Personal change in the flow of time

Standing on the brink of change

When thinking about personal change, there’s more going on than the decision we face at this point in time.  We’re also caught between elements that are rooted in the past, on the one hand, and unknown and unforeseeable consequences in the future, on the other – all of which can thwart our agency and leave us undecided and stuck where we started Continue reading “Personal change in the flow of time”

The Second Arrow – how we wound ourselves with self-criticism

The voice of self-criticism

When was the last time you criticised yourself after something bad happened?  Maybe you had an awkward exchange with someone at work, snapped at a loved one, or had an accident – then criticised yourself for not doing things differently.  It’s the kind of thing a lot of people do, and with great regularity.  But how helpful is this self-criticism?  I know, and I know you know – it’s not helpful at all.  So what can we do about it? Continue reading “The Second Arrow – how we wound ourselves with self-criticism”

How phenomenology can help us see things more clearly

The assumption trap

Everyday we make assumptions about what’s going on around us. It’s unavoidable and, in large part, of great benefit. After all, our assumptions help us make split-second predictions, which in turn help us navigate our way through the world. To put it another way, could you imagine if you had to figure things out everyday as if for the first time – the word nightmare springs to mind. But as helpful as predictive assumptions can be, they can sometimes be inaccurate, distort our perceptions, and lead us to the wrong conclusions. Fortunately, continental philosophy offers a useful path towards clarity. Continue reading “How phenomenology can help us see things more clearly”

The Taoist Farmer or Why it’s better not to jump to conclusions

Sometimes it’s better to hold your horses

There was once a Taoist farmer, living in far distant China when the Earth was still shrouded in the mists of mystery.  One morning, as the dawning sun began to caress the distant horizon, the farmer gazed from his window and saw that his prized stallion had disappeared during the night. Throughout the day, the farmer’s neighbours commiserated with him. “What bad fortune, what bad luck”, they said.  The farmer simply smiled and replied, “Maybe, we’ll see”. Continue reading “The Taoist Farmer or Why it’s better not to jump to conclusions”

Getting out from under the crushing weight of disappointment

A bloom of sadness and anger

Disappointment flourishes in the space between expectations and reality, the greatest expectations often kindling the bitterest of disappointments.  It fires up when our dreams come crashing down, when we’re let down by friends or lovers, or when we let ourselves down with failures, real or just imagined.  It’s one of those emotions that can leave us crushed and, worse still, your disappointment in me can feel as bad as my disappointment in both myself and in you.  So what do we do when disappointment strikes?  And how can we stop it happening again? Continue reading “Getting out from under the crushing weight of disappointment”