MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “courage”

Open road

©Matteo Paganelli

There is a risk with being too comfortable with where you are. You become too complacent and too lazy to budge. Like still water in a swamp, you become stagnant as the world around you evolves.

The problem is, we too often take things for granted. A situation to which we’re accustomed does not necessarily mean that it will forever remain so. Circumstances change, often in the blink of an eye, yet no matter what we tell ourselves, we’re never wholly prepared for any of it.

Confusion is followed by an anguish of how to proceed. We need a plan. That’s what we pressure ourselves to have. But life doesn’t always work in a scheduled manner. Sometimes we just need to take things as they come.

Consider this, however: Without a destination, you’re never late. Because you have nowhere precise to go. You’re always exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Or like the cat in Alice in Wonderland said: If you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there.

Perhaps we need to see the positive in every situation. A step-back always rattles you to change.

We simply need the courage to move ahead with more experience and determination than before.

Don’t be afraid to start over; you might like your new story.

Sleep on it

There are many reasons to list as to what keeps you up at night. Environmental factors, too much stress, over-exposure to screens, jet lag, heavy food, medicine, or uncomfortable conditions are among them.

Romanticists claim you lie awake because you appear in someone else’s dream.

But in essence, we can’t sleep because we subconsciously burden ourselves with too many thoughts. We won’t allow ourselves to let go of everything that troubles our brains during the day. Consequently, we can’t find that much required peace to relax, to breathe out and alleviate the pressure we exert on ourselves.

We need constructive outlets to enable our minds to wander. To stop thinking for a while. To simply get lost in the moment.

Some would suggest meditation, but that’s not as easy as it sounds, and it requires great effort.

A more feasible solution is a walk on the beach, or even a dive into the sea. Salty water helps in washing away the problems, which we often create ourselves. It will get us feeling refreshed, relaxed, and revived. An essential process in assisting us to gather the courage to face everything that is causing us the initial stress.

We need to find time to escape our worries, if we are to find the strength to effectively deal with them. We can’t sleep on the decisions we need to make, if we can’t fall asleep to begin with.

Don’t spook

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We’ve been through a lot these past couple of years. Things we’d never even considered possible. Our way of life radically changed. Our routines, our habits, our ‘normality’. We’ve learned to expect nothing because everything can change from one minute to the next. And we’ve learned to anticipate the worst, because…well, we’ve seen it happen. We’ve seemingly lost hope but not the will to carry on.

But we’re spooked.

Because doubt and uncertainty have taken over us and our daily lives.

We spook too easy nowadays, precisely because we don’t know what to expect anymore.

We’ve been so used to the weird, the strange, the bad, the irregular, that when something ‘proper’ comes along, with no evident flaw, we’re scared. Afraid that like a bubble it will burst in our face and someone will be lurking around the corner ready to laugh.

We’re spooked because we know we deserve better but are too fearful of acknowledging that value in ourselves.

We’ve been through so much, yet we’ve survived it all.

Now we must show courage, in resisting the things we fear the most and walking straight through them. Good things are bound to happen. And perhaps everything we’re looking for is exactly on the other side of that paralysing fear.

Next Episode

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Have you ever noticed how we often allow a few bad minutes of a day to wreck the entire 24 hours? High stress levels so easily overwhelm us that we consciously believe the entire world is out to get us; that everything suddenly turns against us simply because of one bad moment. Those five minutes you were late in leaving the house means one hour delay because you missed the bus. But so what? The series of unfortunate events is bound to end sometime.

If you come to think about it, life is an occurrence of episodes. We spend inexplicably long hours in some, and irrationally little time in others, but we constantly find ourselves moving on to the next one. We even wonder, often with intrigue, what the next episode will bring.

It’s refreshing to reflect that the best moments of our life haven’t arrived yet. That’s why we need to be open to things around us; to have our eyes and minds wide open to the splendor that is out there. Life might just surprise us.

What is more, we need to choose wisely who we surround ourselves with; who affect our personalities and character and contribute to forming who we are. We need friends who support us and push us to be better. We need people who bring out the best version of ourselves. We need strong role models, like a mother who shows her daughter she doesn’t need constant company to have a good time; she can simply book a flight and get on a plane and leave – alone – and still have a great time because she is empowered, confident, and courageous enough to do so.

If you take the leap with faith, life will reward you for it. Just believe.

And keep moving forward.

Only half-way

©Ted Strutz

This boat trip will only take you half-way. You’ll have to carry on the rest of the journey yourself afterwards”. If only, simply to comprehend you’re capable of more than you credit yourself for.

Do you ever make plans in your head, fantasize stories and happy endings, simply to feel that fulfilling satisfying sensation of completeness; of genuine happiness and tranquillity?

It’s a dangerous thing to do.

Usually because nothing ever works out like the feel-good plans we make unilaterally. Destiny has too many parameters to be forged by us alone.

Regardless of the outcome of life, we continue forward.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

Paddle away

©Krista Strutz

He was searching for the opportunity to stand up on a surfboard and paddle away into the water. It was the new ‘trend’ and he was longing to try it.

A friend told him it was “like walking on water only better”.

And he was right.

Out there, your mind catches up with you.

It was Katharine Hepburn who said that “as one goes through life, one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move”. And he felt that, right then.

For if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.

And that’s what we need.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

Zitti e Βuoni

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People often have a weird tendency of not saying what they want at the time they’re supposed to. We tend to come up with all the right comebacks and arguments much after an incident occurs; the so-called l’esprit d’escalier (the predicament of thinking of the perfect reply too late).

Often it is much easier to say nothing in fear of provoking an argument. And as kids, we are usually told to be quiet and behave no matter how wrongly or unfairly we feel we’re being treated. We grow up with that attitude. With the notion of saying nothing because it’s ‘frowned upon’ or due to concerns of what our reaction may incite. So many movements have grown nowadays exactly because of this mentality. The most recent #MeToo incidents have sparked the question of why now and not then; yet regardless of the answer, there is the concern of why we don’t speak out at all, not only when or even after things happen. Things that are worthy of our voice being heard.

Italy’s winning song at Eurovision 2021 sent a loud message that difference matters and that making some noise may sometimes lead to something good; a change that everyone longs for but few actually act upon. In a performance that literally rocked Europe, this group appeared in controversial clothing and make-up to state that “vi conviene stare zitti e buoni” (“you’d better shut up and be quiet”), but adding the truth that people often don’t really know what they’re talking about (“Parla la gente purtroppo Parla non sa di che cosa parla”), and recognising that “Siamo fuori di testa ma diversi da loro” (we’re crazy but different from them”). Perhaps it is this boldness to be different that most appealed to the European public.

Because we all want to make a change. But few are courageous enough to do something. It’s easier to be quiet and concede to the norms, rather than speak out and disturb the status quo.

The greatest value

The thoughts in our head – the negative ones in particular – rent a space there. One that we have difficulty vacating. Don’t let them do that. Raise the rent and kick out everything that is not good for your soul”.

Personal “life coaches” have this ability of making you see things you refuse to acknowledge.

There is a truth in the saying “you’re not a tree. If you don’t like where you are, move”. We have roots to keep us grounded, but that does not need to be literal. Our home is the entire world if we will it to. The key is learning to realise the difference between giving up and knowing when you’ve had enough, and being strong enough to make the changes necessary.

Getting rid of toxic situations is life-changing. It liberates your soul, cleans your mental space and offers you the much-needed peace to be able to evolve and become the best version of you. And that alone is the greatest value you can offer yourself.

Chasing a perfect life

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Do you ever wake up after a bad night’s sleep and you’re angry with the world and everything in it? There are certain moments during the day, week or month, when the slightest thing can make us snap and lose control. We need moments to alleviate the tension we’re building up inside by holding everything in so as to be ‘proper’ and sane. Or at least to appear to be calm and, well…’normal’. But what is normal, in a world that so forcefully tries to convince itself it is embracing difference, uniqueness and diversity?

People interpret words and circumstances differently. It is unavoidable. And it all comes down to how each of our minds functions.

We are so used to complaining and moaning about all the problems in our lives, most of which are created by our own negative thoughts. We fear of letting them go, of taking a risk and being happy, because we are unfamiliar with that sentiment. We have clenched such a strong grip on the unpleasantness in our lives that anything else seems too much of a leap into uncertainty.

It’s almost as if we persuade ourselves that this stance of misery is the norm. That this is how it should be and we inflict shame upon ourselves for not being someone else, for not being more or less of what we picture as an ideal, of what society illustrates as how people should be. And that shame brings numbness to every emotion. Because, as we try to block out our feelings of grief and embarrassment and irritation at not being perfect, we also numb those of joy, satisfaction and lightness. We refuse to accept our vulnerability, out of shame, and instead shut ourselves down from the inside, alienating everyone around us in the process.

In searching for meaning and purpose in our lives, we may turn to self-help. We think we can fix ourselves and be happy if we follow certain books of wisdom and guidance on how to live. It’s an industry worth $11 billion, but does it actually help? In her witty, poignant and inspiring book Help Me!, Marianne Power goes through a dozen self-help books in a quest for perfection and happiness. But she also goes through a breakdown – or ‘spiritual awakening’ – as she gets too close with the thoughts in her head. She discovers that humans have an innate need to love, be loved and belong, and rejection hurts because we rely on the approval of the group for our survival since our cave-men days. She notes that self-help creates “unrealistic standards about how great life should be, puts unrealistic pressure on yourself to change, and creates self-obsession”; but the more you try to improve who you are, the more you are aware of the flaws, and the more you chase happiness, the unhappier you become.

In “The Power of Now”, Eckhart Tolle reassures us that we all have a voice in our head, which is usually mean and talks us down. It is one that takes us away from the only thing that is real and will give us peace – being right here, right now. If we can quieten down the voice, we’ll realise we are perfectly happy in this very moment. And like British playwright Dennis Potter said: “We tend to forget that life can only be defined in the present tense”.

In her very inspiring TED speech, Brené Brown explores the depth and source of human connection, understanding vulnerability, feeling empathy and confronting shame. She explains that we’re all constantly afraid of not being good enough, with the underlying fear that we won’t be loved, and so we strive harder to be perfect. But instead of chasing perfection, she says we should be seeking connection, to empathise and understand each other, to talk honestly and openly about our fears, insecurities and doubts. “Healing comes from sharing your story with someone who is worthy of hearing it”, she states. “Connection is why we’re here; it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives”. And it all centres around this. For shame, is the fear of disconnection, of not being worthy enough; the “gremlin who says you’re not good enough”. But for connection to happen, we need to allow ourselves to truly be seen, to expose ourselves and be vulnerable. Those who achieve this are whole-hearted people, ones who are courageous enough to show their authentic selves (‘courage’, after all, derives from the Latin word ‘cor’=heart), who acknowledge they are imperfect and who demonstrate compassion by being kind to themselves first and then to others.

The path for a whole-hearted living, according to Dr. Brown’s research, is to be willing to let go of who we think we should be in order to be who we are. To be willing to plunge into something where there are no guarantees, to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out, to practice gratitude in times of terror, to believe we’re enough, and ultimately to simply stop controlling and predicting life and just…live it. She concludes that “joy comes to us in moments – ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary”.

And like Marianne Power eventually realizes – happiness depends on getting up in the morning and being a decent person. Or like her Irish mother, eloquently put it, just “do no harm”.

In the end, there is a truth that when we stop pursuing happiness and the ‘perfect’ life, we will encounter all that matters and we need.

Remarkable instincts

It’s remarkable how one decision in one single moment can change your life.

It usually doesn’t take more than that.

Because it was in that precise instant that Hope could feel her reality taking a different turn.

It was that rapid, instinctive choice to get on a train that altered everything.

If she hadn’t been so bold, she would not have dared to do something extraordinary and out of character.

But she would also have not met him.

And she would not know that kindness personified does exist. That there are people who look for quality above price, who take care of others as they take care of themselves, who have a heart that is full of love to give and are open to receiving the care they deserve.

She would not know that relationships could be mutually fulfilling.

Or that you could fall in love with someone for the person they motivate you to be. Who boosts your incentives and pushes you to improve. Who wants to be together no matter how little free time is available and who dreams of a future in which you both are.

Had she not been so determined to take a leap, she would not have realised that some risks are worth taking.

Because if they work out, they are simply marvellous.

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