“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today”, said Pooh.
“There, there”, said Piglet. ”I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do”.
It’s been a while since my last blog posting. Somehow, I managed to lose my Mojo.
Before I go any further, let’s clear up any misunderstandings (I know that Mojo means different things to different people…). By Mojo I mean my “Joie de Vivre”, my creative spark etc etc.
Try as I might, nothing inspired me. Everything I did felt like it was pointless. Usually baking cakes lifts me out of the doldrums by giving me a sense of achievement, but even a spectacular, light Victoria Sponge and a rich, dense Chocolate Guinness Cake didn’t seem to do the trick.
But, after a couple of months, I’m back – I’ve finally snapped out it !
Sitting in the garden, wrapped in my fleecy lined hoody, enjoying the last flashes of late afternoon sun between the gently swaying, rustling branches of the sliver birch trees, I pondered over how I’d been so careless as to lose it in the first place and, more to the point, how I’d managed to get it back.
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any” Alice Walker
Over the past few months I’ve been reading a book by Peter M Senge called, “The 5th Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation”. Senge discusses how our sub-conscious holds us back from goals. As children, we learn what our limitations are; we are constantly told we can’t have or do things. Consequently, we end up with two contradictory beliefs: powerlessness (most common) and unworthiness.
Senge believes that it’s like having two rubber bands around us; one pulling us towards our goals and the other pulling us away, telling us we are powerless and unworthy.
When our youngest son was nearly three, we took him into the local toy shop and asked him to choose something to play with. He came back with a Spiderman figure – my husband seems to have passed on his love of comic book characters. At the counter, sat in his pushchair, our two year old looked at the shop assistant with a serious and quizzical look on his face and asked “Is it suitable ?”. We were amused, proud and horrified in equal measure – he was already setting himself limitations.
Senge explains that there are three strategies we tend to use to overcome the limitations: to let our vision/dreams erode; to create artificial conflict – if you don’t achieve your goal something bad will happen; or to use willpower to overcome the resistance. Essentially, these strategies give you the choice of: killing your dream; living your life in fear; or using super-human effort to achieve something that might not be worth all of that effort. All three leave the underlying system of structural conflict unaltered; your sense of powerlessness is still there.
“Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside” Anon
So how do we rid ourselves of a sense of powerlessness ? Senge believes this is only possible by changing our beliefs.
In earlier blogs I’ve advocated the importance of understanding our values and beliefs and of living our lives as our true selves. As Senge points out, the power of the truth is a common principle in almost all of the world’s great philosophic and religious systems. In order to change our beliefs, we have to be able to understand the ways in which we limit or deceive ourselves by seeing our situations and our responses to them as they are. Senge uses “A Christmas Carol”, by Charles Dickens to explain what he means. Scrooge, through the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, gets to see his reality, realises he has a choice and chooses to change: “ I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”
“You are confined only by the walls you build yourself” Anon
Reflecting over the past few months, feeling powerless over certain, important things in my life has definitely been a big factor in my lost Mojo.
Some months ago I received a letter from my GP Practice, inviting me for a Healthcheck. I knew exactly what they’d say to me “lose weight and do more exercise, or you’re at risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure etc”. I had chalked up so many excuses for not taking action (a bad back, working long hours, having to plan two lots of family’s meals, diets aren’t good for you and never work for me), that I’d almost resigned myself to living a bleak, unhealthy future life. After giving myself a very firm talking to, I built my goal around a positive future vision: grandchildren and a healthy, active, well-earned retirement. Over the last four months I’ve lost almost 2 stone (through reduced calories and keeping a food diary), joined the gym and am on week 2 of NHS Choices “Couch to 5k” running programme.
Apparently, it is part of the evolutionary process for us to do the minimum to survive. Otherwise we’d have to risk our life to find more food to give us the energy to do more. The human body is essentially built to be lazy. We are only 20-30% of our full strength potential. That certainly makes me feel less guilty about my lack of motivation to diet and exercise.
“Do or not do. There is no try.” Yoda (Star Wars)
The quote at the top of this posting is testimony to the fact that even “happy go lucky” Winnie the Pooh, loses his Mojo from time to time. Whilst a best friend giving us tea and honey may help, I believe that one of the most positive things you can do is to use Senge’s advice, to reflect on why and to see if you can figure what changes you need to make get it back.
As the pounds have come off and the moth-balled, smaller sized clothes have emerged from the back of the wardrobe, I’ve felt more and more empowered and full of resolve to tick things off that have been on the “too difficult” list for far too long.
Even making the simplest of changes can make a huge difference. I’ve bought some cheap, purple mock-crocs, so I can nip in and out of the garden with the minimum of effort – it was too much effort before (yes, really !). Now I pop into the garden to tickle the cats whilst they sun bathe on the patio or spend a few minutes leaning over the bottom fence watching the wildlife in the wooded copse.
As I walk around the garden and house with my notepad, tape measure and a revived sense of purpose, I can see the look of fear in my husband’s eyes. Yes, some serious DIY is on the cards !