Acceptance, Forgiveness, Friendships, Happy Life, Relationships

The Power of a Tiny Dot of Attention, Planning & Communiation

Recently I’ve had a massive realisation with respect to my business life; where there has been a vacuum of attention, planning, and/or communication, problems and issues have not been far behind.

Now this may not be a new idea for most of you, but for me, ensuring that are as few vacuums as possible has really been life changing. I’m less stressed, I feel like I’m achieving more, there’s no guilt, my clients are super happy and no matter how heavy my work load gets I’m feeling like I’m responding actively rather than reactively.

So this morning I got to thinking about how these vacuums affect a person’s personal, social and spiritual life. I started thinking about all of the times in my life when I’ve lost focus and not placed any attention in an aspect of my life, and what I found was shit always got bad. And the fascinating thing about that is how expediential it was, the longer I left giving the aspect any attention the greater the shit.

Vacuums of attention don’t stay vacuums for long. Something or someone is always going to fill that space, and most likely it is not going to be to our choosing.

I believe that pain in our life is caused by the gap between where we are and where we want to be, the greater the gap the greater the pain. In those moments when we are truly present and appreciative and can say to ourselves “There is no where in the world I’d rather be right now” we are truly blissful.

So surely when we lose focus and attention on an area or aspect of our lives the something or someone is always going to fill the space in a way that is not only different from the way we would have chosen for ourselves but is ultimately going to take us further away from who and where we want to be.  Thus increasing our discomfort, pain and sense of suffering.

So if this is a premise that you can believe to be true can we agree that preventing vacuums from occurring is paramount to our own sense of happiness?

If we know it is super important and we know that we can prevent vacuums from occurring by simply giving the space some attention, planning and communication; then why do we keep procrastinating and avoiding the addressing of our issues and aspects enough to keep allowing vacuums to occur?

I’d suggest that firstly we tell ourselves it is because “we don’t have the time” and maybe that is partly true, but I feel the real reason is fear. I believe that the only reason a person wouldn’t chose happiness is because they’re bound by fear. And not particularly massive fears, I believe that even small fears like ‘the fear of not being seen to be a good person’ can bind us just as tightly as our big fears.

I also believe that it’s not just our fears of dealing with the ignored aspect which create vacuums of attention, but also fears around the removal of our attention and time from the aspects that are getting the lion’s share of our focus.

I’d also split the lion’s share into two categories; attention we are giving because we are moving towards something or attention we are giving because we are moving away from something.

And I think that this is an important distinction. Wanting something or someone because we think it would be a fantastic addition to our lives has a very different feel from wanting that same something or someone because we fear what our lives would be like in their absence.

Here is what I think the good news is, if tiny fears can create vacuums then can’t tiny amounts of attention prevent them forming in the first place? To prevent a vacuum forming I don’t think it requires any real action from us; I proposed that all it requires is just a tiny bit of attentiveness.

Let’s say we are super focused and consumed with work and a vacuum is forming in our home life. Rather than deal with the imbalance, what if we addressed it before it addressed us? I would argue that has the potential to prevent a something or someone from setting an agenda contraire to our desires.

What if we gave it a tiny amount of attention, planning and communication?

“My dear loved one, things are out of balance with work right now, I am aware of it and it is my intention to sort it out. Right now though I don’t feel like I have the time or the energy to do so but I am conscious of where most of my focus is and how that can make you feel at times. Are you ok if I take a couple of months to get this sorted out? Would turning my phone off and not working every Sunday afternoon to spend time with you and the kids be enough of a gesture in the meantime?”

Wouldn’t the above example be more welcomed than nothing? ‘Nothing’ doesn’t take responsibility, ‘nothing’ doesn’t acknowledge, ‘nothing’ doesn’t set a plan, ‘nothing’ doesn’t offer small gestures and ‘nothing’ doesn’t communicate. Nothing is that head in the sand thing that we hear so much about. Nothing is nothing, it is an absence, a vacuum, and a void.

Of course there is room in the above scenario for real action, but what I wish to discuss today isn’t the best case solution, it’s a solution in exchange for nothingness. And we can get on our high horses and demand real action from ourselves and other’s and reject the tiny ‘something’ as not being good enough. But what are we trying to achieve here? Aren’t we all just trying to be happy? Aren’t we procrastinating and avoiding certain things because we think it will make us happier than facing and dealing with our fears around it? Isn’t ‘something’ a massive step from ‘nothing’? What’s our rush? Let us remember that we can avoid and procrastinate about an issues for months, years even decades.

What if we took it easy on ourselves and saw the tiny ‘something’ as a step towards a big ‘something’ and something wonderful.

“I’m drinking a fair bit at the moment, more than I’d like.  I know I’m drinking to avoid some stuff that I don’t feel ready to deal with. I want to prevent a vacuum forming and I know that I need to give that stuff some attention to do so.

But I don’t wish to trawl through all of the pain of those issues right now, right now I want to have some peace in my life and some fun. I’m going to plan to let it all-go for now and I’m going to ease up on myself about the drinking. I know that every time I start judging myself about my drinking it only get’s worse. I know that right now I’m enjoying it and it isn’t causing me any issues in my life, I’ve just been down on it because I know that I’ve been using it as an escape and I don’t want to live like this forever.

Now that I’ve let go of the need to deal with all of the stuff right away I’ll have lots of opportunities for more peace and fun to come into my life and it will come in many other forms than just the drinking. I always drink the way I have been to move away from something, now I’ve given myself permission to ease up on dealing with everything I feel like I am free to move towards something for the first time in ages. I want to give my attention to feeling good and just saying that helps me to feel better already.”

Now here is where this gets really interesting, what if we swap the word vacuum with void? What if all of those deep voids we feel like we have could be filled with a tiny bit of attention, a tiny bit of planning and a tiny bit of communication.

If procrastination and avoidance form a vacuum of attention regarding what we want and where we want to be, then doesn’t even a tiny bit of attention cancel out the vacuum? How can you have a vacuum if something is there? Even the smallest of dots on the largest piece of paper is not nothing; it is a tiny dot on a very large piece of paper.

Let’s be easy on ourselves and give all of those things that we are worried about a tiny dot of our attention, for a tiny dot is just as much of something as anything else.

Leanne xx

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Acceptance, Challenging Beliefs, Family, Relationships, Romantic Relationships

“I’m engaged!”And why I’m looking forward to a less than perfect marriage.

So I have some great news to share with you all! The other night my beloved boyfriend of nearly 3 years surprised me by popping the question, and I said yes!

We’d been to one of the most heartfelt and joyous weddings that I’d even been to just days prior to him asking me to marry him.

And whilst I’d like to think that it was the romance of the wedding that had swept over him the truth be told I think it had more to do with a big fight we had the next day. By big, I mean the biggest we’ve ever had. This fight combined with a quote from Pulp Fiction has led me to one of the most joyous and loving places I’ve ever been in.

In the lead up to the weekend I was stressing out about a decision which I didn’t need to make. Rather than just go along and deal with the problem if it ever arose, I took it upon myself to try and find some hypothetical solutions to what is a hypothetical problem.

In other words I was making shit up in my head, a little trait that I’ve tended towards oh too many times.

After speaking with a dear friend about it, and given our mutual love of Pulp Fiction, I was sent this pic below and then a really profound message.

My new favourite quote from my old favourite movie.  Thanks HS. :)

My new favourite quote from my old favourite movie. Thanks HS. 🙂

“I know what it’s like to get in your head too much, but if you turn it to a point of appreciation it actually puts you back on track to where you are wanting to go, rather than beating your self up for not being exactly where you want to be…and bitch be cool!”

I was really touched by the message, it resonated deeply with me and it wasn’t the first time that the answer to me feeling better about a situation lay in appreciation.  It annoys me so much though, because for heavens sake I know this stuff; I teach it for a living.

But in a weird way me forgetting to adhere to my own advice is great validation for what I do, an outsider is able to bring so much more to a situation, particularly when we are too close to it to see the bigger picture. It’s the whole forest through the trees thing.

The day after the lovely wedding my beloved and I had a stupid fight over something stupid. We had a perfect storm brewing, we’ve had visitors for a few weeks, we’re renovating and this has meant that at the moment our bedroom is in the living room without a wall or a door.

We hadn’t connected, communicated or spent anytime together in weeks and our little wheels fell off. Niggles would arise that we couldn’t talk about because we didn’t have the privacy and then another and another until boom.

Here’s the good news. At the point of boom I did something that I rarely do. I didn’t freak out and get into my head; I didn’t let the boom expand into the reaches of my hypothetical future. I told myself “bitch be cool”.

I told myself “we’ll sort this out, we always do”, I appreciated all that we have together and I chilled out about our relationship not yet being where I want it to be in 5, 10 or 20 years time.

Early on, my last wedded union was riddled with me comparing it to my parent’s marriage and being frustrated at how short we came up. Even after my mother generously shared with me,

“You never saw your father and I in our first five years of marriage, so stop comparing yourself to where we are now after years and years of hard work.”

I wanted it sorted; I wanted to just get to the destination without having to experience the pain of the journey. This is a little habit of mine too from as long as I can remember. Many a time I have managed to avoid the perceived pain of a situation but I’ve also avoided the exhilaration and the joy of it.

So there I was, after the ‘blow up’ feeling closer to my beloved than ever. I’ve finally accepted that one, or two or many blow ups don’t mean that it is all going to turn to dust. My father gave me some fantastic advice (which I didn’t take on board either) on the eve of my first wedding. He said,

“Your mother and I have worked out a balance where 10% of the time I’m impossible to live with and 10% of the time she is. As long as we try and spend most of our time living in that 80% then that’s my definition of a really happy marriage.”

Our new engagement as well as being in a serious relationship again in general, has led me to reflect upon so much within my first marriage. I can hand on my heart honestly say that I never let my ex have his 10%. I was always on his arse about everything.

Fix this about yourself, this annoys me, change this, give me more, take from me less; I just went on and on. But I sure as hell expected my 10% to be accepted and understood with patience and empathy.

With the benefit of hindsight I firmly believe that if I’d just allowed my previous relationship not to be perfect from the beginning then it may very well have developed and blossomed into the relationship of my dreams.

This insight has infused me with great confidence going into a second marriage, great confidence as well as great responsibility. For I now believe that I have a lot more control over how successful this marriage can be then I even dare to acknowledge.

I firmly believe that most relationship problems can be fixed from just one side, even my beloved Dr Phil talks about this when he frequently refers to “it only talking one person to be a hero and step up.”

My previous quest for perfection was always outwardly focused, “you need to fix this”, “you need to change”, “you’ve made me feel this way”. Never once did I come from a position of responsibility and used the words “I am”, “I’m going to love you just as you are without asking you to change for me”, “I’m going to be patient and kind with you because I believe in all that you are”, “I’m going to focus on loving you rather than on being right”, “I’m going to strive for a loving connection, rather than perfection”.

Now I can see how, even unknowingly that my hunt for perfection used weapons of criticism, judgement and control to bring my ex-husband down.

Where as a hunt for a loving connection uses tools of acceptance, understanding and patience to build up.

Moving forward in this relationship these are my great quests,

  • To let our relationship be exactly what it is for now.
  • To remember that nothing remains the same, both in our relationship and as individuals, we can’t help but to grow, expand, change and move forward and sometimes that is going to be frustrating and other times it is going to be awesome.
  • To focus on appreciating all that my new husband-to-be, myself and our relationship is, rather than all that it’s not.
  • And to remember “To be cool!” when things aren’t perfect.

So back to the proposal, fresh from my revelations from the weekend, the Monday just afterwards was my birthday. I take birthdays very seriously, perhaps too seriously, and last year’s was a debacle. I left all of the planning up to my beloved and as birthdays aren’t very important to him, long story short; he managed to drop the ball in a spectacular way…from my perspective anyway.

So this year rather than brace myself for another flop, I positioned myself in a place where I was opened to giving him the benefit of the doubt as well as letting go any expectation that he would do anything special for me. I would just let it be what it was going to be and offer love and appreciation regardless.

I spent the entire day appreciating all of the wonderful things both big and small in my life; and boy oh boy, isn’t that a good recipe for a joyful and happy birthday.

I had a fantastic day, I was high on life and chilled out about birthdays being a part of his 10%, and then the most wonderful thing happened. Genuinely free from any judgement or expectation he absolutely nailed the whole birthday thing and then went on to nail the whole proposal thing.

He’s had the ring for over 6 months and had been waiting for the right moment. I’ve been banging on about the perfect proposal, hot air balloons and those YouTube videos of ‘The Best Proposal Ever!’

I think it was no coincidence that the minute I stopped pushing for everything to be perfect, my life played itself out in ways which were more beautiful than I could have imagined.

So to all you stress heads and perfectionists out there allow me to grace you with these final words, “Bitches be cool!”

Leanne xx

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Much Love & Appreciation

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Acceptance, Challenging Beliefs, Friendships, Relationships

The 3 Beautiful Lessons that I Learnt About My Beliefs from Picking Zucchini

Before the beginning of my final year at university I spent the summer picking fruit up north in a little town near the state border of Queensland and New South Wales called Stanthorpe.

The lovely little town Queensland town of Stanthorpe, home of the Apple & Grape Festival.

The lovely little Queensland town of Stanthorpe, home of the Apple & Grape Festival.

After some difficultly finding jobs, my girlfriend Michelle and I finally got work picking zucchini’s at a local farm. To get our jobs we had to convince and then promise the farms owners, a husband and wife team, that we were reliable and that we wouldn’t quit. We were told that the work was back breaking that they’d had a gut full of employees letting them down by quitting within the first week.

By the end of our first day I knew what they were referring to, I could barely stand up I was aching that much. But as we soon realised, there were other reasons that they had such a low retention of staff. Away from his wife, the husband’s behaviour was horrendous.

We were very young and his sexual attentions were very unwanted and they were constant. At one point he gathered the male employees together to watch us bending over picking zucchini’s and declared,

 “We should make them wear uniforms hey boys? Short skirts with no underwear.”

Our local pub which we conveniently lived 400m from. We were so broke that we couldn't afford to drink the $1.50 wines all night. So we would buy one and then refill our glass from a bladder of goon that we had stashed under the bushes near the back car park. #yeahIamabogan

Our local pub which we conveniently lived 400m from. We were so broke that we couldn’t afford to drink the $1.50 wines all night. So we would buy one and then refill our glass from a bladder of goon that we had stashed under the bushes near the back car park. #yeahIamabogan

I’m pleased to say that he was on his own, the ‘boys’ found him to be just as abhorrent as we did. We had no idea how to deal with something like this, we just tried to ignore it and hoped that it would go away, it didn’t.

After 6 days working there we had a day off. We travelled to visit a friend’s place that was on the other side of the border. On our way back we stopped and had a drink at a pub and we talked about our predicament.

For Michelle it was an easy decision, we couldn’t go back to work there, we’d find somewhere else to work. For me it was a massive struggle.

Firstly there was my fear about getting another job. We were living in a one-bedroom cottage with 8 other people; our combined weekly budget after we paid our $10 a week for rent was $50. Things were tight; between us we were down to our last $20.

Our beds on the lounge room floor of the 1 bedroom house that we shared with 8 other people.

Michelle demonstrating our comfortable beds on the lounge room floor of the 1 bedroom house that we shared with 8 other people. The only couple of the house got the bedroom and the bed frame above is missing a mattress because the guy sleeping on it vomited on it the night before.

But the even bigger reasons for my struggles were the beliefs that I held to be true of myself,

 “I can’t call home for money and admit that I’d failed at this, I’ve never failed.”

 “I’m not a quitter, I’ve never quit anything in my life.”

 “I promised them, my word is my bond. I’ve never gone back on my word.”

No doubt there were plenty of times that I’d failed, quit and went back on my word in my young life. But the way I would have justified it in my mind was by never declaring that I was ‘trying’ in the first place.

Unknowingly or not the ‘Farmer’ had tapped right into some of my most tightly held beliefs. I had made the commitment not to quit, I promised them I wouldn’t let them down, and I gave them my word that they could trust me.

These beliefs were further exacerbated in me by them also being tightly held by my family. Going back generations our family culture has been very clear about who we are and who we are not. We are ‘not quitters’, ‘we don’t let people down’, and ‘we don’t break our word’.

I still believe the attributes of determination and resilience to be fantastic ones, but that day at the pub on the border with Michelle planted a seed that changed me. Until that conversation it had never occurred to me to ask the question,

“To what end?”

What was I hoping to achieve by sticking it out at a job that was providing me some of the most uncomfortable and confidence crushing moments of my young life? I had failed to look at the context in which I was displaying these character traits that had always served me so well in the past.

At the pub Michelle told me that her father had always given her the advice,

“If it isn’t making you happy then change it, do something else.”

My struggle came about because I couldn’t see how her family’s beliefs could possibly align with my own. I saw her father’s advice as flakey. I remember thinking to myself that it all sounded too easy, what if everyone just went about and did what made them happy?

What if everyone did what made them happy? Good question isn’t it?

It was at that moment that I also realised I held a pretty strong belief that struggle was good. When I looked at why I thought that, it was because in my world struggle meant hard work, dedication and determination; and to me that always led to success. That belief had always been true for me whilst studying or on the sports field; but there was no ‘success’ to be had in this context.

At that pub I was gushing with tears. ‘Where I wanted to be’ was happy and safe, and ‘where I was’ was trying to hold myself in an environment that was making me miserable and unsafe. My two wants were in direction opposition which caused me a heavy internal conflict, my head was saying ‘stay’ and my heart was saying ‘go’.

After our drink we left the pub and we crossed back over the border, which became a metaphoric precipice for me. We quit our jobs the next morning and picked up work at another farm sorting green beans on a conveyor belt.

The conveyor belt. I often recited the entire script for Pulp Fiction whilst sorting the beans...it was the 90's.

The conveyor belt. I learnt to recited the entire script from Pulp Fiction whilst sorting the beans to break up the tedium. It was the summer of 1996 and I freakin loved that movie.

The work was much easier, we were paid more, and I loved every minute of it. The people we worked with, including our new bosses were some of the best people I have ever met in my life. They were impressed and appreciative of the hardworking, determined attributes that we demonstrated. I look back on our golden summer in that little town as one of the happiest times of my life.

Left: Me  Middle: Our beautiful new employers, Kim & Peter Slater Right: The most awesome picking buddy a girl could have, Michelle.

Left: I dyed my brunette hair blond myself after being warned by a hairdresser not to. She was right about it not turning out well. My hair was orange for a week and then after a couple of attempts I got it to a lovely shade of yellow. Middle: Our beautiful new employers, Kim & Peter Slater. Right: The most awesome travelling buddy a girl could have, Michelle Waples.

Michelle’s father was right, but so was I.

‘Get yourself into a safe and happy context’ and then try being ‘determined and tenacious’.

Over the years I’ve had many struggles when my tightly held beliefs were challenged, but every time the struggle has brought me a new perspective, a new ease and a new wisdom.

I’ve learnt three really beautiful lessons about my beliefs:

1. Beliefs are stubborn and hate the ideal of being changed. So we don’t need to change them when they are challenged if we don’t want to; just looking at the context is enough.

We wouldn’t hold it as a belief if it didn’t serve us in at least one context, so in that respect all of our beliefs are true and useful.

All that we need to bother ourselves with is it’s ability to function harmoniously in the context of our desires. If our beliefs are working in opposition to what we want then maybe it is time to put them aside for a bit until the context changes.

2. Beliefs are powerful and wonderful things but there is even more empowerment and joy to be found when we combine them with another’s. Not just anyone’s, but the one’s that align with the perspective of our heart.

3. Without even knowing it our beliefs can reach out well past our sphere of influence and out past our lifetime.

Michelle’s father will never know how his beliefs contributed positively to my life. Who knows how many thousands of people this one belief of his has, and will continue to bring joy to. Isn’t that cool?

Leanne xx

Post Script:

Unfortunately I’ve lost contact with Michelle, I’m unsure of her married name so have been unsuccessful at tracking her down. On the off chance that anyone reading this does know Michelle (nee Waples) I would greatly appreciate you getting in touch with me below.

Last day of our Golden Summer before returning home.

Left to Right: Michelle and I on the last day of our Golden Summer before returning home.

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Acceptance, Forgiveness, Relationships, Romantic Relationships

Loving Letter to my Batshit Crazy Past Self

I was married quite young by today’s standards and had very little idea about who I was or what made me happy.

Early on our marriage became a perfect storm of confusion, anger, fear and hurt. And where that combination builds up to the point that you are no longer in control then the Batshit Crazy is never far behind. I define Batshit Crazy as behaviour that ceases to care about consequences, sacred lines or collateral damage in the pursuit of ‘making the pain go away’.

I often think about that young girl who felt like she was going out of her mind and I am committed to offering her ease about everything that she went through. She was the trailblazer that led me to this point; her instinct to push and fight inspired me to get out and look for another way.

I write this letter for her and for anyone else who has experienced so much confusion, fear, anger and hurt within their relationships that they’ve felt Batshit Crazy.

Dear My Past Batshit Crazy Self,

If you were to write an advertisement for your current relationship I think you’d find it a difficult one to sell.

For Sale: One relationship filled to the brim with misery, arguments, and emotional pain. Includes a critical wife who is starved for affection and an emotionally withdrawn husband who is defeated and broken.

But wait there is more! There is zero joy or fun to be had, that’s right zero! If you call now we’ll also throw in zero appreciation, zero compassion and all the blame you can carry!!!

I know you believe that there are no ‘winners’ from a relationship breaking down, but can you believe me when I tell you that there doesn’t have to be a ‘loser’ either? I encourage you to stop looking for one.

It was never your intention to be cruel or hurtful in your relationship just as it wasn’t his. It just happened, and it happens easily when you love someone without loving yourself. And there is no better way to lose your love for yourself then to focus more on what’s not great about another then on what is great about you.

You don’t need to put your hand up and declare that you are the bad guy here, but making him out to be one isn’t going to work for you either. It just creates another dichotomy for you to struggle against. If he’s so bad then why did you marry him? Let me guess? “He’s changed and he’s no longer the man you fell in love with?”

You are going to find this really hard to hear but the man you are married to isn’t lacking any of the qualities that you need or want. You made a great choice; you always make awesome choices when you follow your heart.

Neither of you has ‘changed’. Your dynamic has changed; but you are both just as capable of expressing as much love, appreciation and compassion as you did when you first got together.

You are two beautiful balls of wool that have gotten so tangled up that you are not expressing those aspects of yourselves right now, but they are still there.

I know; I hear you desperately asking,

“If I love him so much, if he hasn’t ‘changed’ and if he was such a good choice of husband, then why is everything so horrible?”

Deep down you already know the answer to this question, but you don’t like it and that is why you are asking me. And the lovely thing is that by the time you are ready to hear the answer, I promise you’ll no longer care about the question.

The question I’d like to ask you right now is, “Can you put your burning question on hold?” I know it seems really counter intuitive to do so, because for you it seems like the only question of any importance right now.

But I’d suggest that there are far more pressing questions to be answered that will bring you immediate peace, like “What’s great about me?” and “What am I doing to love myself right now?” and finally “Do I love and appreciate myself for the magnificent person that I know myself to be?”

Put your other questions on hold for a bit until the answers to the questions above become a predominate part of your thoughts. This is how you start sorting out your ball of tangled and knotted up wool.

Not his ball. Sorting out his tangles and knots has brought you more tangles and knots. Sort out YOUR ball. Let him know what your intention is, ask him for a little understanding about the space you need.

Get some perspective and see where the threads run. Enlist your friends as support; I said support, not ears to hear how knotty his ball of wools is.  Let them help you to see how beautiful your ball of wool is, let them inspire you of your abilities to untie some of these knots on your own.

Read some books, seek help, ask people how they’ve untied their own knots. Get some hobbies, spend time in the fresh air and sunshine. Exercise, eat delicious food, drink delicious wine, laugh more, go to art galleries, write, paint, take photo’s. Do all of the stuff that you love!

Let all of this help you to see the beauty within your own ball of wool. Let it ease the tension on your knots long enough so that you can untie them and give yourself a chance to hear your own voice again.

The coolest thing that I can tell you is that little inner voice of yours knows exactly how to untangle your ball, and quickly. Listen to it, let it guide you.

My advice to you is to commit to untangle your ball and ‘then’.

  • And ‘then’ decided if this is a relationship you want to be in.
  • And ‘then’ decide what your beliefs are around marriage and divorce.
  • And ‘then’ decide what your next step is.
  • And ‘then’ ask yourself the big questions.

Everything that is fighting inside you, all that Batshit Crazy behaviour is about trying to untangle your wool. Your eventual disentanglement is inevitable but how you go about it is entirely up to you.

You can do it as a couple or on your own; but if it’s not untangling your wool, then it is contributing to your Batshit Crazy behaviour. And why would you want to focus on the stuff that is making you miserable? Let it go for now, you don’t need to bother about any of it right this minute. It’s not going anywhere.

Untangling your wool has zero to do with if he loves you or if you love him, it has zero to do with whose fault it is, where it went wrong or if you ‘should’ be together. It has zero to do with whether or not you are ‘good’ at relationships or are a ‘good’ person. And it also has zero to do with how much you’ve been hurt and how much you’ve hurt him.

You can commit to untangling your ball of wool while you are together, you can cut the strings and end it now, or you can keep pulling until they snap. You cannot get this wrong because no matter what you do all roads lead to a place of disentanglement.

Your instincts will continue to guide you and your inner voice is now much louder so you’ll hear it much sooner. Every time you’ve ignored that voice it has gotten stronger and stronger, the Batshit Crazy has served you as a guiding light. So stop feeling embarrassed about it, everything has been working perfectly. It’s time to start easing up on yourself. You should be proud of all you have done to get to this point; all that you have been through will continue to bless all that you are.

As your future self I know how this story ends, you don’t work through it together and it takes you awhile to tend to your own ball. You’ll understand soon enough that it’s not the tangles that caused the Batshit Crazy in you. It was the distracting thoughts, beliefs and questions that led you away from tending to you own tangles and knots, and this is the stuff that has caused you all of the distress.

The day you made the decision to stop worrying about everyone else’s balls and untangle your own was the day that you took back your power, and it was the day that everything changed for you.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t get tangled or knotted up ever again, you do. The tangles and knots are a part of life and you wouldn’t be you without them. All that changes is that you stop stressing about everyone else’s threads. You finally understand that tangles and knots are OK, because you are perfectly capable of tending to them yourself.

All my Love, Your Future Self xoxo

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Acceptance, Forgiveness, Friendships, Relationships, Romantic Relationships

Batshit Crazy: A Familiar – Letter to my Batshit Crazy Ex

Dear Past Self,

Tricked you didn’t I? Sorry, but to write this letter to our ex would be futile. You couldn’t change or fix him when you were together so how do you imagine I’m going to have some magic solution to do it now?

The reason that I write this letter is because you need to move on and you can’t do that until you stop taking responsibility for his behaviour and well-being. It’s now time to let go of having an opinion about how he is living his life, because it is exhausting you.

Whether you realise it or not you are still trying to fix, help and change him. There have been so many arguments; you’ll tell anyone who’ll listen just how Batshit Crazy he has been behaving and how if he just listened to you more he could avoid a lot of heartache. You read articles and your first thoughts are “he needs to read this, this is what his problem is”, you hear things and you think “that’s the issue that he has”; regardless of how much or how little contact you have with him you are still focused on all that he is ‘not’.

Here’s the thing, that focus isn’t helping either of you. Deep down you’ve always known that it feels safer to try and ‘fix’ and take care of him because it means that you’ll never have the time to do it for yourself. The question I want to ask you is “Now you are not a couple, why do you care so much if he doesn’t get it together?” When you were first together you didn’t seem to perceive him as being as broken as you do now. Are you really trying to ‘fix’ him or have you been avoiding ‘fixing’ yourself?

I know that this makes you very uncomfortable, but it’s not something you need to be afraid of any more. Lots of people in your life know that you are not perfect and guess what, they love you anyway. You love loads of non-perfect people too; in fact the only person in this world who you don’t love because they are not perfect is you.

Your ex is acting Batshit Crazy right now because he is very hurt, confused and angry…but so are you. You have managed to keep some control over your emotions so it looks very different but it is the same, you both haven’t been coping. He screams, rants and loses control and you withdraw, pull away and control.

Controlling? Me? You know what I’m talking about, when you give him your stern schoolteacher voice to instruct him “Please don’t interrupt me when I’m speaking or this conversation will have to end” is only something you do because you know drives him crazy. You constantly pointed out his faults and you set yourself up as the authority, in your world you were always right and he was always wrong.

I’m not judging your choice of tools here, I don’t think you’re an arsehole, I don’t think there are any arseholes in this story; you were just two people trying to do their best in a highly emotional situation. Why wouldn’t you retaliate when he flipped out? It’s a scary thing to deal with, and imagine the mess that it would have turned into if you didn’t have a clear vision of what you thought was happening and if you didn’t try to control it? My point is the two of you were in it together; you both were and are struggling to cope.

Whether you like it not your ex in still in your life and that may or may not change soon. But this uncomfortable, frustrating and undesired situation is offering you the greatest opportunity for growth that you’ve had in years. This challenge holds him at its centre but the benefits will mostly be yours; I urge you to start focusing on the things about him that you’d like to see.

Remember we are talking about a person who you fell in love with and at one point you thought he was so together that you decided to partner up with him. Start focusing again on that, I get that this was a challenge that you couldn’t meet when you were together, so why would it be any different now?

Here’s why, because now the middleman is gone. He is out of the equation so now you have the time and the space to start to redefine how you see him and more importantly how you see yourself. Remember how you used to feel? Remember how capable, loving and happy you used to be?

You’ve complained for years about how you are always there for others and how desperately you crave for someone to do the same for you. You now have the time and the space to be that person for you.

You can let go of worrying about him; it has taken up so much of your precious energy and has offered you zero returns. I’m not suggesting that you stop caring about him; I’m suggesting that you stop the worry.

I appreciate how terribly hard this is to do so I suggest that you start really small. Whenever he behaves in a way that is Batshit Crazy tell yourself a new story, tell the story so it it offers you some relief.

“I know that I fallen into his Batshit Crazy world at times and I have reacted in ways that have added fuel to the fire and which has made me feel more upset. I also know that how he behaves is none of my responsibility. His behaviour has never made me feel unsafe but I have surrounded myself with support and a plan in the event that it gets anywhere near that point.

I’ve taking back control of how I feel and I have the power to choose the emotions that I respond with. I no longer allow him to choose the emotions I feel by reacting to his behaviour. To do this I am going to step back and pay attention to what he is trying to achieve through his behaviour. I am also going to focus on the positive aspects of him in order to maintain the good feeling life that I wish to live.

When I step back I know he is only acting this way because he is feeling very hurt, confused and angry. I know that he wants to feel better and that he’s not sure how.

He’ll work it out, and I look forward to the day that he feels really good again, but I release my worry about that. I’m going to try and remember him as the person that I fell in love with. I’m not going to do this because I think that it will fix or help him but because it is going to make me feel better. And when I’m feeling good there is nothing that I can’t handle.

When we get stuck on things and I find him to be unreasonable I’m going to ask myself the question “Does it really matter if I let go and let him have his way on this?”

I’m going to stop engaging with him about who’s right or wrong, I’m going to let go and let him ‘win’ if it means more peace and happiness in my own life. I know there is lots of things that he is fighting for that he doesn’t care about, he just cares that he doesn’t ‘lose’. I can understand this response from him, nobody likes to feel like they are losing something.

I’m going to cease being a resistant force that he can push against, I’m going to let as much flow over me as possible. I’m focused on the end game, not the nitty gritty of all of this. I get that there are no ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ here. There is only ‘happy and peaceful’ or ‘sad and tumultuous’ and I choose the former.

Right now I don’t have a lot of great things to say about him and that’s OK. I know that I used to think that he was a good person. I know that some of his family and friends who I like and respect as well as our kids really love him so I’m going to try to focus on what they see in him. Until then it feels much better to have no expectations of him.

I know I can’t live the joyous fulfilling life that I desire for myself if I’m focused on all of the negatives in my life. So on the days that I struggle to see any positives in him I’m going to refrain from dwelling on any thoughts about him at all, I’m going to keep the focus on the good stuff in my life.

I’m improving all of the time and there are lots of things that I can be appreciative for. It makes me feel empowered and energised when I focus on these things.

Life is starting to feel really good again, everything is going to work out just fine for me: it always does.”

Lots of love from your Future Self
xoxo

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Acceptance, Forgiveness, Friendships, Relationships, Romantic Relationships, Teaching & Learning

Batshit Crazy: The Acquaintance – My Partner’s Batshit Crazy Ex

I’ve written this piece as part of a series on dealing with loved ones who are struggling with acute hurt, anger and confusion. This particular letter relates to those relationships that we are bound to, through either another person or circumstance. It could also be a work colleague, an ex’s new partner, a close friend’s friend etc.

I believe that a difficult relationship that we have had in our past plays a large role in the life of our other relationships. There are going to be character traits that we don’t like that keep popping up in people that come into our lives. One of the most heated contexts that this happens is where our new partner exhibit traits that are similar to or the same as those of our ex.

When relationships end with one or both parties feeling acute hurt, confusion and anger the Batshit Crazy is never far behind. When this behaviour becomes so volatile that it crosses boundaries that are not easily forgiven then things can quickly spiral out of control. I define Batshit Crazy behaviour as not being limited by fear of consequences and as the sentiment of “I want you to hurt as much as you’ve hurt me, and I will so this at any cost”. (For further explanation regarding this please see my previous post introducing this series.)

When a relationship has broken down and the parties involved are still bound together by circumstance, people or children there is often no opportunity for the couple involved to stand back and get perspective. Under these circumstances it is difficult to change the habits and patterns that they have been bound by for years. With all of those wounds and triggers still present and active, neither has had the time and space to deactivate them. It is my belief that a third party, like a new partner, a friend or family member, or a professional can help bring about that new perspective.

It only takes one side to see it differently and to offer something new to the dynamic for the whole thing to change into one that is respectful, caring and supportive. And if the ex couple can have that kind of relationship with each other, then doesn’t it make sense that when they hit those similar impasses in their next relationship that they’ll be able to navigate their way through more successfully than in the past?

So if I was tied to an acquaintance who I felt was acting Batshit Crazy then this letter would set out the parameters that I’d like to keep all of my communication within. Not because it is the higher road or because it is the most loving way. Not because there is a possibility that the dynamic could shift into becoming more respectful, supportive and caring.

But because this approach offers a release from being at the whim of the Batshit Crazy person; because it empowers and it offers peace and relief to us as their targets.

I would encourage you to write your own letters if this is a dynamic that you are struggling with; I would also suggest that you don’t send them because this approach isn’t about the other. Just write it and feel the relief of looking at it all from a different perspective. Feel the relief of releasing your own hurt, confusion and anger and most of all feel the relief from being able to take control of the situation in terms of how it is making you feel. This is then a relief that you can share with your loved one from the benefit of your new perspective.

Dear My Partner’s Batshit Crazy Ex,

Where do I start? Your behaviour has been Batshit off the wall crazy. You know what I’m talking about; the texts, the late night abusive phone calls, the not showing up when you are meant to, the screaming in front of the kids, the insults, the legal threats, the stalking, the games, and all of the carry on.

Let us start there and finish here with the four phrases of Dr. Hew Len’s ‘Ho’oponopono’. I’m sorry, please forgive me, I thank you and I love you.

I’m not offering this to you as an endorsement of your behaviour or solely out of the hope that it might change it. I am doing this for me. I don’t have the power to change you but I do have the power to determine how I respond to you and to choose how I feel.

I choose to take the responsibility for how I am feeling; this doesn’t mean that I am taking responsibility for you or for the situation or that I’m taking the blame. I no longer care about whose fault it is or who is to blame; that search has held me to this dysfunctional dynamic for too long.

I’m taking back my power and I am going to choose to respond to you rather than react. I am choosing to step back and disengage from what you are presenting to me. I am choosing to focus my attentions on what is really going on with you. I am choosing to feel good about myself and the way I behave when I am in your company or when I hear about your behaviour.

This doesn’t mean that I will never feel angry, hurt, confused or upset with you; it means that I will feel those emotions at my choosing and not at yours. And I am going to do all of this by offering you empathy, love and acknowledgement of our similarities rather than focusing on our differences.

I have been where you are; I have experienced the pain, anger and confusion of a relationship breaking down. Whilst my behaviour manifested itself differently and may have looked dissimilar; the sentiment running underneath was exactly the same. I am choosing to focus on the fact that you are hurt and you want to feel better.

Let me say that again; you are hurt and you want is to feel better…and that doesn’t sound so crazy to me.

Obviously the way you are going about it isn’t super helpful; but I know that you get that and in actual fact you knowing this is probably making it all worse. And you know how I know all this? Because I’ve done plenty of super unhelpful things in my own life, and I’ve also felt trapped by the guilt of it.

Although you and I don’t know all that much about each other I do know that I love and admire your children more than words, and they are 50% of you. I also know that the man that I love and adore once loved and adored you so much that he asked you to share the rest of his life with him.

I forgive you for all of the Batshit Crazy things that you have said and done to me personally; and I hope that you can equally forgive me for when I have reacted and tried to hurt you. I am sorry for this, this is not who I want to know myself as. I know that neither of us has ever woken up and decided to be a horrible person for the day; sometimes things just happen but that doesn’t speak at all to who either of us truly are.

I am thankful for the challenges that you have provided to me; I haven’t always risen to them but I am committed to my personal improvement. You see, I want to live a life where I can rise above a heated or uncomfortable situation and you have provided me with more opportunities to walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk than anyone recently.

I also want you to know that in your ex you are always going to have someone in your life that cares as much about your children as you do. He is someone who is always going to be there for you and care about you as their mother. He may be your ‘Ex’ but he will always be you ‘Current Co-Parent’ and this is an important relationship that I wish to support.

I also wish to acknowledge that throughout this whole process your kids have come out the other side just fine. Actually they are better than fine; they are happy, and loved, and they are spectacular people…and that didn’t happen without you.

Through the act of writing this letter to you I feel so much better and in control. It is almost an instant change I feel when I hold to a vision of you that aligns with the vision that I have for myself.

It feels so good in fact that from this point on no matter what you do or what you say I am going to refuse to stray from it. That vision is; you as a person are worth loving, you are worth caring about and you are always doing your best. We have so much more in common then we have in differences, it feels really good to me when I focus upon that.

Lots of love and appreciation from a Fellow Batshit Crazy Ex

xoxo

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Acceptance, Challenging Beliefs, Forgiveness, Friendships, Relationships, Teaching & Learning

My Batshit Crazy Series

So what makes Batshit Crazy different from normal crazy or just plain old hurt?

By my definition, Batshit Crazy happens when there is an acute mixture of hurt, confusion and fear. It happens when we are no longer able to decipher any reason or logic from a situation; and when we cease to care about who or what around us this affects.

When we are totally overwhelmed by; and fearful of; the pain of our emotions and we’ll stop at nothing to make the pain go away. To an outsider it appears as erratic, unpredictable, and illogical behaviour and as though no lines are too sacred to cross.

I feel it is important to remember that in its essence this is a very human experience, we’ve all done and said things that we weren’t proud of. How far we took it and how we went about it may have looked different from total Batshit Crazy, but we’ve all felt intense pain and wished for it to stop.

While it is very easy to see the Batshit Crazy person as an ‘other’ I wish to propose this question,

“Is it possible to have a Batshit Crazy person in our lives without us having contributed in our own Batshit Crazy way?”

My answer to that question is no, but I’d love to hear what you think either in the comments below or through the LOVING BUSINESS Facebook Page.

It is my belief that you can’t play tennis on your own. Unknowingly we hit the ball back over the net ever time we too are left hurt and confused by their behaviour. Every time we defensively interpret their behaviour as Batshit Crazy rather than as a sad call for help, we become players on their stage.

Don’t get me wrong I have no judgement here. It is incredibly hard not to react to Batshit Crazy behaviour; I know I’ve done my share of lashing out in response and I will probably continue to do so in the future. It is really hard not to react defensively to behaviour that by design pushes our buttons.

Looking beyond what is right in front of us is the biggest challenge of any relationship, nay, of life. Imagine the lives we could inspire if we were successful at loving people for who we knew them to be deep down? Imagine if we did that no matter how cruel and unpredictable their behaviours were? Imagine what our world would look like if we managed to pull that one off?

At times we can interpret Batshit Crazy behaviour as funny and fascinating, there are whole websites dedicated to posting crazy text messages that people have sent. But it can also be violent, heartbreaking and relentless. The underlining issues are the same; they are not coping.

That woman on the train that we saw all over the news; the one who vomited out the racist tirade is a perfect example of Batshit Crazy. Imagine how difficult it would have been in that moment to have offered her compassion, understanding and love?

I honestly don’t think I would have. And not because I don’t think she deserves it or because I don’t believe in the power of a loving approach; but because I don’t think that the thought would have even occurred to me. I would imagine that instinctively all of my concern would have been directed towards her victim.

It has been my intention in writing this series to do just that; to put the thought into my head so in those high stress, high conflict scenario’s there is a small chance that I could step back and ask myself the question,

“What is really going on here? Are they crying out for help?”

In the series I have written 3 letters which cover the perspectives of;

The sentiments running through these letters can be universally applied to other relationships that we have, e.g. a Parent, a Sibling, an In-Law, a Partner, a Work Colleague, a Boss, a Friend, or a stranger on a train. I also wish to be clear that although these Batshit Crazy Letter’s are addressed to woman, I strongly believe that Batshit Crazy behaviour is in no way limited to the female gender.

I’ve also written these articles because I wanted to bring some empathy and compassion to the situation. Now before you go thinking that I’m pronouncing myself as a saint who takes the higher road I want to be clear that my motivations are much more aligned to my own self-interests.

I’ve found that when I’ve looked beyond what is being presented to me and I’ve tried to focus on the real person and the real issue; that it has brought me much more of what I want. I want peace in my relationships and in those stressful situations.

It is also an approach which helps me align with my own higher sense of self. I say I want to experience myself as a compassionate and caring person; well what better context to give that a go in then a Batshit Crazy one?

My goal is to interact within the parameters of this sentiment:

“I am hearing what you are saying and it makes sense to me that you are feeling this way. I know that there is a lot going on that I’m not seeing too. I’m here to help you understand that what ever it is, you are more than it.

In the meantime I’m going to chill out a bit from being so defensive. I’m going to look past what you are presenting to focus upon what I know to be true about you.

I know that just like me; all you want is to feel loved, safe and heard. No matter what you do or say, you are valuable and I know that you are doing your best, just like me. You are, just as the day you were born, a magnificent being.

I want you to know that I feel blessed to have you in my life; because it is the uncomfortable things about you that are helping both of us to grow.”

Dear Batshit Crazy Person

Like I said I don’t always get it right and I never will, but the good news is that even when I let my hurt and confused loved one down; the interaction causes both of us to desire more peace and harmony in our relationships.

‘Letting them down’ also reminds me that they don’t need me to ‘help’ them; they are magnificent beings that are more than capable of seeking out the solutions for themselves.

So who’s with me? Who’s up for the challenge of redefining our own role in the Batshit Crazy dynamic?

Leanne xx

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