Monday, 10 February 2014

On turning hard work over to fate.....

Fate. A cringeworthy word to many. One that conjures up ideas of a creationist God that controls everything we do and no matter how we try to change it, it's written in the stars for us. I've gone round in circles on the God and fate subject but I'd like to approach this from another angle because I think I finally get it.

I've been slaving away for the past couple of weeks on Shakespearean monologues for an upcoming audition of sizeable importance! Theatre is my life's oxygen and therefore important enough for me to put my very heart and soul into every aspect required. During this particular process I was also battling my internal demons....that's what I'll call my nerves, paranoia and negative self talk for now.....desperately putting a lot more than I should be on the outcome of this particular audition (insert 'every audition prior as well').

I particularly have an unpredictable distractibility and nervousness issue when it comes to auditions. Like many. For me, this is a much deeper topic that I will get into at a later date but it can be debilitating nonetheless because for whatever reason that day or in that room something could intervene unexpectedly and sabotage all my hard work. Here's however where it's ok!

Knowing that I have full control of the amount of hard work I'm capable of putting into this prep, knowing that on the day I'm going to do my very best with all the tools I have at my disposal (rehearsal, characterization, meditation, affirmations) makes it easier to see the true meaning of the word 'fate'.

If I walk away from said audition after having killed it, I'm sure I'm going to attribute that to hard work and determination but what if I walked away after having gotten so nervous that it stunted my work and displayed a mere fraction of my potential? I mean I did everything I could on that particular day with the particular circumstances presented to guarantee that I'd have a spotless audition....what went wrong? And why is it that I forget the hard work and assume I didn't do everything I was capable of doing then and there? Here's where we're too hard on ourselves and though we're also hard on ourselves when we haven't put in the work, in a case like the former we need to remember that we in fact have done everything we were capable of doing in the allotted time available to us. The results, whether it be the actual performance or the feedback are based on circumstances beyond our immediate control. And that's where 'fate' comes into it. Fate, I believe is an equation, combining the circumstances present which range from your hard work or lack thereof, to your surroundings, to your brain chemistry (which can be affected and altered in ANY number of ways and is wonderful when truly understood.)

The true and more valuable point I'm trying to make is stemming from this self abuse we put ourselves through after we've worked our butts off to accomplish our dreams. Our issue isn't in the needing to reevaluate our idea of hard work but in the needing desperately to see ourselves as anything but who we actually are at that particular point in time. We attach ourselves to this image and idea that is most times unrealistic....and when we work hard and then see immediate self gratification and results, we immediately validate ourselves. We validate that image we've drawn and strive for and validate our supposed perfection....and perfectionism. But where does that leave the guy that's struggled all his life...truly struggled...had dreams, had images of himself the way other more successful people do but just never seems to be achieving as much as others or anything for that matter!! Our issue isn't with how hard we need to work...cause that's a given...if you don't work hard then don't expect the best results. It's in our acceptance of fate beyond our hard work and determination. Realistically looking back and taking note of what could've been done differently is part of anyone and everyone's process...that's how we grow and improve.....but the beating ourselves up part? That comes from delusional thinking! After all, growth doesn't come from satisfying results but from those that are questionable.

If you know you've done everything in your power to prepare for something important and you're also quite self knowledgeable about the inner workings of your brain and it's unpredictability sometimes and you're also clued into the unpredictable number of other factors that may intervene and need to be dealt with outside the scope of your initial hard work, then you should walk into an audition or interview or presentation and vow to DO YOUR BEST! That's all you can do...your absolute best. Even if you end up choking and losing focus, you need to remind yourself that that was you on that particular day and that perhaps you need to look into what makes that happen. That still doesn't mean you didn't do your best that day. You went in there with everything prepped...and you went in there as prepped as you happen to be mentally at that particular stage in your life, with the tools available to you then and there. What happens the next time you try, needs to be the result of a learning curve. Doing your best ABSOLUTELY has nothing to do with perfection. There's the delusion for you! If you know you slack off, stop slacking off, if you can't help it, find out why, if you're doing your absolute best, go in there, and trust yourself. Nothing happens without a reason. That cliche is riddled with undertones of 'FATE'. The reason you fall is so you learn how to get up. The reason you succeed is so you appreciate the value of hard work. Of course I'm implying that 'success' that comes from circumstantial luck and fortune etc isn't true success at all! It's a free ride!

Oh and remember, Lawrence Olivier, known to be the greatest actor that ever lived, would throw up in the wings before stepping out onto the stage. Supposedly. Ponder.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Brain Science and Oneness

Imagine you've believed one thing your whole life and then that belief is suddenly turned on its head and appears to have been something else all along!! Imagine being able to wake up one morning and all those feelings of inadequacy that you've carried around secretly (or openly) since you can remember, which have affected the way you work, play, carry yourself, love etc. have all started to magically disappear forever, revealing a whole new you with a second chance at fuller, happier and more accomplished life! Sound too good to be true? Though many of you may know I'm talking about mental illness and diagnosis, you may also think this elation I'm speaking of is one caused by medication.
For all those who believe that receiving the diagnosis of ADHD, Bipolar etc. is just handing innately irresponsible people crutches and excuses for their life's bad behaviour you're missing the valuable point of a diagnosis, which is, first and foremost, powerful knowledge that one can use to move forward with a better understanding of the way their brain is wired. Ultimately it's about what you do with the knowledge but most importantly it's what the knowledge does to one's lifetime of shame and self-esteem. It's a fresh start literally. Life appears to be something else entirely and all the names you've shamed yourself into believing literally don't apply anymore. It's a magical thing. If you're blind, squinting harder isn't going to make you see. This is exactly what someone with a diagnosed inability to focus goes through their whole lives when they try to do so in a world where everyone around them is getting things accomplished. Unfortunately the difference between a blind man and one with ADHD is that the blind man is recognized immediately as such by his environment whilst the other man continues to be told to pay attention!! The diagnosis is the revolutionary realization that they'd been "blind" the entire time....and that there's actually something they can do about it (medication just being one of a slew of things and NOT the only)
So, next time you hear that someone you know has just received a diagnosis, don't shame them by using words like "crutch" and "excuse" and jumping to conclusions about medication that you've read does this and that're missing the most phenomenal point ever....what that knowledge itself actually does to a person, let alone what ends up being the plan of action! Celebrate them and remind them how lucky they are and the blessing their lives have been coloured with! So many of us really haven't the slightest clue how complex the brain truly is. When you begin to understand what needs to exist up there in the way of stimulants and neurotransmitters etc in order for you to do the things you do that you normally attribute solely to your will power and hard work, then your viewpoint of the human race in general changes entirely. (It's also humbling to feel blessed with a functioning brain that's given you the life you've lived.) You don't only need to learn how to be spiritual in order to love the world or show compassion. Science is one of the best springboards there are. It helps us help our community, not hinder it with our almost indoctrinated ideas of good and bad, right and wrong, smart and dumb. Need I say black and white? There are many brilliant people that have the capacity to live full, productive and loving lives of peace and tranquility who don't have the tools to do so because they're too busy beating themselves up about how incompetent they are and having that validated daily by their environment. This is where science and the spiritual concept of oneness come hand in hand. Be a more loving and informed environment, you never know who's listening. Once you get that, you'll also change your perception of the way others treat you! Love!

An intro to mental illness and compassion

January 24, 2014

I realized today that the fact that I've been able to break some pretty crazy sounding OCD habits effortlessly myself on numerous occasions is proof enough that I am not in fact OCD and should show more respect to those who's lives it actually affects daily in severe ways. Mental illness isn't something to toss around like a human ego ball. It affects people's lives in ways you can only understand if you are inflicted yourself or have family/friends who are, that you've taken the time to educate yourself about and show compassion to. If your life seems to include little hiccups of behaviour that mimic any number of conditions like ADD, OCD, bipolarity etc...and someone you know has been diagnosed in one or all of those categories....take a minute and ask yourself if these conditions you believe you also have are in any way debilitating and life altering. If you're able to get by alone and without anyone's guidance and professional help, then you're more than likely fishing for a little attention. The expression "well, everyone's a little ADD or OCD" said to someone who in fact IS and being treated or needs treatment, is like saying "I've got it too and I'm dealing with life, what's wrong with you, you must just be weak, lazy, stupid"......which is what people with the condition have been saying to themselves since they can remember and all you're doing is enforcing their shame. ADD for example, isn't a bunch of funny little tendencies we happen to all have. It isn't a funny little term like the one we choose to throw around when we're forgetful. That's not the definition, sorry. And is certainly not the true weight it possesses. It's not a bunch of light, little anythings!! It's one of the things that destroys and many times, ends lives. Most of us are only beginning to scrape the surface of learning about mental illness and even more slowly, pealing away the layers of shame involved. I ask you to take a minute and think of the human brain like any other organ in the human body. I'd even be pressed to say that it's more fragile than any. Why is it then that we're able to have more sympathy as a human race for someone with a broken leg that will heal, than we do for someone with a broken brain and most times a broken spirit and a broken life...or one, for that matter, that is wired in ways we can't understand...or quite simply, differently than our own!? Long overdue is the day we stand up and take responsibility within all our developing societies (not limited to developing countries) for our brother and sisters who just need the veil of shame to lighten and lift so that they can begin to heal. Remember, not everyone wears their mental illness on their sleeve. Society has made sure we learn (not everyone is capable of this) how to conceal it and put on an acceptable face that caters ever so carefully to our surroundings. I believe as human beings our job is to live the best inner life we can possibly live in this short life we're given and that can only happen if we make it safe for our brothers and sisters to live their best life too. Love.