Archive for November, 2012

Instinctive confidence

Posted: November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

Some months ago I wrote a blog about trust. I argued that instincts will mostly always let you know who you can trust and that it wasn’t wise to go through life looking out for that person or set of circumstances that set you up for a fall. Ummm.

That is still true enough but what I didn’t consider in that post was the role of instinct. Instinct is your inner voice, whether it’s a thought in the back of your mind or a feeling in your gut that warns you that things are not what they seem. But then there are the times when you don’t listen to that good sense, that you put your wants before that inner voice. That’s when you set up the conditions for a fall or disappointment. When you fail to listen to your instincts, you get to have that experience that you didn’t need to have. What a waste of your time, energy and emotion.

So why don’t we listen to instincts? They are there for a reason and our ancestors used them to stay alive in primitive times. Is it because we live in a ‘civilised’ world and we think we don’t need them? Perhaps the reason can be found in the confidence we have in ourselves.

Whenever we don’t listen to instinct, we are really doubting our ability to be right about something. Lack of confidence is a complex thing. It can come down to our conditioning as a child, even how much confidence our parents had in themselves. If they didn’t have that confidence then they are hardly going to be able to instill it in their child. Or it can be as a result of the hand we were dealt growing up – the experiences that eroded our self-esteem and belief in ourself.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. If you’re having a run of bad luck, don’t despair, start listening to your inner voice. Pay attention and stop putting yourself in those situations that you know ahead of time are not going to be in your best interests. Have a little faith in yourself and start acting like you believe it.

 

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Memories are an interesting phenomenon – they can conjure the past and all the associated feelings of that time, and they can be a tool for learning too. Today I went on a short road trip, with Australian storyteller of the 80’s and 90’s singer Paul Kelly on the sound system.

Music is one of the links to the past, and those feelings will often provoke memories too. I did a lot of driving back in Paul Kelly’s era with the radio blaring, and a lot of fresh faced thinking and musing about life. Paul’s a unique singer in that he is able to capture the mood of the era. Back in the 80’s/90’s we were more concerned with social justice than our mortgage or whether we were going to Noosa or Phuket for a summer holiday. We cared about Indigenous rights, and world peace, and experimented with spiritualism. We ‘found’ eastern philosphophy and started quoting Zen and Bhuddist principles. We did yoga and meditated. Yes, they were interesting times.

In those days I was at uni, living the free life and learning all about English literature and writing. We chewed the fat in class, which is an Australian expression for talking a lot and listening a lot. We mused and philosophised, and generally thought we could solve the world’s problems. Well, I was later to find out that the first step in changing the world was to change yourself and try hard to live by your principles. And you might be rather lonesome in this because a lot of people actually do care about money, power and ‘the self’ first. A kind of narcissism if you like that characterised the mid 90’s and beyond.

And I also learnt that in the end it’s pointless to judge anyone else for their beliefs. It is what it is, but occasionally I also found that I come across like minded people and that is simply joyful. But back to Paul Kelly.

Those stories he told had feeling and real sentiment. Listening to them on the road trip I was catapulted back in time, when it was OK to feel something and to think out aloud. Now it’s not so OK. We hide our feelings, our shame, and we don’t talk out loud about them because we don’t want to be perceived as weak in a materialistic society. We don’t say how we really feel because ‘trust’ has been lost and we turn up our nose at sentiment. Or do we?

I have found that sometimes feelings will generate the most honest, open dialogue amongst the most cynical of people. We actually do want to talk and given the opportunity, we want to feel human – that someone understands us amidst the chaos of modern living.

And that’s a cause for optimism and a round of heartfelt applause.

We all know friendship shouldn’t be taken for granted. We value our friends. Sure. Sure we do. But in the race that is life, with a myriad of things on our mind – work, home, children, keeping fit, watching the diet, looking after extended family, friends tend to slide down the ladder of priority.

It’s not until we’re in need that we look to our friends to come calling and if they are true friends, they’ll be there. I’ve had many good friends over my lifetime, a handful of whom are still there. We might not see each other every day or every month, but whenever we reconnect, we pick right up where we left off.

That’s the thing about friends, they understand you. Sometime in the distant past, when you were annoying, or going through a drama queen stage, or being egotistical and selfish, they sized you up and decided that the good outweighed the bad. They decided that you always had something to offer them, and they wanted to keep offering you their best. Maybe it was the way you laughed together, or the fact you could still be talking six hours later when they came to visit and still only have told them a third of what was happening in your life since last you met.

Whatever it was, there was a glue that held you together and made you decide that you would always have parallel lives, that you would never lose touch for too long on life’s travels.

And then there are the friends that stay only a short-time. You go through some pretty awesome experiences together, get along well and share the good times but when the bad times come, the glue just wasn’t strong enough. Or it’s simpler, you just move on with your lives and make new friends.

I always guiltily approach any friendship ending, because I value friends highly. I question why the friendship didn’t last. Examine the nuances and try to determine what went wrong, but the simple truth is that not all people are meant to continue the journey with you which makes the ‘stayers’ all the more important.

I like to think that destiny brought the ‘stayers’ into my life – like when my husband showed up on the scene, or that my three wonderful children came into this world as mine to nurture and grow, or the sisters I was was lucky enough to get. I sure got lucky with destiny, it seems.

The ‘stayers’ are all special people. They are there with advice and support when the chips are down, and they’re there for the good times as well. I have so many ‘ah ha’ moments with the ‘stayers’ and we’ve weathered some storms too. Petty annoyances that you have to get over, and the more serious like having an argument and being strong enough to say sorry. Or breaking that year-long silence that resulted from something stupid one of us said, but neither one of us addressed at the time.

Friends, the ‘stayers’ are gold amongst the rubble of life. They are not false shadows, only there when the sun is shining. They are there in the darkest of hours before the dawn. Thank God for the ‘stayers’. They have taught me what real friendship is.