3 Steps to Build Resiliance

exercising_weights_heart_800_clr_13182There are people in your life who survive hardship after hardship and come up smiling every time. You probably also know some people who seem unable to move on from difficult times.

A family who are dear to my heart have endured more than any other family I know: violent crimes, accidents, untimely deaths of children and adults. As they face yet another loss of a loved one, I wonder how they cope. But cope they do. It doesn’t mean that they don’t feel the pain. They do. Yet they also have emotional space for other feelings like gratefulness, hope and appreciation.

Another family I knew, years back, lost their son on the border. They were unable to recover and eventually the remaining family disintegrated.

Some have it; some don’t

How does one person have resilience (the ability to recover or adjust to misfortune or change) and another does not?

You’re probably going to hate this answer. You may even think it’s superficial. You may think its over-simplified.

The answer is: it’s the way they look at life.

If something is hurting them they still have the ability to be grateful for something else. They do not cover up their pain – they acknowledge it. They allow positive feelings to exist beside negative ones. They avoid generalizing. They may be in pain, yet they have the ability to feel empathy for others. They look for opportunities and believe a solution exists to problems. This outlook enables them to see the dreadful aspects of life and also to see the wonderful aspects.

Resilience is built up by creating effective (rather than destructive) thought-patterns.

If you want to boost your resilience (and who doesn’t?) here are steps:

3 steps to building resilience

1) Boost your self-image

Resilient people value themselves. Focus on your self-talk – the conversations you continually have with yourself.

Is it constructive or destructive?

Does it serve you well or does it break you down?

Take charge. Change your self-talk so that it encourages and supports you.

When you have a strong self-esteem you will find it easier to cope with the downs of life.

2) Stop with blanket statements and emotions

Generalizing is destructive. A general thought leads to  general emotion. If a man hurts you and you now believe all men are bad then whenever you’re in the company a man you will feel negative emotions like distrust and hatred. These may be totally inappropriate.

If you have a negative experience, and you decide that the universe cannot be trusted, you will experience negative emotions even in the face of joyous or happy experiences.

Have a look at your emotions. If you feel negative emotions almost continuously (blanket emotions) it may be because you are holding onto a general or blanket belief. You can recognise these beliefs by words like all, never, everyone, always. As in “All men are cheaters”; “The world is unsafe”; “You never say nice things about me”; “My boss always yells”.

Start looking at the words you’re using. Change blanket statement into more truthful statements like “Some men are cheaters” instead of “All men are cheaters”. You will experience lighter, more positive emotions.

A bad experience is one experience – don’t make the experience about every aspect of life.

3) Take care of your physical self

Your physical body is the engine of your life. This is also where you experience your feelings. Just like a car won’t go if you don’t give it petrol and  maintain the engine, your life will be more difficult than necessary if you do not take care of your physical body.

If you are totally exhausted, you do not respond to difficult situations in the best way. If you are highly stressed, your emotions will be less stable and you will find it difficult to bounce back from challenges life’s sends you.

Resilience requires a healthy body and mind. It is your responsibility  to keep that body and mind healthy. Look after your physical needs. Boost your self-esteem with positive ad constructive self-talk. Remove blanket statements and emotions from your life.

Resilience building is up to you. Give yourself your best chance at dealing with life – good and bad. Take the steps!

“The goal of resilience
is to thrive.”
 Jamais Cascio



Posted in awareness, Feelings, Happiness, Life Mastery, Thought Patterns | 4 Comments

Just in case

Last week I got stuck into my pantry. The messiness had been driving me crazy.

I decided – today was the day.

I emptied all the shelves, then surveyed the kitchen counter. It was covered in hundreds of jars, bottles and tins. Also some odd things like half-burnt birthday candles, syringes (don’t even ask) , and a packet of brown treacle sugar so hard it could knock someone out.

First I decided to check on the expiry dates.

I am embarrassed.

Some items were older than my kids!

Some items I’d be terrified to open – like tinned mussels from 2003 (in case we got unexpected visitors and I had to whip up some snacks)

I tossed out the seriously old stuff and the scary-looking stuff, cleaned the cupboard and then started packing what was left back into the pantry.

As I picked up a large tin of pie apples (expired but still healthy-looking) it suddenly hit me. Some of these items, like the tinned apples, condensed milk and granadilla pulp, were in my cupboard just in case I needed them.

Just in case I needed them.

But I never use them! Mainly because I plan meals, dinner parties and outings before, and then go and buy the stuff I need.

The “just in case” stuff sits there gathering dust. I do not use them. Ever.

I set myself a challenge.

I am going to use up the “just in case” items in my pantry during the next few weeks. I’m looking for an excuse to make an apple pie!

I have decided not to buy anything just in case anymore. It’s a little scary – but I am sure we won’t starve!

I remember Joanne Fedler wrote a book about her battle with weight called “When Hungry, Eat”. Her Mom taught her to always take a banana in her handbag – just in case she got hungry. She always ended up eating the banana – after all  you can’t let things go to waste!

She realized the “just in case” items were part of her weight problem.

I’m taking up this challenge – I have just invited some people for dinner.

I have no idea what I am going to cook

I do know that apple pie with a granadilla custard is how we will end off the meal!

How about a challenge for you:

Haul out some “just in case items” in your house.

Use them in the next week or so…. or ditch them.

Let me know what you decided to do…


BTW when I looked in the pantry last night I felt really good. It looks neat and tidy, it’s not overflowing and I could easily find what I wanted. Somehow losing those “just in case” items have made for a more streamlined and easier to manage cupboard. I feel lighter and more organised too.

Long may it last!

“In a sense, clutter is the end result of procrastination”
 Jeff Campbell

Photo by Flickr

Posted in Choices, Habits, Life Mastery | 5 Comments

Emotional Nudity – do you need it?



When you refuse to hide the real you behind a falsely created persona, you are practicing emotional nudity.

Emotional nudity is

  • being honest about who you are and what you are feeling – to yourself and to your partner
  • about allowing and embracing all emotions that exist in your body
  • allowing others to see you the real you
  • not suppressing and resisting negative or uncomfortable feelings

Living with emotional nudity in our relationships puts us into a vulnerable space. This can feel rather uncomfortable.

We need courage to be vulnerable:

Courage to show the true you; courage to tell your partner what you are actually feeling; courage to talk about the good and the bad.

We have become really good at hiding or suppressing our “Bad” feelings.

“Good” feelings, like happiness, joy, excitement, are perfectly acceptable

“Bad” feelings, like anxiety, sadness, insecurity, are totally unacceptable. We resist them; we suppress them; we numb them out.

We have learned to make negative feelings wrong.

Many of us believe there is something wrong with us if we experience “bad” feelings. Many clients often tell me: “I shouldn’t feel like this.”

We are so good at numbing out our bad feelings. We comfort eat and drink. We escape – into social media, TV and computer games. We will do anything to distract ourselves so that we don’t have to feel these bad feelings. We strive to be perfect.

We chase happiness, perfection and success with such passion and vigour whilst avoiding emotional nudity. Eventually our good feelings are numbed out too. It’s as if we only live half a life. Many people are feeling empty inside, yearning for something but they don’t know what…

In order to live fully we need to embrace all our emotions.

Feelings are not wrong – they are merely messages from our souls – they give us important information. Welcome them; listen to them; don’t invalidate them.

I invite you to consider living differently today, to living more fully and authentically especially in relationship with your partner.

Allowing emotional nudity in your relationship will bring richness into your relationship.

There is nothing more comforting than having your central issues held and supported. There is nothing better that truly feeling understood by your partner – doing the same for your partner will build a strong bond between the two of you.

The key to emotional nudity is owning your feelings.

Avoid saying: “You make me feel….”

This is blaming your partner for the way you feel.

Rather say, “I feel ….”

Hiding strong negative feeling blocks an opportunity for healing. When you are able to talk about your inner world, you open up the opportunity for understanding and healing.

How can you bring emotional nudity into your relationship?

Step 1: Build up your relationship

Get your relationship into shape- you need trust and commitment to embrace emotional nudity.

Stephen Covey gave us the gift of the Emotional Bank Account.

Briefly: You have an Emotional Bank Account with your partner. You make deposits into their account (like appreciation, gifts, acts of service, kindness, etc.)

You make withdrawals from your partners account (like contempt, criticism and character assassination, etc.).

If the balance in the Emotional Bank Account is positive, then your relationship is in a good space. If it’s in the negative – you have some work to do. Make regular, daily deposits into your partner’s Emotional Bank Account and your relationship will thrive.

Remember that relationships spiral quickly- in a positive way as well as a negative way.

Keeping the concept of the Emotional Bank Account constantly in mind makes it easy to build a healthy relationship.

Whenever you are about to do or say or even think something, ask yourself whether you are depositing or withdrawing.

Keep depositing. Your partner will feel good and loved and will be inclined to make deposits into your account. You now feel inclined to deposit into their account. See the spiral?

This works with withdrawals too – get into the habit of negative withdrawals and soon your relationship spirals into hurt and hate.

Step 2: Work on yourself.

Self-awareness is crucial to bringing emotional nudity into a relationship. If you are not aware of your feelings, or if you are numbing them out, how can you offer your partner the opportunity to help and support you? Go on personal development courses, journal, work with a coach or therapist if necessary.

Know and understand all aspects of yourself so you can practice emotional nudity with your partner.

Step 3: Give immediate feedback

Immediate feedback is an important skill to learn. When your partner does / says something, give feedback by describing your feelings.

“Ouch, that hurt”
“My heart is smiling”
“That pushed my insecurity button”.
“I feel unsafe when you criticize me in public”

The idea is to keep it short and sweet – just get it out. Then shutup!

The gift you give your partner is that they become aware of how you respond to them. This does also open up the space for an in-depth discussion if necessary.

Take these three steps and walk hand in hand into emotional nudity. Your understanding, love and awareness of each other will develop and grow.

Emotional nudity in relationships is essential for the emotional wellbeing of both partners.

Emotional nudity is a gift to both of you.

The risk of emotional nudity is vulnerability.

The payoff of emotional nudity is a trusting relationship where both partners can grow and develop.

What will you choose?

I love you,
and because I love you,
I would sooner have you hate me
for telling you the truth
than adore me for telling you lies.

Pietro Aretino



Posted in awareness, Communication, Feelings, Life Mastery, Relationships | 2 Comments

Evidence is all you need

What is the one determinant that affects how successful you are in life? Or not?3192144676_550181fda6_z

You might think its circumstances, like poverty or an unhappy home. However, there are enough examples of people who have risen successfully above their circumstances. There are also enough examples of people who have been born into privileged or happy homes that have not been so successful.

Circumstances do NOT determine your success.

The answer, as you may expect, lies within.

Your self-image is THE major determinant of your success.

What exactly is self-image?

Self-image is the collection of beliefs you have about yourself.

It’s the kind of person you believe you are.

Fill out a page of sentences starting with “I’m the kind of person that …” and you will have a pretty good idea of your self-image.

A negative self-image reflects in a low self-esteem; a positive self-image reflects in a high self-esteem.

Malz self-esteemThis diagram (from Maxwell Mailz – Psycho-Cybernetics) illustrates the power of the self-image and self-esteem.

Only a small amount of your potential is achieved when you have low-self-esteem – shown in the left-hand diagram.

A much greater amount of your potential is reached when you have a high self-esteem and strong self-image.

It’s simple then, isn’t it.

To be more successful in life, have a stronger self-image!

But HOW?

There are many different ways of breaking those limiting beliefs that make up your self-image.

Today I’m going to talk about a very powerful exercise:

Collecting Evidence

1) Awareness (I know I always harp on this – but if you don’t know you can’t change it!)

2) Collect the evidence

3) Trust and be present

1) Awareness

Think about something you’re battling to achieve. Write down all the reasons why (aim for thirty reasons.

I cannot lose weight. WHY?

Because I am the kind of person who
– comes from a fat family
– eats for comfort
– has no self-discipline
– I’m bored with dieting
– hates being hungry
– etc

Work with one belief that you feel is holding you back the most.

2) Collect the evidence.

This is where the hard work comes in. You may have to do this for a few months, or even a year.

Basically what you are doing is using your conscious mind to convince your subconscious mind that you are disciplined.

Let’s say you are working with self-discipline.

All the proof that you have no self-discipline is stored in your subconscious mind – supporting that aspect of your self-image that you are not disciplined.

When you have collected enough evidence that you are self-disciplined, that belief in your self-image will make a switch.

Start writing in a journal or a document on your computer – something you can access and update easily every day.

Make a list of all the times you are disciplined:

– I brush my teeth every day
– I got out of bed this morning to go to work – even though I did not feel like it
– I ate a healthy breakfast
– I was angry in the meeting but I spoke calmly to my colleague
– I renewed my license
– etc

Record every aspect of your day – every day – where you display an amount of discipline. Keep doing this.

3) Trust and be Present

Make sure you add to your Evidence List every day. Then get on with your life and TRUST that the process will work.

While you’re working on daily activities focus on what you are doing. Be present.

Allow your subconscious mind to do its thing with all the evidence you are collecting – you don’t have to worry about the process. It will work.

The more evidence you collect, the more the limiting belief will be dissolved. This will happen naturally.

It works!

I have seen this work with clients. One of them had such a strong belief that she couldn’t do Maths and it affected her behaviour in strange ways. One day she went up to the University Notice Board to check her mark from a recent Maths exam. She got 63%. As she stepped back from the throng of students pushing to get to the front, she thought to herself:

“Oh, I must have read my mark wrong.”

She asked a friend to check it for her. Of course, she had read it right.

So strong was her self-image that she didn’t even believe a fact right before her eyes!

After about 14 months of collecting evidence, the reality started sinking and  her confidence grew. She’ll be graduating soon…

If you want to be more in life, to achieve your potential and to live successfully, destroy those limiting beliefs about yourself.

Create a strong self-image.

All you need is evidence.

“Low self-esteem
is like driving through life
with your hand-brake on.”

Maxwell Maltz

Photo from Flickr

Posted in awareness, Life Mastery, Self esteem | 2 Comments

Self-Help Ecstacy

Self-help books! I love them! I buy them! I devour them!5408817478_90706014a0_z

As I read them this I get this ecstatic feeling, which I suspect has something to do with glimpsing a life that I could be living if I followed the book’s suggestions.

It can sometimes take me months to finish a book. I have a problem you see. When I get to the word in the book that says “Exercise”, which appear regularly spaced through most self-help books,  I can’t continue with the book until I have done the exercise.

My house is littered with partially read self-help books. You’ll find them piled up in the dining room, the TV room, next to my bed, in the coaching room and in my study. If you cared to open some of those books at the bookmark you would be surprised, had you not read the above paragraph ,  that the bookmarks all mark a page with the word “Exercise” on it.

Still, there are many times that I do manage to do the exercises, to make some changes in my life and learn a new way of being in the world.

Those precious achievements build the ecstasy of self-help books for me.

There have, however, been a few times in my life where following the advice of self-help books has not resulted in ecstasy and has somewhat backfired on me.

1. One night meditating…

One of the lessons I have gleaned from self-help books, magazines and courses I have been on is this: meditating daily has enormous benefits in your life.

I try! Really hard! It’s not easy for me. My mind is a very busy one, and emptying it is nigh impossible. I find that guided meditations work better for me.

A few weeks ago I came back from a Toastmasters meeting. I don’t sleep well after these meetings – my mind is just too active and I lie there restlessly preparing my next speech.

This particular evening, my husband was out  and I knew he would only be back around 11pm. I decided this was a great opportunity to listen to a guided meditation in bed. I have one especially for having good night’s sleep.  I needed that.

I hopped into bed, earphones on and settled down. This was bliss. This was ecstasy! This was …

Suddenly I was aware of a heavy weight on top of me. What was it? I opened my eyes.

There was a face. I screamed.

The face screamed back at me.

“What are you doing?” I asked my astonished, wide-eyed husband.

“Kissing you hello. What are you doing?”

“Meditating”,  I giggled as we collapsed in a hysterical heap.

That meditation didn’t work so well for me and the ecstasy disappeared just like that!

2. A simple enough exercise…

Years ago I read a book by John Demartini‘s “How to make a Hell of a Profit and still get to Heaven.”  The book was brimming with ideas around the energy of money and how to attract money into your life. It was also full of those dreaded exercises.

Some of the things were easy to do, so I went for it, picturing the ecstasy of having more in my bank account.

“Like attracts like”, says Demartini.

So I kept plenty of cash in my wallet. The idea was that cash attracts cash. I also opened that special savings account he suggested.

Another suggestion was to keep a check in my wallet depicting the amount I would like to have.  That seemed pretty harmless, don’t you think?

I sat down and wrote a check in my name for a million rands. Cool! – and in my wallet it stayed. Mostly I forgot it was there and hopefully it was working its ecstatic magic.

A few months later I experienced an armed robbery at my home. What a dreadful day that was. Somehow we made it through the day and finally fell into bed. Neither of us slept well, tossing, turning and worrying.

Suddenly I sat up.

“Oh no!”, I said.  (The actual words I used were a bit stronger than that.)

“What?”  asked my bleary eyed husband.

“The check for a million rand was in my purse!”, I said.

“WHAT?”  he roared also sitting up.

I had omitted to tell him what I had done at the time; after all it may have made me look a bit silly!  I told him the story. He’d read the book  so he understood.

Then he said,  “You’ll have to cancel the check”. I didn’t like the sound of those words.

The next morning I dialled the bank.

“I’d like to cancel a check.”

“Certainly ma’am. What is the number of the check?”


“The date?”

I told her.

“And what was the amount?” she asked.

Swallowing hard, I said, “One million rand”.

There was dead silence on the other end of the line. For an extended period.

Eventually she squeaked back, “Mrs Long do you have an overdraft facility?”

I replied, “No and I had better tell you the whole story.”

I told her about the book and what I had done.  We shared a laugh or two – all at my expense.

I could just picture her turning to her colleagues and saying, “You’ll never guess what I just heard!”

To add insult to injury I was charged R50 to cancel that check.

That was one self-help moment that weighed heavy on me. I have still not been brave enough to write another check. That idea has been banked with the other few that have not quite worked that well.

Yet, I do still love self-help books (I’ve even written some).

I still buy them! I still devour them! I still read them until I see the word “Exercise”.

I do, however,  reflect a little more carefully and considerately before I embark on implementing a new set of ideas!

I went to a bookstore
and asked the saleswoman,
“Where’s the self-help section?”

She said if she told me,
it would defeat the purpose.

George Carlin

Photo from Flickr

Posted in Choices, Lessons, Life Mastery, Way of Being | 2 Comments

How to Turn Worrying into a Valuable Tool

2878520711_fbc43352c1_zI was an expert at worrying.

Many of my clients are experts at worrying too.

Which means that I really had to work on my worrying issue

Martha Beck gave me some useful insights. She describes the difference between dirty fears and clean fears.

Clean fears are real and imminent.

Like:  if you just received a call to say that your partner has been in an accident, your fear would be clean and pure and appropriate.

Clean fears come from situations that do exist – they have happened.

Dirty fears are imagined fears.

You can recognize these by noticing the thoughts that start with “What if… “.

The thing you are worrying about HAS NOT HAPPENED.

Like, “What if someone walks into my house with a gun?”

Even though I live in a place with a high crime rate, the reality is that for only 15 minutes of my entire life have I had a gun pointed at me. Let’s see… I’m 5o-ish so I’ve lived for over  3400 days, which translates to around  4 800 000 minutes. So for 0.0003% of my life lived so far have I been in true and immediate danger. Not that significant, is it? And not worth while worrying about every day and causing myself inappropriate and continuous anxiety.

And yet it’s so easy, for me, to slip into an anxiety-induced state by worrying about if the kids are high-jacked, or if my parents die or if we get robbed again, or if my husband gets ill… and on and on and on I go.

Wasted time, wasted energy and unnecessary anxiety.

There are far better ways to re-direct my energy.

How about spending that time picturing how life will be when I have achieved the goal I am working on. How about thinking about ways to make my relationship stronger. How about picturing myself relaxing on the beach at my next holiday destination.

The process is the same as worrying – it’s basically imagining.

Thinking about these kinds of scenarious results in good emotions, not anxious ones.

Worrying is spending time thinking about stuff that hasn’t happened – using your imagination.

Visualisation is  spending time thinking about stuff that hasn’t happened – using your imagination.

The only difference between worrying and visualising is the outcome.

Visualising makes you feel good. Worrying makes you feel bad.

The outcome of worrying is anxiety and fear.

The outcome of visualizing is motivation and happiness (or something similar).

The good news is – if you know how to worry then you know how to visualize!

All you have to do is to change the topic you are thinking about.

If you notice that you are imagining a situation and a pit of anxiety is developing in your stomach: Stop thinking.

Decide to think about something else, something that calms your feelings, that makes you feel good. You can start in the same way as you do when you worry – by thinking “What if ”

  • “What if I created the perfect dinner party. Hmm lets see – who will I invite ……  “
  • “What if I prepared so well for my presentation. When I walk up to the mic I am calm, ready to give my all…. “
  • “What if I was at the spa today. I’d choose a full body massage …”

As soon as you are aware that you are worrying, stop immediately, without berating yourself, and consciously change your thoughts to envisioning a brighter future.

The more you do the easier it will become.

The gift you receive from putting in the work to change what you are imagining is simple – feeing good.

“Worry never robs tomorrow
of its sorrow,
it only saps today
of its joy.”
Leo Buscaglia

Photo from Flickr/Creative Commons

Posted in Feelings, Happiness, Life Mastery, Thought Patterns | 4 Comments

Look at what you have done

11314410723_83edd6522a_zYou are not powerless. Perhaps you are choosing to do nothing.

People around me are moaning about the state of the country. Social media are blaring out non-stop negativity about how bad everything is. Hate, crime, violence, xenophobia – it’s all there.

If you think you can do nothing, think again.

If you had been grocery shopping with me the other day, you would have seen something that I found quite upsetting.

I was in a well-known supermarket at the end of Republic Road. Standing a little impatiently in the queue, I was doing what I love doing – watching people’s interactions.

I heard a commotion at one of the tills. A man was performing, shouting very loudly at the teller, complaining bitterly about the service. Making quite a spectacle of himself. Name-calling and blaming. Disrespecting and awful.

I looked at the teller’s face. Dead-pan. (By the way – teenagers also do this beautifully if you yell and scream at them) She literally ignored him, took his money and moved on.

Looking closer though, I could see tell-tale signs that she was upset – clenching her teeth, she looked down to hide her teary eyes.

I’m not saying that you mustn’t complain if you are unhappy about something. It’s important to be able to effectively lodge a complaint so that the issue can be sorted out. There is a, however, a constructive way to do this (watch out for this in a forthcoming newsletter)

What I don’t think this man was aware of was how destructive he was being.

All he had to do was look closely at the teller’s face to see the effect he was having on her. But he was so busy with his own internal being and with parading the fact that he was wronged, that he forgot to treat this human being with compassion and respect.

The core of problems in this country and the world is a lack of compassion and respect for others.

You can make a difference to our country. Here’s what to do:


There is only one way to know how you are impacting on others and that is to LOOK.

Look at their faces. Notice the colour changes, the expression in the eyes, the tilt of the head, the breathing, the expression – there is so much to see.

Doing this will give you feedback about how others are experiencing you.

Once you become aware of how other’s are experiencing you, you can choose to always make it a positive experience.


If you treat people with compassion, rather that resistance and disrespect – you will find yourself in winning situations. There is incredible power in compassion.

Years ago I attended a workshop at Wits University with Martha Beck. I remember she taught us the power of compassion with a simple exercise. I was excited to find a demo of this exercise on YouTube

You can see it here.


Teach others about these three steps. Encourage your friends and families to practice compassion and respect. Encourage them to teach others to do this too. The more you do, the more people who adopt this simple strategy, the happier we will be as a nation.

What are you doing to make your country a better place?

You are not powerless. If there is nothing else y0u can do, you can at least do this.

You can choose to make a difference with every person you meet.

Look at the faces of people you interact with, treat them with compassion and respect, and encourage others to do the same.

Join me – let’s do it!

Love and compassion are necessities,
not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.

Dalai Lama

 Photo from Flickr

Posted in awareness, Communication, Life Mastery, Make a difference | 6 Comments

Why defending yourself destroys your relationship…

stick_figure_heartbreak_4444(1)Pam was feeling upset. She and Craig just had an argument. In fact, she was also feeling confused. She thought she was doing the right thing. He obviously didn’t.

They’d been at a lunch with friends earlier. She was telling everyone how amazing Craig was – he’d just got a promotion, he was doing so well, with a HUGE increase on top of it all.

When they got home, he complained angrily, “I really hate it when you tell everyone my personal stuff. Can’t you keep your mouth closed for once?”

Pam, hurt and surprised, immediately defended herself. “But I am so proud of you. You just don’t appreciate what I do for you. You’re so nasty. I can never do anything right in your eyes.”

Secretly she also thought about the article (probably a post somewhere on this blog!!) she had read which wrote that men liked to be praised in front of other people. It made them feel appreciated. So much for that wisdom!!

Neither of them spoke much after that, both fuming inwardy.

You may have had similar conversations with your partner at some time or another. I know I have.

Now I could unpack both parties’ sentences and look at a better way of saying this, but for this post I will focus on the fact that Pam defended herself.

What’s the problem with the way Pam responded to Craig’s complaint?

  • Craig was not heard. He raised a problem with the hope that the two of them could sort it out. Pam did not acknowledge that he was raising an issue. In fact she turned the issue around and blamed him for something else. She literally attacked him back.
  • The problem was not tackled. It was ignored and will remain unsolved. It IS going to pop up again in the future.
  • Pam did not take any responsibility for upsetting Craig. She was not being accountable. She was merely shifting blame.
  • Instead of dealing with the current issue, Pam introduced more issues.
  • The bond between the two has been damaged and both parties are feeling unheard, unappreciated and upset. The chance of their relationship spiraling downwards is strong.

The way Pam handled the issue is destructive.

How could she have handled this in a more constructive way?

Craig complained angrily, “I really hate it when you tell everyone my personal stuff. Can’t you keep your mouth closed for once?”

Pam responds, “I never realized this would upset you. Can you tell me more?”

Pam allows Craig to explain what was going on for him. She LISTENS to him.

Pam closes the conversation: “Thank you for sharing that. I understand where you are coming from. I apologize and will take care in the future.”

How does this response play out in the relationship?

  • Craig feels heard. He raised a problem with the hope that the two of them could sort it out. Pam acknowledges the issue.
  • No-one likes to be criticized. However, it’s important to see that criticism is an opportunity for feedback. It is an opportunity to grow and learn. It is an opportunity to strengthen the bond between you. Stay grounded and listen.
  • Pam invited Craig to explain. The problem was tackled. It will only come up again if Pam does not honour her commitment to take care with what she tells people.
  • Pam takes responsibility for talking about Craig’s stuff. She demonstrates accountability for her actions.
  •  Only one issue is dealt with and is dealt with until it is solved in some manner.
  • The bond between the two is stronger. Both parties are feeling heard and acknowledged. Their relationship is on a sturdy footing. The way that Pam handled the criticism is constructive for both of them and for the relationship.

Defending yourself destroys your relationship.

Don’t do it.

Criticism may not be agreeable,
but it is necessary.
It fulfils the same function
as pain in the human body.
It calls attention
to an unhealthy state of things.

Winston Churchill

Posted in Communication, Life Mastery, Relationships | 4 Comments

Help – I’m out of control

DaveBikeYou might think that I am going through  a mid-life crisis. You might think I’m being rather silly. You might think I’m plain ridiculous.

Maybe I am. Maybe not.

Almost every article I have written is about me sharing some pearls of wisdom or giving some advice. So I’ve been thinking that you could give me some advice this time – just leave a comment with your thoughts. Please!  x

Here’s the issue:

The kids have (almost) left home. My husband and I are doing all sorts of things that we haven’t done in years or even ever in some cases.

Hey – keep your mind on the straight and narrow please!

My husband has always had a motor bike sitting in the yard getting dusty. Now its been dusted off and some Sundays we go for a ride. We’ve found two other couples that go with us. Each couple takes a turn to plan the route and then feed us afterwards. There’s a lot of fun, banter and excitement as we get closer to the day of the ride.

Now we’ve all purchased new, better bikes (which are all old – er – I mean classic – better use the right term!!)

The problem is – I’m such a nervous passenger.

I close my eyes when we go round a corner. I grip on so tightly I get sore shoulders and arms and my poor husband battles to breathe… which is not such a good idea when he is driving!

Truth be told, I’m quite a nervous passenger in a car too.

I know exactly what the problem is.

It’s because I’m not in control of the wheel.

So I have control issues I’m embarrassed to say.

There were brief moments when we rode on Sunday when I relaxed and  enjoyed the scenery. I want more of those – in fact I want to enjoy the whole ride.

I want to know how to lean in when we go round a corner instead of lean the other way – it would almost be a miracle if I could learn to do this!

So I wondered if you could comment and give me some ideas  how to relax more on a bike.

How do you accept and relax, in general, when you are not in control?

Share your thoughts…

If everything seems under control,
you’re just not going fast enough.

Mario Andretti

Posted in awareness, Balance, Feelings, Life Mastery, Visualizing | 18 Comments

5 Ways to Walk a Labyrinth

2015 01 24 (22)Many, many years ago I walked my first labyrinth.

We wandered onto a farm in the Magaliesberg one Sunday whilst exploring the area. I had never seen a labyrinth before and was curious.

There were no signs or instructions – just a path which invited walking. As I walked back and forth and round following the path, I felt a sense of peace and calm.

I have been hooked ever since.

Now, whenever I come across a labyrinth, I will walk it.

What is a labyrinth?

It has a single circuitous path that winds its way into the center. The person walking it uses the same path to return from the center and the entrance then becomes the exit. The path is in full view, which allows a person to be quiet and focus internally.

Last year, sometime, I said out loud: “I would love to have my own labyrinth”.

Now I do! Thank you to the man who makes my dreams come true.

 2015 02 14and15 (7)On Sunday, after 5 months in the making,  we officially opened the labyrinth, pictured here. The labyrinth was completed with the gift of a beautiful solid bench from my friends.

Few things can more rewarding than to create a labyrinth and walk it afterwards. The love and care that go into the building – and in the walking – add to the transformative benefits of the labyrinth.

If you are ever lucky enough to come across a labyrinth on your travels, here’s what you can do:

Some ideas for walking a labyrinth

  1. A prayer walk: Churches around the world have built labyrinths as an aid to prayer. They are even used by people as a substitute for going on a pilgrimage. Take the time  as you walk to connect to God, to converse with God, to thank God.
  2. A meditation walk: Choose a meaningful phrase/ word to repeat as you walk. When you reach the center, sit and appreciate your present moment. Walk out repeating a different phrase/word.
  3. A clearing of the mind walk: Count as you take each step, up to ten, then back down to 0ne, then up to ten again – over and over. If you find your mind wandering, let go and start counting again. When you reach the center, sit and appreciate your present moment. Walk out counting back and forth again.
  4. A grateful walk: As you walk in, think about everything for which you grateful. Sit in the center, experiencing your blessings. As you walk out, things about different ways you can give back.
  5. Solving an issue walk: As you walk into the center, reflect on your issue. How did it come about? What is your role in it? Who are the other role players? What attitudes/ thoughts are dominating your perspective on the issue? Sit quietly in the center, asking for wisdom and courage to deal with the issue. As you walk out again, brainstorm all the possible solutions – come up with as many as possible. Sleep on it, then make a decision as to what action you will take to shift the issue.

There are many other ways of walking a labyrinth. Be creative. Be open to possibilities. Experiment.

2015 02 14and15 (31)As  I looked over our recently completed labyrinth, I tried another walk: As I walked in I remembered all the special times we’ve had with our friends – weekends away, BIG birthday celebrations, dinners, experiences, sharing of sad times, supporting each other.

Sitting in the middle I let the gratitude I felt for special people in my life wash over me.

As I walked out, I thought of each individual person and asked that they be given whatever I thought the needed in this moment.

Have you ever walked on a labyrinth?

Leave a comment and tell us about it….

Now, you may be thinking, “That’s all very well but I don’t have access to a labyrinth”

No problem!

Do any of the walks in your mind by writing in a journal.

Go for a walk if it is safe to do so.Do one of these exercises as you walk.

Also – look out for a finger labyrinth. You can buy them at spiritual or religious shops. Sit with it on your lap, and do any of the exercises as you slowly run your finger around the path.

There is always a way…


A labyrinth is a path of prayer,
a walking meditation,
a crucible of change,
a watering hole for the spirit
and a mirror of the soul.

Posted in Balance, Fulfillment, Happiness, Life Mastery, Managing Stress, Way of Being | 12 Comments