I am fascinated by stories of women from Greek mythology and Pandora’s Box has long been a myth that has captured my imagination for positive and negative reasons. Whilst it is commonly known as a box, it was actually a jar, having been mistranslated at some point along the line.
The myth was used to explain why evil is present in the world. The world was occupied by men only and the first woman was created by the gods as a punishment to men for their lack of respect. She was called Pandora which means “All-Giving”.
The world of men was ruled by Prometheus who offended the god Zeus. Zeus planned his retribution by creating a woman in all her beauty and presented her to Prometheus’ brother, Epimetheus. Whilst Epimetheus had been warned about accepting gifts from the gods that could be punishments, he could not ignore the beauty of Pandora and took her as his wife.
Pandora came with a gift from Zeus, a jar which was said to contain all the beautiful things in the world. The jar was fitted with a lock and the key given to Epimetheus with strict instructions never to be opened.
When Pandora was created by the gods, she was given many talents and gifts, one of which was curiosity. With her god given gift, curiosity soon got the better of her and whilst Epimetheus slept, she stole the key and opened the jar. All the ghosts of evils of the world flooded out yet, all was not lost as at the bottom of the jar was the ghost of hope. Pandora was not punished by the gods for they knew all along that she would open the jar
You may have heard the saying, don’t open Pandora ’s Box! A phrase used to describe an action which could be a source of worry and trouble.
On the face of it, this is quite a negative myth towards women; that their purpose is to be used in the games of men, for retribution, that men lived in a world without women which is impossible, just as women couldn’t live in a world without men. How would procreation take place? That somehow the evil in the world is women’s fault when the reality of the story is that it was men’s actions that caused the gods to give out punishment.
Regardless of the meaning of the myth as intended, what I have taken from this story is that, whether the ills of the world were inside or outside of the box, they were still the ills of the world, hidden or unhidden. They existed and until Pandora’s Box was opened and the knowledge of the ills of the world released and known, then hope would continue to be buried underneath.
We all have our own Pandora Box inside of us made up of negative experiences and feelings, fear conditioning and so forth and it’s a heavy box to carry. Every community, society, country, race and the world itself have their own collective box. If we keep our Pandora’s Box shut tight because we are afraid of what we might find instead of flinging back the lid, the ills of our individual worlds stay inside causing internal damage. The pain, sorrow and trouble the box will cause by being kept hidden will far outweigh the pain of sorting through the contents of the box and exposing the ills of our individual and collective worlds. Only by facing up to what’s in the box and dealing with it head on can the ghost of hope appear. And it is only with this hope can we truly be free and happy to live our lives as we please.
So for this reason, I am pleased that the character who opened the box was a woman for I believe it is women with courage found through curiosity, by using their collective voices, that will lift the lid and speak their truth about the collective ills of the world. By releasing the collective ills of the world then real hope can finally be released which is sorely needed to start building a better world.
As you may have noticed, I’ve had a bit of break from the blog over the last couple of months. The last year has been a rollercoaster for me with many twists, turns, highs and lows. A multitude of experiences; some good, some bad and some downright ugly, all of which have taught me some invaluable lessons and reminded me of the importance of cycles in our lives.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you push, how hard you fight, how much you want to move your life forward and sow the seeds of your future, there are times in life when the opposite needed. To stand still and go within to pull yourself apart and rid yourself of what you no longer need. To clear out the skeletons, sort out the treasure from the junk and let the dust settle which brings me to one of my favourite passages:
To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the sun:
A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to mourn and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to lose and a time to seek; a time to tie up and a time to untie;
A time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
A time to love and a time to hate: a time for war and a time for peace.
My time to rend and be silent has finally passed and I will be posting again from next week. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend in the meantime!
Let go of your story,
even as it is happening,
you are thinking about
how you can "explain"
this to everyone. Will
you be able to maintain
your stature with them?
For once, forget everyone
else and totally immerse
yourself in the experience.
Your story is everything
you tell yourself that you
are, everything that
anyone tells you that you are,
“If you don’t run your own life, somebody else will”
This is a fantastic quote of John Atkinson and sums up the consequences of living in fear of criticism from others. It is a very common fear that I encounter and prevents many an individual from living a life authentic and unique.
The basis of this fear stems from our perception of the opinions of others. Firstly, we have to understand what an opinion is. The definition of an opinion is “a belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof”. In other words, an opinion is not based on fact. Opinions change all the time. Yet we give credence to other people’s opinions time and time again.
An opinion differs greatly from a belief. Whilst most people’s opinions change as often as they change their underwear, belief is entirely different. There are two types of belief: the belief in ourselves as worthwhile human beings and the belief in our ability to achieve success. Unfortunately, we are conditioned to believe in the opinions of others, both positive and negative. Yet by relying on the opinions of others for our own self-worth, whether positive or negative, we allow others to define who we are instead of nurturing our own belief in ourselves and our abilities.
The reality is that most people don’t really think through their opinions. They have their own mucky thoughts, fear conditioning and reality of life. Some people don’t have their own opinions at all. They check out what others think first before they act and speak. Their insecurities and fear of being disliked mean that they live their lives trying to please someone else and ultimately lose themselves in the process.
We are also conditioned to pigeonhole individuals so we can make a judgement and therefore have an opinion of them. Have you ever noticed how most people want to know what you do when they first meet you? There is a constant need to package you into their belief system. Yet aren’t we all more than a job? Personally, I try not to ask the question and evade it if asked of me. I get in there first and ask a random question. It makes any interaction more meaningful and I get to know what the person is about before making any assumption based on a job title that I probably won’t understand and would lead me to make an instant judgement which would often be false.
The only reality involved when it comes to the opinions of others is when we live our lives fearful of what others think; we indirectly let others live our life for us. By focusing more on our belief in ourselves and abilities and by disregarding what others think, we take control of our lives and are free to live how we choose without fear of criticism. We have the courage to live by our convictions and no longer feel like we have to explain our every move or apologise for our actions. It is liberating! No one else can live your life for you or learn your lessons. You can truly start to love yourself for who you are and openly be who you want to be, a unique, authentic and genuine individual. You will also find that other people will take notice as belief in yourself is always stronger than an opinion of another. Not only will you gain self-respect but the respect of others.
It also has to be remembered that no one can make you feel unhappy without you giving your permission. By focusing and strengthening your own beliefs and conviction, the opinions of others will no longer matter. You can live your life for you and no one else!
The next up in our series of Fear is the Fear of Change. This fear is a BIG ONE for us mere mortals and prevents many from attaining their dreams and getting the life they want.
For many, change is perceived as the enemy. We view change as a negative yet change is the only constant in life. Nothing, absolutely nothing in life is forever and the sooner we accept this fact, the easier our life will be.
So you might ask, why do people fear change? Change brings along uncertainty which we humans don’t handle well. Uncertainty breeds fear which leads to negative thoughts and it’s those negative thoughts that stop us in our tracks. We become accustomed to our comfort zone whether it makes us happy or not. By constantly seeking certainty in our future, we limit ourselves and what we can achieve. We stay in jobs we don’t like, relationships that are not working and become afraid to alter the status quo. Our constant need for certainty prevents us enjoying the now.
To want certainty is control yet we cannot stop change. It happens whether we like it or not. Life is full of change whether it’s a gradual shift or an instant transformation. It is scary to accept change yet with the acceptance of the ever-changing scenery of life and the facing of an unknown future, life becomes exhilarating and full of exciting possibilities. By accepting change instead of resisting, we are living in the moment leaving us free to enjoy life step by step. We have the ability to go with the flow which brings more and more opportunities to us.
So the key here is to shift our perception of change. We make change our friend by embracing it! Once we stop resisting and accept that change is inevitable, we can take control of our own life and make our own changes rather than have change forced upon us. By directing the inevitability of change in our lives towards the things we want, we can change our lives for the better.
An example of a shift in perspective when change comes along is when an individual is made redundant. This often happens quickly, sometimes without warning and has serious ramifications on all areas of life. The individual cannot change the fact that they were made redundant but they can change their perception, i.e. their reality of the situation by how their handle it. Many people have experienced job loss only to go on to find their dream job, set up a business and look back on the redundancy and see it as a golden opportunity. But you can guarantee they embraced the change to transform their life.
Living in your comfort zone may give you an illusion of feeling safe but does it make you happy? Change brings enormous opportunities for personal growth; it gives us a chance to step outside our comfort zones, take leaps of faith, know what it feels like to be truly alive and create the life we want!
With all situations in life, you create your own reality by how you deal with them. If a fear of change is preventing you from taking steps to get the life you want, make a conscious decision to treat change as your friend rather than your foe, shift your perception of change and embrace the opportunities that life throws at you!
I’m on a roll tonight! The next up is the fear of rejection. Whether this relates to work when going for that promotion or new job, in relationships when asking someone out on a date through to the biggie of getting down on one knee and proposing or the fear of rejection by family, friends and society as a whole, by stepping out of what is expected of you and being different and unique, I’m sure this is something we can all instantly relate to.
I want to take you all back to your school days and the example I shall use is on the playing field. No matter how good or bad we were at sport, we may have experienced the fear of waiting in line to be picked out for a team, certain we will be picked the last. Most of the time we weren’t but the fear and mucky thought that followed is something a fair few of us may have experienced.
We can all look back at our lives and remember a time when we were rejected. For most of us, this is highly likely to have happened in relationships with the opposite sex. It’s something we all have to face. Our fear of rejection comes down to a fear of failure and of criticism from others. We fear we may look stupid.
If we look underneath our fear of rejection, there is a massive positive! To fear being rejected means that there is something you want, something you feel passionate about, something that means you are contemplating, at least, some form of action that could lead to rejection. This is something that is to be celebrated because you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself forward for something you really want. This leads me onto one of my favourite sayings “take a leap of faith!”
I love leaps of faith, they scare me to death most of the time but I use the fear as a positive emotion to do whatever it is that requires a leap of faith. A leap of faith is very different to blind faith. Blind faith is jumping out of a plane without checking you’ve got a parachute and no idea of where you might land. A leap of faith is different – it’s checking the parachute, packing it yourself, researching where you will want to land and making sure there’s a way to get back once the jump is over. You will never have a hundred percent guarantee that you come down to earth in one piece but your odds will greatly improve!
To minimise the risk of rejection of whatever it is you are going after, check over the facts, put the time and effort in to make sure you can achieve what it is you are setting out to achieve and be realistic. If you work on a checkout and want to be a supermarket manager, then have a plan of action to move through the ranks and ensure the plan stays flexible. You are likely to get a no if you apply for the manager’s job straight off. If your leap of faith is in a relationship, look at the facts objectively from both sides, check you are compatible and listen to the other person. We often tell ourselves a story which is filled with illusions when it comes to relationships about what we want, without taking the other person into consideration.
Once you have prepared the ground for your leap of faith and taken steps to put it into place then do not put it off. Take that leap of faith regardless of the fear of rejection! If the fear of rejection gets in the way, it works the same as the fear of failure, we already have the no if we don’t risk being rejected. By being brave we are taking a risk to get what we want.
Not every leap of faith ends in success and if you are ultimately rejected, learn from the experience. If this rejection comes from a job interview or promotion then ask for feedback and learn from it so next time you get the yes inside of a no. If the rejection comes from a relationship, listen to the other person as to why and don’t take it personally. Not everyone is compatible, it’s better to wait it out and meet someone who gives you a firm yes. And most important, don’t let the rejection itself stop you from going for what you want in the future. It is one person, not the whole world’s opinion of you and there will be plenty more opportunities.
On the opposite side of the coin, if you are the one rejecting someone then be kind! It take guts for anyone to put themselves forward and step out of their comfortable zone and that in itself should be respected.
Whatever the outcome, be proud of yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone and taking that risk! With each leap of faith we take, regardless of the outcome, there is an opportunity for individual growth and increased confidence and that my friends can only be a good thing!
Next in the Fear Series is the fear of success! It is an obscure fear to say the least. How can we fear success? Success is deemed to be positive and we would all like to be successful. When it comes down to it the question is what is success?
Society dictates that to be successful is to be materially well off; to have a well-paid powerful job, a bigger and better home, exotic foreign holidays, afford the latest gadgets and gizmos, shop in more expensive supermarkets which sell the same food, just packaged differently, wear branded clothes and be seen to have it all. Yet few of us can attain this level of materialistic wealth to be deemed successful and we are left with the fear that we are somehow lacking. This fear leads to mucky thoughts where we question whether we are good enough. Yet many people who have money and material wealth still feel empty and directionless. You can be miserable in comfort but who wants to be miserable?
With the pressure from society to conform to the “success stereotype”, many people put aside their true goals and desires, which would give personal fulfilment and success. Instead, they end up in a repetitive cycle which is the equivalent of a human on a hamster wheel with a carrot dangling in front of them. They need to earn more money in a job they may not enjoy and often may hate to buy more things to appear successful yet they will never have enough. Someone else will always have more than them.
What we actually need is to change our perception of what success is. Success is defined by what we own yet true success is surely a matter for each individual, on a personal level, to find what goals they wish to pursue.
When it comes down to it, there is a lot more to being successful than making money and amassing material goods. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong in making money or being rich. If you want to be successful and fulfilled then surely the definition of success is to follow your personal dreams because they are meaningful to you. If you follow your dreams then the money will follow. Problems arise when people follow the money whilst giving up their dreams.
If we go back to the fear of success and we see how our perception of success as defined by society may be flawed, we can see why people procrastinate and fail to make a start at changing their lives for the better. They have a dream of a better way of life, a goal or a desire that might not be in line with what society dictates, become fearful and delay in taking steps. For some, having what they perceive to be an unobtainable dream seems better than having the real thing for fear of what they might have to give up, whether this be material possessions or the status they perceive they need to have.
There is a lot more to life than making money but the only true definition of success has to be to follow your personal dreams because they are meaningful to you.
So, take some time to redefine what success on a personal level means to you. Being sure you have the desire and enthusiasm for the thing you want is fundamental to you obtaining it. Don’t let the fear of following your own route to success stop you from moving forward. Set new goals that take into account personal satisfaction and fulfilment then take steps to achieve them. You’ll soon realise that true personal fulfilment is the real success in life, not success as deemed by society.
There is no such thing as failure,
bad marriages, wrong jobs, nor are
there stupid people, impossible
families, or hopeless situations.
Ha! you say, You do not know my spouse,
Yes, I do because I have been in
failed relationships, jobs I hated,
with people who bored me, situations
that drove me to despair.
After years of enduring, I finally…