What does Easter mean for you?

I enjoy Easter, the indulgence, the family meal and the egg hunt. Though Easter means much more to me than that. For me is is a time of newness and renewal. I had a strong Christian childhood and the passion of Christ dominated this time of year. The amount of people aligned to the Christian faith is currently in decline. 

In the 2001 census 71% of the British population claim to be Christian though as little as 5% attended a Church each week and around 15% attend once a month.

“Almost 80 per cent of children do not know the true meaning of Easter, with a quarter thinking it is to celebrate the Easter bunny’s birthday, a poll has found.”

I even heard of a child who thought Easter was the celebration of the invention of chocolate and, in many ways I guess it is. Children will indulge in an average of more than two-and-a-half kilograms of chocolate over the Easter holiday – taking in nearly 13,000 calories and 650 grams of fat, a survey found and that is a lot of weight on. That is also true for adults as the indulgence begins.

A poll, by mystery shopping company Retail Active, found a typical 200g Easter egg has 990 calories and 50 grams of fat, with youngsters aged 10-14 eating an average of 13 eggs, many of those first thing on Easter Sunday.


So ok, what are we doing here? Where does it all come from?

Before the Christians hijacked the Pagan Anglo Saxon festival of ‘Eostre’  spring time was all about renewal. Some sources suggest Eostre originated in Greece where Eos was a God. In the Germanic cultures the festival at this time of year was known as ‘Ostara’.


The image of the Bunny and the Egg are both representative of the newness of life and the celebration of spring and the new life to come. The Christian story of Jesus and his rebirth from the tomb is representative of the same concept, accepting the Christian message of Jesus suggests that he died to save us all, which is also the idea of new life and renewal.

We seem to currently be in a time of strife on planet Earth. At all levels socially, economically, politically, environmentally, we are facing, potentially, huge changes and in many ways life may never be the same again. As I keep saying whatever happens…

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

Whoever you are and whatever you believe, be you Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Agnostic, Atheist, Humanist, Spiritualist or none of these, enjoy the spring. Look out the window and see the green shoots of spring and the new life to come, be happy and enjoy the summer ahead. Life is to be lived and enjoyed.

Take care and remember to live in the present and look after your self and each other.

Sean x

Gossip, rumours and conspiracy theories 

Social media is full of conspiracy theories. Currently those about Katherine Princess of Wales are rife. There is great interest, in certain groups, as to whether the stories about her abdominal surgery and public appearance and photograph are real or fake. The thing that interests Ed and I is why is it so important? What is it about gossip and rumour that we all get so hooked up in?

In evolutionary psychology it is suggested that the development of language and the depth of language across the world was developed by women. The men were out either hunting or fighting or the like. Such activities require simple language to convey action such as ‘forward’, ‘back’ or ‘go that way’ and so on. While the men were out the women were back at the home, or the cave, and were conversing in a more nuanced way. There conversation were about what was going on between the different groups in the tribe on the basis of ‘us’ and ‘them’. The women needed to know what was going on. It is assumed that this talking, sharing or gossiping required and greater depth of language that was more descriptive than the make simple commands to action. It is also likely that the process of gossiping and considering rumours kept groups or even whole tribes safe. The women knew what was going on or at least what was suspected was to be going on and could pay attention to and respond to it.

Historically when a pregnant lady went for her ‘lying in’ as she was in or coming up to labour she would invite a group of women to accompany her and help her through the experience. The profession of midwife came from this sort of process. However, so did gossip. The women invited to the lying in were known as the ‘gossips’ and attending a labour was known as ‘gossiping’. It was one of the few instances when women were able to be truly alone together without the men and could say and discuss whatever they wanted or needed to. It was from this that the word gossip moved from the simple title given to the participants of this lying in to the concept of people sharing things behind someone’s back. 

The people most effected by this gossip were the men who were excluded from the birthing event and therefore the women were able to talk about them without feeling restrained or the men knowing. Eventually the word gossip was taken to describe this talking behind someone’s back and was seen by men as an exclusively female thing. If you listen to the podcast you will hear Ed admitting to gossiping with his friends. The reality is that all people, men and women, gossip. That is they talk about other people without that person knowing what is being said about them. It is maybe good to mention at this point that gossip, in the sense of what is spoken about someone without their knowledge, behind their back, may not be negative. It could be true or false, positive or negative. People might be talking about someone’s good points and their good qualities. 

So why do we gossip? The assumption by evolutionary psychology is that creating a small gossiping group was a way of bonding the group together. The gossip would normally concern people outside of this small group who would be open to criticism. Yet, we can also be a part of the group and still be the subject of gossip by the group when we are not there. Have you ever walked into a room and suddenly it goes quiet and the question in your mind is ‘what were you all talking about before I came in?’ With the advent of social media the scope for gossip becomes huge and extends beyond a small group in a tribe to include a global or international community.

Is gossip a good thing? 

Over all I would say ‘yes’ but with some caveats. The first being that you need to be aware of is the source. A good source provides us with real and true information. A dodgy source can create negative and untrue conspiracy theories that may cause greater levels of disquiet, conflict and strife.

Gossip can also be an informal stress management. 

If in the workplace we have a colleague or a manager who’s behaviour is difficult, but because of their position we feel unable to challenge their behaviour, then gossiping with colleagues can be active informal stress management. This enables us to let off steam, to off load and deal with the stress and frustration that we are experiencing.  

Yes, it would always be better if we could talk to the manager/colleague directly and give them feedback about their behaviour. This would give them the opportunity to change and that would be a good thing for the entire organisation. Being honest to someone’s face about their behaviour is feedback and doing it behind their back is gossip. It would seem obvious that the feedback route is the more positive but not always possible in which case the informal stress management of gossip does have a valid and useful role. Often it is the positive ethos of the organisation that encourages feedback and a negative ethos that creates gossip.

A couple of years ago during my cardiac illness and hospitalisation Rie and I were the subject of gossip both positive and negative. The problem for those gossipers sharing negatively was that the people that they gossiped to came to us and told us what had been shared about us. This is the one big problem with gossip. It only works as a stress release and informal stress management function when it is kept within the gossiping group. As soon as it leaks out of the group it can become destructive and can even wreck families, relationships, organisation and even governments. 

Social media can be an even greater problem in this regard. We had what was termed The ‘Wagatha Christie’ trial all based around who said what on social media which eventually led to a very public court case. Both in workplaces and in family relationship I am dealing with more and more cases to do with damage caused by what has been said or implied on social media. 

In an online world that has become so immediate it is important that we learn to be more aware of what we are saying and what we are sharing both verbally and on social media. I would include all forms of trolling and accusations or innuendo in this as well. These posts can be the start of an untrue trail of gossip or lies that is shared and then re-shared until it is believed to be the truth and then lives can be completely ruined.

My resource for this podcast is that you re-visit the first three steps of the live in the present course and consider how you see yourself and other people and decide if you need to adjust your behaviour. Remember:

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

It may also be a useful exercise to review and examine your own current relationships both personal and professional. Which of these relationships are conditional? Do you have to act in certain ways for them to be maintained? Such as agreeing with the other person’s views? That may mean that you may need to be seen to agree with gossip about people that you know to be untrue? However, you may need to agree anyway in order to maintain the relationship. In so doing the rumour mill is powered up and the information that you have shared is then shared again and again until it grows into a conspiracy that is then believed as being the truth. 

Perhaps the only counter that we have for negative gossip is to call it out. Now on X you are able to post ‘community notes’ that …

… “aim to create a better informed world by empowering people on X to collaboratively add context to potentially misleading posts. Contributors can leave notes on any post and if enough contributors from different points of view rate that note as helpful, the note will be publicly shown on a post” …

I guess that we could all respond in the same way to posts on any app that we know to be incorrect. We do have a choice as to how much we are controlled by gossip if we call it out.

Going back to where we started I don’t really see what right we have to know anything about Kate’s abdominal surgery or need to know why she was playing Photoshop with her own photograph. And, in the unlikely event that she was using a body double this would say more about us than her! Why would she need to use a body double, not that I think she did, other than to avoid the negative speculation of a negatively gossiping public and press.

Let’s all just play and live nicely.

Take care

Sean x

Good things about where you live

Nanny Pam has just come back from Dubai having had a wonderful time. Now every one is talking about going there. The idea of needing to get away would suggest that where we are is never really good enough. I get it that the act of taking a break, of doing something different, is stimulating and often relaxing but the question got me thinking about do we appreciate where we are and what we have? Are we able to enjoy the space that we live in.

I am reminded of the amount of time when Rie and I have been driving around europe and have been spellbound by views and vistas. Yet there are many time when we have noted that we have views like this where we live. There is a beach on an island in the Florida Quays that people go to every evening to watch and marvel at the sunset. It was a lovely sunset. But, when I watch the sun going down over Hilbre Island and the Welsh coast I am stunned on a daily basis.

We live on a peninsula named Wirral. It is known as the insular peninsula mainly because people, once they arrive, never leave. I know many people people born on the Wirral that have never travelled anywhere else, not even for holiday. I note that those that do manage to leave often return after a few years as though they have been drawn back by some invisible elastic umbilicus that will not them truly leave.

Wirral sticks out into the sea with estuaries either side. There is the river Mersey between Wirral and Liverpool and the river Dee between Wirral and Wales. Both estuaries empty into the sea so that the top end of Wirral there are beaches, and all the fun of the holiday trade. There seems to be a balance here of industry, residential and holiday occupation and accommodation.

Where do you live?

How well do you know your own area? What do you know about it’s history? Maybe it is a good time to get to know where you live?

I have lived all over the world and only came to Wirral with work and stayed because of Rie, and now I cant think of a better place to live. Like most of the British I feel that the weather could be warmer and that the sun could shine some more but taken over all I live in heaven. In ten minutes I can stroll down to the beach. In twenty minutes I can be in the centre of Liverpool. In twenty five minutes I can be in Chester and in forty minutes into the mountains of Wales. The motorway system that runs through the middle of Wirral connects us to the rest of the UK and through to Europe.

Once I became interested in the Wirral and began to look around it I found places that are gems. There are areas of richness and poverty, areas of beauty and the not so beautiful. I discovered that Paul Hollywood’s dad has a bakers not far away, that Lillie Savage was brought up here and Wirral has been home to Ian Astbury, Ian Botham, Fiona Bruce, Ellis Costello, Daniel Craig, Chris Farrell, Austin Healey, Paul Hollywood, Eric Idle, Paul O’Grady, John Peel, Patricia Routledge, Harold Wilson, the list goes on forever. And there was a Viking parliament in a place called Thingwall apparently a corruption on Ing meaning assembly and Voll meaning field- Amazing.

Anyway, I digress. My advice to you is to get to know where you are. Don’t become blind to what is around you and certainly enjoy your holidays in foreign parts but maybe begin to understand why people from other parts of the world might like to come to where you live for their annual holiday.

Take care and be happy

Sean x

It’s Valentines Day – Can you feel the love?

Well this week it is Valentine’s again, the day of love, how is it for you? we often have talked about mood boosts and love, feeing loved, being loved and sharing love they are right at the top of positive mood, self esteem, raised energy and wellbeing. The magic is in ‘feeling’ loved. Someone may love you desperately but unless they love you in a way that works for you the you simply will not feel it.

In eastern approaches to personality, psychology and the person the various and individual drives of both giving and receiving love are seen to be described as personality types often termed the chakra types. When we share love or use the word love we all mean different things. What do you actually mean when you say love? To use the word ‘love’ in say, “I love you” or “I’d love a cream bun” have very different meanings.

How do you know that you are loved? 

What do you want your partner, or lover to mean when they say “I love you”? 

Is love for you a simple one stranded thing or is it multi-faceted?

How many strands does it have?

What are they?

It is so strange that someone can love you truly, madly, deeply but unless it is expressed in just the right way so that you are able to receive it then you will simply not feel it, you will not feel loved.

I sit down with many couples in relationship therapy and commonly at some point in their past they both shared their love for each other. The problem, that only came to light later, was that they did not understand what each other meant when they used the word love. They both felt that their partner meant the same as they did. Later they discovered that they were wrong.

Love, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

It is not being loved that is important

It is feeling loved that counts

Example: A common problem

Woman: “I feel unloved and hurt when you fail to put a X on the end of a text”

Man: “That just feels like you are trying to control my emotions. I only put an ‘X’ there when I am really feeling it. It is meaningless if I always put it there because in the end it just means nothing.”

Therapist: “How about if it is important to your partner to see an ‘X’ and if you do love her and care about her would the act of simply adding an ‘X’ be something that you know would make her feel happy and good. Is it therefore not worth doing?”

Sometimes showing your partner that they are loved isn’t egocentrically based around your need to be honest it is about ensuring that the person that you love feels it. To go out of your way, to put yourself out, to get something or do something that you know will make your partner happy is an expression of love.

If your response to the above is something like, “Well, my needs are as important as their’s and if I need not to put a ‘X’ at the end of a text and they love me then they will respect that”, then you are either emotionally immature or need to be in another relationship.

Once you get into relationships it often happens that love becomes a demand and not an act of giving. Success in relationships come from both people giving it is and that both feeling that they receive it. If both people expect love without giving then neither of their needs will be met.

Who is right?  

If it becomes a battle it ceases to be love and becomes acts of possession. Think about your relationship and how you both share your love.

Do you need to be told that you are loved? 

Do you tell your partner?

Do you feel that by saying it too often that you will wear it out and that it becomes meaningless?

Do you feel that by saying you are re-affirming your connection and positive feeling?

Do you do things, that may seem silly or meaningless to you, because you know that it will make your partner happy?

Do you feel that you should only act in love when you feel the love?

In relationships we sometimes need to fake it to make it. Maybe your partner has really cheesed you off for some reason but you still arrange their birthday party and rise above the difficulties. If your partner loves you in the same way they will do the same for you. It is to do with whether or not your love is conditional and demanding or unconditional and giving. In a world where there really is no right or wrong, where there is only a consequence to your action, you need to take responsibility for who you are, for what you do and how you show your love.

I guess I should add that if you pour your love, time and energy into someone who does not love you back is like standing in an ice cold shower tearing up twenty pound notes. Not to be recommended.


How about you ask your partner “How do you know that I love you?”. Or you could get more direct and ask them if there are things that they would like you to do so that they would feel more loved.

There are  two sides of this coin. You might also share with them that when they do certain things they make you feel loved, unless you tell them already.

Think about this for a while. How do you express your love? Not just for your partner but to the other people close to you. Do your parents, brothers, sisters children, friends, community, country, humanity feel your love? 

Love is the magic glue that holds the whole world together just as hate forces it apart. It may be expressed as the law of attraction, as gravity, in the relationship between particles and atoms, it might be in the caring for the sick and needy or it might simply be in a bunch of flowers.

However you share you love, I hope that Valentines Day confirmed the love that others have for you.

Take care

Sean X

The power of your smile

Following on from last weeks look at the potential of global conflict. A listener reminded me of this and asked

‘why don’t we just encourage everybody to smile at each other?’

I love research but when it matches the Ayurvedic theories that I studied in my early training it does make me smile. How is it the the Rishis (scientific researchers) thousands of years ago knew things that we can only now verify with brain scanners. The ancient Ayurvedic science of Mudra explains how the structure of our bodies expresses who we are and the nature of our personality. It also explains the emotional and cognitive relationship between stance, expression and gesture.

Their research explained that when you are in a good frame of mind your brain responds by releasing positive endorphins. This process initiates a neural muscular response that results in you smiling. The muscles in your face around your mouth and eyes respond automatically. Smiling is common to all human beings of all races in every country across the world. Smiling is a universal response.

Smiling also has a social function in that it tells others that we are friendly and not aggressive or that we are going to kill them. As a social signal smiling bonds groups on two levels. The first is cognitive recognition that things are alright and the second is the collective out poring of positive endorphins in the group brain and the corresponding warm emotional feelings that are produced.

Smiling it would seem has been with us throughout evolution as both an expression of inner feeling and as a social signal of group bonding.

The importance here is in the realisation of the synchronicity between brain and face muscles. The relationships is based in that when the brain produces positive hormones the muscles of the face smile. What we now know is that if the muscles of the face force a smile the brain responds by releasing positive endorphins which can make us feel better.
Fake it to make it

Even if you are feeling really down, sad and blue your face looks sad. When you force a smile the nerves and muscles in your face send a message to your brain telling it that things are good. Your brain then begins to responds by initiating the secretion of happy endorphins.

Your brain is unable to tell the difference between whether something is actually happening or if you are only imagining it or, in this case, forcing it.

One physical aspect of a smile, that is so important, are the eyes and the forehead. When someone only smiles with their mouth and not their eyes and forehead it is not a real smile and often feels insincere. For a smile to be real and have the required effect the eyes open wide producing laughter lines in the corners and the fore head crinkles creating lines.

Enter Botox
Consider this relationship between the muscles of the face and the endorphins in the brain. The way it works is as though they are either end of a tube, you can’t have one without the other. Positive brain smiley muscles, smiley muscles positive brain.

Now, what happens if the brain wants to smile but the muscles of the face are damaged or paralysed? The system breaks down. As much as the brain want to create a smile the feedback from the muscles is that the is no smile to be had. When people use Botox they are paralysing their muscles so that there is limited feedback between the muscles and the brain either way. Positive endorphins in the brain cannot create a smile and a responsive smile in the muscles cannot tell the brain that there is something going on to make it worth releasing some positive endorphins.

So now we have Botox induced depression.

As with any addictive type behaviour the problem addiction tends to increase as the effectiveness of the substance diminishes. With Botox the drive is towards creating more positive endorphins, the just person wants to feel good about who they. So perhaps, someone is feeling a bit down about how they look and decide to have some Botox to make them feel better. The drive to feel better is the common emotion behind all addictions.

Because of the muscular paralysis there can be no positive feedback to the brain, the desired effect fails to be achieved. There can be no feedback between the muscles of the face and the brain. In fact it ends up having the reverse effect making the person feel worse not better. They have invested time and money in this procedure to improve the way that they see themselves and their mood.

The standard response in addictive behaviour in such a situation is to try more of the addictive substance because that is what we belief will make us feel better. This is called chasing the dragon in opium dens. The reality is that the more if the addictive substance we use the less is its effect and more we need, or think that we need. This is why all addictions get worse over time. With botox the more that is used the more the problem increases. If the Botox is the very thing that is stopping the positive feedback between muscle and brain we now have what might viewed as Botox induced depression.

For me the self induced disfigurement of Botox, fillers, lifts, piercings and tattoos is a huge sadness. The human form has a natural beauty that emanates the positive feelings and attitudes from deep within us. To mask this natural beauty with what is seen as adornments is so sad and represents yet another way that we use to avoid facing who we are in the drive to make shortcuts to our happiness. But, then as someone who has never been able to get my head around why people need to wear makeup I must own to being out of step with modern social thinking, I have an anachronistic point of view.

Whoever you are and however you choose to present yourself ensure that the end result is increasing your own happiness.

Resource has to be go to the mirror and smile. It will make your feel better.

Take care

Sean X

War: Is it ever right?

Ed and I did a similar episode in 2019. The issues of war and potentially a world war were on us then and, sadly, very little seems to have changed. Over the last few months the people visiting my consulting room have been more and more concerned about the potential for another world war. The problems coming out of the Israel Palestine conflict and the involvement of Iran and the related issues on Yemen and the attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. On top of that there is now the suggestion that the UK should return to conscription to prepare our population for a potential future war with Russia. On the basis that what you feed grows and what you starve dies we could easily be talking ourselves into another world war. However, we do not need to.

The theory of war is, for me, like the theory of evolution. If you believe In the idea of ‘survival of the fittest’, then, war makes sense. If, on the other hand you believe in evolution through cooperation then, war becomes a meaningless act of stupidity. The human dilemma seems to be cooperation versus competition. When football players take to the pitch, each team with their own followers, it is like a mini war with the victors and the vanquished. The creation of the United Nations, the European Community, the Pan African Congress and so on are examples of people coming together in cooperation to avoid conflict. The same is true about our families that are either at war or in cooperation. This is also true for corporations, companies, public utilities, institutions etc, not to mention religions.

It seems that there are always wars or rumours of wars at any time somewhere in the world. Can we say that war is a natural state of being for human kind? Well it is once we abandon the concept of cooperation. Currently their are conflicts in Palestine, Israel, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Iraq, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Yemen, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Ukraine and they are only those that I am aware of at the moment. It would seem that us humans are potentially a violent and warlike lot.

Of course other animals do have conflicts and fights. Troops of chimpanzees, our nearest relatives, live in territories that they will defend. They may also attempt to take away territory from a neighbouring troop and create a conflict between the troops. Primates steal, attack, mug, rape and assault just like humans. When do such acts, fights, conflicts, or battles become a war?

War, as opposed to a conflict, involves an extended period of fighting between, ethnic or territorial groups, regions, countries or other groups of people. A war generally involves the use of serious weapons, with organised military or militia with planned intent and goals. This may include terrorist or guerrilla actions or the intended annihilation of another group. War is when a nation, or a belief group, be they political or religious enforces its rights, beliefs or demands on others by the use of force. The force or threat maybe implied or actual, just like in all forms of bullying or coercion.

Sometime war is well intentioned. I am sure that when the Christian knights of the crusade went off to fight in the ‘Holy Land’ they believed that they were enacting the will of God and that is was a ‘good’ thing to do. The same is probably true for the members of ISIS or conflicts such as those between the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Island. When Britain declared war on the Nazis it was done to stop something not to gain something. Wars of liberation seem to be different to wars of conflict, demand, colonisation, greed or psychopathy.

War, to me, is a stupid waste of life, time, money and energy that creates pain torment and suffering. However, war has also driven great inventions and scientific breakthroughs that would never have happened otherwise. The drive to discover the science that created the atomic bomb led to power stations providing energy and radioactive treatments in medical science that are becoming ever more refined.

To me it is all about awake-ness. When people lack awareness and are consciously deep asleep conflict, war and violence make sense to them. That is how they get what they want. When people are more aware and awake communication and cooperation leading to resolution makes sense. I experience that the deep asleep people to go for evolution through conflict and the survival of the fittest. The more awake people go for evolution through cooperation. Therefore the deep asleep people attempt to resolve their challenges through conflict while the more awake people attempt to resolve their conflicts through communication.

When people come together in cooperation and communication they create peace, harmony and wellbeing. When people move apart in disagreement or an inability to communicate and compromise they create instability, insecurity and distrust. Doesn’t say a lot for our deep asleep politicians generally unable to communicate and find resolutions. Perhaps the current conflicts, prevailing in what can be seen as a disintegrating world, will takes us back to the conditions that created the First and Second World Wars and every other conflict since. I am left with the idea that until human beings wake up enough to realise that mutual cooperation, happiness and prosperity are available to all of us, if we choose to accept it, then conflict and war will be our natural default position.

Remember: If we all look after each other we will all be okay. There would be no suffering, no hunger, no loneliness, no conflict and only resolution.

Take care, be happy and make love not war

Sean x

Happy New Year it’s 2024

Ok, so it is New Year!  

Standing at the beginning of 2024 you, and I, will be making choices about how and what this year will be. 2023 will certainly be a year to remember and for many perhaps a year to forget. People tell me that is is as though it never happened or that with the aftermath of covid and the financial crisis one they will never forget. 

As we ride into 2024 we have the joint joys of Covid and Brexit should be slipping behind us. We now have annual vaccines that will hopefully kick the virus in the backside.  After all my fun with heart surgery I am looking forward into 2024 with feelings of hope, love, and joy. How is it for you? We need to decide what we are seeing ahead, and how…

  you create what happens for you … 

… is all a matter of your choices. it may not feel like it but your world is full of choice. In your present moment in your ‘Now’ you are actively creating the world of your experience through the choices that you make…  

…thoughts becomes things…

all of us, individually and collectively, are choosing what will happen for us in 2024 and how we will respond to it and feel about it. We are all doing it, though we may not realise it.

Focus for a moment on the choices before you in this coming year. Do you have any? What are they? Most importantly what is the basis of your choices? When deciding to do, or not to do, something It is important to own that in deciding not to make a decision is actually making a decision. The action of stillness is equally as powerful as the action of motion. However, when you choose to do nothing you are likely to be vulnerable to the choices that everyone else makes around you. In having your own clarity of purpose you are in the flow of your own life and, as I said, stillness is a decision as much as an action.

Choice and fear

For many of us the choice for action this year will be limited by fear. Fear of disease, debt, pain, failure, fear itself, the fear of looking stupid, ridiculed, of loss, rejection, abandonment and so on. Fear is the biggest limiting factor for any of us. Fear and anxiety are the destroyers of our happiness and to create fulfilment – those who dare win – We all need to step beyond our fears, as Susan Jeffers put it – feel the fear and do it anyway – ( a book worth reading).

If you can get hold of the idea that your thoughts become your experience, you are becoming the author of your own life. It is then you will realise that fear is actually a choice. Once you understand this you can realise that the experience of joy is the same thing. Personal joy and duty are often at odds. Do you do what you want to do or what you think you should or ought to do?

Choice and duty

Generally in psychotherapy the words “ought, should, must and can’t” are banned. Each of these words are the limiters of self expression. The call of duty may be laid upon us by our culture, religion, beliefs, as parents, children, employees, employers and so on. The trick is that if in 2024 there are things that you feel you ‘must’ do then, – act with a smile on your face –  this is known as Bhakti or, to give service without expecting anything in return. We all need a bit of Bhakti in our lives but it is always damaging when we allow a sense of duty to stunt our own self development after all – we all deserve happiness –  well we do in my script. Yet many of us chose to create negative life scripts.

There are many reason that we can find to maintain and justify our own lack of development or fulfilment our feelings of victimisation or misery, unhappiness and moaning about our life and other people that we meet, though there are alternatives. The classic is that we blame other people for how we feel. Common targets are our parents, family, friends, and most commonly partners and so on.

There are alternatives…

Choice and joy

In making your decisions for 2024 you might chose to avoid the ought, should, must and can’t and, think about the lightness of joy in life – focus on what makes you feel happy – and do more of it. Doing things that make you feel good is never a difficulty and never feels like work. When you do things that make you feel good, in the end it is you that feels happiness. How many of the things that you do in your life lead to you feeling flat, bored or unhappy. If you do more of what makes you feel good in your life you will feel happier and get better and better – happiness is a learned response – sometimes we have to practise being happy.

Choice and responsibility

The word responsibility comes from the word to respond “respond-ability”. Being responsible or “respond-able” for what you experience makes you the master of our own destiny. It does not matter from where you begin your journey, whatever your age or state of health. By being responsible for your life and taking ownership of yourself – responsibility is the key-. If I decide to be responsible for me no one else can ever be responsible for what I think or feel and, ultimately, what I do. There are many examples of people who, against the odds chose to respond to things positively.

This year some of you will be facing very difficult and tough stuff, emotionally, mentally, financially, physically, socially and so on. These may be things that you cannot avoid and you have no choice other than to face them and deal with them. However, you do have a choice as to how you respond to them…

 none of us are effected by events, 

we are effected by our response to those events…

living in the present and being positive about your future allows you to create a year in 2024 that you will look back on positively and perhaps with joy.

Decide to create your own experience this year. Treat your problems as challenges so whatever 2024 presents you with, smile be positive and enjoy it.

Take care

Sean x


Christmas is here – Bring on the light

For a lot of people around the world this year Christmas Day might just be another day in a difficult year. In a work of wars, financial crisis and global warming there are a lot of people worrying. What will it be like for you this year? 

It can be easy to get lost in the consumerism that surrounds us and just get into hedonistic pleasure. After all we have been through some tough time over the last couple . Covid is still with us both as an illness and also as a psychological trauma that for many is having a PTSD type effect. It is easy to forget that the origins of Christmas were in a religious commemoration. It is a time of the coming together of family and friends, a joyful time for children and young people, a time for giving and receiving, time to let your hair down and have a jolly? Office parties, champagne and chestnuts roasting on an open fire?

However for some it may not be such a good time. Perhaps we have the awareness that there are those who are no longer with us. This is our first year in our family without Auntie Vera a sad loss for us all. Christmas for many can be a time of loss and bereavement. It may even mean that for some of us many have died and there is really no one left but us. It may be that we have no choice but to spend Christmas day alone. Christmas, for some, can be an unhappy time. 

For Christians Christmas is the festival that commemorates the birth of Christ, hence the mass for Christ. However, the previous belief systems had festivals that were celebrated at this time of year and existed long before the birth of Jesus. The festivals at this time of year were acknowledging the end of the longest night and the start of the lengthening day. It is the concept, often referred to in both religious, and psychological texts, as time when we are coming out of the darkness into the light. 

These celebrations of the darkness of winter turning toward the light of spring was the solstice for the Druids and Yule for the pagans. Though the timings are slightly different the same concept is there for Hindus in Diwali, the festival of light, and in Islam there is Ramadan and Eid. 

Christianity had tended to piggy back on the Solstice festivals to create the celebration of Christmas. Most authorities suggest that the birth of Jesus was actually later than December 25th.

But, whatever you are celebrating at this time of year, it may be a religious or pagan or simply the celebration of the coming together of your family and friends, not unlike the gypsy horse fair, it is a time for the connection of people and the acknowledgement of society, community and, humanity.

Getting into the spirit of good will

At this time of year in the run up to Christmas people tell me how they will be required to spend the day, perhaps sitting around the dinner table, with people that they don’t like. This is where the good will comes in. It may tax all your powers of forgiveness and your ability to live the law of allowing. That is, allowing people to be what they are and not needing them to be different or what you want them to be.

My hope is that if enough of us can learn to look after each other, not just at Christmas but all year, we might just learn to live in happiness and peace.

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

If you haven’t already done go onto YouTube and listen to “Dominique the Donkey”. It might make you laugh it does me. Or it might get get stuck rattling around your head like a pea in a tin. When you are with someone who is driving you round the bend just sing it to yourself in your head and smile.

If you can, have a good one. And if you can be generous and spread a little love.

Take care

Sean x

The Blame Game and Good will

It has never been a better time to talk seriously about the blame game and good will. As we approach the festive season and, in theory at least, a time of goodwill it seems that we are living in a divided world where everyone is finding reasons to blame other people for something. Globally we have all the issues of wars with Russia and the Ukraine and Israel and Palestine. In world where people seem to need to be looking for who it is that we can blame the only choice that we have is who will blame and for what will we blame then for?

The same thing happens in families. The easy targets are the ones you go for because they are easy to pick on. You can always find someone in the world, or in the family, that is behaving in ways you can disapprove of. The question for me, as a therapist is why do you need to have people to pick on? Often this is because we have unresolved inner issues that are easier to externalise onto other people rather than feel with the issue inside ourselves.

When you are the object of blame, when a person or section of society or family have singled you out for blame it does not matter what you do it will be picked on. If you say anything it will be interpreted as a problem and if you choose to say nothing you will be blamed for holding back.

These attitude make it so difficult to resolve problems. For the opposing side in a war to sit down and resolve a way forward is very difficult and often only possible with truly neutral mediation. The same is true between sections of a family and often in relationship issues/therapy where one or both sides are blaming each other. The biggest issue that I ever deal with is expectation. People see what they need to see and hear what they need to hear despite what is either said or done. Interpretation is everything.

The blame game is played to confirm what we are expecting to happen so that we can prove ourselves to be right. Expectation is very powerful. When we are proved right, or we believe that we are proved right, it makes us feel good and righteous. 

Many years ago in the 1960’s, when smoking dope was the normal, I deliberately rolled a blind joint. There was a group of us, about eight as I recall, I rolled a big spliff using nine cigarette papers. However, there was no dope in it. It was only made of tobacco. I lit it took a toke and passed it on. It went from on person to the next and did several round of the group before it finally went out. Amazingly the group got stoned on a blind joint that had no grass it at all. This little experiment of mine was to discover to what extent people’s expectation would or could effect their experience. It made me realise that unless people are very aware/awake they just experience what they expect and in so ding prove themselves right.

I have done the same thing with wine. Pretending to drink vast amounts of what is actually alcohol free wine leads the censorious and judgemental around us to belief that we are drunk when we are not. I have also repeated the experiment in giving people alcohol free gin and tonic that taste just like the real thing and again people will experience it as though they have actually drunk alcohol.

Anyway, back to the theme of this blog. If any faction sees itself as different from others and preconceived ideas of the thoughts, feels and values of other groups they can start the blame to which there will never a resolution.

Whilst it would appear that blaming other people is normal human behaviour we can actually change this. Through awareness and wake-ness, in what these day is termed mindfulness, we can start to see the world from others people’s points of view and not assume that the way that we see things is the only and the right way, we may be wrong. 

When we are honest with ourselves we can begin to see our own prejudices and in mindfulness begin to question and understand what we are really experiencing. Another person point of view may be wrong but the reasons why they come to the conclusions that they do makes real sense to them and for them they are right. Often we can do little to change another person’s point of view. However, we can change ourselves we do have choice.

Prejudices about race, religion, colour, orientation, and so on are mainly, if not always, driven by ignorance. If we never stop long enough or understand what we are experiencing and checking out what we believe to be the truth we will never, learn, grow are solve the problems of humanity.

So at this time I of goodwill and hope remember…

…If we all look after each other we will al be okay.

I hope that your preparation for the festive season is going well. Look after yourself yourself, look after each other and let’s make it a good one.

Take care 

Sean x


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