Every lesson you have learnt about time management, decluttering, managing your work, dealing with people, healthy living and finding happiness boils down to one thing- the choices you make. Whether you decide to spend some time reading, keep a piece of paper, do a particular type of work, the friends you have, your weight and the fun you are having is down to the choices you have made in the past. Buddhism says that if you want to know the future, look at the choices you are making today. And that if you want to change your future, you need to change the choices you are making today- it is as simple as that. However, despite being simple, this can be a daunting and not everyone is ready to throw something away- whether a piece of paper or a friend. But as I have grown older, I think it is getting easier to let go. But if you can do, you have the most powerful tool for living your life as you want- your choices.
This powerful talk by Caroline Myss is worth listening to if you have any doubts or are feeling you need some support in this area. It really helped me.
I saw this at a not very posh furniture shop and thought about it- a lot. It is trying hard to be something it is definitely not. It is new furniture trying to look as if it is old- with mismatched bits like some cheap chic but ends up looking like an embarrassed DIY effort or worse.
I wondered if we also do this same thing with how we present ourselves- trying too hard to be something we are not. When we imitate others, or present an image of us that is not authentic, not true to ourselves. It is worth keeping this photo in mind when we look at others, celebrities and other famous people, trying to be them. You can only be you, warts and all- that is what this photo teaches me.
I am dealing with my 12 year old son’s bullies right now. For many weeks, I have not seen him smile and he looked tired all the time. He was being bullied with physical, racist and homophobic (yes, even that age, bullies use all sorts of excuses) abuse in school. Initially I told him to ignore it and deal with it with humour. After he was set upon by the gang of boys last week, I was livid and complained to the school. I also found out that my son hadn’t told me about the attack because he was ashamed. Here is what I have learnt in the last ten days-
- Bullies, like other people, change when they want to. They won’t change because you want them to. Don’t stay with a bully thinking that they will change.
- Bullies cannot be appeased by good humour and manners. This brings out more of their ugliness. Do not associate with bullies- get away from them and leave them to deal with the emptiness of their lives.
- Bullies only listen to fear, so put fear into them by reporting it. Transmit it widely because the only thing the bullies care about is their image and their power. Bullies do not like reciprocal or equal relationships.
- Let children and all vulnerable people know that bullying is never okay and never to sit in silence. Bullies love it when people take it without complaining. Never be ashamed of reporting bullying.
- Build up the broken self esteem of the bullied person with love and support. Find other people who can support the bullied person. Build a fortress of love and teach that person to always respect themselves.
I was thinking about how I used to like the ‘likes’ on my social media pages. Now, they don’t matter so much. So I began to reflect on why that might be? I know that since starting these pages and sharing my thoughts, I have also began to clarify my feelings and experiences. Consequently I am feeling stronger and happier than I ever was before. Childhood experiences often shape us stealthily and it is much later when we ourselves become parents that we start thinking about these experiences. Thinking back to my childhood, I had a very critical father. Some of my work involves being critical- writing and to choosing employees, etc. But was I transferring my critical habits at work to my home?
Now, being critical has its good points and bad ones. Critical people are able to distinguish between important issues, make choices and reflect on things intelligently. In the fields of arts and literature, being critical helps us to edit and curate our choices. However, taken too far, being critical, can be very dangerous. Especially where personal relations are concerned. If someone is very critical, then they are less likely to have close friends or family. Critical people also have a need to be in control and to have a say in everything. Criticism can become all consuming anger at every one and everything that is not going someone’s way. Having an overtly critical parent can turn to us to wanting love and attention in other ways. Wanting ‘likes’ might be way of saying I need love and attention because I am not getting it in other ways.
I breathed a sigh of relief when my younger son announced the other day that he was not going to go for a school prize that is given to ‘popular’ children- that is popular with teachers. He said that he would be pleased to get it on his own terms (he is a polite and popular boy anyway). He didn’t want to do things like writing poems or ‘thank you’ letters to teachers for no reason, staying on for extra lessons (not because they want to learn but to earn points), smiling all the time, etc. He said he just wanted to be himself and if anyone thought he was good, then it was fine. Here was a boy who used to be anxious to see how many ‘likes’ he was getting in the social media posts. I realised that I had become happier, let go of the past and become less critical, so my son was a result of the change in my parenting.