Tag Archives: honesty

This is Your Song

Last night, I went to see The National in the O2. They were amazing. Matt Berninger’s voice sounded just like it does on their albums. And he really got into the performance.

The person with me commented: “They don’t write songs for the public, they write songs for themselves.” This really rang true. The lead singer appeared to let go when he was on stage. It was like he was losing himself in his passion, exposing his darkest thoughts and deepest emotions, sharing his heart with all of us. It felt raw and honest.

We could only get seated tickets, which was fine as The National’s music is quite relaxing. But there was no dancing or jumping in our section of the arena. However, after a while, the energy of the musicians rippled into the crowd. The woman in front of us started raising her hand and standing after each song. The man beside me played air guitar. And I swayed and roared in appreciation.

I gazed at a beautiful visual behind the band of the ocean and a sun-streaked sky. I was brought back to times when I swam in the sea or bobbed on a boat. I had felt free and alive.

I thought: How often do we experience these things in our everyday lives? When do we allow ourselves to let go and become one with that joy, that aliveness?

Perhaps when we drink alcohol, take drugs, have sex or go on holidays. Or when we attend gigs like this one. We connect with that passion when we witness someone living their dream, when another human being lets us in to the honesty and depth of their authentic selves.

We become truly present. We enjoy all of our senses. And we give ourselves permission to be free, even if just for one day, one night, one moment…

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“Depression is a friend, not my enemy” by Conor Cusack

Have a look at this amazing blog on depression, written by Irishman Conor Cusack. Conor bravely, honestly and perfectly describes the pain of depression. The most amazing part of this article is when he calls depression his friend, not his enemy. He admits that:

“Once or twice a year, especially when I fall into old habits, my ‘friend’ pays me a visit. I don’t push him away or ignore him. I sit with him in a chair in a quiet room and allow him to come. I sit with the feeling. Sometimes I cry, other times I smile at how accurate his message is. He might stay for an hour, he might stay for a day. He gives his message and moves on.”

Emotion welled up in me as I read his words. Conor believes that depression is “a message from a part of your being to tell you something in your life isn’t right and you need to look at it.” I agree.

It’s so important to sit with how you’re feeling, to ask yourself what’s needed for you to be able live an authentic life, and to really listen to yourself even when all you want to do is run away.

If you would like an insight into how someone with depression is feeling or if you would like some reassurance that you’re not alone, this article is a must-read.

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crossfit707.com

You Are Not Alone

The more I speak to people who are brave enough to be honest about how they’re really feeling, the more I realise that we are all the same. We all go through tough times. We all struggle with fears and insecurities. We have all gone through or are currently going through periods when we feel depressed, hopeless and unable to cope.

Many of us struggle with our inability to be “perfect”. We believe that we must achieve, accumulate and gain approval in order to deserve a space on this planet. We beat ourselves up, even hate ourselves, when we think that we have failed. We feel lost and alone. We disconnect, shut ourselves down and close ourselves off from love, both for ourselves and for others. For when we don’t love ourselves, how can we possibly love one another?

It’s sad that many of us feel alone in this world. We fear that there is something wrong with us, that we have messed up, and that we must try to fit in. But how can we fit in with something that is just an act? It’s all an illusion. We are human. We were born into this life perfect and we spend the rest our lives struggling to come to terms with that reality. We battle against it. We rage so hard against ourselves that we look for the quickest way out of our self-inflicted hells. We turn to drugs, alcohol, overwork, unhealthy relationships, anything, to forget how bad we’re really feeling. To avoid the real reason for our suffering. To blame anything or anyone other than ourselves for not living life to the fullest. Until we cannot kid ourselves any longer. Wouldn’t it be easier if we accepted that we deserve love just because? The mere fact of our existence is enough to merit self-acceptance.

I’d love to take the whole world in a giant embrace and tell you all that you are okay. That you are not alone. That everybody feels bad sometimes. That you are magnificent and miraculous. That life can be wonderful. That if we all dropped the bullshit act of pretending, there wouldn’t be so many people who punish themselves for being less than society’s idea of perfect. But I can’t. Because everyone has a journey. Because everybody has their personal lessons to learn. Because I’m not a preacher. But I am a human being who has been through some really rough times, who’s struggled with a lot of the things I’ve mentioned above, and who still does sometimes. I am also an example of how, once you let go, open up and surrender, you can connect, enjoy, live and love.

This Christmas, consider the fact that everyone has a story that they may never tell you. Most people have been hurt and continue to hurt themselves over and over. But if we open our wounds to one another, we can finally start to heal.

Merry Christmas, my beautiful readers. I am delighted to be able to connect with you all. I am full of gratitude. I am also constantly learning. Right now, remember all the things that you are grateful for. Give yourself the gift of self-love this Christmas. And allow yourself to connect with your fellow human beings. We are all in this together.

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inspiring-pictures.com

The Work

Today, I attended a Byron Katie workshop. Byron Katie’s work involves asking yourself four simple questions whenever you’re feeling bad. They are as follows:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

You then turn the thought around. I’ll give you the example I used when filling out the “Judge-Your-Neighbor” worksheet. We were instructed to go back to a time when we felt hurt. I remembered being dumped by a boyfriend. Katie asked us to go back to the centre of the most painful moment of that episode. I was lying on my bed, roaring crying. I felt shocked, upset, disappointed and rejected. I was also angry because I felt that he had disrespected me.

Here are a couple of the questions from the worksheet: In this situation, what advice would you offer to that person? You should be honest and true to yourself. What do you think of this person in this situation? I think ______ is asleep, unfair, dishonest, cowardly and immature. 

I asked myself the four questions, which I understood and which rang true for me. But it was the turnaround that really blew me away. Turn the thought around: should be honest and true to myself. Yes, without a doubt. ______ is honest and true to himself. He is awake, fair, honest, brave and mature. Of course he is. He was awake enough to know that he didn’t want to be with me any longer. He was honest with himself and with me. He was brave enough to end it. He was mature enough to do the right thing. was asleep, unfair, dishonest, cowardly and immature. Right again! I was willing to stay in a relationship that wasn’t working. I was being dishonest with myself and with him. I was wailing like an abandoned infant. Wow!

There were a number of other Aha moments as the day progressed. I’ll mention a few of them. One man stated: “_____ should be more open-minded.” Katie asked, “Can someone be more open-minded than they are in that moment?” The answer is no. This really got me thinking. Imagine if we stopped trying to control how others behaved? If we stopped judging them, criticising them, feeling superior to them, feeling hurt by them? The other person is not hurting us. It is our thought, our reaction that hurts us. And we have the power to change that thought. What a liberating realisation!

Byron Katie spoke about relationships. She suggested: “Your partner is your teacher. He / she is working on you as he / she is always showing you what you need to learn. This makes it much easier for you as it cuts your work in half.” I had never thought of it that way before. So, it’d be in my interest to find myself a “teacher”… Must put in a request…

Finally, one woman told us that she hates her belly because it’s too fat. Byron Katie picked up a little flower and said (in the type of voice a flower might have): “I’m so beautiful!” She then pointed the flower in the direction of a vase filled with different flowers. She / the flower said: “There must be something wrong with me… I’m not yellow. I don’t have as many leaves as that flower, I’m not as open as that other one, and I think I’m too short.” We laughed at how ridiculous it sounded. She then turned to the woman and asked, “Your belly is too fat for what?” The woman answered, “To be sexy and attractive.” Katie said: “So, you see your body as collateral. You think – I’m not going to get much with this body.” Again, we laughed. The woman admitted that sometimes her boyfriend tells her that he doesn’t like her belly. Byron Katie said: “You be your boyfriend and tell me that you don’t like my belly. I’ll be somebody who loves my belly. I’ll be you.” When the woman told Katie that she had a problem with her belly, Katie responded: “Oh my God, I hope you get over that! That must be awful for you. Whose problem is that? It’s certainly not mine.” She added: “If your mind cannot compare, is it possible to see yourself as anything other than perfect?” She concluded: “Your ego doesn’t want you to become enlightened. Your attachment to the thought that you are fat is not allowing you to wake up.” Sit with that one for a moment…

Who would you be without the thoughts that are terrorising you? Relaxed? At peace? Happy? Present? Become aware of the thoughts that are making you feel bad. Develop an inquiring mind. Question your beliefs. And turn them around. As Byron Katie says: “Change your thoughts. Change the world.”

Which of these poppies is not perfect?

Image: incrediblesnaps.com/60-beautiful-flower-pictures

Made to Feel This Way

Last night, I hardly slept. At 3 am, I resigned myself to my sleepless fate, put on the kettle, and read the guts of Lullabies for Little Criminals. As I turned page after page, I thought defiantly: Who said I had to sleep at this hour anyway? I don’t have to be tired in the morning. I could stay in bed until midday.

By nine am, I was awoken by the sound of the car park coming to life. I shoved earplugs into my ears and waited to be sucked into a silent slumber. It didn’t happen. The challenging inner voice piped up: Who said I needed eight hours sleep in order to function? And I can go for a nap later, if needed. 

I logged onto the laptop to peruse the papers online and I came across this article in The Guardian. Interestingly, it was all about sleep and how most of us don’t really understand it. The author questioned if we really need a solid eight-hour block of slumber. He suggested we sleep in stints, like we apparently used to do in the good ol’ days. I closed the laptop in satisfaction. Just because I’d only had a couple hours’ sleep, didn’t mean I should choose to be exhausted for the day.

All this made me wonder what other things I was feeling just because some unquestioned “fact” told me I should. When I felt ugly or beautiful, was it really me or the media and fashion industry’s guidelines I’d gullibly swallowed? When I felt worthwhile or useless, whose opinion was taking precedence over my own?

Who had decided the “right” way for us to look, to work, to live our lives, and to conduct our relationships? And what constituted “success” in this society? A house, a family, and a pensionable career? What about the other, intangible, aspects of life? Fun? Connection? Peace of mind?

I walked by the river and smiled at strangers, then sauntered into a café and ordered an espresso, even though all the “healthy” people tell me that coffee is hard on the stomach, introduces too much heat into the body, and that the caffeine high swiftly switches to a sorry slump. “You’d do better with a herbal tea,” they’d advise, smiling their white smiles.

I took a few gulps as I jotted down my thoughts. My stomach’s fine. I’m not too hot. And I’m simply not tired. Okay, I had to admit that it was a little hard on the stomach. I suppose there’s a difference between doing things because I want to and doing things to prove the point that I refuse to be told what to do. That, in its own pathetic way, was another manner of being controlled – by my ego. If I’d listened to my body, I would have ordered a tea. A black one, mind you, with caffeine and tannins. There I go again…

I realise that it takes a while to banish old belief systems and strip away the ego before you can even catch a glimpse of the perfection of your unshakeable core. Paradoxically, the key is not to even try. Just be the witness. And enjoy the show.

I actually am quite tired. Damn.

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Twelve Lessons

It’s almost the end of another year. Twelve months ago, I was upset over (you guessed it) a man, so I started this blog to make myself feel better. That man no longer has an effect on me but I’m blessed to still be able to share my passion for writing with the world.

A lot has happened in my life since then. I’ve made great new friends and discovered interesting new hobbies. During the summer, I meditated in the Scottish Highlands and hill walked in the Donegal Gaeltacht.

I spent a wonderful few months with a new guy. We camped by the shore in Kerry, chanted as we traipsed across the fields in Meath, picnicked on living room floors, and practised yoga in front of an alarmingly curious herd of cows. I learned a lot about myself and about relationships. Then, we broke up, and I learned even more.

Come to think of it, I’ve learned a lot of things these past 12 months. Here are 12 of them…

1. You don’t have to be qualified to help another human being. Don’t worry about not knowing the “right” thing to do or say. A hug, a touch, or simply sitting with someone while they talk or cry is more than enough.

2. Let your guard down. I was feeling incredibly depressed one day and instead of staying in (as I usually would) and waiting to face the world until I felt and looked good, I asked for help. As I sobbed in front of a friend, my hair unwashed and my face naked, he held my hand and told me: “It takes incredible courage to allow yourself be vulnerable.”

3. Life is all about sharing. Be open and you’ll never be alone.

4. You know you’re only human. Admit it to others. They will love you for it.

5. Allowing yourself to grieve is enabling yourself to heal.

6. The worst thing you can do is take yourself too seriously. A sense of humour is a magnificent tool. Use it as often as you can.

7. Breathe. Deep breathing creates a sense of calm and gives you energy.

8. Love. Freely and openly. Don’t hold back.

9. Alcohol is not your friend. No matter how many chances you give it, it will always let you down.

10. Don’t be afraid to give. Give love, presents, compliments… The more you give, the more you will receive. Abundance is all around us.

11. Be present in everything you do. Taste. Experience. Feel. Observe. Enjoy.

12. Honesty will set you free. Be honest with yourself and with others. You’ll be surprised at how easy life becomes.

Here’s a bonus one… It is Christmas after all…

  • You will never find true happiness if you seek it outside of yourself. Save yourself heartache and frustration and just stop looking.

Writing this blog has taught me a lot too. I love it and I find it therapeutic. I’ve also learned that it helps others, which makes it all the more worthwhile.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for following my blog. Your comments, encouragement and support mean so much to me. A very merry Christmas to you all.

Dumping someone: kickin ‘em to the kerb, but with less violence

One could argue that it’s the dumpee who needs the help but sometimes it’s hard to be a dumper. The last thing you want is to hurt the other’s feelings, you’d rather not face their tears and/or wrath, and you worry that you might not make it out of there with all your bits intact.

I know it’s hard but, please, don’t employ the “never contact again” approach. It’s just cowardly and unfair. A number of years ago, I met a handsome fellow skier in Austria. We hit it off and went on a couple of dates when we came back to Ireland. And then, nothing. We’d had a great last date, he drove me home, and we kissed. And then, not a dickie bird. I spent the next week checking my phone and wondering. Maybe he dropped his mobile down the loo. Did he get back with an ex? Did my breath smell? I shouldn’t have worn my hair up. He could have been in an accident. Maybe he’s dead. I kinda hope he’s dead.

After a week of theorising, I decided to bite the bullet and text him myself. I asked how he was. He complained about being sick all week. But I knew something wasn’t right. So, I told him that I’d wondered why I hadn’t heard from him. It was only at my courage and prodding that he finally told me he wasn’t interested in having a girl friend. I replied: “That’s ok. Just needed to know.” It wasn’t the response I’d been hoping for but at least now, I knew where I stood. I didn’t have to waste any more time inventing scenarios where his sexy female friends had lured him into an alcohol-induced coma. So, I stopped acting like a crazy person and moved on.

It’s not easy to be the bearer of bad news. Your partner may be oblivious to how you’ve been feeling. Things had been going great. You like them as a person but you no longer want to share your saliva or your plans for the future with them. You’d rather study/work/wash your hair several times in a row than hang out with them. And your partner deserves to know this. Well, not about the washing your hair part but you know what I mean. Your future ex will be unhappy for a bit but it’s better to end it now than have two very unhappy people further down the line.

Here’s how to end a relationship (and come out alive):

1) Be honest

If it comes from the heart, it’ll make sense to your soon-to-be ex and it’ll hurt a lot less too. Tell him/her how you’re feeling and what you want and don’t want. This will allow them to fully understand what’s happening and to air their own feelings. Who knows, you may even wind up being mates.

After a (mostly) wonderful four months of fun and kisses and romantic sunsets together, I decided to end it with a lovely chap from Wicklow. Because, despite the fun and kisses and romantic sunsets, there was just something off. I felt he was trying to be something he wasn’t just so I’d like him more. After a good stint of gentle pleading, flattery, and pulling at the heart-strings, he changed tactics. He told me I was too afraid to commit, that I was gullible, that I lived with my head in the clouds, and that I clearly had issues with my mother. He obviously knew deep down that I wasn’t suitable for him. But he chose to ignore our differences, and instead tried to change himself just so we’d have a chance at working out. And it was only when he knew he’d lost me that he was finally honest. No doubting my decision so!

2) Choose your moment

Don’t dump them on their birthday/Christmas/Valentine’s Day/New Year’s Eve/right before an important exam or job interview/on the anniversary of their mother’s death. This doesn’t leave you with a lot of time. So, do it on a Saturday when they’re not in work. This will give them space to blubber and wail and plot your assassination without having to hide their tears and snotty noses from their co-workers.

3) Choose your medium

Ideally, do it face-to-face. Your partner deserves this. You need to suck it up and deal with their shock, sadness and possible rage. Having said that, it’s not always possible to end it in person. Thanks to modern technology, you can also dump someone via text message, phone call, email, Skype or Facebook chat. DO NOT dump someone on their Facebook wall, even if they did cheat on you with the young wan you used to babysit. It’ll just make you look like an insecure, psychotic, bitter biatch.

4) Know that you’re doing the right thing

This knowledge may make it easier for you. You’ll both be better off in the future. If two people, who are totally unsuited, stay together, they’ll only damage each other with resentment and anger in the long-term. At least, once the pain-staking break up is over, you can move on, and enjoy being single for a while. And as a result, you’ll know a little bit more about what you want (and don’t want) from your next relationship.

5) The beauty of the white lie

If you want to make a clean break, maybe it’s best not to divulge how much you hate the way they chew, and how you sometimes had sexy dreams about their brother. Or that their new hair style makes them look like Susan Boyle. Before the makeover. If you haven’t been together long, the white lie manoeuvre is ideal. Tell them that you’re just not ready for a relationship, or you’re not over your ex, or that they’re just too good for you and you’re too messed up to appreciate that right now.

Alternatively, you could do like Chandler in Friends and tell them that you’re moving to Yemen.