Sometimes You Need to Be The Lighthouse

Lighthouse on the High Sea by Jean GuicHRD

Lighthouse on the High Sea by Jean Guichard

“There are times when the ocean is not the ocean – not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger: ferocity on a scale only gods can summon. It hurls itself at the island, sending spray right over the top of the lighthouse, biting pieces off the cliff. And the sound is a roaring of a beast whose anger knows no limits.” 
~ M. L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans

Perhaps you know of the following exchange, which may or may not be urban myth:

This is the transcript of the ACTUAL radio conversation of a British Naval Ship and the Irish, off the coast of Kerry, Oct 95. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-03-02:

Irish: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the South, to avoid a collision.

British: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the North, to avoid a collision.

Irish: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

British: This is the captain of a British navy ship. I say again, divert your course.

Irish: Negative. I say again, You will have to divert your course.

British: This is the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible. The second largest ship in the British Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, two missile cruisers, and numerous support vessels. I demand that you change your course, 15 degrees north, I say again, that is 15 degrees north, or counter-measures will be undertaken to ensure that safety of this ship.

Irish: We are a lighthouse. Your call.

This is a post for those of you going through difficult times, or difficult relationships. (Actually they can often be the same thing.)

Even though this is a post about Lighthouses I am NOT going to advocate all that New Age feel-good stuff about shining your Light and being a radiant example of unconditional love, peace and incredible oneness in the face of hardship.

Sorry about that.

Not that those things aren’t wonderful and admirable. But sometimes it’s simply not possible to hold that space.

I have a friend going through a very difficult divorce right now, after years of being married to a man who is one part Prince Charming and one part emotionally manipulative bully. Her husband has a fearsome temper. He’s a narcissist. And right now, now that she’s really left him for good (and yes, she’s somewhere safe), the charm is gone – he is battering her verbally and emotionally to get his way.

She knows that is what he does. And usually he wins because other people eventually give in, worn down by his behaviour. She has always given in, worn down by his behaviour.

In the midst of all of this (when her own lawyer began to realise what this woman had been enduring and took her to a Domestic Violence Support Group) my friend wanted to know how to best hold her husband in love and come from that place of Love and Light. Should she pray for him? How should she help him?

Meanwhile this man is raging around her like the foulest of tempests. And she thinks she needs to stay ‘open’ to him, to engage with him, to support him…

“Be the Lighthouse,” I said. “You know, the one you see in the famous picture where there’s a storm and the ocean is smashing down upon that Lighthouse, and the Lighthouse just stands, immovable?”

She nodded.

“Stand your ground. Be well prepared. Let him rage as much as you like, and know that eventually, like any storm, he’ll blow himself out. Don’t engage him. Don’t try to help or fix him. A Lighthouse does not engage with a storm, it simply endures, and goes on honouring its true nature.”

That’s what we need to do with some people and situations in our lives. It’s not our place to be the healer or the fixer. In fact, it might be what is needed is for us to walk away.

Sometimes we can’t walk away – from a job, an illness, a relationship. Instead we need to stay and find a way to make the situation work, or find a way to better cope with that situation. We have to find a way to endure because something in the equation is important to us; important enough for us to need to find a way to deal with this less-than-ideal space.  Like a good friend of mine who puts up with his sister’s rude spouse in order to maintain a relationship with his sibling. Or my friend suffering through chemotherapy and radiation to prolong her life long enough to give her a little more time with her precious partner and children. Each of them ‘enters the Lighthouse’ when they deal with these issues. They batten down the hatches, and let the waves crash around them until the storm is passed. The Lighthouse is their coping strategy.

Or maybe we can’t walk away just yet – although that might be our end game. Instead we need to reach a settlement, have our day in court, finish the job, get to the end of the treatment, submit the final paper. Then we can pack our bags and get on our way!

When we can’t retreat, we can choose to be the Lighthouse, standing firm in the storm.

We make preparations, or follow our emergency plan. When bad weather approaches we put up the storm shutters. We lock down the doors and windows to make them watertight. We make sure we have candles and matches, a warm jumper, supplies and a good book. Where necessary we use a support crew. We do all we can to keep ourselves safe and give ourselves the best chance for a bright future.

As to shining your Light? Why not do that for YOU? Turn your Light inwards for a while. Put your own needs first right now, attend to your wounds, conserve your energy, nourish yourself.

When the storm has passed and the weather is clear and fine – then we can have that New Age chat about Love, Light, Rainbows, Puppies and Unicorns. Okay?

But for now, if you’re weathering that storm because there’s no way to chart another course then my advice is to look after you. Be the Lighthouse.

Plenty of time for other things once the storm has passed.

You might also find these posts useful:

How to get through the hard stuff

How to deal with toxic people

Mummy told me to talk to the Angels…

Image from google.com

Image from google.com

“The guardian angels of life fly so high as to be beyond our sight, but they are always looking down upon us.”  ~Jean Paul Richter

*NB – The names have been changed to protect the identities of the family involved in the following post but I have permission to share their story.

On the morning of December 29 my husband and I went down to Byron Bay for an early swim and coffee in a favourite cafe.  The power was out from a storm the night before, and I’d cancelled a day of work.  We had just said goodbye to the last of our Christmas guests and were looking forward to a day on our own.  We felt relaxed and happy.  The surf was gentle, we bumped into friends and shared laughter and news, and we wound our way home through the hills singing along to the radio.

But as I sat under a tree in the back yard I began to feel uncomfortable. Something was wrong, although there was nothing I could think of to make me feel that way.

Out of the blue I thought of Mandy, a student of mine I have not seen for years. The last I’d heard of her she had two small boys. The skin of my arms was covered in goosebumps, and I felt sweaty and anxious. Something was not right with her husband. Something was not right about her kids.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, I couldn’t get a clear picture. I just knew I had to call her.

I ripped through my database until I found her details. The landline was disconnected, but finally I found a cell phone number for her. She picked it up on the third ring.

Of course she was surprised to hear from me, and I made it all the more awkward by blurting out, “How’s Wayne?”

“Oh,” she paused for a moment, a catch in her voice, “we separated just before Christmas. I’ve moved back home with Mum and Dad til we work things out.  Wayne’s changed so much in the past six months, Nic. So depressed and unmotivated, when life is going well for us finally.  I don’t get it! He just isn’t who I married any more. I still love him but I didn’t know what else to do…”

“Is Wayne with you right now?” I asked her.

“No, he picked up the boys for a sleepover early this morning. Why?”

Why?  I didn’t know why. All I knew was something wasn’t right.

Before I could say anything, Mandy continued. “He’s got a place just around the corner.”

“Go. Get your Dad and go there now. Call me when you get there!”

“Why? Is something wrong?” I heard the panic in her voice.

“I don’t know.  I hope not.  Just hurry.”

She hung up and I sat in my backyard with a desperate anxiety. It took three hours before she called me back.

They’d found her husband and three small boys in the family car, the engine running in the enclosed garage, semi-conscious from exhaust fumes. Ambulances took them to hospital. Their two older sons stayed in overnight, their toddler a few nights longer, and her husband is still there.

By some kind of miracle, a tragedy was averted.

Mandy called me again today, and we had a long talk. Two things emerged.

Firstly, one of her sons, Blake, who is five, told her roughly what had happened.  Daddy had put them all in the car and said they were going on a trip.  But Daddy wouldn’t stop crying. Blake hadn’t known what to do, but then he remembered his mum telling him that he could always talk to his Guardian Angel. So Blake said to his Angel, “Please help Daddy. Please stop Daddy crying.  Please help us find out what is making Daddy so sad.”

Blake fell asleep, and he had nice dreams about a kind lady.

Secondly, as part of a routine set of tests, it was discovered that Wayne had a serious thyroid problem. Serious enough to have created the mood swings, fatigue and depression that had led to him growing away from Mandy. Serious enough that he’d gotten to a place where he felt life was hopeless.

He’s getting the medical help he needs.  Doctors are convinced that it is the thyroid issue that created this sudden change in Wayne’s personality.  And the family is going to get counselling.

Wayne and Mandy wanted to share their story. They wanted to reach out to others suffering from depression and ask them to seek help.  Speak with your family doctor.  Get a health check-up, including a thyroid work-up. And reach out to loved ones, friends or a help line and let them know you’re struggling. There is help out there. You don’t have to battle this alone.

In Australia you can contact Beyond Blue or Lifeline, and for people outside Australia you can find help here.

I-believe-in-angelsThe-kind-that-heaven-sendsI-am-surrounded-by-angelsBut-I-call-them-friendsAuthor-Unknown

And as for Blake, I am sure that his childlike faith and certainty helped change the outcome for him and his family.  How can I not believe in Angels?

What to do when someone doesn’t like you

Image from www.googleimages.com

Image from www.googleimages.com

“You have people come into your life shockingly and surprisingly. You have losses that you never thought you’d experience. You have rejection and you have learn how to deal with that and how to get up the next day and go on with it.” ~ Taylor Swift

I’ve had so many private messages about this subject since yesterday’s post that I thought it timely to address the issue of what to do when someone doesn’t like you.

This is an especially hard subject for sensitive people. We don’t have that thick skin that helps protect others. But one of the great truths of life is this:

There will always be people who love us. There will always be people who like us. There will always be people who are indifferent. There will be people who don’t know us yet, many of whom never will. There will be people who don’t like us. There will be people who don’t get us at all, or who are strongly positioned against us ( I choose not to use the word ‘hate’). Life covers the full spectrum of experience from closeness to rejection.

It hurts to be rejected.  It hurts to be misunderstood. It hurts to be judged. But there are some things we can do to help us cope better.

  1. Remember that what other people think of you is none of your business.
  2. Understand that sometimes we misinterpret another person’s signals or emotions and we may be incorrect in thinking they don’t like us.
  3. Know that humans are complex and irrational. Someone might not like you because you disagree on politics or same-sex-marriage or which direction a toilet roll should roll. You might remind them of their mother, or their mean next-door-neighbour, or the first date who rejected THEM. They might not even make a conscious connection to that fact – instead, it is a protection mechanism for them that has NOTHING to do with you.
  4. Sometimes people like us, or they certainly don’t dislike us, but they behave differently to our expectations, and we judge their ‘love’ based on measuring their behaviour against what we have come to expect from other people.  For example, some families hug, and some don’t. If we come from a family of huggers, we might interpret people not hugging us as a sign of rejection, when in fact non-huggers just have a different approach to relationships.
  5. Embrace the fact that you don’t need to ‘fix’ it. Of course if it’s an ex and you have to share parenting, or it’s your spouse’s parents, you may need to find a way to exist within each other’s Universe that minimizes stress and aggravation. There are resources and techniques to help us cope with difficult people. Seek them out.
  6. Stay safe. Value yourself and your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being above what other people think of you.
  7. Don’t hang out with people who are mean, who put you down and treat you like dirt. Seriously. Go read a book, watch a movie, learn a language, make art. Do anything other than knowingly put yourself back into situations that distress and devalue you.

As to strategies for ‘winning people over’? Is it worth putting that much energy into? We can become so obsessed with the one relationship that isn’t working that we neglect the ones that are. Or we keep modifying our behaviour, trying to change into someone we’re not, until we no longer know who we are anymore. It might be time to look at why you have such a strong need to be liked, or why you are reacting so strongly to the current situation.

Revolutions

If you are pushed into a fear or flight response, if you find yourself moving into anxiety, illness or depression as a result of a difficult relationship seek counselling.  Not to ‘heal’ the relationship, but to give you strategies for better coping with the situation, or helping you walk away, if that is what’s needed.

The more that you develop a healthy respect and regard for yourself, and find relationships that support you, the less it will bother you when someone else doesn’t like you.

Something that has helped me enormously is to realise that everyone is on their own path, and our paths may go in opposite directions or may only marginally intersect. That’s okay. We are all different and that’s what makes life so interesting. It’s all about choices. No need to take it so personally. You don’t have to like them, and they don’t have to like you.

two paths

Practice emotional maturity, kindness and use good manners. There is no need to return the dislike or negative emotion. Limit your exposure or walk away. Always step away from aggression and bullying, or call it in – no-one needs to put up with that kind of behaviour – whether it’s in the workplace or your own family.

Know that some relationships will change over time.  People can grow away from each other, or towards each other.  Some friendships take time to develop. One of the happiest couples I know (and they’ve been married over twenty years!) couldn’t stand each other when they first met.

From a spiritual perspective, this has worked for me with great effect:

Build up a feeling of love and compassion in your heart. Then think of the person who doesn’t like you. Hold their face in your mind.  Say to yourself “I forgive you. I love you and I bless you and I set you free.  Go well in the world.” Really do all you can to mean those words as you say them.

Then think of yourself, and say “I love you (insert your name).  I forgive you and I bless you and I set you free.  All is well.”

I’ll let Yoda and William Shakespeare have the last word…

28635919

Burning the Past – A Ritual for Cleansing Pain

Image from www.fanpop.com

A friend of mine has gone through some hard times recently, and now that they are behind her she asked me if I had a ritual to help her let go of that painful period in her life.

I love the use of rituals in our lives.  Rituals cause us to take pause, giving weight to things that are significant for us. They help our brain focus and pay attention, and they help us orient ourselves emotionally and spiritually.

Burning has long been used as a ritual of release, so today I’m going to show you a simple burning ritual for cleansing and releasing situations and relationships that have caused you pain.

Many years ago, after a particularly painful relationship breakup, my sister, a girlfriend and I went to the local park and had a ceremonial burning of old letters and photographs one afternoon. I used a great big cauldron from my kitchen and we sat around on the grass, sipping champagne and feeding paper into the fire.  The flames were green and blue from all of the chemicals in the photographs.  A little boy walked past with his mum and said exitedly, “Look Mum, real Witches.”  That made my day, although let’s be clear – I am no witch – it was just a very Macbeth moment!  On the downside, my cauldron was never the same again…

Image from Hecates Cauldron

Burning Equipment – a large flame-proof pot or bowl, or an outdoor fireplace.  Matches. Long tongs.  Don’t use one of your good bowls or pots! Go to a second-hand store and find a big old saucepan or cauldron, or see if you have an old brass or metal bowl in the back of a cupboard.  You could also use a barbeque pit or a campfire, or a terracotta pot.  Be sensible about your burning. Burn outside, observing fire restrictions and keeping your fire away from anything that might catch alight.

Gathering Your Burning Fodder – Never burn in the heat of the moment!  A calm, thoughtful and considered burning is much more powerful and effective.  Begin by finding images, letters or other material related to the situation.  Don’t burn any legal documents.  Don’t burn anything out of spite.  All you are looking for is material that can REPRESENT what you wish to release.  For example, old photographs or letters, old newspaper clippings or advertising – anything that holds emotion for you and that you can afford to send up in flames.  If you have no images or material, then sit down and write a letter to the person or persons involved, or a summary of what has gone wrong and what you wish to let go of.

The Ritual

You can burn alone, or you can burn with friends or loved ones.  Choose what is appropriate to you.

Sit in front of your pot or burning space, hold the images/paper in your hands and just speak from the heart about what this represents to you and why you need to let this go.  Finish with the words I release you. I am done.

Then burn that stuff to ashes!  Feel the flames eating up and rendering that old energy into nothingness.  Let it all go.  That’s why we need to do this ritual outside, where the old energy can escape and be diffused on the wind.  You don’t ever want to do this ritual INSIDE your home – you want that old energy gone!

Honour any emotions that come up for you, but allow the ritual to give you a sense of finality.  When it’s cooled enough, dump your saucepan in the bin or keep it in the garage or garden at home for future burning needs. Celebrate the end of the Releasing Ritual with a beverage or some food – head out for a meal, or go home and have a cup of tea or a drink. Allow yourself reflection time, to recognise that you have closed the door on that part of your life.

In burning the past, you leave yourself free to claim a brighter future.

Don’t be a prisoner to memories…

Image by Florian Imgrund: thisiscolossal.com

One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.
~Emily Dickinson, “Time and Eternity”

Memory is notoriously unreliable. Ask any detective or psychologist. Ten people could witness an event and each will have a differing version.  And that version will change over time.

Nothing stays the same. Few things end up looking like the images you store carefully away in your head like old photographs.

Have you ever been back to a place from your childhood and been surprised to find how small it is compared to what you had remembered? Memory gives a brilliance, a drama, a lustre that is added each time we access that moment in our lives. Over time we often embroider extra sparkles, or shade it a little darker.

Don’t get me wrong.  Memory is a wonderful thing. Recalling happy times, remembering and celebrating our relationships and achievements – all of that can have a positive affect on our lives if we’re only dipping into that stream occasionally.

But we can end up living far too much in our heads; wondering what might have been, or thinking about what we could have done differently, what we had, or what we lost. We can become a prisoner to our thoughts. Filled with regrets, or guilts, or suffering. We can harm or limit ourselves with our thinking, because we get stuck in our memories and lose touch with reality.

Fraulein, Roilly le Bas, 2002 by Ellen Von Unwerth

Life is lived in the Now. If we are caught up in regret about a past lover, we miss the soul mate right in front of us. We sit inside, lonely and cold on the couch, instead of running about outside in the sun. One small failure can stop us from ever again attempting the thing where we might shine. We may waste precious time mourning a relationship or situation that would never have delivered us happiness. One great moment can rob you of all of the future joy from the things you’ll never try, because of their perceived inability to match up to that one great thing.

And all the while we are in our head, life goes on, without us.

Let go of the past. Put your memories away. Life is waiting for you, right here at your doorstep. And if you run into ghosts from the past, you’ll most likely find they look nothing like you remembered them anyway.

Life is for living. Life is for experiencing and engaging. There will be time enough to live in your memories, but today go make some new ones.  Embrace life.  It’s a precious gift, and we never know just how long we’ve got, so make the most of it!

Image from bornagainsoutherner.blogspot.com

Knowing When to Walk Away

Walking away… Last Deviation by Seryia Uchina

“Sometimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realise our worth and value, but because we finally realise our own.” ~ Robert Tew

You know the old saying I am sure.  The definition of madness (some actually say stupidity) is to do the same thing over and over, and yet keep expecting a different result.

Walking away is not an admission of defeat.  Walking away is about recognising our own boundaries, our own limits, and our own needs.

So how do you know if it’s time to walk away?  (And I’m not just talking relationships – I’m talking jobs, business deals, addictions, habits, workloads, friendships, situations… )

Look for these signs, and ask yourself honestly if any of these describe you:

If it’s just not adding up, no matter which way you crunch the numbers…

Image by Pixomar

If the warning bells keep going off in your mind…

Image by cbenjasuwan

If you’re not being respected, honoured or valued…

Image by kenfotos

If they keep doing the thing they promised to stop doing…

Image by chrisroll

If it’s always your fault, even when it’s not…

Image by nuttakit

If it’s only ever about them…

Vanity by John William Waterhouse 1908

If the only thing you ever get is pain, pain and more pain..

Image from bemycareercoach.com

If you recognise that to continue with this situation/relationship is only going to drag you further and further down…

Image by Bert Blondeel

If your head is so full, or your body is so tired, or both, that you need to push back for a bit and go get some fresh air…

Image from bbrblog.com

If there’s no love left, if you’re not having fun any more…

Image by winstonwolfe

If your heart is being pulled in a new direction…

Image from allwomenstalk.com

Any of these things are serious cause for consideration.

Life is short. For you. For them. If it’s not working, and you’ve done all you can do, or all you’re willing to do, walk away. Do it in your own time – there’s no need to make life harder for yourself. But do it. Do it because if you don’t value yourself, no-one else will.

 

♥ You may find these posts useful too:

Knowing when to let go

Emotions and their impact on your health

The Broken Robot Repair Shop

How to Nurture your sense of Self Love

What to do when you don’t know where you’re going

Everything changes…

Image from jefmenguin.com

Nothing that is can pause or stay;
The moon will wax, the moon will wane,
The mist and cloud will turn to rain,
The rain to mist and cloud again,
Tomorrow be today.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Take heart, because everything changes. No matter how stuck you feel right now, how burdened or exhausted or unhappy, know that it will not last.  Nothing lasts forever.  Everything changes.

While that is also true of our fondest moments and happiest times, it is usually when we are stuck deep down some hole, helpless and hopeless, that we most need to be reminded of this eternal truth.

This baby elephant fell down a drainage well in Thailand, but don't worry - he was later rescued, unharmed.

If there is no glimmer of light where you are, then look inside yourself.  Use the light of your own heart to guide you.  Use the heat of your own love to warm you.  Hang on. Take courage.  Get through things the best way you can.

And as the earth revolves, and the sun goes up and down, eventually there will be a ray of light again to illuminate your world, a helping hand to lift you up, or an idea in your mind that will elevate you from where you are right now.

First Light, Byron Bay, by paul (dex) from vagabondish.com

Everything changes.  There is a season for all things.  If your time to shine is not yet, then know that it WILL come. And if your time to shine is here, then see how many other lives you can illuminate.

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.

♥ Wishing you Love, Light and Rainbows xx ♥