15th Jul, 22

My most valuable life lesson - learning how to centre myself

These are personal reflections. The pieces of jigsaw that came together for me and it is important to emphasise the mundanity of it. Nothing extraordinary, just time, effort, study and focus. 

To help you decide to continue or not and to give you a flavour of what to expect I would like to share one example that turned into one of the most distinct moments in my life. I remember it vividly, the physical experience when the last remnant of caffeine left my body, the physical stillness I felt when the last cup of coffee I drank, filtered its way out of me. The pure physical stillness it left behind. Such a small and insignificant thing but typical of the small mundane individual changes when taken together add up to something much bigger. It was so physically noticeable that I could feel the mental clarity immediately but it was just one piece of the jigsaw.

Like me, you will be fully aware of the things we do to energise ourselves, to keep ourselves going, to help us get through the day and to distract ourselves from the distress and discomfort we experience. Both consciously and unconsciously, it is surely the most common behaviour we engage in.

Confronting our everyday insecurities, our fears and losses, the body blows that life dishes out, starts early in life. The fight for self-esteem and acceptance, for recognition and acknowledgement of our value as human beings. Are we attractive enough, are we clever enough, do we have the talent and quality that can be admired by those we most wish to be admired by?

We’ve all been there and continue to be.

Consider any of the following:

- Somebody you love decides you are no longer the partner for them

- You lose your job

- You become seriously ill

- You fail at something your heart is set on

- Somebody you love dies

- The lifestyle you want is not the lifestyle you have?

Our response to challenges such as these is surely the defining motif of our life. Do we look to distract ourselves; do we deny to ourselves the painful truth or are we able to take the blows, dust ourselves down, find our feet and carry on our journey toward whatever it is we are moving toward?   

Where do answers hide themselves?

Distraction is certainly one option and one we’ve all turned to. For some of us, the answer is stuff. Something new and it can be anything. Something to take our mind off the problem. For others it can be food or drink, or gambling or drugs or running away? Answers and distractions that are external to us.

The problem we have with external solutions is that as soon as the novelty wears off, the problems are still there waiting for us. It's as though our problems are the most patient things we have in our life.

The alternative to external distractions is the search within ourselves for the comfort we need.  


Our problems are so personal that it can be hard to imagine anyone suffering in the way we do. But of course, we know they do and we know that lots of people suffer more than we do. But that is not the point. The point, is how do we relieve ourselves of the overwhelming personal discomfort we feel.       

Existential angst, what it means to be alive and to experience the pain of life is as old as the hills.

The oldest human fossil is some 300,000 years old. The genius of the great human thinkers is documented from thousands of years ago attempting to answer the same questions we have today, but that is not the point, the point is how do we relieve ourselves of the pain we feel.

In 20 years of coaching, these are the recurring themes:

Playing the cards, we are dealt - What do you believe to be true - What do you really want - What you are going to do - Constructivism - Behaviour is everything - Motivation - Your behavioural balance sheet - Affirmations, keeping your mind in the future - Acting on positive prompts - Words - Social Identity Theory - Reconstructed and Unreconstructed - Self-Esteem and Self-Worth -  Cognitive Dissonance and Existential Angst - The Ego, The Self and the middle way - Dharma - Belief Systems - Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence - Acceptance - Attachment - How to be still - Intractable problems - Resilience - Losing your way - IQ is a given, ignorance is a choice - Finding meaning -  Actualisation

Each of these subjects is universal. An exploration of any of them is to be exposed to the challenges that manifest themselves in our lives on a daily basis. A mastery of any of them is to contribute toward a mindset that makes our life easier. A mindset that gives us a chance to put in their place, those life events that leave us feeling so distressed. 

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