Over the past few days, there’s been a lot of talk about the coming year. I’ve been asked about my new year’s resolutions, I chose my Word for 2015 (Free), and yesterday, my friend and I played a thought-provoking game which highlighted our fears and desires.
My new year’s resolutions are to be present, to be brave, and to love. Last night in the pub, a friend asked me if I had any more concrete goals, things that I could tick off my list with satisfaction. She mentioned wanting to read and go to the theatre more. Another friend would like to participate in a project that excites her and to find a new hobby that raises her adrenaline. Somebody else listed off the countries she wants to visit.
I paused. The other evening, my mother had asked me about romantic relationships. “I have to sort my life out first mam,” I declared. It’s difficult to think about hobbies, classes, holidays and dating when I feel like I’m currently in limbo. I need to figure out my career and where I’m living.
So I’ve set up a session with a great Life Coach for next week. I finally feel ready to be completely honest about myself, and about the fears, issues, blocks and beliefs that are limiting me. It’s my life and I deserve to live it to my full potential. I want to grow and move forwards. I’m also going to exercise more.
Yesterday evening, I called over to a friend. I asked her what her Word for 2015 is. She decided on Peace. She explained that there is no greater thing than Peace. In Peace, you are present. You can be more creative and efficient. In Peace, you break through fear. “Yes,” I say excitedly. “You can’t feel fear and Peace at the same time. What a great Word!”
Then, my friend suggested a wonderful exercise. She took out a page and divided it into 16 pieces. On each slip of paper, we wrote things like: I desire. I fear. I need. I am.
We took turns in finishing these sentences. It was interesting to see what came up for us and how much everything overlapped. It enabled us to become really clear on what we need to focus on (and let go of) for the coming year. I realised that I have to love and accept myself no matter what.
Many people use this time of year to reflect, plan and motivate themselves. The way things have worked in my life has been quite synchronistic. I’m starting afresh right at the beginning of a new year. I’m releasing old patterns that are no longer serving me. I’m willing to change. And I’m open to new opportunities.
And despite the fear, negativity, confusion and over thinking that I’ve fallen into over the past month, I have also really enjoyed the holidays. And I’m so grateful for the lovely people I surround myself with.
I’ve appreciated and been present to the simple things in life like laughter, music, movies, nights out, sleeping, eating, exercising, reading, writing, being in nature, and spending time with friends and family.
The other night, I caught the end of a documentary called Unhung Hero. The documentary-maker was struggling with insecurity and he considered giving up on the film altogether. His mother gave him the following advice: “With growth there’s pain.”
I feel that I am on the cusp of something great. I’m about to take a massive leap forwards. And it’s natural to experience fear when you’re challenging yourself to step into the unknown.
And so I step into 2015, a never-before-seen year, with freedom, presence, courage, love and peace. I wish the same for all of you. Thank you for reading. You make this labour of love all the more worthwhile.
It’s been a roller coaster of a week. I hurtled into shock, grief, disappointment and confusion. And I soared with laughter, love, joy and beauty.
For the month of September, I’ve decided to be present. And for the first few days, my commitment to this challenge has really been tested.
Instead of beating myself up over being less than perfectly present, I’m glad that I’m aware when I swing high above and far below the present moment.
When I experience a rush of happiness, I look at it with curiosity. I can see that this feeling was born by a thought. A fleeting image of an interesting man I’ve been chatting with. I detach from the reverie and come back to the present.
When I tell myself I’m in a bad mood, I question it. Am I this feeling? Does it belong to me? I examine it. I realise that I feel this way because I just read a message from a friend who’s depressed.
If she’s feeling unwell, should I feel lousy too? Is it my responsibility to make her better? I need to cut the cord that I have loving placed around both our necks before we strangle one another completely. I unravel the attachment and step back into the present.
When I believe a thought, I adhere importance to it. A feeling arises from this connection. This can occur so quickly that it’s difficult to spot the sequence. Now that I understand what’s happening, I ask myself: What am I choosing to believe? And is that true?
This evening, I flake out on the armchair and watch the thoughts that dance for my attention. What can I say to help her? Will I go to badminton tonight? Would it be better to drive to the airport next week or get the bus? Maybe she doesn’t like me any more. Will I grow old gracefully? I wonder if we’ll fancy one another… I need to make an appointment for a bikini wax. What’ll I wear tomorrow night? Where am I going to live? Is everything okay?
The thoughts shimmy before me and I am exhausted. I decide that I’m too tired to think. I just couldn’t be bothered.
I could simply be present. Isn’t that where I want to be anyway? Isn’t that where I am? Spiritual teacher Mooji said:
“You’re like the infinite sky. Can any clouds come and stay? Everything is passing, everything is passing. Will you fall in love with a cloud? How long will your relationship last?”
Thoughts come. Thoughts go. Feelings surface. Feelings change. Nothing is permanent. Nothing stays the same. Everything passes, like clouds.
Why then should I fear what won’t last? And why should I hold tight to things that cannot remain? I’d rather not waste time and energy when there really is no point in doing so.
So I sit here, close my eyes and breathe. And the thoughts pass. Like clouds.
Today, I had a very interesting conversation about good and evil. One woman stated: “Of course evil exists if good exists. Everything has its polarity.”
I’ve been told before that I only see the good in people and that I need to live in the “real” world. Despite this, I said: “I realise that without darkness, there can be no light. But ultimately, and beyond all that, I feel that love and light prevail. And everything is part of that Divine Oneness.” Somebody else piped up: “Yes, duality only comes into play when the human mind perceives it.”
Deep, I know! I went home in a bit of a daze. I knew I had to sit with this and feel what was right for me. I went to bed with a copy of the Tao Te Chingand randomly opened a page. I was amazed to read the following words:
“Recognise beauty and ugliness is born. Recognise good and evil is born. Is and isn’t produce each other. Hard depends on easy, Long is tested by short, High is determined by low, Sound is harmonised by voice, After is followed by before.”
It is only in defining something that its opposite arises. I felt very tired. I switched off the light, pulled back the curtains and gazed up at the night. “What is the truth,” I asked the crescent-shaped moon. The clouds moved across the sky, part shadow, part light. Suddenly, a large black cloud completely covered the moon. It was as though the darkness had banished the light.
The truth, according to my human eye, was that the shadow had overridden the light. Yet I knew that the moon had not gone anywhere. It still was. I also knew that, although it only appeared to be a sliver of its full self, the moon never actually diminished in size. It was always there in its entirety. And I knew that it was the brightest object in the sky, after the sun, even though its surface was actually very dark, with a similar reflectance to coal.
The dark cloud moved on and the light shone down. The moon said nothing. It simply was. And I no longer needed to be answered.
Some of you will delight in me writing this. Others will be too indignant or alarmed to read on… Some will presume I’m having it off with Jim Corr and switch off. And then there are others, who will breathe a sigh of relief that, finally, somebody normal is speaking out about their thoughts and fears regarding what’s going on in the world. Someone without a background in economics or activism, politics or finance; somebody regular who’d never even heard of a default or a foreclosure or an NWO up until a year ago.
We can pretend like nothing’s changed. We have offices and kitchens and children to attend to. Christmas is fast approaching. And The X Factor final is on this weekend. But we cannot ignore the growing dole queues, the increasing break-ins, the persistence of the Occupy movement, and the unfair Budget cuts. Our children are growing up in an unprecedented era. Forget about the Púca – it’s the IMF that’s got everyone really scared.
Dole Queue in Cork
There is talk in certain circles that the economy is on the brink of total collapse (no surprise there). Some people are forecasting (and gleefully anticipating) the breakdown of all of society’s major institutions, which are finally losing their grip on the power they’ve wielded over the obedient public for far too long. Even prime time television is warning that we might have to revert to the punt. And if that happens, what little money we have left will be almost worthless.
If this actually occurs, so much will have to change. We won’t be able to afford oil or petrol, thus limiting trade and transport. We won’t have the option of buying new clothes or technology. We’ll have to return to self-sufficiency, which would be no bad thing.
These difficult circumstances would force us to come together as communities. We’d have to rely on agriculture and fishing. The long-suffering Irish farmers would be granted a new-found respect. Our lawyers and accountants and PR executives would have to be taught how to sow seeds and cut trees. Our scientists would be able to dedicate their time and genius to work on tapping into alternative sources of energy.
Fishing in Connemara
When I hear these outlandish but strangely plausible predictions, I try to imagine such a future. I guess we’d have to ration our food and our firewood. We’d only be able to afford enough petrol for one vehicle per village. We’d work in the daylight, and sleep beside one another in large fire-warmed living rooms. We’d have to darn our socks and put patches on worn sweater elbows. We’d drink fresh milk and eat lots of stew. We’d go back to natural remedies and energetic healing. We’d have time to sit with each other, to knit and play games and tell stories.
Is such a world even conceivable? And what about technology? Would our phones suddenly stop working? Would electricity fail? Without the companies that connect us, would the internet perish?
Oh, I’m all for getting rid of money-hungry, ethically challenged governments, multinationals and pharmaceuticals. And I look forward to the day when the food we eat isn’t laced with hormones, pesticides and preservatives. I would gladly embrace a time when we are content to live off the land. When we inhabit a world that refuses to be dominated by mass-produced fear. When we take the time, effort and courage to inform ourselves and think outside the government-constructed box. When we recognise real health and call a halt to the pumping of too-trusting populations with vaccines and medication and other hidden chemicals. I long for a land of free thinkers, where open minds and creativity are a valued commodity.
Despite my idealistic hopes, I also have doubts. I worry that, if things really do go belly up, not everyone will react favourably. Many will be shocked and scared, angry and incredulous. Parents will fight for their food and children will steal. The streets will see violence and riots and looting. Some will go hungry. Others will go mad.
And I can’t help hypothetically grieving all the materialistic luxuries I currently enjoy. How would I cope without my car and my holidays abroad? What would I do without the ability to discover new music at the click of a mouse? How would I feel about the loss of lipstick and mascara? Could I welcome a world without the internet and blogging? And if money disappears and I can no longer pay rent, will I have to move home? Orwould my landlord accept payment in poems and potatoes?
Then again, this may never happen and you’ll laugh when you remember the crazy blogger who once ranted about the possible links between sudden poverty and freedom.But if the alternative news reports do prove to be correct, at least I’ll have given you a heads up. To encourage you to spend some of the money that’s lying in fear in your bank account. To get yourself some practical essentials. To give you time to install a stove and stock up on rice and tins of tuna. To buy good winter boots and some quality clothes that’ll last longer than your usual purchases fromPenneys. Better silly and safe than stubborn and sorry.
Whether or not this apocalypse-like scenario manifests, we cannot ignore the fact that change is in the air. Perhaps this upset and turmoil is a necessary step in our evolution. Masses of people are awakening and there is a definite shift in consciousness. This could be the New Earth that Eckhart Tolle wrote about. And a new way of thinking and living and being willemerge from the redundant ashes of the old world, like a phoenix, ready to take flight…
Self-hatred is rarely spoken about. You dare not breathe its existence because you don’t wish to acknowledge its dark presence. You wouldn’t dream of admitting that it plagues you because you presume that everybody else is free of this scary demon. Yet it is evident in many people’s lives. You may not have witnessed the tornado but you can watch the footage of the carnage it has caused.
Self-hatred is very real. Why else do you eat until you throw up? Or drink until you’ve lost your loved ones? Why do you gamble away all of your possessions? Or do so many drugs that you repeatedly fling yourself into life-threatening situations?
As you read this, you may be thinking that you’re one of the lucky ones. You must not hate yourself because you don’t suffer from such a horrid addiction. However, some of us keep the self-hatred at bay by pretending that we’re perfect, and engaging in other less visibly destructive behaviours. We strive to win self-imposed challenges. We educate ourselves. We go to work every day and earn lots of money. We exercise. We score a wonderful partner and raise a family.
Sounds idyllic, right? But how many of you are terrified that you’ll be found out? That others will discover that you are not as perfect as you’ve portrayed yourself to be? If you were sure of yourself, you wouldn’t be so insecure about your partner’s possible infidelities, or the prospect of your peers hating you. You wouldn’t dread the impending disaster of old age, when you’ll no longer be fit and beautiful, when there will be no more reason for anyone to love you. Because you don’t love yourself. If you loved yourself unconditionally, you wouldn’t be so afraid to stop (doing, giving, achieving) in case the self-image you have so carefully constructed implodes and you are left with nothing.
The moment any of these suppressants are removed from your life, the monster of self-hatred rears its ugly head. You lose your job. Your partner leaves you or your children move out. You’re too old to play sport and you’re not as attractive as you used to be. You spiral into a deep depression. You hate yourself.
For those of you lucky enough to have escaped the clutches of this awful affliction, I will describe to you what it is to hate yourself. It is the worst kind of agitation. You cry a never-ending river of tears. You want to smash the mirror and claw at your arms. You tell yourself that you’re no good, that your life isn’t worth living, that you’re a burden on your loved ones, that you’ll never get better, that you want to die.
If you’re feeling so lost and confused that you don’t know which way to turn, if you don’t know what to do to make this pain go away, and you have no idea how to silence this ogre of self-hatred, this is very good news indeed. It means that you are no longer willing or able to suppress these frightening feelings. You have nowhere left to run and hide. Know that you are just about to reach the summit of a long and arduous climb. Possibility stretches out to the horizon and beyond. Yes, it’s scary to be so high up but the view from here is a promise of beauty and peace.
If you have reached this point, it is time to confront your self-hatred. Really look at it. Gaze into the jaws you had so feared. What is it trying to tell you? Stare into the swirling fire of its eyes. What do you see reflected there? Ask for its name. You might be surprised to learn that it is not called self-hatred after all. Really listen to what it tells you. Then thank this strange creature for roaring loud enough for you to finally hear it.
Why do you think you hate yourself? Why do you feel you deserve such violence? Figure out if these thoughts have really, one hundred per cent, come from you. Maybe you took on a misguided belief system at a young age. This might have come from society or loved ones. For many years, you held their beliefs as your own. Perhaps, now, because they don’t ring true for you and you’re straining against them, you’re beginning to doubt yourself. You fear the unknown. And this fear turns into hate, which you are directing at the only person who will take it- yourself.
It is extremely painful to question all that you have known. You (and those around you) may not want to hear the answers you come up with. Perhaps you don’t belong in third level education or behind a desk or in front of a computer. You might not fancy the type of people you think you should. Perhaps you have been living a lie for your entire life.
It is possible that you took on a distorted image of yourself as a child. I’m only deserving of love if I behave in a certain way. But this was your perception seen through the eyes of a child. You are no longer three years old! You are an adult. You can change the rules. Isn’t that liberating?
The world doesn’t have to be a difficult, hostile, scary place. You don’t have to work so hard to be allowed to feel okay. You can enjoy life, find out what you’re passionate about, laugh, and have fun. You can learn to love yourself, not for how much you work, how many compliments you receive, or how many miles you run a day. Love yourself for the radiance of your spirit. That bright ball of light and colour that goes beyond form and structure and makes you who you are. And every time you silently scream the sick song of self-hatred, remember that vibrant energy within. And smile. Because you are going to do things differently.
This is a big one. Attachment affects every area of our lives. Some of us believe that if we weren’t attached to people and to things, we’d have no reason to be here on this earth. But letting go of attachment is the biggest lesson we have to learn. The biggest hurdle to overcome. And once we do this, we will be free.
It is our attachment to people, to things, to ideas, and to our thoughts that keeps us stuck and causes us endless amounts of pain. Initially, the severance of these attachments may also cause pain. After all, these shackles have had us chained for many, many years. They’ve prevented us from moving forward but it’s all we know. Then, one day something happens that breaks these chains and sets us free. There is a new world out there, bright and exciting and pain-free. Do you want to join me on this magnificent journey? Here’s how.
First of all, it’d help if you could figure out what it is you’re attached to. Once you recognise your self-destructive patterns, you can do something about it. In the following sub-section, I’ll discuss the different things we become attached to.
If you’re attached to your external image, prepare to be saddened, disappointed, angry and depressed. An attachment to how you look will lead to pain and suffering every time you break out in pimples or gain a bit of weight. Hair loss, sagging skin and wrinkles will cause you to sink into a spiral of self-disgust. However, if you can let go of this attachment to your image, you’ll soon realise that there are more important things in life than how you look on the outside. Your spirit is beautiful. Allow it to shine.
b) other people
We become attached to our parents, friends, other halves, and to our children. We believe we couldn’t live without them, and we understand that they make us whole. If you feel this way, I have two words for you: Uh oh! People leave. People die, move away, or move on with their lives without us. Relationships break up. Children move out. Friends drift away. This is a normal part of life. But if you’re too attached, you’ll find it very hard to survive a loss like this. First, work on becoming whole yourself, then any relationship you have with another person will be an added bonus to your already full and healthy life. Their presence may enhance your experiences but their absence will not diminish you as a person.
Many of us fall into the trap of defining ourselves by our job title, our gender, religion, social class, and even by our taste in music. This is dangerous. And this is why many people commit suicide after a job loss. Lately, many Irish people have become extremely disillusioned by the child abuse scandals in the Church. We were once a very Catholic country. Now, we are losing our attachment to our religion and this isn’t a bad thing. For the breaking of attachment creates an opening for more understanding, acceptance and inclusion.
Who are we without our identifying labels? For a short while after letting go of attachment, you may feel lonely, lost and confused. Confusion is a good thing. It means you are questioning life and your place in the world. Sit with it. You may think you’re lonely, lost and confused when in fact you’re now free and open and alive.
The attachment to our thoughts is what causes us most pain. We think: I am fat, I am useless, no one loves me, life is difficult. When we attach to such thoughts, we believe them to be true and we live them. We manifest our own reality of hardship and self-hatred. But we don’t have to attach to such thoughts. We can choose to view things in a different light. When it’s raining, for example, you have a choice. You can attach to the thought This weather is awfulOR I love the sound of the rain.
The death of a loved one is probably the most painful thing any of us will ever go through. And even at that, we have a choice as to which thought we attach to: They are gone forever. I’ll never love again. I miss them so much. Life will never sparkle without themOR I am so lucky to have met such a wonderful person. They taught me so much about life and about myself. I will always remember the love we shared. And I will bring what I’ve learned from them with me on this fascinating journey of discovery.
2) Do nothing
You’ll be glad to hear that you don’t have to do anything at all. The more you fight against something, the more it fights back. You are now aware of how you’ve been behaving. So, allow this awareness to wash over you. And the rest will take care of itself. Eckhart Tolle wrote the following in his marvellous book, A New Earth:
“How do you let go of attachment to things? Don’t even try. It’s impossible. Attachment to things drops away by itself when you no longer seek to find yourself in them.”
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