Mar 7

SELF-RE-DISCOVERY

SELF-RE-DISCOVERY

 

Self Discovery 5

 

Just think for a moment. What if who you are now and what your life is about, does not reflect the ‘authentic’ you? Is not congruent with your personality type, inborn talents or deep passions. Now that can be a frightening state of mind to give attention to, right? It becomes even more daunting (or liberating), when you are considering this when you are outside the category of ‘spring chicken’. Let me give a little personal context to this topic.

 

Self Discovery 2

 

It struck me a few months ago that I am now approaching the phase of my life that is considered, according to chronological categorization, as ‘middle aged’. The senior Crone woman that has already passed through the other two demarked stages known as Maiden and Mother. All of a sudden, my self-assessment took on a more bird’s eye view scrutiny. The last time I remember having this level of intense reflection about my life was when I was approaching 30, looked at my life, mildly panicked and decided that it was time to make some drastic changes…being that I was unmarried and without child…and the clock was ticking! I know, I know…all stereotypical nonsense, but I was raised by a traditional Jamaican woman that would make the subtle (not) point whenever a friend of mine got married. So, what did I do? I packed up my life, took a 5 week soul searching trip to Ghana, West Africa, returned to England, then made rapid plans for a brand new life in Jamaica! Uncharted territory, my having only visited the island twice before! A little dramatic some might think. I mean, many women approaching 30 might have just gone to the hairdressers and changed their hairstyle. Not me. My life had to be shaken up out of the monotonous, non-committed zone and thrust into a new adventure that would sate my free spirited, adventure seeking nature. My family were not at all surprised. They knew that when my ‘mad head’ took me…things were bound to be transformed!

 

So fast forward to now, I’m a mother (check), approaching mid 50’s, had amazing life experiences in the tropics…yet I’m feeling that tell-tale itch again, that cannot go unscratched. Who am I now and am I living my full, authentic life? What are my true passions and purpose? Have they changed? 20+ years on…just who am I?

 

ARE YOU REALLY WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

 

Self Discovery 8

 

So, since I’m currently working out my future ‘lane’, I invite you to take this journey of self-re-discovery with me, so you too can hit your life’s refresh button. Some of you will find it very difficult, while others will enjoy the ride. Ready? Here goes.

 

Just imagine (close your eyes for greater effect…after you have read the instructions of course 🙂 )…imagine that all the things, places, people and hobbies that currently make up your life have been gathered, assumed or imprinted on your life over X many years based on family traditions, national customs, influence of friends, previous relationships/heartbreaks, requirements of your job or fear! We will leave out governmental rules/regulations as I don’t want to insight anarchy. Imagine that you are being given a clean slate upon which to create your ‘dream life’, including the things you value, cherish, are passionate about…generated from your own mind and feelings. I know, trying to peel away the external influences to get to the pure YOU factor might not be as easy as we think, but I’m going for it and encourage you to do the same. Create a vision board. Go for walks in nature. Dig up the photo album and look back at the ‘old you’, the things you used to do, places you used to go and simply reflect on whether or not you wish to re-create or eliminate specific things from your NOW life. Or create exciting new stuff!

 

THE ONGOING PROCESS

 

Self Discovery 3

 

Now, first thing tomorrow morning, when you open your eyes, take note of your first thoughts? How do you feel? Are you feeling alive, happy, excited to start the day, full of vitality and the wonders of life? Or is it more like…”Oh Lord, it’s Monday morning already???” If its the latter, which let’s face it, is one of the biggest ‘elephants-in-the-room’ for many of our lives, it’s time to ask those deeper self-examining questions. Do I like what I do? Am I where I want to live? Am I with who I want to be with? What did I love doing when I was young(er)? [Disclaimer: I am in no way suggesting that you quit your job, move into the hills or divorce your spouse…unless of course any of those things are necessary for the positive expansion of your life to its full potential].

 

AN EXAMPLE

 

Image result for playing pool

 

Recently I (re)discovered that I love to play pool. I used to do so in my 20’s and became quite good at it. I had forgotten this fact until I attended a community street dance recently and eyed a pool room full of young men and couldn’t resist the urge to put my coin on the table for a game. I was in my element! The joy it brought back to me, the energy rush, after so long away from the table, was palpable. The game was very close, I lost, but that was cool. I vowed to find a spot in Kingston where I could re-sharpen my skills and play ‘for fun’. I don’t business that I’m a ‘middle aged’, female executive with a British accent! In the pool room…it’s a level playing field and the respectful competition is fierce among the bredren!

 

I’m sharing this example with you because sometimes we surprise ourselves with the things that reconnect us to our joy. Often simple things. So make a start. Observe yourself and your feelings as you revisit old and even new ways of being, living and doing YOU!

 

WHY NOT DO THE THINGS YOU LOVE?

 

Image result for happy black woman

 

The big question then becomes, why did I/why do we stop doing the things that bring us joy? Do our lives become so full with surviving in our societally acceptable/respectable worlds, that there is no room for round the clock joy? Too eutopian?

 

Self Discovery 6

 

On the drive to school each morning, our car is filled with music and my son and I singing/dancing along [while exhibiting all due care and attention to road conditions, Officer!]. In contrast, we notice the faces in the oncoming lines of back-to-back rush hour traffic and the ‘doom and gloom’ staring back at us is significant. Just 7.30am and so many furrowed brows. Stern looks. Impatient horn honking. Strange looks at our exhibit of joyfulness. Mimed quarrels.

 

TIP: It is a proven fact that listening to music from an earlier era, especially if it was your ‘hay-day’/teen years improves your mental outlook, level of joy and even physical health. Dig out those old hits, convert them from vinyl or tapes first :), and make your rush hour journey an Old Hits session. When the significant drop in road rage statistics is announced…remember me!

 

Self Discovery 7

 

NOW WE ARE AWARE…WHAT NEXT?

 

Once we rediscover the things that still float our boats, we must remove the excuses that stop us getting back into the said activity. I spoke to a middle aged, unemployed mother recently who, through sad eyes, spoke of her love for baking, which she hadn’t done for so long. When I asked her why she didn’t just go for it, she firstly cited lack of funds to buy ingredients, but encouraged by my blank stare, honestly shared how demotivated she had become because of other domestic pressures, lack of home based support/motivation and a consequently dwindled self-esteem. You see how easy it is for our minds to lead us into ruts that make our simple joys seem insurmountable? As we spoke about pastry, her eyes lit up, her slumped posture straightened up…she was (mentally at least) in her element! We have to break the imaginary barriers that we place between our current ‘livity’ and the joys of our hearts!

 

Image result for pastry making

 

So! Here is your homework. In addition to the suggested exercises above, determine what is your BAKING? Or POOL PLAYING? Do you love to dance, yet haven’t dropped a foot in years? Did you use to play an instrument or listen to music regularly, but have parked your passion back in the days when music was played on vinyl? My dears…it is TIME. Dust off the instrument, polish up our dancing shoes, join the drama club, enroll in that Salsa class, get that pet etc. etc. etc. The reality is, if we do not make the time to bring the simple joys into our mind space, then back into our lives…it will be difficult to be that joyful partner/spouse/friend/parent/employee that adds real value to the lives of others. Let the phrase ‘Please Yourself’ take on a new spin, because once you are pleased and your glad bag fills to the point of bursting…you will naturally ‘Please Others’! Even the children will share in the fairy dust sprinkling of joy and lightness in the otherwise heavy home. Come on…push yourself! Put those shoulders back, take a deep breath and say to this world…”I claim my joy!” Anything less and you are shortchanging yourself and robbing the world of the magnificent divine plans for your unique, fully accomplished life!

 

Image result for happy black driver

 

While I have not seen the statistics, I am certain that happier drivers have fewer accidents, so just think, as well as being much happier…you will be protecting your No Claims Bonus! See you in the traffic! Then in our offices when your motor insurance is due. ;).

 

P.S. If the self-re-discovery process gets too overwhelming, link me for a Psychodrama Session and we can journey together!

 

Feb 14

Love, Valentines and Matters of the Heart!

 

Image result for valentines day

 

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

 

Nestled in the middle of the month that recognises the birthday of Bob Marley, celebrates Reggae Month and Black History Month, is Valentines Day. 14th of February to be exact. Today!

 

Now, instead of any long talking, this blog is going to cater to the auditory and visual learners amongst us. So rather than a long explanation of how Valentines Day came about, check out the video below. Yes, I know it is from a USA perspective, but, surprise surprise…we did not create Valentines here in Jamaica, so we are really just ‘following fashion!’

 

 

 

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT?

 

Image result for barack and michelle

 

Now that we know about the roots of this one day a year tradition, how about understanding how the attraction thing works from a biological perspective? We have all heard the term ‘love at first sight’, right?; so it’s interesting to learn that this is actually a scientifically proven phenomenon. Check out the video below!

 

 

GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER

 

So now we know how our brain works in the love equation, here’s some cool things about the heart.

 

“Far more than a simple pump, as was once believed, the heart is now recognized by scientists as a highly complex system with its own functional “brain.” The nervous system within the heart (or “heart brain”) enables it to learn, remember, and make functional decisions independent of the brain’s cerebral cortex. Moreover, numerous experiments have demonstrated that the signals the heart continuously sends to the brain influence the function of higher brain centers involved in perception, cognition, and emotional processing”. [IN5D Web Site]

 

Image result for The heart

 

Here’s an interesting fact that I (thanks to my son’s biology project on the heart) recently learned. The sound of the heart beating is created by the valves of the heart closing and the blood ‘crashing’ against the closed valves, repeatedly, during the ‘pumping’ process. I won’t take you too deep into the names of the valves and such like, but that’s the first time I had heard the explanation for that magical sound that we all like to hear when we place our ear against our loved ones chest (or is it just me? 🙂 ). Another few heart facts?

 

Did you also know that…

 

1. The heart gives off an electromagnetic signal that can be ‘measured’ (and I dare say, felt by another person) up to 8 feet!

2. The signals emitted from one persons heart actually affects the moods, attitudes and feelings of others!!!!!

3. The magnetic component is approximately 5000 times stronger than the brain’s magnetic field!

4. The Earth’s magnetic resonances vibrate at the same frequency as our heart rhythms and brain waves.

5. The heart is, after all the first organ formed during our foetal development.

6. A mother’s brainwaves can synchronise to her baby’s heartbeat even if they are a few feet apart! So when we mothers tell our offspring that they are our ‘heartbeats’….please allow us!

 

So when someone asks if you are ruled by your head (brain) or your heart, that is a sensible question which we should all become conscious of reflecting on the answer.

 

LET THE LOVE VIBES FLOW

 

Image result for jamaica heart

 

What point am I trying to make here folks? Love can indeed move mountains…of hate! So, think for a moment, in these times on our troubled island and around the world, what if every person seeking peace and love in their lives, allowed both their head and their heart to emit the LOVE focused electromagnetic signals AT THE SAME TIME? Not even JPS could power up such a phenomenal energy shift. The biology/science is clearly on our side! Lets LOVE our island to LIFE!

 

So at this time of many questions and solutions being sought to solve our beautiful island’s problems, let’s remember that individually and collectively, we have the power of LOVE, generated from our awesomely constructed hearts, that can be expressed on Valentines Day and…for the rest of the year!

 

Let the love energy flow within you, be emitted from you and return to you tenfold in this season of LOVE…and way beyond!

 

Image result for health insurance heart

 

Don’t forget, Sarifa provides Health Insurance plans for matters of a not too perfect heart and other illnesses. Ask one of our CSRs for a quotation or more information!

 

Jan 3

2017! SELF…A WORK IN PROGRESS

 

 

2017-1

 

It’s that time of year again when we pledge to be the better selves that we have been aspiring to be for (sometimes) many years. We promise ourselves more happiness, money, love, health, success…some even promise themselves more sex, if the past year has been somewhat of a ‘drought’ in that department ;). All in all, many of us gear up to make a more concerted effort to achieve the things we feel or think (or someone has told/complained to us about) we have been lacking in previous years.

 

2017-2

 

That new diet, gym membership (did you know that gym memberships increase significantly in January of each year!), to be in touch with family or friends more, to leave that job that no longer ‘floats our boat’, to seek that soul mate that has been alluding us (the guy that showed up mid last year but didn’t make the grade doesn’t count) etc. etc.….[fill in your own promises to ‘self’ here]. When you call the yoga instructor to ask about her schedules for the New Year and her response starts with “Just as I told you last year…” (true story), that is a sign.

 

REALITY CHECK!

 

But before we pressure ourselves to stick to new regimens, maintain progressive mindsets, stop eating the food we love most (chocolate excluded), let me suggest that we step back a little, do a reality check and explore this annual human ritual. Firstly, how much of our resolution is about pleasing ‘self’ and how much is about conforming to societal, parental, spousal, cultural or even global expectations? Why is it that by February, the obstacles to our reaching the gym three times per week have become insurmountable? That diet was going fine until we got the invitation to the banquet or birthday party, so now we will have to start again on ‘Monday’ (you know the Monday that keeps representing itself like a perpetual restart date throughout the year?). Anyway, this is not about us beating ourselves up, so put away the metaphoric mental boxing gloves. The reality that many resolutions fall by the wayside as the gusto and enthusiasm of a fresh New Year fades, is not unique to you. By default, we revert to old habits and behaviours. That’s just how we humans are wired. Why is this? Are we so fickle, weak-willed, un-determined? Here are my thoughts, based on my understanding of this matter.

 

STUCK IN THE MUD (RUT)

 

2017-3

 

Imagine the habit you are trying to change has been part of your consciousness for many years, like a car wheel stuck in the mud, that keeps turning and digging a deeper groove as time passes. You get the visual, right? Well just as you would need to apply a robust, effective and NEW strategy to get your vehicle out of the mud, the same principle applies to our well entrenched habits/behaviours. Simply saying we are going to change them is not going to get us out of the mud. It’s a good start, as there are many that don’t even realise they are stuck in mud; but it’s going take a little follow up action to bring about the desired/required change. Like stepping out of the vehicle/stilling your thoughts momentarily and taking a fresh look/perspective at the situation/yourself. You might just see the required strategy to reach your destination/goal more clearly when you stop and take stock…from a fresh vantage point.

 

A LITTLE BEHAVIOURAL BRAIN SCIENCE

 

2017-4

 

It is said (not exactly sure by which psychologist or great thinker) that it takes 28 days of practicing a new behavior for a LASTING change to be effected in the mind of the behave-ee. Just this morning, however, I read that…’A University College London study reveals it takes 66 days to form a new habit. Not the 21-days or the 30-days we have been and are still being sold by self-help gurus’. Regardless of the duration, you literally have to create new neural networks/connections that the brain now recognises as the ‘new normal’ behaviour and will then revert to by default. Otherwise, the default setting is the longer established ‘stuck in the mud’ behaviour, that you are hoping to change. I don’t want to get too technical, as your interest in neuroscience may not match my intense fascination, so suffice to say, you have to do IT long enough for IT to become the new habit. Like riding a bike. The brain will remember and revert without much thought or pressure, once sufficient repetition has it locked!

 

Now, what if it’s a personality trait that you wish to change? What if someone (or many persons over the years) have hinted, complained of, or at the extreme, cussed you out for being too …………..? [Again, I will leave you to fill in the blank]. Well, we have the options of denial, (passive) aggressive defense or acceptance of the third party perception of who we are. The bigger question, which I have ‘resoluted’ to introduce during my upcoming Psychodrama Lab Workshop series this year, is how do you perceive/see yourself?

 

2017-5

 

Don’t laugh, but in a recent ‘aha moment’, the gravity of realising that how I see myself could vary greatly from the way others perceive me, hit me for the first time! The gravity because I’m not quite a 16yrs old and a fresh work in progress!!! It came out of a recent conversation with a dear friend of many years, who revealed to me that recently, on his conscious journey of self-discovery, he was shocked to have realized that how he ‘thought’ he looked all these years, even how heavy he perceived himself to be, did not equate to the reality of what he NOW perceived. Sound complex? Let me try to explain, because it blew my mind too! Since his youth, my friend had been called mawga (skinny) and small. He built up a self- image that matched other people’s description of him which became his habitual perception of himself. His reality. Follow me now. The scale of his smallness had become etched in his mind…like the tyre in the mud…and had blocked/clouded his ability to ‘see’ himself, despite growing to nigh 6ft tall. Even in relation to others that were smaller than himself, his self-image always made him appear smaller (in his mind). When I asked him if he had not seen himself in the mirror over the years, or next to others of equal height and stature to correct his (false) perception, his response was that his deep rooted childhood perception of himself had clearly overridden the ‘truth’ of what his eyes were telling him. Deep, don’t? This sounded bizzare to me too, but there was my very intelligent, wise and sane bredren telling me something that I, up to now had taken for granted. We assume that people see themselves, physically at least, as we see them and it was a revelation for me to understand that there can be such gross disparities in the perceptions of the see-er and the see-ee!

 

2017-6

 

We never really know how others see us and even when the world tells us certain things about who/how we are, we often default either the positive or negative things we have been ‘trained’ to believe about our ‘self’. So, this year. 2017. I have pledged to explore MY SELF, accepting that I am a work in progress. Flawed, yet brilliant. Imperfect, yet magnificent. Truly listening to what the world perceives me to be and reconciling it with my view of myself. Only when we take a realistic, honest and healthy stock of ourselves, can we make any meaningful steps to make adjustments to become a new improved version. Once we ‘know how we stay’…we then have the choice to stay in our old groove (mud) or to take conscious, concerted steps to make lasting adjustments. If ten people have told you that you are ‘mean’…there might just be some semblance of truth to their interpretation of that aspect of you. Saying, defensively, “I’m not mean, I’m prudent’ will only serve to satisfy your sanitized perception and make you feel good. Step back. Ask your-self…”Self, am I mean?”…then, without self-judgement, enjoy the journey of discovering that, “mi mean fi true”. Smile with self. Then decide (if you choose) to adjust behaviours that have fed that perceived reality, or simply stay mean same way! The freedom and joy comes from knowing that you are now in the driving seat of your personal evolution. Your journey is your own and whichever behaviours, habits or traits that exist within you are simply that. They pave the road to your journey. No matter your age or station in life, you may still choose to change the paving for a smoother trod…or not. Bottom line. It’s your unique life. Live it as you choose, but be clear that your thoughts and actions will create the future you either desire or fear, because, either way, your actions are fed by your thoughts. Yes, you are THAT powerful!

 

A realistic resolution? “I will seek to be consciously aware of, accept and be true to who I am in every given moment; changing what I choose, how I can, while enjoying my unique Work In Progress self”

 

In the meantime…Love YOU just the way you are!

 

SELF DISCOVERY THROUGH ROLE PLAY

 

How on earth can I identify, undo and re-invent myself after so many years in the mud? Thanks for asking!

 

2017-7

 

Hmmmm, I envisage myself conducting (and benefiting from) Psychodrama sessions that will factor in role playing exercises to explore this phenomenon of healthy introspection and self-discovery. The sessions will also go deep into exploring the ‘multiple selves’ that make up each of our personas. Now that is another revelation-filled area of self-exploration!

 

Want to join a Psychodrama Lab Workshop for 2017? Let me know. In addition to some safe self-discovery, you will also help me fulfil one of my resolutions! To use the gifts I was given or trained for! [To Self: Why did I train as Psychodrama Therapist, if I wasn’t going to practice my skills?].

 

OH, WHAT IS PSYCHODRAMA?

 

2017-8

 

According to Wikipedia…

 

‘Psychodrama is an action method, often used as a psychotherapy, in which clients use spontaneous dramatization, role playing, and dramatic self-presentation to investigate and gain insight into their lives’.

 

I can testify that Psychodrama really creates constructive changes in the lives of those participating. As I simply put it, “You get to see IT and act IT out before going forward to apply IT in your real life”. From forgiveness, blockage removal, identity issues, past traumas or simply sticking to your New Year resolutions…Psychodrama provides the creative forum for issues to be worked through and out.

 

Wishing you all an exciting journey of Self-Exploration…during 2017 and beyond! From one Work in Progress to another.