Episode 5. 'Bab - Yow car see the wood f'the trees!'

'Study the hard while it's easy.
Do big things while they're small.
The hardest jobs in the world start out easy,
the great affairs of the world start small.
(Excerpt from Tao Te Ching. Lesson 68)

Once, I had many great, older people in my life, to give me advice. They say 'youth is wasted on the young.'  So is advice. I used to hear all kinds of sayings that I thought were only the realm of daft old people. And of course they were daft - because I was young and knew everything!

I often used to get stuck in my thinking, and occasionally still do, 'Bab, yow car see the wood f'the trees.'  (Sweetheart, you can't see the wood for the trees.) This was my Dad's way of highlighting to me, that I was getting muddled, overwhelmed or simply - missing the point. He'd then tell me to 'Let the world turn round a few times' before taking a course of action whilst upset. Psychologists have proven that negative or very high emotion causes the decision-making process, which requires rational thinking, to be deeply affected. Muddled thinking led me to a muddled life. Not achieving goals, because I didn't know what goals I had. They were mangled up in  a muddle.

Leading a chaotic life led me to more poor decisions and then when it felt like it couldn't get worse -  it did. Enter stage left: Inner Idiot. Well timed as usual, to taunt me more with how badly I was feeling about myself. Telling me how I'd never be anything other than miserable. My advice: Inner Idiots have to be shown the door. That's not to say, don't exercise caution, wisdom or rational thinking, but Inner Idiots are liars and will make you believe all sorts of rubbish that simply isn't true.

I wish I'd fully understood all this during certain times of my life, through traumatic events and mental health issues. It would have saved me from some of the catastrophes that befell me. However, I have learned from them, so on a positive note, my wisdom increased. 

The excerpt above is from Tao Te Ching and was written around 2,500 years ago. So, great advice from folk has been around a long time. I'm very interested in philosophy, it saves me reinventing the wheel. The word 'philosophy' used to engender in me, the image of some ancient, stuffy Oxford Don, who had never seen anything of life, but Oxford's Dreaming Spires and a brown room full of dusty, forgotten books. That again was Inner Idiot feeding me false information. Philosophy is merely wisdom. (Middle English from Old French, filosofie, via Latin philosophia, from Greek PHILO- sophos wise. Oxford English Dictionary 1995. Oxford's cropping up a lot today, and I need to get a new dictionary.)

I like to read wise teachings, from Buddha, the Stoics and Lao Tzu. (This is not exclusive - you should see my reading list!)  These were once all living, breathing folks who learned something about life. They learned that to cope with life's difficulties, we have to be in charge of our own minds  and thoughts, and not place our happiness in the pocket of another. 

My wonderful Dad passed away 2 years, 4 months, 1 week and 2 days ago, at the time of writing this. I thought I would just be sobbing my heart out, for what was left of my own life. I expected to feel terrible and heartbroken all of the time. Of course that all happened for a quite a while. Then, I got physically ill. I never expected to have flu, sinus infections, dizzy spells , bronchitis and laryngitis for months and months. When I finally told my doctor that Dad had passed, he immediately said, 'That explains it!' and instantly advised me to get bereavement counselling. I ignored him. Angry because he seemingly, wasn't taking me seriously. My illnesses continued. Finally I decided to take the advice. My counsellor was wonderful. He fully explained why you get physically ill when bereaved. I did the work. I found a better way. I heard my Dad's words about not seeing the wood for the trees. I smiled.

It's important to go and ask someone for help, with something you are struggling with. It's just the same as asking a mechanic to fix your car. It's a rational, sane and logical step. Don't stay alone in your problem, with it's full weight. Why do you think my lovely old Nan used to say 'A trouble shared is a trouble halved'? (I'm laughing at myself now for not listening sooner.)

Recently, I realised that  I had become overloaded with 'stuff' (It's dull. You've got better things to do yourself than read my to-do list.) I started to feel like I was drowning in 'stuff' and my attempts at writing lists, planning, using a diary weren't helping  my peace of mind. I was starting to feel stressed from feeling overloaded. I battled on for a while, then decided to ask for help. I now have a Life Coach/Mentor, who is wonderful, and  taking no shit from my Inner Idiot. He is training me to solve the problems I presented him with, for myself. I already feel much more relaxed, productive and happy.

Whatever it is you are struggling with, seek appropriate help. It is not shameful to admit your knowledge of something is lacking, that you need to update your skill set, to learn a new way to help yourself. It does require you to do the work though. There's nothing to lose other than ridding yourself of whatever is troubling you. It'll make you happier.

One of my sayings is 'no education is a waste.' Everything we experience, is something to learn from, developing techniques and tools to enable us to help ourselves and to build wisdom. For me, solving my problems in a satisfactory and meaningful way gives me peace of mind. I feel happier when I know I'm progressing. This is my philosophy. What's yours?

© Gillian Cullis 21/06/2018


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