Sunday, 17 July 2011


To me, statements like "you're too sensitive" are used by people who want to divert attention from you to themselves because they mostly come from those who lean on me for their troubles but who, spend little or no time at all listening in return.

Then there are others who constantly ask what it is I am thinking or feeling only to protest and launch into criticism if I come up with something they don't like.

Both these things are indicative of the human condition. A vital step forward toward being confident, self assured and in control is to recognize and take ownership of what is ours to think, feel and believe regardless of how others may view us. In essence it is to assert those things as belonging to us but without imposing, expecting or demanding that anyone else should think, feel or believe the same.

By so doing we become independent and claim our identity for exactly what it is, a unique collection of those experiences that define who we really are.

It requires a courage of conviction to stand by everything we express for the moment of that expression. It doesn't mean we can not change our minds for, as we go through life many things can play a part in altering, developing, influencing and shaping our characters. That includes honing our what becomes our ethical values.

Recently I felt hauled over the coals for expressing my feelings and impressions over some new people who have just entered my life. "A lot of preconceived ideas you've got there." was the comment. Absolutely, but I own that I have them because all people do. I think it impossible to avoid accumulating preconceptions no matter how much we may try to to avoid being judgmental. Experiences teach us what we like and dislike; what to trust or mistrust, what is good for us and what is potentially harmful.

Nor can we avoid making those judgments on what our instincts and feelings are telling us. What we can do and, I think it right to do, is take note of those feelings, then take a step back from them to check if they are logical, with or without foundation or 'fair'. What we can not ever hope to do successfully is change what we think and feel, believe or our behaviour to suit others. Already my feelings have changed as I learn more about my these new people, so much so that it's caused me to stop and register what it is I am thinking as well as feeling. I often think feelings come first and thoughts after but to stop register what exactly it is that I am thinking, in my opinion, is a sign that feelings are strong enough to merit a little time spent in that process.

All feelings are transient unless we feed them. To love or hate another requires us to devote time and energy to build upon a simple like or dislike. A maxim I picked up early on in counselling was "we dislike in others what we dislike about ourselves." I dislike others being judgmental of me, even though I am equally judgmental of them as meeting these new people has reminded me.

I am not an inwardly confident person despite, in some circumstances appearing to be outwardly. Too many years of trying to be what others have wanted of me instead of listening to what I have felt was right for me has contributed to that. However, in recent years I have begun to listen and begun to accept that I too have a right to express who I am even at the risk of displaying my frailties, shortcomings and faults. Be I right or wrong about any and all (people and events) I meet or encounter.

I have learnt too that I am a person who is never so rigid and inflexible as to not consider that there can be, and often are, different ways of seeing and interpreting the world around us. Some perspectives may seem more right than others, but the truth is all perspectives are equally valid. 'Equally' is a harder concept to grasp that it might at first appear as, equally means accepting that someone who holds the exact opposite view to yourself is entitled to do so. And they are entitled precisely because of their unique set of experiences and their responses to those experiences.

Concepts of ethically 'right' or morally 'wrong' only start to come into play when we look at what social and cultural code of conduct is acceptable within the wider community in which we live.

An essential ingredient toward being happy is learning to happy in our own skins. Happy with whatever feelings, thoughts, beliefs, opinions and behaviours we collect, shape and claim as our own.

It's important to have the courage to follow what we feel in any given moment, but wise to review those feelings whenever they are are biased in any way at all. That way leads to balance and achieving a balanced view is essential to empowering us all to having control over our lives. Rash responses are (in my opinion) to be avoided. It doesn't mean we shouldn't 'throw caution to the wind' but it does mean we do so with the knowledge that we are doing so which sounds a bit of a paradox but doesn't need to be. By looking at a situation in general as well as from a personal perspective we can choose to 'go for it', but only after that period of reflection which should highlight the pitfall and possible consequences of our actions.

At present I am steeling myself. I am contemplating a major change in my life which would (if events go in my favour) result in my relocating. I have another option of playing safe of avoiding the risks that always come with moving to pastures new in any form. Most of my friends consider me to be rash for even contemplating such an action, for daring to dream such a life change is possible especially as there are no guarantees that it is even possible at this point. In weighing up my options though I have concluded that I am no worse off for trying to effect this change. The worst that can happen is that I stay more or less exactly where I am. When that's the bottom line I figure there is nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking the chance. Is it really that much of a risk to look at such options more closely? I would argue not.

I'm bearing in mind too that those who believe me to be rash are looking at it from their perspective, not mine as they are not me. They only have partial knowledge of my situation, history, ethics and beliefs as is the case with everyone I know to a greater or lesser degree. Finally though, after a decade of battling with and overcoming mental illness with the larger part of it being battling the stigma and the assumptions that come from it, I have the courage of my convictions to explore, to take ownership for my decisions and live by them.

I don't have any less respect for the opinions of others, in many ways I have more; but what I do have now is the confidence to live my life for what I want from it and to do so in a way that does not negate anyone else's needs including (for the first time), my own. I have learnt that those who truly have my best interests at heart, as well as my happiness will always be supportive. Those that don't have little business being part of my life. So, for as long as you can say you intend, cause and mean no harm to others I would advocate following your own heart and ultimately be true to yourself.


  1. Dear Wild Woman,

    This is a very warm and contemplative piece of writing. I agree, it is good to take time to ponder and respond - but always to listen to one's Heart.
    Thank you and fingers crossed for the relocation, if that is what you would like.
    Thank you.

  2. Many thanks for reading... I haven't relocated yet - it's still underway. I find these days that I often need to take time out to ponder decisions. My apologies for not responding sooner.

    I've been lucky enough to have had a good run of good mental health lately. Well despite minor gliches. The challenge for me now is to stay well and so the journey continues.

    It's one thing to get well, another to retain good health. I doubt I will be writing as many blogs as I did last year but as and when new thoughts occur I intend continue to share my findings on anything that might help mental health sufferers or those seeking information about it.


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