I got conned

stepbeyondyourbarriers

I got conned.

Despite knowing that money transfer messages come from ‘Mpesa’, and not a number, and despite knowing that I could always check my balance to confirm that additional funds have come in, I fell to a conman and lost some money.

Granted, I wasn’t alert because the message came in just as I was dozing off for my very treasured Saturday afternoon nap (serves me right for looking when the phone beeped!). And granted, the number looked very similar to my own, (which should have raised the alarm!). And, on top of that, the voice at the other end sounded so credible. (duh!)

I should have known better. No, I know better.

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It happens to all of us. We make our plans and comb through for every detail, check each risk, put mitigation plans in place, provide a plan B, review, revise and reconfirm. And then we…

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I got conned

I got conned.

Despite knowing that money transfer messages come from ‘Mpesa’, and not a number, and despite knowing that I could always check my balance to confirm that additional funds have come in, I fell to a conman and lost some money.

Granted, I wasn’t alert because the message came in just as I was dozing off for my very treasured Saturday afternoon nap (serves me right for looking when the phone beeped!). And granted, the number looked very similar to my own, (which should have raised the alarm!). And, on top of that, the voice at the other end sounded so credible. (duh!)

I should have known better. No, I know better.

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hibiscus

It happens to all of us. We make our plans and comb through for every detail, check each risk, put mitigation plans in place, provide a plan B, review, revise and reconfirm. And then we are sure we have it all under control. Until something happens and it all comes apart.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t prepare properly. Nor does it say we are cursed, or stupid, or all those ugly names we use when we don’t succeed at something. I think that it only says ‘you are not in control of everything’, or ‘you are not perfect’.

And who doesn’t know that? You don’t need your well laid plans to go awry to know that you are not flawless, do you?

Question is, what do you do when it comes crushing down?

I didn’t enjoy my nap, in fact I didn’t really nap, because I was bothered about what had happened. But it took me all of two hours to accept that I had been conned. It’s like I was thinking in slow motion! Then I called the service provider to make a report. They confirmed my fears, and told me it was too late, the money had been withdrawn. But I started feeling better immediately, because I had stopped feeling ‘bothered’ and done something. Hopefully that number has been blocked, or at least black listed, and will not be used on another hapless victim.

So the thing is to accept that you have been had, by the elements, the opposition, the detractors, that innocent-looking-person-that-you-thought-couldn’t-harm-a-fly, or whomever, and move on. Don’t beat yourself up for it, even if you could have been more careful. The fact is, whatever happened, happened. However hard it is to accept that, one thing is for sure, if it’s in the past you cannot change it.

I like this quote from Pema Chödrön’s When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Hard Times

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. ”

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Comfortable? Maybe you shouldn’t be.

When you are comfortable you are in the perfect place for whatever you need in that moment. Be it sitting or standing or lying in your bed. You are positioned in such a way that your muscles are relaxed and you feel good. If not, you will toss and turn, shift from one leg to the other, until you find a comfortable position, or until you can move to some place else.

The irony is, we all seek comfort, but it is the lack of comfort that forces us to move. And without movement we cannot grow. So comfort is both a motivator for, and an obstacle to, growth.

That is why you need a good balance of comfort and discomfort in your life.

Picture this. A baby is wrapped up snuggly to keep her little body warm. However, she must be unwrapped to have her diaper changed. If her surroundings are cold she may cry when the cold air hits her butt, but in a short while she is clean and dry and snug again. The diaper changing process represents the activities that improve your awareness and identity, develop your talents and potential, facilitate your employability, enhance the quality of your life and contribute to the realization of your dreams and aspirations.

In the process of doing these things you will feel a blast of cold air. These come in many forms – like having to give up some pleasures in order to save money for something, or aching muscles as you work on your physical status. It may be the time spent studying or learning something new, and the exams that go with it.

Wetness or a bad odour prompts the need for a diaper change. What triggers your realisation that you need for  a change?

It could be your own realisation that you just aren’t going anywhere, or it could be the observation of someone close to you. It may be the failure to get something you wanted badly, like a promotion.

Many people who look backwards, focusing more on how far they have come rather than how much further they can go miss the triggers. While I cannot deny that seeing how far you have come is a great reward, I would like to caution that it can become an excuse for not demanding more of yourself.

And if your situation demands more of yourself than you do, you will come up short. And someone else will give what is demanded. That’s how you miss the promotion.

So ask yourself today how you can ensure that you are tuned into the triggers for change, and have a plan for movement when the time is right.

Or better still, anticipate the need for movement.

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Savour Life’s Moments: None of them will Last Forever

The past week was curious, to say the least. On Monday I was at a meeting of mums discussing the safety and protection of our children, and I heard some harrowing stories about how people we trust harm our children.

Then on Tuesday the German Wings crash happened in France, and on Thursday we heard that it was brought down ‘deliberately’ by one of the people to whom the passengers and crew had entrusted their safety.

In the same week I was at meetings to support someone whose dad has terminal cancer, and another whose brother is hospitalised. It was also the week that women parliamentarians in Kenya were up in arms after one of them accused a colleague of sexual harassment while they were visiting a foreign country. In the same period, the police began an investigation into allegations that another male Member of Parliament had raped a business partner, wife of his friend.  Obviously a lot more happened last week, but, somehow, these incidents stood out for me in a more than casual way.

Fleeting moments

They got me thinking about how life happens, with or without you, to you or to someone else. And whether we like it or not, there are things we just don’t control, and the best we can do is keep moving until we get a sign that we can stop. Or, perhaps, we need to stop until we get a sign that we should start moving again.The week  reminded me that life is made up of fleeting moments, and each moment should be savoured for itself.

When it is raining where you are, it is shining somewhere else, because it does not rain everywhere at the same time. Sometimes you get to walk through the rain until you cross to the side that’s dry, but sometimes you just cannot get out of it.  All the same, you know it will stop raining. On occasion, though, you just can’t seem to remember that.

So wherever life has got you today, know that the situation will change. Just open yourself up to read the sign when it appears.

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Lessons

Every day we have opportunities to learn different lessons.

Some lessons are more difficult than others, and some days have more difficult lessons than others.  I have struggled on some days because I couldn’t reach into the part of me that is needed in order to learn the day’s lesson.

This hurts. It can feel like I am drowning, unable to breathe. I feel tense, on edge. My stomach hurts. I cannot eat. It feels very much like I am grieving. I want to crawl into a hole and not have to be seen or behave.

But I found a way to do this.

I tell myself, there is a lesson in there somewhere, and I look for that lesson.

Sometimes it takes a while, and I often have to find some quiet, to be still, in order to go to the place where I can refocus.

Once I do that however, I stop focusing on the tension, and slowly my body relaxes. It can take a few minutes, or some days, but always, I begin to relax.

And then I begin to get in touch with me.

I can reach into my values and remember who I am, and why I make the choices that I do, why I fight for what I fight for. Why I laugh, and why I love. Where I am going, and why.

And then I can find the lesson, and begin to learn it.

Nowhere to hide

Nowhere to hide

There are lessons about pride and how it comes before a fall.

There are lessons about undone homework, and laziness.

There are lessons about not believing in myself, or being too confident.

And there are lessons about not trusting enough, or too much.

There are lessons about not speaking up, or speaking too much.

There are lessons about wanting to do it all.

Lessons about taking a chance, or making a choice. Facing the fear.

There are all sorts of lessons.

I feel foolish sometimes, when it becomes obvious what the lesson is, because I ought to have known.

But I guess if I always knew what the lesson was before its time, life would be too easy, and I might begin thinking I was perfect, which I know I am not.

So on difficult days I tell myself there is no lesson I cannot learn, and then take a step back to allow it reveal itself.

And I reach out to my maker and find that I am at peace, because no load is ever too big or too heavy for the way he has created me.

Then I embark on the journey that will make me better, stronger.

Until the next lesson.

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Sometimes the Bravest Thing To Do is Ask for Help.

Sometimes the Bravest Thing To Do is Ask for Help..

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Sometimes the Bravest Thing To Do is Ask for Help.

One of the clearest signs that you need help is the fact that you keep getting into the same trouble. Be it chronic lateness, drinking too much, not getting things done, running out of money before the next pay check, shouting at your kids, giving the silent treatment….

And let’s face it. Just because there are one or two examples of not getting late, or drunk or whatever, doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem. Nor does the fact that people around you don’t point it out any more.  They have simply accepted that they cannot change you. Or maybe they don’t care anymore.

Recurrent personal problems are a result of habit, and these require a lot of effort and determination to overcome.

One way to start is to tell yourself that whatever your circumstances you have a role to play in getting yourself there. Without this acknowledgement you cannot get to the next step, which is to ask yourself what you could do to change where you are. And once you  accept this, it is easier for you to  ask yourself how you have contributed to that situation. Once you start thinking about how you could have gotten into that situation, you start seeing things that you could start or stop doing to get out of it. You stop being the victim of circumstance and become an active partner in moving your life along.

People often say, “no, there are situations that you get into without any contribution on your part.” Like, if you are always broke because your friends borrow money and don’t pay back you might say it’s because your friends don’t pay back. Perhaps you will say it’s because you are too kind to refuse a friend in need. But you can also say it’s because you don’t say no to them when they borrow. Or you can also say that it’s because you don’t enforce the lending terms.

But acknowledging that the situation has got something to do with what you do or don’t do  is only the beginning. Changing that habit can be challenging.

This is why it makes sense to ask for support.

You could ask for help because you recognise you have a problem, even if you haven’t got to the stage of acknowledging or articulating how you contribute to it.

You could ask for help when you have reflected on how you contribute, and want to counter the damaging behaviour.

You could ask for help at any stage.

And if you don’t see that you need help,  try asking for assistance to understand why others say that you do.

There are many professionals who can help with all sorts of issues, as long as you are willing to put yourself in their hands. And, beyond that, to make a sincere effort to put into practice the new behaviours that you and your helper will identify as required to break old habits. After all, if you only give a potter 1 kilogram of clay, she cannot make a 5 kg pot.

So next time you catch yourself doing it again, ask if it isn’t time you asked for help.

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Want to be safe? Articulate your Personal Boundaries

This article is not about kidnapping or car-jacking or burglars, although these are relevant topics in our world today.

This post  is about emotional and intellectual safety. In other words,  personal boundaries – the invisible lines you set around yourself that people are not allowed to cross. These lines  define us as individuals and are important for healthy relationships. Many people are not consciously aware of their boundaries and sometimes need coaching to help them identify them. When boundaries are strong,  events, situations, your environment, time, and other people’s desires lose their impact and their power over you.

In the words of Kathy Wilson, boundaries are “part of living your life from the inside out, and this begins with what’s most important to you – your life values”. When you honour your life values by enforcing your boundaries, you are centred, balanced, and in the place of power – the place where you choose what you want to do, think, and feel.

It is important to let others know what your boundaries are, and when they have violated them. Parents are generally mindful of the importance of setting boundaries for their children, but many adults fail to exercise the same care with their peers.

Boundaries should be robust, but not necessarily permanent.  If, for example, you have a boundary around being called about work when you are at home, you may accept such calls if you had to stay home suddenly and had no time to complete a hand over.

Here are some  observations about boundaries:

1. Money – you fail to indicate to relatives and friends what your values and principles about making and using money are.  You feel constrained to give or lend them money, then you are upset about the way they use it.

2. Lateness – someone turns up late for pre-arranged appointments.  You are seething inside, and other plans get messed, but you say nothing because you do not want to appear rude.

3.Personal space – a colleague at work stands too close, and touches you inappropriately (even if not sexually) , you say nothing because you do not want to cause a scene.

4. Friendship – a ‘friend’ calls only  when she wants something from you.  You complain about this to other people and say nothing to her.  In fact, you continue to take her calls and give her whatever she asks for despite your resentment.

5. Disrespect – a family member shouts at you whenever something isn’t going right. It leaves you feeling resentful and disrespected.

Hair salon – your hairdresser starts a long procedure on someone a few minutes before your appointment. You wait and do not complain, but feel angry.

How Strong Are Your Personal Boundaries?

Take this quick quiz from An Inner Journey: Living your life Purpose by Kathy Wilson, to discern if your personal boundaries need to be stronger.  In front of the number for each question, write “Y” for yes and “N” for no.Do other people such as your spouse, co-workers, friends, and family, always seem to be telling you how to live your life?

-Do people often tell you how easy you are to get along with?
-Do you suffer from stress related diseases such as high blood pressure, ulcers, or eating disorders?
-Are you often made to feel small by other people?
-Does everybody like you?
-Do you often find yourself telling other people what they need to do to fix a situation in their lives?
-Do people sometimes seem to be put off by questions you ask them?
-Do you often feel that other people take advantage of your kind and generous nature?
-Are you the one at work who always gets the least desirable assignments?
-Do you often feel angry after an encounter with another person and aren’t exactly sure why?
Now give yourself 1 point for every YES answer and add them up.

1-3 points: Fairly strong boundaries, although they could use further strengthening.

4-6 points: Your boundaries are a little flabby and need work to get them muscled up.

7-10 points: Your boundaries are easy ‘kama-mboga!’ Start now to strengthen them!

Healthy vs. Unhealthy personal boundaries

In medieval days people built moats around castles to make it harder for the enemy to invade.  Today people install electric fences.  A friend once remarked that the grill door that keep invaders out will also keep the good neighbour out when you have a fall and need someone  help.

This is also true of personal boundaries.    Tighter boundaries may make you feel safer, but they can also isolate you.  And so in life coaching we speak of healthy and unhealthy boundaries.

Here are some Characteristics of Healthy Boundaries

  • You say “yes “ or “no” without fear or guilt/acknowledges “free choice” in decision-making.
  • You accepts “no” from others.
  • You share personal information gradually in a mutually trusting relationship.
  • You expect reciprocity in relationships and share personal responsibility.
  • You identify  when the problem is “yours” and when it is not.
  • You do not rescue others from taking responsibility.
  • You do not tolerate abuse or disrespect.

Unhealthy Boundaries

  • Gives a “no” response if the request involves close interaction.
  • Avoids intimacy at all costs and may even sabotage a relationship to do so.
  • Does not share any personal information in a relationship.
  • Has difficulty identifying wants, needs, or feelings.
  • Has few or no close relationships.

Having the right level of personal boundaries is a key step to harnessing your energy positively.

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 Lift Your Authentic Voice

When your authentic self is in play, you decide what matters to you, and then set standards for yourself to live up to in those areas.  We all sometimes  try to live up to the opinions and expectations of others, and because it does not come from our place of power, it remains a struggle and we are then often seen as not good enough in the eyes of others.

When it truly matters to you the struggle is lost. It is the way you are, and therefore requires little effort.

So, how do you know you are not playing to your authentic self? Here are some pointers:

  • You put on your ‘best face’ and hide any feelings of unease, or disagreement.
  • You make vague hints about what you really want without saying it clearly.
  • You are “tactful” and “polite”, but go away feeling bad because the problem has not been resolved, and not good because you were so nice.
  • You begin to make long-winded statements in generalized and abstract terms – ‘you know, some people in this family think that only others have money’.
  • You talk about past circumstances or stories that somehow relate to what is happening – instead of actually talking about what is happening.
  • You “give-in” or “play nice”, often agreeing to something that you truly would not prefer – for the sake of ‘ keeping the peace.’ And then you hate yourself for it.
  • You dispense the silent treatment.
  • You hide your true motives because you believe it gives you an upper hand in eventually getting your way.

In other words you avoid, you hold back, you give in.

  • You make up your mind about what you want before any discussion and are determined to have it.  So it doesn’t matter what the other person says or does.
  • You express strong emotions, such as anger when people disagree with you.
  • You make demands and ultimatums – if you don’t do this then forget that!
  • You make short, generalized, absolute value judgments, like ‘short men have issues”.
  • You try to beat down disagreement, crush the competition, and win the discussion at any cost.
  • You resort to insult, tantrum, or shouting when the going gets tough – like a child.
  • You are used to either getting your way, or alienating other people – with little or no middle ground.

In other words you get pushy.

Whether you are bullying or avoiding, it is very likely that you are driven by fear, self-victimization, and a compulsion to try to control and manipulate others.

What’s the cost? Loss of connection and trust, bitterness and resentment, loneliness and isolation.

Is this who you are?

To communicate authentically you need focus on mutual understanding. This suggests understanding self, and trying to understand the other.  When you are having an authentic conversation you move back and forth from revealing yourself to listening. “My friend, you promised to pay that money last month, and you haven’t.  What is the problem?”

Authentic communication focuses on honest self-expression – you know yourself and are confident in who you are.  You are not afraid to express your feelings, you do not expect others to share your feelings, but you expect them to allow you to have them.  And you do the same for them.

And authentic communication is the most powerful manifestation of playing to your authentic self.

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Creating The Dots

 Creating The Dots.

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