Jade Lizzie

Sharing the yoga love

Tag: life lessons (Page 1 of 2)

Learning To Be Struggle-Free

struggle freeI blogged last week about how I’ve been embracing a more “underachieving” approach to my yoga practice lately. I was overwhelmed by the number of people who contacted me to say they loved this post. I know – who would have thought slacking was so inspiring? But many of these people had been beating themselves up for not doing enough and they were relieved to hear I was able to dial it down for a while, and be ok with that. It struck me how hard we are on ourselves. We live in a goals-driven, target-setting, progress-orientated culture. We’re taught that effort equals success, and while that can great, it can also leave us with the impression that if we’re not struggling, we’re doing something wrong. So I wanted to share some advice that has helped me a lot.

The reason I’ve not been practising as much yoga is because I’ve been busy. Squeezing in such a long practice every day was making yoga into a struggle, and not something I loved. So I chose to let go of the struggle and adopt a more realistic, manageable yoga practice for a few weeks.

And this goes back to something that a yoga teacher said in class a while ago which resonated with me. In the warm up she encouraged us to, “Allow yourself to be struggle-free.” During the initial, gentler sections of the class this was fine. But then later, in a fairly intense core-strengthening sequence, she reiterated the guidance. “Be struggle-free. Be easy.” I was skeptical about the possibility of being “struggle-free” while doing Forrest Yoga abs (try them – they’re brutal). But weirdly, it worked. Not because I stopped trying, but because I realised how much of my suffering was caused by my mental battle. I was surprised that I could still work hard, and feel the intensity of that (which I definitely did), but without struggling, and therefore without hating it.

I’ve been experimenting with this quite a lot in the rest of my life too, and it’s been helpful. There are two ways that I try to apply the “struggle-free” philosophy. The first is that if I’m doing too much, or not enjoying something I’m doing, I reflect on whether I really need to be doing it, or whether it’s a self-imposed struggle that I could find a way around.

The second way acknowledges that sometimes there are things I have to experience which don’t feel particularly comfortable. Let’s say I need to have a challenging conversation with someone, or I’m anxious about the outcome of decision. I’ve been reminding myself at these times to, “Be easy.” Depending on the circumstances, maybe this means I need to relax, to detach, to surrender or to let things go and trust that it will work out.

And I’ve found that the more I let myself be struggle-free, the more things do seem to work out. Not necessarily to start with, but in the end they have a tendency to come good. Because actually even if I really think I know what the best outcome should be, I don’t really know what’s for the best. Things that I might initially perceive as failures can give rise to other, better opportunities.

None of this is to say that you shouldn’t make an effort. You can still apply yourself fully, and commit and work hard at whatever it is you’re doing. And sometimes you do need to make a stand, and do things that are tough. But you can also make the conscious decision not to struggle with them. Even in the midst of things that feel horrible, like abs workouts or relationship break ups, it can be possible to find a kind of acceptance and peace in surrender to the situation. Most of the suffering is in the struggle. If you can let go of that, things get a lot easier.

So this week, my challenge to everyone, myself included is to let yourself be struggle-free. Drop something from your “To do,” list, find an easier way or let go of a personal battle. Let me know if it makes a difference.

Why Yoga is Still Amazing (Even When You Don’t Do As Much)

yoga still amazingSince I’ve been back in the UK, my life has changed a lot. I’ve been working in school again, teaching yoga classes around Nottingham, writing and catching up with friends and family. It’s been great. But I’ve gone from attending 90 minute yoga classes every morning before breakfast, plus more self-practice later in the day, to squeezing in a little movement and meditation before I go to work in the morning, and doing a longer practice about 3 times per week.

Initially I worried about this. I thought I wasn’t doing enough, and that my yoga practice would suffer. But I’ve realised that like everything, my yoga practice goes in waves. Sometimes I’ll practise more, sometimes less. Right now my priority isn’t to practise yoga for 3 hours every day and that’s ok. The lessons from my yoga mat are still having a huge impact on my life. Here’s how yoga is still amazing, even when you don’t do as much:

  1. It makes you more patient. I noticed this while I was reading with a student at school. It was a long session on a hot afternoon, and I know that prior to yoga this is exactly the kind of thing that would have had me clock-watching and counting down until the end of the day. But instead I was able to let myself get absorbed in the activity. I noticed my impatience, but chose not to engage with it, and as a result ended up really enjoying the lesson, rather than wishing it away.
  2. It helps you enjoy people’s company more. Instead of always rushing on to the next thing, I’ve found myself much more able to just relax and enjoy conversations and spending time with people. Before I would always be racing to do something “productive”, but now I’m valuing the time to talk to people. Yoga’s also taught me to be less judgemental, which again, helps with the whole liking being around people thing…
  3. It helps you to be less anxious. I’m naturally a very future-focused person, but at the moment I only have the vaguest, most flexible plans for my life beyond the next lot of yoga retreats I’m teaching. And I’m really happy about that. I’m trusting a lot more that the future holds great things, and that when things don’t work out as I might have hoped it’s because there’s something better in store. I’m finding that this less controlling, more open approach is letting me enjoy my life a lot more.
  4. It makes you happier. I really do credit my meditation and my yoga practice for the fact that day to day, I feel so much happier than I ever did before. I’m aware that I have negative and destructive thoughts sometimes, but I know I don’t have to give them any power over me.
  5. It helps you to find your balance. I’m so much more aware of the degree to which I need activity versus relaxation, freedom versus security and social time versus quiet time. My life right now is busy and varied, but I also have some of the stability and calm that I’d been craving in my last few months of travelling. And I’m much more confident in my own ability to regain balance when things get out of kilter.

Although I might not be spending as much time on my mat, the influence of my yoga practice has extended into all aspects of my life, and I think that’s a really good thing. I know I’ll be on my mat a lot more when I leave for my next yoga retreats, and for now I’m happy to let my priorities shift more towards my teaching and writing and connecting with the people around me.

Wishing you a lovely week, whether your yoga practice is a bit of mindful breathing, or a hardcore daily vinyasa class! Both can be amazing.

Love Jade xxx

The Unexpected Difference Meditation Makes

Difference meditation makesI wrote last week about my own meditation practice, and what exactly I do. Those who have read this, will know that I don’t do anything particularly impressive. My routine is basically “Sit still, be quiet” for 10 minutes every morning. But despite its simplicity, the difference meditation makes for me is huge. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

I’m less reactive.

It seems to me that meditation has opened up space in my mind, so that when things happen, I have time to process them and make a choice about how to respond. That’s not to say I don’t still have emotional reaction, because I do, at least mentally. I’m just less likely to act on it before I’ve thought it through. For example, if someone says something that upsets me, in the past I might have gone straight down a mental avenue of “WTF. How dare they? Clearly they hate me. I think I hate them too. This is a disaster.” Whereas now I might manage a slightly more reasonable, “Ouch. That hurt. I wonder what they meant by that. Is it worth trying to find out?” 

I’m more aware of my thoughts.

Meditation helps me to tune into where my mind’s at each day, and to realise the sorts of thoughts that pop uninvited into my head all the time. It’s definitely not about emptying my mind – I really can’t do that – but I have developed a better understanding of how my mind works. If there’s something that’s worrying me, I know how much my mind is going to keep bringing it up. Although I can’t stop that, I can practise engaging with it less.

I’m learning to slow down.

My natural tendency is to be in a rush with everything. I want to do everything quicker and more efficiently, so that I can get more done. But often, I don’t know what it is that I want to do after all the stuff is done. And of course the stuff is never all done. So taking the time each morning to “do nothing” is an exercise in disciplining myself to stop mindlessly racing through life, and slow down. It means I’m more inclined to step back in the morning and consider my intentions for the day. It also means I’m more likely to slow down during the day and actually enjoy what I’m doing. Even if that does mean it takes a bit longer.

Stuff doesn’t seem to matter as much.

I spent most of my teenage years and my early twenties lurching from crisis to crisis. I was always caught up in the drama of whatever was going on right then, and it all felt so important. One of the things that meditation (and maybe getting older too?) has taught me is how transient everything is. Thought, feelings, situations. Everything rises, and everything falls away. That’s not to say that I don’t care about things. I do, a lot. I like being passionate about life, and I feel things intensely.  I’m just more aware that even when things seem unbearable, I will get over it, and it won’t feel like this forever. “This too shall pass,” has become one of my favourite mantras.

I’m reining in my own judgemental tendencies.

This last one is more of a confession than anything. Sometimes the thing that makes it most obvious to me that my mindset has changed through meditation is when I recognise elements of how I used to think in other people. I’ll see someone get angry because their bus is 10 minutes late, and realise I’m less impatient than I used to be. I realise judging the behaviour of others is not a desirable quality, but at least I’m aware I’m doing it, right? Joking aside though, becoming a judgemental prick is not something I’m trying to encourage in myself, but it is kind of interesting to observe.

I’d love to know whether you’ve noticed any changes after trying meditation?

Have a great week!

Love Jade xxx

Five Reasons To Start Writing Today

Start writingIt’s no secret that along with yoga, writing is my passion. I believe that everyone has it in them to be a writer. Especially you.

Here are five great reasons to start writing today:

  1. Writing is cheaper than a therapist. There’s nothing quite like writing for getting to the bottom of how you’re feeling. Whether you’re confused, sad or angry, one of the most empowering things to do is to sit down and write everything that comes into your head. Keep writing until you’ve worked through what’s troubling you, typed your way out of stuck thought patterns or come up with a plan of action. Some people even find it helpful to burn what they’ve written at the end, as a way of symbolically letting go of the “story” they’ve been telling themselves.
  2. Writing is the ultimate creative act. When you write, you have the power to create worlds that can be whatever you want them to be. Unconstrained by finances, resources or practical limitations, your imagination is free to construct scenarios that bear as much or as little relation to your actual world as you like. Ever wonder what would have happened if you’d married your childhood sweetheart, succumbed to a gambling addiction or discovered you have a superpower? Write it and see. Through your writing, you can live out other lives, explore crazy possibilities, and bring life to ideas that you might shy away from in the actual world.
  3. Writing helps you to manifest your dreams. Along similar lines to the idea of creating dream worlds, start writing about your dream life, as if it’s already here, and already true. For instance, “I am so happy to live in a gorgeous penthouse apartment by the sea,” etc. As well as helping you to clarify what you want (which many people forget to take the time to do), it lets you begin to create the feelings and experience of being in your ideal future. This brings you a huge step closer to creating it.
  4. Writing is a tool to connect with others. Conversation is great, but as a tool for connecting with other people, writing has very special qualities. For a start, your reader can choose the time they read your words, and they can take them in at their own pace, engaging with them exactly when they are ready to. They can read, re-read, backtrack and skim the text at their leisure. Writing also gives you the opportunity to construct your message carefully, really considering and crafting your communication so that you make sure that its impact matches your intention. How often are we able achieve that precision when we speak?
  5. Writing lets you express yourself. No one else on this planet has had the exact life experiences you have had. As such, just by existing, you already have unique insights and ideas that are worth expressing. No one out there will put it exactly like you, and once you start writing, who knows what value your unique take on the world will have for someone else? You might reassure, challenge, encourage, provoke or inspire people.

So many people want to write, but they put it off, because they don’t think they have anything to say. But particularly when you’re new to writing, you don’t know what you have to say until you start. Try free writing – sitting for 10 minutes each day with a timer and writing whatever comes into your head, without stopping, censoring or editing yourself at all. I challenge you to do this every day for a week and see what comes up.

Even better, come and join us at my Yoga and Writing Retreat at Suryalila Retreat Centre in Spain, 2nd to 9th July 2016. You’ll have the opportunity to explore all five of these reasons through writing workshops, with daily yoga sessions to help unlock your creativity and awaken your inner writer. Coupled with delicious food, stunning surroundings and Spanish sunshine, it’s going to be a magical week, and I’d love you to come join us.

Have a great week, and let me know how you find the writing challenge!

Jade xxx

 

3 Steps to Falling In Love With Life

Falling in love with life

For a long time, I resisted meditation. In part, I was worried that meditating too much would make me complacent, I’d develop an attitude of resignation, and basically give up on life. I was wrong (shocker). This is what I’ve learnt about how mindfulness and meditation can be a stepping stone to falling in love with life instead.

3 Steps to Falling In Love With Life

1. Be here.

We can’t fall in love with life if we aren’t here experiencing it. When we practise mindfulness, we become more aware of what’s happening right now. This doesn’t just mean being present during moments that we enjoy, like seeing the stars on a clear night, or being engrossed in a great conversation with someone (although that’s important). It’s also about developing awareness during the times we usually switch off, like when we’re waiting for the kettle to boil or driving to work. Even more challenging, it means becoming aware during the uncomfortable times, the times when we would usually try to avoid or resist our own experience. For example, noticing our reaction when someone says something that triggers anger or sadness in us, or checking in with what happens to our minds when we’re in a yoga pose that we really don’t like. Pausing to actively get connected with what’s happening is the first step to falling in love with all that life has to offer.

2. Accept it.

Awareness will only get you so far, if you’re still feeling aversion to the “bad” stuff and clinging to the “good”. Life will never be only full of pleasurable things. If you expect it to be, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Sorry, but you are.  Take falling in love with someone. The butterflies, passion and excitement of a blossoming relationship can also bring anxiety, fear and pain. The more we cling to pleasurable experiences and resist the uncomfortable ones, the more we suffer when uncomfortable experiences inevitably arise. The trick (and it’s not easy!) is to try to accept it all. The good and the bad. The reason that meditation helps with this is because meditation trains us to cultivate an attitude of equanimity to whatever arises in our minds. If we can do this in our minds, we can apply it to our lives. Read this beautiful poem for more on this.

3. Embrace it.

This is all very well and good, but do any of us actually want an “acceptable” life? Is that our highest aim? Surely not. Don’t we want to be enthralled by life, and passionate about it? Don’t we want to fall in love with life? If so, then acceptance is not enough. The next step is whole-heartedly embracing all that happens. To do this requires trust. It means we need to let go of our judgements, and recognise that we never really know what is good and what is bad. It’s all just “stuff” and if we embrace it, it all has its value and its beauty. This is what it means to surrender. It’s not about giving up – it’s about opening up. That way we are free to do our work, whatever that is – we can dream, act, love and create. And the best bit is that if we really cultivate this attitude, we let go of attachment to the outcome. The result is no longer so important, because we trust the process, and embrace all it brings.

None of this is easy, and it’s a lot to get your head around. But given that we can control so little of what happens in the universe, actually, the one thing we can control is our mindset. Taking these steps is by far the most effective strategy I’ve found so far to fall in love with life (and to falling in  love with anything else for that matter). 

  1. Be here.
  2. Accept it.
  3. Embrace it.

Let me know what you think?

Jade xxx

7 Ways To Make Yourself Feel Better

feel betterI’ll be honest, I wrote this list for myself. It’s my “go to” list of things that make me feel better, and I’m sharing because maybe some of them will help you too. And yes, I know that there’s a lot to be said for letting yourself feel sad, and not fighting it, but there’s also a lot to be said for doing something proactive. I reckon taking action to help yourself feel better is usually preferable to dissolving in a puddle of self-pity/ wine/ vegan mint chocolate chip ice cream (been there). So here goes:

  1. Write it out. Journalling helps us to process what’s going on in our heads. I write what I’m thinking until I’ve written my way through the confusion, and have settled on a course of action.
  2. Make a gratitude list. Some of mine seem ridiculous: “I am grateful that at least being stuck here means I have time to meditate,” etc, but it doesn’t matter. The act of focusing on gratitude changes your thinking.
  3. Reach out to someone. Call a friend, send someone a message, send 15 people a message if necessary. Human beings are social creatures. Connect with more of them. It helps.
  4. Exercise. Walk, run, dance, do whatever, but get yourself moving. The key is getting out of your head and into your body.
  5. Do yoga. Even better than number 4. Here are my suggestions for yoga to make you feel amazing.
  6. Watch some Tony Robbins on Youtube. I find him super-cringey, but I cannot watch him talk without feeling more positive. Weird, but it works.
  7. “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.” This one’s courtesy of Liz Taylor, and who am I to argue?

Another confession – this list was going to be 10 items long, but I ran out of ideas, and besides, 7 seems like a good number. But by all means, make your own list and make it as long as you like. Please share your ideas in the comments below… I’ll probably need them at some point too.

Lots of love and happy feelings,

Jade xxx

What does it mean to love yourself?

Love yourself I’ve struggled with the concept of self-love in the past. It seemed to me to be self-indulgent and even narcissistic. And, I thought, surely if you just decide to love yourself,  you’ll lose any motivation to develop or grow?

But lately, I’ve had some great conversations with people who have helped me to see the advice “love yourself” completely differently. I also signed up for a one month trial of EkhartYoga online classes (the best one euro I’ve spent this month – if you haven’t tried it, sign up now. It’s brilliant. Seriously.) and watched some thought-provoking talks about loving yourself.

What I’ve realised is that my discomfort around loving myself came from my misconceptions about what it meant.  My new understanding is that self-love means shifting your attitude towards yourself, dropping the negative self-talk and embracing all aspects of yourself – the light and the dark.

Here’s what self-love isn’t:

  1. It’s not self indulgence.

I associated loving myself with spending hours having luxurious baths, painting my toenails, and buying expensive face creams. Which was fine, but seemed kind of superficial. No matter how nice these things are, I was unconvinced that they could be the key to lasting happiness. But I’ve come to think of these activities as self-care, rather than self-love. Self-care is an important aspect of loving yourself, but it’s not the whole story. Self-love requires a more profound mindset shift.

  1. It’s not narcissism.

I thought loving yourself implied believing that you’re awesome – and far more awesome than anyone else. But that’s not the case. Loving yourself and embracing all that you are does not mean thinking that you are better than anyone else. If anything it’s the opposite. It means seeing all of your “flaws”, and annoying behaviours  and choosing to love yourself anyway. When you develop that compassion for yourself, you expand your capacity to be compassionate towards others. Practising self-love trains you in how to see every aspect of another person, the good and the bad, and loving them anyway.

  1. It’s not complacency.

This was the scariest aspect of self-love for me. I worried that if I loved myself as I was, I would lose all motivation to develop and grow. Because there’s still so much I want to work on, and learn and progress with. I didn’t want to lose my drive. But actually, self-love and acceptance doesn’t have to mean thinking that you have nowhere else to go in the future. It means recognising and deeply accepting where you are right now. And that place of deep acceptance and love for yourself is the perfect foundation from which to evolve. The criticism that we inflict upon ourselves is more likely to promote self-punishment and destructive behaviour than growth.

The hardest thing about self-love?

When you realise that self-love is not about indulgence, narcissism or complacency, it becomes a much less scary prospect. And the hardest thing then is that like any shift in mindset, it requires effort to retrain your brain. Until it becomes habitual, you need to consciously choose more loving thoughts towards yourself.

But how do you actually do this?

I like being practical about things, and having tangible strategies to try out. So I’m sharing Esther Ekhart’s advice, which I’ve personally found really useful. She says that when you do something “wrong” and you’re feeling frustrated, annoyed or upset with yourself, stop. Recognise that if you had known or had the ability in that moment to do it better, you would have done. See yourself from the outside, acknowledge and accept all the good and the bad, and meet it with compassion. Repeat the phrase,“I see you, and I love you,” to yourself.

It’s likely to feel strange, and maybe uncomfortable at first, but give it it a go. Even if it’s just for this week, see what difference it makes to love yourself.

Let me know how you get on!

Lots of love, Jade xxx

Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it. Whatever you are feeling, love yourself for feeling it – Thaddeus Golas

When Not To Follow Your Heart

Follow Your HeartAfter making one too many bad decisions that I justified by saying I was “following my heart”, I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes you shouldn’t follow your heart. I suspect that’s going to be a controversial statement, and I’m open to the debate, but here are my thoughts on it…

 

What does “following your heart” actually mean?

Let’s be clear about this. Your heart does not make decisions. Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood around your body. It’s incredibly important. Vital in fact. But it is not a decision-making tool.

So why do we talk about following your heart?

Our heart is the area that we associate with emotions, particularly love. It is what we connect with a feeling state, as opposed to a thinking state. We can also use the term “heart” to mean “the innermost or central part of something.” So when we talk about following our heart, what we perhaps mean is that we are making choices that come from a place of deep emotional longing.

What’s so wrong with this?

Nothing. There are definitely times when you feel something so powerfully that you know it is the right thing to do. Those are the decisions you make that you throw yourself into, whole-heartedly and they can be pivotal moments in your life. I’ve definitely made those kind of decisions. Deciding to turn down a promotion to travel and teach yoga instead was definitely one of them. There were plenty of logical, financial and sensible reasons why I shouldn’t have done that, but actually that way of life was not making me happy. So taking the risk and “following my heart” was a good call.

However, I have also been in situations where I know rationally I am making a really poor decision, but I’ve justified it by saying, “I know it doesn’t make sense, but I’m following my heart.”

I read an great article recently by Steph at Blissbombed, who wrote that,

When you’ve been in a dark place, the heart and intuition can be a bit off-kilter. It wouldn’t be uncommon to think, “I should leave this situation, but my heart is leading me to stay out of compassion for [insert bad situation].” If you’ve been ignoring or betraying your intuition for a while, it loses its voice and becomes warped.

This resonated a lot with me. Sometimes the feeling of wanting to do what you know is wrong can be really strong. This is especially true if it’s driven by fear – especially fear of being alone or fear of failing. People who stay in damaging relationships, or abandon projects that scare or challenge them may justify it by saying they’re following their heart. 

When shouldn’t you follow your heart then?

If you find yourself with a heartfelt longing to do something, check in with your head. This doesn’t have to be a case of “head” versus “heart”. If you’re making a wise choice, often you can find a way which is perfectly in tune with both. In the example of me leaving my job, yes, there were financial reasons to stay, but I also knew the alternative could be financially viable. What’s more, my “head” knew as well as my “heart” that my current situation was not fulfilling me.

So there are a few questions you can try asking yourself. Steph at Blissbombed suggests this one:

What is the most self-respecting thing I can do now?

I’d also recommend considering:

Is this longing driven by fear? And if so, how could I face this fear rather than letting it steer the course of my life?

and

What is the most healing action I can take now?

When you follow these kinds of questions, you’re being far more honest with yourself than using an evasive “I know it’s bad, but I’m following my heart.” Sometimes, your heart can be seriously confused. Tune into your intelligence, your knowledge and your wisdom, and you’ll find the rest follows.

I’d love to know what you think to this – what are your experiences of following your heart?

With (genuine!) heartfelt love,

Jade xxx

 

I’m just being honest…

Just being honest

Is there anything wrong with telling the odd white lie? I wrote my last blog about how I’m trying to minimise the lies I tell, but I’m still working this one out…

Here I’m talking specifically about the white lies you tell to protect someone’s feelings. The “Your new haircut looks great,” or “No, I didn’t think the cake tasted burnt,” or “I loved the present you chose for me,” kind of lies.

A quick Google search left me more confused (yes, I use the internet as my moral compass. And what?). Some people believe that protecting someone’s feelings is paramount, while others take a hardline approach – all lying is bad because it presents the recipient with a false or distorted representation of reality.

I kind of get this, but I also know that some of the most hurtful things I’ve ever heard were said by someone who was “just being honest”. To me, when honesty becomes an excuse for cruelty, something has gone horribly wrong.

In terms of the yogic principles I try to live by, ahimsa, or non-violence comes before satya or truth. Therefore it is as important not to do harm with your words as it is to be truthful. Perhaps my Nana was onto something all along when she told us, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

It’s also worth remembering that your opinion is not the same as the truth. My opinion might be that you should not have cut your hair, but that’s not to say that this is true. It’s just my perception, based on my personal preferences, experience and ideas.  Is my opinion in this case particularly useful to you? No. So maybe I don’t need to share it.

If someone directly asks you what you think of something, particularly if it’s something personal to them, it’s worth trying to work out what they want from you. Are they actually asking for your opinion or just looking for affirmation that they are good enough? Once you know that, you can figure out how best to support them with your answer.

That’s not to say that you should never speak the truth for fear of hurting someone. Sometimes it is important to give someone constructive feedback for example. But I do think this can be given with sensitivity and kindness if the ultimate intention is to help them.

So to sum up, I’m still working this out, but I reckon if you are tempted to tell a white lie, consider…

Is it necessary? Would it be better to say nothing at all? Or can you find something to say which is honest? What will ultimately help the person most in this situation?

But my final thoughts on this are summed up by this quote, which I love…

“If you have to choose between being kind and being right, choose being kind and you will always be right.”

The importance of being honest

When was the last time you told a lie? Why did you tell it? And what effect did it have on you, and the person you told it to?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about honesty, because as a yoga student and teacher I try to practise satya, or truthfulness.  I’ve also been inspired by the book Radical Honesty. This book argues that the illnesses and stress we suffer from are caused by us not being honest – with ourselves or with others.

So, in the spirit of being honest, I’ve worked out that the lies I’ve told in the past have generally fallen into one of the following categories:

White lies –  I’m defining these as the lies you tell to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings. “Of course your new haircut suits you.”

Guilty conscience – These are the lies you tell if you feel threatened in some way by the truth. Maybe you want to avoid getting into trouble, damaging a relationship or simply looking bad. “I’m sure I checked that there was enough milk in the fridge before I left.”

Storytelling – Ever catch yourself adding details to a story to make it funnier, or exaggerating to emphasise a point? These are the little lies that enhance the narrative to suit our purpose. “I’d literally been working for twelve hours straight, when…”

Hiding your feelings – Sometimes you might lie to hide your own hurt, discomfort or even happiness. “No don’t worry – of course I wasn’t upset when you said…”

How can you be more truthful?

The last three categories are the lies I’m trying to minimise. They’re generally motivated by ego, and thinking that your actions, behaviours or feelings aren’t ok just as they are and need hiding or distorting. They are sustained by the belief that being yourself is not good enough.

Holding yourself accountable for your actions is intrinsic in living more truthfully. I’m finding the more I own my mistakes, my weaknesses and my flaws the better I feel, and actually the more I trust myself to do the right thing. As for storytelling, I remind myself to be as fair and truthful in what I say as possible. Even if that means the story isn’t quite as funny…

But I’ve found the hiding your feelings lies to be the hardest to avoid. I don’t like admitting that I’m hurt or sad. It’s one of the reasons sometimes I find writing this blog so hard, because I try to always write with honesty, and that can leave me feeling vulnerable. But I think maybe these are the most important. If you can’t be honest with others about how you feel, then you’re only allowing them to get to know a representation of you. Maybe you even start to believe in that representation too for a while, but ultimately I don’t think you can hide from yourself and be truly happy. And when you’re honest with others, you encourage them to be honest with you, hopefully leading to more transparent and genuine relationships.

Being honest starts with being honest with yourself. Every time you are tempted to lie, or every time you do, ask yourself, “Why do I want to say that?” And if it’s because you believe you’re not good enough as you are or you’re ashamed of something you’ve done, take a deep breath and try speaking the truth instead. You might be surprised at the difference it makes.

What about the white lies? Watch this space for a whole other blog post to come on those…

Wishing you all a week of courage and honesty!

-Jade xxx

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