Be gentle with yourself

I do a lot of coaching sessions right now, and one of the things that almost always seems to come up in the conversations, is the general tone of the inner voice we all carry with us. Mine used to be a dictator, lashing out at me with a leather whip, and being real nasty, on a daily basis. But not anymore. Not a lot, at least. I’ve become gentle with myself, and I cannot even begin to describe the difference it’s made in my everyday life.

Being gentle with myself, for me, means that I don’t beat myself over the head with a shovel anymore, whenever I do, say, or even think, something ”bad”. Because I’ve come to understand that ”bad” is a construction. My thoughts and the resulting feelings are neutral. They just are. But we have, as a society I guess, placed a whole lot of meaning on them, giving them a value.

If I ask you to name three good feelings, I’m certain it’s not a problem for you. Perhaps emotions such as love, joy, happiness, generosity, care come to mind? Now if I ask you to name three bad feelings, perhaps you’ll come up with emotions such as hatred, anger, anxiety, vengence, desire, jealousy and so on?

Well. What I’ve realized is that this is nonsense. It’s not true. There is no such thing as a good or bad feeling. That’s all make belief. We’ve invented it. And I think the reason we’ve made up all these stories around these feelings, is because when acting upon the ”good” feelings, generally there is value to that action. It serves us in some way, that is more easily understood and felt than when acting upon the ”bad” feelings. Acting on hatred rarely serve us, and generally speaking there is less apparent value to acting on these feelings. And I agree with that. But, that still doesn’t mean the feeling and the thought it came from, are good or bad. They still just are. They exist. Period.

And I even venture as far as stating, that believing in the story of good and bad thoughts and feelings, is actually causing much more harm to us, than shedding that belief, and seeing the thoughts and feelings for what they are. A thought. And a feeling. Nothing more, nothing less. Just that.

For me, this makes it much more easy to feel what I feel without beating myself up over it. I can be nervous without being nervous about it. I can be angry without being angry at myself for it. And so on. This is what I mean with being gentle with myself. I feel what I feel, and that’s ok. I’m ok with that. Most of the time, that is… because sometimes I’m at a low state of consiousness and then perhaps I’m not ok with being angry and upset. And you know what? That’s ok too!

Now, what this ok-ness doesn’t mean, is that I give myself permission to act on whatever feeling I’m experiencing in the moment. No. That’s another ball game. I’m ok with feeling whatever I feel, but I now know I don’t have to act on every feeling I experience. I can just sit with it. If I’m angry, that’s ok. But that doesn’t mean I have to scream and shout. Sometimes I do, because I feel that’s what will be of service to me in the moment. Sometimes I don’t, because I don’t feel it will be of service to me in the moment. There is no right or wrong that is always right or wrong. It varies. (Barring actually inflicting harm upon another being. Does that really ever serve anyone?)

Knowing this, really really knowing it in my heart, means that I am no longer a slave to my feelings. I don’t have that urge to lash out, when I’m angry, at least not at all as frequent as it used to be. I have a choice to act on my feelings, and what will serve me in the moment will vary. That means there really is no right or wrong here, and with that realization, suspending judgement upon myself and other has fallen away, and only remains to a very small extent in my life. So I’m not only more gentle with myself, I am also much more gentle with you, and the rest of the world.

Except when I’m not, because I have a muddled mind, lacking clarity, and that’s ok. I know my clarity will return, in time, and I also know that it really serves me to be gentle with myself. At all times.

be gentle

Be gentle with yourself. Try it out. You don’t even have to believe you deserve it. Just try it. Ok?

Doing the right thing?

Åsa Minoz sent a link on Twitter the other day, as a response to a discussion on whether or not calling oneself PRO or ANTI actually makes any difference. Well, both me and Åsa believe it does make a difference. I am a pro-person myself, getting energized by the possibility to move ahead, to create, to reach something, somewhere. There are anti-people as well, who get equally energized by that position. We complement each other, in my view, and I am not (any more, thank god for that!) an advocate for My way or the highway.

Since I watched the clip that Åsa linked to, I have managed to send it to many people, because it’s just the most eloquent (and funny!) way to describe a system and its parts, so please, give Russ Ackoff 15 minutes, and watch/listen to him talking on Beyond continual improvement:

A few of the gems hidden within this talk, in my view, are these:

”If we have a system of improvement that is directed at improving the parts taken separately, you can be absolutely sure that the performance of the whole will not be improved.”

”Any process improvement effort 20140429-210259.jpgmust be focused on what you want, and not on what you don’t want.”

”Quality ought to contain a notion of value, not merely efficiency. That’s the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. Quality out to be directed at effectiveness. The difference between efficiency and effectiveness is the difference between knowledge and wisdom. And unfortunately, we don’t have enough wisdom to go around.”

Are you busy doing things right or doing the right thing?

My way or the highway

Do it my way – or take the highway. Have you heard this expression? I meet a lot of this sentiment, and I must say it makes me very confounded.

I get confounded because I have a hard time to understand why anyone would want me to stop doing what I find value in, just because someone else doesn’t see the value in it.

What that someone else is telling me is that they are right – that their way is the only way – and that I am just wasting my time with nonsense and should stop immediately, and start doing ‘the right thing’.

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Who are you to tell me what is right for me? I don’t say what is right for you and I can’t see any reason why I would do that.

(This is the grown up me speaking – those who knew me as a youngster, knows this is precisely what I did then. But not anymore since I’ve come to realize this is an attitude that doesn’t serve me at all. Given that what we are talking about lies within the confines of common law and human rights of course.)

I will gladly have a conversation about what I do, and what you do, and figure out how we can complement each other. But I won’t tell you to stop because I don’t see the value in what you do. I might tell you that I can’t see the value in it – but if you want to keep up with whatever it is you are doing, by all means, keep it up!

If I don’t see the value in what you do – why does that mean that there is no value? What that tells me is more that perhaps I haven’t dug deep enough to understand it fully. Or that I am simply not ready to understand what you do. It does not mean that I am right and you are wrong to do what you do. So why are you telling me that I am wrong and should stop what I do?