Do you ever find it difficult to deal with new situations? Last weeks blog Hiding under a Rock - Confessions of a Terrified Swimmer explored some helpful ways to deal with new situations. I am very thankful to have received this wise advice. This weeks blog is another opportunity to share with you ways i have been able to put this wise advice into practice.
A few years ago I was asked to teach a group of people. I had been studying myself for some time but certainly did not feel ready to lead such a group. I was terrified and look for all kinds of excuses to stay hidden under my rock. Around the same time I was asked to teach a yoga class at a retreat at a yoga Ashram. I was part way through my yoga teacher training and certainly not confident or in my view competent to teach a yoga class with thirty plus people in it! Both these teaching opportunities had me terrified beyond belief. I needed some help. I had all sorts of crazy escape plans including ringing the Ashram to tell them that the yoga teacher coming for the retreat had not finished her training; in the hope they would ban me. I was fortunate enough to receive some very wise advice, which helped me though both situations. Actually it got that terrified me out of the way so I could do my best to pass on what had been so helpful to me, in the hope it may be of benefit to others.
We all have many skills and talents that we can share to benefit others. I knew enough (not a lot) about both philosophy and yoga and I could so my best to share what I knew. In order to do this though I needed to get that scared Maree who was so worried about what might happen, what others would think etc. out of the way. I was then free to focus on being available to do the best I could for whoever turned up. I now realize when I focus on how I can be of benefit others and stop worrying about myself, that I find true happiness and meaning in my life.
As I said we all have unique talents and skills. It does not matter what we do. We can serve in a bakery, sell clothes, teach, parent, lay bricks or be a doctor. As long as it is with this attitude of connecting with and benefiting others, whatever we do we can't go wrong. Our only responsibly is to do our best to kindly share these skills and talents with others and let go of the result.
A friend of mine shared some helpful advice about this in relation to teaching. She told me
This advice has been so useful to me and helps me get over my fear of teaching each week. It has also made it possible for me to be a teacher of yoga and philosophy, speak to large groups of people, and even tap dance in Moomba and live on stage at the National Theatre!
I have a responsibility to myself, those who have kindly taught me and those who want to know or see what I know to continue to do my best to share what has helped me. I can rest in the intention of doing my best to share and let go of my self-consciousness, expectation of appreciation or approval from others and give it to myself. I am doing my best for others, which may not go the way I planned, like when I completely forgot what I was meant to be doing with my cane in the tap concert, which of course was perfect and provided lots of laughs for us all. Learning to let go of fear and expectation and doing my best to what needs to be done for others at the time is a much more fun, kind and peaceful way to go.
Do you find it difficult to get up in front of group of people and speak, teach, perform or do anything? While hiding under a rock may seem to offer safety, it never does. Avoiding situations and worrying about ourselves only increases our fear, makes us unavailable to others and has no benefit, to us or others. I am sure those of you who have known me for some time would recall the ‘shy, under confident’ story I had going on. Up until fairly recently the idea of speaking or performing in a group situation, in public, or teaching terrified me. Fortunately this is no longer a story I need to tell myself. I have been fortunate to come across some helpful wise advice, which for me has become a ‘game changer’ as a friend of mine says.
While I still feel that sympathetic nervous system response kick in with that increased heart rate, butterflies in the stomach etc. I have learnt to see this as a reminder to:
My daughter taught me this several years ago. She was young, at a new primary school and had to participate in the swimming sports. She was very nervous and expressed to me her fears, “What if I sink to the bottom of the pool? I can’t dive off the blocks? What if I stop half way, come last, etc. etc.” How often do we worry about things in the future that have not happened yet? So often I catch myself doing this. She was working herself into a ‘nervous wreck’ and she was nowhere near the pool.
Fortunately I remembered something that might help. We can’t be worried about ourselves and concerned about helping others at the same time. Together we made a plan for the swimming sports. We came up with a list of things to do when she got to the sports. The list included look for friends and younger swimmers who seemed a little nervous and give them a smile or have a chat to them, cheer for every race, support her house and join in the chants, see if the teachers or anyone needed a help with anything, swim her race and do the best she could for her house, etc. After making the plan to do what was needed when she go to the sports she looking a little brighter; at least she had stopped crying. I dropped her at school with her plan.
Later that morning I went to watch the sports. She didn’t know I was there and I watched with relief and joy as I witnessed her putting the plan into action. She was doing what was needed, chatting, cheering and helping younger swimmers. She got up to swim her race and looked a little nervous on the blocks. She dived in and swam her race. I was so excited and was cheering like mad. The mother next to me said, “Did your daughter win that race”. I said, “no, she came last but she is really happy”. There was lots of laughing going on amongst the swimmers at the end of the pool and I was so happy she was able to get her fear and worry about herself out of the way to do her best to benefit others. She had come out from under her worry rock and swam like a fish. (a relaxed even paced one!)
She had realized the secret of her own happiness – letting go of that worry about herself and doing her best to make others happy. We have been able to share this story recently as she embarked on two new jobs, and I returned to teaching. We realized we had a choice. We could worry about ourselves and how it may or may not go and work ourselves into ‘nervous, what about me wrecks’ or we could do our best to present and prepare well, get there and benefit who ever presents, customers, employers and students. I will share how I applied this in next weeks blog. Hiding Under a Rock Confessions of a Terrified Teacher and Tapper
Have fun this week letting go of that worry about how things may or may not go and instead use your energy to do your best to be of benefit to others with whatever presents.
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The Difference Between Guilt and Regret
The Difference Between Guilt and Regret
Do you know the difference between unhelpful guilt and helpful regret? I didn't, and somehow I thought it was nobel to feel guilty and bash myself up with criticism and guilt over unkind things I wished I had not done. Last weeks blog was about approving of ourselves without the need of others' approval. This week we will explore how to approve of ourselves when we have done or said something unkind that we are not happy about.
As I said last week it is helpful to think about the intention behind our actions. When my intention has been to be kind I can rest in that regardless of the result. However what about those times when I have not had a kind intention? The times I let those unhelpful habits lead the way and I have been angry, wanted to get someone back, been righteous, judgmental, selfish, unforgiving, critical, etc. I cannot rest in my kind intention then, so what do I do? Feel guilty is not the right answer, although I have done that many times. Feeling guilty is never useful. We have all done things and said things that we wish we hadn't and while it is not useful to ignore these, it is equally unhelpful to berate ourselves because of them.
Guilt is just an excuse to bash ourselves up and do nothing about it. Guilt is all about me and what a bad person I am, what a terrible thing I have done etc. How is this of any use to anyone? When we are busy with all that negative self talk we are not available to others as well as destroying our peace of mind, confidence and happiness.
So how do we stop this unhelpful habit of thinking? We practice regret instead. With regret we admit we have done something harmful and acknowledged not being happy about having done it. Regret implies the intention to do something to make up for what we have done. When I I have done or said something that I don't feel good about I find it helpful to do these steps instead of indulging in guilt.
1. Admit I have done it
4. Do something to make up for what you regret
1. Admitted it
Yes, I certainly did run the yellow light, I could have stopped
2. Regretted it
Yes, I regretted making it difficult for the other person and now me. I don't like it when someone does that to me.
3. Make a plan to stop that harmful habit
I would be aware of stopping safely when the lights change for
the rest of my trip. I could do that.
4. Do something to make up for what I did
I decided to take an opportunity to let someone into the traffic. It nearly took me till I got home to do this. But I found someone and was so happy. I could now have a clear conscience.
5. I could forgive myself and others and move on happily
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Disapproval from others – can I still approve of myself?
Do you want everyone to like and approve of you? I think we all do. Last weeks blog How to put the Toothpaste back in the tube was about approving of ourselves when we make mistakes. This week it is about approving of ourselves without the need of others' approval.
I have had some encouraging feedback regarding my posts and while I have appreciated and enjoyed this I have been aware not to get “too big for my boots” as my mother would say. It is easy to approve of ourselves, and sometimes even tempting to become smug, when things go right and others are approving. However it is not so easy when others don’t care and harder still when they are disapproving. I was speaking with a friend of mine and she mentioned she had been receiving the blogs. I resisted the temptation to ask “what do you think?” but she told me anyway. She commented she was busy and did not really have the time to read them. Here was my not interested person. Could I approve of myself now? Following this another friend whom I respect and admire very much commented that she did not find my blogs that helpful and did not agree with all I had to say. Here was my disapproving person. Could I approve of myself now?
It was getting tricky as I felt myself ready to board that negative thought train. “What do I think I am doing? I have done something wrong. Should I stop writing? I am not qualified, worthy, etc. Or equally unhelpfully "it is her fault". Judgement or blame of myself or others is never helpful I stopped this thought train and
‘One third of people will like you, one third will feel indifferent and one third won’t like you’
Of all those people we encounter one third will like or approve of us, one third will feel neutral or won’t care either way and one third will dislike or disapprove of us. So it is impossible to have everyone approve or like us. There is great relief in that as it can be exhausting to try to do the impossible and get everyone on board. Like John Lydgate's saying reminds us “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. I had my three types of people, approvers, neutrals and disapprovers. Could I approve of myself knowing this? Yes I could, if I examined my intention in writing the blog.
Resting in our intention
It is helpful to think about the intention behind our actions. When our intention has been to be kind we can rest in that regardless of the result. My intention was to be kind, to share what has been helpful to me. How this was received and how others responded to it was not in my control. What was in my control was my intention and how I responded to their response. Instead of hoping on that negative thought train of fear and doubt it is more helpful to
The secret of my own happiness lies in doing my best to benefit others. Whether or not I can be of benefit to them is not up to me (the thirds truism), it’s up to them. It is still important that I see myself do my best to try to help and then let go of the result. It is liberating to get that ‘worried Maree’ who is seeking impossible approval from everybody, out of the way and do my best to share what I have found useful with those that want to know and then let go of outside approval or appreciation. I can give that approval to myself knowing I have done my best. Peace of mind and happiness are my rewards.
It is interesting to think about times I have not been able to truthfully say I have had a kind intention. Times I have wanted to get someone back, be righteous, judgmental, selfish etc. I cannot rest in my kind intention then, so what do I do? Feel guilty is not the right answer, although I have done that many times. Lets look at what to do in next weeks blog The difference between guilt and regret.
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