Be strong

There are many people who are being abused on a daily basis who don’t even realise it. When other people mention abuse, these people imagine the horrors of sexual and other physical forms of abuse, but it’s most pernicious form is psychological abuse. A large number of the people being psychologically abused think that either it is normal, or it is their fault, or they deserve it.

It is not normal for the people close to you to put you down, to undermine you, to attack you verbally or in any other way. It should not be normal for people in your wider circle to do so either. If they do this it is NOT because of you, it IS because of them. They have a problem, rather than dealing with that problem they are going to punish you.

Additionally, anyone who seeks to isolate and/or control you is abusing you. People who love you will support you and encourage you to live your own life as far as their self-confidence allows them to.

No one deserves to be undermined or abused in any way. But we all have to take responsibility for our own problems and actions, we need to be brave enough to reach out to other people when we need help. It is a very strong thing to do, to reach out and ask when you realise that you can’t solve your problems alone.

I wish you all that strength in those moments of self doubt, we are social animals, we are stronger together when we support each other. Jealousy and fear are what make us weak.

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Common Sense?

As I said on facebook the other day, “common sense truly is the least common of all senses”. I feel honoured to have many friends who do possess it, but I am afraid we may be in a minority. I find it sad to see so many people are drawn to prejudice and discrimination, I think it is because they lack feelings of self confidence and self worth.

At the moment this world is a dreadful mess. There are so many unhappy people. People who should have no cause to be unhappy. I often feel I should be doing more, doing better, or at least doing different.
But I find every day is a struggle, as it is for most people. We all do the best we can, we don’t have the emotional, let alone financial, resources to do better.

When we look hard enough we can see that our governments keep us under pressure and isolate us as much as they can. It means we don’t have the resources to do anything about them or the systems they attempt to impose on us.
Currently our system seems to attempt to destroy self confidence and feelings of self worth, self respect etc. especially in the young. The education system is under constant pressure to under educate and undervalue the very people it should be supporting and building up.
The welfare system is designed in such a way that it is difficult for people to get the benefits they are entitled to. There is no automatic payment of entitlement, but a constant stream of hurdles and disruptions, that make survival all some people can manage (and others can’t even manage that).

This is all backed by a political system which doesn’t penalize those who deliberately misuse their power. They see their system as a fair entitlement, even though they have far greater resources at their disposal than the people they vilify and demonise. The slackers and the shirkers are not in the grass roots, they are at the “top”.

Added to a corrupt and self-serving government we have a media that has bought titillation over information. Over the last nearly one hundred years, since the inception of the BBC in the UK, the televisual media has moved further and further from it’s stated aims of informing and educating. Instead of revelling in the huge variety of audiences that are available to them, they have constantly focused more and more on the lowest common denominator. Instead of inspiring, TV is numbing. And they wonder why their popularity is waning.
We are immensely complex beings when we are allowed to be. For our mental health we need to indulge in a variety of activities and interests. We are multi-dimensional beings, not cogs in a big machine. But there is so little recognition of this that it is not surprising that many people feel they have no interest in the culture that they live in.

What we see from the people who should have our interests at heart is basic divide and rule philosophy. This is typical short term, short sighted thinking. We are all human and we are all in this boat together. Sometimes we need specific space to work through issues, but male, female, young, old, gay, straight, any skin colour, any physical or mental health problems (or lack of them), any religious affiliation (or not) we are on this beautiful planet together. and we need to see where we have shared interests in keeping both ourselves and our planet alive and thriving.

To counter all this negativity, all these attempts to drive us apart, all this pressure to conform to a more and more limited selection of stereotypes, we need to combine and subvert. We can do that. We will all benefit from doing that. And, we can do that with love and forgiveness in our hearts. Forgiveness for those who did not understand, did not see. They have problems and demons that make their lives too difficult to look up, to see the bigger picture.

Understanding will have to serve for those who did what they have done, who have been short sighted and selfish, with awareness and deliberation. And that understanding will give us a starting place to build our society so that such people can never hold positions of power again.

We can build a better, more loving world, we need to do that firstly by taking responsibility for ourselves. So many people seem not to be aware that only I am responsible for my actions, no one else is; I am not responsible for anyone else’s actions, they are.

In all honesty I can’t make you do anything you really don’t want to, and you can’t make me do anything. We can exert pressure on each other that may make us feel that we have to, but everyone has a sticking point, beyond which they will not be pushed.

If we talk to each other, if we are willing to see each other as valid human beings, we can learn new things, not by force, but by negotiation, mutual understanding, and, compromise (compromise is not a dirty word, unless you are talking about compromising your moral stand point).
Compromise is how humans (and many other animals) get on. It is meeting in the middle and everyone giving a little bit of ground, so that no one is standing on anyone else’s toes. Give and take, balance, mutual respect…

That has to be a good starting point. It seems like common sense.

Smile!

In this day of insanity, as so many days before, we need to hold fast to what we know to be right. We are all human beings first, even before the beliefs and experiences that lead us to feel we are different. We survived on this planet long before anyone invented money, and we will do so again, after money has faded away as a bad memory.

We have changed the way we live our lives to a point where we have little contact with the truths that previous generations understood deep in their bones. The reality that life is nasty, brutish and short, life is part of a cycle. In the midst of life we are in death. Tragic but unavoidable.

Last night I watch the faces of the people on their way home after work. There wasn’t a single smile. This is not what peoples lives should be. If you find you don’t smile on your way home, at least at the thought of what is waiting for you there, there is something fundamentally wrong with your life.

When you understand the truths of the natural world, you also understand that it is important to make your life as rich (not materially, but emotionally) as possible. To make sure you smile as often as possible; to be creative whenever you can; to be out in nature whenever possible; to often be with caring, interesting people; to be alone, at peace, when you can; to pursue things that interest you; to help others; to do mundane jobs when they need doing; to learn new things; this kind of variety all helps to make your life richer.

When I was a child I had little self confidence, I was also painfully shy. I had firstly to learn that I could stand on my own two feet, that I was capable of looking after, not just myself, but also others. That I was capable of at least as much as most other people.

Secondly, I learned that I didn’t need to be shy. Many people are only interested in themselves, they tend not to even see other people as real. People who are interested in you fall into two camps, those who are genuinely nice people, and those who need to use you to prop themselves up. The only ones whose opinion you need to care about are the genuinely nice people, and you don’t need to be shy with them, they’re not judging you.

We need to re-root ourselves both in nature and in genuine, caring relationships. We need to relearn that we are capable beings with abilities we would never have guessed if we hadn’t actually tried them.

We also need to step away from the awareness that there are so many people out there who know so much more than we do. All that awareness brings us is insecurity. We don’t need to be insecure. Insecurity is a wedge between people, it pushes us apart. It means that instead of valuing what we’ve got, we focus on what others have, or have achieved.

Each of us has a unique way of bringing things together, a unique way of looking at things, we can all create ripples, not tidal waves. But ripples can travel far and, if repeated often enough, create real change.

So, smile! You have much to smile about. Create ripples, the world needs to change, more now than for many generations. Be the change you want to see, and be joyful about it.

Good to Talk

Some people bring out the best in us, some people bring out the worst. Some people build us up, others bring us down. Sometimes we get it wrong about who does what.

In recent years I have had a crash course in the effects that the wrong people can have on our mental and physical well being. Firstly directly, and then indirectly. There really are toxic people out there, they make you sick, some of them don’t even realize that they have that effect on the people around them.

Some people are born with their brain short-circuited so that they cannot interact with other people in a healthy way, other people are so damaged by the people that they grew up with that they cannot stop themselves from damaging others. These people leave a trail of pain and destruction in their wake.

They don’t necessarily mean to. They just don’t know how to operate in a healthy, positive way. Some even convince themselves and the people around them that they are ok, that they are healthy and helpful human beings. Let’s face it, if you convince yourself first, everyone else is a doddle.

These are people to be pitied, they are in pain even if they can’t acknowledge it. They are still to be avoided. They need professional help, well meaning amateurs will find they have been drawn in and are being manipulated (professionals will not necessarily be immune to the manipulation, but it is their job, and they should make sure they have a decent support network to counteract the problems they come across).

So, if someone tries to undermine your self-confidence, even by extremely subtle means, be wary. If you find that a lot of your friendships have fallen apart since you met a new person, question why. Is it that you were ready to move on from your old friends? Or is it that this new person is trying to isolate you so that you have no one to call on? If you’re not sure, what does that tell you?

What do you make of it if someone has a knack for saying two words that then upset you for the rest of the day? Is it you that has a problem, or is it them? And if you think you have a mental health problem, please, please, please, don’t be afraid to talk about it.

Many years ago my teenage daughter said to me “everyone is messed up, in one way or another”. She wasn’t far wrong, we all of us have faults and weaknesses. Some can be worked out with just some life experience and one or two really good friends. Others need years of struggle, some even need medication (though I would always hesitate to take medication, it often treats symptoms rather than causes).

Be careful of your mental health, at least as careful as you are of your physical health. Be as kind and gentle with yourself as you would be of anyone else. And if you’re not kind and gentle with anyone, ask yourself why not. What are you so hurt and angry about? Perhaps your life would be happier if you could lose some of that anger? Perhaps it would be good to talk?