Wanting and wagging Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Friday, 26 January 2018 16:41
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Let’s face it, girlfriend . . . as we set forth into the vast unknown of this new year (or what’s left of it, anyway), the only thing that is certain is that anything can happen. Whether you want it to or not.

“That used to scare me,” says life coach, Martha Beck. “It’s one of the reasons I set out to learn ways of navigating change . . . Knowing how to navigate this wild and changing world allows us to face every new year with joyful anticipation. That’s not to say that ‘bad’ things won’t happen, only that we trust our skills and the tools we’ve learned to see us through literally everything.”

For me, the most constructive mindset when taking the helm in wild waters is brought about by Byron Katie’s words: Nothing is happening to us; everything is happening for us. Of course this includes events people would usually call disasters or catastrophes.

The cause of our suffering is not what happens to us; it’s what we believe about what is happening.

Martha says the trick is to find a way to look at each event that will show you its gifts and diminish the suffering it might cause. “You can’t predict what’s coming, but you can develop your skills no matter what,” she says.

One of the things most people fear is ending up alone. However, admitting to loneliness, says Martha, can feel like walking around with a neon sign proclaiming that you’re a complete and utter failure.

You see, in our culture, external validation is prized above all else. From our earliest infancy we’re taught to want close friends, a happy family and an eventful social life. Confessing that you’re lonely in this context is something few of us would do. Martha does, though. She says that many of the times she had felt lonely she was actually surrounded by other people.

That’s why Martha offers three quick fixes that she uses to deal with three different kinds of loneliness:
Absolute loneliness: When you believe that nobody understands you. Quick fix: If you’re feeling abandoned by the world, interact with anyone you can. Right now. Don’t focus on quality connection, just basic human interaction. This is where you realise the value of rote exchanges – the how-are-you-fine-and-you – with people manning supermarket tills.

Separation loneliness: When the people you want to spend time with are far away. Quick fix: Remind yourself how precious it is to have people to yearn for. Focus on demonstrating your love. After all, with more loved ones emigrating, South Africans are becoming more creative in communication over distance.

Existential loneliness: The emptiness you feel when you realize that nobody can help you face the moments when you are most bereft. Quick fix: Martha says that art is the only remedy here: Cook, draw, write, dance, paint or sculpt.

“Loneliness, far from revealing some defect, is proof that your innate search for connection is intact. So instead of hiding your loneliness, bring it into the light. Honour it. Treat it. Heal it. You’ll find that it returns the favour,” says Martha.

This would be the perfect year to do so – according to the Chinese Zodiac, 2018 is the year of the earth dog; a creation year which is geared towards the social and where we will weave the web of life through interconnection.

According to Teri Uktena, 2018 is especially ripe for those who feel isolated, alone, out of sync or misunderstood. But, be careful – along with losing weight and making more money, socialising more is one of the most common New Year Shoulds. Teri says that 95% of all New Year resolutions are punishments dressed up as hope. “We pick the things we don’t like about ourselves, the things we think are broken or bad, not up to par or holding us back, pick a punishment and then set out to implement it.”

Make this a year to stop struggling with social structures that don’t work for you. Instead, take on the joy of choosing who gets to connect with you and who doesn’t. Allow yourself to race into the newness with your nose to the ground, sniffing for those who are like you and will like you; tail waving in the air as you set forth.

After all, girlfriend, you know that in the great unknown dog days of 2018, whatever is coming up will be happening for you, not to you.


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