To Believe or not to Believe.  That is the Question.  TEN Reasons Why I Believe in God

Charlotte Gyllenhammar’s ‘Double Bind’ in Gothenbourg’s art gallery  illustrates the tension some people face about believing in God. A Double Bind in a relationship is where a person is caught in a trap of contradictory messages.  

In the absence of any ‘proof’ either way, I have decided to simply believe. Here are my …

Ten Reasons Why I Believe in God.

1. It’s so simple.

For me it is the most obvious thing, and anyone can do it. For 60 years I’ve listened to people duck and dive around the simplicity, thinking it is far too easy to innocently ‘accept’ the honest possibility of a Designer/Creator. I’ve heard all the “Who created God, then?” arguments. In the face of such design intricacies and interlinked complexity in the natural world, simply to accept that there might be an Eternal Being who was and is the Source of it all seems so obvious to me. Why fight it?      Here’s the next one…

2. I have someone to thank, thank God.

Yes, someone to blame for all the GOOD stuff. The atheist’s most embarrassing moment is when she or he feels supremely thankful  for something and doesn’t know who to thank. Beauty. Love. Health. Sleep. Life. Children. Hope. 

3. It inspires faith.

I love the fact that you cannot prove God doesn’t exist.  Or does, of course. Believe it or not, it’s a choice! (Yes, I know this argument is rejected by all the logical people in the world who question whether we have choice or not. They rather miss the point methinks.) This doubt-ridden world is crying out for the beauty of simple trust.  Who better to trust than a loving  Creator?    OK, here’s my next one …

4. It’s healthy.

It is now well established that belief in a benevolent God has physical, emotional and psychological health benefits. They live longer, have better relationships, are more socially contributing, less stressed,  and healthier. He has to be a benevolent God though.  Malevolence has the opposite effect.

5. I’m never alone. 
Allowing myself to sense the presence (pre-sence?) of an Eternal Spirit who is interested in me and ready to connect with the deepest part of me is massively reassuring. It means that I always have someone to share my life with, who loves me unconditionally and listens to my every heartbeat, wherever I am, whatever I’m thinking, in good days and bad. 

6. It answers the question “What’s the Point?”

It has been said that the two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you found out the purpose of that event. I personally am happy to accept that there IS an objective reason for my existence – which gives a sense of fulfilment and purpose beyond the decision of a couple of people to mate and have a baby. Belief in God may be subjective, but if it is true then he is ‘beyond’ us in so many ways.  I think human beings need that ‘something, someone beyond ourselves.’ 

7.  I haven’t found anything better.

I’m talking about an all-forgiving, kind, all-powerful, GOOD God here, not a legalistic, authoritarian, punisher of human wrongs who spends his (or her, of course) time dreaming up nasties for bad behaviour.  Mine is a God who accepts me and loves me just as I am, no strings attached. ‘Love personified’ describes him well. There is nothing I can do to make him love me more … or love me less.

8.  Heaven and hope.

The God I love has prepared a perfect home for my spirit the other side of death – heaven. Bring it on … in due course, needless to say. He knows the perfect time for my transfer from this world to that one, and has it in his control.  This conviction provides deep reassuring hope.  Self-deception? Maybe. How will you or I know? (Frankly, I don’t care. This works for me.)

9. I feel deeply deeply safe.

As in ‘deeply’.  I still feel insecure sometimes, and occasionally afraid, but the safety I’m talking about is much more profound than that. It runs very deep, the reassurance that whatever happens to me physically or emotionally, spiritually I’m safe.  Secure.  It’s an all-encompassing awareness that this God is absolutely on my side and that it will be, not just alright in the end, but unimaginably amazing. To quote that 2012 classic Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (sorry!) “It’s going to be alright in the end, so if it’s not alright, it’s not yet the end.”   I love that line!

10. History.
When I was sixteen I had a stunning experience that changed my life. I may tell you about it sometime. For me it was my personal entry into an understanding of God that has affected everything. There have been hundreds of similar moments since. Some people might call them coincidences, or lucky moments, or the ‘universe’ looking after you’, or just flukes. They may be right, but that doesn’t work for me. I think such moments have a spiritual origin. They are the Creator actively participating in my daily life.  I like that.

I’d LOVE you to comment on this.  Feel free to add your honest (but polite please, or they will be taken down!) thoughts.

Experiment.

You need this invitation … to experiment.

Every day, every moment of your life contains uncertainty.  No one knows what the future holds, even the future just a short few seconds away.  As I write, and you read this, neither of us knows what is just around the corner. Your corner. My corner: joy or sorrow, good or bad, life or death, ‘win’ or ‘lose’.  No one knows.  Life – each and every day – is an experiment, with billions of ‘unknowns’.  Everything – everything! –  we think about the future is speculation to one degree or another.

Find the (slightly) mad scientist in your heart.
Find the (slightly) mad scientist in your heart.

 

Navigator.

Yet we manage to navigate our way through these exploding billions of predictably unpredictable happenings, learning from them, adjusting to them, taking advantage of them, and even enjoying them. And as we grow up, we begin to recognise and react to these patterns, noticing how things happen, together and in order, and how we can profoundly rely on them to guide us through our never-twice-the-same inner and outer worlds. And how something we do seems to affect what happens around us. A baby’s physical hungry cry produces real actual milk spilling from its mother’s breast (how does that happen?) or perhaps a warmed version of nutritious something in a plastic bottle!

"Hmmm... I wonder what is going to happen?"
“Hmmm… I wonder… ?”

Experimenter.

Reflecting on this recently (experimenting, not breast feeding!) I thought about how I can be more the Experimenter than the experiment.  I’m not a fatalist.  I don’t accept that we are all caught up in a hopeless universal inevitability, because I don’t believe it’s true. I believe that to some extent I – each of us – can significantly influence what happens around me, and what happens beyond that. There’s no such thing as a failed experiment, just an unexpected result. I also believe that I am first of all a spiritual being, in a different realm from that perceived fatalistic inevitability, and that the spiritual part of me has huge unknown power. It breathes with the creative freedom-giving breath of its Creator.

Butterfly in Brazil? I swimmer in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Butterfly in Brazil? A swimmer in Rio.

Creator.

Once I understand that a butterfly in Brazil can cause a hurricane in another part of the world, then choosing to alter my habitual behaviour today, given time, will indeed make the world different from what it would have been. And I believe that everything is connected in some way. You, me, that butterfly, everyone else and the Creator. Flapping my wings differently (or choosing not to) will just as inevitably change things somewhere. We cannot NOT communicate.

So how is that going to affect what you think, say and do today as you leave this blog?

Experiment. You cannot fail.

(Then let me know what happened.)

Feel Like You are on a Lead?

The only reason, it seems to me, that we tame an animal is for our benefit. To have it work for us, feed us, entertain us, rescue us, protect us, guide us – or for use as a pet, a cuddly toy, or a plaything, or to bet on its performance. Of course we look after it and care for it, but it has no real choice.

‘Tamed’ is for animals …

SnapnDrag619
Feel like you are on a lead? Trapped? Tamed? That isn’t what you were designed for. (c)www.dailymail.co.uk

… NOT people. How many men and women do you know who have been tamed – by their wife, partner, husband, children, parents, boss, school, college, or professional body?

Tamed: Brought into line. Forced to comply. Bullied into submission.  “So break their spirit. Trick them into being controlled. Without them realising until it is too late.”

And there is always a plausible excuse: Order. Safety. Control. The Money.  “It’s for the best.”

How have you been tamed?
Emasculated. Enslaved. Indentured. Dehumanised. Handcuffed to a job, a way of life, a habit, a culture, a partner, a pay cheque, a trauma, a professional body, a thought pattern. Brought under control. Subject to the will, whim or pleasure of another. Tamed by greater power, physical violence, pain, fear, psychotherapeutic drugs, a court, money. Think about it.

In people, tame is not good. You were designed to be free, able to choose at least something of your destiny, without others interfering, limiting, cracking the whip, or writing an unnecessary prescription. Designed to be free, not impoverished or imprisoned, or chemically coshed.

Weakness tames us, whether caused by any of the above, or by poverty, ignorance, violence, shame, or injustice.

Powerchange, on the other hand does the opposite. The Powerchange team is here to strengthen, liberate, and educate you. To free you. Our therapeutic coaching moves people out of the grip of shame, injustice and life-taming drugs (however well-intentioned the prescription) and, yes, clients ARE shocked when they realise how straightforward it was to ‘come free’, and how staying free is not a burden.

If this blog echoes with you, if you have found yourself on a lead, living a tamed life, surrendered, snared or struggling to resist (or snarling behind the bars) then please call me. Call me on my Direct Access number: 07771631945, or email andrew@powerchange.com.     Let me help you find your hidden power.

And if you are free but have a friend or colleague who you suspect is being or has been tamed, whisper the word ‘Powerchange’ into their ear. Whisper it slowly “P-o-w-e-r-ch-a-n-g-e”and link us up – you’ll know how best to do that.

What I do when I am DESPERATE.

Know the feeling?

SnapnDrag573

From time to time life takes a turn for the more challenging, and I face a situation that I don’t have an obvious answer to.  I am a ‘natural’ at living on the edge and that is when the unexpected makes me either ‘jump’ or tempts me to ‘blind panic’.  The first is OK, but the second can make matters a lot worse.
At these moments, and I’ve had a good few of them, I’ve learnt a simple procedure that definitely makes a difference…

1. PRAY.

This is not about running away, but taking one step back for a few minutes and opening myself to higher things.  Personally I believe that God is, and likes to be, involved in my life, but evidence shows that even if you don’t believe, prayer and meditation (often called ‘mindfulness’) still has a substantial calming effect on you and will reduce the damaging sense of panic that can ensue from difficult situations. Negative trauma damages your brain, pressuring you to basic fight-or-flight ‘limbic’ behaviour.

Prayer and meditation have been shown to have real and measurable benefits in times of stress.  It is handy for me to have some favourite quotes in my memory ready to lean on and recall as I pray. One reason I’ve meditated on verses and stories in the Bible over the years is so that I’m resourced with ancient, proven, calming, wisdom when things go belly up. It’s “in there” and and the bits I have taken onboard come to the surface when needed. It has also provided me with a reliable guide to what I believe to be fundamentally important for us humans, helping me to prioritise action.

2. SMILE.

Right. Now you’ve prayed, you can smile. You are not your crisis, but the one person who can initiate change within it, so smile – not least at the irony!   Smiling, and even laughter, changes the chemistry of your body for the better, stimulating the release of empowering hormones to help you deal with the difficulty.  A good reason to smile is that as you look back on this situation in the future you will find all sorts of good in it. The biggest threats to us have within them the biggest lessons – of courage, self-control, and humility. People who look back on some of the most difficult times say they would not swap them for an easier life.

3. PHYSICALLY ACT.

Act towards a solution.  In fact ANY action is better than no action. Your sense of panic has been taken out of circulation, and you’re smiling. The next stage involves PHYSICAL ACTION (mental action will not do), for instance, phoning or emailing someone, going to the bank or supermarket, getting your stepladder out of the garage, or going to the hospital, doctor, head teacher or boss. Act towards a solution.  Start the invasion and watch what happens.

If you’re facing a serious situation alone, or simply want to move beyond the irritating or confining status quo, that’s what I’m here for. Call me.  I’ve got space in my diary for you. We can work on it (in confidence) together.

Andrew

0777 163 1945

andrew@powerchange.com

So far to go?

I was mentored for three decades by Campbell McAlpine, an amazing man who I met when I was 24 and he was 56. I looked up to him as a role model, and a second father in many ways.

The epitome of a wise man. Gracious, perceptive, gentle, strong.
The epitome of a wise man. Gracious, perceptive, gentle, strong.

He was the father my old Dad could never be – however hard he tried! Campbell was amazing.  He accepted me just as I was and was kind enough not to leave me there.  Campbell died in 2009, but his spirit lives on in my head and my life. He taught me so much, and you’ve benefitted from his wisdom … and yes, you’re about to benefit from it again!

Campbell loved words. He was a persuasive public speaker, had several books published, recorded sets of CDs and thousands of tapes. (Yes, cassettes. It was a while ago, remember!)  Here are some of his favourite sayings that have impressed themselves on me.  Choose one for yourself and let it sink in:

1. “The room for improvement is the biggest room in the world – and I’m in it.”

2. “Andrew, go for influence, not prominence.”

3. “Live like a leader.”

3. “Andrew, have you got five minutes?” Yes, Campbell?  “Clean the car!” (My car, not his! He was a stickler for valuing and looking after things you have.)

But the one that was a challenge for me was “The thing is, I’ve so far to go.” (said in a Scots accent:  “…faar ta goo.”)  What, Campbell?  The most saintly person I knew?  If he had so far to go, I thought, I haven’t started yet.  But I have grown to realise that ALL of us, however far we’ve come, have faar ta goo. I don’t take this on board as a challenge that taunts me with an ever receding horizon, but simply as a reminder that I’m not in a situation where I can brag about my ‘arrival’ in life. We are invited, not to reach some impossible ideal perfection, but simply to keep walking and to get up when we fall. I’m invited to remind myself and others that the next mile is worth it, has never been travelled before (by anyone) and has something to teach me, something for me to experience that will enrich my life if I let it, and will enrich others’ lives when I share it.

… as I just have. Now its your turn to share Campbell’s legacy, and my legacy, and now your legacy. What you are discovering, plant it into the life of another person, and make the world a better place.

Coming Home.

This story continues from last year’s Christmas blog. If you’ve not read it already, it might provide an enjoyable minute or two. If you did read it at the time, pop back for a second visit before you read Part 2.

Here is Part 2 of the story…

Mrs Winchester never slept like a baby normally.  The doctor had described her early wakefulness in various ways, and diagnosed ‘Marriage Anxiety Syndrome’ (DSM-IV 326a) resulting in an ‘over-active sense of responsibility’. She lived with that subtle underlying anxiety of one who cares a lot for the needy – and there was no doubt that Max came into that category. She was, in her words, a light sleeper.  Max, on the other hand was having the time of his life.

Having recovered a little of his decorum following his stumbling across baby Jesus and his teenage parents in the stable, he grabbed his iPad and began writing his journal. He recorded every last detail: the clothes the shepherds were wearing (‘headgear like a tea towel at home’), the state of the stable (‘warm, though smelly’) and discretely omitted Mary’s struggle with feeding Jesus for the first time (he had quietly nipped into the inn for that bit). It was only then that he realised he had a bar or two of Wifi (it was free in the inn), so promptly whizzed off an email explaining where he was and what was happening, to Mrs Winchester, who was duly dumbfounded. She phoned the Community Support Officer again to tell her she’d found Max and heard her snigger for the second time.

Max headed for a hour or two of sleep. He dreamt he heard angels singing, Max 35. Angels.but was wakened finally by the revving of cars in the road below his window. Three massive blacked-out limmos were parked on the curb, complete with their minders and an escort car or two. He slipped his shoes back on and headed for the stable again, there to find a selection of eastern dignitaries gathered round the manger/crib. They were chatting quietly to Mary and Joseph as Jesus slept, and he noticed them handing the young couple some little gifts wrapped in the poshest of wrapping paper.  Max took a picture with his iPad and emailed it home.  “Bethlehem” he thought to himself, “will never be the same after this night, and neither will I.” He proved to be right on both counts.

It was a few days later he decided to head home. Boxing Day had come and gone, and he’d been able to sleep off some of his weariness. It was with a palpable sense of relief that he pressed the “Go Home” button on his TomTom, and waited (ages) while it planned his route through Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary, into Austria and Germany and back to the Channel. Bluewater seemed a long way away.

He only got lost six times, and broke down just the once – as he was driving round the southern edge of Lake BalatonBalaton – about half way home. Most of the time he slept in the Fiesta, but occasionally he allowed himself the comparative luxury of a comfy bed in a wayside inn.

Max’s final stop was at the side of the road a few miles from his house. He pulled into a little car park on a hill overlooking a beautiful view – you know the sort. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to go home, it was just that he was overwhelmed by an inexplicable desire to cry. For a few minutes he managed to contain himself, but finally he surrendered.
For the first time in thirty eight years, he sobbed and sobbed, calmed himself and sobbed some more. Wave after wave of tears engulfed him.  He was shocked to find he couldn’t stop. His body ached with the emotional outburst. Somewhere within his brain he remembered something about the symptoms of PTSD, but he couldn’t care less right now. He knew something deep was happening to him and continued to cry.

When finally his tears ended he noticed the sun was setting – the huge red orb making its way inexorably towards the darkening horizon.  As he sat quietly he felt a sense of peace begin to trickle under the door of his heart. Max put his head back on the headrest. All he could think of was that baby. Somehow the peace he felt was connected to the little newborn child resting innocent and contented in that grotty stable, though he found it impossible to figure out quite how.  He remembered a couple of lines of a T.S.Eliot poem about Magi going to see Jesus, and how they felt. “We returned to our places, these kingdoms, but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation...” He would look it up when he got home. He felt like that too … no longer at ease … old dispensation. Weird. He started the engine.

Mrs Winchester was delighted to see him back. He was even quieter than normal – which is saying something. Preoccupied. Contemplative. Stronger. More relaxed in a way. Nothing seemed to matter to him in quite the same way, and despite her efforts she couldn’t get him to open up. “I’ll tell you all about it sometime, my dear,” he told her.

And one day he did.

Canon excel themselves in customer service

Remember my post “For the want of 5p“? Well, I’ve another story to tell you.
On my Big Trip around Europe I lost my camera. It fell off the bike somewhere in the north west of Greece, up by the Bulgarian border, and I had to get another one in Thessalonikii. I chose Canon again – a red IXUS – and loved it, snapping away merrily for a year. I took it to the Arctic too. Somehow it didn’t quite take the strain and stress of my adventure lifestyle at the time, and passed away finally when I got back and was taking some photos in church. The zoom feature was damaged and I repaired it with my Leatherman, the glass of the LCD screen cracked, the casing had seen better days and eventually the shutter button fell off as I was framing the vicar (so to speak).

It was months out of warranty, but I decided to send it back, not least so Canon knew that their little cameras go to interesting places and they could evaluate the wear and tear. I sent it to the MD of course, (customer service departments rarely have the flexibility to be generous) with an entertaining description of its short life, and with the ready acceptance that it had not been looked after very well and they were not obliged to be kind to me. I also said it didn’t seem so strong as my other Canon cameras (I’m on my 4th) which was true.

Guess what? The short story is that Canon are mending it free of charge! The lovely lady in Customer Care sent me a warm and fun letter, entering into the spirit of the entertaining exchange, and Canon went onto my list of companies who know how to treat customers well. The camera hasn’t arrived yet but it will, and comes with another six months warranty – and a wise little warning not to try it again! Now THAT is up to Apple standards of customer care. Well done Canon. You’ve won my heart and go to the top of the class.

How do you look after the people in your life? Canon overlooked my humanity and were kind. They’ll be remembered for it.

Bilbo camper conversions won’t. The sad and uppity lady at the huge NEC mobile homes exhibition told me off for photographing her camper vans to get ideas for my own conversion. How silly! All the others were complimented by my interest, pointing out the features, chatting happily away and wishing me well. One guy said how people came back having converted their own camper and often bought a brand new one from them because they loved camper van life so much – for £32,000! Needless to say he WANTED me to take photos to remind me of how good his vans are.

And Canon didn’t expect the blog in their honour either. Want a good camera? Buy a Canon. The service is great and they love their customers. I really like being loved, don’t you?

The Big Trip. Week Two: The Significance of Insignificance

The ferry docked in Tallinn, I filled up with fuel and headed into town to find some accommodation. A young English-speaking businessman pointed me in the direction of a ‘value’ hotel. Just for the record, it is easy to misunderstand the no-entry signs in Estonia. I went down several roads the wrong way and found myself in pedestrian-only streets. No one seemed to care.

Whenever I’m out on a trip I deliberately make myself available – even vulnerable – not just to the rewarding opportunities and interactions with the people and the places, but to my own inner heart and mind. I’m a firm believer in a God who is not just ‘out there’ but also ‘in here’, so I listen naively (or wisely, depending on your own perspective) to the thoughts I’m having.
Enjoying a warm shower and washing my clothes in the back-street ‘€16 Hostel‘ in Tallinn where I’d booked a night at the cheapest rate (of €38!), and wandering round the cobbled streets of this typically ‘Central European’ old town, chatting to the waiters and waitresses, the leaflet distributors and the students I mused on the phrase that had first made its gentle presence felt in Finland:

“The significance of insignificance”

It seemed a very weak phrase to base my thinking on for this trip, so I logged it, and thought some more. “The significance of insignificance.” You’ve got to be joking. Insignificance by its very definition cannot be significant. More thought required.
Yet this phrase would not be so easily dismissed. Like many life-changing thoughts, it would not be denied. It demanded my serious attention – and may infiltrate into your thoughts too as you read this, so beware! The significance of insignificance.

Here I was a tiny speck of humanity on the earth. A grain of sand on the beach. A single traveller exploring the world. a two-metre bike on a 230 miles-a-day journey. So insignificant. Yet, as I mused, I realised I had missed a trick. Each grain of sand is not ON the beach, it IS the beach. If I were to remove each grain of sand from the earth on the basis of it being insignificant, there would be no earth, for the earth is made up of such tiny insignificances. The grain of sand of itself may be removed with little apparent effect, but the surrounding grains would notice, and were I to get into the habit of declaring each grain insignificant and removing it, I would be wreaking a destruction of very significant proportions, one grain at a time.

With that thought in mind I went to bed, and woke to a new day. My first in the Baltic States and back in mainland Europe. I loaded the bike and left Tallinn, heading due south, determined to find a beach and paddle in the Bay of Riga. I hadn’t gone ten metres before a van tooted at me. I turned to see that I had left both panniers outside the hotel by mistake. It would have been a long way back.
Riding out of town I headed due south towards my ‘farthest point’ destination a thousand or so miles away – the Black Sea. The thought of seeing with my own eyes this huge ‘inland’ sea mattered to me. But when I’m riding I can easily be so focussed on my destination that I miss the pleasure of what is immediately in my view, so I drew my attention in to the more immediate: the long roads through forest and agricultural land.

The road I’d chose took me near the coast of Estonia and on into Latvia as I’d decided a paddle in the Gulf of Riga was called for. I’m not a swimmer (though I can swim a short distance) but I love paddling, strolling for miles along the shore with the sea lapping over my bare feet. Brilliant. And on the way… perfect, a ‘service area’. Well, a little hut with a couple of tables on a veranda planted to the side of a rough pull-in from the road. Perfect. I parked my bike so it could be clearly seen from the road, and ordered a coffee and burger. At least the coffee tasted good.

And then the sound of a slowing fellow motorcycle traveller. I love these chance meetings. He had seen my bike and wanted some company. We chatted freely and decided to find a beach.
I remember a solo traveller telling me one day that, when you travel with a friend, you have a friend. When you travel alone, all the world is your friend. So here was a new friend, and we shared our lives for a morning. Great. We also found the beach, just off the A1 near Saulkrasti, brewed up filter coffee in my ‘kitchen’ sunbathed for an hour and finally got on our respective ways.

Riding through the Baltic States in August is a bit like riding through the UK countryside in the 1960s. Hardworking farmers doing their best to bring in the crops. The occasional horse and cart. Tended wooden homesteads, with logs dumped in the front gardens awaiting storage for the winter. Old tractors pulling old farm equipment, little old combine harvesters with no cabs or air conditioning. The people too concerned about this week’s grocery budget to be distracted by the West’s fixation with pollution.

I thought up a dubious joke as I rode along the comparatively narrow roads: Where does UK farming equipment go when it dies? To Latvia and Lithuania,it seems. (I was later to decide that if it is really naughty it probably goes to Romania.) I took many photos of this stretch of the road, touched by the leftovers of a shattered communism-based economy – rusting deserted factories, cold characterless buildings, old 80’s cars, poverty breathing its chill breath over the village communities – but I lost my camera in Bulgaria, so you only get secondhand ones on this part of the blog.

Yet each one of the people I met in these central european countries (they hate to be called Eastern Europe) matters to the people they feed – their families and other loved ones. And I mattered to them too. My ‘insignificant’ custom of food, fuel, bottles of water, and the occasional ice-cream was a part of their essential income.

I loved the entrepreneurial spirit that was around me too. Some of these people had become very successful. No 80’s cars for them. New Skoda Octavias and posh 4x4s would occasionally whip past me as I journeyed on.

The significance of insignificance.

Time.

I’m sitting in the showroom of ChandlersBMW of Brighton, waiting. My legendary 1200GS motorbike needs a little attention. (For the techies, its a steering head bearing.) It will take an hour according to Phil Banks, Chandler’s outstanding workshop manager. He is brilliant, a walking encyclopaedia.
But this blog isn’t about Phil. Its about Time.

Emmet, without helmet, leading a brilliant ride through the Brecon Beacons.

Will the time I spend waiting in reception pass slowly or quickly?

It depends on what I’m doing and how much I’m enjoying it. If I’m enjoying the wait, … oops, there we go. (The bike is done and the time went far too quickly for me to complete this blog. I’ll stay a while, get another coffee and finish it.)

Emmet Reidy, Chandlers excellent Motorrad Manager, has just come over and is asking me about time. He has to work at “time management” he says, and then lists the unpredictability of each day as the reason for his planning challenges. I laugh, and explain it is to do with how he perceives time, and nothing to do with all the interruptions he cites.

Emmet tends to process time as if he is on the inside of it, a bit like a hamster in one of those exercise balls rolling round the room. He is living in the moment, and is surprised by interruptions that he bumps into as he lives out his day. Classic ‘Inside Time’ processing. Life is an adventure for the hampster (and for Emmet!) When you’re in the moment, as Forrest Gump‘s mother always told him “life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re going to get.” Emmet’s immediate enthusiasm and spark will really ‘work’ for the GS riders like me who love a bit of adventure.

Phil is different from Emmet. He prefers to see time from outside – and runs the workshop accordingly! It’s great – efficient, predictable and thorough. As if he is watching himself from outside the hamster ball, about to roll down a step, he likes everything done very precisely. He sees what he thinks is the ‘future’ coming, and adjusts for it, preparing for those events that surprise Emmet. Phil tends towards ‘Outside Time’ processing. Phil will value safety. Emmet is likely to take some risk – though preferably on a bike that Phil has made sure is safe!

Flexibility – you can have both

The Powerchange GOLD Coach training – famous throughout the world (I wish!) for it’s amazing power, depth and breadth – focused on Time in our training last month. We showed the coaches how to move from Inside to Outside Time processing and back. The flexibility is great. We can enjoy the moment AND prepare for what lies ahead. We can also take a new perspective on the past – and change how we feel about it.

But is it that easy?

Each of us has developed our preferred default position for our own reason. It makes us feel good – either because we get a buzz out of surprises, or because we like the feeling of being prepared, being able to look forward to a good time. Or maybe some other reason. Moving from our default preference can be thought of as a not-so-good choice.

Time is odd. The past no longer exists, the future hasn’t arrived, and that leaves THIS moment. Now. As you read this. Do you prefer to be in the moment, or prefer to live life a little more detached? Are you an Emmet or a Phil?

Emmet may have more difficulty remembering and planning. He’ll need to reference a diary more often. Phil, on the other hand, may find the normal unpredictability of life less exciting than Emmet, and is likely to look forward to future events  and past good times with what he will regard as due caution. He is unlikely to get such an amazing emotional ‘high’ as Emmet. He will avoid the ‘lows’ too. Life will seem safer, and perhaps less interesting.

Human beings start life ‘inside time’. A baby has no understanding of hours days, past or future.  That concept is developing at a massive rate through childhood and into adolescence. However, by the time we’ve reached adulthood we will have experienced all sorts of traumas, some very minor, others highly significant, and know what it is like to wait in a queue and rush for an appointment. Those traumas affect our learning about time. Pain and pleasure affect the memories we have, ‘tagging’ them. If there are a lot of tags that are unpleasant (just one major one can do it) we will be much more cautious about ‘living in the moment’ as Inside Time people tend to, and want to take a more stepped back, Outside Time position. It gives us time to process and consider.  The upside is that we will be better prepared to handle/withstand negative experiences. The down side is we are unlikely to enjoy the pleasurable moments so much.

How do you process time?  If you’re after more flexibility, get in touch.

EVERY cloud?

Does EVERY cloud have a silver lining?

Storm clouds off the coast of France

In Powerchange we’re very suspicious of the word ‘every’. No room for manoeuvre is there? We ask, ‘Every? Surely some cloud somewhere doesn’t.’ Of course few of us could care about the semantics when we’re encompassed or overshadowed by cloud.  It is much more personal than that. This is the cloud I’m under.  My cloud, so to speak.  And it is blotting out sun for me.

The good news is, yes, every cloud has sun behind it – at least when daybreak comes. There is no place that I’ve heard of where the sun is 100% blotted out for ever (you may know of somewhere – I’d be interested to know). In fact where there is endless sunshine and no cloud there is drought and barrenness. Although human beings seem to love sunshine, and here in the south of England we’ve just had a wonderful spring week of warmth and sunshine, unmitigated sun is a catastrophe. It is the cycle of sunshine, and rain, the variety – whether daily or seasonally – that enables crops to grow and the land to be refreshed. And the people to live.

In my work as a Powerchange coach I meet many clients whose lives have been traumatised by negative experiences with high levels of emotional pain. These are not mere ‘clouds’ but terrorising hurricanes, or devastating cyclones, tornados vacuuming up hope and joy, overwhelming monsoons that are beyond any control.

So how do you come back from that? How do you recover from disaster?  Where is the silver lining?

It seems to me that it is the meaning we make of these traumatic times that drowns us or rescues us, not the experiences themselves. How we see them – and ourselves within them –  really matters. Each of us has more control over that than we might realise to start with. Look again and see with the eye of faith beyond the devastation, and new meaning emerges, a more useful one, a meaning we’ve chosen, one that lifts us up instead of takes us down. Ask: what new, more useful, meanings might this experience have for me? And what else? Look deliberately and as your free choice, for a silver lining. You don’t have to, and you may need someone to help you who knows how it works, but making that inner choice is your human right. It puts you back into control. It’s not what you experience in itself, but the meaning (the label) you attach to it makes it empowering or not.

Have a meaningful day.