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This is about verbally or emotionally abusive relationships.  If you are experiencing any physical violence at all, please seek help immediately and keep yourself safe.

I realise now that some of my past relationships have been emotionally abusive to varying extents.   Thankfully I’ve experienced almost no physical abuse other than being shoved, and being held down briefly and yelled at.  Even if physical violence seems minor, we must be aware of the potential for it to escalate, and that it is always preceded by some form of verbal or emotional abuse.

Verbal or emotional abuse is a form of violence, and can take many forms, for example: destruction of property, financial control, jealous behaviour, controlling behaviour, manipulation, misleading behaviour, lying, stalking, threats, name calling, yelling, belittling, denying someone’s feelings, criticism, blame, judgement, denial, exclusion, character assassination, parental alienation, dangerous driving, emotional blackmail and suicidal threats, withholding information, sulking, social isolation, humiliation, intimidation, sleep deprivation, coercion and much more.  When it occurs in the presence of children or when there are children in the relationship, this makes it even more of an issue.

I’ve experienced many of these things myself within relationships, as a child, as a young girl in one of my first jobs, as an adult outside of relationships, and probably many times I’ve forgotten about.  Most, I’d even guess all of us, have some experience of abuse.

JudgementI've been thinking a lot about the idea of judgement lately. You may have noticed me mention before, the Jungian concept of projection – how when we judge others, we are really judging a part of ourselves. So it's time for me to embark on a bit of a rant, which is in danger of course, of being judgemental.

Our judgement can manifest in different ways – some of us are more inclined to direct our judgemental feelings at ourselves, and others are more inclined to externalise those feelings by finding fault with others. Comparing ourselves to others is one of the ways we judge ourselves unkindly (or indeed narcissistically). Either way, different sides of the same coin. Basically, judgement sucks, is bullshit, and I strongly recommend doing without it, learning to let it go.

Whether you complain a lot about others or you harshly compare yourself with others and assume many other people are so much better, more worthy and more deserving than you, (or vice versa), you're playing the same victim game in a different way, and it still means you need to make peace with yourself and let go of this judgement bullshit. Have I said bullshit enough times already? It's bullshit. Judgement is bullshit. (A judgemental statement, of course, lol).

Basically, any time we're engaging in judgemental thoughts, criticising, condemning, chastising, patronising, invalidating etc, we're not in a healthy mindset. The antidote to being judgemental is seeking to understand, it's curiosity and open mindedness, it's love. When we are able to be curious and open minded about something and just observe our feelings and reactions to it, and question them, without judgement of either ourselves or others, we open the way to greater understanding and possibility, to more potential for solutions, resolutions and alternatives.

The reason it feels uncomfortable to judge others, and we tend to want to cover up that uncomfortable feeling by expressing our judgement more strongly, is because we are externalising something we are uncomfortable about in ourselves. If we have the guts to examine what we are uncomfortable about within ourselves, with open minded curiosity, it no longer seems important to us to dominate, condemn, hurt or control other people, or necessary to be their victim.

Bullshit RemovalDo you sometimes (or often) feel frustrated by the level of bullshit you are exposed to, subjected to, that you experience and notice in your life? Me too. Geez, it's out there, they're out there, there's plenty of it about. It's in food, it's on TV, it's on facebook, it's in little snippets of communication going on all day, every day, and most significantly, it's in our own heads. It's all through politics and economics, social structures, education.... it's out there.

I'm increasingly aware of the amount of bullshit I'm surrounded by and subjecting myself to every day, and yet I'm in a very emotionally healthy and peaceful place right now. The thing is I'm noticing it more, (bullshit, that is), but I'm not taking it seriously, internalising it, projecting it and all that kind of nonsense (well, not much, or much less than I once did, lol).

The more complicated things seem, the more useful it is to understand how simple things are. Bear with me here, I like to chunk up pretty high, pretty often, and it does come off as vague. Strangely, I also have a wonderful ability to attend to details, sometimes; it's all ok. Anyway, when I say things are simple, I really mean it. Life is simple, it's simple to sort out what's going on in our lives and reach decisions about what is the most loving and constructive thing to be doing right now.

The way we can better see the simplicity of things is by being in touch with our values and knowing what really matters to us and why. Bullshit removal begins by developing a habit of reality checking. We can learn to regularly check in with ourselves by asking the question "what is the purpose of this?"

"What is the purpose of this?" "What is my intention?" "What is the outcome I am seeking?"

These are enormously powerful questions. They're so useful and practical. They allow us to check in, check for bullshit, and remove it, set it aside, step over or around it, wade through it with gumboots on if necessary, and stay on track for living in alignment with what we truly value.

Purpose and intention are the antidote to bullshit! When we are connected with our purpose and we have a clear intention, one which is aligned with our purpose and with our highest values, bullshit will stand out like a standy-outy thing. It can even look pretty funny, and we can find it highly amusing instead of distressing.

There are many ways we can recognize bullshit, and it's important that we're brave enough to see it in ourselves as well as outside ourselves. We can get a feeling about it, we can determine it from the facts, we can notice how things sound to us and we can notice the visual impression we get from things.

The thing is, well crafted bullshit will have a story attached to it. The story may suck you in or confuse you if it includes snippets of reality. Don't fall for that, it's a very old and crummy trick. Separate out the parts and examine them individually if necessary.

iStock 000001741705SmallThere was a meme on facebook recently that I liked, titled Zen Things. If you want to see it, it's on my facebook page. The suggestions listed which stood out to me were:

- Develop rituals

- Designate time for certain things

- Make cleaning and cooking become meditation

I like this because it fits in with my belief that time management is the key to living the life we want, and because it adds the extra ideas of meditation and rituals. These aspects allow us to accept and carry out our own decisions, even when they are about stuff that we may find boring and really resent having to do.

Even the language – calling something a daily ritual instead of a chore, connects it more with the real meaning of self care, self respect and love of self so many of us struggle with. Making it meditation seems to me to be accepting it and feeling peaceful about it as we calmly carry out our ritual, even allowing enjoyment to be present.

iStock 000015578783SmallCulture – we're knee deep in it and we're creating it constantly, every one of us. Every single choice we ever make, every thought, every action, every word, influences our culture with a ripple effect that's way bigger and more powerful than we realise.

You are influencing the culture in your home, at your workplace, at the supermarket, when you drive your car, in every conversation you ever have, in every facebook post you like, share, comment on, in every purchase choice you make, every time you vote.

We're on this planet together, choosing and shaping the standards we live by. Yep, the whole planet, not just our country, state, city or any organization or group we belong to.

By the way, when I say "our country", I mean whatever country you're living in – mine happens to be Australia. Yep, there are not as many of us down here as there are in the States, but, just sayin', we're here too. There's this other cool little country around these parts called New Zealand too, and decent people all over the world who believe in doing the right thing and a fair go for all.

The speed and variety of information available to us these days is something I feel good about. Yes, those condoning and perpetuating greed and injustice have access to it too, but power in numbers and all that. My belief is that there are many more people in the world who are basically good than there are those beyond help or reason, those who exploit others and are motivated by greed and the pursuit of power, (which, by the way, comes about through fear).

Most of us who work for them, believe their propaganda and blindly follow do so from the best of intentions. Ok, some of us are bit thick in some ways. But the ignorant and the arseholes of this world need our love as much as anyone – probably more. If we know better, about anything, we have a responsibility to set the example, share the information, teach, lead, influence and love.

Why? Because they're all living on the same planet as we are. It's like we're on a boat together. If some of them are doing stuff that's creating an unfair system on the boat, damaging the boat, not sharing the food, making irresponsible decisions, we need to stand up and say something, do something!

I know, it's a really really big boat, and it's easy to think that our cabin, our floor, our area is ok and we'll be ok. But you and I know that would be kidding ourselves. And being someone who has children, kidding myself doesn't work – because I have future generations to think about.

iStock 000007830134SmallBad stuff happens in the world – it’s going on right now.  At this moment, people are suffering, animals are suffering, and our planet is suffering. 

Mild swearing warning, but I will not be talking about any details of any distressing news.

If there was no bad news reported and no sad tales told, we could be living in ignorance of the consequences of our actions.  We could be missing out on opportunities to make a difference, to learn, to grow, to contribute.

Yes, our actions, not their actions.  I’m looking at this as us all, as a whole species, being responsible collectively for the conditions we’re living in and how we’re functioning.  But more on that in the next article.

So I guess I accept that bad news needs to be shared.

What interests me is how and why it’s shared and the intention behind each instance, and how we can use our discretion to influence the way our society deals with bad news and how we respond to it.

I saw a very cool documentary a while ago, interviewing hard core journalists about their experiences and thoughts about some of the horrendous things they had reported on.  The journalists interviewed were genuinely searching and bearing their souls looking for answers, often answers that could not ever be found, about where to draw the line, about what people needed to know and was beneficial to know, and what was going too far.  It really got me thinking.

I’m for freedom of speech.  I’m opposed to censorship (I think – I have some grey areas, I suppose like most people).  I believe in the truth being available to everyone.  I admire whistleblowers, outspoken writers and journalists, free thinkers.

I don’t admire exploitative journalism, un-necessary invasion of privacy, inaccurate or unchecked information and shallow sensationalism.

iStock 000002741570SmallThis rant or ramble or whatever it's going to be has been waiting to come pouring out for a while now, so I'm just gonna type away and see what happens. I'm making a conscious choice to embrace vulnerability on this one and just trust. I may get excited and I may swear a little.

Love is everywhere, it's within us all, we all have the potential and capability of experiencing it, living it and receiving it. Love is so many things. I think of it as an intention, and a connection to something of immense beauty and goodness that it's ok not to fully understand.

I wrote about prayer a long time ago here and was on about similar things, and although I don't talk about it much, I'm not at all religious. I wouldn't even call myself spiritual. I'm just curious, and interested in living a life with love as I understand it. I say this because the next bit sounds like it refers to something divine or spiritual, and I guess that makes me a bit uncomfortable, so I want to make sure I'm saying it my way.

The way I see it, there is goodness in the world and goodness in us.

There just is!

We know it's there, because we experience things like joy and fun and happiness and compassion and empathy and love.

Shit, even sadness shows us that love exists – when I feel sad at the suffering of another being, I know that is because I'm capable of love.

If I feel sadness at some non loving crap being directed at me, I guess that also shows me that I know love and know what isn't love. And I think that any time any of us allow ourselves to accept or internalise crap projected at us by others, or have got to the point where we invite or expect it, we can take that as a sign that we need to learn to show ourselves love again.

Love encompasses respect, compassion and empathy. In order to show those things to others, we need to feel them for ourselves. It's a chicken and egg thing. It doesn't matter which way you begin to restore love. I do believe though that to restore love and respect for yourself, beginning by showing love to another is a highly effective way of getting that moving.

iStock 000032730722XSmallOne of the best things we can do to help ourselves achieve what we want in our lives is to model people who have achieved those things – to find out and copy the strategies they have used to achieve what they have achieved. This is why reading biographies and listening to or watching interviews of people who inspire us is so enjoyable! This came to mind for me again as I was talking to someone close to me about a musician he greatly admires and had the opportunity to meet and talk to.

It got me thinking about creating music, and how when someone has complete mastery of an instrument, how much creative freedom and imagination that allows them. I thought about how, though I don't consider myself particularly visual, I sometimes visualise choreography when listening to music, imagining people dancing. It got me thinking about visualising notes, chords and scales as patterns, and how much fun it is to create music, and how that level of fun would increase with one's proficiency in the instrument.

And of course it got me thinking about how the same ideas used to achieve mastery of a musical instrument can apply to mastery of ourselves – of our thoughts, behaviours and strategies and therefore our emotions and quality of life.

And it got me thinking about the personal qualities of this musician which would be valuable to emulate. Hearing him speak in interviews he comes across as a very nice guy, amiable, considerate, articulate, and also very focussed on the outcome he is setting out to achieve – his creative vision for a concert, album, composition, orchestral arrangement. He's achieved great success because he set himself up to do it and decided to do it. He imagined what was possible, and also what would be required along the way to achieve it.

iStock 000000807067XSmallHappy New Year everyone!

As I write this we're in the middle of a heatwave in Melbourne and the kids are on school holidays. The Christmas/New Year period was busy as usual with family stuff, and a time to remember how fortunate we are and enjoy time with the kids.

As this is my first article for 2014, I wanted to write something inspiring, getting in touch with highest intentions, positivity and inspiration. It ended up rather too long, and evolved into four separate articles, so I'll put them out closer together than I usually do.

This article is about how we choose to think about last year, and how that will impact on our experience of the current year.

As I contemplate the year that has just ended and what has happened, and the vast list of things I want to achieve this year, I can choose how I think about it.

I can create a story that casts me as a victim, or I can create a story highlighting growth, achievement, love and happiness.

For the year that has passed, I can focus on what I didn't achieve, what I didn't enjoy, what went wrong, what was sad, what hurt me and so on, or I can focus on what I am proud of, what went well, what was joyful, what was fun, and all I have to be grateful for.

Last year, like so many people, I experienced disappointments, stresses, crappy things happening, feeling anxious and afraid, feeling rejected, feeling not good enough. People were mean to me, my kids were naughty at times, I freaked out a bit about some of my study stuff, I moved house to somewhere which is not really ideal and may have to do so again, my house got pretty messy at times, I put on weight, I had disappointing experiences, I felt lonely, my vertigo returned for a while, I felt sad at times, I felt overwhelmed sometimes, I felt the full weight of being a single mother, struggling at times, feeling judged (and actually being judged), having big plans but doubting myself, crying when my jeans wouldn't zip up and looking for new grey hairs and lines in my face.

iStock 000010031467XSmall

There are various kinds of clutter for us to deal with in our lives, and as you may have noticed by now, I’m all for minimising it, dealing with it, sorting it out, getting it under control and letting it go.

I’m talking about physical clutter, the stuff that accumulates in our home, our workplace, our car, our bag.  These days there’s also digital clutter, which for many of us is largely about emails, digital filing and backing up.  And of course there’s mental clutter – the chatter, the leftover emotional pain, anger and resentment that we really don’t need any more.

Clutter keeps us stuck.  Whatever kind of clutter it is, it’s in the way and it’s holding us back.

iStock 000006919994XSmallOk so in the last post I talked about how it's a good idea to get your kids, partner, flatmate/s to help with the housework.

More information required? Yes, there is. How do you get that to work?

It will be different depending upon where you're starting from, particularly how well you're getting on with yourself. You thought I was going to say how well you're getting on with them, didn't you? Nup. It always starts with us.

If you're defensive or justifying or blaming or feeling guilty or any of that victim triangle stuff, you're pushing it uphill expecting to get help with housework from those you live with.
So number one, is to make sure you're working on your relationship with yourself.

Maybe you're keeping up a good standard in your home, but you're burning yourself out and feeling resentful that those living with you are just letting you do it, not appreciating it and not helping.

Or maybe you've kind of given up to some extent yourself, and just manage very basic stuff, sporadically, either setting or following the low standards that are currently in place.

There are a bunch of strategies you can use to get this thing moving:

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