Tuesday 27 May 2014

How can I master my emotion?

At the pedastal of our long list of emotive states in which our world seems to centre around stands fear, anger, sadness and joy. We can all hop from one to another yet are we able to master and understand them? If so, this is what makes us and may define us as unique and extraordinary human beings which can help to guide our behaviour. Our emotions are a form of intelligence that defines our very own awareness, state of being, feelings and sentiments.

For example, the greatest is joy and is described as our present state, linked to something positive in us, a project or someone we love. In this sense, love, duty and meaning are the highest sources of human motivation that we can ever reach for. Our need may result in sharing or expressing this with others.

Sadness which is closely intertwined is linked to the past, and sense of loss to something we are deeply attached to, a thing, a person or an image. Here we may need time to grieve, time for comfort and encouragement, even a need to express tears of sorrow. If not mastered well this can worsen and bring us into all sorts of difficulties and yet without sadness we can not acknowledge love nor joy.

In contrast, our two weaknesses are fear and anger. Fear is related to the future, aligned to a feeling of insecurity of something that may occur such as pain, death, change or the unknown. Greed for example that appears to have gripped parts of our business culture is simply a sub form of fear that can cause general apathy, immense mistrust and lack of integrity. Here we would need anchoring, belief or faith, measure the risks we take and set milestones. The other day, I met a sculpterer. He described how he loved his job and the way in which he worked. He remarked off the cuff that the stone that he calved out was his anchor.

Let’s look at anger in more detail as an emotive state. Anger is a result of something that is in the present which can happen to us through a sense of injustice.  It is an invasion of our territory, our sense of dignity, our value system or conscience which plays part in our identity. Why is this happening to me? This is not fair? We may have every legitimate reason to be angry for something we are not, or we are in advertedly, responsible for. Sometimes it can play on us, our tension rises and a change in our physical being, muscular movements and stress. How far do I go? Will this escalate?

It may be important in some cases that this emotive state if it comes about is expressed in one form or another as a release mechanism. Bearing in mind anger can take 80% of our resources and potential, and blind our sense of reasoning, therefore it is vital it must be mastered in us and in a shortest possible timeframe. In this sense it would be in our own interest not to allow this emotive state to linger, in so as we are able to regain our sense of peace, calm, self-control and even as far as showing forgiveness toward the other person that may have triggered it. This way we let it go and move forward. Our greatest harm is not what people do to us but in our response to what they do to us.

The other day, my bicycle was stolen out of the garage in the back of my house. My bicycle is a possession I am very attached to and is part of what defines me. It is my best form of transport around the city. My immediate reaction was a moment of bewilderment at this injustice. Why me? This had immediately turned to sadness. I was sad, that I had lost something that belonged to me which served me well, for over three years. It was very likely that I would never reclaim it nor find it again judging by the attitude of the Belgian Police I had by chance encountered up the road who happened to be sitting in their stationary car puffing their cigarettes. They had shrugged their shoulders with total indifference and informed me that thieves nowadays were cleverer than ever and that there was very little hope in catching them.

So there we have it, in a nutshell, a simple account of our complex world of emotions and one of endless examples of a complacent policeman with little sense of duty. Perhaps this is a reflection in a wider sense of our totally indifferent in some cases corrupt and defeatist justice system incapable of enforcing the law over the so called injustices that can besiege us in our takers world unwilling to assume responsibility. Is this not all the more reason why we need a society that requires change, with new thinking, new leadership with visionary ideas and new meaning?
Be bold yet compassionate

Friday 23 May 2014

Is remorse too great for some?

Since the financial crisis, $20trillion of US tax payers and state guarantees was used to bail out the US Banks. $780 Billion in the UK and €140 Billion in the Netherlands. New regulation has been put into place. Yet ordinary people including Banking employees still feel upset and indignant about continued higher taxes and living costs for something they were not responsible for. Whilst some banks are really changing and working on their corporate governance, training and values; governments are more in debt than ever, more money is printed and the daily scandals are ever increasing. Key questions remain. What about all our debts? What about the individuals that played their part? Why are the perpetrators not in jail? Are we changing?

Last month a former Dutch banker was found dead together with his wife and daughter. The Dutch media reported that the banker had killed his wife and his daughter before taking his own life. This of course is a tragedy and there are very few words to express in such circumstances. My heart and prayers go out to their souls and their remaining daughter. It was reported that this banker suffered a depression. This crisis has now claimed the 14th banking victim in the West.

Somehow the financial crisis appears to be sadly slowly claiming victim after victim. There has been much publicity of a minority of financiers and disgraced ex-CEO’s who held the helm during these times, such as Angelo Mozilo, Charles Prince, Jon Corzine, Rijkman Groenink, Fred Goodwin, Jean-Paul Voltron, Maurice Lippens, Dick Fuld, Paul Flowers and Bob Diamond. There are probably so many more, hiding and floating about. What about them? I am going to group these types in three categories. There are those by cashing in on non-leadership really did do harm, and sadly are simply unable to express remorse and perhaps never will, and remain in permanent denial. There are others who are clearly victims or feel victimised, either of the system that we have in place, or have been unfairly criticised for the dishonesty and sociopathic behaviour of their peers. Then there are those that understand and acknowledge what they have done, accept the consequences and hopefully become better people.

I bring this up as examples as most trained psychologists, therapists and good coaches will understand that the discovery of the human change cycle can often work as follows. At any given time or event, life can creep up on you. By this I mean that any mentally intelligent person who has led a life that has not been in, or lost, touch with his or her emotion or heart, and has either harmed himself, herself or others, will realise if he/she is lucky enough that at some point our sub-conscience will awaken and our conscience will begin to dictate. We acknowledge that something is not right. A rupture, a break, suffering, or deep unhappiness can unfold. The tough or fearful part is what follows in our human development. This is what we coaches often call the inner changing process where there is a way out. Following from our human failings such as greed, pride, or aggression, come’s the vulnerable and healthy process of shame, guilt, remorse and sorrow towards ultimately the beauty of peace, love and then forgiveness. We mature and become more authentic, coherent, fulfilled and can rediscover a new beginning which can often link us to the idea of spirituality and truth.

As we are now seeing day by day with some of us higher up the food chain in parts of our business service culture where the idea of wealth creation is dictated by pure ambition, self-enrichment, status or power, in our flawed capitalist system, more and more people have come to realise that there is more than this in life. Really, there are two combined deeper goals that us humans search for in our ultimate fulfilment, namely that of happiness and of the truth. In achieving these two great ultimate goals, there can be a price that leaves us with choices. Either we step back through fear; close ourselves by remaining indifferent, weak, on the surface and aloof or we dive in and face the music. Which ever way we choose we will come to realise that we inevitably bear the cross. By this I mean that life has its burdens and trail of tragedy, trials and trepidations in some cases unbearable so or even inexplicably so. The trick is to simply remain strong turn to the good side, and always be open to encouragement.

The fact of the matter remains; our society today has a great difficulty and very little patience in understanding human dysfunctional behaviour and suffering, the why’s and the how’s, the symptoms and the causes. Time gives us the answers, where more often than not the truth always bears fruit. Aside from this where does that pragmatically leave us? What about our debts and how do we change? Many ideas spring to mind and here is a snippet of a few.

• The minority at the top that did commit wrongdoings in the ongoing financial crisis that are in denial or hiding must be sifted out and disciplined by the justice system which can help to bring other morally corrupt business financiers to justice. These types can sell their possessions and give their money back to help our debts.

• Those that have acknowledged their wrong doings and have expressed remorse may accept the consequences and can help others where things can be put right for change.

• Those that are victims or feel victimised must be helped at all costs which will assist us through change to avoid further tragedies such as the tragic Dutch example I gave.

• Retail Banks can ban lending that encourages consumption. This will decrease personal debt which is arguably synonymous to increased stress levels and personal entrapment for ordinary people.

• With the liquidity they have, Investment Banks including shadow banks could be encouraged to further develop imaginative tangible mission statements for the common good. Triodos Bank here is a very good example of this. This can filter through the system and its employees and will help to eliminate conflicts of interest, aggressive conduct, fatigue and stress levels. This can be a way of giving back to society and open countless new opportunities and boundaries. Yes we can still have incomes!

In short the great majority of bankers I deal with are sincere, pretty decent and honest with normal incomes nevertheless we are all equally vulnerable if not responsible to make this world a better and safer place to bring ourselves into the next level for further greatness, irrespective of wealth, power or status. Einstein said ‘The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.’

Together we can fix things

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Has Europe lost its identity?

For those of you who watched the Eurovision song contest the other night may have or not made some quiet opinions to ourselves about the result. Yes, I am partially guilty, for my sins. I am of course referring to this so called ‘Conchita’ character, a name referring to the female sexual genital in Spanish in South America. Whilst we are not sure whether this person who won is a man or a woman, our most basic identity birth gifts, this character has now been dubbed the so called ‘Queen of Europe’ and following from very little emotional self–control puts a fist in the air in front of 180 million viewers by saying ‘for peace and for freedom, and we are unstoppable’ in front of an idolising crowd. It may all ofcourse be in the name of entertainment and fabricated. However without sounding like a killjoy I’m thinking in all seriousness, ‘Houston, we have a problem.’

Paradoxically last year President Hollande had already commented that Europe has lost its identity as if he had predicted what was about to happen in this year’s song contest, he could not be closer to the truth. When the Queen of Europe was actually born a male but wants to be referred to as a she, the Belgian television commented that this is a day of victory for tolerance. Either Europe really has lost its marbles and all common sense or its media commentators and entertainment/music industry lack the courage to stand up to its conviction. One has to ask ourselves whether the media is in a state of delusion so easily fooled or is it actually dictating mainstream or doing its utmost to poison it. Perhaps it is all in the name of instant hedonistic fun and fame but I was sadly reminded that in my younger days, following all my idiotic antics, exploits and liberal frivolities, that too was all in the name of fun. What I had really done was as a single father I had run away from my own true identity in the name of so called ‘freedom’ which led to the suffering and virtual destruction of my very own soul.

An alarming statistic that caught my attention here in Belgium of late, around 80% of young male generation now regularly gawp at online pornography. Together with the Polish female contingency flaunting themselves on Eurovision, is this how our opposing sexes now treat each other? Is this the way to gain respect from each other not least from ourselves? As low, depraved and disrespectful as we have now become as I was once all too shamefully aware, in our limited minds, imagination and loose behaviour from a large portion of our over sexed and over fed European citizens, we are now resorting to nicknames referring to female genitals. You can almost laugh at the word ‘tolerance’ which in essence seems to have totally lost its meaning.

One might argue that it is about the talent or what we hear, I’m afraid it is also about what we see, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder except the beauty has all but gone whilst the light of the beholder may eventually...well...just switch off. I sometimes wonder if we would be simply better off without television and the internet, and bring back the radio, and proper human interaction. Is there not a way out of our never ending uncreative shameless bottomless pit? I am encouraged that this day had further awakened me in that this is a debate that has gone beyond tolerance or rights and is now about our very own identity, respect of our dignity that goes deep into our very own soul.

I believe this ‘Conchita act’ is giving us the signals where Europe now is, largely lost and indifferent, void of ideas and vision, stuck in a rut perhaps in denial of our past and fearful of our future. That we are simply neither being authentic, nor are we carrying the courage of our convictions whilst our leadership is not assuming proper responsibility. Why would this person shout out for peace and for freedom? Were powerful interest groups putting this poor guy on top of a pedestal for an ulterior or political motive? Do you think he has found his happiness that he is perhaps craving for? Or is he just another of our endless victims that the music industry has a knack in producing, thrown by the wayside once enough money has been made and the novelty or popularity has worn off? When something as provocative as this is done in the name of peace, how then can it be peaceful? Let alone how can we be free if we do not know who we are? I salute Austria for bringing this greater debate to light.

Come on Europe, wake up, rise up and unleash ourselves from our low ebb and face the music. If I can, you can. Now the elections are within us let’s up the bar and quality in our behaviour and take the lead to turn the pendulum from our obsession with self to a more creative, purposeful and hopeful future. Get a grip of our own destiny and discipline or rather censor our greed driven media mainstream sexualised fabricated  nonsense for the sake of protecting the innocence and education of our families and children. Let’s get back on track, regain the initiative to rediscover our lost identity, our soul, dignity, and credibility. Get the right people in at the top and show the rest of the world what inner steel we are made of. Yes, that very steel Mr. Lakshmir Mittal that you have helped us to lose which almost defined us all those many years ago.

It is the truth that sets us free