Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Purpose, shortcomings and more

It's easy to focus on our shortcomings. Mine are quite a long list. Here goes ..
- I have a low concentration span at times and find it hard to focus. (Although, that said, this could partly be because I'm doing things I REALLY don't want to do or enjoy doing).
- I feel like I'm quite lazy at times. Or, at least, I need time out to recharge - part of the character makeup of any highly sensitive person.
- I don't have a clue when it comes to marketing and selling myself.

.. There are more, plus I seem to have a minor case of writer's block at this moment and I'm not sure where this post is going, but I'll carry on and see what happens.

The idea is not to gloss over these things by trying to positive think your way out of them - you really do have to tackle your demons if you are ever going to make a success of your life.

This happens one step at a time. Just like you're not going to get from a regular employee to a CEO in quick time, your subconscious programming is not going to change overnight.

In fact, the 'lulls' that seem to happen all too often are part of the journey. The times where nothing seems to be happening, when you feel you're back to square one, wondering if there's any point in trying.

WHAT IS MY PURPOSE? 

I have often felt that I fell behind early in life; in reality that's probably true - I certainly wouldn't relive my childhood again if I was given the opportunity to start over.

Part of me just wants to prove that it is still possible to live the life of your dreams, even when you're getting older and even when your credentials don't seem to stack up.

I still don't know yet how this is going to happen - what I do know is that there is something in me that believes this is possible, and without question I have a life story and experiences that can be used to help and inspire others.

So on we go ....

A picture I took in the Yorkshire Dales when it started to
get foggy. Sometimes the road ahead isn't clear but if you
keep following the path, the rewards are worth it. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Diary of a jobseeker again ..

I've done diary of a jobseeker posts in the past, when I have been out of work. Previous posts along these lines include this and this.

Some of what I say might be similar to what I've mentioned in those posts - however, I have changed a lot since then, so maybe my perspective might be a little different in some ways.

Image courtesy of Pixabay
So what is happening? Well I have had 3 job interviews, none of them successful. I am starting to think that getting my previous job so easily was something of a miracle - divine intervention, if you like. Because this time it ain't proving easy. Plus I'm back signing on at the Jobcentre, a place I hate. The way they treat jobseekers isn't particularly humane - and people who are more vulnerable than myself could really struggle with the whole thing.


I am still more than conscious of being split between 'This whole system is crazy, I need to be doing something for myself' and 'I need money, therefore I need to be looking for jobs, I have no idea how to truly change my life'.

Career has been of my 'biggies' for a long time, the other one being relationships, although the latter has seen some movement at last - so I guess the one thing that really needs sorting out is career. Or does it?

As I've mentioned before, I do compare my 'achievements' to that of other people - and when I do this, it can be hard to not feel a bit intimidated. I'm certainly frustrated that, up to now, my paid work involves Accounts Administrator, Administrator, etc. Whilst these jobs are important, I know I am capable of more. But I have been a square peg in a round hole for too long.

However, I've realised that the whole journey is not just about focusing on the externals - what you do for living doesn't matter quite so much as inner peace and opening the heart. Self-belief is important here - even though it might not be easy to change your life, if you don't believe it's possible, it will never happen. I do believe that opportunities will open up the more your heart becomes open and receptive - although you also have to take advantage of those opportunties.

My mind is still telling me that there's no escape from the situation I'm in. But it is true that you have to be okay with uncertainty, and keep trusting when there's no evidence that things will get any better. Sometimes, things will feel worse.

Anyway that's how I feel at the moment. This whole subject is taking up a lot of energy right now. Maybe that needs to change.

Laters

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The gap between where I am and where I'd like to be

Okay. So let's start with a bit of reality here. Most people are not living the life they would truly like. At the same time, most people would rather have the so called security of a paycheck, mortgage and car rather than take a risk and do what their heart would truly like.

This is the easier path - and perhaps for a lot of people, it's a better option to stay in the 9 to 5 environment. But for certain people, it becomes, in time, fairly obvious that this environment is not suited to them.

This is me. I don't necessarily hate working in a job - in fact my previous job was pretty good - but, deep down, I have probably known for years that a full time job is not really for me. I certainly have no doubt that the western work system of today is unnatural and that it keeps us from spending quality time with family and friends.

At the same time, I have never been quite sure what else I can do that can also provide the money I need. There hasn't been an obvious door opened or an obvious calling as to what I should be doing .. well .. I'm sure, considering my life experience, that one of my callings is to support people with mental health issues or going through tough times .. but I'm not sure how to make a start on that without it involving money or a qualification that I don't currently have.

THE UNDERDOG

I will always support people who have had it harder in life than many .. and it's absolute claptrap to say that everyone is on an equal footing. Some people really do have a harder deal than others.

I often feel inferior because it seems like most people who are doing what seems like their purpose in life have been far more successful previously than what I have ever been. I have always had low paid jobs and never been what would be termed as 'successful' in the conventional work environment. And I've found it hard to get past this. I guess I feel like a bit of an underdog.

The fear

Whilst I am more willing to trust the universe than some, things have definitely come to a head now. I know I can't be relying on administration jobs for much longer. I certainly won't have enough to retire on unless I make changes (although the whole goal of retirement after your prime years are behind you seems a bit odd to me).

But the voice still nags in my head that says:
- You need the money.
- You won't be able to do what you love and get paid for it.
- There isn't anything realistic that you can do.
- You don't have the energy and commitment to be able to make something work.
- You don't really know what you want.

In other words, the gap between where I'm 'at' now (ie unemployed, lack of qualifications, uncertainty, supposed to be spending x amount of time looking for work) and where I'd like to be (travelling, mentoring people, writing, helping people with mental health issues, etc.)

TRUSTING

The middle ground between where I'm at and where I want to be, is a tricky one to negotiate. It can be even more confusing when you listen to advice from others - some people say don't quit your day job until a certain time, whereas others will say that you will be supported when you follow your heart.

There is no right or wrong advice here - I think you just need to do what feels right to you. And, perhaps most importantly, take one step at a time rather than try to work out the full picture. I know how frustrating it can be when you don't seem to be getting very far. And I'm feeling it today. Sometimes I wonder how I'll ever be able to escape the rat race.

As a wise person once said, sometimes all you can do is 'trust the process'.

FOCUS ON THE INTERNAL

It's so easy to get focused on the outside circumstances and what is going wrong .. but, one of the most important things I've learnt is to focus more upon myself and how I perceive the situation and what beliefs I have that causes this situation to arise. For example, my beliefs that I'll never be able to find the right vocation in life and get paid enough for it. So this is what I intend to be doing and I intend to go with the flow and allow life to happen as it will.

Perhaps I will talk a bit more about this subject in due course.


Friday, 7 April 2017

Mental health and managing it

We still have a long way to go before we talk about mental health in the way that we should. In fact, the taboo around this subject (as well as the taboo around other subjects such as sex and money) is surely one of the reasons why a number of people are still struggling more than they need to.

It's no shame to admit that you're struggling, and, even if you have what seems to be a successful life or even if you're super spiritual or religious, it doesn't mean you're immune to life's struggles.

Right now as I write this, things are going quite well for me, but I am feeling the all too common symptom of brain fog and finding it hard to concentrate on things. I have been doing a course about Awareness in Mental Health Problems, and part of the course book talked about ADHD and it's symptoms. Whilst I'm not overly keen on labels like ADHD (partly because it says it's a 'disorder') I do think it helps to be aware of how your brain works and the things you struggle with.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

I do find it hard to concentrate and get things done at times - which can be quite annoying if you have good intentions of making a difference and setting things up such a website or a group. The amount of times I've defaulted back to Facebook or gone into freeze mode because I wasn't focused, must be well into triple figures now.

Luckily, I don't suffer from severe mental health issues any more, but I have been there - and I wouldn't wish some of the things I dealt with on anyone.

I think one thing that helps is to try and put a positive slant on things. So for example, with the breakdown I suffered in 2006 - which really was hell on earth - I have written about it - the whole book has not been finished yet and to be honest I have been a bit slack on working on it - maybe it will get published one day.

For things like ADHD and its symptoms, it can be hard to manage at times but writing about it can make at least one person feel like they're not alone. It's also important, as much as possible, to ensure that you are in the right environment - without doubt, part of the reason children diagnosed with ADHD can 'play up' is because the one-size-fits-all school environment is not suited to them. But that's another matter for another time. I have been in work environments which were so unsuited to me and I suffered for it. Work stress is truly awful.

As I've mentioned, awareness of your 'issues' does help, even if it may not solve your problems. I think part of my restlessness is because I am a traveller at heart and just want to see more of this beautiful world. The last few years have been very challenging but things are certainly changing for the better.

In terms of managing your mental health, all you can really do is do your best. I can't really give advice because everyone is different - for some, seeing your GP and being prescribed medication might be the best course of action, for others, it might be a case of doing more exercise. You know yourself better than everyone else so listen to your heart or do what you feel is right, one step at a time.

Any comments would be most welcome.


Monday, 3 April 2017

This is where I'm at. Life, work and more.

Hi folks,

So as most of my friends will know, my previous job finished 3 weeks ago as the company I worked for was unable to keep me on. This has, once again, put me into the 'not working' category, although any sort of label doesn't bother me too much.

This has helped me to have a bit of a look at myself. More specifically, how I view my current situation and where my place is or should be in this world. To make a bit more sense of everything, let's backtrack a little.

I have never desired a successful career in the 9 to 5 world. When I was a Christian, I had desires to go into full time Christian work. This was perhaps some indication that my true heart was elsewhere, certainly not in the jobs I was doing. I worked in accounts for a while, moved up north, did some temporary work, and found myself long term unemployed for just over a year.

It was horrible because I knew that I did not want to keep doing the same work, but I felt like there was no alternative options and eventually found another job in accounts. This got very stressful after a particular point, perhaps due to a huge level of staff turnover. That job finished and I got a temporary job that I hated. Some times I would go home so stressed and wonder how I could carry on. I thought if work continued like that, I would go to an early grave.

This job finished and again I was unemployed for a little while - spent some time in France volunteering, but that didn't work out as well as I'd have liked. Came back to England in a terrible state after an incident involving a family member and should probably have tried to get some time off from job searching, but I didn't .. and a few months later, I got a job that was even worse. I would spend whole weekends recovering from the stress of the work week and dreaded going into work. There is no way work should ever be that stressful - I would not wish work stress on anyone. After my brother died - and part of me still feels guilty about this because I'm not sure if the powers that me would have been so lenient with me if that hadn't happened - I quit that job and took some time out. All I have been able to do is just to look at the bigger picture and not think too much why certain things happen.

In 2016, I got my first decent job in a while - the one that has recently finished. This has helped me get back on my feet and I would have stayed on if the position had been made permanent. But it wasn't. Soooo .. I'm taking stock of the situation and the kind of thoughts that are happening in my head go something like this:

- I want to transition out of the 9 to 5 world, have a few potential ideas but no idea how to put them into reality.
- I don't have enough motivation or ability to work lots of hours, which may/will be required if I am ever to escape the rat race.
- I don't have the qualifications or career success.
- It will take ages to change my life and I'm not sure I have the patience for it.
- I don't have enough support needed to make a big change.
- I'm scared of a financial crisis.
- I'm scared of making the wrong decision.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Am I going to start writing again? Acceptance. And a few things about me ..

Hi folks,

This last year, writing has not been a creative outlet that I have felt compelled to use too often. As I'm sure I said before, I needed to take a bit of time away from writing, to 'discover' myself a bit more, as it were.
Without doubt, the biggest life lesson this last year has been about accepting EVERY part of me. After years of trying to fix myself and wishing I had my shit sorted, it kind of dawned on me that this tactic doesn't really get your shit sorted.
As the excellent Jeff Foster says - 'your problems are not there to be healed, they are there to be held'. Whilst there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel better, if we approach things from the perspective of 'This thing needs fixing - NOW' (or needs fixing 10 years ago :) ) then those pesky little monkeys are likely to stay with you.
So I've had to learn to cultivate more of the following attitudes and realisations:
- OK, I don't like this, but this is how it is.
- I feel so inadequate in this part of my life, but, maybe, I can accept it and allow however I feel.
- Acceptance that my personality is very sensitive and that I can and often do get wound up very easily. This is hard.
- Even when I feel utterly pissed off and feel like giving up, that doesn't mean that I've failed. I just need to get up again.

I still have bad days, and times where I've just had enough. Times where the things I say to myself are not particularly nice. Times when I resist and fight against what is happening in the present moment.

But, this is part of my journey. It's unlikely I'm ever going to be the most super positive person in town. But I don't think that life gives you a higher score just because you are able to be in a state of bliss all the time. Sadness is all part of the journey, and, perhaps, if people were able to accept their own sadness and the sadness of others, the world would be a better place.

Anyway .. that's a few musings.
Everything that happens on your life journey is about you in some way. I am really starting to appreciate that focusing on the internal first is a game changer. I'm not saying ignore all the external situations in your life, but your reaction to whatever is happening in your life can help determine your future.
As I face unemployment again, I hope this time that I will find a job pretty quick. But I have noticed a difference in how I am facing things this time. It's easy to focus on 'I don't have a job, I need a job, it's so haaaaarrrrrd' and there are times when I wobble a bit, but I am starting to become more aware of my perspective towards not being employed. Things to consider are:
- How am I seeing unemployment? What lessons can I learn right now?
- How easily can I let go of expectations?

Anyhow, a few random facts about me.
- I do indeed get wound up and highly strung very easily, and any impression I give of being calm is not really true when I'm on my own.
- I love my friends and feel blessed to have made some great connections in the last year or two. However, I will also end friendships without much guilt or warning if I feel they have run their course or if there are differences which are going to be hard to resolve.
- I get infuriated by people telling me one thing and doing another. It's usually pretty obvious to me if someone wants me in their life or not.
- I am a highly sensitive person. This is a mixed blessing to say the least and I don't feel I have quite accepted that part of myself in some ways. And whatever people say, it is particularly hard being sensitive when you are a man.
- So this leads on to one thing I feel strongly about - men and mental health. Men are still afraid to speak out on how they feel, and this sure needs to change. I believe there are a fair few more men struggling than would seem obvious.
- My favourite genres of music are classical, rock, blues and disco. I could not be without music for too long.

At Bamburgh beach - my favourite place in the world.

Monday, 23 January 2017

You are your own best guide

Hi everyone,

Happy New Year to you all. I hope 2017 brings you all the happiness and success that you deserve. So far, it has been an up and down time for me - which is fairly consistent with the general pattern of my life - but I always manage to pick myself up from the down times.

I have started doing 'Facebook Live' videos, which I find fun, but I am also feeling a bit more of an urge to write this year. I thought I might end up starting a new blog, but, for now, I will continue with this one.

So what's on my mind at the moment? Well, where I'm at is about following my own pathway and guidance. A few guys participated in an online chat led by my excellent friend Pete, and some of us talked about reading lots of books and looking for advice from others. Or, in a nutshell, looking for others to guide you in life, and believing that others know more about how to live life than you.

I'm not saying you should ignore other people's guidance, and it's right for you to be influenced by others, as long it's in a good way - but I have come to realise - eventually - that I know more about myself than anyone else, and I have the right to make decisions based on my own inner guidance and what feels right for me. I have cut right down on reading self-help/spiritual books - I used to constantly look for a book to 'fix me' in some way, either because I felt fucked up or because I was just plain unsure how I was supposed to live life.

Often, people make decisions to please other people (particularly family members) or because society says something should be done a certain way. Many people are stuck in unfulfilling careers because someone else said they should find a secure job with good money, rather than follow what their heart was telling them. People get married to someone they're not crazy about. People have kids because they feel they should rather than because they really want them.

And often times, we are plain unsure what it is that we want out of life. It would be nice if it was obvious what our life purpose is from an early age, but very few people fall into this category. Usually, it takes time and small steps to discover what we really want. Sometimes, people stumble across something by chance that turns into a real passion.

Try new things. Ask your inner guide (and I believe we all have one) what you really want from life. But ultimately, it's time for us to get in touch with our true selves. Don't feel bad just because you want or don't want something (easier said than done sometimes). Have faith that life will bring the things you desire (advice to self there). Be confident in yourself that you know what's best for you (this is something that came to me last night). Sometimes we put other people (particularly spiritual teachers) on a pedestal - but however 'enlightened' someone appears to be, you don't have to resonate with everything they say. You are your own best guide.



Purpose, shortcomings and more

It's easy to focus on our shortcomings. Mine are quite a long list. Here goes .. - I have a low concentration span at times and find it...