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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Getting What You Want or Need First Time, Every Time

I’m not the slightest bit taken with shooting the breeze, taking chances on pot luck or whistling Dixie, and nor should you. If the title of this article is at all achievable then there are some rules of life we need to know about and abide by.

None of us truly likes asking for things we want or need. We would much prefer others were perceptive in these matters, giving us our desires without a word said. The fact is this is not how the world works. Firstly, people are not that perceptive, and besides it’s very rarely ever about us—we’re only part of the reality to be catered for; a whole system to be kept tuned, operative and in balance. If everyone got their own way where would we be?

What’s more, people in control have their own needs and wants to consider. Yours may factor in their calculations but it’s not unreasonable to think they’ll probably be the least of their concerns.

It’s rather fascinating that notwithstanding the above, many of us have entertained the fallacy that others will have our interests centrally at heart. Therefore, we have “invented” a raft of expectation that would almost certainly not be delivered. No wonder we got annoyed.

Yet, whose fault was it? Who held people to account on false pretences?

It’s inevitable that we will not—of ourselves—have the currency, position, wit or favour to achieve our wants and needs quite a lot of the time. Whenever we are in the position to help ourselves we’re best advised to approach with caution in any event. Greed is generally the more consistent part to valour; discretion not getting a look in.

When we do have to ask we best previously do our homework, defining the need or want tangibly, and include some cogent justification. Succinctness is our ally. Brevity has power for us, and a mood of acceptance should surely go with it.

Getting what we want or need first time, every time sounds impossible to achieve; possibly it is i.e. impossible. Yet, it ought not to be—if only we can: 1) do what has just been discussed, with ingenuity; and 2) continually re-adjust our desires to fit our reality, always.

Simple recipe? Perhaps, but it’s when we keep life simple we have the best opportunities to truly achieve our inner goals.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Nothing Beats Quality Time

I write this to myself more than anything else. If there’s one thing a partner and kids need it’s quality time with their husband and father. This cannot be skimped over. The needs of the family of ‘their man’—his time to be invested, and genuinely at that—cannot be overstated.

In Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb (1979) song, there are shades of exclusion I’m sure every guy feels. The guy, Pink (played by Sir Bob Geldof), is isolated to his family and friends and in the video sits there in his chair watching television, clearly wanting to be alone—driven to escape; drugs or not, most if not all men relate.

Pink is ironically lonely in his self-inflicted isolation. We men are not much different on the whole. We can’t win. When we’re alone we think fondly of our dear ones—for we have time for loving reflection, considering dotingly their needs of us. Yet, when they’re about we often feel crowded in somehow. Of course, these are sweeping generalisations. But, I’m sure they speak a confounding reality to a lot of men (and women).

Out of all the love languages, the desire and skill to invest quality time seems to elude men most. Men seem apt at giving gifts (okay, not all men); whispering sweet nothings of gentle, loving affirmation or encouraging their partners and children (okay, not all men); loving physically with hugs (okay, not all men, discounting sex with their partners); or, helping out around the house (okay, not all men). Most men do these things at least half well. Men like a playmate but there’s a bittersweet balance to be struck.

Perhaps it’s due to the fact that women, for the greater part, have higher social needs than men—certainly children also require their fathers to be actively engaged in the processes of family, especially in the crucial early childhood through the mid-teen years, inclusive.

The issue most at question is how a man truly wants to engage with his family without actively seeking isolation from them. Perhaps a loving family will want to give their ‘man of the home’ his own time provided they’re getting enough of him. He then needs to accept their best offer out of the available hours.

Only they and he can define and actualise the correct balance.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Why Smiles Are So Much Better For Both You and Me

What a fresh difference one smile can make. As I walked into a building foyer—struggling to see—after being outside in the bright sunlight recently, I was greeted with such a memorable smile in the form of one generous young lady. It made my minute quite frankly. The very image of her pleasant, friendly offering made a difference for me; a moment of joy in an otherwise tense day. This smile truly transformed her face. That’s I think what I noticed.

Why do we underestimate the stunning power of simple smiles? Why is it we don’t more often break into song—whistling, smiling—dancing in our spirits?

I think it’s because we’re all too often so weighed down with our very own concerns to worry or think about others. Yet we miss out on so much—and so do they.

Training ourselves to smile again, more and more, is simply a matter of awareness and discipline, surely. Surely it’s a better way. Surely we’d be happier as a result. Certainly in my experience above, the smile-song sung its way back into my heart and I wished that person a very pleasant day for what she gave to me, so freely and willingly; one little, cherishable moment—such a big spiritual difference.

When we think about it we have a hundred of these opportunities every day. And perhaps to be fair we don’t always feel like smiling; better not to smile than fake it—plastic faced grins are not smiles at all; they’re are definitely not on. We have to not only get our mouths, but our whole face involved!

And remember,

“A smile confuses an approaching frown.”

~Author Unknown.

If we want more happiness and joy in life we have to be prepared to give before we can get.

And for those who might be considering plastic surgery to improve their aging looks:

“A smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks.”

~Charles Gordy.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Beating My Panic Attack

Sure, I’ve had them. As I drafted this note to myself (and now you):

“I am suffering a panic attack. Exteriorly I may be fine but internally the war rages mightily right now. I have just had some cognitive dissonance regarding an important relationship. Conflict that’s taken me on a journey beyond myself. I’ve had several calls, text messages and “urgent” emails, and now I’m moments away from a public speaking engagement. I am also abundantly cognisant of a vital goal that I’m missing for myself. I’m so beyond frustration right now.”

Man, how do we deal with these situations; conniption-central?

I’ve learned all I can do is one of a few things (for me personally). Start to force-feed rational thought and deep-breathing into my mind and lungs, or get out, finding a quiet place and simply commence downloading—quelling the heart in turbocharged overdrive.

Looped thinking is often responsible. We’ve gotten ourselves into a tizz through a series of repetitive thoughts that have been running like a broken record; now it seems the volume’s down, but the voices are still there. Somehow they’re still pressing in, making their intent abundantly, even subliminally, known.

We have to find a way for ourselves to conquer the panic barrier; a way that works for us individually, decisively; to heal us by calming the firestorm within.

Reading usually does it for me; something inspiring, reassuring or encouraging—in a quiet left-alone spot. It’s always hence a good scheme to have such reading material on hand, prepared and ready to go.

A nap too has helped. Simply lying down, slowing the breathing to slow the heart rate... Relax. A chat to a ‘care line’ (or a caring friend) too has worked wonders at times.

Perhaps the person who doesn’t believe in such fiction as ‘the panic attack’ thinks it ridiculous. Don’t wish it upon yourself in your arrogance I say. There’s always a first time for everything.

For those given to those rabid shots of adrenalin into the heart, or the metal can wrapped around the sternum or that shrill tenseness in the gut—or some other symptoms and signs—there is hope. We must simply find what works and be prepared to do it. It is our challenge—ours alone—to overcome. And yet there is help and caring people to support us. What works for you will not work for the next person, but that needn’t matter. It works for you. That’s all that matters.

This panic attack was mine and I conquered it—me, and by the grace of my all-delivering God.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Being a Leader – Right or Privilege?

RADIO STATIONS play good music and we listen to them. If they play it consistently enough, we trust them sufficiently to listen in loyally, resisting urges to channel-swap. Trust works everywhere in our transactional world—this extends to “leadership.”

Definition of “leader”: anyone in a position of even the remotest power, influence or authority. [Yes, this includes parents, teachers, volunteer sport coaches etc and anyone in a supervisory position, even pseudo-positions.]

If you’re an adult, you’re probably a leader in at least one, if not many, senses.

As a leader, whether we’re in the home, at work, or anywhere in society for that matter, the radio station principle holds for us. If we play ‘the music of choice’ in our leading, those we lead will trust us sufficiently to give us further opportunities at leadership. It’s therefore a privilege and not a right to lead. Many so-called “leaders” do not get this. They might have the position but not the influence.

The leader has permission to lead, and this is only ever issued temporarily—we’re only as good as our last performance. Permission to lead is having their respect. They want to be led by us.

As a parent, we don’t have to be popular but we do need to be considerate and entirely respectful, especially parenting teens. Parents know how much wisdom is involved in effective parenting—perhaps it’s the hardest ‘leader gig’ there is! At work—even more so in this Gen-Y loaded age—we’re leading softly if we’re leading at all. Rather than force the pace, we must adapt to using our skills, information and connections to serve the people who serve us. What’s in it for them? This has to be our underpinning mindset.

The leader depends most of all on their humility, charisma and good humour. This is not “cool” charisma. It’s a balls-to-the-wall, guts-in-the-mud authentic charisma that invites trust—because quite frankly—it’s the meekest, most non-threatening energy known to the environment it plays in. Its quiet confidence and generosity is beautifully but boldly serene. Yes, an honest, humble, “real” person without any hint of a hidden agenda; that’s our leader. They match the playground mood with a complementary humour befitting situations met and the people they serve.

The leader is simply an extension of the person. They are who they are. This is why the best leaders (parents, supervisors, volunteers) are just simply the best, most assuredly comfortable people.

Want to have more impact? Let go!

Ask for permission without using words.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thank You for the Battle Royale!

If a workplace conflict has ever controlled you, you’ll relate with this article. At times like these the conflict seems to hover over all your thoughts and weigh strongly over your heart. It’s all you can think of. It consumes you, daily, moment by moment.

We all have battles and some indeed, like the one presenting above, are of the “royal” variety.

We have now, however, the opportunity to hold simultaneously two separate realities; these seem opposed but together they collude in support of our overall wellbeing:

  1. Accorded to Shamanism is the role of the warrior to expect struggle. Life is not about wins or losses; it’s simply about struggle. This realises acceptance of the fact. To struggle, and to not expect anything else, is a vast paradoxically hopeful humility. It’s a spiritual gift. Live it even for a few moments and you’ll see. You’ll be a convert because it’s simply a better way!
  2. The battle royale which seems gargantuan is, in fact, a very small part of reality. Just because it’s a large part of your reality right now doesn’t change this fact. The opportunity for us is to get into the habit of routinely rejecting this narrow and harmful worldview constrained to and by our oppressors. We instead routinely seek to see the world others have created for us; the larger, truer worldview.

Both the foregoing need to be simultaneously placed together, side by side. They’re achieved both in tension and in unison with one another. Is that hard to grasp? On one hand we have an acceptance of what is i.e. our present reality of struggle, and on the other we’re choosing to see what we ordinarily would not see—the world at large as it is for others (and indeed ourselves if we weren’t so hemmed in with the present fight).

The very best and most accomplished sportspeople—in other words, the true champions—learn to embrace the battle, loving the tension and nerves and adrenalin that come their way in the heat of battle. This is not a negative thing, but a positive thing.

We too can approach our problems with a positive attitude; all it needs from us is courage. When we’re tested our opportunities at courage come forth. It’s moving forward despite the fear we (or anyone would) feel.

Got an overly analytical mind?

Another method springs forth if we simply cannot let go of the issue within our minds:

Like a piece of gristle you can healthily chew over the issue in your mind and heart, like a piece of tasty seasoned biltong, if:

  1. You can do it without malice. We prepare our hearts, chewing on the issue in prayerful/thoughtful wisdom. If malice gets the better of us, however, we need to rethink our strategy.
  2. You can bear the fear that comes. As we “roll” the thoughts and feelings of the conflict through our being, seasoning them, one of two things happens. We either stew more and more, and therefore becoming stressed-out wrecks, or we think constructively about the issue, even educating ourselves through it. This is brought about by learning more about our own responses, reading and learning about conflict, or thinking about how the other person is going; seeking to empathise, however hard that is. Of itself this requires courage.

If nothing else, the calm and assertive stance we’re taking is helping us. Also, one real benefit of the troubling situation is we know how not to treat others i.e. treat them not how we are presently being treated. I think most of all we can be truly thankful for these battles; they help us know how better to relate with, and feel for, people.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Love – Copious, Light and Powerful

“Love is a bird,

she needs to fly;

let all the hurt inside of you die.”

~Madonna, Frozen.

How do we contain oil with cupped hands? It’s impossible. It’s akin to describing love. If we nailed her gender a picture can emerge; a true theme might then be developed—be wary, however, counterfeits are numerous.

There’s hardly a more ironical thing. Get too big on love and we scare her off. Passion aplenty, yes, but be careful. Constraint too reveals sharp indifference; the elixir loses its potency when exposed to heat. It’s not true commitment. We love the way we lead: lightly. We cannot force a thing.

Yet, this isn’t the half of it. We’re so often defined more by what holds us back than by what liberates us. Our hurts and hang-ups take us on an unnecessary eccentric path with love. Shakespeare did say, “The course of true love never did run smooth.”

Perhaps it’s our human nature that engenders the rough journey, implicating the blundering conscience. The confidence of trust takes its leave and we’re stranded. Our holds on love are zealously frozen. We forget we cannot seize it.

Surrender is the very straightest path back to love. It is the humblest variety of perfection. It cares so much it doesn’t care. Boldly we surrender for the cause of love as an expression of simple faith.

Surrender too has another advantage—she keeps us fresh for the distance, clear of worry; relaxed for love. If we choose love and we want her we best recognise this power of surrender, the salubriousness of sacrifice. The hardest choice is surprisingly simple. We typically make things most difficult in our stubborn refusal to let go.

Now that we’ve successfully opened love up a world beyond simply the romantic genre—that which would strangle the fullest meaning of love—we can safely use that genus as the standing for a closing illustration:

“Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking together in the same direction.”

~Antoine De Saint-Exupéry.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Great Expectations

EXPECTATIONS get us into more messes than we can poke a stick at. When we set high expectations of ourselves, and fail to achieve them we can only be disappointed. We set them high of others, and not only is it unfair, it creates unnecessarily conflict. Then, of course, there are the expectations others place on us. That’s another ball-game altogether.

Expectations are best when they’re checked and agreed. They need to be valid to the situation.

Sometimes we can find ourselves setting expectations without even realising. We need to be careful of that one. There’s almost nothing more dangerous than uncommunicated expectations in relationships—any relationship—with ourselves, others or God i.e. as a result of being disappointed with life. (Felt the sting of self-pity lately?)

Much the same as Charles Dickens’ classic by the same name, we too can have great expectations—expectations too great and irrational even for anyone to make sense of. It all occurs in the unreconciled mind and stems from a vagrant heart that’s inherently displeased with its lot in life, no matter the bendings toward it. In this state we could never be happy.

We know the people we’ve had great problems with. Almighty conflicts have brewed upon the very foundation of great expectations—too great to ever be achieved; consistently, satisfactorily; let alone with accorded thanks.

Creating happiness personally and in our relationships is easy once our expectations are clear and reasonable. Enter the compromise. All for one; one for all.

Notwithstanding all the above, we can afford to have great expectations to the positive. We can strive to be happy, content, at peace—especially in the context of our interactions. Broad expectations like this are okay provided they don’t drive us headlong into getting there at all costs. It’s okay to have an expectation of relational harmony to call up as a standard to live to.

When we have these sorts of broad expectations and we don’t get the results we’re after, we are forced to reflect: ‘How can I help make this situation better, so we can both enjoy our relationship more?’ Doing to others as we’d have them do to us—the Golden Rule—is a foundational accompaniment to having the right expectations. Loving others is a habit we must nurture.

The world operates on expectations. Expectations must be balanced and reasonable for productivity to occur. If they’re not, they’ll cause us a world of heartache, conflict, mistrust and mayhem.

Where perhaps are your expectations misaligned, unrealistic, inappropriate or otherwise set too high? i.e. personally... with others... with life in general? You and I are the only ones who can make us and others (who want to be) happy in this regard. It starts with you and me.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fighting for Harmony

“Avoid loud and aggressive persons;

they are vexatious to the spirit.”

~The Desiderata (by Max Ehrmann).

One of the things I’m becoming less tolerant of as I age, and certainly from a spiritual perspective, is noise. Am I the only one who doesn’t like Harley Davidson’s roaring down the road? I think if you’re going to ride such a classy, attractive (and even pleasant-sounding) motorbike, why not ride it with class and style instead of being a hoon. I can respect someone who makes noise more in sync with people’s spirits.

Now, this is a lesson in tolerance for me. You know the deal; I point the finger and there’s three remaining fingers pointing back at me. Complaints reveal lack. That sort of lack is never really anyone else’s fault but our own. I must learn to tolerate the vexations better.

It does reveal a good case in point though. We don’t have to go out of our way to spend time with loud, aggressive people.

Spiritual harmony is a choice in life. If we decide for it, well then we deserve to get it, especially if we’re going to put our money, effort and time towards it.

And yet again, harmony occurs as much between the ears and in our heart space as it does anywhere else. We have to take personal responsibility for it.

The main point I want to make about harmony, however, is how important (and even how comparatively rare) harmony is in the midst of relationships. If we’re going to seek to be peacemakers then we’re seeking harmonious relationships—at home, work, in the community... everywhere. Though it’s often not that simple achieving same. It’s a condition that can’t be taken for granted.

Conflict still happens. Even when we want only the best and most harmonious relationship outcomes, and even if we’re not contributing to conflict, it can still occur. We can be left feeling absolutely and surreally cheated as something blows up in our faces—yet we can be at harmony within. And we need to be.

Relational harmony is a tricky business, simply because there are factors well beyond our control. All we can do in seeking harmony is avoid interactions with aggressive people, and even design a life where they do not exist (as far as that’s achievable) to disrupt our peace.

The trouble with aggressive people is they tend to bring out of us submissive behaviour—both aggression and submission are responses to fear. No one’s going to enjoy that sort of rapport.

How harmonious is your life in comparison to the effort for harmony that you’re putting in? Are you reaping the outcomes of harmony you deserve? Is it time to start designing your life so loud, aggressive people can’t spoil your hard-fought-for harmony? This might even involve people who’re very close to us.

What do we need to accept? What are we prepared to accept?

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

ADVOCACY – If You Can’t Join ‘Em, Beat ‘Em!

Bullying. It’s something I’ve been both a victim of and an advocate against. It’s probably the single-most reason why I do what I do for a day job.

This is a blight on our common experience with our fellows, everywhere. The fearful incite fear wherever they can. They only seem unstoppable. What is for certain is they’ll always remain—perhaps dormant, or even transformed. Yet, it’ll raise its ugly head again in the “right” circumstances.

What can we do? Advocacy is the answer. The advocate stands for truth against fear, for themselves and others.

The advocate fights not with the same weapons as the bully. The advocate fights with a prayer, with wisdom, and with a system that is designed to reject this relational absurdity based in tyranny, lies and oppression.

The advocate beats the bully, decisively and comprehensively, at a war of attrition, with the weapons of faith (courage), justice and wisdom. Not all battles are won. Not all battles need to be won. For the war is about a balance of wins and losses. The advocate has a long-range view.

Advocacy. It’s the only role worthy of love—that thing that fear fears most.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Memoir for the Eccentric (and the World)

“The world thinks eccentricity in great things is genius, but in small things, only crazy.”

~Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton.

Those chosen for the eccentric life are destined for hardship. This is a truth they already know. The world would insist on conforming the non-conformer and one of two things shall happen. The eccentric will live either an incredibly sad and confused life or they’ll live around, and endure, a lot of conflict. They’ll capitulate or thrive in resilience. The latter will end up comprising the geniuses of the future and of history, some after they’re long gone.

Both outcomes involve trouble. This world does not tolerate easily such difference.

The true eccentric should not expect the world to sympathise with their condition, situation or enterprise. The world will not accept what it can’t understand.

Many dead eccentrics receive high acclaim; their legacy is hired free of charge—it is now, after all, surrendered (rendered harmless) and as such it’s out of harm’s way. The commoner finds fascinating what is no longer a threat. So, be at peace, Eccentric, you’ll probably be fondly remembered.

The Eccentric and Conflict: these emerge and survive, going arm-in-arm. Against the grain and against the flow. No matter the eccentric’s resolve to live in harmony it cannot occur the way they wish it whilst they remain. Best smile anyway.

The eccentric learns very early on—if they’re wise—to jump clean over the conflict, at least in their own minds, not bothering with a fickle, averse world set on having things all their way. For the nimble eccentric, conflict is splendidly overrated. This in itself is a vast wisdom.

And here’s the rub for the world. You have the opportunity. That is to recognise the eccentric and not deride it. Indeed, to learn to nurture healthy eccentricity and not be threatened by it is a favour for the flow of life; it’s to resist the world’s ingratiating succour—a mocking intent set for the dogs.

To believe eccentricity is genuinely greatness in the making, this is life.

It’s a life based on tolerance for all things weird and wonderful, bizarre, strange and captivating... as well as the “normal.”

Take heart, Eccentric. Yours is the world (against the world) and all that is in it. History will reveal it so. Just align to truth and wisdom at all costs and you shall show them!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Nothing to Lose? Really?

IN THE MIDST of a monumental family or workplace blow-up, what are we thinking? That’s the point. We so often aren’t. At the very best we can expect a voice inside us to shout, “STOP,” but realistically we hardly ever listen to that voice. A moment after, we realise with regret what we now cannot take back; what we can only apologise for. But, will an apology always mend the situation?

This is no unique problem. We all have our frustrations and annoyances—it’s just our responses that set us apart. Yet our responses are not typically much different from other people. Many people respond appropriately most of the time, yet it’s those critical few times that cause the damage.

All that good work, for what?

Anger gets us all sorts of undesirable places. I envisioned being tangled in an angry fight with another man recently. Not wanting to fight, I said to him rhetorically, ‘Have you got nothing to lose?’ And with a pause, but immediately afterward, I asked a second question: ‘Really?’ as if to home in on the point. We’ve all got something to lose by letting our anger rage uncontrollably. Some of these costs are truly incalculable, certainly before the event.

This is sufficient motivation for us to forever want to rectify the urges to anger.

And we can. Every day, over the course of our lives, we can increase our abilities and capacities of control over anger. We commend ourselves for good responses to angering situations and we forgive ourselves when we do fall for it. We get back up on the horse. We seek help. We’re honest about our problem with it. We need to be.

But, the real key is alluded to in the title of the article.

We must use our higher minds to ward against the negative effects of our anger. By asking ourselves the rhetorical question, ‘Got nothing to lose?’ to which we will most certainly answer, ‘Well, no, of course, I’ve got plenty to lose,’ we have cause then for instant reflection. It’s even something to meditate over as a way of mind training.

It takes us necessarily to cognitive territory that requires the lower reptilian and mammalian minds to accede to the neocortex—the higher mind—the part of the mind that deals in delay, rationality and adult logic; real thinking on a cognitive level. This part of the brain can help us respond how we don’t feel we should, but how we should in any event.

How often in that fit of anger do we even see the right way to respond—the way of the higher mind? We don’t generally. The higher mind needs to be invited. It needs to be accorded a role, more and more frequently. To become useful it needs to be used.

Situations inciting anger require from us, delay. If we don’t delay we are set to explode without logical reason and we bear the regrettable consequences later. Some of these will potentially destroy our relationships, others will simply add to the damage that’s already there.

The truth is we can learn ways of controlling our anger, but we must be honest and decisive about it, and be prepared to engage the higher “adult” mind.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Avoiding Worry - Jumping Clean Over It

The ‘midwife of comfort and so of happiness,’ says the Seventeenth Century Jesuit guru, Balthasar Gracian. Such wisdom is found in this little oracle pertaining to all of life, yours and mine. Yet, we’ll still worry. Perhaps not in our external world with our painted-on smiles and ‘plastic platitudes,’ but internally the storm occurs, unceasingly at times.

A life of thought concerning the self, in preparation for a life that can help others... two lives intertwined... this is another great wisdom. But, this doesn’t come without attending to worry.

Worry, we’re told, is a cancer of the mind and heart. It gets us nowhere and can only infest and infect our thinking, spoiling our relationship outcomes, inevitably.

Why do we give or take news that won’t help. Helping is the nexus of life. Surely all news is able to help? Perhaps not always. The advice is to avoid being the purveyor of bad news.

Two parallel complementary lives—two lives intertwined—is the way many have mastered their fears and their worry. They have learned to still their inner hearts whilst being in the midst of outer chaos. Only through knowledge and assurance are we able to get there. Faith is built on confidence; and that based in good information—knowledge that holds up under pressure.

What are we filling our minds with?

This is probably one of the most important questions we could ask ourselves. Are we adept at flattery or being flattered? If so, we’re worried unnecessarily about appearances—ours mostly, but also theirs too. If it’s the latest news, gossip and scandals, these have a way of biting us back. Our minds think this is the way we ought to think. It’s tragic. If we’re thinking about what annoys us, guess what, we’ll get annoyed.

Training our minds not to worry is the same as finding better ways to think.

è Be more neutral.

è Learn to be an observer of life.

è Don’t have an opinion, always. Better still empathise with another’s opinion without owning it.

è Be disciplined to watch your thought-life. We can only control what we’re aware of.

è Strive to think good thoughts, hopeful thoughts, and true thoughts. Thinking is habit.

In the midst of worry, find a mirror. Look into it. Brace yourself. Smile into it. Laugh if you can. It really is not that bad. And even if it is, this bad and troublesome time will surely pass. They always do.

A cacophony of thought and all manner of anxiety and worry won’t change a thing. Accepting our situations is our key out of the cognitive jail we place ourselves in.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.