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Why Hope is Helpful in Hurtful Situations.

20 Jul
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

I don’t think I’m alone in noticing that hostility and adversity are creeping into our collective culture more and more. 

When other humans dump either of those on our doorstep, it’s such an unwelcome package. Being the recipient of threatening, thoughtless, hurtful or selfish behaviour wrapped up with string is a good time to think about Marcus Aurelius, Philosopher and Roman Emperor (121—180 C.E.) and what he wrote in Meditations about the pitfalls of human behaviour; “When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly.”

To be fair, in the practice of positive psychology, where both the good and bad parts of life are equally genuine, it’s also good to remind ourselves that although people can be horrible and the news media hardly ever reports on goodness and social media might not leave us feeling content, in our real life there’s usually an abundance of good deeds, good behaviour and lovely people who display and offer honesty, justice, loyalty, decency, trustworthiness, kindness, charity, reliability, appropriateness and warmth. Let’s all take a moment to be grateful for them.

How though, can we best move through any suffering that others have caused us? Put less emphasis on why they did it, and like Marcus Aurelius, accept they do it because they can, because it’s in their nature, it’s their way of getting what they want. Working out whether they’re acting out of envy, exclusion, competitiveness or powerlessness, isn’t going to change our disappointment.

The goal is to balance out the darkness with as much light as we can, and hope helps with that. Hope moves us out of difficulty and despair. It gives us a glimmer of a better future, and begins to give us the courage and confidence to implement coping strategies that will help us find creative solutions to rise above and out of dark or difficult places.

No matter how painful our thoughts are or how distressing our emotions feel, it is imperative that we don’t react or respond, impulsively.

  • This is a good time to use the STOP skill from Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. STOP stands for Stop, Take a step back, Observe, and Proceed mindfully.
  • It’s possible to find better ways to manage stress and discomfort. 
  • It’s about finding ways to cope that aren’t harmful or ineffective.
  • Breathe.
  • Feel the feelings.
  • Talk it over with someone safe.

We mustn’t allow the intensity of our feelings to stop us from doing what we can to move through the situation and over the obstacle. Getting into “wise mind” is much more helpful. Knowing what doesn’t and isn’t going to work actually allows us think of alternatives that might work. 

It can take a bit of practise to reorganize our perspective and reframe our experience.

Remember the key is being able to choose how we respond to difficult situations.

  • Rather than “this should never happen to me,” stay realistic about what others are capable of doing, and be prepared for possible consequences.
  • Meet “it” exactly as it is, with curiosity.
  • Practise paced breathing to decrease emotional arousal.
  • Focus on what we can control.
  • Draw upon resilience.
  • Get the right kind of expert advice.
  • Reach out for social support.
  • And even in the midst of processing it all, we need to do pleasurable things to make ourselves feel better, calmer and relaxed.

Hope reduces feelings of helplessness, reduces stress and improves our wellbeing. The good news is that building hope into our perspective uplifts us enough to move us out of any shock, helps us search for a helpful instruction manual and motivates us to calmly find the right path forward. Rest assured, resolution can also include a return to sender, or an instant or eventual retreat from those who tamper with your boundaries and nervous system once too often!

Don’t Blurt What Might Hurt.

23 Apr

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In these socially distant times, spending more time online is one way to help satisfy our basic human longing for social inclusion. After nearly a month, people are saying they’re beginning to feel emotionally drained, restless and disappointed in the way some people are treating others.  Others find themselves bombarded by overly strong opinions, forceful comments, put downs or really rude, sharp answers to reasonable questions, comments or status updates. When the comments stay public, they invite more negativity.

Unfortunately, because people bring to social media the ways they behave in Continue reading

More Kindness. Less Judgement.

3 Apr

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Do right. Do your best. Treat others as you want to be treated – Lou Holtz.

Wobbly times can bring out the worst in people.

Hoarders and xenophobes is how the worst broke through, followed closely by profit motivated price hikers and reckless rule breakers. As the days pass and lockdown has many of us glued to our computers, unkind keyboard warriors are now bordering on being boringly predictable.

Whilst it’s easy to want to throw up our hands or fight back, from a Continue reading

Don’t Fight Crocodiles in a Swamp.

11 Nov

I’m sure I’m not alone in observing negative behavioural changes in society, online and in the media. What appears to be happening is that it’s getting more divided and extreme, and that voicing outrage and unleashing opinions, bitter criticism and malice towards others is becoming a new normal. What I would like to question is, are we unconsciously being encouraged or forced to accept bullying as normal rather than challenging systems that allow it?

Nearly every episode of the Block NZ 2019 was uncomfortable to watch, because of bullying, and at times triggered people with trauma, so I still feel compelled to write about it. Writing about it at the time would have been like fighting a crocodile in a swamp and I didn’t fancy myself being swallowed whole by those who thought the targets deserved it. The bullying was overt and mostly unchallenged, and we the viewers, whether we liked it or not, were put in a “bystander” position, powerless to stop it; which further perpetuates the acceptability of bullying and inevitably, yet again, it becomes even more embedded in our culture as the norm. 

It’s reality tv you might say. Why even watch it? Because Continue reading

What Makes Gossip And Rumours So Dangerous?

25 May

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Gossip exposes someone who isn’t present to defend themselves, to the collective wrath of others. It denies them a right to be fairly heard. It’s a cunning, passive aggressive  form of ally recruitment, warlike in nature, used to advance ones own opinions and agenda. Spreading rumours can be harmful to the reputation, credibility and social standing of others. Gossip encourages recruiters to dislike, be wary, mistrust, avoid, exclude and see the target as unappealing. It’s a form of social bullying.

Incite hatred long enough in any community, and it will eventually fall into the ears of those from the dark side of humanity, those who take pleasure in taking matters into their own hands, provoking and harassing. Once indifference has been fostered, destroying others becomes sport-like. Be wary because encouraging others to act on your behalf is dangerous and in some cases illegal, for both of you.

Fight or flight becomes the norm for the target in a misinformation campaign. Sometimes targets can’t cope and may hurt or harm themselves or they may take serious revenge as an escape from the constant pressure. Both can have devastating consequences. (Please see additional links below if you need help for either.)

If you are in the presence of someone spreading gossip about another person, here a few things you could say to disarm them: Continue reading

How To Deal With Verbal Attacks.

26 Feb

Courage

Online, you can delete, block and sometimes report inappropriate or abusive comments, but what do you do if someone verbally attacks you at a dinner party or gathering?

After watching Anthony  launch into a witch hunt on Cheryl at the dinner party on Married at First Sight Australia  (series 4 episode 10) I realized a few things.

1.  A lot of people, even strong empowered ones, don’t always know HOW to stop unwanted, unwarranted, unacceptable tirades.

2. Abuse often renders people speechless and causes what I call “bunny in the headlights.”

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3. The majority of people tend to sit in a bystander rather than Continue reading

Beauty And The Beast.

4 Apr

Credit: Wallpapersus.com

Credit: Wallpapersus.com

I have noticed a bit of a trend here in New Zealand on open social network platforms, a trend that I believe probably needs a lot of education and a slather of magic to actually create change. It’s a modern version of the tall poppy syndrome.

Working with couples for a quarter of a century I’ve noticed a similar trend.

  • It’s easier to be negative than it is to be positive.
  • It’s easier to take offence and be offensive, than it is to distance and disentangle.
  • It’s easier to point the finger and blame than it is to drop deeply within oneself and wonder why such a strong response got activated within us.
  • It’s easier to jump on someone when they are down than it is to realize we all make mistakes, we are all imperfect and we all have beastly parts that luckily don’t appear very often in a public arena.
  • It’s easier to fight and fume than it is to let it go, forgive or forget.
  • It’s easier to criticize and feel contempt than it is to stay curious and compassionate.

If a news reader makes a mistake by not realizing their microphone is still on when they expresses a personal opinion, how come it is so difficult for so many to be able to simply say “Gosh, how interesting.” Or, “How embarrasing.”

It’s good to remember my saying,”Opinion is not truth.” Whatever she said is really just an estimation of reality. Is it fact, fallacy or fiction? Rather than telling, teaching or preaching and trying to force someone to recognize an error, whatever happened to gently encouraging someone to question more thoroughly what they accept as truth, or trusting that they are capable of learning their own lesson?

When we are able to move away from reacting with biased viewpoints, discrimination and prejudice and are able to move towards tolerance, fairness and equality, pure hearts begin to shine.

 

Unhappy Endings. My Goodbye To Charlotte Dawson.

24 Feb

When I attended my school reunion, I found out that the boy who taunted me for a whole year when I was 12, was secretly in love with me. It wasn’t until my mum stepped in and told him that I could use my Judo skills to waste him, that he stopped.

Bullies like to bring down those who they see or experience as a threat to them. If they can’t have what you have, whether that be a kind heart, a gorgeous body, a particular talent, a life in the public eye, fame or fortune, then you may become their target. If you reject them or answer back, it’s likely to subject you to relentless hounding, and increase the attacks and abuse. If you go head to head with them and overly stand up for yourself or shame them, there’s a chance that you can get misunderstood more, targeted all over again for new reasons by a whole new set of people, or be labelled as “intense” “trouble” or told you “bring in on yourself.” It can even lose you friends who don’t want to hear your story. I am passionate about this subject and apologize in advance if my post is too long and comes off a bit like a political speech! I was invited to share my views on the news, but I couldn’t physically make it to the city, so this is my attempt to raise awareness of adult bullying.

Most people might find it difficult to understand what it must have felt like for Charlotte to have had her spirit consciously crushed by a collective bunch of anonymously cloaked bullies, some perhaps with sociopathic tendencies. When someone chips away at someone else’s tower of strength over and over, brick by brick, they are in essence willing them to crumble. How does someone take pleasure in that and sleep soundly at night? When the bullies take the next step and gather their army of supporters and push forward with bulldozers, it can fill bystanders with fear. If others speak up on your behalf, they can be next on the hit list. This can further isolate a vulnerable target. Imagine Rapunzel Continue reading

Lady Luck.

12 Oct

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I love potential. I love seeing brave people going after their dreams, taking chances, combining talent with lady luck. I also enjoy most parts of reality shows that give people a chance to shine, whether they’re renovating houses, singing or performing in talent shows. What I enjoy less is the mocking and trashing that sometimes accompanies it.

Everyday-people can sometimes be too quick to Continue reading

Good Versus Evil.

12 Jan

The world is and always has been, filled with good and evil. It is what it is. It’s a kind of wilderness that we need to learn to survive in. We have to find our own way through and manage ourselves down at the waterhole, staying alert to and seeking shelter from giants, angry dwarves, wolves and many bad apples along the way. Even if we don’t bump into trouble personally, disaster, violence, cruelty and horror has a way of bursting into our lives and living rooms, into our newspapers, onto our television screens and into our neighbourhoods more often than any of us would like.

Credit to: Artist Evan Heasman (Soju Shots")This is one of his deliciously dark art pieces.

Credit to: Artist Evan Heasman (Soju Shots) This is one of his deliciously dark artworks.

We live in a time where it’s getting harder to screen things out. Over exposure to excessive darkness and real life horror stories (even though they a reality) can cause us to Continue reading