Grief – the truth about the support you need to navigate life…

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(Re-published – an article from Tim Lawrence)

I emerge from todays conversation dumbfounded. I’ve seen this a million times before, but it still gets me every time.

I’m listening to a man tell a story that tragedy had engendered positive changes in life, as a result of this devastation,  the person is living a wonderful life.

And then he utters the words. The words that are responsible for nothing less than emotional, spiritual and psychological violence:

Everything happens for a reason. That this was something that had to happen in order for personal growth.

That’s the kind of bullshit that destroys lives. And it is categorically untrue.

It is amazing to me—after all these years understanding people in pain—that so many of these myths persist. The myths that are nothing more than platitudes cloaked as sophistication. The myths that preclude us from doing the one and only thing we must do when our lives are turned upside down: grieve.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve heard these countless times. You’ve probably even uttered them a few times yourself. And every single one of them needs to be annihilated.

Let me be crystal clear: if you’ve faced a tragedy and someone tells you in any way, shape or form that your tragedy was meant to be, that it happened for a reason, that it will make you a better person, or that taking responsibility for it will fix it, you have every right to remove them from your life.

Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When dreams die, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.

So I’m going to repeat a few words I’ve uttered countless times; words so powerful and honest they tear at the hubris of every jackass who participates in the debasing of the grieving:

Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.

These words come from my friend Megan Devine, one of the only writers in the field of loss and trauma I endorse. These words are so poignant because they aim right at the pathetic platitudes our culture has come to embody on a increasingly hopeless level. Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Being left to fend on your own when you need support can not be fixed.

They can only be carried.

I hate to break it to you, but although devastation can lead to growth, it often doesn’t. The reality is that it often destroys lives. And the real calamity is that this happens precisely because we’ve replaced grieving with advice. With platitudes. With our absence.

In many ways I have lived an extraordinary life. I’ve been deeply blessed by the professional opportunities I’ve had and the radically unconventional life I’ve built in the past. Yet even with that said, I’m hardly being facetious when I say that loss has not in and of itself made me a better person. In fact, in many ways it’s hardened me.

While so much loss has made me acutely aware and empathetic of the pains of others, it has made me more insular and predisposed to hide myself. I have a more cynical view of human nature, and a greater impatience with those who are unfamiliar with what loss does to people.

Above all, I’ve been left with a pervasive survivor’s guilt that has haunted me all my life. This guilt is really the genesis of my hiding, self-sabotage and brokenness.

In short, my pain has never been eradicated, I’ve just learned to channel it into my work with others. I consider it a great privilege to work with others in pain, but to say that my losses somehow had to happen in order for my gifts to grow would be to trample on the memories of all those I lost too young; all those who suffered needlessly, and all those who faced the same trials I did early in life, but who did not make it.

I’m simply not going to do that. I’m not going to construct some delusional narrative fallacy for myself so that I can feel better about being alive. I’m not going to assume that God ordained me for life instead of all the others so that I could do what I do now. And I’m certainly not going to pretend that I’ve made it through simply because I was strong enough; that I became “successful” because I “took responsibility.”

Because understanding is harder than posturing. Telling someone to “take responsibility” for their loss is a form of benevolent masturbation. It’s the inverse of inspirational porn: it’s sanctimonious porn.

Personal responsibility implies that there’s something to take responsibility for. You don’t take responsibility for being raped or losing your child. You take responsibility for how you choose to live in the wake of the horrors that confront you, but you don’t choose whether you grieve. We’re not that smart or powerful. When hell visits us, we don’t get to escape grieving.

This is why all the platitudes and fixes and posturing are so dangerous: in unleashing them upon those we claim to love, we deny them the right to grieve.

In so doing, we deny them the right to be human. We steal a bit of their freedom precisely when they’re standing at the intersection of their greatest fragility and despair.

No one—and I mean no one—has that authority. Though we claim it all the time.

The irony is that the only thing that even can be “responsible” amidst loss is grieving.

So if anyone tells you some form of get over it, move on, or rise above, you can let them go.

If anyone avoids you amidst loss, or pretends like it didn’t happen, or disappears from your life, you can let them go.

If anyone tells you that all is not lost, that it happened for a reason, that you’ll become better as a result of your grief, you can let them go.

Let me reiterate: all of those platitudes are bullshit.

You are not responsible to those who try to shove them down your throat. You can let them go.

I’m not saying you should. That is up to you, and only up to you. It isn’t an easy decision to make and should be made carefully. But I want you to understand that you can.

I’ve grieved many times in my life. I’ve been overwhelmed with shame and self-hatred so strong it’s nearly killed me.

The ones who helped—the only ones who helped—were those who were there. And said nothing.

In that nothingness, they did everything.

I am here—I have lived—because they chose to love me. They loved me in their silence, in their willingness to suffer with me, alongside me, and through me. They loved me in their desire to be as uncomfortable, as destroyed, as I was, if only for a week, an hour, even just a few minutes.

Most people have no idea how utterly powerful this is.

Are there ways to find “healing” amidst devastation? Yes. Can one be “transformed” by the hell life thrusts upon them? Absolutely. But it does not happen if one is not permitted to grieve. Because grief itself is not an obstacle.

The obstacles come later. The choices as to how to live; how to carry what we have lost; how to weave a new mosaic for ourselves? Those come in the wake of grief. It cannot be any other way.

Grief is woven into the fabric of the human experience. If it is not permitted to occur, its absence pillages everything that remains: the fragile, vulnerable shell you might become in the face of catastrophe.

Yet our culture has treated grief as a problem to be solved, an illness to be healed, or both. In the process, we’ve done everything we can to avoid, ignore, or transform grief. As a result, when you’re faced with tragedy you usually find that you’re no longer surrounded by people, you’re surrounded by platitudes.

What to Offer Instead

When a person is devastated by grief, the last thing they need is advice. Their world has been shattered. This means that the act of inviting someone—anyone—into their world is an act of great risk. To try and fix or rationalize or wash away their pain only deepens their terror.

Instead, the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge. Literally say the words:

I acknowledge your pain. I am here with you.

Note that I said with you, not for you. For implies that you’re going to do something. That is not for you to enact. But to stand with your loved one, to suffer with them, to listen to them, to do everything but something is incredibly powerful.

There is no greater act than acknowledgment. And acknowledgment requires no training, no special skills, no expertise. It only requires the willingness to be present with a wounded soul, and to stay present, as long as is necessary.

Be there. Only be there. Do not leave when you feel uncomfortable or when you feel like you’re not doing anything. In fact, it is when you feel uncomfortable and like you’re not doing anything that you must stay.

Because it is in those places—in the shadows of horror we rarely allow ourselves to enter—where the beginnings of healing are found. This healing is found when we have others who are willing to enter that space alongside us. Every grieving person on earth needs these people.

Thus I beg you, I plead with you, to be one of these people.

You are more needed than you will ever know.

And when you find yourself in need of those people, find them. I guarantee they are there.

Everyone else can go.

(This post was originally written by Tim Lawrence ~ My gratitude to him for his amazing humanness)

“Don’t forget to love yourself ~ a poem by The Motive”

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Darling,

Open your eyes. You are not made up of those words that hurt you – Make peace with yourself.

You are not that number on the scale. You are not the expectations that you feel you will never meet – you are not the pain you are carrying.

You are made up of nothing more than you. Simply, beautifully, wonderfully, uniquely you – and you are worthy of love.

You are a lovely and complex soul. A soul of spiritual, emotional and alchemical complexity, wrapped in a human shell.

An individually fascinating combination of thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions.

No one is as beautiful as you in your own soul.
Look past the mirror. Look at your soul and spiritual essence.

Only then will you see yourself as you truly are. Beautiful.

So smile… you are more then the sum of your past.
And don’t forget to love yourself…

The Spectrum of Life… Lies, grief and trauma – the indifference of judgement

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I wrote in my book “The Motive of the conversation” this quote “We are what we create” the quote has recently morphed – “We are what we create – and more importantly what we are prepared to understand and accept.”

In the photo attached to this post is a brain dump of the work I am focused on as I prepare for my next assignment in the Middle East – developing the strategy for the NEOM city of the future… The difficulty I now face is that the spectrum of life I have lived is forcing me to ask new and even more difficult questions about life and humanity as we live it.

I have found myself at a stage of my life where I am being tested, I am being reminded that we are all deeply fragile, and more importantly we are all imperfect.

I can put my hand on my own heart and say that I have walked my life fully capable of deep and enduring forgiveness, this  ability to place myself in the shoes of other people has been both a blessing and a curse… In many ways the blessing can be explained in this way…

I have loved, I have loved beyond the realms of normality, to be in this place of deep and absolute love I have accepted the imperfections of the souls I have loved, this has not always been possible, however with the souls I speak of and write about here I can say without any doubt that I have loved with all of me… from the depths of my soul, my spiritual essence, physically and emotionally… And this love has allowed me to accept the path and choices these souls have walked. As a partner and prior to my journey with them…

My own life has been a mix of trauma, shame and grief, mixed with achievement, turning adversity into positive energy, and also deception… Deception in regard to my vision of myself and also others…

But lets stay focused on the love… my mum, who I loved dearly, and even now still love and honour, even though she as passed lived a difficult life. Her journey was conflicted, self medicating with Alcohol and prescribed drugs. I share this not to speak badly of my mum, but to acknowledge the trauma that drove her to such a troubled journey. My mum passed at 70 years of age, under circumstances I still struggle to come to terms with. I have also walked my own grief and difficulties based on losing friends and family who were addicted to recreational drugs… again something I find difficult because I could have done more to help or prevent the circumstances.

So, the spectrum of life, by default I have chosen not to use my trauma to self medicate, I have a made choices or decisions to walk my own journey in this regard..

So to my journey of love… both of the souls I know I have loved have had their own journey with Alcohol, Drugs and relationships… both of them experienced huge trauma and abuse… something I have also experienced in my life, my own journey being mired with Violence from my father…

But I chose to understand, I made a conscious decision to understand their past, the decisions, the choices, the decision to self medicate, to create a place of numbness… I understood, more importantly I never judged… I just decided to love.

So lets come to my own journey, I have had to lie my whole life, the beatings I had as a child meant I would turn up at school and lie, I had fallen down the stairs, or had a bad weekend racing my motor-cross bike as a kid. Or I had fallen off my bike, I lost track of the lies… The need to protect my mum from the looks and questions at school. And this journey became the norm…

I can list the moments, protecting my brother from the police when he was drunk or high on drugs when my mum called me on weekends he was on a bender… Renting a house for my mum and her partner, lying to friends about their financial situation so they were accepted on the lease. lying to my partner about paying the same lease… the list is endless… years and years of it.. protecting them, and compromising my own life…

But what do you do, how do you navigate the potential that you could ruin someone else’s life by simply just telling the truth.. in my own way I just made excuses for it…

I don’t believe there is a person on the planet that has not lied, deceived or hidden something to protect someone they love… me? I am no different…

But the shame this causes is huge, its debilitating and in my experience it has almost ended my life… but what I have come to learn recently is my ability to have huge amounts of compassion, of understanding and to be able to place myself in the shoes of the souls I love, is not reciprocal… people are not always prepared to understand or want to accept that they may also be in the same place you are, or have made the same choices.

This is the full spectrum of life, people are not always prepared to see life through your eyes, understand your perspective, or have the ability to own their choices so that they understand yours.

We are in the end alone on this journey, we may have loved a soul with all that we can be, we may have been courageous enough to own our mistakes, our deception or the reasons for it, but in reality we are alone when we make those choices.

NEOM – I sat with my team this morning discussing the need for compassion, understanding and emotional intelligence, the ability to understand on every level, that we are all human and imperfect. But does that mean we should walk life being indifferent to each other? how can we judge someone sitting on the side of the path with no shoes, do we know his or her story? do we truly know?

My own story is one of trying to do my best, and sometimes failing and sometimes achieving beyond the expectations of myself and those I love.. But I have made huge mistakes… I grieve the lost of those I have loved, but I know I loved them, I wish that they had taken the time to understand me the way I understood them.. but we all have different perspectives, all have different visions and different abilities to understand.

I realised recently that having people being indifferent towards you, even when you are prepared to face your own demons is one of life’s most difficult journeys. For others this indifference is just a choice people make when they don’t want to check themselves for the things they have done… I have come to see this moment as an opportunity for self growth, self reflection and self engagement and to be a better person.

I still carry the lies for the souls I have loved, why? because I can never openly speak out about the choices they made or more importantly judge them for making those choices… I am in the end compassionate and see that I am also imperfect too…

My mum? I walk my biggest lie because of guilt, knowing my own journey May in 2013 and the choice made to drive home whilst tired was responsible for her passing, and still not reconciling with it… We all carry out own baggage and demons… hopefully they offer us time to reflect and find peace…

The Motive

 

 

Our Greatest Super-power is Forgiveness, but how do we forgive ourselves?

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I remember a time when my children had spent the weekend dressing up as a superheros’. Having­ watched movies with their favourite superheros saving the world: I want to be a superhero when I grow up,’ they say in unison. It is dif­ficult to “dash their hopes,” especially when you see how convincing she’s becoming at leaping through the air. However, it is a parent’s sad duty to do just that.

The truth is, of course, that it is not necessary to fly or have superhuman strength to be Godlike. I sat on the bed and said a prayer with them.

The truth is, nobody can live to the full as long as they are bur­dend by baggage. This miracle only happens when someone says or decides that no matter how much it hurts: ‘It never happened. It is then that the past is transfigured through an act that cancels all debts.

This does not demand superhuman strength or a colourful outfit. All it demands are those Godlike virtues of love, compassion and kindness. It is strength that comes wrapped in humility. Valour that comes clothed in vulnerability.

To forgive is to defy the logic of give­ and ­take, of cause and effect, of action and reaction. It is a giving away that expects nothing in return. And that is why it is so difficult, for when we humans give we naturally expect to get something back.

The wonder of it is that we can rise higher than our nature. We can fly to barely imaginable heights. We can move mountains of emotional and psychological baggage with a simple healing word. The great irony is that my daughters’ superheroes go to incredible lengths to do things that we can do with far less effort. you don’t need alien powers or an affinity with bats to heal and help, to restore and console. you don’t need to turn back time in order to cancel the past. All you need is a loving heart and a willingness to let go.

The other night, as I put my own little ‘Supergirl’ to bed, I sat with her and said a prayer, I asked for forgiveness from her and those I’d wronged. I apologised for something I did that let her down, in attempting to take my life I’d let her down… . ‘It’s all right, Daddy she said as I cried, I forgive you,’ replied. Little did she know that her dream had just become a reality.

forgiving ones self is in truth one of life’s most difficult journeys, I’ve walked a life of complex moments, with highs and lows, knowing that my time here on the planet is mostly about helping others.. but I have often found my past or moments of my past haunting me…

We all lie.. all of us. But I’ve experienced life at its most dark when lying to protect others… and I’ve come to realise that these decisions are the most difficult. People say “there is no excuse for it.” But! There is a time where the decision to compromise oneself can be easier then destroying someone else’s life. However, make this decision knowing that one day it will come back to haunt you… it will leave you being judged and it has the potential to destroy your life…

And how do you forgive yourself for that moment or decision to put another persons grief, pain or life before your own? And will asking for forgiveness even matter for those who now judge you? But mostly, how do you forgive yourself so you can life a full life?

When “I’m Sorry” Is Not Enough

There are some wrongs that can never be made right. Some things from the past can never be made good again. No amount of “I’m sorry’s” or “Please forgive me’s” will make a bit of difference. They almost seem to make everything worse.

When the hateful words have been said, when the trust has been broken, there might not ever be a way of making it better. Some people just don’t care about you anymore. Some people write you out of their lives and gladly never look back. Some simply choose not to forgive, not wanting to let the person “off the hook”. And some just don’t have to capacity to let go of the pain.

Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter. People have the right to hold on to the hurt as long as they choose. Most of us have done some terrible things and forgiveness is just not an option for those we’ve hurt.

When we, as the “wrongdoers” are not granted restitution for our mistakes, we have to accept this. If we’ve been honest with our part in the errors we’ve made, asked humbly for forgiveness and offered to do whatever we can to make it better, we’ve done all we can do. If our loved one cannot or will not accept our request, we can go no further. We’re drunks, not Superheroes.

The pain of not being forgiven cuts deep, sometimes much deeper than the original reason such forgiveness is sought. Maybe that’s the motive for our loved ones not to forgive us. Maybe they want us to hurt for as long as possible. They want to dig in the spurs for the rest of our lives to get back at us for the mess we’ve put them through. Maybe the love and trust is gone forever and the relationship is damaged beyond repair. This continued pain for past wrongs hurts just as it is intended to. It’s our turn to see how it feels.

In recovery, we grow hearts; we feel everything. We no longer run from the pain or numb our spirits from consequences. But we also grow backbones. We no longer crawl before anyone, even those we love dearly that we so desperately want to mend fences with but will not allow it.

When the wreckage from our past stares us in the face and no restitution is granted, it’s over. There’s absolutely nothing more we can do. Going back and re-writing the past is impossible.

Our responsibility now is to ourselves and our fellows. We put one foot in front of the other, hold our head high with the knowledge we would never do those things again, and be the best person to ourselves and to others that we can, for one day at a time.

Lack of forgiveness does not mean defeat. It is not an excuse to wallow in more self pity. It is a chance to humble ourselves to the fact that we have been hurtful beings and to own our part of that. Then all we can do is move forward, learn from it and let go.

never forgiving is a grasping for retroactive control over a slight that has already happened.

Peace will come once you can do more to bring balance in relation to life and energy.

Learn to Forgive Yourself Even When You’ve Hurt Someone Else

“Be gentle first with yourself if you wish to be gentle with others.” ~Lama Yeshe

Think back to the last time somebody apologized to you about something. Did you forgive them? There is a very good chance that you did.

Now think back to the last time you harmed someone else. Have you forgiven yourself? Probably not.

We all make mistakes. Oftentimes, through our actions, somebody gets hurt.

How to Forgive Yourself Right Now

1. Accept yourself and your flaws.

Know that despite your flaws, you are okay as you are. Your flaws, rather than making you “less” of a person, are what make you who you are. What you think of as a defect actually makes you far more interesting to others.

You are not perfect. You make mistakes.

But you are also on a path of growth. Your mistakes and failures help you improve. As flawed as you may be, you must accept yourself, flaws and all, if you are to make progress in your life.

2. Remember that you are not a bad person.

You can do something wrong while still being a good person. A lot of guilt or shame can make you feel like there is something wrong with you.

Realize, right now, that there is a very big difference between doing a bad thing and being a bad person. Even when you do something that you regret, you most likely had a valid reason for doing it at the time (even if that reason doesn’t make rational sense).

You didn’t do something bad because you are a fundamentally bad person; there was an intent, or valid motivation, behind your action.

3. Talk to someone.

Sometimes you just need to get it off your chest. Talking to someone else about what is bothering you can have serious benefits.

Another perspective. When you are upset at yourself, emotions can cloud your reasoning abilities. A friend will often point out a reason why you deserve to forgive yourself that you never would have seen.
Social support. You always feel better when somebody else has your back. Knowing that other people are less critical of you then you are of yourself can be encouraging.
Therapy. Professional help may be necessary or at least a good decision in some cases. If your self-hatred seems insurmountable, you might want to consider this.
4. Talk to your internal voice.

It can be useful to “personalize” your internal voice. Imagine that there is some other entity that is thinking your self-critical thoughts and have a conversation with them.

It might sound silly, but you should give this entity a name, which will reinforce the idea that this voice is separate from you.

During your “conversation” I want you to ask your internal, critical voice what its positive intention is. This voice is saying what it’s saying for a reason. It might be to protect you, to prevent you from making the same mistake again, or to help you improve in some way.

When you realize that your thoughts of guilt or shame are intended for your benefit, it becomes easier to forgive yourself. You can find another way to satisfy that positive intent while reducing your guilty feelings.

In my case, one of the positive intentions of my internal voice constantly shaming me was to help me remember. Since forgiving myself, I have dedicated each of my yoga sessions to the ones I’ve loves which ensures that they will not be forgotten.

5. Do the best friend test.

Imagine your best friend had done exactly what you did and then came to you for advice. What would you tell them?

You would reassure them and tell them not to be so hard on themselves. You would tell them that everyone makes mistakes. You would tell them that they deserve to be forgiven.

Why can’t you say this to yourself?

(Erin Pavlina has written a fantastic example of using this technique that I highly recommend checking out!)

Forgiving yourself is far more challenging than forgiving someone else because you must live with yourself and your thoughts 24/7. Despite the challenge, emotionally healthy people must have the capacity to forgive themselves when they have made a mistake.

When you forgive yourself, you are not pretending as though it never happened. On the contrary, you are acknowledging that your actions have consequences. But the consequences need not include self-inflicted negative feelings.

Not forgiving yourself is like picking at an open wound; you are only making a bad situation worse. The wound is already there, but you do have control over your reaction to it, and you can stop it from getting worse.

If you forgive yourself when you make a mistake, it’s easier to address the consequences of your action in a productive way.

In the end we are human, we make mistakes, we fail, we fall.. we can only do our best.. my decision to lie to protect others has over time cost me dearly.. yet I find myself still living in that space.. having to walk life holding someone else’s lie.. knowing that if I told the truth, it would destroy the life they lead… we chose to compromise our lives knowing that deep down there is a reason for that moment, we hope in time others will come to understand… most of all we have to find a way to forgive ourselves for the decisions and choices we make ~ The Motive 🙏🏼

 

Love is about risk… it’s about dreams and believing in yours…

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True wisdom is priceless, precious and practical, it has the power to set people free from the fears and anxieties that hold them back… we must learn that love without fear is one of life’s gifts… it’s only when fear and angst enters our relationships that we lose ourselves and our way… there is no shame in leaning into your loved one and telling him or her that you need their love to guide you… a strong and loving partnership will only grow if you trust each other with the ability to show your self and show up for each other… it’s in a couples oneness..

The Motive of the Conversation!

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The Motive…. Forward.
As I search for answers to a number of life’s questions, I hope in some way the answers will open my own vision and understanding of the world and society we live in. As I’ve walked this journey and as I wrote my last book, I realised with a resound sadness that many of the others that I share my living journey with also struggle with the same questions. In fact I’d go as far as saying the population of the planet has at some stage asked the same question.

However, as I asked these questions and looked for the answers, I shared my thoughts with more people, one aspect became clearer as I sought the counsel of others. Each of us may well ask the same questions, however, whilst the questions are the same, every single person has a very different perspective.

So, in defining that as humans we have the gift of free thought, how is it we as a global population ask the same question? And why do we let others cloud our vision?

My own personal journey has in many ways opened my mind to clarifying this aspect of human behaviour, but before I ask, let’s set the point of view. Let’s make sure we are all asking the question from the same point of origin.

And to simplify the whole journey let’s ask just one question…

“what is the motive of your conversation?”

The Motive…

Life is an echo, let the voice be your own…

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I sat today, on the balcony of my hotel room, in down-town Dubai, watching life, people, and I took a breath.

Life can be ironic, who knew, who knows? What I thought though was this’ we are in the end the only ones who can decide. Decision, ahh yes, but first we must have options to decide about, the truth though is we wake facing options. We wake not knowing exactly how that day will pan out.

But we have an idea, we have an inkling, we have in some ways pre-planned our life, this has been forced upon us to some extent, work so life can be lived. But that’s the point of decision right there. I realised as I awoke from my own personal nightmare that I was still me. Yes absolutely life had been impacted, but to what extent? I was still me, and life is out there waiting to be lived.

When a doctor says you must not follow the dreams you’ve lived your whole life, you must question that doctor and his point of reason. Why? Because it’s your life. Absolutely it is your life, and no other human on the planet should tell you that you are not able to achieve your dreams…

As I watched life pass me by, thousands of people going about their daily life, I remembered that this was my calling, I love traveling, people, being involved in life, the awe that people hold when you race motorcycles is considerable, but the level of self respect I feel when I build critical infrastructure for humanity is way more important.

In the end we can decide, decide if we want to make a difference, to others and for ourselves. I gave myself away to the judgement of others, the language they used, the words they spoke and the actions they chose…

My lesson? Be kind to yourself, believe in your own vision of life, and trust that if you want it enough you can make it happen. No one else should define your success for you… and their vision of you should never become your own ~ The Motive..