Stay Together...

As the pandemic rumbles on we again need to keep apart, whilst also keeping together. Please reach out to those who are most vulnerable, alone and disillusioned. Let's not forget that whilst the virus impacts physical health and mortality, it also impacts mental health and emotional well being.

Be Playful...

Life easily becomes too serious. Even games transmute into things that need to be won at all costs, and education becomes obscured behind a series of tests and examinations. Life overflows with vitality, when we make room for joy, playfulness and connection with others. What's more, we learn better and achievements mean more, when we get these priorities right.

Positive Attitude...

Our attitude largely determines the outcomes and experiences we have in life. There are multiple possibilities in any given scenario, even when the game seems up or all odds are against you. At this moment, the world is on a a precipice - can we sustain ourselves through the covid pandemic; will we have the foresight and courage to address climate change; will we overcome the divisions that fanaticism (in all it's expressions) presents? The answer must be YES. Nothing is beyond a person or society when we blend vision with unwavering resolve.​

Love Your Children...

As humans we can move between darker and lighter phases of mood and mentality. Sometimes we may feel so good that nothing seems impossible or beyond reach, and at other times it's a challenge just to get out of bed in the morning! Just as regular sleep, a good days work, opportunities to relax and balanced eating helps us feel physically brighter, we do need to cultivate good practices and habits, to enjoy better emotional health. Most of this depends on how we feed the mind, and where we place our attention. Spending time with positive people who nourish you is key. So too are moments of quiet - perhaps in meditation, or just simple wakeful mindfulness of your surroundings and experience. Every day, it helps to read something that uplifts you, and stretches your imagination to a higher plane of thinking and feeling. When we immerse the heart and mind in places of nurture, we do metaphorically feel filled with sunshine. Then, we don't need to wait a whole year to enjoy Diwali - that most precious festival of light...

Solution Focussed...

Sometimes, relationship problems need to be identified and understood before we can work on them. If that approach is not helping, as often it does not, then we should turn to a more solution focussed way of thinking. This means prioritising what we want to see and experience, and creating opportunities for more of this, rather than deciding what we do not want to see and experience, and wasting time trying to suppress or avoid it. Problem focussed interventions are often small in breadth, and have usually failed in the past - so they tend to deflate and de-energise us. They are built on critique and disappointment of what is not happening. Solution focussed interventions are wide and subject to the full spectrum of our creativity - they are founded on hope and generosity. That is why they inspire and motivate us, and those we love, towards change.

Diwali Light...

As humans we can move between darker and lighter phases of mood and mentality. Sometimes we may feel so good that nothing seems impossible or beyond reach, and at other times it's a challenge just to get out of bed in the morning! Just as regular sleep, a good days work, opportunities to relax and balanced eating helps us feel physically brighter, we do need to cultivate good practices and habits, to enjoy better emotional health. Most of this depends on how we feed the mind, and where we place our attention. Spending time with positive people who nourish you is key. So too are moments of quiet - perhaps in meditation, or just simple wakeful mindfulness of your surroundings and experience. Every day, it helps to read something that uplifts you, and stretches your imagination to a higher plane of thinking and feeling. When we immerse the heart and mind in places of nurture, we do metaphorically feel filled with sunshine. Then, we don't need to wait a whole year to enjoy Diwali - that most precious festival of light...

Keep it Simple...

A direct path to any goal is sometimes obscured by the complexity of doubt, fear, anxiety or pride. We essentially "cloud- out" our route, because we may not believe we can do it, worry what will happen if we fail, or are just too concerned what other people will think of us. Tying ourselves up in knots, the more we plan and procrastinate, the further the goal extends ahead of us. Keeping it simple is the key. Simplicity is using what you have, to do what you can, in the most straightforward manner possible, at the time it is most called for. Most things fall into place, when we rely on these basic steps to move forwards. ​

Opportunity knocks...

This may seem like an overly optimistic post at the cusp of a second covid lockdown here in England. However, even in seemingly dark and challenging times, we can discover (and if necessary create) possibilities. We are not our experience, but what WE DO with our experience. It's not what happens, but what WE DO with what happens, that counts. So, whilst it will be tough (and for some of us, much moreso than others) how can we find opportunities to keep together even though we are apart? How can we reach out to those in need? What can we do with the time that has been given to us, if indeed we are one of those who need to stay at home. Let's find our purpose, be creative and above all stay positive. We will come through, in the end.

Speak with Care...

One of my great mentors once explained how we learn to speak within the first 12months of our lives, but then take a lifetime to learn when not to speak. Words have so much power that they can literally start and end wars. Just consider how many of the fall-outs and conflicts at work, at home and within relationships overall, are a consequence of words that were uttered, without being sufficiently weighed up beforehand? I am not limiting speech, or trying to control or suppress it - we have that freedom, at least in the liberal societies of our world. But, any freedom comes with responsibility, which is as important as the freedom we fight to protect. Perhaps the Socratic filter is called for - is what you are about to your personal experience? Is it true and authentic? Is it going to help someone, or may it harm them? If's ok if we get it wrong, but let's not be too shy to apologise, and set things straight.

Be More...

We inherit all kinds of beliefs about ourselves from the stories people tell about us. We internalise stories of lack and also of abundance - so much so that 'stories told' easily become 'stories lived'. But we are more than the affirming stories we heard, and certainly much, much more than the stories of lack that may have been foisted upon us. When you talk negatively to yourself, try if possible to be a better friend. Be kind and self-compassionate. Patiently ask what you CAN do, rather than what you can't. Consider what you have achieved, rather than seeing things as a total failure. If you struggle, give yourself time and space. A calm and reassured mind can achieve more than anyone gives it credit for.

Keep Hopeful...

We will experience days that are joyfully bright, and full of happiness. But there will also be circumstances that feel dark, perhaps even hopeless. Work to appreciatively 'bank' the positive times - relying on them for good cheer. Should life feel gloomy, don't give up - rather keep engaging. Hope is a reliable path to a better tomorrow.

Embrace Change...

Change is often difficult, because we all like comfort zones. Yet if we resist change, critique or new ideas, there is no real scope for improvement. So when someone reaches out and questions what you are doing, or whether it can be done differently, think twice before you say 'no'. You might just be losing an opportunity to make life just a little more...beautiful!

Keep Smiling...

This funny take on the Mona Lisa reminds me of a friend during early University years, who would distinguish between being 'worried' and being 'concerned' about issues. Worry is often wasted energy, which weighs us down with fear and trepidation. Being concerned on the other hand, is sending energy towards a problem, with a focus on finding a resolution if one exists, and accepting that we did what we could even if we could not change things. Concern comes from a place of ability, composure and hopefulness, whereas worry comes from lack, insecurity and helplessness. As this pandemic rolls on, be concerned but don't give in to worry. Do what you can, and keep living the life you have. Without due care, worry might shorten the time we have or at the very least take the joy of living from us.

Embrace Change...

Problem focussed reflections tend to sap resources and create greater stuckness. It reminds us what is not happening, and what we can't do. When we situate ourselves in a more hopeful frame of mind, and appreciate the possibilities before us, motivation and energy grows. We are then being encouraged by our dreams, not restrained by our fears.​

Find Composure...

Our understanding of stress tells us that when feeling threatened or at risk, the body reacts by either preparing to escape (flight), stand our ground (fight), going numb (freeze) or becoming submissive (flop). These automatic reactions are often necessary to get by in the immediate term - to survive - but staying at this level of nervous system arousal or shut down means we can't progress. Heightened stress responses are also major contributors to cardio-vascular disease and cancer, to name just two worrying health needs. Covid 19 is of course worrying, and our front line staff are having to live with this very real threat as a normal part of their working life, each day. Whether the dangers we face are actual or perceived, we can do much to reduce their impact on us physically, and also to sidestep the burn-out they may otherwise cause, if we learn to manage our thoughts and emotions. Fortunately, we are getting better as a society at learning to take a breath, compose ourselves, connect to our deeper purpose and meet the demand that is before us. Mindfulness, meditation, relaxation training and resilience building are all contributing to psychological health at home, college and in the workplace. We hope these positive trends continue, as we need them more than ever before.

Look with Love...

In decades of psychological therapy I've never met an angry child, who did not have an angry parent. I've also seen children flourish, when they are cherished and held with love. It's not about parent-blaming here, because none of us are really ever prepared for this most important life task, and yes - some of us are afforded more resources and experiences to manage. In today's day and age, we look more often at our phones and tablets, than we do at our children. Before we know it, they outgrow us and have moved on. In the early years especially, spend time alongside your children. Try to put down your work and worries, and prioritise them. Children are amazingly resilient - they really don't need hours and hours of your time. Just small, regular moments that happen frequently, are good enough. Your efforts will impact them positively, and it will change you too.

Let Go...

There is an art to knowing when to embrace someone or something wholeheartedly, and when it is time to release our hold. The people, places and vocations we have cherished, can't stay the same. Stepping forwards with hope for what is to come, rather than regret for what is being left behind, brings with it an accepting and graceful state of mind.

Just Smile...

Smiling is triggered by positive emotions felt within us, but when we curve our lips into a smile (even artificially), we change how we feel. Try it now. When events and experiences move us to happiness, it's naturally a lovely, warm sensation. But we can learn to cultivate a sense of joy, even when circumstances would seem to oppose it. This happens when we see problems as temporary, and remain hopeful that things can and will improve; when we consider the everyday and 'ordinary' aspects of our lives usually taken for granted, and remember that these were some of the things we once dreamt of having; when we remind ourselves what is really valuable, enduring and important and when we consider what we can give, in the midst of all that we take from the world and people around us. I invite you to take a moment, breathe and...smile.

Think Openly...

Being quick to cast judgement on any situation or person may appear outwardly confident and self-assured, but really it reflects an underlying insecurity and shallowness. The need to be right often stems from an anxiety about being wrong, so much so we justify our position at the expense of hearing or listening to other views and possibilities. On the other hand, to admit that we may not know something or are still learning may appear like a vulnerability, but actually reflects great courage and wisdom. When we lay down our arguments and certainties, we become open to new ways of understanding and seeing. It also allows the other person to be more relaxed in their communication. Then, we can talk flexibly, without worrying about who has the best things to say. In short, we converse about our thinking, rather than trying to convert the other to our ideas. Real dialogue and richness in communication follows. We should all step into that 'field' from time to time, if we wish to move forwards together.​

Affirm Life...

A lack of confidence, low self-esteem or difficulties with anxiety often leads to avoidant behaviour. We turn away from challenges, and believe we can't and won't manage. This greatly reinforces the problem we had to start with, confirming what we feel about ourselves and our perceived inability to manage. But, we need more 'yes' in our lives - stepping up, even if we are unsure and afraid. We should gather whatever support we need to defeat negative self-feeling, so that our world stops shrinking, and begins growing again. That support may be through friends and family, faith, self-help books or professional counselling and therapy. Don't let fear steal away more days of your life, than it has already. 

Be Appreciative...

The world is a mirror, in which we 'see as we look'. To be more appreciated and respected, let us extend more respect and appreciation to those around us. There is a subtle truth to the idea that we cannot hurt another without by some token hurting ourselves, and we cannot help another without in some way benefitting ourselves. So, start by giving what you most wish to receive.

Step Out...

We tend to prefer the comfort zones of safe-certainty*. However, staying here just reinforces what we already know and believe. Life becomes more dynamic when we step into safe-uncertainty. We are held by our heritage and understanding, but free to explore beyond it. Stepping into uncertainty can be frightening, but we soon learn, and begin to grow. (*Barry Mason - UK based Systemic Psychotherapist)

Grow Wisely...

Wisdom is not guaranteed with the passing years - we sometimes grow old, without growing up! The difference is how we spend our time, where we invest our thoughts and the habits we create for ourselves.

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