Do I know what you are thinking ?

2013-07-19 19.40.26

It is amazing how many mind readers that I have met this week. People with psychic abilities that can tell ,just by looking at their partner or loved ones even people on the street, exactly what it is they are thinking ,feeling and even what it is that they are about to say.

They apparently know when they are being sarcastic or critical, hurt or offended, angry, sad, content, happy, flirtatious or dismissive just by watching them. They are so confident about this that they immediately respond in a manner they feel is appropriate to the mood they believe they are observing. Quite remarkable really and impressive if it was really true, however the problem is that it seldom is, true or accurate or helpful. In fact what usually happens when someone attempts to mind read another  ,they get it wrong .They personalise  how someone is looking at them based upon their own thoughts and feeling when they look  at someone that particular way .They imagine thoughts like they have or are having internally  as they pre judge what the person is truly thinking. Problems always arise when relying on this method of communication with another .It doesn’t actually show how close you are to another if you choose to do this; to me it actually shows a lack of consideration and respect. Both for yourself and for the person that you are choosing to mind read. Neither of these attributes are desirable in a healthy, happy relationship.

I don’t care how long you have known someone and how close you are to them, there is always going to be a time when you judge their mood or thoughts and be wrong. That is unfair  both on them and on yourself .There is no substitute, no quicker way to actually know what someone is thinking, than to stop and really listen to what they are saying. There is a definite need in any good relationship, to spend time communicating and talking to each other. Not as you run past each other on the way out to work or for that matter any other time when you are partly preoccupied doing something else as that too is a recipe for disaster. To communicate in this harassed way is a sure fire way to create problems in any relationship. People need time to explain themselves fully and this cannot be done to someone’s back as they  walk out the door, or run for the bus ,deal with the children ,the messages or any other distraction.

Time is needed to just sit and connect or even reconnect and to explore what both of you are truly thinking and feeling. If something has been said that has come across as hurtful or antagonistic, time is needed to actually explain things a bit more fully before deciding how to react to it. Everything worth doing takes practice and communication is no different. We need to consciously decide that we are going to be good listeners and make the effort to positively follow through with that decision. We need to set aside time for the people we care about to hear what they are thinking and feeling in order to develop healthy, happy and more fulfilling relationships. If we leave mind reading for Fairgrounds and magic shows we can concentrate on truly improving our lives. Simply put anytime we spend developing this quality adds to our character strengths and makes life a bit easier and happier for us all.

As British actress Emma Thompson once wisely said “Any problem, big or small, within a family, always seems to start with bad communication. Someone isn’t listening.”

Advertisements

Take a Chance

 

Image

It is really easy to give a million reasons why you have not achieved whatever it is that you had hoped for or why you haven’t pushed yourself for that new job, new relationship, new business the list could go on and often does. We get in to an easy habit of making excuses for not pushing ourselves forward and the sad fact is that often we come to believe them ourselves. We can even allow our excuses to cloud our judgment and become the reason we are feeling fed up and lethargic. Often we do this because we are too scared to try and fail. We become obsessed with the fear of failing and forget that not to try really is an automatic fail anyway. At least if we try something and fail we have learned something new. That in itself allows us to have energy to try again and move forward in a different, better direction.

I have written about this before and no doubt will do so again, it is too important to ignore .Life can be short or long but it is for living and not just treading water to survive. We all make an impact, no matter how small and everyone has a purpose.

Dale Carnegie once said “Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare “.

If you are perfectly happy with your life exactly as it is then you are getting it right, making the right choices and decisions. If however you feel fed up or frustrated then simply it is time to decide to take a chance on trying something new .It doesn’t matter your age, that is just another excuse. If you check on the internet you will easily find the names of many successful people who did not become successful until late in life and equally the same with young extremely successful people. You can always find information to back up what you are looking for so make sure you look for the positive if you wish to be motivated to succeed. Your background and education do not matter; using either is just another excuse. All that matters is your inner desire to change and occasionally having a dream to follow. Although, to bring some energy and new direction in to your life even having a dream is not necessary, all you really need is a desire to try something new, that’s enough to start with.

Remember there is nothing wrong with behaving like Goldilocks and sampling things until you find the one that is just right for you. Without trying the others first you would never have known what your real preference was and how to achieve it. Every new experience will add to your life and help enrich it, even the ones that do not quite work out .At the very least it will give you something to tell your friends about and give a new energy to your life. At best it can totally transform you. So what are you waiting for?

Meeting your expectations.

Image

I mentioned last week that my Mum was having to go through a period of adjustment and find a new home after 23 years living in her much loved upper flat. Somehow I fell in to the trap of thinking that as soon as she had come to terms with the idea of moving everything else would just naturally fall in to place. I am clearly a glass half full type of person. What I hadn’t considered though was the impact that searching for the new home was going to have on us all.

We believed that it was going to be a simple straightforward procedure. We obviously haven’t moved a lot in our lives and certainly not recently! Mum selected houses in an area she liked, with room sizes that looked reasonable and large, fenced off enclosed gardens. She based her selections, as everyone does, on various Estate agents pictures and descriptions. Going to view the selected houses she was quite excited and looking forward to a fresh start. It was a huge shock to us both to find that many of the houses we viewed didn’t really look size wise like any of the cleverly taken photographs had suggested. Fenced gardens weren’t all completely fenced and in many cases a fenced patch would have been a more appropriate description. It felt truly awful going through someone’s much loved home knowing that whilst it was perfect for them it didn’t meet Mums needs at all. How can you criticize someone’s lovingly tended patch, when you know how proud they are of it, and how can you truthfully say you are interested when they eagerly enquire your views?

It seems to me that there is something fundamentally wrong with a system that takes pictures deliberately to mislead prospective purchasers. What does it achieve? It can only frustrate the home seller as much as the viewer and when you actually see it the disappointment is more acute than it would have been if you had known exactly what you were choosing to view.

The houses we have viewed were not bad. They were lovely homes and would have been entirely suitable for someone else, someone without two large dogs perhaps! What happens though as that everyone ends up feeling slightly let down.

Strangely viewing the stylised pictures of the houses has made me even more determined to embrace my true self and to really value the individual natures of my family and friends. There is something really refreshing about dealing with honest, direct characters after viewing so many stylised photographs that have no basis in reality.

It made me think of us as people and why it is so important to remain true to ourselves and not to try to become something that other people, but not us want us to be. A false front can’t last as it requires too much energy to keep up and to maintain .It also prevents us from actually meeting and bonding with the people who truly like us and can really relate to us. The world is full of interesting and varied individuals. How sad would life be if we turned in to well-manicured, highly polished clones of each other as some magazines would seem to suggest?

If the houses we have viewed were advertised to show them exactly as they are, the right people would view them and no doubt they would sell much more quickly by reaching the right target market. There really was nothing wrong with them in the first place. Their photographs just presented a falsely attractive image to us as we were searching for a large enclosed space. Equally the pictures may well have put off a prospective buyer looking for something smaller and more manageable .In truth it is not just the Estate agents who are at fault I think we could all benefit from being a bit more honest. Honest about what we are looking for and what we have to offer to get it. We all need to relax a little and like ourselves more. We should respect ourselves enough not to have to pretend to be what we are not. Likely we would all be much happier if we had the confidence to do so. 

As for the house hunting, well it still goes on but we have learned from this experience. Now before we go to view a house we visit the area first and drive past to get an idea of the garden size and external look of the house. If that meets Mums criteria we visit and I can honestly say we are much happier about what we have viewed. All being well we may actually be placing an offer in for one soon.

Mum has to sell her house too and we have decided that the pictures will honestly represent it. People will come to view and see exactly the same thing that attracted them in the first place. Hopefully they will like it and Mum can soon move on to the next new chapter in her life and have some fun.

Moving on.

Image

 

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.

Anatole France

 

My Mum has lived for over twenty years in her much loved, large traditional flat. It has huge bay windows, large airy bright rooms and a view that is spectacular, over countryside with a distant view of the sparkling lights of the city of Glasgow. She is physically fit and active but now eighty. Her home is on a steep hill with stairs up to her front door and again to her back garden. Not a problem twenty years ago but becoming one now. She also has two much loved dogs that she takes out four times every day ,probably why she is so fit, but that is now becoming a problem as the stairs and hill become harder for her to manage. Even more of a problem if the weather is bad.

Very reluctantly and after a fall last year, when she fractured her arm, she has come to the realization that she must move and has started looking for a suitable new home .Despite her deciding to look for another house every house we have seen has been compared unfavorably with her own. Rooms too small, corridors too narrow, no view, the list could go on. Each time after we had viewed a place we would go through the same depressing discussions.

We all felt a little sad and a bit despondent because we have not really known what to say or do to help her adjust. All of the family was very aware of the huge changes that she needed to go through to adapt to a different way of living. The acceptance of these changes had to come from her and we felt powerless, unable to help her come to terms with things.

Then help came from a very surprising source indeed, her solicitor. During a discussion about selling her home and buying a new one she spoke about how miserable it was making her feel to have to move. The solicitor looked at her and said “why, would you rather stay in your gilded cage?” “You have the potential to have a new and much better life adventure in more suitable surroundings and remember it will only be a bit strange for a very short while before it too becomes home. There are many, many worse things that could be happening in your life. This is something nice”. I sat in stunned silence waiting on my Mum’s reaction. It seemed to me that the solicitor had been truthful and clearly well-intentioned but a little too direct and I wondered how Mum would feel. I shouldn’t have been worried as it turned out to be exactly what Mum needed to hear. She was laughing as we left the office and has since decided that she will look on it as a new life adventure. She acknowledges that it will be a bit sad leaving her old flat and moving to something new but feels that her attitude to it now has changed. She is looking at the advantages rather than the disadvantages and she says that she feels so much better.

It is certainly true that in life if we dwell on the negative and sad then we are not going to feel very strong or happy. Life presents us with choices and challenges all the time. We can’t avoid them if we want to live life fully and part of living is accepting that things change. Being able to adapt to those changes and go with them to create something new and positive is the best way to succeed.

You should Just do it.

Image

How often do we intend to change things then get frustrated by lack of speed at getting desired results and give up? For many of us the answer is all too often. I find coming in to the New Year I can be full of good intention and as the days are often dark, cold and wet I find that my good intentions often get flung aside with an overwhelming desire to just stay comfortably the way I am. So plans to go out and see friends more in the evenings can get shelved because it is so miserable outside. It is far more enticing to stay at home and just chat by text or by phone. The trouble is that is a sort of detached communication, which although nice, is no match for sitting in person and having a good laugh. Starting healthy eating plans which include salad is much the same. It is wild outside and cold so a nice leafy salad doesn’t quite fit the bill. So what is the answer? To just accept failure during the winter months to and wait until the weather changes to begin a positive new approach in to life? Or, is it not better to devise a plan that you know that realistically you can stick to and then continuously work at it until it becomes a habit?

If you want to change the way you are living for the better, no matter what it is that you wish to change, you need to firstly make sure that the new plan fits with your present life and then that you recognize that you will have to continually work on it, each day, reminding yourself why you wished it in the first place and what you are wanting to do it for. Once you recognize both of these things then it is a simple matter of repetition. This is how our brains work best. Repeat and repeat the thoughts and actions until you are truly comfortable with them and they become natural and not forced. As the American author Henry David Thoreau wrote

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

So I am sticking to my new healthy eating plan and have included lots of nourishing homemade soups to keep me warm during the cold days. I have arranged a set evening to see friends and will stick to it because it is important to me and I have bought good rainwear to make sure I stay nice and dry on my planned long walks with my dogs, and a new raincoat for one of the dogs, who has got a little too big for his last coat due to steroid treatment and an increased appetite. The others all still fit theirs so we are all set, no more potential excuses. All of these things are important to me but whatever it was that I had decided to change I know I will have to keep at it until a bit like riding a bike it becomes second nature, with little conscious thought to it required. It may be it is just your thoughts you want to change to learn to let go the negative and focus on the positive aspects in your life. The same thought process applies. Each day consider what you have to be positive about and are grateful for and concentrate on those. After a while you will find that these things multiply as thinking positively becomes natural and you find more and more to be positive about. Have a great start to your New Year.

A New Year a Fresh Start

Image

Well Christmas has come and gone in a flash and we are now it seems hurtling towards the New Year before everything returns to normal. In Scotland the New Year has always been a good excuse for a big celebration. When I was younger in our house there was always a party to which neighbour’s friends and anyone visiting with friends were invited to pop in. The whole house was cleaned before the event to get rid of the old and make way for the new. Throughout the neighbourhood you would see curtains being hung out, windows and doorsteps washed. Ginger wine would be made from co-operative bought ginger wine syrup to which you added water and sugar and hey presto you then had a ginger concoction to put in nice dark brown bottles, especially bought for the job to make it look and taste very authentic. It wouldn’t have tasted the same out of a clear bottle! Lots of finger foods were baked, shortbread being a firm favourite .To make sure good luck befell your home in the New Year someone tall and dark, preferably male, as usually no female would ever be as daft to volunteer, was put outside to make sure that your “first footer” that is the first person to step over the threshold in the New Year came bearing appropriate gifts to bring the household good fortune for the following year. He had to carry food and drink and have a piece of coal in his pocket. The idea being that your home would always have enough to eat, drink and heat it through the year. He would be made to go outside about five minutes before midnight and stand to wait on the bells before being allowed to knock and re-enter. It didn’t matter if it was raining, snowing or blowing a gale it was considered to be very unlucky not to follow this procedure. Of course chances were that you would get plenty of visitors after the bells and they would all bring food and drink but most households never left it to chance. So all around the neighbourhood if you had looked you would have seen poor tall, dark guys and the occasional small ginger one if they had not been lucky enough to find someone tall and dark, anxiously waiting for the first peel of the New Year Bells but you wouldn’t have been looking as inside the party would be in full swing .In the corner the television would be on and this was to make sure that we had the time right. When the camera cut to Edinburgh and the canon we knew that it was time to open the back door. This was done to let the old year out and when the canon blasted in the New Year along with Big Ben in London we would open the front door to let in the New Year and the by now frozen and most likely soaked, first footer who had been huddled there waiting on being allowed back it.My grandmother also insisted that we all write down our New Year resolutions before the bells and honoured them after. These could be anything but for my grandmother it was always the same, to stop smoking. Each year she was full of good intentions and believed that the power of the New Year gave you energy to follow through with your goal. She actively encouraged me to follow through with mine and in a way she was my New Year power. Her belief was so strong that it would work that I never questioned why it didn’t for her and the strange thing was that it always worked for me. Now looking back I realise it was thanks to her that a New Year meant the chance of a fresh start for me. Anything I had wanted to do or had not yet done was encouraged to be put down and I was told just focus on three this year and see how you get on. It made it all possible for me and gave me the energy and fire I needed to follow through. My grandmother made the New Year magical. A time when it was possible to let go the old and begin afresh.

Today in my own home I continue the tradition of letting out the old year and bringing in the New. I leave coal by the front door for our guests to lift and bring a piece in but I have never put a poor soul out in to the night to await the bells. I still write my New Year resolutions down and still believe totally that anyone of us can begin afresh and learn how to be what it is that we want to be at any time in our lives. If we are doing things which make us or others feel bad it is possible to change. You don’t need a New Year; you just need to want to and to believe that you can. But for me there is still a certain magic in deciding on what I want for the year ahead and I have learned that if I believe enough in my own ability and keep my New Year resolutions clear, straightforward and most importantly of all something that I really want to achieve, then the magic of the fresh New Year really works. It gives me the energy, drive and determination to see them through. You might like to try it and see if it does the same for you. As Tony Robbins says “Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives”

To be happy in our lives and to make those around us happy we need to find ways to empower ourselves and make positive life changes and decisions. Perhaps this New Year you can choose to take the first step to creating a healthier, happier you.

Whatever you are doing this New Year I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all Health, Happiness and good fortune for 2014

How to win friends and Influence yourself

Image

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.” – Bob Moawad

How many of us waste our time seeking affirmation from others to find out who we really are? Teenagers often go through a stage of looking to their peers to find themselves. Trying to conform and fit in to a group even if it is the group who believe they are non-conformists! Generally they band together which is strange because they say they value their individuality. When we mature we are supposed to know ourselves and to have grown to be self-confident and self-aware but often this is not the case. Each relationship we enter into we should be going in as an equal, yet often I find adults trying still to fit in and relying on others daily to tell them if they have succeeded or failed. The problem with this is obvious. If you give away your personal power to another person or group, even if they love you, then you are giving away control of your life and the responsibility for your decisions. Some think that this is a way of feeling secure but it is in fact a false security. Someone else’s or a groups values, beliefs and goals even if very similar to our own, are not our own, and they are going too unconsciously and consciously influence your decisions based on what they believe is right for you rather than what is actually right for you. Giving them this power makes you vulnerable to not being able to achieve what you want or be who you really want to be and nine times out of ten that leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

To have a belief in one’s own abilities is essential to live a happy, contented life. We can make mistakes that we wish we hadn’t but that is a learning process through which we can grow as a person. If these decisions were not ours in the first place then how can we learn from them?

“It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine.” – Byron Katie

We need to start by actually liking and having confidence in ourselves. In order to find ourselves again we need to reconnect to what makes us function. What do we hold dear to us? What in life do we consider important? Are we being true to ourselves or are we following someone other life plan? What do we wish if anything that we now had in our lives? What would we like to get rid of? Answering these questions gives you a basic structure for change and self-discovery. Start gradually and work your way through the list creating a new you with recognition of new strengths and abilities as well as building upon those you already have. Remember as they say “Rome was not built in a day” just taking the first step on the path to self-acceptance is a big achievement.

When we like and have confidence in ourselves a wonderful thing happens, we begin to attract like-minded people who like us too. It is not a case of becoming so egocentric that we begin to believe that we can do no wrong and therefore alienate others .Rather it is a gentler acceptance of ourselves as doing the best we can, with the best of intentions and finding companions along the way that love and accept us for who we are rather than who they want us to be. If we do the same with others we will create a happier healthier environment for us all to live and journey in.

When we stop looking to others to tell us whether we are doing the best we can and start instead to look at ourselves, we take back control of our life and can then start to steer it in the direction we want. Those close to us can help us on our journey, as we can help them on theirs, now working together as an equal team and no longer as extra baggage. Life is a journey to be experienced and not just tolerated. When we reach the end of our journey on this plane we should as Frank Sinatra said be able to say we did it our way.