Why it’s better to ask in person

LetsTalk

“Almost nothing need be said when you have eyes.” Tarjei Vesaas.

When we need to ask a favour of someone it’s so easy to just send an email and wait for a response. It can save us the embarrassment of face-to-face pleading but, unfortunately, we can’t expect the same results.

Two studies I recently read show that most people think that emails will be just as effective as asking face-to-face.

In the first study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45 participants were told they would have to ask 10 strangers, either in person or via email, to complete a survey for no pay. The people in both groups said that they expected one in two strangers to agree, and both were wildly wrong. Whilst more than 70% of people approached in person complied, among those who received emails, only 2% responded.

In another study, people were recruited to complete a paid survey via email or in person. Before they began the paid survey, they were offered the chance to complete a second unpaid one. Canvassers again underestimated how many people asked personally would comply, and overestimated the response they expected from the email requests to complete the unpaid survey.

The emailers had an overinflated idea of how much people trusted them and how much empathy they garnered. In order to get a better response, the researchers suggest including more personal information in the emails to facilitate building initial trust.

What about asking a friend or colleague a favour? Face-to-face is still the best, preliminary data suggests. Consider if a friend comes to you and asks a favour in person. It means that either they are in serious need or they respect you enough to pay a visit.


Behind every mask there is a face, and behind that a story

Joan Crawford

We all wear masks and often without realising it we sell ourselves by how we appear.

Carl Jung called this mask the ‘persona’ and it is the ‘mask’ we show in society to please others. We need this mask because it helps us to function, but when we understand who we truly are, the persona becomes more pliable. Then we can be aware that we are wearing the mask, but at the same time, respect the boundaries and ways in which we all must act to function well in society and in different situations.

Problems occur when we lose sight of the delicate balance between our real ‘Self’ and our Persona. This is when we can come across as ‘fake’ and disconnected or lacking self-awareness. When we identify too much with the mask, it becomes a habit and we believe we are the face we put on. This limits our potential.

It is impossible, undesirable even, not to wear a mask because it is a defence against intuition and manipulation, but this does not mean that mask-wearing is always appropriate. If we identify solely with a certain persona/mask, it is to live in an illusion. We are labelling ourselves in a certain way because masks are labels. Humans though are always more than the label they give themselves. When people identify too much with their persona it results in a lack of emotional connection in their work and private lives, a lack of feeling they are contributing to something larger, a lack of drive and connection.

Besides protecting us, the persona also serves us as our personality, the social adaptation that we as individuals must make to society as a whole.

The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends and family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are.

Our persona is like a role in a play. We create our first persona to please our parents and peers. Then we may have another persona to fit in with our job.

There is a psychic danger, a potential trap for the ego-consciousness because the persona is created to serve the ego. If the persona is especially successful in its effect upon the world, then the ego may so identify with it that it winds up serving the persona, the master becomes the slave.

I was the little girl with the narcissist father. A narcissist feels superior, they have illusions of grandeur – they need other people to become smaller. I developed approval addiction and an inferiority complex otherwise known as ‘Make Yourself Smaller Syndrome’.

If you have a superiority complex or an inferiority complex, you need other people around. As I grew up it was as if I needed to be found out that I wasn’t good enough so I ended up in relationships with narcissists. I played the role well and the mask stuck until I was in a car crash and the mask began to slip and I found myself on a journey towards finding the real me.

When you figure out how to be yourself it’s an incredibly liberating way to go through life.

Interested in Unlimited Conscious Living Mentoring?

Image: Joan Crawford holding a mask Wikimedia Commons


You can choose to stay trapped, or you can choose to soar

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I was like a butterfly trapped in a spider’s web. It was a dark place and I felt death was imminent.

But then someone said to me, “Jane, you are a free person, no one has the right to control you or trap you. You are free.”

They were probably the most powerful words ever spoken to me.

I realised I could break free if I tried hard enough. In reality, I just had to flap my wings and fly. So I did.

There are a few threads of the web still attached to my wings but they are falling off fast.

And I am starting to soar.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to
choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Vicktor E. Frankl.

Have you heard the story about the elephants?

The elephants in the circus were held by thin ropes around their ankles.  It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break free from the ropes that held them, but for some reason, they did not. So why did these beautiful, magnificent animals just stand there, and make no attempt to escape?

Captured when they were very young and much smaller they were tethered with chains. They couldn’t break free.  As they grew up, they were simply conditioned to believe they could not escape. Even though now, much bigger and stronger, and tethered with just a rope, they believed the rope could still hold them. If they tried to break free, as soon as they felt the slightest resistance they stopped. They gave up. These powerful animals could at any time escape from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t…they couldn’t.

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it before?

How many of us are being held back by old, outdated beliefs that no longer serve us? How many of us have avoided trying something new because of a limiting belief? Worse, how many of us are being held back by someone else’s limiting beliefs?

We are all more powerful than we realise.

We can choose to stay stuck or we can choose not to accept the false boundaries and limitations created by our past or other people.

“No one outside ourselves can rule us inwardly. When we know this, we become free”. Buddha.

Are you interested in Unlimited Conscious Living Mentoring?


Why losing control can be a good thing

Horses

I’ve always enjoyed horse riding. When I was younger I particularly enjoyed pony trekking when we would ride all day. In the summer there would often be forty or more of us saddled up and heading into the Berwyn Mountains.

One day, when I was a teenager, there was a shortage of guides. The owner of the farm asked me if I would lead that day’s trek.

“But I won’t be able to remember the way,” I replied, worried about leading all the other riders astray. Although I had ridden it many times before, I had not memorised the route and was afraid of going the wrong way.

“That doesn’t matter,” he said, “The horse knows the way. There will be two points where he will hesitate and when he does, the first time guide him to the left, the second time guide him to the right.”

Sure enough, the horse hesitated at two intersections and I simply guided him the right way.

I often think back to that day and think how easily we can create problems that aren’t there and make life far more complicated than it needs to be.

The great hypnotherapist Milton Erickson once shared a story about a horse that wandered into his family’s yard when he was a young man.

The horse had no identifying marks. Erickson offered to return the horse to its owners. In order to accomplish this, he simply mounted the horse, led it to the road, and let the horse decide which way it wanted to go. He intervened only when the horse left the road to graze or wander into a field. When the horse finally arrived at the yard of a neighbour, several miles down the road, the neighbour asked Erickson, “How did you know that horse came from here and was our horse?”

Erickson said, “I didn’t know- but the horse knew. All I did was keep him on the road.”         

From: My Voice Will Go with You: Teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson

Erickson became a famous psychotherapist and he liked to tell this story to his students, telling them that therapy was a lot like riding that horse. In beginning a course of therapy it is often helpful to go back to the beginning of the real road. Whatever ideas you have about the best path for your client to take, you stand more chance of success if you tap into the wisdom of the unconscious mind – both the client’s and your own. “You can trust the unconscious,” he used to say. He would encourage his students to let go of their preconceptions – about therapy, about clients, about human nature – and to trust their unconscious mind to come up with creative solutions to their problems.

I’m not saying there isn’t any value in making plans and applying what you know. You have to start somewhere.

But whenever you set out to do something extraordinary, there comes a point where, like Erickson on the horse, you have to choose between trying to control everything – or letting go and getting carried away by something bigger and more powerful than yourself.

 

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My Invisible Friend

Connollyparking

I have an invisible friend. His name is Norman. His job is to help me do things I might struggle to do myself. For example, I’m in my car and driving into town. It’s busy and it could be difficult to park. But, I never have any problem getting a parking space because I send Norman ahead and he has a space cleared for me by the time I get there.

One Saturday just before Christmas, as we headed towards a busy car park, I was telling my daughters about Norman. They thought I was mad. I assured them that I had sent Norman ahead and he had saved me a space in the second lane from the end, four spaces down on the right. As we drove up the lane in the car park all the spaces were taken. My daughters laughed and one said “Perhaps it’s because you drive too fast…maybe he walked” and “You’re crazy Mum”. As I got in front of ‘my space’ the lights flashed on the black Range Rover parked there, I reversed, the Range Rover pulled out and the lady driving put her hand up and smiled. I smiled, raised my hand in return, and pulled into the space. “Who on earth was that?” asked my daughter. “Oh, that must be Norman’s wife. He must’ve been held up and asked her to come instead” I said. Inside the car was silent. However, now whenever we are going somewhere they always say “ask Norman where to park”.

Now, what Norman really does is he shuts down the voices in my head that say “It’s too busy!” “I’m never going to be able to park.” “It’s not worth trying.”

Beliefs can influence our actions in a way that makes those beliefs actually come true.

Years ago I owned a horticultural business and I would sell and deliver plants all over the country. I would often take brief directions over the phone, have a quick look at a map, and away I’d go. I thought nothing of driving to the north of Scotland, London, Spaghetti Junction, or anywhere else orders took me.  I very rarely got lost. Whenever anyone asked me how I did it I would tap Puggy’s steering wheel (Puggy was my Peugeot) and say, ”Oh, the car knows its way.”

More recently I was asked to do a seminar at Old Trafford in Manchester. Because it had been a while since I had driven through the city I decided to try using a sat nav. It got me close. I could see the venue but I was stuck in a dead-end on the edge of a housing estate. I should have trusted Norman (he was with me of course) when he told me to go right when the sat nav told me to go left.

Norman can help with all sorts of things.

Imagine, for example, you were going for an interview and you sent Norman ahead to tell the interview panel what a great person you are, how good you are at your job, and how worthy you would be of this position. Your feelings of not being good enough would dissipate.

I always know when someone doesn’t have a Norman to smooth the way for them. If someone comes to me to ask for something I can tell whether they think they will get it or not. It might be the way they walk, the way they look around, or their attempt to engage me in useless conversation…

It seems ironic to think that what we’re so afraid of or don’t want can become reality. However, at times our actions function as if they were calling them to happen.

Thank goodness I have Norman to help me.


The flame that never goes out

Internal Mother

Becoming conscious means showing up for ourselves daily, celebrating ourselves and our successes daily, and understanding that whatever we feel we need from others we have the power to give ourselves.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of Warming the Stone Child, says that internally we all have a light that can never go out. There are many beliefs about this light, and one of the sayings is that any type of wood that is half burnt always has a spark or ember in it that can be fanned by a very small wind into a gigantic flame, and this is also true about the internal flame of those of us who lacked parental guidance as a child.

Even people who have endured terrible things must realise that surviving is not enough. We must learn to thrive. That is what the little flame inside us is all about. Fanning that flame into something that’s sturdy, something that doesn’t waver every time someone gives us a funny look, disapproves of us, or is angry with us. We can become resilient so that our flame burns brightly. 

In terribly unhealthy families children are damaged in many ways, including the destruction of the child’s belief that he has any purpose and value. Without that belief it is difficult to succeed, difficult to take risks. It may even seem foolish to them to take risks, 'knowing' as such people do, that they are not up to the task. Estes talks about how we can suffer from a syndrome she calls ‘collapsing’. When someone is angry with us we go into a psychic regression with feelings of being worthless, wishing to be invisible, collapsing instead of being adult and stable and present in the moment. This causes the flame to waver.

We can look back and try and analyse everything that has happened to us - the neglect, the put-downs etc - but that will not help fan the flame.

The tender, the keeper of that flame, is the internal mother and if things had happened properly to us as a child that flame would already be burning bright and stable.

In order to grow the internal mother, you have to be willing to be decent and good to yourself. You must be willing to accept self-love and self-respect. You must realise that the only things holding you back are the faulty illusions and beliefs from your past. Nothing can stop you so long as you believe in yourself. It doesn’t matter if you are overweight, too thin, too short, too tall, it is all to do with caring about all the things that you are. That is what develops the internal mother. You can feel and see her grow before your very eyes if you are willing to develop your self-love, self-respect, and self-regard for yourself.

Many people who have this deep sense of being unmothered often feel that they are searching for love, that if they were just loved enough, everything would be so much better. But, it doesn’t matter how much love you have lavished on you, it won’t be enough. What will work, is to have the guidance of intuition, the guidance of consciousness, the guidance of common sense.

Consciously knowing what you are capable of, what your good points are, what your bad points are, and guiding yourself through life with that knowledge is the deepest internal mother that you can have. And if you are an unmothered child, that is what was missing in your upbringing.

Take heart, no matter what happened to you, that light still lives inside you.

Take the focus away from what you look like, take time to get to know yourself – both your strengths and your weaknesses. Know that whatever has happened to you, you are enough. Nourish your body as a celebration of all it does for you.

And, as we pour love into ourselves, that love will spill out into the rest of our lives.

www.consciousliving.coach


Two waves forward, one wave back (surviving adversity)

SeaCreature

My daughter spotted a small sea creature struggling to return to the sea. We could see its little legs sticking out of the shell scrabbling about, trying to right itself and move forward. But then a wave would come and wash it back again.

“Please pick it up and help it,” my daughter pleaded. But, as I watched, I noticed something interesting. The tide would ebb away and the creature would again put all of its efforts into moving forward. Then the tide would come back and wash it back again but it never washed it back to where it started - it had always managed to move on a bit.

I stood and watched it, until, through sheer determination, it was back in the depths of the ocean.

It made me think about how sometimes we have to downgrade for a while in order to upgrade. Sometimes we have to ride the wave and see where it takes us.

I thought about what would have happened if we had picked it up and helped it on its way. What if that had happened all its life? What if someone had always been around to help it get where it wanted to go without it having to struggle? It would probably never understand how determination and effort can achieve the seemingly impossible. But, what if one day nobody came and the little creature just sat there waiting for someone to help? It would be afraid of the unknown, not understand that sometimes it needs to make an effort itself and so it would be stuck and would probably die. 

Sometimes struggling can make us stronger and more resilient.

People who live ‘safe’ lives, children who never have to do anything for themselves, people who are stuck in their ‘comfort zone’ - can they ever be truly successful?


Be a role model, not a warning

Rolemodel

Instead of always following the crowd, why not aim to become an unstoppable positive force for the crowd to follow?

Whatever you do in your work, your business, your spare time, it’s not just you - you are part of the bigger picture. Everyone has a role to play.

We should always strive to be the best we can be because we can all be role models and can influence another person's life in a positive light. Of course, there will always be people doing the opposite but maybe they can serve a purpose as an example of what not to do.

Social scientists have found that when one person makes a decision about something, other people will often subconsciously copy them. They believe this occurs because we constantly evaluate what our peers are doing and we adjust our beliefs and actions accordingly. When people see their friends or neighbours taking care of their health by eating healthily, and walking instead of taking the car, they infer that people like them also value healthy choices and feel more compelled to act themselves. At work, someone who really cares about doing a good job will very likely influence others to think the same and so will help erase any blips from the bigger picture.

If humans were to model the lifestyle displayed by a healthy community of cells, our societies and our planet would be more peaceful and vital.Bruce H. Lipton.

There is a jigsaw puzzle aspect to everything we do, searching for the right bit, adding another few pieces until the bigger picture appears. Finding the right job or the right staff, recognising our role, influencing our clients/customers and making life better for everyone. That's the appeal: the challenge of it.

"None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."  Mother Teresa.


Don't be afraid to stand out

JungThinking

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "When you have decided what you believe, what you feel must be done, have the courage to stand alone and be counted". She wasn't always so confident about speaking out, and she later admitted, "The ability to think for myself did not develop until I was well on in life".  Likewise, we shouldn't be afraid to stand out. We shouldn't act like sheep following what everyone else does and says without being able to justify ourselves.

I don't believe that humans are causing global warming. I do however believe that we need to return to a more natural way of living, reduce pollution, and have more respect for the earth and other life on earth. I also believe that we should return to living in communities where people help each other out and protect our vulnerable members of society. 

What I am seeing now is people panicking and using 'war talk' which, I believe, alienates large groups of our population. The relatively unconscious man (and woman) is driven by his natural impulses because imprisoned in his familiar world, he clings to the commonplace, the obvious, the probable, the collectively valid, using for his motto: 'Thinking is difficult. Therefore, let the herd pronounce judgment.' When a subject is complex the relatively unconscious man will be glad when it is expressed in words he understands because he will have disposed of an intellectual difficulty and can pretend to understand and act in a way that benefits mankind.

The late professor Irving Janis analysed what happens when people get caught up in what he termed 'groupthink', a pattern of collective psychological behaviour with three distinctive features, that we can characterise as rules (taken from Global warming: A case study in groupthink by Christopher Booker).

  • A group of people come to share a particular view or belief without a proper appraisal of the evidence.
  • This leads them to insist that their belief is shared by a 'consensus' of all right-minded opinion.
  • Because their belief is ultimately only subjective, resting on shaky foundations, they then defend it only by displaying an irrational, dismissive hostility towards anyone daring to question it.

Be consciously aware of what is happening and don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't just dismiss someone else's opinion just because it differs from yours. Ask yourself, "Can I learn anything here?"

“The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery, not over nature but of ourselves.” Rachel Carson.

Watch this video about speaking out about climate change coercion.