Kindness and the Magical Equation

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness” – Dalai Lama This is one of my favourite quotes in the whole world. These days I had new opportunities to think about the extraordinary gift of kindness and the miracles it can do for our lives. I have come to believe that all people are fundamentally good. You don’t need to agree with me – I am aware this is a very controversial topic – but it is my model of the world and I choose to share it with you here. I believe we all have light inside of us and we are all capable of amazing things. We are all absolutely wonderful in the beginning, as any adult looking at a small child can easily notice. What happens later on? How do we become embittered, egoistical, cruel, depressed, aggressive, victimised, dependant, demanding, judgemental, impatient, jealous, unforgiving and unloving of ourselves and of others? Where do all these states and feelings come from? It is obvious they don’t make us happy, it is clear as daylight they destroy relationships, families, self-esteems and yet we bring them into our lives and perpetuate them for years, sometimes for a whole lifetime. We end up hurting ourselves and those we love. We end up angry and lonely and wondering why life can’t be easier. Yet we are blinded to the fact that it is us, and nobody else, making our own lives hard. Our disappointment in others in nothing but a reflection of our disappointment in ourselves. Our anger and judgement against others is, in the end, just the shadow of our anger and judgement against our own faults, mistakes and perceived weaknesses.  It is my belief that it all starts with parents projecting their own unsolved emotional issues on their children. It all starts with an adult caught up in what psychologists call “the drama triangle” and I personally call “the dreaded triangle“. It is the triad of roles most adults tend to adopt in...

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The Emotional Shield

I had a very interesting debate today, during one of my workshops, about the “layers” people use to protect themselves from others. We talked about the professional facade we put on, the public image we project, and the countless strategies we use to shield ourselves from the world and the harm it may bring to us. In her book, “I thought it was just me – but it isn’t” – one of my favourite authors, Brené Brown, writes about shame – an emotion she calls the “silent epidemics” – and holds accountable for many of the destructive relationship patterns and life choices people make. She explains how we use anger as a shield against shame, the mechanisms that make us want to conform to what others seem to expect of us and the shame which comes when we fail, the impulse to hide who we truly are because we are too ashamed to show the world that we are imperfect and too afraid to let ourselves be vulnerable. She also writes about our tendency to run away from shame altogether, by denying it, even to ourselves. She also discusses labelling, stereotyping and the habit of shaming others before they get a chance to shame us, or as a means of coercion – for example parents using shame as an “educational” tool. Reading this book made me think of the many ways we build walls to protect ourselves from the outside world and how we strive to defend the image others have of us. Today’s discussion made me think one step further -how we often build shields to protect us from ourselves. Take one example. In our culture, boys are usually taught to be strong. Of course I am generalising here and I am aware there are many exceptions, but still, statistics show us the leading trend. And the leading trend is that boys are shamed by adults if they cry or show signs of weakness, which tends to be considered a feminine attribute. The...

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To All Women

I was inspired to write this post by a wonderful day spent in the company of 8 women and 4 adorable little girls, aged 8, 4, 3 1/2, and a baby of 4 1/2 months. It all started with one friend’s idea of spending an all girls’ Sunday in the attic of her house, just laughing, eating cake and reconnecting with our femininity. I was amazed by how something so simple turned out to be pure magic, that filled all our hearts with joy, laughter and a renewed sense of who we are as women. This amazing day is just a step in a larger journey towards getting back in touch with my feminine self and I notice I am not alone in this. Our hectic life is filled with pressures to achieve, to keep all these balls in the air at the same time: career, family life, social life. This leads many women to simply disconnect from who they truly are, in a desperate attempt to become what everyone else seems to expect of them. We become so immersed in our daily roles that we forget our true identity. We struggle to keep up with the men in the workplace and be the “iron lady”, all ready for that promotion, while at the same time being a wife, a mother, a daughter and a friend. Although many women seem to successfully pull this off on a daily basis, when you go beneath the surface things are not that easy at all. Over the past few months I have heard of more divorces initiated by women than ever before. The women I talk to during my seminars or whom I coach often feel crushed beneath the burden of all their responsibilities and feel suffocated by their need to take care of everyone else, so much so that they often leave themselves for last. Many of them feel they have lost something very precious of themselves in the process of becoming successful, seeming strong and...

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Life Equations: Control + Expectations = Disappointment

I recently started reading Chip Conley’s book – “Emotional Equations“. [vimeo http://vimeo.com/30383779] The book was Chip’s way of bringing some meaning back into his life after a period of emotional upheaval. It was his way of making sense of things that were happening for no apparent reason and, by writing it, he helped others do the same. One of my favorite equations in the book is this: DESPAIR = SUFFERING – MEANING What does this mean? Well, basically, the less meaning you give to your bad life experiences, the more you will suffer. Perhaps you’ll wonder how in the world are we to attribute meaning to the death of someone dear, or the loss of an important relationship, or the loss of a job, financial status or whatever other misfortune may come into our lives. Things just happen, right? Bad luck! Well, things are a bit more complicated than that, and there’s good news in this. We have the power to decide what an experience has meant for us, what it has taught us, in what ways it makes us a better person. We have the resources to look at our situation from a different point of view, finding the opportunities in the bleakest of times. But in order to do that, we first have to believe it is possible. Starting from Chip’s philosophy about emotions and the sometimes surprising ways they arrange themselves into equations that influence our state of mind, I’ve come to believe that life itself can sometimes be organized into what I call “irrational equations” that can help us make sense of our experiences, better understand our own thought patterns and ultimately lead happier, more fulfilled lives.  I have offer you several equations as food for thought. I’ve run into these in different moments of my life and realized that, once I’ve understood how they work, I’ve been able to change the way I live for the better. I’ll write several posts around this topic – this is only the first...

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