Making sense of things

pexels-photo-263532Our bodies have five basic senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell. We use them to analyse the environment around us, and assess the risks or rewards likely to come our way. They help us keep safe and navigate through life.

Our minds are much more complicated. We measure our internal environment on the basis of “a sense of….”

I don’t think there is a comprehensive list of what each of us benchmark ourselves against, but here’s my starter for ten: purpose, resilience, hope, aspiration, confidence, self-worth, community, responsibility, pride, respect.

These too, keep us safe, but not just from our environment. They form a picture of who we are, how we might behave or react to a situation, help us decide what to do next, govern how we interact with others, predict how we may cope with change.

Sometimes, we may experience negative beliefs about these measure of self. Put the word ‘low sense of” before any of them, and you’ll understand what I mean.

In order to maintain a ‘healthy’ mind, these senses need to be developed, managed and enhanced. We need to get honest feedback to measure these values. It’s not enough to self-evaluate how we are ‘doing’. Sometimes we need a second opinion.

The second opinion only carries value in itself if it comes from someone who you trust. Not from the comments of some random Facebook ‘friend’ who you barely know. Not from the result of a quiz in a magazine. Not from what a celebrity endorses.

There are plenty of people who will tell you what they think you want to hear, but that’s not doing you any favours. The TV ‘talent’ shows are filled, for our entertainment, clips of the worst performers imaginable. Set up for ridicule, finger-pointing, and sniggering. Somewhere, in the build up, those going through the audition have been told they are good enough to be the next best thing. Where was the honest voice of reason?

Your honest broker can be a friend, parent, sibling, grandparent, mentor, role model, teacher, manager, member of the clergy, coach, youth leader……… The key thing is that the relationship needs to be strong enough for you to be prepared to ask for, AND accept feedback without question. Indeed, they probably will offer their opinion without needing asked, as they care about you.

Nobody likes to hear criticism. Neither, though, do we want to be set up to fail.

Tactful honesty can go a long way. You know it makes sense.

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” Buddha

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