Are you responsible for your actions?

In the East they call it karma. This simply means that there is a consequences to your actions. It may be positive or negative it is simply the consequence or the karma of the action that you have taken. The point is that the consequence will happen anyway we have no choice about this. However, we can intervene in our karmic process, this is called Dharma. So, Karma is the consequence of action and Dharma is to act in the right way. In English the nearest word to Dharma is ‘Righteousness’ which means to act in the right way. The philosophy in both Ayurveda and Samkhya is that if you spend your life acting Dharmically you will minimise any negative Karma.

Should we face up to what we do?

In many societies the ability to ‘get away with it’ overrules the need to take responsibility for action. The criminal justice system is full of those who are not prepared to face what they have done. Many people will plead not guilty when they know that they are.

Cause and effect

As the effect, consequences or karma, is a universal law in the end it makes no difference whether or not we take responsibility now we will still be required to pay our debt of negative actions. Equally we will benefit from the consequence or karma from positive actions. We live in a universe of cause and effect.

I have been moved to address this issue in a podcast and a blog when today the news broadcast announced that the American lady who allegedly killed a young man on a motorbike and then flew back to the USA claiming diplomatic immunity has been asked to attend the UK court virtually. Now as this case is alleged we do not know if she is guilty or not. The fact that she ran away and failed to account for her actions does not seem to go in her favour. This leaves the questions ‘why would someone run away’ rather than being accountable?

We have the opposite issue of Prince Andrew who seems to be equally unwilling to go to the USA and answer the allegations being made against him involving the Epstein case.

In Beirut we have recently seen, following an horrendous explosion, the entire government resign. This would seem to be them taking responsibility for their actions and what happened. I am sure that as the story unfolds it will become clearer.

All around us are people who seem to feel that it is okay to act in ways that can hurt or damage other people without taking any responsibility for what they are doing. On social media trolling can be so destructive. Trolling is no different to physical bullying. Bullies, thieves, robbers and muggers all have devastating effects on their victims.

In some countries the law of ‘an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth’ means that the karma is paid back in full measure equally. This would mean that the young men who knowingly towed the police officer on the back of their car until they killed him would have exactly the same done to them.

Karma and Samskars

Have you ever had a tough day, a tough period in life, or felt like nothing else could go wrong and then said ‘I must have been a wicked person in a past life time for this to be happening to me now’? Well you might just be right. The word Dharma means to act in the right way. The word Karma means the consequence of your actions in this life time. The word Samskar means an unresolved karma that was created in a previous lifetime.

We have no way of proving that reincarnation is real but if it is then that means we do not get away with anything, that all debts will have to be paid in full, there are no free lunches, so to speak.

My teacher used to say to me ‘if you are honest there is nowhere you need to run and nothing that you need to hide’. He also said ‘if you act Dharmically in this life time your next life will so much easier’. He explained that the difference between those that were having easy, happy and successful lives were those carrying a light karmic load. Those that were having a difficult, unhappy life were those carrying a heavy karmic load.

In Christianity the concept of repentance suggests that negative karmas can be dissolved if we are genuinely sorry for what we have done. This would assume that we have learned something and seek forgiveness for our actions. Alongside that goes the concept that we should also be able to forgive others for their misdeeds against us.

The bottom line for me is that we are all responsible for what we do, there are no get out clauses. The laws of karma apply to us all whoever we are, politicians, business people, royalty, diplomats, all of us. The nearest that you get to this in Christianity is ‘Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord’ or in other words no one gets away with anything. The choice is , do we face up to what we have done now or do we leave it until later? I don’t know if these unpaid karmic debts gain interest and the lessons become harder over time.

Take care, be kind, try to repair any damage that you do or have done, apologise and forgive and try and do the right thing.

Sean x


I guess that most of us would hope that both happiness and success are the same thing. Ed came in with an article by Arthur Brooks “Success addicts choose being special over being happy” that got us thinking. The sub title to the article was…

“The pursuit of achievement distracts from the deeply ordinary

activities and relationships that make life meaningful.”

That statement was what connected with me. I have seen so many people over so many years chasing some notion of success while, at the same time, blindly destroying everything around them.  All got trodden underfoot, colleagues, friends, family, loved ones. When someone is truly focussed on success and see their end goal as the most important thing in their life then nothing else really matters.

“What you feed grows and what you starve dies”

In every area of life in every situation the definition of success will vary. It might be the need to have the most money, the biggest house, the best car, to be the most famous ever, to have position and status. Success truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Are you good enough to be successful?

When we drive for success what we are saying, in one way or another, is that what we are or what we do, is not good enough. We feel a need to be different to what we are and to where we are or even who we are. I am not suggesting here that we should not have ambition or a drive for self improvement, these things are good. It is that when we seek to become the best we tend to see what is around us as not the best. That where we are and what we are is not good enough.

There is often a snobbery in people that would see themselves as more successful than others.

The key feature of mindfulness is to be at peace in the present, in the moment.

Be here now

As soon as we crave things that are other than what we are or have in the current moment we disconnect from the present. The craving for what we do not have now can lead to an aversion to what is in the now. This is often the seed of both depression from worrying about the now and anxiety for worrying about the future.

Fashion is often an accessory of perceived success

Often we define people by what they have, what they wear or where they live. Fashion and possessions are a common methods of broadcasting what success we have. designer clothing, the ‘go faster’ car model, the latest phone or iPad, the watch, the sunglasses, it all tells our story of how we see ourself and how we want you to see us.

The wise sage is often depicted in very simple and humble clothes as a demonstration that the inner world of wisdom is so more much important than the outer world ‘hey, look at me’.

Fashion feeds an inability in many people to enjoy their present moment. Their clothes are not good enough, their house is not good enough, their car is not good enough, their friends and social circle are not good enough. The real tough stuff comes when someone feels that…

…I am not good enough.

Any psychologist will tell that it is hard, if not impossible, to be successful when you feel that you are not good enough. Lack of self belief might be emotional with a lack of confidence and self esteem. It could be cognitive as in ‘I am stupid’ or ‘not clever enough’. It could be social ‘I have no friends’ or ‘my friends are good enough’. The one thing that I am seeing all around me now is ‘my body is not good enough’. It used to be that people bounced up and down on yo-yo diets needing several sets of clothes as their weight went form heavy to light and back again. This has scarily turned into a body dis morphia, ‘my body is so bad that it needs to be changed’. The cosmetic surgeons and the beauty clinicians filling people’s faces with Botox and fillers are colluding in, and reinforcing, psychological and emotional damage that could blight an entire generation or more.

Listening to people who are breaking down because their Botox is wearing off or their lips are sagging and need filling because without it they do not feel the self esteem of success and cannot leave the house. Some people cannot leave the house without make up, ‘putting their face on’. We have created so many ways of confirming  to ourselves that we are not good enough. When you are not good enough you will never be, or feel, successful.

What is success?

Ed has problems with my definition that he sees as being too simplistic but, to me a successful person is some who is waking with a smile on their face feeling good about the day that they are about to have and then goes to bed with a smile on their face feeling  good about the day that they have just had. To me being successful is being happy. I have worked with people who are financially, socially and famously successful who are the most miserable people that I have ever met. I have also met people on my travels who have very little other than the joy of their family and their community and they were amazingly happy.

So, for me it is not ‘is success better that happiness? It is, being happy is being successful, without happiness there is no success.

Take sometime, look at your life and ask your self the questions, ‘am I happy?’ ‘Am I successful?’

One thing that I have observed is that people that do things that make them happy often create success at the same time.

Take care

Sean x


Big question – Is it selfish to go on holiday abroad during the Covid Pandemic?

Between the 1950s and the 1970s Britains favourite holiday destination was Britain. The West Country was heaving with people, not only from the UK but, from all over the world. The area of Torbay was known as ‘The English Riviera’. B&Bs, hotels, caravan parks and campsites were bursting at the seams. Then came cheap air travel and cheaper holidays in poorer countries such as Spain and Greece. With the marketing for cheap flights to cheap hotels and guaranteed sunshine in Spain, “I’m off to sunny Spain” they all sang, the bottom started to fall out of the British holiday market. Could this be the time for the British holiday to come back?

When all that there was, was staycations the road systems in the UK were so bad that to get to Devon from London took long over eight hours. It was easier to set out at 11pm the night before, drive overnight, and arrive for breakfast in a cafe the next morning. Most people would get the train, it was easier and often quicker. Actually, not so many people owned a car then. The railways ran a service where the would collect your luggage from your home. Your luggage would then be sent down to your destination a few days before you left. It would be there waiting for you at your hotel when you arrived. At the end of the holiday the reverse happened and your luggage arrived at your home a few days after your return.

The Council Estates would empty out onto the holiday trains going to Kent, Norfolk, Devon, Cornwall and so on. Train seats would be booked in advance. The best were with a table, where we could sit as a family, play games and watch the countryside rush by the window. It felt like such a big occasion, a real adventure. These days it seems that we do not feel that we have had a holiday unless we have been abroad which usually means taking a plane.

I have only recently really realised the cost to the environment of air travel. The carbon footprint of a long hall holiday, especially in a jumbo jet, would require you to plant seven trees to compensate for it. Considering that I was flying to the Middle East for one week every month I owe the planet a Forrest!

The Real Staycation

The real staycation meant staying at home for the six weeks of the summer holiday. Some of us on the Council Estate could not always afford a holiday even in the UK. There was that embarrassing moment in September when we returned to school and the first thing we were asked to do was write an essay “What we did on our summer holiday”. We overcame the problem by describing what we had as “days out”. Then followed a fictitious account of what would have happened if we had been able to afford to got to the zoo, the Natural History Museum and so on. When we had to read these out to the class those that enjoyed endless trips to the seaside would look sadly at us describing our ‘days out’, we all knew that we hadn’t been anywhere.

There was a time when people worked seven days a week and the only time that they had off were the ‘Holy Days’ of the religious calendar. Eventually Holy Days turned into Holidays and the Holiday industry began. As the train network developed people went to Spa towns to ‘take the water’. In the south Brighton and Blackpool in the north became holiday destinations of choice. Gradually people by the sea or by lakes realised the sales potential of holidays for workers from the factories and the Bed and Breakfast industry was born. Then came the Hotels with star ratings, started by the AA, from two stars to five. Then came the package holiday and the trips abroad.

Is it selfish to holiday abroad at the moment?

We have just witnessed the holiday makers who rushed to Spain as soon as the lockdown was eased, only to find that they were in another wave of infections leading to their return flights being postponed. Holidays cut short and potential for ten days of isolation on their return as they could be bringing the Covid infection back with them and become infection spreaders. Is it too early to return to holidays until we know that the infection has passed? Is it selfish to go abroad on holiday? Should we be deciding to settle for a real staycation?

Holidays in the Uk make sense to me provided that we take sensible precautions and attend to sanitisation. Not travelling too far would make sense for two reasons. One limiting the spread to areas that have been low risk and reducing our carbon foot print.

The ultimate staycation

Many of us, during lockdown, have been having the ultimate staycation. This has been good for some and a horror for others. How did you get on? The are also many people who either from choice or anxiety will remain in a shielded lockdown for weeks or months to come. Some people have told me that they will not be leaving their home until the New Year. Others have developed agoraphobia and fear leaving their home due to the infection. Some have said that will not go out again until a vaccine is in place. That would probably mean that some people will end up being in ultimate staycation for over twelve months.

One thing that I am hearing about is the redevelopment of community. Groups of people, neighbours, family and friends gathering in small community groups for a picnic, bring your own food, and a chat. Some have been so successful that they are becoming weekly events. People are helping each other out from going to the shops to offering technical support, baking treats and delivering them to friends and neighbours. Could this be the start of a new community based awareness?

One of the things that I have learned during the period of lockdown is how beautiful the place that I live is. On our walks and bike rides we have discovered tracks, byways and cycle paths that were unknown to us. These have introduced us to whole areas all around us that we never even knew existed.

Here is a question that occurs to me, Why do we go on holiday in the summer? If we are going to take a flight to somewhere warm why don’t we do it in the dark months of winter when we could really benefit from a vitamin D boost? Perhaps we could spend the summer holidays actually enjoying where we live and getting to know it better.

Whatever you do this summer take care, stay safe and be happy

Sean x

It is good to cry

Over lockdown, for a variety of reasons I have worked with so many people that are crying. The tears shed have been for lost friends and loved ones, including animals, for lost opportunities, money, relationships, jobs, from total frustration in the helplessness of the situation, for children and grandchildren not seen, in reality the list has been, and continues to be, endless. Virtually all of these people have had one thing in common, they apologised for crying, as though they had let the side down, are being weak or pathetic. It is as though we see shows of genuine emotion as bad. Well, you know what? crying is good for you. The reasons are quite simple.


Like it or not we are evolved naked apes. However unlike all other primates and mammals we have developed a more complex brain structure. The production of endorphins in the brain can lead to chemical over load that can become toxic and damaging. The easiest way to excrete these toxins is through the tear ducts. Subsequently we are the only primates that cry.


When we analyse tears we find that the chemical make up of tears for example, of anger, loss, laughter, happiness and sadness etc., all vary. Tears are not simply tears they are a specific excretion of chemicals.

Geography and tears

Evolution and geography coincide. Nearer to the equator people are much looser, freer and more emotional. The further north, away from the equator, the tighter and less emotional people become. The evolution of this is that as human beings migrated away from the plains of Africa the climate and the geography made different demands on us. Put simply in the equatorial regions food was plentiful all year around, getting fed was a relatively easy event. The further north you go the seasons kick in and the demands of nature require levels of organisation to enable survival. In short, if the barns are not full at harvest we are all dead come the winter.

Cognition versus emotion

Survival in hostile climates requires organisation and logic. There is no room for emotional out bursts that impede the production to survive. In general the further away from the equator you go the less emotional and volatile things are. It could be argued that with urbanisation and industrialisation that our dependence on the cycles of nature have diminished so that people are now allowed to be more emotional. Our grandparents and great grandparents who grew up before cars, radios, telephones, mobiles etc are often seen as being tougher than the younger generations. Perhaps we are observing their need for stoicism that enabled their survival, the make do and mend not throw it away and get something new culture.

Gender and emotion

Amazingly we still live in the world of ‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’. Well actually they do. It is just that most men are still embarrassed about showing emotion. For some reason, probably to do with alpha males, survival and competition, emotion is seen as being weak. It takes a lot to make or allow most men to openly show emotion and then afterwards most will report being embarrassed.

Health and emotion

This is a big one. When we hold emotion and do not express it there is tension created in the cardio vascular system. Our veins and arteries will therefore be constricted, when we feel free to express emotion our system will then relax. Beyond diet and cholesterol, which are highly significant to health, the constriction of the vascular system due to emotional repression can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes etc. The biggest killer of people in the UK is cardio vascular problems not cancer. As soon as someone mentions cancer many people become so anxious that they can’t even name it. Yet no one seems that worried about cardio vascular issues, strange!


It is not yet completely clear but I suspect that a lot of dementia type issues are the result of or exacerbated by emotional repression and the effect that it has on the vascular system in the brain. Being more emotional and less ‘stiff upper lip’ might actually help us to live healthier for longer. The saddest thing is that alongside ‘big boys don’t cry’ runs the fact that men live about six years less than women. I suspect that if men did feel that it was okay to be emotional and to cry, they might actually live longer.

It is good to show your feelings even if it makes you feel vulnerable. It is okay to show your emotions of happiness or sadness. It is okay to cry. It is healthy to cry. It might just allow you to live a longer and happier life.

Take care.

Sean x

372 – What is the subliminal message?

I was mightily impressed with the Jen Reid, Black Lives Matter statue, created by artist Marc Quinn, that was put on to the Colston plinth in Bristol. He named the statue ‘A Surge of Power’. That got me thinking about the statues and the art, design and even architecture around us and the effect that it has on us subliminally, below our awareness.

The dictionary defines subliminal as ‘below the threshold of sensation or consciousness; perceived by or affecting someone’s mind without their being aware of it.’ It makes me wonder what subliminal effect the statue of Colston, as a slave trader, had on the generations that walked passed it?

At the same time Banksy was seen, or not seen in his outfit, putting his artwork in different places on the transport system. All his art carries subliminal messages. Just like advertisers and propagandists artist affect us below our awareness and effect our responses, behaviours and actions.

It took me back to a pod that we did on Nudging which is a modern subliminal way of affecting peoples behaviour below their awareness. This is mainly used in health and safety areas to encourage people to look after themselves. The rumble strips as you approach a roundabout get closer and closer together giving you the sensation that your car is speeding up. Your natural reaction is to slow down. No one has told you to slow down or asked you to slow down you have simply been nudged below you awareness into an action that makes you and other people safer.

Everyday we are nudged by others into doing what it is that we need or want us to do. These can be partners, children, siblings, friends, bosses and so on. If they are subtle we will not realise that we are being nudged. The question is, where does nudging end and manipulation begin? In reality we are all being subliminally nudged and manipulated. We only truly become aware of it when we stop long enough to look and listen to what is going on around us. This is also called mindfulness.

We are right in it at the moment as we are being encouraged to remain socially distanced at one to two metres. Every time you go into a shop there are strips of black a yellow tape showing use the distance that we should be at. Even the fact that it is black and yellow tape is a subliminal message. Poisonous animals in nature such as wasps, bees and snakes colour them selves black and yellow as a subliminal message to other creatures to leave them alone. The subliminal message is that it is dangerous to step over the line. Unless we are blind to it.

The same is true of wearing masks. The subliminal pictures are and will encourage us to use face coverings. The more effective the subliminal messaging the more people will wear the masks.

The Negative Bias

Evolutionary psychology explains that as we, indeed all beings on the planet, evolved we learned pretty early on that staying safe was a very good idea. This meant that we learned to pay more attention to the painful scary things than to the pleasurable things. This is known in psychology as the negative bias. We all know people who catastrophize events, make mountains out of mole hills and always seeing the worst possible outcomes, they are simply playing out the evolutionary negative bias to keep them self and those that they care about safe.

But there is another negative bias that subliminally effects our actions in this pandemic. These are the messages that are put out by the nay sayers. On my social media feeds there are plenty of people that do not believe that Covid 19 actually exists they see it as a conspiracy by ‘them’, who ever ‘they’ are, to control ‘us’, whoever ‘we’ are. I am unsure about the conspiracy theories though I am very sure about the effect that Covid 19 is having on my colleagues in the NHS.

There are two things here. The first is, do you believe that there is a virus or not? The second is that, whatever you belief how do you know what you know? Either way most of what you believe or feel about Covid 19 you will have assimilated it subliminally. The same is also true about your beliefs and action towards climate change. Is it just a fluctuation in the natural weather cycles or are we heading for a climate disaster? Are plastics the scourge that will decimate sea life and destroy the natural food cycles? Or, is it okay to keep on using plastics and dumping them in the ocean? All these questions right down to ‘Back Lives Matter’ are issues that we are being fed information about, subliminally, all the time.

Security and behaviour

Our behaviour is based around our need for security, for our need  to feel safe or normal. This can make us vulnerable to be nudged by any subliminal message that might make us feel insecure or threatened. The easiest way to control people is to feed them negative subliminal messages that engender fear.

Mindfulness is the only option that we have to become truly aware of who we are and what we are doing and also to be aware of others and what exactly they are up to. My stock phrase is ‘what is the sound behind their words? What do they really mean when they said that?’ ‘Can I take what they are saying at face value?’

In mindful awareness we live in a world of choice and if we are being subliminally nudged, but we are mindful enough to be aware of it, we might choose to enjoy it and see where it takes us. After all life is about learning?

Take care and be happy (that is a subliminal nudge by the way)

Sean X (so is the X that infers that I care without actually saying it)

371 The cost of staying on top

I had a realisation during lockdown that concerns our recycling, there is so much of it. It began with the realisation on the amount of stuff that we had in our grey recycling bin when it is emptied every two weeks, scary. I started looking at what I personally was contributing to the plastic mountain that is developing around the world and the mass that I’d dropped into the sea. So decision one, stop using all cosmetic products that come in plastic containers. This has been easier than I expected. I now have bars of body soap, hair soap and conditioner, then I found some blocks of toothpaste in cardboard containers. The next on the list is shaving soap. No more aerosols or plastic tubes. I am trying to be sensible and use up all the stuff that remains in plastic containers. After all, each piece of plastic that we currently create will be around for about 450 years, ouch!

Next up is tea bags. I did not realise until recently that tea bags are lined with plastic. So it is back to the loose tea and a tea spoon, I guess the name of the spoon explains a lot. I notice that on the TV they are now advertising coffee bags which, I assume, must also be lined with plastic. This journey into plastics, and my growing intention to stop, if possible, my personal use of single use plastic over this year, took me to view the Espresso machines that we use. The issue here is Nespresso capsules. The system produces wonderful coffee but at what cost to the environment. Nespresso claim that their capsules are all recyclable. Interestingly Ed sent me a Guardian article that suggests that very few of the capsules are actually recycled and that the vast majority end up in landfill any way. The recyclability of the capsules was one of my excuses for enjoying the Nespresso coffee. Worst of all it turns out that though the capsules are mainly aluminium they do also contain plastic. Now, there are refillable stainless steel capsules that are comparable with the Nespresso machine that would solve the problem. Good coffee produced in a good coffee machine but without the waste.

The issue that Ed raised when he suggested this podcast was ‘the cost of staying on top’ and reading the Guardian article it would imply that many manufacturers, not just Nestle, have to do more and more to stay on top and maintain their market share or grow their market share. While I started our drinking Nespresso in the belief that that had the recycling business sown up can I really now justify the ongoing level of waste and pollution that the system would appear to be producing? The only answer for me is to invest in the reusable pods and fill them myself with the best coffee. The magic of the Nespresso system is that they have perfected a way of blowing high pressure are through the coffee that creates the Creme that is distinctive in all good Italian coffees.

I know carry a stainless steel silicone lidded coffee cup in the car so that I don’t have to use yet another paper/plastic cup when I’m out and about and need my fix! Once I start thinking like this I wonder if I can justify the endless plastic bags that the vegetables come in. It seems that in the end the cost of staying on top, for most manufacturers, is our health and the destruction of the planet. 

As we come out of lockdown what world will we be coming out to? There are times in the social economic cycle when we have choices to make things different. Many people are looking at where and how they work. At transport and walking or using a bike. I hope that many have also been looking at their consumption and the amount of waste that we each produce.

Perhaps there is a point when staying on top is the result of creating less pollution and becoming more planet friendly. If we as consumers learn to go after products that do have good and honest green credentials then the negative effect that we have on the planet will also diminish. As long as we chase convenience, and the ease of things like for example ready cooked meals we will keep creating even more waste and while the companies that produce these goods will stay on top, they will also kill us and the planet.

I will climb down off the hobby horse now and leave you with this thought. Every bit of plastic that you use today will remain somewhere in the environment for another 450 years. In that time it will not offer anything good or reusable by nature it will simply poison and pollute.

Take care, recycle and avoid single use plastic as much as possible.

Sean x

How to be useful

As we emerge from lockdown we are like hibernating animals waking from a long winters sleep into the blinding light of a spring day. For many of us, in the hibernation of lockdown, we have forgotten who we are, what we do and how we function. We have forgotten how to be useful.

Many of the people that I have been talking to over the last three or four months do not want the world to return to how it was before lockdown. What does this really mean?


Many have had the realisation that they have been working too hard. For some there is the realisation that they can now work differently. They do not have to spend hours travelling to meetings struggling through traffic and other people’s bad tempers. They can now do it all online from the comfort of their home office. We seem to be developing an appreciation of and understanding of time and how we use it.


So many people have said how they feel much more relaxed while at the same time doing the same amount of work from home. Some have said they have been even more productive yet don’t feel the same level of stress that they did when they were going into the workplace.

Connection with colleagues

Some are saying that they need to touch base with colleagues, that there are times when they need to see people in real life, not just on a screen. However this usually comes with the caveat, “not everyday of the week. Maybe one or two”. It seems that a lot of us now like working from home and event prefer it to going into the workplace.


A great many report feeling that their family relationships have improved. Even in crazy situations when both parents are working from home and attempting home schooling at the same time. People are telling me that they feel closer as families and that this is something that they would like to continue.


The realisation of pollution and our effect on it has come as people are seeing clearer skies and brighter colours. The move towards bikes rather than cars and the new experiments with scooters would suggest that we are all becoming more aware.

How to be useful

So, how can we be useful in this new post lockdown world? I guess that number one is ensuring that we don’t create another wave, through inappropriate behaviours and flouting the rules about social distancing. But if you now have time or are needing to change your work situation how can you be useful to yourself and to others?

What will your work look like from now onwards?

Before I started writing this I was online with someone who has been told that they will not be able to return to work before January 2021. Luckily they will continue to be paid a furloughed wage but cannot perform any of their roles from home. They have time to fill.

So if you, like so many, have time on your hands what can you do with it? Who can you help?

Helping yourself

While some people have been jumping around to Joe Wicks and keeping fit many have put on the pounds and become more sedentary. Helping yourself out of lock down might include getting off your butt and moving your body. Walk, run, join an outside exercise class or boot camp, do some online workouts, do some home weights.

Next is your diet. We know that eating carbs makes us feel good because the brain responds by secreting more serotonin, the happy hormone. Many have been overdoing the chocolate, biscuits and crisps and now we have the issue of the takeaways opening up again. Then there is the booze. Alcohol consumption in the UK has spiked in lockdown, plenty of calories there. Time for some booze free days during the week, helps with both the weight and the exercise regime. Perhaps now is the time to dust off the bike in the shed and get peddling.

Helping others helping ourselves

One thing that has been highlighted in lockdown is the number of people who live alone and have therefore not see anyone for months. Who is there around you that would benefit from a chat or an offer to do the shopping?

If you do have time on your hands what about the charities that have been starved of resources during lockdown? How many could benefit from your help and your time?

What about the community that we live in? Have you noticed that there has been no body cutting grass verges or the weeds that are growing in the gutters or at the bottom of walls? It wouldn’t take much to nip out with a mower or cutter and tidy it all up.

Have you noticed the amount of rubbish building up in the streets? As council staff have been furloughed it has tended to be left to mount up. Well a few minutes with a bin bag would really help.

The next step

Over all if we look at what is happening and what will be happening we do have choices. We can choose how we work, how we live and the state of ourselves and the places that we life. There needs to be a fundamental shift and if we stop waiting for or expecting that other people will make ‘it’ right for us and we take the responsibility for making it right. I know that many people feel let down by government and the systems over all right across the world. We have choices, we do not need to be victims, we can get involved we can create change.

So, what do you want to happen next? What are prepared to do about it?

Maybe nows the time to sit down and have a think about it?

Take care

Sean x

Is a Liar a Liar?

This week I posted this question on Facebook ‘If a liar believes what they say are they lying?’and got some very interesting responses. If you have ever had to deal with a liar you may well have a very strong point of view. The word ‘liar’ is an interesting one.

We have what are known as ‘little white lies’ when we avoid telling somebody something that we know might hurt them or distress them. Most of us, at some point, will have varied reality to help another person. Perhaps you child has just failed at an exam, sports event or a performance and so we may play it down and tell them how wonderful they have been. In these cases we bend the truth a little to make the other person feel better.

Only we can decide if our feedback to others is based in honesty or a doctored version of the truth that verges on being a lie.

Many people will use a version of the truth to further their cause. We see this everyday in politics. Currently with Covid we have examples of this everyday. The classic has been over the testing, when we later discover that figures were a convenient version of the truth so that the test figure included all those test that had been sent out not those that had been completed and a swob of a persons nose and mouth counts as two tests, and so on. Politics is full of what Winston Churchill referred to as ‘lies, damn lies and statistics. He was also reprimanded by the speaker for calling an MP a liar. He apologised and changed the wording from liar to a ‘terminological inexactitude’. I have known many people who have been otherwise known as liars.

Lying moves from these, what I might call good lies, to those that are deliberately and directly negative bad lies. These may be used to con you out of your money, get you into bed, or make you do something that you never intended or wanted to do. If I tell you a lie about a mutual friend telling you that they had said bad things about you or had done bad things to you it could understandably wreck your relationship with them. I have seen these types of things happen in the workplace when someone is attempting to get promotion and they lie and stand on their colleagues emotionally to achieve what they want.

So, here we have two distinctions in lying. The first is if the lie is to avoid hurting other peoples feelings or making a situation worse. This can happen at a funeral when the person in the box takes on the status of a saint and everyone says nice things about them when this may differ from how we knew them in life, who would it serve to “tell our truth”

Then we have the lies that are designed for the liar to get some advantage which could be money, position, status, power and so on.

Then we get into the world of psychology and mental health. A pathological liar is someone who lies compulsively. This is the result of an inner illness, syndrome, condition or even physical damage.

If someone suffering with Tourettes, who is disinhibited, may not be able to stop telling you that you have a massive big nose. In a sense they are being completely honest. The person who does not have Tourettes and is not disinhibited may also see that you have a massive big nose but does not say anything. Does that make them a liar?

Many psychiatric disorders can lead to someone always telling the truth, say what you see, to the point of offensiveness, others may appear to manufacture lies. Often these lies are not manufactured they are simply that person’s interpretation of events.

Anyone who has collected witness statements will tell you that a group of people experiencing the same events will tell different stories. None of them are lying it is just that they see the world from different points of view and are each telling their own truth they are not lying. When I was child and a Nun told me that smoking was a good thing and it helped distressed men relax and calm down she was not thinking of cancer or COPD.

If the engineers who put the cladding on high rise buildings, that we now know is flammable, if they did not know it was a fire risk they were acting honestly and not involved in any lies. Could we say the same for the manufacturer and the safety officers?

When a couple are getting divorced would we say that they were lying when they made promises to each other in the marriage ceremony  – until death do us part?

It would seem to me that unless you are being reckless and attempting to outwit others by not telling them the truth to take advantage of them, then the moving sands of time can change the way that we see the world. All we can do is to be honest to ourself in the present moment. Later we may realise that what we thought or believed was the truth was in fact a lie or not true. We then have a choice as what we can put right or not.

My hope is that most people are fairly straight and would seek to tell the truth. I do accept that there will always be the purveyors of terminological inexactitudes around us and maybe even leading us. Our job is to be aware enough to know the difference between the good lies, the bad lies, the psychiatric disorders and the truth. Though in the end my truth will simply be the way that I see it at that time.

Hey ho, aren’t human beings complicated?

Take care and be discerning

Sean x

TSHP368: COVID19 Stole My Dreams

What’s Coming This Episode?

The virus has ruined the plans of all of us. From holidays to weddings, christenings and exams. Everything has been pushed back or cancelled. A wedding is a big part of a person’s life – so how do we come to terms with the delay and cancellation of our moments? Let’s talk it through…

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

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Expectations and Acceptance