Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Technological Disconnection

Before I continue with this post I want to make one thing very clear.  I've had the most fantastic support on Facebook from people I've never met who have been messaging me during this stressful time in my life and offering advice on my problem.  Some of them friends, some of them strangers.  So none of this applies to anyone who has messaged me or commented, or the two friends already mentioned in despatches.

Loneliness and Isolation

From my experience of the past few weeks I feel that we're all relying on certain forms of technology too much.  It's perfect for keeping in touch with mates who live a long way away, getting to know new people who would never have been brought into your life, and for a quick "hello I'm thinking of you", but what it doesn't and can never replace is a friendship that offers someone the time to talk when they're in need of support.  That voice that says "I'm here and I care and what you're going through matters."

Support used to be about listening to someone either over the phone or physically being there to show them that you care.  Now it can be about a quick "how's it going?" text or online message, and a clear conscience that you've done something to help.  I don't know what you, the reader feels, but in my experience being physically alone with no one to talk to creates a huge gap in which all your fears and uncertainties meet up to have a field day.

Being There

Yet if a friend turns up, as one of mine did last week, it's as if the sun has come out and even though you don't need them to do anything there is such a strengthening feeling of not being alone with 'all this'.

However, when you're too much trouble or people are asking how much help you need with a viewpoint to getting away with as little as possible because of the pressures of their life, or you're just getting that quick conscience cleansing text or message, you are reminded how vital that human contact is by the people who still have the courage to provide it.

There are times I can't do enough for the people I love, due to pressures in my own life I had to issue a heartfelt and sincere apology to a friend just this week because I haven't been able to phone her or visit her as I would wish to.  She knows what's going on and brushed it off by apologising in turn for being unable to support me.  However, she deserved that apology and she received it, and now she knows that I want to do so much more because I told her.  If someone says "I'll come now" the feeling those words create is like several million in the bank!

Here are few suggestions to help everyone reconnect:

The question "do you need me to...?" should be avoided at all costs, if your offer of help is sincere phrase it as "I'm on my way" not a question that provides an escape route.  Your friend/loved one can still say no but at least they know you definitely would come.

If they've had a difficult time, such as a bereavement, turn up if you can.  Take flowers and when they open the door tell them you're not here to intrude you just wanted to say you're sorry and deliver these personally. that way they can say thank you and shut the door or invite you in if they need the company.

Texting on a daily basis is kind, but a follow up phone call and the offer to listen is worth a great deal more.

Sometimes getting outside your own problems in order to support others can provide a rest from your own worries, give you the feeling that you're not alone and maybe not even the unluckiest person you know, and remind you that you are a worthwhile human being.  So a problem shared is a healing and connecting experience.

Maybe you could even take someone out for the day, buy them coffee or lunch, or sit with their problem whilst they take a rare two hours out to breathe in some fresh air and maybe have a hair cut.  I know we need social care because so many people work full time, but should we really need our friends and family to have 2 hours respite support in a week when we could go?

Think about the weekends.  When my father was dying we lived a long way away and couldn't give mum anywhere near the support we wanted to, but we discovered that if we went up for a whole weekend it took a lot of pressure off mum and gave dad a change of faces and someone else to talk to.  So in the end we had an agreement with Mum, you call and we'll come for the weekend.  I think it helped.

Think outside the box.  Can you send flowers or chocolates?  What would the person appreciate?  In what ways could you help:  theatre tickets, film tickets, sitting with someone, books, paying for a haircut or a facial, buying your friend/family a sauna day and being on hand so that they can go.  There is so much we can do.

Most of all, remember that "being there for someone" is preceded by the words "being there".  It's not always possible if you live a long way away, but a voice on a phone is a presence and most of us can make a phone call.

If you're a friend you are a valuable part of someone's life and they of yours, it's about time we all got back to the old ways.  Be there or leave a gap that will be filled with loneliness and isolation.

Deb Hawken
Author of "Who am I, Where am I, What is This Place?" coming soon

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Implant Miscommunication

Who am I, Where am I, What is this Place?
Out Spring 2014 
Communication is probably the hardest thing we humans undertake and many are better at understanding and loving their animals than they will ever be with another human being.

A good example, at my expense of course, would be the implant miscommunication of earlier this week.  I had been to the dentist to have the moulds taken so that my new crowns could be manufactured and finally the December eek and February gunk would result in two shiny new crowns and the ability to chew my food properly for the first time in 20 years!

My dentist, being incredibly thorough and precise, has to take a photograph of your jaw where the implants are to go so that the dental technician making the crowns has as much information to go on as possible in order to get them perfect - James Main (dentist) doesn't work with okay or even right, only perfect.  James took 4 photographs of my jaw and luckily I repaired to the bathroom to relieve myself of 2 hours in a dentist's chair before I left for home, because he'd forgotten to put the SD card in the camera!

When I came home I thought it would be a good idea to give everyone a giggle so I put a post on my page to the effect of "what kind of dentist forgets to put the SD card in his camera when he photographs your implants?"  Well I have a few wags on my friends list and of course one of them thought implants rather than metal screws in the jaw and just had to ask why my dentist was photographing those implants.  He was worried afterwards that he offended me and I told him he didn't but not that I choked on my drink when I realised what I'd said.  What a giggle!

Sadly though miscommunication isn't always a giggle and getting the right words to convey the right meaning can be very difficult, particularly on social networking sites.

As a life coach and inspirational author and speaker words are my business, and I have to say that over the years of my life and through the hurt people I have tried to help I have concluded that the pen might be mightier than the sword but words are far more cutting than any murderous implement could ever be.  One can slice off limbs and pierce your gizzards and that usually ends in death, whereas unkind words harshly spoken can pierce you to the depths of your heart and soul and although you will live you may never ever make a recovery, not only that, everyone who knows you will spend the rest of their life suffering from your sensitivity towards certain subjects.  Not unexpect, not unfair in many circumstances, but still hard for everyone concerned.  I know many a new love who's spent the first couple of years of the new relationship healing the wounds of the previous ones.

I don't need to tell you that of course because we're all victims of the past and we've all been hurt. However, it is something that needs not just a lot of discussion but a great deal of thought and soul searching.  Because as much as we are all victims of the past, we are also the perpetrators who have affected the present that creates the hurt past of other people.  I doubt if there is one truly innocent human being alive (who can communicate) who hasn't at one time of another spoken their mind when they should have cut their tongue out.  Unfortunately the tongue is the sword of the mind which is the verabliser of the hurt feelings that result in permanent injury by an object that would be better used counting teeth and checking fillings!

Of course the most common cause of miscommunication is disagreement over a point of view.  We hear all the time that "I am entitled to my opinion" and yet there are wounded feelings and buckets of tearful consternation when someone else disagrees.  Note that the term we tend to use is disagreeing rather than "verbalising their own opinion to which they have the same right as anyone else".  You see the conundrum with which we are faced.  Entitlement versus disagreement, right versus wrong.

All this is the result of differing attitudes and viewpoints that result in hurt feelings because A does not have B's belief therefore A has made B wrong, and most human beings find it very hard to be wrong in the eyes of another.  You can't trust that B can you!

The trouble is that no matter how hard we all try to communicate at the moment there are still upsets.  One reason for this is that we are only now emerging from the Age of Pisces, the Age of Conflict, and it could take humanity another decade or seventy (thousand) to lose our defensiveness and move to a place where we don't need to be entitled to our opinion because the global opinion is kindness and respect for other living beings manifested by 'what can I do to help and support you?'

I always believe that a blog such as this, which points out a problem, should end with positive ideas for a resolution of that problem, but I will admit that I'm beaten.

I try very hard to communicate clearly and kindly but still somehow have misunderstandings.  I bite my tongue as hard as I can when I see unkindness, assumptions or prejudice of any kind, but find it hard to remain silent when I know beyond a shadow of doubt that humanity needs to change and that people have to start feeling that truth and every moment that we don't someone else gets hurt.

I started a page on Facebook called The Campaign for Kindness (DebHKindnessSpace) where I try to promote as much kindness and understanding as I can, for the simple reason that it is the only way forwards that I can see.  If our only creed, religion, nationality or belief was kindness then hurting each other would have to stop and stop now.

It won't happen in my lifetime of that I'm sure, but I sincerely believe that if we don't start trying to change things now then the end result will move further and further away.  When you consider how long amazing and kind people such as Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and so on have been trying to change things and how relatively stuck we all still are, you will realise that urgent action is required now to turn this into a world that we want our children to live in.

I wish I could offer a solution but I can't.  I can only suggest two things:

  • That we bring kindness to the forefront of our minds and do our utmost to be kind as often as we can.  
  • That we do our utmost to lose the fear of being wrong.

We won't succeed because we're the forerunners of the New World Age, the Age of Aquarius, the Age of the Higher Mind, but as forerunners we can get started and try to make this world a better place for future generations.

How many more people have to die in wars or have their feelings shattered for life before we realise that we don't need to be right we only need to be fearlessly kind?