Sunday, January 31, 2010

What Are You Missing?

We so often forget the gorgeously delivered blessing. Thankful for but a moment, we move on in haste to the next thing.

I had a vision at the commencement of a church service recently; it involved a man and his wife and children making their way to their seats. I recalled a time—when as a guy, single, lonely and struggling—I so pined for that; to walk into church, or anywhere for that matter, with my family.

At that time, such a thing could not possibly have been taken for granted—how I wanted to hasten that reality; that day! I believed in that vision because I had to.

Now that I’ve been married for some time, I find it’s all too easy to grumble about such a life. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. It’s just that we soon forget how good God’s been to us—and continually so (but, often—funnily enough—we only recognise this in hindsight). So, I’m thankful for the vision that God gave me; a fleeting mirage to re-consider a former stage and phase where I was not so well off.

The challenge is to remain cognisant of the things that we’ve been abundantly blessed with.

It’s the key to our happiness, really. So, what vision of remembrance are you missing out on?

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Engaging Your First Response “Faith” Gear

One of the foremost memories I have of my honeymoon is my wife nearly choking to death on a crumb on a flight to Cairns. We were having our evening meal en route to paradise and I happened to say something humorous at the wrong time; combine that with some water down the wrong pipe and it was instant trouble for both of us. All my years of industrial first aid and emergency response put to the immediate test—two days into my marriage—in an unfamiliar environment. I failed dismally. Going for the ‘five sharp blows between the shoulder blades,’ I completely forgot the more appropriate first need to get the “patient” to lean forward, relax and calmly swallow. My first response was a panic. We were fortunate we had some very poised flight attendants who intervened.

Then recently my wife went to unlock the boot of the car, but with the central locking set up the way it is, the car alarm sounded as if to spring an intruder. (It does this if the correct sequence isn’t followed.) With the horn blaring and my wife tearing her hair out, I stepped in to rectify the situation. This time it was me responding calmly in the ‘face of danger.’

There’s a principle of life response illustrated by both these examples. Our faith response is tested most especially when we’re berated with fear.

To make this clearer we’re all placed in situations of panic—it’s the nature of life to expose us. We don’t know why; it just is. At times we’re strong and we hardly think of anything but the right level of response. Yet, at other times we don’t function at all well—we stumble and fall—not seeing the way through and not even having an awareness at the time or the courage required for poise in that moment.

Engaging our first response gear is having the emotional distance and the spiritual proximity, our rational minds informing, empowering us in the moment of confusion and struggle—calmness in the period of storm.

I’ll always remember the theory in responding to an incident—the power of recovering the situation as it unfolds—mitigating the amount of potential damage. The same goes for our cognitive, emotional and spiritual lives—our wellbeing. As the tumult unfolds we calmly and astutely resolve it in the best manner we can.

A quick, effective and calm response will see us safely over the line. It’s the faith response that defies our rational understanding—it just is. When we feel least capable, in faith, we get through. Go figure. Yet, it works consistently every time it’s applied.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Shaking Your Own Hand

IMAGINE IT. Coming face to face with yourself, say at a party, as if you were someone else, but meeting you. What impression would you make? Of course you’d love yourself... or would you?

We struggle to imagine such a scenario. What truly would it feel like to shake our own hand or kiss our own cheek or smile at ourselves—as if the other person? Being able to observe yourself would truly be weird, even tangibly off-putting. Tried watching yourself interacting with people from a sideways glance at a mirror?—yes, off-putting, totally. Yet, take us deeper, please!

We imagine a thousand interpretations of other people observing—mere us—from this viewpoint. Without any effort at all we’re attributing their thoughts of us—how pathological we are, and again, without the slightest mental or emotional exertion. We flip to the nearest incorrect assumption. But this is not about disparaging ourselves.

It’s about seeing ourselves more truly as others see us.

Think about those crystalline golden shards of truth they see—they can’t help it. The real us. The man. The woman. The little boy or girl inside. It’s okay. We do this to them also; again without bearing any thought about it. They see us often better than we see ourselves, or worse. Take your pick.

Think about the things they can’t see, like what we’re thinking. We are enigmas.

Yet, their take on us doesn’t really matter in the final analysis. Does it? Is what they think really going to make a difference? Depends who they are and what they think, I suppose.

Shaking our own hands is about an empathy with ourselves in the midst of others. It’s taking the option of perfecting dually the inner sanctum and the outer fa├žade—reconciling all to the satisfaction of the scene we belong to.

We are the heroes of our own making.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Learning to Be At Peace with the Discomfort

What premium do you place upon your hurts? Consider your answer. If we’re not careful our hurts can harm us so greatly, they’ll quench the very spirit to love residing deep within us.

Hearts hurt most when they’re burdened devoid of hope. Yet, our very capacities to alleviate the hurts can truly grow in proportion to our efforts to acceptingly resist the sting of those hurts through a humble sort of courage—absorbing the rawness of the pain as it is. At ultimate strength no potential hurt will hurt us—our hearts prove strong and impervious.

It won’t be something new to you that hurts harm our esprit de corps—our fellowship, morale and success with others, from the “team” perspective. It seems obvious though we’d often act as if this were not true. We rage and fret with a hurt agitating inside us and it spills and burns like an acid over all those around us—and then back through ourselves through our regret. The well-known vicious cycle.

I mentioned beforehand that our hearts hurt when they’re burdened—we have a natural tendency to resist this as not many of us enjoy the pain of discomfort. Indeed, at the extremes some can’t stand it and they’ll fly into a fit of rage internally and even externally.

Yet, there’s a thing accorded it—something purposed for it; the pain of discomfort.

Can you just imagine the capacities and depths of our learning—of these small (and large), grating moments—if we could but not only endure them but also embrace them?

Enter the wondrous concept of divinely-modelled forgiveness. When we can forgive—even of ourselves—we discharge for ourselves the power of life and control over hurt. We smash hurt with the feather duster of forgiveness—the quickest way home to peace. We learn quickly that nothing could ever actually hurt us other than our own faulty misconception of things intended probably as neutral in the first event. It’s only the meaning we attach to them that detracts from our wellbeing.

Discomforts are an integral part of the design of life—for whatever reason. Your reason is your reason. You believe and therefore it “is” for you. We humans are really not a lot different from each other.

You can embrace the grating moment, learning it is actually your friend. Like the orgasm, there is pleasure and pain in everything we experience or feel; we must learn to accentuate the common pleasure and then live a cheap but rich life. Free then, our love can hence be costly, full of value and poise, wealthy in disposal.

Our hurts can’t harm us; not unless we let them.

The hugest hurt is the way to God. He can show you. He can show you how to turn that calloused sore into a beautifully mature scar that oozes his gentle grace, permeating through our being.

Our confidence is bolstered greatly in this revelation, when in one foul swoop we contend in nothing defeating us. Nothing hurts us in the outworking of the perfect will of God.

To know this is to know nothing else matters.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Fact Is, They Think You’re FANTASTIC!

MINDSETS are endearing to life. As a precursory mindset this one’s a ripper. It can only deflate and derail any dangerously negative self-talk you’ve got going on right now—or any that we’d otherwise be tempted to engage in, ever. Truth is; they think you’re absolutely fantabulous! [Yes, there is such a word.]

“They” is anyone in your midst. They love you. As you re-train your mind, you can now start to picture the ways in which they love you.

Now, before you go off thinking this is a bit of tomfoolery on my part, think again for a moment. The precursory mindset might not be entirely accurate right now, but it affords us some confidence-on-loan—it’s a mortgage from the faith-safe and we never have to repay a cent. It repays us.

We’re thinking ourselves into a way of acting. And it’s as simple as acting ourselves into thinking differently. Both are effective ways of creating new habits. It’s not harmful; indeed, it’s very pleasurable to imagine people really liking us or even loving us. The only thing we need to bear in mind is resisting the point of delusion. That is when our good thoughts morph undesirably. It’s a question of balance; of positive thinking.

The truth is this. As we begin to envisage people trading positively with us we begin to open our minds to the very successes that we have been involved in. We’ve all got these. They mightn’t come immediately to mind but they’re there alright! Perhaps it’s time to dig and forage?—rediscovering your lost, flagging confidence.

Great lead-in!

Confidence is the name of this game. Confidence breeds belief and that breeds trust—within ourselves and in others as they respond to us—and trust creates respect. And respect is the basis of all seriously effective relationships.

Bear in mind a fabulous truth:

“We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”

~Carl Jung.

We cannot allow within ourselves any transformation until we’re at a palpable accord with ourselves to the good; an accord of self-belief.

No one need ever know you do this. It can be our little secret!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

PRICKLES

What’s the function and purpose of the common, garden-variety prickle?

As I dropped my daughter off at work recently, watching her disappear into the veterinary practice she works at, I breathed a huge hope-related sigh... three whole hours at my disposal! I could walk, reflect, visit the beach, write, rejuvenate, ponder and plan; some of my favourite activities right there! Voila before me.

I drove to a predetermined location and parked, applied sunscreen and left on my walk. As I ventured along the footpath, beach-bound, I decided in my enthusiasm to take a shortcut between paths, crossing a roadway. When I reached the other side I suddenly realised I’d walked through a ground-stuck thornbush; prickles—about fourteen of them. I spent the next few minutes removing them. The time I’d have saved in taking the shortcut (and then some!) was now taken up removing prickles from my shoes.

The shortcut was an interesting one. It was a time-saver. There was no other reason to take it. It certainly didn’t add to my experience. Who’d want to cut through bush when there’s a perfectly serviceable footpath to use otherwise?

Most shortcuts give us prickles. I find this in safety circles all the time.

People go off the well-worn path of ‘the good way,’ ‘the way of knowledge,’ routinely if they think there’s anything of worth to be gained from it. They’ll even risk illness or injury if they can justify the calculated risk. After all, how often do we get hurt or sick after taking such a risk? Not often enough to stop taking them.

But, there’s another thing about prickles. They warn us that we’re going off the right path. There are all sorts of “prickly” reminders in life: speed cameras, performance appraisals, key performance indicators, fuel and temperature gauges, love handles and bodyweight scales etc.

Our skill, if we should choose it, is to be awake and aware to the prickles and not be so stubbornly headstrong in our insistence that it’s our way or the highway.

In life, lots of prickles mean lots of reminders to ward against its pitfalls. They have a healthy function.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

To Plan or Not Plan - That Is Today’s Ever Pertinent Question

LIFE is a veritable rabbit warren. No sooner do we make a fresh and real discovery that sets us free than we realise our “solution” was merely a hoax for a different problem; the chess pieces of life have moved as they always do. Planning and its pros and cons are an ideal example.

I’ve been using a structured, professional planning system now for over two years. Initially it proved a godsend. It allowed me to compartmentalise my life: work, home, interests, important engagements etc. But with it, my thinking too has changed. I’m unsure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. It has its benefits, yet there are things that detract too. I am focused but perhaps at times too focused.

What is the purpose of planning? Surely it’s to assist us deliver desired outcomes.

But, I’ve found myself compelled to checking lists and fixed to a rut of planning. So much so, that part of my New Year’s resolution was to ‘plan little,’ trusting that if I did some planning that’s better than none. I did this to resolve the propensity to over-plan things and therefore become too rigid and inflexible. I’m trying to balance my approach.

Planning should help us bring about balance in life whilst assisting us to achieve all the important and urgent things, in correct priority order, that compete for our time.

Planning Little

I’ve resolved that I’m diligent enough not to need to plan every last thing. I think most of us are. We should trust ourselves and our memory’s as much as we’re able to. The only way we can do that is by ever so gently releasing the reins, allowing as much of life to happen as spontaneously as possible.

After all, too much planning can sap much of the joy out of the simple things of life which ordinarily don’t require planning. Planning little is an approach to planning necessary for the achievement of the important goals in life. Other than that, let’s let life “happen” to us more.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

HILLS

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

~Nelson Mandela.

More hills. After the exhilaration of an immense victory the fact of even more hills either drives us onward or halts us momentarily in our exhaustion. Yet, it’s the skill of savouring the hill conquered; that’s the required wisdom. The challenges never really stop coming.

Mandela was certainly abundantly qualified to discharge this wisdom. The amount, substance and series of his hills—hills in quantum parallel—that he conquered is testament to perhaps the late Twentieth Century’s man of the moment; a leader who inspired not only a nation but the whole world.

We’re inspired to conquer our hills by those who’ve preceded us, like Mandela, and via those in our midst—those in the world who capture our imaginations now.

The truth is we never ‘get there.’ We never ultimately get to a place where we can truly put up our feet and give up on life indefinitely. Even “retirement” in the truest sense of the word doesn’t exist. There are still chores to be done and responsibilities to be discharged. There are still hills to climb. The moment we check out of life is the moment we’re ready to die—not good.

Now it’s true that whilst the hills can exhaust us, we have our opportunities too to rest and recuperate. When you feel hemmed in totally, remember that that hill that bears down on you now does have a peak and you’re imminently about to reach it—then comes the inevitable down-time. Patience is a great thing in distress; it’s a wonderful feeling to smile within ourselves knowing we held on and made it through in faith. Even better doing it in the moment of our trials!

The purpose of hills seems clear to me. We’ll see things as challenges because they are. We are so unique in our mindsets and approaches to life that we’re bound to be upset, even mildly, by people and circumstances—and these daily. Even if these upsets only ever occur in our minds and never become issues for others, our upsets (i.e. hills) are interminable. Acceptance is grounded patience to persist anyway.

Our hills are our character-building opportunities and we ought to be thankful for them. This might sound masochistic but it’s true.

It’s the only way we can learn strength of spirit and resilience to live life happily. Complaint in life is generally a great folly—a thing to be highly avoided. It gets us and our important others nowhere. Self-pity is “becoming,” truly, to none of us.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Solving the Great Identity Riddle

WE’RE all just trying to find our place in the world. And this “place” must also fit in with our perceptions of ourselves. One reinforces the other—us and our place—or it tears the other apart. This is our most important life task. We cannot exist happily without accomplishing it.

Perhaps a story to illustrate: a very capable and accomplished pianist was set for a career in their city’s symphony orchestra. Their mother and stepfather had invested a veritable fortune in getting them through many hard years of lessons, recitals and performances. Yet, this young pianist wasn’t happy, not deep down. Needless to say, the performer never became a Mozart or Beethoven. They had not the heart for it. Their identities were not fused in the activity of art, much less playing piano. This person ended up happy working in childcare.

We’ve seen these stories played out in real life, in books and at the movies, a lot. The only one who can choose their destiny is the person living the life. Only they see what they see.

Yet, many of us are simply “happy” to live an average life that doesn’t transcend the thing ‘picked for us’ in the fading hope of finding that true essence of who we are. That’s madness. No wonder we go for crutch after thing after distraction after quick fix. Pushed from pillar to post, we rock back and forth all our lives, forever running from the real question:

‘What am I here for?’ ‘What is it that makes me tick?’ ‘What is it that turns me on?’

Plenty of things turn us off. These are quickly skipped over in the fervent search for the true heart’s desire. It takes courage to be honest enough to say, ‘No, that’s not truly for me.’

The second question, once we’ve heard the answer call of the first:

‘Am I cut out for it?’ ‘What do other people think?’ ‘Can I find my place in it?’

Skill and determination, talent and character, poise and attitude... whatever we call them, we need both. It’s the desire to do the thing and the necessary ability to do it. But, by far and away, however, it is lack of desire that proves the final death knell to our hopes.

And this is a very good thing for us, because it means we can do almost any of the things we want to do, so long as we’re happy to do them at the level (the place) we find ourselves in. If we truly believe in ourselves we can accomplish basically anything.

Our identities. They seal our fate. Finding out with ardour what we were always destined for—and doing it—is a great plan.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

And Your (New) Life Starts... Now

I REMEMBER a television show years ago called, Mastermind. It began with spooky, suspenseful music and included a darkened environment where contestants would pit themselves and their ‘special subject’ of expertise against the host. After the host got to know the candidate, they’d start the quiz by saying, ‘... and your time starts now.’

Any of us can begin living the life we’ve always wanted to live right now; we don’t have to wait for tomorrow or next week, next month or next year. (Or worse, never.)

What sort of life am I always alluding to? It’s a life of freedom from any number of ghosts and torments of the past; of your childhood; of your unmet work goals; of your failed marriage(s); of your run-off-the-rails children; of your unrealised professional tennis career... of anything that leaves you feeling unworthy.

Is it possible that you might feel completely worthy and fully adjusted and reconciled to everything you’ve ever done or plan to do? Possibly. But it’s hardly likely.

We tend to get used to accepting second (or seventeenth) best in this life. Pulled through the ringer a few times and we start to get it alright. ‘Okay, this is how I need to play this game,’ is the sentiment, completed with a few nods, a wink and a shuffle or two—as we catch on.

One thing I learned from the Invictus poem of William Ernest Henley’s is that there are things that hover over us and hem us in. Yet, in all circumstances we can still be masters of our fates, the captains of our souls. For me, God is placed there as my director. But he’s placed me in charge of my destiny. I am still captain; he is navigator.

Thinking we have such power over our own destinies, we climb into a new day with freshened confidence for an onslaught to life brimming with hope.

Today, the first day of the rest of our lives.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Loving Yourself – I Thought That Was Wrong?

For many years I thought it was wrong to love myself. I grew up in an era when expressing love for yourself was a big no-no. What about you? I guess it’s still probably the same in many situations in life. The trouble is if we don’t love ourselves, we can’t properly love others, and the foundation to all our loving relationships becomes flawed.

Rejecting self-love is welcoming the false conscience. This is unnatural. It’s enjoying a poor self-esteem and it cuts down anyone more properly self-aligned. From the other side, self-love is healthy esteem that’s necessary to enjoy good life and to make a good contribution to the life around us. After all, this is our end goal—to make that contribution.

It takes courage and truth to really love yourself. After all, “you” are all you are and have. This means we might as well love ourselves. Yet, that’s not imperative enough. If we’ve only got ourselves we really ought to love ourselves. It becomes the centre of our experience, not in an egocentric way, which clearly goes too far with it, but it helps us get to our relationship goals—it’s a means to a good end—a necessary pre-requisite.

Nurturing relationships means I need to be kind to me before I can be kind to someone else, anyone else.

This explored simply means being kind to ourselves—emotionally... and how we think. It’s being gentle when we’re tempted to criticise ourselves for failures, silly things said etc. It’s being an advocate for ourselves, but also taking responsibility for ourselves.

Loving ourselves is balance. It’s a true view of ourselves; probably close to how God really sees us. It’s loving ourselves precisely how someone who truly loves us loves us. It’s sad that many have never really experienced this genuine, self-effacing love. They therefore cannot connect with it. This is very sad.

The thing that I thought was right for many years, this thing that felt quite wrong, is wrong.

We’re designed to love ourselves. The reason this is true is we were designed to love others. We cannot truly love others unless we first love ourselves; again this is couched as a healthy esteem for ourselves.

You are all you have. Make the most of the relationship you have with “you.”

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

DEXTERITY

I meet a cat on my travels. It gives away its otherwise covert locale.

The bell is its anchor tying it to this human world. If only it had the deftness to remove that cumbersome collar. But, of course, it can’t. It’s accorded intelligent design is apt for other splendiferous gifts.

With us, we too are hemmed in by our “collars.”

Whether these are drink, a drug, food, a toy, sex, trinkets, gambling, other people or time, or even something else entirely, matters little. We are hemmed in, controlled as it were. And it leads to all manner of discontentment.

Are these unsafe anchors our habits, or is it something else decidedly more sinister, and perhaps linked intrinsically with the shape of our very identities?

It’s your skill and your domain and also your bell. Can you develop your dexterity and approach freedom?

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Problems – Opportunities in Disguise

GAZING outside as I open the sliding door to allow the cooling morning breeze in, I notice washing on the line. The sprinklers are also soon to activate. Problem? Only momentarily. Overcoming procrastination, another five minute job ticked off the list, and a favour done for my wife. I then think of what else I could do for her. A simple yet factual illustration, problems are often opportunities in disguise.

This is starkly a choice between optimism and pessimism. Who really in their right minds (i.e. with the right knowledge of the choices before them) chooses to be a pessimist when it’s just as easy being an optimist? Many, it is sad to say. It’s a pity for their background and experience that they cannot see with hope in the world.

This list is basically endless...

Problem: conflict. Opportunity: character growth via understanding, humility, gentleness.

Problem: incapacity. Opportunity: be inspired by a docudrama or write an old-fashioned letter (okay, email it).

Problem: three places to be in at the same time. Opportunity: face it, everyone loves you! It really is no problem at all.

Problem: work on Monday (it’s Monday morning). Opportunity: start dreaming of what you’ll do on your next weekend, realising the power of anticipation, as you whistle joyfully through your work.

Problem: you hate how you look in the mirror. Opportunity: commit to exercise and dietary control and those excess kilos will be trimmed off in no time and you’ll feel younger to boot.

Problem: not enough time to do everything. Opportunity: to see that there’s enough time to do the important things and some of the things you like.

Problem: you’ve got an addiction to something. Opportunity: think of the people you’ll be able to help once you’ve truly licked it!

Some problems like cancer, deaths of loved ones, severe conflict and other lasting dire straits present unique opportunities for us. It’s not so easy to see the silver lining. But, each of us has the capacity to see good things from every circumstance. These are individualised perceptions only we can create of our own.

Sometimes our own suffering merely brings it home to us how much suffering there is and how many are affected. To grow a more compassionate heart is an opportunity—it’ll bring home a thankful joy every time.

Problems are opportunities for growth and growth is the purpose of life. Can you see now that problems are necessary?

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Asking Your Subconscious Mind Favours

We’ve all had those pesky occasions where we’ve totally forgotten something we really need to recall/remember. It’s really frustrating when that thing is just on the ‘tip of your tongue’ but just won’t come. But, sometimes we can be blessed with serendipitous recall. Just how does that work?

Sometimes after leaving a vexing problem with a shot memory to boot, we do finally get the answer or the information we were looking for, because our subconscious mind continues to work on the issue behind the scenes, under the radar of our conscious awareness.

The human mind is marvellous in this way. It explains why we’ll suddenly awaken at 2 AM and need to furiously write something down. If we don’t obey this instinct, the recalled information is perhaps lost forever as we dither away in our never-land sleep. If this has ever happened to you, you’ll know how self-castigated you’ve made yourself feel the next day for missing such an opportunity.

This part of the mind we don’t capitalise on nearly enough. We could train our minds to undertake this sort of recall and our memories could be sharper as a result.

We can ask our subconscious minds these favours of recall by:

W Not overly stressing our conscious minds when we struggle with recall—it’s a reminder not to worry so much about a shot memory;

W Praying. It may sound silly to those who don’t consider themselves spiritual, but praying for recall can help. Ask the subconscious to assist and then leave the problem;

W Journalling about times when our subconscious minds expanded our thinking. These things happen much more than we give ourselves credit for. These are learning and growing opportunities. Opportunities to learn how our minds work and even to replicate the antecedent conditions that brought on the gorgeous thinking so we can enjoy more of it.

Thinking. It’s a marvellous pastime. Yet, for many of us just switching the mind off can prove to be the most difficult and daunting task ahead.

At least the issue of utilising the subconscious mind is a positive thing.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

The F.A.C.T.’s of Life

At every vantage point the life of each person converges upon the facts of life. Parents, teachers, authority figures and our associates instilled these in us over our formative years and that stood us in good stead for what we now know to be our personal modus operandi. These are not just the ‘birds and the bees.’ It’s our entire belief system—for better, for worse.

Things to be aware of:

Fiction

Sex, lies and videotape. Once a famous movie (1989) but this is what we have to screen out of life. And there’s so much of it; fiction.

Fiction causes so much pain and unnecessary bad thought and action. Beliefs held deep down that are based on bad information—and we all have them—can only be harmful for us and others associated with us. We ought to seek and destroy. We ought to challenge our thinking and words for fiction as much as possible.

Accuracy

The opposite of fiction, of course, is fact—accuracy, indeed. But accuracy is not simply about information. It’s a way of life. It’s hitting the targets, not missing the mark. It’s knowing the mark to hit.

Living best is living truthfully, accurately, precisely—so there’s no messy threads left lying there waiting to trip us up when we least expect it.

Criticality

‘How important is it?’ is the salvo a past sponsor used to tell me. And he was right. Only rarely are things that important.

The ‘80/20 Rule’ is common in business circles but not so readily applied to our personal and relational lives. Its premise is twenty percent of things, the important things, require eighty percent of our time, effort and focus. We need to be adept at discerning what that ‘critical few’ is and attend to it.

Tactics (& Time)

In the emergency management world there is an acronym that serves and protects: PPRR. Planning, Preparedness, Response and Recovery caters for the four phases of functional planning—two before and in the event (PP); two in and after it (RR). It’s a time-based schema to ensure that at every stage action is appropriate.

If we implement a PPRR approach to personal life we’ll have planned sufficiently for things that ‘come up,’ we’ll be as best prepared as we possibly can, and we’ll also have good responses most of the time. Tactics on recovery is resilience of character to bounce back. Responding and recovering are two things everyone needs to do. So why would we not try to do them well? This can only be done by good PP in the first place.

Overall, our tactics of life must necessarily cater for the use and effects of time if we’re to be successful. Time is a constraint we have to work with.

F.A.C.T.

These four above (fiction, accuracy, criticality and tactics/time) make the acronym F.A.C.T. A ‘dedication to truth,’ as M. Scott Peck would say, is a golden way of living. It’s a mode of living suitable for you and me.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why Lying is Making Your Life More Miserable than It Needs to Be

When we find someone especially attractive, most of us (okay, all of us typically) change our internal behaviour, even slightly. We favour them. We might become premeditated in our approach to them. We talk too much or too little. Suddenly we’re more self-conscious. Our placing them on our mind and in our heart, even for a few minutes, is actually a self-betrayal—it’s a lie. Trouble is we do these sorts of things; often enough.

Everyone lies.

There, now it’s been said we can get on with addressing the problem and halve our shame. Everyone conceals or bends information or delays their use of it, whether it’s out of good intent or bad. Note to self: it’s my bad intent I must really deal with.

Bad intent is the ‘traditional lie.’ Good intent means we conceal or bend information, or delay our use of it, for warranted reasons. Say, for instance, when there are issues of distrust. We’re right, more or less, to lie (or conceal truth) with good intent if to protect our or others’ privacy, rights or safety. The justice system, for instance, does it all the time. It’s entirely necessary.

When we lie with good intent—as an advocate—we don’t feel guilty or ashamed. We feel justified. We’re discharging our duty out of concern or love. The aspects of the world we cannot completely trust force our hand at times. Every “good” person does this. They have to in order to be “good.” (I can detect a theological rumbling... never mind.)

I am simply being pragmatic about the issues of living life well in a fallen world.

Lying with bad intent is the lie that makes us feel bad i.e. guilty and ashamed. These are little “white” lies we tell when we don’t have the courage to tell the whole truth and our body language—a smirk, fidgeting, nervous smile, unusual hand gestures etc—can easily give us away.

Indeed, hang the body language—we convict ourselves! And don’t we feel doubly guilty and ashamed for it?

I’ve got a story that perfectly illustrates this. Years ago I got into a fight with one of my brothers—I’m the eldest. (I ended up coming out second-best!) One punch landed chipped seven teeth. Fast forward nearly ten years. As I mentioned this to my dentist (who’s incidentally well acquainted to my family) after he inquired about it, it took a bit of courage to ‘fess-up’ with dignity simply because I view myself as a person of ‘good standing’ and a fight with my brother (years ago) still marks my conscience. ‘What will he think of me now?’ was my feeble attitude, and I was tempted to mask what to tell him. I lie; even if one little bit. I feel ashamed in the moment. The whole event shames not just me but my whole family (potentially), years on. But as brothers we joke about it. It’s cool. We got over it. But it’s not cool what others think of me and my family.

What this shows is life necessitates lying. I protect myself and my family, but I feel guilt and shame in the process. The only rectification is to be boldly honest, and consciously unashamed. This is not easy for any of us, but it is achievable.

Life necessitates the lie—how else do we respectfully interact with the plenty we don’t trust? Trust is such a situational and rapport-based condition on all our relationships, anyway. Trust is a difficult thing to maintain. Where we do not trust we’re tempted to lie.

The only way lying can make us really miserable, though, is if we lie with bad intent—to cover something up due to guilt or shame.

Hang guilt or shame! They do us no good!

If we can discipline ourselves to be more authentic and pick ourselves up when we compromise our integrity, owning the bad things that have occurred, we’re much happier—certainly less shamed and miserable.

If we annul our lies of bad intent, feeling less guilty and ashamed, perhaps we’ll have the self-esteem at some stage to courageously resist lying with good intent as much?

The moral to the story is, be honest as much as possible—less misery, more peace.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.