Thursday, 20 February 2014

Do nice girls always have to finish last?

That's a question that I'm sure many a young woman has asked herself at one time or another.  As a younger woman, I remember my mum saying that I had to watch my behaviour around boys, because there are girls to have fun with and there are girls to marry. I have to say that I was a bit perplexed by this because from where I was standing, it looked like the 'fun' girls had the best of both worlds. They were having fun and still somehow managing to end up married to some 'catch'!

But it's not just in affairs of the heart that nice girls seem to finish last.  A friend was sharing recently about how some kindness she had shown, had been thrown back in her face in a most spectacular way.

This week, I'm pondering whether good old fashioned virtues like kindness have had their day and it's time to succumb to the 'dog eat dog world' that seems to be prevalent these days. Is it still true that nice girls finish last?

Firstly, there's a perception that be nice is synonymous with being foolish.  I remember reading awhile back that someone said "the Christian notion of turning the other cheek is not just foolish, but downright dangerous". Kindness can be defined as being "of a good or benevolent nature or disposition". I don't see anything remotely foolish in being kind. What's wrong with showing kindness, whenever and wherever you can? I think the real issue is that we're taught from an early age to ask the question: what's in it for me? The problem with taking that approach is that it's highly unlikely that we will do anything that doesn't benefit us in some way. And the people who need our kindness, will not get it, because on the face of it, they have nothing to offer in return.

My 'cure' for that mindset? Radical kindness. Kindness taken to the next level. Give without any thought for what you will get back. Giving of yourself, your money, your time and your energy, just because you can. Giving to those who cannot possibly return the favour.  And if you really want to test your motives for giving, give anonymously.  There's no better cure for pride, than to starve it of the oxygen of appreciation!

I can already hear some of you saying what? Radical kindness? Why on earth should I do that? Because, ultimately kindness never goes unrewarded. Just when you least expect it, it comes boomeranging back into your life. Whether you believe in the Christian principle of 'sowing and reaping' or Karma, whatever we put out there comes back to us, one way or another.  As far as I'm concerned there isn't enough kindness in the world today, people miss it and we could all do with giving and getting a whole lot more kindness.

So this week, I challenge you (and myself) to be kinder. Let's seize those opportunities to be radically and randomly kind.  To reach out to those who can't reach back. Will it be comfortable? No. Will it be convenient? Not always. Will we always finish last? I guess that depends on what your definition of success is. If you believe kindness is its own reward, then no. Whatever you do this week, just be kind. To yourself and to others.

Until next week, go well.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

See and be seen, hear and be heard...

You know how sometimes you switch on the television and in spite of having a gazillion channels, there's absolutely nothing worth watching? (that's the time I should send myself to bed, but instead, I end up watching some mindless drivel!). It's a bit like communication too. We have smartphones, tablets and laptops, all designed to keep us communicating. In my experience, they don't open up communication as much as we think. How many of us have sent a text about something, when we really should have picked up the phone?  Or sent multiple emails, when a call would have clarified the issue much sooner? Think of how many of us have conversations we're not really paying attention to, because we're too busy multitasking with our various gadgets!

All of these things have the effect of 'disappearing' us from our own lives and the lives of those around us.  At a basic level, I think that every human being wants to be seen and heard, because fundamentally it says that 'you are valuable' and that's something we all need to be reminded of- some more than others. I've just finished reading a book by Rachel Moran called "Paid For: My journey through drugs and prostitution and that was a key issue that just stayed with me. The author's desire to see and be seen, to hear and be heard.  How she managed to hold onto the essence of herself and speak her truths, even after 7 years of being prostituted. That desire is not something that is unique only to prostitution. Instead it is a thread that runs through all forms of violence against women. 

Not being seen or heard manifests in subtle and not so subtle ways. A common way is when victims of violence against women crimes are disbelieved when they report matters to the police.  I watched a film last week about a child victim of sex abuse. Although the officer was investigating the allegation, his whole demeanour spoke disbelief and astonishment that a 'fine, upstanding member of the community' would be capable of this sort of crime. In the end, he accused the child survivor of being troubled and fabricating the entire crime!  Thankfully there has been a lot of awareness raising and training in the past decade or so, but that doesn't mean that those kinds of attitudes do not still exist. They do, especially in the area of rape and other serious sexual offences- unless of course, the victim is deemed to be worthy of belief i.e. she hadn't been drinking or flirting with the perpetrator or wearing a short and/or tight outfit!

I see this desire to be truly seen and heard in my coaching practice also. There is that moment, when a person shares a goal they would like to tackle in coaching and we begin to explore it. They are not sure at first, but then it dawns on them that I am not pooh pooing their goal. I have 'heard' them and am now working with them to see how we can bring that goal to life.  There is a quiet confidence that starts to build up, into an almost irrepressible joy. It's such an honour to be part of a client's journey of change. An honour to help them be seen and heard often for the first time, in a long time. To help them see that they are not weird or strange, just a unique and original human being with a dream.

This week, I'd like to challenge you to really see and hear those around you, who might have been overlooked. Children, the elderly, the disabled and  marginalised women of any description: widows, divorcees, single mums, older women and survivors of abuse. If you can't seem to see any at first, look harder, because a lot of them have learned to wear a mask in polite society. Take the time to reach out to them and hear their hopes, desires, dreams and hurts. Because for many, that will start them on the journey to becoming their best selves.

And if you are that woman with a secret goal, who longs to be seen and heard, then give us a call on +234 706 335 0864 or contact us through the website, for a free 30 minute introductory session.

Until next week, go well.