Resilience: How to Embrace Failure

“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Nelson Mandela

The greatest challenge in life is picking yourself up from a downturn in life’s fortunes. Moreover, from there, either persisting in your chosen direction or changing tack entirely and doing something different. Unfortunately, we have been taught repeatedly in our formative years that ‘failure is not an option’, it is a ‘bad thing’ that proves our inadequacies and shows us up as a ‘loser’. It must be avoided at all costs. As a result, we allow failure of any kind to make us feel worthlessness, despairing and bitter. It erodes our confidence and leaves us with a deep sense of being a victim of life’s circumstances. This can lead to anxiety, resentment, depression and addictive tendencies which are hard to move beyond. Read More

Emotions: Express, Suppress or Master them?

“Some people believe that if they yell and scream, others will get the point of just how serious they are. For me, all I get is the point of just how out of control that someone is.” Cathy Burnham Martin

 

People’s emotions are running a mock these days. We witness it daily with news stories of violent killings, sexual abuse and terrorist atrocities. On our roads, we see drivers filled with rage towards other road users. On social media, we read the outright condemnation of individuals in the comments section of a post. Also, in the workplace, we observe outbursts from coworkers as just something to tolerate as ‘collateral damage’. Read More

Are you Just ‘Default Moding’?

I woke up this morning feeling a mixture of negative emotions: stress from the pressures of business; anxious to get a good deal on some flights I wanted to book; sad about the loss of a rescue dog we had had living with us and concerned about some uncomfortable calls I had to make that day. I could see myself caught up in these different emotions, unable to separate myself from their grip.

 

I was in what neuroscientists call the ‘Default Mode Network’. This is the place our brains naturally go to when they are in idle. When we are not specifically focused on, or involved with, a task. It is that mental chatter that we engage in when we are seemingly doing nothing. Through the use of brain imaging scanners, scientists can see this neural activity lights up a network of centres in the brain and draws considerably on our oxygenated blood.

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Cultivating Hope Amidst Challenging Times

“To turn a twist on an old saying, when the going gets tough, the hopeful keep going.” Rick Snyder

I am sure you have experienced a time when life, or a part of your life, seems like a long, dark tunnel with no light at the end of it. You are just in it. And there is nothing you can do. I have been in such a tunnel. Perhaps you have too. So, I thought it would be valuable to look at how to cultivate the essential psychological quality of hope when you are in that seeming darkness. Read More

Is Your Dopamine Flowing Plentifully?

With our amazing hot weather in the UK at the moment, we just want to be outside, enjoying the summer sun. Although we would love the pace of life to slow in the heat, this deceleration does not seem to happen: Emails come pinging in. The phone rings. People interrupt with their urgent matters that need our attention. And the ‘to do’ list still seems as long.
Added to this is our own internal pressures. That voice telling us we ‘must do that’ and ‘should do that’ for example “I must get this done today or my client will be disappointed” or “I should go for that run now or I will never get fit’. We have sub-personalities within us driving us to succeed, to look good, to keep the peace, to fit in, to seek approval and their demanding voices crack the whip to keep us going at all times.

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Inner listening

How Can Meditation Help us To Be More Successful in Business? In Relationships? In Life?

Meditation, or stilling and focusing the mind, has many benefits for our physical and mental health. It reverses the physiological effects of stress and allows us to feel calmer, centred and relaxed. In our busy lives, full of technological overload, all this is very helpful to our long-term well-being.

In all aspects of life, and especially in business, we also need to be able to think clearly, even under stress, and make quick, effective decisions. We need to have insight and, at times, strategic foresight. We require the relationship skills to be both a team player and a visionary leader of both ourselves, and others. And we need the interaction capabilities to be able to get along with, and communicate to, many different types of people. So how can meditation help with all of these essential skills for life? Read More

How Situations can Make You Feel Powerful…or Powerless

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr

I have noticed I have become a bit of a complainer in my middle age! Grumbling about the grey weather; the traffic congestion; the parking charges; the rising cost of things; higher interest rates; the unstable political and economic situation nationally and globally and the worldwide humanitarian, animal welfare and environmental crises. It seems that darker times are looming… and it is giving me a lot to moan about!

We all know that our response to any situation, good or bad, is our choice. We are the only ones causing our negative reaction, and we are the only ones who can change it. In situations we perceive as challenging though, it is easy to feel powerless and unable to do anything about our reactions. This belief in our powerlessness is a ‘victim’ mindset which we can fall into, almost without realising. Read More

Is Forgiveness Worthwhile? And How Buddhist Philosophies Can Support Forgiveness

‘To err is human. To forgive, divine’. Alexander Pope

Late summer every year I go on retreat for a week on The Isle of Wight. It gives me an opportunity to reflect, refocus and recharge my batteries. I spend my week alone walking in the beautiful countryside and along the deserted beaches of South West Wight, meditating, reading spiritual texts and writing my contemplations in my journal. I eat a light, raw food diet and have a daily Epsom Salts bath to help detoxify my body (Epsom Salts baths are said to draw out toxins and have many health benefits).

Every year I have a specific focus for the week’s retreat. This year’s focus was forgiveness. This gave me an opportunity to bring to mind all the people, present and past and from every area of my life, whom I was holding some angst towards, both big and small. I then went through a process of forgiveness with each one. It was a cathartic experience. Moreover, the value I gained from it was a lightening of the mental load I was carrying that was weighing me, not them, down. Read More

To Give or Not To Give? Part Two: How Altruism Can Be Used for our Personal Growth

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Mahatma Gandh

Altruism – the giving to others without seeking anything in return – is definitely a means of finding ourselves and an opportunity to move beyond our egocentric actions and reactions. Many spiritual traditions echo this philosophy. In fact, having a generous nature is woven into the very core of our DNA. It is a natural thing for us to do. It brings many rewards and yet, should be done from a giving heart rather than the desire purely to receive those rewards.

Our hunter gatherer ancestors knew that altruism within the tribe promoted the passing on of genes. It also supported their reputation amongst other tribe members as it was important to be seen to be sharing the spoils of one’s labours and giving back what they themselves had received: if you give me some special roots to eat today, I must be seen to give you some special roots to eat tomorrow so I appear benevolent in the eyes of others. Since those early days, our willingness to help others has evolved considerably and we are now willing to help those far outside our tribe and who we do not even know. Read More

To Give or Not To Give? Part One

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill

Two afternoons a week I volunteer at a local dog rescue centre. There is one dog at the centre I especially like: a young German Shepherd Dog called Isla who came from a couple who felt they could no longer cope with her. In truth, they had made little effort to train Isla and, with her very intelligent mind, it had not taken her long to become a very badly-behaved dog.

I felt so sorry for Isla, an active, highly sensitive dog living 24/7 in a small kennelled area, that I aimed to give her an enjoyable time twice a week. I used to give her a long walk and then come back and play ball with her which is her favourite pass time. She was difficult to walk: lunging out at passing cars, joggers, cyclists and, viciously, towards other dogs. It took all my strength to hold her.

On one walk, I was pondering how I could use a principle that I believe in to overcome the difficulties with Isla’s behaviour: when we focus on the challenges, faults and foibles of people’s personalities, all we perceive are those personality deficiencies. When we train our ‘seeing’ to look beyond their flaws and instead see the innate goodness and lovliness of their True nature, we quite naturally come into better interpersonal relationships with them. Read More

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