Speak up: Say, express, mention, express, the right to speak or decide, expression of opinion, statement. One who utters or one who tells.
As we approach the time in South Africa where we make a stand against the abuse of women and children it gives me pause to reflect on the fact that it happens under our very noses still.
The measure of control that is exerted by an abuser over their victims has its roots in many areas; lack of self-esteem, personality disorders and jealousy to mention a few. While we can identify reasons for it we cannot excuse the behaviour. I am sure you know by this time that I am an advocate of the benefits of silence BUT there are times when it seems to me that we need to speak up.
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”
The quote above is an idealist’s view when you are in an abusive relationship. As a victim of abuse I know how difficult it is to move past that wall of silence because I needed it so badly to maintain the façade, to keep the peace. I had all the right words, gestures and smiles and knew what a happy family should look like and how they are to behave. I had all the excuses and backups. I had become a professional liar. There were those that I confided in but they either refused to help or sent me away saying I should be grateful for what I had. Some people just stopped coming by. I was alone and lost and needed a voice.
I am certain someone knows somebody who is being subjected to abuse. It is to these readers that I appeal this weekend. Please know that the victims of abuse are not weak, they are afraid and they need for us to assist in a practical way because their non-existent self-esteem cannot bring them to the point of moving away on their own. What can we do? Let us start by giving an ear, a moment of your day to open your heart, to reach out to them. Let us be open to the probability that this person is telling the truth, even if we cannot believe our ears and eyes. We need to remind them that they are special, they matter and we care enough to help if necessary. There is no cause to judge their situation. When they are ready to make a move away, let us be available. Do you think you are able to be that person who puts action behind their words? Or are you going to just sit back and rather not get involved? Are you woman or man enough to take your friend or neighbour to the police station when needed? Who will make a TRUE stand this month and every month hereon forward?
Will you be the voice for someone who temporarily cannot speak? As I write this article I can still feel the relief and appreciation of being free from my abuser. You can be the catalyst to making someone else also feel free and grateful and on the road to recovery and a stronger person.
As always I welcome your comments.
Phoenix: A mythological bird that consumed itself by fire after 500 years, and rose renewed from its ashes. A person or thing that has been restored to a new existence from destruction, downfall or ruin
I am definitely happier being in a warm climate all year round, I have to admit. Whilst driving home the other day I saw a grass fire, being fanned by a strong wind, creeping along the open plains in Midrand. This is a rather typical sight here in Gauteng in winter. There are certain plants and trees that need fire to seed; grass needs the thatch to be burned away, in order for new growth to occur. In the spring time the "veld" or grassland gives a splendid show of light green shoots, which then turns into a deep green colour in summer - a metamorphosis from charred remains to full beauty once again.
A Phoenix rising from the flames..
We all are subjected to life and its roller-coaster effect it has on our psyche through our existence. We all tend to "manage" by gritting our teeth through the bumpy rides and coasting along the smooth paths. Sometimes though a situation or event forces its way into our faces, so to speak, and we can no longer deny its existence, ignore it, explain it away, detach ourselves from it, procrastinate and leave it for another day - it just presents itself in its entirety, and says plainly "DEAL WITH ME"!! We are only human, and our natural responses to change are as mentioned above. Humans don't like change, we fear the unknown, we hate to be blamed or held responsible for the wrong choices we may make or have made in the past, and we have an insatiable need to be in control. Change does not offer any guarantee that things will pan out the way we want, so we resist it at all costs until the day it stares down on us ......
Khalil Gibran says in his book "The Prophet" that we are like clay that needs to be moulded, shaped, painted and fired. If the clay pot is not fired, it will begin to leak and not be a fully functional vessel. We need to know / experience the depths of sorrow and despair in order that we may know and recognise happiness and joy.
We need to go through the shockingly hard times in order to rise from the ashes, renewed and open to new life, like the Phoenix. Life's truths are very hard to swallow and accept sometimes, but these things are shown to us, not by accident, I believe. Somewhere in our subconscious we know when things are not right and a change needs to be effected. We need the change so that we can learn another lesson and grow by it. I have witnessed friends going through a really rough time when they were retrenched, but have come back to deliver messages of wonderful things that have materialised in their lives. I have met people who feel that their lives have ended because their legs or arms have been amputated, only to say that they have found a renewed sense of living. I have seen people burnt so badly feel that they could not stand the humiliation of showing their faces in public stand up with confidence and deliver messages of hope to others. I have seen marriages fall apart, homes broken, only for each spouse to say afterwards that they have grown within themselves and have learned to love unselfishly.
The fires of life though hot and unpleasant, perhaps are there to destroy the things in your lives that rob you of your joy, serenity, focus, trust, depth and growth. Once the fire has swept through our lives, we can see what it is that we have missed by walking that road we were previously on, and then we can facilitate the necessary change.
Whatever crisis pre-empts the change in your life, know that you can rise from the ashes, renewed, restored to a new existence from the destruction that you felt / feel
I had the privilege of sharing an interesting debate about whether it is possible to change your thought processes, behaviour and thereby re-shape your personality and the key factor that we all agreed upon is to first acknowledge the problem, realise that it is there and following that, the determination to change. Oftentimes people will come to us and tell us that our behaviour, reaction, speech and attitude are a little out of line in their opinion, which is their prerogative to state how they feel. Have you ever been on the receiving end of this? How did you feel? Was your reaction defensive (explaining or blaming) perhaps it was dismissive (they don’t know what they are talking about or it doesn’t apply to me) maybe you took it very personally (subjective and pitiful). How do you take criticism? With a pinch of salt or heaps of sugar to make the medicine go down?
I think that acknowledgement is a very important step but I venture to say that this is not the core factor that will initiate change. There has been so much input in your life through past experiences which have shaped your perceptions and therefore reactions to any given situation and we rarely take the time to delve into our psyche to find out who we have become. We tend to be reactive instead of proactive in our behaviour simply because we are not connected to our own personality traits. I state now that I believe that change is possible through a catalyst called self-knowledge. So we in essence become our own judge of what we like or dislike within ourselves. Once we define these, we can pick out which we choose to keep and which we choose to change or discard. We are then operating in a proactive manner, initiating change from within by CHOICE which in itself lends the conscious mind to be more open and accepting of the challenges we will face and the body does not pick up any tension either.
This is in perfect contrast to feeling picked on or criticised by others and deciding to change because you feel you HAVE to. When you feel you HAVE to, your body and mind automatically go into fight or flight mode, more adrenalin, higher blood pressure increased muscle tension.
Knowledge: All the information, facts, truths and principles learned throughout time
"Nothing we ever imagined is beyond our powers, only beyond our present self-knowledge” Theodore Roszak
Do you really know yourself? We all need to take time to do a little introspection every day. To realise that WE ALONE create our own destiny by the choices we make every day. We are where we are because of that - Take ownership of that fact. If you don't like certain aspects of your life because of the wrong decisions you have made in the past, then I say to you, start to know yourself. Once you know who you are, what is important to you, what motivates you and what you want to achieve, the decisions you make henceforth, will come from an informed perspective.
The road to self-discovery is sometimes unpleasant. There will be some things you don't like about yourself and to accept that they are a part of you is difficult. The secret is that once you acknowledge their existence, you can change them if you want to. Remember not to blame the bad trait on anything else though (I cannot get myself up in the morning, because I'm like my father -or- I can’t help it if I have a temper, it must come from my mother’s side of the family -or- I can’t make myself do anything I don't want to do because nobody motivates or stands by me)
The road to self-discovery is also surprising. You will find hidden talents, perseverance where you thought there was none, mental strength beyond what you imagined, self-discipline hiding under a low self-esteem, intelligence in a sphere you were not aware of, motivation right inside of yourself, time management becomes an easy task.
How well do you really know yourself?
Ask yourself a few of these questions and make your decision on the results. Interview yourself and see if you are worthy of being your own best friend.
Who do you see when you look in the mirror every morning? Is it someone you know and like? Or do you look away quickly, not really wanting to acknowledge that person who is looking back at you?
Do you know what you want from life? Or do you blame all you are on your upbringing and parents?
Do you know what you like and dislike? Or do you just go through life accepting everything at face value, never questioning and therefore never understanding?
Do you know what kind of life you want to lead and are you leading it? Or do you just ride the waves, bobbing up and down letting the world pass you by?
Do you know what you are capable of doing? Or do you wait for approval of others before taking a step?
Are you aware of your faults and are you accepting of them? Or do you refuse to even think of them?
Are you able to change things in your life and your attitude if you want to? Or do you just procrastinate and say "under the circumstances......"
It is good to know yourself. Knowledge is power. Knowing yourself is having the power to change your life.
Laughter: happiness or fun expressed by laughing, something funny or enjoyable, a time of great fun and enjoyment causing laughter.
We all know the trappings of a successful career; the pressures of life, but surely one should take the time to fill our lives with positivity, laughter and fun?
Then when you get to a weekend, you fill our time up with fixing things around the house, visiting people we don’t even like, get drunk and wake with a terrible headache that has you laying prostrate in bed the next day, staring fixedly at a TV screen all weekend and you end up wondering whether the sun came up or not - SILLY isn’t it?
“You don't stop laughing because you grow old; you grow old because you stopped laughing.” Tim Harris
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. I suggest that you try to find some joy and pleasure in each day. The laugh-lines will begin to show on your face but at least you can tell everyone you enjoyed your life!
Take some time this weekend to:
Be with people that build you up, not break you down. Don’t associate with those who don’t benefit your well being. (In turn be a good friend, building others up too - what goes around comes around!)
Experience and share in the children whose lives you are moulding, to teach them good values and skills
Sharing ideas and philosophies of how to change things for the better
Taking a good look at your career - are you doing something you LIKE doing, if not could you make a change for the better (since you spend so much time at work, you should spend it doing something you like)
Watching a comedy! Laughter increases serotonin levels in the body, and serotonin has a natural calming effect.
Go for a walk down your road, and look at the trees and the sky. When was the last time you did window-shopping?
Writing down all the things you LIKE and ENJOY about your life right now - NO DON’T INCLUDE THE BAD STUFF!!!
Doing something that you thought you were too old to do - like run in the rain / climb a telephone pole / dye your hair green - whatever!
Writing down all the things that you got into trouble for at school or at home when you were young - there will be many memories that will have you giggling in no time. As always I welcome your comments.
My soul has been restless these past months and I needed to find out why. I found this quote the other day while I found myself wrestling with life and issues and realised I was missing a little key that could open a door to many hidden pathways in life and I would like to share it with you:
“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth”. Mahatma Ghandi
We fill our empty spaces with music, reading, television, games and people because we may be afraid to listen to our own soul crying out for attention. It is only in silence that we can heal our souls and get to the root of our discontent. By silence, I mean a silent or still mind and heart whether through meditation or just being in the moment and viewing life as it is.
During my vacation, I had many moments or let’s rather call them 'pauses' between doing and sleeping. Pausing to view the world as it is without judgment or opinion is a liberating experience. It is a lesson in non-prejudicial acceptance, an opportunity to not have an opinion about anything. Not attaching labels to what you see, is to take one step higher than the human mind can conceive of to play in the realm of the soul. It is in this peaceful realm that we can experience the truth of ‘Being’: not Doing or Feeling or Thinking, just Being. Being is almost a state of meditation – of finding the Truth. We can only really find truth if we are devoid of all pre-conditioned teachings, pre-conceived thoughts and ideals for the present and future. Being brings us to a state of experiencing life in its entirety. To cut through all the ties that bind and to experience your own truth is the reward. During the many days that have brought us to this moment, we have attached ourselves to various ways of living which society deems proper or that which we feel comfortable doing. We are all guilty of flooding our minds with useless frivolities that cause our own demise in the end. We have been doing that most of our lives so it has become second nature I'm sure. We fight to find our own path through the jungle of life when instead we should be looking inward towards our soul to find the paved walkway we know is there but cannot see.
I wonder if you can take some time to just BE. Away from the TV, radio, children, spouses, friends and pets to look at life from a different angle. It is by no means easy because your mind will wander and judgements will form while you are in a state of ‘Being’ but try… the silence speaks to you! By taking some quality time to yourself you will find that your intuition is heightened – your soul is finally bursting through all the emotions and activities and having its say and you are able to hear it!
Lovely: beautiful and pleasing, especially in a harmonious way
The world has and will continue to become divided the longer we judge. It seems that we find many reasons to hate, and not enough to love. Reasons ranging from religion to weather! Has the need to control now become a basic element in our survival? Why is it easier to point fingers at others? Is it better to make our sins and failures less obvious by showing others up? Gosh!! What a sad state of affairs!
I do believe that we all can make a difference in our world if we want to. Notice I said: "Want to". If the will is not there the action will be absent. My thought for the weekend is as follows:
“What would be the worst that can happen if we all try to see the good in each person?” Judy Mills
Whoever you meet, whoever is in your life right now, whoever has passed through your life at some stage, I want you to think of something positive and good about them, however small. Let’s face it; we will never get on with each and every person in this world in every respect. As humans, we are gregarious in nature, but we all come from different backgrounds, have different ideals and morals, and to expect that we can please everyone all the time and live in absolute harmony, is expecting too much.
What I'm asking you to do is, that even though we may have different viewpoints, to delve into each relationship and find the good in it (Oh, and remember, even though you may have enemies, you still have a kind of relationship with them, all be it a hateful one). Let me put the spoke in the works here for an instant, and run with this thought. Did you know that ANY tie can bind? Love binds just as strong as hate. There is a reason why you choose to hate a person. If you can hate them, then you can keep thoughts about them running about in your head, you choose to remember them for whatever reason!! Analyse your reasons behind your emotions, and try converting the negative thoughts into positive ones. Perhaps you may not like a person because they are bossy, but perhaps they are hiding behind this facade, because they are really soft inside and are afraid to show it. Perhaps they need a friendly smile, in spite of their angry bossy attitude. Perhaps they need to be liked "in-spite-of", just like you.
Try to make a small mental effort to like something (anything) about everyone you know. Perhaps it’s the way they dress, or their shiny white teeth, or their cute laugh! Perhaps it’s something less superficial like their kindness, their loyalty or their thought processes. People pass through your life for a moment, a season or a lifetime - why not make each meeting special? It’s no skin off your nose in the end. How would you benefit? You will find reasons to love, rather than hate and including love into your life can only lead to a happier existence.
I challenge you to try!! Is it too much to hope that the world will be more peaceful for our children in the future? No, there is always hope, but hope doesn't do much by itself, we need to add a little action!!