To conform or to transform


 

10. DiamondRunning businesses that supply therapy in Aberdeen and counselling in Dundee when I’ve spent the last 12 years of my life in London and the previous 10 overseas in Jakarta, Hong Kong and Australia, there’s not much about my life so far where it could be said that ‘she’s a conformist’. It wasn’t always that way though.

 

Brought up in Africa, as a child my first 6 years were mainly spent in the company of my brothers and sister. We had similar values and there were few unknowns. I felt safe. We spent 2 hours every morning being home schooled by my strict mother. And almost every afternoon riding bikes, hunting lizards and swimming in pools and rivers.

 

When my parents returned to the UK to allow us to be schooled formally everything changed. I’d never seen so many children, all dressed in uniform, in one room together doing the same activity. As a shy girl with a stutter, I stressed about how I would ever learn ‘the code’ to fit in. I could already read, write, do numbers, reason, run, swim, catch a ball – it wasn’t the lessons that threw me. It was the playground. How did groups form? Who decided what games to play and who could join in? Who was kind and protective who was to be avoided (I shed some tears learning that one).

 

Fitting in meant learning who followed what rules. Who was clever, sporty, popular and who were the rule-breakers the influencers or the coasters. And it was important to conform in those days because people who were too different were teased, bullied and ostracised.

 

I’m glad to say that now as a parent and having had the experience of 5 different UK schools I can confidently say they are farer, more diverse and more accepting places for our children to become a bigger reflection of who they were born to be. That’s a good thing. Our world is bursting at the seams with 7.3 billion people, none identical. They are held together by differences, similarities, choices, travel, change and progress.

 

It’s a proper stretch for our present leaders of countries, schools, businesses, faith groups and families to let the next generation express themselves in the diverse ways they do. It must be tempting to encourage (or bribe or force) our young (and old) men and women to conform – how much easier to manage, to create policies around, to know outcomes. Too much conformity  though and we’ll lose the ability to find the creative solutions required for our human race to thrive.

 

At the core of both conformity and transformation are the traits of gentleness, tolerance and love. Applying these regardless of gender, faith, ethnicity, riches, poverty, education, self expression, family make up and physical or mental ability is where the breakthroughs lie.

 

It’s uncomfortable to live in this era of unknown quantities. Trust me that you’re not the only one struggling with the little questions (will I have a job next year; will my family stay together; why are my adult children back in my house) or the bigger ones (will there be a burnt up planet for my children’s children; when do I tolerate and when do I speak out; are free will, free speech and free expression always a good idea?).

 

It’s important to find a Healthy Chat, a therapist & a philosophy to up-skill yourself in these fast-changing times. It’s the boldness to ask questions that builds a confidence to both conform and transform; to be anchored as you ascend.

 

 

 

Jennifer Broadley is the founder of www.HealthyChat.co.uk. Since 2012 she has worked full time delivering therapeutic, life-changing conversations from her private practices in Aberdeen, Dundee and the north of Scotland. She additionally works with UK clients by phone and European clients by skype. In 2002 Jennifer set up an executive coaching company supporting the continued high performance of business leaders and entrepreneurs working for medium and large companies – she is still active in this sector through www.JenniferBroadley.com.

 

Jennifer was brought up in West Africa, educated in Scotland and lived and worked in Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia before returning to a London base in 1997. She and her daughter now live on the UK's east coast, where she continues to coach and write. Jennifer is a writer and a published author. Her first book 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®, is available on www.Amazon.co.uk. For therapy or executive coaching enquiries please email, message or call Jennifer via her websites.

 



Successful divorce – is it doable?


14. respectful divorce

 

Best together? Best apart? Stay married? Get divorced? These are not assumptions I make when a husband, wife or partner comes to talk to me (either separately or together). Relationships are extraordinarily unique things and two (or more) people can be in one, be committed, yet still have entirely different perspectives about longevity, intimacy, sharing, friendship, ownership, control, roles and contribution within a household.

 

We learn models of what makes a ‘good’ relationship from what we observe when we’re growing up – parents, older family, couples we know from church, school or clubs. Possibly without conscious thought we hear stories and layer assumption after assumption onto ‘marriage’ or ‘living together’ and progress into adult life with those assumptions relatively unchallenged. Rarely do they match up when we get to the point of choosing a partner and moving to co-habiting with them.

 

The concept of ‘forever’ is hugely tied up with a successful relationships. But is that really the case? Or can we put this in a personal choice category along with: quantity of time spent with each other; common interests; matching faiths or philosophies; cultural or socio-economily similar backgrounds. These topics could be highly relevant or not at all – there’s really no right or wrong answer.

 

Some of the most common assumptions I hear are:

  • Yes, they’re happily married – they’ve been together for 30 years
  • They have 4 children and one on the way – they’re so committed
  • She’s his wife – of course she knows how he feels
  • Women are just better at nurturing and raising children
  • They must be happy … they never argue
  • They got divorced – that’s a failed relationships

This list is inexhaustible because no people who choose to live a chapter of their life together can ever fully know how that’s going to play out over the months, years and decades to come. One of the biggest challenges to a partnership that I see is when a person or couple reference their success against other couples, then register dissatisfaction because their relationship isn’t as supportive, happy, exciting or authentic as the couple they ‘think they know’.

 

It’s important to note that:

  • generally couples don’t disclose or dissect  their full experiences with other couples (there perhaps isn’t the time, isn’t the right trust, or there can be a sense of not wanting to be seen to be ‘failing’)
  • most couples are happy to share the fun, special or unusual event or experiences of their relationship – and not the routine, painful or challenging bits
  • often the people we seek advice from (older family members or friends) are having or have had similar challenges within their relationship. They may still together because they’ve developed tolerance (not a bad thing) but perhaps not always a deep understanding. They’re perhaps not fully equipped (or expert) then to offer you a well-thought-through strategy that will turn your relationship around

 

Successful relationships have a life cycle – they might well have ups and downs be destined for ‘forever’. They may equally have ups and downs and reach a point were one or both parties no longer see their futures together. Either way it’s the respect, the hope and the ability to communicate that will ultimately define whether successful divorce follows or whether successful togetherness continues.

 

 

Jennifer Broadley is the founder of www.HealthyChat.co.uk. Since 2012 she has worked full time delivering therapeutic, life-changing conversations from her private practices in Aberdeen, Dundee and the north of Scotland. She additionally works with UK clients by phone and European clients by skype. In 2002 Jennifer set up an executive coaching company supporting the continued high performance of business leaders and entrepreneurs working for medium and large companies – she is still active in this sector through www.JenniferBroadley.com.

 

Jennifer was brought up in West Africa, educated in Scotland and lived and worked in Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia before returning to a London base in 1997. She and her daughter now live on the UK's east coast, where she continues to coach and write. Jennifer is a writer and a published author. Her first book 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®, is available on www.Amazon.co.uk. For therapy or executive coaching enquiries please email, message or call Jennifer via her websites.

 



Enough with tolerating


38. Freedom

 

This afternoon I chose to leave work a little early and go down to the pool for some exercise and some mind clearing. After 30 minutes and with 64 lengths done and dusted (that’s a mile exactly if you’re wondering about the random number) I headed to the showering area.

 

As I was washing my hair a woman with a young son and daughter pushed the buttons of the showers opposite. Whilst the mum and son quietly got on with their shampooing, the daughter felt the water on her back and said ‘burning, burning, burning …’. Strangely though, she didn’t step out from underneath the heat of the shower. She stayed in there chanting ‘burning, burning, burning …’ over and over again as her mum encouraged her to ‘get on with it, get your hair washed’ and re-pressed the water button for more.

 

Clearly the child wasn’t genuinely burning or anywhere near it, but it got me thinking …

 

How many of us tolerate ongoing discomfort on a daily basis without taking action to change things? How many people speak to friends and family about how demoralising is their job, or how disrespectful is their relationship, then get up the next day and tolerate it all over again. How many adults suffer weeks, months and years of repetitive, joy-less ‘burning, burning, burning …’ in their life expecting someone else to show up and rescue them? Far too many is the answer.

 

The dictionary defines tolerating as ‘allowing the existence, occurrence, or practice of something that one dislikes or disagrees with without interference’. So why do we do that? Where do we learn that that’s ok?

 

In my experience there are 2 main reasons: the first is that we’ve seen tolerating modelled to us from a young age (parents in an unhappy marriage for example) or society tells us there’s one right way (‘divorce would be failing’) and we haven’t thought to challenge those models; and the second is that tolerating creeps up on us so slowly and over such an extended amount of time that we’ve forgotten that the contrasting experience really exists.

 

Whatever the reason, if you’re reading this and you’re an adult tolerating stressful, depressing, disrespectful days on end, then it’s time to stop it. And the first step’s already occurred – you’ve noticed. Sometimes that’s all that needs to happen because then you’ll begin to spot that choices are available to you.

 

Choosing not to tolerate means making a choice for change.

 

And change doesn’t have to be sudden, severe or painful – I’m not advocating job quitting or relationship ditching (although they could be valid choices – only you’ll know). I’m saying this:

  • Start to pay attention to your discomfort
  • Use it to create a contrasting thought (eg. if I DON’T want to be given the routine tasks at work every day, it means I DO want to get involved with some special projects. Do you feel the empowerment of shifting a don’t to a do?)
  • Write down the outcome you want to achieve (it’s good to be reminded should you have some weaker moments)
  • Take action (talk to someone, research your choices, skill yourself up to get the result you want, be patient (your partner might take a while to get up to speed) and be persistent (don’t go back to how things were)
  • Review every day whether your thought changes, new conversations and action taking are getting you closer to the vision

You’re a valuable, smart, worthy human being. Choose every moment to believe that. When you stand up for happiness, you’ll be surprised who’ll show up to stand with you.

 

Jennifer Broadley is the founder of www.HealthyChat.co.uk. Since 2012 she has worked full time delivering therapeutic, life-changing conversations from her private practices in Aberdeen, Dundee and the north of Scotland. She additionally works with UK clients by phone and European clients by skype. In 2002 Jennifer set up an executive coaching company supporting the continued high performance of business leaders and entrepreneurs working for medium and large companies – she is still active in this sector through www.JenniferBroadley.com.

 

Jennifer was brought up in West Africa, educated in Scotland and lived and worked in Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia before returning to a London base in 1997. She and her daughter now live on the UK's east coast, where she continues to coach and write. Jennifer is a writer and a published author. Her first book 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®, is available on www.Amazon.co.uk. For therapy or executive coaching enquiries please email, message or call Jennifer via her websites.