Be Seen

Good morning blogging world! I have a question for you – have you ever come across something that touches you or resonates with you at exactly the moment that you need it? Something happens and you feel as though the Universe itself is speaking to you? I had exactly that experience yesterday and I’d like to share what it was I came across with you.

Good morning blogging world! I have a question for you – have you ever come across something that touches you or resonates with you at exactly the moment that you need it? Something happens and you feel as though the Universe itself is speaking to you? I had exactly that experience yesterday and I’d like to share what it was I came across with you.

Ever since I lost my husband, 5 years ago now, I have almost been hiding from the World. I don’t mean that I’ve been living like a hermit in a cave but I have stopped myself from making meaningful connections with the world at large. I have my friends but, beyond that, I find it extremely difficult to engage with strangers, I don’t like meeting new people and I don’t like going to places, especially new places, on my own. I always put it down to being shy or unsociable but, last night, I realised it’s because I haven’t wanted to be seen. I haven’t wanted to open myself up to people, be vulnerable in front of them, so I put on a mask and hide behind it. That way I don’t have to engage with other people and, although my mask is only in my mind, it’s also meant that other people haven’t engaged with me and that’s meant that I’ve felt lonely for a very long time. Obviously there was something in me that wanted to try because I have opened up with you guys on occasion but, then again,  I can’t see you and, more importantly, you can’t see me.

I have also, since I was a child, struggled with the idea of not being ‘good enough’. I’ve always tried my best and by no means have I failed at the things I’ve attempted in life but I’ve always felt second rate. I have often put on a veneer of confidence but one word of criticism, one negative judgement and the whole thing would fall apart leaving me feeling ashamed and inadequate. What that does for the psyche is to give me another brick to put in the wall that I’ve surrounded myself with, another excuse not to engage with people and ‘proof’ that I am right not to do so.

This isn’t an idea that I’ve come up with; it was explained to me by a woman called Brene Brown in a YouTube video that I came across last night and it had a profound effect on me. More accurately, there were two things she said that tore away the blinkers from my eyes and made me view my world entirely differently:

Have the courage to be imperfect

Have the courage to be seen

Over 10 million people have watched this 20 minute video – now I understand why. If you haven’t seen it already, I really hope that you enjoy it as much as I did and, if you have a spare minute, I’d love it if you’d share something that’s had this kind of profound effect on you.

The last thing I want to say is: I am not perfect and I do, finally, want to be seen.

Lisa

x

I Want to be Alan Shore……

Yes, I know he’s a fictional TV character from Boston Legal…and a man… but bear with me on this. He has, in spades, the thing that I’ve always craved and never really been able to muster: self-confidence. Like or hate him, you have to admit that Alan Shore is completely himself and he makes absolutely no apologies for it; how do you get to be like that, can anyone explain it to me?

Yes, I know he’s a fictional TV character from Boston Legal…and a man… but bear with me on this. He has, in spades, the thing that I’ve always craved and never really been able to muster: self-confidence. Like or hate him, you have to admit that Alan Shore is completely himself and he makes absolutely no apologies for it; how do you get to be like that, can anyone explain it to me?

He is totally self-aware and accepts all his flaws; is that it? Is that what gives us self-confidence:

“You’ll recall I once advised you fleeing the practice of law because it’s an ugly occupation which calls opponents participants to do ugly things. I’m very accomplished to the practice of law, Jerry”

This comment acknowledges that he does ugly things sometimes. The words are not an apology by any means but they are, in their own way, humble when you read between the lines. Yes, he says ‘I am very accomplished’ but, in the same breath, admits that he is massively flawed because he is capable of being cruel to others in the course of his work.

He is extremely attractive to the opposite sex, not because of his looks but because he is utterly determined in his pursuit of them. Is that self-confidence? To talk completely openly to someone you’ve never met, to lay yourself on the line risking all kinds of rejection but not fearing it? He is also brutally honest about what he expects from a relationship:

” I demand only one thing in a relationship, Christine, that I remain utterly alone.”

That may sound nonsensical at first glance until you realise that, in most relationships, people are absorbed into a ‘couple’, often losing something of themselves in the spirit of ‘compromise’. Is it self-confidence or arrogance when someone refuses to change to meet the whims or desires of another person?

Alan shore 2Alan is supremely intelligent, is that what gives him his self-assurance? He has the ability to make a witty comeback to any criticism or verbal attack but without getting overly emotional. Is it that he doesn’t fear confrontation because he knows that his verbal dexterity cannot be bested? Is he unemotional because he doesn’t care or because he realises that, when you lose control, you lose the argument?

He admits his fears: he suffers from night terrors and a fear of clowns and, what’s more, he asks for help, from his friends, in over-coming them. Is that self-confidence? To disclose your fears in all their dark glory and acknowledge that you can’t conquer them alone?

Whilst Alan can cut others to the quick with his retorts he is, at the same time, a great humanitarian who sees the injustices in the World and wants to do something about them. Could there be a connection between self-confidence and compassion?

Alan: You know what I miss most about our country, Denny? Not the loss of our civil rights so much as our compassion, our soul, our humanity.
Denny Crane: Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh. Soul, that’s a religious thing. State… church… it’s unconstitutional for the United States to have a soul.
Alan: Apparently. We seem to be becoming a mean people. Learned Hand once said, “Liberty lies in our hearts, and once it dies there, no constitution can save it.”
Denny Crane: Just once, I wish you’d quote a Republican.
Alan Shore: “I want a kinder and gentler nation.”

Finally, the man is a romantic at heart. He has endless affairs and dalliances but admits that he is desperate for love and is open to it, what’s more, he understands it. Does self-confidence stem from our ability to love and allowing ourselves to be loved?

Denny Crane: Do you believe married people can stay in love?
Alan Shore: Oh, I believe they can know even more profound joys be it with children, the depth of the relationship itself can evolve into something they can’t possibly live without. And yet, it’s something that doesn’t quite so resemble love. It’s not the romance of love.
Denny Crane: I never knew you to be such a romantic.
Alan Shore: My problem is I’m too romantic. No woman can possibly live up to the promise of tomorrow that love holds for me.

I don’t really understand where Alan’s self-confidence stems from but I wish I had it so, there you are, I wish I was Alan Shore……..

If you have any thoughts on this I’d really love to hear from you :O)

Lisa

x

Ps, If you’ve never seen Boston Legal and don’t know Alan Shore, here’s a perfect example of his eloquence in court…

 

 

Is Woke the Path to Enlightenment?

People should not be treated as sheep unless the intention is for them to become like sheep – mindlessly following popular opinion without applying their own moral standards – that can never lead to anything positive!

For those of you don’t know (and I was one of them until recently) ‘woke’ is a widely used term for people who are ‘aware’ of social and racial injustices but does being aware make them enlightened or just intolerant of the intolerance of others?

If you have a quick whiz around Google you’ll soon find this comment from David Brooks (who is an American journalist apparently):

“To be woke is to be radically aware and justifiably paranoid. It is to be cognizant of the rot pervading the power structures. The woke manner shares cool’s rebel posture, but it is the opposite of cool in certain respects. Cool was politically detached, but being a social activist is required for being woke. Cool was individualistic, but woke is nationalistic and collectivist. Cool was emotionally reserved; woke is angry, passionate and indignant. Cool was morally ambiguous; woke seeks to establish a clear marker for what is unacceptable.”

face palmWhen I first started thinking about ‘woke’ I thought yep OK we need a bit more tolerance and understanding of other people because, with that, comes acceptance and with acceptance comes peace but then I read this explanation and face palmed….It would appear that, in modern parlance, woke is merely calling other people out over their ideas and opinions which the ‘woke’ collective deem as being unacceptable. It has led to a culture in which some people, who presumably consider themselves woke, criticise the comments or actions of others and, furthermore, are offended on behalf of others. 

A sad example of this was the online castigation of a young girl who posted a photo of herself in her prom dress. Pretty innocuous right? Nope, because she was wearing a traditional Chinese dress called a cheongsam and she’s not Chinese which apparently means that she committed the crime of cultural appropriation which prompted responses such as:

“Was the theme of the prom casual racism” (this from a girl whose profile picture indicates that she is not Chinese)

This was followed by:

“I’m Asian and not insulted in any way. You look beautiful”

This thread prompted over 6,000 comments, some condemning and some showing support. Those condemning appear to consider themselves woke; they are pointing out that a dress choice could be interpreted as taking something from someone else’s culture without having the proper respect or understanding of that culture which is, apparently, inappropriate. If you take this theory to the nth degree then, surely, it means that everyone must stay within their own cultural boundaries in case they offend someone by stepping over theirs. Whilst I can appreciate patriotism and pride in our heritage I do find it incredibly sad that we should not be able to appreciate the wonders of someone else’s culture without fear of inadvertent appropriation.

Your rights endThis phrase from Mr Brooks “woke seeks to establish a clear marker for what is unacceptable” really concerns me not least because who will be deciding what is ‘unacceptable’. Is it the case, as it seems to be with advertisements these days, that if more than 0.00000001% of the population is offended then it naturally follows that the rest of the population should be offended?

There is currently a battle ranging between trans women (biological men who identify as women) and extreme feminists and both sides are gaining a lot of traction in the media because they are trying to force people to accept their beliefs by saying that, to have a contrary opinion, is offensive and unacceptable. So, to take this example, does ‘woke’ mean that you have to accept both sides of the argument as being offensive? If that is the case then where does the positive on each side fit in? Where is the place for the individual in all this?

sheepApparently woke is collectivist which means that the good of the society has to be considered over the welfare of the individual. That’s dangerous ground for me I’m afraid; what is ‘society’ other than a collection of individuals and who gets to decide what is good for the majority of an individuals other than a minority of other individuals? People should not be treated as sheep unless the intention is for them to become like sheep – mindlessly following popular opinion without applying their own moral standards – that can never lead to anything positive!

Lotus isolated on blackSo, is being woke the same as being on the path to enlightenment? In my opinion, that would be a resounding no. True tolerance and true harmony between individuals doesn’t come from being offended, angry and indignant, it comes from acceptance and understanding. It’s a rare thing to be able to accept others just as they are but I believe that’s the way to peace so I will try to be awakened and not woke if that’s all the same to you ;O) x

 

How Many of You are there in there?

I’ve found that the only thing that really works for me is to be aware that, from time to time, a bunch of negative nellies try to work their way into my mind and, when they do I just say these few simple words to myself…….

I realise that I may sound slightly crazy asking this question but have you ever had an argument with yourself? I find myself doing it quite often and am constantly searching for ways to stop. It’s usually when I’m stressed about something; when I’m calm there is only me in my head but when I’m anxious it seems like there’s a whole bunch of other people who want to get in there with me. The worst part of it is that they all tend to speak at the same time and they’re often, without to put to finer point on it, a real pain in the ass! They have nothing positive to say to me and seem to be constantly looking for ways to make my life difficult.

Now before anyone starts looking up numbers for psychologists for me to go an visit, I am perfectly well aware that I reside in my cranium alone but it’s the only way that I can really explain how stress and over-thinking are connected. To give you an example, when I know that I’m going to be meeting new people, I’d really like to be able to be able to show them the ‘real’ me right from the off but my inner dialogue kicks into overdrive:

Me: “Just be yourself”

Cranial interloper 1: “What if they don’t like you”

Cranial interloper 2: “That’s their problem”

Cranial interloper 3: “What’s wrong with me? Why won’t they like me?”

Cranial interloper 4: “There’s nothing wrong with you but they can’t be very nice if they’re going to be all judgy”

Cranial interloper 5: “I don’t think I’m going to like them if they’re going to be like that”

Me: “Shut up the lot of you, they haven’t even opened the bloody door yet!”

HS2599And so it goes on; because the ‘they won’t like me’ scenario has been run through my head like a movie trailer the memory of it (if you will) stays with me and I find myself adjusting my character to try and avoid it becoming a reality. I try to be super pleasant and friendly, probably overly so and often come away from new meetings with a headache and jaw ache from smiling all the time. The problem with over-compensating like this is that:

  1. People I meet for the first time don’t get to see the real me and therefore any judgement they make is based on something other than the genuine article
  2. By trying to connect with them and please them rather than engaging with them on an equal footing, I risk losing any chance of a real friendship with them
  3. It’s very difficult to sustain a ‘faux’ personality for any length of time so, at some point, my real personality will break through and it will be perfectly clear to the other person that the relationship they thought they were building was, in fact, just an illusion.
  4. I’m well aware of what I’m doing and why and so my confidence takes a bashing from the cranial interlopers who gave me the problem in the first place.

In love in parisUnfortunately this is the way that the human mind works. It attaches emotion to past experiences and then uses the memory and the emotion attached to it to prepare us for future, similar situations. When the system works well we ‘look forward’ to things. Maybe you fell in love in Paris and walked hand in hand past the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Coeur feeling nothing but happiness and complete contentment. If so, when you think about going back to Paris those feelings and happy memories will resurface and you will look forward to any future trips with great anticipation.

However, if the next time you go, your flight is delayed, your luggage is lost and it rains every day, it is likely that the negative feelings that have become associated with Paris could start to erode your earlier wonderful memories. If you arrange a third trip your mind will have two sets of memories to choose from and, it’s at that point that you will probably start to stress out and your cranial interlopers will start bickering:

“Just remember how wonderful it was the first time!”

“Yes but look what happened last time, it was awful”

“I know but it could be like the first time this time”

“But what if it rains again?”

And so on and so forth.

lost luggageThis means that the wonderful memory and mental images have been a little tainted. So, before you’ve even booked your flights you’re wondering what you can do to make this trip better than the last and that’s if you’re a positive sort of person! If you’re negative you’ll probably throw your Paris snow globe in the trash and forget about ever going there again.

In my quest to rid myself of the cranial interlopers I’ve have tried untold number of different things; thinking positive didn’t work, at least not by itself. You can tell yourself that Paris will be sunny and warm and romantic as much as you like but if, when you get there, it’s chucking it down and the hotel have no record of your booking, the disappointment will be twice as bad than if you had resigned yourself to the trip being a disaster. It’s better to be positive when you’re actually in the situation: I’ve lost my luggage so that means I can go shopping – that sort of thing.

No, I’ve found that the only thing that really works for me is to be aware that, from time to time, a bunch of negative nellies try to work their way into my mind and, when they do I just say these few simple words to myself…….

“SHUT THE F*** UP!”

It seems to work pretty well ;O)