Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A New Look

Lighthouse image supplied by Stuart Monk
All round awesome photographer

I have had a bit of a revamp.

What do you think? Do you like?

I've spent the morning going through my blogs and choosing new designs, tightening up the side-bars and generally tidying up. I like it, but I would value your feedback, because this blog is not just about me and what I think.

Also, if you work in personal development as a coach, mentor, NLP Practitioner or are a therapist of a particular flavour, send me your link and it would be my pleasure to add your website/blog to the Lighting My Way section. 

Blogging is as much about building an internet community, as it is about being a platform for one's voice. There's a reason this blog is called The Lighthouse Network.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Past, Present and Future - where are you?

You can't have a better tomorrow if you don't stop thinking about yesterday

Anyone working in Personal Development is motivated by the belief that people can make their tomorrows better. How a person gets there...well that's where the arguments start. Freud began psychoanalysis and talking therapy which has had a major impact on counselling and therapies of different flavours. 

Hear Richard Bandler talking about talking therapies and you're going see a man on his soap box and hear a lot of swearing. Bandler believes that talking therapies involve taking clients through their most painful experiences and re-living every last detail. Don't get me wrong, he's scathing for a reason, he doesn't want his clients to suffer and he believes that all talking therapies do, is cause clients to suffer and suffer again.

I'm not sure I am with him 100% on this. I believe that a client can learn about why they made the choices they did, if indeed they had any part in the decision-making that caused their suffering. I do believe being self-aware and self-analysis are useful. Recognising your patterns of behaviour, triggers, people that don't bring out the best in you....these are things which can be incredibly useful in self-development.

However, I think he is absolutely right. There comes a point when a line has to be drawn under the past. After all it's done and dusted. We've all got our escalator moments; arguments in which we wish we would have been more clever, more cutting or would just rather not have indulged. We all have regrets. Situations in which a do-over would be a blessing.

Unfortunately, it's not going to happen. 

The Past is done. And that's a huge blessing. We don't have to live there. Every time we bring our pasts into our present, it brings poison. We punish the innocents in our lives, because someone else punished us. We don't trust other people or worse, ourselves. We exist in suffering.

It blights our Future.

So how do we get our brighter Future? Well, many coaches will give their clients exercises to set goals, aims and objectives. There are timelines and Plans. After all, if you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there?

Again, I'm not sure I'm with this 100%. Life can change between one breath and the next. There are a whole raft of things which can take your Life Plan, shake it up and spit it out. I can guarantee that however good and realistic your Plan, and all of the contingencies you may have in place, that you'll be hit, completely out of the blue by something you never could have foreseen. Just to clarify, I mean good things as well as bad, I'm not being negative here.

But a real issue that many people have by living in the Future, is when they get to their goal, they can be left scratching their heads. It's not what they expected. They can be left disappointed, deflated and confused. "I was supposed to be happy!"

What's the answer?

It's here in your Present.

You've survived your Past. The proof Ladies and Gentlemen is staring at you in the mirror. You're still breathing in and out. Therefore, stop a moment and pat yourselves on the back. You lived through it. Whatever it was, no matter how horrendous or painful; you're here now.

This is where you take control. 

First, listen to what you're saying to yourself. Look at the pictures you make in your head when you start re-playing the movie of the Past. An NLP Practitioner will tell you to play different movies, swish the Past away and that little nagging voice...well, stick a clown's nose on it, give it big shoes and a squeaky voice. These are useful techniques. If you want to learn how to do it for yourself, look up Get the Life you Want and Trance-formations, by Richard Bandler. Both books are packed full of useful tips and techniques to get yourself on a good path. Or find an NLP Practitioner near you to help you to do this for yourself.

Secondly, I've found The Work of Byron Katie to be incredibly useful. If you visit her website and have a good look around, she's got free downloads of the work sheets with instructions and there's also a useful iPad app, though you've got to pay for that. Her take on internal dialogue is slightly different. She says that thoughts are like rain, they just fall. The problems start when you believe them and give them power by making stories around them. Her approach is much like Buddhism, the cause of suffering is attachment. She believes that if you do The Work, you don't let go of your thoughts, they simply let go of you. They fall away of their own accord.

Making the promise to yourself, that you will do things differently is enough to get you started. How you continue, well that's your Path and you'll figure things out. You'll find out what works for you.

How do you make your Present better? Well, a great way to start is with gratitude. There are blessings all around you. A journal of gratitude or a book of blessings is a brilliant way to remind yourself that things might be difficult at the moment, but look at what you have got. Even if, at the end of a hard day, you say to yourself 'thank goodness, I never have to do today again,' it's a great way of re-inforcing that tomorrow is a new day, a new beginning...a chance to do things differently. 

If you are in the midst of a difficult or challenging situation, staying focused in the Present is the only sane strategy. Procrastinate the worry, there's nothing to be gained by dragging it into your Present. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Find the joy now. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And finally, you're not alone. Support for you is out there, wherever you are.

Be well my darlings.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Which Way is Up?

Within the Meta Model in NLP, there's a couple of interesting concepts in the way people have a sliding scale of referencing their beliefs either internally or externally. In other words, do people look outside of themselves for their truths, or do they base their decisions and actions on what they think and feel? Hands up if you've ever had lunch with an externally referencing person, they go around the table asking everyone what they're having before making their decision about what they're going to eat (and are usually unhappy with their choice).

Actually, I have been that person. 

I have been the person who reality checks things with other people, rather than trusting my own judgement. The problem with this approach is manyfold. For a start, you have to trust that the people around you fully understands what's happening and they have to have your best interests at heart. I've been very lucky, I have been able to trust the judgement of those closest to me. 

But by far the biggest problem with this, is the lack of trust in myself. When I was going outside of myself for wisdom, what I was really saying is that I didn't trust myself to make the best decisions for me. This reinforces feelings of worthlessness and envy. Neither of which are of any use.

Things really began to shift for me, the more time I spent sitting with my feelings, no matter how uncomfortable or unpleasant they were. But the real change came when I started to accept myself, when I stopped giving myself a hard time, when I started enjoying spending time on my own.

Accepting yourself is one of the easiest things to say...and one of the hardest things to do. It means you take responsibility for yourself fully and you stand by the good, bad and ugly decisions you've made. It's a process, not the destination. Because, like everyone else, you still have days you wish would never end, and the days when you regret opening your eyes and getting out of bed. It means you take control of your internal dialogue, you catch the thoughts where you undermine yourself. It means you start owning up to the great things you do, the goodness in your Life and start taking pride in your accomplishments, no matter how seemingly trivial.

The trouble with constantly referencing externally, is that whilst you're stuck in that mentality, it's easy to slip into believing that other people have it much easier than you, that people have better and more fulfilling jobs, that other couples have better relationships; you slip into sour grapes.

Personally, I don't see the sense in that kind of thinking and it confounds me when I do see it. I think it's narrow and mean-spirited. I'm having enough challenges with my Life as it is, I sure as heck wouldn't want someone else's Life and their problems. You might think that other people have it easy, but in my experience those other peoples' Perfect Lives are their own personal Hells. 

I've also got too much to be getting on with to worry about what other people are doing. The time spent bitching about other people, could be spent in more pleasurable pursuits. Like hugging. Hugging and cuddling are the best remedies for feeling crap. Or going for a walk. Or just taking a few moments to breathe deeply. The attitude of gratitude is a fantastic remedy. Because once you start counting your blessings, you'll find it difficult to stop, even when the going gets challenging. Learning to be kind to yourself allows you to be kind to other people and about other people.

And I don't know about you, but I sure as hell think the World could do with more kindness.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Small Moments of Beauty

Sometimes it's the little things that we feel the most grateful for: Like a cup of coffee, a glimpse of sunshine on a cloudy day, an unexpected smile. And when we remember that we can actually create these small moments for others, our power to do good is unleashed and the world is literally changed in an instant. 
Paul Boynton - Begin with Yes

I'm a big fan of Paul's Facebook page. His messages are pertinent and timely. And this one, particularly struck a chord.

When my father was dying in Trinidad, I would stand outside in my brother's back yard and smoke like a train. As I stood there desperately trying to keep focused in the present, trying not to despair, keeping it together, I looked around and found beauty.

It was sometimes subtle: a butterfly, a small lizard darting amongst the plants or fire flies blinking in the darkness. It was sometimes spectacular: a flock of parrots raucously chatting to each other as they flew around the neighbourhood. Let me tell you, 1 parrot makes a whole heap of noise, a flock of 15-20...well, they are deafening.

Beauty was there. It reminded me that we are all part of this Life together, held by something more wonderful than we can imagine.

Back home in the real world. I carried on my 'normal' life. 

Sometimes, I need reminders that the beauty and wonder is still there. I have to make time to look. But they are still there: a furry caterpillar undulating up a sprig of lavender, the bright waning moon.

What moments of beauty can you find today? This is my challenge to you. Especially, if you're feeling tired, low and fed-up. What's there waiting for you to see? I'd really appreciate it if you'd share.