I’m Not Needy – I Just Have Needs

This is a re-blog of a post that is a handy reference on human needs – and how important they are to ensure that we get them met. As we continue through these difficult times, more and more stress and distress will impact us all. May we all get our needs met and Find our Middle Ground.


Every human being has needs. It is part of the human condition. We were born with them and will go through most of our lives trying to get them met. When our needs are met we can fully access our humanity. Bringing compassion and kindness to ourselves and others.

Over the years as a life coach, I took several courses in Non Violent Communication. In NVC, needs are acknowledged and embraced. There is a vulnerable beauty behind our needs. The essence of who we are as human beings.

There are three groups of core needs that once we identify, we can honor: WELL BEING – SELF EXPRESSION – CONNECTION. Needs get a bad wrap…. but they shouldn’t. The more we recognize them, the more we can evolve and grow as human beings.

We often aren’t aware of our own needs, and it can be a powerful self-discovery to identify the ones that are most important to each of us. The needs below are grouped into the three categories. Pause for a moment and identify what needs resonate with you personally:

man deep relaxed breathing

WELL BEING
Health and Sustenance
Thriving
Vitality
Safety and Security
Stability
Rest
Peace
Acceptance
Gratitude
Balance
Celebration of life

joyful girl

SELF EXPRESSION
Autonomy/Freedom
Authenticity
Inspiration
Passion
Meaning
Contribution
Learning
Growth
Skill/Mastery
Self actualization

Loving Connection

CONNECTION
Love/caring
Compassion
Empathy/Understanding
Communication
Respect
Acceptance
Recognition
Community
Belonging
Relationship
Trust

Here is a self inquiry exercise to explore your needs more. Take a moment and ask yourself:

What am I grateful for?

Then

What needs are being met when I feel grateful?

Now think of a time when you were upset, possibly at work or with a family member…

Then

What needs were not being met?

In all likelihood it would be about recognition, respect and a sense of belonging.

Needs drive us and are essential for our well being. When our needs are being met it opens the door to be in connection with ourselves and with others.

We come to see there is no need to judge ourselves or others any more.

We are more able to center ourselves in our Middle Ground and handle the the highs and lows of life.

Namaste

Find Balance After Being Triggered – 6 tools to use

This is a re-blog of a post that I found helpful to come back to. As we continue through these difficult times, more and more stress and distress will impact us all. Over the next few weeks, I will share practical posts to help us navigate the lows of life. May we all find our middle ground.

There are many tips in this post. As you read through this mini course, choose a couple of tools that resonate with you and let that be your focus, rather than trying to apply them all.

To bring about positive change, we must go past the intellectual understanding and embrace the experience. It is a practice. For many of us, it is the most important practice of our lives.


It is part of our human nature to become annoyed and angry when we feel threatened or things don’t go our way. Irritation and frustration seem to go hand in hand with the demands of life today.

We humans also have a “fight or flight” response when we feel threatened. It helped our ancestors survive when facing sabre toothed tigers. Nowadays, we can have the same response when someone cuts us off on the road, a colleague takes credit for a piece of our work, or we feel we are being treated unfairly…

Whether the threat is real, or in our imagination, the mind and body reacts in exactly the same way.  Our brains and bodies are flooded in a chemical bath. There is a rush of adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream, blood is sent to the extremities and the heart, digestion is put on hold, muscles tense. We are ready to pounce or run!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness” ~ Viktor Frankl

“You can’t stop the waves but your can learn to surf” ~ Jon Kabat Zinn.

ooOoo

Here are 6 tools you can use to calm the body and mind’s response to center yourself:

1. Breathe. At the first moment you realize you are experiencing annoyance or anger, bring awareness to your breath. Take several full breaths focusing on the exhale to release that tension and energy. Then slow it down. Making the inhale and exhale long and even.

This will help invoke the body’s relaxation response and give you time to access your higher brain for making a decision on how to proceed.

deep breathing

2. Calm Body and Mind. Try these calming techniques for body and mind.

  • Bring a hand to my belly, to encourage fuller breathing and to feel more grounded. I also like to put a hand on my heart to initiate a mammalian soothing response. Try it and see. Feel the warmth from your palm and allow it to calm and soothe your heart.
  • Bring a finger tip to your lips can also have an immediate calming affect on the body
  • To create a new neural pathway in the brain . You may also like to add a word to say or phrase on the exhale. For example “release” or “let it go” or “have patience” or “be calm”.
  • If you are more visual, then bring to mind the image of someone you love or a place that calms you. Have it on your smart phone, ready to be accessed in a moment.

Take a moment and reflect on what would work for you…

3. Release the Tension Our body also needs to release the energy build up that is part of the fight or flight response. Animals naturally shake off this tension after conflict, but we humans have lost that natural ability to release it. Moving your body is important. Get out of your head and into your body to deal with the physical response.

stretch

Here are some examples:

  • Find a private place to practice sun breaths (full movement of the arms with the breath)
  • Stretch the body! Stamp your feet into the ground then reach for the sky. Imagine the energy being released downwards and then upwards.
  • Run up and down stairs
  • Get outside for a walk or a run.
  • Practice “meshing”. Visualize yourself as porous as a mesh screen. As you encounter strong feelings welling up (for example, anger, fear, resentment), let the feelings pass through your body. Observes the intense feelings moving through.
  • Pretend you are in a sitcom, and appreciate the humor in every absurd situation. The challenging times are often similar to scenes in a bad comedy, especially if they are of our own making. Laugh about it. Laughter releases physical tension too!

Take a moment and consider what would release tension for you…

man reflecting

4. Reflect. With blood now accessing your higher brain you can reflect on what has just happened.
Where is the emotion coming from? Is there a history behind it?
Explain it to yourself. “I’m annoyed right now because ….” This reflection may be enough to detach yourself from the emotional reaction. Don’t be quick to judge, based on your own reaction. You don’t know what the other person might be struggling with, or what is going on in their life. If you are cut off in the car, it may be that that person really does have an family emergency.

5. Switch Perspectives. Be an observer of the situation. Imagine you are an observer and play back what just happened. Let go of judgment or getting caught up in your side of the story.

Be the narrator of the scene that just occurred. Notice when emotions come up and try to step back into the observer role again. Keeping a detached distance will allow you to find your center and balance. 

Try to see the other person’s point of view. Don’t be quick to judge, based on your reaction. You don’t know what they might be struggling with or what is going on in their life. If you are cut off in the car, it may be that that person really does have an family emergency.

6. Have a Mantra or Axiom. Choose a go-to phrase that means something to you that will help you maintain this observer mindset: Here are some examples:

  • Everyone wants to be happy.
  • This person is acting this way because he thinks it will make him happy.
  • People who are a pain are usually in pain.
  • Recite the Serenity Prayer. “God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
  • Remind yourself that this too shall pass. Trust in time. What seems bad now will not always be so.
  • Lighten up. Things happen. Don’t take it all so seriously. What really matters here?
 Ask yourself “Is this worth fighting for” or is there something more important here.
  • Which is more important – Being right or this relationship?
  • Move from reaction to action. What part have I played in bringing this about? What can I do to make this better?

Take time and reflect on what would work for you…

ooOoo

Having a set of tools to use in the heat of the moment is really helpful, but will only help at that moment. Research has shown that having a regular practice of meditation helps us to step back and access this observer mindset so that we find our balance more and more easily.
 With practice over time, we will not react so strongly as we accept all our emotions as our teachers and friends.

Namaste

Love, Relationships and Triggers


This is a re-blog of a post that I have found helpful to come back to. As we continue through difficult times, more and more stress and distress will impact us all: from our health and wellbeing, to our relationships and ability to focus and work. Over the next few weeks, I will share practical posts to help us navigate through these times and the highs and lows of life. May we all find our middle ground and live from the center of our being.


In the highs and lows of life there will always be more challenging days. This can happen when a colleague lets us down at work; when our partner disappoints us or when our mother criticizes what we are wearing….

Today, I dipped into John Welwood’s book Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships.  He has such interesting and compassionate insights from a fusion of Buddhism and psychotherapy.

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John Welwood talks about the wounding of our heart that takes place when we are very young. This is when we realize that our parent cannot love us unconditionally and cannot meet all our needs.
The time comes when we cry and noone comes, or when we want comfort and there’s noone there.
We suddenly become insecure and very fearful about not being fully loved. We feel wounded and vulnerable.

This leads to what he calls a mood of unlove, when we don’t feel fully loved and believe that there is something wrong with us.
When we don’t feel worthy, appreciated, accepted, respected, acknowledged, valued or good enough, the mood of unlove shows up. He calls this the wounding of our heart.

“The mood of unlove often shows up in the form of sudden emotional flare ups in reaction to any hint of being slighted or badly treated. It’s as if a reservoir of distrust and resentment were ready and waiting to be released, which the tiniest incident can trigger. Even caring and compassionate people often carry within them a fair share of unlove and righteous grievance, which can suddenly erupt under certain circumstances.”

To bring it into everyday life. When your boss asks you to re-write that presentation you have spent hours working on, or your spouse criticizes you for not doing it right … you may get triggered!

What John Welwood is saying, is that at these moments the wound of our own heart opens up along with the mood of unlove. We react and try to protect ourselves from this feeling of being unloved and that there is something wrong with us, so we lash out and blame or retreat and find ways to numb and soothe ourselves.

When we become defensive and lash out or withdraw or try to escape,  we may feel better, but the original hurt will be there until we acknowledge and embrace it. We will continue to be triggered until we fully accept and understand ourselves and let love blossom inside.

Could it be that simple … that all we long for is to feel fully loved?

Yes is the answer lies within each of us.

By taking the time to see this in the heart of these moments, we can learn to give ourselves empathy and love and begin to heal old wounds.

Namaste

Haiku – change perspective

Photo by AaDil on Pexels.com

~

When the chips are down

be grateful for the journey

Nothing has gone wrong

~

Change your perspective

Breathe in acceptance and love

Find your Middle Ground

~

When something goes wrong in our lives, we often spend a lot of time going over what happened. Our ego-mind goes into analytical mode, trying to figure it out, so it can fix it, or come up with a story that is acceptable. I found myself in this state earlier this week.

After two sleepless nights of going over an unexpected and disturbing event, and trying to come up with the answer that would make me feel better …. I woke up with the answer. In the calm of the dawn, there was no answer other than to breath in love and acceptance. To allow the heart to open and the mind to let go of trying to fix the unfixable.

When we move from our heads to hearts, transformation happens. Embracing loving kindness and simply allowing the things to be that we can’t control, shifts the energy and brings about balance.

I came across these words from The Deep Heart by John J. Prendergast

“It is enough that we listen and follow moment to moment. It is enough that we are open, are available, and take the next obvious step and see what happens. It is enough when the ordinary mind bows down to the wisdom of the heart and trusts the movement of a wiser current. When we surrender to it, a natural authority in the core of our being guides our life quite beautifully”

It is enough to trust our hearts and come from a place of love. When we do we are living from our Middle Ground.

Follow this link to find out more about finding your middle ground.

Haiku – fortress

Tantallon Castle and Bass Rock

~

You think you are strong

Walls build by hand, block by block

Find your Middle Ground

~

Break down the fortress

Dismantle and declutter

Find peace beyond ruin

~

If you are new to this site welcome!

To find out more about finding your middle ground, please click here

This photo is of Tantallon Castle with Bass Rock behind it. Its close to where I grew up and is a stone’s throw from my Brother and my Mum in East Lothian. I haven’t seen them in person since July 2019.

I’m someone who built the blocks to be strong, but I also need to let go and acknowledge the sweet sadness of not being able to be there. I miss Scotland and the family, and hold them in my heart.

What is the Purpose of Meditation?

man meditating under rock
Photo by Suraphat Nuea-on on Pexels.com

I enjoy dipping into the words of the great sages, usually at bedtime. Right now, “I Am That” – Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is at the top of the bedside pile.

Here is his wisdom about Meditation:

“The primary purpose of meditation is to become conscious of, and familiar with, our inner life. The ultimate purpose is to reach the source of life and consciousness….

We are slaves to what we do not know, of what we know we are masters.

Whatever vice or weakness in ourselves we discover and understand its causes and its workings, we overcome it by the very knowing.

The unconscious dissolves when brought into the conscious. The dissolution of the unconscious releases energy; the mind feels adequate and becomes quiet.

When the mind is quiet, we come to know ourselves as the pure witness.”

Meditation allows us to become a non judging witness, and to develop our ability to step back and see ourselves without the stories that make up our lives.

“We are slaves to what we do not know, of what we know we are masters”. This really has stayed with me.

This approach to meditation crosses the bridge between self improvement and spirituality. It is the most important step in our evolution as humans and conscious beings.

Namaste

Ego’s Last Stand

I have been thinking about ego this week and how it shows up in our lives.

When the mind cannot accept a reality that goes against its own persona, it creates all sorts of stories to find a way to make it acceptable. We are seeing this unfold very publicly here in the US.

Someone who sees himself as a winner, was chastised as a loser growing up, and who now despises losers, cannot face being a loser himself.

A strong ego is driven by its need to be right. When it is threatened it will immediately shift blame, create stories and act out, so the ego is validated.

This is the ego’s last stand for survival.

A blow to our ego is one of the most hurtful things to experience. It cuts right into how we see ourselves and want to be seen. I recall times in my life when I expected  people to appreciate me, only to be disappointed when they didn’t. This is all about the ego and looking for validation.

For those of us on a spiritual path or working towards self realization, be especially careful where ego many hiding.

If you have difficulty saying “I don’t know” or “I was wrong” or “I am sorry” or “I forgive you” or “Please forgive me”, then your ego may still be very much in charge.

An other question to ask yourself as you talk to others, share on WordPress or whenever you are in relationship to someone:

“Am I doing this unconditionally or is there something I expect or hope for in return?

Sometimes we create stories that we are doing something for the good or others, but behind the altruism is an ego wanting to feel appreciated and validated.

Take some time to notice how your ego may be showing up in your life. Whenever you need to be right, its right there.

Stages of Life

I came across this poem from Portia Nelson and wanted to share it with you today. It’s a perfect example of how we deal with challenges as we go through life… and how conditioned we are.

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THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SIDEWALK
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
By Portia Nelson

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost …. I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit … but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

It takes us so long to change our thinking and break our conditioning and habits. The ego-mind always wants to be right about the way it sees life.

Portia Nelson wrote this about the relationships in her life. How she kept falling for the same kind of man. Perhaps you can see a parallel in your life? I certainly can.

The shift happens we take responsibility and can see that our actions or conditioned beliefs no longer support our well being.

We can also look at other aspects of our life, and how we relate to changes and challenges. For example: the jobs we take, the food we eat, the friends we choose, the places we go, relationships with family, the party we vote for etc.

Taking this to a macro level, we can begin to see why society takes so long to change… and why our planet is in such jeopardy.

It begins with awareness, shifting perspectives, letting go of the old and choosing a new way.

May we learn from our mistakes and start down a different road together.

Namaste

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The Insanity of the Human Condition

crowd

Wisdom from Adyashanti worth repeating. Written before 2016.

“In no way can I deny the insanity of the human condition. And yet, because there’s so much insanity, so much unconsciousness, it’s possible that there’s also the other side of it.

Life is always balancing itself out.

So, while all of this is happening, there’s also this undercurrent of people all over the place who have a deep and profound interest in the ultimate nature of reality in themselves—and they are realizing it!

Not only is that now happening among a wider variety and number of human beings, it’s also happening more and more outside of hierarchical institutions.

I think there’s something within all of this, something very authentic, that’s breaking down the barriers between every person and our ideas of what a spiritual person is. It’s sort of a silent, quiet revolution that’s happening.

But even though there’s a lot of awakening, I don’t know if that means we’re at the dawn of some beautiful renaissance age or that the human species will totally selfdestruct. I can see it going either way.

I do think that in our deepest heart we don’t actually want to contribute to the insanity around us. Our nature is, if anything, to be a contributor to sanity and wholeness, to bringing that into manifestation.”

~ Adyashanti

May we stop contributing to the insanity around us, and come from our deepest heart.

Bring on the silent loving revolution towards wholeness.

Namaste

Awakening to What?

Those of us who see ourselves on a journey of self realization or spirituality, have a sense of awakening. But an awakening to what? I wonder if we all awaken to the same thing, or if we awaken to whatever we are ready to awaken to…

Whatever it is, when we find it we think “This is it!” But it is really so? Is it the final piece of the puzzle or just an other piece along the way that finds its rightful place?

woman in blue and white floral long sleeve shirt holding a round shaped puzzle

Photo by Wesley Carvalho on Pexels.com

As I reflect on my life there have been moments of awakening, when it seemed like my inner world and outer world launched into a new way of being. Yet, on reflection it is now clear that these have just been pieces of the puzzle.

These pieces connected to each other, yet they revealed only a part of a great unknown picture. Here are my reflections on my journey towards the unknown and the awakenings along the way.

Life Awakenings

I can only imagine what it must have felt like when I first discovered I was no longer in a dark and nourishing space merged with my mother. This experience is beyond my thinking,  but I can imagine how traumatic and profound it must have been becoming separate and in all that bright light!

The next awakening was when I learned who I was in relation to other things and people. My ego developed as I grew into a separate human being with preferences and beliefs. I learned how to get what I wanted, how to be in relationship with others. I created beliefs about who I was as a girl child, daughter, sister etc…

Not long after this revelation came, the waking up to feeling hurt when I didn’t get what I wanted, or when I was not seen in a way that I wanted to be seen, or when I felt abandoned and unloved. I believed that there was something wrong, and it was me. I wasn’t good enough. So I would try to be good and perfect.

This part lasted for quite some time. I continued to learn who I was in this world from those around me, and in the roles I played. I was looking outward for validation and love.

Then as an adult I awakened to the part of me that wanted to express herself fully. To slough off the conditioning and expectations of others. I started to look inward so I could find the real “me”, not through anyone else’s eyes, but through my own… Awakening to myself as a strong individual who mattered… Stepping into my own shoes and expressing myself to the world.
From not being good enough, I realized I was precious, unique and strong. I could make things happen! I took on challenges and overcame my fears. It was a period of tremendous personal growth.

Around then I began training to became a life coach. For the past 20 years I have worked with people to discover who they are as unique human beings who can overcome challenges and be their authentic best in the world.

Yet, this was not the end. From this place of self growth, confidence and expansion, an other kind of awakening started to unfold. One where I started to question who “I” was.

self inquiry

At a time when I was disillusioned with the competitive, self absorbed human beings around me, I fully embraced yoga and took my first yoga teacher training. Unlike a lot of yoga trainings nowadays, our practice was more than postures, sequencing and breath work. We had time for self reflection, we read yoga philosophy, and committed to following the eightfold path of Patanjali.

Through yoga I became aware that my personal “self” was made up of my thoughts and beliefs. The world around me mirrored my own perception of it.  I had been creating stories about who “I” (this “small self”) was. I had grown as a person, but had replaced stories of not being good enough, with new stories about all I could achieve and show the world.

A part of me still got caught in patterns of self-doubt, fear and worry. I also had moments of glory and immense satisfaction and had glimpses of the timeless beauty and mystery of being alive.

In yoga I felt drawn to the belief that we are all connected and share the same Source or Conscious Presence. When one says “namaste” in greeting and farewell, it means that one recognizes the light shining within each of us.  This inner light is our true spiritual Self.  We connect to something more that our human body and thinking mind. Whether we call it God, the Divine, Brahman, Source, Presence or the Universe. There is a part inside of all of us that is connected to an infinite beingness, that words can’t fully describe.

Then something happened. It was like the outer shell cracked and the gloriousness of what was within was revealed. From understanding in my mind, I experienced a overwhelming feeling of love and connection with my fellow human beings, animals and nature.  There is a deep sense of oneness that is profound, no matter what is happening in life. It is hard to put into words, because it feels beyond words.

If I were to try to use words, it was be something like a veil had been lifted to reveal what had always been there. It is something that once felt, can always be accessed.

The aum symbol of yoga symbolizes this seeing beyond the veil and embracing an unchanging reality of oneness with spirit or pure consciousness.

aum symbol with meaning

Finding Your Middle Ground

Finding your middle ground is the gateway to this awakening.  The starting point is when we take time to pause and become self aware. We begin, by simply learning to slow down and noticing what is going on inside: our thoughts, judgments, emotions, body sensations … and al the stories we make up about ourselves and the world around us.

I like to think of it as the phase of personal expansion and growth. Its a place of new perspectives, letting go of the past, and understanding and truly accepting ourselves as imperfect human beings.

We start to explore new aspects of ourselves, our passions and what gives us meaning in life. Taking time to pause and ask ourself the deep questions that we want to know the answers to, allows us to go beyond what we know in our mind and tap init the wisdom in our heart.

From this place of mindful awareness, we can come new insights into who we are beyond our beliefs and conditioning. Beyond our own small separate self.

With more compassionate self awareness, meditation and mindful living, a new way of seeing ourselves and the world unfolds.
We realize that we are not separate, but are connected to something so much bigger, and to each other.
We come to know that we are not the master of the universe, but are simply a part of it all.
There is no right or wrong, because we know that it’s our thoughts that make it so. Everything becomes as it is.
We stop resisting life, and begin to let go into its own flow.
We let go of ego and surrender to being small as we connect to the Source of being. From wanting to be somebody, we embrace being nobody.

Wherever we are on life’s path, we can open ourselves to new insights and awaken to a new way of expanded being.

As human beings perhaps our purpose is to awaken to what we are ready for, and to be open to surrendering to the next unknown.

Thank you for joining me on this journey to freedom.

Namaste

Seeing Stars

silhouette of trees and mountain under blue starry sky

Photo by Sindre Strøm on Pexels.com

“To attach oneself to a guru, an avatar, one religion, one creed, is to see the stars only. To put one’s faith in the Infinite Being and in its presence within the heart, is to see the vast empty sky itself. The stars will come and go, will disintegrate and vanish, but the sky remains.”  ~ Paul Brunton

Are you following certain stars and missing out on the vastness of the sky?

I think its human nature to get attached to some “thing” that we believe will show us the way, make things better, or fix us. And so we seek out the answer to our problem.

When we open up to the Source, Infinite Being or Divine within us, and the sky beyond the stars, problems dissolve and we become a part of it all.

Namaste

Getting Clear about Transformation

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Most of us spend our time and energy trying to transform our experience of life. When things are difficult, we blame circumstances, someone else, or ourselves. We take on new things and make new goals. We may change jobs, move house, or get divorced, to move away from our circumstances.

We move away from the discomfort.

And we somehow find ourselves feeling the same way in the next job, the next house, the next marriage …

In this society we are constantly being pressured to focus on the external and to acquire things in order to be “successful” and to feel good about ourselves. The message is “you deserve better” or “this will make you happy”.

Instead of moving from job to job, wanting things to be different and wishing for events to change, pause and notice how you are resisting what you are experiencing right now. Are you telling yourself “I deserve better”? rather than trying to understand your experience.

It is the relationship with what is happening that is causing the pain rather than the situation itself. The relationship between you and the situation is one of resistance and frustration with what is.

But you are only changing the external situation, and the chances are you will start to feel the same again, unless you take time to look at what is going within you that is getting in the way of transformation.

What if our purpose in life is to understand our external experience and how we relate to it? or Seeing all of our experience as lessons in life?

When we start to look into our experience with curiosity and an accepting mind, we can bring about real change.

Its an inside out job.

Here are some powerful questions to ask yourself to bring about inner transformation:

  • How do I want to feel ….? at work/in my marriage/in my relations with my children etc. Imagine your future self and what it feels like.
  • How am I contributing to this situation? What attitude adjustment do I need to make?
  • What actions would support this? What do I need to do differently?
  • What support do I need to bring it about? What resources do I already have?