The pursuit and making peace

Where I am located, I sense a cultural impetus in our personal and professional life to be better and perhaps to be more. And there is much available to us for this pursuit of self-improvement of a kind which is observable and measurable.

I am curious by nature and love learning. For all the support I have for growth and development, I do stop and ask.

At what rate should self-improvement occur?

According to whose time? And to what end?

Should there be enough?

Do we need to pause from chasing the future?

What do the persistent evaluation of and judgment on our lives do to us?

Where is our felt sense of peace in all this? Is making peace (that is, being resolved and reconciled) with who we are now a necessary element to our contentment?

Is the pursuit of continuous improvement in opposition to being content?

Perhaps the issue is not in the pursuit, rather in what motivates or drives the pursuit. Why do you do what you do?

This poem speaks to a welcoming and acceptance of what is, now. Then perhaps what we set out to do will be done with peace.

 

Peace is This Moment Without Judgment
by Dorothy Hunt

Do you think peace requires an end to war?
Or tigers eating only vegetables?
Does peace require an absence from
your boss, your spouse, yourself?…
Do you think peace will come some other place than here?
Some other time than Now?
In some other heart than yours?

Peace is this moment without judgment.
That is all. This moment in the Heart-space
where everything that is is welcome.
Peace is this moment without thinking
that it should be some other way,
that you should feel some other thing,
that your life should unfold according to your plans.

Peace is this moment without judgment,
this moment in the heart-space where
everything that is is welcome.

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2021

A professional in a video-conference

Through the camera lens, our eyes clock congruence, that is harmony or compatibility (in this context) of words, tone, facial expression, and any other non-verbal cues.

Recall the times you met a stranger in a certain place, and thought “something’s not quite right”? Or chancing upon a friend and sensing something’s off? This is because we pick up inconsistent cues from that person’s verbal and non-verbal presentation including body language.

The same when we are in a video-conference. In fact, we are working harder to pick up cues because we know we have less to work with. And incongruence distracts.

So what helps us to appear professional in a video-conference?

Appearance

What we wear and our personal grooming and style contribute to the professional appearance. What is appropriate will depend on the purpose of the video-conference, who the participants are, perhaps the industry/professional expectation, and the environment in which the video-conference is being held.  This is synonymous to wearing appropriate attire to an in-person meeting. Most importantly, be authentic.  There are different types of casual professional attire, select that which portrays who you are.

Environment 

Our appearance ought to be consistent with the environment, that is our surroundings when we are in a video-conference. Is it congruent to be wearing a dark suit if our background is a view of the bedroom (no matter how stylish it may be), or a Zoom background of a beach at sunset? It is likely we will sense a degree of awkwardness. If you wish to convey a relaxed atmosphere then lose the dark suit.

We bring our environment into a video-conference through the sights and sounds being transmitted from where we are physically located. Mute the microphone where required and minimise potential visual distraction to other participants in the video-conference. This is also a sign of respect.

Tech and equipment

A good webcam is necessary to capture clear visual and audio, which eases communication. This is a necessary investment (not a luxury) in the current professional space. Couple it with a good pair of headset or microphone and speakers. No matter how good we look, if we can’t be heard then the whole scene is sub-standard and interferes with the perception of professionalism. Imagine a documentary with beautifully shot visuals but you have difficulty hearing the narrator?

Placement of the camera is also important. A view up one’s nostrils is never pleasant, nor is a view of the top of one’s head. The camera should be placed directly at eye level or slightly above the eye-line. The illusion of us looking into the camera and thus meeting another’s eyes is inviting. Its absence can create a sense of disconnection and isolation.

Lighting is important. We are attuned to consider a face hidden in shadow as suspicious. No matter if we are thinking it or not, we will react less favorably to a partially hidden face, or when we are unable to see someone’s eyes or facial expression. This is particularly true in a culture which considers making eye contact as a sign of sincerity, honesty and good manners. Using a ring light to  illuminate our face solves this issue.  Ring light is usually placed behind the camera and directly facing our face. This allows flexibility of where we position ourselves for a video-conference, and removes the need to be facing a window for proper light or be concerned about back-lighting.

Preparation

Spend time considering what you need before each video-conference. Be prepared.

Do not turn on your video or unmute before you are ready. Shuffling paper, appearing distracted as you attempt to close down an application, fidgeting as you make yourself comfortable – all can appear less than professional.

Perhaps this means leaving yourself with ample time in between calls to gather yourself before you start the next video-conference.

Attitude

Professionalism is fundamentally about behaviour and  attitude. Our behaviour ought to be congruent with our attitude.

Any discomfort or resentment (a video-conference may not be everyone’s meeting mode of choice) will channel through as a result of inconsistency in verbal and visual expressions, say between your stiff smile, or the wariness in your eyes, or your agitated gestures, or your constant shrugs or nervous laugh.

A good way to familiarise yourself to being in front of a camera is to be in front of one. Practice, for example starting your webcam and leaving it on while you work, or take a recording of yourself. As with actors, you will soon “forget” about the camera, or be less self-conscious. You may even learn to use the camera to your advantage.

A moderate and calm demeanour assists with a professional presentation.  Exaggerated gestures or volume are magnified in a video-conference. Fidgeting and sudden movements will interrupt and distract. To find “just right” will depend on the context and how practised you are before a webcam.

When the camera is focused primarily on your face – any smirk, flinch, grimace, or eyes-rolling, are captured and transmitted. Being respectful is an important condition to being a professional. A respectful attitude is keenly felt even through the camera lens.

I hope this gives you food for thought and inspiration to act.

~ FlorenceT

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2021

Antidote – a rich internal life

Seth Godin, former dot com business executive and author, said,

Instead of wondering when our next vacation is, we should set up a life we don’t need to escape from.

What a challenge!

A rich internal life is an antidote to the pervading sense of dread and anxiety that we come across each day. When we are in touch with the richness of our internal life, we will no longer be dependent on an external life for escape.

The present external life

No matter where you are on this quest of setting up a life which you don’t want to escape from, you’re likely experiencing a degree of disappointment and dejection in the current environment. The prospect of the next vacation is bleak, and international travel almost non-existent.

Where do you go now, when options to escape from a high-stress or dissatisfied life are narrower than before? The distractions you allow yourself as consolations or rewards, the activities you indulge in to remind yourself that the way you live is worthwhile indeed, the activities you attend as temporary anesthesia – they are now severely reduced.

Even the most outward focused of us are compelled to reconsider our options. We now must find our respite from our work and in our home, and to maintain our sense of connection and belonging within a smaller social group.

Why an internal life?

This is the epoch to return to our internal life. 

It is time to return to greater appreciation of introspection, depth and meaning. It is necessary especially when we have to keep our own company more often than before.

And this internal life can be scary. Consciously or otherwise, many of us have taken quite resolute steps to not peek into this space while others have been oblivious to the need for it. And many more are tapping into it to varying degrees.

Where are you?

An internal life is the world within us, encompassing the mental and emotional spaces and spiritual by nature.

A rich internal life means you are self-aware and clear about your values, and well-equipped to manage your emotions. It means you have a calm and focused mind, with optimal level of resilience. 

To attain a rich internal life

Here are the preconditions to having a rich internal life:

  • time alone – in this place where  you are not performing nor entertained, and you are required to keep yourself company. 
  • independence – you must do this exploration and interrogation of your internal life on your own; no amount of discussion with close family and friends will assist in a resolution, in fact it may be counter-productive. Take time to nurture your ability to comfort, discipline, inspire, educate and entertain yourself.

Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company. ~ Seneca

  • curiosity – and here, you will give yourself permission to explore all aspects of yourself, the desirables and the undesirables. Let your imagination and fantasies take flight.
  • focus – you will spend time making friends with your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. Learn to discipline your thoughts, and to choose what you pay attention to. Most importantly, focus and choose your daily behaviours and habits. They matter.

Remember that at any given moment there are a thousand things you can love.  ~ David Levithan

Necessary growth

When we emerge from the current environmental restrictions, will we be more aware? Will we know ourselves better? Will we like ourselves better?

This is the growth to aspire to. 

© Transfigure Therapy 2020

 

Finding fulfillment in your work

I facilitate growth, whether personal or professional.

This is the simple answer to the question I get asked often, “what does a psychotherapist or coach do?”

This is then followed by, “why do you do it?” Because it makes me happy, which of course begs the question, “but why?”

Clients have come to me wanting to know how to make their life “right”, to be happy or how to make the right career decisions, how to climb the mountain in their way, how to achieve certain career goals, how to feel less discontent, how to overcome their malaise… And yes, there are interventions, techniques and strategies which I employ.

And in their questionings, there is one thing underpinning the multitude of wants or desires – it is to move on, to be unstuck, to grow.

Every client at some point in their journey with me expresses the need

  • to experience being alive in their everyday life,
  • to feel a sense of accomplishment in their personal or professional life, or
  • to know there is a reason, the why, to their existence.

This is to find their raison d’être.

I am the sounding board which provides a safe space for clients to  give voice to their life – past, present and future.  I am the mirror upon which they see who and what they are and could be. Clients test out and then spread their wings so to stretch beyond what they know, to explore and take some risks which they are emotionally or psychologically ready or prepared to take.

When the necessary conditions are created, when there is fertile soil, the growing will happen. Each person’s growth is unique. There is no comparison.

This work that I do (which is echoed in my other life as an educator) – to create, to lift, to give others the necessary tools, to give them space to explore and find their way, to create systems or conditions which motivate them to be better versions of themselves – is my raison d’être.

The immeasurable privilege of being able to hold space for another, to be a repository of another’s story, to be an agent of another’s personal or professional growth is second to none.

Social reformation or organizational change always begins with the individual. My work means much and has greater ramifications. Within it, I find great joy and fulfillment.

Find your raison d’être. Seek work so you can live it. There is your fulfillment.

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2020

What’s more than a book group?

I love books, and reading. I love where books take me.

In my psychotherapy work, books and poetry become my tools. 

Yet  sometimes with the responsibilities of home, parenting and work, reading for leisure takes a back seat. In fact, it can feel like a luxury dabbled with a little guilt, as we take time away from the “shoulds” of our lives.

I know (as you do) that self-development or personal growth or “dealing with my stuff” is helpful not just for myself but also to those with whom I come in contact. I cannot give when empty.

I need to give myself permission to grow, to work on being my best self. Only then can I be in  my best self with others.

No better time than now, as we are required to stay home and some of the “shoulds” have been taken from us. Maybe there’s a little time saved from our daily work commute. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to but can’t justify the time. This may not even be at the top of your leisure list but being restricted from the outside world, this is a pleasurable option. 

Come join me, (a psychotherapist trained in group facilitation and an avid book-reader) in an online book group which serves the purpose of leisure and personal development. 

Stories can shape your lives. Here, you may come upon your tribe. You may gather some new insights. You may experience a certain liberation. 

Ready to read books, have robust facilitated conversations, and share insights in a supportive space?  There will be a selection of books which I will curate for the group to explore aspects of living life, which will inspire and motivate you to be better versions of yourself. 

Interested to find out about More-than-a Book-Group? 

Complete this Expression Of Interest (obligation-free) form, and I will be in contact to explore further.

~ FlorenceT

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2020