There are a few things on my mind of late... and if I look at them they can all fall under the Nature vs Nurture debate (one of the oldest arguments in the history of psychology!). Is our development predisposed in our DNA or is the majority of it influenced by this life experience?
I’m sure, as with most things, it is never black and white, but a combination of the two. There are a number of things that have struck with me:
A recent study includes brain scans that show the real impact a mother’s love (or neglect) has on a child in its first two years of life. Basically in this time frame a healthy child would be strengthening the neuronal pathways that help him/her to learn how to get their needs met, both physically and emotionally. But if a child is not treated properly in the first two years of life, it can have a fundamental impact on development – science has shown that the genes for several aspects of brain function, including intelligence, cannot function. When you start to see the science, this sheds so much light on why cycles get repeated - parents who, because their parents neglected them, do not have fully developed brains, neglect their own children in a similar way. It is all they know and this is incredibly sad.
Scientists have also found that memories may be passed down through generations in our DNA – so any learned information about stressful/traumatic events (think of the world wars for instance) – showing how the experiences of a parent (before even thinking about conceiving children!) has a huge impact. Again, this makes me see how difficult it can be to get out of stuck patterns, without evening understanding or seeing that they have come down the family line for generations.
We’ve all got stuck patterns and will all have some great blind spots that need to be unearthed! If you resonate very strongly with the two studies mentioned above the good news is you are not at the mercy of your genetic code. It is possible to change your DNA. And for those sceptics out there, according to the science of epigenetics (the study of how environmental factors outside of DNA influence changes in gene expression), stem cells and even DNA can be altered through magnetic fields, heart coherence, positive mental states and intention. Top scientists around the world agree: genetic determinism is a flawed theory.
I wanted to share this beautiful poem from Gautama the Buddha which I read in 'The Heart of Listening', an excellent book by Hugh Milne:
With all your Heart
Stop the stream.
When the world dissolves
Everything becomes clear.
This Way, or that Way,
To the farther shore,
Where the world dissolves
And everything becomes clear.
Beyond this shore
And the farther shore
Beyond the beyond
Where there is no beginning,
Without fear, go.
Do your work,
By the day, the sun shines,
And the warrior in his armor shines.
By the night the moon shines,
And the master shines in meditation.
But the day and night
The one who is awake
Shines in the radiance of the spirit.
Monday morning blues seem to be a widespread disease, judging by the number of pictures and comments that abound on social media. Except they tend to start on Sunday for most people, as they feel their weekend of freedom slipping away and the shackles of work calling them forwards.
Where did we go wrong? We seem to be swamped and overwhelmed by jobs we don’t want to do, that are not our calling, yet we need to do to enable us to live. But the question is – are we really living at all? Has the ‘work to live’ been overtaken by ‘live to work’?
My sense is we’ve become so out of touch with our dreams that we are becoming like robots, repeating the same patterns over and over, in a kind of endless GroundHog day. Yet, we are not robots, so the despair creeps in, usually around 3pm on a Sunday, as we face another week at the mill.
Yet, bills need to be paid, children cared for etc, etc. So what can we do to help keep hope and zest for life going? Sometimes, it’s good to take some time out from your normal routine, find some solitude and space for soul searching. I believe anything is possible, given a strong intent. So if you believe you cannot find a new job that brings you more joy, you will not be able to do so. After all, if you don’t look, you won’t find. Taking some time to just imagine what you would do, given the chance and the opportunity, may bring you great insight into what your heart is calling for right now.
Just peaking around the door lets some light through! And maybe the shift from what you do know to what you want to do is a long journey – but every long journey can be broken down into small steps. Each step you take will give you courage to continue on the journey. And what a great role model you will be to your friends and family!
Why do we give ourselves a hard time when we make mistakes? And why do we amplify the mistakes and forget the successes? This feels like such a huge area that needs to be unpicked – as Mahatma Gandhi said “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”
And if we do not allow ourselves to have that freedom, if we do not allow ourselves to make mistakes, it directly impacts on our dreams, aspirations and general wellbeing. Being at ease with our successes and our mistakes opens up such a huge door of opportunity and creativity, all possibilities there for the taking... Just take a moment and feel how this would impact on your life.
Another great man (Einstein) said “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” It’s interesting to do an assessment of what you’ve learnt from mistakes you’ve made in life. And what you’ve learnt from your successes in life. For me, I feel I’ve learnt much more from the mistakes, but that the successes are the jewels that give me the confidence to pick myself back up again when things have gone pear-shaped. But the crucial thing is, both speak to freedom.