Do you believe yourself?

Believe yourself

Believe yourself

This isn’t a typing error. There should be no ‘in’ after believe in that sentence. We surely all believe in ourselves to some extent but do we believe ourselves and why does it matter? 

When I was a kid my siblings liked to stir me up by pretending they didn’t believe me when I told them something. I would get all upset about it and promise and swear on my Tiny Tears, in all earnestness that it was true.

It’s all too easy unfortunately to be mean to a child as they take things so seriously and believe in justice, right or wrong, black and white. It takes a while for them to realise that others sometimes like to be mean for the fun of it. It still eludes me today and I don’t enjoy practical jokes that can cause even a nanosecond’s discomfort to someone else.  Perhaps it’s because they have the tools to deal with that kind of thing, they assume everyone else does and that it won’t do any harm. Go pick on someone your own size!

Anyway it’s taken me a lifetime to realise that it doesn’t matter if others believe you as long as you believe yourself. If they say that red is green and you are an honest person yourself, not understanding why someone would lie, you might start to question yourself and look for proof that red is in fact green. What a waste of energy, better spent questioning why someone else would lie or try to stir you up. Better yet, accept that people are different, their journey is theirs and let it go. It doesn’t have to be part of yours. What they believe or what they tell you they believe is their business. Nothing to do with you. Have faith to believe what you believe until such time as you no longer do.  No one can take your beliefs away unless you let them.

This blog is for all the sensitive people out there on a journey to lose that sensitivity, see the rest of the world for what it is and accept that people do things which are incomprehensible to you. All we can do is get out of their way, not try to control or even change anyone else and work on our own filters, our own minds and our own stories. Most of all we need to believe ourselves. A lifetime of genes, experiences and decisions has brought us to where each of us is now, doing our best with what we have.  Further observation of life will take us onward, hopefully to a place of peace and understanding. All we ultimately have is our thoughts. Guard and protect them well.

guard your thoughts

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Are your Priorities Straight?

Valentine pancake

 

Not much time to blog today as it’s Valentine’s Day and to show the kids that I love them I made them these, above.

NO, I AM LYING, I actually made them these, below

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Damn you Pinterest!  I muttered something about ‘Happy Valentine’s Day Kids’ and ‘it’s the thought that counts’ and offered them these also

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It turns out, when you flip those babies over, you can’t see the pink heart anyway!  I had better luck with the card, chocolates and cupcakes I made for my boyfriend but don’t get me started on the Pinterest paperweight.  You can have a chuckle at my efforts another time.

Happy Valentine’s Day.  How will you show the ones you love how far you are willing to go for Valentine’s Day?

 

You deserve it!

Such a simple message but the best parenting advice I know. I am a fan of Jo Frost, Supernanny. She sometimes shows such brilliant understanding (like a small child scarring her own face when she sucked her thumb because of her older sister’s being treated like a baby due to being premature) but generally you see the same parenting methods. She basically sets expectations and boundaries for the kids so that when they test the parents‘ boundaries (which they are meant to do in order to grow up) the parents will know how to respond. Jo usually has to give them the extra strength to resist (return the child to bed 40 times instead of giving in and letting them sleep with the parents for example).

Can we parent ourselves that way? Or diet that way? If I keep acting up and adding ‘little extras’ to my diet my body always resists and I put on weight. Once I learn that I cannot keep doing that I will be healthier and happier for not eating large amounts of unhealthy food and constantly testing my limits. I am like the kid that gets more sleep finally, and whose parents are happier; benefits that were realised because boundaries came into play. Mother nature is strong for me (responds the same way each time by making me fat) and I just have to find different methods for myself to stop ‘acting up’ and looking for ‘love’ in the chocolate block.

Anyway I digress. Where on earth was I? I will just finish Jo Frost. So her second message is always to give the children consistent love so that they get their needs met, feel wanted and part of the family and don’t feel the need to act up for attention of any kind in the first place. She takes them on outings to the park for some reason, or has them do craft together or find something new like karate for father and son to do together. This showing of love is the foundation for most of the parenting courses I have undertaken. Have FUN with your kids. Let them know you will give them attention even when they don’t act up. Take time for them. Don’t let all the words you use be to keep them in line. They won’t keep listening to you and you become distant and ineffective anyway. ‘Help is the sunny side of control’ is another quote I like. Stop helping them and invite them to help you instead. They have lots to teach!!

So why do we (and kids) need the most love when we least deserve it? When we become insecure (feeling unloved and unappreciated) we start acting up. We become irritable and defensive to those around us and in their eyes we are less ‘lovable’. We might start doing things to get other’s attention, shout or slam doors or start swearing to externalize our feelings. Neither produces a great response in others. It can make them irritable and defensive if they think you have attacked them in some way. They are likely to give you less love and the spiral continues.

You would do just as well to remember to be your own ‘parent’. Treat yourself like this with consistent love and positive messages about your achievements. Take time out for yourself to have fun. Take time out to work out what fun even means for you. Set your own boundaries if life hasn’t already done that for you. Swap your family’s or anyone else’s voices for your own inner voice. That’s my favourite lesson in life so far.

What I have learned from exploring this quote is that we should treat ourselves as we want others to treat us. I heard that the basis of absolutely all religions is ‘treat others as you would want to be treated’. So mine is reversed. ‘Do unto yourself as you would other people do unto you’. When you least ‘deserve’ love, love yourself more for recognising it. Be kind to yourself. And if you can recognise the hurt in everyone else when they appear to be ‘mean’, you will see the world as full of scared children, rather than nasty people. I know which world I would rather live in.

 

 

 

 

Valuable Gifts

The generosity of your time is the most valuable gift you can give – Sara Henderson

Sara is saying that your time is the most valuable thing you can give (to another person I assume). None of us know how much time we actually have on this planet or in this life, depending on your beliefs so when we ‘give’ our time to someone else we don’t know whether we are giving the last few moments of our lives or but a few moments out of a hundred years. Is one more valuable than the other though? We usually assume it is but one of many moments to come.

I have read before that when you are late for an appointment, you are assuming that your time is more valuable than the person’s who is left waiting. Of course it could be that you are congenitally unable to get your act together and make no such assumption, and the outcomes you get from being late are something you can cope with because you haven’t changed. Whether the other person feels angry is their business. I have been on both ends and definitely see both sides of that one. The ‘waiter‘ may not be at all bothered – he might have relished the time to call a loved one or check his email for example. And the latecomer is ruining the quality of that time they should have been together by maybe stressing and rushing to get there. I don’t believe there are many people who want to be late to make some point. I suppose if you are always late your friends can either abandon you or make allowances in various ways – lie about the meeting time, bring things they want to do while they wait or choose to meet at their house where it makes less difference what time you arrive. My point is that in this case you are ‘stealing’ someone else’s time making them wait but whether it matters to them is their choice. Best to always be prepared though if you find waiting unbearable.

What makes time valuable? Is a retiree’s time less valuable than a consultant being billed by the minute? If your grandmother gives you this valuable gift of time to have coffee or something, do you value it less than the time your executive husband spends with you?

I like this quote but there are many holes in it I think. What Sara is probably trying to say is that the gift of your attention is the most valuable gift you can give. I could spend time in the same room with the kids and actually be off with the fairies, writing my blog or something, unable to even hear them speaking to me. (I can record the words in my head though and play them back in order to answer a few moments later). Or I could be spending quality time, looking at them, listening and assimilating what they have to tell me and creating a connection, one of a million tiny bonds that define and seal your relationship. I guess that’s why we have to define time as ‘quality’. What kind of time do you give people?

Time itself has no value, in fact there are theories that all time happens at once and our future affects our past and our present. A little too much to get my head around but I don’t discount it. Something to ponder on. The way I seem to measure time, is the changes in people. From the minute you get pregnant with your first child, time starts passing noticeably, because you see the changes caused over time. You grow then they come out and they grow, or you watch your parents age or your own body changing. Why don’t we judge the passing of time by how much our garden has grown or how much our home is falling into disrepair or everything else that is subject to growth and decay? Eckhart Tolle talks about time a lot. One image he gave, which I often think about in order to put things in perspective is that if you imagined the next 100,000 years sped up into one minute like a time lapse movie you would see everything on this planet crumble before your very eyes. First the natural growing things like people and nature, wood etc Everything would be reduced to dust. Does that mean that all the objects that we currently value are not inherently valuable (my thinking now)? It puts things into perspective, for example when we are disappointed if we break a vase or something. Not important. Only the story we hold of that vase in our minds is important. As our bodies decay, our thoughts are the one thing that don’t have to decay. In fact as we build up positive beliefs and healthy thinking, as our body ages, our minds will hopefully mature, grow and flourish.

Anyway I am completely digressing. I knew this one would be difficult. Back to Time or your Attention being the most valuable gift. Some people may value your time and others will not. I would say that children value your time and attention the most. It can take effort sometimes to play some boring child’s game for the 100th time unless you look at it differently. Instead of predicting the outcome of the tedious game, watch instead for the look on your children’s faces as they play and get excited. Mix it up. Hug them every time they throw their hands up in glee for example or kiss them if they do something else predictable. Change the game and your response each time. Maybe it’s you that’ s boring, not the game. My kids are no longer small so I can’t go back and do things better, now that I have better perspective but that’s where hopefully grandchildren come in! My grandmother was amazing with her 17 grandchildren and endlessly patient and enthusiastic. Was her time valuable? Yes it absolutely was. The most valuable time anyone could give me back then. And she always gave freely. We can’t assume retirees want to give us time just because they might have a lot of it. Their time is valuable to them. We might bore them to pieces or treat them as ‘old’ or irritate them. The busy executive may seem to be generous giving his minimal time to us, but in fact he could actually be making a choice and a deal with the devil to be working that amount of hours. He will defend himself – if I don’t put in the hours we won’t have this s lifestyle etc. But in fact the busy worker may just be perfectionist and not have to spend quite so many hours working if they value our time also. The worker could be spending his valuable time (always substitute attention for time here) trying to get ahead in order to earn more than you need or want, through some internal messages of his own. You value his time, he values something else.

It’s a bit like when we say we can’t afford something. Often it’s not true of course. I could choose to buy a gold necklace and live on toast instead of eating properly this month. But we don’t value that object (or spending time on someone) so we choose not to.

It’s a shame that I keep seeing exceptions to this quote. Imagine you give your time to someone but you are there under sufferance? You talk to them about their marriage difficulties for the 100th time or help with backbreaking home renovations or visit your cranky grandmother or whatever. This time you give could be quite the opposite of valuable if it’s written all over your face that you would rather be somewhere else. Even the person being helped with the renovations would probably rather you hadn’t come, even if their place looks better. They will be left feeling uncomfortable.

So what have I learned from this? That the most valuable thing you can give is not your time as such, but your attention. By attention I also mean give your love, like, respect, appreciation etc. And that love is not just love for them; it is love for yourself. If you feel down on yourself and take it extreme, you become a hermit and give your time to no one. You may think you hate people but in reality you are probably not too fond of yourself and don’t trust yourself to interact. You are afraid of the reactions you will get (I can get like that from time to time). However if you are in a healthy mindset, going about your business, this love and appreciation will manifest by wanting to spend the most time with other people in order to give them your attention, and that is what is valuable, for all concerned, you included.

Childish Imitation

Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them – James Baldwin

How often have we heard people say “Do as I say, not as I do“? I certainly heard it a lot growing up. It’s like your parent is admitting that they know what is the right thing to do, yet they are unable to do it for themselves, or they think the rules do not apply to them. It’s like they are somehow exempt from doing things right and are better and know better than you.

I did a couple of parenting courses a few years ago, and what remained most in my memory is that the world is slowly moving towards equality and kids want to get in on the action. Victorian rules just don’t cut it any more. Children think they are entitled to this equality. They see it between their parents hopefully and between kids at school. They believe that they deserve equality because they are being human beings and that age and experience count for nothing. They will not accept our demands unless it feels fair to them. Therefore when we impose strict rules and make stupid statements like this, they refuse to play along, preferring act like we act and reap the benefits we do. I believe they are equal; equal in that they should be treated with common courtesy, with the same rules for all. Being equal to us means they reap the consequences of their actions like we do.

Even in business, ‘making strict rules ‘ for someone else you have power over rarely works. There has to be respect, compromise and an understanding of why you are are asking for the rules and demands to be obeyed. We can accept a certain amount of ‘well he’s the boss, I’d better toe the line if I want to keep my job’ but the ‘bosses’ will get better results out of us if they are leading by example and we admire and try to emulate them instead of guess what it is they want from us.

I have had bosses that seem to shirk their work, take long lunches regularly, throw their weight around, try to micromanage everyone, and afford no respect to anyone, not even responding to ‘Good morning’. Surely people like this should have been bred out, using Darwin’s Law of Survival of the Fittest, but sadly no. I wonder how that works out for them in the long term? With their employees, their families and friends? At one company, exactly 30 out of 37 staff left in the year and a half that I suffered through working there. This particular owner was expecting us to do what he said but with very little information, and no respect or explanation why behind his requests. You were not allowed to ask why you were doing something either, and without the facts you could not use your own initiative and troubleshoot if things didn’t go according to plan. You heard him talking about everyone else as being idiots, therefore you knew that he talked about you that way also.

So what did we do? We spoke of him as being the idiot, we were not engaged enough to do the kind of work we were capable of, our hands were tied with the work that we were doing, working ‘blind’ and he continued to believe he was surrounded by idiots. He actually made us into idiots. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

So this idea of children imitating you (and of course this is the best example because children learn so much from their parents and grow by watching, copying, learning) rather than learning from what you say makes perfect sense. If you tell a child what to do, they must interpret your words as best they can with their immature brains, and try to put it into action. You may not have explained correctly in the first place and the children are ‘flying blind’ again. Some children learn best with auditory instruction, some visual, some by using their minds, others their bodies, their ears etc etc. No matter how your particular child takes in information best, by doing something we are giving them very specific information that words could not possibly capture. A picture is worth a thousand words. And a ‘movie’ (demonstration) may be worth a million probably. Not only that, the children see how it affects our moods when we do it; the whole experience!

So while your advice to a child may be perfectly valid, it is but a tiny proportion of information and theoretical at best. Plus we tend to use fear as a reason to give advice, so it’s often in the form of ‘Don’t do’. Scant information indeed. Far more interesting the child thinks, to ‘do’ and see what happens. You can’t learn much by ‘not doing’ anything.

Demonstrating is a form of ‘do this’ and it gives us the confidence to do it, try it and hopefully get the same results as the person we are copying.

Getting back to the listening. Who wants to be told what to do all the time? And if we agree to try, is there enough information? Do we know why we are supposed to do or not do this thing?

I went to a talk on teenagers and we were told that to rant at a teenager is a waste of breath, no matter how loud. After 14 seconds they will tune out. Max. 14 seconds to get your point across. I also learned that kids need to be told something 50 times, like hang up wet towels before they will get it. Save your frustration by learning what is normal at each of a child’s development and changing your expectations accordingly. Observe rather than judge their actions. We only make ourselves sad when there is a gap between expectation and what actually happens. Narrow that gap. If there is no expectation at all, there is no gap and therefore less frustration.

Parents bemoan the fact that kids throw their schoolbag down when they come in. How about we always make a point of carefully hanging our bag by the door instead of chucking it down where we feel like? No words needed.

There is a story I have heard a few times about a lady always cutting off the ends of her roast before putting it the oven and not knowing why. Turns out she learned by example from her mother. Her mother explained that it was because the oven was too small, when this lady was young, so she had to do that just to get it in the pan. The reasoning may not have been sound but the method of teaching was.

Another story I like is that of 2 people needing an orange each for a recipe yet there only being one available. They carefully cut it in half and each had to make do. They later discovered that one wanted the peel only, and the other wanted the juice, so they both could have had a whole orange in effect. (This doesn’t really fit the quote but I was digressing in the area of food. Must be hungry). Moral of that story is that a little explanation and shared information leads to the best outcome.

And so it is with children, and employees, and anyone else in your life who you might call upon to do something for you.

We are all influenced by the people around us. We are all touched in some way by people we have met and befriended, and we carry a little part of them with us.. Sometimes when I laugh, I hear my brother’s laugh, or my stepfather’s or my daughter’s. I use my mother’s expressions, my ex-husband’s made up words (like a Squirter for a TV Remote control) and I imitate my current partner frequently whether I want to or not. Some of us are more drawn to imitation more than others. This is most embarrassing when you are with someone who imitates the strong accents of people they are talking to, like a broad Scotsman or a foreigner with broken English!!

But imitation is hardwired into all of us, from birth. And it serves a very useful purpose to teach us and to bring us closer in order to feel a connection with others. When we imitate another, it is because on some level we have accepted the action and decided that it is a good thing to do. It was not forced on us, like verbal demands might be. We have choice. And that is what kids crave – the choice to do or not do, imitate or not, in order to try it out. They feel equal, not bossed around. And that is when the real influence starts.