By Gillian Fowler
Have you heard of the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi?
Rather than discarding broken pottery, or hiding the damage with glue, gold is used to beautify the cracks where the broken pieces that have been glued together, highlighting and even celebrating the life that has been. How beautiful is that?!
We also deserve this love, respect and care. Perhaps if we could try to offer ourselves this same thinking regarding our own body and any pain, mental struggles, scars, mobility issues, fears and so on, we may stand that bit taller and with greater peace in our minds.
Our bodies tell a fascinating story of the life we have experienced to date, with the physical marks that some of us carry giving visibility to a part of our history. We all face our physical and mental struggles, and that is indeed life; a mix of sunshine, rain and storms.
Over the last 14 months or so, everyone across the globe has been in the same storm, one that has continued to be unpredictable and life-changing, and tragically deadly, to millions. No one will have shared the same experience, not even where we live in the same household – we are all so different and with our own experiences to manage. A friend recently summed this up perfectly …
“we are all in the same storm but navigating from within different boats”
How very true!
And this applies to our life in general. How many times have we discovered someone close to us has been going through emotional and / or physical situations, unbeknownst to us for some time? How many times have we been that person? We need to ask, what are the reasons for trying to manage these situations so privately? Independence? Fear of judgement? Uncomfortable with admitting the need for help and support? Fear of work’s response to the situation? The feeling of shame? Worried how family and friends will react?
We must start looking deeper and more honestly at the reasons so we can best support ourselves and others.
First of all, let’s start being self-aware, being honest with ourselves and consider our current ability to manage life, including all the good as well as the challenges. Are we saying we are ‘fine’ when we really aren’t?
Whether all is going well or not, it’s essential we start noticing our own thoughts, emotions and actions; to look deeper and make sure our wellbeing is being protected. Asking for help can be a huge obstacle for many, but by reaching out and highlighting health and wellbeing concerns, a positive move forward can be made.
Our minds are unbelievably powerful. I’m sure you will have heard of the sayings ‘mind over matter’ or ‘mind over body’ – think about this for a second. The power of your mind is far stronger than the strength of our body, or external influences. Countless numbers of studies / research have shown there is a constant communication between the mind and body.
Every thought that crosses our mind, and / or every word that passes our lips, signals the mind which then signals the body to respond, manifesting those thoughts. Thoughts and actions will forever be interlinked.
If we are determined to do something, believe in it, then we are far more likely to achieve it – even more so if we write these down and regularly reflect on the goals. If we are not fully committed in mind, we can be influenced by our body’s reaction and / or external factors, and as such, the outcome is going to be very different!
This also applies to how companies engage with employees, particularly in times of change, uncertainty and new strategy. If engagement and commitment is to be achieved, the right mix of communication, listening skills and leadership are a must.
Bearing that in mind, we also need to be mindful how we speak to ourselves, and others, how we think about who we are and what we do. If we are thinking negatively about ourselves, then the associated negative emotions are more likely to become stronger than any positive emotion, which in turn impacts our actions.
- Read the following and think of the emotions that are triggered:
‘I can’t do this’, ‘I’m useless’, I’m not as good as they are’, ‘I will never achieve that’, ‘people always do this to me’, ‘there’s no hope for this situation’, ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I’m always criticised’
- Now read:
‘I can learn and will manage this task’, ‘I’m just as good as everyone else’, ‘I am going to hit that goal and will approach it in parts’, ‘I am more aware of people’s actions and will remove myself from negativity’, ‘I will look at possible options, ‘I know there is a way forward’, ‘I am doing my best’, ‘I choose to let any criticism move past me’
Thoughts, emotions, action – 3 simple words which when united, and truly aware of each, can bring amazing outcomes and incredible energy. Or, they can be devastating should the negativity spread. And without doubt, communications to ourselves and to / from others greatly impacts this.
All too often, we tend to resort to negative thoughts (which triggers low self-belief) during the midst of any darker, more challenging times. Yet perhaps we need to think more like the art of Kintsugi, and learn to become aware of situations, accept what we are not in control of and take more positive choices for ourselves, reminding ourselves of our own strength and resilience to get through what life throws at us – celebrate our strength and determination. As mentioned above, our thinking directly impacts our emotions, which in turn impacts our actions and outcomes. I’m sure we can all notice this in our every day lives, both at work and at home.
So let’s consider accepting our historical flaws and mistakes, put them to rest – they are the past, we cannot change these. Instead, work on areas we wish to better, be more fully aware of our thoughts, external factors impacting our energy, add a sparkle of gold to our life experiences, and choose a more positive, caring, kinder path to bringing greater contentment, happiness and fulfillment.
Life is short enough. I suggest we all add a sparkle of gold and be the best version of ourselves x
PS, Click on the link below to read about Kintsugi, written as part of BBC Four’s celebration of their Japan Season 😊