Archive for February, 2008

Coping Strategies

Friday, February 29th, 2008

This is a phrase that has mutated to mean something positive, as means of struggling with and overcoming adversity1; it has a somewhat stoic air about. You can imagine the lone hero manfully accepting his fate. However, if you consult the Oxford Dictionary, you will see that it has an older and truer meaning:-


• noun the top, typically rounded or sloping, course of a brick or stone wall.

— ORIGIN from COPE2, originally meaning dress in a cope, hence to cover.

You can see that the core meaning comes from the idea of covering something up, rather than dealing with it or accepting it. Alas, this is one of those areas where the real truth is spoken in the hidden meaning of our language. Mostly, we deal with the stresses in our lives by ‘coping’, by covering them up so that we can pretend to others, and to ourselves that we can deal with this situation. Partly this comes from our sense of politeness (we don’t want to burden others), partly from our sense of pride (we don’t want others to think poorly of us) and to a greater part, from the fact that we don’t want to admit to ourselves just how plain scared and helpless we feel!

“Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem.” Virginia Satir

Of course we can resolve it. The Universe has a wonderful way of presenting just the right lesson / teacher to us just when we most need it. However, to deal with it, we first have to look it square in the face, and to accept (and feel) our feelings about it. It is the only place we can start from that is built on solid foundations.

So next time you, or someone you wish to help, are struggling, next time you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t cope, don’t cover up how you feel. Take or make the space and time you need to be honest about what is going on. Ask for help… and then accept it gracefully, in whatever form, and from whomever, it comes. Focus on what you truly want and need to fully resolve this issue, ask for the best outcome for all concerned. Then, breathe again, and move on… that is it; your new way of handling stressful situations.

I recognise this is a ‘Big Ask’, but the alternative is so much worse, no resolution ever comes from ‘coping’ and in the long haul it is positively bad for you to just suppress these things. Let them out, because in the cold light of day, they are never as big or as bad as they appear when shut in the ‘broom closet’!

Good Luck and be brave!

“Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.” Alice M Swaim


  1. Coping skill Wikipedia
  2. Coping strategies for the Highly Sensitive Person

“I know!”

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

If you are a parent, then you will be well familiar with this phrase. You are trying to warn your child about something and they come back with “I know…” This potent phrase wards them from listening to a single thing you say. Truth be told, they do know: know in the sense that they have the information in their brains. This is like owning a book on car maintenance which has been thumbed through but never used in anger. Knowing something at this level of having packets-of-information is very different from Life Knowledge that comes from real experience.

I suspect the parents amongst my readership are now nodding and thinking something like “The folly of youth..” Me too, but before we start enjoying these grey hairs too much perhaps we need to reflect that this behaviour doesn’t time expire and that we all still do it. As we age we just do it better! This is just a tactic to prevent us engaging with challenging thoughts and ideas, and in fact is yet another face of the fight or flight response. The information that our loved one is trying to share is simply too dangerous to engage with and as our manners prevent us leaving the building, we pull this mental ‘vanishing trick’ by using the magic words “I knowPUFF! We are gone! Walls of invisibility surround us and protect us from these challenging thoughts. Behind our safety walls no one can help us; we are ‘safe’ to march straight back into the same old stupid stunt we always pull in these circumstances…

It is tough being a parent and facing this; in all honesty, it is harder to look into the mirror our loved ones are offering us and learn to see what they see. Next time you are tempted to say (or even think) “I know!” Are you brave enough to take and deep breath, sit down and try to listen? I’ll give it a go, will you?

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Going backwards to go forwards

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

I was playing a game of solitaire this morning and got ‘stuck’ in a game that was nearly out. The only way to resolve it was to use cards I had already ‘got out’ and bring them back into play. Sure enough, the game worked out. This reminded me of a time on a climbing wall when I got stuck and the instructor said to me “Sometimes you have to climb down, to go back up”, even at the time, I was struck by the profundity of the statement.

It is human nature to want to cling on to our ‘gains’, and I think that it is even more so for Western males; the idea of going back, or backing down, just feels totally counter-cultural; and yet, sometimes this is the only way we can move on.

Today, I wonder if there is a way for you to make progress by going back and picking a different way up your wall, it is the nearest thing the Universe offers to a ‘do-over’ (short of reincarnation!) Good Luck!


“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” Mary Anne Radmacher

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” Vincent van Gogh


It’s all about YOU… part 2

Monday, February 25th, 2008

In yesterdays blog I was exploring the phenomena of how outside events trigger internal feelings about ourselves. This is a result of our fundamental drive to both understand our world and to learn what is safe and what isn’t. It is also a way in which we seek to learn more about ourselves. We ask ourselves “What does this thing tell me about me?” It must be a lingering mechanism from our infanthood, but most of us still use it all the time. If you lived in a world without any mirrors, this behaviour would rather like the process of looking at our shadow to see what we look like.

Clearly the feedback we get from our actions is an important tool for learning. However, in our striving to learn, we look for messages about us in every little event. That stock phrase “It’s not about you!” has more wisdom in it than we might think. However, it takes a very secure or wise person to know themselves for who they truly are and to not be prey to ‘looking in mirrors’.

So what can we, the unwise, insecure ones do about this? I guess we can:-

  • Remind ourselves that everything isn’t about us
  • That other people are in the middle of their own dramas, and [Shock! Horror!!] we are merely bit players in them
  • Seek others input, because they aren’t caught up in our drama
  • Be direct in addressing these issues
  • Give voice to our fears and accept responsibility for our own pain (after all we chose to suffer it)
  • Allow ourselves to feel that core pain; things like insecurity, feeling alienated, feeling unappreciated, feeling scared etc. Breathe through it and realise that despite our fears, it doesn’t kill us and it does go away, like a fire that we allow to burn out
  • Own it! It is our stuff… it is our mechanism that has been tripped

So today, because we usually all get given lots of opportunities to get good at this, why not try a different response when confronted with your challenge… Good Luck!

“Through self-doubt, we lose our sense of self-worth.”

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” Edgar Allan Poe


This blog is all about YOU!

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

It is; it really is!

Let me explain with a story… Yesterday someone posted a blog. It happened to be next to one of mine; the title happened to be similar, possibly even a pun. “Goodness!” I thought, “Is this about me?” I then went off on a little waft about what it was saying about me. I began to get a bit upset (just in case it was about me…. Dooh!) You know the punch line already don’t you? I wrote to the person, and, of course, I was wrong. Nothing to do with me…

So why am I apparently wasting your time telling this meaningless little story? Well, within this is something HUGE!

This is the process we go through. Something happens (and of course is does all the time!) We ask ourselves “What does this mean?” Followed up by “What does this say about me?” (Because everything that we see & experience ‘out there’ is filtered through what we think / feel about ourselves) That, then, generates a feeling based on our interpretation of the event, which often leads to Action, which of course generates a New Event for us to respond to1.

If I have lost you, please bear with me, and I’ll return to my story… So this blog is posted innocently next to mine, “Ahhh!” thinks I, “This means they think I am [fill in your own blank here ]” and that makes me feel [again fill in your own emotion]. So I go off and [whatever it is you go off and do] which of course may lead to repercussions and the loop starts again!

So… for those of you who have borne with me so far, and for those that I have lost, and for those who just want to hear the end of the story.. So, I felt unappreciated, and, eventually, I asked the person, who said this was nothing to do with me…. All a storm in a tea-cup. Except, when I talked to someone else, they were in the midst of the same cycle, only they felt stupid, instead of unappreciated. The key thing is, these feelings all come from within us. They are the voice of our own inner demons. We always interpret ‘stuff’ through our own filters, and we always come up with something that fits our own pattern. It is always, and must always be about us! However, that doesn’t make it true.

If you are in the midst of feeling bad about something someone else has done, then the remedy is within YOU. Which, by the way, is great, because you can do that. You can’t change them….

More on this tomorrow….

“What do we call love, hate, charity, revenge, humanity, forgiveness? Different results of the master impulse, the necessity of securing one’s self-approval.” – Mark Twain
“Our first and last love is… self-love.” Christian Nevell Bovee





Not Meme… Viral ideas

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Meme is a phrase coined by Richard Dawkins in his book “‘The Selfish Gene’. It refers to an idea, concept, pattern that can be and is copied. This includes tunes, jingles, habits, trends, styles etc. In this modern, cyber-linked age they can spread from one side of the globe to the other very quickly. You can see people in the wildest parts of the Brazilian jungle wearing Manchester United t-shirts!

It is not clear exactly how or why some ideas catch on and others do not. I suspect that Morphic Resonance hols one part of the answer to this puzzle. However, ideas do spread like measles. Habits are catching. What idea or habit would you like to share with the world? Think about it… if your ideas are tiny meme seeds, what are you planting? Will it feed the world and nourish it or is it ‘junk food’.

Let’s start sowing what we would like our children to reap…. Think something lovely today!

“If you can look into the seeds of time, And say which grain will grow and which will not, Speak then to me” William Shakespeare

“Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds.” Norman V Peale

Who is pulling your chain? Or Morphic Resonance for beginners

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

A scientist called Rupert Sheldrake posited that not only is Nature alive, but it is connected at a fundamental level, so that what is done to one member of a group affects every member of that group. This is obviously a very big and complicated theory, and I won’t attempt to reproduce it here. However, it is an attempt to demonstrate these fundamental connections by examining a number of examples of new adaptive behaviour observed in animals such as:-

< In the 1920s in Southampton, the blue tit discovered it could tear the tops of milk bottles on doorsteps and drink the cream. Soon this skill showed up in blue tits over a hundred miles away, but they seldom fly further than 15 miles. Amateur bird-watchers caught on and traced the expansion of the habit. It spread faster and faster until by 1947 it was universal throughout Britain. In a parallel development, the habit had spread to blue tits in Holland, Sweden and Denmark. German occupation cut off milk deliveries in Holland for eight years — five years longer than the life of a blue tit. Then, in 1948 the milk started to be delivered. Within months blue tits all over Holland were drinking cream, a habit that had taken decades to take hold before the war. Other examples are monkeys using water to sort dirt from rice (they throw it in a puddle and the rice floats and the dirt sinks) or sheep learning to roll across cattle grids. There are many fascinating examples out there.

The point is, if we are all connected, then what is the impact of some of the dreadful things that are going on in the world on us? We usually are pretty overwhelmed coping with our day-to-day issues and few of us spare the time to think about these ‘distant others’, let alone act to help them. But if it is us being damaged too, what then? I guess the link works both ways too, so if what you are putting into the collective pool of experience is positive and nourishing then that benefit flows too.

Half the misery in the world comes from our sense of separation and ‘otherness’. If we are fundamentally one, and utterly connected then couldn’t we somehow tap into that?

“A person experiences life as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. Our task must be to free ourselves from this self-imposed prison, and through compassion, to find the reality of Oneness.” Albert Einstein

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” Ryunosuke Satoro



Once in a Red Moon… Ask for what you really want

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Last night at around 4am UK time the there was a lunar eclipse. The earth passed between the sun and the moon and because its light was filtered through the Earth’s atmosphere it had the effect of turning the moon red. According to some astrologers, this is a good time to get very clear about what exactly you want in your life and to ask for it very specifically.

There is a huge power in doing this at anytime. Many of us censor what we even wish for in order to shield ourselves from the ‘inevitable’ disappointment of not getting it. However, as I pointed out in a previous blog, we have a part of our brains dedicated to fulfilling our wishes. If we don’t even dare tell ourselves what we want, we are preventing this system from helping us make it happen! We also block any other sources of help. How many times have we mentioned something, apparently by chance, only to have someone say something like“Oh, I know him” or “I have one of those..” or “I don’t need any more”

Yesterday morning I went to a truly magical place, Derwent Water in the Lakes. The view receded into the mists and the soundtrack was birdsong and water tumbling over rocks. I was almost moved to tears by the place. There, I decided to give voice to all the good things I wanted in my life for me and all those close to me, As I did so, suddenly this still lake surface turned into lapping waves, apparently just bringing my dreams straight to me.

It is always a good idea to say what you need from life, today it maybe even more effective. Why not take the risk of letting someone know what you really want today… even if it is only you!

“I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.” Mark Twain

Going out of your way

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

I’m off to the far north of England today, a 500 mile road trip, to meet someone, and it occurred to me that sometimes you do have to go ‘out of your way’ to see someone, or their point-of-view. Most of us have trouble doing this from time-to-time. So my thought for today… travel to their side of the desk and look at things from their perspective. What do they want /need from you? What are their fears/aspirations? If you understand these, then you can bridge that gap… go on… give it a try!

“Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.” C.E Stowe

You might also like to read this one

When to act, and when to wait?

Monday, February 18th, 2008

I don’t know if it has always been the case or if it is a modern trend, but it seems to me, that in the West we expect a man to act! I was brought up on Hollywood movies filled with lines like “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do…” [exit hero stage right chewing cigar…& spitting]
I agree that there are definitely times when what you are made of, and who you are, shows up in what you do. However, increasingly, it seems to me that it often calls for as much effort not to act, just to wait; or perhaps to observe, study and understand.

There is a comfort factor in action, and we can forgive ourselves if we have ‘done our best’. However, sometimes you just have to wait, and I find that the hardest ‘deed’ of all. Like every farmer knows, there is a time to reap and a time to sow, and ignoring this gets you nowhere, expect, perhaps, in trouble.

My middle daughter left school last September and didn’t know what to do. She felt no immediate inclination to go to University and didn’t know what career to follow. So she got a job in a coffee shop and got on with her life. She applied when something felt right and wasn’t too thrown when it didn’t work out. A while ago she announced that she now knew what direction she wanted to move in and set about applying for a school. In the meantime, serving coffees, someone comes up to her and says that he has admired the way she handles herself and does she want a job with a big company.

I think it takes great courage, wisdom and trust to live like this and know that I find it a tough challenge. Are you brave enough not to act… just to wait, watch, learn, trust and only move when it feels right?


“To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal

A time to laugh, a time to weep!” The Byrds / Pete Seeger


PS>> Moments after I posted this blog, my daughter heard she has an unconditional place at the college of her choice…