TSHP246: How to Beat Your Eating Disorder

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What’s Coming This Episode?

Did you know that hospital admissions for eating disorders have doubled in the past six years here in the UK? Yep. Not good. Sean and Ed take a look at what can lead to an eating disorder and how men and women can overcome their disorder…

Enjoy the show and take care, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

Show Notes and Links

Resource of the Week

  • Sean STRONGLY recommended getting help – call a therapist or get to your GP
  • Ed gave another mention to the guys at Beat Eating Disorders

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Struggling with an eating disorder?

Ed requested this podcast that was inspired by things that he has been reading. I regularly have clients that are struggling with eating issues though in most cases these are to do with obesity. When people talk about eating disorder they normally are thinking about weight loss not weight gain. According to the Priory Group statistics for eating disorders are…

• 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder
• 11% of the 1.6 million are male
• 14-25 year olds are most affected by an eating disorder
• There are up to 18 new cases of bulimia per 100,000 people, per year
• 1 in 100 women aged between 15 and 30, are affected by anorexia
• 10% of people affected by an eating disorder suffer from anorexia
• 40% of people affected by an eating disorder suffer from bulimia
• The rest of sufferers fall into the eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS) category including those with binge eating disorder (BED)
• Research suggests that the earlier treatment is sought, the better the sufferer’s chance of recovery

There are several ways of looking at eating disorders. We might say that to regularly eat more or less calories than you need would suggest something is wrong. In my work I find that in both cases the apparent eating disorder is a symptom of an inner cause. This creates a dilemma for therapy. Do we great the symptom or do we attempt to understand and resolve the inner cause? Many eating clinics and services are based around treating the symptoms and using behavioural techniques to change eating habits. This can help but if the underlying or originating cause is not dealt with and desensitised repetition or relapse is common.

Over weight and obesity
This is the most common eating disorder in the west, we are all getting bigger. Statistics are more easily available for women though they apply equally to men. Over the last forty years the average size uk female has gone from a size 12 to a size 16. One comment I hear is that if the average woman is size 16 why are the models on the catwalk not that size as well? We now have a comparison with the under weight model compared to the over weight public.

According to the Office of National Statistic, ONS, the average man in England is 5ft 9in (175.3cm) tall and weighs 13.16 stone (83.6kg). The average woman in England weighs 11 stone (70.2kg) and is 5ft 3in tall (161.6cm).
A woman of five feet three inches at size sixteen is in the obese range and is probably damaging her body and inner organs with increase potential for diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cancer. So why is this happening?

Vitamin D
Over 70% of UK residents are currently expected to be vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D, produced in the skin in response to sunlight, is the precursor of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is the endorphin that creates our sense of wellbeing and is what we enhance through prescribed antidepressants.

Comfort food
We now know that when we eat carbohydrates our brain secrets serotonin. Therefore comfort foods are real. We feel down due to lack of vitamin D and low serotonin and self medicate by eating carbs as comfort food. The byproduct of this is that we gain weight. So, when we are told that Britain is now the heaviest country in Europe we probably mean that Britain is the most depressed country in Europe.

It is good to be happy
It would follow from this that resolving the over weight issues in the UK would mean increasing the wellbeing of people in the the UK. Getting our vitamin D levels right in the first place would be a great help. If you do not know your own Vitamin D status you might be advised to visit your GP and get a blood test, especially if you are having problems with trying to lose weight.

Anorexia Nervosa
This is an emotional disorder. It is on the obsessive compulsive spectrum with a obsessive desire to lose weight. This behaviour is, in my experience, the symptom of an inner cause that may be hidden or repressed. Often it is a response to a traumatic event. The symptom of anorexia is often the sufferers way of having control over their life. Often anorexics see themselves as over weight even when they are not.

Belimia Nervosa
known as simply bulimia, is an eating disorder characterised by binge eating followed by purging. Binge eating refers to eating a large amount of food in a short amount of time. Purging refers to the attempts to get rid of the food consumed. This may be done by vomiting or taking laxatives.

This is the term used to describe a condition that includes symptoms of obsessive compulsive behaviour in pursuit of a healthy diet. It may also include an almost addictive relationship with food supplements and vitamins. Orthorexia sufferers often display signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders that frequently co-occur with anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders

Purging disorder
This is an eating disorder characterised by recurrent purging (self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas) to control weight or shape in the absence of binge eating episodes. It differs from Belimia in that it may not include binging.

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)
This was previously known as selective eating disorder (SED), is a type of eating disorder, as well as feeding disorder, where the consumption of certain foods is limited based on the food’s appearance, smell, taste, texture, brand, presentation. This maybe seen in a variety of conditions and syndromes such as Asperger and Autism. It may also be a phobic reaction that often has a traumatic basis.

Food and mood
Our relationship with food works both ways. Our mood is effected by the foods that we eat and our mood will lead to us craving certain foods. For me food disorders are not a behavioural problem in most cases they are an emotional expression of unresolved inner issues. This means that in my eyes Psychotherapy is the appropriate intervention. This may support or work alongside a behavioural programme but is essentially psychological therapy.

If you find that you have a strange or oddly changing relationship with food talk about it, check it out.

Take care and be happy

Sean x

TSHP245: The Gentle Art of Persuasion

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What’s Coming This Episode?

Opinions are like [insert rude body part here] – everyone has one. The tricky part can often be convincing other folks to come round to our way of thinking. So how do we learn the dark art of persuasion?

Enjoy the show and take care, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

Show Notes and Links

Resource of the Week

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How to be Persuasive

We all seek to persuade others into doing what it is that we need them to do. It might simply be the way we say ‘hello’ to start the day or the meeting to go the way that we want it to. Or it could be that we want them to make a cup of tea, give us a lift or lend us a few bob. The fact that we are using the word persuasion would suggest that the person either did not know that they wanted to do this for us or actively did not want to do it. I remember a couple from my youth where she would say to him “if you go to the shop and get me a box of Black Magic I’ll let you kiss me”. They went on to have twins; I’m not sure what he had to do to get that far! Any way, most persuasion requires a reward to make the task worth doing.

We could use other words instead of persuasion such as teaching, training, encouragement, seduction, inducement, punishment, cajolery, extortion, manipulation, coercion, bullying, brainwashing, exhortation, fear… I am sure there are more. Perhaps we then need also to consider the common vehicles that are used for persuasion such as media, news, propaganda, prejudice, gossip, faith, belief and our good friend advertising.

Security and behaviour
We probably don’t realise it but our behaviour is based around our need for security, for our need to feel safe or normal. This may also be seen as the need to achieve a positive goal. Perhaps a strange concept to grasp when we look at what others are doing. Some people need to live on the edge in positions that others might see as dangerous. It might seem strange some people get their feeling of safety and security by putting themselves in danger. Hanging off a mountain by your finger tips will scare some but excite others. People who enjoy living with danger are actually living with what makes them feel normal. Adrenalin junkies may not feel secure unless life is a challenge or dangerous. For others life may feel easier when they adhere to a safe normality and conformity. In these cases their sense of security and knowing that they are safe is their reward.

However some behaviour will be driven by fear. In this case avoiding the feared outcome is the positive outcome. The drive to save money maybe driven by the fear of poverty. The drive to take supplements, eat properly, or go to the gym may be driven by the fear of illness or death and so on.

The nature of reward
All behaviour is reward driven. We all get something from what we do or we would not do it. In all behaviour there is an end point, a goal or a reward. Even the most philanthropic and seemingly selfless of people get the reward pleasure from their actions, from helping others or making something right. No behaviour positive or negative is without a reward. The reward may be tangible as in a cocaine or nicotine hit, or an endorphin rush after exercise, or a cream cake. However, most rewards are emotional. The main result and driver of our behaviour is that the result of it is to make us feel right, safe and secure.

Do not become confused by ideas of positive and negative rewards. The things that are our securities are our habits that we have learned. The habit making aspect of our system is neutral, it does not care if the things that we use to create our sense of security are positive or negative. They are simply the habits that we have learned. The self-harmer does it because it makes sense to them and makes them feel right and ok.

The masters of persuasion
When it comes to persuasion nothing makes us more vulnerable than advertising. A good salesperson will be able to evaluate their sales target and present their message in such a way that it makes sense to the target. The sale pitch for each person needs to be different, one size does not fit all. In sales you have to understand your market.

What do you fall for?
What do you like to buy? How do you like to spend your money? Or how do you like to donate or share your time? Advertising is a good place to begin because it shows how different products are advertised differently to different personality types. Each advert is designed to persuade the person to buy the product. Looking at the different personality types we can identity the dominant drives that create their security characteristics. These types, often known as chakra types, are physical/sexual, social/belonging, experiential/novel, power/importance, status/authority, sensitive/empathic and creative/inspirational. Let’s look at them one at a time.

This type of personality is most easily persuaded by physical messages. In advertising a product must be shown to be body enhancing. Something that will make your body look better, or make you think that your body looks better. Body building products. Clothes that accentuate your physical characteristics. Smells that make you appear sexier. Sexual preparations/Supplements that increase your stamina. Often advertisers will use well known sports people or stars that have a physical attraction to sell these products.

Persuasion in this case usually come from the message of belonging, ‘are you one of us’, ‘do you belong’, ‘are you in with the in crowd’? ‘Are you seen as special to the group?’ The sale message is ‘If you have our product and use our services you will be special and you will be seen as special by the group’. Here enters the diet fad, the gym, the Zumba class, the designer label, the fashion accessory, handbags, shoes, the brand image, breast implants, face lifts, botox and fillers. All the time comparing what I have to what you have. Can I keep with the leaders of the group, the fashion and style gurus. This used to be called keeping up with Joneses.

FaceBook and Instagram are awash with people who want you to look into their lives and admire all the wonderful products that they use and services that they admire. In the modern age the group has grown from the villagers around the village well to multi million participants online. Now, people make a handsome living by simply sharing their lives online. However the message remains the same, ‘are you one of us’, ‘do you belong to our group’, ‘are you good enough?’

When people are outside of the group but desire to be in, perhaps they do not have the money or resources to buy all the wonderful products, we now have the development of ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Along with this comes all the negative emotions of envy, greed and prejudice. All of which are wonderful emotional drivers for the persuades to ply on.

Brexiters promoted the fear of ‘them’ the immigrants invading ‘our’ group if we did not leave Europe.

These people need to feel engaged and excited. They don’t want to be a part of some fashionable social group, they want to different and be seen to be different. If everyone is wearing pink, they will wear yellow. If everyone is always on time they will always be late. Here we enter the world of the novel and new, the world of the gadget.

These people have a keen intellect, they are interested in information and things and how things work and happen. A social type will be nosey. An intellectual type will be interested. Gadgets, science, and new ideas become engaging and exciting. The new concept and the new way of looking at something is persuasive to them.

Because of this drive for newness, novel and unique, they can become easily bored and may seek new and novel stimulation elsewhere. The social type may be praised for their wonderful dish of duck a l’orange, the experiential type seeks praise for their new and novel and experiment with duck a l’banana. To persuade these types requires novel, stimulating and exciting new and different options and ideas.

‘Tell me I am important’ this is the stance taken by those that seek power. Often egotistical with differing levels of narcissism and sometimes psychopathy, these type not only see themselves as important and as exceptional individuals but also expect you to see them in the same way. They want you to pay homage, bow down and kowtow to their greatness. This person, strange though it may seem, is really built on very insecure foundations. They need other people to give them adoration because they don’t actually feel it themselves. The two most wonderful examples of this are being played out on the international stage as I write this. Both Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are very insecure people who are seeking to feel more powerful and therefore more secure through their action, communication and threats. For them the potential for their security comes from the bigging up of themselves, ‘my rocket is bigger than yours’ type of stuff.

Imagine a room with a party going on. There is someone sat in the corner chatting and engaging calmly with other people. In walks another person who loudly demands attention. People rush to greet them, the cry goes up that (whoever) has arrived. The new person revels in the accolade and swells with pride. Now, who is the most confident and secure? Is it the person who is comfortable sitting in the corner or the person who needs attention to make them feel secure?

To persuade these insecure types requires that they are told how wonderful they are. If they make you a cup of tea it is not enough to say thank you, they need to hear that it is the best cup of tea that you have ever tasted. If they have a product it has to be so special that no one else could possibly have it. Either or is so rare no-one could find it or so expensive that none could afford it. Often it will need to be brash, bright and full of bling. It needs to be a real head turner.

Status is different from power. The Queen has status but actually has no power. The aristocracy have status and some still have money, though they may have property and big houses, though they are often, in reality, as poor as the church mouse and really have no power. However they demand and get respect and authority from most people.

Status is always a staircase. The solicitor becomes the barrister, becomes the circuit judge, becomes the high court judge, becomes a law lord. At each stage the person has more status but has no personal power. They are only able to exercise the power of the law which is not their power it is the power or parliament.

Persuasion for these people is not about power, novelty or belonging it is about respect, status and greater authority. To acknowledge people and their contribution is through awards, ceremonies and honours. To be an MBE, CBE or to be knighted is an acknowledgment of status and reward. To be called Mr or Mrs has no status, to be Manager, Director, Dr, Professor, Chair person, Sir, Lord, Lady and so on all have greater status. All status systems have their own ladder of progression. In the army there is the private, corporal, lance corporal, sergeant and so on. It was always said that when a service person, in active service, is ‘mentioned in dispatches’ (reports) they will get a medal which is a recognition for them and added status. The medals are then worn proudly at ceremonies to show the persons status. The more medals, the greater the status.

Here we move into a different kind of person and different kind of world. These personalities are not motivated by material things, status, recognition or position. For them the importance of life and therefore their security, is in simply being and being in the right way. Sensitivity and empathy equals harmony. To be in harmony with the universe and the universal energy is seen as more important than anything else.

Persuasion at this point is about being ethical and acting in the right and appropriate way, known as Dharma. To act dharmically or in the right way, reduces negative actions and negative Karma, which is the negative consequence of action. Equally positive actions will lead to positive karma or positive consequence of action. To be sensitive to the inner worlds of others is to be an empath. Empathic sensitivity leads to the drive for care and caring.

This may be expressed as green or ecological living. Not driving when you could cycle or walk. Recycling what you can and generally caring for the environment and other beings. Vegetarian and vegan life styles are often based in empathy. This is the world of questioning the meaning of life, spirituality, philosophies, mindfulness and meditative techniques. Spirituality should not be confused with religion, which is often more to do with status and authority rather than spirituality and empathic expression.

These are the people that create the ideas, products, services, propaganda, beliefs and philosophies that are sold, in whatever form, to all the personalities described above. They are the image makers, the inspirers and the icons that lead and change society.

Ok, a long and involved blog. I will climb off this hobby horse.

In short, the methods and messages that we use to persuade others are only effective when they directly resonate with the personality type and security base that we are communicating with. Remember that the positive drive of persuasion for each type of personality is to increase or maintain their security. The negative drive is for them to avoid any threat to their security. Both drives can have the same effect.

Take care and be happy

Sean x

Good Grief

Dealing with the grief that follows after death is something that can never be understood unless it has been experienced directly. I see so many people who feel a sense of guilt because they are still grieving only three months after a loss when, in reality, grieving takes a long time, and sometimes may even last a lifetime.

A dictionary definition of grief is….

Intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death

Grief comes from a French word ‘Grever’ meaning ‘to burden’. We might, therefore, consider grief to be a burden that we carry. We have finished our grieving when we are able to put the burden down.

I am forever surprised at how ill prepared we are to face death, both our own and of those people, family and friends around us. It is the most certain thing that faces all of us, we will all die.

The attachment of emotional elastic
In my book “what colour is your knicker elastic” I explain that the emotional connections that we make between ourselves and others is like a piece of emotional elastic. At a point of loss, when that relationship comes to an end, the emotional elastic is severed and we are hit in the face by the emotional energy that is remaining in it, unless we are prepared for it.

The loss of a parent
We had an email from a listener this week who has been facing the death of a parent and is trying to come to terms with the hurt and the loss. I am not sure if this is true for us all, but for me the loss of those that we truly love is possibly the worst pain that there can be. The only loss greater than that of a parent is that of a partner or child. It may seem like an easy thing to say but the reality is that, at some time, most of us will face the loss of those people that we care about. The pain of this loss, we call grief.

Relationships are all different and the nature of the emotional elastic will vary. It may be thick and strong or thin and weak. Because of this the level of emotional rebound and grief that we experience when the elastic snaps will be very different. I have seen situations such as when someone’s mother had died. The person in this case showed little or no emotion and took the morning off to deal with it and arrange the funeral before returning to their work. Two weeks later they took a few hours off to attend the funeral and returned to their work. Their colleagues observed this and saw it as insensitive, negative and nasty. What they did not realise was that the relationship that this person had with their mother was not a good and happy one. For them childhood had been a difficult time and the lack of support they experienced from their mother had resulted in thin emotional elastic, so thin that when it snapped it had virtually no emotional effect upon them at all. In fact they described the death as a relief not a burden.

Alongside that I have also experienced the people who have been completely devastated and debilitated by the loss of their mother. They have taken weeks, and in some cases months, off work as they have attempted to recover. For them the emotional elastic was thick and strong and at the point of snapping they were hit hard by the emotion.

Learning to live with loss
When I consider the real affects of a death and the cutting of the emotional elastic phrases like…

…‘don’t worry you’ll get over it’ or ‘times a good healer’…

…show a total lack of empathy and insight.

These phrases are often used by those people who have never experienced the grief of a death, or of a significant death. The idea of getting over the loss of someone close could not be further from the truth. It would be more accurate to say that grieving is learning to cope with the new situation that you now find yourself in. Life without a parent, husband, wife, mentor, friend or child can be so completely different to all that went before. Death, loss and subsequent grief is literally life changing.

Life will never be the same again.

Acceptance, a journey
Grief and bereavement are not a thing to get over. They are a process that must be gone through until the reality of the loss has been accepted. This is a journey that you may not want to travel and yet you will, in the end you have no choice. For some of us the journey is short, this is when the elastic is thin. Also it may be shorter if we have had time to prepare. This is what I call pre-bereavement. Perhaps there has been a long illness and a gradual ending that has prepared us for the real end.

For some the journey may take a long time to negotiate with many obstacle to overcome and issues to face. In these cases the elastic is thick and strong. Sometimes the emotions may be so powerful that they will never be resolved and the grief may simply be something that we have to accept and live with. It is as though this loss, and perhaps others that we experience in life, have been woven into the tapestry that is our life. It has now become a part of the picture.

The unbreakable elastic
Some elastic will never break and continues to pull from the other side of the grave. I lost a child, many years ago now. Every time that day comes around it is as though it is live action all over again. I have accepted this as part of the tapestry of my life and no longer need it to be any different. It is a part of my year, it is a part of who I am.

The process of grief
In psycho talk we say that grief will take a minimum of two years to process. The pain of being without that special person can be hard to bear. From the death day we have to live through the first year and all the significant times, birthdays, Mother’s/Father’s Day, anniversaries, and all days of importance.

The first of each annual event is generally the most difficult. So too are the new events, those events that the lost person will never get to see such as a wedding, a new grandchild or a naming ceremony. The feelings and emotions associated with these days has to be borne and gone through.

Avoidance is not always a good idea
A family may decide that they cannot possibly have their normal Christmas, as they have done each year, because it would just be too awful with the lost person not present. The family may decide to go to Honolulu or do something completely different. This seldom works because next year they simply have to face what they avoided last year. In the end all that they have done is delay the process by a year. Grief is when we need to understand that grief is a process not an amount of time.

So in psychology when we say that the minimum period of grieving is normally about two years, we mean each event needs to be faced and processed. This is because from the death day we go around the year facing every special day and anniversary. After one year we come back to the death day, take a deep breath and do it all again. In most cases by the time we have completed the two year cycle we are starting to normalise and accept the change and our loss. However we have to accept that some, or perhaps most, losses will never truly leave us.

Becoming an adult
We are all, or were all, children. All of us were born of a mother and had a father. Throughout our life we are our parents child, until, that is, the moment when they pass on. In reality none of us truly become adults until both our parents have died because up to that point we are someone’s child. We only become adults when we are orphans. Just as this is true for us and our own parents it is equally true for our children. While we live they will always be children, we need to die to allow them to become adults. If you are in your seventies and your parents are in their nineties you may not come to adulthood until late in life.

How long should we grieve
While grieving may take an indeterminate amount of time that may have no limit it still remains a process. Often people will feel guilty for still being upset three months after a loss. In reality the process may take several years. On average we think of two to begin to come to terms with a loss.

The three stages
Grief is often identified as having three distinct phases. These may follow the classic sequence or the phases may come and go over time.

1: Disbelief
The first stage is disbelief. “I can’t come to terms with what had actually happened” I assume that the person will come back and walk through the door, that they will ring or write.

2: Emotional letting go
As emotion is released it may come out as tears frustration sadness or depression. Even when people try to hold it in there usually comes a time when it is released.

3: Anger
Anger is a strange though powerful emotion. At some point the anger comes. We may feel anger with the doctors, the disease, God or the person who has died. When we feel guilty with the person who has died we then often feel guilty for being angry with them and we may spend sometime going round and round until it is processed. Often it is the anger that gives us the energy to move on.

The wonder of birth and the wonder of death
Why do we celebrate birth and not death. In many ways we have lost touch with both birth and death. These great events, that used to take place in the home now happen in hospitals and hospices. Only a generation ago most people would have been born at home and died at home.

With the rise of the medical professional we have de-personalised the process. As we have done this we have also given away our own responsibility and participation in these processes.

Celebrating a life or mourning a death?
My vote is that we use the last funeral rites as a celebration of life, that we change our sadness into happiness and celebrate what that person’s life has achieved.

I shall stop here before this turns into a book.

Wherever you are in the cycle of life, enjoy it and plan your ending with joy.

Take care

Sean x

TSHP244: A Guide to Dealing with Grief

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What’s Coming This Episode?

Losing a loved one is about the toughest thing a person can go through. Death can come as a shock. Sometimes we have years of warning. When it comes though, grief will often take over. So how long should we set aside to grieve? Weeks? Months? Sean and Ed discuss this very topic this week…

Enjoy the show and take care, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

Show Notes and Links

Resource of the Week

Stay in Touch

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TSHP243: Take Some Responsibility

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What’s Coming This Episode?

We’ve spoken about how much power we do (or do not) have in recent episodes but what happens if we feel paralysed to use it? Worse still, what if we simply choose not to due to habit? With great power comes great responsibility, so the saying goes…

Enjoy the show and take care, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

Show Notes and Links

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Stay in Touch

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Leave us an Honest Review on iTunes

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We have been, unintentionally, following a theme in the podcasts over the last few weeks. I hadn’t realised it until we had Jodie on board and we were talking about veganism and, in some ways, the rights of animals. In recent podcasts we have discussed many subjects all of which are related to, or have a direct link to, power and the use of power. That is, the power that we exercise over our self, over others or over animals and on the world at large. I don’t know if we are the most powerful beings that have ever been on this planet but I do suspect that we could potentially be the most destructive. That destruction domes from the power that we exercise over animals and the environment.

We all exercise power every moment of every day and the more power that we have the greater the impact that we have on the world around us. The issue is are we aware of our power? And, do we take responsibility for the way in which we use our power?

Power and responsibility go together

I have worked in hundreds of organisations and the thing that most of them have in common is that they separate power and responsibility. For instance, the manager or the directorate board have all the power because firstly they are in a position to command and secondly they hold the resources and the budget. In most cases the workers, the staff, hold the responsibility to enact the commands of the directorate board. However they do not have the power.

Imagine a ward in a hospital. The staff have the responsibility to look after the wellbeing of the patients. There may a shortage of staff either people are off sick or there has not been the money to replace those that have left. The level of responsibility for the staff remaining is the same even though now there are less resources to complete the task. While the staff are running around taking responsibility for the patients the directorate board are somewhere else, remote, maybe even at home. The directorate managers have the power but are not taking the responsibility.

Power requires responsibility
This type of scenario is replicated across many organisations public and private. Once power and responsibility become separated in any system it will begin to breakdown. Power without responsibility equals insensitivity, bullying, perpetration, dictatorship, narcissism, and psychopathy. To enact power without responsibility requires a lack of both insight and empathy. The power that committed the Jews to the concentration camps of the Second World War is no different to the power that currently commits cows to the abattoir.

Responsibility requires power
To take responsibility for something without having the power that would enable you to enact that responsibility equals naivety, stupidity, failure, and victimisation. Strangely both have one similar issue. If we go back to the ward. Perhaps the nursing staff do not have the equipment, linen or medication to do their job. They have no power to go and get what they need yet they are held to account and remain responsible for the well being of the patients in their care.

Both situations described above have one thing in common. The person who has the power yet takes no responsibility lacks insight. The person who attempts to enact their responsibility without the power to do it also lacks insight.

What is insight ?
Insight is awareness. Awareness is the application of consciousness. Applied consciousness is what I term ‘the observer self’. It is the ability that we all have to observe what we think, feel and do. To have conscious awareness of our thinking, feeling and doing has two effects. The first is that it give us a choice, “should I, or should I not, do, think or feel?” The second is that is gives us true responsibility. When we act with clarity of purpose and outcome we are acting with insight.

Karma simply means the consequence of our actions. Everything that we think, feel or do will have an outcome. That outcome will effect us and it will effect other people.

Dharma is right action, to act righteously or to do the right thing. To act dharmically is to act, to act with insight, with conscious awareness. It is to act to the best of our ability.

When we act dharmically we act responsibly. When we truly act dharmically we limit the negative consequence or karma of our actions and ensure the best possible outcome for ourselves and for everyone and everything involved in our decision.

Getting it wrong
We’ll get things wrong. At sometime most people look back and think “if had done that differently then…” or “if I knew then what I know now…? There is no blame in getting things wrong, that is not the issue. The issue is can I take responsibility for those things that I got wrong or did wrong?

Sometimes we can repair the damage that we do in life and sometimes we cannot. Sometimes we can repair the damage done to ourselves and sometimes we cannot. We each need to be aware of what we have done, to know what we can change, to leave alone why we cannot change and let it go, and, as the prayer says ‘have the wisdom to know the difference”.

The world is full of those who act without taking any responsibility for their actions. Many of these people are in positions of great power. The negative effects that they have on those that have to take the responsibility of enacting their demands is huge. Simply look at the First World War and all those that died in the trenches in France, for what?

My belief that we will all be alright once we all learn to look after each other is the real application of power used responsibly. As long as we don’t separate power and responsibility we stand a chance of survival.

Be happy and use you insight to use you power responsibly.

Take care

Sean x