tends not to end well. As Mohandas Gandhi said “The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.” That starts with us.
Things happen in our life that we can’t control in the moment - people die, relationships break up, jobs get made redundant. Each and every day, in our various relationships, we experience moments where we don’t feel as though we have a choice: going to work when you’re feeling under the weather because someone else had already called in sick, making the kids’ lunches because your partner has left for work without doing it, going to a meeting that feels like a waste of time because your boss has made it clear it’s not optional; the list is endless.
Then there’s the interactions with people that upset us. We tend to take things very personally and attribute the worst possible reasons for people’s motives, when in actual fact, most of the time it will have very little to do with us.
One day last week I dropped my daughter and niece off at their daycare. Usually they go in and hang their bags beside each others, but my niece wanted to hang hers on its own that day, which really upset my daughter. Callie (let’s call her that) felt powerless in a situation where her cousin kept moving her bag every time she put hers next to it. The story playing in Callie’s head was “My cousin doesn’t want to be friends anymore, she doesn’t like me. I don’t want to be here if I’m not wanted.” And so the upset began.
Of course, for my niece, the story was quite different, and it’s hard to know exactly what her reasons were (4 year olds are pretty good at talking, but not usually at explaining the psychology behind all their actions). What I do know is it had nothing to do with wanting to be friends or not. She quite cheerily told me she still wanted Callie as her friend, and then stood there waiting to play while Callie was getting all upset (empathy is only developing at this stage!).
Callie doesn’t go to that daycare every day but her cousin does, so perhaps she’s just being independent so she doesn’t create a routine that causes her to miss Callie when she’s not there. Perhaps it has nothing at all to do with Callie, and she’s feeling powerless over another issue, maybe she didn’t get her choice of breakfast that morning or wanted to play with some toys that had to stay at home, there are endless possibilities.
I use an example of 4 year olds here, but I’ve seen many examples of this – and I’ll confess I’ve also been party to many – in the workplace, which show just as little empathy. All too often we attribute motives to others’ behaviour based on the stories in our own head, which are based on our values, beliefs and circumstances, not theirs.
So what can you do in situations where you are starting to feel powerless? Let’s keep it simple, if you think about the many ways you can feel, let’s put them into two buckets, bad and good. We all know fear, anxiety, impatience, resentment, anger, frustration, grief and doubt feel bad; and that peace, calm, patience, commitment, allowing, acceptance, happiness and confidence feel good. Driving those feelings tends to be the extent of power we think we have in any situation. Your aim is to feel good, when you feel good, you maintain a more healthy perspective and maintain a sense of power within.
Our degree of acceptance or resistance to the present moment will determine how we feel about it. Erkhart Tolle teaches us the “Power of Now”, the futility of resisting ‘what is’. Living in the present moment, accepting whatever arises, isn’t the same as being a victim or a doormat. It’s about not giving away power and feeling bad about something you cannot change. If you’re feeling bad, it’s time to change the stories playing in your head.
In fact, try and catch those stories as fast as you can. Abraham-Hicks teaches us that 17 seconds is all it takes for a thought to catch momentum; soon you have a whole story, an epilogue, going on in your head. Stop! Think big picture here, you want to feel good; you want to keep your power within.
Start to generalize your thoughts, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and start attributing their behavior to some other motives that depersonalize it for you. Go and do something that makes you feel good, whether it’s sticking on your iPod for a rendition of Pharrell William’s “Happy” and walking round the block, or getting up to get into the groove, do something, anything (healthy!).
Lift yourself up. It’s not about moral high ground, it’s about perspective. We tend to get embroiled in the detail of our own lives and see ourselves as very separate from others. When, in reality, we are all connected and our actions affect many beyond our reach or knowing. What if your life has a much bigger purpose than the one you see today, and the things that are happening are happening for a reason? That is why you often hear expressions like “hindsight is a wonderful thing”, “what’s for you won’t go by you” and “all’s well that ends well”.
If you feel bad, make it your mission to feel good. Give people a break, and give yourself a break. Put a stop to those stories created in your mind, instead, surrender to your inner knowing - that is where you’ll find your power.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/51643976@N02/5834991471">Her smile 23/52</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>
When I was 19, I remember my dad asking me “what is the purpose of life?” It’s a question that beleaguers many, while others have attempted to answer it. Some feel confident when first asked because of a doctrine they have come to believe, whether through their upbringing or another route. Even then, it is still a deeply personal question that most of us attempt to answer in individual terms.
When I published “Be Who You Were Born to Be”, the number of people that read it was 10 times my normal audience, the innate knowing in people resonating with the title alone. We all have different ways of listening to our inner voice, our true nature, but in today’s world there are so many things vying for our attention. The times we touch upon some of the more important questions in our life become fleeting, and there’s a sense throughout our packed-out days that something else is eluding us.
What if you chose this life for a particular purpose? Imagine you are eternal, and every life you learn something new, you grow and the universe grows with you. That doesn’t mean you remember every detail of everything you ever learned, rather that you have a deeper sense of knowing within you, that resonates when you read, see or hear something familiar. Of all the answers that have run through my head since dad asked that question many years ago, it’s the only one that makes sense to me.
I’ve often talked about the concept of being who you are in the sense of being the person with the traits, gifts and talents you were born with, rather than the person you’ve become (nature versus nurture) layer by layer. When you are acting from your own true nature, you’re happier, more passionate about the things you do, and great to be around – inspiring even!
As we take on other people’s beliefs and perceptions – you’re good at this, you’re not good at that, you’re too loud, you're too quiet, and so on - finding out who you are, the true you before you took on all that other stuff, takes a conscious effort.
Effort, yes, but keep it simple. How do you discover the real you? For a start, refuse to feel bad, seek out things that make you feel good. If you’re doing something that makes you feel sucked of all energy and it’s ongoing (like a job, for example), even if you're doing it for the end result, my suggestion is to either stop doing it or to make a plan to stop doing it. Take control of feeling good.
I recently listened to an interview with Sir Ken Robinson whose most recent book, written with Lou Aronica, is titled Finding Your Element: How To Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life. What a wonderful title. He talks about the point where talent and passion meet being where you feel most inspired, most ‘at home’ in yourself.
What if that is the purpose of your life? To find those things and to do as much of them as possible, imagine that, you’ll start to feel inspired, and when you feel inspired you tend to learn and grow.
It’s important to take time out for that reason. We all know our own answers when it comes to what’s best for us. The trick is to access and trust that inner voice more than the fear stories your mind (or other people) create when you give them too much attention.
I have a friend who loves sewing, but she has no desire to do it for a living. The job she is in has the potential to give her great joy, because she certainly has a talent for it and is very passionate about it; however, she isn’t confident of her talent. The stories of doubt that play in her mind have been getting the better of her inner knowing. When doubt strikes, you feel bad – so go and do something that makes you feel good, anything, get those good vibes flowing and your perspective changes dramatically, your confidence grows.
There is no doubt there are things you need to do for an end result, be it making money or maintaining good health or fitness, but 'there are many means to achieving the same ends' and certainly no reason you should feel anything less than good in the process of trying.
When I tackled my fitness a few years back, I persevered with repetitive cardio and muscle strengthening exercises for ages, even spending money on a personal trainer to keep me focused. The truth was though, I hated it. Eventually I switched to yoga and walking, and can tell you without a doubt I love both.
There’s no age limit on feeling good, we all spend 24 hours a day doing something, so for goodness sake, do things you enjoy. Start today, or at least start making a plan today. If you find yourself distracted and feeling bad again an hour, a day or a even a week, down the line, just start again. There’s no limits on feeling good, or the number of times you attempt to. You’ll feel inspired to do more, to learn more and in the process you will grow, and the world will be a better place for having you in it.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
If you think "I deserve more respect" when you are constantly harboring disdain towards your colleague, or you think “I want more harmony in my relationship” and all the while you’re bickering and fighting, how can you attract appreciation and love in return? It’s simple, you can’t, so what's the answer?
As you seek to become more ‘in tune’ with the person you were born to be, the subject of my previous posts, how do you in turn allow others to be who they are?
With those we don’t live or work closely with, it's easier to be more objective about the traits they display, including the layers they’ve developed through their lifetime that might not be so pretty (a ‘layer’ being a belief we’ve developed about ourselves that began with someone else’s opinion, often we develop them in defense or out of fear of what others think of us).
However, with those who are closer we tend to be less forgiving. Typically as adults we are so surrounded by layers we are almost unrecognizable from our true selves, the set of traits talents and beliefs we were born with. For example, despite knowing our worthiness as humans when we are first born, most of us manage to develop layers that lead to a sense of insecurity under many circumstances.
So two people living or working closely together, with all their layers, certainly has its ups and downs. Understanding this helps, but not in the moments where you’re feeling powerless and lash out.
For those of you who never experience discord with your partner or spouse, close family members or friends, or even colleagues, I suspect you are in the minority. Just last week my partner and I had a blazing row, at 4 in the morning, about night time parenting. Put our ‘soup’ of stubborn, bossy, argumentative and determined traits together and we can argue with the best. Add the exhaustion of parenting two little ones to the mix and, voila, boom!
As I was ranting about my partner in my head after the argument, I hate to think what his internal dialogue sounded like. As much as I was berating him and wondering “doesn’t he understand and appreciate me?” and “where’s the support?”, questioning his love for me in essence, I realised he’d be doing the same. So what is the answer?
It’s a choice. Instead of getting into the inner dialogue every time something lights your fire, you can generalize the thought, make it less personal - put yourself in their shoes. Think about the reasons someone might be acting this way.
I know on the day we argued my partner had come home from work feeling sick. I know we’d had to be out of the house at dinnertime (we’re in the middle of selling and someone was viewing it) when all we really wanted to do was relax at home. I know my daughter had a melt down before bedtime that led to me being snippy with him as an outlet of frustration. I know he had a lot of pressure on him to return to work the next day, ill or not. So when our daughter awoke at 4am, I’m sure all of these factors played into his tone.
Instead of one-upmanship (“if he thinks he’s got it bad, what about poor me…” type scenario), how about cutting our colleagues and our nearest and dearest some slack? The trick is to catch that inner dialogue – fast! Too much momentum and your frontal lobe shuts down, you go into flight or fight mode and the only thing you’re motivated to do is ‘win’.
I heard someone say recently, “even if you only last an hour”, yes, even if we can manage biting our tongues, taking a deep breath and seeing things from another perspective only in short bursts at the outset, it will improve our relationships immeasurably.
I’m not talking here about staying in relationships ‘no matter what’, certainly you can move on from relationships, especially when they are harmful, but it’s about doing so in a way that isn’t going to cause you further harm.
Too many times our hurts live on in our inner dialogue, getting played, replayed, soon they take on a momentum and energy that shows up in the way we are feeling. Our own wellbeing suffers unnecessarily, and sometimes dramatically, well beyond the issue itself.
I once read a book called Crucial Conversations, it taught me the power of the stories we create in our head. We attribute motives to people's actions (usually with us as the victim) and take great offence, when most often people's motives have absolutely nothing to do with us personally; they are usually driven by their own insecurities, doubts and fears.
So how do you allow others to be who they are? First you need to forgive, yourself and others, let go of past hurts; generalise them and they will dwindle. Love yourself enough to not carry around all the negative feelings. Allow yourself to be who you truly are, unconditionally, only then you can be free to love others in the same way.
I’ll let you know how it goes…
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/9763931@N04/7715063834">Delaware State Fair - 2012</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>
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