The Willingness to live our desires takes courage. 

From early childhood we are exposed to other people’s ideas of who we ought to be and how.  It is usually backed up by television programmes, school and friendships as early as playground playmates.  As a child our identities are primarily shaped by parents who perceive us in certain ways and treat us accordingly.  We may also be objects of their unmet or hidden ambitions.  We are read books with certain heroes or heroines.  The influencing, shaping and sculpting has begun.  We are inculcated into family patterns where we are reminded through old photographs, stories of what those before us did or did not do.  Psychologists tell us that by the time a child is 7 years old, their personality is formed.  He/she is now just a littler version of who he/she is going to be.  But is this mould really set like they say?  Is that it?

Are we our family?  Are we the result of relationships and friendships we have been exposed to and cultivated?  Are we our university alumni?  Who does the choosing?  The YOU that you have chosen or the You that has been shaped and moulded?  What if the life you have been influenced, shaped and moulded to follow is not the life you would have chosen for yourself?   What do you do?  What would happen if you leave the life you have built, the life you have unconsciously chosen and step forward to claim the life for which you have longed?

Often, we have inherited someone else’s view of who we are or should be.  I have watched this play out time and again in a number of families or friends as they describe their families. 

It takes real courage to stare into the deepest parts of yourself.  Are you willing to see what is TRUE, REAL and ETERNAL about you?  What do the deepest parts of yourself really long for?   You see, the part of you that is shaped, moulded and sculpted is your personality.  Your personality is not all of who you are.  The part of you who questions your choices, who longs to live a life of your deepest desires, who observes you in unexpected moments, that is the eternal part of you.  Some call it the Soul.  Are you willing to risk knowing who you really are?  Who you’ve always been?  Could you live with the consequences of knowing?  You see, all of our deepest desires are our Soul’s way of calling us back to simply being all of who we really are.

Each time I have allowed myself to “go there” I won’t lie and say it is easy.  In fact “fear” visits.  It feels quite palpable.  She sits in the corner wringing her hands as if to say “let see what you got!” My mind registers multiple “what ifs”.  I do not pretend to be unafraid.  I know that when fear visits, the idea is to have me not choose, to keep me stymied, catatonic so I remain the same.  But I would rather know myself and live with the consequences of these choices than to live a life making choices which have probably never been mine to make.

Sometimes I have made choices which have deviated from the status quo, from what others expected of me.  Whilst those watching have smiled seemingly supportive, I have sensed a lack of support, even anger.  I have, in the past, turned down work of a particular nature because it was inconsistent with who I thought I was and the overwhelming attitude from some have been “how dare you”.  I have sensed and learned that making choices in alignment with who I think I am, can disrupt others’ perception of who they think they are.  The negative energy emanating from those who disapprove for whatever reason makes me wonder whether I am holding up a mirror in which they can see themselves.

In any case isn’t that what we are for each other?  Mirrors! Should we be clinging to our so called powerlessness or unwillingness to change like a comfort blanket?  Is that supposed to let us off the hook of taking responsibility for our own lives? I suspect that those who choose to challenge inherited perceptions by opting for a different response to life, threaten the others carefully cultivated self-deception.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

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.

What is to give light, must endure burning.

Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.

Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.

One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences.

Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people.

When you compare yourself to others, you are inviting envy into your consciousness; it can be a dangerous and destructive guest.

Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfilment.

Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself.

“More than education, more than experience, more than training, a persons’ level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That is true in the cancer ward, its true in the Olympics, and its true in the boardroom.” Victor Frankl

At AnExaminedLife we are aware that life requires you to build a toolkit so you can approach the adventures, challenges and sometimes ravages that may be encountered along your journey.  We skilled enough to empower you to build Resilience as part of that toolkit.  What is Resilience?

Resilience is the ability to overcome obstacles, using so called negative experiences by channelling them into a positive and not allowing difficult experiences to define your whole existence.

Resilient individuals see Stressors as potential opportunities for change, and undesirable events in terms of possibility rather than threat.  They tend to have a more realistic view of the world. Mostly they believe that if life gives you lemons you make lemonade.  Resilience has the following characteristics: a staunch acceptance of reality, a deep belief that life is meaningful.  Resilient people also have an uncanny ability to improvise.

We help you work on the following characteristics: internal locus of control, adaptive behaviours, finding and making meaning, regulating your attention and so much more.  It is intense work but with equally intense rewards if you are available to giving yourself permission to experience it.

I teach Mindfulness practice.  It is the primary way I know of achieving mental peace.  What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a basic human quality, a way of learning to pay attention to whatever is happening in your life (or life per se) that allows you a greater sense of connection to your life inwardly and outwardly. Mindfulness as a meditation practice is a systematic method aimed at cultivating clarity, insight, and understanding.

In the context of your health, mindfulness is a way for you to experientially learn to take better care of yourself by exploring and understanding the interplay of mind and body and mobilizing your own inner resources for coping, growing, and healing.

Numerous studies have shown that it is possible to change your brain connectivity and rewire yourself to support present-moment awareness.  Mindfulness practice has been shown to elevate positive emotions, to have stress reducing effects and pain-management effects.

More than three decades of scientific research at medical centres all over the world suggests that training in mindfulness can positively and often profoundly affect your ability to reduce medical symptoms, improve immune function, reduce blood pressure, cortisol levels and psychological distress while learning to live life more fully.  Mental peace can come from one or all of the above, but most importantly it is derived from your willingness to explore and embed your practice so you may live the life of your choosing.

We are full of them, whether we realise it or not. We say we have them, but more often than not they have us. What is this thing I’m describing? They’re our Habits, and they drive our lives to the Nth degree, sometimes brilliantly, but many times not so and root us in a quagmire that can rule us moment by moment. They are our regular tendencies and practices. They are often unconscious and automatic.
Although they can be impacted and influenced by Motivation (made up of Intention and Motion meaning to take action), they are more likely to drive Behaviour and Change than do Motivation by itself.
Habits are amazing when we are excited about learning something new and wonderful. They can enable us to cope with huge amounts of information, choices, decisions, goals and emotions. Many of these habits are unconscious, directing behaviour like a conductor does an orchestra, but we are often unaware of this. While good habits make it easier to achieve desired results without sapping our energy, undesirable habits make it difficult to achieve our wants, hopes and desires and will drain our inner resources.
Most of us do not worry too much about our habits unless and until they begin to create havoc and unhappiness in our lives. At the start of a new year, you will hear words like “goals”, “motivation”, “resolutions” being spoken about like it’s going out of fashion. It is a rare thing to hear others giving a platform to the idea of “Habits” and the role they play in keeping us stuck. Yet again. The emphasis is regularly placed on “willingness”,“motivation” and “resolutions”.
It appears to be a little-known thing that “Willingness” and “Motivation” are states of mind which can embed a habit OR NOT. The fact that they are used to underpin a habit, means that the habit came first! Indeed, Habits are known to change the structure of the brain and thereafter impact Behaviour. Willingness and Motivation alone are not known to impact brain structure, but Habits do. Repeated habits work like this; simply put, repeated actions cause your neurons to fire again and again, forming a stronger and strong neuronal circuit. Heard the term “Neurons that fire together, wire together”? This comes from an evidence based theory called Hebbian theory, which showed that repeated actions created stronger neuron circuits, allowing us to do things on autopilot.
Now autopilot can be good, but only if these habits are not undesired ones. The more a habit is performed, the stronger the neuronal circuits become. Autopilot speeds up the transmission of signals, in effect making it easier and quicker for the habit to occur next time.
We have now entered a new season and it is never too late to continue working on those resolutions you made in January. So, if you’re looking to embed new behaviours and release old ones, Habits are a good place to start looking.

Integrity: derived from the Latin word Integer, meaning whole or complete.  I take that to mean, when all the parts of your personality are aligned; like a Laser, a beam in which every wave precisely reinforces every other.  Where the personality is not “splintered”, not struggling with itself.  A splintered personality struggles with itself.  It is not conscious of all the parts of itself.  The values, perceptions, and behaviours of a splintered personality are not integrated, therefore it becomes challenging to act from a place of Integrity according to the above definition.

For example a businessman may be financially successful, considered successful by society in general, because he has all the outward manifestations of financial wealth.  But he may not be emotionally, spiritually or relationally successful/wealthy.  The idea of becoming more integrated by working on these aforementioned areas of development may raise such fear in him that he chooses to remain splintered; that means not integrated.  Heard the quote “Some people are so poor, all they have is money”?  This is a way of describing the deficit in aspects of the human spirit.  The splintered personality is often considered to work from a place of fear and aversion.  It fears aspects of itself that threaten what it seeks and what it has attained.  So being in life/work with a lack of integrity/integration remains the order of the day.  To use an analogy, a Laser is like a whole/integrated personality.  Laser is light that does not struggle with itself.  Most people are far from this.

An individual may hold an opinion that another “has integrity” to the extent that they act according to certain values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.  Values, beliefs and principles all have their genesis within an individual’s thoughts.  All of this comes from within their inner world.  All three are made manifest with Action.  In essence, the way a person behaves, the decisions they make, is usually an outer manifestation of their values, beliefs and principles.  An article I read recently talked about how dictionary definitions ‘connect Integrity to a person’s moral code, personalising it’.  My view is that this is where Integrity IS held, totally within your inner world.  Integrity cannot be held outside of you, otherwise, you could leave it at work when you go home at the end of the day and vice versa.  It has to be something that is so totally you that wherever you go, there it is.  Indistinct from who and what you are, totally Integrated, unsplintered; hence the Laser analogy.  The author of the article, Mary Gregory, a leading Executive Coach, posits that ‘attempts to address a loss of integrity are perceived as judgemental’.  My view is this; ‘judgement’ always appears to have an element of malice in it.  The person doing the ‘judging’ seeks to be judge and jury.  Often times the person doing the judging is trying to ‘take a spec out of the others eye, when they have a plank in their own eye’.  You can only re-cognise something if you know what it looks like.  Re-cognise meaning re-knowing!  If this is used the hammer the other person, then of course it is a judgement.  From what I have witnessed in some workplaces and elsewhere, there can be much hypocritical, self-righteous judgement of others.  If this is used to address ‘a loss of integrity’ in any one individual it cannot be helpful.  In fact, unless you know what it is to be Integrated (which is where the word Integrity comes from), how then can you stand and judge one who is supposedly not.  Whether it’s a moral judgement or not, how would you know what it is supposed to look like, feel like? What qualifies you to look at another through this particular set of lenses?

No one person ought to be judge and jury, but you can have a conversation for possibilities and action deriving from an informed idea of what actually happened – without malice.  Of course if you are a fully integrated being, you may recognise and understand why another acts the way they do. Organisations are not able to account for that which exists within any human so this idea of managing working from a place of Integrity will always be challenging.  It may prove useful for organisations to outline criteria for what they consider to be clear behaviour aligned with Integrity.  In that way, individuals who may consider themselves ‘splintered’ in their decision making may have some ‘to hand’ guidance.

If you are a fully integrated being, your integrity is unlikely to slip since that is who you fully are, but a fully integrated being in the corporate world of work would have to accept the consequences of their actions on a completely different level, since the goals of the Balance Sheet are not always aligned with taking action with Integrity.  I suspect, therein lay the challenges faced by those who have been involved in highly publicised scandals of recent years.

So in responding to this aspect of Mary Gregory’s article where she states: “Creating a commonly shared understanding of integrity and its impact that removes the moral judgement, is the beginning of creating the conditions and conversation where breakdowns in integrity can be addressed and rectified.”  Yes, it is a good idea to have a commonly shared understanding of integrity and its impact.  I would say that is a given.  However when I looked up the meaning of the word ‘moral’, I found it difficult to feel comfortable with removing it in dealing with issues of ‘breakdowns in integrity’.  Here are some of the synonyms of the word moral: ethical, good, right, honest, decent, proper, honourable and just.  Are these not the very words that ought to be aligned with the word judgement?  If there is going to be any judgement at all, should it not be ethical, good, decent, honest etc?  The issue is not the moral aspect of judgement, it is the idea of judgement at all and who is responsible for the execution of it.  Where Judgement (moral or otherwise) becomes an issue is where a Leader who is not fully integrated as a person, formulates opinion and takes action regarding another who is also not fully integrated (remember the spec in the eye example?).  Lapses in Integrity are not just calling for:-  clearly defined meanings and behaviours embodying the meaning of the word, nor adherence to removing moral judgement around it. It does in fact highlight that what the individual is trying to do he/she does not actually have the competence for that would require clear values, perceptions and behaviours in decision making.

Question is how do you embody and exhibit Integrity in your behaviours, when aspects of yourself are splintered and not fully Integrated?  These competences are built from on-going inner work.  This inner work shapes and guides your values, beliefs and principles.   Your behaviour essentially gives the world a glimpse of who you are inside. So whenever there is a lapse of integrity and it is judged by others, this may be the reason why you take it so personally.  You are experiencing the judgement as an attack on all the things you hold inside of you, which are your values, beliefs and principles.  The things that you think make you, you. There is no getting away from the fact that Integrity is indeed personal.  It takes huge courage to willingly look within, but it requires courage of another level to stare specifically at our own Integrity.

Ever wondered how Intentions come to be?  It happens like this.  The thoughts inside of you are shaping what and how you do what you do with your life.

That is the first step to forming an Intention.  Actually thoughts can be considered ‘forms’; something that takes on a shape.  Since no thought can exist without a certain level of Awareness you can say that your thoughts display/disclose your level of Awareness.  What creates your awareness?  Your consciousness does.  This is made up of beliefs, feelings, cognition, knowledge, attitudes and emotions.  Phew and you thought that Intention was just, well, an Intention.

So what gives birth to Intention, how do we act on it?  It’s the energy within us that propels us to act. So you can say that our thoughts are propelled by energy and it begins to form an intention.  Since you are never really separated from your thoughts, it might be true to say that Intention creates EVERYTHING you do.

It may surprise you to know that you are not a Static system.  You do not act involuntarily as if someone else is pulling your strings (not usually anyway).  Everything that occurs in your life occurs because on some thought level; you have made it happen.

What you feel, what you think, how you behave, what you value and how you live your life reflects the way that you are shaping the thoughts (energy form) that come from you.

Pick wisely.