The Circumstance Placebo

In a recent conversation the subject of resilience and helplessness came up.  The new buzz words.  On giving the conversation more consideration, the following emerged.

To suggest that there needs to be an emphasis on developing resilience in the work force implies that in order to work in that particular organisation, there is an acceptance that you need to be resilient.  That the conditions under which you are working are to be accepted as given and that it is you that need to become immune to circumstance.  Secondly, to combine this approach with a discussion about helplessness also seems to suggest we are unable to do anything about our circumstances – hence the need to be resilient.  Maybe we only need to be resilient if we feel helpless?

What strikes me in this moment is that when I move to a position of helpfulness rather than helplessness, somehow I already feel more resilient, that helpfulness begets a feeling of empowerment.

Taking this thinking further, it also occurs to me that either way, whatever we are feeling about our circumstances and what we can do about them,  really are just thoughts in that moment.  Thoughts we catch from others like a virus and thoughts of our own we nurture so lovingly that we believe them to be truth.  It reminds me of the saying ‘don’t believe everything you hear, especially in your own head.’

What this means is that our feelings of any kind are created by the thoughts we are having about what goes on around us – the stuff that happens ‘to’ us.    These thoughts can be exchanged for others, which gives us an element of choice.  We may still choose to do nothing about our circumstances, but either way we choose.

So we get to choose to be helpful or helpless and no matter how small there are always opportunities to help in any situation.  Helplessness is an illusion and the more you believe this the more you get to dream of a magic resilience pill that will cure you of this intractable condition.  The other amazing thing I have realised about the human condition, is that people who can help me will show up at the right time and place just when I need them.  I just have to be conscious enough to see them when they show up.  That somehow when we stop nurturing our helplessness we really do see opportunities all around us that we couldn’t see before.  So here is a quote from one of my favourite books:

“If you become a follower, you lose your independence and become a slave to someone else’s ideas and beliefs; you give up your free will and freedom of thought, two extremely valuable assets in life”

Sydney Banks – The Missing Link





Rain or Shine


I am sat in a cafe on the coast of Wales.  The sun is out and although it’s cloudy there is a warmth and beauty to the day.

Today feels good.  Having just come out of a black hole of a mood over the last week it feels good to be back in touch with a feeling of gratitude.

My low mood got triggered somehow before I had chance to catch it.  I’ve had to back track that one, because it seemed like there really was something or someone to blame.  When it’s down to something other than you it feels like you have no power over the feeling and it’s a fully legitimate bad mood.  Or so the ego would have us believe.

What struck me though, that just like my dark mood which can come and go, the feeling of overwhelm can come and go without any real change in what we see as reality.  Overwhelm, like a bad mood can keep you stuck in one place, paralysed into intertia, waiting for something other than you to change.  When we are like this we can choose to blame other people, it absolves our need to do something and this keeps us stuck for longer.  It creates more of what we don’t want rather than what we do want.

So I found, along with many others,  that when I look for gratitude and what’s good about my day the black hole becomes lighter and the world around me starts looking more friendly and connected.  Gratitude and optimism however small shine a light on our conscious thoughts moment by moment.  They act as an antidote to the difficulties that can occupy our thoughts.  Turns out my black hole is an illusion created by me.  I just need to remember to turn the light on.