Boggarts (and other difficult people)

The Boggart appears in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, one of the series of books about the boy wizard Harry Potter by J K Rowling. In these books, a Bogart is a shape shifting spirit that will appear disguised as your worst fear.

Often hidden, it will burst out when you least expect it. To ‘overcome’ your initial terror, Harry and his friends learn from Professor Remus Lupin to use a Riddikulus charm to change the appearance of the Bogart into something less fearful or ridiculous. Neville, a particularly nervous pupil, tries out the spell, re-dressing the Bogart (who’s appeared as his nemesis Professor Snape) in a green silk gown, bonnet and high heels. The comedy breaks the grip of terror.

Like a Boggart, difficult people seem to pop up in our lives and disturb us (and sometimes hang around a LONG time). I wanted to share my ever evolving understanding of this topic, as it often come up in sessions I facilitate.

At first it can look as if the difficult person needs to change for us to find peace. Or perhaps we just want rid of that person. Because they are SO difficult and annoying.

Perhaps, we sense, we may have something to do with our experience of the difficult person

If we have some inkling that our experience of the difficult person is actually all ours and nothing to do with the person in question, we might realise at one level that we are dealing with ‘difficult thinking’ about the person which gives us the experience of a difficult person. Rather than an actual difficult person. After all other people get along with this person perfectly well.

However if this is more theoretical than felt or realised, we might still wrestle with this experience, and innocently reach for a better ‘story’ to rid us of our uncomfortable feelings.

Different stories come in all shapes and sizes, like:-

He/she doesn’t communicate well

He/she is having a hard time/has problems/has had a hard life etc etc

He/she is over-reacting

He/she is so judgemental

He/she is so negative

He/she is an a**!#%#e

He/she just can’t get over it

Or if you’ve been around the Principles understanding for a while it can come out in more subtle story making:-

It is just his or her thinking

They are not self-aware

I did the best I could

They did the best they could

They must be suffering, it must be so hard to be them

Subtle and sneaky: ways we try to avoid discomfort

These are all subtle ways we seek to avoid the discomfort we are experiencing that seems to be about this difficult person. It’s like dressing up the Bogart in different clothes to force quit our experience of difficulty. 

But why would we avoid feeling discomfort? What’s the big deal about feeling uncomfortable? If we now that it is temporary and inherently unreliable as an indicator of anything other than our state of mind, why would it bother us to feel uncomfortable?

And yet …. it’s very seductive, this ‘making a better story’, easing ourselves away from discomfort.

But this is where we’ve got the wrong end of the stick (again!).

While we are busy story making, we are moving further and further away from engaging in our experience (uncomfortable though it may be) and seeing the heart of the other person.

Both of which are far more interesting and less draining than the endless merry go round of story making. Which, you remember was all about not being uncomfortable. 

Let’s look at what can happen…… 

We have a story about something that happened: say a ‘difficult’ person didn’t answer an email and ……… we don’t like that.

So we make a story about why they didn’t answer the email.

e.g. they don’t care about us, they don’t like us, we don’t matter, why don’t they give us an answer, they’re so annoying, etc etc then we can begin to add more layers to try and come up with a story that feels better.

So the story goes round and round, with more flesh being added to the bones e.g. they always do this, why are they such hard work, how am I supposed to make arrangements when they don’t answer etc etc. We move from blame to judgement to self-judgement and back again. Before we know it we have moved into a movie of our own creation where we play the aggrieved party and the other plays the offending party (or we take turns).

What’s interesting about this, is that by the time we actually make contact, we have already written the scene with our part and the other person’s part laid out ready. So we’ll be resentful and hurt, they get a blast of judgement even before any words are exchanged and they are likely to be either off hand, defensive or equally hurt and so it goes on.

Lights, camera, action!

You get the picture. We create a story and hey presto, if we don’t see what’s going on, it happens again and again in ever more resourceful and imaginative scenes where hurt, slights, misunderstanding and counter hurt, play out on endless repeat.

Next time you catch yourself feeling hurt, offended, jealous, bewildered or uncomfortable and it looks like it is because of someone else, check out how cranked up your story making machine is.

Before the story completely takes over, what happens if you pause and just feel the discomfort rather than trying to avoid it?

If you truly know that it is not created by the other person, it’s more likely that you’ll have the wherewithal to pause. When that subsides (as it will, of its own accord, if you leave it be), see what else arises? What’s new?

The stories we make up about our ‘difficult people’ are fascinating

They reach back into the past for evidence and predict the future based on the past. They leave no room for people (including yourself) to be as they are. Have you noticed how you’re not relaxed and easy when you finally get in front of the ‘difficult’ person?

When we meet someone in a story like this we’ve made up, we only ever get to experience that story, not the actual living breathing person in front of us.

If we use these stories to try and take decisions in the present, they are pretty much guaranteed to backfire. They’re not helpful. They’re based on a simulation of that person that is entirely self-created, like an avatar in a computer game. Have you noticed how your difficult person has no redeeming features, their every action is suspect and they become like a cartoon baddie? Irredeemable. 

It’s very human to do this.

We are, after all, story making machines. And even knowing what you know, something ‘bigger’ will likely crop up that looks entirely and utterly as if your experience is coming from someone (or somewhere) else. Go easy on yourself. In this case…..

Love will do if understanding is absent

But if you can see it in action, you get curious: though better stories might be appealing, there is something beyond all the stories.

If for one moment you can step out of the story and simply breathe and open to the heart of the person in front of you, the invitation is there for both of you to have a new experience.

Without the script from the story, you can simply be interested in who is in front of you in that moment. Like a stranger you meet on a train journey when you have all the time in the world and as they begin to speak, you find yourself curious and fascinated by who this person is, what their experience is. You forget yourself as you get immersed in this exchange.

And in this space, what you experience might surprise you.

And what about the ‘easy’people?

Funnily enough, you might notice, with the ‘easy’ people in your life, the stories you carry about them are very sparse.

You just love them. Enjoy them. You don’t endlessly analyse their words and actions. You don’t tend to worry about them. You don’t mind if you don’t see them. When you think of them, there’s a warm feeling. You love their foibles and funny little ways. When you’re with them it’s fun and easy whether you’re doing the dishes or dining out.

Notice with the difficult people (especially when this feels like a long standing problem), there is a mountain of thinking. You analyse things they said and chew over things they failed to do or say. And it comes with uneasy feelings. If only they would give you want you want: a fair hearing, understanding, love, acceptance?

You aren’t meeting them in the here and now, you are meeting them in chapter four of the block buster novel you wrote about them.

Until you see the story for what it is – a huge great bundle of thought – you are destined to experience only the person you made up and not the living breathing being in front of you.

Funnily enough, the love and understanding you so desperately want from the ‘difficult’ person are likely the very same things you are denying yourself in some aspect of your life.

Nowhere is this easier to miss than in your own story.

Which chapter are you stuck in?

The one where things never work out; where it’s better to be alone rather than risk getting hurt; the one where you’re too old or too young to do what you dream of doing; the one where you blew it and there’s no get out of jail card; the one where you are too depleted from illness, disappointment, loss, heartache or chronic conditions or the one where other people’s expectations and demands are too crushing? It’s so easy for this to look and feel true.

If you see it for what it is. You can turn the page and open to what is. Go from there. And who knows what might happen.

I love the story of the Bogart and the pink frilly gown. While the Bogart looks real, dressing it up in a pink frilly gown might be temporarily helpful. However, until you see the Bogart for what it really is – a figment of your imagination – made of thought – it will keep appearing attached to so called ‘difficult’ people, difficult situations, difficult memories, or difficult imaginings about the future. When one bows out, a new one will be ready and waiting to play the part.

When you see it for what it is, the Bogart diminishes of its own accord and what remains is the essence of your experience (whatever or whoever it is): that essence is love and beauty. Anything else is opinion, judgement, belief ~ in short, a story.

While there is no magic wand for seeing the illusory nature of thought, in the case of a difficult person or any other so called difficulty, if we have glimpsed the understanding that all of our experience comes via the Power of Thought then we can at least, look away from the story and get curious about the awesome creativity of that Power and what lies beyond it.

As ever thank you to those I am in conversation with. This article was inspired by a recent group and various conversations I’ve had recently. It occurred to me to write this and in doing so, I have seen deeper into my own stories. It is a joy to be in this conversation. If you are interested to join me in conversation please contact me.

When I find myself in times of trouble

When I find myself in times of trouble

When I find myself in times of trouble……

When troubles seem to be on our back, it can lead to frantic activity or paralysis or yo-yo-ing between the two. The state of the world in particular is a place where it looks like we can be flung about on a roller coaster of emotions from denial to anger to deep gloom, grief or a sense of panic and urgency. 

My own journey with climate change began in the 1990s. Getting involved in organic farming led to finding out a great deal about soil and the changing state of the planet.

Busy raising and processing organic food, I didn’t feel I had the capacity to take on the bigger picture but I felt the fear associated with the ‘armageddon narrative’. Even back then in the early 2000s I felt how disempowering it could be to just consume that information without having some creative response or outlet.  

What I didn’t realise back then is, whether the troubles look internal (my mental health difficulties) or external (climate change); tiny (I’ve run out of coffee) or insurmountable (rising temperatures), our experience of them is always coming via the power of Mind, Thought and Consciousness (even when it doesn’t look like it). 

How does that help, especially with the ‘big’ stuff?

It helps because we begin to see how changeable the mind is. How unreliable ‘reactivity’ is in giving us information about ourselves, others or the world and how when we look towards the source of our experience.

How there is an infinite supply of new thoughts, fresh ideas, new perspectives when we get less fascinated with our personal thought dramas and more interested in what is constant (the flow of thought).

It won’t stop us feeling the whole dynamic and diverse range of feelings but an understanding of what is going on helps us allow those feelings to roll through knowing there is a deeper wisdom at play and to take the next step (whatever that may be) with more ease and less angst.

In these times, we need more innovation, connection and love

And more people out in the world who can bring that example to every day life. What helps us do this, for ourselves, our loved ones, in our workplaces, communities and in the wider world, is a deeper understanding of our true nature.
Gathering with others who are looking in this direction is nourishing and nurtures that reflective, relaxing and deepening gratitude for being alive. Something we begin to look to more and more, in times of trouble or not. 

Experiencing for ourselves how practical ideas and solutions show up in real time lays the groundwork for a deeper knowing that we can get into life and take the actions that occur to us from that more solid sense of what’s next.

Knowing that in an enraged state of mind we will, of course find more things to rail against. From a state of hopelessness: the challenges will seem overwhelming.

It’s not that we can necessarily ‘snap out of’ those states but we get less enamoured of them, trust them less, judge them less and as this happens we get more discerning about when to pause, when to rest, when to reflect, when to gather information, when to cease from consuming, when to act, when to make changes, when to reach out to others, when to retreat into silence, when to mourn.

As we get better at tuning into a deeper wisdom, we can’t but get better at nurturing others and the planet we share and responding to what shows up (whatever that may be) with more resilience, love and clarity. 


Juliet Fay is a 3 Principles Facilitator & Mental Health Educator facilitating healing conversations via poetry, illustration, walk ‘n talk, group programmes and 1:2:1 mentoring sessions. She lives in a small village on an estuary in West Wales and works in her local community, at a mental health charity and online.

Sign up to the email list for original visual poems and articles and updates on programmes and products. Join Juliet and a small group in August 2019, for the next 4 week, online programme, Love Your Life Again, exploring how daily life is our best teacher pointing us towards a deeper wisdom. Get in touch for details.

Bored, Judgemental and Lonely went for a walk…..

Bored, Judgemental and Lonely went for a walk…..

Once upon a time, Bored, Judgemental and Lonely went for a walk. The sky was blue, the birds were singing and everywhere the summer creatures were enjoying the fruits of the season, but Bored Judgemental and Lonely saw none of it.

For their heads were bowed and they saw only their feet. Each felt sorry for themselves. Bored could find nothing to interest her either inside her head or out in the beautiful surroundings. Judgemental could find only fault: it was too hot; the path was too dusty and her knees were stiff. Lonely could see nothing but the emptiness inside her.

As they walked along, each one became more and more gloomy. Their steps seemed heavy. And though they were young in years, their gait and demeanour suggested women well into crone-hood. After a while, their attention was caught by the sound of singing and laughter. They looked up, squinting in the summer sun.

Ahead were three figures. With the sun behind them, it was hard to tell what age they were. By their movements they looked to be young. Judgemental felt immediately annoyed by this intrusion. The singing was too loud, the laughter too shrill and the colours too bright. Bored glanced in their direction and sighed. Nothing of interest there. Lonely watched them for a minute and felt only the old, old ache inside.

Closer now and it was clear, they were not young women. In fact they could have been twice the age of our first companions. Their grey hair was flowing out behind them and they were skipping and dancing down the path.

On seeing Bored, Judgemental and Lonely they cried out, ‘hello, where to on this fine day?’. None of the three spoke, waiting for one of the others to say something first. Truth was, they didn’t have a destination in mind. They met on this path most days and usually just turned round when they were tired or hungry. Their feet had created three deep tracks in the path as they trudged along.

Bored, Judgemental and Lonely simply stared at the approaching trio. By this time, they had stopped their singing and dancing for the path was not wide enough to pass three by three. They stood smiling broadly and looking inquisitively at the other three. As the pause lengthened, one of them spoke up. I am Animated and these are my friends Acceptance and Bountiful. Won’t you join us? We are heading for a picnic by the river.

In some confusion, Bored Judgemental and Lonely looked at each other and then at Animated, Acceptance and Bountiful. All of a sudden the scene froze with three faces looking at three faces and those faces looking back. From behind a heretofore unnoticed bush a little sprite with impish grin appeared. He danced around the six and whispered a magic spell. Then giggling to himself he slipped away out of sight.

The scene began to move once again. All six shook themselves as if freed from some unseen bonds. They looked at each other once again and were struck with recognition. Animated looked at Bored and Bored looked back at Animated. Both together began to exclaim, ‘don’t I know you from somewhere?’

And the very same exclamation was uttered by Judgemental and Acceptance and Lonely and Bountiful. It quickly transpired that here were three sets of distant cousins. The recognition was of their family features. Three from the north; three from the south. With that the six turned off the path and headed for the river, deep in conversation.

And strange to tell, when they reached the river, the pairs began to look more and more like each other. Bored looked animated and was that a hint of boredom on Animated’s face? The deep frown lines on Judgemental’s face had softened and Acceptance seemed to have more fire about her. Lonely seemed to fill out, her hips and breasts now brushing her clothes while Bountiful looked a little more bashful.

Yet the overall effect was one of great harmony. They picnicked for many hours, taking dips in the river to cool off and catching up on all the family news. When it was time to part, so engrossed in conversation, they absent-mindedly picked up the wrong shawls. They all roared with laughter to see Bored, Judgemental and Lonely dressed in the brightly coloured garments covering their dowdy dresses. While Animated, Acceptance and Bountiful played hide and seek in their drab shawls.

They vowed to meet again soon and all six set off for home with smiles on their faces.

© Juliet Fay 2018

Photo credit: Antelope Canyon, Arizona Source: skitterphoto.com

Juliet Fay is a Three Principles facilitator working with individuals and groups sharing an understanding of innate wellbeing and wisdom to help people navigate life and work with more ease and creativity. She also writes poetry, stories and articles and teaches Creative Writing. Find out more.

Lessons from watching wildlife programmes

Lessons from watching wildlife programmes

A recent event for World Mental health Day turned out to be heart warming, fun, uplifting and hopeful with phrases such as ‘spiritual awakening’, ‘recovery from within’ and ‘looking towards what’s right’ uttered from the podium.

During the event I was struck by something.

The transformative power of where we look from

Many of us enjoy watching wildlife programmes on TV. There seems to be no end to the fascinating, weird and wonderful creatures on our planet. When a narrator invites us to look closely at these creatures through the lens of wide-eyed curiosity, we discover magic in the most unexpected places.

What if we approached human beings in the same way? What if we approached our own minds the same way? Celebrating diversity of being rather than holding judgements about what is lacking or wrong.

Wonder + curiosity = magic + beauty

When we open up to the wonder of humanity in all its guises, we find the world begins to transform. Different ways of being become not problematic or pathological but instead a source of awe and we begin to notice the unique ways each us serves the world.

  • The neighbour who brings round surplus tomatoes.
  • The young boy who sees unique patterns in numbers
  • The mother of 8 who clothes and feeds her children on next to nothing
  • The young carer who shops for her Dad
  • The inpatient in a psychiatric unit who lends an ear to a fellow sufferer
  • The woman with a life limiting illness who feeds and cares for her cat
  • The delivery man who smiles as he delivers a parcel
  • The man who makes a cup of tea for a colleague up against a deadline
  • The child who day dreams weaving fantastic tales
  • The community members who donate time, food, equipment and money to help those flooded by storms

These moments rarely make the news. They are happening all round you. The funny thing is: the more we notice the wonder of everyday moments, the more wonderful everyday moments we notice.

If we don’t ‘see’ or experience these things it is only because we have become temporarily beguiled by what’s wrong (with ourselves) and the world.  We can’t see the magic and awe of others when our own wondrous nature is covered up with thoughts of lack, dysfunction, judgement and worries.

Being in this human theatre, you are animated by the divine.

Rather than wondering what that statement means or what the implications are for your life or how you don’t get it: what if you simply wonder at that fact. Is it true? What if it is?

Just as the close up movements of the tentacles of a jelly fish captured on film can hold us mesmerised as we are moved by something beautiful, mysterious and new, so too, within each of us, is magic and awe but for our thinking that tells us otherwise.

I’d love to hear your reflections. Please comment below or email me.

***

© Juliet Fay 2018

Photo: Jellyfish at Monterey Bay Aquarium by Paul Murk 2017

 

Three Principles Facilitator, writer & speaker on wellbeing, creativity and enterprise

Helping individuals, groups and teams find more resilience, ease and joy in life and work. Find out more

Freelance Facilitator for Llanelli Mind. Accredited Wellbeing Mentor Coach for Wellbeing Coach Certification training for Wisdom & Wellbeing Consultancy, London, UK

“If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.”

Sydney Banks

How enjoying rather than judging transforms experience

How enjoying rather than judging transforms experience

Driving recently to catch a flight, I got caught in congestion following an accident on a motorway (freeway). In a hire car, driving on the right side of the road (we drive on the left in the UK), my heart sank.

As we got closer to the city, there were multiple on and off ramps and cars everywhere, weaving in and out, cutting in very close, moving into non-existent gaps. To add to the show, motorbikes slalomed through the lanes.

I could feel tension mounting and thought, “I need eyes everywhere”, as well as keeping track of the airport signs. Breathe I told myself.

Then the thought occurred to me: this is amazing, how does this work, all this traffic? By rights it should be a disaster area. In that moment, I relaxed a little and slowed up a bit, leaving as much space as I could. Suddenly it didn’t look so bad and it seemed inevitable I would get to the airport no problem (and sure enough I did).

I’d be lying if I said there was no stress involved. I parked up at the airport and handed over the keys with some relief but I realised how different the experience could have been.

There were so many opportunities for judgement in this situation:

  • judgement about the other drivers cutting in
  • judgement about the driver who narrowly missed a motorbike
  • judgement about my driving competence
  • judgement about my sat nav failing

The interesting thing is all these thoughts did pass through my mind (along with a hundred others). At any point I could have really dug into one of those judgements and the result would have been increasing stress levels for me.

The point where it got easier was when I noticed something not just okay about the situation but had a split second of ‘wow, look at the dance of traffic going on here.’

This story shows me the changing experience I had driving through that traffic was coming to me via Thought in the moment not from the traffic.

Each driver was having her own unique experience (especially the woman laughing on her phone while weaving in and out, driving one handed – whoa – there goes judgement again!).

And we begin to see there is the possibility for any experience in any situation (depending on the thoughts we happen to be having).

It is not about enjoying a situation so much, rather noticing that our thoughts constantly come and go, enjoying more and judging less our changing responses and feelings moment to moment including the tension, stress, anxiety, indignation.

As we open to each feeling, it moves through us more easily and now and then, a completely different thought and feeling might pop in, (like the sudden awe at the crazy, impossible dance of the traffic) which can transform our experience.

How can you enjoy feeling stressed, anxious or other people being unkind?

Good question.

What facilitates this is a deeper understanding of our own innate mental health. Without that, this is just another practice.

From a change of heart, a realisation or an insight about our own mental health, our well-being, our deeper essence, something unaffected by the ebb and flow of how we feel. Then the ups and downs in life look less threatening, less important and we begin to find space to open to our experience, moment to moment. We get more curious and appreciate more and more our deepening awareness of how our mind works.

Judging and resisting our experience tends to get us stuck in it and we suffer.

Rather than just enduring our experience what happens if we open to it, even enjoy it? Once we begin to notice how our experience is created via Thought and look more kindly on our own personal experience (the comfortable and the uncomfortable), a lovely thing happens; we look more kindly on others’ idiosyncrasies, habits and behaviour. And so the world begins to transform.

What if you noticed how much judgement goes on in your head? What if you chose to experiment with enjoying more moments, getting curious about the source of your ability to think and feel? Taking each thought or feeling less seriously? Replacing judgement (especially of ourselves) with enjoyment?

It’s been a shock to me to notice how much of my thinking contains judgement: of myself, others, events, life, the world.

“Love is the absence of judgement” Dalai Lamai IV

I’d love to hear your comments, please email me or use the comment box below.

P.S. Not that many years ago I turned back from a car trip on local roads near my home because of overwhelming feelings of anxiety. I remember being terrified of my own mind. The result was near paralysis. I didn’t know I was innocently magnifying my own fears by thinking into those fears. I didn’t know my mind was not my enemy. I thought I was faulty. This understanding is giving me more ease with the ups and downs, knowing that all is well at a deeper level, knowing the mind changes, constantly, and that there is a deeper intelligence at play.

***

If you’d like to further explore the understanding known as The Three Principles, looking towards a deeper understanding of who and what we are and how our experience gets created via the power of Thought, I am running another small group online programme, Love your life again, starting 23 October. Find all the details here.

Juliet Fay, blogger, speaker and facilitator working with individuals and businesses, pointing towards innate resilience, creativity and wellbeing.

How leaning into what is, can bring unexpected bounty

How leaning into what is, can bring unexpected bounty

My internet connection went down two days before I went away. I vaguely hoped it would sort itself out if I just turned it on and off (my first resort with all electrical appliance misbehaviour). No luck. Somewhat reluctantly I called the provider the afternoon before my departure.

It was a fairly long call as diagnostic tests were run and the operator and I got chatting. When she found out I was off to the USA she shared stories of great adventures she’d had out there. By the end of the call, grateful for all the travel tips she’d shared, I laughed and said she should be working for Visit USA, such was her warmth and enthusiasm.

Since returning, I’ve had more calls with the provider but none quite as delightful as the first one.

What I noticed about that call was: I had nothing much on the outcome. I didn’t expect it would necessarily get sorted immediately and I was about to go off on a much anticipated trip so I wasn’t all that bothered. The operator was also in a space of open curiosity, full of goodwill and so what looked like it would be a hassle and irritating turned out to be one of those random joyous interactions in life.

How often we pre-judge what comes up

What strikes me about this is how often we pre-judge what comes up in life, usually based on how things went in the past. We react to our thoughts, other people and situations as if we have to follow a particular script, as if we know this is going to turn out badly or well. Acting in this way, (as if we could ever really know what will happen), cuts us off from just being with what comes up, with nothing on it.

“At times we are captivated by our own ego and become prisoners of our contaminated thoughts”

p.72 The Missing Link by Sydney Banks

Leaning into what is, with no judgement

Alternatively when we lean in to what comes up, expecting nothing, aware that in any moment we could have any one of an infinite number of experiences then we stop looking for some imagined outcome and get really present with what is happening right now. We are so quick to label ourselves, our thoughts, events and others as good, bad or ugly, that we experience our pre-judgement rather than what is actually happening.

Have you had this experience? Have you caught yourself, pre-determining how your day is going to go, how others are going to react? The funny thing is, our pre-judgement often proves to be true and so tends to reinforce our beliefs and judgements. What would happen if just for a moment you let go of those judgements, got less serious and just stay open to whatever is coming up?
I’d love to hear your comments.

#Judgemental #LeanIn #TheThreePrinciples #SydneyBanks #Ego

Next programme: Love Your Life Again Online starting Autumn 2018.

Juliet Fay is a Marketing Geek and Three Principles Facilitator working with individuals and organisations to point people towards their innate resilience, creativity and wellbeing. She works with a mental health charity and for social and rural enterprises.