Listening to people from all walks of life, I’ve noticed a common foe of resilience: self-blame. It’s sneaky, like a deadly undertow. The self-blaming person is all hope and forward intention above water, but underneath, their feet are being sucked backwards. There’s no omen more worthy of dread in that situation than the words “I should”, or their ugly cousin “I should have”. The shoulds have their own mysterious, immobilizing power. It’s hard to think of a way out.
Restrained and thwarted by our own thoughts, we become fixated on what we didn’t do in a way that presents zero solutions. “Why did I do that?” “What was I thinking?” “Why am I so hell-bent on self-sabotage?” Did you ever notice that there is no way of coming up with a good answer to such a question? Questions like these are worse than useless; they’re downright dangerous. And yet we insist on wading into the same dark water without our waterwings. Continue reading →
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” —Viktor Frankl
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space”. The truth is, many people don’t even notice that there is a space between stimulus and response. In fact, that space may be so miniscule, we simply react to a stimulus rather than respond. But the space is there, and there are things we can do to expand it.
Florence Foster Jenkins has been called “The World’s Worst Opera Singer”. In the early 1900s, she was a patron of the arts in New York City who made vanity recordings and gave (self-sponsored) concerts in places like Carnegie Hall. (Ironically, her real first name was an homage to the original poster boy of vanity. It was Narcissa).
Unencumbered by either social constraint or artistic inhibition, Foster Jenkins barrelled onto the stage driven by what can only be regarded as pure joy. She embraced theatricality with gusto. She made her own glittery costumes, sported massive feathery wings, threw flowers, and favoured being lowered from theatre ceilings by rope and pulley. Going home seemed never to have been an option for Florence Foster Jenkins; she went big. Continue reading →
“The full and joyful acceptance of the worst in oneself may be the only sure way of transforming it.” — Henry Miller
Most of us are far more practiced at sending acceptance and compassion outward than inward. We all have awkward and ugly aspects of ourselves that we’d rather ignore, or better, erase.
Carl Rogers, a great psychotherapist, knew keenly how much people desire acceptance. He observed that offering radical acceptance of the person had the power to spark significant change in their lives. He based his method around that insight, and cultivated an attitude of what he called “unconditional positive regard” for his patients. Continue reading →