Unburden your mind to find true power

The poem The Quiet Power by Tara Mohr has moved and inspired me, as I recognised something of myself in it, and I believe something in many women and probably also men.

In this frantic world that seems to get busier by the day, we can so easily be completely caught up in doing; being busy; planning the next task, errand or deadline to meet, that we totally forget about the importance of sometimes just being in the moment, fully aware of the present, by quietening our “monkey minds” as the Buddhists call it.

Our thoughts often jump around from one worrying thought to the next, like monkeys jumping from one tree branch to the next.

Caught up in this “worry tree”, we often end up feeling totally depleted and drained by our fears and worries about what should’ve been or might still be – mostly events that are not happening at the moment and over which we have no control. Often we wonder why we feel so stressed, exhausted, drained and unable to connect with others and life around us.

As women, the pull and tendency toward sorting out problems, caring about, giving and helping others may further draw us away from ourselves and really being present in our relationships with our children, partners and other important people around us.

With all the seemingly important worries in our lives and minds, we may wonder where is the time to “become quiet” and find a still moment with and for ourselves.

Often one of the main reasons for this frantic busyness is our drive to earn a living so that we look after ourselves and our families.

However, many times our desires and fears ensnare us into a desperate clinging onto greater and more financial power.

This is not freedom any more, this feels to me more like imprisonment. Is it really good when we don’t have time for ourselves, our children, our partners or our friends? Are relationships not the essence of our being-in-the-world and what sustains us when all else fails?

The push and pull toward having and wanting better and bigger material possessions can be very difficult to avoid. It is so easy to get drawn into this trap and equally hard to disentangle ourselves from its powerful grip.

The latest technical and electronic gadgets are advertised in such a seductive way that one starts to believe that you really do need them to keep up with the proverbial Joneses and fit in.

We may feel we have to have it all or we will be seen as inferior and just not measuring up.

In South Africa this trend seems to be on the rise. People seem to want to compete in so many ways including with what they have achieved and possess.

Usually the underlying belief is that “the more I have the more content and happy I will be”. But this is mostly not the case. After much climbing of various ladders, whether in the workplace or socially, we may realise that true happiness is not obtainable from external objects or events.

Mostly, a sense of happiness comes from certain experiences that we share with others that bring joy to them and to us. Possessions may bring a temporary sense of fulfilment but it does not last and then we need something else, bigger and better than the last.

According to certain spiritual traditions, this sense of discontentment is part of the human condition. And if we allow ourselves to work through it by becoming more aware of our deeper (often unconscious) motivations, we may find that we actually don’t feel such a strong pull towards wanting and possessing all those advertised goods and competing with our neighbours’ achievements and successes.

Perhaps, when we truly see ourselves and all our eccentric, odd and yet interesting shenanigans, we can sigh a sigh of relief and realise that we can choose to have those things or not but that having them does not necessarily make us better people. We can allow ourselves to rest in the awareness that just as we are, we are good enough.

As women we need to be extra vigilant in being drawn into helping others, giving to others, caring for others, since this mostly happens “instinctively”.

There is nothing wrong in doing these things.

However, when we fail to take time to care for ourselves too or obsessively feel the need to look after others’ needs or wants, we need to ask ourselves what motivates us to do this.

Perhaps it could be a role which we have become conditioned into fulfilling from a very young age, or that parents were absent for various reasons and the older children, especially the girl children, would take on the role of caregiver of the family.

Women, and perhaps many men too, are gifted with the ability to “mother”, to be compassionate and nurturing. These are qualities that may be frowned upon in a materialistic environment of emotionless business deals. Sadly, this is to the great detriment of our society.

There are so many songs written about the importance of love, not just romantic love but loving connections to others, including our fellow human beings, animals and nature.

When we spend time going inward and explore our inner landscapes, we realise more and more, that we are essentially all connected and that the butterfly effect is real. What we do impacts on the world. I choose to do loving things, I choose to be kind and gentle because I would want others to do the same to me and my loved ones.

An important part of this choosing love above all, is to learn to love oneself, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Maybe with this opening to ourselves more fully, we can open to others and fully tolerate, accept and enjoy them with all their colours, nuances, differences, oddities and surprises.

Maybe, when we allow ourselves space to enter that quiet place in ourselves, without reaching out for the next adrenaline ride, by enjoying the simple things in life as Mohr describes in her poem, like “chopping vegetables” and “by tending to the river inside, keeping the water rich and deep” we can keep a bench for others to visit and to feel fully welcomed while they stay awhile. This, in my view, is true power.

Carin-Lee Masters is a clinical psychologist. While she cannot enter into correspondence with individual readers, she will try to answer as many queries as possible through this column or refer you to organisations that can assist. You can write to her at helpmecarin@inl.co.za Send a WhatsApp message or SMS to 082 264 7774.