Learning to Dance…

Life is difficult enough sometimes. It is even harder when you face those difficulties on your own. Sometimes all you want to do is sit down and cry. We have all been there. I think it is a good thing to let it all out. If we don’t, eventually we end up sitting in the Psychiatrist’s office wondering how it all fell apart. keeping it together is a challenge now and then…

Perhaps if we gave ourselves permission to let everything fall apart, we would be surprised at what would happen. Maybe the solutions we need will emerge from the chaos. New beginnings cannot be formed otherwise.

“Out of chaos, comes order”
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

Holding on too much to life (through worry and anxiety) is a way to stop life in its tracks. We are not meant to become so stressed that we lose perspective – and that’s just what stressful reactions to problems can do. Sometimes we need to find a way to remove ourselves from the constant whirring of our minds. People have addictions for those very reasons.

We should never be afraid of feeling out of control. Life has a way of sweeping you off your feet and if you don’t find a way to go with the flow, you end up fighting instead of dancing with life. (What if you don’t know the dance moves? Improvise instead until you work it out!)

Whatever comes your way, no matter how difficult, you will be able to deal with it. Believe you can and you will. The passage of time brings many changes. How we deal with those changes depends on our state of mind. It is all about perspective and seeing life in a positive way. Not to easy to acknowledge (I know) when you’re dwelling in a state of negativity. The trick is not to enter that state in the first place….

The joy of life is found by simply letting go more often. Just stop trying and fretting so much about things that don’t really matter. Everything will be the same in 100 years.

1 – Work out what is causing you stress
2 – Find a logical way to deal with the problem as best you can (even if there is no apparent solution, there is a way to manage the stress involved
3 – Talk about it with someone in confidence

Don’t take it all upon yourself when you don’t have to at all….talk to someone.

We all need somebody….

© Christina McDonald 2014.

Wealth Anxiety?

This feels slightly odd. Wealth anxiety? I was reading an article in the Guardian recently which describes the accumulation of wealth as having a down-side.

Of course, I can relate to the feelings created when you strive for perfection. It is incredibly stressful to say the least. Nothing is good enough for long enough. Looking for perfection is all very well but there is something very limiting about it. Exhausting even.

You can see where tedium comes into play. Fighting to maintain an ephemeral material image which can be shattered in a mere moment if you happen to encounter bankruptcy….stressful stuff.

Of course, on the flip side of the coin, there are people who stand to lose everything in the case of being declared bankrupt – roof over their heads, food…everything. So – we could say while some of us experience perfection anxiety, some of us experience survival anxiety instead.

So stress is all relative it seems. Some of us worry about eating and paying rent and some of us worry about ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ and buying the latest iphone to show off to our uber-wealthy comrades who are bravely fighting the battle of this never ending tedium.

Aren’t we all?

Sources:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/25/super-rich-perfection-anxiety-poverty-ennui

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

The Natural World and the Responsibility of Freedom

The natural world is depicted as something that is outside of our own everyday reality and significance when it is anything but. As beautiful and wondrous as it is, we still are so unaware of the beauty that exists all around us in the natural world. We can learn all about it if we like. In books, from television, newspapers and magazines. That is not the same as experiencing it though.

Of course, information is everywhere. There is no fact we cannot find if we need it. The technological age has enabled us to acquire information at astounding rates. This is the age of communication. When it comes to individualism and following intuition however, I am sorry to say we are nowhere near where we should be. It is having a devastating impact on not just our own lives but on the natural world for the following reasons….

We are living in a utopia. A Garden of Eden. Things could not really be better. Planet earth is in our care while we have it and we have the freedom to do with it as we choose. Freedom. That is a word that invites a great deal of responsibility for our actions. We all want freedom but do we actually know what to do with the freedom we have been given in life?

Nobody has sat us down and said – ‘Hey guys, this is your planet. Take good care of it or else there will be consequences. There is no scolding parent chastising humanity to behave and to do the right thing. That kind of thing is left to our better judgement. We are more concerned about preserving our being in the afterlife rather than take care of the life we have in the here and now. Sound crazy? Just a little. The problem is – if we are not told what to do, will we actually do the right thing – or anything at all for that matter?

The one thing I have noticed as the years have gone by is that nobody can be bothered to do the right thing anymore. We always have to be told to act ethically and responsibly without actually feeling the need to do so ourselves. Is it always necessary to be told ‘clean this up, recycle, do this, do that?’ In our individual bid to do what we want (in other words, to have the freedom we want), would we actually ever do anything? Scary thought perhaps. If we didn’t have jobs, families and goals, would we just sit down on the sofa and watch constant reruns of ‘Everybody loves Raymond’ and eat junk food? Maybe, maybe not.

Where does interest come into all of this? It is normal to have interests and hobbies of course. The problem is – we all have to make money to survive. If your hobby doesn’t pay, you end up working in a job you don’t actually like or appreciate. Eventually, you can’t be bothered. You don’t do things right, you stop caring, you make mistakes…you just stop trying in the end. You aren’t doing what you feel you need to be doing so why bother?

Sound familiar? Perhaps the psychology of all this is very simple. If we don’t have the freedom to pursue our creative and intellectual needs, we end up stagnating. We become lazy. We stop growing. Money and the need to survive becomes the only saviour we depend on. Let’s face it – it isn’t much to look forward to. What are we actually contributing to the betterment of humanity if we are not being true to ourselves? We are part of nature, part of the earth. If we are not being true to who we are, then we are being untrue to nature…and consequently destroying the natural world.

Pretty simple when you think about it. If we believed that we could live on this earth and be ourselves, I think we would try and do more. There is an apathy within many of us that I believe stems from our inability to live a life according to our truest and deepest needs. Money comes first and life comes after. It should be life first and money as a means to an end only. Our love of having more will not create a desire to do more. In fact, it will probably encourage us to do much less than what we are already doing.

When we have everything we need, we become lazy. Apathetic. Detached perhaps from the reality of everyday life and the struggles it brings. When you are struggling to survive, you actually learn to appreciate everything you have in life and how difficult it is in fact to obtain the essentials. Food, water and shelter are actually the most fundamental of blessings and they are all we need to live on this earth in harmony with the natural world. Our conflicts come from wanting more and more. When will it ever be enough?

Having everything is still not enough for some people. There is always that constant and persistent lack that comes from within which, on a very basic level, is a blinkered view of the abundance of blessings we actually have right now. The ability to breathe, think, feel, see, walk…what else can you think of that gives you that feeling of contentment, joy and happiness? There is no material possession you can obtain outside of yourself that will give you a lasting feeling of peace and contentment. If you can buy it, you can lose it, break it, have it stolen..you name it…why would you centre your entire happiness and feelings of contentment around that?

The environment of our planet reflects our emotional and mental environmental state. If we have toxic thoughts (such as anger and hatred towards others), that will have a negative effect on the world around us. There is no way we can create a harmonious external environment when the environment in our own mind is in turmoil – it just will not happen! We need to be in touch with ourselves on the very deepest levels of consciousness to ensure we are dwelling in a state of peace and equanimity. Every feeling you have, every thought and every action you take in life will influence someone else and something either in a positive or negative way.

Plants grow and flowers blossom. So do human beings…if we allow the process to happen through our continued awareness of ourselves.

© Christina McDonald 2014

Success is a state of mind…

When you believe you can, you will. When you don’t, you will not. It really is that simple. If you believe in something enough and you know you can do it, good things will come. It may not come instantly but eventually, with persistent effort, you end up achieving your goal.

There is no clear definite concept of success. It is a matter of priority only.

Being successful in society does not always mean from a material perspective. There are different kinds of success. Don’t think you will not make mistakes either. That is a massive part of the journey towards success. The trick is – even if you make a mistake, no matter how silly you think it is, move on, learn from it and keep going! Being able to learn and grow as a person is one of the biggest achievements in life and if you can do it…that really is something to be happy about.

Doubt is your biggest enemy. What is there to doubt anyway if you know what you’re doing? Faith in yourself is the key to everything. If you can prepare yourself for success mentally no matter what you are doing, you are halfway there. Belief is the driving force behind it. Look at how powerful belief is when it comes to religion for example…(and sometimes not in a good way). It is a very powerful tool for change and it should be used carefully and wisely. Belief is potent!

If you want to be successful, ask yourself ‘why?’ What are your motivations for success? Your personal reasons will give you an insight as to how you feel in relation to what you value and why. We all value different things in life but some things do not require us to give them a real sense of priority. If you want something, it is not always the same as needing something.

So – what is a priority on the most fundamental level?

Good health

To be able to live comfortably (having enough)

Happiness (and to be genuinely happy means you are grateful for what you have, not unhappy that you don’t have everything you want).

Good friends who support and cherish you for who you are

Someone to love and who loves you unconditionally

Good health, shelter, food and water – if you have that, then you are pretty successful I think! Some people don’t even have the basics while the rest of us have so much we forget what is truly important.

So – considering the above, would you say you are successful or unsuccessful?

I would say….successful!

© Christina McDonald 2014

The rise of the selfie and the loss of true identity….

The rise of the selfie. (Or was it always like this and we simply haven’t noticed?) Something has changed and that’s for sure. We are all so used to celebrities tweeting selfies now and it seems to be everywhere! Narcissus is alive and well it seems. Perhaps he would have some good advice to share with people who are so obviously obsessed with the outward appearance of things. (Not that it should have any real consequence). It does though…and the consequences are not good in my view.

It isn’t that people are taking selfies that concerns me really. It is the fact that people seem to be unnaturally preoccupied with how they look and come across to others. We can all have a profile picture on Facebook – it looks fine, you look ok, it shows the world what you look like – fine. Job done! That is nothing unusual. The selfie is something else altogether I think. Beyond a normal picture. Another league of infatuation which is proving very unhealthy.

What does a selfie reveal about you? Your physical appearance. As is the case in any photograph. The selfie is simply a product of living in a very narcissistic society and it is getting to the point where people are losing real perspective in relation to who they really are. Taking a selfie is like staring at your own reflection over and over again in a pool of water. Just like Narcissus, we are wasting away in our own perception of what we think is beautiful and acceptable. Thinking and knowing…two entirely different things.

How we think we come across, how we want to come across and how we come across to others are entirely different things. The perfect image. Again, it is all about you. Yourself. Where you are, what you’re doing and how and you’re doing it. Look at me. It feels to me like it is almost some kind of warped bid for attention. Needy, desperate and a little bit shallow…

Beauty is only skin deep with the selfie. Hardly an accurate representation of who we really are. There is so much beauty in the world but we are missing it because we are so obsessed with ourselves and how we look. We are missing out on the beauty of life due to our obsessive behaviour in relation to our appearance. Appearances mean nothing.We are contributors to our own demise as far as creating a healthy acceptance of ourselves is concerned. Why do we feel we need this approval from others via a digital self-portrait? The birth of the selfie goes much deeper into revealing just how self-centered and focused we are on detail that really is completely irrelevant!

So – our basic identity is now focused around…

a) Where we are in the selfie…
b) Who we’re with…
c) What we’re doing…

Hooked on looks…not a normal photograph.

What about taking photographs of things that are actually interesting? You don’t have to be in it. We know that you are in the area because you are in fact taking a picture of it…that one we can work out. I can understand a group photo. It is nice to look back on good times and you want to remember who you are sharing that experience with. People you enjoy being with and care about perhaps. It is fine to have someone take a picture of you somewhere as well. You want to look back on the time you spent somewhere. Again, that is healthier than taking continual selfies. Publicising yourself all over the web should not be what taking a photo is all about.

What is the aim of it? There seems to be no better advertisement for low self-esteem anywhere in the world…Stop taking selfies and just..be yourself! You have enough validity and self-worth on your own without needing to do selfies all the time…

Success and happiness can walk hand in hand if you let them. You don’t need the approval of other people. Approve of yourself and that is enough. There is no such thing as perfection and the true depth of who you are cannot be reflected in an image alone. You are human. You make mistakes. The selfie will not allow any of that to be seen. Some of the most beautiful pictures taken in life are those that capture the true essence of beauty which encompasses fragility, weakness, ill health, old age, etc. the list goes on and on.

Beauty has no definition and category whatsoever. Where there is true beauty, you may also find truth if you look very closely…

© Christina McDonald 2014

Apathy and the environment…is it too little too late?

Feeling slightly annoyed this morning and a little bit fed-up…

At least the sun is shining!

As I was having a cup of coffee still bleary eyed this morning, I heard a story being discussed on the news in regards to a UN report describing an urgent need to treble our use of renewable energy or face a massive and dramatic increase in dangerous levels of global warming. Not good news – at all. Living in Central London, I have become fed-up recently of breathing in so much cigarette smoke, smelling pollution and feeling as though my chest is getting tighter by the minute when I’m going to buy a loaf of bread. It has got worse in recent years and I have been here nearly a decade now.

That isn’t the only thing I’m annoyed with though.

My husband recently bought an ‘e-go’ electric bike which I think is brilliant. I wish everyone thought the same. Hopefully some people do. As he has had a lot of health problems and enjoys cycling, it seems to work better for him as a way of getting around the city. It isn’t as hard on his body and he has more energy to do other things. Not only that, there are no carbon emissions and he isn’t putting an extra strain on the environment and people’s health.

Sensible yes? You would think.

He came home and told me that a car driver had slowed down, rolled down his window and literally laughed at the fact he was riding the bike. It looked ‘gay’ apparently. ‘You need number plates for that mate!’ Ah no, it is classified as a bicycle. As long as it meets the EAPC rules, it doesn’t need to be registered and taxed. It doesn’t go more than 15 mph and he has a licence anyway (even though he doesn’t need it in this instance). This guy didn’t even know what it was! My partner explained exactly what it was and why it was good to use. Blank expression in response. If that is the case, how are we going to change our collective attitude towards global warming then? That is depressing and quite unbelievable.

If this is the kind of prejudice and hostility you meet when you are actually trying to improve not just your own life, but the life of other people around you, I am deeply concerned for the environmental future of the planet. We need to wake up and smell the fossil fuels. It is reaching crisis point as scientists are pointing out. Do we even have the time we need to sort this? If by ‘time’, we mean reforming people’s attitudes towards alternative energy, that is going to be a challenge and a half considering the level of severity. A lot more needs to be done to get it into people’s heads that we need to change the way we live in order to survive.

Instead of starting wars with other countries and hating and killing each other, why not (maybe) start dealing with real problems? Slagging someone off on the street on a busy Saturday afternoon for riding an electric bike is doing nobody any favours.

Being an individual doesn’t mean standing out from the crowd as a celebrity. Of course, as a nation, we are all so obsessed with that one and doing selfies is so important isn’t it? The perfect picture. (Don’t get me started on that one either). Being an individual means making a choice that exempts you from what is regarded as ‘the norm’. Here’s another picture – soon we won’t be able to breathe and eat properly if we don’t wake up soon. If you want to do something different in life, be prepared to feel very alone, even if it is the right thing to do.

(Apparently). Rant over.

© Christina McDonald 2014.

Here are the EAPC rules:
Sources:
https://www.gov.uk/electric-bike-rules

BBC News
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27007486

Forgiveness…learning to let it go.

Sometimes when we have been badly hurt and let down, we feel as though we want to lash out, blame and accuse those who we feel have done us wrong. Feelings are those of anger, frustration and pain. ‘Why me?’ Holding a grudge is not going to make everything better. It doesn’t justify anything. Will it make you happy? Not a chance! Anger and bitterness only serves to make you unhappy, twisted and miserable.

Who needs that?

It is so much simpler to allow yourself to see the truth…it is not your problem! The only thing that is your responsibility is how you choose to react to the experience. That is within your power and control.

It may feel like you have acquired some strength momentarily but it is actually a thief of what energy you have. The ego feels good for a moment (albeit briefly). If I feel angry and upset, I feel so distracted. I cannot concentrate on anything and I am not living in the present moment. I might as well stay in bed for the good I feel I am to anyone when I’m in such a state! Chocolate, angry music and punching pillows for me… oh wait no..that’s p.m.t 😉

Why is letting it all go so difficult sometimes especially when you feel someone has done you a wrong? You naturally want to feel that wrong righted and no matter how angry you feel, it is justified in your mind somehow. Playing over the events, the words spoken, what you said, what they said, what you would love to say had you the chance to go back…what would be the most hurtful thing to do and say in order to make them feel the pain you have felt?

All of this mulling and brooding is actually causing you pain. Nobody else is being affected. Your own mind is actually crucifying you slowly. Yes, perhaps you have been betrayed. Perhaps someone did something very bad to you and yes, you feel pain. Of course you would. It is only natural to feel upset to a point – you do have a choice though and that is what we can all forget.

‘Don’t let negative and toxic people rent space in your head. Raise the rent and kick them out!’ (Robert Tew).

Don’t let someone mess with your mind and your feelings. You are in control at all times and can decide how you deal with everything. We give and abuser power when we allow them ‘in’ as it were, into our personal space. As soon as that happens, we not only lose a sense of perspective but we also lose ourselves eventually. Emotion takes over completely and before we know it, we are reacting to emotions that have no grounding in the true reality of things.

It isn’t actually your pain you are feeling though. It is their own pain and negative emotional state you are seeing reflected right back at you. Whether we choose to react to and continue that cycle of pain in our own mind is our choice alone.

When someone treats you badly, it is a reflection on how they have behaved. You may feel that person deserved punishment for what they have done. If they seem to get away with everything, it only seems to make everything worse. We are not judge and jury though. (Even though sometimes we feel we should and wish we could be, it is not our place).

Do people really get their karma in the end? They do. It isn’t a desire to see them suffer in turn. I personally want to see those who have caused me pain learn and eventually understand why their actions have caused so much disharmony. I don’t like to think of anyone suffering. They have a chance to grow in their experience of pain. It isn’t about watching another person suffer and enjoying the fact that they are. Far from it…

It is hoping that someday, that individual will see the error of their ways and karma is a transformative vehicle for that change. It may take a very long time (perhaps another lifetime even if you believe in reincarnation) but time is a matter of perspective only….from my experience, things happen when they are meant to do so.

Have faith in natural justice. We are all learning. What goes around, comes around…for all of us.

© Christina McDonald 2014