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.

 

Dec 6

WHERE IN THE WORLD?

 

WHERE IN THE WORLD?

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“Today…was that day” (well Saturday gone to be precise)!

 

I heard my dearly departed mother’s voice, loud and clear… (in my head).

 

“Just wait until you have children of your own…then you will understand”…

 

For those of you that are parents, the parental milestone I am about to outline will likely resonate with you, or, if your children are younger…in the coming teen years.

 

So back to ‘that day’ that I mentioned.

 

My son, now 14yrs old, asked to attend the fete at Kingston’s Immaculate Conception high school on Saturday, with a friend from his school. The plan was that said friend’s mother would ‘drop off’ and I would ‘pick up’. Easy enough. I was cool with that…though I had to quash some spontaneous thoughts about a potential ‘incident’ that could arise at a school fete. But then I chided myself for being a ‘worrier mom’. As a mother, I may not be able to take him out to ‘hunt the lion’, but I sure can send him out into the ‘jungle’…right? I can do this. It’s time to let go. The very night before I had discussed my son’s making his transition to manhood and my need to release the reigns somewhat and give him latitude to venture further from the safety of the nest. All the text book stuff that his uncles have been guiding me on in recent years. They went off looking very dapper.

 

A CHANGE OF SCRIPT

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Then, THE call came in…”Mom, can we walk to the bowling alley at Manor Park and you pick us up there in a few hours?”

 

Silence. As God is my witness I…the calm, optimistic, divinely protected, look-on-the-positive-side, law of attraction, ‘your thoughts create your reality’ spouting optimist…PANICKED! My heart started pounding and my head started swimming…in the background I could hear the chattering of excited teens, the giggling of girls and the extra-base voices of teen-boy laughter. I was on the spot!!!

 

His firm (to impress those around him no doubt) voice still possessed the pleading quality of my little boy. In it I heard the unspoken, mommy, please say yes…the other teens are waiting to hear if I can go or not. Hurry and please don’t ask me one million questions to break my cool!!

 

I stammered, I hummed and awed…torn between the desire to let him fly free, to go with his mates to the very well populated bowling joint AND the dread that raged through my mind as images of Khajeel Mais…Nicholas Francis popped into my mind. “Moooommmmm!” Came the demand again from the anxious Prince. In a split second, he wanted an answer. Wait. Stall. Let me call the mother of the other young man. Maybe I can transfer, I mean share this onerous decision. I needed back up! Having an older son and being more knowledgeable of the route and venues in question, back-up mom reassured me that she was fine with it, but (which sent me into indecisive mode again)…”follow your gut feeling” she finished. I calmed my flip-flopping gut and engaged my left brain for the split second needed to decide to allow and trust!

 

OK son…YOU CAN GO! (I’m sure I heard the theme tune from the Rocky movie).

 

He contained his clear exuberance and said a cool, in his new deeper voice… Thanks Mom!

 

I did it.

 

That’s when I heard my mother’s voice. Clear Clear!

 

Each time I, or my teen brother would go out my mother would be at the window, unable to sleep, until we came home. When I asked her why she didn’t go to bed, she spoke those prophetic words…”Just wait until you have children of your own…then you will understand.”

 

Boy do I understand!!!!

 

SAFE?

 Image result for SAFE CHILDREN

 

The reality of this story is that it is becoming more and more difficult to think of a place in this world where one can be certain of the safety of a child. I had made the conscious decision to raise my son in Jamaica, as opposed to England, where we were both born. There are a myriad of reasons, but the main one, which is now very relevant in the post Brexit and post Trump age, is his safety (emotional as well as physical). The realities of being a young boy of African descent in a predominantly Caucasian populated country I knew only too well. Yes, I know I am a female, but I witnessed the disparities in treatment and justice second hand, in the treatment meted out to my own brother and his friends, while growing up in Great Britain in the 70’s/80’s.

 

So here we are in Jamaica. With its own peculiar challenges, but a historical record of protecting children. There…I said it…historical. Sadly so, in the wake of the recent atrocious child deaths. My maternal senses are heightened. I find myself asking the question again…”Where in the world is it safe to raise a boy child?”…any child for that matter?

 

I guess, the answer for each parent might be different, but at the end of the day, we can only protect our children to a certain extent, while in the meantime, equipping them with as much ‘street smartness’, awareness and confidence as possible. As it was in my teen years…parents will continue to worry, regardless of the country, social dictates or reassurances from the inexperienced teens themselves.

 

INSURE FOR YOUR CHILDREN’S SAKE

 

While you ponder these thoughts parents, you can consider securing Personal Accident Cover, Health Insurance, Pension Plan or even a Life Insurance Policy through us at Sarifa…just to cushion any ‘blows’ that might fortuitously arise while we love and protect our offspring.

 

As well as our good parental advice, it is a good idea to arrange some financial cushioning for their present or future.

 

Nov 7

DEMOCRACY…AT IT’S WORST?

 

DEMOCRACY…AT IT’S WORST?

 

Democracy is defined as ‘a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives’. So, in theory and in short, the whole population decides who runs things.

 

I’ve tried as much as possible to resist writing about the imminent US Presidential Election, but with just one day to go, I’m giving in to the urge to state my opinion. I won’t keep you long, because I know you have most likely reached saturation point on the issue that has been painfully milked by all media houses, satirists and your average man/woman on the streets around the world.

 

Now the first thing I want to make clear is that my views are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the views or opinions of Sarifa Insurance Brokers Ltd. Good. With that disclaimer out of the way…hear me now!

 

Image result for donald trump

FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, file photo, Hillary Rodham Clinton is seen in New York. Hillary Rodham Clinton has so far kept a low profile this year, something that’s starting to change as she heads toward her expected 2016 campaign for president. Clinton was to speak Tuesday at a Silicon Valley women's conference, her first U.S. speech of the year. It opens a stretch of public appearances in the next month ahead of an all-but-certain launch of her bid for the Democratic nomination. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

 

 

What a farce! What an embarrassment! What a poppy-show of democracy unhinged!

 

A recent New York Times article spoke of the ‘disgust’ of the majority of American citizens over the behaviour, conduct and continually unfolding character of the two contenders for leadership. The situation exists for many where their real choice is no choice. They believe that neither candidate stands up with the required level of integrity, sound character nor metal that is synonymous with the ‘Commander in Chief’ role. Americans feel they are being made a global laughing stock, and they are right. The interesting mocks come from America’s cousins in England and Canada. The gloating is tangible as media houses, television personalities and even Ministers of Government, criticize the live ‘reality show’ that the US elections have become.

 

Meanwhile, back on US soil, what seems to have been laughed off as a joke, with the Donald Trump nomination, has now turned into the worst nightmare for many. Democracy opened the door. Free and fair elections will provide the platform. The masses of US citizens that actually support ‘The Donald’…make it possible, within 24hrs, for him to be sworn in as PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

 

Let that sink in for a while.

 

THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA…OR THE END?

 

brexit

 

The unexpected backlash of true democracy is still a bad taste in the mouths of many Europeans, with the Brexit vote in the UK earlier this year.  It struck me at that time that the once Great Britain, was on the verge of crumbling, staggering from a self-inflicted wound. The immediate downturn in the economy, the still sliding pound and the shattered confidence of foreign investors that were poised to set up shop in the UK. The historical relationship between Britain and her close ally and cousin America is not a coincidental circumstance. One wonders if indeed these self-appointed superpowers, built on monies from slave trading, genocide meted out to indigenous peoples, theft of jewels (Queen’s crown included) and subjugation of the peoples trodden on to build their empires…were now folding in on themselves after years of bullying other nations.

 

INDIA, CHINA AND AFRICA…RISING

 

indiachinaafrica

 

The economic rise of resource rich countries, the talk of re-unification of the colonially dissected countries of Africa, underpinned by a gold dinar led currency and the outcry from environmentalists to save mother earth are all compounding the global beating the USA is getting. Countries like India and China are developed and ready to retake their spaces in the world. Do your own research. The media houses of the super-powerful rarely show the footage of the rise of the competition. Notwithstanding, the advent of social media has meant that the ordinary man and woman around the world is now privy to truths behind the starting of wars, the real wealth of so called developing nations and the internal injustices faced by the citizens of these nations. The Dakota Pipeline issue is one such blatant injustice, unfolding for the world to see.

 

It is time for a change. I, for one, welcome the current reshuffle of world powers. My hope is that in the new dawn, men and women of integrity, love, honesty and responsibility to the planet, will take the place of leaders seduced by billionaire corporate interests.  I know, I sound like MLK Jnr, right? But I do have a dream. For the sake of the children, my son, I dream of a future that will stand up to the test of decency and life enriching custody of our world.

 

 

THE DAY OF RECKONING!

 

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Let’s see what unfolds for Trump…Clinton and the whole world that is watching this historical political war.