My complicity in racism

I always considered myself to be anti-racist; I married into a multicultural family and have lived in Asia, Europe and The Middle East. My work has involved supporting communities process the horrendous repercussions of war and communities divided by hate. But, an uncomfortable realisation has been dawning on me. I'd thought that being blind to skin colour was a stance of inclusivity and unity. Now I realise seeing everyone as 'the same' was borne out of a sense of privilege that leads to negligence, avoidance and denial of the depths and expansive reach of racial injustice and discrimination. I never needed to ignore skin colour, I needed to stand against any implication that skin colour has any bearing on a human's value. I now choose to look directly and listen deeper, so that I can be a better friend, family member and neighbour.

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Comfort Zone

It’s natural to want to alter our circumstances when we feel challenged and frustrated. But if we aim to create a world where we never get triggered, we end up living a small life.
 
When you have the urge to make changes, are you responding to your inner wisdom, or are you ducking and diving, trying to shift things around to avoid stepping outside of your comfort zone? If it’s the latter, notice that external triggers (the irritating colleague, the promotion that scares you, the invitation to the party that intimidates you) point to your unresolved emotional wounds.
 
Once you make peace with those wounds, you'll no longer be unconsciously designing your life around your limited comfort zone. You'll choose to live from a more vibrant and empowered place.
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Self improvement

When clients talk about wanting to be the 'best versions' of themselves, I ask them to check what soil they're planting their intentions in. If they're coming from a place of judgment and rejection of the current 'version' of themselves, their efforts are likely to be an uphill struggle leading to unsustainable results. Self-sabotage patterns reflect unmet emotional needs and hidden beliefs (e.g. "I don't deserve to be successful" etc.) rather than fundamental character flaws that need to be fixed. Once we can identify these patterns with care and understanding, we shift into greater presence, and being our 'best version' comes with ease.

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Coping mechanisms or avoidance?

Coping mechanisms provide you ways to hold your nose, spritz perfume and sprinkle glitter so that the inner 'mess' is less offensive and more manageable, but that won’t ultimately change the fact that you’re still standing in a pile of crap.

If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and dig deep into your underworld, you'll find that everything you’ve been avoiding – what you’re most ashamed of, where you feel most in pain- turns into your gold.

This is the work of inner alchemy, transforming your emotional density into connection with your authentic Self through awareness and acceptance.  To try to take the short-cut removes the opportunity to do this deep, transformative soulful work. 

 

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Why I don't like positive thinking

I often find clients running around in mental circles, pressurising themselves to transform ‘negative’ thinking to ‘positive’ thinking. When they notice negative thoughts, they panic and try to ramp up the positivity quota.

Trying to control thinking with more thinking results in strain and self-judgment.

I suggest my clients leave the 'negative' thoughts alone. We then place our focus on the part that’s aware of the thoughts, and from there, we question the validity of the stressful mental patterns. From this place of awareness (which is effortlessly and authentically ‘positive’), it’s easy to see many of these thoughts aren’t even true.

Like a radio playing softly in the background, we naturally no longer respond to the thought transmission when it doesn’t resonate.

All thoughts are neutral visitors, it’s our relationship to them that makes the difference.

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Invisible wounds

A decade ago we were living abroad with our 3 lovely babies. I felt all-consuming love for my boys and hyper-reactive to almost everyone else, and sometimes them. When a shopkeeper told me our 1yr old should be wearing socks with his sandals I felt deeply judged and hurt. That night I had a vivid dream that people were sticking sharp thorns into my skin. I felt a sense of injustice and outrage at how I was being treated. Then I noticed the thorns were growing from within me. There weren’t any villains stabbing me, only people who had the misfortune of rubbing against my thorns.
 
The next morning I could see where I felt triggered by others could be traced back to a wound within me. When I was able to give these areas of pain my attention and compassion, they no longer hurt myself or others.
 
Where do you feel pain from what ‘others are doing’ and can you trace the pain back to the root within you?
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Seeking Approval

As a teenager, I often tried to win approval from people that I didn't even resonate with. By prioritising what others thought of me, rather than tuning into my truth, I betrayed myself in endless ways; agreeing to situations I didn't want to be part of, not speaking out, playing 'extrovert' when I craved solitude.
 
We can never really know what anyone thinks of us. To spend our precious energy interpreting others facial expressions and trying to mould ourselves to fit what we imagine they want from us results in disconnection and self-betrayal.
 
Ironically, prioritising our relationship with ourselves has the added bonus of enhancing our authentic and meaningful relationships with others too.
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Welcome ‘negative’ feelings

The beauty of this age of ever-advancing technology is that we can do so many things, and the challenge is that we can do so many things. Every time an emotion that we’re conditioned to label as ‘negative’ arises we immediately look for the next distraction.
 
What if we could let ourselves relax into every passing emotion like slipping into a bath?
 
The anxiety that we resist before public speaking is the same feeling that another person pays to experience at the start of a rollercoaster.
 
It’s only our labelling of the states as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ that causes an issue. What if we could welcome all emotions as Rumi says ‘The dark thought, the shame, the malice. Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.’
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How I let go of resentment

I was irritated when my neighbour responded vaguely to an invitation to the community event I’d organised.
 
I resented her ability to be non-committal.
 
When asked to organise the event at a particularly busy time, I’d felt the need to commit. What I hadn’t allowed myself to say "this is a busy time for me. Thank you for asking, and no".
 
I’d negated my own needs and truth, and given a ‘yes’ based on the fear of losing the image of a dependable friend.
 
What started as resentment became admiration and gratitude; the next time I was asked to do something I didn't want to, I was able to give an honest no.
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How do I Love myself?

 

Self-Love is accepting yourself for the messy reality of who you are.

If you’re able to hold a child in tenderness when they express anger, anxiety or overwhelm– are you ready to exercise the same compassion towards yourself?

Within our Higher-Self is a smaller-self (ego), that feels rage at its powerlessness and judges itself as inferior/superior to others.

Do you embrace this part with compassion and understanding? In doing so, the ego is no longer unconscious, and you start to experience a greater connection with your higher-self.

In choosing Love rather than judgment, our authentic higher-self naturally takes the driving seat, and our smaller self-becomes the passenger.

Feeling connected, accepted and loved is an inside job.

 

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