Archive for January, 2013

The Impulsive Other…

January 26, 2013

Is there someone in your life who’s always got some new idea, some great scheme to be getting excited about? Do they have trouble completing tasks, not good at staying focused? Do they drive you mad?

You may just be spending too much time with an Impulsive Person, someone who can’t sit still, who embraces new ideas and gets excited about a great many things and thinks this will be the solution, the next best thing, exactly what you should be doing.

All of us act on impulse from time to time: it’s a perfectly normal human behaviour. We act on our ‘gut feeling’, something instinctive without following it through with much thought. But Impulsive People spend most of their time not thinking things through, ignoring consequences, quitting their job, not seeing things through to the end. Think of your friend who can’t hold down a job, didn’t complete uni; can’t commit to a relationship – probably an Impulsive Personality in there.

impulsive or not

It’s all about NOW for Impulsive People. There may be consequences but they’re too far in the future to worry about. Impulsive People however, are more likely to over-eat, sleep around, self-harm and have a greater craving for drugs than their non-impulsive brothers and sisters. For the Impulsive Person it’s all about what’s right for them (not you) right now. This is what makes them so impossible to live with.

We need Impulsive People, they jolt us pedestrian, recidivist, fear-of-change lot out of our complacency: they help us to have an exciting time, a less boring life.

But living with, working for, or being the friend of an Impulsive Person can be very hard work. Here are some tips for managing and surviving your own Impulsive Other.

impulsive4

Your Friend – perhaps the easiest Impulsive Other to manage as friends do move in and out of your life and it is your choice whether to remain friends or ditch them after one too many impulsive episodes that hung just this side of sanity. When you’re young an impulsive friend is good fun. They encourage you to be silly, to take risks, to live your life large. And, without doubt there is a place for that. We would all be very boring people if we weren’t impulsive from time to time or took a few risks. The impulsive friend causes problems when two things happen – 1/ your values change and you want different things from life; and 2/ the impulsive behaviour becomes more than risky, in fact is life threatening.

What do you do to minimize damage from your Impulsive Friend?

There is no need to eliminate your impulsive friend from your life altogether.

1.Limit your time with them; ensure you’re not alone with them anymore. Don’t go on shopping sprees, drinking binges, or adventure holidays.

2.Help them to see their behaviour is damaging their life and your relationship – help them count to ten before acting, encourage them to do different things with their time and when you’re together.

impulsive 1

Your Boss – he wants quick answers, doesn’t allow you to think before you speak. He also shoots from the hip instead of pausing, thinking then speaking. He contradicts himself and often gives an impulsive, thoughtless answer in a situation. He’s not one for keeping minutes or agendas. Communication within the organisation is chaotic; people don’t know what is happening, what exactly their job is anymore. The impulsive boss is susceptible to new ideas – usually from outside the organisation, the latest conference he’s attended. He gets excited about things and before you know it, there it is: something new and shiny, that hasn’t been thought through, time impacted, work impacted – checked at all to see if it actually adds to the organisation. The impulsive boss is dangerous because of the way he can react to his staff; because he is so unmeasured in his responses he can react badly to people who don’t see the world as he does, or who actively disagree with him. He can personalise matters too much and make it his personal crusade to remove you from the organisation.

What can you do to manage your Impulsive Boss?

This can be very difficult and you may be better off moving to a different department or job, but there are some harm minimization things you can do.

1.Keep minutes of all meetings you have with your boss – your own version, do not rely on memory or his notes. If you can’t make notes in the meeting, then write an email confirming the discussion and what was agreed as soon as you can. This gives you a paper trail for when the proverbial hits the fan further down the track.

2.Keep communication channels open with others in your department or who also deal with your boss to triangulate what is happening in the organisation: so you know if you’re all being told the same thing. There is strength in numbers.

3.Keep your head down and ignore as much of the impulsiveness as possible – you know how to do your job, so get on with it. Yes, this can be very hard, but it is a way to cope. Remain true to your own integrity and standards, although it may seem impossible.

4.Remember, as an impulsive person your boss will most likely not see things through, will get bored with his current position or project and move on. He is more likely to leave than you are, as he’s more likely to make a large, expensive mistake due to his impulsiveness.

5.You need to decide if you can endure the misery of his management style or if it is better for you to move on.

impulsive5

Your Partner – an Impulsive Partner can be the most wonderful romantic person in the world. There are flowers at work, a sweet text or two in the day, a weekend in Paris for no reason at all. They keep you on your toes, but for all the right reasons, they seem devoted to you and up for fun and excitement at a moment’s notice. You live in a whirl of activity. In the beginning this is exactly what you want, but as you settle in you’ll see that a quiet night at home perhaps isn’t so easy for your partner, who finds just you, a DVD and a bottle of wine not quite enough for them. Watch for the person who can’t sit still, who moves from activity to activity, who has a range of windows open on their PC, playing games, checking their FP and Twitter account, flicking onto Amazon. Watch them buy things because they seemed too good a bargain to miss, watch them mismanage their money, watch them quit their job in a flash because something intolerable has happened, but they don’t have another job to go to. The problem is that it’s most likely you haven’t realised there was a problem until you were completely enmeshed with this person; living together, married, debts and/or children.

So, now you love them how do you live with them?

This is the hardest Impulsive Other to manage – your partner, your lover. You were swept away by their impulsiveness to begin with, but it’s wearing to live with, and unlike your friend or your boss your feelings are deeper and stronger so you need to be able to cope.

1.Pinpoint their major impulsive weakness – it could be gambling, drugs, alcohol, spending recklessly – can you live with this? If not, if their weakness is too damaging to your life together you must go. Impulsive people do become addicts and most of us can’t help an addict unless they help themselves.

2.You can’t afford to be utterly dependent on your Impulsive Partner – you need a job, your own friends and time out from your partner. If you are in control of your life their damage can be minimized. You can help them spend less, drink less, gamble less. If they throw in their job the end of the world won’t come if you can still pay the mortgage while they get over themselves.

3.You will need to confront them with their damaging behaviours, see how they can change, if you can help them minimise the damage to your lives together, or help them get help from a professional.

4.It’s much harder to leave someone you love but if their impulsive ways are too extreme you may have no alternative in the end, especially if children are involved.

james dean

We all need a bit of recklessness, a bit of who-gives-a-f* in our lives. There’s nothing wrong with spontaneity but when it dips over into impulsiveness you need to know the warning signs and what you need to do to cope with it. (images courtesy Google Images)

 

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6 Reasons Why Chocolate is Always the Right Thing

January 19, 2013

Do we really need reminding why chocolate is one of the best things in the world? Really, you do? Alright then, six reasons to be going on with…

1.It’s good for you – yes it is, something in it is good for the brain, the darker the better when you suffer from darkness (depression) yourself

choc heart waterfall

2.It’s convenient – to buy as its sold in all its variations absolutely everywhere

dairy milk

3.It’s convenient  – to eat, on the train, in the car, in bed, after dinner, even (although I do baulk at this myself) for breakfast

loose chox

4.It can be shared – break off a piece of dairy milk, a chunk of Toblerone, pass your birthday box of chocs around – everyone will love you even more

truffles

5.You can have as much or as little as you like and these days of 5:2 dieting it can count as diet food as well (why not??)

chox & roses

6.It makes you happy – just the smell, the crinkle of the wrapper; the knowledge that there’s a bit of chocolate in your drawer at work, in a secret place at home – not to mention the taste, the joy of that smooth silky stuff on your tongue.

i love you chox

Yes, chocolate is joy in one of its simplest forms, so indulge – life is too short to live a moment longer in a chocolate free zone. (Images courtesy Google Images)

Build on the Sand – mid week poem

January 16, 2013

To build on the sand, a wise man once said, is to risk it all

But build your enterprise on the rock of certainty, decency and truth

Indeed in the faith of the goodness and ability of men

And you will prevail

You will win the day and the war

Your name, like the greats of the ancient world, will live on

shifting sands2

 

Look not to the sands

They shift and play with you

Shape change and shimmer in the brightest sun

They cannot withstand the winds that rush through everything

Changing the rules, shifting the goalposts

Prolonging the journey, with the final destination always obscured,

Always out of reach

Doomed to failure

desert sands

 

The ark was built of wood to float on a violent sea

No-one builds an airplane while flying it

The house build on sand is washed away by the flood

Destroyed in the storm.

An enterprise build in trust, in truth may be shaken,

May incur casualties but it will endure

It will carry its passengers in safety and surety

and all who travel in it will arrive at their destination as intended

Better, stronger, wiser

Ready to embrace the new day, the new world, the new order.

dawn

 

(Images courtesy Google Images)

Nature v Human Nature – for Barb

January 12, 2013

The world is an angry intemperate beast. She loves us, she hates us. Parts of the world suffer floods while others are devastated by fires. Cyclones rage, famines caused by drought cut swathes through populations and without a doubt the climate is changing and we will feel the wrath of Gaia again and again in the coming years.

gaia1

Natural disasters are just that: nasty destroying harpies from Nature, things we have very little control over. Who wants to die in a tsunami, lose everything in fire, flood or storm? None of us. Ever. Yet we do, because we live on this planet and no place is safe, not really, not guaranteed, so we build our houses and hope they are rooted in the rock, not the shifting, intemperate sands. And given how the climate is changing how can we know where will be safe next year, in five years or a hundred?

cyclone

My beloved step-mother Barbara has lost everything in the recent fires that swept through South-eastern Tasmania – her house, her goods and chattels; all her lovely paintings. She is in shock, devastated by her loss. But she is lucky, and I know she knows she is, despite her pain, her feelings of betrayal and unfairness at such an act at such a time of life. Yet, luck seems to have abandoned her, a lifetime of possessions, of treasures taken by the flames, burnt in an evil inferno. How can this be fair? She is a good woman: honest, decent, creative, artistic, loving (even where not deserved) and generous. She has lived a big life, a good, worthwhile life. So why has such a terrible thing happened to her?

tas burning

Sadly, goodness does not always elicit rewards. Bad things happen to good people. And despite this hideous event, Barb will recover. Because she is strong and she is still lucky – the irreplaceable things of life – the people and her cat – are still here. Nothing died in the fire – yes things were lost, things that can never be truly replaced but people once lost are gone forever and Barb has her loved ones around her to cherish her and keep her strong as she rebuilds her life. This is not to diminish her (or others who have also had everything reduced to cinders in this latest Antipodean inferno) loss but to remember that in the midst of despair if we look closely enough there is enough luck to keep us going. This is not the time to dwell on the fairness or justice of matter – that way madness lies. I say again: bad things happen to good people – there is no reason, no why, no divine retribution: it just happens that way.

busfires

In the midst of Nature’s melt downs – the earthquake in Christchurch, the Boxing Day tsunami (see The Impossible for a truly remarkable true life story about luck and the vagaries of Nature), Hurricane Katrina, etc – there are always stories of amazing survival: the indomitable nature of the human spirit prevails amidst carnage and terror. Yes, some of us are lucky to survive – why one family in Thailand and not another? But some of us make our own luck. There’s another mysterious fact of life: some people are luckier than others, things just go their way.

tsunami

Life is a dilemma; living means joy and pain. We struggle and sometimes we win and some days we lose. It’s too trite by far to say that it’s what we learn in the struggle that is important. It’s not that easy to pick yourself up after life screws you over so comprehensively. Loss is hard for all of us, no matter the magnitude – a lost game of football, a missed promotion, a rejecting lover, the loss of face, a failed business, the repossession of your home and assets; a failed marriage, a stillborn child, the death of a spouse. These things happen to us – if we’re lucky we only experience a few of them. Some of us get more than our fair share. What marks us though is how we deal with such things. It is easy to fall prey to self pity and despair and give up. God knows, no-one would blame us. But after the pain has eased, after the shock is over, after the constant negative-destructive thoughts have ebbed away there is space and time to resume life – to rebuild, to start again.

cyclone t survivor

Lucky people know what could have been – how much worse things might have been. They count their blessings, and move on with their lives, remaking their futures, being lucky to be alive and strong enough to start again.

survivors

The world can only beat you if you let it. (Images courtesy Google Images and Ryan Curtis)

First: Know Yourself

January 5, 2013

There you are in the mirror staring back, the face you know best, have known longest: the one you excavated for pimples when you were young, the one you examine for lines and wrinkles and different spots now. Regardless of beauty or age, when you stare at yourself do you recognise yourself?

To cut to the chase: is the face you see the same as the one the world sees? I’m not talking make up or plastic surgery but something that goes to the heart of us. We all have an image of who we are but does this image accord with others? Moreover, does it matter?

venetian mirror

An anecdote for you. My father had (may still have despite the contrary evidence) a view of himself as a good father. When he talked about my brother and myself to others he sounded like a proud, devoted father. My step-mother, who was blinded by love in those long gone days, was especially taken by this view as her soon to be ex-husband had not been that enamoured of his own kids.  My father’s image as a good father was one of the big ticks in my step-mother’s list of good qualities in a husband. But she never spoke to my brother or I on this matter. She never checked for evidence. Had she done so she would have found that my father’s version of himself did not accord with his children’s version – either of us! (And perhaps been more prepared for the real John who came along a little later…)

Are you like this – presenting a view of yourself to the world that you believe but does not stack up? Do you think you’re a decent, fair person that your colleagues admire and trust? Is that based in fact or delusion?

escher image

Many of us suffer from delusions about who we are and how we are in the world. I’ve recently watched A Beautiful Mind again, the story of the amazing Mathematician, John Nash, who suffered serious delusions about who he was, to such an extent that he was committed to an asylum for psychiatric treatment on several occasions. He suffered from schizophrenia, which manifested itself in delusions of grandeur, amongst other things. Yet he thought he was fine. Anorexics suffer in similar ways – who they see in the mirror is not the person who is really there.

homer in the mirror

Are you like that, so lost in your own head that you have no idea how you present to the rest of the world? Mark Zuckerberg is another who seemed to have problems with who he wanted to be and how he really was – according to ‘his’ film The Social Network (aren’t you impressed with the quality of my evidence – films as facts!?). Was he really an arse-hole or, as the girl at the end of the movie said, or just trying to hard to be one? Would he have been as successful if he’d been a bit more human, a little less obsessed with having his own way?

mirror

So, where are you? Is your version of yourself in accord with the world? Are you the good person you think you are, doing the right thing at work and at home? How do you know? This is where friends – trusted friends – come to the fore. You need people in your life that will tell you the truth about yourself. Mostly you will need to ask them directly as it is not that easy to tell someone they’re a fool, not who they think they are. It is hard to tell people the truth about themselves (just as it is hard to hear it – remember not to shoot the messenger), so help your friends and loved ones to help you by asking specific questions.

good v evil images

Remember the Emperor and his new clothes, remember Hitler and other dictators, who surround themselves with sycophants and supplicants who would not speak the truth about what the leader is doing. Are you surrounded by a coterie of people who dare not tell you the truth about you or your behaviour?

Step away from the mirror, reject the false image; consider how you are in the world. At the start of this new year it is timely to consider who you are, how you travel in the world and if you are leaving the footprints you want.

cat is lion

There is no point in striving for some delusional idea of perfection but it is worthwhile being in this world truthfully and with integrity. Examine yourself, critically, honestly. Ask for feedback from people you trust, those you know who will give you an honest answer. Then, it’s up to you – remain as you are or change what you think needs to be changed to be the person you think you are or want to be. (Images courtesy Google Images)

7 Small Wisdoms for a Happier New Year

January 3, 2013

2013 is under way; the old year is gone and the new is here. In the spirit of edging our way to a better life let me offer these small wisdoms to live by this year.m

Be kind to yourself. You must take care of yourself in this world, nourish your being – physically, mentally, spiritually and most of all, don’t beat yourself up over stupid mistakes – let others do that for you (and they will!). Forgive yourself, pick yourself up and start again. Remember you are a good decent person and we all stuff up from time to time.

kind to self

Listen to music that makes you feel good. You’ve got your own list of feel good songs so make up a play-list and play them often! Start your day with something cheerful, that makes you feel strong and powerful. Take pleasure in the music – from the music. I think of Love is in the Air – John Paul Young, it makes me smile every time I hear it.

JPY

Pick your fights. We all have battles we must fight and that we need to win. But to spend your time in conflict is highly detrimental – to your work, your family, your well being and your health. Learn when to stand firm and when to give way – a little loss is not the end of the world. The tree that bends in the high wind is the one who stands tall the longest. Sometimes you have to render unto Cesar what is Cesar’s, while remembering it’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees. Tricky but you need to work it out. Don’t waste your energy on battles you can’t win – withdraw when need be; thrust and parry when need be.

fighting

Make achievable plans – only a little way in the future. Small achievable chunking of things is what keeps us going and gets us through. Having something to work towards is good on many levels – it keeps us working, it keeps us focused, maintaining our motivation and it keeps us sane. How much easier to cope on Monday mornings knowing we have a week in Venice coming up in six weeks? How much easier to go to the gym knowing the kilos are falling off and the next size down is but a week away?

small goals

Have something to look forward to – similar to achievable plans but more in the small pleasures zone of life. This is can be a simple or elaborate as you like – such as a drink with a friend, dinner out with your lover, the pictures and popcorn with your children, a long walk with your dog. Of course, this is where chocolate treats come utterly to the fore. We all deserve a treat in life – at least once a week to keep us going, to remind us of the sweetness in our lives.

choc

Do something for yourself (and others) at least once a week. I’ve talked about this before and it is similar to being kind to yourself and to others. Here I refer to your passion, your reason for being. So make sure you spend some time each week writing or painting, or playing your sax. You can do or make something that makes you feel good and could be shared with another – baking is ideal here, or dancing.

something for others

Love the ones you’re with – just like Crosby, Stills and Nash sang years ago – take care of the ones you’re with. Cherish your friends, near and far (thank you FB once more), look after your colleagues and your lovers. Take care of them and they will take care of you. Do not – EVER – under-estimate the importance of human contact, of relationships. When we are gone, it will be our friends and loved ones who gather to farewell us, who will remember us and carry us in their hearts. It won’t be your work, your boss. Love the ones you’re with while they’re here, while you’re here. Don’t leave it too late.

PB hug

Stay small, but act big with integrity and honour – that will make the world a better place this year, for you and for others. Happy New Year. (Images courtesy Google Images)