MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

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Letter to Santa

http://www.shieldhealthcare.com/community/grow/2017/12/21/dear-santa-letter-from-a-special-needs-parent/

As a Christmas birthday child, this season is magical for so many reasons. Mainly because it’s filled with hope, anticipation, laughter, cheer, love, and so much joy. It’s the period when it’s OK to act like a child and feel like one too. Perhaps more so than children themselves. We feel everything so intensely and the emotions that fill the air during this most wonderful time of the year are no exception.

You never get too old to rejoice in the magic of this season. The fact that it brings people together. It fills your heart with excitement, optimism, happiness, and so much love. Particularly if you get to spend it with people who mean the most to you. Because in essence, that’s what we spend all year waiting for. To celebrate the best part of it (and for some, a birthday too) with those we cherish.

We’re comfortable with being vulnerable and letting it show. Of how happy we are when we enter an elf factory, or stand under a huge lighted-up Christmas tree for a selfie, or get lost in all the seasonal decorations of a store. We don’t mind to demonstrate that side of us, because it’s a part of who we are, and it’s contagious too. Admit it, you can’t not smile at a (small-sized) Christmas-obsessed person camouflaged as an elf among large decorations and rejoicing so much that everything else seems trivial.

Christmas makes us all kids at heart. So, it doesn’t matter how many we’ve experienced, we seize the opportunity to write a letter to Santa. It’s just that we don’t ask for toys anymore. We ask for moments, people, and emotions. We ask that nothing be taken away from us. We express the urge for love, serenity, and happiness. For things to work out as we deserve. For our heart’s desires to be fulfilled.

When we start writing “Dear Santa”, it all magically becomes clear; what it is that we truly want, what matters most, and what’s important for us.

Writing a letter to Santa brings back that innocence we lose as we grow up, that belief that we have that the world will be as magical as we dream it. It reminds us that what we dream we can create, and what we imagine we can be, as long we have an open heart and mind…and just believe.

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Learn, thrive, and grow together

It’s a skill knowing when to stop a tiff from developing into a full-grown quarrel. It takes patience and a lot of struggle to reach the point of constraint, of choosing to walk away and quieten down rather than engage in a fight not worth having.

It takes time to learn things. Any thing.

Like the fact that you cannot force people to change. No matter how much you love them or care for them. Regardless of how deeply you let them in, people will only understand what they want. And they will alter their ways only when they truly desire. But just like a selfish person cannot become more caring, an altruist cannot suddenly stop placing others first and only look out for their own benefit. It goes both ways.

It is a wonder, really: is there something in between either feeling everything so profoundly or hardly sensing anything at all?

We are so accustomed to the stories we tell ourselves, those deafening voices in our heads that convince us to try more, to talk more, to press more in the hope that we’ll put ourselves out there and people will finally see us for who we are, for what we’re worth, for the value we so long for them to acknowledge. Yet in this, we fail to see that what we intend as effort, as nurturing care, and affection, to others seems as a suffocating attempt to change their beliefs and attitudes. We judge ourselves on our intentions and not on how we make the other person feel. We act in the way we consider as ‘common sense’ and obvious, but it is not so for everyone, and we often fail to realise that people seldom think and act the same way. Our cheerful ramble confiding in another a portion of our day may be regarded as moaning and just noisy chatter. We feel disappointed and rejected because we’ve created an expectation in our head that is hardly ever met. We set out already knowing what we want to see, and are shattered when it doesn’t play out as such.

Perhaps the biggest mistake we make is taking everything too personally; even when that is how it seems, we are rarely the reason people act like they do. The real cause for people’s behaviour lies within themselves, their upbringing, their experiences, their fears, their influences, their social surroundings, or even just the noise in their own heads.

True relationships – of any sort – help us do three essential things: learn together, grow together, and thrive together. Having fun is just a bonus. Any relationship makes you better in every single way possible. That’s the point of it after all.

Facing the world

© Sandra Crook

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Sure? We can…”

“No.”

The response was absolute. She’d rather be alone. It was just one of those days when she couldn’t quite decipher what was wrong.

He gave her a couple of hours.

Then he pulled her into a tight embrace – he knew this relieved her tension and said “let’s go.” He allowed no opportunities for questions. They weren’t important. And it didn’t matter.

About an hour later, they arrived.

It was the quiet place where their first date developed. It served as a reminder that it was them against the world.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

Getting lost

Have you ever sent someone in the wrong direction?

I stared at her, troubled, not knowing what to answer. Or rather, how to answer that politely.

Jenna was amazed at how many people would ask me for directions on a single outing. And that’s in a neighbourhood I don’t even know very well. Heck, I don’t even know my own neighbourhood.

What do you mean?” I responded perplexed.

I consider it an achievement if someone asks me something and I actually know where it is to tell them!

I’m the kind of person who gets lost two blocks down their house.

Yes, it happens.

When you have absolutely no sense of orientation whatsoever, getting lost is the easiest, simplest, and the most rational thing that can happen to you.

I was once told to “just continue straight ahead down the road” to the Metro station, and I got lost somehow, having to ask Google, the GPS, and a passer-by for help, in order to reach the desired destination 15 minutes later.

It happens.

And it is absolutely natural.

We’re not all born with a tracking system or a compass inside our heads.

It’s not easy finding your way around.

It’s actually an accomplishment getting somewhere without a GPS, and if you manage to go alone (helpless) a second time around, it is really something to be proud of. Let alone if you take a different route to get there.

So, you can just imagine the confidence booster it is when someone asks you for directions and you genuinely know the correct answer to help them get there.

Of course, you’ll get a few people lost first before you consolidate the route in your head to be able to pass on the knowledge.

But that’s just something that happens too.

Genuine Smiles

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There was a difference between when she smiled wholeheartedly and when she simply forced it. Her aunt knew how to read her. She was just like her. The fake smile caused more muscles to tense. It was strained and didn’t seem natural.

We all have moments like that. When we feel obligated to smile and be courteous when in fact we feel nothing like it at all.

Charlotte saw so much of herself in her niece. Joy lived up to her name most times. But when her aura clouded, it could be sensed a mile away.

“The secret to maintaining that smile is to keep the child inside you alive”, Charlotte said.

Joy tilted her face like a cat in awe.

Think about it: when we’re simply living in that moment, blurring everything around us to the point that nothing else exists beyond what we’re doing and who we’re with at the present time, aren’t we happier? We shift all our focus to that precise period of time that we don’t care about past or future or anything else that causes us concern and stress. We feel relaxed, playful, carefree, and genuinely happy. Your heart is open to love and…well, joy, and your mind is thinking positively by default. You view the world brighter because you’ve turned the mood switch to that direction”.

Joy smiled, her head turned back straight. The smile was authentic this time.

She didn’t need to say much. Charlotte understood anyway. She gave her a hug. One of those long ones where you wait for the other person to let go first and so you stay entangled for what seems like hours, laughing while you feel each other’s heart vibrate. The embrace was so tight, Charlotte could actually feel the crack that had marked Joy’s emotions.

We’re all loving people the way we wish we were loved and hurting them the way we wish we were not hurt”.

How different the world would be if we could – even for an instance – see things from another’s point of view, step in their shoes and view their perspective. How much better everything would be, if we could just let our pride aside for a minute and show some empathy to the people around us, particularly to those we say we care for the most”.

Sometimes, love has a way of coming back to you”, Charlotte added, loosening the squeeze.

If it’s meant to be, it won’t miss you. There is always a way if we truly want it”.

Maybe

Life is full of unpredictable twists and turns.  You can never be sure what will happen, and that’s exactly what also makes it exciting. That you’re never bored. But you should always be prepared. Mentally, more than anything. To embrace the notion that whatever comes your way, be it good luck or bad luck, will be dealt with for what it is, and time will tell how it will develop. Even a misfortune can turn out for the best if you’re open enough to view it that way. Lamenting about it certainly won’t help.   

To illustrate, here’s a Chinese fable:

Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbours came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.” The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening, everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.”

The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbours then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.” The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbours came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”

Like Alan Watts said, “The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity, and it’s really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad — because you never know what will be the consequence of the misfortune; or, you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.”

Bad and good experiences are all part of life; we need one to appreciate the other. And whatever happens, we’ll never know the consequences it may bring in the future. We just need to trust the process and believe that things will turn out as they should.

Inner conflicts

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It sounds like a cliché but it’s true: Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. You are not aware of what is going on in other people’s lives. You only know what they allow you to. If you are not at the receiving end of a heartfelt conversation, you’ll never know. You won’t realise the depth of the people around you if they don’t open up to you.

People long to share their emotions. It’s a way of maximising the joy of success and good news, and a means of alleviating the suffering of pain and sadness. It’s not about making you feel jealous or burdening you with additional problems. It’s about trusting you enough to confide in you their intimate details.

Secrecy breeds pain. In all aspects. If we keep things inside of us, we’re suffering so much on our own that we’re causing our own destruction. And no one knows.

We let people in whom we can trust. Whom we believe won’t scare away. Who’ll comprehend that what we want is someone to sit by us in silence while we share our version of the world.

True, we all have different viewpoints, but it is only when we are given another’s lens that we begin to see the world differently.

Icebergs have the extraordinary ability to be able to majestically float when the majority of them is underwater, hidden from the naked eye. We sort of do the same when something is wrong. We hide it under the carpet, hoping nobody will see it and pretending it will go away.

There is so much more to what we see in others. You can discern it in their eyes, in the authenticity of their smile, in the sincerity of their laugh. Happiness comes in waves. But it’s at the lowest points that we need help getting back up. Even if asking for assistance may seem like the hardest thing to do.

Every person you meet is going through things you will never know.

Just like you share in your head thoughts you will never speak of.

Reboot

Let’s take a week off. We’ll call it a mental health week. Because a day is just not enough.

It’ll be a week when you promise yourself you won’t stress about things you can’t control and you won’t pressure yourself to do things you don’t enjoy simply because you have to. You’re only to do things you choose, that brighten your mood and lift your spirits.

Sleep in, get up and be lazy, binge-watch Netflix and Disney+, go for long walks listening to podcasts or music, get on the train without a destination in mind. Do whatever. Anything other than what has been draining you of energy for so long.

Burnout symptoms are not that hard to identify: inexplicable anger outbursts, constant irritation, inability to focus, sleep deprivation, constant agitation, and many more. But most of all it’s exhaustion; not just tiredness, but physical and mental drainage. Have you ever been so consumed that you feel tired before you even get out of bed in the morning?

Every machine once in a while needs to be switched off and on again to function properly, to declutter and reboot. Our bodies (and minds) work like that too. We need to reboot to revitalise ourselves to be able to serve our purpose better. If we cannot operate well – if we’re not even feeling well – we are of no benefit to neither ourselves nor to others.

We need those periods of taking a break from the world. Of deciding what we devote our attention to and to whom. Because life is short, and it’s a shame to waste days not feeling happy.

Plant your energy

There is an experiment simple enough that children are even taught to carry out: you take two plants and water each of them equally, but to the one you speak lovingly with kind, encouraging words, while to the other you burst out your rage, anger and hatred. You watch them grow over time and soon realise that the first one blooms into a tall, sturdy, leafy plant, while the latter steadily withers away into misery.

Humans are like that too.

The words we receive affect us in every way.

We are told to be careful of the language we use to talk to ourselves. Those deafening voices inside our head and what they tell us. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to hear things we wouldn’t even tell our enemy. That being said, we shouldn’t tolerate such negativity neither from ourselves, neither from anyone around us.

We become what we constantly tell ourselves.

But have you ever considered that no one wants to be kicked at when they’re already down? When we’re having a bad day and someone else is having a great one, the aim is not to bring the latter down, but to lift the former up.

Friends are there to raise our spirits when we ourselves can’t talk ourselves out of a bad state. They need to realise when we require a pep talk, when we call for a reality check, or simply a few words of encouragement. There are days when life seems to suck. It’s just the way it is at that moment for some. And we need to help them deal with it. Not by showcasing all their negative traits, but by pinpointing all their positive ones so that they too can see how brilliant they are regardless if it doesn’t feel so at that time. We need people who can speak highly of us even in the midst of an argument. We don’t need people around us insensitive so as not to realise when they’re causing more trouble than they’re worth, overstaying their welcome and causing problems to an already tumultuous relationship. Friends respect our choices and the people we’re with, and they tolerate them even when they don’t agree with them. We desire friends who call to check up simply for the sake of it and who can sit with us in silence just for the company.

There is a time for being criticised and one for being consoled. Our people can distinguish between the two.

You can’t feed a plant with negativity and expect it to be the joy of life.

The same is true for people.

Treat them well, and they’ll give you even more of their heart.

It all comes down to how you make them feel.

Peace from mind

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There is a concept called ‘emotional leakage’; it’s about letting your emotions overflow into your external behaviour. In simpler terms, you show exactly what you’re feeling.

Like this article notes: “For overcontrolled (OC) people who tend have a lot of impulse control, showing a flood of emotion externally and in a situation where others can see it, might be very uncomfortable or shame-provoking. Emotional leakage happens when an OC persons self-control has failed and their inner feelings are revealed and expressed more intensely than preferred. Emotional leakage isn’t a problem per se, except when it’s followed by self-criticism.”

This leakage, however, is often expressed in negative terms – in psychosomatic symptoms which our body uses to raise the alarm, to signify to us that something is wrong, that the entire system is not working properly and we need to change something.

If you think about it, when we’re happy, when we’re satisfied with work, we have a steady income, a stable life rhythm, everything seems to be going perfectly and the whole world appears wonderful in our eyes. But when an adversity strikes, when unexpectedly you’re forced to search for another way of surviving the increasing expenses and nothing seems certain, you view the world much differently and not so idyllic.

We’ve all been on both sides of this spectrum. But we tend to forget it or overlook it.

Happiness itself is fleeting,” says Rob Dial in this fantastic podcast titled “You don’t want to be happy”.

He explains that happiness is an emotion. And just like any emotion, it will be passing and gone eventually. Emotions change. So, what we want more than happiness is peace. Because peace is a state we enter in, and it’s harder to get in and out of a state rather than in and out of an emotion.

In the moments of our greatest happiness, we’re in our moments of greatest peace. Because we’re right there in that moment, thinking of nothing else. In our highest moments in life, we are so present in them that nothing outside them exists. You’re not thinking of your to-do list or of past mistakes or future challenges. Your mind simply goes quiet. And that constant story inside your head doesn’t seem to be screaming at you. That dumb story you’re telling yourself about who you are and why you’re that way is quiet in your highest moments. You reach a state of euphoria.

We want that peace from mind. From our thoughts. From our own self.

The mind is an extraordinary organ. It tries to protect us by fast forwarding about what’s going to happen and projecting into the future – it’s how we survive. It considers potential threats in order to keep us safe. But if you manage to focus in the present moment, your mind goes quiet.

The mind is an amazing yet complex tool. But we’re not taught how to use or control it. And instead, this tool becomes the master when it’s supposed to be our servant.

We have millions of ways to distract ourselves constantly – screens of all sorts, abundant information everywhere – it all stimulates our mind and keeps us wanting more. We become addicted to the temporary high.

However, there are various techniques to help you reach that much-needed state of peace. Meditation, for example, is tyring to get you to a state where you’re free from your mind. Allow yourself to calm down. It takes time, but it’s worth it once you get there.

Mindfulness is to place yourself in situations you find peace of mind as often as possible. Focus on that very moment and disregard everything else. It will help reduce stress, lengthen attention span, maximise awareness, decrease anxiety, etc. Our mind is like a computer – in some, like myself, there are at least two browsers running with a dozen tabs open in each. At some point, it will start being held back and running slower.  We need a restart every now and again to reboot and refuel.

Fear, stress, anxiety, and worry are all programmes of the mind. We need to cultivate silence as much as possible. To silence our thoughts, place things in order, and see things a bit more clearly.

If we take things one steady step at a time, perhaps they will work out more effectively and without harming our health in the meantime.

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