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Functionally Dysfunctional

Functionally Dysfunctional

Functionally Dysfunctional

    A Shift of Focus

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    business man watching his business finances grow

      Yesterday I spent some time with a bloke who wants to shift his life focus, change his career and begin doing some work with people who are struggling with certain challenges in their world. Over the last year he has had a few significant experiences which have given him a different perspective on life, a better understanding of certain things and a much greater level of awareness, consciousness and empathy for other people; all good things.

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      Here’s part of our conversation:

      BLOKE: “When I’m a little more organised and I’ve got all my crap together, I want to be able to help people turn their lives around and make a difference in a real and practical way – kind of like you do.”
      CH: “In that case, you’ll never help anyone.”
      B: “What?”
      CH: “You heard.”
      B: “Why do you say that?”
      CH: “Because you’ll never have all your crap together.”
      B: “What do you mean?”
      CH: “I mean everybody has issues and if you wait for personal perfection before you start to help others, you’ll never help one person. It’s simple.”
      B: “Hmm…” (thinks deeply)
      CH: “Nobody has all their crap together, everybody has issues on some level and we’re all works in progress. It’s called being human. In fact, the person who tells you that they have no issues is usually the one with the most!”
      B: “I guess so.”
      CH: “What many people don’t understand is that it’s in our efforts to help others – despite our own issues – that we begin to help ourselves also. By investing into something bigger than us, we stop being so self-focused, paranoid and egotistical and we begin to see the world – and us in it – from a healthier and more balanced perspective.”
      B: “But I would feel like a fraud helping people while I still have my own issues to deal with.”
      CH: “Welcome to the I-feel-like-a-fraud club; it’s a whopper.”
      B: “Are you a member?”
      CH: “A foundation member.”
      B: “You?”
      CH: “Yep, I have felt like a fraud many times over my journey but I arrived at the point where I realised that being human and being perfect are incompatible. Doesn’t happen. I have issues and I always will. Sometimes helping others is less about ability and more about availability. I have simply made myself available. Despite my flaws. Far too many people inhabit the I’m-not-good-enough paradigm and that – not their ability- stands between them and their potential to impact the lives of others in a meaningful and positive way.”
      B: “But what about the things I’m dealing with right now?”
      CH: “Keep dealing with them but don’t be obsessed with them. Do you think that someone like Oprah might have a few issues of her own? Imagine if Miss O waited for perfection before she decided to impact the lives of others or seek to do good in a tangible and practical way. Just because she has some personal challenges doesn’t mean she can’t help other people – clearly. She’s been a very public work in progress for decades and along the way she’s managed to help a lot of people – despite her imperfections.”
      B: ”Yeah, that makes sense.”
      CH: “A few years back I mentored a dietician for about six months, helping her work through some issues. She is a very successful and competent health professional, she consistently produces great results, she’s in high demand and at that time… she had a major eating disorder. Specifically, she was bulimic.”
      B: ”Really?”
      CH: “Yep and despite her own challenges, she consistently produced great results with other people. She’s better now, but that challenge in her life has made her an even better dietician and teacher.”
      B: “Hmm..”
      CH: “Every mentor, teacher, coach and personal development guru (whatever that means) has secrets, insecurities, doubts, fears and destructive habits. Every one. Every outwardly-strong person has fears and internal struggles. Don’t necessarily assume that the shiny cover of the book is a reflection of the pages that lie within. In order to know the book, you need to read the pages…. all of them. And most people will never allow that.”
      B: “You have those same fears?”
      CH: “Of course.”
      B: “When?”
      CH: “Every once in a while when I’m about to do my regular television segment, the insecure, fourteen year-old fat kid drops by before I go on air just to remind me that I really shouldn’t be handing out advice on national television; being a stupid fat kid and all. I thank him for dropping by and do my segment anyway.”
      B: “Okay, I’m in.”
      CH: “Good for you.”

      There’s a big difference between self-improvement and self-obsession and sometimes in our quest for “better” we actually create worse. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t consciously and consistently work on “us” (natch), but I am suggesting that sometimes the best way to help ourselves, is to help others. A little holiday from your issues might be just what you need. Works for me. Give it a bash.

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      Craig Harper

      Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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      Last Updated on July 8, 2020

      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

      The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

      1. Understand Yourself Better

      Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

      Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

      2. Keep Track of Small Changes

      I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

      Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

      3. Become Aware of What Matters

      As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

      You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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      4. Boost Creativity

      The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

      When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

      You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

      5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

      A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

      Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

      6. Process Life Experiences

      When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

      Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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      7. Stress Relief

      In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

      Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

      8. Provide Direction

      Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

      One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

      9. Solve Problems

      Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

      Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

      When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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      10. Find Relief From Fighting

      Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

      Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

      11. Find Meaning in Life

      Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

      12. Allow Yourself to Focus

      Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

      13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

      When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

      14. Let the Past Go

      I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

      15. Allow Freedom

      Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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      16. Enhance Your Career

      Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

      Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

      17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

      All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

      18. Catalog Your Life for Others

      No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

      We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

      Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

      Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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