Dr Stewart Hase - Psychologically Speaking

Be mindful of New Year resolutions

Paulo Coehlo, in his recent book Like the Flowing River, tells a wonderful story about an old man and a gang of youths. Ill tell it in my own words and own way with apologies to Paulo. Whenever the old man was out walking the youths would cruelly call him names, jostle and generally harass him. When he was in his house theyd throw things on his roof and damage his garden. One day the old man was out walking and came upon one of the youths by himself. The old man smiled at him and nodded in a friendly fashion. The youth was taken aback and asked the old man how he could be so nice to him even though the gang had been relentlessly cruel for such a long time. The old man looked at the youth and said simply, You can only give what you have.

I have come to believe that values, our inner selves, drive everything we do. And I think that a persons behaviour is the mirror to the soul. Angry people behave in angry ways, venting their frustrations at the innocent. Some people want to control everything and others fight for power. The most difficult (and Ive run across a few of these recently in my various roles and hence feel a need to mention them) are those who need (rather than want, which is a different idea entirely) to be admired by others and because of their low ego strength cannot stand to be criticised. They make the same mistakes over and over because they have no awareness of the need to change. These sad people create all sorts of damage around them to people and organisations as they constantly manipulate to achieve their goal of being admired. Its even worse when two people with this problem get into a conflict; they create havoc!

So, as we come to the end of the year, its a good time for reflection about what has been, what could have been and, more usefully, what can be in the future. Its a time to think about our behaviour and what we might change. Others see our behaviour and are a great source of feedback, if we are prepared to listen. But often we are not ready and merely dismiss what we see as being unfair. In my clinical work this is the most tragic of situations; when someone in a relationship has been telling the other about their needs but are ignored. We can also think as honestly as possible about our behaviour and how we might treat others and, as a consequence, ourselves better. It would be particularly nice in 2007 if we could all be just a little less self-absorbed, a little less angry, more tolerant and just plain kinder to everyone else with whom we share this planet. All it takes is a little mindfulness.

Good luck to everyone with their New Year resolutions and have a great 2007.

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