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WELLBEING

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The key ingredient in the recipe for an adventurous life – is confidence.

It’s powerful.

Yet transient. 

I am not sure where it comes from. 

Or where it goes.

Balance. 

It’s important to get the balance right though. 

So you don’t get a little too cocky or slimy.

Confidence, for me, is eye contact. 

And smiling. 

And listening. 

And being interesting and interested. 

And it’s an open posture with warmth and vulnerability and kindness and maybe even awkwardness. 

Because you are just being you – and you are totally happy with that. 

Awkwardness and vulnerability can be very engaging, actually.

Imperfect.

You know you’re not perfect.

Yet you show your full self. 

Confident people do that. 

Three things.

Here are three things that confident people do:

  1. They think first about how they can make people around them feel good. 
  2. They ask people how they can help them. 
  3. They ask for help themselves, when they need it. 

I mention these things because so many people seem to wish they were more confident. 

Or (as some frame it) ‘naturally confident.’

I think that, if you do these three things, you will be. 

Almost immediately.

Give it a go!

Today.

When you FINALLY commit to doing that thing you’ve been thinking about doing for ages, push it down.

Internalise it.

Just build it in to your life invisibly.

That way, you’re much more likely to keep on doing it.

That’s the way habits form.

They just become ‘something you do’.

The Trap.

I go to a personal trainer 3 times a week.

And apart from the odd story on 50odd I don’t talk about it.

It’s because I find that when people do rattle on about things like this, they are as much fed by the reaction of the person they are telling, as the thing itself.

Ooh. This diet I’m on is a bugger. I had a cabbage for tea last night. What do you think about that? Cabbage. That’s all I had. A cabbage. But if I want to lose this 5 stone, I just HAVE to do it. What do you think about that? Cabbage. Oooooh!

I fell into the trap a week ago.

I’m off caffeine and alcohol at the moment as I was knackered and dizzy.

And I mentioned it to far too many people.

It somehow became a badge.

I think that – for some reason – I wanted to say it, then see what people said.

To see how they reacted.

I think I did that because I wanted to turn a very personal decision into a group decision.

So that someone might talk me out of it.

Oooh I’ve had these headaches. Because I’m off alcohol and caffeine. Aren’t I great being off caffeine and alcohol? Do you think I should stop off alcohol and caffeine for ever? Or shall we go to the pub tonight? What do you think? Are you busy later? Pub? Me and you? 7?

I didn’t say this, exactly.

But something weird was going on in my head.

So I’ve decided to shut up now.

And push it down.

That way, I sense it’ll just become part of what I do.

A habit.

And I actually think I’ll get a better feeling if someone ever comments on the effect of the change I’ve made, as opposed to hearing their comments on the change itself.

I am not sure that I’ll do this now she’s here. 

But I had always imagined that when I had a child I would paint a continuous line around their bedroom wall.

On the line I’d write the following years:

  • 1600
  • 1700
  • 1800
  • 1900
  • 2000
  • 2100
  • 2200

This would allow me to highlight, in words, world wars.

World cup wins.

And with lines, I could highlight the life and death of Charles Darwin, Salvador Dali, David Bowie.

And me.

And Lisa.

And Lisa’s mum who is no longer here.

And Izobel’s 100 years, too.

The Visit.

It’s unlikely that I’ll do this.

Today, it feels like a blunt tool.

Although the principle – to show Izobel that this life of ours is merely a visit – is a sound one.

Why would I want to do this?

It’s simple really…

Whenever I visit somewhere – a holiday venue, a new city or town – I ask myself a question.

It is:

What will I do when I get there?

I think this is a good question for all of us to ask about this visit.

The most important visit of all.

Do you believe in ghosts?

No?

Are you sure?

Ghosts.

A ghost, I think, is someone or something that died and still haunts you.

So it could be an idea you had but didn’t follow through.

An opportunity you didn’t take.

A relationship that didn’t make it.

An abusive person or partner that you let into your life and allowed to stay a while – unchecked.

Regret – is a ghost.

Regret.

I have memories.

And sometimes they appear in my head as regrets.

They really do feel like ghosts that haunt me.

But these days I spend time looking forward much more.

Not back.

I don’t know how bright the future will be, but I believe that if I keep going and stay determined and stay focussed I should be OK.

I don’t believe in ghosts.

And so it follows, I suppose, that I don’t believe in regret either.

This is good to remember.

It is quite revealing when you ask Google what Brexit means.

When I asked, I actually wanted reminding where the contraction ‘Brexit’ came from.

‘Brexit’ the word.

Not ‘Brexit’ the thing.

I couldn’t remember.

It’s “British Exit” of course.

Brexit is an abbreviation for “British exit,” referring to the UK’s decision in a June 23, 2016 referendum to leave the European Union (EU). … (Alternatives are known as “soft Brexit.”) “Leave” won the June 2016 referendum with 51.9% of the ballot, or 17.4 million votes; “Remain” received 48.1%, or 16.1 million.

Anyhow, I didn’t get the result I wanted.

(In the Google search or the Referendum, actually).

Instead of Google reminding me where the contraction came from, it threw back many thousands of definitions of what Brexit actually is, was and/or might be.

And I’d wager that no two definitions were the same.

I find this quite ironic.

Two Points.

So I want to make two points about Brexit.

POINT 1

If politicians are supposed to look after us in a vaguely similar way that parents are supposed to look after children (because they know more and it’s their job), we have been asked by our parents whether we want to stay on this side of the road – or cross it to the other side.

And when, holding their hand, we looked up at them and asked them what traffic might be coming, from what direction and how fast, they replied, ‘dunno’.

And we got the same shoulder-shrug when we asked them what the other side of the road looked like.

Or they fucking lied.

And then they said (something like), “…But it is sure to be better than just standing here.”

And, “You’ll be alright!”

And we said, “OK then.”

And we stepped into the road. 

And they watched.

No one.

No one knows what Brexit means.

In any of its guises.

Not even the politicians.

Not even now.

POINT 2.

I find it silly that politicians and adults in general call this thing ‘Brexit’.

This ‘British Exit’.

We’re grown ups.

This is serious.

And important.

It’s affecting business.

And lives.

It’s not a silly game.

So why this stupid fucking contraction?

‘Brexit.’

So, politicians… Brangelina; yes.

Brexit; no.

You stunts.

Izobel arrived two and a half years ago.

At almost 50, to make an Izobel with someone that is just a couple of years younger than you requires some medical intervention.

So that’s what we did.

Izobel.

If you’ve done this too (not necessarily the medical intervention bit – the other bit) you’ll know how dumbfounding it is.

Making an Izobel.

How they become actual little people so quickly.

In 24 months they go from a pink mole-like creature that can’t even move – to an actual person that reasons with you why reading the same Meg and Mog story over and over and over is a good idea.

Or that thinks it’s OK to smile at you and steal the best bits of food from your plate.

How does Izobel know that this is OK for her to pinch the best things from my plate?

How does Izobel know that, in actual fact, it’s OK for her to have everything on my plate?

No matter how hungry I am.

Izobel.

If I last my allotted 1,000 months, Izobel will watch me die when she is 34 years old.

This would be acceptable to me.

It’s probably enough time for her to love me, then hate me, then boomerang back to love me again.

But to spend 34 years with Izzy Willow will be just fine.

I will have experienced the physical agony of seeing her hurt by other people I am sure.

I am not looking forward to that.

And I may still be around to see her create little people of her own.

I am looking forward to that.

Goodbye.

Anyhow, in case I die all of a sudden (a heart attack or a Laurel and Hardy type piano accident) I’ve written Izobel a letter, asking her to do just one thing for me after I die.

I honestly only want her to do one thing.

It’s to live for 100 years.

Anything else she does between now and then is fine by me.

Now that she’s here, all I really just want is for her to stay here.

And think of me, once or twice, in each of the 66 years that she outlives me.

Because wherever I am, I will be thinking about her.

George Michael had everything. 

Talent. Adulation. Critical acclaim. Deep respect from his peers.

Hang on, let me start that again…

George Michael had everything. 

Tragedy. Addiction. Failing health. Endless ridicule and unreasonable hounding from the mainstream media.

Everything. 

I don’t know which ‘everything’ is the everything that George Michael would have identified with.

Probably both.

But, and this is the point of this little story, here is a George Michael quote that may even explain why he is no longer with us.

In a documentary shortly before his death he asked this rhetorical question:

What happens when everything is not enough?

This is an important question for all of us I think.

Chasing the wrong everything must be a terrible thing.

Why?

Because it can leave you feeling empty and lost if you don’t ever get it.

And if you do.

Think forward.

Imagine you get everything you want.

Imagine you have your everything right now.

And ask yourself if it’s the right everything.

It’s an important question.

Of course!

It’s totally obvious.

Of course we all have a shadowside.

Shadowside.

This notion makes me feel better.

The insight relaxes me.

I feel at ease with the notion that (this is my interpretation anyway) we all are a balance of light and dark.

It’s OK that, sometimes, I feel confused or lost or paralysed or ‘down’ or – quite literally – dark.

It’s natural.

If there is light in your life – so too there is shadow.

Jung.

In Jungian psychology (so Wikipedia tells me), the ‘shadow’, ‘Id’, or ‘shadow aspect/archetype’ part of me is:

1. An unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself, or:

2. The entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious.

In short, the shadow is my ‘dark side’.

Acceptance.

Whatever the case, I am happier now that I (re)realise that I know this thing that I knew anyway.

Half of me will always be in shadow, for as long as there is light in my life.

I accept that if lose the shadow, I also lose the light.

This acceptance is valuable.

Now I know for sure that my shadow side is there, it’s somehow less powerful and alluring.

Because I used to worry about how to get rid of it.

Now I know that I can’t get rid of it, I also realise that I can chose when to visit.

Or not to visit.

And I think that – increasingly, now I am accepting that my shadowside is part of me – I am more inclined to choose ‘not’.

And that’s a good thing.

I have a recurring dream.

I live in a big house in this dream.

Rather like, but not exactly the same as, our last house.

That was big.

But this dream house is so big that I think I know how many rooms are in it but I am not exactly sure.

I remember feeling that, because I don’t know exactly how many rooms I have in my house, I feel rather good (in a shallow kind of way).

The Room.

I also remember that there is this one room in my house that I am frightened to go into.

I know the room is there.

But I will always procrastinate about going into it.

Stacked furniture blocks the entrance to it, you see.

And it is troublesome to move it.

This room, the one I am frightened to go into, is at the back of another room.

A bedroom.

At the back of this first bedroom, the ceiling slopes downwards towards this other, unvisited room.

I feel somehow glad that I have this other, unexplored place.

Comforted.

Yet I remain fearful of what is in the room beyond where the ceiling lowers.

I have never been there.

Yet.

Jill knows she is inferior, therefore she is superior to anyone who thinks she is superior to him.

My friend David Bradley bought me 4 books last month.

One of them is called KNOTS by R.D. LAING.

It’s a mad book, containing observations by the Oxford Professor of Poetry that he describes as,

…remarkable insights into the ways human beings behave to one another.

Things People Think and Say.

I like the book because it contains just a few pieces of dialogue and prose over it’s 90 pages that I can dip into and out of.

I like books that I can pick up and put down.

My attention is rarely held for long.

However, with this book, the reason I dip out is because with more than half of it I don’t know what the hell it’s going on about.

This isn’t a book review.

Yet.

Because I haven’t finished the book.

Because I don’t understand most of it.

But one or two bits of it are really amazing and explain big chunks of the human psyche really efficiently.

I recognise the behaviours and thinking in me and in people I know or knew from what I am reading.

Take the quote at the beginning of this little story.

The quote is simply saying that if you think everyone is better than you, and someone thinks everyone is not better than you, and because of this they like you, then you are better than them.

(You might want to read that again).

And so it might follow that they are not therefore good enough for you.

Because they couldn’t even fathom that everyone is better than you.

If this is describing you now, or in the past, or anyone you know or knew, then that person:

  1. Will never allow themselves to love anyone because anyone worth loving would not be hoodwinked into thinking that you are lovable.
  2. Will never allow anyone to love them because anyone that would entertain the idea of loving them is clearly not good enough to love them because they think you’re lovable, and you aren’t.

There’s a simple lesson I suppose.

And it’s an old one.

It’s that lesson about loving yourself being really important because, until you do, you cannot be involved in a truly loving relationship with anyone else.

I have always sensed this is true.

I think.

But I never really understood why it’s true.

I think I do now.

And by the way, I am sober as I write this.

Just in case you were wondering.

Read this again if you have 5 minutes.

I haven’t explained this brilliantly I don’t think…

But the quote at the beginning – I like it!

I think it really does explain why loving yourself is important.