I was sat on the train – a train I take regularly – and paused the music streaming through my headphones to notice the train attendant fighting with a passenger for the 75p he owed for his travels. His excuse was that he had no money on him and so couldn’t pay the fare. He was kicked off at the next stop.

She walked my way, looking worn down and saw that I had been watching the exchange. I turned up the corner of my mouth in sympathy and she went on to tell me her struggle with having to constantly battle with passengers who refused to pay for their journeys. Journeys costing less than £1. She said that train might be cancelled soon due to so many people trying to pull  a fast one and get away with travelling for free. The tragedy that would be!

This whole encounter got me thinking about responsibility and how so many of us refuse to take it. Some of us more often than others. I won’t lie – there are times I hope I’ll be able to commute for free. There’s the hope I’ll get lucky and be able to travel the one stop without paying. Because I could always use the extra cash, right? Couldn’t we all? But if an attendant appears, I buy a ticket. Why? Because I am choosing to use service they are providing. It’s helpful in getting me from A to B. I can’t expect to use it for free.

Trying to get something for free indicates a feeling of entitlment. A person feels they are able to have what they want at any expense. This is a selfish approach. And this is very different to a person who believes in abundance.

Let’s look at these two concepts. If you believe in abundance, you believe that there is enough to go around. You believe that there is enough for everyone to live a rich life and therefore you freely give because you know you have nothing to worry about. This automatically leads to kindness because there is no need to look out for yourself and get yourself ahead at the expense of another.

If you believe you are entitled, this means that you put ‘getting yourself ahead’ above all else. You believe that you should be able to get special privileges that others do not. You cannot believe this and believe in abundance. If you believed in abundance, you wouldn’t need to keep trying to get away with special treatment. This stems from feelings of scarcity. This stems from a person not getting what they needed early on in life.

Ironic, or not really at all? A person who grows up feeling deprived of basic needs as a child enters adolescence and adulthood having to look out for number one. If they don’t look out for themselves, no one else will, right? That’s the sad ‘truth’ they’ve been taught.

If a child has his or her needs met, he or she grows up believing the ‘truth’ that whatever they want or need will naturally come to them. He or she doesn’t need to go on the hunt for loopholes and special privileges to get those things.

So parenting is everything, as we know. It’s so much easier to learn the correct behaviour the first time round. But what about for so many of us that struggle with entitlement? What can we do to transform this negative behaviour into something more positive?

The first step is realising that your approach to life will always be reflected back at you. It’s called the law of attraction (though I know, I know, that phrase is so overused and vomit-inducing that you might struggle to read past it.)

Everything in this universe is made of energy. This energy is expressed in different forms and it just shifts between them . Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed in one way or another. Thanks Einstein.

An entitled approach instills negativity in those who suffer at your expense. An entitled approach emits vibrations of scarcity. And these resonate further than you might imagine. But just as you can create this negativity, you can also create positivity. That positivity can spread and transform into higher vibrations.

Give, and you’ll be amazed what you get back in return.

 

Photo via Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s 06:45 as I’m writing this. I’m sat next next to my window. I can just about make out the rustling leaves on the tree across the driveway. I mention this because only a few weeks ago, I would have been sat here at the same time with daylight outside. The equinox is here and Autumn is now upon us. This means that winter is coming.

As a Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferer, this should surely spark dread in my core, but actually after the couple of years that I’ve had, I find this change welcoming now. It’s a gentle reminder that change is always upon is. It’s constant. Life on earth is one mass of constantly changing energies. They ebb and flow and transform. This is extremely comforting to someone like me, who’s greatest inner demon is the tendency to feel trapped in a pool of stagnant water. A pool with no way out.

I’ve mentioned it before, but these past couple years have been monotonous on the life line. I suppose if I were to break them down and analyse them week by week, I’d be able to pick out the enjoyable experiences that I should have been having. The holidays, the festivals, the get-togethers with friends… But actually, I look back and see stillness. And it’s as if I’m looking at a life happening underwater from the surface of a pond.

Everything changed in the spring of this year for me. It’s as though I ripped my way out of the sticky chrysalis that was my brain and awoke one morning a changed person. Things suddenly started to seem interesting again. Hope was restored.

Call it depression, as in retrospect I guess that’s what it was. But to me, I see it as a mistake I made, having let my anxious brain run riot – thinking it knew best of course – and completely overruling my body. All it could focus on – the theme it made of it’s life – was that there was no way out.

It’s a strange feeling and one that thankfully not everyone has to experience all the time, if at all: feeling trapped by your life, even though you’re not placed under physical constraint. This is because, a person placed in an isolated room – unable to escape and see or do anything else – can allocate a reason to their feelings. And reasoning is everything: it’s how we cope. A person who technically has free will in her life tends to struggle to find a reason to explain her mental claustrophobia. She instead suffers the onslaught of guilt for not simply just being happy with the way things are.

Now, I believe there is a reason behind every situation where a person feels this way. It could be debt, it could be past trauma with memory triggers left, right and centre, or it could be a hellish relationship. You may be ignorant to the source, of course, but there’s always a reason that you’re suffering in the way that you are. It comes down to unresolved problems.

But whatever the issue, a strange thing starts to happen when you make the choice to let your brain overrule: it gets addicted to the suffering. It doesn’t actually want you to rectify any problems. It further affirms your negative belief and thought patterns, continuously propelling you in the direction of pain. When what you feel is uncertainty, the brain will find something to give you relief. It’s certainty of pain that it’s offering, but we seem to view that as a better option that no certainty at all.

What changed for me was two things:

  1. I started making decisions that I thought a person who was being kind to themselves might make.
  2. I repeatedly told myself that my brain does not control me. It is a tool that I can use to help me do life.

The result? It’s been an upwards climb ever since. Remarkably, I’d say I’ve had less bad days than I can count on one hand; all because of the decision to be nice to myself and to remember that my brain isn’t allowed to always call the shots. It doesn’t always know best.

Think about the way that your brain makes decisions. It uses knowledge it has accumulated from past experience to come to a logical conclusion about what to do when faced with a similar situation. But let’s say that a past experience was somehow misconstrued or tainted or didn’t work out how you want it to. What then? Does that mean that you should never do that thing again? No. And that’s why you can’t always make decisions based on what is logical. You should always ask yourself how it feels.

I got into the pattern of expressing certain opinions about people or things simply because it’s what I did. It was a habit. One day a few months ago I found myself coming out with a statement and noticed a sensation in my stomach that said, ‘hey Kat, you know you don’t actually believe that, right?’ I suddenly realised that I was allowing my brain to put words to my mouth before I’d even had a chance to digest the arising thought and question if I really believed it or not. That’s no good way to be, spieling what isn’t even your truth.

Alongside these opinions, I found that I had trained myself to believe that life was all planned out. I had convinced myself that my life consisted of x,y, and z and that was simply it. I’d never be able to have the a,b and c that I longed for. That’s no good way to be either.

The feeling I’m describing is that of being trapped. And when things started to feel better based on the two action steps I listed above, I asked myself what I could do to make myself feel less trapped. I suddenly started to bring options onto the radar that I hadn’t even thought possible before. This was all because I began to ask what somebody who cared about themselves would fight for. I re-shuffled my work week around to free up time to do things that were meaningful to me – activities that fed my soul what it needed: more time outside spent giving something back to the community. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

So if you feel like there’s no way out. If you start to feel like life no longer holds that magical essence of possibility for you. If you begin to lose hope, you need to train your mind to think differently. Start asking what someone who cares about themselves might do. Where might they go from here? Then, start taking action based on what answers arise. You’ll be amazed how things pan out.

Photo via Unsplash

 

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When we fear change, what is it that we’re really fearing? It’s surely not the process of evolving or upgrading to something new and different? Rather, it’s the fear that we’ll either lose something or end up worse off. We fear the possibility of suffering.

We always think we know best, don’t we? We think that we have the best idea about what’s good for us. If we take a good look at our lives, we think we’ve got it down. Everything around us might be looking all right – dare I say comfortable – and at these points change is unwelcome. If everything feels comfortable, why would we want to rock the boat?

In these circumstances, change is often shunned. We hold on so dearly with clutching little claws to that which we have, because after all we know best. We don’t want any nasty surprises creeping up and biting us in the behind.

Other times, perhaps we feel stagnant. Taking a look at your life reveals people and circumstances that are less than favourable. If this is the case, change could perhaps be just what it is you’re craving. Something new and shiny and exciting. Yet the change doesn’t come. You keep wishing so badly for something to turn your world upside down, yet all stays level. Every day is exactly the same.

Above I describe two very different situations. In the first, the person is happy with the way things are. They don’t want things to change, because the risk it’ll be for the worse outweighs the chances that it’ll be for the better. Sure, there’s the chance that life could improve in a way that he or she hardly thought possible, but isn’t it better to stick with what you know and what’s all right rather than risk total turbulence?

The second person is bored or suffering and yearning for change to shake things up a bit. They need new stimulation. They feel like they’ve got nothing to lose and so they’re willing to go face-to-face with whatever is thrown at them, because least of all they’ll have a challenge. Best case scenario they’ve got their dreams coming true.

We tend to fluctuate between these two states of mind. It’s only natural for us to want things to stay the same when we’re cruising the peaks of life and chase change when sinking in the troughs. And it’s because we always think we know best.

I’m not here to talk about God or the mystical powers of the universe. But I am here to discuss our thought patterns. I’ve seen in my own life how thinking can be either completely destructive or utterly beneficial to my mood. I’ve experienced dramatic changes in external circumstances and trauma – just like any of you reading this – but ironically the times I felt the worst were when from the outside everything looked good. It was the times that I couldn’t pinpoint a reason to feel so awful that I felt the most darkness. It all came down to my thinking habits. And that’s exactly what our thinking is: a habit. Some habits are good, others detrimental.

What I’ve learned is that the only times we suffer are when we feel like what we are experiencing should not be happening. It really is as simple as that. So with the first person in my example above, he feels as though he’s got a grip on his life. He feels like everything around him is right and should be happening because he feels OK experiencing it all each day. Any change surely should not happen to disturb that?

With the second person, he looks around at his life and is experiencing that which is unwanted and so he shouts up at the universe that ‘surely this should not be happening!’ and pleads for change.

Whether you believe you’re here to stumble onto a particular path or not is entirely your own prerogative, but you can’t argue with the fact that we’re all here to learn. That’s why we place such emphasis on education and doing stuff. But the thing is that some of the stuff we need to learn to get us from A to B (B being a place where we can do our best work) includes some hardship – some pain. And this arises from change.

If we stay in the comfort bubble, we’re never growing. We must face new situations to learn about the world and ourselves. This is from where inspiration stems. And curiosity. It’s how we discover those niches that call to us. Individuals we are, and so it takes some excavation to find the niche that feels the most compatible. It’s how we learn what we’re good at. And it’s how we connect to others; through shared experience and understanding.

I now try my best to approach trying situations with the mentality that whatever is happening, needs to happen. And one up from that even: whatever is happening will benefit me. We’re always so adamant about needing all the evidence, but suppose for a moment that you simply accepted that there are things you don’t know and will never know. The strange workings of the universe being one of them.

Doesn’t it take some pressure off, at least? Doesn’t accepting that your current situation is serving you feel good? I’m not talking about settling for that which is unwanted or giving up on your goals and dreams, but instead of feeling like you’re hitting your head against a brick wall 60 times a minute, consider that you’re gaining something from all this.

So when unwanted change is thrown at you: know in your heart that it needed to happen and that you will find a way through it. You always do. And if change simply isn’t coming, know that it’s because you’ve still not learned your lesson yet, do start paying attention.

 

Photo: Flickr

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universal-creator

In our modern construct, we have a generic social structure within our lives. This usually involves birth, schooling, university, a 9-5 job, marriage, babies, retirement, and death. Of course these events are joined by all the little day-to-day details, but for some reason there are milestones that we work towards and place enormous focus on. These are the events we consider the most important – the most memorable and profound.

But what about the day-to-day? Surely if we add up these ‘memorable’ days, they comprise only a few fleeting moments of the totality of our lives? Our lives seem to be filled with days and days of seemingly empty space that we don’t remember. These are days that don’t seem to important enough for us to draw attention to. I wonder if it’s because we feel that ensuring our existence fits into the current paradigm considered ‘acceptable’ and ‘worthy’ is enough. Is it because we feel we’re living how we should be?

We make decisions based on our options. But what if we have limited the options we give ourselves? What if our perspective is limited in a way that hinders our growth? We are raised in a way that often sets boundaries. These boundaries draw out the perimeter of the box we fit into. It’s a box that allows some choice, but not infinite free will.

A Different Perspective

If we remove this idea, this paradigm of modern day life, we are left with infinite possibility. We are left with a more simpler truth which is simply that anything can happen. If you let it, that is. If we halt the predictability and these aforementioned milestones that we inevitably find ourselves working towards, we’re left with a more sensitive approach. By a sensitive approach I mean taking life as it comes at you.

Having a ’10 year plan’ is useless. I used to at least give it an ounce of my thought, but now I see that it is entirely destructive. It is possible for you to be an entirely different man or woman in 10 years time. If you structure the next 10 years in a way that limits you to what you wanted for yourself at the start of those 10 years, you’re holding yourself back. With growth comes a change in perspective. How can you possibly know that in 10 years time the best thing for you is what you yearn for now?

An Ebb and Flow

I am also guilty of labelling some things as ‘me’ and others as ‘so not me’. Whilst in this present moment I may have an affinity for a particular sense of style or type of music, for example, is it wise to spend the next 10 years habitually closing myself off from alternatives? Who’s to say I won’t change perspective entirely in 10 years from now; hell – even 1 year from now?

As we learn and grow and formulate new ideals for ourselves, we’re engaging in a kind of ebb and flow with life. It’s a little give and a little take. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Our moods change every moment and we are constantly learning by experience. We do this dance with life and if we do it well, we’ll get the best out of it.

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The next time someone asks me where I’ll be in 10 years time I’ll tell them that I couldn’t possibly imagine. I’d like to live my life as though I have no idea what tomorrow will hold. And it’s true, I don’t. It’s not the morbid anticipation that something awful might happen, but rather the eager excitement for what I might create simply by actively interacting with the events that happen today. We are all designers of our own lives. If only we accept that, we hold a world in the palms of our hands.

Photo: Flickr

Zen-And-The-Art-Of-Happiness

If you’re reading this, I think it’s safe to say you’re a spiritual person. Whether or not you would have labelled yourself that without my opinion is another thing. In fact, we’re all spiritual beings. Whether we embrace our spirituality in the form of a religion, a physical practice or whatever else, we all pursue something which feeds that aspect of ourselves which isn’t the mind or body, but the soul.

I would say that I became aware of the spiritual community I feel I fit into when I was in my early-twenties. I met someone who opened my eyes big time. From there it’s been a steady few years of learning about myself. As well as healing past trauma. And trying to get to grips with why things happen the way they do.

It’s safe to say that I’m an old soul. I think differently than most people my own age. I have an affinity for forming friendships with those older than myself. Intensity should be my middle name, really. And why the need to be so serious all the time? It’s not that I am actually serious all the time, but that I have so many thoughts – so many questions. This blog is my way of talking to the universe and whichever people it reaches are a part of that. Call it writing therapy: the process of processing through verse.

Changing Your Thinking

Recently I read an incredible little book: Zen And the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss. It’s tiny and can easily be finished in a few hours. But oh, what wonders I took away from it.

The book essentially discusses the idea that whatever happens to you in this life is for your greatest benefit. It’s a different perspective than most of us have. Prentiss gives accounts of events in his own life and that of others that initially seem disastrous, but work out for the better in the end. He describes the universe as a perfect machine of sorts, creating nothing but a perfect future for itself. If we’re all a part of the same energy, expressed in different forms, we’re all a part of that perfect plan. And therefore, although we interpret some events as ‘good’ and some as ‘bad’, all serve us positively in the end.

If one thinks about it logically, people are just people and events just events. It is how we feel about each one that makes all the difference. And it’s what causes us all to be so unique. Some of us have an affinity for one thing, others another. If we were all the same, life as we know it simply would not be possible. It is through our individuality that we learn and grow. We need things to be the way they are.

But the worst, the most painful part of life as we know it, is the hurt and disappointment when something happens to us or around us and we feel as if we’ve had a stroke of bad luck or are being punished. We feel we’ve somehow ‘lucked out’ and are doomed. The ideology that this simply cannot be possible is profound. And it takes some time getting your head around. But take a moment to look back at your own life and I’m sure you’ll be able to pinpoint situations that in the moment you thought were dire actually turning out to benefit you in the long-run.

It might have been a terrible break-up which meant getting that person off the scene in order for someone better to come along. It might have been being made redundant so that your dream job could be offered to you. It might have even been a near-death accident so that you could have a spiritual epiphany and really start living.

If we adopt this way of thinking, it’s not only stress-reducing but it’s also empowering. Stress is caused by the chronic worry about how a situation is going to pan-out. It’s ‘doom and gloom’ syndrome that leaves your body ridden with the horrible symptoms of anxiety. This is all for a situation which may never occur. Knowing instead that whatever happens will benefit you eases this strain.

Secondly, as I mentioned earlier it is empowering. Instead of dreading what life is going to throw at you next, you can welcome it in. No matter the potential struggle or hardship you will face: approach it head-on and with open arms and you’ve got an opportunity for growth. After all, once you’ve learned your lesson there will be no need for that hardship to linger.

I ain’t no Zen Master, but this thinking was simply too good not to share. I highly encourage you to give this book a read. Food for thought – big time.

Photo: Flickr