Category Archives: Attitudes

Culture and Self Esteem

It seems the basis of most indigenous cultures
is to teach children that they are part of the earth and without them
the earth would not survive and that they are part of a family and
without them the family would not survive.

Perhaps we could adopt such wisdom to teach our children self esteem rather than linking their self esteem to success??

19 September 2013 – Its the Thought that Counts

I woke up this morning thinking about how I was going to spend today.  Was it going to be just another day with a list of tasks to drudge through (because it is a Thursday after all) until the weekend or should today be about adventure, maybe it could be about what can I achieve, what can I learn or who I come across (I might have got a little distracted thinking about this one…) or maybe there is a way I can influence the world to make it a better place?

I began to think about people I know, those who approach life in a way that I admire.  They are the ones who THINK about things, and because they think they are the ones with the big hearts.  They act consciously always aware of the implications of their interactions and commitment to themselves and others.

I have lots of really thoughtful people in my life but three in particular come to mind (because I have to have my mum in here too).  They are the ones who listen intently to my whole story without looking vacantly around the room or interrupting to tell me about something similar happened to them, they are the ones who are also always so patiently attentive when I tell the SAME OLD STORY of the same old, unsolved problems that I love to talk about and respond with the same gentle and consistent advice.

They actively think about their friends and what they may need, they are sensitive to the feelings of the person who lashes out, for they are most likely the ones to be hurting and neither respond badly nor take it personally, they are the ones who look for ways to assist others and the community to feel a sense of satisfaction when they make someone’s day a little brighter.  Heart

When I think of them I imagine the biggest, sweetest pink hearts sitting inside their chests.

My friend S has her own story of a physically, diagnosed, reoccurring sickness requiring her continued attention to taking care of herself.  She has had her own issues with disinterested families and childhood hardship.  She is young to be a mother (by todays standards) and while that means she has not the opportunities that others may have around her, you rarely hear her complain about her circumstances.  Her sons are little treasures themselves with gentle and interested spirits.

People like these have much to teach us.  They teach us that to be thoughtful is to expand our awareness, to make a connection to others on a deeper, more profound level.  They teach us to bring our attention to the needs of others by becoming aware/conscious of their feelings and sensitive to their wellbeing.  They are aware of the vulnerable aspect of both themselves and others.  They teach us to intend to care and choose to give.

My friend R has her own PR Company and built it to a level where she can choose her clients.  It is soul satisfaction that she chases, not money and so her work includes presenting community events and fundraising for endangered wildlife and the environment.

She was raised with strong Christian values, in particular the desire to help others in need.  She has recently considered sharing her home with a man that is connected to her family, who is young and desperately in need of support and love, but who has never been shown support and love, just abuse since he was young.  Despite the troubles that this person may bring to her home and her life, she still considers what help she can provide.

And then of course there is my Mum.  She is the definition of compassion and thoughtfulness.  It is only recently that she has started to do things for herself (which is great to see), she has spent most of her life seeing a gap where someone may need something and doing whatEVER she can to fill it.  She is a wonderful influence on her Granddaughter!

However, being thoughtful or thinking is actually quite difficult, it is a learned skill, I know this from being around children ALL of who are very self centred only developing compassion and thoughtfulness as they grow.  M Scott Peck also suggests that to think well is a laborious, often painstaking process until you become “thoughtful”.   Although people are different, an all too common flaw is that most tend to believe that they instinctively know how to think and communicate, in reality they do neither well because they are either too self-satisfied to examine their assumptions about thinking, or too self-absorbed to invest in the time and energy to do so.

In short thinking takes time and effort, it takes practice and trial and error, but thinking separates out the angels from those who do what they do for their own self satisfaction.  The thinkers are easy to spot, they are the ones who make you smile and feel good once they are gone – for it is the angels who when they leave your company, leave a smile on your face, and the devils in turn who leave behind the heartache.

So at the end of my morning thoughts, interrupted by the sound of the bell (my alarm clock), I decided today would be a day of thoughtfulness and adventure.  In an effort to make it a good and interesting start for all of us I decided to take the long way, past the beach before work/school, I had a quick coffee and the kids ran around on the grass, before getting back in the car, wind swept and happy and commenting all the way along west coast highway how good the salt tasted on our lips…

And so I hope todays post inspires you to be thoughtful about how you can put more good into this world?

Beach & Starfish

6 September 2013 – The Parent Role Model

At the age of 8, like every little girl, I decided I was going to be the best mother ever.  Besides the mother who never served vegetables or fish at dinner time, I would have no bedtime curfew and would be the compassionate and respectful mother who listened to her children’s voice (I think I actually used the words “nice” and “not mean”).

Reliving this memory some time ago, I began to consciously consider the different ways in which people parent, in order to reflect on the way I parent.  I started by reading books, watching other people and thinking about how I was parented.

I am not going to surprise anyone here by saying there are so many aspects to parenting and so many more differences of opinion on the best way to parent, from ‘attached’ parenting to the ‘you must do exactly as I say’ parenting.  However, one aspect that made so much sense, that resonated with me and gave me something tangible to work with, was the Parent Role Model.

It is well known and documented that children will adopt many of their parent’s values and types of behaviour, just as those parents have been influenced by their own parents.  So it is logical to expect that one of the most effective ways to parent is to become conscious of your own behaviour.

Children mimic what they see. Mimicry is part of how children master certain skills. If your child sees you doing something or acting a certain way, they are bound to try to do the same.  M Scott Peck uses the example:  If a father beats up a mother regularly, what sense does it make to a boy when his mother beats him up because he beats up his sister?  Does it make sense when he is told that he must learn to control his temper?

I don’t know about you but I certainly grew up with the concept that you must respect your elders, no matter what.  A concept I still believe in, partly – all except for the ‘no matter what.’  I consider the ‘elder’ also needs to behave in a respectful way to others including the child, in order to gain the respect of others, including the child.  If we do not behave in a courteous way to our children or each other, should we be surprised that once our children get a voice they throw back at us our own misgivings.Grumpy Child

Without being conscious of our own behaviour, as parents much of the time our message becomes ‘do as I say, but not do as I do’ – so we are in fact telling a child that it is ok for adults/parents to behave in a certain way, just not for children to do so.

So how then are they supposed to act?  Confused?  I bet they are!

It seems to me that in general what we are really asking/expecting from our children, as parents/adults is to behave in a reasonable manner, in effect we are asking them to practice SELF DISCIPLINE.

Aha and so the penny drops, if we ourselves act with self-discipline, then we will create the best environment for our children to develop their own self-discipline. 

So, the moral of the story is that if we want or dream of our children growing up to be great people with self discipline as well as respect, courage and determination then we must act with these attributes too. ..

4 September 2013 – Patience

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece on relinquishing control and letting life guide.  For an ex ‘Control Freak’ acceptance of the flow of life wasn’t easy but it came with its own rewards of peace, open mindedness and experience etc.  However in this process I have found that it is one thing to consent and be guided by life but to succumb to life’s pace is a whole ‘nother story.

In effect I have found that while yes there is a Divine Plan, this plan happens at a divine pace and not a Fiona pace.

It is clear the next step, the next lesson in the sequence of learning to live in sync with the Universe is to Learn Patience.  I am sure I am not alone in saying that once a decision is made or an event set in motion and even when you have followed the signs and guidance, sometimes in absolute blind faith, it can seem to take an extraordinarily long time to get to the end point, where change is fully realised or the good part comes into fruition.

Worse still I am a number 5 = The number 5 is the most dynamic and energetic of all the single-digit numbers in numerology, it is unpredictable, always in motion and constantly in need of change, so the term patience to a number 5 is like a 4 letter word.

But when you think about it, what is the alternative?  Impatience?

Impatience is a characteristic that denotes restlessness and intolerance, by being impatient there is a preoccupation with the future, an inability to endure delay or opposition, heightened intolerance and anxiety.   Impatience makes you demanding, encourages you to become controlling and respond to your circumstances with arrogance, it demonstrates a desire to manipulate your reality, a lack of faith and hinders growth.

So really the choice is easy.  But what is the Universe saying when it speaks of patience…

“journey, journey, journey”  it is the journey that counts.

Ill give you an example.  A couple of years ago I was in a job that I desperately wanted to move on from.  It was toxic and definitely going nowhere.  So I applied for new jobs and more new jobs always being driven forward by the end result of escape.  But relief did not come.  I became disheartened, obsessive and compulsive – toys got thrown – why wasn’t this working???

Eventually after close to a year of looking I found my current role being both a step up in responsibility and pay.  On reflecting back on that time, I wondered why it took so long, why was it necessary that I go through all that pain and what did I need to learn from my experience (particularly because I didn’t want to go through that again)?

I came to the realisation that I was so focussed on the end result, so preoccupied with the ‘escape’ that I lost all enjoyment in my day to day life, my impatience made me intolerant, agitated and restless.  But as I was studying at the time, it was my day to day experiences that gave me the skills, experience and knowledge to be successful in my new role.

So in effect indulging in my impatient behaviour made my journey so much harder than it needed to be, I did not see the value in the present.

So to approach life with patience enables a gentle, receptive attitude to creating your reality and with a faith in the outcome that determines your experiences.  Everything we do/experience has due process so that if we patiently let that process develop, with gentle perseverance and quiet determination, then our experience, our journey, naturally becomes more enjoyable and

ensures we gain the benefit of valuable insight learned from living in the moment.

Patience is delaying gratification, gaining the knowledge we need from the present and allowing rewards to come later.  It is the spiritual path taken in difficult times.

So with this 4 letter word back in my vocabulary I plan to focus on the journey and ensure I learn from my experiences in a patient kind of way.

Flower Bud

16 August 2013 – Criticsm : Friend or Foe

Friend or FoeI had a day recently where I forgot to send my daughter’s recorder with her to school, was the victim of road rage thankfully within the confines of my car and his car, couldn’t provide the report my boss wanted at work, threw away most of the school lunches which the kids had refused to eat and had a visit from a friend who told me I was obsessing too much over something and it was getting boring.

So all in all it was a normal day, but a day full of criticism. If I wasn’t criticising myself, someone else was stepping in and doing it for me.

So what do I do with all this criticism, how much does the constant bombardment of “you are doing the wrong thing” become the “you are not good enough”. I mean really I could have paid more attention to the road while I was driving. Does this mean I am a bad mother, driver, employee, cook and friend?… am I likely to have a road accident before long, not be able to hold down a relationship, soon be looking on SEEK for my next career move?

Well constructively taken, yes I could definitely tweak some of those areas.

HOWEVER, how constructively we take that criticism depends on the value we attribute to our sense of self worth. Isn’t it strange how well we take criticism in some areas of our lives and how badly we take it in others. If we have the sense that “I am not worthy” then criticism is going to fuel the poor me or defensiveness and anger at the least and at the worst, lead to unrealistically high standards and the criticism of others to help us feel better about ourselves.

So herein lies the secret, where you are hypersensitive to criticism, whether it be aggressive or a passing comment from a friend (who is now an annoying friend!) or you find yourself criticising others, is where you need to focus.                          

Chances are you were criticised or humiliated some time in your life and therefore learned all on your own that you were not good enough at that thing that someone is picking on you or you are picking on someone, for now.

What you need here is: PERSPECTIVE! Do you in fact do a reasonable job at the subject in question, do you 90% of the time send the kids to school with the 101 things they need to complete a single day of learning (including a well thought out, healthy lunch), drive on the correct side of the road and generally follow the road rules, provide your boss with what they need most of the time to get the job done and listen to your friend tell you about the 101 issues in her life.

And if you don’t, then be honest with yourself and do something about it.

The crux of the matter here is:

Don’t decide you are not good enough because someone else made you feel that way. Don’t base decisions on passing emotions.

Get perspective, know your qualities, value yourself on who you are and what you have achieved.

Release the emotion and then make a mature judgement, take the criticism move it around in your head for a bit, do you need to tweak something here, improve something there. So learn/improve away… but do not define yourself or your self worth on someone else’s opinion (especially as that person is very likely to need to take their own criticism) think again – YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE.

And last but not least for those who know they do it

GUIDE – Don’t Criticise

27 July 2013 – Living with Generosity

Gift BoxAre you generous?  This is a question I have asked myself recently and my answer was ‘only sometimes’.  With wonderful friends and family who have serious generous streaks (I love the flowers I got out of the blue yesterday) that make me look like the Grinch at Christmas time, I thought it about time to tackle that question and maybe make some well intentioned changes.

So, as always, I started by defining generosity.  Using the Wikipedia definition : generosity is the habit of giving without expecting anything in return. It can involve offering time, assets or talents to aid someone in need. Often equated with charity as a virtue, generosity is widely accepted in society as a desirable trait.

I decided I desired that trait.

In thinking about this concept though, I added the word “thoughtful” into my own definition of generosity, to further separate it from basic giving.  Thoughtful giving involves consideration given to what the recipient may want or need to receive, as well as a focus on what the giver wants to give.  For example, giving something that you may not like but that suits the other person’s style may make you cringe a little, but that’s being truly generous (for those that need to know – I don’t like carnations!). 

So therefore it is my intention to be generous through the ‘act of thoughtful giving without expecting anything in return’.

This definition brings another important point to light, giving without expecting anything in return – otherwise known as unattached giving.  Not an easy task for some particularly as there is the human element of manners.  We have been taught as receivers’, the importance of manners and when something is done for us or given to us, we must say thank you.  So in turn, as a giver we therefore expect to receive a thank you and alas we have breached the golden rule, an expectation has been created in return for our giving.

This thank you is an acknowledgement to the giver.  But just how much of an acknowledgement is satisfactory, if for example you have spent considerable time and money on a gift, then a simple thanks may not be enough.  This ‘human element’ of giving/receiving may well be appropriate in most circumstances, but be mindful that it does not add value to the spiritual value of generosity.  It may even have a negative impact whereby if the perceived amount of acknowledgement for a gift is not received, i.e. if the receiver does not fulfill the giver’s expectations, it may make the giver in the future, think twice about being generous.

So to be truly generous, to truly give something of yourself to someone else, expect nothing in return, only the knowledge that you have made their lives that little bit easier or that little bit more enjoyable and in this knowledge you are rewarded for your generosity.

Sounds lovely doesn’t it, but why do we find the art of unattached giving so difficult.  Perhaps it is a question of perception of abundance vs scarcity.

Living life in apparent abundance ensures you experience all that is, in all its glory.  It is based on your own belief, your perception that your resources are unlimited, that at any point in time, you have all that you need.

Living life in apparent scarcity is a principal based on the belief that life is a struggle, that resources are limited and there is not enough to go around.  Giving is harder to do and creates a need for acknowledgment of the sacrifice you have made for someone else.  This is closely followed by feelings of resentment and self pity, envy, greed, jealousy and the need for control, a possessiveness and protectiveness associated with your assets and a life that feels incomplete.

If this is you, if any of this sounds like you, STOP RIGHT NOW, and ask yourself, do I have everything I need to live my life.

The secret is to truly believe and trust you have come this far with unlimited resources and that you have always been provided for.

And so for me, I resolve to be happy to contribute for love and in the knowledge this will bring joy to others.  I resolve to give from a point of selflessness and give of myself which will in turn enrich my own life.

I do so in the knowledge that generosity on its own brings joy – and that money, possessions, possessiveness do not.

23 July 2013 – Living with Grace

The end of last year and the first 6 months of this year have been BIG, challenging, lightening speed pace and very testing at times.  So many times during this period I have responded to life’s hurdles feet first and with a gusto, bordering on aggressive, gung ho attitude.  I have sought to control with an iron fist when things haven’t gone my way or freaked out when faced with situations that have asked me to broaden or change my approach.  And while the clogs have turned slowly, I am now beginning to understand that I am being asked to change my approach, I am being asked to live my life with grace.

Grace is a way of being, a type of behaviour, an approach to life.   Grace is the aButterflybility to trust that everything is as it should be, the ability go with the flow, the ability to open your mind and heart to allow yourself to be lead in the direction of your highest good.  It is the ability to approach difficulties without freaking out or faltering when things do not go according to your plan.  It is the ability to act and live with patience.

Grace is not an outer quality, nor is it attributable to appearance, it is a deep sense of being, a peaceful sense of being.  One who acts with grace embraces all things complex but discards all things superfluous, so all things become simple. 

The African gazelle has grace, it moves with ease through the grass on the plains on which it lives and when faced by a stalking lion, runs like hell with focus and long, even strides.  It rarely falters, it cannot afford to falter, because if it falters, this means the end.

Just like the gazelle, making the decision to consciously live with grace allows for the movement through life (or grass) with ease.  Acting with grace and accepting and believing in the direction that life is encouraging you in, ensures that you do not falter, it enables you to become agile in your thinking, your movements reflect attentiveness and your thoughts sensitivity and consideration.

The opposite to life with grace, is life with struggle.  Struggle reflects a position of powerlessness and an increased focus on the desire to gain control.  It is the inability to accept life just as it is or with flexibility.  Life loses simplicity and a belief in struggle accommodates visions of hardship.  The desire to maintain control results in a life based on confrontation, criticism and resentment and becomes entrenched in negativity.

In my desire to approach life with Grace I vow to face difficulties with ease and an open mind, to gain the qualities of patience and harmony and to trust that life is as exactly as it should be.