Blog Archives

‘Making a difference’

It’s striking in my coaching how many people have expressed the desire to ‘make a difference’ – and then become immediately stuck about how, where, and to whom.

We all want to contribute, to leave a legacy, something to be remembered for.

But finding out what that is can be taxing.

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that asking the question “where can I make a difference?” is already off target – and prompts a lot of fruitless casting about for causes or problems or broken things.

I’ve discovered that focussing on positions to defend or things to mend or situations to fix not only invites overwhelm, it also assumes that there IS a solution – and that I must be the only one to offer it. Or, that I better be the only one to offer it, otherwise I will have failed.

Then, OMG, the pressure! The massive burden of responsibility as I not only bust a gut trying to solve the problem, but also trying to be seen to be solving the problem AND making sure that there is enough perception of the problem for my solution to be appreciated.

It is exhausting, soul-destroying and utterly ineffectual – largely because it’s an approach totally concocted by the ego-mind wanting to prove itself and demonstrate its worth.

In some ways I think this explains a lot of what is awry in the world at the moment. Lots of people are so busy making a stand for this and that, running themselves ragged and getting bogged down trying to convince everyone that there are MASSIVE PROBLEMS over which we all need to stop everything we’re doing and give ourselves a good hiding.

Now I’m not saying that there aren’t massive problems in the world. Nor am I saying that none of us need to bother taking any responsibility.

What I am saying is that zealously pursuing the compulsion to be the one to make a difference isn’t the optimum approach.

The truth is we cannot and must not nurture the delusion that there are ‘things that are to blame’ and that nominating ourselves as the attackers of  ‘things that are to blame’ will solve the problems. Besides. once you start on the blame game it’s a short step to directing it inwards and then you’re stuffed.

So how can you contribute more? How can you make a difference – as surely every single one of us can?

The first step is to determine what’s driving you. Is it your ego or your heart? One way to figure this out is to pay attention to how much rationalisation and justification is going on. If there’s a lot of problem-related outrage, or any kind of reasoning about ‘what’s in it for you’ to help ‘solve the problem’, then it’s definitely not going to be a heart-based motivation.

When we make decisions from the heart they tend to be very quiet, very certain and very clear. They tend to announce themselves to us fluently in a single sentence, or a single word, with no explanation or logic. They feel like Truth.

If however you can identify an overactive ego calling the shots then the wisest thing to do is pause and quieten it down. Go for a walk or a run, get out into the garden or the park, sit next to a tree or a stream or a fire, meditate, write in your journal, reflect on what’s pushing you. Don’t listen to the persuasive justifications and seductive spin-offs.

How easy it is to talk ourselves out of our heart’s desire – and how often we do it. How often we put more words and excuses and reasons ‘why not’ in its way. All this is is resistance of our Truth. It is the efforting of ego as opposed to the appreciation of heart.

If you can drop the resistance and allow your heart to speak instead you will be amazed by how quickly you will become inspired. The next right step will immediately reveal itself to you. And you will understand an intrinsic, hidden logic to your action, rather than a grandiose, super-imposed rationalisation.

So when you are moved to want to make a difference, don’t follow the usual script. Instead do something different – and focus on your heart’s desire.

It could be that the biggest difference to be made is to yourself.

 

 

 

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May 20, 2019 · 3:43 pm

Great day of summer intention setting!

What a wonderful day we had at the intention setting workshop on 3rd May 2019!

Here’s what people said:

“A wonderfully exploratory day of soul and personal development. Questions I can take back and ponder on for each season. I loved the dancing during the afternoon!…It definitely opened us all up. Beautiful venue and very helpful staff – fab vegan salad with quinoa and beet burger.” – SA

“The day was full of prompts that really made me think; that pointed me in interesting directions; that scared me; and that finally gave me a sense of purpose. I enjoyed every minute of the day. Thankyou.” – MT

“I very much enjoyed the day. Great company, great facilitation and stunning venue. Very well organised, a well-paced day. I loved the small touches that made the day so pleasant, flowers, candles, music – and cake!”- BM

“I enjoyed the experience of physically writing words on paper…inspired by very thought provoking prompts. I enjoyed the dancing too! The choice of music was great! The pace was appropriate and the venue ideal.” – SG

“The day was brilliant – thoughtfully and perfectly organised, really well-paced and varied, hugely beneficial and inspirational. The group came together beautifully. The catering was also good and the venue was really comfortable,” – GH-L

If you want to create your own day of intention setting watch my free DIY retreat video – and get your intention setting guide – right here

And if you’d like to reserve your spot on the next workshop in October 2019, which will be a fabulous residential couple of days in the beautiful Cotswolds, find out more here. 

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May 4, 2019 · 4:14 pm

Be the human, not the role

One of the opening social gambits to which I have long been allergic is “What do you do?” I cringe when I hear myself asking it – I want to find a different way to find out about this endlessly fascinating individual standing in front of me.

When we ask each other what do we do it’s so we can neatly assign each other a role, a level of competence and perceived importance. It’s a polite way of judging each other. And it always feels wrong to me.

The best conversation opener I have ever experienced at a party was being asked what vaguely shameful thing I’d done in my life that could get me into the papers. OK, perhaps not quite the opportunity to discover the hidden gems of a person, but certainly a long way away from the usual chit chat that doesn’t uncover anything valuable to know about your new acquaintance.

As I recall the conversation that ensued ranged over art, love, relationships, horse-racing and philosophy. Not once did I mention what I did. It was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to.

When we focus on what our role in life is we soon become slightly bored with ourselves. Instead of paying attention to what we uniquely bring as a human being, we’re tempted to obsess about the things we SHOULD do as a parent, spouse, business owner, project manager, student, widow etc. Our own list of roles is endless.

If we’re not careful we can spend our lives trying to carve out our niche, our neat little compartment, without fully appreciating the heart and soul of who we are. There really only ought to be one neat little compartment we ever need to occupy – and by that point the heart and soul are long gone.

From a journaling perspective it is useful to make a list of all the roles we have in our life – and to write a few lines about the version of self we bring to each. If you do decide to undertake this exercise, be vigilant about how the SHOULDs creep in, how you begin to compare your actual performance in the role against your imaginary bench-mark.

Another thing we soon discover is that what we’re writing against each named role doesn’t feel enough. That there is so much else that we wish to express about ourselves – and inquiring solely of our roles just doesn’t deliver it. In this situation, reflecting on ‘what’s missing’, or better put ‘what else’ can be very enlightening.

A beloved friend of mine likes to paint scenarios of things that will and will not happen. As I listen and feel rising constraint and suffocation I realise that much of what he’s saying is based on his own perceptions of the obligations and expectations associated with particular roles – with perhaps a dash of bet-hedging. Few of these kinds of scenarios are based on how the people themselves are likely to feel, respond and behave, in a given situation, were they truly left to their own devices.

This feels sad to me, and limiting. While it is important to assume our various responsibilities in life it is very often mistaken to do so under the guise of superficial roles, without the guidance of our true heart and soul.

In this sense we never shake off our responsibilities, but we do have a better chance of tackling them with originality, creativity and flair.

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April 18, 2019 · 4:18 pm

Do you use your inner sat nav?

Have you ever considered that as well as having a satellite navigation system in your car, you also have one of your very own in your being?

And as you rely on your car’s sat nav to show you how to get somewhere, how much do you rely on your inner sat nav to show you the next right step in your life?

Our inner sat nav is otherwise referred to as our intuition or our knowing. The trouble is we have often forgotten that we have such things, and what their significance is, so we often override the directions they give us with the way we think we ought to go.

I’ve made this mistake in the car before too. Instead of following the instructions I’ve assumed I’ve known better, ignored the sat nav, and then ended up going round in circles.

Conversely, in a bizarre example of doubly betraying my inner knowing, I’ve also foolishly decided to follow the sat nav on a route I know well – and ended up in the back-end of nowhere, because I keyed in the wrong address!

The morals of these two stories are different – but with a common denominator. Firstly, in unfamiliar territory, don’t trust your mind over the sat nav; and secondly don’t override your own inner knowing just because your mind tells you you have a gadget!

Essentially our minds can lead us astray!

Yet in our culture the mind is considered to be the master of our cognitive process. As a result we do not remember to listen to the still small voice, which is the voice of our heart.

Journaling gives us heightened awareness of our inner knowing, as long as we surrender to the process of writing and allow the pen to move across the page without thinking too much where it’s taking us. It’s an adventure to hand over the steering wheel occasionally and to see where we end up, and what new insights are revealed along the way.

Often we can mistake the voice of our ego for our inner knowing – and vice versa. Like when there is an important decision to make and our mind leaps in with 15 cons to every single pro. I recently heard a good way of distinguishing our ego voice from our inner sat nav – if you hear many options simultaneously, almost out-shouting each other, then it’s the mind at play. But if the answer comes singly, quietly and assertively then it’s more likely coming from the heart.

As well as reflective writing, meditation and yoga practices really help in quietening the mind and allowing our inner knowing to come to the surface. Some say that the voice of our heart is at one with universal consciousness, the cosmic communication network that is full of creative ideas looking for a home. It’s fun to entertain this notion by stopping the ego mind chatter and opening ourselves to receive whatever single thoughts pop into our awareness.

And when they do, we need to be sure to capture them in our journal. Eventually our personalised route map will materialise.

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April 8, 2019 · 6:53 pm

“How can I keep it real?”

Realness means…

What?

It’s different for each of us. It’s worth the contemplation.

For me it is to feel grounded, active, on purpose, productive. It’s when things happen around me and I’m prepared to face them, to get curious and to find out what’s behind them.

Realness is to stay connected – to the real world, to reality, to my responsibilities.

And it is also to stay alert to new possibilities, without prejudice.

For a while I wondered whether keeping a journal might be about avoidance. That finding refuge in the ramblings of my imagination and the gazings at my navel might be a way of kidding myself out of being real.

But no. Quite the opposite.

For me keeping a journal is not to be an ostrich with my head in the sand. It is not to  daydream or deny.

Rather it’s a way of getting deeper into what reality actually is, for me. Deeper into where it lives and can be found.

And what I’ve discovered is that the most real thing there is in my experience  lives in my heart.

The more I tune into it, the more I act from that place, the more real I become: the more people tell me “You’re real.”

It’s nice.

So these days I make it my daily practice to hang out with my heart. It’s the place of courage, and, being adjacent to the breathing organs, of inspiration. It’s where love and truth and desire and joy and kindness and playfulness and curiosity are born, and borne.

I sit in meditation, and then I take up my journal and allow my pen to move across the page. The voice of my heart comes through loud and clear. The words flow. All forming coherent ideas, never forced. Or at least whenever it does feel like hard work, like squeezing blood from a stone, I know it’s because I’ve somehow shut myself off from my heart, and I am painfully denying my reality.

Because keeping it real happens naturally when we give voice to what is in our heart. Our heady ego might shoot it down – perhaps yours is right now as you read.

But listen.

You might just discern, beneath the noise, a little whisper of  reality coming from your heart.

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March 26, 2019 · 1:38 pm

7 habits of positively impactful people

It’s time for one of those lists of things to do to improve how we present ourselves and are perceived by others.

Why?

Because it’s March. It’s the quickening month. Famous for gusty winds and the restless stirrings of new life.

For me, it’s typically an agitated time, probably for the reasons above.

So I thought I’d anchor things in a list.

Here’s how to have a positive impact:

  1. Know who you really are
  2. Be your own best friend
  3. Be curious
  4. Be consistent
  5. Be intentional
  6. Know that a complaint is always a failed request
  7. Look for the best in others

The truth is that we are each an incidence of embodied consciousness, which means that we each have access to infinite wisdom and potential  – as well as the opportunity to feel and experience the physical world. So we are doubly blessed! The great teacher Yogi Bhajan reminds us that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and whilst our human experience is mortal, our spiritual existence is eternal. It’s a useful perspective – and it helps to calm down and treat ourselves and others with greater kindness.

And that is important. We all learn from a  very young age to be kind to others. But we frequently don’t learn to show ourselves the same kindness. When we’re having a bad day we can become vituperative self-critics. If we were to imagine that the way we sometimes speak to ourselves is actually being directed at another we would be horrified. Paying attention to our own inner critic in order to censor it rather than be censored by it is an important habit.

So is curiosity. It’s the single most useful trait that has got me out of many a social hole. The reason is that I have long understood people love to talk about themselves and their experience, so I’ve learned to ask questions. Now there is no need not to be able to strike up a conversation – and leave a positive impression with most of the people I meet.

In contrast consistency is a habit that I have only recently got my head around. Before this I would flit from one thing to another in  my endless quest for creative fulfillment. “I’m a free spirit!” my ego would opine, while my true free spirit would long for some kind of mooring to stop the feeling of flapping about in the (March) wind. A daily practice of journal writing or meditation or exercise no matter what can greatly help in this regard – and promote consistency in other habits too.

Being intentional is a whole different thing from setting goals – although often the two are referred to interchangeably. To be intentional is to suffuse all of our actions and behaviours with the same attitude. So while your goal might be to make new friends, your intention to be self-aware, kind, curious and consistent will guarantee that people will constantly be attracted to you.

(NB. If you’d like to spend this 3 May 2019 in the beautiful north Wiltshire countryside  with me and other lovely journal writers setting our intentions for summer, drop me a line asap to juliet@journalwritershandbook.co.uk)

Once you’ve attracted your new friends, you’ll want to keep them sweet. So rather than complaining, you’ll want to be clear on what you desire so that they can play their friendly role in helping you achieve it. As social beings we are truly motivated by serving and pleasing others, so lets get ahead of the game by making clear requests up front rather than bitter complaints after we’ve been disappointed.

This is linked to looking for the best in others, and assuming that people do generally wish to be helpful and kind. When we have this outlook it makes it easier to make requests, and to show our gratitude.

In fact gratitude, appreciation and clarity are the most effective buffers against the mad weather of life, and these 7 habits of positively impactful people really help bolster them.

Take up your journal and ponder each of the 7 items above – and see how you can keep your hair on this March.

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March 18, 2019 · 5:47 pm

Our Natural Well of Being

A number of years ago I experienced a major jolt in my well-being. Post Natal Depression had me tired, fuzzy-headed, and frequently sitting on the kitchen floor in confusion and tears. Life with a new baby, albeit my second, was overwhelming. The homeopath diagnosed disappointment, and gave me some remedies. They may or may not have been effective.

At the time I was beginning to learn about the Three Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought. I was beginning to understand our duality – how separated from our natural well-being our thinking minds make us. And one morning, as I stood in the shower trying to wash away the creeping tiredness that never seemed to leave me, a new thought occurred to me.

“Don’t give in to it,” it seemed to say. “Just choose not to be tired today.”

Something like a weight lifted from me. I remember smiling and breathing. I remember it feeling like the first time in ages I had really done either.

One of the most valuable insights of my life that day was that my habitual patterns do not rule the roost. That I could choose. That there was something in me, about me, which was able to redirect my experience away from the rut I had found myself in.

I’d always been aware of my inner Witness – that sense of being able to watch and observe myself. But I hadn’t heard such a loud message from it for a while. I got curious. I decided to investigate.

Fast forward a few years – sixteen to be precise – and I’m still learning. Most of all, that this Witness, this inner voice and awareness, never ever goes away. It’s always there at my centre. Still and calm. Allowing, not judging. In fact, more than that – it’s always loving me from within.

So I’ve come to understand that this is who we truly are. Each one of us has this inner knowing, inner loving, inner calm. It’s our Natural Well-being. Our Being Well, or Well of Being. We can reach it beyond our chattering thoughts. We can access it through our breathing, our awareness and our reflective practice.

All it takes is to remember its presence and to pay attention to it.

Then listen. It has oodles of wisdom and useful loving nudges to help us be true to ourselves.

What refreshment will you draw from your Well of Being today?

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February 28, 2019 · 12:17 pm