Friday, 24 January 2014

Stop Past Broken Relationships From Killing Your Current One

"It's not the future that you're afraid of, it's repeating the past that makes you anxious" 

This quote was posted by one of my FB friends recently and it made me get back to writing this blog entry that has been on the to do list for at least six months. You see, I've come to understand that whether it's with your mother or a sibling, a cousin, friend or ex, if you're still licking wounds from an old broken relationship, it's going to tell in the one you may be trying to build now. 

Unfortunately, with each fractured relationship, we may actually find less to love about ourselves; we just focus on the ugliness of the scars and don't accept the opportunity of the healing that awaits.  Some of us, me included, have learned this the hard way, so  I figure we all need some Straight Talk on dusting off from past brokenness and charging into a brighter, better relationship future. 

Below I share a few things that I think can help us to allow the past to heal rather than keep on hurting.

Give Yourself the Talk
Repeat after me: I must not...let...past broken relationships...hold me back...from living today.  I must forgive myself and others for what is past... and make an impassioned...and make today...the best day I have ever lived.

There you go!  That is the start, because the current relationship that you need to nurture is the one you have with yourself.  I believe that the Bible teaches us to love God in order that we can truly love ourselves, so that we can truly love others.  It teaches us how to stay connected to each other through that one true powerful force.  Staying connected doesn't mean that we have to be in each others' physical space, but it does mean that every interaction we have is counted as important and yes, no matter how bad, as a gift to help us move forward.  So I'll round this off with my personal favourite memory verse from scripture, quoted from the King James version, (because that version is so poetic).  This is God reassuring Joshua who was to take over from the great prophet Moses in leading the people of Israel to the promise land:

"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."Joshua 1:9

Through this verse we can all get daily reassurance.

Take a trip to the doctor
I'll bet you've been having some unexplained health issues lately.  You've tried to change your diet, exercise more, read positive things, go to church and the list goes on but still... Is the blood pressure just a little higher?  Are you feeling more anxious, had to take more sick days off than usual?  You may be feeling sick but can't put your finger on what the problem could possibly be.  Sometimes some sobering readings on the vitals can be wake up call enough to force a change, but you'll have to do some searching, some deep digging, to find out what it is that you've covered up with all this 'doing and saying and reading the right things'.  I'll bet there is a relationship that was shattered or continues to be broken and it's eating you alive.  You're going to have to let go.

Just let go!...1, 2, 3...Let go! Or get sick, really sick.  Choice is yours.

Stop Re-living the Past
You know about SnapChat right?  So it's this new photo messaging app to allow you to send messages and have them disappear in the next instant.  Pretty handy tool especially when a great deal of privacy, or treachery is what you're seeking.  If only some of those bad memories of the past would just vanish into thin air, as if they never were, just like a Snapchat message would.  That would be great, but our brains don't quite work that way, do they?  In order to stop re-living the past we have to find the lesson in what happened.  Detail the lesson learned and set out to apply what has been learned to a situation right now.  Find a way to do what you were unable to do before and reward yourself.  Don't stop there.  Repeat this.  Constantly find a way to apply the lesson to the NOW.  The past is only as good as what you have learned from it.  Don't re-live it, learn from it.

Choose to change
If there was something wrong with a relationship you've had or that you're in, you are partially at fault, whether you have created a rotten situation or you have just accepted or allowed it.  But if for even a moment you can recognise that you can actually choose to change and then actually change, that would be the greatest moment.  

We can choose to change.  Many times that choice will have to be made in fear, but it has to be done nonetheless.  You really don't have to be the YOU that you were in the past.  You can tweak YOU, it just takes a little detailed assessment and then a few nips, tucks and pinches here and there and you're on your way.  You can choose to change and then actually change.  It is possible.  As the Nike-ers would say, "Just Do it"!

Be Accountable and Make Peace with the Past

You have to be open in your current relationship about all that you believe you have learned from those of the past.  You don't have to get all honest all at once!  But especially when you really get the sense that a relationship is of a more serious nature, sharing is a requirement.  But share who you are because of that past and share what you are working on because of that past and share what you seek because of that past and what you presently value most because of that past.  Be truthful, make peace and bear witness to someone else, so that you remain accountable for the changes you have made and the peace you intend to keep.

So that's all I have to share, but perhaps you can help to add to these thoughts if you have suggestions on how we can all Stop Past Broken Relationships from killing Our Current Ones.  Looking forward to the list.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Do You Have The Courage To Listen?

Just what is that still small voice inside that likes to say the complete opposite of what people would have you do?

Just where does it get the audacity to know exactly what and who you are and why you are here?

Ever heard it?


If you're like me you probably sense it sometimes as a 'gnawing sensation'; 'something you can't explain'; a 'gut feeling'.  It can be annoying; something you wish you could just ignore.  In fact, if you are really like me, you'll make every excuse to ignore it.  You'll call up a trusted advisor to get some perspective, hoping that will knock some sense into you, because after all, your advisor will have something far more meaningful to say than the voice inside you. You'll find somewhere noisy to go in an attempt to drown it out or you'll get super busy with a slew of meaningless things to try and crowd it out of your mind.

But somehow as your heart beats and your blood pumps, that voice remains.  It waits, it stays, it stands.  It speaks to you even when you won't listen.  It is constant.

Ever heard it?
Ever listened?

I must confess that there are times when I have listened, but it's frightening.  That bloody voice never seems to ask you to do anything easy.  It's often about waiting when you're gung-ho about pressing ahead; working harder when you couldn't care less; doing more when you would much rather do less; speaking out when you'd rather disappear; standing out when you'd prefer to blend into the crowd and be left alone; going beyond your comfort zone.  It is often about doing what no one else is doing and about standing apart. Scary... and annoying!

Ever listened?

I've come to the conclusion now that the still small voice must be an important part of me since it doesn't go away.  It must really be on a mission to tell me something that I need to hear; something no one else will tell me.  I've made a vow to stop and wait and listen to this never-dying presence that demands my attention.  How committed can I be? If I can be as committed as the still small voice that is BIG commitment.  

What happens when it bids me dance to my own tune and for everyone to see, can I follow the instruction?  Do I have the courage?

Do you?

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

My Lessons for a New Year

Well, 2013 is now history and I had some hard but necessary lessons to learn in that beastly year, some pleasant ones too.  Thought I would share some of that tough tutelage that will most definitely guide me in my 2014 sojourn.
  1. Trust what God has put in your heart.  He is faithful and true and will never lead you astray.
  2. Learn from the light in a child's eyes...every moment is ripe for a new and wonderful discovery.
  3. Live You and live You out loud... or quietly, whatever is truly You.
  4. Listen to what people have to say, but make your own decisions.
  5. Apologise to the people you have hurt and do your best never to hurt them again.
  6. Decisions made out of fear can be detrimental to your life.  When you decide to face your biggest fears, it's then you realise that you made them out to be much more than they really were.
  7. Bottled up emotions, past trauma and bad experiences need to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.  When they explode, too many people experience the fallout.
  8. Ask for what you want.  Hiding it, or denying it, won't make the want go away.
  9. Be who you are by all means.  That's who people really need to see and that's who you need to be.
  10. Take a break and tune into who you are, what makes you tick and how you must live.  You'll be miserable if you do it any other way.
  11. Be thankful for where you've been, but you don't have to go back there.
  12. You must take the time to treasure and appreciate the ones you love. But you must take more time to listen and understand their hearts' desires.
  13. Take the time to listen carefully to your child/children; learn about that person whom you have the honour of raising and understand that God's plan for that child/those children is greater than any of your own dreams for him/her/them
  14. Love, in fact, conquers all...fuh real

Got any lessons of your own to share?  I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

You Don't Just Need a Friend...

 I, like many people have experienced some really rough times over the years and some good times too.  This past year hasn't failed to deliver on both good times and bad, although it seems like more of the latter.  When keeping your sanity seems like the most important goal in your life, you know you're in trouble and while you pray and you hope and you try to keep things together, whether or not you like it, you depend on others to help.  But it's times like these when you don't just need a friend...

There are advisors, colleagues, partners and spouses; there are acquaintances and networks, support groups and associations, peer groups and drinking buddies, gym partners confidantes and friends; and then, there are best friends.

If you're a best friend yourself then you know one thing above all; you didn't choose the role, it chose you and that makes it the greatest honour and the greatest burden.

Source: Google images

If you have a best friend you'll know, because that person will tell you like it is, good or bad, but will never fall off your gift list.  That person will listen when you whine and instead of hurrying you along, will offer you a drink so you can whine some more - "Get it off your chest", your bestie will say.  That person will leave their work station and miss an important deadline because you're having a baby and they wouldn't miss that for the world.  That person will make sure you know what's good about you; make time for phone calls way too early in the morning; suffer total inconveniences for you; back off when you need to clear your head and be right there waiting, almost magically when you are 'ready to talk'.  

They'll call just at the moment when you're about to say something that would get you fired; invite you out just when it's the last thing you want to do but absolutely the best thing for you.  That person will call you as soon as that job opportunity you've been hoping for shows up in the newspaper or wherever.  That person prays for you when you're not around, orchestrates rescue parties when you're feeling down, makes a meal just so you can sit, talk and eat; calms you down; gives you perspective; fights your fights with you and walks your most difficult journeys alongside you.  In all of this doing and giving, this best friend has time for his/her own life.  Now that's totally magical.

Trust me, when life throws you lemons you don't just need a friend, colleague or partner, you need a best friend.  When life makes a turn for the better you don't just need to celebrate with a spouse, gym buddy or acquaintance, no one will appreciate it like your best friend will.  Your best friend is a priceless gift from God. So if you have a best friend, give thanks, be a best friend back, then give thanks some more.  I do, but then, I have the best best friend ever.

Giving thanks for you, +Kim B, voted Best best friend  by me.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Love is a Decision

There is love and then there is LOVE.  

I love smooth dark chocolate, I love my home made burgers and I absolutely love sunshine ray yellow on me.  These things make me happy. But then I love my son; I love to see him happy, I love to see him flourish, I love to see him smile and I love to see others recognise him for all that he is and can share with the world.  I'd give up dark chocolate, home made burgers, sunflower yellow and a load of other things to experience the joy of him.  In fact I've already given up a lot of what I 'love' for that .  I'm not saying that I liked giving things up, but I'm saying I would do it and did it. I'd make and I've made those decisions.


It might be a tough pill to swallow but when you make the decision to love, you make a decision to give in to a force that commands your self-sacrifice.  More than likely it's going to be much more than your favourite food, clothes or hobby that you will have to give up.  Sometimes a complete adjustment is required and no matter how evolved we may think we are, we don't look forward to complete adjustments.  We like things the way they are or the way we 'always pictured they would be'.

Maybe we instinctively know that true love is sacrificial.  It is as exceedingly demanding as it is tremendously rewarding. But being petrified of the sacrifice part means that so many times we deny ourselves love; we run the other way looking for euphoria - you know, the 'high' you feel when you take a bite into that favourite food, like me and my dark chocolate.  We desperately want to control the balance between loss (sacrifice), and feeling on top of the world in a series of euphoric moments. But while love is a decision we can make, it isn't a force we can control.  It demands to be in control and it will stop at nothing.

Relentless in its pursuit for our souls, this thing we call love instructs the impossible and drives the questionable, but inevitably it insists on self-sacrifice.  We have to lose ourselves to gain ourselves in love and we have to lose ourselves to the service of others.  But what ultimately compels us to love is the self-fulfilment that is born out of the labour of self-sacrifice.

Our real challenge is discerning whether we're answering the true love call or trying to simulate the ultimate feelings of euphoria and fulfilment.  We can definitely get addicted to the feelings that love generates and sometimes we try to recreate or create scenarios just to have those feelings. In those cases we are self-serving; we really just by-pass the love call to get to 'the good part' and the 'feel good' outcome won't last long. 

The truth about LOVE is that it is a response to the call serve others in spite of obstacles, in spite of what you have to give up.  This is the beginning of the true love journey.  If you have problem with that you have problem with love.

Are you ready to make the love decision?

Friday, 6 December 2013

'Me' Is Not Enough

In memory to my former Sunday School teacher Ms. Cicely Brown and Nelson Mandela freedom fighter - two people from a different time and space who knew and exercised the power of 'we'.

If you really think about it, there's so much about how we live today that is focused on 'me'.  I touched on how being 'me-centred' can end a relationship in '6 Things Relationship Gurus Don't Tell You', but this topic is worth some more Straight Talk.

Seems to me that we humans need each other; that it's natural for people to need people.  We're born into families, we make friends, we go to school in classes, we work with colleagues, we worship in congregations, we govern through organisations, we live in communities.  What we are and what we do is about people. So how come we make so many decisions without considering other people and how it will impact on them?  I'll tell you how come.

1.  We don't really 'Get' what Love means

We use the 'l' word so much for everything from how we feel about a piece of chocolate, or a pair of shoes to how we feel about our first born.  We do this without realising that love isn't just a feeling, it's a decision - more on that in another post.

2.  We're blind to the true success Harmony creates

We get busy working towards our own achievements and making a name for ourselves. Really, what's happening is that we want to revered in our peer group, seen as better than the others.  Can you blame us, sometimes being just one of the others can be boring right? And after all we are still individuals.  But when we constantly have to be 'one up' on other people, we create unnecessary rivalries and imaginary differences.  Seems that as much as we humans need each other, harmony, working beautifully together in spite of our differences, seems like an alien concept.

3.  Having Compassion makes you look stupid

Unless of course you're getting good PR.  Compassion is fine once we're being photographed and captioned as the 'cheerful giver'.  But step away from the cameras and the concept of caring for others in need is pretty stupid, seeing as how we have enough of our own problems.

4.  We've forgotten the 'golden rule'

Remember, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'? Ring a bell? I know I had to memorise this rule and recite it as a child.  The premise couldn't be more straight forward, you would want people to do good to you so do good to people.  It's supposed to be one of those simple guides to help us make better decisions.  I don't know about you, but maybe the golden rule is just too simple to remember because while I was hurting people I forgot all about it.

5.  We're oh so self-righteous

In any given situation we can see clearly all the reasons why 'I am right' which of course makes 'you wrong' or why 'the way I do things is better' which means 'your way is not good enough'.  Ignoring an overall point of view in favour of being 'right' causes conflict, whether we choose to be aware of it or not.  It's good to have our principles, but it's even better to take a look in the mirror and recognise that the thing we share with other humans is imperfection.  We are all wrong sometimes. 

 My point in all of this is that we won't know how to make good decisions unless we exercise true love, compassion and self-sacrifice. This is not a new concept, in fact it's pretty old, centuries and centuries old and key to many religions.  But sometimes we just don't get it until we've messed up one time too many, then the light bulb goes off and we connect the dots:  "Hey sometimes 'me' is not enough, other people make my life more important too!"

Friday, 29 November 2013

Work, Misery, Passion

I promised you some thoughts from my friend, Life Coach Cheryl 'Nyara' Gittens, on passion and the work you do.  There's a whole lot on the web on this topic and I've been pretty big on passion throughout all the phases of my life.  My perspective has changed at least twice in major ways.  Cheryl helped me pin down the things that make passion real for real people in real jobs, who sometimes see it as this as 'something' that other people are fortunate to find.

Forget the 'Just get it done' job mentality and be thankful

When it comes to work misery Cheryl disagrees with my 'just get on with it and forget about enjoyment' advice shared in Your Dream Job?...Not! .  She reminds me that just trying to ignore work misery will make you sick, literally.  She says that you have to have to have a 'why' - Why am I doing this job? Why is this important?  How is this helping me to achieve some of what I want to achieve? More than that, you have to be thankful, not just that you have a job and they are other people who don't, but that it really does allow you to do things that you may not otherwise be able to. If it puts food on the table, be thankful, if it pays the school fees, be thankful, if it allows for family vacations, be thankful.  Misery or not, it's doing something good. Cheryl puts it pretty poetically: "Being in a space of gratitude helps to pivot your perspective."

 Be specific about your misery

When we say we are finding no passion in our job, that's vague.  What is it that we really want? Cheryl advises us to separate two concepts: passion around job content and passion around job process.  It may be that you hate your boss or you detest the office location or you can't stand your dowdy office, but the actual work (the job content) is something you like.  On the other hand it may be that the work itself is tedious but you have the best workmates you could ask for and work conditions and benefits are pretty good (the job process).  Maybe if you could find a way to change even one of the things making you miserable, you could actually move towards passion in your job.

Do your job and do your passion

Cheryl says: "Why not stick it out in that job?"  She acknowledges the financial reasons that we may have for staying in a job that we say we don't enjoy but she says also "Why not pursue that thing that you love?".  In other words, make time for both - as if one isn't hard enough.  I think though, that the key word here is pursue.  It may be your passion but it's not something that you can be lazy about.

Passion takes strength of character

Cheryl describes passion as that thing that drives you forward, the thing that you believe you will die physically or spiritually if you don't do it.  So then why, I ask is it that some of us can suppress that.  Surely everyone would be walking around living their passion all over everyone else if they were experiencing it right?  Well it turns out that our passion can be buried deep after years of 'doing things the way we are expected to do them'.  Not only can fitting in make us more accepted, but it can also suffocate our passion side.  People who live and work their passion are able to do that no matter what is said about them.  For them Cheryl says, "The big deep fortitude of a 'must' or 'why' looks like strength but that's passion."

Some people are lucky

There are some people who leave you in awe, or just make you sick because they seem to effortlessly live and work their passion.  Cheryl calls these people lucky: "They're some people who follow their calling from day one and it requires no extraordinary strength or mental resilience...They just came out the womb doing this thing so magically that it was easy for their parents to say they gotta do it...They appear to be 'lucky' is because never occurred to them to do anything other than following their gifts; then atop that they get to do what they love because they are supported by their parents and loved ones."  In other words no barriers, no fight, no suppression required.

Your Passion doesn't have to pay

Quote: "Where did you get the idea that your passion has to pay?"
Quote: "You can add value without having to make money!"
End Quote

Enough said?  Well not quite.  Cheryl acknowledges that some so-called gurus have been irresponsible in their spin on passion, giving the impression that quitting your job to follow your passion is the best scenario.  But as she puts it passion without the 'growth mindset' will leave you lacking if it's riches you're expecting from your passion.  What is the 'growth mindset' you ask?  It's the opposite of "Oh just do what you love and the money will follow".  It's having an active plan for how that thing that you love can lead to a livelihood, financial security and yes maybe riches.  Don't have that plan?  Well just enjoy your passion for what it's worth.

Cheryl 'Nyara' Gittens is founder of Connect With Your Passion Life Coaching Inc. based in Barbados.  She has been  an Organisational Behaviour Specialist for 18 years, turning around teams and eliciting higher levels of performance. You can connect with Cheryl at to arrange for speaking engagements.