Sticking With It: Challenge

Writing short little epithets, as seen below, after completing a 10-minute meditation has been a part of my meditation practice for just over a year. After nearly 400 days of continual practice with the Calm app, I am open to continue with the learning and growing. Recognising that I have an inquisitive and restless mind has been testing. Finding a practice that reduces anxiety has been useful for me to develop a better understanding of myself. The practice of 10-15 minute meditation every day also supports maintain my focus at this challenging time of World History.

Wise words
The quote from calm that inspired this post was – ‘Let difficulty transform you. And it will. In my experience, we just need help in learning how not to run away’ by Pema Chodron.

My response
@calm ‘Noticing that challenges are made to be overcome and they are as much ‘How’ as they are ‘When’. Ask for guidance or help when needed #meditation.

To the quick
The example of the short quip above, is an effort to show that I understand the difficulty of not turning in the opposite direction. Away from the source of uncomfortable challenge. Making a fail safe leave plan when things get tough. Like now!

Healers
There is an attempt to take the quote and re-interpret Pema Chodrin’s words. I then offer both the quote and my interpretation as a support. You may have seen the quote/remix on various social media spaces I inhabit. The quote/remixes are also a way to share that, should someone want access to mental health support I know of many who could be of impactful assistance.

Challenge as a bridge

Target 400
After 395 days of consistent daily meditation practice and a solid bombardment of information about the Corona-virus/COVID-19 pandemic. My need for meditation happens to be both an escape and a cure to return the mind to a steady hum. I have found the practice to be a salve.

Reset
The hype, hysteria and hyperbole of the disease and recognisable human responses including denial, panic buying, hoarding, frequent information fly wheel gathering, does little to aid our capacity to find a level state of mindful yet calm awareness. In fact it is often quite the opposite.

How
To overcome a challenge is a request to understand what it is and how it may affect things for you, family, friends and colleagues. See the challenge as a problem to solve. Aim at becoming creative and communicate with others about what the challenge is and see if others have met/experienced a similar difficulty and what they did? Rarely are you the only person to have faced a problem like it. Accepting advice could be an appropriate way to make it to the other side.

When
That can all depend on you. Running away from the challenge usually puts the difficulty off for an undefined length of time. But, it will return. It usually is an universal phenomena. ‘Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today’ was a saying my mum would say to me. Possibly her mum may have said it to her too when she was in her teens.

Train
It would be understandable to remove yourself from a challenge for a short time, build up the necessary skills, strength, understanding and then return and overcome said problem.

Result
The outcome for getting beyond the difficulty is the learning we gain from doing so. Being a life-long learner and a perpetual student of life supports growing past false limitations, possibly put in place by others. Apply understanding and continue honing, growing and improving. I believe growing after facing adversity is one of the best achievements of our lives. Becoming a therapist is a part of that story for me, but so is becoming a father, supervisor, lecturer, writer

Resources
Tom Bilyeu Impact Theory: Agent Smith
Science of Success with Jim Kwik

Images
Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash
Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

Investment in Therapy pt 3

I have been hinting throughout the previous 2 blogs that there are times when our brains do not support us to live well. There may be a number of reasons for the mind to act in a dubious way towards you. The reasons can include past thinking patterns, current or present living situations, nutrition, lethargy and using the body less often doing light exercise, relationships with others and a host of other experiences can negatively affect the mind.

Out to Get Us
The effects of the mind becoming an agent looking to undermine and derail us are similar to agent Smith in the Matrix. Agent Smith tried to finish Neo unsuccessfully many times. The effects of a mind becoming unwell are well documented.

3 Types
The point I am driving at is, by accessing the support and resources of someone else’s mind, (final flight scenes in the Matrix) can help someone who has entered a negative thinking pattern to realign those thoughts!

Tools in thinking approaches can be used to review what aspects of a person’s experience can be altered, left behind or actively engaged with to create a better now and future. C.B.T. and D.B.T. (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) E.M.D.R (Eye Movement De-sensitisation Reprocessing) are 3 therapeutic approaches that have been shown to have positive outcomes for a wide range of people who present with depression and anxiety and altered thinking patterns who are unable to re-route to have healthy thoughts.

Social for a reason
As social creatures we learn and gain ideas from others all the time. We have existed in a teach and learn from others for millennia. In therapy whilst some of the work is on you to figure things out for yourself, having a professional with you can help jolt the mind to begin thinking new and amazing ideas/thoughts/beliefs.

A coach or mentor will actively challenge you to think bigger or directly upset how you are viewing the world you live in. The aim in therapy/coaching/mentoring is to support you begin expanding and testing new thoughts.

The fear of engaging in support, could be that a person can stay thinking the thoughts they had originally. Remaining – Stuck. With a Flat affect. All around morose.

Exhibit A: It is about You
Then again the visit to the GP. The IAPT appointment happens or you make a last ditch attempt at seeing that therapist friends advised you to see.

You vampire like swoop to the transport to get you there just on time or a few minutes late. Mumbling at reception your request for the appointment with Ms D or Mr S. Your buzzed through and then…

Therapy begins.
Slowly at first.
One session.
An introduction.
The assessment.
You of them.
(Will this work?)
Them of you.
(Not sure, well, maybe?)
A feeling out of them, you, the space.
Do they really listen?
Have they really understood?
You test them.
Can they handle the real reason of why you came?
They sort of pass.
This could work!
The 59 minutes pass and
They politely intuit that
Your time with them is
Over. With a nod,
A slight
Smile, they say “See
You, next week?”
As though unsure of what
They have unleashed.
Not exactly the Cracken,
A distant cousin. The
Bracken? Maybe. As if on
A washing line you
Return and something
Begins to lift…

Slowly…

Exhibit A continued
The investment appears a sound one. The spring has returned. There’s renewed confidence. It looks brighter now. How did that happen? What trickery is this? Some call the experience of feeling renewed and invigorated, therapy. Others healing.

Whatever it might be, it feels good all the way to the bone. If you can cast your mind back to the last time you felt like this? Free. Happy. A willingness to be patient. Filled to the brim with energy. Spontaneous. Taking careful risks. Life before was a feeling of seemingly limitless time. This may have been before. You may have been younger then and that thing, those things hadn’t happened…

Therapy/Healing/Mentoring/Coaching/Consulting can help you to arrive at spaces that can make you want to try again.

We could ask is this a worthy investment…?

Resources
Tim Ferris interviews Brené Brown
Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu Keynote Speech 2016

Images
Photo by David Brooke Martin on Unsplash

Re-imagining Loss part 2

Expansion beyond 5
I wonder if there are stages/experiences that follow Denial, Bartering, Anger, Depression and Acceptance that could be added to the stages of dealing with death.

That may provide a better frame to the slim paradox of grief and loss? Maybe a healthier way to manage the tumultuous feelings that accompany loss?

Yes go through the 5 but what about
Celebration
Rest and
eventually finding Peace?

Allowing space for a quiet putting down of all those years of turmoil, self-questioning, doubt, pain and other uncomfortable emotions and thoughts.

Expulsion
Nine Night as a Caribbean/African tradition of helping to move the deceased on. Nine Night allows mourners time to remember, tell stories, curse, swear, holler, cry, sing, dance, play cards, pour libation and offer to anyone who has ears to listen our best, worst and most treasured memories of the them that has gone on.

Hammer Toss
My favourite story of my mum that has left an indelible imprint on my memory is the story of the hammer. Caribbean’s know of pick up and throw as a rule to instruct and discipline children. Especially the ‘fleet of foot’ child, which I was fortunately. Well. When we meet allow me to share that indelible memory…

Reflect
In celebration we hold up a mirror to them (The deceased). Not only do we see them but we also see the time we had with them and ourselves. It’s a funny thing because these memories contain them and us. By remembering, we invite in a retelling of a time before, with them in it, alive, vibrant. Unforgettable. Until even those memories fade and change over time.

Remember Blockbusters
If anyone knew my friend Jamui Adebiyi you would know of his acting ability and of his harsh criticism of B rate movies. Imagine Blockbusters, the now defunct movie loaning business chain, at Clapham Junction 1999. Myself, Mobolagi and Ade negotiating between us movie choices, this was long before Sainsbury’s rolled in. I ventured that we should watch a said B rate movie and his reaction was classic Ade. He jumped up and down and said that that movie is crap, it’s crap, it’s crap, timing his jumps with each brief statement. I was about to say Ade is…

And now I remember, he died 8 years ago. That memory lives on as does he, in a time framed by a Clapham junction with a Blockbusters in it, in a very different London.

A deep dive reflection

Revel
Celebrate them for the memory they have left us with. In celebrating our time with them, it can allow the sadness to change to something lighter.

Transformation is about an enlightening experience. Allow for it. Make time to celebrate them for all that they were. Who they had been for you. The singular narrative is for those who may have positive affable memories of the person or people that has/have died.

To complicate the narrative, a challenged earlier relationship with the deceased may be harder to muster the mental energy to celebrate who they were. Perhaps, here one can choose to thank them for the lessons learned or let go of the discomforting memories.

Forever…

Tranquil
By arriving at a piece of peace and finally then rest, death can be allowed out too.

Like a bee trapped in a hot glass house.
Once freed – buzzing away back to it’s hive.
The frenzy at seeking an out
Causes the din of Bee head butting
n buzzing to reverberate in ones
Head minutes after the bee let fly.

So too this and death.

Unless released reverently it (death) remains abuzz. Pass through all eight stages for as long as they are needed. Then release and accept/receive the peace willingly.

Restitution
Once a person arrives at the point of Rest the energy used to move through the other 7 stages of grief may have waned. One may want to sleep for a while. There are moments where I flip back to the point of being angry with death, sometimes.

It is possible that the only act left is to simply be still. The need to stop running and avoiding the pain is given chance to subside. There is little left to do. The rest point could represent the end of the grief journey. Fully completing the path as it winds down towards the sea could take months or years. Travel well. Remember to let go. They, You, We deserve it

1 Denial
2 Bargaining
3 Anger
4 Depression
5 Acceptance
6 Celebrate
7 Peace
8 Rest

Resources
Two Guys on your Head Memory-Imagination and Happiness
Philosophy Bites – Death
Griefcast with Meshel Laurie

Images
https://unsplash.com/@whoislimos In despair, but not lost. I try to remind myself, trials may come yet hope lies at dawn Chicago Dawn

https://unsplash.com/@thoughtcatalog/portfolio

The Interview

Having been interviewed a number of times and also being on the panel of people conducting the interviews this piece is to support those who will be looking for new jobs/roles this year.

Adding Value
I am writing this post to support counsellors and other mental health professionals perform well at interview. Perhaps there are many who approach interviews as a chance to show others what they know. How well they would perform in the new role and that they would be a great addition to that team. There is an undying hope of the could be employed. The idea being that the next interview, will open the door to their next big adventure. This I know well as I have been one of the hopefuls.

The Invite
The invite arrives through the mail, these days it is an email and says something along the lines of ‘we would like to invite you to interview for the role of Umbrella Engineer (the role that you applied for). The interview will be held on Umbrella date and time at the Umbrella factory in your local Umbrella city.

I wonder what thoughts arrive with the notice that the company/organisation/charity/entrepreneurship/apprenticeship/voluntary role wants to meet with you?

Excitement, fear? Fear mixed with dread at the prospect of another ordeal that doesn’t get you the job role you applied for? Because. All the answers to all of the questions arrived as soon as you left the building after the interview. Or, The preparation you took your time with didn’t prepare you for the really tough questions. Or, you rushed at the answers and didn’t answer them as fully as was necessary. What if there was another way to think/feel about the invitation?

Alternatively
Simply hold the idea of why you applied for the role. See yourself in the role completing all of the tasks well. Asking the questions from the team and yourself that will allow you to solve some of the challenges of the new role.

The new position affords you change, challenge, reward. It is what you have sought. You meet most of the criteria for the job and feel that the new position could support your career growth and development. It possibly isn’t just about the money or prestige or possibility of something new to do.

The role is about how you see yourself becoming. Envision this down to the clothes you wear, parfum you use, walking taller, holding eye contact with others confidently, speaking with an air of knowledge and how you have applied it to complete tasks in other settings/previous roles. The new role is about how you are seeing your future with you in it and the new company. Breathe

Prep
The interview is a stage of pre-engagement with a job role. Preparing for the interview is a necessary part of the engagement. Read through the job specification again. Read the answers you gave for each of the specifications.

Some if not all of the interview questions will be based on the job role and specification. Most jobs list the essential desirable and additional skills that the job role requires or asks for. Base your questions on the essential criteria and any desirable ones too. Aim to give examples or scenarios that explore/explain your thinking and outcomes of making the decisions you did.

Practice
I practice reading through my personal statement aloud a few times and then take a recording of myself. It is the recording of the personal statement that takes the job specification from an external knowledge sense of knowing and makes it become an internalised piece of knowing. The knowing then can live in me.

It’s like self-hypnotism. I listen to the recording up to 10 times before the interview. I want to know what I wrote as intimately as a song. I listen whilst travelling, falling asleep, washing dishes, doing other pieces of typing work. I want my mind to absorb the personal statement with relative ease.

Questions
The questions you devise are approximations, guesses, hypothetical thoughts about what may be asked at interview. The questions could be similar to

What reasons do you have for applying for this role?
Tell us a little bit about you?
If your friends and colleagues were here what sort of things would they be telling us about you?
When have you failed and what did you learn from the experience?
Can you tell us your experience of working in a team?
What does a successful piece of work look like and what does it look like when it’s complete?
What counselling approach do you use and why?
How do you manage conflict?
If someone you are working with states an intention to self-injure what do you do?

Answers
The answers you give will be pulled from your personal statement. Because you now know your personal statement upside down inside out top to bottom, there is now room to improvise and be flexible with the possible answers that you can offer. This is where you get to be a Jazz musician, a Warren Wolf.

Explanatory
In interviews I have engaged with and struggled I would either waffle on and hope to scatter fill the answers in a disorganised fashion. Cluster Bombing the interview. Not surprisingly I would not get past this stage.

To answer the questions well interpret the reason interviewers are asking them. What reasons do they have for asking the questions they are propositioning you with. What do they want to know about you? Provide the answers with passion and confidence giving examples of when you performed a similar task. (Remember you are not making it up, you are just retelling what has happened. The interviewers were not there.)

This is where you get to show off. When you can share what happened, the reasons that you chose to use the intervention used, the outcome of the intervention what the client/clients found helpful and what insights you gained from engaging in the way that you did. For extra merit adding what would be better if, or what was learned from the experience shows reflexivity.

1, 2, 3+
Gather your initial ideas about the question and what the interviewers are looking for from you.

Make a mental or written note to guide what and how you are going to answer.

Some questions are more like mini paragraphs with up to 4 points in them to be reviewed and answered

It is okay to ask for an interviewer to ask the question again if mid point you may have gone off topic. This shows that you have heard that there are multiple components to the question and that you are conscientiously attempting to provide relevant answers. It also shows confidence in being able to serve yourself well.

Answer the question as best as you can. Take your time here. You want to explain your ideas and give chance for interviewers to note take!

Give examples and then explain what you did, the outcomes and possible changes to be made, learning and areas that highlight team work and collaborative engagement. If there were parts when you lead a piece of work highlight this too, or worked through a particular challenge. This shows resilience and awareness of strengths in relationship with others.

  1. Answer the question by noting what you have done that meets the desired level answer
  2. Re-interpret the question to delve into more personable answers
  3. Say what you did
  4. Give a scenario that speaks to the question
  5. Share outcomes

Shoot and Miss
It’s less point shoot at basket. More see the goal, reflect on choices (Pass, Dribble, Shoot) make an informed action and reflect on the choice during and after.

Solitarily or with manager supervisor or in peer relationships aim to arrive at possible outcomes. The work here is to show not only that you are able to use an internalised supervisor to reflect on the work, and that you are also able to use external supports to assist with thinking about client work. The point here is to show thinking and ability to work with others to develop useful outcomes for clients, yourself and the team you are looking to join. Providing the working out illustrates that you are teachable, open to new learning and that the new company is making a wise choice in offering you employment.

Over to you
Make sure that you have at least 2 questions for them and that you mention that you had more but they were covered in the preamble of their introduction.

Try to keep the questions job role specific, who will I be working with, where, how many are useful as they give insight to the new role and show that you are keen to know about the company.

Good Luck!

Resources

How to Fail: Otegha Uwagba from How To Fail With Elizabeth Day on Apple Podcasts. https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/how-to-fail-with-elizabeth-day/id1407451189?i=1000422485796

Winter Solstice

Surviving the Winter Solstice and all the celebrations that go with the shortest/longest day of the year depending on where in the world you live or what may be happening for you. Winter/Summer is worthy of forethought.

Spare a Thought
Christmas in prison can be a bleak time for those men and women who are behind the wall. It is filled with the memory of happier warmer times. When they were not inside. When they were with loved ones. Where they could relax and be with those who made them feel safe. Prison is often cold with temperature of the cells and with people’s actions and behaviours to others. Officers to prisoners. Prisoners to Officers. Prisoners to Prisoners. Officers to Officers.

Alternative
For other people in prison the Winter Break can be about withdrawing and settling in for the stretch ahead. 2020 could be the year of release, parole or marking that there are another 20 – 25 years left to serve. The countdown continues to a time in the near or a distant future where they will be living beyond the wall. With loved ones and away from a place of perpetual pain and desperation.

Time Away
Last year when I originally wrote this a person living in prison asked me how I was going to be spending my Winter Break? I had served just under 3 months as a counsellor working in that prison.

I shared that “I wouldn’t be doing that much. Watching TV, seeing a few people, eating too much and attempting to fit too much in that could leave me exhausted with the effort of cramming.”
“Oh?” he said “So just like us in here then!”
We both laughed.

Celebrationsss
The reality of Kwanzaa,
Hanukkah,
Christmas
Prepping for the new year can take its toll.

Restive
In all honesty I’d like to sleep through some of the hype. Avoidance is not possible. Resetting my sights, I could advise try thinking into February. The New Year holds unknown promise. Resolutions can take weeks to take hold and be made into fully effective ways of being. The Gym routine, Running, Swimming, Dieting, Drinking less, Developing good spending habits/saving habits, making religious commitments, holiday plans, committing to a relationship, plotting new learning or job opportunity choices.

I am sure there are more I may have missed (add suggestions in the comments below), that go into planning and reflecting on the year passed and the new one that is to arrive.

More 2 a Year
January the 1st is just a date signifying the start of the next calendar year. There are other significant dates that one could be mindful of. Anniversary’s, School/College terms, Tax Years, Birthday’s, Religious observance dates, St Valentines, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter for us living in the Northern hemisphere. Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring for those living antipodeanly. Dry and Wet seasons for those near to the equator.

Target Setting
Choose a date that marks a meaningful time for you. Set the date for after the change is to be noted. By 1st of March I will be able to play cards, list all of [insert musician’s] catalogue of records in date order, know the test inside out, have written the final chapter of the book I am working on, met with a personal trainer, coach, to get this out of shape mass moving again.

Capturing a new day
Photo by Marc Clinton Labiano on Unsplash

Once the date is met and passed evaluate if the intention is there to continue and set another date a few months ahead once again. Keep checking reviewing altering and going. Achieving a goal is only half the story. It is the change that comes with the shift that reveals another way of being in the world.

Pause
The Winter Solstice existed as a time to slow down or stop. So perhaps like other hibernating creatures we could too. Stop, review what has been a part of your life. Recall and think what has been learned. Review what could be left in last year (2019). Also what could be carried in to the year to follow.

That’s the gold of the alchemical process we are all engaged with. Living well. At the precipice of our potential…

See you on the other side.

CTA
I invite comments below, I remain as always interested in what you think of this blog and any of the others written this year.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support of these thoughts -captured.

Resources
7 Days of Celebration
Christmas Re-imagined Code Switch Podcast
Christmas Origins
December Stories The Moth Podcast

Cover Photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash