We Need Forgiveness To Set Us Free

I keep going on about it but…

If we all look after each other we will all be okay

Remembrance Day, 11 November, is a memorial day that has been observed in Commonwealth member states since the end of the First World War in 1919. This has been to honour armed forces members who have died in the line of duty. In theory, at least, we unite across faiths, cultures and backgrounds to remember. The thing that is vastly important in remembering is the art of forgiveness. In forgiveness we let go. Often in simple remembrance we can feed our hatred of those that we perceive as the enemy.  

Forgiveness is so difficult for so many people. The main stumbling block is that in forgiving we become confused with the idea that we are condoning behaviours that we know are wrong. That we are, in some way saying that what people did, however bad, is ok. This is not the case.

To forgive means to forgo your retribution or let go of your hatred. There is a simple reason for this. The only person that hatred will, in the end, ever harm is the hater. When you hate, or have negative thoughts about others, your body creates all the negative chemistry that will ultimately damage your body. It raises your blood pressure, hardens your arteries and leads to strokes, heart attacks, ulcers, back ache, neck ache, head ache and dementia. Then comes the nausea, irritable bowel, eczema, asthma and so on.  The list really is endless. 

In hatred it is as though you have taken the poison expecting it to kill  someone else. Sadly the only person your hatred damages is you.

Even worse that these things is the fact that when we maintain negative attachments to the past they stop us moving forward. The emotions of the negativity that we hold about other people, or events, are like elastic bonds that keep pulling us back and stop us moving forward.

In forgiveness, forgoing or letting go, choose the word that works best for you, you will be able to get into your present. In your present you are then able to create the life that you really want for your self. When you are bound to the past you will never create a future that you desire.

Just a thought. If the science of karma, the law of cause and effect, is right, I suspect that it is, then everyone gets theirs in the end. There are no free lunches all debts need are paid in full. It would seem that it is not my role in life to punish people for what they have done. It is equally true that I do not need to punish myself either. In letting it go I step out of the cycle of karma and move forward unencumbered by the past in to a happy and fulfilling future.

So at this time of remembrance feel the love in remembering those that gave their own life’s so that we may enjoy our freedom. Also forgive those that have done us badly. 

Let go

Be happy

and live in the present

take care

Sean x

What is your addiction?

The world health organisation, ‘WHO’, has now classified internet game addiction as a recognised disease. Is it right? So what is an addiction?

We use the word ‘addiction’ to indicate an illness which is based on the behaviour of a person who is compulsively or habitually ‘addicted’ to a substance or a set of behaviours. Most behaviours that are described as addictions are seen as negative. We think of drugs or alcohol. We might even consider the workaholic. Whichever way we view it addiction is normally seen negative.

Perhaps we are all addicts

I would like to suggest another way of looking at it, we are all addicted, we are all addicts, it is just that we are often unaware of what we are addicted to. So my question is…

What is your addiction?

An addiction is simply a chemical state, that is in both our brain and our body.  We become addicted when we have learned to accept this chemistry as our ‘normal’ state of being. The chemistry come from the habits that we have practiced from the moment of our birth. We know that when someone exercises regularly their brain responds by releasing powerful endorphins. We also know that once this chemistry has been established as their normal they can become addicted to this exercise. Once this habit has been established we find that if they are unable to exercise, perhaps because of an injury, they go into withdrawal just like any other drug addict. All the symptoms of drug withdrawal are played out through their brain and body until either they either can restore the exercise and the chemistry or undergo the ‘cold turkey’ of drug withdrawal or in the extreme take prescribed medication/drugs that allow their system to feel balanced.

Any behaviour from meditation to sex, from knitting to hill walking, from laughing to crying, will have a chemical effect on our mind body system. Once these connections are established in our mind brian they become our habit and our chemical normal. The issues of anxiety, anger, depression, love and happiness may also be our addictions.

So what is your addiction?

Your chemical normal is the one that makes you feel just right. It comes from the habits that you have established throughout your life. If something happens to alter your ‘normal’ you will adopt behaviours that will return your chemistry to recreate your normal. My normal involves meditation, cooking, often running, definitely playing music, mainly guitar, certainly working with other people and always my lovely Rie and holidays away. When I am deprived of my addictions I feel withdrawal and need to act to bring my chemistry back to my normal.

Some addictions are good, as in they do not harm us or others. Bad addictions do harm us or other people. We have a choice. Once we mindfully examine our behaviours we can decide which addictions we will feed and which once we will starve and allow to wither.

We may decide that allowing our children to develop the habit of internet gaming is a good or a bad addiction. Current evidence would suggest this is a bad addiction.

One last thing to consider. It is easy to look down on other people that have different addictions to ourselves. If you are not addicted to football the sight of people shouting and screaming at a match or at the TV screen may seem very odd as does their euphoria at a win or their depression at a loss. We might feel the same when observing those that l;I’ve horse racing, have obsessions with the royal family, stamp collecting, cooking or the need to tidy and clean all the time or simply plain obsessive compulsive behaviour (disorder), OCD. These are all addictions. Our habits are addictions. We are all addicts. Though we often see our behaviours as normal and other people’s behaviour as odd and addictive.

Don’t ask your self whether or not you are an addict. Accept that you are, just like the rest of us, an addict. So, what are your addictions? If your addiction serve you and others well that’s fine. If they create problems for you or other people they may need to change. So, check your addictions.

Overall, accept who you are, accept other people without being judgemental and be happy.

Take care

Sean x

Slow Down And Speed Up?

This week I had to attend a driving awareness course which is very topical to the moment as there is a great move, not least of all over they border in Wales, to reduce all 30 MPH limits to 20 MPH. There are a list of reasons for this reducing pollution and improving air quality to reducing accidents and saving lives. All of these reasons are supported by the evidence based research and the case is there for it to be a good idea.
Interestingly many people that I know are either from Wales or have to travel to Wales have shared their frustration with me about the cues of traffic that are now in the knew system.
On the course, that was attended exclusively by males, the reasons given for speeding were about being in a hurry. Each of us could justify our hurry or we believed that we could. For me I was taking belongings from my recently passed auntie’s house to charity shops and to the tip and fitting this around all the other things that had to do. I was doing 36 in a 30. Did I need to be? Really the answer is ‘No’. Yet we can all justify to ourselves why we need to rush everywhere but why?
Slowing down to speed up can seem paradoxical if your default behaviour is to rush everywhere as quickly as you can. But where did we learn that everything has to be done at speed? I remember being told that ‘time is money, so get a crack on’, but is it? Does it matter if I get to the supermarket five minutes later or to my my holiday cottage a few hour later? Why do we all need to be doing everything at speed?
Ed pointed out that when you slow down and take a bike to travel around you see more, smell more, appreciate more and interact with other people more. Where as in a car you are trapped in a metal box and missing most of what you are driving through.
Increasing your stress levels
Remember that driving too fast and feeling stressed will significantly impair your ability concentrate, observe and anticipate the decisions you need to make, and reduce your capability as a driver. If you are really stressed from what is going on in your life so that it affects you when you are driving it may mean that you need to take a break and to question whether or not you should be driving at all. You may need to take a few moments to meditate and just breathe to calm down and give yourself time to recover so that you are safe to drive.
Driving slower, moving slower, living slower and being more aware allows you to be is more efficient not just as a driver but in every aspect of your life. You should prioritise speed over quality in every thing that you do. Self-care is so important. When you are overwhelmed or exhausted you can become a liability to yourself and others. More importantly it might even save a life.
There is always a balance between getting things done and getting where you need to be and looking after your self. To create the right balance you may need readjust your attitudes and behaviours and take breaks as and when necessary. This will allow you to be as constantly and effectively as you can.
My resource for this week is the up to date edition of the Highway Code. It has changed a lot since I last looked at it and takes into account both pedestrians and cyclist.
So, if we all one need to travel a bit slower don’t fight it enjoy and arrive at your destination with a smile on your face.
Take care and drive safely
Sean x

Time For A Clean Out?

Have you ever wanted to give you a body a good clean, but from the inside? It is rebooting your entire system. A bit like when you turn your laptop off and on again and then defrag the hard drive.

Twice a year, autumn in October and spring in March I will do a 13 day mini detox. This an exclusion detox, that you can see on the site www.livesthepresent.co.uk . In the thirteen days you progressively go from a full solid diet to three days of fluid and then back up to a full diet again.

Every few years I go on a 90 day clean out. This means no alcohol, no chocolate, no caffeine, no dairy, no meat. With the no dairy goes all the cakes and pastries. Does that sound hard? for many people this is normal. 

When you have been eating a full western diet this may seem a difficult idea. Yet many people live their entire lives this way and, guess what, they are very healthy. When Fauja Singh ran the london marathon aged 102 he did it on a Punjabi farmers diet of mainly rice and lentils.

I will reduce my diet over a seven day period and have a day, or a few, on just Water with honey and lemon, often this will be warm. The lemon cleans, and the honey provides energy. Some people will have some withdrawal to begin with. So if your system is addicted to something like caffeine you may get headaches if you stop too quickly so it important to reduce things gradually.

People often fear that they will lack energy. Not true. You use between 35 and 50% of your energy just digesting the food that you would normally eat. On diets like this most people feel an increase in their energy level and even sleep better. 

Flushing your system may sound odd, this is why I do it. The tube that runs from your mouth to your bottom, the alimentary canal, gut, processes all the food that you eat. It has done so from the moment of your birth and if you have never fasted or detoxed, without a break. Just like the skin on the outside of your body the lining of you gut will be sloughing cells, so that a proportion of what comes out of your bottom will actually be your dead cells from your gut lining. 

However, because your poor old gut has been working, usually flat out 24/7, year after year not all the cells come away and you get a build up of old rubbish on the lining that reduces the efficiency of the gut wall to absorb the nutrients that your your body needs. Many people suggest that this buildup and the subsequent problems this creates lead to many diseases. By doing a few days on fluid, and that means quite a lot of fluid, so that you pee a lot, your gut gets the opportunity to flush and clean all this rubbish that would otherwise remain stuck to your gut wall. Having given the gut a clean you then have a chance to create a new diet that will serve you well.

Think about our origins as hunter gatherers. We would never have had the constant supply of food that we have now provided for us in the supermarkets. There would be days of plenty and day when the calories would have been reduced and some days when we only drank water. In these circumstances the gut had the opportunity to cleanse itself on a regular basis.

So what will I eat? Well pulses, beans, grains and nuts, plenty of protein their. Rice, potatoes and wholemeal pasta, plenty of carbs there. As much fruit and vegetable as I want, plenty of minerals and vitamins there. I make my own bread that can be moistened with good olive oil or nut butter. For breakfast a plain unsweetened muesli type mix with nut or soya milk.

Really it means flushing the system and rebooting onto unprocessed foods that are healthy and nutritious. My rule is no meat, no dairy, no alcohol, coffee, sugar and anything processed with a drastic reduction in sugar. I have to say that if you are going to try it you might need to talk with your doctor first especially if you are diabetic.

The resource for this podcast/blog is my thirteen day detox programme. This can be a good place to start, as I say twice a year. If that goes well and you enjoy it you may get to trying a thirty day and then gradually extend it to 90 days over a few years.

Game for a laugh? Have a go.

Take care 

Sean x



Setting Secure Boundaries

Lately the international news has been full of stories of inappropriate touching kissing, and so on, in a variety of areas from sport to politics. The implication is that we either no longer have a clear idea of what our boundaries are or that our attitude to boundaries is changing. We are living in a world of change. It could that this is the reality of the end of the age of Pisces the beginning of the age of Aquarius. Or it could simply be that we are waking up a bit as in the evolution of human consciousness.

As a society we are currently reviewing our relationships to gender, orientation, ethnicity and attitudes. To have a clear boundary in any of our relationships we need to have a clear image and understanding of our fundamental relationship and that is the one that we have with ourself. Our approach to all our relationships begins with the approach that we have with our self.

‘I love me’ is not a statement of arrogance it is a statement of self esteem. To ensure that people give us value we must give ourself value. If I value me then I will ensure that you value me. If I feel that I have no value then I can accept any negative treatment that you throw at me.

Arrogance is when I see myself as better than others. Self esteem gives me the ability to value me as well as valuing you. If we all has self esteem we could all look after each other. So, I believe that the way to create positive boundaries with other people begins with creating positive self esteem. Charity begins at home.

Of coursed we need to put some effort into understanding other people. We need tolerance, empathy and insight. Most of all we need kindness and care. However it only works when we apply all these things to ourself.

My bid is that we attend to ourself first then attend to others. The easiest way to achieve this is what we are now calling mindfulness.

In short, if you want to change the world then love yourself.

Take care

Sean x

The Grief of Loss

Last week Auntie Vera passed at the age of 96. As the last person in that age group in the family her loss has been very profound the grief intense. There is joy and happiness for the memories of what a lovely person she was set against the hurt and pain of her going. Thankfully her passing was a good one.

Dealing with the grief that follows a 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 ale 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 true for us all of us 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 week. 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 the 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 was 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 alway 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 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 too awful with the lost person not present. The family 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 our 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 events 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 two year cycles 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 become 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 give 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

Autumn Into Winter

Here we are again. It is the end of the summer, winter is on the horizon and as they say, 

“it won’t be long and then it will be Christmas” 

With the loss of light comes a reduction the available vitamins D in our bodies that direct effects the levels of serotonin in our brains and the a feeling of well being that can so easily lead to low mood, depression and seasonal affective disorder SAD.

According to Kevin Loria depression may be our brain’s way of telling us to stop and solve a problem. There is a theory that suggests that generally rather than being a problem depression might be a specific behavioural strategy that we have evolved over time as a biological adaptation that serves a purpose. As Matthew Hutson explains in a Nautilus feature on the potential evolutionary roots of depression and suicidal behaviour , that the purpose of depressions might be to make us… 

…stop, understand, and deal with an important problem.

At this time of year as we come out of summer and into winter people report symptoms of moderate to severe depression. It is the time of year when the sunlight fades and as the levels of vitamin D start to drop and this reduces the level of serotonin in the brain. We are then into depression season. 

Across the board in both the USA and Europe major depressive disorders are now so common that at as many as one in six people  will suffer from it during they dark months.

So why does such a debilitating condition strike so many people? 

The traditional understanding is that depression is just a breakdown in the normal working of the brain. This is seen as a chemical imbalance that is treated by chemical medication designed to re-balance brain chemistry, change mood and create shifts in  behaviours.

Could depression have developed to help us?

Evolutionary psychologist Paul Andrews and psychiatrist J. Anderson Thomson first elaborated on this idea, called the “analytical rumination hypothesis,” in an article published in The Psychological Review in 2009.

Their idea is that what we think of as a disorder is actually a way for our brains to analyse and dwell on a problem in the hopes of coming up with a way to deal with it. The researchers suggest it’s possible that a difficult or complex problem triggers a “depressive” reaction in some people that sends them into a sort of analytical mode which then enables them to change behaviours, strategies and attitudes. It allows them to stop long enough to solve the problem.

This intrigues me greatly because in the Ayurvedic model, my original training, depression is also seen as a gift, as a way of our system telling us that something was wrong and giving us the chance to sort it out. This would explain the increased rumination that arising in depressive episodes. Along side this in and increase in dream sleep. The two phases of sleep are deep sleep (NREM) and dream sleep (REM). It is assumed that deep sleep is the resting phase concerned with repair of the body and dream sleep is an active phase concerned with processing our experiences and related emotions. In depression the dream sleep eats into the deep sleep so that despite sleeping for long periods of time the person does not experience rest and may become progressively more tired.

The concept that depression might be an evolutionary adaptation rather than a mental disorder is not the main consensus of the mental health community. In reality it cannot be true for all depression. It would be true for those that suffer a reactive depression in response to a trauma or traumatic stimulus. Even so this could still account for around 80% of depressive episodes.

The problem is that in most cases depression is not the cause it is the symptomatic response to the cause. In western medicine we tend to only treat the symptom and pay little or no attention to the cause. 

It could be that if we accepted depression as a gift and took the opportunity to undertake a self audit that would enable us to get our lives back on track. Instead we treat depression negatively as a problem and medicate the symptoms and fail to deal with the cause. It would make sense that if alongside medication we engaged in mindful therapy we could speed up treatment and help to dissolve depressive episodes much quicker. While some people do get referred to cognitive behavioural therapy it is not always an effective way to deal with depression. It is the addition of mindfulness that makes the therapy really effective. 


Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is designed to deal with and overcome issues of reactive or repetitive depression. MBCT, is recommended by the United Kingdom’s National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the prevention of recurrent and reactive depression and has also been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of anxiety.

If we can look at the challenges that we face in life as learning opportunities rather than problems then we can to stop long enough to grow and develop. So, perhaps depression is the things that can make us stop long enough to get our life right.

As my resource for this week I am using my thirteen day detox. This is something that I tend to do twice a year in September and March. It gives me the chance to consciously stop, do a self audit and decide just where I am up to and to make any changes or adjustments that seem appropriate.

Take care and be happy and if appropriate have a go at the detox.

Sean x

Procrastination Might Be Good For Us

Following Covid I have spoken with so many people who, even now, are having problems getting going again. For some their is a frustration with their life for others it is that feeling of they simply can’t be bothered. For many trying to get their work life balance back is proving difficult. Working from home can be a challenge when it is easier to stay in bed, sit in the garden or engage in your favourite hobby rather than doing the work that you are being paid for. While I get all this I want to make a positive stand for doing nothing as being a good thing.

There is never a point in life when we are doing nothing. It may feel like it but consciousness is always at work even if we are unaware of it. The part that is working that we don’t realise is termed the subconscious, it is below our awareness but it is still there.

Even when we are doing nothing we are doing something.

To the person who always needs to be busy someone who meditates or simply stops long enough to enjoy the view may be seen as a procrastinator. Yet, perhaps it the person who is being still and apparently doping nothing who is seeing the real world and making the breakthroughs in life, science, art or literature. The person who always needs to be busy is often avoiding dealing with difficult issues. Their business blanks out difficult emotions of decision rather like an anaesthetic. The busy person who avoids dealing with issues by continually doing other things is often less productive than people that we might describe as procrastinators.

If you break down the word Pro = forward, future… Crastinus = tomorrow

Manyana, in Spanish, simple means tomorrow. As a slang term it is used to mean…

“we don’t need to do that now it can wait until tomorrow”.

For many people procrastination simply means to delay. That does not make the person lazy they may simply be the type who considers before they act. However, that does not mean that there aren’t people who are really lazy and do as little as possible. But these may be the people who appear to be busy but are avoiding doing what needs to be done.

Sometime the feeling of procrastination is an emotional barometer that tells you whether what you are doing is what you should be doing. Lack of drive and enthusiasm maybe be because your are bored or simply in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. Giving your self time to think a about it and reflect may help you discover what is it that you really want from your life. Then you just might feel like enthusiastically getting on with it.

Imagine that when you wake you are about to go and do something that makes you feel good. Do you have problems getting out of bed?, well no. Now, imagine that you are waking to a day full of things that you don’t want to do. Do you have problems getting out of be?, well yes. It is then that we can our see procrastination might just be that our system trying to tell us something.

The sooner I fall behind, the more time I have to catch up.
Author Unknown

In the west we tend to be driven by what is termed ‘the Protestant work ethic’. Most people work long hours to the exclusion of family, friends and their own life and fulfilment. Yet very few people actually like their work life. I work with thousands of people who wake on a Monday with the dread of another week in their workplace. They would rather be doing anything else. Procrastination does not always mean to do nothing, doing something else instead is often termed displacement.

Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.
Robert Benchley

Displacement activity is something that you do to avoid doing what you don’t want to do, or a way of not dealing with a difficult situation, like being busy. For example a rabbit that is cornered and is about to be eaten by a fox and knowing there is now escape will displace this energy of fear into the activity of washing itself.

In psychology, procrastination refers to the act of replacing more urgent actions with tasks less urgent, or doing something from which one derives enjoyment, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time.’

The clue in this definition is ‘enjoyment’. The protestant work ethic goes alongside with ideas like ‘life is hard’, ‘life is earnest’ and ‘everyone has their cross to bear’. Well I don’t buy any of that I am in the school of life should be fun and life should be fulfilling. It seems that we have no problem finding the energy to do things that we do want to do, things that make us feel good. While, those things that we don’t want to do sap our energy and take away our motivation.

My approach to life is that when I feel the need to procrastinate or displace, I look at, and enjoy the process, and at the same time I look at what I need to do with my life so that I feel engaged and connected and restore the balance between what I need to do and what I want to do. This is often described as ‘work life balance’.

In the end if you are living the life that you really want the issues of procrastination and displacement do not exist because you are enjoying and fulfilling yourself in the present moment so that getting out off bed on any day, even Monday is never a problem.

The best way to get something done is to begin.
Author Unknown

That comes back to what do you really, really, really want to do with your life. Until you answer this question you will be forever procrastinating and displacing. Becoming aware of when and why you procrastinate will will help you answer the question of what do you really want. So there may be times when procrastination is really something we should celebrate.

I’d like to procrastinate but I can’t be bothered

Take care and live in the present and when you are doing nothing enjoy it.

Sean x

Dealing With Post Trauma

Since Covid and lockdown more and more people have developed the symptoms of post trauma. This can be difficult and debilitating. However the mechanism that leads to our repression of difficult experiences is our memory. The issue with post traumatic stress disorder is not memory it is recall.

It is important to realise that our systems are designed to learn and we learn by remembering. It is the learning that keeps us safe. Throughout evolution we have kept ourselves safe by remembering what is dangerous and where that danger is. This might be plants that are poisonous, other human beings or animals that are a threat and would damage us.

When we are threatened we activate our fight or flight response. This gives the chemistry to either defend ourselves or to run away. The fear or threat that we experience may be directly to us or we may witness something happening to another person. Either way the effect is the same.

Following an incident we have POST TRAUMA STRESS (PTS). This normally last for about four to six weeks as it is gradually processed by our mind. At some point we will all have itIf the stress persists longer than six weeks we are considered to have a DISORDER or PTSD. This will require medication and/or therapy.

The disorder is described as complex, CPTSD, when the trauma is repeated over and over again. This can be common in army and police personnel and most triple nine workers and in people suffering ongoing abuse.

In PTSD experience that is overwhelming and too difficult to deal with is repressed. This means that in is encoded into memory. Rather like a box of stuff being put in the back of a cupboard and forgotten about. The mechanism that often leads to the repression is dream sleep. Often after an assault someone will sleep for a short period of time. Dream Sleep or rapid eye movement (REM) encodes the images into memory. Often the person will then get up and carry on with their life as though nothing has happened.

Repression can and be of events that are either imagined or real.
PTSD to a REAL situation leads to depression and flashbacks to the remembered event that re-enacts all the original thoughts and feelings.

Imagined Trauma is a FLASH-FORWARD of Fear/Anxiety to something that may never happen. This is a Pre Trauma Stress Disorder. It can happen when we are told that someone close to us is dying or if we are given a potentially life threatening diagnosis such as cancer. We can then use our imagination the Flash – Forward creating a daydream that uses the same REM as in Post Trauma to create a box images and feeling in the back of our mind. This can also be the basis of what is described as ‘False Memory Syndrome’.

In both pre and post trauma the brain and the mind see only the dream images and their associated chemical and emotional responses and can cannot tell which is real. However with therapy we can unpack the boxes and release any negative emotions and memories and eliminate their effects.

Repressions, either pre or post trauma, should not be confused with suppression which is the conscious withholding of feelings. Let’s say there is someone in your workplace that you don’t like and if the situation was different you would tell them exactly what you think of them. However, you suppress those negative feelings and smile and say “Hello, how are you?” This can lead to feeling of frustration, agitation, irritation, anger and so on that are all going on, suppressed, behind your apparent smile.

Repression is the unconscious withholding of feelings. That can lead to serious symptoms of depressions, fear, anxiety and many mental health issues that often require medication, therapy and even hospitalisation. In all cases of Pre Trauma, Post Trauma or suppression the feeling associated with the event or person can be triggered by smells, tastes, colours, sounds, music, television or films, books or stories or another person sharing their issues that resonate with your own.

When we are diagnosed with a post or pre trauma issues we may need…

Therapy including Psychotherapy, Counselling, CBT and other talking therapies
Mindfulness – both life style and Meditation is shown to be very effective
EMDR – EYE MOVEMENT replicates the REM allowing the release of the initial repression
EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique – Tapping also can reactivate the REM
Rewinding – As a relaxation visualisation Hypnotherapy activates REM
The Beach – Deep Relaxation and sleep Therapy activates REM
Medication – Include Antidepressants – Beta-blockers that can work alongside other therapies
AVOID SELF MEDICATION – Drugs, Alcohol, Over working, Isolation

Be happy and if you identify with post trauma or pre trauma suppression or repression talk to some and do something about it.

Take care
Sean x

Money Money Money

In this episode we are revisiting an old topic – MONEY. With the current economic crisis and the ongoing effects of Russias war in the Ukraine things ate tight. Interest rates are on the rise and available income is diminishing. The people in the know say that it will get worse before it gets better. Lots of fun.

So, does money make you happy? The answer is ‘no’, unless you are an addict and crave the money in your account, in your pocket or the assets that you have accumulated. Even then it will only be temporary and the joy is short lived as we crave the next hit. 

In this blog we are back to our old friend Dopamine, the love drug. Dopamine is produced in the brain and leads to feelings a joy and excitement. Dopamine is produced in response to a stimulus such as drugs or alcohol or to a feeling such as when we are in love, attachment or expectation, or to an action such as driving fast, jumping out of plane or bungee jumping etc.  In fact Dopamine is reproduced in response to getting or experiencing anything that we label as fun and exciting.  While we can all enjoy the ‘wow!’, feeling of Dopamine and may enjoy it or look forward to it, the stimulus response cycle may not dominate our life. When the craving, or drive towards a Dopamine hit begins to dominate our existence and our behaviour we have an addiction. For some people money is an addiction.

Understanding Money Addiction 

Addiction is probably the most misunderstood aspect of human experience. We tend to see addiction as a bad thing that happens to bad people, or to people who have been led astray by others. If you enjoy the feeling of exercise and look forward to the next class you are describing your addiction or need for stimulus and response that is driven by your need for Dopamine. We are all addicts.

Try changing the word addiction to habit and it might be easier to understand. If each day you pray, meditate, attend church, go for a walk, talk to a particular person, eat a certain thing for breakfast, whatever it is your habit. But if you feel odd or out of salts when you are unable to or do not complete your habit you have an addiction.

When you wake up in the morning if the first thing that you do is to check your phone rather than acknowledge your partner, you have a phone addiction. If you do acknowledge your partner prior to using your phone then you may have a partner addiction that we might label love. If your first action in waking is to go and get a coffee then you have a caffeine addiction. Even if you drink decaf you still have a coffee addiction. Once we can see our habits, repeated activities, often enacted below our awareness, as addictions we can begin to understand the addictive quality of the human psyche.

Addiction disorder

In a previous blog where we were talking about anxiety. The point was that we all have anxiety and that it was and sometime still is a good thing. Anxiety has kept human beings alive throughout evolution. Anxiety disorder is when we have continual production of stress hormones when there is nothing to feel stressed or anxious about. There is also the realisation that we can create the same anxious effect in our system by simply imagining an anxious situation so that our body mind and brain react as though the event is actually taking place in real time right now.

Our entire system works in this way. We may become aroused by imagining a sexual situation it does not actually need to be happening for the aroused response to take place. The same may be true of drugs, going to church, or taking exercise. The anticipation is so powerful that the dopamine begins. However the needs of Dopamine need to be fulfilled. If there is no fulfilment of the anticipated outcome the response will either be a withdrawal response that may include depression or there may be an increased drive towards the anticipated addiction. In drug and alcohol work a common phrase is “the addiction always comes first’, this need to fulfil the Dopamine cycle can be to the detriment of relationships, jobs and emotional stability and even life itself.

Addiction disorder happens when this simple, normal and common effect of mind and imagination for an anticipated fulfilment drives towards ever greater levels of Dopamine. This is very important because in all addiction it is not the stimulus that we are addicted to it is the Dopamine and Dopamine is an unforgiving master who demands higher and higher levels of stimulus to create the desired emotional effect. This is why addictive behaviours always increase. This is the difference between a regular habit and an addiction disorder. An addicted perpetrator of domestic violence will escalate their behaviours over time so that a loud voice becomes a shout, becomes a slap, becomes a punch, becomes a kick, becomes a beating.  

So back to money

If the ownership of money, or the ability to spend money, is an active part of your stimulus and response mechanism then you will experience that money does, in fact, make you happy because it feeds that ‘wow!’, feeling of Dopamine. Once we find a route to Dopamine production we will continue to enact the stimulus and response mechanism so that we continue to feel good.

What is money?

All money is potential energy. A unit of currency is like a seed full of potential energy that when released can create something. An acorn can create an Oak tree. Money is simply a form of energy. When we release that energy we can turn it into something else. In physics the law is that energy is never lost all it does is change its form. The energy or power in money is the same. When we use it we change its form into goods, services, actions and so on. If the things that we use money for create a Dopamine response within us then we will develop an addiction to the need for money to maintain those levels of Dopamine. We were told as kids that “money is the route of all evil”. This is a misquote the original was “the love of money is the route to all evil”. In the terms we are talking about in the blog it is the addiction to money that creates our problems.

Mindful responses to Dopamine addictions

Whatever your addiction disorder there are solutions and they lie in Mindfulness. Behaviours, habits and addiction are embedded in the mind, emotions and actions, often below awareness. Using Mindful techniques and developing your observer self that sits above the cognitive mind and emotions you are able to see your habit cycles and, most importantly make decision to feed those habits that serve you well and to starve those habits that do not serve you well.

What you feed grows and what you starve dies

If you do have an addiction to money, or the things that it can get you, remember this…

Love people and use money

Not the other way around.

Be happy and enjoy the money that you do have

Sean x